Mio and I had been invited to dinner on the rooftop with Homura and Natsume, apparently mostly on Mom's insistence. She'd been yattering on about nothing for quite some time when Natsume finally chose to step into the conversation. "What do you mean?" Mio asked.
"Out of the many things you've created," Natsume said, uncrossing and re-crossing her legs, "the one that bears your name is Rapid-Onset Psychokinesis Syndrome. Do you not see the irony in that at all, Homura?"
Homura blinked a few times, tilted her head, and said, "You lost me."
"You consider yourself a humanitarian, yes?" Natsume said, and Homura nodded. "This condition causes those inflicted to burn their own bodily resources for the sake of powers they didn't ask for. It sounds like the sort of thing you would object to, were it a scientific invention as opposed to a biological condition."
"What... the fuck are you talking about?" Homura said, raising her eyebrow and scrunching up her nose. "Something weird get in your food?"
"Do you really have absolutely no self-awareness," Natsume asked, "or do you play at it to seem more approachable? I almost feel bad for Mio, being raised by someone so dense."
I raised my hand, and Natsume gave me a half-cocked eyebrow. "Is this about whatever you were talking with Koron about?"
—That night, just earlier, Koron had been called to Natsume's office to discuss tactical plans. Afterwards, Koron had looked... less than happy, so I could only imagine she did not like the plan.
Natsume was not a very openly emotional woman, but having known her for a while now, I had begun to understand what it was like when she was genuinely upset. She had catty moods at times like these, and was... passive-aggressive. Mio recognized this too, but Natsume continued without answering me. "You, so-called 'humanitarian', gave your name to a condition that turns human beings into weapons. How gauche of you."
"Diiiid I do something wrong?" Homura just looked confused. "You're giving me that tone that you give me when I've done something wrong. I mean, I... thought you'd be into something that did that, Nacchan."
"Human beings," Natsume said, "make inefficient weapons. Whether you raise them from birth, or find them later, the unpredictability of a human being means that no matter its capability, it makes an awful weapon. The only way to turn a human being into a weapon is if you were to somehow give it such an overpowering motivation, you knew it would do what you wanted." She was laughing to herself—if it weren't such dire subject matter, it would look like an ordinary dinner conversation. "It's so obvious! For years, I've been trying to figure out the best way to maximize the efficiency of my human resources, but you figured it out years ago, didn't you? It's not enough to have leverage—they need to have a reason to think they're fighting for themselves. Some reason to throw themselves into the line of fire, overpowering all human survival instinct."
"...I did?" Homura blinked a few more times. "I mean, I am pretty great, but I don't know what the hell you're on about?"
"I," Natsume said, "made a poor judgment call."
Mio and Homura both loudly gasped, and I couldn't help gasping, either. "What?!" Mio exclaimed. "You never admit you screwed up!"
"I'm aware," Natsume said, folding her hands together and leaning into them, staring down at the table. "But I made a poor judgment call. I miscalculated the character of one of my human resources, and that was a mistake. I'm not used to making mistakes, you see."
"Oh, no," Mio said, frowning. "You made Koron mad, didn't you."
"She's not my biggest fan on the best of days," Natsume said, "so I can't help but think I might be a touch lucky to have escaped with my life." She laughed again, and shook her head. "Ah, but were all my agents so capable as you, Chisa. The best agent I have, and I didn't even find you myself. It's a touch embarrassing."
"...Um," I said, squeaking a touch, "I... I really, I'm not that capable. Relatively speaking, I mean? Everyone else in Unit 13 are just as capable in their own ways."
"For now, maybe," Natsume said, "but there is a limit to any given person's talents. Esslinger is limited by technology, Kazuki and Fudoji by the limit of human capability, and Nagataka by her own vitality. But you, Chisa—more and more I find myself astonished by you. You fight with the strength of a furious valkyrie, even limiting yourself as you do—and your own upper limits still have yet to be scouted, even by my best men."
—That gave me pause. "Limiting... myself?" I asked. "I... don't think I'm doing anything like that, ma'am."
"I don't know that you do it intentionally, no," Natsume said, "but the speed and ease with which you become more deft with that blade—by all rights, it's near-impossible that your body is giving everything it has. Not to mention, of course, that I do have just a few bits of data regarding you operating at peak efficiency—and they're brilliant. I look at them sometimes, you know, when I need to cheer myself up."
"I... I don't understand, ma'am," I said, though I felt a slight chill running down my back.
"You are at your strongest, Chisa Inomiko," Natsume said, "when you aren't thinking, when a single, burning drive compels you to act wholly on instinct. That instinct was present for just a moment in the battle at Ikebukuro, when you obliterated the primary railgun."
—In other words, when Gatou had been killed.
"It was present at your entrance exam, wounded as you were."
—In other words, when Renji and Kyoshiro had been killed.
"And, of course, it manifested once well before you and I ever met—three months after you graduated high school."
In other words—
My breath caught in my throat, and I felt a chill go up my spine. Memories I didn't want started banging on the side of my skull—the cries of a young boy, the cold, and the feeling, the intense rush of adrenaline, that I felt in the instant I severed my father's arm. There was fear and terror in those emotions, in that horrifying moment, but what terrified me more was a deep, primal satisfaction at having crippled my hated enemy, a rush of something within me that told me that I had fulfilled a biological imperative.
I remember the blood oozing from his stump, as I'd sliced through his flesh and bone like butter with a hot knife. The smell still stands out to me, a horrific, pungent smell of iron that nevertheless entranced me, made my head pound with a throbbing beat that began to drive me further and further forward. I remember the screaming, so loud and deep, sounding foreign to me, as though it was in the voice of some unknown alien species.
I wanted to stab him, again, and again, and again, and again. I wanted to kill him again, and again, and again, and again. He'd hurt Mio—so he deserved to die, and die, and die. He was less than a human, less even than an animal—he was some sort of disgusting insect whose life meant nothing.
"I—I don't—I don't want that—"
My body was flushed, eyes wide, and I felt myself shivering. "No, no no no, no, no," I muttered, trembling like a leaf, so much so that I could hardly discern between the images beating their way into my skull and what was really happening around me. "No no no, you're wrong, you're wrong, that's not good, that can't, that's not, that's not me, that's not me! I didn't, I didn't, I didn't—I didn't—I didn't—I'm not—I'm not—I'm not like that—!!!"
I wasn't a monster, so I couldn't be a monster. I was a person—obviously. I had thoughts, and feelings, and a real heart, and I was real. So obviously, those images weren't me. They couldn't be me. Nothing in those images was real. They couldn't be. They couldn't be. I wasn't like that. I wasn't like that. I wasn't like that. I wasn't like that. I wasn't like that. I wasn't like that.
When I awoke the next morning, it was quiet. I didn't remember much, but I was sure that was abnormal. Shortly afterwards, I headed into battle in Kokubunji.
...I almost feel lucky, in retrospect, that at the time I blocked that evening out.
Part 31: Atheistic Love
I was the last person to wake up that day, and when I awoke, only Mio and Richter were present in the room with me.
I hope you slept well, Chisa.
I slept alright, I think. As well as I could. What's the situation?
Takehaya is awake in the Clinic, so when you've all regrouped, you should head there to listen to his story. It appears there's quite a bit we don't know about the dragons... and the president.
Which one? The US President, or?
I believe she means Miss Hikasa.
Oh, yeah. I mean, true.
Where are Koron, Satsuki, and Youka?
Off running errands.
Well, Vice-Captain, ready for a rousing day of menial tasks?
Naturally. What else is being a member of Unit 13 for, really?
She's happy, at least.
Eh? The roku's been ground into san! That's some yabai erosion!
Chisa is still in recuperation. Or she had better be, at least, lest I become unhappy.
We've got surprises everywhere lately! What's the haps with taichou-chan?
Hai, hai. Hidoi stuff, ne? Well, Sharon-chan'll always be WORKING for ya! Kyou wa gotcha a pile of quests!
DAMN SHE AIN'T KIDDING
Hey, readers, are you ready for an update that is going to be entirely sidequests? You had better be, because we're in for the long haul!
I'm gonna be honest, this is the biggest glut of sidequests in the game, it comes at a weird time both in-game and in my narrative, and I just did not have any better time to do them. We're all going to have to accept that this one's filler. Thanks? Thanks.
I'm gonna be honest, this is the biggest glut of sidequests in the game, it comes at a weird time both in-game and in my narrative, and I just did not have any better time to do them. We're all going to have to accept that this one's filler. Thanks? Thanks.
YO, Koron-chan! Looks like this denwa's down bad for you!
...It would appear so. She could've just come to the room, but I suppose I have been rather busy.
It's from Asami. The girl whose friend got roped into that cult?
Ohhhh. Yeah, didn't you two become friends?
...By the way, Sharon. 'Denwa' when used as a noun means 'telephone', and when used as a verb means to 'make a phone call'. This is a paper message. It's not a 'denwa' and Asami has not 'denwa'd' me. You can just use 'message' as a loanword.
DOUBLE SHOCK?! Arigato muchly for the heads up, Koron-chan! The kotobas do mean things!
I'm glad you understand, at least.
Couch Fujita wants what now?
Yeah, listen up and kitte kudasai. No leads yet on the vanishing, right? Well, Fujita-san thinks, you Jyusanba, you're kiseki workers! So if you go by, you might solve the mystery!
...Great. Well, everyone's still hoping to see their families again, so it's only right to try and help while we've got a spare moment.
Are you ready? Are you willing? I'm going to explain, so kitte kudasai! Ikebukuro's seen reports of a hitoribocchi warrior battling the monsters! Murakumo? SKY? Who could it be?! Moshimo, could they help the fight? Like me... mm hmm... yeah!
Whoever they are, we'll have to go pull their ass out of the line of fire. What height?
Around 200m! Sounds exciting, ne? Ikezo, let's go!
Koron have you been washing your hands
What? Why are you asking me?
Because you're frail, homeslice. I don't want you to catch something funny.
Hai, hai! Koron-chan might be at risk! A kansenshou's here—or as they say in the States, an infection! Do weak hearts make for weak bodies? ...Nai! After all, Koron-chan is here, and her weak body's got the strongest kokoro!
What's with you people today? I'm fine.
Well, we'd best go see the doctor at the Clinic about it, shouldn't we? Please don't be so concerned. I don't want worry lines to get burnt into your face.
That's really sweet, Koron
You can think whatever you want. I just don't want to be coddled.
Feeling like a tabetai? Hard to be genki when you're starved, ne?
To be fair, I have a hard time being genki on the best of days.
Could've fooled me.
I do a good job. But no, I'd love a good meal. I think the last time I ate completely well was at Koron's birthday party.
The requester needs some bear! Like, kuma! Now that's special! Ike, ike! My tummy's rumbling!
If I have to spend one more day locked in this cabin eating bear meat, I am going to lose my fucking mind, Misha.
...I have a feeling I know who we're going to run into for this one.
whoaaaaa. koron's become clairvoyant, too.
It's basic pattern recognition.
But what Koron didn't know was that she'd actually just shifted in from an alternate timeline where she'd already done this quest.
Yo, SATSUKI-chan, serious up! Super taihen! Kokubunji's still full of yabai monsters, and the requester barely got away with her life!
Oh you're right I should be serious for this
I'm pretty sure the SDF brought in a survivor from Kokubunji last night. We'll go check there.
City Hall, as you can see, is wicked messed up! Disaster, disaster! What's the disaster? Too many people with problems! That's a disaster for yours truly!
sure, for you,
Ie, ie, SATSUKI-chan. That's what Sharon-chan and the WRO are here for! So we need more people, too! Way way more! Details're in front of the Meeting Room!
okay are there any more
We're fini, SATSUKI-chan.
She came by and left that a bit ago, but she had no idea who I was so she told me to make sure you guys got it and not to touch it.
I've never seen that much fish in a single bento. I guess she is a cat.
You guys having a good time?
This is the biggest workload she's ever given us.
Do you guys need my he—
I'll be going to check on Asami first, if that's quite alright.
I get it.
Hey. How's it going?
Asami: Oh, Koron! I wasn't sure you were gonna... I mean, I only posted that request just last night. Didn't you just get back?
Doing menial tasks right after taking down an Imperial is part of my job description at this point. Not to mention I promised to help you.
Asami: ...You're so nice.
Yeah, it's funny. She makes fun of Chisa for being a do-gooder, but she's a do-gooder par excellence herself.
I won't say you're wrong, but I don't like hearing it. So. What's the situation?
Asami: Well, the cult is bunkered down in the shelter.
Much to my chagrin, yes.
Asami: But getting in to the rooms where Sachi is... they want a monetary "offering."
Ah. I see. Assuming they're operating on the same currency as everyone else, then we'll come with you and spot you the money for the donation.
Asami: You're willing to accept just like that?!
Let me ask Unit 13's treasurer. Satsuki, would you call this a valid use of our stock?
I would be the worst person alive if I didn't
Exactly. So, we'll let you know when we go—lots of errands today—and you can follow behind us, alright?
Asami: Okay. Koron, you're—
I know some small part of what you're experiencing, I believe. Any decent person in my shoes would do the same. See you in a bit.
Zealous Cook: Yes, meat, what? ...Oh, wait, you must've seen the request! Murakumo handling it—just think! I'll have to pepper it with thank-yous!
You're lucky the mutated wildlife are still edible.
Zealous Cook: Yeah, it was a bit of a gamble, but... doesn't it just kill you to see everyone so down around here?
Zealous Cook: There's only so much one meal can do, but if I make something really delicious, they'll all pretty much HAVE to pep up. Okey-doke, let me get cracking! Wait for me, Murakumo!
Koron, Satsuki, and Youka waited for some time patiently.
Zealous Cook: You guys have got to try it first, while it's hot!
Gimme! That looks delicious.
A bit heavy for my palate, but it'll do.
...I'm gonna cry.
Zealous Cook: Wow, that good?!
Makes me feel a bit nostalgic for the last time I ate a bear I'd punched to death.
Zealous Cook: That's... oddly specific! Anyway, we'll get it dished out to everyone in a hurry.
I made that TF Comics joke above without even realizing that we'd just end up having it revealed that Youka engaged a bear in a brawl, Heavy-style. Dang.
We also get an SP Up 300.
Alright, next is the SDF Barracks—
Sergeant Yoshino: And if we wait for everyone to get ready? What about the people who need help right now? We're leaving. Call us if reinforcements arrive.
Hey, hey, it's okay.
Quaking Woman: I heard City Hall was safe, so I headed here with my family... but as we were heading through the desert, this gigantic creature attacked us! My husband and daughter are still in hiding, but there's no way they'll be able to— just—
You have my word. A single squad are heading out now and we'll be heading out to back them up. We will rescue your family.
Quaking Woman: You... y-you're such a young girl. You can't be much older than my daughter—
...I recently turned twenty, ma'am.
Quaking Woman: Oh, I'm—I'm sorry—
It's okay. I understand. I'm a rather frail person, hence my stature, and I've seen my fair share of lives cut short. I will save your family. It's as simple as that.
...as soon as I finish this menial errand for Sharon.
We could go out right now.
Damn it, if I don't do this now I won't be able to stop thinking about it!
Pardon the question. What do you people do?
Relief Org. Chief: ...Right, yes, that would make it difficult to do this.
Relief Org. Chief: Sharon and I are the two core members, and our supporters, like yourselves, number in the tens of thousands—
So it's an NPO that operates entirely off of volunteer work because there are only two people who are actually in the organization?
Relief Org. Chief: It's a method of reducing organizational overhead, as is the fee we send from requester to supporter. A man named Hibino on Residential B is someone we'd like you to petition to join.
...God. This would be much easier if Mio were here.
Are you Hibino.
HEY BUDDY we've been asked to deliver a message from the WRO for you!
Hibino: The... who?
The people who run the Quest Office. It stands for World Relief Organization. It's an NPO that runs off of volunteer work. They'd like your assistance.
Hibino: Huh. And they just run quests?
Their slogan is "Our concern is everyone's concerns."
Hibino: Huh. ...You don't sound very enthused.
An occupational hazard of my line of work. I assure you I would like it very much if you would take this request to heart.
Hibino: Gotcha. Something like that might be just what the world needs. Oh, if you're looking for people, try Gouda on Residential C. He's a real strong guy.
Right. Got it.
Mr. Nagataka: Oh, hey, sweetie! How's it hanging?
We took out another Imperial yesterday, but at the moment I'm handling the group's menial errands for societal betterment.
Mr. Nagataka: That's my girl! Biting sarcasm! Hey, so, just between you and me—and your friends, obviously—I saw this one guy in the Clinic last night, and RAWR. Do you know him?
Blue scarf? Bright, pointy hair?
Mr. Nagataka: That's the one!
I take no joy in informing you, Father, that not only is he taken, he's the straightest man I've ever met.
Mr. Nagataka: T-the? THE straightest man? That's no small feat!
Frankly, I can't get over it. He's so intensely of that sort that he doesn't even realize the woman he loves loves him back because he's convinced himself that he's beneath her.
Mr. Nagataka: Whoo, I dodged a bullet there.
Quite. Do you know a man named Gouda who lives on this floor? I have an errand that involves finding him.
Mr. Nagataka: Well sure I do! He's probably standing in the same place as Coach Fujita is right now, but in the other room.
Lovely directions, thank you. Bye.
Mr. Nagataka: Later, sweetie! Have a nice day!
i'm really glad he's okay
...So am I.
Coach Fujita: Looking a little light today. Where's Mio?
Taking care of our idiot captain. We're what you've got.
Coach Fujita: Well... we're all still completely in the dark about how everyone vanished! Could you help us out there?
If anyone can, it's Koron.
It's true. She's got quite a brain on her.
Coach Fujita: Well, gentlemen, please—
Kosugi: What's with the vagueness? It's your daughter—my family wouldn't just up and leave like that.
Ooyama: You're saying my Yuuka ran off all on her own?! As if! She's still just a baby!
Kosugi: She's my wife, you old windbag, and she woke me up going to the bathroom before she just went poof!
...Based on what?! I haven't even investigated yet!
Coach Fujita: What? Um, uh, well... then let's... search for the cause! You two will help too, right?
Kosugi: Even if I tell you, it won't help. I was sleeping soundly... I remember Yuuka waking me up as she headed to the background, but it's just a blank from then on.
Ooyama: When I woke up, Yuuka had vanished with everyone else... how about you, Mr. Fujita?
Coach Fujita: Wha—huh? Me?! I mean, I was snoring away as usual... well, wait...
Kosugi: Yeah, I... I think I heard that too—!
Oh my god, how does Mio put up with you people? Lead with that instead of wasting my time with all this useless prattle! I'm leaving. Come on, we'll ask at the lab.
Yeah, Mio must be really patient. I don't know how she manages.
Weren't you in customer service, Mama?
Well, sure, but I'm at a point where I've lost all my patience too. I think Koron just lost hers a lot sooner.
I don't have the time to spare on idiots like them.
Gouda: Oh, you're Mr. Nagataka's daughter, right?
The World Relief Organization is requesting your services.
Gouda: The WRO, huh? I mean, it'd be sweet to be useful for a change, but I don't wanna work with boring people. What kind of people work there?
well there's this stylish, tanned, attractive young foreign lady
Gouda: Whoa, what?! Hold on, I gotta work here! Oh—you're still looking? Uh, there's this one lady who caught my eye on Residential D named Hiroe—
Gouda: So is it true your unit is made entirely of pretty women? Because I know there's Mio, and you ladies are cute, too.
No, there's a man in our unit and he has significantly more game than you ever will. Bye.
Wow. That was brutal.
I don't have soft words for presumptuous men like that.
Hello, are you Miss Hiroe? I got a referral saying you'd be a good fit to support the World Relief Organization.
WHOA NELLY THAT'S SOME WHIPLASH
Hiroe: ...'World Relief Organization'? Sounds like a bunch of crock. The kinda organization that just uses that word to hide behind while they help themselves.
You'd think, right? But there's actually only two actual employees in the whole organization. Everyone else is just supporters, and they're the ones who profit. Commission fee.
Hiroe: ...Huh. That's kinda wild, actually. Sure, I'll help.
Are we finished?
Relief Org. Chief: Ah, yes, this should be plenty. Oh, and here's Miss Hiroe, Mr. Gouda's told me all about you! Smashing work, as expected of our Unit 13!
What's with the butler talk?
Relief Org. Chief: Oh, haha... appears I've run my mouth again. Yes.
Her? A corporate princess? ...Well, that explains the lack of sense, but I'm surprised at the compassion.
Relief Org. Chief: She was indeed promised a life free of want, but her mother—the president's wife—was from a war-torn African country. So when Sharon visited her mother's homeland, it moved her heart.
Ha, that's the kind of blind optimism I love about her, personally.
...If nothing else, she is a very kind girl, isn't she.
Relief Org. Chief: She really is, and she values you all quite a bit. Says you're her 'saikou supporters' around here and all that. So, please do do your best to continue supporting her going forward.
We also get an SP Up 300, and we've completed Sharon's Heart Quest! Woooooo
If there were more Sharons in the world, maybe people like us wouldn't exist.
How do you mean?
Traumatized misfits who are too good at killing for our own good.
Perhaps. But fate is a cruel mistress—I'm sure the planet would find its ways to make more traumatized misfits.
Okay. Two down. Five to go.
We're making it, buddy!
A fascinating idea, but they haven't kissed.
Wait, are we talking about Aitelle or Neko? Has Aitelle shown up?
...I hadn't considered that. Either way it's true, but in Neko's case the consideration is far stranger.
...Please don't tell Neko that this conversation happened, or that I had to think about this.
My lips are sealed.
Doctor: Nagataka-san, are you sure you should be taking this? You don't even fully resist the Bloom.
If I leave it alone, the risk that I get infected climbs much higher.
Doctor: That's true. Kazuki-san, Fudoji-san?
I don't like being sick.
Lay it on us, my dude.
Doctor: Well, that is a relief. We don't have any means of treating the disease right now—nobody's died yet, but the number of infected could exponentially increase.
Doctor: Would it be possible for you to ask members of the Murakumo dev team to cooperate on making a vaccine? We might be able to treat it if we pool all of our resources together. You should take this to them.
...Well, this isn't pleasant, no.
Doctor: We took this virus sample from a patient, and that's all our data.
I'm going to leave you all to draw your own conclusions about this quest in this game that was made in 2011.
Oh hey, she has been here. Cool. Yeah, she's an alien actually.
Sleepy Scientist: ...Whoa.
Otaku Scientist: Not that he could ever steal that role from Gracia-sensei, of course. Between that brutish guy and a flawless Yamato nadeshiko like her, both wielding the shining blade of a samurai—
Can I kill him. Will anyone miss him.
No! No killing him.
God! I hate scientists!
Hey, you. Shithead.
Mad Scientist: Ohohoho, a new viral infection? I'd caught a few reports, but I had no idea it was this dire. Give me just a moment.
Mad Scientist: Aha, got it!
That was fast! Are you some kinda genius?!
Mad Scientist: Ihihi, maybe so. But your praise is likely misplaced—that physician's data was quite thorough. Really excellent stuff. Still, this virus... well, it's like a flu virus, but with much more extraordinary effects.
Mad Scientist: Haha, oh right, sorry. I've got the process ready, but I'll need a Black Root from some of the trees in Shibuya if you don't mind. The greenhead is good with that place, isn't she?
I hate scientists. I hate scientists. I hate scientists. I hate scientists.
I hate scientists.
I could've sworn we had this discussion earlier. There was a white noise the night of the disappearance—hadn't we already decided it was probably mass hypnosis? Go look at that.
Passing Scientist: Is-is something wrong?
Can anyone around here help themselves or act on information that's clearly available? Ugh! The citizens I can understand being incompetent, but isn't Murakumo employing you people to research? Could none of you have asked about to see any witness testimony at all, or is that shrieking harpy Akaneno the only one of you who ever leaves this floor?
Passing Scientist: ...Um... alright, then.
Man, Kirino is lucky you don't go off on him like that.
Kirino is a bumbling dork with enough charisma for me to like him. That besides, he's competent when he puts his mind to it, and can do things without being prodded.
Passing Scientist: I took a look, and... well, aside from the routine noise around City Hall, there is something I couldn't make out. It's emanating from the roof, if you'd like to go check it out?
Finally, I can act on something. Let's go.
...Is that a badger?
Looks like a badger.
I see. Alright, let's attempt to capture it.
We've hit Chapter 5, so the battle theme has now properly switched over to our lategame battle theme for this. The previous one will still play in old areas. On the whole, I actually prefer this one fairly significantly.
Alright, let's rumble, you little bastard!
Destroy On Sight in action. With this, we'll be able to hit D-Depth 3 on Youka's first action.
Looks like it's made of metal, kinda?
Its insides won't be!
This is Microburst, a non-elemental damaging spell that can inflict Bleed. It's nice occasionally for synergy between Koron and Satsuki, and is also frankly just cool.
...That's kinda cute
No need to worry! I'm fine.
The Metal Tanuki isn't a joke of an opponent—it's got the two actions standard to Dragons, for some reason. Curious.
See how you like it!
These attacks were sequential.
Yes, you are!
huh, this is cute
What's that, a drum?
Passing Scientist: No wonder you were mad, miss! I'll take this to heart.
I'm glad someone has. What's the deal with the badger?
I see. That makes sense. It moved a bit like that bastard, too. That's the one that used sound waves to manipulate people's bodies and minds.
So it used the same principle to cause the mass disappearance.
Sounds like it.
Passing Scientist: I can't verify it conclusively, but you should let people know it's fairly likely. I'll keep looking into it on the double—my apologies for the trouble!
The scientist turned to walk away, but they were able to hear him as he muttered to himself.
...Do you two have a feeling as well?
I don't have a motive, but yeah.
...I don't like that.
Neither do I. I hope I'm wrong.
The three of them explained the situation to Coach Fujita.
Coach Fujita: Huh... so that's how it is. I'll call them over. This won't be a pleasant conversation.
Yeah, not by the look of them.
I would want to tell you... I don't think it's likely the missing will come back soon, if at all.
Coach Fujita: I see. Well... At the very least, we can try and stop it from happening again. That's enough for me. Here's the reward I promised. Thanks for everything, and... sorry again.
Aside from the nice boost of SP and EXP from fighting the Metal Tanuki, this is all we get for this one.
Okay, so the Shelter, Shibuya, Ikeubukuro, and Kokubunji?
This one is right here. I've let Asami know, and she'll be coming up behind us.
Gatekeeper: Pilgrims... You do not follow the Church of the Divine Dragon.
So if you join, you can go in?
Gatekeeper: Er... yeah... that's what I said. Uh—er, right, becoming a member requires a tithe, to offer one's money to the Dragon God and wash one's hands of materialistic civilization.
Pfft. How utilitarian of you.
Gatekeeper: In truth, we ought to abolish currency—but we make use of it where we must.
At least one, at any rate. She'll be coming up behind us any moment now, and I'm footing her bill.
Gatekeeper: What? But... you understand that only the purified can—
Would you like to know a fun fact about me, sir?
I could kill you where you stand by lighting you on fire with my mind. It would be excruciatingly painful, and long. As such, I'll be heading in until the girl I'm paying for is satisfied. You'll take this money and you'll like it.
Gatekeeper: What? You're bluffing.
I'm told that Koron lit the man's shirt sleeve on fire. It was an effective negotiation strategy.
It feels weird being here like this.
I concur. It doesn't look like she's here—I'll scope the place out to ensure nothing untoward happens to you, Asami.
Asami: Thanks. I'll just... wait here, I guess.
Exultant Believer: Y'know, I faltered while running away, and I got hurt real bad! But was it a mistake? I mean, I got away with my life, but I got left with this super nasty scar! You know I used to be a model? But with a scar like that, haha, what a laugh!
Exultant Believer: So what was I striving that whole time for, huh? Haha, really, what a joke.
Fearful Believer: They blame me... when things happen. I'm not like that...! Stolen food... children crying... it wasn't me, it wasn't me... At City Hall, nobody believed me... but here, nobody's angry... I'm happy... to be understood... I'll go with everyone...!
Thinking Believer: Don't worry. Give the correct prayers henceforth, and the Dragon God will save you. I await the advent of the new world, as well. My wife preceded me, you see. So she's surely waiting there. She's such a beautiful, kind woman. I want to see her again soon...
Koron, are you okay?
Asami: You're just creatures to the Dragons! You're here to be killed and eaten. There's no such thing as a new world.
Thinking Believer: Quit talking nonsense! We'll be saved by the Dragon God! And if not... who are you saying will save us?!
Asami: If something was going to save us, it would've done it a long time ago! Even I've lost contact with my parents, and I'm terrified about what's happened to them... Every day, I'm waiting for another blow, but there's no savior coming to help you!
Thinking Believer: In a situation like this, is it so wrong to want to be saved?!
Founder: In the sudden night, a ray of light... For whosoever has lost their way. Our beloved new believer, calm your heart to perceive the truth. The Holy Church of the Divine Dragon is the light granted to banish inner darkness. Your heart, too, yearns for tranquility—
Tricking people into being complacent and not using their own spirit to do what they can is convenient for you when it lines your pockets, isn't it, old man?
Founder: Ah... yes. I remember you. However, I was speaking to her—she isn't a strong person like you.
...A 'strong person'? You think I asked for this? You think any of us asked for this? You think that dying pointlessly is the way to get past injury, or fear, or grief? How do you think I feel?!
Founder: If you wished to truly supplicate your feelings, the requisite tithe is 5000 Az, as you know. However, for one such as you, who goes to war with the Dragon God so regularly—
You're the sickness these people need to be saved from! I would be doing them all a favor if I tore your guts out where you stood! People like you, who manipulate hearts for your own gain, don't even deserve to be called human! Move, Asami!
Asami: Koron, stop!
Asami: I know it's all nonsense, but if I leave, I miss my chance to rescue Sachi, so... I can't just go. I'm sorry. Please, just—take this and go.
This lets us up the SP gain on the next enemy we fight by some factor or another. Handy! We also get an SP Up 200.
If you... if I come back and I find you buying into this bullshit, I'll never forgive you, hear me?!
Asami: I know.
Founder: Then we will commence by erasing bodily impurity, such that you may become a noble believer. We welcome you upon your return home. Let us begin your ceremony... and see our nonbelieving guests out.
You're taking this pretty personal.
hey, hey, c'mere. bring it in.
Fine. If you insist.
she's a tough girl. she won't lose.
...Even if she fails.
sssshhhh we're not saying that right now.
The Black Root we're looking for is over here, to the right at the opening junction.
One sec, I'll dig it up!
...Huh, that's it? No more trouble there?
I'm incredibly smart and good at ordering things in a way that makes sense, so I actually come back in to clean up a bit in the Searsand itself before doing my job. Let's see what's up there!
Taciturn Scientist: You're here to help.
This dragon blocks a wall in that same area, blocking off the 1F Rear area we backtracked to after the first leg of our race with Takehaya.
Breath Render hard counters Hazard Dragons. Next.
This is Take's route in the second half of the race.
Problems are common for this enemy.
Surveyor: Something... something terrible happened. Before I knew it, I found myself down here. Oh, hey, if you don't mind, could you hold still just like that? Just wanna finish this map I'm making.
This big empty space will be relevant later!
Out on the map, we hit another Bloom-be-gone benchmark. Good job, team!
Anyway, I bumble around like a pillock for quite some time before finding the actual objective. Back to your regularly scheduled adventures with Unit 13.
Anyway, I bumble around like a pillock for quite some time before finding the actual objective. Back to your regularly scheduled adventures with Unit 13.
So it does. I'm glad we appear to have made it in time.
Sergeant Yoshino: Hold the line! If we pull out, that kid is...
Sergeant Yoshino: Damn it... Senba, go assist with the first aid! I'm fine here by myself!
Private Senba: But, Yoshino... er, sorry, ma'am! Roger that! Senba heading out!
Greetings and salutations, Sergeant.
We really need to stop meeting like this.
Sergeant Yoshino: Unit 13...?!
Alright, let's get to work, girls!
BLUBLUBLUB gotcha nerd!!
Hehehehahahaha! This is what I needed right now! Thanks!
Geodude, use Defense Curl! Then, use Defense Curl! And follow it up... with a Defense Curl!
Get behind me, you two! It's probably going to burst!
ain't nothing you can do against this, nerd
Just as I thought, rrgh!
OW but thank you!
Shatter and die!
All in a day's work, no? Ah, this is what I feel comfortable doing.
I can't say I disagree.
I'm told there was a moment of heavy, heavy silence.
Private Senba: ...I'm sorry.
Sergeant Yoshino: ...Saving more people won't help this. These two lives can't be replaced. Nothing can replace a lost life.
Sergeant Yoshino: This war has taken everything from us.
Private Kagawa: Yoshino...
...You're right, of course. There's not much else for me to say.
Yoshino didn't respond to Koron—she continued on by herself.
Sergeant Yoshino: Who could've seen this coming?
I know. I'd say it's probably a form of grief.
Sergeant Yoshino: ...Grief. Yes, I suppose you're right. My grief is what drives me to save every person I can. That's why I volunteered for this mission, but... this time, we lost two irreplaceable lives. And there's nothing we can do about that.
Private Senba: ...I'll help too.
Sergeant Yoshino: We can get them back to their family. That's all we can do now.
...I wonder. Was there anything that could've been done to prevent this?
I broke a promise. I have to live up to that, at least.
Transitory Sharon bento shot.
I'm... sorry. I'm sorry.
Quaking Woman: Oh, please... don't be. You did everything you could...
And 4 Heal Aero 4s.
Mad Scientist: Oh! That was quick, much appreciated.
Thank god. At least one thing is going right today.
Had a pretty rough one, haven't we?
Do you want a hug, Koron?
...Not right now.
Mad Scientist: This is ten doses, prioritize the most seriously ill patients. Take this to the Clinic—I'll purify the rest and get more in due time. I can bring it then. Thanks much!
Doctor: It's already done?! Murakumo's scientific power is amazing... This'll let me breathe easy for a moment. Here—this should help on the front lines. From me to you. Thank you all.
We also get another SP Up 300. Like with the first two, First Aid L just adds to our overall tank of on the field healing, so thanks, Doc!
Doctor: The truth is, I didn't think I could get Murakumo's cooperation before now. I know I said I was weird, but those guys are just on another level... but you all were the bridge I needed. Thanks for helping me out—and take care of yourselves, for my sake. ...Especially you, Miss Nagataka!
Yes, yes. I get it.
thanks, doc. take easy!
Hey, Mama Fudoji, look! It's your favorite dungeon!
...I still don't like it, y'know.
It's not marked on the map, but our goal is here, down from the Hub on 200m.
Did he just teleport
! Was that...?
Fight now, talk later!
The Sky Crab, aside from having a model I don't thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiink we've seen yet, is not even slightly threatening. We take it out with little issue.
After the hijacking in 2013, together with Gatou and Nagare, he... founded Murakumo Unit 10. His name is Himuro, and aside from having exceptional natural psychic abilities, he has the ability to... teleport.
...Sure. Why not. Where's his signature now?
400m. Could you follow him? I want to know what he's doing...
Himuro is over here, on the path to the last electrocannon.
! That light!
Scusi, scusi. Mr. Himuro, I presume?
Himuro: Ugh, great timing... Murakumo? Damn it, how'd you get here?!
We're part of the team that cleared this place out of the dragons in the first place, idiot.
You're Himuro, aren't you? What are you doing all the way out here?
Himuro: Mina and Miroku... haha, of course you're still with Murakumo. No doubt in your minds... that's pathetic.
Oh, great. Another one of you people. Let me guess—you're running from Murakumo because you're terrified by the shit Hikasa gets up to?
Himuro: Of course I am! I'm horrified! Aren't you?! Vainly contending with a foe like the dragons—they even slew Gatou! You have to know this is insane! Even if the organization orders you to fight, you shouldn't throw your life away—!
Someone has to do it. It's as simple as that.
Himuro: I know that! Of course I know that!
...Listen, shithead. I've had a really bad two days, and I'm sick and tired of presumptuous assholes like you. You're coming back to City Hall with us so we can keep your sorry ass safe. Got that?
Himuro: Are you kidding?! If they find me, they'll send me to die! I'm surprised you haven't already! I'll stay on the run, and you should, too, if you hadn't been suckered into—!
'Suckered into'? Don't remove my agency, you worm. It's the only option presented to me. I chose this.
Himuro: That sounds just like Gatou used to. All those stupid aphorisms...
Himuro: But even he died to the Dragons.
...If you worked with Genji, you know what kind of man he was, so you should know—
Say one more word about Unit 13 or Gatou, and you'll regret it!
Everyone in Unit 13—those who are here and those who aren't—they're all so much braver than you! Murakumo knows your strengths and limitations—you think they couldn't have hunted them down if they really wanted to?! You're so... you're so self-important! The world doesn't revolve around you! Nobody in Unit 13 likes President Hikasa either, but they all do their best to work toward their own brand of justice even under her! They're strong—they know what justice means! You're just a coward—telling us we're insane for standing and fighting while you run and hide! If you wanted to abandon us at a time like this, you should've failed the exam!
Jeanne cut herself off, wheezing from an overexertion of breath for just a moment.
I know... I know I'm just a kid, and I don't know much about the world, and I have a hard time stepping in, but everyone in Unit 13 trusts me, and I trust them, too! I trust that they're doing the right thing! And... they gave me a name! It's Jeanne! So get it through your thick skull and come back to City Hall!
Everyone, I'm told, went silent for a moment.
No kidding. Where's that been, kiddo?
Sorry. I'm, um, very stressed out myself. And... I think I'm fed up with presumptuous men too, Koron.
What the hell are you talking about here?
Koron's infecting Jeanne with her social acumen! Also we found your old buddy Himuro and he's a tool!
Himuro? He's on call?
Himuro: Oh, god, here we go.
Do you have something to say?
Yeah, I do.
Himuro: Who are you Unit 13 people, anyway?
We're civilians, one and all. We're here because we believe in each other, I suppose. Truth be told, we only learned about some of Murakumo's inner workings yesterday.
Real nasty business.
Himuro: Yeah. Well... if you people are the face of Murakumo now, then maybe... well, I need to find a way off of this battlefield, first of all—
Succinctly put. Come along.
Himuro: It really is impressive. If I feel like it, I'll go poke my head in at Murakumo HQ.
There aren't many people to see you at the moment, but feel free.
The most active unit is my Unit 13, so you'll... probably just be handling odd jobs.
Himuro: 'Your' Unit 13, huh? Sounds like these ladies are well-loved. ...You, the short one with the red hair.
It's Nagataka. Koron.
Himuro: I take it you're the captain?
Vice-captain. Our captain has been given forced bedrest for psychological reasons.
Himuro: ...For a second, I thought you were another one of Hikasa's test-tube babies, but if she trusts you that much, it seems like you're a real person all your own.
How presumptuous of you.
Himuro: So sue me, I haven't run into many Rapid-Onset S-Classes. I'd say you're probably the first aside from those two. Still, you watch yourself. I'm sure you know Hikasa will take any opportunity to try and capitalize—
I've already gotten that sorted. You don't need to worry about me.
Himuro: Well, how about that.
Hey! Neither of them are annoying!
Personally, I think Jeanne should be proud. She got called annoying for the first time. It's an important rite of passage for any true thinker.
I think he meant you, Koron.
Hardly. He's just another pair of hands to have around. Though he's a teleporting pair, admittedly.
Ohhh. Still, this is good, ne? Another bud to have! Man, the work you do is abunai to the yabai! Crazy how y'all-tachi tackle it like it's normal... but I guess Taichou-chan's taking a break for that very reason!
So she is.
Mochironnyway, an eiyuu deserves an eiyuu's reward!
And we receive 5 Somanels, too!
I'm never doing this again.
Yeah I saw that whole glut of requests sorry.
On the bright side, at least a few things went well today!
Quite. Alright, shall we go see Takehaya?
Next time, we find out what's going on over in Minato.
Table of Contents