...I didn't know then.
I still wondered about Iod, and whether I was right about them. I wondered about what memories Emille could've been reminded of by me. I wondered about why I knew the names of the dragons, and where my various pieces of other unusual knowledge came from. There were a number of things I wondered about. But those were all idle concerns, not so important as waking up on the day of my final battle.
I didn't know anything.
I didn't know anything at all.
There's a video game. You've probably heard of it—you might recognize it just from this quote. The villain is a cloaked man obsessed with knowledge, with finding out what lies beyond gates ever deeper into the depths of madness. The protagonist, a boy from a small chain of the islands, tells him that he's going to leave his islands and go out and see the world. The villain tells him this:
"A meaningless effort. One who knows nothing can understand nothing."
In that story, the boy proves the man wrong. He goes out and sees the world, finds his lost friends and meets new ones. In the end, he finds fundamental truths that the villain, so obsessed with scientific knowledge, could never understand, and that is the villain's downfall.
That's the story of a hero. A hero who has a good heart that leads him to victory is the protagonist of that story.
I am not a hero. I never was. From the instant I was born into this world, I was never a hero. I am not a 'hunter', either. Hunters are heroes, chosen by the planet itself to defend it. My friends were heroes. Richter, Koron, Youka, Sumie, they were heroes.
No... I didn't know anything at all. Not about the world, and about myself. And any attempt to understand was meaningless because I didn't know. Because I... refused to know.
Part 43: Material Delights
I woke up that day like any other. By my bedside lay Ame-no-Murakumo, Takehaya's blade. All of our armaments were already ready to go. I was the last one to awaken.
Babe, babe, get this! They finally started dating!
...Huh? Who did?
Geez, say it, don't spray it.
Koron and Satsuki did!
I ran right over and put my hands on Koron's shoulders, since Satsuki was busy dying of embarrassment in the corner.
You are? You did? Congratulations! Congratulations to both of you!
dies in a corner
Geez, I can't so much as get a girlfriend around you people. You're impossible.
I, for one, am very happy that circumstances have happened to work out such that this could occur!
It's a good thing you got that referral.
For the life-saving reason, mostly, of course.
Eeeee I'm so happy for you two!
Alright, more reason than ever to make this one count!
There was an unusual level of pep to Jeanne's voice, too.
Ehehehehe, I just couldn't sleep! I bet you think I'm such a little kid, but I'm just so amazingly excited!
Before the connection cut out, though, I heard faintly in the distance Miroku's voice.
...You know we can't keep it from her fore—
But I passed it off as an illusion of my ears, and we headed out.
So when did this happen?
Just last night, actually. I figured it would do her some good to get it off her chest before we went out today.
For the record she's right but I'm still very flustered. You just can't tell because I'm wearing my serious face.
You two were basically dating anyway for a while there so I'm not surprised but I'm very happy.
Naturally. Who wouldn't be? Now I can use my newfound power to reverse the power dynamic and bother her instead.
I stopped in my path for a moment when I saw Aitelle.
You left the room last night, yeah? Did you see it happen?
Give her some time, then.
Everyone really was here this time—even Miya had been dragged out of her post behind the front desk and into the conference room this time. Daigo, Neko, Jeanne, Miroku, Rin, Makita, Waji, Keima, Reimi, Miya, Kirino... and the six of us. City Hall had really become a colorful place, hadn't it.
Hey, you're here. Surprisingly early.
Nothing left for us to do but go.
Unit 13, we're gonna get you up that tower safely—and then all the way back down!
Private Makita: They haven't seen anything yet! We're gonna hit 'em with everything we've got!
Mrowrrrrrr! Eh, pals?
...Yes, but don't make this harder than it needs to be on me, please.
Do you think it's going to go back to normal if we beat her, like City Hall did?
Who knows. But we can stay optimistic for Miya's sake, right?
I would appreciate that.
Don't give in to emotion. If we go with them, we'll be a burden—that's the kind of battle we're facing.
Ahhh, dang it!
Anything left to buy? Anything at all? Whatever it is, just say the word, I'll get it!
Well, not much we can do after all these votes of confidence, right?
I was going to give my best anyhow, but I would hate to disappoint our audience.
I think I have a good feeling about this operation.
I sure hope so or else we're kinda boned man
Let's roll, everyone! We're going to take back our town!
The people of this planet are strong.
Oh. What's the matter, sister?
I couldn't understand it. What did they have that was so special? But now I understand.
The strength of their willpower is to be admired.
...But I just don't understand it. I don't understand you, Aitelle.
Not the man. You're allowed to do whatever you like. It's that one.
Chisa, you mean.
You're on a first-name basis? Why do you put so much stock in that one?
She is a kind girl. She has a good heart, that wishes to live without hurting others.
'Live without hurting others', huh. That's what you think?
I know you think me foolish, Emille, but I have faith in her heart. I believe she will defend this planet. It is her home, and the world she shares with those she loves.
She is alive, Emille. She possesses willpower. She feels love—deep and pure love.
Really. How do you figure?
She and Mio Akaneno have been dating for nine years now, ever since Chisa came into this world. Their relationship has remained strong. She also deeply loves her four friends. Richter, Sumie, Youka, Koron... She loves them all dearly.
And you think that matters?
Ridiculous. You're ridiculous, Aitelle.
...And yet, despite myself, I can't help but hope on some small level that you're right.
Thank you, Emille.
Ugh. It's bothering me. Miroku said something when Jeanne contacted us, and it's bothering me.
Well, it's not like they're heading onto the battlefield. They're still back there. I'm going back there myself, y'know.
We'll go ahead to Tokyo Tower. Be back as soon as you can. Follow the corpses if you must.
Good luck out there, guys. Come back safe.
I split off from the rest of the group and headed back in for one last thing—simply to go and ask Jeanne and Miroku a question.
...Sometimes I wonder. What would've happened to me had I not done so? What kind of person would I have lived as? How would things have gone that day, and beyond? There's no doubt that deciding to go back was a turning point in my life, but I can't help but wonder what happened to the me who didn't.
But I did. I am the me who did go back.
...You. Yeah, you.
I'm begging you. While I still have things to do...
Tokyo Tower, the game's final area.
Guess he did his job, then.
Alright! With the SDF, SKY, and Unit 13 combined, we can't lose!
Um, orders from HQ! The barrier is completely inoperable!
Roger! Clean sweep of monsters in the tower! Divisions one and two, let's go!
And you two?
We'll go too.
...Yeah! That's for sure!
By the way. You look good in that.
Yes, yes, I know. Go on, then.
Sure thing, bestie!
You and Chisa have that talk?
Oh, um... yes. She didn't stay long. She'll probably be there before long, I... think?
...Well, there she is leaving the building, anyway.
She'll catch up, then.
The building was downright lousy with the Bloom.
...with some personalized touches by the event's leading lady.
Private Sasuga: Honestly, I still don't understand what's going on in there. It's beyond me. ...How about you two? You're the smart ones, right?
To be honest, the idea that she's managed to warp the space on this level is genuinely fascinating.
I have an idea.
The mechanism by which I summon zones of my own—
Babe, babe, we've talked about this. It's your Reality Marble.
...Well, I can't say no to a capital letters term. The mechanism by which I summon my Reality Marble may very well be a similar mechanism to how the Imperial Dragons—and by proxy, Hikasa—have done this. However, whereas I create a localized zone, Hikasa has imposed her internal logic on the world around her in a tangible way.
Private Sasuga: So she imagines really hard and that makes Tokyo Tower grow into space?
Something like that would be my guess, yes.
Private Sasuga: I would say that doesn't make any sense, but it's the last day of the war, I can't say that about anything anymore, man.
the view's still really pretty, huh.
Despite all the destruction, yes.
Phantoms are like the Wraiths from Yotsuya, except they actually don't have Sway React at all—they just have the status moves and Plasma Ball. Kind of a weird choice, but hey. They're also very frail. Youka blows off most of this one's HP with Destroy on Sight, and Satsuki cleans up the rest.
Oh hey, there are still people in here!
Yoshida: O-outside, is, is everything alright? I saw a bunch of people come to the foot of the tower, and I—I was too scared to come out, you see—oh thank goodness you're here.
There's nothing to worry about anymore, sir. You're safe.
Death Jackals aren't too tough. They have Slashing Claw, an attack that can inflict Bleed, and Blade Fang, an attack that heals them for 150% of the damage it deals, and their damage isn't low, but they aren't sturdy.
Hey Koron, get the one on the left?
Rush Shot is Satsuki's ultimate Gun skill, and what a skill it is. At base level here it deals 4 hits, but at max level it deals 8 hits, each of which have a small chance to crit. Its max damage multiplier there is 656%, so it's the kind of direct damage skill Gun Trickster really wants for endgame. Costly, but it's very fun.
Oh yeah, she's not here yet.
...Whaddya suppose is taking her so long?
It is a big city.
Ah, the first line of defense. You two ready?
It hasn't been that long since we fought the base form of these guys, but Aegis Dragons are chunkier and have a very particular new trick up their sleeves.
Please watch out! It's going to attempt to follow up a successful parry!
So I trashed all the Daiba Shield Dragons, but while they have their shield up, they can use it to enter a guard stance where they counterattack if you hit them. This takes it a step further—they'll get an extra turn if they successfully do that.
Like so. It, however, only counters melee attacks. Sooo...
And with that, it's low enough here for...
The break. Aegis Dragons have 3800 HP, by the way.
Get outta here!
That was awfully bold of you.
Call it a maiden being fickle.
You are as far from a 'maiden' as I've ever met, Youka.
Awful ostentatious, ain't it.
Isn't she always?
...Perhaps she still can't leave behind Japan, even after supposedly transcending humanity.
We should remain vigilant.
Private Makita: They're so damn fast! I don't know how I'm supposed to catch 'em!
No problem, check this out!
Okay don't kill them yet.
That's actually not a bad idea.
We'll get the drop!
I think this is the first use of Satsuki's Cheetahman auto skill, which gives the whole party turn priority next turn. Very nice, considering...
Microdragons don't have any new tricks—they're just somewhat stronger Little Dragons. However, ah...
I've got the others.
And I have bullets!
Gnaw deals 75% ATK damage per hit, and with only 181 Attack, Youka is near-invincible to their starting attack.
Youka, I'm told, grabbed it by the jaws and spread them wide open with a shattering noise before delivering a headbutt into the back of its skull. It didn't get back up.
And she is far too powerful for them. Microdragons have 1550 HP.
This one hits Satsuki with the initial Gnaw and knocks her out with Spinedge Claw, but...
Comes down with a fatal case of Youka immediately after.
The third falls for Youka's Hard Target and explodes.
Private Makita: Whoa, nice moves! We're all behind you!
It really is sad. She claims to hate humanity so much, and yet her world has so much of it in it...
Pitiful. This woman is someone you can pity.
...Yeah, pity's the right word, huh.
Well, it's fightin' time again.
Oh what, you thought the final dungeon was going to have just one variety of Bloom wall dragon? As if. We've still got 32 more dragons to get through, so the game is going to throw everything it has our way. Dragonlords are the final evolution of the very first type of dragon we met, and has all three elemental breaths—Fire, Freeze, and Thunder—as well as Sonic Boom and Gather Power, and a chufty 4080 HP to get through.
Alright, c'mere, big guy!
Excellent footwork, ma'am!
—! Wait! Readings incidate this variety is—
OW OW COLD COLD
And here I figured we were done with this.
God damn it, quit that!
I've got this.
May the churning skies be your judge!
And here's Koron's ultimate attack skill, Bolt Avenge. It's costly, but it deals a ton of damage—Concentrate + Bolt Avenge is Koron's best offensive option for endgame. As you can see, it deals a ton of damage—she's finally closing in on Chisa in that regard. Koron isn't going to hit her true ultimate form until the second game, but for now, she's outputting a ton of damage with divine lightning, and I can't complain.
Thank you. You too.
I mean I didn't do much for that one.
You did enough.
Takano: That was really impressive... I mean, really impressive. You can just summon lightning. That's something.
I'm glad we were finally able to find you.
Takano: I've been in here since the day... well, that all THAT happened. By this point, there are only three of us still in the tower, I think, me and two of my coworkers. We all got caught unawares, but that new hire we got was awfully sneaky. Hopefully she's still alright.
Takano: And Yoshida—
We've already found him, ma'am. So there should be one more person left to find.
LOOT LOOT LOOT LOOT LOOT
Damn, you weren't kidding. This other waitress must really know how to hoard 'em.
The Stealth Jet is high-tier armor for Psychics and Hackers. We already have the Kitty Parka and Sober Slacks, so it's not useful to us, but it might come in handy for a player who's not doing sidequests or something.
Alright, and back here...
One moment, Major Dojima. Satsuki?
Looking for a civilian.
Oh, with her weird nose thing. Gotcha.
Much like the earlier Nymphs, Darkgrasses have Paralysis Scales, as well as a Stone Scale to inflict Petrify. They're weak to getting hit.
Ah, we have punctuation. We're getting closer.
Heef heef. Heef heef.
There you are!
Koron ran up to this woman at quite the pace. For her part, the woman visibly gaped upon seeing her.
Flashy Woman: Wha—Naga-chan?! You're still alive?!
I should be asking you that! I've been looking for you for months!
Flashy Woman: Wait wait wait wait. I recognize those armbands. You actually joined up with that old bag's organization?!
Well, she doesn't really run it anymore. She's abdicated. In fact, she's at the top of the tower waiting for me to go kill her and end this whole dragon business.
Flashy Woman: Whoa. What? For real?
Oh, very for real. I am a member of Murakumo now, but our unit is fairly self-governing and was even before Hikasa decided to drop the pretenses. I'm now Vice-Captain Koron Nagataka of the Dragon-Elimination Strike Team, Murakumo Unit 13. We've spent the last half a year or so systematically eliminating the Imperial Dragons, and Hikasa is our last obstacle here—she's picked the wrong side.
Flashy Woman: Ohhh my god, by the way, happy belated birthday!
Like I told them, celebrate my twenty-first.
So are we going to get introductions or...
Oh, yes. Sorry. This is Ageha. I've mentioned her before.
Oh! Wow, I totally thought you were dead.
Ageha: Super reasonable, tbh. I'd think I was dead too. So you've got like, a ragtag team of superheroes with you now?
The tall, motherly figure with the impressive physique is Youka. Lovely woman, I swear, even if her fists are currently covered in blood.
It's an occupational hazard.
The fashionable boy with the brightly-colored scarf and the sweater vest is Richter. He uses infophysics to hack the dragons' personal informational fields, and he minored in chakram throwing. A very handy man to have around, and he loves bugs.
It's true, I do in fact love bugs.
Chisa, our captain, isn't here at the moment, but she's easy to fluster and easy to read, very charming girl. Her girlfriend Mio does our note-taking and organization, and I hear she writes a good manga.
Oh, geez. Now I'm the one getting flustered.
Ageha: Eh? Eh?? My little Naga-chan getting flustered? Can it be??
Shut up for a second. This is...
Well, most people call her Satsuki—it's her online handle—but this is Sumie. She's my girlfriend.
YOROSHIKU TO MEET YOU
PLEASED TO ONEGAISHIMASU
Ageha: Ohhhh my god. You finally found someone! I knew there had to be a reason you were smiling again. I figured after that business at Okitama you were gonna be celibate until you died.
What is that supposed to mea—
No, actually, I can fully understand why you'd think that.
PLEASE TANOMU ME GENTLY??
It's been a pleasure working with Koron and getting to know her family, too. She really has grown a lot, I'd say.
Very much so.
Ageha: Yeah! She's smiling again! Man, it's like...
Ageha: Oh, it's like that guy! The one you told me about.
I tell you about many 'guys'.
Ageha: Phineas Gage, that was it!
You... remember me telling you about that? That was nine years ago.
Ageha: I remember a lot of things you tell me about.
You people are impossible. I—
Why am I being like this in a warzone.
Anyway, just pull on this and you'll get back to City Hall.
Ageha: Whoaaa, neat. Okey-doke, good luck on that whole killing the old bag thing!
And with that, Ageha rounds out our collection of rescuable NPCs—she's 75/75.
Oh she's gone okay
We're gonna have to work on this.
The Pescado is the second-best dagger.
Okay, we're back.
Then let's roll!
Criminy there are a lot of stairs here.
We are going rather high.
Ah, great. An intersection.
That one is fast. Please be careful it doesn't get the drop on you!
Interestingly, while it will always use a breath skill on the second action of its first turn, which elemental breath Dragonlords use is randomized.
...I fuck around with Parry Shield and Venom Boost a bit overmuch and nearly die from it, but hey, a win's a win.
Ah, wonderful. I'm parched.
You okay to keep going on the front?
Yeah, I am. I'm not that tired yet, and if I don't give it my all now, when am I going to?
You, meanwhile, need to quit letting yourself get hurt.
To be fair that breath stuff hurts like a lot.
I would expect Youka to be taking more damage, but I suppose she's simply that robust.
Aaand nothing. It's a dead end. Great. I love those.
Oh hold on, let me square up.
Geez, these bastards are fast.
Solving that health problem now!
I believe we're making good progress through this floor.
My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined.
"Gosh, Satsuki, but it's better that we have it just in case!"
One fight later...
"See? I was right!"
i will accept this outcome
I believe this is the path forward for us, then.
Gwah! Another puppy room!
puppy room clear.
Take my word for it, the other path is actually just a dead end.
Private Makita: We'll stop any Dragons from following you up. You just focus on doing your job.
You guys gonna be okay by yourselves?
The SDF isn't a damn kindergarten. Hurry up and go!
Thanks, guys. We'll try and hurry for you.
Daigo and Neko hurried off, but before we could—
Private Sasuga: Hey, make a fist for a second, okay? C'mon, I just wanna bump it real quick.
Private Sasuga: Alright! Now your fist is imbued with my spirit!
Private Sakon: Don't worry about us here. No matter what happens, Rin, our goddess of victory, will watch over us.
Private Makita: Ikoma risking it all for Rin... Rin risking it all for you... Yeah, we've got your back.
Private Kamachi: I can't see through the mists above in this crazy, messed-up tower.
Next time, we continue scaling Tokyo Tower.
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