Part 25: The Best Of A Bad Situation
Welcome back. Last time on Exit Fate, we recruited a whole bunch of useless characters, found out that Kirgard was working with the Highland rebels, and then went to Grunthall to negotiate with Rock. Rock had some sort of proposition for us, but the game faded to black before we found out the details. Did negotiations go well? Were we able to convince Rock to abandon his alliance with Kirgard? It's time to find out.
Music: Commandos - Chrono Cross, "Dragon Knight"
Immediately following the fade to black at the end of the previous update, we find ourselves looking in on Trevor and Sick in what looks like a Kirgard army camp. That's... a bit of a non-sequitur, I have to admit, but we'll just have to roll with it, I guess.
Our time has come, Sick! They're finally beginning to see just how much we're worth!
Don't be silly. It's only because the second legion is short on officers.
That's true. Oh, oh, I can hardly wait! We'll do a great job in this battle, right?
We'll be assisting the General himself! We have to do well!
It's strange that they didn't send us with Colonel Erickson and the rest of the second legion...
Of course it's not strange! Can't you see? We've been given different treatment because they know we have potential! Yes! Believe me! One day we will become colonels ourselves!
We'll just have to capture Vinyard first.
Oh joy, looks like Trevor and Sick have solidly fallen into the "ridiculous personal grudge" archetype of quirky minibosses.
Yes, yes. Have you finished all preparations?
Of course, General! There is no possible doubt that we have finished the duties assigned to us!
S-Shut up! We're on our way!
Will we ever recover from General Keyser's sudden defeat? Regardless... I must carry out my duties for as long as it lasts.
Oh, very good. I'm glad I can still count on you. You will be coordinating the entire west flank, so be careful.
Of course, General. I just hope that I'll be the one facing Daniel. I can't wait to repay him for the humiliation at Mayfall!
But... Colonel Erickson, your landing site isn't even near the Castle. It's us who will be fighting the Elysium army.
Man, everyone's out to get us, aren't they?
No, Colonel! We can't just change our plans on a whim! P-Please get to the ships. There's no room for debate.
Bah... I hope it's not already over after this.
Fade to black...
Music: Zelmony - Final Fantasy Tactics, "A Chapel"
As we fade back in on Daniel, we find ourselves outside of Grunthall. Guess negotiations ended up going well. It's time to see what we can do about that whole "impending Kirgard attack" thing.
One quick boat ride back to Elysium later...
Music: Elysium - Chrono Trigger, "Frog's Theme (Orchestral Version)"
There's no problem. I managed to convince Rock to abandon the attack. He could see that Kirgard's ultimate goal is total conquest, and that allying with them will only weaken his cause. All I promised in return was that I'd try to work out a deal after the war to give the people of Highland more power.
Damn, Daniel must have one hell of a silver tongue to have managed a deal like that. A shame we didn't get to see it.
Good. That means we can focus on the Kirgard army for now. I'll let the captain know about it too. The plans are ready on this side too. There's not a whole lot to it. We will deal with the eastern legion near the castle, and the Matrech Guard will face the western force. We're almost done... except for one thing.
Keyser? Do you think he'd know more about this attack?
You'll see. Just bring him here.
Fade to black...
You know, this is the first time we've ever had the opportunity for a face-to-face talk. We should've done this earlier, don't you think?
Quit with the small talk, Gunwood. I know you didn't bring me here to talk about the old days. There's no one but you two here, so this isn't a trial... but it's been weeks since the battle at Mayfall.
Haha, I knew you'd catch on quick. I'll get straight to the point then.
I heard all about it from Daniel. A Kirgard camp was suddenly attacked in the middle of the night, and captured soldiers claimed they were there under Daniel's orders.
I wasn't there when it happened, so I wouldn't know.
You still must have some ideas. What's your take on it? Do you really think I could've done it?
Superficially you may have had a motive, but it doesn't match your personality. If you were really willing to go that far, there'd be much better alternatives.
So you agree that it was a set-up?
I'm not saying what it was, I'm only saying what it wasn't.
He may have a motive, and the means to do it... but frankly, I have difficultly seeing any officer I know pull off such a ridiculous act.
But that's beside the point. You don't think Daniel's a traitor.
It doesn't matter. He's our enemy either way. Even if the Kelsinger incident wasn't his doing, he still betrayed us by joining the State Army.
Where are you going with this, Gunwood?
Oh, I think you know exactly what I'm aiming at.
You can't be serious, Bast!
Why not? We can use him.
It's impossible! The general would never help us fight against Kirgard!
Kirgard's chances of winning this war are dwindling fast, and you, Keyser, your defeat is what got the ball rolling. They won't come and free you. Your choice is between serving us and imprisonment. Is that how you want your career to end? And tell me honestly, aren't you itching for a chance to work together with me?
Gunwood, you fool. Take this more seriously.
I'll tell you what. Your premonition was correct. The situation has changed. Kirgard is about to make its next move.
Fade to black...
Leonius... he has plenty of knowledge and experience, but he's lacking in creativity and real insight. This strategy has merit, but he was unable to anticipate how the Highland rebels would react. The way you describe it, it sounds like these rebels brought out the news on purpose.
Do you see now? Kirgard's invasion is doomed. With you on our side, we can scare them off for good with just this battle.
I fought to defend Kirgard against the Almenga invasion, and I will not stand for Kirgard now doing the same to Zelmony. I wish I could return things to how they were before. I really do. But I can't, and it's no use thinking about it. We have to move forward. General Keyser, help me end this war.
Fine then. You leave me no other choice. You surprise me, Vinyard. After I heard about your escape following the Kelsinger incident, I thought I would never hear from you again. I never expected you to become one of Kirgard's greatest obstacles. Even I underestimated you, and that was the root cause of my defeat. I have no affinity with the State Union, but you, Daniel Vinyard, you've turned into a man I'd be willing to serve.
Keyser is basically Shadfork, but better. While his defenses aren't quite on Shadfork's level, Keyser's natural PDF is still sky-high, and unlike him, Keyser also has okay SPD, STR, and surprisingly enough okay MAG. But that is his problem: those stats are "okay," not "good." He can definitely hold his own in the front row, but personally I'm not a fan. Bast reciprocates his relation at C-rank, for the curious.
As we saw back in Mayfall, Keyser's weapon of choice is his trident. His damage is a little better than Shiro's, so long as Shiro doesn't have his A-rank relation with Bast boosting his strength.
Well, Gunwood, it's going to be a pleasure looking for flaws in your plans.
Same here, Keyser. Same here. So, Daniel... with this, we're ready to face General Leonius.
Fade to black...
Let's get those preparations done.
We've picked up a boatload of new commanders since last time in Bast, Shiro, Griever, and Keyser, as well as a bunch of other new characters to fill up all those open subcommander slots. So let's see about getting those set up.
For the most part, I leave the units we previously set up (Daniel, Ljusalf, and Outsider) unchanged. The only substitution I make is that Daniel replaces Stromgaard with Deus, removing the Mountaineer skill and also inflicting a -1 attack penalty, but granting him the Regenerate skill. Regenerate will cause Daniel to automatically heal some of his unit's injuries after every battle he fights. It's perfect for a juggernaut unit like the one he leads, as it will allow him to make powerful attacks, take the hit from the counterattack, and then heal up nearly to full.
Bast's unit design is quite simple: he's going to be a glass cannon. We turn him into an infantry, and give him Carson (30 men, +1/+0), Deke (20 men, +1/-1), and Myst (10 men, +2/-2). He's not quite at the level as he was when he was our ally in Mayfall, but it'll do.
Shiro gets turned into a sorcery unit because we could use another and he's the only person besides Ljusalf who is capable of leading one at full strength. He gets Stromgaard (25 men, +0/+1, Mountaineer), Hawk (55 men, +0/-1), and Derek (40 men, +0/+0). Don't let the 2 attack fool you: as others have previously mentioned in the thread, attack has no bearing on how much damage a sorcery unit does.
Griever is already a glass cannon to begin with, but as she's our only cavalry unit, I want to give her some defense because she'll likely be far out ahead of everyone else. She gets Shadfork (40 men, +0/+2), Alex (35 men, +0/+0, Forester), and Wilona (25 men, +0/+0, Analyze). The Analyze skill that Wilona grants will allow Griever to see the expected result of a battle before she attacks. It's useful for units like hers that will likely be making the first strike.
By the time we get around to Keyser all of the interesting skills and attack/defense boosts are gone, so I just load him up with as many men as possible. He gets Mandala (35 men, +0/+0), Johnny (30 men, +0/+0), and Mike (30 men, +0/+0).
Let's do this shit.
Fade to black...
Music: War Battle - Final Fantasy IX, "Consecutive Battles"
Finally! His time has come! We'll destroy him once and for all!
Leonius! Do you think you can win with an amateurish plan like this? You're out of your league! Pull back your men and withdraw immediately!
You... I can't believe it... I... No... No, I can't retreat. Not even if it's you. This is too important. If I... If I come back empty-handed again, they'll never take me seriously. Everyone! March forward!
On the upside, this is our first war battle where we don't have to deal with any allied units whatsoever. On the downside, that means the rank I get is entirely my own doing.
Our enemy this time is Leonius. He doesn't have the power that Keyser was able to bring to bear at Mayfall, but he's a scout, which means it's going to be almost impossible to get the first strike on him. Our best shot with him is to lure him in close by letting him get off a single shot, cripple him, and let him uselessly flail around while we take care of the rest of his units.
Trevor and Sick are also hanging around, jointly leading a unit. They've got an impressive array of power and skills, but thanks to the AI's maneuvering they aren't going to have much of a role in this fight. Kind of a shame, I would have liked to kick their asses again.
Anyway, much like in the Mayfall battle, the first few turns are going to be spent getting everyone into position. For my first turn I just have everyone generally advance. Keep a close eye on that tiny mountain range to my southeast, as that's going to be an important piece of terrain in this battle.
Leonius spends his first turn sending his units all over the place. Part of his army retreats and another part advances. The upshot of this turn is that his cavalry are out in front. This is going to be useful for my purposes.
On turn 2, I start putting my plan into action. The main idea here is going to be setting up a vertical wall of units next to that tiny mountain range, as the enemy units that will be getting to my army first, the cavalry and scouts, are hindered by it and will turn that area into a chokepoint. Griever is still out in front, which is kind of a bad idea as her defense sucks, but nobody is in the enemy's range right now, so we're okay.
Leonius keeps his cavalry out in front on his second turn, which is pretty much exactly what I wanted him to do. We're going to need to keep the range of Leonius's personal unit in mind next turn, but otherwise we should be able to handle this setup.
Daniel starts setting up the wall on turn 3 by moving out in front, but staying out of Leonius's range. With his high defense and Regenerate, if any of those cavalry decide to attack him, they'll basically be giving him a free hit since he'll heal nearly all of the damage they can dish out.
Meanwhile, Griever moves out of the line of fire. With her stats, we want to ensure that she gets the first strike in any battle that we're going to have her take part in.
Keyser takes her place to set up the second half of the wall. Hopefully what will happen is that Leonius will send his cavalry against Daniel and Keyser, they'll take only a small amount of damage due to their high defense, and then Bast and Griever can move in and start the carnage.
Then Outsider, Shiro and Ljusalf all set up behind the rest of the army to end the turn.
One of the enemy cavalry gets the fighting started with an attack against Keyser that can only be described as suicidal. He gets in a decent amount of damage, but Keyser's still in fighting shape and has essentially crippled him. Good show.
The other cavalry units come up behind the first, too timid to attack Daniel and unable to get over the mountain to attack anyone else.
And Leonius sets up next to them. Oh-ho-ho, this is gonna be fun.
Let's get this party started.
Keyser kicks things off by getting revenge on the cavalry that attacked him.
Then I unleash Bast. Can that 9 attack get us another one-hit kill?
Ooh, not quite. But that cavalry has been reduced to a non-entity.
Daniel follows up with a crippling hit to the other cavalry, and immediately regenerates nearly all of his losses from the battle. That was 368 damage for a total loss of 16 men. It doesn't get much better than that for an infantry.
That leaves Leonius as the only major threat in range. Ljusalf starts chipping away at him.
I would have liked to have Shiro make the next attack on Leonius, but Griever was in the spot I wanted him to attack from. So Griever moves in to land another hit. She takes some damage, but the loss is acceptable. You can also see the Analysis skill in action here, though as you can see it's not 100% accurate.
Then Shiro takes a shot...
... and Outsider follows up. We've successfully neutered Leonius and have yet to lose a single unit. Things are looking up.
Let's see how Leonius responds.
One of the scouts moves in and attacks Bast. Not much I can do about that.
Daniel, on the other hand, is still having all kinds of fun in this battle. The other full-strength scout moves in to attack him, but he nimbly dodges aside.
The rest of the army moves up, but the only other attack Leonius makes this turn is to use his personal unit to deal negligible damage to Bast. No suicide run from the 3-man cavalry this time; it just sits there, probably just to get in my way.
Well, first things first. Bast gets that cavalry out of the way.
Next up is Keyser, who slams one of the enemy scouts while taking little damage in return.
Ljusalf cripples the other scout from a safe distance.
Then Daniel takes out the remaining cavalry, and in the process restores himself to full strength.
Now that the scouts are no longer threats, the next order of business is to take care of the infantry coming for my southern flank. Outsider starts things off...
... and Shiro cleans up.
Griever stays right where she is to finish the turn.
On turn 5, Leonius gets serious. His sorcery units are finally in range, and he uses the first one to hurt Bast further.
The other one hits Griever.
The crippled scouts also take a few potshots at Ljusalf and Bast, but we can handle it.
What we can't handle is Trevor and Sick finally joining the fray. Their unit nearly wipes out Outsider in a single shot.
And Leonius makes another token shot against Bast to end the turn.
Things are starting to look a little ugly, but I make an analysis with Griever and confirm that I can use her to end the battle this turn. While I'd love to take out more of Leonius's units, I simply can't take care of his sorcery units as well as Trevor and Sick's unit in this turn alone. Letting this battle go on any longer is only going to lead to more casualties on my side.
That said, I'm not going to end this battle without at least roughing up Trevor and Sick a bit. Shiro and Ljusalf both take shots at their unit. We can't kill them, but it's still a victory.
Then Daniel takes out one scout...
... Keyser takes out the other...
... and Griever ends it.
Retreat at once! Inform the west flank as well! We're returning to Helman Island!
Music: War Battle Won - Suikoden V, "Cry Victory!"
I'm sure the Matrech Guard was victorious as well. Hopefully, this will have been the last battle of the war.
And we've got ourselves a solid B-rank, which I'm fine with, because I actually prefer the B-rank reward for this battle to the A-rank one. Our reward is a Fireball spell, the second-tier fire attack spell, which we didn't have a copy of yet. The A-rank reward would have been a copy of Darkstrike, a spell that temporarily causes the target's attacks to become dark-aligned. It can be situationally useful, but it costs a whopping 60 MP to cast (72 for non-dark-aligned characters), and frankly, by the time we become able to use that sort of spell with any kind of regularity, we'll have enough money to buy copies in bulk. The C-rank reward for the battle is a pair of Red Glasses, which grant +4 to ACC.
Music: Suspicion 2 - Suikoden V, "Standing Firm"
Isn't that dangerous? They might gain more influence at the capital.
Let them. It's a small sacrifice for keeping them pacified at a time like this. Besides, we can just open negotiations without any intention of yielding to the rebels. We can even use it to our advantage.
But is it really fine to be this passive?
We can't offer much help against Kirgard. Our job is to keep Highland stable so the State Army can focus their attention on the real enemy. Believe me, the rebellion's days are numbered. They'll never amount to anything.
Uh, yeah, about that...
Back with Daniel...
Music: Elysium - Chrono Trigger, "Frog's Theme (Orchestral Version)"
Welp, not much to do but head to the meeting hall.
Just now, Rock and his army have seized control of Bergstadt and declared the independence of Highland! It was too late for us to do anything! We couldn't break formation and ignore the Kirgard army! By the time we returned, it had already happened! They took full advantage of us!
They launched their attack after all? So... instead of providing distraction for Kirgard, they let Kirgard provide distraction for themselves...
Why are you sounding so impressed!? Those treacherous dogs...
I'm sorry... They did betray us by breaking the agreement.
I only came here to bring you this news, so I'm going back to the capital now. At least we repelled the Kirgard assault. They've left the area and have probably returned to their base at Helman Island.
Fade to black...
Music: Rebel Leader - Final Fantasy Tactics, "Officer Cadet"
And we find ourselves in a flashback to the meeting with Rock.
I know that you'll agree it's the best solution for both of us.
A proposition? Well, what is it?
Let me tell you something. The situation in Zelmony has changed rapidly. When the war began, Kirgard was almost sure to win. They had a vast numerical superiority and the right officers to lead them. Everything changed when Keyser was defeated at Mayfall. Suddenly, the two armies were looking equal. That's how it is now. Either side could still win. If I had let Leonius's plan go through, Kirgard could've dealt a fatal blow to Zelmony with reasonable losses. But instead, the two countries will continue to weaken each other. The longer this drags on, the higher the casualties on both sides.
If the war continues like this, soon enough they'll be weakened to the point where they can no longer resist if we take Highland for ourselves.
So you're basically prolonging the war. If I remember correctly, you criticized me for doing the same thing.
Our options are limited. We can't fight a straight-up battle. We have no choice but to resort to strategies like that. Or at least... that's what it looked like, until Kirgard approached us with this plan. Finally, an independent Highland is within reach.
Colonel Vinyard, you understand what I'm fighting for, don't you? You've met the governor. I'm sure you can see that things need to change. We can easily overwhelm the Highland army. All that's stopping us is the looming threat of the State Army. This is our only chance. We know exactly when the State Army will move out to fight Kirgard. If we attack at the same time, we can win.
I'm sympathetic to you, Rock, but I don't know if I can let you do this.
You can't change that. The only thing you can do is prevent unnecessary casualties. I'd like to take Bergstadt with as little bloodshed as possible. If you were to tell Erin that this meeting failed, they'd certainly try to stop me somehow, but even then, they don't have the manpower to change the outcome. But if you tell her we won't attack, you can focus on Kirgard while we take over Highland as peacefully as we can.
Can't you see? It's the best for both of us. As long as you win this battle against Kirgard, the loss of Highland won't lose you the war.
It might hurt our standing with the State Union, but in the long run they'll have to relent.
You're placing a heavy burden on me, Rock.
You're probably right. In this situation, there's nothing else I can do.
Tell Erin that you've convinced us not to fight. We'll take care of the rest.
If I had to kill you, or one of your men, I'd do it, and I wouldn't apologize. If you don't like it, don't take up arms. We both have our hands stained with blood, but if I have to, I'll kill a thousand more to create a better future for our people.
Back in the present...
Music: Suspicion 2 - Suikoden V, "Standing Firm"
We've all been victims of greedy and corrupt leaders, hiding behind the State Union while abusing its laws. No more! From now on, Highland will choose its own leaders! We will no longer tolerate oppression. I want you all to know that I don't consider the State Union our enemy. I hope that in the future we can coexist side by side. But the State Union's rule does not work for us! They must learn to accept this! They have tried to lead us, but they've failed, and now it's time for us to take matters into our own hands!
I know that there are some among you who've profited from these years of misrule. You've been filling your pockets while your neighbors suffered. You deserve to be punished for your crimes, but it would be difficult to do so, and I understand that some of you had to choose between abusing the system or being abused yourself.
You allowed lawlessness to roam as long as it didn't threaten your own power, and mercilessly cracked down on those who questioned you. You symbolize everything we fought against. Your death will serve as punishment for all the injustice that happened under your rule.
We'll see about that.
Next time: An old friend finds her way back to us.