Something's Gotta Give

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Something's Gotta Give A Light Spark in Darkness
Previous Lone Ranger
RI Operator icon.png
Bitter Root
Nobleman B icon.png
Dossoles Thug B icon.png
Boil Brawler
Victorian Guard A icon.png
Guards' Captain
Victorian Guard A icon.png
Guards Member
Bounty Hunter B icon.png
Hooligan Mercenary
Reunion Soldier A icon.png
Wildlands Morning
Victoria RI Office
Victoria Streets
Underground Passage
Underground Rubble
RI Surgery Room
Quercus returns to Caladon. Susie tips off the Guards, but finds herself kidnapped before escaping during an accidental explosion. Councilor Bishmer's conspiracy at last comes to light.
<Background 1>
November 26th, 1097, 9:33 A.M.
Wasteland vagabond settlement, 40km out from Caladon City
The Druid of Gododdin stands upon the barrens, silent and sedate, before a low mound.
Quercus "He cheated death."
"Wrested its most ready of victories."
"He left with pride for the place of his eternal sleep."
She calls out, waving her staff.
The sun rises. This is but one more ordinary burial in the wastelands of Terra.
<Background fades out and in>
Quercus Here's the wine we agreed on.
It's not very strong, but don't drink too much.
Calm Wastelander What about Mae's bottle?
I want to pour it out here, where she's buried.
Depressed Wastelander *Sigh*... Even though Quercus went through all that trouble?
Quercus Don't worry about it. Let it return to the earth.
[Quercus pours the bottle to the ground.]
Depressed Wastelander You said you could brew it in three weeks... but never did we imagine that she wouldn't last that long.
*Sigh*... It's just the two of us now.
Calm Wastelander Alright, man, cheer up. Here's to Mae.
Depressed Wastelander To Mae...
[The wastelanders and Quercus have a toast.]
Quercus Yeah, to Mae.
Calm Wastelander Security in Caladon has been tight as of late, Quercus. We couldn't go inside to find you.
I know it wouldn't have helped. The disease we have is incurable, and it was her time to go.
It's just... the way she cried those last couple of days. It was hard to watch.
*Sigh*... You've sent so many of us on our way. You know how much it hurts.
She begged me to put her out of her misery with my Arts, but I couldn't do it.
Then... the next day, we found her at the bottom of the hill. She was asleep. Her eyes were closed. She didn't have to cry again.
There wasn't anyone there. She didn't infect anyone, and she didn't bother any of us. Everything was fine. It was all good. I just thought it was...
Quercus A little lonely, right?
Calm Wastelander Yeah, lonely.
Here, another round.
[The three have another toast.]
Quercus Mmhmm.
Don't throw out the rest of the wine. Save it for the living.
Depressed Wastelander Alright, if you say so.
Oh, right, the Catastrophe Messenger—Miss Elba. She stopped by a few days ago. Here's a letter she wanted us to pass on to you.
Quercus A letter from Elba the "Chaser?"
Depressed Wastelander Right, didn't you ask her to help you look into how the Duke's encampment is doing?
We've been seeing quite a few army convoys heading north the last couple days. Makes you wonder what those bigwigs in the city are up to.
Quercus Whatever it is, it's probably no good... Be absolutely careful.
Anyway, I need to head back now. Whatever happens, take care of yourself.
Here's some medicine for you. It's winter now, and it'll only get colder. If you get chilblains, use some of this.
Depressed Wastelander "FrostNova"... What a funny name for an ointment.
Calm Wastelander When will we see you again, Quercus?
Quercus Hmm... I'm not sure.
Calm Wastelander Alright, alright. I get it.
If that's going to be difficult... mind if I ask you one last question?
Quercus Ask me as many as you want. We still have plenty of wine.
Calm Wastelander Why are you helping us? The medicine's not cheap, right?
You often come to us wastelanders for information. Who do you work for?
We're just curious, we've known you so long... They say you probably used to be an officer in the military...
Honestly, it doesn't much matter to us who you really are. We don't care for the righteousness of the city folks. You're helping us live longer, so we'll help you out, whatever it is you're doing.
Quercus No, I want to tell you the truth, but I doubt you'll believe me.
If I told you that there was a group of people who have been trying to save the Infected, would you believe me?
<Background 2>
November 28th, 1097, 2:28 P.M.
[Kite is talking with Quercus.]
Kite the Recorder So the Duke of Gododdin actually took his forces to Londinium?
Quercus Yes, I'm sure of it.
Kite the Recorder How big were his forces?
Quercus The wastelanders saw at least two high-speed battleships sailing through. The Catastrophe Messenger also told me that she saw the siege troops leave their encampment too.
Kite the Recorder That's bad news... All eight dukes are taking their forces to Londinium...
Anyway, I'll fill Captain Root in on the news.
Right, and I'm done with what Dr. Kal'tsit wanted me to take care of. Be extra careful with this document, please.
Here are the nomadic platform entrance permits to four dukedoms, and this is Rhodes Island's business permit for operating in Victoria.
Quercus "Industrial Waste Recycling and Processing".
Couldn't we have just told them our usual line of business?
Kite the Recorder Victoria is especially strict with corporations that deal in Oripathy prevention, and each dukedom operates differently. It's too much of a hassle, so this is simpler. We need to get our foot in the door first.
Quercus I see...
Kite the Recorder Also, here's a letter from Lady Heidi. Make sure you hand it to Dr. Kal'tsit directly!
Quercus Understood. Don't worry.
Kite the Recorder I'll head back to the town archives now... My coworkers are going to get suspicious if I disappear for too long.
Oh, right! There's one more thing I need to tell you.
The place you were using as a hideout, the Green Spark. Someone burned it down a few days ago.
Quercus What?!
Kite the Recorder Captain Root's been waiting for you. You should head to the office soon.
Quercus The shop was burned down? Why...?
<Background 3>
November 28th, 1097, 3:15 P.M.
[Quercus enters the R.I. office in Caladon.]
Quercus Captain, I'm back.
Bitter Root Oh, nice work out there, Quercus.
Susie "Captain"?!
Quercus Susie!
Susie Quercus, Mr. Root was your... captain?
Quercus So this is where you were... I was so worried.
Susie You've been working for Rhodes Island...?
Bitter Root Hahaha... I... I'll tell you everything later.
But perfect timing, Quercus. We have a severely infected patient in here.
Quercus How are they?
Bitter Root She's having an acute attack. Luckily, Susie got her to us in time.
We're finished with the basic precautions. I'll leave the rest to you.
Quercus Okay, let's see.
Hand me the testing reagent.
Bitter Root Here.
Quercus She's too weak. We need to give her an IV...
Susie Quercus...
Quercus Hm?
Susie Can you cure Oripathy?
Quercus No, I can't, and no one can. But Rhodes Island developed some medicine that can at least stabilize her condition and prevent it from worsening.
Susie She's very sick... but please. Don't give up on her.
Quercus Is she your friend?
No, never mind. Everyone here in the Infected community is your friend.
Don't worry. She'll make it after she gets this shot. Her fever's caused by the inflammation, and I can control that with Originium Arts. That'll keep it from worsening down the road, and should help stabilize her.
She also had some scrapes on her, which I took care of. She won't be in pain anymore.
Susie Okay...
Quercus A-Are you alright?
Susie ......
Quercus... Green Spark is gone... All gone.
Quercus I know... *sigh*...
Bitter Root I was just about to ask you.
I haven't heard anything on my end, but do you have any ideas? Made any enemies?
Quercus Me? Enemies? No chance here. And Susie definitely wouldn't.
Bitter Root There's been a lot going on in the city lately. The timing is uncanny. I couldn't help but wonder how everything's connected.
A couple days ago, someone tried to kidnap a city councilor in the Infected community.
Quercus Who could be so bold?
Bitter Root Luckily, Skyfire was there, so things didn't take a turn for the worse.
Now the Guards are all clamoring that there are criminals here in the community, though they haven't done any additional investigations either.
Quercus I saw on my way here. They posted notices and wanted posters everywhere. They're even giving out rewards for tips.
Bounties for suspicious people in the Infected community too... You have to hand it to them.
Haze So you owned the shop... that they burned down...
Susie Miss Haze!
Quercus Oh, she's awake.
Haze Where am I...? Am I alive? Or is this what the afterlife looks like?
Susie Yeah, you're alive.
This is a Rhodes Island office... They're the ones who saved you.
Haze Rhodes Island... I didn't expect they'd actually help the Infected...
Quercus You said "they" burned down the shop... What do you mean?
Haze I was being hunted by two thugs that night, and hid inside a place called the Green Spark. Didn't expect them to toss in a firebomb though.
Susie A firebomb?
Someone was hunting you down? Why?!
Haze No clue. Maybe because I overheard them talking about kidnapping some "old councilor fart" and something about bombs? They probably wanted to silence me.
Bitter Root Wait! Back up!
They were going to kidnap a councilor? When was this?
Quercus And what's this about bombs?
Haze How... How many days was I out?
Bitter Root Today's November 28th, Miss Haze.
Haze So it was five nights ago... on the night of the 23rd.
Bitter Root The day before they took those people to the factory...
If you don't mind, could you tell me where you ran into those two thugs?
<Background fades out and in>
Some ten minutes later.
[Bitter Root points a location on a map to Haze.]
Bitter Root This location on the map... Here, right?
Haze That's right.
Bitter Root The buildings here have been left empty because of how close they are to the abandoned district.
Quercus Sounds like the perfect place to hatch a scheme.
Bitter Root Two Siracusans... Must be immigrants from there.
And I doubt they're Infected if they didn't think twice before setting fire to a building in the community.
Quercus Most likely mercenaries, or thugs working for the mafia.
If we know where they are, shouldn't we go pay them a visit?
Bitter Root I'd recommend against that.
This is well beyond Rhodes Island's usual scope of business. We aren't here to keep the peace.
Quercus That's true...
Bitter Root But now that the Guards have a bounty out on them, we might just get a reward for turning over this information.
It's not much, but it'll help pay for Miss Susie's losses.
Quercus Right!
Susie Huh? Is that okay, really? Shouldn't Miss Haze get the reward?
Haze Let's just call it my way of paying you back... for saving my life.
I was the whole reason your shop got burned down in the first place...
Susie Oh... It's not your fault. If you'd hid anywhere else, they would've burned down someone else's house instead.
Besides, the one who saved you was an Infected worker named Red.
Quercus I don't think it's such a bad idea. Helping those two bastards get caught will blow off some steam, at least.
Susie Thanks, Miss Haze... Quercus...
Huh? Don't rub my ears...
Quercus Why are you being so polite with me now?
Bitter Root It's settled, then. I'll help you put a report together, Miss Susie. You just need to take it down to the Guard station.
Susie Right.
<Background fades out and in>
[Bitter Root looks at Haze staring out the window.]
Bitter Root What are you looking at?
Haze There's a kitten across the street, sunbathing against the wall.
Bitter Root Are you jealous?
Haze Of course.
Oh... they broke a flower pot... ran away, too.
I'm wondering. When will you chase me out of here?
Bitter Root Once Rhodes Island accepts an patient who's having an acute Oripathy attack, we won't let them leave until their condition stabilizes.
Haze I can't pay for treatment, you know?
Quercus No need to worry.
Bitter Root Of course, there are options available if you want to continue your treatment afterwards. I'll fill you in on the details once you get better.
By the way...
If there's anything you want to discuss, you're free to talk to me about it.
My little "Big Hat of the Witch Forest."
Haze You...
Bitter Root I never expected to meet a survivor of the Witch Forest.
Quercus The Witch Forest? You mean the organization that took in Infected Casters?
Bitter Root That's them.
Quercus If I remember correctly, five years ago, they refused to cooperate with the Duke, and so the Victorian Army...
Haze Can we... talk about something else?
Quercus Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...
Haze No need to apologize~
I made my peace with that a long time ago. I was even prepared to, well, bite the dust in this city.
Though, sometimes, I still do want to put up a fight. See more kittens.
Now that I think about it, if I didn't hide inside Susie's shop that night, those Siracusans wouldn't have burned her shop down.
[Skyfire enters the office.]
Skyfire Quercus? Are you back?
Quercus Good morning. What's wrong? You look exhausted.
Bitter Root From the looks of it, the investigation was a success?
Skyfire Those Guards are absolutely hopeless cases! How could they wash their hands of it after putting up all those wanted posters?! Are they just waiting for the suspects to turn themselves in?!
And where did Grani go? I was hoping to ask her to look into the factory...
Quercus You'd better not count on Grani too much. Her status as a collaborating operator of Rhodes Island puts her in quite a tricky position.
Bitter Root Strange...
Quercus What's the matter?
Bitter Root I didn't notice until just now, but the building where Miss Haze ran into those Siracusan thugs... is right next to the factory.
Quercus Huh? You're right!
Bitter Root Miss Haze, you said they used military-grade incendiaries to burn down Susie's shop, right?
Haze That's right!
Quercus Is something wrong?
Bitter Root If I remember correctly, the factory is owned by Councilor Bishmer. They make military-grade weapons there, and it was shut down a month and a half ago for "equipment maintenance".
Skyfire But the factory was completely empty when I got kidnapped by those fake Infected! Did someone steal their equipment?
Quercus The papers certainly haven't reported on anything like that.
Are you telling me... the thugs are working with Councilor Bishmer?
Bitter Root We don't have enough evidence. It's too soon to make that conclusion...
But... unless I'm mistaken...
The Caladonian Guards' Captain is Bishmer's nephew.
Quercus Right. I think I heard that from Grani before.
Susie... How long has it been since Susie went to the Guards?
Bitter Root About three hours. She should've been back by now.
Skyfire ......
Quercus I'll go find her!
[Quercus runs outside...]
Skyfire I'm going too!
[...followed by Skyfire...]
Bitter Root Bring your comms! Stay in touch.
[...and Bitter Root closes the door.]
Bitter Root ......
This is getting out of hand.
The calm Rhodes Island Operator takes a close look at the maps on his desk and sorts out the many doubts in his mind.
Then, he takes out an oddly-shaped communicator from his desk.
[Bitter Root calls someone.]
??? What are you doing, Captain?! I'm at work right now! Do you know how many people there are at the town archives?!
Bitter Root Kazemaru, this is extremely urgent. Prioritize what I'm about to ask of you.
??? ...Understood.
Bitter Root I want you to put together a list of addresses of the properties owned by Count Bishmer, as well as a diagram of the old underground logistics passages beneath the city. As detailed and as quickly as possible.
??? Got it. I'll take care of it right now.
[Kazemaru hangs up.]
<Background 3>
[Quercus and Skyfire meets up.]
Skyfire Did you find her?
Quercus No! The Guards said their captain went to the location with Susie, and they haven't come back yet!
Skyfire Dammit!
Quercus Calm down. Think of where she could've been taken.
Skyfire I'm thinking...
[Quercus' phone rings...]
Quercus Captain?
[...and she picks it up, which is from Bitter Root.]
Quercus Captain Root! What's going on?
Bitter Root Listen carefully. I've just compared where Count Bishmer's estate intersects with Caladon's old logistics channels.
I've worked out the seven most likely tunnel entrances.
Quercus You think they took Susie underground?
Bitter Root As long as he's not an idiot, Bishmer's sure to imagine Susie has people helping her out, so he's not guaranteed to silence her.
They'll take her to where it's quietest, and least likely to be found.
There's also a chance they're in the abandoned sectors, but earlier I found out the biggest of the tunnels runs under his factory, which explains where all the equipment disappeared to too.
You two get going for now! If anything happens, I'll get in touch!
Quercus Alright!
[Bitter Root hangs up.]
Skyfire Now what?
Quercus How about I sweep the south three entrances, and you handle the north four.
Skyfire Not a problem.
Quercus Stay safe!
Skyfire You too!
<Background 5>
November 28th, 1097, 8:30 P.M.
Susie opens her eyes, and realizes she's laid right on top of the ice-cold pavement.
The damp chilly air pervades all throughout the gloom of the vacant space.
A faint pain in the back of her head still hasn't left her.
To one side of her comes the sound of a quarrel.
Bishmer You lot are a bunch of useless nothings! How can you twist something as sure as this so badly?
Guards' Captain It's... I didn't imagine... we'd hit all these setbacks.
Bishmer Why did that decrepit lizard Angst suddenly send a Caster to his event? Did you let the information leak?
Guards' Captain One of us has been causing constant commotion, I admit that.
But... Councilor Angst had an honest flare-up of heart disease...
Bishmer And that just HAPPENS?
Susie Where... is this...?
(Wha..! My hands! Why are they tied together...?)
All these machines... is this the factory?
No... it isn't, are these... the abandoned logistics tunnels?
What's even going on...?
I remember the Guards' Captain said he'd see the place with me...
And then...
My head's killing me...
Bishmer We're in a fine state now. How am I meant to file for losses with the factory not blown up? Hm?
Guards' Captain Then... maybe you could say a thief stole all the equipment...?
Bishmer Only imbeciles like you would believe that!
An entire factory's facilities made off with overnight! That could only be the work of a traitor! Anyone would jump to suspecting me!
And they'd be sure to come searching this way, with a theft on that grand a scale!
Once the Duke's people find everything right here, it'll all be over!
Guards' Captain Just—hold on, you never even once told me why blowing up your own factory would solve things.
Bishmer Is THAT too hard for you? When the City Council asks me where all the money they gave me went, I'd just say I bought the facilities, but then the Infected blew them up!
After that, we make up the cash, and so be it if the factory's kaput because it wasn't mine anyhow! So long as I've got all this costly industrial equipment, everything is fine!
But now it's not! It's all a wash!
Guards' Captain *Sigh*... What do we do about this, then?
Bishmer What else?! Get to work quick, get all these things moved out of the city! We can't leave any evidence behind!
Guards' Captain Couldn't we just move it back...?
Bishmer Think for one second! The entire Infected community has their eyes on us after that business! In what world do you just MOVE IT BACK?!
Susie The Guards'... Captain? Councilor Bishmer?
Guards' Captain Oh! You're awake now?
Our kind Infected citizen.
You've given me no end of trouble!
[The captain punches Susie.]
Susie Wh... Why...?
Guards' Captain Don't act stupid! Now confess, who told you everything you told me earlier?
Who are all these... accomplices of yours?
Susie ...So you... you were their...
Guards' Captain Listen up, I'm asking you! Who told you about those two Siracusans?
And who's this "reliable witness" in this report of yours? Tell me their name!
Susie (She glares furiously at him.)
Guards' Captain You think you can give me LOOKS?
[The captain punches Susie again.]
Susie Ungh...
Bishmer Never mind that, it means nothing whether she talks. There's no time to waste. Get this place sorted out.
Guards' Captain But the problem is the people she has with her!
Bishmer Hardly anyone can testify against us. We'll be fine once the Danton brothers get out of this city and never come back.
What's important right now is how you stop up the cash deficit.
And by the way, don't be violent in front of me. I get sick at the sight of blood. Drag her off elsewhere.
Guards' Captain Not a problem.
<Background 6>
November 28th, 1097, 8:32 P.M.
[Quercus looks at the dilapidated building.]
Quercus It's hard to believe this is the place...
It's too late to call for help now, with two dozen people here...
Forget it. Let's do this.
The Druid of Gododdin sprinkles a scattering of unusual seeds across the bare earth.
Her staff lets out a green radiance, and under the effect of her Originium Arts, the seeds rapidly bud, digging into the ground.
[The armed people rushes to Quercus upon noticing her.]
Hooligan Mercenary Hey, you, Feline! What are you doing?
Quercus Ooh, you've got fine eyesight.
Boil Brawler What's someone ordinary doing down here?
Quercus I'm in a hurry. Just come at once, everyone.
Hooligan Mercenary You're daft! Are you looking for a fight?
Massive vines, each at least as thick as a hand, shoot out from the ground and knock the ruffians to the floor.
From the ground, from the walls, from the supports, green vegetation sprawls wantonly.
The fallen mercenaries are quickly bound tight by plants, with not even a moment to shout.
Quercus Are your salaries worth continuing this fight?
Or will you make way and let me through?
Boil Brawler ...You go on ahead, Miss. I never saw anything today.
Out, out! We're off the clock now!
Quercus That's more like it.
<Background 5>
Susie So it was... all of you who burned down my shop?
Guards' Captain Enough rubbish from you. Keep walking.
Susie ......
Guards' Captain For crying out loud, don't blame me. If anyone, blame yourself, for being so starved for a hobby you got yourself meddling in all this.
But you Infected were never bound to live long anyway, so this'll do.
Susie ...You... You'll be paying for this.
Guards' Captain For being at death's door, you've got some bluster.
Susie (She shuts her eyes.)
[Just before the captain hits Susie, the ground trembles.]
Guards' Captain W-Why is the ground shaking?
<Background fades out and in>
[The armed people with Bishmer and the captain noticed the rumble.]
Bishmer What's happening? Is there an earthquake? What sound is that?!
Hooligan Mercenary Wait... It's coming from above.
The fierce sound of an explosion arrives from overhead, the structural layer shaking across the entire abandoned sector.
The walls crack, and the rocking intensifies.
Immediately after, the explosion gives way to the rumble of the tunnel's collapse. Together with the tremors, the unbroken sounds of structures bursting draw closer and closer.
<Background fades out and in>
Guards' Captain What the hell was that?!
[Rubble falls from above the captain.]
Guards' Captain Aaaaargh!!
Engulfed in the explosion's roar, the top layer of the subterranean structure collapses, dropping several tons of steel frame directly upon the head of the Guards' Captain.
The rumbling persists as concrete and steel supports rupture and subside, the whole structural layer thrown into chaos.
Susie Huh? Wh-Whaa?
(I... I need to run!)
<Background fades out and in>
Hooligan Mercenary Run!! It's going to sink!
Bishmer What on Terra?! The goods! The facilities, they've all been crushed!
Hooligan Mercenary Save your skin first, sir! Get out of here!
Bishmer What's the cause of this? Is there a Catastrophe?!
There's no end to the rotten luck today, I see! Blasted, damned...!
Hooligan Mercenary Just leave it for now. Come on, sir, let's move!
Bishmer That Infected! She's escaped!
Which of you was it who bound her?
Susie !!
Bishmer We can't let her flee! After her, all of you!
Boil Brawler You really can run, you little bastard.
Susie ......
Boil Brawler If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't be in this mess.
(Raises weapon)
A keen blade pierces out from the shadows. A simple yet powerful cutting blow. The ruffian falls to the floor in response.
Hooligan Mercenary There's more?!
[Red reveals himself as the one who struck down the brawler, now carrying a katana with him.]
Red Get running, Miss Susie!
Susie M... Mr. Red? What are you...
Red Don't mind for now. Move, fast.
Susie A... Alright!
[Susie runs away.]
Guards Member What are you standing there for?! After them!
Hooligan Mercenary Still? We don't even know where the Count's gone!
Guards Member Then don't go. I'll be happy to take your pay.
Hooligan Mercenary Dream on.
<Background 7>
[As Susie runs through the tunnel, she stops after noticing that...]
Susie It's... It's a dead end now.
Before Susie's eyes, the firm alloy platform hangs fractured from the explosion. A broken bridge, at least a four meter jump, is seemingly the only way out.
Behind them, the voices of the ruffians and mercenaries cursing draw ever closer.
Susie Now what...?
[Red runs into Susie.]
Red These people love their work too much. Following us in these conditions...?
You've really got a knack for inviting trouble, Miss Susie.
Susie Mr. Red, what are you doing here? And do you usually carry that blade?
Red I'll explain later when we get the chance.
Right now, I need to find a way to get you out of here.
There's no shortage of people in the Infected community worrying about you.
Susie But right now...
Red Sorry about this, Miss Susie.
Susie ??
The Infected worker lifts her up and tosses her over, like slinging a crate of goods.
The young Feline draws a clean arc through the air, and lands on the platform's other side.
Susie ...Ow, ow, ow... Mr. Red?!
Red Keep running upwards! Quick!
Susie What about you?
Red Hurry!
The collapsing framework fully blocks off the entrance of the tunnel as the figure of the Infected worker vanishes into its shadows without a trace.
Susie Mr. Red...
...I can't stop here, I need to get out...
[Susie keeps moving.]
<Background 8>
[The rumbling stops as Susie runs.]
Susie (Did the earthquake... stop?)
(What even happened outside?)
(Mr. Red... Is he still okay?)
...There's no way on. It's blocked.
How far away... is the surface still?
[Bishmer runs into Susie.]
Bishmer Finally... argh, my giddy aunt...
Oh, my back... good grief...
Susie ...It's you.
Bishmer Brilliant. You made it out of there somehow, you Infected wretch.
Bastard, bloody scum of the earth, useless good-for-nothing.
It's all your fault!
It's all you blasted Infected vermin... My money!
Get out of my damned way.
A slap from the greedy politician hits Susie square in the face, all his anger taken out at once on the Feline girl.
However, the Infected in front of him shows no sign of cowering in response to the savage act.
She stares down the noble before her, the stifled depression and pain she had experienced for days on end now nowhere to be seen.
Susie That's the reason?
Your people burned down my shop for something like this.
You'd go this far, hurt so many Infected, for something like this.
All just for... money?
She slowly stands back up, no longer the timid Feline from before.
In this moment, only enmity and anger remain in her gaze.
Every last thing that happened these past few days, all because of the greedy politician before her.
Why should he not pay the price?
Susie All of this was so far overboard... just for money?
Bishmer What are you doing?! Don't come near!
Keep away from me! You—monster, get out!
Susie ...I can't forgive you.
She shivers, electric sparks jumping about her whole body.
Bishmer You... someone... save me!
Susie You... infernal...
The young Feline clasps fast the councilor's neck, violent sparks crackling.
Bishmer Aaaaagh!!! Help me! Aaghhh!
Susie Now you're frightened! Now you're scared!
Bishmer Spare me! I beg of you... don't kill me... aaaaghggghhh!!!
Whatever you want... I'll give you... aaaghh!
Spare me! Just spare me!
Susie What gives you the right... to destroy my life—what gives you the right...
You... you...
The young Feline lets her unrestrained anger loose. Councilor Bishmer twitches and spasms under her Originium Arts, frothing at the mouth and gasping what could be his last gasps.
Bishmer Urkh...
Behind her, massive vines suddenly surge out past fragments of concrete, their roots bracing the steel frames. The city's lights shine down through an opening, illuminating a silhouette.
[Quercus reveals herself and approaches Susie.]
Quercus Susie! Susie! Stop it!
The Druid of Gododdin hurries to embrace the Infected before her. The fierce sparks burn her skin, but still she holds on.
Quercus Calm down, Susie... it's me, it's over now...
Susie ...Qu... Quercus...
Quercus It's alright, Susie, everything's over.
People like that... aren't worth what you're doing. Let's go home.
Susie Quercus... *sob*...
Quercus It's alright, it's alright now. I'm here.
Susie Home... the Green Spark's... gone... go home where...?
Quercus Don't fret. Do you remember what I always say?
"Life always finds a place where it belongs."
Let's go, little Susie. It's time to go home.
Susie Quercus... I... I...
In the narrow interstice between soil and stone, lattices of steel, and constructs of forsaken material, a young Feline lets out a deep, low wail, a weight fallen from her back.
<Background 9>
November 30th, 1097, 7:45 A.M.
[Skyfire enters the Rhodes Island landship's surgery room.]
Skyfire Professor, I'm here.
Councilor Angst Ah, good morning, Miss Mountbelan.
Ah, no, you're "Operator Skyfire" now, I presume?
Skyfire Good enough spirits to crack a joke, I see.
Councilor Angst Here, turn that frown upside-down! I'm quite alright.
Skyfire You're in the hospital! I wouldn't call that alright!
Councilor Angst Speaking of which, how did everything shake out in the end?
Skyfire The City Council passed your proposal, even if you only gained a single supporter.
Councilor Angst That's worth celebrating, Miss Mountbelan.
Skyfire Is it really, Professor?
There's still old nobility against the Infected community, and they've all ganged up in private. The clashing's only going to worsen from now on.
Now they're just waiting for Duke Gododdin to come back. They've signed a joint letter asking the Duke to abolish your title and strip you of your noble status.
It's VERY stacked against you.
Councilor Angst Hahahaha...
I'm already a good 153 years old, Miss Mountbelan.
I'm looking to retire next year, retreat to my little castle, and take up a bit of my studies.
Titles, status, authority.
Do you think any of that still concerns me?
If things proceed without much hiccup, you'll be back at Rhodes Island too, won't you? Send Dame Kal'tsit my regards.
Skyfire I will...
I'm just worried for you somewhat, Professor.
Councilor Angst Now, now, what's to worry for? Look at my rickety old body.
I tell you, some things people go and say are all but pompous and, well, completely meaningless excuses.
People are already too accustomed to lying with pretentious jargon. So the lies pile up, and as lofty as it was meant to be, the principle gets washed out in the process.
Miss Mountbelan, do you know why I pushed for that proposal for Caladon so?
Skyfire You mean, the reason all that pretention sticks around?
Councilor Angst Twenty years ago, a scientist named Janet Longfellow published an essay.
She set forth this view: if we don't streamline and improve on our current Originium industry and its waste products, then the year-on-year buildup of industrial waste may bring about frightening consequences.
At the time, Victoria's academic circles all turned their noses up at that, and the nobles wielded public opinion to unabashedly ridicule this fine scientist. In her anger, she left Victoria altogether.
But in the last ten years, the amount of Infected in Victoria has accelerated at a worrying rate.
Times have changed, Miss Mountbelan. We have to face the issues that "Oripathy" and the "Infected" bring. Maintaining this status quo will only worsen things.
153 years, Miss Mountbelan. It's not common to see people live as long as I do, even among Savra.
But a long life's a good thing. It gives you the chance to see firsthand the folds and changes of history, to learn from your mistakes.
In my century and a half, I've witnessed the toppling of Gaul's majestic palace, the fall of Iberia's golden city.
In the plains of Columbia, I saw for myself the destruction the Grand Duke's army wrought on the frontier territories. I saw the Columbians in their sharp, steep ascent over the wastes.
If Victoria can't change, then in the end, it'll only be another Gaul.
It's just as I've told you, Miss Mountbelan.
Times have changed.
<Background 4>
[Grani welcomes Haze.]
Grani You're back? I thought the Guards would've been slower than that.
Haze Oh, no, if it isn't our honorary citizen, star of all the front pages.
Your picture was very decent in the paper. Who knew you could be so photogenic, Susie?
Was it very heavy, that meter-wide certificate saying you've the lay of the land? Did you get tired lifting it for the cameras?
Grani Come on, stop being sarcastic with her.
"The City's Hero" though... that's pretty impressive, isn't it!
Quercus What about that awful councilor, in the end?
Grani Taken into custody!
Quercus Are the Guards still acting as normal, after such a big blunder?
Grani It's not that easy, obviously, but we'll have someone from the Mounted Police taking over the Guards soon.
Quercus That sounds good, I'd think.
Grani Shame we've still got no way to make up for li'l Susie's losses... Bishmer's assets all got seized by the City Council.
Susie ......
Quercus Do you want a sweet? I've still got plenty of flavors here you haven't tried before!
Will the council really not give you a single penny? Nothing except a certificate? Oh, forget it, they've always been this way.
Come here, perk yourself up a little with something sugary. Your artifact smile on that photo looked like you could cry.
Susie ...Thanks.
I... I don't even know what to do at this point, really...
Grani Think on the bright side! At least those evildoers are brought to justice now.
Quercus I'll admit, I still feel so many problems are waiting to be solved... but this is as far as we're able to intervene.
Susie Quercus, are you leaving?
Quercus Mm. I'll be back in Victoria very soon, however.
Susie Will you come back to Caladon?
Quercus More someplace in the wastes than a nomadic city, I think.
That's right, Susie, have you ever thought of bartending somewhere else?
Susie Huh?
Out of Darkness to Light.png
Quercus You see, the Green Spark may be gone now... but there's still plenty of Infected who'll need a drink.
You could hairdress too. I know a lot of people who do nothing but get into fights. Some of them have never been to nomadic cities before. Some of them never think about themselves.
Susie Eh? Could I really?
Grani Of course you could! There's all sorts of interesting people aboard Rhodes Island. You might as well go take a look, and not too many people are specialty hairdressers there in the first place.
Susie Hahaha... I'll give it a try?
(Everyone's been talking about Rhodes Island... What kind of place is it, I wonder?)
<Background 5>
November 28th, 1097, 10:24 P.M.
Underground logistics passages of Caladon
[Red stands before the armed people from before.]
Red Carry on, then. You were all mighty a moment ago, weren't you?
Boil Brawler You! Who the hell are you?!
Red My name's Red. Remember it.
Hooligan Mercenary Who gives a toss about your bloody name? Get out of my way, or I'm going to be pissed!
Red You know, back in my Ursus days, they all called me "Redblade".
You might want to guess why.
Hooligan Mercenary Stay cool, boys! We're not easy to bring down either!
Boil Brawler That's right, he's all alone! It's just Originium bloody Arts!
??? He's far from alone.
[A group of Reunion fighters show up before Red.]
Boil Brawler What?! Where did you lot sneak out from?!
Red Now there's a nice reaction. You sure don't act like this when you're shoving the Infected about.
Come on. Show me if you're really as mighty as you say.
The blade in the Infected's hands is ignited in a blink, surrounded by blazing embers.
The red-hot glow illuminates the rubble; the stone and steel ruins are bathed in the clear hue of fire.
And its source, the youngster bearing the searing blade, begins his attack.