When the Abs Bloom
One day, (Captain) and the others meet a young lady at a training facility called the gym. After some exercising, the crew and Fiorito are talking when some thugs appear. (Captain) and Fiorito take them out in no time, after which Fiorito tells the others that she wants to get even stronger. Fiorito asks to join the crew and goes off to prepare for the journey; however, it appears there is more to Fiorito's motives than she lets on when she meets up with someone from a shady organization.
Lyria: Eep! This... dum-bell is so heavy, I can't lift it up at all!
Vyrn: Look at you go, (Captain)! Can't believe you're liftin' those huge ones like it's nothin'!
(Captain) and company are at a training facility called the gym, where they find themselves surrounded by metal and sweat.
Upon delivering cargo to the gym, they were invited to test out the facilities in return for making the long journey there.
Muscular Man: Gahaha! (Captain), was it? Those're some strong muscles there!
Muscular Man: But I've got a few weight-lifting records under my belt. Think you can keep up with me? How 'bout some dumbbell squats?
A strong-looking man lifts up two heavy dumbbells and begins to speed-squat.
Vyrn: Come on, (Captain)! You can't let this guy come up and get the better of ya. Show him what you've got!
(Captain) accepts the challenge and begins to do squats beside the man, dumbbells in hand.
Muscular Man: Gahaha! Not bad!
Teeth grit, (Captain) continues to match the man's pace, sweat dripping onto the floor.
???: Uh, just what do you think you're doing? You really wanna hurt your muscles that bad?
Muscular Man: F-Fio! Sorry, I got a bit too excited...
At the sight of the girl, the man puts down the dumbbells and straightens up immediately.
Fio?: Please, senseless competition is just lame. If you like it so much, then why don't you compete with yourself from yesterday?
Fio?: Besides, what're you using such heavy weights for? Squats do nothing if you don't do 'em nice and slow, you know.
Fio?: Your posture's completely wrong. Keep bending your back like that and you're eventually gonna find yourself incapacitated.
Vyrn: Whoa, you sure know your stuff. Are you in charge of this place or somethin'?
Fio?: Whoops, my bad. You must be wondering who the heck I am, barging in like this.
Fiorito: I'm Fiorito. Everyone calls me Fio, though.
Muscular Man: Fio's the ace lifter at our gym! I mighta broken a couple o' records, but Fio here's practically broken a billion of 'em!
Lyria: A b-billion?
Fiorito: Come on, at least get your numbers right. You sure you're counting your calories right every day?
Fiorito: Ah well, whatever. More importantly...
Fiorito turns to (Captain), her eyes sparkling.
Fiorito: Hey, why don't you let me teach you some proper weight training?
Fiorito: I could tell just by looking... Your muscles are practically dying to bloom.
Vyrn: Wha? Ya sure you said that right?
Fiorito: Yep, muscles are like flowers. They're both cute, aren't they?
Fiorito: And I'm like the gardener... or maybe a florist. Someone who knows how to water them right.
Fiorito: So let me water yours, okay? I promise when they bloom, they'll be the prettiest ones around!
Choose: Okay, teach me.
- Okay, teach me.
- I'm good, thanks.
Fiorito: Yay! You're the best!
Fiorito: Let's see... Today's not a squats day for me, so... let's go with a classic ab workout.Choose: I'm good, thanks.
Fiorito: Oh, come on! Pretty please? I just can't stand it when I see people doing it wrong!
Lyria: Seems like she really wants to help you, (Captain)!
Vyrn: Well, I guess it'd be a problem if you went and hurt yourself 'cause you didn't do it right... Might be a good idea to learn a thing or two.
(Captain) nods thoughtfully before agreeing to Fiorito's training.
Fiorito: Let's see... Today's not a squats day for me, so... let's go with a classic ab workout.Continue 1
Fiorito: We'll start with crunches! Watch closely!
Fiorito gets down and lies flat on the mat.
Fiorito: First, lie down face up and bend your knees. Put your hands behind your head like this.
Fiorito: Then slowly raise your upper body, keeping your eyes on your belly.
Fiorito: Make sure to keep your lower back flat on the ground and focus on your upper abs.
Fiorito: Lift yourself up... and there we go!
Lyria: Wow! How you did it was so graceful!
Fiorito: Aw, thanks. Now you're making me blush. Anyway, ten crunches per set, three sets in total! Thirty-second breaks in between.
Fiorito: I personally like throwing in some dumbbells to really get that burn going!
Fiorito grabs two dumbbells nearby and continues lifting her upper body while holding them.
Vyrn: Whoa, those dumbbells have gotta be pretty heavy... But you make it look like a piece of cake!
Lyria: Amazing! It's no wonder you've broken a billion records!
(Captain) and the others are thoroughly impressed by Fiorito's dexterity.
But they soon find out that Fiorito's routine has only just begun.
Fiorito: Ahh! I can feel the muscle fibers stretching to their limits... It hurts, doesn't it, Rosa!
Fiorito: Yes, pain! It proves that you're alive! How's the water tasting, Rosa? Is it getting that florigen going?
Fiorito: Beautiful, Rosa! The soil makes all the difference! Come on, you can do it, Rosaaa!
Vyrn: Wh-wha... Is she talkin' to someone?
Muscular Man: Yup, Rosa's the name of her abdominal muscles!
Lyria: Huh? You mean she named her muscles?
Muscular Man: That's right. It's supposed to help her focus on them...
Vyrn: Don't tell me it's like how people say flowers bloom nicely if you talk to 'em every day...
Muscular Man: Pfft, no way. Fio's not the type to waste her time. She calculates everything down to the last digit, including the number of steps she takes and how many calories she burns.
Muscular Man: She's taking rational steps to shape her body into how she wants it to be. The way she pushes her muscles so stoically is something all of us machos look up to!
Fiorito: Whew, halfway there, Rosa! Are you ready to bloom? You ready?
Fiorito: Ahh yeah, that's it! I can feel you blooming! Come on, bloom for me!
Vyrn: Ya call that stoic? Sounds like a lotta talkin' to me!
Lyria: Um... So what does this blooming exactly mean?
Muscular Man: Gahaha! No idea!
Fiorito: Ahh, you're at full bloom! Simply divine, Rosa! That's it, yeees!
Fiorito: Keep it up! Keep blooming! There goes the last petal, it's wide open!
Vyrn: Oh man... Wow...
Fiorito: Whew... And that's how you do it. Now it's your turn!
Vyrn: Nope, I think I'm gonna pass!
Fiorito gets up, energized from her workout, as the crew continues to goggle at her.
(Captain) and company spend some time exercising, following the customized routines that Fiorito thought out for each one of them.
Fiorito: And that's a wrap! We're done with today's workout!
Lyria: Huff... Huff... That was intense...
Fiorito: You all right? I tried to make your exercises less extreme, but maybe I pushed you too hard.
Lyria: Oh, no... The workout was exhausting, but I feel great!
Vyrn: I can't believe you even made a routine for me! It really got my body moving, right down to the tips of my wings!
Fiorito: Awesome! Mugett's blooming nicely, huh?
Vyrn: Mugett? What's that?
Fiorito: Haha, the name of your wing muscles! Cute, right?
Fiorito: (Captain), you should definitely name your muscles too.
Choose: I'll think about it.Choose: Haha...
- I'll think about it.
Fiorito: Whoops, almost forgot! There's one last thing we gotta do before we call it a day.
Lyria: R-really? Um, I don't know if I can move any more...
Fiorito: Oh, don't worry, we're done watering the flowers.
Fiorito pulls out a container from her pocket and opens it.
Vyrn: I see somethin' white and green... Are those some sorta tools?
Fiorito: Haha, way off. It's steamed chicken and broccoli! Fertilizer for our precious muscles.
Fiorito: You eat it immediately after exercising to help your muscles recover from the workout. You aren't done training until you finish eating this.
Fiorito: Munch, munch... Here, you guys have some too.
Lyria: Yay, thank you!
Fiorito: (Captain), you didn't look like you had any problem following the same routine as me... That's pretty darn good. What do you usually do for exercise?
Vyrn: Actually, we're skyfarers! We might not look it, but we've done a fair share of fightin'!
Fiorito: Oh yeah? Sounds cool. Why don't you tell me more about it?
(Captain) and company follow Fiorito out the gym and head to a nearby park to talk.
Fiorito: Whoa, serious? I can't believe you got involved with primal beasts—not to mention, you're going to Estalucia of all places. No wonder your muscles are blooming like mad.
Vyrn: Well, that's about it for what we're up to... Why'd you take us all the way out here though? We coulda just talked at the gym.
Fiorito: The gym's a place for flowers to grow. It's my personal rule not to do anything other than gardening there.
Lyria: By flowers, you mean muscles, right? What made you get into training so much?
Fiorito: Hm... Well, I love muscles in general, of course...
Fiorito: But to put it in a nutshell, I just wanna get stronger.
Vyrn: Get stronger? But why—
Thug 1: Yo. You're (Captain), right? Fork over the cash and get outta here.
Thug 2: Heh, bet you're exhausted from all that workin' out. You can't possibly take us all on now.
The thugs surround (Captain) and company.
Vyrn: What the... Who're these guys?
Fiorito: I've heard about this happening a lot recently... People robbing skyfarers just after a job.
Thug 1: Hmph, well if ya know what we're talkin' about, then hurry up and...
Thug 1: ...
Thug 2: Hey, you okay? What's goin' on!
Fiorito: Oh, sorry about that. Just couldn't wait till he finished his sentence to deliver that punch.
Vyrn: Th-that happened so fast I didn't see a thing... Did you do that, Muscle Lady?
Fiorito: Sigh... I really don't wanna make my muscles work more than what's in my routine.
Fiorito: It really messes up my calorie count and everything. So let's make this quick, 'kay?
Thug 2: You little punk... Get 'em, boys!
The ruffians charge again, and this time, (Captain) steps up to help fight back.
In no time, (Captain) and Fiorito take down the men until no one is left standing.
Vyrn: Man, that sure came outta nowhere! You didn't tell us you were this strong!
Fiorito: I'm not. That was nothing... I can't even begin to compare to some other people out there.
Fiorito: It's not enough...
Fiorito: But (Captain) literally rocked the place. I guess you were serious when you said you guys took on all sorts of dangerous stuff.
Fiorito: All right! I think I'm gonna join you guys on your journey!
Vyrn: You are? What's this all of a sudden?
Fiorito: I've been thinking for a long time now... I won't be able to get stronger just by holing up at the gym.
Fiorito: But if I travel with all of you, I'll get to experience a lot more that'll help me grow.
Fiorito: So please let me join you! My muscles and I'll definitely be of help to you, I promise!
Choose: We don't have a gym on board.
- Welcome to the crew!
- We don't have a gym on board.
Fiorito: Haha, that's okay! I can water Rosa on my own. It'll be just like at the gym!Choose: Welcome to the crew!
Vyrn: Well, we saw what you can do just now at the park. It'd be nice to have you around to give us a hand!
Lyria: Yeah! I'm looking forward to traveling with you, Fio!
And so Fiorito joins the crew in hopes of growing stronger.
Vyrn: Okay, let's head back to the ship and—
Fiorito: Oh, wait! I need to pack a few things for the trip and say bye to all my buddies, so do you think you could wait a while?
Lyria: Of course! We'll be at the port, so just come when you're ready!
Fiorito: Thanks. I'll be done in a flash, so I'll see you guys in a bit!
A young man sits at the table of a small pub, looking bored as he swirls the red liquid in his cup round and round.
Someone approaches the table and takes a seat next to him.
Fiorito: Sorry, did you wait long?
???: Does it matter? You wanna try this tomato juice? It's one of my favs.
Fiorito: No thanks. You know that stuff's got a lotta sugar in it, right?
???: Hehehe... You're worried I put something weird in it, right?
???: Come on, isn't it a drag to always be so suspicious of people like that?
Fiorito: Anyway, here's my report. Infiltration into the crew's a success.
???: Yup, I saw the whole thing with the Stars. Wasn't too interesting if you ask me.
???: What the heck was that at the park anyway?
???: You can't seriously be expecting them to trust you just 'cause you took out some random trash for 'em. Gimme a break!
Fiorito: Sigh... You have a problem with the Chairman's plans? Puh-leese, just cut the crap.
Fiorito: The real show's about to start, so you just sit tight and enjoy it, all right?
???: Hah, some show.
???: You think this is some kinda special mission he gave you, but what if he's just finally kicking you out? Take a hint!
Fiorito: Ragazzo... Do you have a death wish or what?
Ragazzo: Heh, far from it.
Ragazzo: Well, see ya. I guess I could come save the day if the show gets too much for you. Lemme know.
Fiorito's hand balls into a fist. She sits unmoving, staring at the armored plates strapped to her hand.
Young Fiorito: Th-they betrayed us? But why!
Young Fiorito: If only... If only I was stronger...
Young Fiorito: Then Dad wouldn't have...
Fiorito: I don't need anyone's help.
Fiorito: Ragazzo, (Captain)... They're all just fertilizer to me.
Fiorito reaches for the bag hanging at her side, a small, white pouch with a flower motif. She takes out a book from it and gently strokes the cover.
Fiorito: I'm going to bloom... I'll be a single rose in full bloom.
Fiorito: Watch me, Dad!
Her whisper melts into the din of the pub, heard by no one.
The Stars Shine Bright
Despite having joined the crew for a while, Fiorito continues to distance herself from the others. One day, the crew accepts a request to fill in as teachers at an orphanage. Fiorito goes around inspecting the orphanage when she finds a boy reading a book by himself. The boy's refusal to play with the other children strikes a chord in Fiorito's heart.
Some time has passed since Fiorito joined the crew.
One early morning, strange cries echo across the empty fields outside.
Fiorito: Aaah, Rosa! We're really pushing it today! Winter is here! I can feel the muscle fibers curling from the cold!
Fiorito: But we'll get through this! Spring will come! It's just around the corner!
Fiorito: Ohhh yeah! Spring is here, baby! Here we go, it's blooming!
With a spirited yell, Fiorito finishes her set and relaxes her body, falling back into the grass for a short break.
Fiorito: Huff, huff... That was a pretty good workout... My abs are practically bricks. I can probably make a flower bed out of them...
Fiorito: Haha, think I went too crazy there? Today's our monthly special workout day, so I'd say this is just about right.
Ragazzo: You think this is some kinda special mission he gave you, but what if he's just finally kicking you out? Take a hint!
Fiorito: Sigh... What the heck am I doing...
Fiorito: Sure I infiltrated the crew, but there hasn't been much progress...
Fiorito: Should I just ask (Captain)? But then the cat might get outta the bag... Guess I'll just keep looking for it along the way.
Fiorito: Argh, the more I think about it, the worse it gets! This is so bad for my muscles.
Fiorito: Ah well, guess I'll do some burpees.
Ragazzo: Well, well... She doesn't look too happy to me.
Ragazzo: Heh, all right... I suppose I'll give her a hand, since I'm such a nice guy.
Fiorito: I'm back...
Vyrn: Nice, perfect timing. Breakfast's ready!
Fiorito: Oh, yeah, I'm okay. I'm just gonna prepare my own fertilizer...
Lyria: Eep! Are you all right, Fio?
Fiorito: Haha... Yeah, just got some sore muscles. Might've overworked 'em a bit.
Vyrn: Too much training? That's kinda rare for you, since you like to calculate everything so perfectly every time.
Fiorito: It happens. Like I'm thinking about something, and before I know it, I've been working out for hours...
Lyria: Is there something that's bothering you? If there's anything we can do to help, you can talk to us anytime!
Ragazzo: Come on, isn't it a drag to always be so suspicious of people like that?
Young Fiorito: Th-they betrayed us? But why!
Fiorito: Oh, er, it's nothing...
Fiorito: Ow! Sigh... This sucks...
Her eyes watering, Fiorito takes out a container from her pouch with her usual chicken breast and broccoli.
Vyrn: That's all you ever eat... Don'tcha wanna have some of our food sometimes?
Fiorito: Hm? Well, I'm pretty used to it. The typical macho meal.
Lyria: You don't ever get tired of it?
Vyrn: We're havin' sausages with egg on toast today. Wanna take a bite of mine?
Fiorito: Thanks for the offer, but I'm on a pretty strict balanced diet.
Fiorito: Besides, anything that tastes even mildly salty or sweet affects the muscles more than you think.
Lyria: Oh, I see... Then I guess pudding is out of the question. We saved some for you too, but...
Startled by her sudden enthusiasm, the others stare at her.
Vyrn: Huh? Does that mean you want some?
Fiorito: Oh, uh...
Fiorito: O-of course not! Sweet things make me kinda sick!
Fiorito stuffs the chicken and broccoli in her mouth, scarfing them down.
Fiorito: I'm full! Lyria, you can have my pudding!
Fiorito: (I'm not about to hang around while they have pudding! It'd put so much stress on my muscles!)
Fiorito: (Sigh... Why are all the tasty things always so bad for the body?)
Fiorito: Looking forward to today's job! Let me know when you guys are ready!
Lyria: Aw, she's gone...
Vyrn: Muscle Lady's always doin' what's best for her body... But I kinda worry about her sometimes.
Lyria: Fio said she wanted to get stronger... I wonder if there's a reason for that.
They continue eating their breakfast as their thoughts linger on their crewmate.
Fiorito: Up we go! Here, everyone grab on to my arms!
Girl 1: Wooow! You're amazing! The muscles on your arms are so big!
Fiorito: Ouch! Hey, don't poke 'em so hard!
Vyrn: Muscle Lady's feelin' a bit sore today. Be nice to her, okay?
Girl 2: Whoa, the lizard talked! That's weeeird!
Vyrn: Whaaa! I ain't no lizard!
Fiorito: (What the heck's going on? This isn't what I signed up for!)
The crew is at an orphanage on the outskirts of town, playing with the children outside.
A few hours earlier.
The crew goes into town looking for a job to take on, only to find that all the requests for skyfarers have already been taken.
Fiorito: Are you serious? There isn't a single job available in a town as big as this?
Vyrn: Hm, it is kinda strange. They said a lotta skyfarers happen to be in town right now...
Orphanage Director: Oh? Is that a lizard talking? The children would love that!
An elderly gentleman happens to pass by. The crew learn that the man is a wealthy merchant who also serves as the director for an orphanage.
As it turns out, the teacher at the orphanage recently suffered an injury, and the director is in town for the day putting up posters for a temporary replacement.
Curious about Vyrn, the gentleman asks the crew to come to the orphanage as substitute teachers for several days.
Lyria: Okay, everyone! Let's play a different game!
Girl 1: I wanna play tag!
Girl 2: Me too!
Fiorito: (The others don't seem to have a problem with any of this... Is this what skyfarers do?)
Fiorito: (And I know this guy's loaded and all, but we literally ran into him outta nowhere... All of this is so fishy.)
Fiorito: (Am I feeling uneasy 'cause (Captain)'s being too nice? I feel like there's something else bothering me...)
Choose: What's the matter?Choose: What're you thinking about?
- What's the matter?
- What're you thinking about?
Fiorito: Huh? Oh, nothing. It's probably just my imagination. Anyway, it doesn't involve you guys.
Vyrn: Whaddya mean... Of course we're involved. We're buddies in the same crew, right?
Fiorito: (Buddies, huh?)
Fiorito: Sorry, I didn't mean that in a bad way.
Fiorito: (Captain), my sore muscles are killing me so I'm gonna pass on tag.
Vyrn: Hey, wait!
Vyrn: Hrm... You think I said too much without considerin' her feelings, (Captain)?
Vyrn: Muscle Lady was probably expectin' to slay some monsters... I guess she can't really train and get stronger playin' with kids.
Vyrn: But I wish she'd trust us a little more and talk to us, ya know?
(Captain) gives Vyrn a reassuring pat, all the while unable to shake off an ominous feeling.
Fiorito: This orphanage is huge... Guess that's how you spend money when you're loaded.
Fiorito: The size of the place makes it harder to poke around for...
As Fiorito wanders around the building, she comes across a boy who seems to be immersed in a book.
Little Boy: ...
Fiorito: Do you like reading?
Little Boy: ...!
Fiorito: Were you reading here in a corner this whole time?
Little Boy: ...
Fiorito: I might not look it, but I'm actually a bookworm too. I carry a book in my pouch all the time... like the one about a prince who grows roses in his garden.
Little Boy: You came to tell me to go play with the others, right?
Little Boy: I'm not going. I don't have time to play with other kids.
Fiorito: Oh... There he goes.
Fiorito: He's still a baby flower bud... but I can already tell we're the same kinda flower.
Fiorito continues to watch curiously as the boy walks further and further away.
The Stars Shine Bright: Scene 2
The next day, Fiorito learns that the boy is using his free time to study magic instead of playing so he can survive independently someday. That night, the boy comes across two thieves who have stolen into the orphanage. Fiorito comes to the boy's rescue, but finds herself struggling to keep up with the enemy's teamwork. The little boy goes to call for help, and (Captain) comes in just in time to help Fiorito fight.
The next day, while the others are playing, Fiorito slips away to the garden.
The boy from the previous day is seated in the same spot, reading.
Little Boy: ...
Fiorito: Good morning. Nice day out, isn't it?
Little Boy: I already told you... I'm not gonna play with the others.
Fiorito: Haha, guess we're the same then! Neither am I.
Fiorito: This seems like a nice place. I think I'm gonna do some lunges here. It's my daily training routine, so you can just ignore me.
Little Boy: Training routine...?
Fiorito: Yep. It's a light one today, so there shouldn't be too much noise.
Fiorito: Aaah, I can feel it blooming! The garden in my lower abs! It's in full bloom!
Little Boy: (So... noisy...)
Fiorito: Whew... That was a good sweat session! Now it's time for some macho fertilizer...
Fiorito opens up her usual container and starts quietly munching on her chicken and broccoli.
Fiorito: Nom, nom...
Little Boy: ...
Fiorito: Munch, munch...
Little Boy: ...!
Little Boy: Wh-what's wrong? You look awful... Did something get stuck in your throat?
Fiorito: It doesn't taste good.
Little Boy: Wha?
Fiorito: Just between me and you... I hate chicken and broccoli.
Fiorito: Sorry if you happen to love 'em, but I just can't. I don't like the texture of chicken breast, and broccoli is just like eating leaves from a bush.
Little Boy: H-huh? Then why're you eating them?
Fiorito: Cause I need them to grow stronger. That's why I'm putting up with it.
Fiorito: But it just tastes extra bad today. Probably 'cause I started thinking about pudding...
Fiorito: Siiigh. I'll just imagine that it's pudding and shove it all down...
Little Boy: Putting up with it... to grow stronger...
Fiorito: That's right. But overworking's never good either.
Little Boy: ...
Little Boy: You know... I don't actually like reading.
Fiorito: No? Does that mean you're putting up with it too?
The boy gives a shy nod.
Little Boy: You see, all of us have to leave the orphanage one day.
Little Boy: That's why I need to be able to live on my own without the help of anyone.
Little Boy: If I grow up smart and strong... then maybe, someday, I can help kids who're like me.
As the boy says this, he lets go of his book. But instead of falling to the ground, the book continues to hover in the air.
Fiorito: What the... That's nuts! You can use magic?
Fiorito: So that was a book on magic... You were using your free time to study instead of playing with the others, weren't you?
Fiorito nods to herself.
Fiorito: Getting stronger... so you can live on your own...
Fiorito: Hm. I think it's a good idea.
Little Boy: R-really?
Little Boy: I thought you were gonna tell me that I should work together with everyone else... The teacher always tells me that.
Fiorito: Well, I'm definitely not teacher material. I've always wanted to be a gardener or a florist. Something cute like that.
Fiorito: Since my mom and dad died, I've lived all by myself. So you and I are pretty much the same.
Little Boy: You too?
Fiorito: I don't know much about magic, but lemme know if you ever wanna get beefed up. I'm an expert when it comes to muscles and training.
Fiorito gives a light wave before leaving the boy to his book.
That night, when everyone is fast asleep, two shadows creep down the halls of the orphanage.
Thief 1: Everything's accordin' to plan. The safe's hidden in the room in the back, right? Man, this is so easy I could do this in my sleep.
Thief 2: Don't get too careless. It's just a bunch o' kids here, but keep the magic guard up.
Thief 1: Relaaax. You can get pretty uptight, you know that, Boss?
Little Boy: (A-are those...)
The boy had woken up to go to the bathroom when he sensed the presence of magic and came across the pair of thieves. He peers at the trespassers from the shadows.
Thief 1: Hm? Do you sense what I...
Thief 1: Oof!
Little Boy: H-hey, you two! Get out, you don't belong here!
Thief 1: Huh, magical suspension, huh? Pretty good for a little punk.
Little Boy: I... I won't let you go any further!
Thief 1: Haha, quite the lively one, aren'tcha? But you know, good kids should go to bed like they're told to.
Little Boy: Ngh... So... strong!
Thief 1: I'll show you... what real magic is like!
The man unleashes a fire spell, sending a torrent of fire toward the boy.
Frozen in place, the boy closes his eyes and gets ready to take the spell when something flies out in front of him.
Fiorito arrives just in time and takes the blow.
Fiorito: Cough, cough... That's hot...
Little Boy: It's you! But why...
Fiorito: I was patrolling all the routes I thought bad guys might take if they were up to no good. You know, just in case.
Fiorito: That's when I caught a whiff of some rotten flowers.
Fiorito: Sorry I'm late. It took a while to knock the other guy out.
Thief 2: ...
Thief 1: B-Boss!
Little Boy: Amazing... I didn't even notice...
Fiorito: Now, go wake everyone up and get them to evacuate. I'll take care of this guy.
Little Boy: By yourself? Then I'll stay too...
Fiorito: No, you need to run. You're brave—I'll give you that. But like I said before, it's not good to push yourself too hard.
Little Boy: But...
Little Boy: Okay. I'll do what you say.
The boy turns and hurries out of the room as told.
Fiorito: All right... Kind of a pain, but I suppose I'll have to take you out too.
Thief 1: Hmph, see if you can.
Fiorito: Whoa, seriously? That's some mad recovery magic... Didn't expect that coming from the likes of you.
Thief 2: You might've gotten me earlier, but you're hurt now. You can't take us on a second time.
Fiorito: Heh, we'll see about that!
She engages the two in battle, but the thieves prove a good team with their magic and martial arts. Fiorito finds herself struggling to land any hard blows.
Fiorito: (The air around them smells weird... Do they have a magic barrier up? I can't read any of their movements...)
Fiorito: (They seem pretty used to this... Not your ordinary thieves, that's for sure.)
Thief 1: Take that!
Thief 2: Hah!
Fiorito sinks to her knees, barely keeping up with the consecutive attacks.
Fiorito: (I really didn't wanna waste it on these guys, but looks like I've got no choice...)
She balls her fists in concentration, her gauntlets bending from the tension.
Fiorito: Sphairai... I devote my entire being. Let my spirit bloom—
Thief 2: Ergh!
Just then, (Captain) leaps out from the dark and fends off the thieves with a powerful slash.
Choose: Are you okay?
- Are you okay?
Fiorito: (Captain)! How...
Vyrn: A kid burst into our room and said you were pushing yourself too hard. He told us to come save ya!
Fiorito: That little runt... That's not what I told him to do...
Vyrn: Well, that's what we're for anyway! We can't just do nothin' when a friend's in trouble!
Thief 2: Argh, they just keep comin', don't they... This ain't how it's s'pposed to go!
Thief 1: Come on, let's finish 'em!
(Captain) steps in and manages to separate the thieves, successfully turning the tide of the battle.
In no time, (Captain) and Fiorito take out the trespassers, bringing peace and quiet back to the orphanage.
The Stars Shine Bright: Scene 3
After the job is complete, Fiorito sneaks out one night and asks a member of her organization, Ragazzo, if the thieves were his doing. When she returns to the ship late at night, she finds the crew waiting for her. Fiorito tells the others that because people lie, she wants to become stronger without anyone's help. At the same time, she is touched by the crew's kindness and reflects on it as she looks up at the stars.
The next day, the pair of thieves are handed over to the local militia, bringing the incident to a close.
From what the crew hears, the two are core members of a band of thieves who decided to break in upon hearing that the director had hidden some of his assets at the orphanage.
Lyria: It seemed they even knew that the teacher wasn't here due to an injury...
Vyrn: Little did they know that we'd be here instead!
Little Boy: ...
Fiorito: I thought you'd be here.
Little Boy: It's you...
Fiorito: Thanks for last night. Lucky you called for (Captain), otherwise I would've been toast.
Little Boy: Sigh... You don't really think that, do you? You wanted to take them on by yourself.
Fiorito: Haha. Can't hide anything from you, can I?
Fiorito: Well, I can see right through you too. You're feeling pretty upset yourself, aren't you?
The little boy gives a weak nod, his shoulders sagging.
Little Boy: I... I thought I could do it.
Little Boy: But I was no match for them... None of the spells I'd practiced worked, and they were just so strong...
Little Boy: Even if I kept practicing my magic, I bet there's tons of people who're better at it than me...
Fiorito: Hm. You see these muscles here? They have a name—Rosa. Cute, right?
Little Boy: Huh?
The boy looks up, confused by Fiorito's sudden change of topic.
Fiorito: I'm really proud of my abs. I train them every day and work really hard to make 'em bloom.
Fiorito: But there're a whole lotta machos out there with way nicer muscles than me. Billions of them.
Little Boy: ...
Fiorito: But... who cares?
Fiorito: I love Rosa. I train hard to make her bloom. It's not like I'm doing it 'cause I wanna compare myself to other people.
Fiorito: You feel the same way about your magic as I do my muscles, right? It doesn't matter whether you're better than other people or not. Just give your magic lots of love.
Little Boy: It doesn't matter?
Fiorito: Nope. And here's an idea—how about giving your magic a name? That might help!
Hearing Fiorito's encouraging words, the boy manages a smile and nods.
Little Boy: Okay, I'll think about it! I'll keep doing my best and get stronger!
Little Boy: And like you said before, I guess doing my best involves making sure I don't overwork myself, huh?
Fiorito: Hm? What do you mean...
The boy suddenly gets up and breaks into a run.
Little Boy: Hey, everyone! I wanna play tag too!
Fiorito: Well, what d'you know...
Fiorito: Haha. Here I was thinking he was a lone rose, just like me...
A cynical smile plays on Fiorito's lips as she watches the boy join the other children from afar.
Soon after that, the teacher returns to the orphanage after a full recovery, and the crew heads back to town with another job completed.
Several days pass.
Fiorito: Here's my report. The special mission is in phase—
Ragazzo: Zero! Hehehe, you don't even hafta say it.
Fiorito: All right. Then tell me this instead.
Fiorito: The thieves at the orphanage. That was you acting on your own, wasn't it?
Fiorito: I looked into it after the incident, and it doesn't seem like the director's storing any of his assets at the orphanage.
Fiorito: Those idiots knew the teacher was gone, but for some reason, had no idea that we'd be there. Who'd be that stupid?
Fiorito: Sure sounds like they got the wrong info off someone else who's pulling all the strings.
Fiorito: Besides, it just seems too convenient that there were no other jobs available that day. Then the right client just shows up.
Fiorito: It's obvious that someone was manipulating the Stars, but it isn't like the Chairman to be that senseless.
Fiorito: I can see you doing something like that though.
Ragazzo: Oh, come on... Look at you playing the good cop. I was just being nice, ya know?
Ragazzo: You knock out the bad guys and show just how strong you are. Not a bad plan to get the captain to trust ya, am I right?
Ragazzo: We can get things going after that. You gotta gain the captain's trust first if you wanna find what you're looking for.
Ragazzo: I was kinda expecting you to blow the guys' brains out all on your own, but too bad!
Fiorito: This is all just a joke to you, huh? Why don't you go mind your own business?
Ragazzo: You wanna climb up the ranks, don't ya, Sesto?
Ragazzo: Then bring home some results and show everyone you mean it.
Fiorito: (Aggravating as it is... he's right.)
Fiorito: (Dad would be so disappointed in me...)
Fiorito bites her lip, a look of frustration on her face as she stands alone in the dark.
Fiorito quietly returns to the ship in the middle of the night. She is about to make her way back to her room when a voice startles her.
Lyria: Um, Fio... Welcome back.
(Captain) and the others are gathered on the deck, barely visible in the shadows.
Fiorito: Wha... Why are you guys still up at this hour?
Vyrn: Well... That's what we wanna ask you.
Vyrn: Where were ya? We noticed you've been goin' out by yourself a lot lately...
Fiorito: (Ick! Does this mean they're on to me?)
Fiorito: Um, well... I was looking around for... clues. You know, some hints on... how to train better!
Fiorito: B-but I'm good now, so I probably won't be going out again!
Fiorito: (Oh, wow. I've gotta be the worst liar in history...)
Her words falter as she braces herself for further interrogation from the crew.
Lyria: Ohh, so that's what you've been doing! If you'd like, maybe we can help you next time!
Vyrn: What's with that face? We're on the same ship travelin' together, so it's only normal for us to help ya out!
The young trainer is left speechless at the crew's reactions.
Fiorito: Rosa... I guess we shouldn't keep everything to ourselves. Let's tell everyone about it too.
Fiorito gently pats her abs.
Fiorito: Muscles don't lie. But people do.
Fiorito: That's my approach in training myself to be stronger.
Fiorito: If I train properly, my muscles will get stronger. They'll grow the way I want 'em to and bloom nicely.
Fiorito: On the other hand... people are different. They deceive you, and never go the way you expect 'em to.
Fiorito: That's why I never ask anyone for help. I'm gonna get stronger, all by myself.
Lyria: Fio... Is that why you don't want to depend on us?
Vyrn: But even if you get stronger... what're you plannin' to do after that?
Fiorito: I don't want to lie, so I'm gonna say it straight up.
Fiorito: Sorry, I can't tell you! I know I'm not making any sense, but...
Fiorito hangs her head, unsure of how to explain herself. After a short pause, the crew look at one another and smile.
Lyria: That's okay. Thank you for telling us!
Vyrn: I mean... You're not the only one who's got secrets on this ship, that's for sure.
Lyria: We know just how kind and strong you are, Fio. Whatever happens, we'll trust you!
Vyrn: Ya know... The kid from the orphanage came by in the afternoon today.
Vyrn: He told us that you're the first person he's ever trusted!
Fiorito: Seriously? He said that?
Vyrn: He said he wanted to do somethin' to thank ya, so...
(Captain) carefully hands Fiorito a container with something soft and white inside.
Vyrn: Ta-da! We made some pudding outta tofu! We tried a buncha different ingredients, and this seemed to work the best.
Lyria: It's sweet, but still healthy! That should keep your muscles happy!
Fiorito: You guys did this... for me?
Vyrn: Haha, you're really bad at lyin', ya know that? It was pretty obvious that you've got a sweet tooth!
Lyria: Hehe. It's late now, but please let us know what you think when you try it tomorrow!
Vyrn: And you've probably got your own reasons, but when you're ready to talk, we'll be here to listen, okay?
The crew say good night to Fiorito and begin to head back to their rooms.
Fiorito: Wait, (Captain)!
As (Captain) is about to shut the door, Fiorito calls out at the last moment.
Fiorito: Back at the orphanage, you came to help me. I just wanted to say...
Fiorito: Thanks for that.
Choose: You're welcome.
- You're welcome.
(Captain) flashes her a smile before retiring to the bedroom.
Alone again, Fiorito looks down at the container in her hands.
Fiorito: Haha... Well, I am pretty hungry. And it's not good to push yourself too hard, right?
She gulps and gingerly pries open the lid.
Using the small spoon the crew had included with the container, she scoops up a bit of the jiggling substance and puts it in her mouth.
Fiorito: It's... so sweet!
Fiorito: This tastes just as good as normal pudding! Did they really use tofu to make this?
Fiorito: You're happy about this too, aren't you, Rosa? That means it really is just tofu!
Fiorito: This is so good...
Fiorito savors the sweet taste as she tilts her head to look up at the night sky.
Though it could just be her imagination, the stars tonight seem to shine brighter than ever in the far distance.