The Let's Play Archive

Advance Wars 2

by cosmicPostman

Part 92: Interview 46 - “The Night Before”

Interview 46 - “The Night Before”
(Like last time, this is just a bonus prose piece. Regular update will be on Friday as per. Enjoy!)

“Alright, everyone.” I say. I’m reminded, as I sit here facing the combined forces of all four countries of Wars World, of the last time we had a briefing the night before facing Sturm. That was a nice night… probably because most of us expected it to be our last. “It’s time, once again, to prepare for a big battle tomorrow. We have nothing to worry about, and I want everyone to make sure that they’re mentally ready. Relax, chill out, train, do whatever it is that will make you ready for tomorrow. We’re all gonna go home tomorrow - you have my word.”

Fuck. I should not have promised that. If anyone dies now…

I shrug. “OK, dismissed. Have a good evening, everyone.”

As I make my way back to my tent, I’m bemused at the thought of all four armies sharing a joint camp for just one night. I wonder if they’ll all get along? They’ll probably keep to themselves mostly, I decide.

I almost run headlong into Nell as I step towards my tent. She chuckles and nods at me.

“My dude. Were you intending to finish some work?”

“I figured I should go over some tactics or something.” I mutter; I didn’t really know what to do. I just didn’t want to be caught out tomorrow.

Nell smiles. I love that smile.

“It’s been a year since you left, you know. I’ve missed you. Would you like to take a walk and catch up?”

“You know what? That sounds good.” I say, smiling back.


Most of the Orange Star Army have found their own small hideaways. For once, everyone seems to have something else on their mind, and instead of poker and drinks, a night of introspection awaits the soldiers. Dave and Rin are taking a walk around the joint camp under the pretense of keeping watch, but they’re using it as an excuse to spend time together.

“Say, Dave…”


“What are you going to do after the war?”

Dave has thought about the question a lot recently, and he glances down. Their friendship bracelets are just about visible in the moonlight, and he stares at them intensely, then up at Rin.

“Stay with the Orange Star Army, of course.” he replies. “And I hope you’re staying too, kiddo.”

“Of course! You’re not getting away from me that easily, Dave.” Rin replies, winking. “All of our wonderful friends… it’ll be nice to keep fighting alongside them. Though hopefully after this campaign…”

“Hopefully the fighting ends.”

“Yeah. That would be nice.”

They fall silent again. Rin’s not usually this quiet, and Dave is a little worried. He puts a supportive arm around her shoulder, and she embraces him quickly.

“You alright?”

“I’m just worried. I’ll be OK though! We’re going to do our best tomorrow.”

Dave nods. “‘Course we are, kid.”

“And, hey, after the battle, I was wondering, would you be able to teach me how to whittle?”

“Whittlin’?” Dave asks. He shrugs. “Sure thing, if that’s what you want.”

“Thank you!”

“Heh. Don’t mention it, Rin.”


Tina is sitting with Rose in a Yellow Comet tent, and the pair have decided not to do anything, instead simply satisfying themselves with sitting together and thinking. Tina is reminded of the last time there was a quiet night before a final battle - she had spent the evening with Wilbert.

“Hey, Rose.”


“You all geared up for this battle?”

Rose nods. “I’m… if I’m honest, I’m relishing the chance to test my wits against Sturm. And I’ll get to see my dude pull off an incredible performance.”

“Heh.” Tina smirks. “You’re really confident in my dude, then?”

“I do not idly give people my respect, but he earned it. Painstakingly, he fought his way across half the world, and whenever possible, he came up with plans that minimised losses. I feel much safer knowing that he’ll be in charge - though I, of course, could have easily done it myself if it had been necessary.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt you.” Tina replies, grinning. She puts her arm around Rose. “Man, where’s it gonna end for you, Rose? CO? Leader? Empress?”

“Oh, goodness. I wouldn’t go that far.” Rose replies, but the thought imprints itself on her mind, and she can’t help but briefly imagine being Empress Rose of Yellow Comet. It has a nice ring to it, she decides. “I simply wish to use my talents as best I can. What about you, Tina?”

“Ah, well…” Tina says, sighing. “I’d love to say on, but I have to get home to my kid. I just joined the end of this campaign to help you guys out, but… I can’t really do that again. I’ve gotta think of my family now.”

“I understand.”

“It’s nice to have a family, though.” Tina murmurs. “Been alone for so long, but this last year or two, I’ve had the Orange Star Army, Wilbert, and now my daughter. And you, of course. Suddenly I’ve got more family than I know what to do with!”

“And we’ll always be there for you.” Rose replies. “I may be back in Yellow Comet, but Orange Star has done me many kindnesses, and they are just as much my family as my actual parents.”

Tina ruffles the girl’s hair, and Rose pulls a childish face, wriggling away from Tina’s grasp.

“Sounds good to me. Well, if we’re gonna go home to our respective families, first thing we’ve gotta do is kick Sturm’s ass. Let’s go get some sleep, shall we?”

“Yes, I suppose we should… I am getting a little sleepy.”


Lucy pops her head into Ingo’s tent and gives him a charming smile. Despite the fact that Ingo has been worrying all evening, Lucy’s face completely restores his mood, and he sits up and smiles back at her.

“Thought I might find you here!”

“Yeah, I’ve just been listening to music. Where’ve you been?”

“Seeing my pals!” Lucy replies, smiling. “Caught up with Tina, chatted to Michael and the boys, the usual.”

“Yeah, I did the same earlier with Dave and the others. I think Dave’s gone AWOL now, though.”

Lucy hops onto the bed besides Ingo and plants a kiss on his cheek. “Probably chatting with Rin! Anyway, you… how are you feeling?”

“Oh, don’t worry about me.” Ingo replies, grinning. “I mean, I’m worrying, because of course I am. Big battle, you know? But this won’t be anything like last time.”

“Good. We’re both going to get through this!” Lucy replies.

“Yeah. I… Luce, thank you.”

Lucy’s eyes widen as Ingo pulls her into an embrace.. “Uh, what for?”

“Being there. All the time. I really appreciate that.”

Lucy reciprocates, tightly hugging Ingo back.

“Of course, silly! I care about you. You’re the best boyfriend a girl could ask for.”

“Heh.” Ingo replies, chuckling. “I’m glad to hear it. I’ve been pretty up and down in the last couple of years, but you’ve always been constant. I love you for that, Luce.”

“I love you too, but if you keep saying nice things, I’m gonna start getting emotional!” Lucy replies, burying her head into Ingo’s nape and trying not to tear up.

“Alright, alright. Let’s chill out, then. Got the headphone splitters?”

“Mm? Yeah, right here!”

Ingo plugs them into his music player, and hands Lucy a pair of headphones. The pair sit together; silent to any onlookers, but for their ears alone is the music that they need to get through the night.


Fliss and Carter arrive in the largest Orange Star tent to find Michael, Alfonse and Fleur enjoying a quiet chat before the battle. Fliss waves to her sister.
“H-hello… what are you all doing?”

“Oh, nothing.” Michael replies. “Come on in, you two. Always nice to have company on a night like this.”

Carter takes a seat, letting out a long sigh. He seems deflated. “Man… final battle. This army thing hasn’t been anything like I was expecting.”

“The first rule of the army…” Fleur says, winking. “Nothing they taught you in military académie applies in the real world.”

“No kidding.” murmurs Carter.

Alfonse nods. “You’ve done good though, Carter. We’ve just about managed to quash your ego.”

Blushing, Carter nods, glancing away. “Ahah, yeah… sorry about all that. I was top of the class, you know? Figured I knew it all. I mean, I’m probably a better shot than most of you, anyway…”

Michael rolls his eyes, leaning over to murmur to Fleur. “Nothing short of a medium tank is heavy enough to quash that ego.”

“I… I… um, wanted to thank you all…” Fliss murmurs suddenly. Her voice is louder than usual, and though she’s shaking, she’s looking at her sister and friends with determination. “M-my p-parents wanted me to be like my big sister… but then in the academy… th-they saw how good of a shot I was and m-made me become a soldier instead of s-support…”

“Oh, I see.” Alfonse breathes. “So that’s why you’re uncomfortable. It was Orange Star that pressured you to become a soldier!”

“Y-yes!” Fliss replies, nodding. “But I’ve… I’ve got used to it now. I’ve m-met so many great warriors and good friends… and I know what I’m fighting for now. I w-won’t falter tomorrow. I promise!”

Fleur places a hand on Fliss’ shoulder, pulling her into an embrace. “Ma sœur… Felicity… you make me so proud. Our parents would be proud too.”

“I agree. You’ve done good, Fliss.” Alfonse says.

Carter sighs. “Yeah, I guess you’re a crack shot.”

“We’ll be here for you, no matter what.” Michael replies. “That’s what being in the Orange Star Army is all about, Fliss. We don’t turn our backs on a friend.”
Fliss’ smile is wide, and she beams at her allies. Alfonse stands up, looking a little perturbed.

“This is great and all, but speaking of not turning our backs, I just want to check on someone. See you guys in a bit.”

“Goodbye, Alfonse.” Fleur says as he exits. She turns back to the others, smiling joyously. “It is such a marvellous night. How about we sit outside and enjoy the moonlight?”

“I was just about to head to bed, actually, but yeah… bit of stargazing sounds lovely.” Michael replies, nodding.


Selena stands alone, at the edge of the island that the joint camp is set up on. The cliff is high, but the waves below are calm, dancing as the dappled moonlight shines upon them. Once more, Selena is reminded of the beauty of the moon, and she wonders if her parents and sister are observing this selfsame moon from their home.

She sits down, her legs dangling over the side of the cliff, and leans back on her arms, staring up at the sky. Every star seem to glimmer in its own unique rhythm, and Selena loses herself in the ethereal beauty of the cosmos.

It’s easier to be lost in the stars than it is to lose yourself in your own thoughts, Selena knows. Her own head can be a dangerous place. The family she left behind, the pain and rage they must feel… her constant desire to outdo herself, to rise to the occasion no matter what… and the damned face of her superior officer, Commander my dude. When he arises in her mind, it’s not a knowing grin or a leery smirk that she sees - it’s a gentle smile, a calming influence.

The stars worry about no such things, and so, just for tonight, Selena decides not to worry either.

A disturbance behind her causes her to turn.

“Thought I might find you here.” Alfonse says, giving her a friendly wave. “Everything alright?”

“Yes, it is.” Selena replies. “I’m not overthinking. For once.”

“That’s good to hear. I take it you’ve got your family on your mind, usually?”

“Amongst other things. I’ve still not heard back from them. Two years, now…”

“I couldn’t bear to imagine that.” Alfonse murmurs. “My family’s been so supportive.”

“You’ve certainly become a capable hero. Don’t some of the newcomers call you one of the Big Three of Orange Star?”

“They do?”

“You, Michael, and Dave. You boys are the glue that holds this army together.”
Alfonse is genuinely surprised to hear this, and bashfully looks away, distracting himself by staring at the gentle waves far, far below the cliff. “Oh, I don’t know about that. I mean, I’m glad. It’s what I’ve always wanted.”


“I’m the youngest of four brothers. So I’ve always had to worry about standing out amongst them. I was such a nervous kid when I started in the army, and a lot of that is because I grew up amongst three other boys. But… my family at home supports me, and this army supports me, and I really do feel like I’ve made a name for myself.”

“I understand. I’m very happy for you, Alfonse.” Selena replies, smiling gently.

“I guess you’ve had the opposite experience - you were the more standout sibling.”

“Quite.” Selena says. “A degree in physics, an accomplished singer, one of the top-rated students in Orange Star… my sibling, Lena, probably understands your position better than I do. Though…”

Selena studies Alfonse for a moment. She cannot see any venom in his eyes.

“Though… you don’t hold a grudge.”

“I couldn’t hold a grudge.” Alfonse says, smiling. “My bros love me, I know that. It’s not their fault that I was never very standout.”

“I’m much the opposite. Lena blames me, and I… I blame myself too. I wish I could do something to help, but… I suppose I’ve committed to being in the army now.”

“Commander my dude’s got you in his clutches, huh?”

“Wh-what are you…” Selena gasps, and Alfonse laughs.

“Whether you love him or just like him, you have to admit, virtually everyone in the army is here because of him. He’s unlike any other leader.”

“That’s very true. Nell and my dude are a wonderful couple, too.”

“I’m surprised you feel that way.” Alfonse replies. “Wouldn’t you rather have my dude to yourself?”

Selena smiles and shrugs. “I’m… not sure it would have worked out. It’s probably better this way.”

“If you say so. Anyway, I should probably get back to the camp. It’s getting late.”

“It is.” Selena replies, as Alfonse stands up and begins to walk away. He turns back to her.

“Make sure you get some rest too. I’ll, uh, head back and see how everyone’s doing. ...Big Three of Orange Star… really?”

“Really.” Selena says, smirking. “Though, of course, a Big Three needs a head bitch to keep them under control.”

Alfonse bursts out laughing as he walks away. “Hah! That’s very true! I guess you fill that role pretty perfectly. Goodnight, Selena!”

“Goodnight, Alfonse.”

Her thoughts return to the moon and stars above. However, for a brief moment, she’s filled with an overpowering warmth, thankful to have such friends like Alfonse, Dave, Michael, Lucy and Tina.


Most of the Blue Moon soldiers have also elected to have a relaxed night, which is why Dimitri’s Mercenaries have hidden out in Dimitri’s tent to play some card games. At Zlata’s request, they’re playing a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity, with Zlata’s custom-made deck.

It’s Ivan’s turn to read the submissions, and he grins as he reads the cards out. “Alright, let’s see who has the absolute worst sense of humour. ‘The Blue Moon barracks would never be the same after’...”

Dimitri and the other soldiers chuckle amongst themselves as the answers come out.

“After ‘Olaf and Grit making out in the kitchen’. Pfft, hahah. After ‘Bees?’, that’s a good one. ‘The tiniest shred of evidence that God exists’, I like it. ‘Getting sucker-punched in the stomach by Ludmilla’, was that you, Eduard?”

“As if Eduard’s that funny.” smirks Anton.

“Hey, shut it! I’m plenty funny!”

Eventually, Ivan finishes reading, and mulls over the winner of the round.

“Ah, it’s gotta be Olaf and Grit. Who played that?”

To everyone’s surprise, it’s Fenya who leans over and takes her winning card. “Me, actually. I think I’m starting to understand how this game works.”

“No kiddin’,” Dimitri says, nodding. “Next round, then.”

“Me next.” Diana replies, taking her card. “OK, let’s see here… your prompt is ‘What is Colin’s reason for living?’”

“Oh, I’ve got a good one for this.” grins Valentin, shuffling through his cards.

“So do I, come to think of it. It’s perfect.” Anatoly replies with a wicked smile.

Dimitri, whilst the others are thinking of good cards to play, leans over to Diana and whispers in her ear.

“You were right. I think the mercs needed a night off.”

“Of course.” Diana murmurs. “Tomorrow isn’t going to be easy.”

“We’ll fight as one.” Dimitri says.

Diana nods at Dimitri, and he’s surprised to see the fierce look of devotion blazing in her eyes. He’s seen it once before - it’s the way she used to look at Wanda.

“I’ll be right behind you, no matter what.” she replies.

“I appreciate that. Now pick the winner of this next round, and let’s rest ourselves. Tomorrow ain’t here yet, after all.”


“Can’t sleep?” says a voice from behind Sebastian. He turns to see a tall, exquisite woman with flowing green hair, proudly wearing the cobalt-coloured uniform of Blue Moon.

“I just, uh, needed a walk. Clears my mind before a battle.”

“I can understand that.” the woman replies. She looks him up and down, a glint in her bright eyes, brilliant as the moon itself. Sebastian feels himself grow nervous under her discerning stare, before she looks up once more, meeting his gaze. She offers a slender hand. “My name is Ludmilla."

He takes it.

“I’m Sebastian.”

“Sebastian. If you don't mind diverging from your walk, I often find myself in need of company before battle."

“Oh, I… uh…” Sebastian says. Was she insinuating what he thought?

"My tent is not too far from here."

She was. He’s not sure how to respond to this situation, but a part of him feels compelled to follow this Blue Moon girl. And yet, another part still ties him back to Adelaide. As he tries to reconcile his emotions, Ludmilla walks alongside him, seemingly unaware of the effect her blasé request has had on him.

“The night is so beautiful this evening. I have to say, I’m looking forward to the battle tomorrow.”

“You like battle?”

“Is that so strange?” Ludmilla tilts her head. “I joined the army for a reason, you know. I’ve got substantial talents in the fields of navigation and reconnaissance. I enjoy being good at my job."

Sebastian can’t help but chuckle. “I suppose that makes sense. I felt the same, actually. I felt like I wanted to make a real change, and joining the army seemed to be the best way to do that.”

“Well, if you’ve come this far, then I can assure you, you’ve made a change.” Ludmilla says. “We all have. Tomorrow, it all ends - we’ll free our countries from Black Hole’s influence. It’s going to be a hell of a fight. That’s why I’m looking forward to it.”

“I see.” Sebastian murmurs. “I’ve been so distracted by my own romantic problems that I didn’t even realise we were already at the eve of the final battle. It hadn’t really hit me yet.”

“Romance problems, I see. That explains why you looked like a lieutenant in the headlights when I asked you to come back to my tent. Well, I’ve been there, pal. What’s the situation?”

“Just a bad breakup.” Sebastian says. “It was a toxic relationship, but… she still meant a lot to me. And I know she didn’t do it all intentionally, you know?”

“I understand. Sometimes it's just not the right person. Or the right place, or time. You've got to do what's right for you; you'll both be happier in the long run."

"I just don't know when it changed. She didn’t change, I just… started to see that things weren’t as good as they were. I don’t know how I didn’t see it before."

"Because you were happy. Sometimes people learn toxic behaviours from how they've been treated by others. Sometimes they're insecure, they don't like themselves, and that manifests in volatile ways. Hell, sometimes they're just not very nice people, and we didn't see it at the beginning."

“Yeah, I guess so…” murmurs Sebastian.

"There's so much pressure surrounding relationships, pressure about sex and love and passion. You're doing it wrong, you're doing it right, you're not doing it like them, so... Society's funny like that – all rumours and libel and conforming to certain ideals."

“Especially when you’re young. The military academy is full of rumours.” Sebastian replies. “Girls whispering and boys bragging, every day.”
Ludmilla nods. "I think that's why so many girls hesitate to just enjoy their youth and do what they want to do… or don't want to do. Either way, they're a slut or a prude."

“I didn’t realise it was so…” murmurs Sebastian. “Wow. Guys have it differently. One path, really. You’re only cool once you’ve lost your, uh, virginity. Before that, you’re just… not considered a man.”

“It sucks. However, whether they have a reason for this toxicity or not, you need to do the right thing for yourself. A relationship that one person wants to leave is no relationship at all. This break-up could be the crack in the dam, if you get me, the start of the healing process for both of you.”

“The crack in the dam. I hadn’t thought about it like that.”

“She's got friends around her, right? Or family? Or someone she can talk to?"

“Yeah, Cassandra and the others have been supporting her.”

"Then there you go. There's good chance she’s started to progress already. And if you really love her, then you want to see her become the best she can be, right?”

Sebastian, thinking of Adelaide and trying to grapple with a variety of feelings, nods. “I do. I want her to be the best. With or without me.”

“Then you’ve made the right choice.” Ludmilla says, giving Sebastian an affirmative nod.

“Thank you, Ludmilla. That was insightful.” Sebastian replies.

“I do my best," she smiles. There is a minute or two of silence. "But my offer still stands… if you want to forgo that walk."

For a moment, Sebastian considers his options, but he realises that there’s a clear choice.

He can’t be alone tonight.


With Rose busy chatting to Tina, the members of the Yellow Comet Army are split across the joint camp, and Vanessa is relaxing with her friends, sat amongst the tanks. She’s taken pride of place on top of the tank, whilst Kyril and Andromeda sit on the treads. Peregrine is living rather dangerously, lying on the huge barrel of the tank.

“I must admit, it’s been nice to meet the other soldiers in other armies. We’re all so similar.” says Vanessa.

“Yes! I wonder if we fought any of them in the past… but who knows?”

“Who know indeed.” Vanessa says. “I suppose we’re reaching the end of this campaign, now, so it won’t matter.”

“You must be excited, Van! Getting promoted into an ACO after the campaign, aren’t you?”

“Oh, yes!” Vanessa replies. “I’m definitely excited for that. I’m just quite pleased at how things have gone. I feel like I’ve grown up, you know?”

Kyril shivers a little as the night air passes over him, and he glances up at Vanessa. “I’d agree; I feel the same way!”

“I have… to agree. I feel joyful, excited, that I have met so many people. I have extended, grown, during this campaign…” Andromeda replies.

Peregrine shrugs. “Eh, I don’t change. I just like flying nice and fast, and hitting the enemy as hard as I can. If I can do that, I’m happy!”

“Well, there’s a good chance you’ll have to do that tomorrow, Perry.” Vanessa replies.

“You give me a target, Van, and I’ll fucking crush it! Nobody’ll stop me!” Peregrine says, grinning.

Andromeda laughs, her musical voice filling the silence. “I cannot stop, wait, to destroy this Sturm bastard. I shall help in any way I can!”

“Rose was right; you two really need to stop hanging out.” Kyril says, chuckling. “You’re teaching Andromeda a lot of bad language, you know?”

“Hey, they’re good words. Besides, we’re in the army, we practically invented swearing.” Peregrine replies. “Andy doesn’t mind, do you?”

“I try… to talk, speak, like the rest of you.” Andromeda replies, beaming. Her smile is so genuine that Vanessa can’t even bring herself to complain.

“You’re doing a wonderful job, Andromeda. Let’s just all do our best out there tomorrow.”


“Aw, man, mother, do you really need to do my hair? I’m twenty-four years old, I can style it myself.”

“Then why don’t you?” asks Sofia as she pulls and twists Lysander’s hair to try and make him look a bit more presentable.

“The ladies like a more unkempt look. It suggests that I’m aloof and bad, you know?”

“Oh, goodness, this again. Lysander, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you aren’t going to be cavorting with ladies whilst I’m around.”

“Mother! I’m in control of my own body, this is… this is an outrage!”

Talora chuckles as she watches the pair bicker good-naturedly.

“Having fun, are we?”

Sofia smiles at Talora. “Something like that… it’s nice.”

“Perhaps for you. You’re not the one whose hair is being violently attacked.” Lysander grumbles, but Talora can see him smiling. She points to her own frizzy and unkempt hair, and grins.

“At least you’ve not got this to worry about, Lysander. It could be worse. Anyway, shouldn’t you two be getting some sleep? It’s getting rather late.”

“I was just thinking that…” says Sofia, checking her watch. “Most of the younger soldiers are still up, but there’s a big battle tomorrow… are they going to be awake in time?”

“I suppose we’ll have to see. I, for one, always get an early night before a big battle.” Talora replies. “And you should too, young man!”

“Oh, you as well? I was just thinking that I didn’t have enough parental figures in the barracks.” sighs Lysander, shaking his head and standing up, wrenching his hair out of Sofia’s grasp. “Oh, alright. I suppose I’ll get some rest.”

“That’s my boy.” Sofia says, smiling. “Goodnight, Lysander.”

“Goodnight, mother. Goodnight, Aunt Talor-”

Talora turns around, her eyebrows raising, whilst Lysander pauses, completely unsure of what to say.

“Uh. OK, guess that’s your name now. Slip of the tongue. Jeez, that’s unlike me…”

He wanders off into the joint camp to find his tent, and Talora looks back at Sofia, a wide smile on her face.

“Aunt Talora! I could get used to that.” she says, smiling.

“You do feel like a sister to me.” murmurs Sofia. “You’ve helped Lysander a lot, but… you’ve also helped me, Talora. The army is not an easy place for a mother, but I had to pull through for him. And you helped me pull through.”

“Oh, heavens, Sofia. No thanks necessary.” Talora replies. “You’re a wonderful mother, and Lysander’s lucky to have you. That said, you’ll be more wonderful after a full eight hours. How about we take some rest?”

“Oh, yes. We should do that.” replies Sofia. She looks around. “If… if I can remember which tent was ours again…”

Talora grins. “Don’t worry, I know where it is. Follow me.”

“Thanks again, Talora…”


On the edge of the forest, Green Earth’s set of tents have been set up, and in one of those sit Mulligan, Howard and Cassandra, who have elected to rest up, and are chatting in the darkness of the tent as they try to get to sleep. Mulligan and Howard, sharing a sleeping back, are one one side, whilst Cassandra has set up her sleeping bag close to the tent flap, so she can see the stars.

“Did you catch up with Orange Star?” Mulligan asks.

Howard nods, though he’s very tired and talks through his yawns.

“Y-yeeaaaah… it was nice. Raynald’s still confusing as all hell, though. How about you two?”

“Lucy was overjoyed to see me.” Cassandra replies. “We used to share a room, back in the last campaign. In fact, she was the one who helped me work up the courage to repair things with you, Mulligan.”

“I’m glad she did. I feel that things worked out well.” Mulligan says. “As well as they can do, anyway.”

“You ever wonder about all the countries?” asks Howard.

Mulligan shrugs. “What do you mean?”

“Like, this joint camp.” Howard replies, his eyes slowly closing. “All the countries together, one unified force…”

“I was saying the same thing to Cassandra a few weeks ago.” Mulligan replies. “We feel like one country. Perhaps we’ll form some kind of alliance after this… who knows?”

“That would be nice. Fighting alongside Orange Star again…” Howard says.

“I would love to do that again. It’s been too long since we all fought together properly.” Cassandra replies, but as she and Mulligan wait for a response, Howard lets out a small snore and they realise he’s asleep.

“I suppose we should take his cue.” Mulligan says. “Sister… tomorrow, we free our world from Sturm’s yoke once more.”

“We do. I’ll be right alongside you, brother, no matter what.”

“I know.”

“Goodnight, Mull.”

“‘Night, Cass. Remember, we’re up early tomorrow.”

“Urgh,” Cassandra says, trying not to laugh. “I’m not going to oversleep again, I swear… that was one time.”


“Edgar! Still awake?” says a voice from across the joint camp, disturbing Edgar as he walks towards his tent. He turns to see a group of youngsters watching him - Conrad, Henry and Petra, all enjoying mugs of hot cocoa.

“Ah, Conrad, Petra, Henry. You should be getting some sleep soon. Tomorrow is a crucial chance to prove yourselves on the grandest stage of all.” Edgar replies. “And… I want to ensure you all come back.”

“Hey, old timer. No fear. We’ll be alright.” Conrad says.

Edgar lets out a sigh. “The last time Sturm was defeated, Green Earth helped deliver that final blow. But there was a cost - a young soldier, about your age, called Princeton. He didn’t return.”

“Didn’t…” breathes Henry. “Like Roland..?”

“Like Roland.” Edgar says. “This is a chance to prove yourselves, but more crucially, this is one of the most dangerous battles you’ve ever faced. Sturm commands the very cosmos themselves, and his forces are of alien origin, with more powerful vehicles than we could possibly hope to build.”

“No matter what he does, we will win!” Petra says. “Edgar, you saw potential in me, right? Eagle did too! That can’t be for nothing. I’ll defeat Sturm, I promise!”

Edgar can’t help but chuckle. “Ah… perhaps I’m getting soft in my old age, but when you say it like that… I feel like I can believe you.”

“I’ll be there, sister in arms.” Conrad replies, placing his hand on Pera’s shoulder.

“We all support each other! We already lost one, and we won’t lose another!” Henry says. “So no worries, Edgar. There’s a Sturm coming!”

Edgar nods. “Very well. Get your rest, you lot. There’s a big battle tomorrow, and it seems like you’re all ready. Look after one another out there.”

He strides off, and Petra punches the air. “Right! Sleep, everyone! We need to rest so we’re in tip-top condition to take on Sturm!”

“You don’t think we’re getting in over our head, do you?” asks Conrad as they walk to their tents. “That Princeton… he obviously had the same gung-ho that you do. But he paid for it dearly.”

“Hey, you gotta have some faith in Petra.” Henry says, winking. “When she puts her mind to it, I don’t think there’s anything in the world that could stop her!”

“Heh. That’s true.” Conrad murmurs, watching Petra stride away with purposeful steps. He feels a chill in the air - the night is cold, and it’s getting darker.


Our walk comes to a close outside Nell’s tent. She’s got one to herself, since she’s running the show when it comes to Orange Star.

“According to my calculations, Sturm’s base is here.” Nell says to me, pointing at the map in her hands. “But there’s enemy COs, Flak and Adder, here and here; I think they intend to pull off a pincer movement. We’ll need to deal with them.”

“Take Orange Star.” I say airily, shrugging. "Kanbei, Eagle and Colin are all I need for tomorrow's battle."

“You’re going to take on Sturm with just three armies? But my dude-”

“Nell.” I say. “I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again.”

She smiles, and clutches my hand tightly. “Alright. It’s all riding on you tomorrow, my dude.”

“You’ve nothing to worry about. With you taking on Flak and Adder, and me taking on Sturm, Black Hole’s got no chance of winning! We’re the fucking power couple of the century!”

“Hah… I suppose so. It’ll be nice to crush them.” Nell says. “Shame that Lash isn’t with them. She must be working on the missile platform… and my intel hasn’t told me anything about Hawke’s whereabouts, which makes me nervous.”

“We’ll be fine. We’re gonna win tomorrow. Then…”

I can’t quite bring myself to say it. I fiddle with the ring on her finger, and Nell holds it up to the moonlight.

“Then, we marry.” Nell says simply. “I’m looking forward to it, my dude.”

“Yeah, me too. Guess we’ve got to earn our perfect wedding, though.” I reply, chuckling.

Nell excuses herself and disappears into her tent, no doubt to finish off her battle plans. All I’ve got to worry about is taking out Sturm… but that’s no easy feat, even if I’ve done it before. My palms feel a little clammy, and I realise that they’re shaking.


A voice behind me makes me turn around, and I see Ruin standing at the edge of the forest, almost concealed from view. She gives me a curt wave.

“Ruin! Am I glad to see you.” I say. “I’m missing your commentary, you know.”

“You’ve more important things to worry about right now.” Ruin replies, the slightest hint of a grin on her face. “Though… I am missing it too. Still, are you ready for tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I think so. I can’t lose now. Like Nell said, everything’s riding on me tomorrow.”

Ruin pats my shoulder, in what I assume is supposed to be a comforting manner. This girl needs to work on her social interaction skills. “Your victory is assured. And I’ll be on hand to save a single life if need be.”

“That’s a big relief. Thanks, Ruin.”

“But of course. I’ll be going, anyway. I’d like some rest.”

“Yeah, of course. No worries.” I reply, waving to her as she walks off.

It’s only as I’m walking to my own tent that I remember what I wanted to tell Ruin. It was important, too, and I blow a raspberry in annoyance. “Argh, dammit… I must remember to tell her tomorrow. After I win.”

After I win.

I hope.