Part 76: Chapter #17: Black Cloud
...I need to see where it takes us.
I will show you, but you may wish I hadn't.
Chapter #17: Black Cloud
: We need to beat him so badly that he gives up his evil ways forever!
Well, dead men tend to have a rather low rate of recidivism...
: And how do we make you give up YOUR evil ways, Sadira?
: Shut up!
: It might already be too late, Bastion...but you need to start showing Sadira that YOU'RE in charge, not her!
: Bastion, have you ever tried Cajun-style food? All you have to do is set it on fire, stomp it out, and eat it!
So...uh...we're just punting on pretending this is some medieval world, aren't we? Also, I always liked jerk seasoning better anyway.
: Hey!! Who went into my bag and stole my message oils?! I'll have you know those are VERY expensive!
This far into the game, I'm Andrew-ed out.
: I'm glad you decided to come to the aid of Duke Zeira. It was honorable, as Kamorge would have said.
: Bastion, could you rub my feet when this battle is over? I always get foot-rubs in the Imperial palace...
Do you know what the amazing thing about Ruin Branch Sadira is? You guys still haven't seen her at her worst.
Yep, it's time for the mandatory fight against loads and loads of Sharkings.
: Every one of these is a Sharking!
: I thought Zakov's was the only one?
: Sadira, you never said that there was more than one! How could they have hidden all of these from you?
: They couldn't have, Bastion. These must have been built recently. Faulkner will stop at nothing to take over the Continent!
: Let's discuss this later, shall we?! The townspeople are still in danger!
: Stop your activities at once, Imperial dogs! Surrender or perish!
: Now we can truly demonstrate the power of the NEW Imperial Army!
This is the hardest mission of the Ruin Branch, and maybe the hardest in the game. There are eight Sharkings against six of your troops. They'll be a bit staggered in their deployment, so you probably won't have to fight them all at once, but you'll probably have to deal with four or five at a time. Also, your team is...problematic. Reyna is basically useless, and she's a prime target for the Sharkings to use Cutting Wheel against. Barlow can use Turbulence, but that's it. Milea...well, you'll see exactly how limited she is. Andrew is okay, but he can't do any damage, and a few lucky hits on him, as happens in this playthrough, means he might be unable to any better than use Turbulence. Sadira....still has almost no power. So, realistically, Bastion is probably going to kill 6 or 7 of the 8 Sharkings as everyone else just does their best to facilitate his rampage.
: You're not the Princess anymore! You've been declared a traitor to the Empire by Prince Duyere! All Imperial soldiers have explicit orders to bring you to the capital for the trial, and to kill you if you resist!
: What?! A traitor...?
How is that surprising to you? Just last mission you committed high treason!
I elect to take an aggressive slate of opening moves, engaging the Sharkings on three fronts. This is actually much less dangerous than it seems. Sadira and Barlow are capable of locking up the Sharking at the top, Milea is fully capable of stalling a SHarking with her high defense, and Bastion and Andrew can easily take two ATACs on their own. Reyna...just stands there, because the only move she has that's safe to use against a Sharking, Reyna's Trick, has a range of one, and putting her right next to a Sharking is suicidal. She backs up Milea because I couldn't think of anything else to do with her.
And a fifth Sharking pops in to spoil my strategy. Sadira and Barlow can't handle two Sharkings...
And Bastion wipes out his first Sharking of the mission, nice. Okay, time to fall back to a more defensible position.
: But you should be fearful, rebel! Soon, the Imperial Army will be an endless wave of Sharkings! The rivers of the Kingdom will run red with the blood of its soldiers!
: Listen to the glee in your voice, you twisted bastard!
: And I will be happier still when I kill you!
: You don't have the skills to beat me, you sadistic fool!
Bastion kills another Sharking. Meanwhile, Milea is now defending against two Sharkings, and since the second Sharking isn't within Slash range of an enemy, it will default to using its Cutting Wheel, which has a range of 4, which means I'd better evacuate Reyna before she ends up dead.
Milea finally kills the Sharking she's been attacking since the beginning of the battle, even though she was using Blizzard Break every turn. Meanwhile, Bastion has, mostly off-screen, killed five Sharkings in the same time.
Bastion bags another one.
And Bastion finishes the mission by killing his seventh Sharking. In fairness, the rest of the team did contribute by keeping the Sharkings from attacking by using Turbulence, but it also goes to show how effective the TICTAC can be.
: A single squad of Sharkings was almost impossible for us to defeat. An army of Sharkings would be unstoppable...
: There's no reason to doubt them. The Empire has the resources to make hundreds of Sharkings.
: This is all because of Faulkner!
: We have to stop him, Bastion, and we have to do it quickly!
: If it's not already too late...
: It's never too late, Milea. Not when Bastion is leading the charge.
: Flattery will get you nowhere with me, Andrew, but thank you. I merely try to fight with honor, as I was taught by my father. Now let's go and stop this madness once and for all!
: The fastest route to the Imperial capital is almost directly to the northeast. Let's go!
: Bastion, if we go that way...
Hey, it's Puck! No idea where he's been for the last few missions.
: We'll be traveling directly through the center of Nordilain. Which, considering our status with both the Kingdom and the Empire, is probably a very bad idea.
I concur. We must stay far, far away from Nordilain and all who dwell within. My heart...it cannot take another dose of Claire. Mercy, game, I beg you, show me mercy!
: Come now, people! Don't you all remember who I am?
: A spoiled brat.
: A very rude girl.
: Wrong, and wrong! I'm the Imperial Princess!
: Actually, you're a fugitive from your own country. And you REALLY don't have to speak so loudly when we're all within ten feet of you.
: You don't understand! Nordilain and the Empire are allies! They're sure to let us pass without incident!
: Reyna? Is there ANY other route we could take to the capital, or are we left without a choice?
: Every other path would take three times as long, Bastion, and we can't waste even a moment.
: Bastion! Don't you have any faith in me?!
: I have faith only in your uncanny ability to lead us into trouble.
: As do I.
: Oh, I see! You're joking with me! Why didn't I realize it sooner? Besides, I think the chances of our encountering the Nordilain Army are at least one to two! I think those are wonderful odds!
: Actually, those are terrible odds. You meant two to one, which aren't very good, either.
: And the odds that's she's not about to scream are a million to one.
I'm...I'm redundant at this point, aren't I?
: Come on! We're leaving!
Later, in the heart of darkness...
: And we haven't encountered or detected any ATACs. Perhaps the Nordilain Army has been sent into battle against the Empire.
: Didn't I tell you this would work?
: And I'm sure you'll be telling us for a long time to come.
: This is very strange. We're boldly strolling through the middle of Nordilain. We should have encountered something!
: I'm just counting my blessings that we haven't.
: Time to reset the count, honeycomb, because we have ATACs dead ahead.
: You jinxed us, Reyna.
: That's the Crimson!
: Oh, good! Duke Logan!
: Good?! He's arguably the strongest warrior on the Continent!
: He won't want to fight us, silly! Not after I sweet-talk him!
Next Time: Things go terribly, terribly wrong!