Star Ocean The Second Story

2001: Another Star Odyssey (Home Again)
By Paul Beaudoin

* Chapter 4: The Plot Comes to a Slow, Rolling Boil *

A small ship cruised through the infinite blackness of space. A bright flash surrounded it, and soon it was nestled very comfortably in the top floor of Central City's City Hall. The hatch opened, and the pilot of the ship walked out: a blonde-haired young man, in his early-to-mid twenties.

"What the hell?" Claude said loudly. "What's this?" Soon after him came Rena, who was wondering many of the same things as Claude. In her arms were their twin boys, sleeping happily.

"This looks like the lobby to Narl's office in Nede..." Rena said. "But...wasn't Nede destroyed?"

"Yeah," Claude said. "This is all too curious..."

"Please stay on the other side of the desk," Narl's secretary called out. Claude looked at where he and Rena were standing, and found that they were, indeed, in the part of the office that would be behind her desk, if it weren't completely demolished.

"But our ship just crashed into your office building, and this is just how we happened to come out..." Claude tried to explain.

"Please stay on the other side of the desk," the secretary said again.

"What desk? It's in tiny pieces all over the office!" Rena shouted.

"Please stay on the other side of the desk."

"But listen," Claude said.

"Please stay on the other side of the desk."

"Will you just..."

"Please stay on the other side of the desk."

"All right," Claude said, feeling defeated. "We're going..."

"Thank you," the secretary said. She then resumed the work she was engaged in until disturbed by Claude and Rena.

"Maybe we should see if Narl is in," Rena said.

"Good idea," Claude said, as they walked into Narl's inner office. When they got there, however, the office was empty.

"Mayor Narl?" Rena said. "Are you here?" No answer came.

"Maybe he's out for lunch or something," Claude said. Suddenly, a loud flushing sound came from the back. A small door materialized, which Narl walked through. The door disappeared mere seconds after Narl closed it.

"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you come in," Narl said, sitting down at his desk. "Wait a minute," he said, studying the two. "Who are you?"

"Narl, don't you recognize us?" Rena said. "It's us, Rena and Claude!"

"I'm sorry, I've never seen you two in my life," Narl said, ripping a piece of toilet paper off his shoe.

"You don't remember us? You helped us in our endeavors to kill the Wise Men!" Claude shouted.

"Wise men? Who are they?"

"You mean you don't know about Indalecio, or Cyril, or that whole happy gang?" Rena said.

"Nothing of the sort comes to mind," Narl said.

Claude sighed. "Very well, we're sorry to have bothered you, Mayor," he said somberly, hanging his head.

"Well," Narl said, "if you need any help, I'll be happy to assist you."

"Thank you," Rena said as they walked out of the office.

The two walked out of the building and immersed themselves in the splendor of Central City. "Do you think he was lying to us?" Rena said.

"No, he seemed genuinely ignorant," said Claude. "Something has to be up..."

Just then, a passing stranger bumped into Claude. He was a man in about his thirties, with a very stern expression on his face. A very distinct scar went down the length of his right cheek. He was dressed in a long, black trench coat. When he collided with Claude, he dropped a small stack of papers he was holding.

"Excuse me," he said, in a very gruff voice. "Sorry about that."

"No problem," Claude said, bending down to help the man pick up the papers. As he grabbed one, he saw the title 'Crest of...' The rest was smeared and illegible, as it had fallen into a small mud puddle.

"Thanks a lot," the man said, taking the paper from Claude's hand.

"You're welcome," Claude said, with a tone of quiet contemplation. He stood there, staring into space as the man ducked into a nearby alley.

"Claude, what's wrong?" Rena said, jolting him out of his trance.

"I just got the strangest feeling," Claude said. "Like, this aura of negative energy surrounded that guy..."

"Well, never mind about that," Rena said. "Let's go to North City to get some information."

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