23. Sentiments for the Remaining Flower

Try as she might to go about her everyday life, Mireille cannot forget her last meeting with Kirika, and how she was unable to fill her promise to kill her former partner. Unable to find release any other way, Mireille drives the unwanted thoughts and memories from her mind with some intense target practice down in the sewers. Unfortunately, though, not even this pastime can be enjoyed undisturbed, as Mireille discovers when she is approached by an old man claiming to be a Soldat.

The man wants to talk to her, so the two go up to the surface. Sitting together in a park, the man tells Mireille that he has an offer for Mireille- an invitation to join the Soldats. Altena now has Kirika and Chloe under her control- the two candidates for Noir who have undergone the ‘trials’, facing off against Soldat underlings ordered to hunt them down. But there is one more candidate- Mireille herself- and that is why the Soldats are interested in her.

Naturally, there is a condition attached to Mireille joining up with the Soldats. Should she agree to work with them, then she must go to the manor and become a part of Noir, their ‘woman on the inside’, so to speak. However, as Noir can only comprise two people, that means she must eliminate one member of the competition- either Chloe, or Kirika.

It is a choice that is no choice, for now that Mireille knows so much about the Soldats, the only way to avoid being silenced is to join them. So saying, the man departs, giving Mireille two days to come to a decision.

The next day, Mireille has already decided on her next move. Having identified the man who approached her as Remy Breffort (thanks to his distinctive stylised cane), she travels to the building where he works, shoots his guards, and manages to get a gun to his head before he even seems to know that she is there. Having studied Mireille’s techniques, however, it is no more than Breffort expected. After listening impassively to Mireille’s declaration that she cares nothing for the internal squabbles of the organisation that killed her parents, Breffort tells her that killing him will accomplish nothing. He reminds Mireille of her uncle’s words- fighting the Soldats is useless, just as her parents discovered. And now she has only one day left to make her decision.

Distracted by thoughts of the past and of the choice that she must face, Mireille wanders through town, eventually returning to her ruined apartment. After reloading her gun, she goes to move the dying plant that Kirika used to water, but a flashback of Kirika in the cemetery causes her to drop it instead. Only then does she notice something untouched by the general ruin of the apartment- a letter that had been tucked under the plant.

Kirika wrote the letter before she left; beset by a premonition of the future, she feared that she and Mireille might be separated, and wanted to set down a proper goodbye. In the letter, Kirika describes all the feelings that she was never able to voice- the loneliness she felt, the emptiness of being one when Noir was meant to be two, and how the partnership with Mireille filled that void. Through her words, Kirika tries to express the depth of her feeling for Mireille, but has to conclude that a written letter cannot convey her full emotions. Reading those words, Mireille sinks to the floor, and begins to cry.

The next day, Mireille meets with Breffort on a cathedral rooftop to inform him of what she has decided. Seemingly unaware that she is in the crosshairs of Breffort’s hidden snipers, Mireille informs Breffort that she will go to the manor as requested, but for her own reasons, not those of the Soldats.

Breffort questions Mireille’s decision not to fully join them and share in the vast power at their command, but that is not what she wants. Her own parents forsook both their power and their lives to protect her from the darkness a life with the Soldats would have brought her- the same darkness that has infiltrated Kirika’s heart.

As they continue to talk, Breffort notices that Mireille has her hand in her gun-bag. Worrying that she may still try something, he raises his cane, a silent signal to the hidden snipers to pull the trigger once he raps it on the ground.

As the cathedral clock chimes the hours, Breffort wait for Mireille to make her move, but wisely, she does nothing. As he signals the snipers to stand down, Breffort acknowledges his acceptance of Mireille’s decision, and tells her the location of the manor. He reminds Mireille that even if she survives the darkness lurking in the manor, that same darkness exists throughout the world. For Mireille to be truly victorious, then she may have to fight the entire world- but if that is what she intends, then good luck to her.

And just as the manor is to be Mireille’s destination, so it is already Kirika’s, as she makes the final leg of the journey that Mireille is soon to face. Walking through the vineyards, Kirika approaches the manor, where Altena awaits to greet her. As Altena welcomes her errant charge, Kirika responds in kind. She has finally come home…

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