Part 57: Chapter #16: Refuge in Nordilain, Last chance voting!Chapter 16: Refuge in Nordilain
Alternate Title: Is there anyone out there?
: Greetings readers! It is I, l'il Faulkner, here to narrate this special edition of the Vanguard Bandits Let's Play in honor of the extreme horror of this update!
: No way, Bastion. We totally would've detected them behind us! This is, like, an ambush! And in my Daddy's country, too!
: Oh, good, Claire's talking! Yes, there's no better way to immerse a player in a game and get him to invest in characters than by giving some of then wholly implausible affectations of speech!
: It seems like we're just traveling from one ambush to another! I wish your father were here to help!
: Oh, good, get the player's hopes up! This surely won't lead to one of the cruelest bait-and-switches in video game history!
: I think Claire has a difficult time distinguishing between flirtation and flaunting herself.
: It's plain to see that Princess Sadira is troubled by what has happened to her brother, Prince Duyere.
: A foolish boy, Duyere is. Awful grades in school, he received!
: See, look at this! Now, remember in the Kingdom Branch how Faulkner brainwashed Halak. Now, I don't think this game takes itself so seriously that it wanted you to be shedding tears or anything of the sort, but you also probably weren't supposed to be cheering on the villain, either!
: The Ultragunner is a wonderful ATAC, Bastion! Will you take me for a ride in it someday?
: Sadira's not, like, talking trash and stuff, is she? 'Cause I'll totally slap her around if she is!
: Has the Kingdom formed an alliance with your father, Claire?
: Commander Galvas, the criminals have arrived, just as the report said they would! Arrest them!
: Hmmm. Let's see, we have more ATACs, and our weakest unit is stronger than their best ATAC. Gee, I wonder if they'll be more enemies soon? Also, behold Smasher Dynamo's incredibly poor memory: Claire is still in the Einlager, despite the Alba being available. Well done, Dynamo.
: Yes, yes, it certainly looks like we're almost done with this fight, can the rest of the troops just show up already?
: Isn't that Commander Galvas?
: I swore I would find you, and now...What?! That white ATAC...It is the Ultragunner! Impossible! Ultragunner can only be controlled by a special person of royal blood. Is the boy truly the Prince?!
: Don't, uh, be fooled, Galvas! They must be using, ah, some new type of Imperial technology to, ah, operate the Ultragunner!
: That's impossible, Ganlon!
: Now, ah, listen to me, Galvas! This is all part of the, um, Imperial plan! If you let them, ah, trick you into thinking otherwise, then the, um, Kingdom is doomed!
: (What technology could be advanced enough to circumvent Ultragunner's security systems?)
: Do you want a fight, Imperial Army? Well, now you, ah, have one! How dare you claim to be the Prince of the Kingdom, you insolent brat!
: How dare you pretend to be allied with the Kingdom, you traitorous pig!
: Says the boy who has personally killed a couple of dozen Kingdom soldiers by this point.
: And the game throws another squad of Kingdom ATACs at you. How droll. Galvas is the real threat, here. He has a fire stone, and none of your team members are exactly defensive stalwarts.
: Who in the world are you?! I was told fifteen years ago that the Prince was killed. But did you...did he...survive?
: I am the Prince, alive, well, and controlling the Ultragunner! I'm not using any trickery to make it work! It moves because I was the one born to move it!
: You know, this bit about how only those of royal blood can control the Ultragunner doesn't make much sense. In the game's backstory, the Ultragunner was excavated by pioneers from another continent. Why exactly it would be locked to one bloodline which, presumably was in no way affiliated with its builders never really has a good explanation other than plot fiat.
: Then why are you with the Empire? If you are the real Prince, you will return to the Kingdom, the place of your birth!
: I don't want to be constrained by the archaic structure of a government!
: Oh. I had no idea that this game was actually a heartfelt paean to the virtues of classical anarchism. Seems like they could've at least scored a soundtrack by Rush out of it, though...
: What are you saying?! The Kingdom is good, and the Empire is evil! It has always been this way!
: Soldiers of the Kingdom are just as capable of evil as Imperial ones! You simply haven't seen it!
: You insult the Kingdom! You cannot be forgiven for your insolent tongue!
: Now, this game's difficult curve is about to spike, so it is high time that you learn how to properly use the Turbulence technique. The core premise is that if the enemy can never attack, it doesn't matter how little damage you do. Now, like all things, this can be taken too literally. It would impossible to freeze all enemies, but, the idea is that you stop as many of them as you can, while Bastion mercilessly crushes anyone not frozen. By equipping everyone with wind stones and getting Sadira Second Attack, you team is capable of using Turbulence six times. That is enough to perpetually keep three enemies from attacking. You will usually be facing more than three enemies, so you'll still take a few hits. That's okay, because your superior attack range will generally allow you to keep most of your enemies to your front, where they will usually be unable to hit you.
: Excellent, another enemy sent to perdition. I suppose now is a good time to mention a couple of other notes on this strategy. First, Bastion will be doing the lion's share of the damage, and can also used to immobilize another enemy, though one with two squares of him, by using Lightning Strike twice. That's four ATACs you can reliably shut down, and the game rarely forces you to deal with more than five or six at a time. The other crucial note is that you should always attack from the front of the sides. You need the enemy to defend rather than avoid so you can ensure that it is immobilized in two attacks. Finally, if the enemy is nearby, and you have a character that can use it, Wind Strike is a preferable alternative to Turbulence, as it costs marginally less FP and does quite a bit more damage.
: This is not the last of me! I will not rest until I have defeated you!!
: (I am extremely confused by what has taken place here today. Ganlon told me that the boy was a fraud, yet he controls Ultragunner. How is that possible? I hope he survives until I am able to determine the truth!)
: Excellent questions all, albeit the sort of thing it might be wise to wonder about before trying, and failing, to the kill the boy.
: So, like, is it okay if we hang out here for a little while, Daddy?
: Of course, Claire! I promised Sadira my cooperation, didn't I? As long as you and your friends are here, Claire, I'm not going to allow anyone into this country. ANYONE.
: Thank you, Duke Logan. I knew it was a wise decision to seek out your help when we embarked on this adventure!
: Stop it, Princess Sadira, before you make me blush!
: I think it would take much more than a compliment to make you blush, Duke Logan!
: I could chat with you all evening, but I'm sure you're all more than ready for some rest.
: Totally ready. Shion, could you maybe prepare a few guest rooms?
: I have already prepared chambers for each of your friends, Miss Claire.
: You're, like, always one step ahead of me, Shion! Can you show them to their rooms?
: Of course. This way, please...
: Well lads and...lasses? Hmmm. Somehow I doubt it. Well, lads, it's time to for you to understand the true face of misery made manifest in gaming form. A tour de force of unearned emotion, ill-conceived translation choices and, well, let's just get to it, shall we?
: (And now I am a fugitive from my own country, suspected of plotting the crime! My brain-dead brother is being blatantly manipulated, but is too dim to realize it. And that bastard Faulkner seems to have all but taken over the Empire. All this has happened despite my best efforts to stop the war. What a failure I am! My life is disintegrating before my eyes, and I am powerless to stop it...)
: Yes, I'm sure that running away into the forest while your enemies consolidate power will fix everything!
: Hello, Bastion. Is everything alright?
: Of course, Sadira. I only came here to speak with you, if you don't mind.
: Certainly, Bastion. You know how much I enjoy your company.
: I've caused you so much trouble. I've even made you an exile from your own nation. I'm so sorry.
: It isn't your fault, Bastion. I believe that Faulkner would have done this even if we had never met.
: I certainly would have! But, in fairness, aren't the citizens of the Empire better off with me as their leader. Why, I would imagine that even the ones I sacrificed to power my unholy ATAC are happier than they would have been under either Duyere or Sadira!
: Your presence merely set events into motion sooner than they would have otherwise occurred.
: I suppose that's true. Sadira?
: I am grateful to you for all the help and support you have given me. You knew that helping me find the Ultragunner would be dangerous, yet you did it without hesitation. I cannot express my thanks to you with mere words, Sadira. If only you could see into my heart...
: (Oh, Bastion, if only you would come to me, and take me in your arms, and kiss me softly!)
: I am of the Kingdom. You are of the Empire. Why did you help me when I am considered your enemy?
: So we have a balcony, two star-crossed lovers torn apart by ancient feud, I suppose all that's left to make the homage complete is reciprocal suicide!
: Because I lo...er, I mean...I judge each person I meet as an individual, not a stereotype. I determined long ago that there are good people, and bad ones, in both the Kingdom and the Empire. And as for you, Bastion, I've grown to trust you more than anyone else in my life. You're so...wonderful...
: Could you repeat that, Sadira? Your voice trailed off.
: (You heard me, Bastion! Now get over here and kiss me, you fool!)
: What's wrong with you, Bastion?! Can't you see how I feel?!
: What are you angry about, Sadira?!
: Never mind, Bastion! Just go away and leave me alone!
: Oh merciless heavens. Okay, then, as you might guess, your decision as to Bastion's perceptiveness greatly alters Sadira's morale, which, in turn makes a difference as to what ending you get. Right then, no sense in further delaying the inevitable. Let's take the hard one while we're still fresh.
: Please tell me what's wrong, Sadira! I'm worried about you!
: You're worried about me?
: I'm worried you might do something foolish because of all the trouble I've caused you.
: I would never harm myself, Bastion. I might be depressed, but I am not so foolish as to throw my life away.
: I'm glad to here that, Sadira. Life is a precious gift, not a burden, as some people think it to be.
: Incidentally, for those of you counting along, Bastion has already threatened to kill himself twice in this Let's Play. Once in each Branch.
: What will you do now, Sadira?
: I don't have many options, frankly. I have to make my foolish brother see the truth. I have to put an end to Faulkner's evil.
: And after that?
: You mean, after all this madness has come to an end? The first thing I would like to do is...well...I'd like to embark on a well-deserved vacation. Just me...and you.
: Excuse me?
: Er...I mean...uh...
: Heh, heh, heh. You meant all of us, didn't you? That was a good one, Sadira. You really had me going!
: To be fair, as royalty, both Bastion and Sadira are the products of generations of inbreeding.
: No, Bastion! I wasn't joking! I meant what I said!
: I didn't mean to embarrass you. I shouldn't have said anything. I'm so sorry...
: Don't be sorry, Sadira. I have the same feeling for you. I just didn't have the bravery to express them. And once we've brought this war to an end, I would very much like to see where our hearts take us.
: Would you?
: When I started this crusade, it was to gain revenge for my father, and to bring peace to the Continent. That has changed, Sadira. I'm still fighting for those things...but most importantly, I'm fighting for you.
: And I am fighting for you, Bastion. Together we will win.
: Good night, Sadira. With any luck, I will dream of you.
: Good night, Bastion.
: (I told him how I feel, and he feels the same way! This is wonderful!!)
: Come now, brave readers! We can do this! We can make it through this scene! I believe in all of you! Do not let fear consume you! Fight!
: Claire? What are you doing here? And what do you mean?!
: I mean, like, I can't believe that you finally told Bastion that you dig him! 'Let's go on a trip, Bastion! Just me and you and my lingerie!' Ha, ha, ha! You were totally blatant! I loved it! So where are you and Bastion going to take your 'vacation'? And why do I have the feeling you won't be getting any rest? Ha, ha, ha!
: You hid behind the door and listened to our entire conversation?!
: Well, DUH! I wanted to see if Bastion would make the moves or not!
: What?! Not only are you rude, you're an enormous pervert, as well!
: Hey, you should be thanking me! I'm the one who told him that he should come here and cheer you up! But, like, who cares about that?! What matters is you and Bastion are totally a power couple now! The Prince and the Princess! It's SO romantic and cliched. It's just too way perfect...I can't stand it!
: Uh, aren't you being a bit hasty, Claire? We haven't even kissed yet?
: Yes, and thanks to the stunning indolence of the sprite animators, you never shall!
: What if he decides that we should just remain friends?
: Like, whatEVER! He's totally yours, Sadira! Stick a fork in him, 'cause he's done!
: You make it sound as if being in a relationship with Sadira is tantamount to painful death. Wait. Comment withdrawn!
: Now let's go break into my daddy's liquor cabinet! It's time to celebrate!
: I don't think that's a very good idea!
: Oh, damnable day! Still, I am obligated to show both dialogues.
: Alright, Sadira. I'm very sorry if I said something to offend you. Good night.
: Bastion...(I'm such an idiot.)
: It's nice to see you, too, Claire!
: 'Go away and leave me alone' isn't the best way to win Bastion's love, Sadira! Like, call it a hunch!
: I didn't know what to say, Claire! I was flustered, alright?
: I set up the perfect romantic moment for you, and you blew it! Like, have you EVER had a boyfriend, Sadira? Or are you totally pure?
: You...you set this up? How?
: I told Bastion that you were bummed and that he should cheer you up.
: And then you hid behind the door and listened to our entire conversation?
: Well, DUH! I wanted to see if Bastion would make the moves or not!
: What?! Not only are you rude, you're an enormous pervert, as well!
: You're just venting and stuff because you totally screwed up your chances with Bastion!
: That's not true! I'm venting because you drive me crazy, Claire! You...you...you're right. I'm a total failure in the romance department, I'm afraid.
: Also in the departments of diplomacy, strategy, counter-intelligence, and likability.
: I'm always right, Sadira. Like, you should have noticed that by now. Why don't we sneak into my daddy's liquor cabinet and totally drown our sorrows together?
: That could be the best idea you've ever had, Claire.
: There was so much noise coming from your room, I thought the you might be having a nightmare.
: I'm fine. Bastion. Just a little groggy, that's all.
: (Psst! Sadira! I think it's a miracle that you can even stand up! Like, I've never even seen my daddy drink as much as you did last night, and he's a 350 pound beast!)
: (It's all your fault, devil-spawn!)
: (What are they whispering about?)
: Good morning, everyone. We received a report late last night that the Empire has launched a full-scale attack against the Kingdom.
: Faulkner is making his move!
: The Imperial Army is also using a new type of ATAC which has never been seen before. The new ATAC seems like it was designed not only to destroy enemy ATACs, but to kill their pilots.
: No! I ordered it destroyed!
: Well, I suppose that puts her one up over her Kingdom Branch counterpart. Of course, I have no choice to deduct some points because of her dismal failure at actually making sure her orders were followed, which puts her total at -1087.
: Faulkner obviously chose not to heed your orders, Princess Sadira.
: What do you know about this ATAC?
: Its name is Sharking. It was built by Madoc, the Empire's chief engineer. It was indeed designed to kill enemy pilots, and make this war even more senseless than it already is. When I learned of Sharking, I told Faulkner and Madoc to destroy the prototype at once.
: But it seems as if Faulkner ordered Madoc to hide the prototype instead.
: It's not a prototype any longer. At least a dozen of them have been seen along the Kingdom's border.
: They couldn't have produced that many ATACs so quickly. Faulkner has been secretly building them!
: What can I say? The first one seemed so lonely all by itself...
: The Imperial Army used a squadron of Sharkings to reclaim Araba Castle from the Kingdom. Most of the Kingdom forces have been forced to retreat into Avalon, as they are unable to fight the Sharkings.
: The Kingdom is all but lost...
: Faulkner won't stop at the Kingdom, Princess. He will attempt to conquer every country of the Continent.
: And with those Sharkings, he could very well succeed!
: Have you another report?
: Yes, sir! Our scouts have sighted an Imperial ATAC squadron marching across our border!
: They've come here already?!
: The scouts also report sighting at least two of the new pilot-killing ATACs in the squadron.
: Damn you, Faulkner! Duke Logan, I'm going to stop those Sharkings from taking another step into your nation!
: That's a fine idea, Sadira, but how about allowing us to come with you?
: Indeed, we must all fight. We have brought this danger into Nordilain, and now we shall remove it.
: Let's hurry!
: Daddy, like, I'm going with them!
: Be careful, Claire. Stay clear of the Sharkings until you have some idea of their strength!
: I....I taste copper....is this...death?
Important Voting Announcement!
Gentlemen, the day of decision is upon us...tomorrow! So, you have until about noon EST to vote for an ending. To review, your choices are:
-Probably not trying to secretly kill us
-Can not possibly get any worse
-Uh, you did just read the last update, yes?
-Not very good at...anything
-Happens to have an excellent knowledge of the weak points of Bastion's anatomy
-Good at cleaning, also, murder
-Has a suspicious amount of training in mercenary contract law
-Not completely insufferable, so you've probably never seen Sadira's ending.
Anything to add, li'l Faulkner?
: Just let me die in peace, you bastard!