Part 28: electric chair

Forgive me for saying, but we have more important business to attend to—there's areas of the first level we weren't able to explore.

Won't Take get ahead of us?

If my theories are correct, he's not going to be able to move forward for a while. He likely expended quite a bit of energy just making it this far.

...I'm immediately regretting my decision.

It's just some stairs, bro.

I know, but who likes big staircases? They're cumbersome and tiring.

True, true.

You want me to carry you on the way back up?

Perhaps. We'll have to see how I feel.

She's allowed to carry you now, huh?

Why wouldn't she? I need to be realistic about my own capabilities.


The central ramps are oddly kind for such a structure.

An odd bit of accessibility, yes.

...are you alright, Captain?

Oh, sorry. Are you alright, Chisa?

Huh? What? Huh?

Oh, right. Me. Right. Uh, where... shouldn't we be following Takehaya?

Do you need to take a breather?

Pieces of the dragon manufacturing line sat below us, on positions clearly inaccessible by humans—the layout, I suppose, of a truly alien factory.

! Get back here!

Kyehahahahahahhaa! Freeze!

Hey, watch out.

I warned you.

Not the best warning.

...Are those bits of granite on her limbs?

She seems to be undergoing some manner of petrifaction.

Okay, seriously? 'Petrifaction'?

It's perfectly valid—

Turn to ice and then to dust!

Okay, but who cares if it's 'valid'? Just use the same word as everyone else—

Hold on, I've got you!

Ggh, thanks!

I thought I was out of the line of fire please ow!

Okay ow that kind of hurt thank you Richter!

Anyhow, I believe I should be good for a bit longer.

When I could see again, I saw a bit of Koron's energy coming back into her body—not literally, but it was in her stance.

Anyway, I think that the reason you like quibbling about words, personally, is because you don't like being honest about how you feel.

Don't read subtext into my words.

Too late.

One of Koron's auto skills. It regens some MP at the end of the turn. Handy!

Alright, I'm attempting to limit its movements! Please advance!



Anyway, as I was saying—

Is now really the time?

(I'm trying to be respectful for Chisa's sake. Go along with it.)

(Ah, I see.)


okay continue.

Anyway, I bet you were really worried about Chisa, and you were trying to hide it by looking smart, right?

What? No. I don't have to 'hide' being worried.

Buuuut you're trying not to show weakness in the moment.

See, I think that's really all of what that is. You're trying not to look scared, huh, widdle buddy?

If you call me 'widdle buddy' again, I'll light you on fire.

Go ahead, I've lived through it before.


Right, for a second I forgot what kind of woman I was talking to.

Anyway, what good does showing your fear get you?

It might make Chisa feel a little more comfortable about showing hers.

...I said,


Gah! What?!

I'm—I'm sorry. What were we talking about?

How Koron uses big words to be emotionally dishonest with herself.

Oh. Yes, you do do that, Koron.

I said, quit reading subtext—

And why are you so afraid of subtext, Koron?

...Subtext is something for stories. There's no place for it in the real world.

I believe it's best to say exactly what I think. That way, nobody will be able to reinterpret me after I'm gone.

'Reinterpret you'...

That actually managed to break through to me for a moment. I'd never really thought of it that way before.

So, I thought about it, and I used the word that appeared to me to be most accurate. Of course I was worried about her, but what good would saying that do? It's obvious I am.


this goes backwards we should turn around


Well, sure, but consider this. Imagine Chisa were to have actually died there, and that was the last thing you'd said to her, or about her. Think about all the feelings you couldn't have expressed because you thought you had the time, or that it was obvious.

...I don't have the time to reiterate sentiments.

Okay, first off, you say that when you keep getting on my ass about the dragon thing?

Words mean things, Youka!

You've said 'words mean things' dozens of times in the time I've known you and now you're saying you don't like repeating yourself?

Great shot, Chisa!


That's pretty hypocritical, Koron.

Wha—where's this coming from? What's with the third degree?

Hey, you psychoanalyze people a lot. Only natural it'd come around to you sometime.


One moment.

Yes, sir. We're here to get you out of here.

Lively Bartender: As long as it's cooler than here, I don't care where you bring me.

There is a draft, sir.

Lively Bartender: Great! Thanks for coming for me!

Yeah, this is good. Anyone need any right now? Hot as the dickens in here, so if you're sweating!

I'm not some kind of tsundere, Youka!

Well, I think that's exactly what you are.

Well yeah Koron is tsundere, I thought we all knew that?

You can't be serious! Do you all think of me this way?!

I'm sorry, what does 'tsundere' mean, again?

Huh. How do you describe it?

Imagine you've got some anime girl, right? And there's this boy she likes, actually, but instead of saying that, she yells, "It's not like I like you, b-baka!" and slaps him. 'Tsundere' means taking a roundabout way to your feelings through the initial appearance of hostility.

Oh. Yes, Koron is that.



Fall to hell!

We can't know what kind of person you really are if you don't tell us, Koron. If you want people not to re-interpret you after your death, you need to be honest.


...I was actually listening to all of this, despite what you might think. It made me realize—Koron and myself were actually more similar than I thought. But...

...Koron is honest with herself, though. Even if she processes her emotions differently, she's a very honest person.

She wasn't like me. She was someone for me to look up to.


She's poorly socialized, but is always making an effort to be more honest. And, Youka...

I thought back to our battle against Lore-A-Lua. Right—Youka was in a blind rage then.

Koron does show her worry, when she's really scared. She's a very kind person. Kind, and honest... and brave. I think.

Yeah. You're right. Nobody's just one thing, right?


Took you long enough. Sometimes I wonder if you listen to a thing I say, Youka.

I appreciate the worry, but I'm fine. Really.

(And it took you long enough. How the hell did you manage to get that back around?)

(Hey, I might not be too learned, but I've worked a lot of service jobs. I know how to talk to people.)

(Fuck you sometimes, seriously.)

(I love you too, Koron!)

There is a little bit of stuff behind us where Takehaya was running through, but we'll come back for that later.


We returned to where we'd come from to try and catch up with Takehaya.

I really hope you're right about this, Koron.

I am. Don't worry.

Ughhhhhhhhhhh. I hate these stupid walls.

Oh, Captain, wait one second. I think this would be a good place to set up a relay point.

Oh. Yes, you're right.

The instant Richter set it up, though, we were surprised to find someone tumble out of it, carrying a crate of materials.

Wawawawawah! I thought I was ready!


They don't tell you how quick these things jump you! I—

Oh it is too hot in here. This sucks. I'm sorry.

This is a pleasant surprise. To what do we owe the honor?

We had enough materials to light a fire under Unit 4. You guys are pretty busy, so I figured it would be easier to bring what I got together the money for to you than asking you to come back.

Now, I heard that you two traded with the old man on Residential C for new toys, so I didn't grab anything—and I figured if you were going to a residential area, then it stood to reason you might find something for Satsuki.

it was two somethings actually

Wow! It's your lucky day, huh?

It's great!

So, courtesy of Reimi, I brought all five of you some new armor to slap on...

A new set of armguards for Youka...

And another one of Richter's favorite data discs.

Wait, does this have data on it? I can't throw—

I'm referencing Tron.

Oh! Haha.

Hope y'all enjoy those! Happy hunting! How's it going out here?

We're currently in a race with Takehaya to see who reaches the Imperial Dragon first. He seems to have struck a nerve with your ladyfriend.

That would explain why she's barely spoken. You okay, babe?

If I say 'yes', are you going to believe me?

Okay, that's fair. I kinda wouldn't. What did he say?

That Chisa has no internal reason to actually be here, and lacks the will or drive of the rest of us, and that his firm resolve and clear goals made him a superior dragon-slayer than her.



Go out there and kill some dragons for me. It would make me happy.


It might sound silly, but that... actually helped me quite a bit. Of course, I couldn't declare it myself like Takehaya could, but having such a request foisted on me let me do it without any of the guilt of selfishness.

I can work with that.

Cool beans! I'm gonna get back. They've got me running around knocking on the walls.

Bye, honey.

Bye, sweetie! Mwah!


Alright, let's see. Don't see him yet. Either he's way ahead of us, or you were right, Koron.

I'm right.

I mean yeah I totally think you're right, I'm just being fair to all the options here.

I know. Thank you.

The stairs climbed us higher and higher into the ever-steepening factory that Trinitro had constructed around itself. The magma at the bottom grew further away, so it did become somewhat cooler... though we may have actually had Richter to thank for that.

Hold up!

Takehaya spotted at 9 o'clock!

With a single swing, he raised his ornate blade upwards—

—and bisected the mechanical dragon, leaving it to crumble to the floor.

We gave you a little breather so you could catch up, and we killed some more dragons on the way. Glad to see you're still alright!

Hey, mind your own beeswax!

Really, it's all in the name of good sportsmanship.

I was starting to wonder if he was all talk.

No, he's definitely not. He's seen Chisa fight—he wouldn't consider himself a match for her if he wasn't serious.

...Still, this 'ersatz power' of his can't possibly match hers.

How do you know?

...That... is something I will be polite to him, and refrain from commenting on.

There's a Bloom Seed directly in front of you, on the edge of the railing! Please take it down!

Dragon Eggs are a rare consumable that instantly fill a character's Exhaust gauge. I don't think I use any until the superboss.

Probably for the best, really. Using back-to-back EX skills on any of the story bosses is kind of unfair.


What's up?

The Nagataka girl... She and Inomiko work awfully well together. Neko, do me a favor and pay attention.

What? To her?? No way! She's all smug and says the stupidest crap! Why do I hafta—

Because I told you to. Just do it, c'mon.

It's educational.

Nice work, Richter, but let me take point for a bit. I've got a hankering.

Oh, of course.

Alright, let's rumble!

Here's Mach Drop, the upgraded form of Jab. D2's nice.

Lets you fire off a Spinedge Blow or Double Hook with only one turn of setup. If Destroy On Sight activates, you can just have a destroyer throw a Mach Drop, and then immediately get to Quintet. That's nice.

All this scaffolding makes it look like we're gonna have to hit the stairs. Damn.

Is that Ms. Neko?

The casual way Neko 'ran' from the dragon behind her and into our conversational space was almost laughable in how obvious it was.

Hey, Neko.

Maki's arm doing alright after that scrape the other day?

What? Yeah, sure, I guess.

Good, good. So I suppose you're here to make yourself a roadblock?

Whaaaat~? No waaaay~ But this big, scary dragon is gonna eat me!

Hey, Koron, correct her.

I can't. That's a dragon.

Oh come on, the one time!

Four limbs, two wings, Youka!

You both know it's going to attack us either way, right?

Looks like we don't have a choice.

How'd you already cut it?

You two do your thing. I think I remember enough from last time we fought one like this.


Sure enough, it let loose with the same toxic breath. The direct damage to us wasn't much, but Youka whipped off her coat and swept the torrent of noxious liquid to the side, redirecting it to splatter close enough to the dragon to burn it slightly.

...and then she punched it, very hard.

It looks like it's trying to bolster its defenses by flash-hardening the sphere it's riding.


That's one tough ball!



You all focus on keeping alive! I'll bury it!

The rest of the unit worked on restoring our presence, but Youka took a strike directly on the chin, and then dashed forward to end the monster.

As it was told, the 'Bloody Quintet' was one of the most powerful techniques in the self-taught 'Fudoji Style'. Seeing the five expertly-placed blows, and then seeing the scaffolding bend and quake under the force of Youka's headbutt burying the now ex-dragon into the twisting metal—that was a sight that blew words out of the water.

Tensile Roll is a flat 50% damage reduction, and Woodwind Duet was working off of an elemental weakness. Quintet does... a lot of damage.

And it's not even the scariest attack Youka has, though it is the scariest one that doesn't require her being in mortal peril.

Bye-bye, Invader!

that was one of the coolest things i've ever seen

Nice headbutt, Grandma, but you're way behind now! Seeya at the end~

Don't hurt yourself on the way down!

Do you think she knows we probably would've fought the dragon anyway?

No. I don't think she does.

Oh, no! I have conflicting feelings here!

Here's two new enemies—the Scorpions here are the third and final enemy in the game to be immune to Lightning.

Are you okay?!

Fine as usual!

The burn effect on Lavarock Toss ticks for 8, and the attack itself isn't too shabby either. Flushed Monkeys also have a full-party 25% damage buff, if they ever get to use it.

Meanwhile, Scorpions' Thunder Stab inflicts a 55%-stunning Paralysis, as well as having a high chance to inflict Poison—it's got both, so that's nasty. They also have a non-elemental, Paralysis-inflicting veil like Koron's in EM Barrier. The paralysis prevents Youka from countering the second one, but I get a good roll on—

Otoshi Mae Joto!, one of Youka's auto skills that attacks at the end of the turn if an enemy's been inflicted with D-Depth.

Alright, we've spent enough time here. Let's hurry on.

This was when I saw Youka start to grit her teeth. We could see where we'd started, and the relay point we'd set up, not too far in the distance.

You mean this entire thing was a detour to travel twenty feet across some platforms? Because of one stupid Bloom wall?

That would seem to be the case, yes.

Game face for a moment, please, Youka. We have someone to rescue.

Hi, I'm SATSUKI, and this here is Gracia-sensei, artist from the doujin circle Sororirity.

Otaku Scientist: ?! T-the? The Gracia-sensei?! The same raven-haired beauty who so effortlessly captures the delicate balance of tragedy within a single expression?!


Otaku Scientist: How does KyuuKare end?!

I'm not accepting questions about work right now.

Otaku Scientist: Is your name a Pokémon reference?!


Glaziola's Japanese name.

Oh! I can see a bit of resemblance in the hair, I suppose.

I'm not accepting questions about work right now!

Otaku Scientist: Well, whatever the case, let me repay the favor! I'm an ideas guy!

Oh, great.

Oh, hey. This'll replace the one we gave him. How nice.

Alright, Youka. You may resume.

Listen here, you piece of shit!


Koron's other end-of-turn auto skill, Fantasy Zone, deals non-elemental damage for free. Lovely!

If Hatsune Miku's presence wasn't enough to remind you, remember: this game was published by Sega.

Anyway, for reasons I can only chalk up to that nebulous HP threshold weirdness or perhaps the first Hazard Dragon being unique, this Hazard Dragon neglects to pull up Tensile Roll on Turn 1, and thus crumples into dust.

Feel better?

Oh, yeah. Much.

Seems like this is the elevator up to the next floor.

Seems like. Alright, everyone, let's hurry!


There's still Daigo's part to play.


Okay, Takehaya turned the last one on, do we know how to operate these?

I would imagine we hit the glowing green button. Do us the honors?


The elevator rode up, though not for nearly as long as the conversation with Takehaya felt.

Here, a set of five mechanical dragons were whirling around, clearly ready to face us fresh off of the assembly line.

And on the far end of the platform was Daigo, standing casually, watching, and waiting.

Want us to show off for you, huh?


You know we're going to tear through these, right?

No doubt.

Doesn't look like there's any way around it.

All at once, they charged for us.

Koron! Youka! Let's rumble!

This bit is fun.

Each dragon is only one turn away, but here's the thing—no more than two Machine Dragons can be present in the fight at once. I originally set up to try and do all five in one fight, but...

Nice work, you two! Two down!

I set up a veil. These guys aren't sturdy.

Sheathe Spin plus Carnage Strike, a Freeze, and a Breath Render tears the third one to shreds in a single turn.


An EX'd Dragonfly Slash blows most of the fourth one to pieces. Feet aren't on the ground.

The split-apart bodies of the mechanical dragons lay all around us. Some dented to nearly unrecognizable states, some sliced to pieces, some frozen and shattered into bits of ice—whatever the case, we had just obliterated five dragons in very short order.


this feels like a good reward

There's someone over there! We should—

Go away!

Man, I could go for some teppanyaki right now, too.

Are you feeling tired at all, Koron?

I'm alright. Getting that reminder earlier helped me manage myself a touch better. Actually, I've been feeling rather energetic, all things considered.

I am, however, looking at this ladder with only scorn.

i'll carry you up

I can climb it just fine, it's just going to be tiring.

Thankfully, I wore shorts under my skirt, so the prospect of going up a ladder first didn't bother me. It also didn't seem to bother Koron, even though I knew for a fact she didn't.

I see... black. Lace. Fascinating.

Enjoying the view?


Quit flirting and climb.

Richter, for his part, was stood at the bottom of the ladder, waiting patiently, because he was a gentleman.


Miss Koron twinkles like the trail of a comet, and Miss Fudoji burns like a white-hot meteor. Though they lack the same innate powers, Sir Richter and Miss Satsuki as well... I can feel them shining. Unit 13—they are most certainly hunters.

Yeah? Well, I'm satisfied if you are.

...And Chisa?

...I wish to place my faith in her, as well. I hope I am not so naive as my sister thinks.


The instant the elevator got to the top, all five of us sneezed in unison.

That was weird!

Someone must've been talking about us.

Mio stumbled out of the portal with another crate.

Another delivery?

Went by the flea markets on A and B.

Please forgive Unit 13 being in these shots. I only just now remembered about these while playing the game.

The sad young lady from A sends a First-Aid Pack 3. Says she's happy we keep buying, but she wishes you guys didn't get hurt so often.

Five Medicine IIIs and Heal Aero IIIs, as well as 10 Stonols. 1500 Az.

Crafty Woman sends these nutritional supplements.

Is that her title?

Yeah, hadn't you heard?

Three SP Up 300s for 1200 Az.

The quiet young lady from B sends this absurdly large jar of moisturizer and tells y'all to come back now.

And Koron's mom I think had one too many coffees today. Tried to sell me this for some absurd amount at first.


Please enjoy.

I love Toxiped! What a lovely little friend!

It's a Venom Cut for 1500 Az, though she initially prices it at 30,000.

Now please go kill that Imperial for me?

Hey, we're going as fast as we can!

I know, babe.

Next time, ladies and gentlemen... welcome to the main event! Let's get ready to RUMBLEEEEEEE!

Agh, what is that, sand?!

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