17. Return to Corsica

Ten years ago, Mireille’s family was murdered, and she was forced to flee the country with her uncle Claude. In all that time, she was afraid to go back, but now, the time is right to return; and so, leaving Kirika back in France, Mireille journeys to her old homeland.

The Bouquet family may be long gone from Corsica, but their memory remains, as Mireille discovers on the train ride from the port to her old home. As an old man and his grandson walk through her carriage, the boy falls over. When Mireille helps him up, the old man sees her face, and suddenly becomes fearful and eager to move on.

After the train journey, and a walk from the station, Mireille eventually reaches her old home. Once a proud mansion, the place is now falling into disrepair. Dust sheets cover what furniture is left, and even the old piano doesn’t play properly anymore.

Wandering the corridors of her old home, Mireille feels compelled to visit the one room that has remained fixated in her memories- the room where her parents were murdered. Assailed by memories of discovering their bodies, Mireille nonetheless opens the door and look inside. Of course, there is nothing there now- just a dusty old room.

Leaving the house, Mireille bumps into a face from her past- an old neighbour named Mary. After initially mistaking her for her mother, Odette, Mary realises who Mireille is, and invites her home. Having taken care of Odette all her life, Mary is delighted to be reacquainted with her old mistress’ daughter, but her reaction is the exception rather than the rule. Just like the old man on the train, Mary’s husband reacts to Mireille with suspicion and fear- and Mireille realises it is time for her to leave. But even as Mireille bids her goodbyes, she has no idea that someone else has followed her to Corsica- Chloe.

Walking through Mary’s village, Mireille is stopped by two men in a car. They want to take her to see local syndicate boss Mr Bertonie. With no real reason not to go, Mireille agrees, and is taken to Bertonie’s mansion.

After assuring Bertonie that she has no interest in restoring the Bouquet Syndicate, the tension dissipates a little, allowing Mireille to question Bertonie about what really does interest her- why her parents were killed. In response to her queries, Bertonie relates the rumours that he has heard: Laurent Bouquet was said to have been in trouble with an ancient organisation- and his killer was not from Corsica. The story is consistent with what Claude said- that the Soldats were responsible.

Unable to tell Mireille any more, Bertonie suggests that she pays a visit to George Madelin- her father’s old right hand man. Mireille had always thought that he was dead, but George is in fact alive and well. Deciding to pay him a visit, Mireille leaves Bertonie’s. As she departs, the syndicate boss warns her that it would be better to leave quickly; however, even he doesn’t realise that the danger is already close- for from the bushes, a scarred man is keeping a close watch on Mireille.

Half-drunk, George Madelin stumbles home, only to be intercepted by Mireille outside his gate. Mireille tries to talk to him, but a terrified George refuses to listen, and instead rushes inside, locking the door. It is only a temporary respite, however, for later that evening Mireille tracks him down in his favourite pub. Realising that Mireille isn’t about to give up, George promises that he will meet her tomorrow to explain everything. However, once again unnoticed, the scarred man lurks in the background, listening to their every word…

The next day, George and Mireille meet in the garden of the old Bouquet home. Finally ready to talk, George talks about the “great secret” of the Bouquets, a secret which enabled them to dominate Corsica as they did for so long. Listening, Mireille is horrified to learn the truth- generation after generation swore loyalty to an ancient and powerful organisation- the Soldats.

Mireille doesn’t want to believe that her parents were members of the Soldats, but George tells her that she has physical proof- her father’s watch. Still unwilling to believe his story, Mireille argues that the Soldats were the ones who murdered her family. George admits that this is true, but before he can explain further, he is shot by a sniper on the roof- the scarred man.

As the scarred man fires again, George goes down, whilst Mireille dives for cover. With his dying breaths, George tries to finish his story- Mireille’s parents were killed because they tried to protect her, whilst he, George, cowardly ran away. Making a final apology, George dies.

Drawing her gun, Mireille goes after the sniper. As she gets closer to the house, the scarred man abandons his rooftop position and heads into the house. Running through the corridors, the two unsuccessfully exchange a few shots, before Mireille reloads her gun and chases the man into the chapel. The glare from the stained glass window temporarily blinds Mireille, but as the man drops down from the rafters, she regains her composure and shoots him before he can take her out.

Her adversary downed, Mireille relaxes for a second, only to sense someone behind her. Raising her gun, she turns to see this adversary- only to discover that it is none other than Chloe. Calmly, Chloe explains that the man’s duty was to guard the secrets of the past- a duty that she will neither aid nor interfere in. She only came to Corsica because it a special place- both for her, and for the other member of the true Noir- Kirika.

As Mireille absorbs this new piece of information, Chloe has one more thing to say. If Kirika ever asks to go home, she says, then Mireille must not stop her- or Chloe would have to kill Mireille. And rather than wanting to kill her, Chloe would like to become friends with Mireille, who, when all is said and done, is just another child of the Soldats, isn’t she?

Back in Paris, Mireille stands on the balcony of her apartment, accompanied by Kirika. She explains how the watch that first connected them is just another item of the Soldats, and even Mireille herself is a child of the Soldats. Repeating this fact, Mireille breaks down in tears, and Kirika puts a hand out to comfort her, only to uncertainly draw it back, and stare out at the uncaring sunset…

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