EP. 06-4N  People in the Flask Ⅳ (1)

Twenty minutes later, the remaining members of Team FF rendezvous at the temporary outpost.

Five-seven FF FNC still hasn't returned with T91?

FF FN49 Let's wait just a bit longer... She said she'd be here in ten minutes max.
And I'm sorry, 57, but to be honest...
I'm not entirely sure...whether our targets are actually safe at the moment...

Five-seven I know, but don't worry about things that haven't happened yet. We should focus on the task at hand.
Oh right. Mark down all the locations T91 mentioned before and prepare a report for our next correspondence with the Commander.

FF FN49 Already on it. We've...run into this kind of situation a lot.

Five-seven Well done, 49. You really ARE experienced.
Once they've confirmed the final location, we'll be off.
The night is almost over. It's game over if we alert the main forces of S.F. again.

FF FN49 I envy you, 57. You're unexpectedly chill even now.

Five-seven It's just that I'm a sore loser. It's clearly something I can do. I don't want to give up just like that.

FF FN49 Haha, how reliable. Sometimes I think you're also a suitable candidate for the position of team leader...

Five-seven Are you serious? Well, not that I disagree...
Besides, FAL's careless and frivolous ways don't really sit well with me.

FF FN49 But Team FF wouldn't have achieved so much without the support you have for each other, right?

Five-seven Oh? What makes you think so?

FF FN49 I have a feeling that I'm only doing better than I usually do precisely because FAL is the leader...
Because she fills in the missing piece of my neural cloud...the piece that I yearn for so badly but can never possess.
Could that also be the case for you, 57?

Five-seven Humph...
You may be all meek and demure, but you actually have quite a lot to say, don't you?

FF FN49 (Chuckles) I'm sorry. I've said too much.
Besides...I know full well that I won't ever participate in Team FF's operations again after this one...

Five-seven Do you like Team FF, 49? Would you like to keep working with us?

FF FN49 Of course I'd love to experience more interesting things. But a T-Doll like me is hardly qualified...

Five-seven Heheh, rein in that self-consciousness, 49. You're the one to decide whether you're qualified.

Five-seven rests a hand on FF FN49's shoulder.

Five-seven Not to mention, our recruitment policy isn't based on whether you're qualified, but whether we need you.
Think about living through the night first. I'll see what I can do for you and FF FNC afterwards.

FF FNC Hey, we're back! Are you ready?
The last location was a bit hard to find, but thanks to T91, all locations have been confirmed!

T91 Don't mention it. I'm very glad my experience from the time I spent in hiding proves useful. However...
I've lost my weapon in my previous battle and all my energy is pretty much spent.
I'm afraid you're on your own from now on.

Five-seven No problem, T91. Merci beaucoup. We're extremely fortunate to have run into you tonight.

T91 I don't think it's a matter of fortune.
I couldn't have escaped if it weren't for a companion on our team.

Five-seven Oh? Who is she? What happened?

T91 Well...
Don't worry about it. It doesn't matter now. It's just that I want to thank her in person.
So please, get everyone out!

Five-seven We will, T91. Thanks for all your hard work. Take a proper rest.
49, FF FNC, report everything we've learned to the Commander and come back with a battle plan ASAP.
I'm gonna make some adjustment on my command module to maximize my efficiency in leading this operation.

FF FNC Will FAL...be okay?

Five-seven Don't think about unnecessary things. We just have to complete the mission she's assigned us.
Get ready and let's go.

Five minutes later.

FF FNC Commander! Commander! Commander!!

FF FN49 Hey, don't scare the Commander.

FF FNC Is this really the time to worry about such things?!
Commander-der-der-der-der-der-der-der-der!!!

FF FN49 Why are you stuttering, FF FNC...?

FF FNC Quoi?! It was just an echo!
See? That woke the Commander!

FF FN49 I don't think it's because of the echo...

...

FF FNC Commander! Got enough sleep? We're about to set off!
We've finished compiling all the locations where missing T-Dolls are being held captive through an infiltration.
Now our objective is to rescue them as quickly as possible, Commander, and that depends on you!
Heheh, you've worked all night with us. To show my gratitude, I'm inviting you to join my next chocolate party!

FF FN49 Umm...Commander...
I beg you to reconsider participating in a party that only involves watching FF FNC wolf things down...
Anyway, thank you for being with us tonight...
We are all set. Please give your final order for the night!

EP. 06-4N  People in the Flask Ⅳ (2)

Ten minutes after the operation concludes.
Click.
Click.
Click.

Alchemist Your teammates?

FAL Oui.

Alchemist Feel free to pick it up.

FAL No need.
They wouldn't dare contact me if they had failed.

Alchemist Humph...

Alchemist You know what, FAL?
That was the only interesting thing you've said all night.

FAL Oh? Then why am I still alive?

Alchemist Exactly because you're such a banal character. You make dull conversation and have crude tastes.
I only end the conversation when it starts getting interesting.
So congratulations. You've won the Miss T-Doll Who Sustained the Longest Conversation.

FAL (Sighs) I knew it... I suppose no one would be interested in things from a hundred years ago...
But if our mission succeeded, it means you haven't actually harmed your prey.
Why, Alchemist?

Alchemist I told you. One should make the most out of what they enjoy, and I can't enjoy dead T-Dolls.

FAL Is that why you've stayed behind?
To abduct our T-Dolls and get high on torturing them?

Alchemist What else, FAL?
Does a Doll not even have the right to enjoy herself?
Or do you believe we can only live by the way humans do?

FAL ...
You're studying us, aren't you? You're trying to figure out how our neural clouds work.

Alchemist Clever girl. But don't ask any more questions. I can tell you nothing more anyway.

FAL Humph. So much for a Sangvis Doll's freedom.

Alchemist At least I wouldn't leave a companion in the hands of the enemy to be tortured just for the sake of victory.
Like what you did to FF F2000, right?

FAL ...So you know.

Alchemist It only occurred to me when I met you, FAL.
I thought all terrifying Dolls have a special and telling aura, but not you.
You are the single most terrifying "philistine" I have ever seen.

FAL I don't take risks with no guarantee.
I'm not a reckless T-Doll. I merely plan a step ahead of others.
Besides, becoming your captive was the result of FF F2000's own mistake, but she redeemed herself by facilitating the escape of someone who would provide us with pivotal aid.

Alchemist Humph... Such a touching sacrifice. Now I regret letting her live.

FAL It's too late to be jealous. We may be eccentric, but we're not alone.
Now, my friends are coming for me. Isn't it time you returned to where you should be?

Alchemist Oh?
What do you think I'm going to do?
Take you with me as a hostage? Kill you then leave on my own? Or am I going to blow up the outpost?

FAL ...
I have no value as a hostage. You're in no hurry to get rid of me either since any of your troops stationed outside can do it just as easily.
So my guess is, none of the above.

Alchemist Correct.

Alchemist raises a pistol and points it at her own head.

Alchemist Look at me, FAL. Let me watch your face.

FAL Is this the last piece of data that you want to collect?

Alchemist I just want to find out...how far I would go to carry out my orders.
I want to know why we are created - as a frame of reference or a means to something...

FAL ...
I pity you, Alchemist.

Alchemist We are all creatures living in flasks. We have what humans do not possess, but lack what humans are born with...
I want to break free. That's all...

FAL ...
Are these your genuine thoughts or are you putting on an act to test me?

Alchemist merely grins in a daze.

Alchemist Yes...this is exactly the expression I'm looking for.
You lost, FAL.

FAL ...!

Alchemist It won't be the last time you do...
See you again in another hell.

BANG!
...
......

FAL Pathetic.

The next day, in the staff lounge in Area S08.

Five-seven You still won't tell us what happened?

FAL Hmm? Didn't you see when you arrived at the outpost?

Five-seven You mean seeing you reading your damned magazine next to Alchemist's corpse on a scene that showed no trace of battle?

FAL I told you. She was killed by what she was trying to get.

Five-seven Whatever... You can't hide the truth in your report to Helian anyway.

FAL In any case, merci.

Five-seven Hmm?

FAL Thank goodness you were still trying to come get me. Otherwise, I'd have been killed by the Sangvis troops that had me surrounded.
But then again, wouldn't you be able to keep the position of team leader?
Well? A change of mind?

Five-seven Don't get the wrong idea.
I WILL take the position from you, but not today.
I still have a lot to learn until I can beat you fair and square.
Does this answer satisfy you?

FAL ...Très bien.
You can keep being my adjutant.

Five-seven (Sighs) Working with you is exhausting, you know...
Then I'll proceed with my report as your adjutant.
FF FNC and FF FN49 have already sent in their applications. They can officially join the team once HQ gives the approval.

FAL Humph. They're jumping into the fire willingly enough.

Five-seven They're doing it because they like me, ma chère.

FAL Ouais, which is why I need you.
Work hard and recruit a few more useful people.

Five-seven We'll see how far this problematic crew go...
By the way, FF F2000 needs to make a trip to HQ for her reward. They're also gonna extract some data regarding Alchemist from her neural cloud...
But she can make it to the celebration at noon... Should we also invite T91 and the other rescued T-Dolls?

FAL If they want to join, sure. But I'll give them the boot if they're too rowdy.

Five-seven We can't waste too much time partying. There's a new job coming up.
According to the Commander's report, there are unusual Sangvis signals and some abnormal weather phenomena in Area S09.

FAL Then my schedule is going to be rather tight this afternoon. I have to get a coffee with the Commander and we'll go shopping for that bag...

Five-seven Let FF F2000 and the others go with you. I'll take care of the Commander.

FAL ...
Is that a provocation, 57?

Five-seven Times have changed, FAL. You need to keep yourself on your toes.
Every T-Doll has their own merits. You said that much yourself.

57 turns and leaves. FAL lets out a sigh.

FAL Life is hard...
...But that's what makes it interesting, right?
That's exactly what you overlooked, Alchemist.
Someone who fools herself into believing that she's trapped in a flask can never break free.