Part 99: A Promise Left Behind (Monochrome)

So I'm supposed to read a magazine about executions.


The article describes a queen, neck bent, awaiting death by the guillotine. Gripped by inescapable terror, she awaits the blade that will end her life...


You flip through the pages of the final issue of Executions Weekly.

"We regret to inform you that this will be the final issue of Executions Weekly. A limited run of the exclusive photobook is available via the included postcard. We would like to express our profound gratitude for the indulgence of our readers."

Man, where the heck is this other issue?

One moment, please.

Hmmm, let's see here. I don't see anything in particular, but... Oh, if I attempt to recover deleted data...

What's that supposed to mean?

'City Hall, third floor'.

That was quick.

It's not that difficult of a puzzle. Curious.

It takes me a solid few minutes to find this. The issues are in the Dorms, Rin's room in the SDF Barracks, and Res Ward C.

You flip through the pages of the second issue of Executions Weekly.

You see the shining image of a golden calf. Condemned criminals are baked inside it. Their dying screams are converted to the lowing of a steer by its mechanisms...

Okay I think I get it? I'm supposed to fill out these forms to apply for the photobook.

How is anyone meant to get this message? The world's been destroyed.

Well, I donno, but—


What the hell?!

Where did this come from?!

The 'World Execution Atlas'...

There are a lot of ways to execute people, huh.


Ahhhh! These are all so complicated and gross!

...Wait, hold on. 'Lingchi', the death by a thousand cuts. They tied someone up, then used knives to remove pieces of their body over a long time.

That's disgusting.

Oh totally

But that actually does give me an idea.

Really? Huh.


In here, perhaps?

Ugh, it's this guy.

Mad Scientist: Mwehehehehe. You find this kind of diversion childish for a researcher of my stature, I'm sure. Allow me to reintroduce myself—I am the Mad Scientist! My colleagues call me mad, hence the moniker.

Mad Scientist: Preeminent hackers known the world over, intrepid sailors of the digital sea, we discovered something unfathomable. Something that could grant us not merely this whole country, but the entire world... A magic keycode! Truly universal!

Good! I certainly wouldn't want anything like that running around.

Mad Scientist: As it happens, an associate of mine once told me that if I were to give this to any who might still work in our field, it should be a man named Richter Esslinger—and the fruits of my humble hacking seem as though they might be happy in your arms.

...An associate of yours?

Mad Scientist: He said he wished to assist you in these trying times, as well, and that if you were to take this code, he might have found a way to assist you more directly in combat, as well. But I must test your knowledge, first, before allowing you this power.


Mad Scientist: In that case... it's quiz time!

That's an RJ-45.

Mad Scientist: Well, naturally a man of your caliber would know that. Next question.

Mad Scientist: Assume that the password is compoesd of numerals and 26 letters, case-insensitive.

That would be 2,821,109,907,456 attempts.

How do you know that?!

Mad Scientist: So calculations are no problem for you... Fine, here's the last question.

That's easy. It's '7th Heaven'.

Mad Scientist: You've amassed deep knowledge hithertofore. You will no doubt be able to use this keycode. Very well, I'll transfer this to your database. A door to a whole new world opens for you. Use it wisely.

This is... a connection to a military satellite?

"To Richter,

It's been some time since we had the chance to speak. Somehow, I've managed to remain alive through all this. To think my old friend would be a hero who saved the world, hm?

I can no longer use a Gauntlet, but I am still a programmer myself. The program which nearly devoured me—I sealed it within this derelict satellite, but upon hearing you were once again in battle, I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to put it into a more usable form.

This is the controlled form of my old program, 'Stratos'. I've dubbed it 'Heavenjack'. With this, you should be able to use it, though I'd recommend doing so sparingly.

This might be a bit forward of me, but I've also included my e-mail address. Once you've finished with this world-saving business, hiding from these Dragons is tedious as hell, so do me a favor and let me know how you're doing. We can chat like the old days.

Your bothersome friend,
Heinrich Scuttler


Friend of yours?

Yes, he is. I'd love for you all to meet him. He's a good man.


you need two from the left guys and one from the right guys

Alright, got you that stuff.

Oh, now? ...I guess now's the last chance we'll really have. Alright, do you all mind following me to the Artisan Ward?

Sumie, you're good with metal, you got it?

I got it. I got it...

Wait! No! That angle is 25.9 degrees! Precision is everything in a laboratory, off by a micron and it'll be garbage!

I can get this one. Here we are.

Yes, yes! You have no idea how many times I've heard things like, 'oh it's hot, it's hot', mewling like spoiled brats! It's science!

Richter, start with some surfacer, then get the airbrush and finish the details on top! I need you to do it until you can see yourself in it!

Of course. I'll do my best.

Your best is very good! No scuffs, no marks—I know you'll do it right. Yes! Yeah! Get it!

...uh, sorry if I raised my voice there a bit. I was just, uh, a bit excited. But... It's perfect. You've all done fantastically! So, Youka!


Here it is! It's yours to work with! A weapon stronger than any bare fist!

...Kirino. This thing's enormous.

What? You can lift it. It's you.

You want me to lug this thing around all the time?

I believe I have an idea for how to mitigate that.

...well, I guess maybe I need further refinements before it can get actively used...

Hey, no worries. Yeah, this oughta work. I'll shove it in Fomalhaut's skull, how's about?

Works for me.

And that's four SEX Skills down. Speaking of the fifth...


I'm not sure what got me to finally stir out of bed and start walking around.

+20% evasion is good.

I guess I just needed to move, or else I was gonna keep spiraling down. So I got up and started walking. I headed to the elevator, hoping nobody would notice me.

I wound up wandering around Res Ward A. I guess I hoped that someone around there, one of the civilians I'd been working so hard for all this time, would do something to break me out of my funk.

Momo-chan: ...Hey, you.

Momo-chan: You, the idol girl. With the purple and the bats.


Momo-chan: Yeah, you. Aren't you supposed to be in combat now?

I wouldn't be any good.

Momo-chan: Oh yeah? Then make yourself useful. Go fetch my accessories from my room. It's on the room on the right.


Here you go.

Momo-chan: How long did you expect to keep me waiting?! And what's with these plain earrings? They don't suit my style nowadays at all!

But you a—

Momo-chan: Next!


Reading didn't sound very interesting to me, but there wasn't exactly anything exciting here for adults, so I picked out something trashy.

Momo-chan: A gossip rag, huh? Sure, it's fun to read. Frank sometimes. Maybe even salacious.

Momo-chan: Bring something more edifying! Poetry volumes, or great literature!


Momo-chan: Next! Bring me an idol's most prized possession. I'm sure if you're such a great idol, you've already got one.


Momo-chan: What, you're saying you don't even know what I'm talking about?

What the heck is she talking about? An idol's most prized possession.

Well gee ma'am, I'm sorry, I just lost my most prized possession. My girlfriend's dead. You expect me to go back to doing menial labor like nothing happened? It'd be a shame if—if—y'know, if I had no idea what you were talking about because we're two different people with different values! You probably don't care about Saingreed, he's just a megaphone to you, same with Otacon, he's just a guitar case. My 'most prized possession'.

Way back when, Miss Botan had given me a shiny little hand mirror. It was tacky, and I had to work pretty hard to see myself in it. Vampiric enchantments upon mirrors to reflect our image are a lot harder on such small surfaces, you see, so it was mostly just for looks—not that she knew that. I kept it around even though it was hard to use because it was a gift, but at that point I picked it up to show her how useless it was.

Momo-chan: So, this is what you think an idol's most prized possession is?

What does that even mean, 'an idol's most prized possession'? What does that mean? I'm an idol. I've done work. But my most prized possessions are things you'd probably think were silly. You know what? I can't even use this thing. But I keep it around, because it was a gift and that matters to me. I like the lady who gave this to me, even if she wound up giving me a sparkly piece of trash.

And maybe you think the values of an idol are rigid and something that can't be altered, but that's crap. What being an idol means to me and what it meant to you are two different things, so you can't just expect me to know who you are! I'm not you! So what do you think an idol's most prized possession is, huh?! Tell me! Maybe I'll have it!

Momo-chan: ...

Momo-chan: So you are still in there.


Momo-chan: You were wandering around like a zombie. I was worried maybe you were dead on your feet.

So what, you decided to bully me?

Momo-chan: You used to be satisfied doing menial stuff like that, though, didn't you? They tell me you were the 'Angel of City Hall'. You did stuff like that, day in and day out. So what's the problem?

Helping people is 'me'. It's something I do because I'm me. I do it like I do. You were trying to get me to do it like you.

Momo-chan: That's what having bosses was like for me. But it's different for you. You have the chance to really, really express yourself.

...But what's the point?

Momo-chan: What do you mean?

Chisa's dead. I... Chisa's dead.

Momo-chan: ...

Chisa's dead. And I don't know what to do. I thought... I thought she'd always be there. Things were finally looking up for us. I thought... I thought things were going to be okay. But they weren't. She... She did what she felt like she had to, but it wasn't what I wanted.

I'm being selfish. But it's what I wanted. I wanted her to stay with me. And she isn't here anymore. And... it's been so long since she entered my life that I don't even know what I'm supposed to be doing anymore. I'm... I don't remember why I wanted to do this. To be an idol. I don't...

I don't even know what the point of me is. Am I even really a real person? I... I thought I was. And people say I have all these impacts. But... But I can't feel it. It's like I'm not even really here. She made me real. I was real because she looked at me. Everyone...

Chisa's gone. Aunt Natsume's gone. I can't... I can't help anyone anymore.

Momo-chan: But you still got mad at me, didn't you?


Momo-chan: Of course you're a real person. You just... Well, you're going through loss. Anyone would have a hard time like that.


I want... I wanna be real. I wanna be real! I'm sick of this! Why the hell did this have to happen?! I want to be real! I want... I want to be able to live for myself! Without anyone I need to rely on! Getting abandoned like this, I'm tired of it! I wanna be real!

Momo-chan: You're going through a lot. But... you're tougher than you give yourself credit for, huh? Hey. Take me along.


Momo-chan: I heard through the grapevine there's a place you'd like to keep as a stage. Take me there. Show me what you've got.

Are... you serious?

Momo-chan: New era, new idols. Come on.

There's a Dragon over here? I thought we cleared them out...

Momo-chan: Won't this do you some good? You're angry, right? Listen up! I wanna see you fight!




Hey, you!

I don't care what you stupid Dragons do! I'm...

This world is my oyster. This is my world. And you can't have it. Everyone in it, everyone who's survived...

I'm the Dark Countess Mio Akaneno! You wanna leave your mark? You'll have to leave it under mine! This world will never forget that I existed!

Thankfully, the Dragonfly S doesn't count as a Dragon for the counter and doesn't give Dz, so using an Idol isn't mandatory to get the counter to zero.

The Dragonfly S is a funny little fight. Obviously, we're solo with Mio. With 2720 HP and frail defenses, our enemy here isn't very sturdy, but it has a rough 70% evasion rate—this is a battle of the dodgetanks.

Let's roll! I'll steal your hearts and everyone else's!

Tsukiakari, yurameku kage
(Moonlight, flickering shadows—)

sagashiteta hikari no tsubu
(I've been looking for a grain of light.)

Intense Radiation can inflict Blind, which hits Mio with another 25% accuracy penalty.

Todoku yona ki ga shite ita
(I felt like I could reach it)

nobashita chiisana tenohira
(if I reached out my hand.)


Mitsuketa seiza no namae
(The name of that constellation I found—)

nandatta ka na omoidasenai
(I can't seem to remember it.)

Eat this!

Shuffle Pitch is our best option here, since each hit rolls accuracy separately.

Itsumo yoko de kotaete kureta
(You were always there to answer me.)

Koe ga atama no naka ni hibiku
(Your voice still resounds in my head.)

Hah! Your feeble attacks couldn't hit the broad side of my castle!

Kimi no inai yoru wa zuibun nagakute
(Without you, the night feels so long...)

Kono mama mo asa ga konai n janai katte omou
(...I wonder if the morning will ever come.)

I use Cure Beat here just to jam up to Fever 3.

This is another two successful hits.

Nani o mitete mo, nani o kitte mo
(No matter what I see or hear,)

kimi wa tookute todokanakute
(you're too far away for me to reach)

Modoranai toki oikakeru
(I'm chasing a time that will never come back.)

Kore ga subete yumenara ii noni
(I wish this was all just a dream.)

Sora no ao, nagareru kumo
(The blue of the sky, the flowing clouds...)

kon'nani kireidatta kana
(Have they ever been this beautiful?)


Hey, you big jerk! Come at me!

Chirabatta kioku no kakera
(These scattered fragments of memory,)

sukoshizutsu tsumuide iku
(I'm reconnecting them, bit by bit.)

C'mon. You can take this, Mio!

Kimi no inai kyou wa mata hajimatte ku
(Today is beginning without you again.)

Kono mama mou toki ga tomatte kurenai ka
(I wish time would just stop.)


I'm not just gonna keep surviving.

I'm gonna live!

Gift For You allows Mio to transfer ailments to a foe. Here, Blind not only lowers the enemy's accuracy, but chunks his evasion, too!

Nani o shittete mo, dareka no ite mo
(No matter what I do, or who I'm with)

kimi o sagashite mitsuketakute
(I'm looking for you. I want to find you.)


Nagareru toki no aragatteru
(I'm fighting against the flow of time.)

Kore ga subete yumenara ii
(I wish this was all just a dream.)

All five hits land. Get dead.

Nani o mitete mo, nani o kitte mo
(No matter what I see or hear,)

kimi wa tookute todokanakute
(you're too far away for me to reach)

Modoranai toki oikakeru
(I'm chasing a time that will never come back.)

Kore ga subete yumenara ii noni
(I wish this was all just a dream.)

Momo-chan: That was it! You did it! You turned it around—pulled off a dramatic move! That was a fantastic performance!

Ehehehe. You think?

Momo-chan: They called me for encores again and again. What I want to do is bring everyone that same joy, that happiness we knew before, and new happiness we didn't.

I remember. I went to your concerts myself.

Momo-chan: ...I know. I remember. And I couldn't bear to see one of my fans so sad. ...I've... been through a lot. I can't meet my fans' expectations anymore. I've outgrown being an idol. But you—even through all of this, all of this war, all of this fighting, you're sparkling. I don't want that to go. I want you to perform for yourself, Mio.

Momo-chan: You're the one who can show the world what being an idol means. Don't let that die. Leave your mark!


Okay. You're right.

You're right. I'll keep going.

Momo-chan: Then right here, right now, I'll show you—I'll take the stage one last time!


Has this arresting stage presence truly been retired for ten years?! Its evergreen shine wouldn't die, even after a hundred!

Dance! Sing! Pose!

Without thinking, I raised my fists and hollered.

Momo-chan is the greatest of all time!!! Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

Momo-chan: Maybe you should be writing for review magazines, too, haha.


As the rest of them were getting ready to head back out, I ran after them. I hollered at them through Saingreed.


They stopped.

Mio? Are you... alright?

Hey! Yeah, I'm alright. You're heading to the Skytower, right? I'm coming with you.

Really? But... weren't you?


Listen. I don't...

I don't want to just... be shackled to the people I love for the rest of my life. I want to be my own person. I want to be unforgettable in my own way. And I can't do that if I just hole up and cry.

I have time to grieve Chisa more after this fight is over. She was trying to protect me, too. I'm sick of crying and lying around. I'm gonna fight.

If... you guys'll have me.

Why would we ever say no?

You're important, Mio. We missed you.

You guys... Thanks.

Hey, Koron. Before we go... Give her to me. Okay?

Of course. She's certain to hit true in your hands.

How's the resistance been?

Thick, but not individually threatening. We're stronger than these sort.

As we ascend closer to Fomalhaut's domain, they're likely to become more powerful.

Then it's a good thing Tokyo's real ruler is here to take back her throne.

By the way, loving the outfit, Koron.

If you're going to be like this, go back to your room and cry more.

Any new types of Dragon?

We've re-encountered the golden dogs, and the Criminal Dragons that made Tokyo Tower and Niara's domain their home in the last war.

Oh, yeah, I remember those guys!

And the, ah...

The lips.


Hideous beasts.

Frisky Soldier: If you guys are handling it, we'll be A-OK!

Bobby: Hey, hey, hey! All you monsters and Dragons, go home before you get hurt! The strongest people in Japan are coming for you!

It's nice having SECT11 on our side.

They're pretty good at playing hype.

This guy actually gets to do Typhoon Lariat! Typhoon Lariat deals 5 hits to random party members and can't miss. It hurts!

Here comes another one.

Follow Me and Rage Bomber is a good combo.

Natalie: Take care of Shouji's killers for us. Glad I could talk to you before the end!

Oh thank goodness, it's not one of the lip creatures.

To be fair, the lip creatures are pathetic. This one...

It looks like Saturner.

Let's handle the side passages first.

There's people here!

Manabe: Jeez, I give already. Thought I'd come here to train a rookie, then we got trapped in this crazy place...

Hey, gang, wanna see me have SEX?

I can see that whenever I want.

Prepare to be subjected to endless brutality!

Finishing strike!

Dread Crucifixion!

You just haven't realized you're dead.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, what the heck was that?

I've mastered the art of the Izayoi Style. The Code of Atlantis is a fun toy.

Dread Crucifixion has most of the other half of Ragweed Ammo's old inflictions—here, they're focused on DOTs. The damage is also better. Unfortunately, on bosses, it's not likely to be able to inflict its whole roster, and it doesn't have any actual disabling ailments. It can tear smaller Dragons apart, but of the SEX Skills it's the least useful. Cool as hell though.

Nice work! That's a pretty fancy trick.

So that's what you got the idea for?

I don't know how Masaki just assumed I'd figure something out like that though. Weird dude.

Oh, right! Were you guys on that hunt he mentioned for the, uh, the SEX?

Quite. Each of us managed something, at least.

I think I did, too.

i'm excited

No worries. Time to bring you home.

A bit unceremonious, but yeah, that's the last rescuable NPC.

I'm really glad you're feeling better, Mio.

I'll still probably have a lot of crying to do once we're through here, but letting out my aggression on Fomalhaut will help.

You know, you have a surprisingly explosive temper sometimes.


Let's see if I can make something else explode.

Let's roll!

In the dark of the night, as Tokyo's king of plagues chokes the sky with black lightning...

Erupting from the earth in a flash of ill light is the one beast of chaos that men may flock to for respite!

The Dark Countess, Mio Akaneno, commands you to fight! So fight on, my fell legions!


Like they're moving in slow motion!

Tokyo Arena Plus commands the other members of the party to use what the game deems their 'ultimate skill'—a max-level version of a different skill that they have innately learned. For Sumie with guns, it's Point Blank, a skill that she can only use on extra turns, as Hollowpoint Blank. For Youka, it's Quintet, free of restriction from D-Depth, as Quintetto.

The only skill restricted in its use is Richter's, since he uses a version of noiztank which still requires the target be hacked. Tokyo Arena Plus is a skill that changes in power depending on your party, but in parties that contain Samurai, Psychic, and Destroyer, it's an absolutely beastly option sometimes.

heef heef


Okay. Past here's the way up to the roof, right?


Okay! Sumie, Youka! Let's kick this jerk's butt!

You may not be Saturner, but I'll beat you up for SATSUKI anyway.

Let's kick some ass!

Demon Dragons are big and thick. They're slow, but have 5421 HP and 20% resistances to Fire and Ice along with a 50% resistance to Aerial. Their physical defense is quite sturdy, aaaand they're immune to Poison.

probably gonna need to shoot this guy a lot.


Ground Pierce is basic.


i'm just too good

Purgatory Blizzard can inflict Freeze, but is also guaranteed to inflict Downer, much like the Satanic Dragon's Purgatory Flames.

Giving me a damn headache.

Let's move fast, team!

Y'know what, Mio, give me a boost.

Sure thing!

If you need some help.

I oughta be good.

With Downer, this costs 60 MP. I had more than that.

Bring it in, Kirino!

Try not to break it!

Here, lemme give this a try.

Finishing strike!

Bunkeeeeeeeer Buster!

Can you please be gentle with that thing?! Don't toss it around like a paper towel!

Bunker Buster does more damage than Skyhigh Meteor—1950% to Skyhigh's 1500% in this game—but is single-target. Both have the D-Depth 3 effect. It does a lot of damage.

Megaweapon Project is a success!

What, uh... What was that?

We built a pile bunker with Kirino.

We came up on SECT11.

Will: Phew. Think we left the Empire State Building somewhere down there in the clouds.

Fred: Yeah, but we made it up.

Took your time, huh? Not that I can blame you.


SECT11 is digging in here. It's the best position.

You know... I remember finding you guys here the first day we came to this country. We found you guys a wreck up here. It was pretty disappointing, but... you guys are the real thing. You outstripped us so fast and left us in the dust... It's incredible. But...

I donno... it's kinda mortifying to get left behind like this. But I did wind up enjoying this battlefield.

I can trust you guys with this. I'm happy to cover you. That's... humility, right? That's the word?

I suppose so.

Yeah. That's something I'm still learning. Seems like a useful skill.

Will: We all really admire you guys. I'm sure Shouji did too, in his own way. That's why he was willing to sign up for the suicide mission back then.

You go and beat that bastard. I believe in you guys. And... I think the world does, too.

You set up a relay point?

Yeah. I had somewhere to go, and it was good for logistics.

Oh. Oh, lips.

They're awful.

Yeah, they're awful.

Fred: It's up to you, Unit 13!

23 Dragons remain. We've made it to the halfway point.

Let's go, guys.

Let's kick some butt!

Next time—

Five people left City Hall that day, heading toward their final battle.

That is when I entered City Hall. There was someone I needed very much to see.

To have a conversation in a public place would be quite awkward, so I called her body—transported it in a blink—to Unit 13's dorm room. Her body was cold, unmoving, and yet it had not decayed in the slightest—her form still remained whole.

I shut the door, and removed my mask. It would mark the first time we had spoken without it on in untold millennia, and yet I felt it necessary. She deserved that much.

My hand reached out to my old friend, as our physical proximity was replaced by an informational one—

one last time into the realm of reminiscence, but not simply to reminisce. No—I desired now only to speak to the true heart of this woman.

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