Operation story: SN-10

From Arknights Terra Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Previous SN-ST-11 Next SN-ST-12
Characters
Seaborn B icon.png
Sea Terror
Backgrounds
Eye of Iberia
1
Eye of Iberia Control Room
2
Stultifera Navis Engine Room
3
Cloudy Sea
4
Stultifera Navis Hall
5
Stultifera Navis Deck
6
Stultifera Navis Corridor
7
Sal Viento Catacombs
8
Light of the Abyss
9

Before operation

Carmen and Kal'tsit, who arrive at the Eye of Iberia, see the hero who has fallen in battle. The Seaborn, having received an offering, spreads the Silence once more with its song. The fight seems to be slipping into the abyss of failure, and the decisive battle is imminent.
<Background 1>
Kal'tsit ......
Saint Carmen The Eye of Iberia. It's been a long, long time since I last set foot here.
Countless soldiers from the Penal Battalion laid down their lives here. And when the Seaborn finally broke through our defense line, countless engineers died in vain inside the lighthouse.
Before our last ship was swallowed, we fled. For every ten men who left home, hardly one returned.
But now, behold.
Light!
Carmen's voice trembles for the first time in an eternity.
Kal'tsit stares silently out into the center of the distant reef. A massive lighthouse illuminates the entire sky, as bright as the day.
Kal'tsit I don't see the ship.
Saint Carmen That is a good sign. It proves they found what they were looking for.
Let's proceed. As long as this light is not extinguished, we will press forward.
<Background fades out and in>
Sea Terror (Slithers around the main door)
Kal'tsit ...Mon3tr.
[Mon3tr heeds Kal'tsit's call,]
Mon3tr (Screeches)
Kal'tsit Clear the way. We're going in.
Saint Carmen ......
The heat of fire.
The Sea Terrors gather around the main door, wandering, spinning.
Carmen's eyes sweep into the distance. They follow a line of the charred corpses of these abominations the entire way, their remains vanishing with the wind.
Saint Carmen The Sea Terrors do not feel fear.
Kal'tsit But they do know how to seek advantage and avoid disadvantage. Their base instincts have taught them to hunt cautiously.
Saint Carmen ...They have been taught fear. These creatures may not know what a country is, let alone laws and morals.
But they have learned to fear the High Inquisitor. They have learned to fear everything we have built on top of civilization.
[St. Carmen sees that ahead of him...]
Saint Carmen Dario!
Kal'tsit ......
Kal'tsit does not say anything.
She can see. She can see a strange ring on a patch of fluorescent ground.
Charred corpses are stacked high into a mountain. The deaths of tens of thousands of their kin had imprinted a new behavior upon the Sea Terrors–
–Do not approach the lighthouse.
A feeble flame still flickers. It was originally a great bonfire.
Before the Sea Terrors had perished in a tide of death, there was nothing flammable here at all.
At the heart of the flame stands a single man. He lifts his lantern and leans on his sword, just as he did when he learned to stand guard in his youth–motionless.
[Dario had died standing after he fought to keep the Seaborn from the Eye.]
Dario, Unspeaking ......
Saint Carmen You've done well, Dario.
Be at peace now.
Cremation.png
The lantern in Dario's hand seems to echo Carmen's farewell. In an instant, the fire swallows even more Sea Terrors before the raging flame then wraps around the silent High Inquisitor.
His already-clouded eyes are still gazing far into the distance.
Carmen remains silent for a long time before Dario's statue-like body.
Kal'tsit does not interrupt Carmen's mourning. She only takes in the scene with her eyes. There aren't many signs of the Hunters' activity here.
The High Inquisitor remained here alone, staving off the surging tides of Sea Terrors until his life was spent.
But even if the soldier's lifeforce had bled dry long ago, the Sea Terrors still feared him. Because his flame had not extinguished, because his light had not dimmed.
The Inquisitor had turned himself into a force of nature, a pledge to defend the sanctity of the Eye of Iberia even beyond death.
After a long time, Carmen lifts his head.
Only then does Kal'tsit see the signs of age in the old man in front of her. Though the Inquisition had used various methods to prolong his life, in this moment he could no longer hide the fatigue in his eyes.
He turns his head and looks towards Kal'tsit, then back to Dario, who was gradually disappearing into the flame.
<Background 2>
Saint Carmen He was my finest student, Kal'tsit.
Kal'tsit We have three minutes to mourn the death of this soldier. Once the flames go out, nothing will stand between the Sea Terrors and their nest. They will swarm this place.
Also, I didn't see the girl. At least his disciple survived.
Saint Carmen Are there no higher-level Seaborn here?
Kal'tsit Doesn't seem so, for the time being.
Saint Carmen Their numbers are nothing to be feared then.
Kal'tsit "For the time being."
We ought to find a more permanent solution. The Eye of Iberia was built by Breogan. It has the potential to become the hub for establishing a link with Ægir.
Saint Carmen Assuming they were able to find the ship... Wait, hold on.
Who reactivated the Eye of Iberia? Neither the Ægir nor Dario should've had any experience with this.
[St. Carmen cuts down the remaining Sea Terrors inside the Eye, as Kal'tsit notices something at the top.]
Kal'tsit ...Look up there.
<Background fades out and in>
Jordi Ugh... Finally...
*pant*... *pant*... Th-The control panel is fine...
Phew, I'm totally worn out...
[Mon3tr shows up before Jordi...]
Mon3tr (Hums curiously)
Jordi Hwaaaaah–!
Y-You're–
[...as Kal'tsit and St. Carmen walks toward him.]
Kal'tsit ...I must admit, you've surpassed my expectations.
You managed to re-light the Eye of Iberia by yourself, restoring at least thirty percent of its functionality.
You did this, alone. Under these conditions.
Jordi You... You're the one Mr. Elysium mentioned. Oh!
Wh-What about Mr. Inquisitor?! He's been fighting for his life down there this entire time and I, I didn't dare get close to him since I wouldn't be able to help anyway, so all I could do was keep an eye on the control panel here...
Saint Carmen He made the ultimate sacrifice.
Jordi What...?
Saint Carmen But by no means was it in vain. He sacrificed himself for his faith, and as such, will now live on forever.
He died heroically as an Inquisitor, as a vindicator of Iberia. His ideal self shall be forever enshrined on the coasts of Iberia.
And then there is you, Ægir. You have defended the purpose of his sacrifice. You have persisted all this time, and never given up.
You've done well.
Jordi I-I never got to talk to him much, but... he... *sob*...
Um... what about Gran Faro? What's going to happen to my home?
Saint Carmen ...I usually don't answer every question from the general public.
But for now, I don't intend to lie to you. Gran Faro will soon be under the management of the Penal Battalion. The citizens will all come under their unified control, and contribute to the construction of frontline checkpoints.
Also... Thiago died at the hands of heretics.
Jordi No!
H-How could this happen? Uncle Thiago, is he really–?!
Saint Carmen He had long been aware of the Church of the Deep's cultists, yet turned a blind eye to them. His cover-up thwarted the plans of the Penal Battalion, and delayed our ability to send support here.
Even if he'd escaped death, he would not have escaped me, child.
Jordi ......
Jordi collapses limply onto the ground.
He feels numb and exhausted. He feels like the single string supporting him through everything that happened, long worn thin, had suddenly snapped.
Jordi Uncle Thiago... Why?
Kal'tsit ...Mon3tr, guard the entrance.
Mon3tr (Obeys cheerfully)
Saint Carmen Can you confirm where the Stultifera Navis was last seen?
Jordi ......
Saint Carmen Dame Kal'tsit.
Kal'tsit Not that far. And the last signal came less than forty-eight hours ago.
Saint Carmen What...?
She's still able to send signals?
Kal'tsit Breogan helped the Iberian royal family construct lighthouses and fleets. Why, if not for restoring a connection to his homeland?
Be it the Eye of Iberia or some transponder hidden in a corner in the Stultifera Navis, they all use the Ægir's technology without reservation.
Of course, all of this assumes that the Seaborn haven't already destroyed the ship or turned it into their nest.
Carmen's eyes silently follow the direction of the light extending towards the horizon.
The Stultifera Navis cannot be seen by the naked eye. The ocean is too expansive, and what's not too far for a ship is still a cruel joke to those on land.
The weary saint once again shows his age. His lips quiver, as if innumerable thoughts are crossing through his mind.
Saint Carmen Alfonso... Garcia... Touré... Julia...
Are you still out there?
<Background 2>
Skadi My captain and Gladiia pursued it into the sea.
We should go help them.
Specter No, we'd be better off waiting here. The waters are restless, and the Seaborns' scents swirl together. There's probably more than just one.
......
Did you hear something, Skadi?
Skadi What? No, I didn't.
Specter I see.
Captain Alfonso What have you done to this place?!
You, Ægirs, how'd you get in here?
I was the only one with the key, and when the ol' deadbeat kicked the bucket, I threw it into the ocean! It's been fifty years already!
Skadi If this is the power source for the vessel, wouldn't locking it up mean giving up hope?
Captain Alfonso The ol' deadbeat was the last engineer we had. When he died, we had nobody left who could fix the ship.
To make matters worse, we were already tangled up in the Seaborn, and couldn't get away. Didn't need anyone rocking the boat on my watch.
But answer me! How'd you find this place?!
Specter Breogan. The captain followed the clues he left, which led to Iberia, then here.
Captain Alfonso You people... you know the shipwright?
Specter Nope, not at all. I've always been more into the arts anyway.
But it really shouldn't come as a surprise. To return to Ægir, we must follow the trail of the Ægir–
–What's this?
Captain Alfonso Ah, you've even gotten your hands dirty digging up some of Breogan's personal belongings... Hasn't Ægir ever heard of respecting people's privacy?
Specter ......
Skadi What does it say?
Specter Breogan's experiences on land. A travel log, I guess?
Skadi Is this what the Captain's been looking for?
Specter No clue. Why don't you ask her yourself?
[Gladiia and Ulpianus joins in.]
Gladiia ...Just a small part of it.
Captain Alfonso Returning empty handed, eh?
Ulpianus It disappeared.
Furthermore, the reason we didn't chase any further is because there were signs of other Seaborn nearby.
They came here following distant scents and the calls of their kin.
Now, I don't mind skipping straight to the slaughter. But we should resolve the problem of this ship first.
Captain Alfonso You dare treat my Iberia as a prize to be taken?
Gladiia This ship is the only way for us to return to Ægir. And only it can contact our cities.
As for the issue of repairs, perhaps I might be more qualified than a handful of backwards Iberians who know little of Breogan's technology.
I can't pass up this opportunity, even if we must resort to force.
Skadi ......
Specter ......
Captain Alfonso Two against four, eh?
Chief Mate (Howls vigilantly) –
Ulpianus Three against three.
Skadi ...Captain?!
Ulpianus Not so fast, Gladiia.
Don't forget what I said.
Gladiia ...You never gave me a reason to give up on returning to Ægir.
Ulpianus I'm telling you, you don't know what it's like there now.
The Seaborn have never taken the initiative to attack our cities unless their nests and living spaces were threatened. Each act of slaughter, each act of destruction, has been fueled by the Ægir's degeneracy.
They thought we were dead. They lost contact with us. The blood of the Seaborn flow within us.
In all our long years of battling against these enemies, we finally have a prime opportunity.
Gladiia And you think these few acts of "degeneracy" have nothing to do with the scum we fight? Even if left alone, the Seaborn's living spaces will grow like a tumor until the entire ocean is devoured.
Ulpianus This and that are two separate issues.
Neither of which can be solved by heading home, rejoining the army, and marching forth once more.
Why don't we try thinking outside the box this time?
Gladiia So you've chosen to listen to those lowly beasts, to walk with them, to understand them.
Ulpianus They call us their kin, but what do we know about them? Far too little.
I can hardly even understand what I've seen myself. Until we've obtained definite answers about their gods, everything we do is uselessly groping around in the dark.
Skadi What are you talking about, Captain?!
You... You and the Seaborn... How do we know you're still on our side? Why do you have to...
Specter Every Hunter who thought they could get something out of the Seaborn has ended up disappearing.
Of course, you should understand that better than me.
Skadi Their whispers... resonate... They will invade your mind. Those are not your thoughts!
Ulpianus ...Skadi.
That's... also a separate issue. I'll let Gladiia give you the specifics.
Ship captain, escort them away.
Captain Alfonso I was just thinking the same thing, Ægir.
Gladiia ...What a pity.
Skadi & Specter ......
Stillness. Silence. Hunters long separated always seem to have the least pleasant of reunions.
Something squirms in the hearts of Skadi and Specter. The chief mate hesitates, its wounds still aching.
Swords are drawn, bowstrings stretched taut.
Quiet.
Too quiet.
Wait, how is this possible? The rushing of the waves, the howling of the wind, the creaking sounds of the hull being torn open by Seaborn–
They all become distant.
[Irene rushes into the engine room.]
Inquisitor Irene Hunters!
Th-The ship is sailing!
Captain Alfonso Nonsense, Old Iberian. Just how many years do you think–
Inquisitor Irene No, I swear it's true! Something's pushing the ship, and... it might've been pushing the ship the whole time we were chasing after the Seaborn.
And... from the very beginning, um...
Our surroundings have been unusually quiet.
<Background 4>
Rocinante *Huff*...
The Last Knight Kin, gather. Take this cell, and go far away.
Follow... We will follow. We will find the end of the storm.
Rocinante (Shakes head meekly)
The Last Knight The waves are fading.
Silence, is coming.
<Background 5>
Captain Alfonso I don't hear anything at all. After so many years of the waves washing against us, why...?
Everything, is just like that day...
Chief Mate (Cowers in pain and suffering)
Captain Alfonso Garcia! Ugh... My hand, it's shaking... Damn it, if I didn't need it to hunt, I would've lopped this thing off a long time ago.
What's the meaning of this, Ægir?!
Gladiia does not answer.
She imperceptibly reaches for her neck. The scales, the part of her that do not belong to her, are resonating with something.
Gladiia The scent of the Seaborn... The smell of the ocean, it's all gone. Look outside. It's way too peaceful.
How could this be?
Captain Alfonso Haah... What's going on? Why's it so quiet?
...Wait.
Did you hear that? What was that?
Was there something–
Inquisitor Irene "The ocean sank into an unprecedented silence. Anomalies appeared across the shore, as violently ebbing tides and irregular waves heralded the coming of disaster."
"All sounds were smothered. From waves crashing against the shore to the chiming of city clock towers, all noise faded away."
Until the voices of the people all disappeared as well.
Until the wind was stilled.
The Profound Silence came without a sound.
Inquisitor Irene Impossible, it's just like in the Inquisition's records. Are we facing... another Silence?!
Specter ......
[Specter walks away.]
Gladiia Shark, where are you going?
Specter Heading up to check things out.
Ulpianus I'll go with you.
Skadi Me too.
Ulpianus No, Skadi.
You and Gladiia stay here.
Gladiia ......
Ulpianus ...Skadi.
Skadi Why?]
Ulpianus Stay with Gladiia, and remember this one thing.
You will always be our Hunter.
Laurentina, let's go.
<Background 6>
Specter lifts her head towards the sky.
The dark clouds know not when to dissipate, but she, who has lost the concept of time, finds a sea of stars in the sky.
She can finally hear that voice.
The voice that calls out to her.
Specter paces around the deck, and Ulpianus casts her a concerned glance for just a moment.
Specter You and the captain have a keen sense of smell. Can you sense any Seaborn around us?
Ulpianus No, right now, there is little difference between here and the land.
Even though we're clearly floating out at sea. It's disconcerting.
I'll head the other way to see if we're really being pushed by a current.
Specter ...See you soon.
[Ulpianus heads off.]
Specter O starry sky.
This is the first time in many years I've seen the stars so clearly.
I had forgotten so many things. I forgot my home, was used by others, and what finally saved my life and awakened my memories was the part of me I hated most.
Accepting that I'm a freak actually wasn't as hard as it sounds. That's what makes me unique.
The one, final thing I am unable to let go of... is my home.
But have I really returned? Is this place on the sea's surface really Ægir? Is this still my home?
Just because Gladiia never said it doesn't mean I wouldn't realize. It wouldn't be the first time rifts have grown between Hunters, but between us and Ægir? We've been separated by the shore for too long.
...I remember something else.
When I was little, I once went with my parents and grandparents to watch the stars on the ocean's surface adorn the sky, on a day much like this. Even the most beautiful pearl geode couldn't compare to that splendor.
In retrospect, even after I became a Hunter, I was always leaving my home again and again, but never reaching anywhere else.
Haha... I suppose I'm getting a bit homesick.
Where are you going to take me this time, Amaia?
Silence SN.png
Under the magnificent starry sky, the creature quietly looks down on Specter.
It makes not a single sound. The ship splitting the waves, the wind's bluster. All sounds are drowned out by His soft murmurs.
He hovers in the air as if walking on water, gently kissing the light of the stars and moons, His tentacles coruscating in a beautiful array.
Seaborn Nowhere, Laurentina. The ocean is boundless, and wherever we go is all the same.
Specter I've always been able to hear your song, Amaia.
Seaborn Laurentina, that is the name of our scaleless kin, the Liberi, the Iberian.
As I consumed her, she kept stroking my head. She spoke to me of many things. Time itself was like frozen dust, an eternity seeming to pass as I listened to her.
Until she could no longer speak, until even her bones were digested by our smallest kin, she nurtured me with both nutrition and time. She taught me everything I know.
Specter Since when were you so sentimental towards your food?
Seaborn Such was her request, I merely granted it. If there is purpose to such emotions, we are willing to experiment.
What of Ishar'mla? Gladiia? And... Ulpianus?
Are your kin ready to return to the great sea?
Specter ...We've had a bit of an internal disagreement.
Seaborn Why? Your home is clearly right before your eyes. We many are clearly right here awaiting you.
You're homesick, Laurentina. Amaia told me that, of all the Ægir she ever made contact with, you harbor the greatest affection for Ægir itself.
Come.
Embrace me, and I will bring you back home.
Specter You know, I've never touched a living Seaborn before. I prefer your kind dead.
Seaborn Just as you prefer to give shape to inorganic matter, even though it offers nothing for your survival?
Specter Do you have any other pursuits other than "survival"?
Seaborn Pursuits? Like your pursuit to return home?
The survival of our kind. The survival of more of us. The survival of we many.
All beings ought to form a single entity. Life should not be so disorderly.
<Background 5>
The Seaborn descends onto the deck.
Specter laughs.
Specter You're a graceful one. Did Amaia teach you that as well?
Seaborn It was just her request. A memento.
Specter I suppose that means you'll be paying back both of our debts?
Seaborn ...Ah, before her death, Amaia entrusted you to me. I will make use of your life. I will also fulfill your requests.
Amaia thanks you. She said I should help you. Because of you, their work was able to take another step forward. Their "research" and "ideals" have all advanced greatly.
I can talk to you about Ishar'mla. I can take you back to Ægir. I can share with you where our kind are, and how they are doing. I can name your clansmen who are trying to become one with us.
Amaia begged me to help you. Only through helping you, will you accept us as kin.
Specter ...Hah.
In that case, my first request is...
Stop singing. I want to hear the wind of my hometown.
Seaborn Very well.
In an instant, the wind and the waves return to Specter's ears.
Just as the sound of the first waves splashing against the deck rings out clearly, Ulpianus's giant blade is already poised above the Seaborn's head.
Ulpianus Die.
[Ulpianus swings his axe at the graceful Seaborn, which turns out to be the tenacious juvenile Seaborn from before that has evolved into another level after assimilating Amaia, but it blocks the strike...]
Ulpianus What–?! It managed to block? –Nngh!
[...and retaliates with such force that Ulpianus is thrown overboard.]
Specter Ulpianus!
Seaborn A sufficiently heavy blow. Our kin in the ocean will welcome his unconscious form. They will take him back to our nest, where we will spend time becoming one with him.
As for this floating box... it has been used to house our kin who have not yet adapted to the sea. But most of them died, and the rest have refused to become one with us.
Therefore, it is no longer needed.
Specter is unable to see the Seaborn's movements, but like a piece of garbage being swept aside by a pedestrian, the once-glorious cannon mounted on the ship vanishes in the blink of an eye.
A few seconds later, an enormous splash in the distance reveals where the steel construct had gone.
Specter (How did it manage to slice off that cannon? With its tail?!)
Shit–
Specter's eyes are unable to follow.
Whether shaken by the ease with which Ulpianus was repelled, or distracted by the sound of the metal cannon being sliced through, Specter is easily struck and sent crashing into the deck.
She was unable to see the attack at all.
Seaborn Come, let us return to the sea.
Whether to hunt, or to communicate, or to evolve, we must all return to the sea.
[Irene shows up and fires her handcannon at the Seaborn.]
Inquisitor Irene Halt!
Captain Alfonso You trying to take apart my ship, you monster?!
Garcia!
Chief Mate (Roars) –!
The chief mate charges at the Seaborn.
But before even laying a finger on that elegant being, the chief mate's movements suddenly freeze.
Kin. This is kin.
I am attacking my own kind?
[The Seaborn struck Garcia amidst their confusion.]
Chief Mate Guh...?!
Seaborn What a paradoxical being. You have consumed many of our kin, yet many more go hungry. You ought to feed them.
Turn into nutrients, and nourish our kind.
Captain Alfonso Garcia!
What are you doing to my chief mate?!
[The Seaborn attacks Capt. Alfonso with such force that it knocks him back.]
Captain Alfonso –Ugh!
Gaah... Goddamnit!
Chief Mate ......!
Captain Alfonso Don't worry, I'm alright... *cough*.
Chief Mate ......
Alfonso...
Captain Alfonso What is it...?
Wait, hold on, what?! Garcia, you–
Chief Mate Alfonso.
Today is... the last day... of our voyage.
All these years... I... always treated myself as... a monster. Easier... that way.
I know. If I die... you'll be lonely... and then you'll die. You shouldn't... die... so I'm... worthless.
Today is the last day... of our voyage.
I... I think I already... feel kinship towards it.
Captain Alfonso No! No!
Garcia! You can still talk! You're still yourself!
Chief Mate No.
Time... is up. The Stultifera... will soon sink. The fluorescent sea has already started... to corrode the ship.
I–
–Will fight to the death, as an Iberian. I will never... accept it as my kin.
Seaborn ......
The Seaborn has already bent down.
It looks hardly any different from the greatest chief mate Iberia has ever known.
Garcia nudges the shining crown sitting atop its head.
Chief Mate (Iberian) My beloved... Remember... your duty.
Captain Alfonso ......
[Garcia charges at the Seaborn...]
Chief Mate (Roars) –
Seaborn You are not fighting me, Garcia.
[...but it anticipates their attack by stabbing them...]
Chief Mate Graaaaah–
Seaborn You are fighting we many inside your heart. You are on this ship, but you thirst for the sea.
[...as they continue to struggle.]
Chief Mate Urgh– Hraaaagh–
Seaborn But it doesn't matter.
Become sustenance, and nourish our kin. Or, become one with us.
The Chief Mate's body is punctured, blood gushing out like a spring.
The Seaborn tosses Garcia overboard into the ocean, like chucking out bait.
It gazes from above, noble and impassive, like an inviolable eikon.
Inquisitor Irene What... What just happened?
How could it so easily–
Seaborn Human, kin, and all living things in between.
Amaia wishes to correct you. And thus, it shall be done. I simply welcome back my kin, and welcome back Ishar-mla.
Protect the lives of our kin. Then, return to we many. "Return home."
Gladiia Shark.
Skadi & Specter
Gladiia effortlessly steps forward, casting off the gentle beckoning from behind.
In the space of a moment, Skadi, who had been standing behind her, and Specter, once again returning to battle, react in sync and brandish their weapons at the Seaborn.
As the fastest of the group, Gladiia would improve the synergy between the three if she slowed down a bit–but she had already lost the capacity to stay calm.
[The Abyssal Hunters trio charges at the Seaborn, but...]
Seaborn ......
It dodges. Or more accurately, it simply takes a step forward, but its speed is sufficient.
It has its eyes only on Skadi.
Seaborn There are many among us who wish to see you. Ishar-mla. Ishar'mla.
Skadi –!
Seaborn Our kind awaits you. We await you. We hope you will answer our call.
Gladiia Filth, is there no end to your arrogance?
Gladiia whirls her lance at the Seaborn, but it does not evade. It is run through, its body easily lifted and smashed down into a deep pit.
Seaborn ......
[Gladiia dropped down to the Seaborn...]
Gladiia No good... What's happened to your body?
Seaborn Soon, many kin, many kin in need, will reach my heights.
We are changing every day. Gladiia. We are one whole. You are of the strongest batch.
[...followed by Skadi and Specter.]
Skadi ...Where's my captain?
Specter Tossed into the sea. He was injured pretty badly.
Skadi ......
Gladiia Even their gods were unable to devour Ulpianus. He won't die so easily.
Its body seems to have undergone some changes. It's nothing like the trash we encountered in Sal Viento.
Specter Swordfish? Treating an enemy with caution rather than contempt? Maybe I'm still missing some memories, but does that ever happen, Skadi?
Skadi No, you're right, it is rare. But Seaborn like this were also rare. What kind of prey stands before three Hunters and remains unscathed?
Specter To be fair, I've barely done anything yet.
Skadi The ship won't hold out if we keep fighting like this, though. It's grown much stronger.
[Capt. Alfonso drops down.]
Captain Alfonso ...Just the last few blows have already set the lowest deck on fire.
How dare you treat Garcia and my ship like this! I'll make you regret this, monster.
Seaborn ......
Please, my kin, even more of our kin call out to me, asking me to maintain the ocean's growth and tranquility.
If you get in my way, I have no choice but to consume you. I beg of you, return to our kind.
Specter Hey, Amaia.
Seaborn ...If you insist on calling me that.
Specter Sure do. Anyway, I just remembered something which REALLY should've been written into those Scriptures–
Seaborn What?
Specter She still owes me her life, and you're going to pay it back.
Seaborn A debt? If you are willing to return to our kind, I will grant you that.
Specter No can do.
Seaborn ......
The Seaborn does not answer.
It silently leans forward, baring its claws.
In an instant, the damage to the ship's hull passes a critical threshold, and everything in sight shakes violently.
Seaborn ...Minutes. Yes, your kind's conception of time. Amaia spoke of this before.
Ten minutes.
In ten minutes this box will be surrounded by our kin. It will "sink."
Hunt and consume. Survive and evolve.
It has never hesitated.

After operation

The Stultifera sinks in the heat of battle, and a brand new expedition is crushed by the ocean. The extraordinarily ordinary Jordi manages to save the most lives of all, but no one comes to the rescue of Iberia and Ægir.
<Background 2>
Jordi ......
Saint Carmen This... isn't possible.
If true, then this whole time, the Abyssal Hunters have been looking for something right under their noses.
Kal'tsit What that possibility signifies is too vile to put into words.
From beginning to end, the Eye of Iberia has always born witness to the aftermath of calamity. But it is just a sinking eyeball, unable to speak.
Saint Carmen ...What does this mean?
Kal'tsit It means Ægir's demise is accelerating.
It means that... if even cities at this distance are sending out distress signals, then the Stultifera Navis has been circling above their nest since the very beginning.
...The Hunters are all in danger.
Saint Carmen I know what you're thinking, but we have only one ship and the two of us.
Saving the Stultifera was not realistic.
Kal'tsit You may not mind a few Abyssal Hunters dying at sea, but what we would be strangling in its cradle is opportunity. For both Ægir and Iberia.
Saint Carmen ......
Kal'tsit Dario died a warrior's death. Wouldn't you want to gain some valuable knowledge from the mouth of the surviving Inquisitor?
This is our last chance.
Saint Carmen No. A powerless city, almost reduced to ruins. How many Ægir have already fallen to the ocean?
We must act cautiously, or we will be leaping into the flames.
Kal'tsit Even so, this is our last chance.
If we wait until Ægir can no longer respond, until another Silence has fallen over Iberia, then indeed, the true enemy will appear.
But at that point, would it matter?
I understand you have your responsibilities. You don't want to take any risks until the Penal Battalion has full control over this place.
So I'll go alone.
Saint Carmen ...I know better than to underestimate the power of you and your pet, but it's a long trip. Are you sure you'll make it on your own?
Kal'tsit The Hunters bleed a special kind of blood. Sea Terrors aren't necessarily that hostile towards ordinary ships.
Saint Carmen I can only hope you didn't just make that up to assuage my fears.
Kal'tsit That's not a lie I would have come up with anyway. Regardless, I can't leave the Hunters behind.
Jordi ......
Saint Carmen *sigh*...
You'd better bring back the Hunters and Irene, Kal'tsit.
Kal'tsit I will.
Jordi Ah, um...
Is there anything I can do to help?
<Background 1>
Kal'tsit Mon3tr, survey our surroundings. If those Sea Terrors went back into hiding underwater, don't rile them up.
We need time, since the ship's taken some damage from the trip.
Mon3tr (Answers with a nod)
Jordi This ship...
Kal'tsit The one the Hunters took was left by the Inquisition's spies.
Lord Carmen's original plan was to join up with the Penal Battalion at Gran Faro, establish a frontline headquarters, and push forward on a medium-sized naval vessel.
So, this lone boat, abandoned on the shores of Gran Faro, is our final hope.
Jordi I, I can help... I'll go take a look at the boat. I've never actually repaired a ship before, but I do have some tools with me.
Um, can you really head out to sea on something like this?
Kal'tsit If you don't think so, then probably not– Wait!
Out of the way, Jordi!
Jordi Woah, huh?!
[A pack of Sea Terrors reveal themselves from behind the reefs.]
Jordi S-Sea Terrors?!
Waaaaah–
Kal'tsit They were hiding in the shadow of the reef? Mon3tr!
Mon3tr (Screeches excitedly)
[Mon3tr vaporizes the Sea Terrors, but...]
Kal'tsit Jordi! Get off the boat!
Jordi I, I can't, something's pushing on it! The anchor's gone!
I'll try to steer it back–
Kal'tsit Jump off! The Sea Terrors are swarming around it!
Mon3tr, go rescue him.
Jordi Wait, wait– Then we'd lose the boat then! I, I'll try to steer it back! Urgh!
Watch out behind you!
Kal'tsit
[A Sea Terror attempts to attack Kal'tsit from behind, but Mon3tr rips it apart before it could get too close.]
Kal'tsit Save Jordi first.
Mon3tr (Cheers in response)
Kal'tsit Whirlpools, changing currents, and the Sea Terrors are unusually active again... What's going on here?
<Background 4>
Mon3tr (Stretches out claws)
Jordi You want me to grab on and fly back with you? But, then the boat will– Woah?!
Mon3tr (Screeches urgently)
Jordi I, I...
Jordi knows that if doesn't take this opportunity, then he'll drift into the endless ocean along with the ship.
There's no other choice. He has to return to the Eye of Iberia and hide inside the lighthouse.
Just like he hid in that little town for over a decade.
Just like he hid when Dario died.
Just like with Thiago.
He clings to the mast to avoid falling into the aberrant waves. Mon3tr is visibly dissatisfied, urging him on.
Sea Terrors leap from the water's surface from time to time, darting back and forth rapidly and kicking up plumes of water. The Eye of Iberia is already becoming smaller and smaller.
He sees words carved crookedly into the boat's mast:
"Gran Faro"
Jordi ...I will go in Kal'tsit's place.
All I have to do is... find that ship, and bring everyone back, right? That doesn't sound too hard...
No...
Compared to losing the ship and waiting helplessly under the lighthouse... it's a gamble I have to take!
I can do this on my own!
<Background 5>
Seaborn As long as even one of our kin touches upon the ultimate answer to life, we will be able to re-weave the laws of the cosmos from beginning to end.
Before we are given our next Revelation, we shall find a way.
Even if Ishar'mla refuses to answer. Even if our kind will never know the divine Will.
We will still survive.
[Gladiia attacks the Seaborn...]
Gladiia Shark.
Specter Of course.
[...followed by Specter...]
Seaborn Hmm.
Our kin have conveyed their will. Nutrients are sufficient. No longer must we feed on each other.
I should return to the nest. You should come with me.
[...and Skadi.]
Skadi Running away so soon?
It barely took any damage, but the ship's in tatters.
Specter You're still going on about that stuff, Amaia? Why don't just stay put and let me kill you like a good girl?
Seaborn Our kind calls me back. They call for me to share my fruits with them.
I shall heed their call. When that is done, I shall heed your call. I shall seek you out, and you shall kill me.
Specter Haha... Of course I can't let you leave. If I let you go, how many Seaborn just like you are going to end up all over the place?
Amaia sure knows how to make things hard for me. If only she were as simple and straightforward as Quintus.
What a shame I couldn't keep her around with that dance.
Seaborn ......!
[Skadi attacks the Seaborn by surprise...]
Skadi You talk too much, scum!
[...sending them crashing out of the hall.]
<Background 7>
[The Seaborn walks toward Skadi...]
Seaborn Ishar-mla. I've always wanted to meet you.
What happened? Why doesn't He speak anymore? Where is He?
[...who rises up.]
Skadi Pah... It's like hacking at water. No resistance at all.
Seaborn Are you Him? Is He you?
Skadi I have no idea what you're talking about. If you mean that big guy, He's already dead.
Seaborn Death. Withering. He exists beyond these concepts. His voice, by no means signifies the end of life.
Skadi What do your kind call Him? The same as those cultists? Your 'god' has already withered and fallen into the abyss.
Seaborn God?
No. This is what we call Him–
Ishar-mla.
I'm here.
The hardship we suffer is ever present.
The life we thirst for is ever present.
Skadi ......
Seaborn Ishar-mla. Once more, I feel His pulse.
Kin. You swam together to His abode in the abyss, where even death drowns.
We have lost contact with Him, but His choices can only lead to the future.
Kin, your information... Nay, the flow of your emotions.
You feel it, Ishar-mla. Because you have left the arid land and returned home.
Our blood flows in your veins. His blood flows in your veins. You are Him.
Skadi ...No.
I am the Abyssal Hunter, Skadi.
Seaborn No matter. As you say, thus you are. Abyssal Hunter, Ska-di.
Ishar-mla, we await His answer. Be it on the other end of time, He will answer us.
Until then, until our answer finally comes–
–We many shall live on.
Gladiia silently appears behind the Seaborn, the lance in her hand actually puncturing the creature's body.
It is followed immediately by the cacophony of a whirling chainsaw.
Specter Too slow. You're becoming weak, so just accept getting turned into paste.
Seaborn Nngh–!
[As Specter lodges her buzzsaw to the Seaborn, Skadi follows up with a slash, but...]
Skadi –Too shallow, it's not good enough! Ugh!
The heat of the sweltering flames sweeps down the long corridor. The Stultifera is groaning.
The Seaborn does not attack the vulnerable Skadi.
It simply stares at her in silence. A very strange sensation. Just like at Sal Viento.
It is "watching" her, Skadi thinks.
Specter Ugh, the ship is... at its limit. It'll start sinking very soon.
Seaborn ......
Gladiia It's trying to get away! Argh!
Skadi Below you!
[The floor collapses.]
<Background 3>
[The Seaborn lands on the engine room with Irene waiting.]
Seaborn ......
Inquisitor Irene Don't move, monster.
I won't allow you to return to the sea.
Seaborn You are pitifully weak, human. Even as nutrition, you are not enough to nourish our kin.
Now that nutrients are plentiful, we require only time.
This place is far from your territory. You have no reason to interfere with us.
Inquisitor Irene You and your kind cannot be judged by the law. I don't think I have any means of eradicating you for Iberia either.
Seaborn Law? Burdensome rules of survival, as Amaia once said.
Compared to our kin, you are indeed too weak.
Inquisitor Irene –But I will not let you escape, ocean scum.
This is the last shot.
[Irene fires her handcannon, but it barely damages the Seaborn.]
Seaborn ......
Inquisitor Irene And sure enough, I can't even... *cough*... leave a scar on you...
Seaborn Emotional. How strange, human. You are so weak, driven by emotions, trying to escape my hunger.
Escape, yes. Escape. Fear? But why do you still stand here then? Why do you attack me? Why... do you not flee from me?
Do you... also wish to make a contribution to "we many"?
Inquisitor Irene ...Hmph.
Who gave you the right to interrogate me?
Seaborn ......
The Seaborn no longer speaks. The creature before it is not kin.
Predation does not require the tool called language.
But before it can strike, a shadow drops down from the darkness of the ceiling.
[Capt. Alfonso drops onto the Seaborn and strikes it.]
Inquisitor Irene Alfonso?!
Captain Alfonso Tch. Haven't seen the color of its blasted blood since it became like this.
This hunt– *spit*. Is almost over. You killed my chief mate, and you WILL pay.
Seaborn You both, paradoxical beings. You still refuse to become our kin.
You have eaten many of us. Yet you refuse to become part of us.
...Make your choice. Not much time remains.
Hunt, acquire nutrients, return to we many.
Or, cease your bodily movements, give up the gift of life, and pass it on to our other kin.
Choose.
Captain Alfonso ...Irene.
Inquisitor Irene Yes! Um, why are you calling my name, though?
Captain Alfonso Tell me, do you have a way to return to land?
Inquisitor Irene I...
But I must go back.
I can't stand against the Seaborn, but Iberia can. I'll carry this final warning with me. What happened to all of you, what Gladiia saw, I must bring all of it back.
Captain Alfonso You're starting to sound like a Messenger.
Inquisitor Irene ...That's fine. I can be whatever I want.
But I must go back.
[The Stultifera Navis starts to creak and rumble.]
Inquisitor Irene Ngh?!
Captain Alfonso My ship is about to sink.
Sixty years. It's been over sixty years. But because of your arrival, we must now face the end.
...Tell me.
How does Iberia remember the great Captain Alfonso?
Inquisitor Irene ......
"Alfonso Under the Pomegranate Tree". "The Hero, Alfonso." "The Sunken Alfonso."
There are many people... who held onto hope that the Stultifera never sank. But we weren't able to head out to sea.
If... If you really are Lord Alfonso...
You have become a paragon to countless Iberian soldiers.
Captain Alfonso Hmph... Pomegranate tree, huh... How pretentious.
A flash of intense passion shimmers across the captain's eyes.
Since the dark clouds and turbulent waves trapped them inside this cage, few things have ever stirred his heart.
Captain Alfonso It's gotten weaker.
I'll hold it back.
Seaborn ......
[Explosions are heard.]
Inquisitor Irene E-Explosions?!
Captain Alfonso I thought the Originium boilers got knocked out of commission a long time ago, but the impact just now seems to have ignited the engine.
The flames will spread upward. I've always wondered how these things taste flame-grilled.
Seaborn ......!
The heat makes the Seaborn uncomfortable.
It has become weak. Its kin are encircling it. It is unable to reach the sea.
It screams. But its calls are not answered.
No. Kin are coming. Closer. It can hear the voices of its kin.
They speak–
Specter Die.
Gladiia does not hesitate. Skadi and Specter sever its body.
It tries to regenerate. It tries to break free. But this time, Alfonso clings to its body in a death grip.
He makes use of his already mutated arm.
It feels its lifeforce slipping away.
It sees Specter raise her weapon again.
Specter Goodbye, Amaia.
Let's write off the debt this time.
[Just as the Hunters are about to land a coup de grace on the Seaborn...]
<Flashback starts here>
<Background 8>
Amaia ......
Sal Viento Bishop What? You want to talk to her again? What can that filth possibly say that's worth hearing?
Amaia You don't understand, Quintus.
She told me about her life in Ægir.
Sal Viento Bishop So what? If you want knowledge, a Herald can tell you far more.
All we need to do is summon the Voice of the Deeps, and you will be able to obtain anything you want.
Amaia That's why I said you don't understand, Quintus.
What I want to deconstruct, to witness, to caress, to break... has never been those cities. On land or in water, it's all the same.
I want to hear about their lives. About the wonderful lives they once had, about how they built their society, about how they defended their home.
About how they cannibalized each other. About how they met their destruction, just like us.
Sal Viento Bishop Like us?
Amaia The people who defile Ægir are Ægirs like you. The people who defile Iberia are Iberians like me.
Heh... The results of the experiment are already plain as day. If we still need more comparisons, she'll go mad and hate us.
She'll hate us, and to be honest, I hate them too. Self-destructive soldiers. A self-righteous country. Falling into a self-inflicted trap.
But sometimes... You have to admit that we're more like them, more like humans, than we are like Seaborn.
We'll probably be fighting forever.
<Flashback ends here>
<Background 3>
Inquisitor Irene –It worked!
Hey, Captain Alfonso, are you alright?!
Captain Alfonso ...Compared to my ship, not half bad.
Specter Are you really dead, Amaia? It can't be that easy, can it?
Seaborn (Limbs twitch)
Gladiia Don't waste your breath on it.
Seaborn (Convulsing) Lauren...
Specter I'm here. I'm right here.
Seems like our positions are reversed now, Amaia.
Too bad for you, I've never... been one for science experiments. Not in the slightest.
Seaborn (Quivers with torn muscles)
Specter Go ahead and die, you inferior, evolution-crazed creature.
And be forgotten.
Seaborn
[Specter finishes off the tenacious Seaborn once and for all.]
Specter ...That should settle things.
Skadi No.
Seaborn. Even more Seaborn are nearby. They're approaching.
Specter And this ship's about to go down.
Even when my consciousness was hazy, I was still aware of how much effort it took for us to get here. Seems like we'll be running up against another wall.
Specter Did you get what you came for, Swordfish?
Gladiia Ulpianus took it.
It's our fault that we failed to preserve the prototype technology on this ship, but...
That doesn't mean we came here in vain.
Captain Alfonso ......
Gladiia Captain.
Captain Alfonso Hmph.
It doesn't matter. Garcia already said that today's the last day of our voyage.
...For a long, long time, our will to survival has been slowly eaten away.
At first, our greatest enemies were anxiety, suspicion, uncertainty, and fear. But later...
Our emotions started drifting away from us. A longing for the ocean gnawed at our nerves, and one after another one, we forgot the glory of being a crewmember of the Stultifera Navis.
I watched them jump into the sea one by one, or I beheaded them before they could. I admit... that was a bit extreme.
This long nightmare of survival has finally come to an end.
[Water starts to pour through the Stultifera Navis' hull.]
Gladiia Seawater is pouring into the ship. This whole place is being eaten by the nethersea brand.
Captain Alfonso Inquisitor, this technology here, these Originium boiler techniques, will they be useful to the current Iberia?
Inquisitor Irene Everything on the Stultifera is a precious national treasure. Ever since the Profound Silence, Iberia has had a large amount of Islander technology that cannot be reproduced.
And it's not just because we lost our fleet and our cities. Because of the judgment we passed on the Ægir, we lost so much of our talent too.
It was... necessary. Even now, I don't think that a soft-hearted strategy full of kindness could have combatted the Church of the Deep.
If, today, we are forced to lose Stultifera Navis–the Ship of Fools–then I think... it would be a heavy blow, but it's something that was doomed to happen from the start.
Captain Alfonso ......
Hmph, hogwash. The state religion's always been like this.
Ægirs.
Take care of the Iberian. She can't swim back.
Specter ...That I can promise you.
[Explosions rocked the Stultifera Navis.]
Skadi The explosions are getting worse–this side's leaning!
Gladiia We need to go, Skadi. Cut off a bit of the rafters above you!
<Background 6>
Specter Hurry! Irene!
Inquisitor Irene I, I know! But what about Alfonso?!
Skadi How far will the currents take us? Or are we going to go around in circles? Isn't this place on top of their nest?
Gladiia Regardless, looks like we're going to have to swim back.
Inquisitor Irene W-What?!
[The Hunters and Irene jumped into the water.]
<Background 5>
Captain Alfonso ...Go. Get the hell off of my ship, like I told you from the start.
Just go. I'll stay here. This is my Iberia, and the captain goes down with the ship.
......
Alfonso slowly lowers himself into the throne. He closes his eyes.
The warmth of the bright Iberian sun as it splashes at an angle across the deck.
The aroma of a winery. The melody of his hometown.
A damp and empty room. Freshly burgeoning petri dishes.
The ocean's waves.
The ocean he once knew. The warmth of Garcia's hand. Breogan's lonely countenance. Carmen's smile. His comrades' roars resonating through the sky.
He opens his eyes, and lets out a hearty laugh as everything is consumed by the flames.
His laughter crosses through time, until it reaches a small town of pomegranate flowers, where one can smell the sea upon the breeze, and mingles with the first cries of a newborn child.
Alfonso. That is what the people call him.
He lifts his old, rusty blade, and places it against his neck. He prays. He laughs.
Captain Alfonso Hah. What a joke! Remember this well, Irene! Return to land and sing the praises of Alfonso's feats!
The last monster that Alfonso slew... was himself!
Final Note.png
The ship breaks apart.
The glow of the flame blankets a sea that had been silent for nearly a hundred years.
An era comes to an end.
A legend passes into history.
In the distance, the sun rises.
Here sinks the Stultifera, and with it, the long-cherished wishes of Iberia, nay, of all civilization.
All succumbing to calamity.
<Background 2>
Saint Carmen ......!
Kal'tsit What's the matter?
Saint Carmen I think I heard... a voice.
No, it must be my old age. These things happen.
Kal'tsit Lord Carmen...
You're crying?
<Background black>
Water?
Right...
The Stultifera... sank.
I'm in the ocean? The ocean... is a dangerous place.
It's dangerous, yes.
I have to return to Iberia!
[...]
Inquisitor Irene Glub–! Gurgle–!
Specter Stop trying to breathe like that. Underwater breathing is beyond you. Most Ægirs can't either.
I want to say something in return. But of course, I am underwater, and cannot.
Despite trying to contain my instincts, I can't help but clutch at her clothes like a helpless child.
But, I can see it.
The light reflected in her pupils.
Light of the Abyss.png
It comes from the bottom of the sea.
Specter does not say anything, but I can feel her arms trembling slightly around me.
Maybe because of the battle we just fought? Maybe? Or, something to do with the light?
Specter I'll bring you back up. Hang on tight.
Inquisitor Irene –Glub!
My vision blurs.
So that's... what the bottom of the ocean... looks like.
Then–
–Is this Ægir?
<Background 4>
The Seaborn quietly watches the distant flames disappearing beneath the waters.
The ship sinks into the ocean. Along with the flames. Along with everything.
Its kin answer its call. They all return to the many.
Surrounded by the many's embrace, it takes only a moment for the dying to be given new life.
Seaborn
Ishar-mla. I will bring you all, back home.
[Suddenly something drags the Seaborn into the water.]
Seaborn ?!
Chief Mate –Let's all, die together, with Alfonso.
The chief mate grips the Seaborn in its jaws and charges all the way into the seabed's murky darkness.
Its lover. Its memories. Its identity. As its charge slows, its consciousness dissolves into the ocean.
But still it bites down on the Seaborn.
Seaborn The waters, make you nostalgic. Swim, and you will awaken.
Accept it. You are one of we many. We have long awaited you.
Chief Mate No– No......
I am... Garcia... I am... Alfonso's...
Seaborn Then why did you stop swimming? Your signal is just like mine.
Your wounds have all healed. You are accepting who you are.
Chief Mate No–!
Seaborn Why no?
The Chief Mate's consciousness is blurring.
Is it biting down on this Seaborn? Or, is it leaping into the Seaborn's embrace, seeking its succor?
It... It is forced to accept.
The sea makes it very comfortable. The Seaborn's thoughts flood into its mind.
Is it Garcia, Chief Mate of the Stultifera?
No, it is a Seaborn. It is one of we many–
[Ulpianus shows up and strikes down both Garcia and the Seaborn.]
Seaborn Glub... (sounds of bubbles being blown) Gurgle... (sounds of bubbles popping)
Chief Mate You...
[Ulpianus looked at Garcia as they and the Seaborn sink into the depths.]
Ulpianus You will die a human being, Garcia.
A step up from Amaia.
Seaborn Ul...pianus... Kin...
......
Chief Mate Thank... you...
Ulpianus watches the two sink to the bottom of the ocean, seemingly locked in an embrace beyond death. Like flowers growing side-by-side, they shrink, and wither. And beyond a certain depth, they are carried away by the undercurrent.
He does not lift his head until they are completely out of sight.
<Background 9>
Ulpianus Why?
......
Gladiia, you must heed my warnings.