Part 6: Staying Under HeissMusic: Machinist Kingdom
We've reached a dead end in this timeline, so we have to use a node to travel back to the first decision we made.
...Rosch. Sorry, but I'm going to continue working under Heiss.
I see... I'm disappointed, but it's your choice. To be honest, I really could have used your support. I want you on my team, Stocke. But if that's the path you choose, I'll respect your decision. ...Good luck, buddy. I'll be awaiting your return.
Rosch leaves us, and we're given control. There's nothing to do but visit Heiss in his office. When we arrive on the second floor, a woman greets us.
She leads us into Heiss' office. I'm not sure why this is necessary, since Stocke presumably visits this office all the time, and we've also been here in-game.
What's the matter? You look like there's something on your mind.
Ah... All right, then. To business! The job this time is to apprehend a certain person. You're still convalescing, but it shouldn't be a challenge.
"A certain person," eh? Who is it we're talking about?
His name is Vlad. He's the leader of a rebel faction who opposes the Prophet Noah.
A rebel faction... General Hugo requested this, didn't he? Everyone in Alistel is at the beck and call of the Prophet...
Hah. A man in my position has nothing to say about that. But it's true... Faith in the Prophet Noah is the fuel that drives this nation. And we can ill afford to condone anyone who'd throw a wrench into the works. ...Does that not satisfy you?
No, that's fine. Tell me more about this Vlad.
We haven't found out what he looks like yet, but we do know something of his movements.
Set some bait, have you?
They're nothing special, as rebel factions go. From what I've heard, there's a similar Resistance in Granorg. Theirs seems to be giving them a great deal of trouble... Ours, on the other hand, poses little threat. They fall quickly into our traps.
So where am I headed?
Start at the item store in the first ward. The owner there is one of my informants. Find out anything he knows about Vlad and take whatever measures you deem appropriate.
You want me to capture him, not kill him.
They mean very little in the greater scheme of things, but we can learn much from them.
Understood. I'll begin at once.
Upon leaving Alistel Castle, it begins to rain. There are no NPCs around, so there's nothing to do but head for our destination, the item shop.
"A swordsman in red... You must be Stocke. Heiss told me you'd come around."
And here I am. Tell me what you know about Vlad, and I'll take it from there.
"Vlad should soon show his face at the bar in the Second Ward."
How will I know him?
"Oh, he's hard to miss. He always wears a robe. In this weather, I doubt the bar will have many patrons. Once he shows up, you should be able to spot him right away."
All right. I'll be on the lookout for a robed man.
"I've let the bartender in on the plan. He's supposed to supply Vlad with false information. Once you see him make contact with the bartender, the rest is up to you."
Got it. Thanks.
"What, leaving so soon? You seem a mite twitchy. This is an item shop! Why not buy something while you're here? In fact... I believe Heiss specifically mentioned the swordsman in red would spend a little cash."
I turn Heiss into a liar and don't buy anything.
To the bar!
We take a seat shortly before Vlad enters the building. Vlad walks over to the counter and begins a conversation with the bartender.
Robed Man: Barkeep! I'm here for the goods.
Barkeep: What "goods" are these?
Robed Man: The offering to the Prophet.
Barkeep: Ah, yes, that... I have it right over here...
Robed Man: Sorry to trouble you, barkeep.
Barkeep: Make sure you don't open that until you're back home...
Robed Man: Absolutely. Until next time, then?
Barkeep: By all means, come again.
(So that's him... Amateurs. No subtlety at all... I'd better not make a scene in here. I'll do this outside.)
Vlad leaves the building, and we follow.
Are you Vlad?
Vlad: What's it to you if I am?
I'm to bring you in.
Vlad: ...Ah. I wondered why you were dressed differently than your average soldier. You're Specint's hatchet man. Dedicated to your work, I see.
Vlad: Don't you ever get to wondering? Take the Prophet Noah's guidance. Is General Hugo still giving the people the truth? It's been five years since the Prophet's been seen in public... What's he doing with himself?
I couldn't care less. My mission is to apprehend you, and that's what I intend to do.
Vlad: Such obedience... More like a lapdog than a rat terrier. If there's one thing I hate about dogs like you, it's all the blind loyalty.
I told you once to shut up.
Vlad: And if I don't?
Stocke draws his sword.
Vlad: The dog shows his teeth...! Sorry, but I won't be hounded to my grave!
Music: The Edge of Green
Vlad is a one-time enemy and could techincally be considered a boss, but the entire fight is just an exchange of regular attacks, so there's no reason to go into detail.
Vlad: But I swear, the Prophet will be--
Yeah, yeah. That's enough out of you. You can shoot your mouth off in an interrogation cell.
Raynie and Marco walk in from the south and surround Vlad.
(Raynie is hidden behind Marco's giant head.)
If you can handle a sword that well, you should have no problem getting back to work.
You were here?
We were called as backup in case anything happened. But you handled yourself just fine. We'll be waiting back at Heiss' office.
Thanks for helping out when I dropped to 7HP, you guys. (I wasn't paying attention and pretty much just mashed A through this whole battle.)
All right. I'll see you there.
We're given control, but there's still nothing to do other than head straight for our destination, Heiss' office.
Heiss is waiting in his office.
And they lead me into his office. I really don't see why they don't trust me to find my own way, the building only has four offices.
...... So what did we manage to wring from him?
Hmm... Yes, you should know. They were hatching a plot to plunder the army's supply of explosives. The shipment was originally meant for use at Alma Mine... I assume they have less savory intentions for the explosives. Well, the rebels are weak, and few in number. We can easily foil their plots before they start. The real problem here is if the explosives don't reach Alma Mine.
(That's right... That's what was holding back the Rosch Brigade in the other history.)
If the explosives don't reach their destination in time, the repercussions would be severe.
That's it in a nutshell.
So... Am I tasked with preventing the heist?
No, no. I already have an agent dealing with that. I had a more delicate mission in mind for you.
...Tell me more.
I won't mince words here. This mission stands a chance of putting an end to our long war against Granorg.
Music: To the Battlefield
There's no one else I can trust with such a vital mission... No one but you, Stocke.
What's the objective?
You will begin by heading to Granorg. More than that, I can't say now. The situation changes hourly. Once the final order is given, you'll be contacted on-site. It may seem like a roundabout way of doing things, but such are the difficulties of the mission.
To start, you'll have to update yourself with the current best way to enter Granorg territory. To that end, you'll liaise with our border contact at Lazvil Hills. He's on another mission in the Alma Mine now, but he'll come to Lazvil Hills when he's done.
If it's a simple border crossing, wouldn't we just pass through the Sand Fortress? I don't see the need to pick up any special intel for that.
And if I told you that the Sand Fortress is on the verge of being recaptured by the enemy?
Is it really?
It's an old story now with any border stronghold. We capture it, the enemy takes it back, and we reclaim it again in an endless cycle. Control of the Sand Fortress is too fluid to be reliable for this mission.
Hence the need for the most current information. I see.
You'll rendezvous with the contact under the bridge at Lazvil Hills. Wait there. He'll come to you.
Oh, and I said this earlier when we met in the medical facility... But you'll have those two along as your subordinates for this mission again. It's a difficult mission, and you'll need to work together to accomplish it.
Looks like we're in the same boat again, Stocke.
Let's make this another success.
We'll wait for you outside the castle. ...Please excuse us, Heiss.
Mmhmm. I'll be expecting as much from you as I did before.
We'll do our best to live up to your expectations, Sir.
Raynie and Marco leave.
I suspect that in the course of your mission, you'll learn the truth about this continent.
Excuse me? Is gathering info on that one of our objectives?
No, but... It would hardly be a waste of your time to find out. I suspect once you know, you'll feel that it was better for you to have discovered it. So that's something to look forward to.
That will be all. Prepare yourselves first and then head to the bridge at Lazvil Hills.
We leave Heiss' office and take the elevator down to the first floor, where we're greeted by yet another cutscene.
Music: Machinist Kingdom
Damn, word travels fast here.
Aren't you pushing your luck a little too far with this one?
It's the heart of the enemy's territory, for goodness' sake.
I know the risks.
No, I don't think you do. Remember who's headquartered there. Queen Protea's two personal attendants, major figures to Granorg's military...
Dias and Selvan, right?
Right. On the one hand you have the Court Knight Dias, the most active of the Granorg army... And on the other, the scholar Selvan, with an iron grip on their Parliament. Plus, Palomides the Executioner, Dias' right-hand man, is supposed to be there too. Going to Granorg is putting yourself amongst the wolves. Nobody would do that unless they were willing to throw their life away.
I won't necessarily come into direct conflict with them.
But there's no way to guarantee that. If you were to be found out... Not even you could wriggle your way free of that.
Rosch. This is hardly the first dangerous mission I've taken. And I've never gone about any of them intending on getting myself killed.
Can you promise me you won't become another casualty of this damned war?
Stocke, come on. How long are you going to keep working for Heiss? I don't know what's gotten into him. He's been at odds with the army all the time lately. ...I worry sometimes that he's just using you.
Do yourself a favor, man. Come back to the army. Let's work together. Just like we used to.
Even if Heiss is using me... It's my call to make. Not yours.
Besides, it's all the same to me if I'm working for the army or Specint. I'll do whatever job comes down for me if it's for the sake of Alistel. That's all.
Even if it leads to your death?
Rosch... Why are you so hung up on that? You're a soldier. You know as well as I do what we were in for when we signed up.
Music: Where the Wind and Feathers Return (Piano Arrangement)
Right, of course. But... It's been barely any time at all since you nearly died at Lazvil Hills! I sensed Death's stink on you, and my premonition almost came true! Maybe this time it really will!
Dammit! I'm trying as hard as I can, and you...
Sonja... I don't mean to be rude, but stay out of this. This is between us two...
Well, from my perspective... You seem to be projecting your worries onto him.
...Ugh. You always seem to know just where to hit where it hurts.
I'm worried about Stocke too, but...
Stocke tries to leave.
H-Hey! I wasn't done with you!
I'm touched by your concern. But I'm not planning to treat this as a suicide mission. I'm just doing what's necessary for my country.
So that's the last word as far as you're concerned, huh? I'm going to hold you to that!
Honestly, why do we put our lives on the line like this for the sake of the job?
It's because that's theonly way there is... For you... and him...
The screen fades to white.
You've returned, Stocke... You have chosen a path which diverges from your friend's. But your paths will cross again someday... I'm certain of it. Now, let us add a new chapter to the White Cronicle.
We're given the option to continue, or to use the White Cronicle. We choose to continue.
Stocke walks up the stairs, and the door on the left opens...