Part 28: Never Go Full Anime
I see you've gotten into the drinks. How's it taste?
The crew's been calling these Vanguard Shots. Can melt through the armor of a cruiser, they say.
A cruiser, eh? Well, let me be the judge of that.
As powerful as advertised?
Normally, I'd say it tastes like coolant. But being on the beach makes everything better.
We shouldn't be here. We should be out there fighting the war.
Having a well rested crew will be much more useful to the war effort than us patrolling Alliance space for a few extra days.
Become a leader.
Well, I learned from the best.
No. I'm afraid I was never cut out to be captain. I haven't changed as much as you have. You remember those days. All the members of the student council left, one by one. On day one, we had over a dozen members. But week by week, people disappeared -- people who were enthusiastic and had ideas when they first joined. I never had much capacity to inspire others, I'm afraid.
Yes. Yes you did.
Who's that girl you used to have a crush on back in those days?
She was the only thing you talked about our second year.
I, uh, have no idea whom you could be referring to.
Alice, was it? Or Hana? The one with the golden hair.
O-oh. Hana. Right. Hana.
How'd that turn out after I left?
Well, well. The girl who broke the mighty Captain Shields' heart. The man who dropped a PACT Veniczar like it was easy, now flustered over an adolescent romance. I'm almost ashamed to look at you.
Well, go chat with the rest of the girls. I'm going to the bathroom.
What's going on here?
Oh nothing. Soldier boy and I were just comparing our kill counts from the last battle. Turns out she only got one kill!
Except that kill was a carrier containing over a hundred ryders! So if you count all the ryders destroyed inside the ship, I got over 100!
Heh, so now you've taken up wrecking poor defenseless ryders sleeping inside their motherships, huh?
If you hadn't been hiding behind the shields for most of the battle, you wouldnt even be standing here now!
I-I'll never accept you!!
And you'll always be a danger to yourself and the crew!
Im not the one in danger of being pushed out an airlock after selling us out to the admiral again.
Admiral Grey is an honorable man and a hero of the Alliance.
Heh, honorable. Right.
Hold your tongue. I will not allow you to impugn the dignity of the Alliance! A gun for hire like you would never understand the meaning of honor!
Heh. I understand the power of money. And that's the only thing that matters!
Ladies You both did very well during the battle. There's no need to fight.
(I still can't tell whether they like or hate each other.)
Wow, thats quite the sand castle. I never knew you had such talent, Sola.
You give too much credit. My hands are merely steadier than most.
What are you making?
The imperial administration palace at Far Port.
Imperial palace, huh? I remember seeing some holos of the ruins on tourist brochures.
During my time, Far Port was a bustling trade world. It was where I was born.
You weren't born on Ryuvia Prime?
No. I ... rarely spent time at the palace, but I still remember it vividly.
I don't remember the ruins having this keep though.
I remember being swept away with wonder upon seeing the palace for the first time. It was a feeling which I will remember for the rest of my life.
You're not actually a princess of Ryuvia, are you?
When we first met, the talbur glowed for Asaga. Not you.
It is as you say.
Then who are you really?
I am Sola.
The galaxy of mine was a different place. A sad place.
Here. Try this.
It's a sesame ball. It's a popular food on Cera. It's crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Also, it has red bean paste in the center.
The merchants often carried exotic foods at the bazaar ... And yet, I have never heard of this. Perhaps I could give it a try...
You should join us at the mess hall more often. Don't eat at the corner by yourself anymore. You're a part of the team now, Sola. It doesn't matter who you are, or what time you're from.
I must go back. To my castle.
And I should probably help Ava with the grill. Have fun.
A short time later
I can imagine doing this at the beach on Cera. I remember when Maray was still young and the whole family would go to the beach together. We should have gone to the beach one last time before I left. I don't know why I didn't think of it.
Captain. Please do not get overly sentimental. I do not want to have to blame the onions if the crew sees you crying.
Heh. So, what made you change your mind?
It's a rare sight to see you more than an arm's length from a stack of documents, much less dressed up like that.
You gave me a direct order. I followed it.
That's the only reason?
Perhaps a little break every now and then isn't so bad. I don't remember ever going to the beach with my family. I'm afraid such frivolities were lost on them.
Not even once?
But we went together one summer when you were sixteen.
Even then, you brought homework with you and tried to do it on the beach. Not that you were successful.
You're making this up.
Actually, as I recall, it was a student council team building trip. I remember only because I was the one who organized it. There was this one girl who came with who just wouldn't shut up. She'd be texting with one hand without even looking at the screen and yapping about something totally different at the same time. I never figured out how she did that.
Reminds me of a certain someone.
There was another girl who seriously must have worn the same hair ribbon every day. I swear, couldn't she at least change the color? Every day, that same damned red ribbon. I wonder how she even washed it. I remember I had to sit behind her for a month and I couldn't see anything else except the red ribbon.
Ah. Kazumi. One of your crushes. You must have liked staring at that red ribbon all day instead of learning galactic history.
You remember her? How she'd always start spinning her hair in her fingers whenever she was nervous?
Really takes me back though.
The onions are strong. I shouldnt have touched my face.
What? How strong could they be?
O-oh! Damn! I'm getting flashbacks to when they shot us with tear gas during training.
Permission to be excused?
Ugh, granted, and get me a pack of ice for my eyes while you're at it!
And even later
Here you go. A hearty piece for our chief.
(Eh? What's gotten into her?)
Heh, you ain't so bad after all. Ya know, when I first joined this ship, I had my doubts. But you got us through that fubar at Far Port all right. I never figured you'd be the type to order a frontal assault with only 200 ships against five PACT fleets. Hahahaha! I woulda loved to see the look on ol' Pigman's face when we finally roasted him!
Shadup. Don't be so stiff, soldier boy. We're all privateers here.
All right, all right. That's enough, ladies. Here you go.
Captain, we seem to be missing someone.
I figured as much. Here, take the grill.
The sea give me peace. I much prefer the sound of the waves to the clamor of loud gatherings.
Still, you must be hungry. I brought you a plate.
Even if it is nothing more than a holographic illusion, the skies here remind me of my home at Far Port.
Home, huh. Tell me about home.
I was not always a princess. For most of my life, I was merely a lowly peasant, hardly worth more than the livestock we raised. Home was a small wooden cottage. The winters were too cold and the summers were too hot. We survived on what we grew in the garden and the game I caught in the forest.
An odd beginning for the Princess of Ryuvia.
My mother was merely a commoner whom my father had taken a fancy to. She was ... taken by dreams of living in the palace. Of being taken care of. However, none of those dreams came to pass. We were abandoned. Forgotten.
That must have been difficult for your mother.
It was ... foolish. For her, he must have meant the world. Do you recall how I told you of the death of the Emperor and his heir?
You said the Emperor and his heir were assassinated, and that began a war for succession between your father, the second prince, and Crow Harbour, his step-brother.
Indeed. But I have my suspicions that the one who assassinated the Emperor and the First Prince WAS my father. The Ryuvian Court of my era was ... a snake pit. Betrayals. Assassinations. Machinations. They were a part of the palace culture.
Instead of becoming Emperor though, your father's assassination plot triggered a war of succession with his step brother.
Yes. The civil war raged for many years, until the Empire was on the verge of collapse. It became clear drastic measures had to be taken. The Sharr'Lac had to be awakened. But the true Princess of Ryuvia was a stranger to hardship. She was too selfish to sacrifice her life for the Empire. So she used her connections to find me. The king's men seized me three years after my mother's passing. I knew nothing of royal succession or of palace intrigue. Yet, I found myself in the midst of my father's dangerous game. I was taken from my home. Impressed into service.
So your father essentially abandoned you, and then kidnapped you when he needed you to save his own hide?
I realized the task before me was too great to be abandoned. The future of the Empire was in my hands. I chose to wield the Sharr'Lac to defend my homeland.
You must have been terrified. You did a brave thing.
It is strange. For the first time in my life, I was happy. Even though I knew what awaited me at the end of my mission. The people called me the princess of Ryuvia. I remember after each victory, marching through the Arch of Destiny on Ryuvia Prime and being hailed as the Sharr by the people. The knowledge that I, a simple country girl, would die a hero of the Ryuvian people ... It filled me with such unspeakable pride.
I promise you'll never have to sacrifice your life again. Not while I'm captain.
Oh! There they are! Come over here, capt'n! We have more food!
Well, shall we go?
I do not know why I was brought to this time or what purpose I will find here. Yet, I now know it was not a tragedy, but a gift. It is still premature to tell if the sorrows of the past are truly behind me. But You have my appreciation. Not as a princess, but as a common girl.
Huu ... I sense another formidable rival has appeared ...
Later still ...
Ahem. I expect all crew to be on their best behavior for this overnight stay. While we may all be sleeping under one roof, I remind all of you that we are all prof-
Let's pull an all nighter!
Whos up for some cards! Winner gets to sleep in the captain's room!
(Looks like I'll have to lock my door tonight ...)
Unbelievable C-captain, say something!
Have fun? *leaves room*
C'mon, commander, we need to get you into this game too!
A little something Ive had stashed in the Phoenixs hidden compartment. The merchant I got it from claimed it to be lost wine from the cellars of the fourth Ryuvian dynasty. And honestly, it's good enough to almost believe it!
Huh ...This is actually quite good.
45 minutes later
When just the month before, he was still fawning over Hana! A-absolutely unbelievable! And so it became my mission to finally beat some sense into this man!
Uwaahhh ... I never knew...
But not even that was enough! Oh no! After that, there was another one of those lambs that he fancies! U-ugh, what was her name ... The library girl ...
I'm fine! I don't feel anything!
Heh, heres your chance, Chigara
Now or never!
The girls getting a bit rowdy in there?
Eh-heh... Y-you could say that ...
(I suddenly have no idea what I'm supposed to say! I coulda sworn I imagined how I would do this a thousand times before ...)
Well chief, we couldn't have done it without you.
Please, captain, call me Chigara.
Heh heh. All right.
Shhh, commander! They'll hear us!
I don't know what's happening! I order you to take me back!
C'mon, just watch the show!
Is there something wrong? You look really pale, Chigara.
(Oh no, oh no T-the wine's suddenly hit me all at once ...)
O-oh ... I'm suddenly dizzy...
Shhh commander! It's just all in good fun!
T-this is highly improper! I-I must put an end to this immediately!
Ahhahaha ... I got some more wine for you, commander ...
C-Chigara? Are you all right? I'm not sure what you mean...
We all worry about you. I always worry about you. There's a shadow over you, but you never let us get close enough to help. You don't have the carry your burden yourself, captain. I'm here.
I never expected my first command to turn out this way. I was probably the youngest captain in the Ceran fleet. The CSF had to train a bunch of us fresh recruits to crew the Sunrider. We're the newest ship with the greenest crew in the fleet, and here we are, fighting for the fate of the galaxy. All of your lives are in my hands. The lives of billions of innocents throughout the galaxy are mine to protect.
And the blood of the millions I abandoned that day are also on my hands. I am the captain. Every decision, every triumph, every failure, ultimately rests with me.
Captain Why do you always want to be alone? I know how it must feel. That's why I want to help. Whenever I think of what it must be like, leading us to battle all the time, I just want to ...
You don't have to say anything. I know.
You will always be my shield.
It's late. I should be going.
Good night. Sleep tight.
I will. Good night, captain.
Oh well. Time for us to go to bed too, I guess.
Ahem. Well, I believe tonight's festivities are over. Let's clean up and go to sleep.
(Chigara I don't even know how I should feel about this ...)
Come on, move, people!
You heard the commander! Hit the bunk!
That morning ...
What happened? I seem to remember ...
(I better make up for this... Or else the crew will be laughing behind my back for ages!)
All hands, fall in! NOW!
While it was certainly filled with ... many colorful memories, we now resume our mission! The overthrow of Veniczar Arcadius and the unconditional surrender of all PACT forces!
We'll hunt Arcadius down until he has nowhere to hide!
We love you commander!
Hmph. Gather our things. We depart at 800 hours!
It'll be awhile until we can do this again. Part of me never wants to leave here. Just stay, bask in the sunlight, and let the war solve itself. But it looks like that will not be our fate. Is the crew ready?
The crew is behind you one hundred percent. We'll be with you every step of this journey.
All right. And you?
Good. I know I can always count on you, Ava. Now let's go.
We have a war to win.