A Quick Breather
Monika forces Lecia to take mandatory time off after the Fourth Fleet captain is hospitalized for overworking. Convinced that sugar is the best medicine, Monika takes Lecia into town for a fun-filled day of sightseeing and sweets tasting.
Several months have passed since Nalhegrande became embroiled in the Great Wall incident. The skydom is still reeling in pain.
However, thanks to the collaborative effort of many, the skydom is well on its way back to stability.
Overseeing the Enforcers' portion of restoration work are Monika and Lecia. The pair are flitting about one of Idelva's marketplaces.
Lecia: Um, Monika? Are you sure this is a good idea? I don't think we should be taking a break right now.
Lecia: There's still so much we have left to do before we can relax.
Monika: How many times do I have to tell you? A well-rested Enforcer is a high-performing Enforcer.
Monika: So, please, take your recuperation seriously. Or do you want things to turn out like last time?
Monika: Pant... pant... Excuse the intrusion!
Doctor: Deputy Monika. This is an infirmary. Do keep your voice down.
Monika: Ah, apologies! I received word that Lecia collapsed, so I came as quickly as I could.
Doctor: Well, judging from her symptoms, I suspect that plain old exhaustion is the culprit here.
Doctor: She needs to remain in bed for a few days at the very least. Then she'll be right as rain.
Doctor: And if you'll permit me to say, Deputy, you could use a few days of rest yourself. Wouldn't want you to go collapsing on us too.
Monika: Point taken. I guess this is how Lecia felt when I gave her that lecture...
Doctor: Both of you are officers now. Imagine how chaotic things would get if we lost our leadership to poor health choices. Take care of yourselves, you hear?
Having said his piece, the doctor gives Monika a stern nod and exits the room.
The deputy gives an informal salute to the doctor before pacing over to Lecia's bed. She looks down at her sleeping friend's face.
Monika: We're really overdoing it, huh?
Monika: (Given the predicament of (Captain)'s crew—and Lecia's workhorse personality—I should've figured this would happen.)
Monika: (Even still, that doctor was right.)
Monika: If Lecia's worked herself half to death, I'm a quarter of the way there myself. Some deputy I am.
Monika: Hm? You awake?
Lecia: Moni... ka? Where am I? Why am I lying down?
Monika: You're in the Third Fleet's infirmary. You wound up here because you neglected your health.
Lecia: Ah, I was overworking again, wasn't I?
Monika: Lecia, you've taken on too much for one person to handle.
Monika: From leading the investigation effort to find (Captain)'s crew...
Monika: To overseeing restoration and peacekeeping activities for Istavion...
Monika: Yep, you definitely bit off more than anyone could chew.
Monika: And yet you still kept accepting new jobs until your body said no more.
Monika: Then again I didn't try to stop you. I'll take the blame for that much.
Monika: Were you trying to keep yourself so busy you wouldn't have time to think?
Lecia: Haha. Monika, your intuition is scary, you know that?
Lecia: I guess for a while now, any time I try to take a few moments for myself, it all comes back to me.
Lecia: I can't help but dwell on (Captain) and the others hurtling toward the bottom of the sky.
Monika: So you distracted yourself with work. Just to keep the dark thoughts at bay?
Monika: For skies' sake, what am I going to do with you?
Monika: I'm not against tactical retreat, Lecia, but the way you've chosen to run from your problems is... a problem.
Monika: Keep it up, and you won't have another fainting spell—you could end up having a breakdown.
Lecia: But there's so much to be done...
Monika: I know, I know. And that's where your right-hand woman comes in.
Monika: By the power vested in me as deputy of the Fourth Fleet, I hereby order you to take three days of solid recuperation.
Monika: Tomorrow you will remain in bed for the full day.
Monika: Then, on the following day, you will accompany me to do a little sightseeing in Idelva.
Lecia: Huh? Accompany you?
Monika: Knowing you, if I don't stick close enough, you'll go right back to work.
Monika: Besides, I haven't taken any proper R & R in a long time either. This is a good chance for both of us.
Lecia: But the work's not going to do itself. And we still haven't found (Captain) or the crew.
Monika: Lecia. Our line of work is unpredictable at best and dangerous at worst.
Monika: That's why we have to take the opportunity to recharge when we can.
Lecia: But what if another catastrophe starts to brew while we're gone?
Monika: Focus on getting some sleep, enough so you don't collapse on us again. So tomorrow you better sleep like a log.
Monika: Don't worry about the day after tomorrow. We'll be having too much fun for you to fret over the crew.
Monika: Trust me, I've been in your shoes before. I'll show you a better way to manage your stress.
Against the backdrop of a recently reopened market, Monika speaks to Lecia with all the fervor of a general addressing her battalion.
Monika: First things first, Lecia. We have to get some sugar in you.
Monika: Once your blood sugar is back to normal, you'll have more energy, and you'll be able to think more clearly.
Monika: Not to mention the pure bliss that comes from chowing down on delicious food... Ah, we truly don't deserve sweets.
Monika: Yes, I can't think of anything that will relieve your melancholy more than a shot of the good stuff.
Lecia: If you say so...
Monika: Ahem. I'm just stating the facts. It has nothing to do with the need to
satisfy my sweet tooth, okay?
Monika: Everything I said is true, and I won't have you collapsing on me again, and furthermore—
Lecia: Deep breaths, Monika. You're preaching to the choir. I like candy too, you know.
Lecia: Especially the ones you gave me last time. They were great.
Monika: R-really? Well, glad to hear it!
Lecia's response catches Monika off guard, but the deputy's delight outweighs her surprise.
Monika: Well, time to get a move on, Lecia! I've already scouted the area.
Monika: Down this street there's a famous anmitsu parlor. And around the corner, there's a well-established bakery known for its cake.
Lecia: (Monika has really been looking forward to this trip. She's got desserts on the brain.)
Monika: Ah, and the traditional shop over there carries a new spin on manju, despite its old-fashioned ways.
Monika: Grr... Are you listening, Lecia?
Lecia: Oh, sorry! It all sounds so good! We better hurry up before everything is sold out!
Monika: Sharp thinking. We'll start our sweets invasion by hitting this street first.
With a conniving smile, Monika grabs Lecia's hand and leads her deeper into the heart of the stalls.
The pair bounce from candy vendor to cake seller, sampling all the saccharine delicacies the skies have to offer.
They come to a halt, however, when they spot a merchant hawking a curious treat.
Monika: Boba tea? Never heard of that before.
Shopkeeper: It's the latest food craze to hit Idelva. Sweet milk tea, kissed with tapioca pearls. Would you like one, lass?
Monika: Hmm. You know what? We'll take two.
Shopkeeper: Comin' right up! Be just a minute, so sit tight.
Monika and Lecia stare intently at their tea.
Lecia: Boba tea. Just look at it.
Monika: Hm. Better yet, why don't we try it? Bottoms up.
Several glugs later, Monika has downed almost half of her beverage.
Monika: Gah! Cough, cough!
However, the delight of trying a new drink turns to horror as Monika begins to hack and wheeze.
Lecia: Monika! Are you all right!
Monika: There was something squishy and sinister lurking—cough—at the bottom of my cup...
Lecia: Hold still. Let me wipe your mouth.
Monika: Cut that out, Lecia! I'm no child—
Monika: Mph—mug, mgph!
Lecia deftly unfurls a handkerchief and has Monika's mouth clean within moments.
Lecia: There, much better. Feel sticky?
Monika: N-no. I'm fine.
Lecia: Do you think those squishy things are the pearls the shopkeeper mentioned?
She looks down at her own cup of milk tea, places her lips around the straw, and takes a more cautious drink.
Lecia: Ah! The consistency is, rather, well...
Lecia: How to describe it. It reminds me of mochi?
Lecia: Hmm... I enjoy the texture well enough.
Monika: I suppose. Although you do have to remain vigilant as you drink.
Monika: Sip with too much gusto and you risk choking. I won't ever forget that.
Monika and Lecia continue on their treat-sampling mission.
The afternoon sun begins to beat down on them, so they decide to take refuge in an ice cream store and cool down with some shaved ice.
Lecia: This flavor is, um, nice, but I think it's too sweet for me.
Monika: Too sweet? Mine's a bit tart.
Monika: Want a taste?
Lecia: Are you sure?
Monika: If you end up liking it, we could trade. I must admit, I would prefer a sweeter flavor regardless.
Lecia: Haha, well, if it's okay with you.
Monika: It most definitely is! Here, now open up and say "Aaah."
Lecia: Oh. That's delicious. I think I like yours better.
Lecia: Okay, now you try mine.
Monika: Wait. Your flavor is a limited-time-only special. I was debating whether I should have chosen it instead, but... Okay. I'm ready.
Lecia: Great. Now it's your turn to say "Aaah."
Big Sister: Hehe, look at those sisters. Makes me remember feeding you shaved ice on hot summer days.
Little Sister: Grr... It's not like I'm that much younger than you! When the heck did you feed me like a baby!
Sisters' Friend: Sigh... You know, I wish I had a silky-haired little sister to baby.
Monika: Little sister?
Monika: I suppose these civilian clothes do make me look younger.
Lecia: Haha. That outfit is really cute. It suits you well.
Monika: When I was younger, all the other kids said they looked up to me, like I was the older sister.
Monika: Mmm... Now there's an idea. This is a special occasion, so I'm going to have you experience that same joy.
Monika: I'm promoting you to big sister for the day.
Lecia: Wait a—Monika! Was there something in your shaved ice!
Monika: Huh? What's wrong, Sissy? You seem flustered.
Lecia: Stop this right now, Monika! It makes me so, so... uncomfortable!
Lecia: And what about my exhaustion! This was supposed to be a stress-free day off!
Monika: Hehe. If it bothers you that much, I'll stop joking around.
As they continue their walk, Monica takes a few more friendly jabs at Lecia.
Judging from the wide smile on Lecia's face, this day has been just the break from work she needed.
Monika and Lecia visit a restaurant that Monika used to frequent during her cadet days. She exchanges nostalgic stories with a longtime waitress, but they grow somber in remembrance of a Harvin girl who used to train with Monika. Before Lecia can learn about what happened, a customer interrupts to ask for his check, ending the uncomfortable topic, but Monika still looks troubled.
Monika and Lecia are basking in the sights and flavors of the market.
A particular building seems to grab Monika's attention.
Monika: The old place is still here? Wow.
Lecia: What's so special about it? You stopped on a dime just now.
Monika: Lecia, if you don't mind, can we check it out?
Lecia: Um, sure. It's a restaurant, right? Are you already hungry?
Monika: Hmm... A little.
Monika barges into the establishment, a curious Lecia trailing close behind.
Monika: Whoa! This place hasn't changed a bit. Everything's just like I remember.
Waitress: Welcome, welcome! How many people are—
Waitress: Oh, if it isn't little Monika! Come now, how many years has it been?
Monika: Far too long. I apologize for not visiting sooner.
Waitress: Think nothing of it, dear. So, what can I get you? How 'bout your usual?
Monika: Yes, please! And make it two. One for me and one for Lecia.
Waitress: Hehe. No problem. Now, why don't you gals take a seat over there?
Lecia plops down at a table and grins as she carefully studies the restaurant.
Lecia: Hehe. Just a hunch, but I take it you used to be a regular customer here?
Monika: Indeed. I did my basic training with the Third Fleet.
Monika: Used to frequent this place for lunch back then.
Waitress: Haha. You used to visit us nearly every day.
Waitress: Here's your order: two Monika Specials.
The waitress places two mammoth parfaits on the table.
Lecia: Did you just call this a Monika Special?
Waitress: We went with the name because Monika would always order this every time she came in.
Monika: Whipped cream piled high, sumptuous fruits cut to perfection... Oh, how I've missed this bliss.
She lifts a spoonful of happiness up to her mouth.
Monika: That sweet, sweet flavor. It's still the same.
Waitress: Hehe. I'm glad to hear it.
Waitress: But unlike my cooking, you seem to have developed quite a lot.
Waitress: In fact, it's hard to tell that you're the same person at all.
Lecia: Oh really? What kind of person was Monika back in her training days?
Waitress: Hmm, let's see... For starters, she was diligent but inflexible.
The waitress, a smile wide on her face, turns to Lecia.
Waitress: And above all else, she had a strong sense of right and wrong.
Waitress: Which is why she used to get fired up and butt heads with her commander.
Monika: I was young; I couldn't see reason at the time.
Waitress: Oh, let's not forget you used to oversleep every day, barely making it to training on time.
Waitress: I must've seen you dashing from the barracks with a piece of bread in your mouth a thousand times.
Monika: Ungh... I wasn't a morning person, okay?
With each passing revelation, Monika's ears grow redder.
Waitress: There's more. Back then, she didn't really have a taste for sweets, so she would only drink coffee.
Lecia: That doesn't sound like the Monika I know. Are you sure it was her?
Waitress: One day, after working herself to death, she collapsed from exhaustion. Her Harvin crewmate told her to eat sweets to recover, you see.
Waitress: And from that moment forth, she was reborn as a new Monika.
Monika: We became fast friends, so sweets soon became a big part of my life.
Lecia: Whoa. I never would have guessed that's how you came to love sugar.
Lecia: W-wait a minute! She said you almost worked yourself to death!
Lecia casts stern eyes at Monika, who can only manage a sheepish grin in return.
Monika: The old me had a tendency to do everything full speed ahead.
Monika: And one day I collapsed in exhaustion, just like you did.
Monika: Thankfully I had a friend there who helped me through it.
Monika: I hope you don't think I'm a hypocrite; I just figured it was my turn to be that friend for you.
Monika: On the other hand, I guess I've been a little pushy. I hope I didn't bother you.
Lecia: Not at all. I enjoyed our tour of all the sweet treats in the market.
Lecia: And I didn't have a chance to dwell on anything while we were together. That's all thanks to you, Monika.
Monika: Hehe. I'll take that.
Waitress: Aww, you both share quite the deep friendship, don't you? It reminds me of how you used to hang out with your boot camp buddy, Monika.
The comment causes Monika's eyes to well with emotion.
Monika: Does it now?
Waitress: Monika... You know, she's still here.
Monika: Sigh... Then nothing has changed at all.
Waitress: I've said this so many times before, but it bears repeating. What happened wasn't your fault.
Waitress: You don't have to carry the burden with you.
Lecia: Ah, um... What happened with Monika's friend?
Waitress: Well, you see...
???: Excuse me, ladies. I don't mean to interrupt, but can I get the check?
Waitress: Oh, right away! Let me ring you up!
The waitress flits to the back of the restaurant, rushing to calculate her customer's bill.
???: Sorry to cut off your conversation.
Monika: No, no, it's all right. We were getting too caught up in the past anyway.
???: You don't say? That makes two of us then.
The Harvin grins and nods at Monika before heading to the register to settle his account.
Lecia: Are you okay, Monika? Judging from the way you talked about your friend...
Monika: Yeah... A lot happened back in the day.
Monika leans back in her chair, her expression a blend of regret and grief.
Unable to comfort her closest confidant, Lecia leans back in her own chair without another word.
Individual Motivations: Scene 2
After seeing Lecia off, Monika visits a coma patient in a local infirmary—the Harvin girl who had once trained with Monika. A Harvin calling himself Lugerre has also come to visit the patient. He encourages Monika to look for a way to wake the woman from her coma.
After their afternoon out, Monika and Lecia decide it would be best to return to their lodging, given Lecia's condition.
But as they walk through the streets, Monika mentions she has an errand to run and wanders off.
She stops in front of an aging building.
Monika: This place hasn't changed either. Looks exactly the same.
Infirmary reads the sign hanging above the door. Monika's expression grows solemn.
Her feet guide her through the clinic, as if retracing familiar steps. Eventually she stops at an unassuming door.
Monika: I'm coming in.
Without waiting for a response from the other side, she enters.
Inside the room, a lone Harvin girl occupies a hospital bed.
Monika: It's been too long. Really, I'm sorry for keeping you waiting this whole time.
Monika: I haven't had an assignment bring me out this way since I joined the Fourth Fleet.
Monika: But I had the infirmary staff periodically send word through the Third Fleet. I wanted to be updated on your condition, you know?
No matter how much Monika speaks, the girl remains unresponsive.
But Monika continues talking undeterred.
Monika: I went to our favorite spot earlier. You remember it, right?
Monika: Introduced a crewmate to the Monika Special. Tastes the same as always.
Monika: The owner's still there too. I wonder how old she is by now.
Monika: She hasn't forgotten us, by the way. She even asked about you.
Monika: It's been such a long time since you fell into a coma.
Monika: I wish you would wake up already.
Monika: Just how much longer do I have to wait for you?
Monika: I'm sorry. I didn't mean for it to come out that way.
Monika: Don't worry. It doesn't matter how long it takes, I'll be right here for you.
Monika: After all, what kind of big sister would I be if I abandoned my little sister?
Monika: Watching over you is the least I can do. I'm not sure how I could ever forgive myself otherwise...
Monika is locked in place, gazing down at the girl when the door swings open.
An older Harvin gentlemen, a bouquet of flowers in hand, trundles into the room.
???: Well, well. A visitor. Must be a blue moon rising tonight.
???: Hm, I remember you. You're that girl from the restaurant.
???: Excuse me, ladies. I don't mean to interrupt, but can I get the check?
Monika: One and the same. Sorry if our conversation held you up.
???: No, no. My fault for interrupting your get-together.
???: I'm curious though. Is this girl an acquaintance? A friend perhaps?
Monika: Forgive me... You are?
Lugerre: Ah, haven't introduced myself yet, have I? Name's Lugerre.
Lugerre: Her papa serves under me. Hell of a guy. I even think of him as family.
Lugerre: Wasn't too long ago that I heard about her condition. So here I am, checking up on her.
The man who referred to himself as Lugerre approaches the sleeping girl and gently lays the bouquet at her bedside.
Lugerre: How about you? You don't seem to be related to her.
Monika: Me? I'm...
Monika: I'm her colleague.
Monika, realizing the insincerity of her answer, bites her bottom lip.
Lugerre: Colleague, huh... Hospital visits imply a deeper connection than passing work friends, no?
Monika: You're right. Or at least that's what I'd like to believe.
Monika: But she on the other hand...
Monika: She's got her own ideas about who we are to each other.
Lugerre: Ouch. A bit of a dark outlook if you ask me.
Monika: Look, it's my fault she's in the state she's in.
Monika: So why wouldn't she hate me?
Lugerre: Well, if that's how you feel, then don't let me stop you. But are you satisfied?
Monika: I'm afraid... I don't understand what you mean.
Lugerre: I see what you're trying to do. "I'll make it all up to her by putting the blame on myself."
Lugerre: But how does wallowing in self-pity help anyone but yourself?
Lugerre: If you really want to save her, then it's time to stop thinking about yourself.
Lugerre: Anything's possible in this sky of ours. Why not do something more productive, like looking for a way to wake her up?
Monika: What you say is true.
Monika: But it's difficult to change a mindset. I'm not sure I could find the motivation to find a cure if I'm not hard on myself.
Monika: I, I...
Emotion wells up in Monika's eyes, but she manages to maintain her composure. Lugerre gives her a sympathetic nod.
Lugerre: I'm sorry. I spoke out of turn.
Monika: No. You've actually given me a lot to think about. I'll bear it in mind.
Monika: You mentioned looking for a way to wake her up. Does such a method exist?
Monika: The finest medical staff that the Enforcers can muster has been seeing to her treatment. Their knowledge spans the skydoms.
Lugerre: The Crew of Enforcers likes to act like they know everything, but even they have their limits.
Lugerre: Take it from an old coot like me—there's more than one way to fry a bonito.
Monika: I... I understand.
Monika: If a means to bring her back is truly out there, I'll do whatever I can, no matter the cost, to see her revived...
She makes this promise while casting a look at her sleeping friend.
Lugerre, having spurred Monika to action, crosses his arms and smiles wryly.
Individual Motivations: Scene 3
Lecia brings word that (Captain)'s crew—who had previously gone missing—has reappeared in Phantagrande; coincidently she will be returning there as well. Monika runs into Lugerre again and they enjoy ramen for lunch. Afterward Lugerre wants to speak to her alone. He takes her to a secluded area and suddenly attacks with his spear.
Monika: So they've returned safe and sound? Haha. Only (Captain)'s crew could manage that.
Monika sits in a borrowed office in the Third Fleet's headquarters.
She clutches a letter sent to her by the Blue Knight, Walfrid.
A smirk crosses her lips as she reads his report—(Captain)'s crew was spotted in the Phantagrande Skydom.
The letter goes on to command Lecia to return to her post at the Fourth Fleet's headquarters.
Finally, it states that Monika is to take over the remainder of the Nalhegrande investigation in lieu of Lecia's absence.
Monika: With (Captain) and company back in the picture, that's at least one headache off my mind.
Monika: Yet I can't shake the feeling something shifty is going on—
Lecia: Pant, pant... Monika!
Monika: Lecia, calm down and comport yourself like an enforcer. You can't just slam doors like—
Lecia: Who cares! (Captain) and the others have been found!
Monika: So you've heard. Seems their airship made it back to Phantagrande airspace.
Lecia: I'm so glad... I finally know they're safe.
Lecia's knees weaken, and tears begin to flow down her cheeks as she sinks to the ground.
Monika: Hehe. I told you, didn't I? There's no way (Captain)'s bunch would go down without a fight.
Lecia: You were right. But, really, I'm just so thankful.
Monika: Well, don't get too excited. You've been ordered to return to Fourth Fleet HQ.
Monika: I'll take the reins here in Nalhegrande. You better start packing soon. Here, look for yourself.
Monika hands Lecia the missive.
Lecia: Aye-aye! As acting captain of the Crew of Enforcers, I swear on Dad's—erm, the captain's honor that I will make it back!
Monika: Good. While you're there, I've got a message for you to deliver to (Captain).
Monika: Tell them, "You better cut it out with the risky business. You're giving us all heart attacks."
Lecia: Hahaha. Your wish is my command. I'll tell them if I see them.
Lecia salutes Monika and hurries out of the office.
Monika: Now then, I'd better pick up the investigation where Lecia left off.
Just as Monika begins skimming through a stack of documents, her stomach rumbles in hunger.
Monika: (Guess I'm less tense now that I know (Captain) and the rest are okay.)
Monika: Maybe I could spare some time for lunch. An empty stomach makes for a sluggish brain, after all.
After a quick change of clothes, Monika hits the town.
Monika: Where to eat, where to eat...
Lugerre: Ah, we meet again. If this isn't serendipity, then I don't know what is.
A voice calls out from behind Monika. She turns to find an enthusiastic Lugerre smiling broadly.
Lugerre: Then again, this town isn't exactly a metropolis. If your stomach is making stubborn demands, then you've come to the right block.
Monika: Thought I could get a bite in before getting started on some work. I can't decide on a place though.
Lugerre: How about ramen? I'll show you a great spot.
Monika: Ramen? Funny thing is I've actually never had it before.
Lugerre: You don't know what you're missing. Tell you what: next bowl's on me.
Monika: No, no. I couldn't possibly...
Lugerre: Don't worry about it. You should milk the advantage of being young for all its worth. Okay, we're here.
Without a moment's hesitation, Lugerre pushes Monika into a nearby ramen shop.
Monika: So... thank you. I appreciate you picking up the tab.
Lugerre: Sure, sure. But what do you think of the ramen? Delicious, right?
Monika: Hehe. I see now why you insisted I try it.
Monika: Even the broth was to die for. Maybe I'll start recommending it to my own friends.
Lugerre: Hah! Warms the old heart to hear a ringing endorsement.
Monika: That being said, there was quite a lot of it. Maybe too much.
Monika: I think I might need to walk a bit to help it all digest.
Lugerre: If you're not in a hurry, mind if I borrow your ear for a bit? It's about our girl in the hospital...
Monika: Has something happened to her?
Lugerre: It's not something I want to discuss in open company, if you catch my drift. Let's move somewhere with fewer ears.
Monika follows Lugerre through Idelva's bustling streets until they eventually reach a quieter district.
Monika: All right, no one's around here. What do you need to tell me?
Lugerre: Hmm. This place seems big enough. It'll have to do.
Lugerre unwraps the long object he'd been carrying the entire way.
A spear flashes up from the bundle, its head pointed at Monika.
Monika: What do you think you're doing! Explain yourself.
Lugerre: Before we get into the particulars, I'll need to test your mettle.
Lugerre: Deputy of the Fourth Fleet of the Crew of Enforcers, Monika Weisswind.
Lugerre: My trusty violet spear challenges your rumored fighting capability. If nothing else, you'll at least get to work off the carbs!
Individual Motivations: Scene 4
After Lugerre defeats Monika, he asks her to spy on the Blue Knight in return for bringing Monika's friend out of her coma. Monika refuses; Lugerre has a warning for Walfrid before leaving. Lugerre, revealed to be the Violet Knight, takes his failure to recruit Monika in stride as he heads for Phantagrande.
Lugerre: Good one!
Monika and Lugerre are exchanging blows in a dance of spear strikes and sword swings.
She makes a lunge, but he adeptly dodges the attempt.
Lugerre: Okay, that's one for you. Now I get a shot.
The deputy suddenly finds herself attempting to parry an endless series of almost imperceptibly fast thrusts.
Attacks slip past her guard, pushing her farther and farther back until she smacks into a wall behind her.
Monika: Pant... pant... grr...
Monika: This guy is unreal...
Although her will to fight remains strong, she can't summon that same strength to move her body.
Lugerre paces toward her, a calm smile unfurling on his face.
Lugerre: They weren't lying about you. You even got a few licks in on me.
Monika: Why are you doing this? Why fight me?
Lugerre: I'll cut to the chase. We could use someone like you on our side.
Lugerre: Walfrid's got the Crew of Enforcers at his disposal, but he can't give you what you want.
Lugerre: We, on the other hand, can make your wishes come true.
Lugerre: Like—oh, say—for a certain girl to come out of her coma because she covered for your mistake?
Monika: I don't understand. Why go to such lengths to headhunt me?
Monika: Is that why you visited her hospital room?
Monika: Just to entrap me into your employ?
Monika: What would you even have me do?
Lugerre: Simple: observation. We need someone to watch Walfrid, and you're just the woman for the job.
Monika: Observe the captain? What for?
Lugerre: If the Sky Realm is going to have a prayer at fending off what's coming, we'll have to stand united.
Lugerre: But your captain doesn't see it that way.
Lugerre: Commanders will be commanders. We're all entitled to our reasons.
Lugerre: With that said, I don't feel comfortable leaving him to his own devices.
Monika: In other words you want me to be your spy.
Lugerre: Simple reconnaissance is all I ask. Direct confrontation with the Blue Knight is a wee bit above your pay grade.
Lugerre: Just keep feeding us intel on his movements, and we'll make sure you get your old friend back—
Monika: I refuse. Consider me an enemy if you must, but I refuse.
Monika, body aching, somehow summons the strength to stand. Lugerre reaches out to help stabilize her, but she bats his hand away.
Monika: I am an enforcer of the Fourth Fleet until the day I die. I would never betray my fellow crewmates.
Monika: It doesn't matter what lofty ambitions you have for the Sky Realm; I would never join your ranks, not when your goal is to sow discord among the Enforcers.
Monika: And more importantly I promised her...
Monika: I promised her that I would protect the fleet no matter what.
Monika: I won't become a pawn for you and your ilk. That's my answer.
Lugerre: Hm, caught on, have you? What gave me away?
Monika: Given your speech, conduct, and battle prowess, I'd say it's an easy guess.
Lugerre: You sure this is how you want it? A chance like this doesn't come twice, you know.
Monika: Hah. Says you.
Monika: I won't ever give up the search, no matter how long it takes.
Monika: I came to terms with the difficulty of finding a cure for her a long, long time ago.
Lugerre: Your choice then. Well, see you around. You'll be surprised to know I'm a rather busy man.
Monika: You won't finish me off?
Lugerre: Recruitment works best when you cross bridges instead of burning them. People change their minds all the time, you see.
Lugerre: Besides, I need you to relay a message to Walfrid.
Lugerre: "Don't try anything funny. The other Luminaries are on to you."
And with that, Lugerre turns his back to Monika and begins leisurely walking away, as if nothing is amiss.
Monika: Just my luck. I've really stepped in it now.
Monika: (On the bright side, this confirms that there actually is a way to save her.)
Monika: All I have to do now is find it.
Monika: Wait a little longer for me, okay? I'm going to wake you up. I promise.
Monika's renewed resolve gives her refreshed stamina. She manages to take a few wobbly steps forward.
Perhaps it is this very resolve that attracted the Luminary Knights to her in the first place.
Violet Knight: Phew... Now that was a workout. Maybe I ate too much.
Violet Knight: I went in expecting a new ally, but all I ended up gaining was a bigger belt size.
Violet Knight: Just what are you up to, Blue Knight? Whatever it is, I'm sure you won't be able to ignore your protege when she comes running to you.
Violet Knight: Nrgh... Ramen isn't the same without Boss's magic touch.
Violet Knight: Maybe I could pop in, have a signature bowl of his, and see my kid while I'm at it... Sigh, if only...
Violet Knight: Time to get back to work. Gotta maintain world peace and all that.
The Violet Knight stands alone on the deck of an airship.
Its destination: the Phantagrande Skydom.
And there the winds of fate will blow yet again as divergent paths begin to cross.