Part 42: Beloved World, Beloved People

While you were out, someone dragged in a few more resources that let us complete work on the Murakumo dorms.


Nobody's there to thank you this time, obviously. If you want to thank the work team, though, go ahead.

Only one member of the initial work team remained for us to speak to.

Hard Worker: Thanks to you guys's efforts, we on the work team get to enjoy nicer quarters, too. You guys're gonna get our best effort on the home stretch to the end! Case in point...

It's +30%.

Hard Worker: I found this while clearing rubble. I donno quite what it is or how useful it'll be, but I hope it'll be useful!

Thanks much!

Wow. To think we actually finally had the time to upgrade our own dorms.

I would say it's a testament to how far we've come.

MP Ariake: Oh, so this is Neiko's! Hmm... I don't think I've seen it before. Even the jewel's just glass. ...Well, that's alright. I'd like to go return this. Would you come along? Your presence may make things less... awkward.

MP Ariake: ...I came to return this to you.

This...! It's my pendant!

MP Ariake: But I want to understand you. So when this war is over, together...

Quit acting like my dad all of a sudden!

And who the hell is Neiko, anyway?! I already told you I'm Neko!

MP Ariake: That's not true! You're my daughter, Neiko!

You're wrong! ...How'd you even know about that pendant? Takehaya and Daigo gave me it on my first birthday...

MP Ariake: Your birthday was on July—

You're wrong about that, too!

All three of us were born that day. That's what we decided. And that's when Neko came to be. 'Neiko' might've been who I was, I donno, but when this Neko was born, she died.

MP Ariake: ...

So get outta here.

MP Ariake: ...However. Neko. You look just like my wife did. And like my daughter might've, if she'd lived. So maybe... once in a while, is it alright if I came to talk to you?

...Whatever, gramps. I guess I can spare the time.

MP Ariake: Thank you.

Wow. You guys were right, there's something awfully enthralling about the man's personal drama.

And what're you yahoos doin' here? The old man leaning on you for support?

Basically. Sorry about all that trouble.

Ehh, it's fine. Just doing your job. I get it.

MP Ariake: To someone like her, I'm nothing more than an old man, I suppose. ...Thank you, Unit 13. We've had a long acquaintance now, haven't we?

We also get an SP Up EX.


MP Ariake: ...It's just possible... I hope the day can come when we can be family to each other. But until then, I'll believe in that day, and try to understand my little girl.

Even if she never acknowledges you as her father?

MP Ariake: Even if.

Heh. Take it from me—you've got a long road.


Yeesh you guys are popular lately. This one's for Koron. It says Satsuki can come too, 'if she wants, I guess'.


Aw, bitchin'! I thought you weren't gonna come. So, uh... I want something from you two today.

Lay it on us, sister.

Okay, so you know how I always say SKY is my family, right? But plus them, the Navis, that old man... I'm getting like, megapopular!

Sooo... uh, okay! You wanna be friends with me?

Aren't we already?

Wha?! Y-you're gonna get me all choked up!

oh gosh i'm gonna cry... neko admitted she likes us

Beautiful, isn't it?

Sorry. I think that's the wrong face for this.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Whoa! You can smile?!

I can't even—!

Wait. It's you. Out of anyone I would expect that sort of reaction from you the most.

Anyway, yes. I would be happy to be your friend. I...

Hm. Until a few days ago I would've said I don't have many either, but I suppose I'm more popular than I thought as well.

Yeah! Psychic popularity solidary or whatever! So, I got you these!

Now we can match!

I am so jelly. You get the kitty parka!

Wait I wanna see you in the kitty parka. Show me you in the kitty parka.

Thank you... for the gift...! I really... appreciate it!!

What does that mean?

That means she can recognize that they're tactically useful and appreciates the sentiment but her dignity is giving her a hard time about putting them on.

They're... great! Sure to be... useful tomorrow!

Okay I'm embarrassed now laaaaates!!

Rescued Woman: I was tired and a crying mess, but... I feel better now that I'm here. ...And the thought of you in that parka is helping.

Okay. Calm down, Koron. Calm down. You're still a perfectly dignified person. You can live through this.

Hey, uh. You. What's with the new room.

Concierge: A pleasure to see you, ma'am. People such as yourselves shouldn't be crammed into small rooms at City Hall, so a VIP lounge was built for those such as yourselves. If there's anyone you'd like to relax with, at any time, please, bring them here.

The secret purpose of the Skylounge Level 2... Shipping!! You can invite any NPC whose email you've gotten, or have your party leader hang out with another member of Unit 13. It also recovers your HP and MP but like, look, you can do that at your bed, you know what you're here for.

Hey, how did it—

Oh, I see.

I'm pleased you two have become friends.

Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up I'M TAKING THIS BACK TO OUR ROOM UNTIL TOMORROW.

Yes, we have.

...Hm. These are smaller than I expected. Will I be able to extract sufficient energy? ...Hold the materials and stand over there.

She suddenly summoned a bunch of flashing lights, which accomplished a grand total of...

What?! No change at all?! What's going on? I'll try again!

...Is something meant to happen?

I think she's failing to become Precure.


Even the elements themselves thwart me! Here! You! Give me a look at those materials!

She didn't ask, and she clicked her tongue when she had to touch my hand.

No, the energy hasn't been lost, has it?! I'm not starting to lose my grip, am I? No, if I'm not able to control this body... Am I falling apart? No, that's not possible, is it?

...We're still... right here. In front of you.

Looks as though my role here is over. All that's left is to watch over my sister.


Hey! You oafs! What are you doing, mindlessly gaping?! Get your reward and get back to your mission!

We also get... ah, appropriately enough, 3 Hypnos Crystals.

She very pointedly put the four items in our reward in everyone's hands except mine.



I see.

Do you think she's this mean because of the fact that she inexplicably hates you, or do you think she's just like this?

I genuinely cannot tell.


It was a bit later that we coincidentally ran into Emille at the Skylounge.


I'm eating. Go away.

No! What's your problem?

...I will admit that you've done a good job.

She was addressing all of us, now. ...But, probably me the least.

Until recently, this place was a blight. Seven Imperial Dragons in one city... I could hardly believe the stories Aitelle told me.

So, you are the same Emille, yes? The one who was President Muller's aide?

...Yes, I was present at the Pacific Summit.

Then you're the one who helped Natsume figure out how to do what she did.

A miscalculation on my part, yes. I've never claimed to be perfect and I'm not going to start now. ...However, at the present juncture, it's easy for me to perceive the merit of you four hunters.

And not me.

I'm ever so glad you understand.

What the hell is your problem? You and Aitelle are both cryptic, but at least she's nice about it.

I would say that's one of her most major flaws.

She said about the same thing about you. Except, you know, the opposite.

so this one is the evil twin, got it

You want evil? Look outside! Look at the dragons! Those are evil! What are you doing wasting time here instead of going and exterminating them, anyhow?

...Until a minute ago we were doing an errand. For you.


Emille and I locked eyes. This was when I was utterly certain that I would never, ever get along with Aitelle's sister.

Further niceties are a waste of time. Here. See if you can figure out how to use this.

'This' was a sort of bracer, made from an orange-and-blue material—crystals from Hypnos, it seemed.

You're giving me a gift now?

I'm giving your unit a gift.

You know she's our captain, right? If you need to talk to us in the future you're not gonna be able to just keep ignoring her.

...I hate admitting that you're right.

The Kingsguard is every status guard accessory in one—it's a 55% chance to avoid any status infliction. Thanks, Emille!


This is when we headed to the meeting room.

Last night, the research unit completed work on the Dragon Chronicle. With this, we can destroy that barrier—and then, it'll be possible to attack Tokyo Tower.

Whoa, we're finally taking the fight to her!


Takehaya's destruction of the barrier is the signal for an all-out assault. Everyone who can fight will back up Unit 13. We must take Tokyo Tower.

Hard part's up to us as usual, then?

Hey, don't act like you don't like it.

I'm just saying.


Can't bring yourself to say it, huh?

Haha, you saw through my clever ruse, did you. No, I... don't intend to refer to her by name. Maybe I've still got some feelings left unresolved... but she has made her resolution.

And I will see her defeated.

Hmmm... He actually sounds kinda cool for once~

I'm proud of him.

Wait, what?

The terraforming is beginning to recede, and some of the altered cities are beginning to resemble their old appearances again.

Private Makita: Whoa, really?

I suppose we truly are winning this war, then.


Do you want to go back and fix up their graves again once it's all done with, Youka?

I'd like that.

We'll meet here again tomorrow. Dismissed!


...Takehaya, huh.

what's wrong, pal

It's just, no matter what this Dragon Chronicle does... well, I can't help but be worried about him.

What have we discussed about pity, Chisa?

It's not pity! It's concern! I'm not going to stop him!

Takehaya's no better off than me. Worse, even. Whatever he does, it's his prerogative to meet the war's end on his own terms.

Ah, quiet, let's get him these meds.

Calm Scientist: Yeah, this is it! Nice work getting it, eh!

It only took a few minutes.

Calm Scientist: Yup, it's finished!

Calm Scientist: Seeing research be of use is always good, so hurry, go administer it!

We'd passed Aitelle by the meeting room on our way in, so it was easy to find her.

Ah. Hello. What can I—

Hey, your sister's a bitch.


She is... quite driven. And... opinionated.

Why does she hate me? It seems like she just really, really hates me.

...Hm. That is... unfortunate. She is unable to forget the past, and I have no doubt that seeing you brings up old memories.

I can only ask that you forgive her this. She is an ally to humanity, despite her demeanor. Give her time.

...Old memories? Like, of what?

Miss Inomiko, I have been given the chance to live, however briefly, as simply a woman. As such... how does the saying go?

'A girl's got to have some secrets'.

True. True.

Well, I can't deny that, I guess.

...What is this?

It's medicine for Takehaya. Sou asked that we help out.

You... you all know better than anyone that he is not merely sick, and yet you took the time to help out? Without even me asking you... Thank you.

He's our friend, too.

It'd be awful rude of us to leave him high and dry when you're so sweet on him.


Even while wounded, his spirit shined so brightly... I was captivated. Though he is stubborn, hard-headed, and confrontational... I cannot look away.



From one of us, hatred. A mission to destroy all Dragons. From the other, love. Affection for those who yet live.

My feelings for him transcended the feelings I hold for all residents of this world... It is a hard thing for me to understand.

...Yeah. It's... hard to understand love at the best of times. It comes in a lot of different forms, and when it comes in a form you're not used to, it can be... hard.

...Chisa. I saw you profess the same ideals that I stand for, and I was frightened, knowing that it was my role to hold those beliefs—I worried that you would not be able to protect those you truly cared about. And yet, you've continued to fight even beyond that.

Perhaps... it is in the nature of all life, myself included, to be just a bit selfish.

Well, duh.

...Even after Takehaya does die, Aitelle... I'd like it if we could stay friends.

I concur. It may be your purpose, but nevertheless, you are a genuinely kind woman.

I... would like that very much, I think.

...I've spoken too long. My apologies. I know that... I am not a very fast speaker.

It happens.

Please thank the child who requested this of you. And, all of you... thank you ever so much.

...Please see me in the Skylounge after you've finished speaking to him, Chisa. I would like to give you something.



Yup. We gave it to Aitelle.

Sou: Oh, then I don't have to worry. Takehaya can't get out of taking anything that she's forcing on him! Thanks a lot for helping, guys.

We also get a Miracle Aero.


I mean, the quest board is wiped clean, and I've got zettainai on hand!

We don't get any individual reward for clearing anything out except the reward of having graduated to 'hero-samas', but we do have one more reward left to get.


I don't see why I wouldn't.

There was something I wanted to ensure you received, no matter what.

Made out of that same crystal of Hypnos, it was unmistakable—this was Takehaya's sword.


It had a name inscribed—'Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi'. It was perhaps a bit pompous, but the name of the blade referred to a mythological blade pulled from the body of the great eight-headed snake, Yamata-no-Orochi, by the storm god Susano-o, in Shinto myth. The original blade, or so it's said, was renamed the 'Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi' by a later wielder, Yamato-Takeru, and it—or a blade that resembles it, anyhow—serves as one of Japan's imperial regalia. Depending on your interpretation of history, the 'Tale of the Heike' claims that the original Kusanagi was lost to the waves—but either way, the original, mythological name of Japan's highest-honored blade was inscribed on this sword... perhaps as a declaration by its wielder that he would slay dragons just like Susano-o did.

Takehaya left this blade to me, but I decided that it would be best for you to wield it.

The name, the blade's make and shape... All of it told me that I had been given something genuinely incredible. I felt almost in awe of holding this sword. There was something unearthly about the sensation—Tomoegozen, the blade that had been my partner ever since that fateful day all those years ago, was doubtless a cursed blade, but this, this was a blade that felt like it could pierce curses. I had been on its receiving end before, but...


Are you... alright?

I think she's having a moment.

A blade wrought from the chest of a great snake... A blade whose name imitated the greatest sword of Japan.

I'm honored to hold this, Aitelle. Thank you.

I am glad.

Human lives are fleeting, and yet they can blaze so marvelously...

Someone looks happy.

This might be the best sword I've ever held. I'm just really honored.

well it's certainly flashy ain't it

About as much as the man himself, I suppose.


Once all that was taken care of, and the sun was setting, we all split off to do our own thing. I found myself wandering back in front of City Hall, and looking up at the place we'd managed to build up over this war. When I'd first come here, I had no idea what was going to happen, but... I felt like I was almost to the top. It was almost over.

Heeey! Chisa!

Mio exited the doors, and ran up to me.

Hey, Mio.

Phew. I finally got everything done for today. Everything's in order, took down some notes on the whole Dragon Chronicle business... You?

Well, we've finished up everything on the quest board. I think we're about ready, ourselves.

Cool, cool, so...

There was a moment of silence between us before—

So I was wondering if—

Would you like to—


I mean you don't have to if you—

Not that I want to impose, it's—




Let's go talk to Miku.


I know it's not all that important, especially with the final battle being tomorrow and all, but...

It'll help us both sleep easier, but it'll be hard to explain.

Miku! Hi!




I was really glad Mio knew how she was going about this, because I never really stopped getting flustered trying to make conversation with Miku.

So, I've been wondering something. You don't have to answer me if you don't want, but I've gotta ask. You're not human, right?


Mio! You can't just ask someone that!

See, because before 2012, I lived in a world where you weren't a real person. I got transported to another world, and when I came back, some things were different, like you being real. I was always a big fan, and I still am, but I always thought it was kind of weird. Then Chisa and I got to talking recently, and I think I figured it out. You're a gynoid, right?


That's quite a story, but stranger things have happened.

Yeah, I—


Yes. If we're having this conversation, there's no reason for me not to. You're correct. I'm a gynoid designed to possess the voicebank. Crypton Future Media decided it would be easier to market their new voicebank for music if it was seen as an act of charity by an up-and-coming pop star, and newly developed robotics technology gave birth to me.

And that's why you don't talk much.

The purpose of 'Hatsune Miku', virtual idol, is to be used as a cipher. If I spoke openly in public contexts, it would become clear to people what my actual personality was. At first, it was intended for me to possess no actual personality, but that was unfeasible for basic sentience.

...That's really sad.

Thank you. I make do.

So, in my original world, the technology to do something like that didn't exist, but in this world, it did, even back then. ...I guess that Koron must be right, then. Sorry to barge into your private life.

It's alright.

There was a moment of silence before she continued.

I am aware of all professionally or independently released songs using my voicebank, so I should say that I rather like yours.


When I sing something from the perspective of 'being Hatsune Miku', I am whatever the composer decrees. But less direct songs like yours, where I am simply the vocalist—they tell me a story. Your work is personal. I was very glad when I first met you that you were the kind of person I thought.

...And, uh... what kind of person is that?

You're a strong person, and kind. Your greatest strength is to push through under pressure. However, you're also a lonely person, and without love, you worry that you would have very little—you dislike feeling resentment, and prefer to instead be the kind of person that can help anyone she comes across. You're the right person for this kind of situation.

The concept of an 'idol' is very industrialized, but its spirit—I think that the person who embodies the spirit of an idol here the best is you, Mio, not me.


A performer is an interpreter for the music. Someone who interprets a piece, and that interpretation shows something of themselves. Performance is interpretation, and you have a great creative heart. You have the charisma to reassure people, and to guide them along to your own interpretation.

She does have a lovely singing voice.


What? It's true.

I was made to be an idol, so I've had a long time to think about what an 'idol' really is. I don't think that an idol is meant to be a cipher—I think in the world after all of this, people like you will have the chance to revitalize entertainment into something more genuine. I would like that.

...Me, though? I mean, for one thing I'm in my mid-20s, I've been dating Chisa for nine years now, I'm... pretty big—

All of those are restrictions people have placed on idols for industrial reasons, to create ciphers. You love to create, and I think that you could perform. That's all.


Why not sing?

...Right here?

Sure, why not? It's been a while since I got to hear you sing yourself.

But sing what?


...A performer is an interpreter for the music, huh...

Sure. Okay. I can sing something.


A song means something different for each person it's sung by. It means something different for each person it's sung about, too.

...I don't know how many people got to hear Mio sing, but there was an open window, and the walls weren't that thick. I hope at least a few other people did.

Hitorikiri de aruita atarimae no mainichi
(The days I walked alone felt natural to me)

Kakomareta sekai wo kowasanu youni ikiteta
(I lived in a way that wouldn't destroy my enclosed world)

Kagami ga utsusu no wa usotsuki no egao
(The mirror reflects a fake smile)

Kokoro no kumori wo sakasama ni
(that's the exact opposite of the clouds in my heart.)

Alright, get over here! Your hair's disgusting!

Nooooo!! You can't take off my parka!! No!! Daigoooo!!

...Sorry, Neko.


You really are a cat, huh, kiddo.

Takusan no hitotachi yukikau sora no shita de
(Many people wander under the same sky)

Jibun wo mamoru tame kagi wo kakete ikiteta
(To protect myself, I lived a life caged within myself)

Sonna watashi ga ima shitta shiawase wa
(The happiness I've come to know now)

Ude wo nobashitara todoku mono
(is something I'll find if I reach out my hands)

And... there! Done! Thanks again for your help.

Always, sir. Now we just need—


No! No! Get out! Get out right now!

Hey bro, I was just gonna ask if you wanted some appy juice, I'm making a vending machine run.

...Oh. I'd... yes, it'd be quite nice.

Cool, cool. How about you, tough guy?

I'd enjoy a coffee if you could find one.

Righto. Be right back!

...What happened to her?

Something similar to you, I suppose.

Tobira no mukougawa senobi wa iranai
(It's just on the other side of the gate, I don't have to overdo it)

Arinomama no kotoba de katarikakeyou
(Let's talk with truthful words)

Soshite kono sekai e koko de au hito e
(Thus, to this world, and to the people I meet,)

Hana wo tabaneta ai no uta wa okurou
(I'll give them the song of love that ties the flowers together)

Ooooh, such a pile!

Just offloading all our deep savings.

You had all this lying around and you haven't given us any of it?

A girl's gotta have a nest egg, dude.

I think it's a lovely present~

I'll give you two minutes of luxuriating before you've gotta get back to work.

Whoaaaa! A whole two minutes?

Never mind! I'm down! You're a miracle worker!

ihihihi. praise me more.

Taisetsu na dareka to yorokobi tomoni sureba
(If I share my happiness with someone precious,)

Kakomareta sekai ga itsu no manika hirogaru
(My enclosed world will extend further in a flash)

Hitomi ga utsusu no wa honto no egao
(Their eyes will reflect a sincere smile)

Kokoro no naka made hiraitara
(if I open my heart)

If it's alright, I've got somewhere to be after this.

No, no, go ahead. Thanks for the help.

Private Makita: If we can survive against that we can survive against any dragon, right?

Don't make me do it again.

Don't make us try.

Of course.

Takusan no hitotachi ikusen no omoitachi
(Many people, with so many feelings)

Me ni suru kagayaki wo ryoute de dakishimetai
(I want to embrace the radiance in their eyes with my hands)

Keshite watashi dake no tokubetsu dewanaku
(I'll never be the only special one here,)

Daremo ga kanjiru hazu no koto
(I know everyone feels the same way)



Come with me, would you? I'd like to talk to you.

Tobira no kochiragawa senobi wa iranai
(It's here on this side of the gate, I don't need to overdo it)

Arinomama no kotoba de wakariaeruyo
(And we can understand each other with truthful words)

Dakara kono sekai to koko de au hito to
(So with this world and the people I meet,)

Hana wo tabeneta ai no uta wo utaou
(I'll sing the song of love that ties the flowers together)

...So, um...

I mean, it's not like... I, uh...

Cat got your tongue?


I just... I, um... well, I mean...



I'm sorry. I mean—I'm sorry. I—I mean, I... I'm weird. I know I'm weird. Sorry.

Take your time.

It's just, I've—well, I mean, you know, with the—you're really—

I've—well, um—uhm—you go first.

I wanted to ask you something. You've said things at times that implied you liked me as more than a friend. Am I wrong in assuming that?


I mean, I—I mean—I—well—

Until a few days ago, I wouldn't have considered something like that something I was allowed to consider. I assumed you were joking... but I understand you better now. You don't joke about those sorts of things—or if you do, it's not out of an attempt to hide your feelings.

I just—I—I just—

Go on. It's alright. I'm not going to judge you for anything you say.


It's just, I've liked you for a long time! And I didn't wanna hide it or anything, not really, but I also didn't think you would like me back because I'm weird and loud and annoying and people don't like people like me like that and also because you're you and even though you like women I thought you wouldn't want to and especially after I figured out you were dying but then it turned out we can save you and I just really enjoy spending time with you and I like the way you talk to me and I think you're cool and I think you're cute and I like your hair and and and and and and

...Me, though?


Curmudgeonly, standoffish, foolhardy me? The woman whose inner world is that dark and twisted? You're really going to tell me that that's who you fell for?

That's not all you are. You're kind, and smart, and sweet, even if you have a hard time showing it. You're trying your best, and I think you're so... brave, and strong, and... all those things I could never be, I... I really like you. I think I love you.

Tokiniwa surechigai (tokiniwa wakaremichi)
(Sometimes, we'll disagree; Sometimes, we'll take different paths)

Senaka wo muke nagara (Namida kakushi nagara)
(While we turn our backs on others; While we try to hide our tears)

Kenka mo suru keredo (Kirai to iu keredo)
(We may quarrel, but; We may say we hate each other, but)

Itsudemo omotteru (Anata wo shinjiteru)
(We always think of each other; I always believe in you)

You're such a curious girl. Of all the people you could fall for, it had to be me, eh... You're not very lucky.

That's not true. I think... I think I was really lucky to meet you. I was really lucky to meet everyone here, but... you especially. You've been keeping me company. You're willing to put up with the dumb things I say, even when it makes you mad. And you're... you're so pretty.

...Even in this frail body of mine?

My body isn't great, either.

Oh, as if.

No, I'm serious. There's a lot of good things about it now, but it's still not perfect, and back when I was younger, I really, really hated it. I looked really different. I, um... I actually wear contacts. Did you know that?

No, I didn't.

Yeah. I wore glasses when I was a kid. My vision was really bad, and I cried a lot, so that made it even harder to see. Nobody really paid attention to me until I dyed my hair and...

Until Satsuki.

Yeah. It was always lonely. I was always lonely. It took a lot of work to look like I do now, and... there are still some things I'd change about myself. Like, the obvious, sure, but... still. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I still—

I still wonder whether I'm really allowed to be a woman. Not Satsuki, but... me. Am I allowed to?

Of course you are.

...right, yeah, you would know about facing unique challenges from your body, huh.

Not the same, but better than most, I would say.

Saezuru toritachi ni (Habataku toritachi ni)
(The singing birds; The soaring birds)

Kimochi wo tsutaetai (Sunao ni tsutaetai)
(I want them to convey my feelings; I want them to help me be honest)

Hanashita te no hira ga (Hanareta kokoro ga)
(So that our parted hands; and our separated hearts)

Asu wo tsunagaru you (Asu wa majiwaru you)
(May be joined tomorrow; May meet again tomorrow)

You understand that there's a chance that this fails. I might still be doomed.

I don't care. If that happened, I'd just feel worse if I didn't say something. But...

I meant what I said. We're all going to live. I'm going to make sure of it. If you're dying, I'll save you.

So... yeah. I think I love you. I... I don't—

I love you too.


Hey, it's not as though this is my first love. I clearly am more literate in this than you are.


I think that for however long I live, I'd like you by my side. I'm glad that you told me. Thank you.

...Admittedly, it is somewhat foolish to say something like this the night before what's liable to be the toughest battle of our military careers, but I'm sure you know that.

it'll help me fight harder tbh

If you say so.

So... you do?

I do. It took a while to get used to you, but I think I understand you now. You're a very charming girl yourself. Being given a new lease on life and acting a bit less pessimistically, it's the natural decision.

Sore wa yume no naka no maboroshi dewa naku
(It won't just be an illusion in my dreams)

Negai tsudzuketara todoku mono
(And I'll reach it if I continue wishing for it to be true)

So you—you really mean it? You wanna be my girlfriend?

I do.

That's not a joke, right? You're not kidding me, right?

I'm not.

And you're not gonna... you're not gonna tell me to go away? You're not—?

I want to stay with you, Sumie.

Tobira no kochiragawa senobi wa iranai
(It's right here on this side of the gate, I don't need to overdo it)

Arinomama no watashi de katariaouyo
(Let us meet and talk through our true selves)


Do I need to say it again? Sumie.

Nnnnuhhhh! You're hitting me in the weakpoint! That's my weakness!! No!!

Sumie. Sumie Kazuki is my girlfriend.


I'm gonna explode! I'm really gonna explode! I'm gonna wink out of existence!!

Oh, what's wrong? Something wrong with me saying your name?

Yes! No! Yesno! Noyes! There's nothing wrong and that's what's wrong! I can't, I-I can't even—

Soshite kono sekai to koko de au hito to
(So with this world, and the people I've met)

Hana wo tabeneta ai no uta wo utaou
(I'll sing the song of love that ties the flowers together)

You're cute when you're flustered, you know.


Ehehehehehe. It appears it's payback time.

Oh no, I'm gonna explode! I'm gonna—

Wait. Hold on. I feel another reaction oncoming.


Hey, hold on, don't jump around so much! You might break something!


This is the happiest day of my life. I love you.

Let's hope it doesn't stay that way.

La la, la lalala la la la, lalala lala la lala, la la, la lalala la la la, lalala lalala la...

La la, la lalala la la la, lalala lala la lala, la la, la lalala la la la, lalala lalala la...

La... laaaaaa


You obtained "Diva Insight"!

The EX Skill "Tokyo Arena" is now available!

Haa... haa... hoo...

Miku and I both clapped. The song lost something without the instrumentation behind it, but nevertheless, Mio's spontaneous burst of energy, starting off slow and unsure but rising to a crescendo at the song's peak, was infectious. She wiped some sweat off of her brow.

Oh god. I shouldn't have done that after a full day's work. You're lucky you're a robot, you don't have to sweat.

That's true.

She staggered off of the stage, and I caught her.

But was it fun?

Yeah. Yeah, it was. It's been a while since hte last time I did that.

Of course it'd be something nerdy, right?

Oh come on, it's still me.

I'm glad. It is all about enjoying yourself, after all.

Well, I'm a mangaka first and foremost, y'know. But hey, maybe I'll consider becoming a performer if I've ever got a spare minute.

That's good. No pressure.

The final battle is tomorrow, right?


Then, in that case...

Miku cleared her throat, though of what I'm not sure, considering. Then—

Ah, I see.


Wait wait wait wait I still have a question!


So I get you don't talk because of the whole publicity thing, but does that apply to your private life too? Like... okay. You and the Crunchyroll lady. Is that political? Are you, like...?

Oh! Haha. No. Hime has a lovely smile.

A corporate heiress of anime streaming and a robotic idol's love story from across the Pacific... That's so outlandish it sounds like something I'd write.

But there's no vampires.




That night, I was awoken by a knock on the door. Everyone else was out cold, so I got up to check.

...but he was over there before I had the time to get far.

Oh, sure.

...Pretty drab for the room of a bunch of heroes. But you, I guess it suits fine.

...I'm not sure how to take that.

It wasn't meant to be insulting, at least.


I should tell you ahead of time so you know what to expect tomorrow—

Huh? What? Was I looking at you in a way? Sorry, was it construed as pity?

You had this look on your face like you already knew what I was gonna say.

I mean... I have an idea. But lead the way, please.

It was already dark, so the lights felt a bit more piercing, and their buzz was quite loud. For once, the laboratory was nearly empty—only Kirino and Aitelle waited for us.

...You brought her, huh?

Yeah, I know. It's not like you're in a state to be swinging around a sword anyhow. I wouldn't have gotten this from Aitelle if you were.

So you're gonna wield my sword, huh. How fitting.

It's not just mere strength that's important. It's the strength of your will.

Mizuchi's made a fatal error. It's not power we should be cherishing, but willpower.

The 'will to fight', huh?

It's what makes us human. We all want to fight to protect something, or to do something.

...Well, I'd say you're one of the strongest people I've ever met, in that case.

...Right. Thanks.

But I'm not doing it for power. I'm doing it for the woman I love, to rescue her from her fate. That's why I'll take on this role!

I won't. You're facing it on your own terms. Thank you, Takehaya.

Analyzing the Dragon Chronicle's data on dragon... Takehaya infusion in progress. ...Four... five... all phases complete.

...You've surpassed your teacher, Kirino.

What, by doing it in search of 'willpower'? I'll... never get you fighting types.


Takehaya lurched from his bed, clutching his chest.

...And then there was an incredible burst of light from him.

In the next instant—

he was gone.


Where are you?!

To see you look at me like this, instead...

He was standing in the doorway, and Aitelle went to look—

but he ducked out of the way.

I'm sorry, Aitelle. This is goodbye.

...Chisa. Now that I'm like this, I get it—I get what makes us different. So... you don't follow me, either. Stay yourself, no matter what happens.


And just like that... he was gone.


...What's the deal with this file? It's... weird.

Hm? Weird, how?

It's out of sync with the rest of the edit history. Password-locked, too.

This isn't in any of her personal databases... It's correspondence, isn't it?

Yeah. I tracked that, but there's no record of a communication between machines it could've been made over.

...Um, could you try 'Capgras' for the password?

Oh, that thing she said at Daiba. Sure.

It worked. Lemme see what's...



What... the hell is this? This can't be real. What does this even mean?

!! Miroku! The identifying object!


...Miroku... what do we do?

...I donno.

Next time, the beginning of the end.

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