The Let's Play Archive

Ar Tonelico Qoga

by Feinne

Part 6: Finnel's Secret

Things were bad from the very moment they reached the caves at Fallen Heaven’s peak.

Video Record- “Border Disease”


Aoto, everyone…
Here you are.
I came back since the town had gotten so noisy, but I was a little too late.
Damn it! What the hell is Cleansing!? This is just mass genocide!
H-hey! Don't you think there are still some survivors around here?
Yeah, that's possible. There may be people who stayed in town who didn't go to Ciela Gate.
Let’s look!
…Look at that.

I will say that this whole ‘Border Disease’ is just one more unexpected consequence of things humans can’t begin to understand that they decided to just call a disease and move on.

Wh-what the heck is that!?
My heavens...! They're all afflicted with Border Disease!
Border Disease!?
They smelled our scent and gathered here... We have to eliminate them by force!
By force! But they’re not enemy soldiers! They’re just regular humans! I can’t fight them with full power!
Don't go easy on them! Destroy them! I'm sorry, but they're no longer humans!
...When a human is hit too hard with mental trauma, they develop abnormalities within their body.
That’s…Border Disease…
It seems like we have no choice…

They had no choice but to kill the twisted creatures.

Mini-Boss: Ultimate Border soldiers
I’m going to straight call this a boss fight because these Ultimate Border guys are nasty as hell. There are a lot of them and they hit very hard, make sure you drop items on anyone who gets low. Quickly get a Purge up and get to a high enough Burst level to blow them up and end this because these guys could absolutely wipe you out.

Though it was quite difficult, in the end they were successful.

These are humans afflicted with Border Disease... They sure aren't human anymore...
I hear a few can adjust themselves well to the symptoms, but the majority will end up like them.
But the agent that causes it is still unknown. Once you develop it, you lose your humanity and go berserk...
That’s horrible…
It’s totally brutal…
…Anyway, there’s no point in staying here.
Let’s advance further. Maybe there are healthy survivors.

Luckily for them, not everyone had gone crazy.

Great Fang Soldier: Rev. Gengai! Rev. Gengai’s back!
Ah, my comrades! You guys are safe!
Great Fang Soldier: Rev. Gengai! Welcome back! As you can see, the few remaining survivors from Fallen Heaven Peak are here.
Well done.
...The Great Fang Militia?
It's a grassroots militia, organized in the name of resisting Clustania's tyranny.
Fallen Heaven looks like a few small villages, but it's one giant underground community. And Master's the Chairman.
Hmm...I see. That's why he's so strong. He's no ordinary monk.
Comrades, it's dangerous to harbor civilians here forever. You guys should move to a safer place...

Well, let me rephrase that. They hadn’t gone crazy and turned into freakish monsters, because they certainly did want to do something pretty crazy.

Great Fang Soldier: Our communities were annihilated, and many of our comrades were decimated... We can't just let this go!
We're doomed to be targeted either way! So, we'll give those morons a final attack!
You guys…
Man: Rev. Gengai! I'll join your guerilla struggles! My wife and daughters... I have nothing left to lose now!
Man: Me, too!
Elderly Man: I’ll go, too!
Hey, wait a second!
I understand how you feel! I feel the same...I hate their guts, just like you, but please hold your anger in for now.
We've been through so much danger and survived up to this day. We can't waste out lives by fighting a losing battle.
Great Fang Soldier: …Reverend…
Get ready for our X-Day! That will be our decisive moment! Everyone, please keep that in mind!
Your life was spared at the expense of so many others... Keep your life safe and sound until the time arrives!
Great Fang Soldier: Yeah!

I’d have had some notes for him after that one but his speech did seem to work.

He’s pretty cool!
Yeah…he’s no ordinary old man.
Alright, Luphan. You and I will head to Eternus Shaft. There, we'll gather the Great Fang Coalition for an assembly.
Where you'll talk about our tactics for the upcoming battles?
Yeah. The time for the final war is near. Now's the time for the Great Fang communities to unite. We'll go tonight.
Yes, sir.
Tatsumi, you should stay here tonight. Those people with Border Disease won't be able to come to this place.
Okay, Master. I’ll do that.
Alright, Saki.
You should come with us. You might be attacked again on your way. We can protect you while you're with us.

Aoto had decided that he didn’t much care for how much of a loser turning Saki over had made him feel, and that he wasn’t going to stand for it again if he could help it.

You want to protect her? Hmph. Aoto, you may be pretty strong for your age, but you're still wet behind the ears!
I heard you let the enemy abduct Saki once! I feel sorry for you, but I can't stand bravado from wannabe heroes!
I want to fight!
I really wanna be able to protect Saki by myself! Rev. Gengai, please let me fight by the Great Fang Militia's side!
To fight put your life on the line.
...I don't intend to die. I'll live and protect Saki. For that, I'm willing to put my life at stake!
*sigh* To be young is to be blind...

The Reverend was impressed by his resolve, though, and agreed to let him join up with them.

Listen Aoto, life's not something you should risk so easily, but sometimes you just have to man up! Remember that!
…Yes, sir!
Alright, then. Tomorrow will be harder than today. Go get some rest already.

Saki came to Aoto that night to apologize for causing him so much trouble.

Video Record- “Aoto’s Promise”


…I’m sorry.
It's because of me...that you've been in so much trouble.
...Don't worry about it. I made a promise, remember? I'll protect you, no matter what. I volunteered for this.
Plus...once this is all over, we'll all laugh about it as we live happily!
Laugh...and live happily...?
...When I was a kid, both of my parents passed away. I was adopted by my boss in Blue Canyon Hamlet.
Steeps is scary, but he's proud of me and punches me like a real dad. All the people in the hamlet helped raise me.
A month ago, Tatsumi came to our village and I made a friend around my own age. But, he only thinks about V-Boarding...
But, maybe that's what it means to live happily. Only now do I realize how happy I was in that peaceful environment...
…I agree.
How about you?
…Huh? Saki?
You told me the other day that you used to take care of kids. Were you working at a pre-school or something?
Do you remember anything about back then? Tell me about your past.

Saki had forgotten quite a lot that was important, but at least could still remember this.

Really? About what?
All kinds of stories. Like, a story with a princess and a prince, or a fairy tale about dwarves and a little frog...
But...right before I escaped from the pre-school, the principal passed away...
...I left without saying goodbye to them. I'm worried about the children...
...You escaped? Was it because the Clustanians were after you?
...Probably. Someone led me by the hand as I fled from everything.
That person told me to never look back and never get caught by the Clustanians. We escaped together...
...That was probably Mr. Kiraha. Don't you remember anything about him?
...No. It seems like every time I pray, I lose some of my precious memories...
I'm frightened that one day, I will have forgotten everything. Even the children...
...Alright! Then from now on, don't pray anymore!
What!? B-but…
I'll do my best to keep you away from danger. But even if danger creeps up on us, I will protect you! Trust me.
Oh yeah! I'll take you back to your hometown.
…Saki’s hometown…?

Aoto told Saki what he’d learned from Doctor Gojo.

But I'll get strong enough for you! So, get some souvenirs for the kids! I'll make sure you don't forget them.
…Uh, Saki, what’s happening?
…I’m glad.
Do you promise?
Sure, of course. It’s a promise.

Meanwhile, outside Tatsumi was practicing his V-Boarding.

Video Record- “Tatsumi”


I understand he still needed a bit of work.

You're as harsh as always, Master.
...Tatsumi, this concludes my teaching curriculum on V-Boarding.
Don't take it personally. You have a lot of talent. I wish I could teach you more, but...
You can't because a war has broken out?
Forgive me. I know you wanted to enter the V-Board race, but...the entire city has pretty much been annihilated...
I haven't given up on that yet. You've taught me a lot, Master, so I'm gonna follow my own path to glory from now on.
I will reach the grounds of the V-Board Grand Prix on my own merits. I can't do it right now, but I know I will someday!
But to do that, we have a formidable mission to accomplish. So, I'll head for the Tower for now.
Tatsumi! You…

Tatsumi had another goal, and it seemed he’d made even less progress on it than he had towards his race.

You better not. At least, not just yet. It’s way too dangerous to enter the Tower right now.
They’ve said that for ages, and nothing has changed. I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep saying it for 100 more years.
I just can’t stay away anymore. I feel bad for disobeying you after everything you’ve done for me, but I have to…
Very well. If you're that determined, do you want to join us in the Great Fang Militia?
We're going to break through Ciela Gate, and then eventually advance into the Tower. There, you can enter the Tower.
Plus, won't getting close to Clustania make it easier for you to achieve that goal you were talking about?
That’s right…
But for now, go back to Blue Canyon Hamlet with Aoto.
I know the abbot personally. If I go back without greeting him, he'll preach to me about it till the day I'm in Hell.
Yes, Master.
Here, take this. Consider it your diploma. Keep it safe and sound.
Master!? This is…!
A magazine about V-Boards. It's quite rare in Great Fang. The articles should help you come up with new tricks.
Read it, learn from it, and keep training hard. Good luck, my son!
Thank you very much!

It’s funny how something so prosaic can become precious when you’re separated from civilization.

Feinne on Qoga: Supermoves
So, each Vanguard has a set of items we use to create Supermoves. These are special moves they can use in combat that do things like hit the area around them or knock enemies back. They cost a bit of health to use but once we really get rolling that’s pretty negligible. Once we’ve got all of the Supermoves there are ways to tie up whole groups of enemies pretty well, as we’ll see later. Actually synthesizing this one will have to wait until next time because I need an ingredient I don’t have on hand.

Gengai also wanted to warn Tatsumi about something rather important.

Okay. You too.
And Tatsumi, watch out. Your real coming back.
What!? Oh…shoot!

Tatsumi seemed back to normal by the time he reached his tent. This was fortunate, because he wasn’t alone there.

Okay, now…
! H-hey, Finnel. What's up?
Hi. I was just...
If you don't have anything to talk about, I'd like to go to sleep.
Uh, oh! I actually have something to talk to you about!
What is it?
Well, uh...p-please be my friend!
Sorry, but no thanks.
What!? Why not!?
I'm not interested in people in general. I'm not looking for friends, either.
But, what about Aoto!? How come he can be your friend but I can't!?
He's not really a friend. He just did a few favors for me back in Blue Canyon. Like, showing me good V-Boarding spots.
Oh, really…?
So, are we done? Can you go back to your tent now? We hafta wake up early to head over to Eternus Shaft tomorrow.

Finnel was pretty desperate to talk to Tatsumi about something, but for some reason she’d decided she needed to work herself up to it.

I love to feel the wind on my 4-Foot! We both like V-Boarding! Seems like we share a great hobby, doesn't it!?
I didn't know you like V-Boarding, too. Hm...that's surprising.
I do! I do! I should've brought my board, too!
The weather here makes V-Boarding feel totally different than in Blue Canyon or Eternus. Wanna try it out on my board?
Huh? Um...well...thanks for the offer and all, but I don't feel right unless I'm flying on my own board.
...Fair enough. I kinda feel the same way. V-Boards get used to their owners the more that they use them.
Yeah, exactly!
Which V-Board model do you use?
Huh!? Uh…what do you mean…?
The model of your V-Board. If you love V-Boarding so much, you've gotta be picky about your model, right?
Oh, of course I'm super picky about my V-Board. Model? Like the type of V-Board? It's...a...Toyoda 85...?
Uh...actually no! Hmm...Honta? Or... I'm not sure... Oh yeah! It's definitely Holvo!
I'm not talking about vehicles. Do you really V-Board?
I-I do! Do you doubt me!? I said I do, so that means I really do!

Finnel quickly changed the subject just a bit to something she did know anything about.

Yeah, at least you know that.
Of course. Are you kidding!? So what about you, Tatsumi? Are you gonna enter it?
I'd love to, but I might not be able to this time. There's a lot of things going on right now.
Oh, I see! That’s sad…
But I'll come in first place someday! The winner gets the cutting edge, Hayabusa 883 V-Board...
I want to get it so I can give it to my master. He's been using a really dodgy board for years.
I want to pay him back for all his V-Board lessons.
Oh. Then, I'm rooting for ya! If you win and become famous, can you give me your autograph?
So, Tatsumi...I wanna talk to you about something.
It's getting late. I'm going to sleep. You should go to bed, too. Goodnight.

All it would have taken were a few little words, but once again she didn’t get them out.

Next time, I won’t fail.

The next morning, they prepared to head out. They were going to stop by in Eternus Shaft so they could swing by Doctor Gojo’s clinic before they returned to Blue Canyon Hamlet.

Yes, let's go up there together.
Is everyone departing?
Luphan? I thought you left with Gengai.
I was going to, but then I decided to investigate further.
I thought I might find the key to defeating the Clustanian Army amid all the corpses and debris.
Right… Well, we’re going now.
Very well. Bon voyage.

Saki still felt bad that Fallen Heaven Peak had been destroyed, since they’d used her as an excuse.

Video Record- “Soma Returns”


It’s all my fault that Fallen Heaven Peak became such a mess.
It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything.
The Clustanians who tried to forcibly abduct you are to blame, right?
But if I don’t go to Clustania, everyone will be Cleansed.
Even if you did go to Clustania, the Cleansings would still continue.
They just want an excuse to Cleanse everyone.
So it’s not your fault. The Clustanians are to blame.
So don’t be sad.
Aoto…thank you so much for your kindness.
Saki…became a little happier.

They traveled slowly and carefully, which led to them getting stuck in the mountains at night.

But we need to stay alert anyway. They’re still after Saki.
I know. Alright, let’s go, everyone.
Wait, it's getting dark. It's too dangerous to travel through the mountains in the dark.
That's true. Alright, let's camp here for tonight.

From the very start Aoto felt sort of strange, as though someone was watching them.


And this was the case.


Everyone, wake up! Soma’s here to attack us!

Soma began to pull back, and Aoto gave chase.

Aoto’s gone…
No way… Did he chase after her alone…?
That idiot…
We better go find him!

Aoto actually thought he was doing well to have run right to where Soma was leading him.

...I was waiting for you.

He was lucky Soma wasn’t there to kill him, he’d have had no chance.

What do you mean...? Why are you aiming at my neck? Are you after Saki? Or do you just want to massacre all of us!?
Certainly the capture of Saki is one of Clustania's top priorities. However, that is neither my mission nor my concern.
My duty is to maintain environmental control. And I used to never fail to accomplish a single mission.
But lately, I've been unable to concentrate, so I've been failing them all.
Some stupid moron isn't doing their job, even after finding the Fourth Dimensional Core Square Ring.
Fourth damn engineer's hardcore...? What is that?
That's something you don't need to know about.
Hmph, I don't know what you're talking about, but I can't let a dangerous freak get what they want. I will defeat you!
You better not try it. The only outcome that awaits you is...your demise.

Soma wasn’t there to fight, though.

For Finnel's sake, I want you to see to it that you and Tatsumi reach Clustania safely. The sooner, the better.
Finnel's feeble life rests on your shoulders. Please do as I say.
What the hell are you talking about!? Are you trying to use Finnel to lure us into your trap?
I know I do stupid things sometimes, but I'm not that gullible, assassin!
Hmhm...will you still say that after witnessing this...?
Farewell, Aoto. Until we meet again…

At which point, for the second time, Aoto saw one person turn into a completely different person.

! What the…!?

Finnel collapsed, and soon it was obvious why Soma had disappeared.

Aoto! Where are you!?
…! Shit!
Aoto! …I’m glad you’re safe.
Where's Soma!? Oh...Finnel? I thought she left a while ago. Was she with you?
Well…she was…
Hmm… Uh…ah? I…
Are you all right, Finnel? Did Soma do anything to you?
Huh…? Uh? I-I-I… Um…

Though he did it in a very… Aoto way, Aoto came to her rescue in spite of what he’d just learned.

She was walking around half asleep, and I thought she was Soma. Maybe I was also half asleep...
You really are clumsy, you know that!? You have to be more careful! Don't walk around outside at night! It's dangerous!
Clum… You called me clumsy again!
I just said what’s true.
Y-you jerk!
Anyway, I don't think either of you are really sleepwalkers. I'm just glad it wasn't Soma.
Yes, I’m glad, too!
...S-sorry, everyone. I didn't mean to startle you. I'm sorry, Aoto.
Alright, the night's not over yet. Let's get back to our tents and get some rest.

And so they returned to camp to sleep. Only time would tell if Aoto had made the right choice by not telling them about Soma. Next time, we’ll see what Doctor Gojo had learned about Saki from his examination.