Part 44: A Raging Empress's Banquet

I'm climbing, I'm climbing!

Where's that lazybones captain of yours, anyhow?

It's a big city. I imagine she'll pop out the second we find a good place to set up an escape point.

These wyverns aren't kidding around.

This is the dragons' last base in Tokyo. I imagine they're rather protective of it.

Oughta be protective of their FACES!


I hope when Chisa arrives we can have a discussion about the decor. I imagine she'd have quite a few thoughts.

The floors of Tokyo Tower's viewing deck aren't too complex, but they are labyrinthine enough to make me double back occasionally.

This Dragonlord bumps into me while Youka and Koron are at about half health, and it's enough to put me on the back foot and actually kill me once before I paste it here. These guys are no joke.

Man I'm really glad that glass is still there.

When I was a child, I was rather afraid of heights.

Oh yeah?

I am very glad I'm not anymore. Otherwise, I likely would've curled up into a ball, oh... back at the inverted City Hall.


I set up here on the first turn and let the second Microdragon run into the fight. I also turn on EXP and SP Bonus.

It pays out pretty alright.

...Oh yeah, I put the SP Up on Satsuki at some point. She has two trees of skills. She likes SP.

Thanks. You too.


With a whopping 1000 HP, the Schwarzer Tod is the second-toughest variety of random enemy the maingame has to offer. They're much like the Deathscissors before them, but are big and buff bois.

...It's still not that tough, though. It's barely sturdier than the Flying Sharks, and has lower MDEF, too.

Another damn dead-end.

Can't keep me away forever, Hikasa.

You two got the little guys?

Got it!


Ooooh, I like that.

Fullmoon Vamp is Satsuki's ultimate Dagger skill. It's like Vampire, but it splits the healing across the whole party and does some more damage. It's pretty minor healing unless Bleed is involved, but it's nice.

Anyway, POW

No way forward but through, huh?

That's the way I like it! Let's rumble!

And here they are, folks. Criminal Dragons are the big fucker—our strongest variety of Bloom wall dragon, and the burliest regular dragon breed at 6000 HP. While their defenses aren't too high, they're incredibly beefy and have a genuine expansion on the Destroyer Dragons they're succeeding from, who you'll recall were already very threatening. We start off like normal for this team, with Hard Target, Assassin's React, and Concentrate.

Headbutt is exactly what it says on the tin—it's actually stronger than Jump Kick before it.

You ain't got shit on me, pal!

Eat it! Gotta hit harder than that to kill me, big guy!

Yeah, this is what I'm talking about! C'mere!

Ma'am, that is a very large dragon!

...but once they lose a third of their health, they UNLEASH. Their moveset expands, too—this is when they get really scary.

Tch! It's still standing?!

Watch out!



Typhoon Lariat randomly hits targets... like, 3-5 times, I think? It does a lot of damage—as you can see here, it pasted Satsuki from full health.

Guh! Why can't I—

This version of Muscle Eye inflicts Skill Seal, rather than Slow. This does exactly what you think it does. He hit Koron with it. That's bad.

I've got Satsuki up!

What the hell is—

It appears to be blocking your muscle memory reception!

Not anymore it ain't!

There. You two should be alright now.

Ugh. If they're getting to the point they can do something that precise...

Good thing we're here now, then.

More stairs.

I believe there should only be one more floor before we find Mizuchi. Jeanne?

Oh! Yes, um, that should be the case. Sorry, there's a lot going on, and—

Do you know when Chisa's gonna be here?

She's at the foot of the building now, looks like. And—oh, yup, that Death Jackal did not look like it enjoyed that.

It appears we're above the cloud later.

This sort of spatial warping is quite something, isn't it.

Another one of you, huh? C'mon!


MAN she's cool

Nice drop, Youka. We got this one down quick.

Another shield-wielder. We've got this.

They had this.

...Do I ever walk into one of those parries on-screen? They're really nasty.

Two walls in a row, huh...

Think she's scared?

She has reason to be. If I were in her shoes, I would be petrified.

Let's be real here Richter, you would never be in her shoes. You have way too little self-confidence.



How big... is this damn floor?


It can't be much further. You're almost there!

Yup~ Plenty of room to go wildcat!

We should all take on that old hag together! I wanna give her a piece of my mind!

That's their job. We'll be watching your back.

Are we allowed to clear out the rest of this floor first

I know how you guys work.

thank you

You two are real good kids.

The time I got let me set up Destroy React and a veil on Youka. Koron used Manafloat so Satsuki got to use two Rush Shots for free. He was barely out of his shackles before he was dead.

One more wall, huh...

Let's break it down, girls!

And Richter!

Thank you, Youka.

You can see by the MP amounts that these endgame fights can be pretty draining. Koron and Gun Satsuki are the most MP-intensive characters in the game, mind, but still.

Seriously? Stairs down?

There better be something damn good down here.

Oooh! May I see that? I believe that would be very helpful to me.

It's numerically weaker than the Dreamcast, but this is the endgame weapon we want on Richter. It's not a large boost, but that 5% is a boost to the success rate of Richter's most important skill—it's just flat-out good.

...Oh, and the other path from there on 4F? It's a dead end. We've cleared out all four floors now!


There's no better place to put this, and it's not too relevant since we've got all of our endgame gear from sidequests and pickups save for Chisa and Satsuki's ultimate armors (which'll be soon,) but we've got the Dz now for the final facility upgrade in the game!

And it's all thanks to you, Unit 13. You gathered the materials to do it. Thanks. Really. If there's anything you need, come see me. That's the construction unit's... no, my wish.

Reimi holds an armor upgrade for Chisa and Satsuki until we get them.

The Frostknife and Subzero Claw he holds can inflict Freeze, but we're set for weapons. Sorry, Keima.

And Waji now stocks Dragon Dews, the best MP restorative, and Hypno Crystals, the best revive items.

That's it from the base—we're clear out.

Only sixteen dragons left. Now, I believe we have an appointment to negotiate a raise from our boss.


I'd climbed up the tower by myself up to that point, but the four of them finally met up with me, coming up behind me on the stairwell to the top of the observation platform.

Ah, Chisa! There you are!

I swung Ame-no-Murakumo to clean it of blood, and the blood of the last few monsters I'd killed splattered against the wall.

She's up this stairwell, right?

Yup yup. You caught up just in time, Cap!

Good. Let's go, then.

Probably, just past here is—

Sorry, I thought I could stay quiet. But let me say something too! Uh, umm...

...Ah, sheesh. This is the most important moment in human history and that's all I can come up with.

That's enough. Thanks, Kirino.

Yeah? That's enough, huh? Well, I mean, I should be the one thanking you! I guess I'm gonna feel like a rookie until the very end... but really, thank you. If we restore peace to Tokyo, and the whole world, I'm gonna owe lots of people lots of favors. But I'm just one scientist!

...And he's gone. Does he really act like your boss? Classic Kirino.

From here on, our comms can't reach you. We can only navigate for you this far.

Good luck, you guys.

We're gonna kick some ass and save the day! Mark my words, kids.

...Come home safe, you guys. Chisa.

So what did you and they need to talk about, anyhow?


Huh? Sorry.

...We'll talk about it after the fight. It'll take a bit. Koron, Youka, can you still fight?

Sure. You alright to fight?

Of course. Take point. Richter, Satsuki, triage.


If I'd run into them sooner, maybe I would've had time to explain. Maybe. But for now, the beat inside my heart was louder than anything else—the almost painful throbbing calling me to the highest ring in Tokyo.

You won't run from me anymore.

Hey, shithead! Wakey wakey, we're making a house call!

You aren't going to run away anymore.

You're going down, lady! Ain't no dragon that can beat us in a straight fight!

...And still, you stand there at the front of the pack, do you.

I'm disappointed in all of you. I suppose that in the end, no human can become more than just an animal.

And yet this realm of yours reeks of Japan. You're still tied to it, deep down. All of this barking you're doing is just the wailing of a guard dog on a leash, crying to animals driving by in a van to the pound for death that you are the same. You had the power to break free, but here you are, running away instead. You're the disappointment, Hikasa.

...Have you been rehearsing on your way up? You're going to steal my spotlight here, Chisa.

Chisa Inomiko... I will not tolerate your existence here, or that of your unit!

You're going down!

I'll tear you to shreds!

I'll support you as best as I can, everyone! Let's take it home!

You got this, guys!

I'll cut every last one of those tentacles to pieces. Prepare to die.

Here we are at the peak of Tokyo, and it's time to fight everyone's favorite gaslight gatekeep girlboss! 20,000 HP, no weaknesses, and a host of varied attacks—the Dragoness lives up to the hype. She's the toughest opponent in the game as of yet. She doesn't really have any gimmicks, though, so to speak—she's all about directly murdering you extremely hard.

Go on, then. Hit me.

Don't mind if I do!

Shit! She's not kidding around.

As though I ever needed your power. Behold, Koron Nagataka, as I surpass you with my own two hands!

Fireball's pretty brutal. Natsume is actually slightly stronger on magic than she is on physicals, and this one hits all targets and inflicts a 14-damage, 10% offense debuff, 5% defense debuff Burn 25% of the time.

Your claws are nothing compared to mine!

Oh yeah? We'll see about that. Youka!

On it!


You aren't going to escape us!

Nice thing: Fantasy Zone can't take Concentrate.


You think that's going to defeat me? You may as well attempt to cut down this very tower!

Oh, I've been waiting a long time to do this to you, bitch!

Then let me help you do it again!

Tch! Bastard, I'll—Get over here—!

Thunderball doesn't do that much more damage than Fireball, but it has a 55% chance to inflict a Paralysis that negates... 55% of the time. Paralysis ain't fun, especially at odds like those.

Are you all okay? We'll attempt to treat you now, Youka!

No need, I've got it!

Ugh. Thanks.

I continued readying myself, barely noticing the fact that I'd been healed.

Your vaunted counters aren't much good now, are they?!

Burn to cinders, my beloved Unit 13!


Damn it! You just won't lay down, will you?

You don't know the half of it!

Feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, Hikasa!


Hrgk! Damn... you! Nagatakaaa!

Hey, so, did you know that Dark Invasion + Concentrate can do kind of a lot of damage? It can. Natsume only has 100 MDF, the exact same amount as Zero Blue, so Koron's batting pretty hard here.

Okay, looking good!

You—! Begone from here!

Sealing Gaze inflicts Skill Seal, basically guaranteed.

Didn't zap me well enough that time, shithead!

You're open!

You damnable humans... I will teach you your place! I am your god, and you will gaze upon me and despair!

Once she reaches half health or so—a benchmark we rocketed past thanks to Koron—Natsume will end the turn with this cinematic, signaling her pattern shifting to her second phase.

You good?

Fine. Thanks.

I'll show you what it means to fear your better! Tremble!

She's readying all she has.

Then I'll give back just as well!

Youka's fist did its best to barrel straight through Mizuchi's stomach, aiming right for the spine. She couldn't quite pierce through, but the blow was brutal nonetheless.


It's Drill Crawler, baby! Big damage, huge regeneration—what's not to love?

I should mention, since she won't get to use it, that Natsume has a buff she uses at very low health—or maybe it was cut—that gives her a 70% defense buff for 4 turns and 200 HP regen for 15. I honestly don't remember ever seeing it, but it does exist in the data, so I'm doing my due diligence.

Alright, make me tremble, then!

...You'd better make it count, Natsume Hikasa.

Waves of icicles pierced through us, rocketing up from the ground in droves. Koron fell to the ground, grunting, bloodied.


Chisa! Youka! Are you alright?

Still standing!

Icicle Eden is Natsume's strongest skill, and, uh... I mean, look at it. It's (200-MDF)x2.5, for crying out loud. It's a lot of damage. It pasted Koron in one hit, and what's more, it can inflict a DOT debuff, too. It's some real shit.

Do I look like I'm trembling?!

Attack me at your own peril, then! I'll rip you all apart!

Just a damn copycat, aren't you...!

That's right—She even has her own veil! Much like Koron's, it counters contact attacks with an Electric attack that has a chance to inflict an, admittedly weaker, Paralysis.

You didn't kill me quickly enough.

I'll kill you!

Stay down.

Even after this... I can't find the strength to defeat you? But you... The humanity I discarded! The powerless people I devoured! I—I still don't have enough power...

Give it up. You're done.

How... You...! Why—why are you here? Fighting me?!

Isn't that obvious? It's because you're a monster. You killed innocent people. You messed everything up. We—

Not you! You! Chisa! Why?! I know—I know you saw it! I know you understand now! How can you still keep fighting?! Why can't I surpass you?! Why are you here, fighting me?! WHAT DO YOU WANT?!

You wanna know?

I took a step forward.

Hey, don't. She might—

Youka put a hand on my shoulder to try and stop me, so in response—


—I jabbed the hilt of my sword into her stomach, knocking her back and staggering her. I heard her gasping for air behind me.

You want to know why I'm here?

It's because I want to hurt you.

I hate you with every fiber of my being. I want to kill you. I want to make every instant of your death as agonizing and horrific as possible. I want to stab, slice, and strike you until you're nothing but an unrecognizable mush on the floor. I want you to cry knowing you were never good enough.

I want you to be nothing. I want to rip you to pieces so utterly that even the memory of Natsume Hikasa disappears in the wind.

I took another step forward.

N-no. No! Stay back!

What was that you said? "I'll show you what it means to fear your better?" That's a good line. I think I like it.

Get away from me! Don't touch me!

You want to know what I want? I've always, always, always—!


T-these readings—?! What the?!

You won't! I won't let you! I won't let Homura beat me!

What the hell?!

Was that supposed to hurt me?


Richter?! What's going on?!

I don't know! I don't know how these sorts of readings could be possible!

Don't come near me! Don't come near me!

It's always about Homura with you, isn't it. Always wanting to beat Homura, always wanting to surpass her... Ehehehehehehe. It's funny.

You thought if you broke a little toy, you could win. But you didn't think about what you were doing, did you?!

Why?! Why won't you die?!

Aww, that almost hurt a bit! That's cute.

...What... the hell is going on?

The ground's shaking! Everyone, get down! We're going to get thrown off the roof if we don't duck!

Aren't you happy? You'll get to see what you've always been trying to find. Here's your precious power, Natsume.


So this... is the power... of a True Dragon...


When she collapsed to the ground, I stabbed her again. And again. And again. I pulled out my blade and I slammed it down again, slicing her up like a steak.

Is it everything you wanted?! Is it?! Are you happy?! Ehehehehehehahahahahaaaa! Look! Look! Look, Natsume!


I hate you.

I hate you. I hate you.

I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

I hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate you hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate!!

I'd split apart every tentacle from her body by now, and her limbs clearly weren't functioning. A pool of blood grew larger and larger beneath her as I struck and struck and struck, again and again, her eyes unable to stay open from the pain.

Stupid little thing! Thinking you could become a god when you're not even worth the dirt on my shoe!

Always laughing at me behind my back! Grinning to yourself thinking about what a stupid little novelty I was! You despicable little worm! Die! Die! Die!


Oh? Why? Have you ever afforded anyone that luxury? Did you ever stop to think that maybe this poor, sad little thing you called a Captain would rather die than fight?!

I felt my mouth beginning to salivate. I knelt down, and pinned her, my arms on her shoulders, my legs on her legs. Only two of her eyes remained open, now, so they could stare right into mine.

Ehe. Ehehehehe. Ehehehehehehehehahahahahaha, aaaah. You think we're alike, huh? We're nothing alike. You could never dream of being like me, Natsume. You could never even imagine how much I hate you.

Stop. Yeah... Maybe everything should just stop. Wouldn't that be lovely? If everything just stopped, I could be with the people I love forever. Wouldn't it be wonderful?

I vaguely heard people talking. Richter was saying something about the informational fields in the area beginning to destabilize. Even Youka could barely stand up with how badly this whole tower was trembling.

I don't need anything anymore. Yeah. Let's just stop everything.

But I couldn't pay attention. I didn't want to.

Do you want to help me? Natsume?

I was so







Suddenly, I was being yanked off of Natsume by a pair of hands I didn't have it in me to resist. Mio spun me around to face her.

Stop it! You're better than this! Just stop!

And what do you know?! What do you know about who I am?! I, I, I—!

With tears in her eyes, Mio wrapped her arms around me. And then the shaking... stopped. The tower's... and mine.


I fell to my knees.

No! No! No! Don't touch me! I'm not real! I don't deserve for you to touch me! I don't!

I don't care what you think!

She didn't let go.

I, I, I! No! No! It's not real! None of it is real! I can't take it! I can't take it anymore! No more! Please, no more! I can't take any more! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

Once the shaking subsided, the other four ran over to me.

Chisa! Please, are you alright? I—!

No! I'm not alright! I was never alright! I'm never going to be alright! It was all a lie! Everything was a lie!

Sumie knelt down to hug me, too.

Hey. It's okay. We're here.

I'm a monster! You saw it! That's what I am! That's what I'm really like! I'm—! I'm—!

I'm not Chisa Inomiko! I'm not even Raven Hillshead! I'm a monster! I don't deserve any of this! I don't deserve any of you! I don't deserve to exist! I shouldn't exist! I never should've existed in the first place!

I don't care. I love you.

Yeah. Me too.

Same here.

As do I.

You're family.

I can't... I can't take it... Why? Why could you ever love me? Why could any of you accept me? I'm... I'm a monster... I'm... I...

I cried, and I cried, and I cried. I cried and cried and cried and cried. At some point, after it had turned into dry sobbing, Mio stood up for a moment.


...I always wished you were my mom. I have a lot of happy memories with you.

...Why... did you stop her? It's the... natural order of things. The weak... devour the strong.

It would've hurt her. And you were scared, too. You were begging her to stop.

I love you, Aunt Natsume.


I'll always love you, no matter how anyone else remembers you. I'll always remember the good times, when you were the mother I needed.

...A girl who loves beasts. Like a... fairy tale—!

Mio... tell me. What did I... want this power... to become?

I don't know.

...Someone... please tell me. Tell me... what I wanted...

In a flash of light, she burst into dust, scattering on the wind.


And everything... all the hate, all the anger, all the sorrow, all the heartbreak, everything... it all flew away from me, too. I stopped sobbing just as Mio started to cry herself. I just slumped over, hollow.

I understood now. I understood everything.

And in that moment, there was nothing beyond the truth but an empty, grey expanse.

Next time... the truth.

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