Part 43: Moon Door 1: Orbal Gear Project Part 2 - The Meeting-Primal Grounds-
Bring Agate along with Tita, and you can finally see the second part of the very first Moon Door.
Tita already breezed through the battle trial; I don't think the Moon Guardians would willingly face Agate.
-Factory City of Zeiss-
Our floors are currently out for service. Please watch your step as you exit.
I should never've given in to pressure and promised to come here once a month in the first place.
Havin' to adjust my schedule all the time just so I can come all this way to eat is such a pain in the ass...
...But, well, whatever. I do owe her, I guess.
Wh-What the hell? I just felt this horrible chill run down my spine... What was that for?
Doesn't seem like I've caught a cold or anything... Probably no big deal.
Well, that's everything switched that needs to be. The machine guns are new models, so they could probably do with some tweaking.
That's all of its armaments strengthened. Its mobility is up 66% because of all the work we did through the night, you know.
Hah. Okay! I think we should leave it like this for now and take some data as is before we start doing anything else.
Works for me. Ordinarily, we'd just settle for testing whether it can perform basic actions at this stage then call it a day...
...but thanks to all of Tita's help, it's ended up relatively complete for a prototype.
I think we could probably get away with doing a simple combat test using it, even.
And we should, too!
After all, it just so happens that we have the peeerfect guinea pig for it coming!
Morning, Tita. Did you sleep well?
Y-Yeah... I'm feeling great.
All I can picture in my mind is the sight of that red-haired hooligan crawling on the ground after getting the beating of a lifetime by the Orbal Gear...
I can hardly wait to see it in real life, too... ❤
M-Mom! I keep trying to tell you that Agate's really not a bad person!
Ahaha... Don't take what she's saying to heart, Tita.
She could probably stand to discuss the issue a bit more...tactfully... but I'm sure all she wants is to find out exactly what Agate's doing trying to worm his way to you in the first place.
Having seen Agate's weirdo coworkers gush over the idea of him dating a tween, all this G-Apache parenting makes a tiny bit more sense.
(Oh, boy... Even Dad seems to have him wrong.)
Okay, let me explain this one more time. He might be sorta rude and blunt, and he does grumble every time he has to do something, and he has a bad habit of scaring people off easily... but he's actually a kind, good person! I swear!
I'm starting to get a little worried about him, too.
Whaaat?! Why?! I keep saying he's really a nice person!
All right. Time to go and get things ready.
I'll leave the final adjustments to you, Dan. I've got something to take care of elsewhere.
You're going, then?
That I am. I've heard more than enough! Something has to be done!
The sinner must be punished...with death!
Wh-What in Aidios' name is happening here?
What was Erika in such a hurry for?
Hahaha... Well, it's time... for the testing to begin.
You're not much less of an overprotective parent than she is, I'll have you know...
I could've sworn I saw her running this way...
Where could she have gone?
...? (Was that just my imagination?)
(The second I walked in the door, I felt like my life was in mortal danger...)
(The only person here is that researcher there, so it must have been...)
-Factory City of Zeiss-
Researcher: Oh, my. My, my, my! What have we here?
Hahaha... I pity you. I really do...
I never dreamed my target would come wandering in nonchalantly while I was making the necessary preparations for his execution. But that makes things easier for me. Now I can tell you what I want directly!
We've prepared a most perfect place to die for you over at the central factory. So come along! There's not a moment to waste!
Who ARE you? You here to pick a fight with me or somethin'?
Not at all.
This is a completely legitimate request I've made to the guild. Or, more specifically, to you.
Like hell, you did. No request like that would ever get accepted here. If you wanna submit a request to the guild, you're gonna have to come up with somethin' a little better than that.
*sigh* Oh, you pitiable flea. I figured you were a little thickheaded, but I didn't think your general IQ would be quite this low.
You need to be more aware of your sins!
(What does this woman have against me? Her eyes are scaring the shit outta me...)
Clean out those ears of yours and listen well, moron.
This request is about testing the capabilities of the Orbal Gear by comparing it to you in a variety of situations. Which means that by helping us, we'll be able to improve it!
Haha. And in the process, maybe the unforgivable sins you've committed shall be...heheheheh...
Just what are you rambling on about, woman?
Maybe you didn't get the memo, but the Bracer Guild exists to help people who REALLY need it. We don't exist to just do any old thing someone feels like asking us to do. So I really haven't got time to be messin' around with some crazy time-waster.
Is that the real reason you don't want to do this? Or are you just scared?
Say that again?
Just where could Mom have run off to?
Female Voice: ...It's not my fault you're not listening to me. As I said, if you help with these tests, I might even be gracious enough to consider reducing your punishment. A little.
That sounded like Mom. Could she be in the guild...?
A-Agate?! What are you doing with Mo--
You do not get within a one selge radius of my sugar-powdered donut under ANY circumstances! Are we clear, you shameless hoodlum?!
What just happened there? She just up and ran off with Tita...
I hope I didn't just witness her getting abducted by someone dangerous...
You don't need to worry about that.
Her mother? THAT is Tita's mother?
You've gotta be KIDDING me!
Her parents came back here from abroad about two weeks ago now. Erika and Dan Russell. Their arrival was somewhat unconventional, admittedly...
...but they really are Tita's parents. I can assure you of that.
Y-You're tryin' to tell me that woman is related to her by blood...?
And with that mystery solved, would you mind if we got right to discussing work matters?
O-Oh... Yeah. Lay it on me.
I'm free until this evening, so if you've got any quick jobs that need doing, I can knock 'em out for you.
Well, first, there's this one from the central factory... They're requesting assistance with a variety of tests for a prototype of a new weapon called the 'Orbal Gear.'
Hold up a minute. That sounds familiar...
The guild has officially accepted the request that Erika mentioned to you earlier. It has your name on it, in fact.
Ugh... I can't believe this... She actually submitted that as an official request?
I don't know much more about this Orbal Gear than you do, I'm afraid. She merely described it as a weapon that combines the finest in Liberl's orbal technology. It's being developed by the entire Russell family together, to boot.
The location you'll need to go is Zeiss Central Factory.
...A new weapon?
Wait a sec. You said the whole Russell family, right? Not just the adults?
Please tell me Tita isn't involved in this crap.
I couldn't tell you. She didn't say.
I've heard Tita was about ready to graduate from being an apprentice and become a full-fledged engineer, though, so perhaps she is. Would her involvement be a problem to you, Agate?
Well, no, but...
(I've never met her parents. I've only heard about them from Tita, so it's not like I could pretend to know what they're like. But her mom's nothing like she made her sound...and she seems kinda...messed up in the head.) ...
(If that kook's got Tita involved in developing some kinda new weapon...)
Put that request on hold for now, Kilika.
On hold? Don't give it to anyone else for now, I assume you mean?
I'm gonna go and find out what's going on. Don't even think of giving that to anyone else before I'm back!
I was, but then I remembered something... I heard you were planning on leaving the guild and returning home.
That's still the plan, but the process of getting things ready for my successor has been taking longer than planned. As things currently stand, I'll be leaving at the start of next month.
Really not gonna be the same around here without you. You've done a lot for me while you've been here.
I suppose I have.
Just be sure not to get poisoned and collapse again during my successor's time here. I could handle it, but you'd probably give them nightmares.
I-I didn't do that on PURPOSE, you know!
Can I ask one favor of you, Agate?
What's up? I got you covered.
Come over to Zeiss from time to time, all right? You've got plenty of free time, haven't you?
Hell no! I'm a busy guy.
But not so busy that I can't find the time to drop by now and then for you.
...Thanks. I've told my successor all about you. Do try and get along with them.
Heh. You never miss a beat, do you?
If you're in a hurry, you should focus on getting to Zeiss Central Factory instead of hanging around here. If you're not, by all means go and take care of some of the work on the board, though.
None of them seem real urgent, at least. I can afford to leave 'em for now.
Much as I'd like to work on some of these, I need to go and see what Tita's gotten herself wrapped up in first. I've gotta get myself over to the central factory.
Hey, Wong. How are things?
Wong: ...I've been better. You familiar with someone called Erika Russell? I've heard she's as much trouble as Professor Russell, and I can believe it. Ever since she showed up in town, we've been getting more requests coming in than usual. You COULD call it a coincidence, but...yeeeah...
It COULD be all Dan's fault. That is a possibility. Technically.
Wong: Gundolf mentioned that her husband's a former bracer. Apparently, he was a real showstopper, too. Stange couple, huh?
The time has come for the Orbal Gear experiments to begin... Please let them finish without causing any major catastrophes... O-Oh, and one more thing... Professor Russell seems to be in contact with an acquaintance of his over in Leman State. A-And he seems to be intent on visiting them at some point, too...
I-I hope he doesn't go and cause any more trouble...
Father Vixen: ...Have you already heard about Kilika returning to Calvard?
Yeah. Was talking to her about it earlier.
Father Vixen: I see... All of us in Zeiss owe some kind of debt to her, big or small. So I just hope that we can all come together to do something for her before she leaves us.
Sister Kiera: I don't think I was supposed to hear about her departure, but I accidentally did when she was talking to Father Vixen yesterday. It's hard to believe that she's going to be leaving us... Zeiss isn't going to be the same without her.
Father Vixen: Only a select few people know about Kilika leaving. She hasn't told all that many yet. I can't help but wonder whether she intends to keep it that way and depart without telling the townsfolk, too...
Sister Kiera: It's a difficult call to make, but I think it would be best to keep this from the factory chief for now. I don't think we would be doing him any favors by telling him now...
Gundolf: Well, if it isn't Agate!
What's goin' on, Gundolf? Not often I catch you stopping off at a weapons shop like this.
Gundolf: Haha. I'm not gonna be in town that much longer. I'm due to leave on the next airship... Reports say it's gonna be delayed from what I hear, though, so I've ended up with some time to kill.
Heh. Busy as always.
Gundolf: Not half as busy as Kurt! Still, my workload's gonna be going up before it goes down with all these bracers scattering. First we lose Estelle and Joshua, and now we're losing Kilika? We're really getting short on warm bodies.
When have we ever NOT been short of people? We're just gonna have to keep our chins up until some new guys come and ease our workloads.
Gundolf: Huh? Is it just me, or do you sound like you have some specific new recruits in mind?
Heh. I wouldn't go that far.
Gundolf: That's a shame. I sure hope we do get some in soon. We could use all the help we can get about now. Yeeeah, I'd say we could do with stumbling upon a few qualified newbies right about now. Speaking of which, wasn't it Cassius that scouted you out to join the guild back in the day?
Wh-Why'd you have to go and bring that up? That was a long time ago! Some things are best swept under the rug.
Gundolf: Man! Thinking about it, though, I've been a bracer for a hell of a long time now. Dan and Cassius joined ages ago, too, but they both left the guild... I might even be the active bracer who's been in the guild the longest now.
Muriel: We're currently running a lunchtime special offer! Come on in and try our delicious grub. ❤ I only work here at this time of day, actually. Why? I'd much rather be here at lunchtime than over at ZCF. All there is to do there is boring crap. The menial stuff. And I'd say I'm MUCH more suited to being chirpy and cheery and luring all the boys in here than being a receptionist in a gloomy factory, right?
Irene: I was here selling flowers like I usually do, when all of a sudden, people started raining down from the sky! I-I couldn't believe my eyes! I was so shocked I went into hiding, so I didn't see what happened after that... b-but I still can't help but wonder who they were and what they wanted...
I have no idea what the hell Irene's talking about here. Erika and Dan's homecoming, maybe? I think she must have gotten some sketchy mind-altering Central Factory bio-samples mixed in with her flowers somehow.
Gerald: Don't think I don't know why you're here! Last Friday of the month's always busy, huh?
Gerald: H-Heeey... No need for that look... Sorry for teasing you like that. I'll be honest, though. You do my job long enough, you start being able to work out whether people are using the ships for work or personal business reeeal quick.
Huh. I wasn't expecting to run into you here.
I heard you were busy as hell lately going around everywhere and gettin' Liberl's orbal factories up and running again.
Haha. I sure was.
Then after that, I had to hole myself up in Leiston Fortress and buckle down on the necessary repairs to the Arseille. And now THAT's done, so I'm finally back home.
For the love of Aidios...
Heh. And, oh, it's only gonna get worse from here. We've got the loading equipment back on board, so now we can get down to real work: salvaging. Trying to pull the Liber Ark out of the lake has been on the cards for a while now, but now we can finally get started on it. Just been too busy to get started on it any earlier, much as we wanted to.
Come to think of it, I heard Dan and Erika're back in town now.
(Erika? He's gotta mean shortstuff's mom, right?)
Shame I really haven't got time to drop by and see 'em today. Maybe they'd be up for drinks if we're all free another day. I'd love to take Dan along on the salvage operation with me. The guy's up to his eyeballs in his own work, though, and I ain't got the time to see him, anyway. Ahh, well. Maybe some other time.
One little thing I like about the Memory Doors: if you're paying attention, you can piece together a rough timeline of events. Agate's conversations with Kilika, Gundolf, and Gustav tell us that this scene is set sometime after the events of Star Doors 1, 3, and 4, but before Star Door 6--and it's also after the last scene of another door we haven't opened yet. Kilika also came right out and said there are about two weeks between the start and end of this Moon Door.
Erick: It's for the best. Just trust me. It's oddly quiet today, though... Somehow that just makes me nervous rather than happy...
Hazel: She passed by here not long ago, actually. I saw her boarding the elevator with Tita, but I'm afraid I have no idea where she could've gone after that.
Faye: Weren't you one of the bracers on the Arseille?
I remember you, too. You and the other engineers did a great job when it ended up falling out of the sky. Thanks again for what you did.
Faye: Ahaha. Think nothing of it. We were just doing our jobs. I'm actually going to be becoming an on-board engineer for the Arseille soon. I guess ending up on it that time was just fate, or something. I was offered the job with some vacation time, so I wasn't about to tell 'em no!
Ochre: I was foreman in an underground orbment factory at one point... but now I'm going to be working over here for a while. Faye's in the middle of explaining the work she does here to me. There are conveyor belts like this all throughout ZCF's underground, connecting various factories together in a big, complex network. ZCF itself is like one tall structure, with only part of it visible above ground. Not many people know this, but there are actually a whole five underground floors.
Constance: How do I do this? Get them to clean up this room for me. Which means I don't have to lift a finger. Smart, right? I've got a lazy one who's always skipping work at the moment... but young people do all the manual labor here, that's just how it is. Decided by me, of course. No matter how dirty this room gets, I am determined to do absolutely nothing to resolve the problem! Not my job.
Dr. Miriam: She's quite similar to her father...and poor Murdock's got the gray hairs to prove it. He's rushed in here demanding something for his stomache pain more times than I can count. I'm surprised he hasn't shown up today, to be honest. Maybe he's gone to the church? That might calm him down. Maybe he could get a prayer or two in while he's at it.
Ray: Which meeeans it's time to start work on my next project: making an archaism modeled after Tita! Haha... Time to start with drawing up those blueprints!
(Tita's mom's eyes creeped me out when I saw those, but this guy doesn't seem to be in his right mind, either...)
(...Maybe I oughtta stop him, too?)
He's got 'Ouroboros' written all over him. Better run him in, just to be safe.
Ray: I can't exactly pretend to be an expert in the field of making archaisms, though. Maybe I should start by gathering research materials, then. After that, I can get to work on the blueprints.
Supervisor Travis: It really is amazing what those Russells are capable of. They seem to have limitless energy when it comes to technology. Erika actually submitted an outline for the Capel Project back in the day, you know. She had to back down after losing a bet to Professor Russell, though, so it never saw the light of day. Not that much would have likely changed even if it had. Whichever of them is in charge, we're basically bound to suffer all the same...
Wilmont: After that was over and we switched the Capel back on, it ended up malfunctioning on us... Erasing ALL of the data on the thing. All of it! It's taken us TWO WHOLE MONTHS to get it back in order, too! Uuugh... The Capel's a pretty complex thing, made up of multiple different units connected together. So while the Capel itself was completely intact, getting all the data back and everything up and running again took over two months. That was an experience I hope I never have to go through again...
I can't find 'em anywhere.
You must be Agate.
(Who's this guy? He doesn't seem like any ordinary engineer...) ...
Oh, I get it now. You're Dan, right?
Seem to remember hearing you were a bracer at one point.
Oh? Was it Cassius who told you?
I've just heard some stuff about you from Tita and her grandpa.
(Actually, he quit the whole bracer thing about ten years back, didn't he? Makes it right around when Cassius joined.)
... (I can't imagine him being as much of a lunatic...but who knows?)
You guys're developing a new weapon, right?
I heard you've got Tita helping you out with it. That true?
She's not just a simple assistant, however--she's a formal member of its development team.
Tita's become so much more capable over these past couple years. I don't even feel like there's all that much I can teach to her anymore.
(Ugh... I was right.)
What the hell have you guys got your own kid doing?
I know you're busy and that you can't afford to be back home here that often. And I know the little squirt loves orbal tech, so part of me gets why you'd want her to help with whatever new stuff you've got in the works...
...but that doesn't make it okay to let someone that young work on developing a new weapon! Use some common goddamn sense, man!
-The Dream Continues-
What's so funny?
Agate, do you...
Do you trust her?
What's trust got to do with this?
And don't go tryin' to change the subject on me! What you've got her doing...
I've heard a lot about you since coming back here. And with that, there's just one question I want to hear the answer to from you directly.
Now, it's my understanding that you've been keeping her company quite often while my wife and I were away. Is that because you feel she's unreliable? Or maybe just a coincidence? Or is there some other reason?
...Just what have you been trying to achieve by being with her so much?
Wh-Wha...? I wasn't trying to 'achieve' anything.
Guess if I had to give an answer...
There's no denying how much she's helped me. I'll admit, at the start she seemed like she could do jack all, and I stuck around to protect her.
...But she never actually needed it--she's ended up doing way more for me than I ever did for her in the end.
So yeah. I guess when I put it that way, I do trust her. Your daughter's pretty damn amazing.
(Okay, so he doesn't seem to have as many screws loose as his wife... I can probably give him a pass, right?)
...Look. I'm guessing there's some special reason Tita ended up involved in developing that weapon of yours, right? You mind telling me what it is?
Yeah, there is...
Well, I suppose it couldn't hurt to tell you.
You're familiar with Renne from Ouroboros, right?
The crazy-strong little girl with the huge robot. Couldn't forget her if I tried.
Tita told us that she's friends with that girl.
Which sounds insane, I know...
...Nah, it's not. She doesn't talk about it, but I know she is.
Feels like she's going to unnatural lengths to avoid the issue even coming up, too.
That makes explaining this a little simpler.
The Orbal Gear Project was begun with the aim of developing a new kind of weapon that could compete with the society's advanced military technology. Eventually, we hope to end up with something that can even go head to head with Pater-Mater.
As soon as she heard about what we were planning to do, Tita told us that she wanted to be part of it--of her own volition. At first, Erika and I were strongly opposed to the idea. It was Tita who insisted she wanted to do whatever she could to keep the connection she had with Renne. She wouldn't take no for an answer.
She insisted this was something she could do for her. From my perspective, her intention isn't actually to talk Renne down or anything along those lines... She just thinks that by participating in the Orbal Gear Project, she'll be able to keep thinking about her. The project connects them in a tiny way even if they can't meet, and even if Tita can't do anything more substantial for her.
It really is a tiny connection... and yet that's probably the best she can do for Renne right now, and she's determined to do it.
... ...She... I had no idea...
(She's such an idiot...)
(How am I supposed to know you're shouldering somethin' that heavy if you don't tell me?)
She's working on the project formally as an engineer, no different to Erika or me. My wife was the one who gave her permission.
After she showed as much resolve as she did, it wouldn't have been fair of us to treat her like a child.
You mind if I ask somethin'?
Where is that Orbal Gear thing now?
Does that mean you're up for the job?
Well, I can't walk the hell away.
She might go doing something crazy again if I leave her alone.
Haha. Albert was right about you, Agate. You do seem to have some promise.
Wh-What're you talkin' about? What'd Gramps say?
You'll need this, incidentally.
Agate received an identification card from Dan.
Using this in the elevator will let you get to B5F of the building where the tests will take place. Tita and Erika should be there.
You're going to want to make sure you're ready if you do go, though. Erika's been dead set on testing you.
Does that mean I can stop at Elmo first?
I couldn't care less what she wants.
I'm just gonna go help Tita with the tests. What anyone else does is none of my business.
What about you, Dan? You ain't coming?
Don't mind me. I'll be there.
And just so we're clear, I haven't decided to accept you myself yet.
(...Accept me as what?)