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Recap / Albedo Erma Felna EDF Volume Two Number Ten

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Erma's gonna need more than a broom and a dustpan to clean up this mess.
NOTE: The Gallacci's uploading of this issue in his personal homepage omits the epilogue entirely, maybe because it was intended to be the definitive ending of the whole series, at least at first. For the sake of completeness, it will be included at the end.
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This issue not only marks the end of the Dornthant sub-arc, but also is also the end of the First Arc as a whole, since the foundations of the Albedo universe undergo a very drastic change from this issue onwards.

The story begins more or less where it left off, at least with respect to Erma, to which we see that she is heading for the command center, but before that happened she falls to the ground after seeing a bright light from the explosion of one of the Hassakennal projectiles that impacted the planet.

But that wasn't the worst thing that had ever happened: The Net told Erma that the projectile could have made an impact on Annahport, her hometown and where her family lived, while she was 300 km away. While that happened, both she and the rest of the EDF members who were with her saw an ionization trail left by the Hassakennal shells in Dornthant skies. Erma, obviously panicky when she heard that her hometown could have been destroyed, asked for reports of what had happened there, which the Net informs her that the projectile had impacted the southern part of the city and the shock wave produced by the explosion was spreading, although the damage had been reduced in some way. Erma asked the computer if there was anything she could do, which the Net explains that there are already warnings all over the planet about the catastrophe, and that the population had already taken refuge, but the shockwaves of the Hassakennal shells were expanding, while the computer explained that it had no way to communicate with Annahport or verify what had happened there.

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Once she was up on her feet and managed to reach the command center, Erma asked her men if they already knew what was going on until now, which they only knew the basics to help. For the time being, the only thing Erma and company could do was to coordinate the relief and rescue work, while organizing the planetary defenses against the ILR, but at the same time they had to take care of Tavas and his followers, who were located in the city of Abennea and most likely they would try to stop them. Everyone wondered why they would want to do that, which Erma explained that Tavas, along with some corrupt members of the EDF, managed to manipulate the Net for their own personal benefit, but fortunately for her and others, an independent program from the Net was helping them right now. Thanks to this, now Erma and the people who were still loyal to the current government could help those affected by the attack on the planet perpetrated by the ILR, not to mention that they now have to take care of both Tavas and his followers, who did not care that millions of their own citizens could die at the hands of the ILR, but for the moment that could wait until the whole situation is solved and the lives of the people of Dornthant are saved.

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And speaking of Tavas, the aforementioned Feline was trying to find out what was going on at the time and because his enemies were deploying defenses to counteract the ILR attack, while they were trying to help the survivors. To make it worse for him, Erma and company refused to acknowledge his authority, even though she did not assert hers. Seeing that Erma was meddling in his plans, Tavas cried out to his own men to seek any way to give Tavas back his authority to order Dornthant's military forces, even if they had to resort to any kind of dirty tricks to accomplish it. In the meantime, Tavas decided to leave the command center to settle his own business, and when asked about the aid efforts by his own men, Tavas replied that this was the job of the civil authorities and not theirs.

Regarding with the relief efforts, we see Tasak Felna trying to help precisely in that, in the ruins of Annahport. He could not believe that the entire city had been destroyed, while all he could find were corpses everywhere, something that made him want to return home to find the rest of his family. While searching through the remains of a building, Tasak met a seriously wounded Lepine boy who was begging for his family, all of whom were dead. Tasak immediately went to seek help for the boy, who suffered very serious injuries, especially in his ears, while he could not help but mention the irony that members of the same species as the boy were responsible for his misfortune. Unfortunately for him, the fact that he had rescued a Lepine, even if he was a child, was not appreciated by some people for obvious reasons, which enraged the young Feline, who only did his duty as a soldier to help all the victims, regardless of their species.

At that instant, an aerodyne appeared in Annahport's skies, most likely bringing help for the wounded, so Tasak, along with the boy, headed for the place where the ship was supposed to have landed. But for the disgrace of both, it turned out that the ship only threw some rations and first aid kits, and then disappeared, without helping those affected by the ILR attack, for the anguish and anger of those present. Tasak asked who was in charge, to which no one could give him an answer, which meant that there was no one to turn to, and therefore the victims had to take care of themselves. Tasak had no choice but to become the temporary leader to try to help those affected, starting by trying to identify the dead and the living as well.

On the other hand, we see Alfon Voga, Erma's mate, along with two other co-pilots, preparing to take off on their own aerodyne, on a mission to prepare temporary landing areas and at the same time help in what he could. Due to his position as instructor and pilot, he and many of his colleagues knew nothing of what was happening between Erma, Tavas and the coup d' état that was being forged at the time, not to mention what had happened with both his son Rojigo and his father-in-law Kanoc. The only information Alfon and company had received was only the basics, and to complicate matters, all communications were restricted, so they knew nothing about what was happening on the rest of the planet. At the moment all they could do was go to see where the Hassakennal shells had struck on the surface of Dornthant, with the extra news that Annahport received several multiple hits from the same weapon.

And regarding Kanoc and Rojigo, both characters managed to survive Annahport's destruction, even though they were both on the street when the attack occurred. Kanoc asked his grandson if he had rested, to which the boy replied that many people had died and he wanted to return home, something that was impossible because it had been destroyed in the attack. Neither could both of them go looking for Erma, because surely both Tavas and his followers were willing to look for her and her family, and they didn't know anything about Eda either, so all they could do was to hide for the time being and then look for them later.

On the side of the ILR, things aren't as smooth as one would think. Ipcha Tankannahai realized that the mission he was on was nothing more than a Suicide Mission in which he and the entire crew of the ship were expected to sacrifice their lives for their country, something he was unwilling to do. To avoid that, Tankannahai asked the Net what the current plans were and if those plans included some kind of evasive maneuvers, to which the computer only responded that there was only one maneuvering plan and that plan was only for the original plan to use the ship as bait for the EDF to attack it. He also found out that Captain Barlahan had no plans other than to die gloriously in combat with everything and crew. When Tankannahai was already thinking on communicating with the captain, he thought of a much better idea: While the computer had no other type of plan in mind than to expect the ship to be attacked by the enemy, at least Tankannahai could exploit some gaps in the Net's programming by telling it to use offensive maneuvers in which there was a certain margin of chance of surviving any attack they might receive. To his surprise, he realized that not only did the Net agree with his plan, but it was willing to assist him in its realization, while he took care of the engineering details. Once Tankannahai had the computer's cooperation for his plan, he just needed to fine-tune a few last details next to some of his co-workers, warning them beforehand that it was going to be a hell of a wild ride.

In the meantime, back in Dornthant, Erma and her men were trying to figure out what had happened in Annahport through the news media. Although they showed survivors inside the city, the news did not show any useful information, but at least it was a comfort to know that the city was only destroyed from its foundations, compared to other cities on the planet, which were wiped off the map and all its inhabitants were killed, something that was no consolation for Erma, but she tried to hide it as best she could. On the other hand, she and the rest of the forces loyal to Erma still had to deal with the ILR fleet that was still in space, so another volley of ACVs were launched to deal with what was left of the enemy fleet, and to avoid further unpleasant surprises, Erma ordered the drones to function autonomously, so that no one could intrude. One of Erma's men asked that it wouldn't be a problem to let the drones work on their own, and she replied that she wouldn't doubt that Tavas would do anything to stop her, including hacking the ACVs to make them work against her and her loyal men.

And for Erma's personal disgrace, Tavas had something in mind under his sleeve, except that instead of hacking into the drones, he decided to take an even more extreme measure to deal with Erma: Disabling the Net altogether, including disabling the most useful and vital services, with the risk that the death toll from the attack will rise even higher. But Tavas was willing to do anything to keep Erma from interfering with his plans, and if anyone is going to die, so be it.

In space, things were beginning to get really ugly for Captain Barlahan's ship and his crew, as the ACVs deployed by forces loyal to Erma began attacking his ship mercilessly. Fortunately, and thanks to the plans of both Tankannhai and the Net, the ship was able to emerge intact from such a massive counterattack, and for even greater luck, the ship was able to leave Dorthantii space without further problems.

Returning back to Dornthant, Alfon Voga and another co-pilot flying along him fly over one of the cities that were impacted by the Hassakennal shells, or at least what's left of it. Obviously, both were horrified to see the magnitude of the destruction caused by such a weapon and like no one else in the city survived, with the exception of those who lived in the surrounding area.

And when it seemed that things couldn't get any worse, tragedy strikes, as Alfon's aerodyne stopped completely in mid-air, leaving him and the rest of the crew unable to control the aircraft. In spite of the tragic situation in which everyone inside the aerodyne found themselves, the only thing they can do is to ask themselves why the Net was not working, something that had never happened before and less in such circumstances. While this happened, the aircraft, which for all practical purposes was a Flying Brick, plunged to the ground uncontrollably. The crew, in spite of everything, remained calm at all times, and Alfon, despite the fact that he was going to die, could only make a sick joke and then commented that he was going to write a note and leave it stored somewhere to survive the impact. Alfon's last words were a simple Sorry about this. Then the aerodyne crashed, killing its entire crew, including Alfon Voga.

On the other hand, and without knowing the tragic fate of Alfon, Erma and her followers had also suffered the effects of the blackout of the Net ordered by Tavas, as they had not only lost control of the computers, but also had not even electric energy, and without the help of these, they could do absolutely nothing, and the only way to light themselves inside the building was by using flashlights. They also realized that all intelligent systems, from watches and data pads to computers, vehicles and any means of communication, had been disabled and blocked. Obviously, Erma and company were facing a situation that they had never encountered in their lives, and it was one in which the Net, the Master Computer that had control of all the elements in which the life of an entire civilization revolved, simply and completely failed to work, especially in such a critical situation in which the entire planet was involved in.

For obvious reasons, everyone was shocked by this situation and they were all looking for who was responsible for this: Was it a virus? Another secret ILR weapon? Or worse, was it the work of the EDF itself, thanks to Tavas? Erma herself was furious, as the Net was supposed to have been designed to avoid such a thing, but unfortunately it happened, and she could only deduce who might have been behind this: Tavas Ikalik, along with men loyal to him, mostly crooked officials who were using the situation to organize a coup d' état in Dornthant. So she decided to send a message to order the arrest of Tavas and his followers, who were in Abennea, knowing that, while they were at large, there would be no peace on the planet.

On the other hand, in the Annahport ruins, Tasak Felna was busy trying to help the victims, who were still suffering from both the bombing and the Net's blackout, but thanks to several devices that were not connected to it, they could at least keep a record of the victims and survivors. But for Tasak, that was no comfort at all, due to the incredible number of fatalities, and the young soldier began to doubt his superior Tavas, who had not reacted in time to the situation. And when everything looked so dire, Tasak realized that the Lepine boy he had rescued previously had already died due to his internal injuries, causing the young Felna to curse his luck. And while Tasak mourned the boy's death, one of his companions told him about the recent news regarding what was happening in Dornthant's government, especially in the city of Abannea, where Tasak worked for Tavas before returning to Annahport. But the most unpleasant news about the issue came in the form of the news that the EDF, thanks to Tavas, had control of the entire planet, and that a group of rebels led, according to the news, by Tasak's older sister Erma were attempting a coup d' état.

The worst thing for Tasak is that he quickly realized what had happened, and unfortunately for him, he had taken part in the whole plan of Tavas without Tasak noticing it: Not only had Tavas Ikalik manipulated him, but Tavas was also the real responsible for the coup d' état, since he knew very well that his sister would never do anything like that, and more so considering the history they both had years ago.

Returning back with Erma, for some strange reason the Net was again operational, albeit partially. At that instant, a message reached the computers, and it was addressed especifically for Erma: Report to Government House, Abannea. She knew very well that the most likely was that it was a trap from Tavas, so all she could do was go to Abannea to see what he wanted, obviously with an armed escort, just in case.

Once Erma and her men were already in Abannea, she went to the place indicated by Tavas, only to be intercepted by some men who were at the entrance of the city government building. Erma had no choice but to obey them and come with them, thinking that they had probably arrested Tavas and company previously. To her disgrace, Erma realized that it was all a trap, as she is accused of the crimes of ursuping authority and interfering with the aid to the populations affected by the ILR attack. Obviously, none of that is true, and Erma suddenly turns against her accusers, as they, along with Tavas, are responsible for all these crimes, not her. Seeing that they were unwilling to listen to her, Erma requested the formation of an independent committee to accuse the real perpetrators, having as main evidence that they were using a program to hack into the Net. But it was more than evident they want to get rid of her in a political way, and they quickly accused her of all the charges, without any evidence other than their word, even though she had the evidence at hand. But for the corrupt members of the EDF, that was not enough, since they had their own evidence, at least according to them, including Erma's use of "an illegal program" (in that case, the independent program, or whoever was helping her anyway) and thanks to this they could arrest her.

Except there was one small problem: They couldn't prosecute Erma on their own turf, considering her own popularity, nor could they make her "disappear" in the same way, so they decided to do something better and much more effective: To send Erma on a mission to chase the ILR fleet responsible for attacking Dornthant at the command of a ship called DH588 to win back the grace of the EDF. Obviously Erma was furious in a visible way, and much more so when she was barreled and pulled out of the building, while she was forcibly taken to the ship she had to captain in search of the enemy fleet.

To end Erma's humiliation, Tavas Ikalik appeared in front of her, not hesitating to mock her in her very face, telling her how extremely naive and stubborn she was in not following the "rules of the game", according to him, with the intention of taking revenge on her for breaking with him five years ago. Erma could not say anything more intense to Tavas, apart from "thanking him", but she did say something that could remain in his head: That he killed her son and her whole family.

Once Tavas finished taking care of Erma, he and his men headed for the ruins of Annahport, where the survivors tried to live there as they could. Tavas complained that they were not dispersing or moving to other places, at least out of his sight, which one of his followers said they could do it by force if necessary. What Tavas could not expect was that Tasak, his former supporter and collaborator, threw himself at him with the intention of killing him with his own hands for all he had done against Dornthant and his inhabitants. Realizing it was him, Tavas ordered his men not to shoot him. Tasak shouted at his former boss why he didn't kill him at once, as he had already got what he wanted, to which Tavas replied that Tasak had already done enough for the people of Annahport, and not to ruin everything in a fit of rage. Next, Tavas and company let him go.

Tavas' men were surprised to see his boss spared Tasak's life, considering that he knew everything about his plans, but Tavas responded that he could not afford to make things worse, since the people all over the Dornthant were not willing to forgive them for what they did, so it was best not to give them more reasons to hate them further. In addition, killing both Felna siblings would have been suicidal for Tavas, given the popularity of both in their respective actions to help the planet, and in Erma's case, she was already popular enough to make her a martyr. So, letting Tavas go was the better course of action for everyone.

But Erma and Tasak were not the only ones who had problems at the time: In a scene without an explanation we see Tankannahai, with the help of the rest of the crew of the ship, had submitted their captain, Barlahan, to be able to escape the enemy fire in Dornthant and avoid being used as cannon fodder by their own country. Barlahan, obviously resentful, couldn't help but congratulate Tankannahai for saving everyone's lives, but at the same time, now that he had control of the ship once again in his hands, it was now his duty to arrest, at least theoretically, the young officer on the charge of mutiny and treason, something that Tankannahai expected anyway. Under normal conditions, Tankannhai would have been summarily executed, but given that everyone, including Barlahan, was involved in what appeared to be a new interstellar war between EDF and ILR, he needed the help of the mutineered lieutenant, at least until he could face a military court. For the time being and due to the fact that the ILR was hoping that they would die and that they would not be able to count on the help of their own country, they would now have to work as privateers, trying to do their best to make life difficult for the EDF. With regard to Tankannahai, Barlahan only adds that he does not trust him, nor does he expect him to do so, but that he at least needs his dedication to fulfil their jobs.

Once in space, Erma is escorted by EDF soldiers allied with Tavas, while she is presented to the XO of the DH588, a Feline (cougar) named Nagai. The soldiers gave digital documents to the above mentioned captain with their respective orders, and especially information about Erma. After that, Nagai gave the order to leave the space station to his men, while they took Erma to her quarters.

While the guards were escorting her to her room, they commented that they were not going to let the ILR get away with it, and that they had nothing against Erma. Once there, they ask her if things were difficult there in Dornthant, to which Erma responds affirmatively, with nothing more to say, and after they asked her if she was offered anything else, she said nothing more. Immediately afterwards, and with the lights of the stars in front of her, Erma Felna could do nothing but grieve sorrowfully for Alfon's death, the loss of her family, her home. and for basically having been betrayed by Tavas and those she once swore allegiance to.

And now, the legend of Erma Felna begins from this moment.

Epilogue:

  • Erma goes to the war in the DH588, but her war record will never recognize what she did in Dornthant, for obvious reasons. The real truth about her actions will become legendary in her homeland among the people, at least extra-officially and beyond.
  • Tavas ends up being the governor of Dornthant, but at the same time he becomes a kind of glorified moderator for the new military junta that governs the planet along with him. For his misfortune of him and for obvious reasons, the population does not trust the new government, and besides that, the epilogue explains that Tavas ends up being an irrelevant figure and he retired later, for fear of being killed by both those who hate him for what he did, and his own men.
  • Kanoc and Rojigo live in the ruins of Annahport, trying to help rebuild the city, but because much of their personal information was lost during the attack, and the fact that they used fake names to avoid being victims of Tavas' men, it took them many years to meet with Eda. With respect to Tasak, he would also do the same, but not before recovering from the psychological damage produced by all the events that occurred, not to mention the shame of having been partially responsible for destroying his own family.
  • Both Tankannahai and Itzak Arrat would be involved on their respective sides in the war. In Tankannahai's case, he will now have to deal with an all-out EDF ready to avenge the attack on Dornthant, and with respect to Arrat, to defend the EDF from a war-mongering ILR, with the help of his men.


Tropes:

  • After the End: Much of what happens with the Felna family takes place after the destruction of Annahport and the vast majority of the city's urban centers, and how they and the rest of the planet's inhabitants are trying to survive the catastrophe, since it is more than evident that no one on the planet has experienced something like this in their lives.
  • Anyone Can Die: Millions of people died in the ILR attack on Dornthant, and Alfon Voga dies as well, when his aerodyne went inoperative due to Tavas' shutdown of The Net.
  • Downer Ending: In many levels for everyone else:
    • Although Erma was able to prevent the whole planet from being destroyed in a single shot and the destruction was no worse than expected, she lost a lot of things in this last part: She lost Alfon, her mate and Rojigo's father, she was separated from her family, and above all, she is humiliated and exiled from her own planet by Tavas and the EDF in retaliation for interfering in their plans.
    • The entire Felna family was completely separated, leaving Kanoc and Rojigo trying to survive on their own, while the whereabouts of Eda and the rest of the family remain unknown.
    • Alfon died in what appeared to be a pointless and senseless death in the remains of one of the cities destroyed by the Hassakenal at the hands of Tavas, at least accidentally on his part.
    • Tankannhai will now have to fight in a war in which he never wanted to take part in the first place, due to the intrigues of many of the parties involved, including his girlfriend's father, who sent him on that ship for the express and explicit purpose of seeing him killed on a suicide mission. The fact that he mutinied against his captain to save his life and that of the entire crew only made things worse.
    • Tasak realized in the worst possible way that all this time he had been manipulated by Tavas in order to destroy the life of his older sister Erma and their family as well.
    • Despite Erma's attempts to prevent further destruction, most of Dornthant's surface area was razed, leaving approximately millions of dead and possibly never relieved after-effects.
    • And perhaps the worst of all, the events of this attack triggered the beginning of a new war: The Second Lepine War.
  • Dying Alone: Subverted, Alfon died along with the rest of the crew of his aerodyne, but he died in basically the remains of a completely-wiped-out city, with no known survivors there, so it's very likely, other than Erma, no one else would found out his whereabouts, or his remains.
  • Doomed Hometown: Annahport, the capital city of Dornthant and the Felnas hometown, is wiped out to basically Hiroshima and Nagasaki levels of destruction.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: While the planet and its inhabitants managed to survive the ILR attack, the cost was too high, since the vast majority of Dornthant's cities were destroyed, including the capital Annahport.
  • The Exile: Erma is exiled from her own home thanks to Tavas and a corrupt group of EDF officers in a desperate attempt to get rid of her politically by sending her on a retaliatory mission against the ILR.
  • False Flag Operation: On the grand scale of things, what Tavas basically did was to use the invading ILR fleet in Dornthant's immediate vicinity by letting them fire first so that they could kill three birds with one shot: The first is to be able to take revenge on Erma as cruelly as possible, the second is to take control of the entire planet as its leader and the third is to give the EDF a justification to wage a galaxy-wide war against the ILR.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted like hell, as a Lepine boy which Tasak was taking care after his home was destroyed during the Hassakennal attack on Annahport died later on due to his injuries.
  • Kangaroo Court: Erma is accussed by corrupt members of the EDF controlled by Tavas in a attempt to get rid of her politically without solid proof other than their authority and their word.
  • Kick the Dog: As if he didn't have enough with his hands stained with blood because he had allowed the ILR to bomb Dornthant, Tavas didn't allow his men to help the victims of the bombing, leaving that work to the civilian authorities, who could do very little to solve the disaster they had in front of them. And to make matters worse, the few ships that were delivering aid only threw supplies through the air, leaving those affected to get by as best they could.
  • Killed Off for Real: Alfon Voga, being notable for being the highest-profile character in the Albedo canon, only behind Erma, her family, the Arrats, and Toki, to kick the bucket.
  • Loophole Abuse: Tankannahai uses a loophole in the Net programming to prevent the ship from being destroyed by EDF fire. Fortunately, this turned out to be the plan of the Net (or whoever was controlling it) from the beginning.
  • Named After Someone Famous: Subverted: Nagai shares the same name with the mangaka of the same last name, but by Word of God it was a coincidence since he came out with that name out of the air and he only knew about him until the 2000s.
  • Not What I Signed on For: It is more than obvious that Tankannahai's plans to join the army and win the affection of Tahdi and her father, Col. Tom, did not include having to die for his country. To his disgrace, that turned out to be Colonel Tom's plan from the outset to get rid of him in a legal and fair manner.
  • The Sociopath: Tavas doesn't care how many people have to die until he has achieved his goal of humiliating Erma and gaining control of the entire planet.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Tasak quickly realized that Tavas, his superior officer, was manipulating him all the time to get rid of his sister Erma, along with her family, and in addition to that, take control of the entire planet.
  • Wham Episode: If you thought that in the last issue things started to get really ugly, that doesn't compare to what happens here: To begin with, many cities of Dornthant were destroyed in a single shot, in some cases the only thing that remained was a gigantic crater on the ground, sending all its inhabitants to a quick and painless death, the survivors can barely receive help and that's just the beginning. And for extra punch, not only Alfon dies, but also Erma is exiled from her own world by her own crooked goverment, and the rest of her family went missing.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: The reason why Tavas decided not to kill either Erma or Tasak was because if he had done so, it would have turned them into martyrs in the eyes of all the inhabitants of Dornthant.
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