Part 17: Triple Laser Phase (vs. Jigowatt)






Got a live one over here!

Alright, everyone ready—?



Oh! That kind of live one.



Doting Mother: Please, just tell me where you are, Takashi, and I swear I'll come get you—

Ma'am, we're here to rescue you.

Doting Mother: Rescue? I know, I should be grateful, but...

Ma'am?

Youka stepped forward.

I understand. But, well, your son would be crushed if we found him, and we'd left you to die so we could look for him. I need you to trust us.

Doting Mother: ...Alright. I'll trust you, miss...?

Fudoji.

Doting Mother: Ms. Fudoji.





Very nicely handled, Youka.

Nothing to it! Moms can talk to moms.

moms are tough.



Shining Solder: Great combination, huh? We guard, and you strike!

Do take it easy.



Alright, here comes another one! Koron, you ready?

Am I ever not?

There was that one time a few weeks ago.

Shut up and fight.





Gluhhhbb. I'm not a fan.

Not to worry, Captain



Initiating garbage collection!





The poison passed through my system far faster than I would expect, and though I was hurt, I felt myself back in normal condition.

How do you keep finding new things to do with that Gauntlet?

Intuition and hours in labs both physical and metaphorical, ma'am.

So. So.

You may remember I said that Luvshock was not the best move in Richter's arsenal. Neither is Feedback. Neither's Nanomachine 119, or Attack or Defense Booster, or even his core function, Hack. Fuck all of those skills. We are now here to discuss Trash Pickup, the best skill in Richter's arsenal, and what is frankly a decent case for best skill in the entire damn game.

You've no doubt gathered that in 7th Dragon 2020, all abnormal statuses, be they buffs, debuffs, or ailments, have a set duration of turns. Trash Pickup is a buff that, when applied, decreases the turn duration of any ailments present on the character by a certain number of turns, and any ailments that are applied while it's up get that reduction when applied. This reduction can reduce the turn count to 0 or 1, at which point the ailment will wear off at the end of the turn, meaning that using Trash Pickup, ailments can wear off on the same turn they're applied.

The vast majority of ailments in the game last 5 or fewer turns, and by max level, Trash Pickup decreases the duration by 4 turns, and lasts for 6 turns, at that. Even at base level, it's -2 for 4 turns, which is a huge cut to many earlygame ailments—I'm pretty sure that Tower Dragons' poison will wear off that turn if Trash Pickup is applied.

The number of enemies this throws a wrench at is enormous—Status ailments are varied in 7D2020, and enemies will oftentimes have entire strategies revolving around them, such as Tower Dragons here, who want to operate on wearing you down with Poison. Or, for instance, if Paralysis wears off the turn you get it, it can't do much. Or Sleep, or Stop... A single proc of Poison on the turn it's applied isn't liable to do too much. Some bosses operate entirely on trying to inflict you with ailments, and Trash Pickup can completely bollocks that.

And it's free. It costs no Mana! Ever! None! It's utterly free! It's a universal multiple-turn preventative measure for all status ailments that is entirely free, all-target, and—if you're dealing with the once in a blue moon ailment that lasts 7 turns, the absolute max—it can stack with itself, applying the duration reduction again on currently-extant statuses. This is basically never going to be relevant, but it's just that minor cherry on top that cements what an astonishingly good skill Trash Pickup is. No need to futz with accessories—just GARBAGE DAY your party and Bob's your uncle.

The one weakness of all these amazing support skills is that it mi ght get people in the mindset of a buff rotation, trying to set everything up so much that they're stuck in a loop of having their buffs wearing off. You can often get away with just a few—use your own judgment. Richter has a hell of a lot of hacking he can do.





Rookie Soldier: If you guys could smash that electrolaser now, I'd really appreciate it!

On it!



This way, maybe?



Nope.



You all might need to go around the outside.

Private Kamachi happened to be on this platform, too.



Thanks, Kamachi!

Private Kamachi: There's some first-aid sprays in that box over there if you need them.

THANKS, KAMACHI



LOOT

Still happy even though he told you?

that's just cooperation

Private Kamachi: Makita's got some more over the gap—







LOOT

Private Makita: Hi, Unit 13.

Hi, Makita.



Thank you, Private.

Perhaps I'll reevaluate my opinion of your organization a touch based on this.

Don't be mean, Koron.

I'm not.

We headed back to the earlier gate to the perimeter, and headed through.





Watch Soldier: The electrolasers are no joke, but watch out for Dragons flying around, too. Careful they don't knock you off!



Being on the perimeter of the Railcage, we had a clearer view than ever of Ikebukuro below. Holes had been blown clean through in buildings by blasts from the electrolasers, and rubble and the bodies of monsters fell from the tracks well down below, past the point where I could ever see.

Oh? Acrophobia not striking today, Chisa?

I'm not acrophobic, Koron. I've climbed higher than this.

See? We can all work through our fears.

...Okay, yes, I used to be acrophobic. There. I admitted it. Okay?

Right. Incidentally, none of you have found yourselves stricken with the urge to jump, have you?

Huh



You know, humans tend to overestimate vertical distances by at least a third, if not double. Those most afraid of heights are, in fact, the ones who overestimate heights the most. It creates a sort of feedback loop.



Fall! Fall! Paint the pavement red!

Heights confound one's vestibular senses, especially for those who rely most on their sight to navigate. Postural control is also a factor—those who are least afraid of heights are those with great posture, and those who do not overestimate the vertical heights through sight. These factors are why acrophobia is so common, as far as phobias go.





The French gave a name to the phenomenon I describe now. L'appel du vide—the call of the void. Many humans experience it—the urge in your mind to do something obviously self-destructive in, really, any situation. The High Place Phenomenon, if you will, is a common form—from high places, many will have the sudden urge to leap. In this case, those who suffer from anxiety are those most likely to feel the urge—perhaps because those same people are the most conscious of their own bodily reactions.



The vestibular sense, after all, operates outside of one's conscious mind. How one interprets it is up to you. There are strong winds up here, and Dragons ready to blast us off—but many would feel terrified even on a very stable ledge with no wind at all. Sartre calls it the "vertigo of possibility"— a sudden realization that we do, in fact have a choice, to commit a dangerous experiment in testing our own freedom. Perhaps the void beckons us, or perhaps it reaches back to the dream of flight that so many possess—perhaps those who jump simply wish to fly. I imagine it's the same urge that drives BASE jumpers, the lunatics, that difference in interpretation of the body's sensations.



How about you?



JOHN: PALS WENT HOME WHEN DRAGONS CAME! MY WIFE IS JAPANESE... I WANT HER TO BE SAFE!

THAT'S GREAT, SIR! WE'LL DO OUR BEST TO FIND HER!

JOHN: OH, YOU HAVE GREAT DICTION! HARDLY ACCENTED AT ALL!

I TRY, SIR!

YES, SIR. WE SHOULD PROBABLY GET YOU HOME NOW. WE'RE OPERATING OUT OF TOKYO CITY HALL.

JOHN: I'LL HELP YOU ANY WAY I CAN! LET'S BEAT THOSE DRAGONS!





Koron, why have you spent so much time thinking about peoples' inexplicable urges to jump from high places?

I pride myself on these sorts of things, Youka. You should know that.

Right, right.

What on earth is that?!



Somehow—somehow—the magnetic forces from the Jigowatt had managed to fuse together pieces of mechanical wreckage to create a golem, patrolling the perimeter and heading right for us.





Fascinating!

Trash Golems have high physical defense. They've got Golem Hammer, a single-target attack, Earthquake, an all-target attack, and can use Gather Power to buff their attack. Thankfully, we have Koron on the job, who's ready to, aheh, trash 'em.



This should lead us back in, everyone.



A soldier waved us on as we hooked a left, to find—



Waste it, team!





Electrolaser defeated!

Nice throw, Richter!



You okay over there?!



Rookie Solder: I'm not like you guys. I'm just a rookie—I can't face an Imperial Dragon in battle. But I'll be with you in spirit! Help me do my part, too!

Of course! You're doing great!



Another Bloom wall. It's out to the rim.

No sense in not clearing it out.









Gallant Soldier: This looks like a dead end. You should turn around immediately!

...how'd you get here?

Gallant Soldier: I leapt, of course!



LOOT



Aside from that, though, he was correct, so we did in fact turn around, back to where the second soldier we'd saved was keeping watch.



He really made an impression on you kids, huh?

Rookie Soldier: Of course! It's thanks to him I'm alive at all!

That's good. I'm sure he'd be glad about that.



Tower Dragon incoming!

We've got the drop on it.



Tah!

Ah, but isn't it so satisfying when they become speedbumps upon our path?



Another path out to the rim, hm?







Koron, something wrong?

Kkkhhh. Shit. When did I get thirsty. Fuck.



Good news! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!

Koron actually leveled up from that battle, which is why I didn't heal her beforehand, but I'll admit I laughed when I saw that water in the chest.



Back inside placed us on the right platform to tackle the final laser. I looked over to the side, and—



Major Dojima?!

Despite the determination, I could detect a tinge of sorrow in her face.

Unit 13, can you hear me?



The body was charred so black, I couldn't even recognize his face... but I still knew it was him.

That gave me a bit of pause. Satsuki and Richter, too.

Sergeant Ikoma...

He was a good man, and we can mourn him later. We have work to do now.

Right. I'll be your decoy for this last battery. It always pissed him off when I put myself in danger, but I'm doing it anyway.

...

Hehe. You would, wouldn't you, Major? You're a very headstrong woman.

Yup. I'll quit distracting you. Get in there!





And with that, the final electrolaser split in two from the slash of my blade, detonating harmlessly.



Major Dojima! Are you okay?



She was holding a wound on her arm, but she was alive.

What a waste... wasn't even in real combat. How'd I do?

You did great, Major!

When I saw you at the entrance exam, I never thought you'd be the one praising me. Funny how things work out.



Get over here and we'll see you off.



We headed back.

That was quite a blast. She's an impressive woman, to come away with that small an injury.

I think the SDF's gonna be in good hands from here on out.





From this platform was a straight shot upward—no more twisting pathways. The only way forward was to our ultimate enemy.



It is.



Rin formed into the line with her squad, and then gave her last order for the mission.

Unit 13! All troops, salute!



Private Makita: It's your fight from here. I'll be waiting for you to come back.

Shining Soldier: When that electrolaser hit me, it really gave me a shock. If the Imperial Dragon and the laser are alike, you might want some anti-paralysis gear. My hands are still numb.

Rookie Soldier: That laser is so strong, but with these shields, we could surf on it! When the Imperial bombards us again, everyone'll be able to defend themselves! How the tables have turned!

Private Sasuga: We'll handle our job. You guys handle yours—and when you're back, we'll eat like kings!

Private Kamachi: Laughing and crying isn't gonna help us get through this. Go finish this for us.



We won't let you down.

Wow, the troops are saluting me!

It's quite a feeling, isn't it?

This part's our job, fellas. You knocked it outta the park!







Yashima: I'm not sure how to describe it, but... just get me out of here, please.







YOU'RE KILLING THE MOMENT







Let's go, everyone!



The trail curled upward and upward, but soon, we found ourselves at the peak of the spiral.







Pieces of rubble floated in the air, stuck by the sheer magnetic force. Train tracks trailed off to nowhere. We climbed up the ramp.



There you are, you bastard.






As it turned out, the Jigowatt's personal platform wasn't made of rubble—derelict train cars had been stuck together into a great pile to form the arena for our battle.



A far cry from Warcry, the beast was quadripedal, and magnetic cannons twitched and adjusted their aim habitually upon its back. Its own railgun, an electrolaser that had caused us so much grief, sat upon its back.

I'm almost disappointed. You couldn't even have been a dragon?

Calling Unit 13.



...hehe. Everyone back home is watching you guys! Do your—

Kill that oversized turtle dead!

Everyone, let's go! Koron, Youka, you're on emergency triage!

The monster who'd taken so many from us recognized our challenge. It reared up...



...and roared to return the challenge right back.








It's been a hot minute since our last Imperial Dragon, hasn't it? Warcry was all the way back in Part 5. Well, here we are two chapters later, and Jigowatt isn't here to disappoint—packing a heavy 3,650 HP, immunity to Lightning (that's two), immunity to Paralysis, and an entirely Ranged moveset to laugh at your ideas of using Too Hot to Touch or Youka's conditional counters. He's a tough cookie, but we can do it. For Gatou and Ikoma!



It's got so many lines on it I'm not sure where to cut.

just go with your gut! your gut's smart!

Great idea!





Tch!

It's fine! Just keep trying!





Captain!

I'm fine! Just a scratch.

It looks as though those cannons on its joints are mostly for harrying us. Don't bother trying to disable them—go for the main body!



Softened him up for you, Richter!



Much better! Autokinetic feedback established!

Chisa! It's a high-temperature beast—try cooling it!



Seiyah!

Thanks for the tip! I think it's working!

Watch out!



Much like its Electrolasers before it, the Jigowatt was plenty able to simply lay down a chaotic hail of shots, laying into us at seemingly random. I took the brunt of it that time.

Trick number one. Clean Sweep doesn't do much damage in a single shot, but it random-targets you for six different hits, so it can lay on the pepper-hurt for the main course to follow—



Guh!

Then, just as its random blasts let up, its side cannon charged up a ball-shaped blast that buried itself directly into Richter's chest.

Richter!

Trick number two. Aimed Shot can't miss and it does big hurty.



Koron! Youka!

On it!



Really invaluable knowledge. How'd you even learn this efficiency?

Later!

As soon as the two of them had treated the wound he took, Richter launched right back in, his Gauntlet grabbing that spectral plug that I'd come to recognize.



I'm back in the game!



Another hail of blasts later, and I was flagging—but Richter flashed me a smile.

Not to worry, Captain! I've got this handled for the moment! Let's press our advantage while the two of them prepare!

Awfully confident, aren't you?



An interstitial shot to show you. Freeze has been applying 21 damage per action, and Curse has been adding on, too—by this point, it's already dealt over 100 total damage, which isn't nothing.



Directing the railgun's energy inward!





On the verge of falling, I put my all into that strike, and I heard the dragon roar.

WOOO, GO CHISAAAA

I love multiplicative modifiers to damage.



I'm helpin', too!

Since I know for certain that Satsuki can outspeed for the use of a Trick Handed Heal Aero 2, I opt to take my free turn really laying into the fucker by using Exhaust on Chisa and Satsuki.





Nice work, Richter!

Its attack was unexpectedly reserved... Captain! We should maintain caution!

hacking noises

We'll discuss this part later, but unfortunately, Jigowatt is currently in a point of its AI routine where it only has one action that round, so it won't rough itself up. However, interrupting it now is hugely useful. Hack wears off at this point, of course, buuut...



It's making our job easy for us.





With incredible speed, Richter managed to hack right back into it, and the Jigowatt couldn't manage to continue from his efforts to slow it.

You won't get past me on my watch!

HACKING NOISES

So yeah, Richter just got me three completely free turns. Assassin Eyes, the Curse, and Freeze from Chisa wear off at this point, but I was too busy giggling about HACKING NOISES to worry about that.









Richter, you're doing amazing! It's flagging already!

Don't get overconfident! I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up!







Well, that worked!

If my calculations are correct...



As soon as it let itself loose, the Jigowatt began to call forth the electric energy from the air. My hair stood on end as it gathered toward the gun.

Captain! We have roughly one more round of action before it's finished charging!

Satsuki! Let's hurry!

On Turn 4, the Jigowatt is supposed to use Rail Charge. This is a setup skill he has to use two times in order to charge up his ultimate move. Richter managed to delay it to turn 7. I opted not to Hack him this time because I figured my luck wouldn't hold for that long, but it's possible it could've delayed it even further. I was really riding here on being able to ice him before it went off.









I saw the grimace on Richter's face before he spoke and immediately knew what it meant.

It's about to fire! Brace yourselves!



All five of us did so, and Richter did his best to throw up a barrier—



Aaaaagh!

Aaaauuughhh—C-Captain!

—but that didn't mean that the full-bore blast of the Jigowatt's main cannon didn't hurt. The sheer force of it tore through my skin and knocked me flat out on the ground, and through my blurry vision, blinded by the light, I saw Satsuki and Richter flagging, as well.

Railgun is a guaranteed-accuracy attack to the entire party that deals roughly 2.66 times the damage of an Aimed Shot. It's Jigowatt's strongest attack, and it HURTS. I got overconfident here not healing Chisa to full—now, I'm my biggest damage dealer down and Jigowatt can go on the offensive.



Here! Can you stand?

Yeah, but what about Chisa?!



That's what I'm here for, concentrate on the battle—

Energy levels rising!



Before I had time to get back in the battle properly, the Jigowatt released a blast of electricity. I could feel my joints locking into place from the force.

Damn... it!

The final item in Jigowatt's bag of tricks is Discharge. It's not too much damage, but it's multitarget and has a 75% chance to inflict Paralysis—which, in this case, is a 45% chance to lose your action. Shining Soldier earlier wasn't kidding, and poor Chisa just happened to be the person lacking some equipment to defend against Paralysis.

Richter began making motions to do something, but the Jigowatt had clearly locked onto its nemesis—its side cannon fired upon Richter.



Ghhgh...

His Gauntlet was releasing sparks, too, but I couldn't make moves to help him.





Honestly, I'd never seen Youka run so fast before. She and Koron were doing commendably given how fast this had all gone wrong—but for the fact that the dragon was still acting, it might have been enough.









Me down, Richter up. Richter down, me up. Richter up, me down. It was getting a bit tiresome, and apparently my body agreed, because my limbs released themselves the instant the dragon's blasts launched me onto the ground again.

This is getting really tiring!

Richter, couldn't you use 119?

Not with its spread of fire—we need to be cautious!



Oh, come on! You can do better than that, bastard!

That's the spirit!





Then, of all things, it hocked up a ball of electric energy...

...and spat it directly at Satsuki.



Owww ow ow ow

Are you okay? Can you fight?

(you're doing great! you've done a great job standing up!)

Yeah, I'm good!

This is the best opportunity we're getting! Richter!



Tear into it!



You got this, Cap!



With this biting chill



I invite you to join them



in deepest Yomi!

Fubuki-uchi, a slash to bring forth the cold depths of the Underworld.







The Jigowatt's torso split, and its blood dirtied my blade. It froze, never to destroy another human life.






...Hooooo! Oh my god! I can't believe we got through that!

You did well, Richter.

Seriously! You did amazing!

Oh, I, uh—

Three cheers for Richter, master of the Internet!

Hip hip, hooray!

Hip hip, hooray!

Hip hip, hooray!

Oh gosh I was just doing my best I don't think I really did all that much to stand out I mean I'm sure that you could've done fine without me I—

Richter.

Yes, ma'am.

Take the compliment.



It wasn't as though Ikebukuro was going to instantly go back to normal, it seemed—it didn't right itself immediately, like Tokyo City Hall had done. And yet, we stood here at the corpse of another Imperial Dragon.

They did it! They did it!

HELL YEAH!

Hey, language, little guy!

That's what you GET! YEAH!

...apparently, Mio was there.

Jeanne, casualty count?

...Everyone's still here.

Er, we should—that is to say—

It would behoove us to take a sample of this monstrosity back to base. With that much power conduction, we might be able to improve our electricity prospects.



I'm sure this'll excite everyone back in the lab.

I didn't know how I knew where to cut, but I found something—something that glowed with that same green light that had slain Gatou, Sergeant Ikoma, and so many others. It was ours now. Once again, we'd conquered a threat. Humanity hadn't fallen to the second Imperial Dragon, either.

Oh, what is it? What—

Don't let her in! Don't let her—

I HEAR I GET A NEW TOY?

You're like a child! Can you wait for ten seconds before you start screaming?

Oh? Who was pouting about not being able to watch before I dragged her over here?

...really? Ms. Hikasa was... pouting?

I'm sure you're exaggerating. Her eccentricities aside, Ms. Hikasa would never—



Then the static returned to my hair.

...?!

Oh that's not good.






There's WHAT?!



Okay, well. I'm going to take a page out of your book, Satsuki.

Oh yeah?



AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA



WAIT FOR ME

Hey, I don't wanna die, either!

Shit shit shit my legs hurt fuck ow god damnit all that running around 'cause you idiots kept getting taken out if I DIE BECAUSE YOU KEPT FUCKING UP I SWEAR TO GOD—







And, as the blast cleared, we got to see for ourself—the Bloom of Jigowatt's domain dissipate and vanish, leaving Ikebukuro once more free of the Dragons.



We were all silent for a moment, being that we were on the ground now. And then—

Ehe.

Ehehehe.

Ahahahahahahahahahhaahahaha!

What the hell are you all laughing about. My legs are on metaphorical fire. I'm going to kill all of you. Every one of you will perish!

I held your hand!

Motherfuckers, all of you... bastards who will when the revolution comes...

To say we stopped laughing would be a lie. Satsuki, Richter, and I kept laughing, and Koron being so angry just made it funnier. All the adrenaline left our bodies in one fell swoop, and I let myself flop onto the ground for a while.

I was glad to have survived. I think that was when I really realized—I wasn't just surviving, anymore. I was glad to be living along with these four.








Next time, we repair an area of this building for exactly one person, who is clearly more important than the Prime Minister.

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