(A/N: Click HERE for a recap of Ep. 1-11, HERE for a recap of Ep. 12-22, and HERE for the recent news post/explanation if you missed it)

Author comments/summary in [brackets] — as you can probably tell, this is the least solidified chapter of the bunch by FAR.

Begin[The episode was intended to begin with a flashback explaining Rusli’s motivations.]

[I definitely did not set them up very well.]

[Needless to say, he led a pampered life as the only son of a powerful noble family — Kikue’s background was intentionally very similar — but after years of watching his father meddling with politics and puppeteering the royal family behind the scenes, he grew disillusioned with the system.]

[Kikue was, believe it or not, quiet and obedient, the perfect model young lady and even a bit of a daddy’s girl, until one day she filed an application for the military academy without her parents’ knowledge. She got in. She hasn’t looked back since.]

[But where Kikue’s straightforward personality allowed her to simply pick her own path and run with it, I think Rusli in some ways was both too noble and too clever for his own good. He began to genuinely believe that everything was fundamentally flawed, that monarchy was outdated and that the royals were just useless figureheads who allowed the corruption in court to fester. That unless the monarchy was dismantled and the royal line was destroyed for good, the people would only continue to suffer.]

[Basically, I was going for misguided idealist. But man, he really has NO idea what his father was really up to, and just how deep Mok’s hatred for them ran.]

[That said, his concern for Eguzki was genuine. He never did really understand the guy… and I think on some level that bothered him.]

[And oh, since I mentioned the “Miqa” figure was originally named Meilan, maybe I’ll add here that in the futuristic version of the story, Rusli was exactly what he appeared to be: a nice, well-intentioned guy who made a habit of reaching out to outcasts and people who maybe needed a bit of a welcoming hand.]

[In that version, he took Sita’s place in getting killed off and sparking the whole damn plot. Oops.]

[And just for the record, when I said that AUSOS didn’t turn out to be the story I actually wanted to write… well, that futuristic version wasn’t it either. Hahaha.]

* * *

[In scene two, Rusli successfully kills the king, who by this point has completely lost control of the Doll just like Mok before him.]

[According to the outline, anyway. With the way things worked out, I’m not sure that pacing makes sense. Probably Intan needs to fly into a rage over him first.]

* * *

[Cuz yeah, Intan was originally going to fight Rusli after he killed the king. Not sure why, since the motivations don’t really work out. The scenes probably work better flipped.]

[Also, would Intan seriously try to kill Rusli anyway? Nah. That’s not in her nature.]

[But trust me, she is very, very angry about what he’s done.]

[So yeah, Intan rages, fights Rusli in attempt to stop him from wreaking any more havoc, while Marius actually tries to calm her down — but the giant Doll has a mind of its own and leads the king to his death at Rusli’s hands.]

[The king, as he dies, appears to be witnessing some vision? Everyone hears his final words broadcast, something along these lines: “They really were still alive? You… so it was you… My…”]

[I’m going to take the opportunity here to admit that Marius is one of the weakest aspects of the story. Believe it or not, he’s actually extremely important to the overarching plot and was one of the initial “key” characters I had in mind along with Intan, Eguzki, the Headmistress, and the mysterious “Miqa”… but I think I introduced him a little too late for anyone to actually give a damn in this book. This is one of the things I actually have a very clear idea of how to fix — it’s quite easy to fix, in fact — but again, would require a complete reworking of the story. As things currently stand, he probably comes across as a rather extraneous figure every time he appears.]

* * *

[Suddenly, out of nowhere, Yusaku flies over in a Doll and shoots down Rusli.]

[Yeah, you read that right.]

[I don’t remember if I wanted the two to have a final conversation, and the outline doesn’t specify. Rusli, of course, would have been shocked and confused. Yusaku has always been very loyal to the family, for as long as Rusli can remember, and is practically a brother… with a lot of class-related baggage that Rusli conveniently chose to ignore. And by the way, Yusaku is actually a little too old to be a student, hahaha, although I’m not sure I ever hinted at that properly because Intan is terrible at noticing that sort of thing.]

[Anyway, they were more or less raised together. Cue “how could you betray me like this, I thought you were my friend, blah blah.”]

[But Yusaku’s true loyalties lie elsewhere, I’m afraid.]

[So Rusli dies and Yusaku is shockingly cold about it. Come to think of it, I’m not sure Rusli even confided in Yusaku about working with Mok, so Yusaku’s reaction isn’t totally unwarranted. That said, his past and the explanation behind this scene were also things I was planning to elaborate on in the next season, like all the politics, so I’d probably have just left things as is here.]

[Consider also that his ability to mask his true emotions has got to be pretty strong — Rusli’s father is one sharp man, and yet he’s tolerated and perhaps even trusted this guy all these years. Hmmmmmm.]

[Anyway, wrong story.]

[Perhaps more horrifyingly, despite the king’s death, the giant is continuing to rampage with his body still trapped inside. In fact, by the looks of it, it seems to be charging up… something huge. Intan’s emotions are resonating with it and screwing with her ability to pilot… or is that the other way around?]

[It’s at this point that a Hummingbird transport shows up. On it are the Headmistress… and Eguzki.]

[He calls out to the giant — some sort of apology — and Intan is half relieved, half afraid it’s going to react badly. She manages to get back in control of her own Doll and starts heading over.]

[The giant responds to his voice. It lurches toward the transport, still charging up for whatever it’s intending. I believe at this point there are only a few or maybe even no more smaller Dolls left; they’ve all been shot down or knocked aside by previous events.]

[Intan can’t get there in time. Nor can Marius and Yusaku, who’re also racing toward it. Marius tries to warn him off, but Yusaku mentions that he’s already failed to protect someone important to him once, and doesn’t intend to fail again. And that he has no qualms killing Marius & Intan if they get in his way.]

[But there’s no need for any of them to do anything. The giant comes to a halt and falls to its knees in the water right at the shoreline, before the hovering transport.]

[The transport lands. Eguzki jumps out and runs to the giant, placing his hand on it.]

[Its eyes dim. Apparently, it’s gone back to sleep.]

[To Intan’s shock, the Headmistress also exits the transport and kneels down before Eguzki.]

[Eguzki looks equally shocked as he stares down at her.]

[The watching soldiers are pretty confused. A lot of them do hold the Headmistress in a great deal of respect and they consider this behavior completely out of character for her. None of them recognize Eguzki, but someone remembers a certain unspecified rumor…]

[Yusaku says something like “So the time has come…”]

[The final lines are probably no longer logistically feasible as currently written, but as I’ve mentioned, they were the very first lines of the story I actually wrote.]

Her voice carried crisply across the gathering.

Child of the sun! Long have we awaited your return! Long may your reign last!

He looked grim and frightened and sad all at once. But then a slow transformation rippled across his face, and all emotion wiped blank from his expression.

His eyes were dark and terribly cold.

And in that moment, Intan knew she had lost him.

illustration by Vincent Suriantoso (ibunibun @ DeviantArt)

illustration by Vincent Suriantoso (ibunibun @ DeviantArt)

Thanks for reading!

If I haven’t totally lost your confidence in me as a writer yet and you’re interested in my future plans/other writing, I’ve put up a placeholder page with further thoughts and comments HERE. Or if you still have unanswered questions about exactly what was going on, feel free to ask here and I’ll clarify!

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