Part 69: Chapter #10: Futile SearchOkay, so I'll post the results of the latest contest later tonight, but before that, it's time for a test of what the Ruin Branch is really like...
Chapter #10: Futile Search
: My only question is whether they're bandits or Imperials!
: Take that look of depression off of your face, Bastion! We'll find Milea soon, I'm sure of it!
: When we've found Milea, could we embark on a search for rare snack foods? I think it's a noble cause!
Well...it has been a while since I had a Tahitian Treat...and who could forget Jay's Calypso Chips! Come to think of it, those probably failed because between the name and the bright pink packaging, well, uh, they weren't super-popular among the target blue-collar potato chip consumer.
: Bastion, my friend, the only thing a woman likes more than a good kiss is a good spanking. Trust me.
: Hmmmm! What a tasty collection of unusual ATACs! Especially the blue one--I don't even know its name!
: I know what I'm calling it: our one-way ticket to a big pile of cash! I almost have enough saved up for that beachfront property I was telling you about the other day.
: I still can't believe you'd rather be a beach bum than a thief and a killer. To each his own, I suppose.
: These don't seem like the brightest bandits I've ever encountered.
: A life of crime rarely tends to attract the best and brightest, Reyna. Bandits and blondes have roughly the same intelligence level, in my considerable experience.
: What's a blonde?
: Attention, travelers! Get out of your ATACs immediately! Don't make me ask twice! Because I really don't like repeating myself. It makes me mad.
: You know what bugs ME? Idiots like you who prey on innocent people for your own selfish gains.
: WHAT did you call us?
: She called us idiots, man! What's up with THAT?!
: No one mocks the Organization of Hell's Bandits and lives!
Right, so as you noticed, things to tend to get a bit...spacier in this branch. Bastion is back in the Alba, but the bandits are still basically XP fodder.
And, before dis astranagant asks, I didn't use the Flaros because I met with Radcot in this playthrough, and I did that because I had already played through these missions a half-dozen times by that point, and I just wanted to pick the quickest path.
Man, that bandit was only one mission away from retirement...
: Hurry up and put these ATACs out of their misery!
Not exactly the most solid formation I've ever used, but Reyna is still in her old ATAC, which seems to be made of cardboard...and not strong cardboard.
And I send the last of the Bandits to the beachfront of eternity.
: These bandits were hardly as, uh, hellish as they claimed....
: Bastion! We've barely begun to search for Milea--
: And I've already put all of your lives in danger with my selfish desires. Let's put an end to this, before we encounter someone more dangerous than those bandits.
: I know you don't want to give up, buddy...but this is the right choice.
And so, the party, having spent all of one mission looking for Milea, heroically decides to call it a day!
: (The why does it feel so much like the wrong one?) Alright, Bastion. Let's return to the castle.
: Don't worry, Bastion. I have a feeling in my gut that Milea will find US!
: Judging by the size of that gut, it must be a very strong feeling, Barlow. I certainly hope you're right. Let's get moving.
Meanwhile, back in the Imperial capital...
: Faulkner. Is something wrong?
: Not at all, Madoc, although I enjoy the paranoia my presence seems to instill in you. What are the results of your tests on the Ultragunner? Have you been able to successfully operate it?
: Hmmmm? Oh, yes, the Ultragunner.
: Yes, the Ultragunner! How could you possibly forget something of such tremendous importance?!
: You've asked me that same question twenty times since you brought that ATAC to me, Faulkner.
: Because my plans of conquering the Continent require the Ultragunner to be fulfilled, you crazy old goat!
: Does the Emperor happen to know of these plans? Yell at me again and he's certain to know.
: Don't patronize me, Madoc! We both know that I could destroy you with a snap of my fingers! Now tell me what you have achieved with the Ultragunner!
: Nothing, Faulkner. Nothing at all.
: Excuse me?
: It doesn't work. It doesn't move. It's a completely worthless hunk of metal.
Yep, in the Ruin Branch, everybody sucks at their job.
: Nonsense! It is the ATAC of legend! There is a way to make it work, and you will FIND the way!
: Would you care for a look at my latest ATAC design, Faulkner? I guarantee you'll be very pleased!
: Why must you always attempt to change the subject when you have unpleasant news to report? Are you absolutely certain that the Ultragunner cannot be activated?
: Actually, I'm not certain at all. I've been far too busy supervising the construction of my new ATAC. The Ultragunner will look like a child's plaything in comparison to my majestic creation!
: Madoc, you disappoint me...and you know how I hate to be disappointed.
: This new ATAC is the culmination of my life's work! The perfect mix of aesthetics and functionality!
: Rest assured there will be nothing aesthetic about the manner in which I punish your insolence, old man.
: Uh...Your manner could be less heavy, my tyrannical taskmaster. I was merely jesting with you.
: Of course you were.
: In any case, I must return to the constr...the research facility. Those technicians never get any work done unless I'm standing behind them with a prod in hand! If any progress is made with the Ultragunner, you shall be the first to know.
: (But those plans are for naught if Ultragunner cannot be activated! Madoc is the Empire's best engineer. If he says the Ultragunner is useless, I must take him at his word. I have no choice but to conceive of a new strategy for the enslavement of the Continent. Perhaps the old man's new ATAC is truly as powerful as he claims. Or perhaps I should strangle one or two of the Emperor's servants to help relieve this frustration!)
Well, you can't go wrong either way.
: Duke Zeira and Commander Galvas are preparing to return there and see if they can regain control.
: A revolt in Avalon?! I can't believe anyone would stage a coup d'etat against such a capable leader! And what happens if the mutineers manage to repel Zeira and Galvas?
The most terrifying thing you could possibly imagine: Democracy!
: Don't worry, Bastion! I have some GREAT new for you! In fact, this could be the best news in the history of news!
Take that, Gospels!
: I'll keep my expectations somewhat lower than that, Puck. What is your news?
: I've just finished the construction of a brand-new, never-before-seen type of ATAC!
: A new ATAC model? Really?
: Yep! I started working on it as soon as we got back to the castle! I think it's just as powerful as the Ultragunner!
: What?! Do you honestly believe this new ATAC of yours is that strong?
: Yep! Because it uses a power stone from one of the original excavated ATACs!
: Really? Which one?
: The Water Dragon! It was the only excavated ATAC that was damaged beyond repair...But they were able to salvage a lot of parts out of it, including its stone! You can really feel the energy inside of it! My hands are still tingling.
Looks like Puck just managed to get himself some radiation poisoning!
: And how were you able to obtain such a precious artifact, Puck?
: I saved up my money and bought it!
: I don't recall Kamorge giving you an allowance quite that large, Puck! Seriously, how did you obtain it?
: Sorry, Bastion! It's a secret! But I can tell you that I got it at a great price!
: How about we stop interrogating the little man and thank him instead? I mean, Bastion, this kid built an ATAC for you. I have friends who won't even buy me a beer. Is it really that important for you to know how he got the stone?
: You're right. Thank you, Puck!
There is nothing ominous about this image, certainly it will not lead to the destruction of everything. Let us move on without further comment.
: What brings you here, soldier?
: It's an emergency, Miss Reyna! We're under attack by Imperial troops!
: So the Empire wants Araba back? Well, they can't have it! Let's move out, everyone!
: Are you sure that you need my help? I was hoping to relax for a while and maybe have something to eat.
: Yes, Barlow, you're ocming with us!
: Well, Puck? Is your new ATAC ready for combat, or should I take the Alba instead? And please be honest! I don't want to take an incomplete ATAC into battle!
: It's ready for anything the Empire can throw at it, Bastion! I promise!
: Excellent! Follow us to the hangar and give me a quick walkthrough of the controls before we depart!