All right, it’s time for me to stop fooling around and deliver the goods on what I think will become the official Canan path storyline. For as long as it took to finally make this post, it’s missing information on decision points and some details need filling in, but I blame a lot of this on my lack of experience with visual novels and trust that my fellow writers can pick up my slack.
Anyway, let’s get this over with so I can go back to drooling over Gundams. Spoilers at 12 o’clock!
First, a couple of pre-route footnotes. The details of Exam’s introduction haven’t changed since the most recent draft – he still appears at Sverdlovsk, but nothing can be done about him yet because everyone’s too busy fighting for their lives and escaping Earth. Second, a scene will be added early in the Astraea arc, while Exelar is struggling with his decision to take the Imperium crown, where Canan speaks empathetically with Exelar one-on-one about the difficulties they share in holding roles that neither of them truly wanted.
The Canan/Exam route truly begins very early in the Astraea arc, almost right after the party manages to escape with the Berezina and the Intrepid cruisers. Being away from the threat of immediate combat, the crews of both ships begin more mundane detail, including physically and mentally evaluating the prisoners recovered from the Academy and during Sofiya’s rescue. Naturally, Exam’s results are highly unusual, something that becomes apparent to everyone after Sofiya gives him his unusual nickname. But while most of the crew quickly stop speculating, Lothair is unwilling to let the matter go uninvestigated and turns up as much information as he can.
After cross-referencing some information, Lothair discovers, to his disgust, that Exam is a vampire. Unwilling to stay idle on this, Lothair heads for Exam’s quarters, resolved to take some sort of decisive action. But on the way, he runs into Canan in what is not at all a chance meeting. Canan says she’s been keeping tabs on Lothair and knows what he wants to do, but she absolutely won’t let him meet Exam. Lothair demands to know why Canan is protecting Exam if she knows what he is, and what her link to him is, but Canan won’t tell Lothair anything. As the confrontation continues, Exelar appears. He’s heard the last few minutes of the argument, but even if he doesn’t understand the details, he demands that the two stand down.
Frustrated, Lothair realizes he has nothing to gain at this point and begins to withdraw. Exelar asks him to explain his actions, but Lothair says that it’s Exelar’s job to think critically in this situation. He reminds Exelar that Canan’s professional role is at odds with the modus operandi of the Arcanum itself, so of course she has secrets that no one’s supposed to know. He suggests that Exelar distance himself from someone like that as much as possible. Lothair leaves at this point, and Canan looks briefly at Exelar as though she wants to say something before she retreats as well.
Taking this cue, Exelar meets with Canan hoping to discuss who or what she’s hiding. Canan counters Exelar’s questions and concerns by telling him that she’ll introduce him to Exam personally, and allow him to find out what, if anything, Lothair should be worried about. Taking Exelar with her, Canan hastily barges into Exam’s room, accidentally catching him in enough of a state of undress that it becomes clear what Exam’s gender really is.
(CG SCENE HERE)
Terribly embarrassed, Exelar shuts the door and only exchanges a few brief lines of apology with Exam through it. Exelar leaves trying to forget what happened, hoping against hope that Lothair’s actions could be explained by his stern moral opposition to the idea of a “trap.”
The situation changes a few days later, as Exelar notices that Canan has become slightly pale. He wonders if it’s because of stress or something related to the Project; unwilling to trust his own judgment, he decides to at least try asking Exam if he knows anything, hoping that his concern for Canan might lead to some sort of forgiveness. When he finally finds Exam (not sure where or how), he sees something else he’s not supposed to see – Exam is draining Canan’s blood, and she is submitting to him. When Canan notices Exelar, the shock coupled with her physical state causes her to faint. Exam, still in a blood-lust, glares ferally at Exelar for a moment before getting himself under control.
(CG SCENE HERE)
He tries to spit out an explanation, but can’t find any words. Exelar leaves in a hurry before Exam gets the chance to do anything else.
Visibly shaken, Exelar wanders about trying to collect himself, and by chance finds Lothair. Lothair takes one look at Exelar and instantly guesses what has just happened. After he helps Exelar settle down, he scolds Exelar for not following his advice earlier, and tells him that it’s now his responsibility to deal with it. Exelar returns to his quarters trying to find a good solution, but realizes there isn’t one. All of them – letting Canan continue to be drained, substituting himself for Canan, asking Exam to starve, or stealing medical supplies – are unacceptable to Exelar in some way, although he does eventually choose one.
Exelar comes to talk to Canan about what he saw and what decision he has made about it, and ultimately asks her why she’s putting herself through so much trouble for Exam. At this point, Canan is forced to reveal some of her history with Exam, at least enough for Exelar to understand that Exam is a very special person to her. Exelar sees the merit in this, and doesn’t ask too many more questions. He does, however, ask Canan to schedule a one-on-one meeting between him and Exam, so he can finally meet the “real” Exam.
Canan manages to convince Exam to agree to this, and he meets with Exelar. It’s an awkward conference at first, but eventually the two warm up to each other and Exelar takes a liking to Exam. Exelar, with his minimal knowledge of vampires, had been predisposed to think of them unfavorably, but at this point he realizes he might have been wrong.
Exelar and Canan talk about this meeting together later on, and Exelar says he thinks that more of the crew should get to know Exam better, and Canan agrees with the idea, as she notes that Exam doesn’t have any real friends on the ship. Exelar decides to introduce Exam to one or two of the Heirs as a way to “make it up” to Exam. At this point, Exelar can choose to introduce Exam to one or two characters from a list that includes all the other Heirs minus Lothair, plus Kayeten. Picking Hikari and/or Kayeten would ensure maximum lulz.
Afterwards, Canan pays Exelar a visit and thanks him for what he did for Exam. She says that she’s beginning to view Exelar as a real friend not just to Exam, but to herself as well. Is this possibly a path-lock scene?
A few days later, Exelar is looking for Exam when he runs into Hikari, who’s doing the exact same thing. Regardless of the player’s actions, at this point Hikari has developed a magnetic interest in Exam for fairly obvious reasons. When Exelar asks Hikari what she plans to do with Exam, she says that she’s concerned that Exam doesn’t have enough fabulous clothes! Exelar says that Hikari should focus on more important things, but she pushes Exelar aside and continues her search. Trumped by Hikari, Exelar decides he should make the best of a bad situation by inviting Canan to see what exactly Hikari has planned. Another patented cosplay scene, courtesy Honya, ensues.
It’s not all fun and lulz, though. Lothair goes straight to Exelar the next day, more upset than ever. He tells Exelar that there are rumors starting to spread that he’s dating Exam or Canan or both of them, and that he really can’t accept the idea of Exelar being with either of them. There are too many issues associated with Canan’s role and Exam’s real identity – both simple public-image issues and more complex psychological ones. He also reminds Exelar that as the Scion, he is being judged – and that sometimes, Exelar needs to consider what the right and wrong decisions are not from his own viewpoint, but from the viewpoint of his people.
Exelar leaves this conversation feeling pretty dejected, and the feeling hasn’t worn off by the next time he sees Canan. She asks him what’s wrong, and he opens up to her and tells her everything that Lothair has been saying to him to this point – the main idea of which, Canan realizes, is because her job is to hide secrets and do Exelar’s dirty work, she doesn’t have any business being close to him and tarnishing his soul and reputation. When the two part ways, both feel even worse than before.
Canan begins to try and push herself away from Exelar, becoming dodgy and sometimes unfriendly over the next few days. It’s something that bothers Exelar, and he can tell it bothers Canan, too. Eventually, he takes the initiative and confronts Canan in a situation where she can’t avoid him, although I’m not sure what that situation is. Exelar tells Canan that no one can do every single thing for him, and that he she can’t do ALL of his “dirty work” for him no matter how hard she tries. He points out that she probably couldn’t have taken care of Exam on her own, either, which is why she can’t push him away now. Exelar says that he doesn’t care what Canan thinks of him or how she treats him, but he cares about Exam and the two of them share a responsibility to protect him. Canan gets humbled a little bit here, but Exelar makes a big impression on her here.
With their friendship restored to a degree, Exelar and Canan start trying to get Exam involved with more and more people and events around the ship, but there’s still awkward air between the two, and sometimes they begin trying too hard as though attempting to compensate. After about two days of this, Exam has had enough and takes Exelar aside. He says that he can sense that something’s not right between Canan and Exelar, and urges Exelar to make things right between Canan and himself. Exelar agrees wholeheartedly and also notices that Exam has made a lot of progress to be able to say something like that to him.
Exelar visits Canan in her quarters later that night and tells her everything that Exam told him. He recalls all the things that the two of them have gone through together, and says that none of it would have happened the same way – or maybe none of it would have happened it all – if they hadn’t experienced it together. Exelar tells Canan that he needs her by his side, because they’re so much stronger as a team. Both are silent for a moment, and then Canan and Exelar both make attempts at a confession – whether or not Exelar or Canan actually manages a confession at this point is something I haven’t decided yet.
And so ends the Astraea section of Canan Path, which is all I can really work on in detail at this point. Stay tuned for notes and ideas on the Penthiae section!