Part 68: You Can Never Go Home Again
I can't believe I just found you like that! I just ... knew you couldn't have died! I just knew ...!
Almost did. But not quite.
Captain, I'll ... never stop protecting you again. I let this happen. I should never have left!
No, Asaga. None of what happened was your fault. I'm the one who needs to say sorry. Chigara ... Chigara really was a prototype.
I can't believe it! S-she betrayed you! She betrayed EVERYONE!
I ... was blinded. I just wanted someone so badly. That I let down my guard ... I should have been more careful.
It's not your mistake, captain! She totally fooled everyone! To think she even had me completely fooled in the end! If only I was there to protect you next time, I'll be there.
Thank you, Asaga. Hey Icari? How are you holding up over there?
You IDIOT!! IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT! Tryin' to be the hero, when you're just an idiot! Don't be the hero! I just want you to be an idiot from now UWWAAHHH!
Okay then. Hi, Sola.
Captain. It was a grim moment when I thought all was lost and we had returned too late. Thanks to you, I feel more at home two thousand years from my own timeline, here, alongside all of you, than I did amongst the Ryuvians. You showed me that I was not a pawn to be sacrificed. So, I am relieved that the captain who gave me a home still lives.
Im also glad that things turned out this way. The crew still needs you. The mission is still far from over. PACT still retains control of Cera, and the massacre of most of the Alliance military leadership will no doubt return the war to their favor. You still have many things left to accomplish.
I'm sorry, everyone, for what I put you through. But I had to stay on board the ship. I still hear the echoes of Ava's voice that first day Captain your order When I gave the order to abandon Cera to the PACT fleet when I ... I let my sister die ... before my very eyes And this time I saw it happen all over again, just when I thought we had won. Just when I believed everything was over. Our hard won peace completely shattered at my feet. That's when I knew. This time, I could not order the Sunrider to fall back. No matter the odds, no matter the strength of the enemy, this time I had to stand my ground, come what may. And only then could I be judged worthy of having done my duty.
okay, and what good would you have been able to do dead!?
Thats a fair point ...
Ahem. Well, captain, I see that you are still somehow in one piece, even after completely destroying the ship. Whereas after saving it, I wasnt.
Heh. Hahaha I suppose there really isnt any justice in the universe, commander.
Also there was still a solid stack of paperwork yet to be completed onboard that ship when it was destroyed. Do not believe for a second that this gets you off the hook for the work that you owe me.
Understood ... I will try my best to make amends ... sir.
Yes, yes ... I certainly sympathize with your position ... captain.
So, fill me in, XO. What's the situation?
Following the destruction of the cruiser carrying the Tactical Paradox Core, the Alliance made a hasty retreat out of the system before the PACT fleet could organize an offensive. The Combined Fleet now holds position at the nearby Neutral Rim world of Barona, no doubt prepping a counterattack. PACT has responded by consolidating their forces at Cera. The two sides are basically now staring each other down. We managed to use the chaos during the retreat to squeeze everyone into eight life pods and then tow them to safety using our ryder squad, but as you can see, the situation is dire. It appears we are once again back to square one, as PACT still retains control of our homeworld. Even worse, we are now without a ship. We do have one advantage: for now, both the Alliance and PACT believe you are dead. And given our position, I would rather they keep that assumption.
I have managed to arrange safe passage on board this cargo ship to Tydaria, where you will go into hiding. In the meantime, I intend to head to Ryuvia Prime with our queen and see what military assets I can acquire.
Yes, that would be you.
But I thought we were all gonna stay together!
Our first priority is keeping the captain from being discovered until we get a new ship. And with PACT now consolidating their forces at Cera, Ryuvia Prime has never been more open.
I have also heard interesting things about Ryuvia's moon from Alliance intel. Things that given recent events warrant further investigation, in my opinion.
Look, that artificial moon stuff is just folklore that people use to remind themselves how great we used to be. People say all sorts of things, like that moon's actually an enormous battle station with the firepower to destroy an entire planet or that it's actually a portal to another dimension ... but my dad told me himself that the moon's completely useless. Just another derelict piece of lost technology which doesn't do anything.
Well then, why was Veniczar Arcadius so intent on conquering Ryuvia Prime? During his occupation, Arcadius, or rather, the prototypes, funneled trillions of credits into excavating that moon. That moon holds something. And I intend to discover what it is.
Ah ... well I guess it's a lead, even though it seems like kind of a long shot.
While we are investigating Ryuvia's moon, one of us should remain with the captain to guard him. Someone with personal combat experience.
Then I volunteer.
... I should not have ever left him in the first place.
But ... I ...
Will be coming with me. To Ryuvia Prime. You can help the captain by preparing a replacement vessel for him.
Besides, what good would you be in a fight? Seriously
Fear not. I have no intention of ... any ... indiscretions ...
Im not sure I like this new sense of humor that youve developed.
Well, in that case, I'll head out to find my old black market contacts. I doubt the Mining Union's gonna help us any more, what with us fighting an Alliance fleet and all. We're going to need a new source of equipment for what's to come. And mercs. I know where to get 'em.
The black market?
Doesn't look like we have a choice, now, does it? We are, essentially, fugitives.
And I I intend to turn myself in to the Alliance!
What!? Y-you can't do that! They'll definitely have you tried for treason and hung!
No. I still believe the Alliance is a just and fair nation. What they tried to do at Cera was wrong. I will return and see what I can do to restore our support from the Alliance. If ... no, once the truth of what occurred at Cera comes out I believe that the system will vindicate us. There's no way anyone in the Solar Alliance would approve of destroying an entire planet! No matter the circumstances! We still need the Alliance's support or else we truly have no hope of ever liberating Cera!
You're bein' way too naïve. There's no way anyone in the Solar Congress is ever going to admit that they tried to collapse an entire Neutral Rim planet into a black hole!
We do not know that unless we try first!
Alright, don't come crying to me when I have to bust you out of a maximum security Alliance prison ...
Hah! If the worst really comes to pass, then I'm sure I can count on your expertise!
Well then, it's settled.
Not ... quite just yet we have ... one more ... thing. To be honest Im surprised she stayed quiet this whole time
Captain!? What is she-
She's the reason why I'm still here. She ... saved me. Pulled me from the bridge while I was unconscious and put me inside the escape pod.
It's a trick. We already know this is how they operate. They seek to gain our trust.
I say we just throw her out the airlock right now! We don't need any of their lies anymore!
Wait, whatdaya mean, she saved you!? I thought the prototypes were our enemies!
Chigara I think ... she's still alive. And she's trying to take control. Of all the prototypes. Or at least that's what Lynn seems to be saying. I think Chigara temporarily took control of Lynn and used her to save me.
No, captain! Don't listen to that nonsense! Besides, Chigara was a prototype just like the rest of 'em! And look at where believing her got us!
Well, maybe we should still keep her around. We need to keep tabs on the enemy, and Lynn here's our only source of intel. Even if she's one of them, we've got to use everything at our disposal right now. 'Sides, she's got kind of a big mouth ... I'm sure if we keep talking to her she'll keep spilling the beans.
In any matter, I do not believe we can perform an execution in here at this moment.. But perhaps later at another location ...
No. Look, she did save me, and I think we still have a lot we could learn by keeping her here.
Very well, captain. Well then, I believe our sessions will continue, prototype. You should thank the captain's graciousness, especially after everything your friends have done.
Whatever happens, make sure she stays away from the captain! Even if she's our prisoner, there's no way we can ever trust a prototype ever again!
The other prototypes can still assume control of her. We should still be careful.
You heard them, Lynn. Don't try to pull anything.