Rose didn't care much for Edge City, but she had to admit it had an impressive view. Though she had left the Silver Star some time ago, and it was past due time that she attend to the sparse accommodations that Bishop Rygi had arranged, a small hotel room, the young paladin had found herself wandering the streets instead, trying to find her bearings in the gargantuan metropolis.
Unfortunately, despite her best efforts, Rose had found little luck in the endeavor, finding herself at a bridge over the harbor as evening quickly turned to night. From where she stood, cars rushing past every so often, she could see almost all of Edge City, its palette of lights brightening the wintery night in a strangely ghastly fashion.
"It's a sight, isn't it?" A voice spoke from behind, and she turned to meet Dana, who had put on a coat and scarf, though her uniform was still visible underneath.
"I don't care for cities like this. They're too constricted." She admitted, shaking her head as she blew on her hands to warm them, fishing out a pair of gloves from her pockets shortly after. "Feels like I can't breathe."
"Ah, you're from the Kingdoms, then. You folks like rolling plains, cobblestone roads, all that old fashioned stuff." Dana mused, leaning against the bridge railing. "Me, I was born in a city like this, only lived long enough in it to know I like it better than the forest. Order found me when I was five years old, only took four more for them to realize I had a talent for shooting things from really far away."
Pulling out a cigarette, she offered Rose one, who shook her head quietly as the bartender slipped out a lighter from her pocket, taking a puff as she looked the paladin over.
"You're just like I remember. Or what I remember of ya." She chuckled, shaking her head. "Pink hair, big round puppy dog eyes, the works."
"I don't remember you. Far as I can recall, we've never met." Rose responded coolly, watching as Dana breathed out a billow of smoke.
"I'm not surprised. It was a long time ago…another lifetime, really." She shrugged with a terse smile. "It was a big party, biggest I'd ever been to. Figures that it was also in the middle of the worst few days of my life."
"…Party? Wait…are you talking about the Cotillion?" Rose's eyes widened, studying her companion intensely, as if wracking her brain in trying to remember. "You knew something about Cross, you said so earlier."
"That was his name, yeah. Pretty boy, white hair and all that." Dana admitted, letting out a short laugh as she nudged Rose's shoulder. "I escorted your group to the Royal Cotillion, I was part of Tor's detachment."
"Wow…I never would have thought that..."
"Yup. Small world, isn't it?" Dana huffed, tossing her spent cigarette over the railing. "I suppose you're friends with that Ivankronz girl?"
"You mean Yuna? She's a comrade of mine, I served with her in the war."
"Of course you did." The bartender's face noticeably soured at the mention of Yuna's name. "…Ugh, don't mind me. Bad memories."
"Look, Dana…I think we got off on the wrong foot earlier. Truthfully, I don't know a whole lot about what happened back then, and I was wrong for making assumptions…but that doesn't change how I feel about what your unit did."
"Good. Look, Rose, I don't want to justify what we had to do then. We did what we had to, but that doesn't mean we enjoyed it, or that we thought we should have been exempt from punishment." Dana nodded, pulling back her sleeve and revealing her prosthetic arm. "I gave my life to the Order, and that meant doing whatever it is that they, and the people, needed of me and the unit I served. I don't regret serving that greater good, not for one second…but it doesn't absolve me of the consequences for doing so."
"What are you trying to tell me, Dana?"
"I'm telling you that I accepted exile, and I still do. My unit is still my family, as well, and I can damn well tell you that they just want to be left alone." Reaching into her pocket, she showed Rose her service medallion, letting out a long sigh. "Lena's working for me now, she's got her own place to live, she's doing her best to live the life she can. Roxy has a family of her own: a husband and a kid barely older than I was when I joined up. Valen died before the war even ended, and I haven't seen Hayes or Drez in a long time, but Hayes was a consultant for the ECPD before we lost touch."
"…Why are you saying these things?" Rose asked quietly, her eyes studying Dana's intently.
"Because, whether you like it or not, whether you intend it or not, coming here and blaming us for things we aren't responsible for…you're messing up their lives. We served the Order, and we agreed to the terms of the excommunication…now let us live in peace, as we agreed with the Bishops." Dana pleaded, reluctantly putting a hand on Rose's shoulder. "Whatever's happened with these bombings and killings…this isn't us. We haven't been that for a very long time."
Rose didn't answer, merely taking in a deep breath as Dana finished her piece, turning around and preparing to walk away.
"…You know where to find us." Dana spoke softly, walking away down the sidewalk as Rose watched. "Make the right choice, Albrecht."