The Let's Play Archive

Ar Tonelico Qoga

by Feinne

Part 27: The Rock and the Hard Place

They all returned to the Lymph Vessel to head for Clustania proper. They had a serious problem, though.

Video Record- “To Clustania”


Yeah, Clustania is the enemy's nest. If they see her, they'll capture her right away.
Plus, I heard that the Archians are getting close to the Tower.
Yeah, you're right. Are you ready, Saki?
Alright, Doc, it's your turn to help us again.
Sure. Are you ready?
Ma num ra gyen anw slep noes.

Unfortunately, Filament did not appear. Someone much less ideal showed herself.

...Hey, this is...
It has been a while, Sir Aoto.
Name is Sakia Lumei. I appreciate your summoning. Thank you.
Is she...another of Saki's personae?
Hmm... She's not Filament, but I guess she'll do. Okay, let's go.
I am sorry, but I shall not accompany you.
Sir Aoto, you must escort Saki to the Archia Think Tank posthaste.
I have a duty to uphold. To see it through, I would avoid all risks.
...Duty!? But if Saki doesn't get to the Rinkernator soon, she'll die!

Indeed, Sakia Lumei seemed largely unconcerned with Saki’s life.

Gimme a break! Are you out of your mind!? What can be more important than our lives!?
There are many such examples. I have been protecting her...only to achieve the duty I have been charged.
...In other words, you weren't protecting her for the sake of her own life...?
That is not necessarily true. I still protect her, but there is another, more veiled objective beyond that.
I will...never accept that! I will protect her! And I'll never give her back to the Archia Think Tank!
Doc! Please bring Saki back!
There is no need for that. This persona cannot live much longer, for there is a matter that beckons me to the Soulspace.
I have delivered my exhortation. If you still advance further, I shall have to stop you by force when next we meet.

I hope it won't come to that. Farewell for now.

And with that Sakia vanished, leaving them with a serious problem.

Unfortunately, we haven't even taken our first step.
Huh? Why not?
Saki, you became someone other than Filament.
I did?
Even if I try calling Filament, we'll probably have a similar result.
Your persona, Sakia Lumei...
...I used to think she played the role of your guardian, but it seems that was only the surface of the truth.
She mentioned the Archia Think Tank. Maybe she has a connection with them... We have to stay alert around her.
But if Saki can't use another persona, then what should she do?
What choice do we have? I'll take her as is. We're gonna be in danger anyway.
Don't worry, Saki. I'll take you to the Rinkernator safely!
I like your passion, Aoto, but you're a bit too reckless...

And then Aoto had a truly remarkable idea. Not remarkable for a good reason but remarkable.

How awesome are we talking about?
I call it, Major Operation Soma!
...And why would you call it that?
Her costume! It'll hide her entire face, right!?
...What? Are you serious?
That is a fine idea!
Hahaha. Well, it sure will hide her face.
I want a cat helmet. That'll be cute! I can look cute and hide my face! It's like catching two birds with one bush!
See? Alright, now that we've decided to do this, let's make a cat helmet!
...Is it gonna be homemade...?

So yeah.

A cat helmet.

Nyamo, nyamo!
...That's how Nyamo talks?
How is it? Perfect, right? She's totally...Nyamo!
Hahahaha! I like it... Nyamo.
But maybe she should remove the helmet in battle. It's kind of dangerous to fight in an unfamiliar outfit.
Nyamo, nyamo!
*sigh* You guys have the worst ideas...
Alright! Now that we've solved that problem, let's head out!
Oh, hey! If you run like that, you can't keep a low profile!

Cocona didn’t really appreciate how ridiculous this was getting.

Aoto knows what he's doing. A giant cat mask won't fool the Clustanians. He just wants to take Saki along.
He's already determined to protect her, no matter what happens.
Oh. I didn't think about that.
Plus, Saki and Finnel are running out of time. We can't afford to linger in one place forever.
...If this journey's going to be so hard, we should let them do whatever makes them feel better.
*sigh* You guys are all so boo...
That means, we're gonna end up having to work extra hard to make up the difference.
So it seems, ma'am. Now, let's chase after them.
*sigh* What a needy hero...

Meanwhile, Katene and his new friend were already in Clustania.

Video Record- “Katene and Mute”


If we can get past this place, everything'll go as planned...

Unfortunately, luck was not on their side.

G-General Akane! Uh- ...How did you know where we were!?
I'm still on a mission. By the way, Platoon Leader Mute, I thought you disappeared...
You brought an unpurified human into the Tower... What do you think you're doing?
Uh, this is just... Uh... He's just... Uhh...
...I recognize your face. We've met at the Moebius Factory.
It's been a while, General.
Capture him.
That man is a suspect. Detain him in the Executive District dungeon.
Clustanian Soldier: Yes, General!
Stop! Let go!
N-no! Stop, people! K-Katene!

As they dragged off Katene, his friend revealed her true identity in an effort to save him.

Miss Mute...?
Getcher friggin' filthy hands off of Kateeennneee!
Stop her.
Damn you! Lemme go, morons!
Platoon Leader Mute, stop. No, merely plain Mute.
You failed every opportunity I gave you, and then you aid a smuggler? Do you have any idea of what you've done?

Mute, as of now, I relieve you of your position as Platoon Leader. From now on, your position will be Slave Guard.
General Akane...!
Don't make me repeat myself!
You should be thankful that you weren't discharged from the army.

I’ve never really quite gotten why people join things like armies. I asked your father to explain it one night, but he didn’t really have a good answer. As they traveled through the massive Lymph Vessel they took advantage of Soma’s strength.

Video Record- “Cocona and Soma”


When they took a break Saki and Aoto talked about the ridiculous cat helmet, which she loved.

Hey, it’s kind of late to bring this up now, but how did you like the Nyamo disguise?
I like it! It’s so cute!
I mean, I’m not asking how cute it is…
When you were running around in the Nyamo costume, wasn’t it hot or heavy?
Not particularly.
But there’s one problem I had with the costume.
What? Was it suffocating?
I couldn’t move very dynamically with it. If I did, the helmet would easily come off.
…Is that it?
Yeah, other than that, it was cute and lovely. I liked it a lot!
So, whether it’s cute is the most important part?

Finnel was less excited by the whole thing.

Don’t you think Saki’s Nyamo character is too high-profile?
She should be high-profile.
…Are you serious? We’re all on the lam, you know?
That’s why she should be conspicuous.
They would never think a person on the lam would be that outstanding.
Don’t you get it? It’s like a decoy…
…I think it’s more like idiocy.

Soma also took advantage of her newfound coexistence with Finnel.

Aoto, you’re using me in battle a little too much.
But that’s because you’re so strong.
I can’t deny that.
But I promised I wouldn’t come out anymore against her will.
You’re not ignoring her will.
But the promise means that I must stay as her shadow, right?
But you make me come out every battle. I don’t think that’s right.
Are you saying you can use me for battles, but the rest of the time, I must stay quiet?
I’m not saying that. If Finnel says it’s okay, you can come out anytime.
So far, it seems like I’m only good for battles.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to use you like this.
I know your strength, so…I know I can rely on you.

But as you said, it’s not right to only let you out for battle.
…Oh, am I that reliable?
Of course. We’ve fought you. I know how formidable you are as an enemy.
Alright…then. I don’t mind helping you out in battle.
Are you sure?
Yeah. I don’t mind.
Plus, I don’t mind that you rely on me so much, either.

After quite a ways they finally reached the elevator to Clustania.

Video Record- “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”


Let me try.
Ma paks ga exec guol FL_005x1 al noes.
...How'd it go, Finnel? Is it gonna open? ID didn't work.
Aren't there any other elevators?
Even if there are, they'd be locked, just like this one.
Ergh... Isn't there anything we can do about it?

As it turned out, they’d chosen a very… interesting time to try to enter Clustania.

Hey, Richa. Oh, the Archian Army's over here.
Uh, who is that kitty over there? I've never seen her before.
Oh, this cat! She's Nyamo! She's like...uh...our new ally!
Nyamo, nyamo!
Hello, Richa.
Oh, D-Doctor!
It's quite a coincidence, meeting you here. I'm glad to see you again! too, Doctor.
By the way, Richa, why is the Archian Army over here?

They had a very good reason to do so.

I came to expose the mastermind and capture them!
But only your platoon is here, right? Don't you need more?
If you think outside the box, we have a good chance to beat them. Or should I say, this is our only chance?
What do you mean?
The Clusanian Army is gathering in Great Fang. In other words, they have less troops guarding the Tower.
In the Great Fang...!?
Wait. Does that mean...? How do you know this?
We managed to hack into their database. We have all of their plans.
It seems like they're going to perform a major Cleansing Operation.
Then what'll happen to Eternus and the other towns?
Don't worry; we're way ahead of them. We've already sent the rest of the Archian Army to Great Fang.
We'll leave that to the locals, as we handle our business over here. We'll never get this opportunity again!

And it seemed as though they had a real chance of pulling it off.

Wow! That's smart!
Hmhm. Thanks.
Yeah, you sure are a genius.
Awww, how sweet of you. If you give me one compliment, I can't help but expect more...
Alright, Richa! Good luck on your mission! We shall take our leave now.
What? You're leaving already?
We have our own things to do. I'm glad we got to see each other, though. I hope your plan goes well!
Yes! Doctor, please be careful!
See ya, Richa!

Richa, however, was not intended to just let them go. This is because she wasn’t an idiot.

Yes! Thank you!
Too bad. It's Game Over.
I-I'm really sorry! Saki made another stupid mistake...
Stupid...? First of look totally unnatural, and your voice is the same. That's super obvious.
I was wondering how Saki disappeared, but it's obvious you took her. Now, give her back to me.
...Sorry. I decline.
I'm sorry, but I can't give Saki back to you! We're going to the Rinkernator together!
What!? Are you joking!?
If we get to the Rinkernator, I can save her!
Hey, why go to all that trouble? With the proper treatment, she can make an immediate recovery...

None of them actually trusted Richa, though.

Ngh! What are you...?
Archia is trying to secure her for some purpose. Am I wrong?
Richa, please be honest with us. Otherwise, I'll never be able to trust you or Archia...
....Well, that's...not true at all...
...I see. I understand...

It didn’t matter much what Richa wanted them to do, as it turned out.

General Akane! Why are you here!? You're supposed to be in Great Fang...!
That is quite unfortunate to hear from you, Former General Richaryosha.
F-Former General...?
Don't tell me she used to be the General of the Clustanian Army...!
I was surprised to I hear you were still alive. I wondered how you forged the record of your own death.
In any case, what a shame, Richaryosha. I can't believe you committed such a huge oversight.
After being kept by the humans for so long, did you become their pet dog?
That's hardly a polite greeting. Is that the proper attitude to show to your predecessor?
I'll be sure to show you my utmost respect when I interrogate you later.
Take them hostage. They've trespassed into the Tower.
No worries, Doctor. Dearest Akane, it would please me greatly if you didn't underestimate the forces of Archia...
We have at least enough strength to bust a whole Reyvateil platoon or two.

It didn’t really matter how many Reyvateils they could defeat as it turned out, because they weren’t ever going to get to fight one.

And all that power Archia had brought was nothing to even a single Antibody.

What!? That' Antibody!?
So, that’s what it is…?
Aki, please stop!
If you resist any further, I won't hesitate to run you through.
If you want to talk, I'll listen to you in Clustania. For now, you shall accompany us to headquarters.
...Take them.

Once again they were captured. Now, I’ll admit your father and I spent some time in cells while we were running around trying to save the world but if we’d been captured this often we’d still be at it. I think that’s enough for tonight, though. What happened in Clustania is a tale for another day.