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Several conflicting ideas battle for your attention, but they generally boil down to one of two camps: capitalize on Flandre's emotional turmoil to capture her, or use the vampire to get Meiling to the only person who can heal her anywhere near fast enough to save the woman's life. Of course, leaving Meiling to die after she came back to help, when she could have just as easily have left you to be shredded apart, doesn't sit right with you.
It's not really much of a choice.
The bigger problem lies in how your only option for getting Meiling swift treatment is currently bawling her eyes out.
“Flandre,” you say, holding your good hand up. “Flandre, listen-”
“I liked it,” Flandre chokes out, her small frame wracked by sobs. “I- I killed them all and- even Meiling, and I liked it, I liked hurting them, the- the screams, ripping them apart, everything!”
Flandre sinks into a crouch, eyes fixated on Meiling's body. “It's no wonder I stay down in the basement, isn't it? If- if this is what happens when I leave, maybe I should just- just go die, shouldn't I?” Flandre holds up her gore-slick arm, staring at it in sickly fascination. “I- I speared her like an animal, for God's sake.”
“And I also heard her say it wasn't your fault,” you say, your patience rapidly fraying.
Flandre whirls on you, eyes wild. “It doesn't matter! Don't you get it? I- I did this, all of it! And-”
“Flandre,” you growl. “Shut up and listen.”
She stares up at you, mouth agape.
“Meiling's not dead yet,” you say, falling back on memories of your drill instructor for inspiration. “So if you want to make this right, even just a little, then stop crying and move!”
“Go!” You snap, flinging your arm out. “I don't care how you get out, but pick her up and move, damn you!”
“I- I-” She clenches her fists, scowling through the tears pouring down her face. “All right!”
Flandre thrusts her hands up, scarlet energy collecting in them, and the girl unleashes a mighty beam upwards, the sheer force driving her feet into the concrete, the blood on the floor pushed away in a wide circle around her. The beam carves a hole clear through the suspended dropship and the hangar doors above it, shards of metal raining down from on high, until the laser busts through to the outside world, revealing Gensokyo's blue skies. Flandre hauls Meiling up in her arms, grabs the gatekeeper's severed arm, and kicks off the ground, turning to face you. “AE, I-”
“I said move, goddammit!” You roar, and she flinches. Still, it does the trick, as Flandre soars up through the hole and flashes out of sight, leaving you utterly alone.
“Hoooh, shit,” you groan, dropping to your knees as all the assorted miseries you've endured come back in force for one last hurrah. There's also that nagging little part of you that's angry about yelling at an obviously distraught child, but if that's what it took to get her moving, you're not going to have regrets about it.
You'd have preferred it if Remilia wouldn't see Flandre in her current condition, either, but since couldn't rely on Flandre to find anything useful here in time, the girl's elder sister is likely Meiling's best shot at survival.
'I had not anticipated violent shouting as a viable solution,” says the AI, its voice buzzing through your internal comms. 'Excellent work salvaging the situation.'
“I sure as hell don't feel like a winner,” you say, running your hand over your face. “Tap us into HQ, would you? I want a ride waiting by the time I'm out of here.”
'I have already attempted such, but this facility appears to have a jammer in place. We will need to return to the surface before evacuation can be requested.'
You sigh. “Right. Of course. Now all I have to do is just walk up a flight of stairs and climb through a sloping tunnel, all while I'm missing a leg and a hand.”
'When you say it like that, one might believe you were complaining.'
“Don't you start mouthing off to me too,” you grumble.
Your conversation is interrupted by large, plodding footfalls from the hallway out, but instead of waiting around for something big and scary to stomp into the room, you hobble over to a miraculously intact crate and duck behind it. The stomping continues until it reaches inside this chamber, and you grit your teeth. Swear to God, if they have another titan around, you're just going to give up on life and shoot yourself, save them the trouble.
There's a high-pitched whistle.
“Wow!” Flandre says.
You peek out of cover, and bite down a hiss of shock.
Big Red looms above you, surveying the room. Perched atop its head is a lone Flandre clone, her arms wrapped in wiring coming from holes in the mech's back. She beams upon seeing you.
“Hello again!” Flandre says, waving at you; the titan mimics the gesture. “I'm really sorry about breaking your wrist and also hitting you a lot! Also Meiling!”
Big Red shudders, jerkily reaching up towards Flandre. “UNHAND ME!”
The clone wrenches back, arresting the arm's movement. “Nah.”
The mech sags in defeat, somehow projecting dejection despite the lack of any facial features.
“What-” you begin.
'How-' says your AI.
“Why?” You both finish in unison.
“It wasn't easy!” Flandre says.
“I-” You shake your head. “Okay, putting that aside, aren't you bothered at all by what you- er, the real you did? I thought you had a mental link?”
Flandre shrugs, the titan repeating every gesture. “Well, that was me, but also not me, if you get what I'm saying? Besides, I'm gonna get reabsorbed sooner or later, I'll let it get me down then. But before that happens, I've got a giant robot, and I'm gonna use it!”
“Are you- okay, let's make this perfectly clear. Are you going to rodeo that mech throughout this facility and break everything?”
She winks. “Exactly!”
“...Huh. Well, I could use a lift.”
She makes a complicated gesture, and the titan gives you a thumbs up. “Sure thing!”
You rapidly come to have second thoughts about this as a giant hand wraps itself around you, and you firmly resolve to never ask Flandre for a lift ever again as she pitches you towards the hole in the ceiling. You soar through the dropship, out the hangar doors, arc through the fresh Gensokyo air, swiftly approach the ground, land-
GOD, FUCK, PISS
You spend maybe ten seconds or so feeling terrible before you push yourself up, finding yourself face-to-face with an overly-curious fairy. She shrieks, rapidly backpedaling, and behind her the clearing is brimming with fey. Now that they're all free, the rescued fairies are absolutely everywhere: up in the trees, puttering about on the ground, or simply hovering around, you name it, they're doing it. Of course, the entire group is currently staring at you in all your bloodsoaked, charred, broken glory. Kyouko, seated at the base of a tree, looks at you with eyes wide as the metaphorical dinner plates, her mouth hanging open as she takes you in.
The air is silent as you slowly raise a finger. “You all...” You sweep the accusatory digit across the crowd. “Are smalltime.” Your finger pauses over Kyouko. “Except you. You're all right.”
The fairy that discovered you opens her mouth, gives you a once-over, and then clicks it shut. “Yeah, he's got us there.”
“See to calling a medevac for me, would you?” You whisper, and the AI beeps in response. That handled, you limp over to Kyouko and plunk yourself down next to her. She scoots over a little to accommodate your presence.
The two of you share a moment of silence before she works up the courage to look you in the eyes. “So, you look like hell. What happened down there?”
You roll a shoulder in a shrug. “Giant robot. Flandre. Men with guns. Myself. Mostly the first two.”
“Fl- what.” Her tone takes a hard edge. “What did she do?”
“Oh, she got filled full of holes, but that just made her mad. Enough to do this!” You raise your broken hand and shake it around a little for effect. The way Kyouko blanches makes you feel like a tool, so you stop.
“Doesn't that hurt?” Kyouko asks, once she's worked through the inherent cringe-factor of watching a hand flop around in ways that shouldn't be possible.
“Oh, excruciatingly so. What about your face?”
She winces. “It's- it stings, but it's nothing I can't handle.”
Well, that's no good. Still, nothing you can do about it right now. “So, you mind if we talk for a bit? Give me something to think of besides the searing agony of my every waking moment? That'd be nice.”
She bites her lip. “Well, um, whaddya want to talk about?”
“I...” You furrow your brows. “Maybe it's just the concussions talking, but I don't think I'm coming up with anything. Also, the pain. The pain's definitely a negative factor there.”
Kyouko snorts. “Well, okay, you can still be a wise-ass. Let's consider that a good sign, yeah?”
You nod agreement. “So, where's the wookie?”
“Up top, still watching out for us.” She frowns. “Why is he called that, anyway?”
“You're telling me you- wait, no.” You slap your helmet. “No, you don't have movies here, do you?”
“I saw a Kappa demonstration once,” Kyouko says, a touch defensively. “I mean, it was neat, but there wasn't much to it. Anyway, I don't see how this is relevant to his name, AE.”
“I gotta show you Star Wars sometime,” you firmly declare. “You deserve to enjoy them.”
“Huh. What're they about?”
A fairy awkwardly shuffles up to the two of you and clears her throat. “Um, hi?”
You listlessly glare at her. “What.”
The girl scowls. “I was gonna say thanks for the save, but if you're gonna be a jerk, then phooey on you, mister. Anyway, what happened to Meiling? She's not still down there, is she?”
You shrug. “She's got a big hole in her chest, but besides that? Well enough, I guess.”
The girl's hands shoot up to cover her mouth. “B-Boss is down?”
You damn near flinch as all the fairies turn to stare at you, every single face sporting a new and varied manner of horrified expression.
“Awwgod, awwgod,” says another. The general sentiment is echoed by the rest of the fairies.
Kyouko looks faintly gobsmacked. “I always thought she was invincible,” she mutters.
“Flandre's taking her back to the mansion right now,” you hurriedly say, holding your hand up to try and forestall mass panic. “I'm sure Remilia can fix her up.”
The fairy blinks. “Oh, Flan's got her?”
“Quite.” You refrain from telling them that it was her who's responsible in the first place, for obvious reasons. Fortunately, the news that Meiling's being evacuated to the mansion is enough to prevent everyone from losing their minds. You give them a little while to make sure they're calmed down before you turn back to Kyouko.
“So,” Kyouko says, trailing off as she tries to come up with a question. “Are we just going to stay here and talk all day, or do you have something else planned?”
“Well, not counting the medevac team coming over, there's also a salvage team on the way to where I brought my ride down.”
She cocks her head to the side. “You had a ride?”
“Hijacked one of those dropships that were attacking the mansion. You might have spotted them before you, well-”
“Got zapped?” She looses a bitter little chuckle. “Yeah, I know. You can't fly, though, so how'd you make it up onto one?”
“...Meiling threw me at it.”
Kyouko squints at you. “Really.”
You shake your head, smiling despite yourself. “You wound me, kid. You really do.”
“I-” Kyouko cuts herself off, eyes on the sky. “Wait, wait, you hear that?”
The growing whirr of engines above alert you to the presence of another aircraft, and you whistle appreciatively. “That's probably my medevac.”
“Maybe you should tell them that,” she says, indicating all the fairies; the girls have gone to ground at the noise, snatching up sticks and rocks in preparation for battle. Some are even dual-wielding, for all the good it'd do them.
You pull yourself up. “Hey, everyone? The new folks are with me. Please don't try to murder them.”
“Wha- aw, damn it,” one says, tossing her weapons down. The rest glumly follow suit.
The aircraft in question buzzes overhead, revealing itself to be the Valkyrie from earlier, new plating hastily welded over the holes that had punctured it. It hovers down in the nearby open space, and the side of the craft open up to reveal a passenger compartment with four rifle-wielding men inside, every one covered head-to-toe in green-and-white body armor.
“Friendly spotted,” one trooper says, pointing you out. He reaches further inside the ship, pulling out a cylindrical machine with several sets of legs at the base, and tucks it under his arm. He hops out and hoofs it your way as the rest of the squad covers him, the fairies giving him a wide berth.
“Should I go?” Kyouko whispers, watching with trepidation as the soldier approaches.
You shake your head. “You're with me, you're fine.”
The man reaches you, and gently sets the machine down. “God, AE, you really have to stop getting hurt so much!” he says, tapping out a rapid sequence on the mech's control panel. The drone springs to life, experimentally flexing its legs, then skitters over to you like an affection-seeking crab.
“Patient vitals critical,” it chirps, synthesized voice high-pitched. “Immediate medical attention required. Deploying first aid!”
A small barrel emerges from its forward port, aimed at you, and begins emitting a green mist. The moment you breathe it in, your aches and pains are bludgeoned into submission by the power of technology.
“Oooooh, that's the stuff,” you say, bliss overtaking you.
“Um. Hi?” Kyouko says, giving the man a little wave.
The soldier leaves you in the care of the drone, turning his attentions towards Kyouko. “What's your name, miss?”
Kyouko looks askance at you, and once you nod she locks eyes with the soldier. “Kyouko, mister...?”
He presses a fist to his chest in salute. “LG dash two-seven-seven-one-four. A pleasure, miss.”
“So you do all have weird names,” Kyouko says, smiling just a little as she looks back at you.
“Hey, we don't pick 'em,” he says.
The drone cuts off its flow of medicine, leaving you feeling tingly and mostly pain-free. “Internal injuries mended. Patient vitals stabilized. Recommend further treatment at proper medical facilities.” It swivels towards Kyouko. “Unauthorized patient spotted. Commence healing?”
“I, um.” The girl looks hopeful. “Can I? My face kinda stings.”
LG shakes his head. “I'd love to, but you're not with us, so-”
You glare at him with all the ire of a man who's been bludgeoned, stabbed, shot, strangled, crushed, burned, blown up, and maimed, with a great and terrible fury at his horrible day the only thing still keeping him awake.
“On the other hand,” LG says, already tapping away on the drone's controls. “If I don't authorize aid, I'm fairly certain AE will strangle me.”
“Commencing treatment!” The mech chirps, unleashing a spray of medical magic on the girl. She takes a deep breath, and her eyes bolt open in shock, the burns on her face already fading away. Once it finishes mere moments later, she tentatively caresses the newly-healed skin.
“The first time's always the best,” you admit, as she rubs her face in wonder.
“Wow,” she says, grinning widely. “Holy, seriously, wow.”
LG offers you his hand. “We still need to get you back for proper treatment, AE. Can you walk, or would you rather have us pull out the stretcher?”
You take his hand, and he pulls you up with a grunt of effort. “You get the bot, I'll walk.”
He deactivates the drone with another rapid series of taps and tucks the weighty machine under his arm. While he returns to the ship, Kyouko springs to her feet, all vim and vigor, and neatly pulls your arm around her shoulders, using herself as your makeshift crutch.
“What in the-” you say.
“Hoooh gods you're heavy,” she says, every word a visible effort. She flashes you a smile. “But not heavy enough!”
The two of you manage a shaky step forward, then another, and another, before falling into a rhythm.
“Thanks,” you say.
Kyouko shrugs. “Really, I should be thanking you. You, uh, you saved me, y'know?”
“Yes, that's something that happened,” you say, dryly.
“Well, you didn't have to, so...” Her smile droops. “Why? I mean, you- we hardly know each other.”
You roll your eyes. “So? You really thought I'd have left you behind?”
She inhales sharply at that. “I- I guess you wouldn't have, huh?”
“You're damn right.”
You're only a few steps away from the ship when Kyouko stops, and you both look at each other.
“So, I guess this is goodbye?” She averts her eyes. “Hey, AE? I know I said this before, but... thanks. For, well, everything.”
You pat her shoulder. “Any time, Kyouko. Any time.”
LG waves at you from inside the ship. “Come on, we're burning daylight!”
“Coming!” Kyouko shouts back. “He's just really heavy!”
The two of you limp the rest of the way in silence, and Kyouko reluctantly slips away, leaving you to be hauled inside the ship by two of the men providing overwatch. You're quickly ushered into a seat, and you sink into it with a hefty sigh.
“Howdy, AE,” says the pilot, his voice buzzing over the ship intercom. “Who's your lady friend?”
“I'm really not in the mood.”
“All right, I getcha. Looks like they nailed you good back there.”
“Titans, you know?” He grunts sympathetically at that explanation. “Anyway, sounded like you were pretty shook up back at the mansion.”
“Ah, s'nothing. Thanks for asking, though. Buckle in, everybody!”
As everyone follows the pilot's instructions, you try to blank your mind and simply relax. It's a pointless endeavor, however, with your thoughts wandering back to Flandre and Meiling.
You glance outside, where Kyouko is hugging herself as she watches the ship rise.
[X] You've done your job, and then some. You, of all people, have earned a proper rest. Return to base, debrief, and take as long as you need to recover.
[X] You got Flandre and Meiling involved in your raid, and you're not just going to leave Flandre to deal with the fallout alone. Have the pilot set a course for the mansion.
-[X] And bring Kyouko along too, while you're at it; Mystia's still somewhere thereabouts, and she could use a friend to keep her in place while the drone sees to her.