There's nothing I hate more than people belittling my accomplishments. Absolutely nothing. I prefer being called a hero to it—I prefer fighting to it. To be thought of as a weapon, to be thought of as an other—nothing is worse than people telling me that what I did wasn't even that impressive. I'm not sure where this particular peeve of mine came from, but it's quite bad.

On September 7th, I met a certain human—a Japanese-American swordswoman. Her blade was unorthodox, her fashion eclectic, but nothing was more true about the swordswoman from America than the fact that she did not respect me or think that I had done anything impressive. For that reason alone, I was certain from the day we met that the swordswoman from America and I could never be friends.

...Considering Emille, I might just have a bad track record with Americans.


Part 54: Flapper Girl

She's down to a one on the coma scale... I'll wake her up in three, two, one—!

I was roused from my sleep by a mild electric shock. It hurt.

Quite a few people were crowded around my bed. Jeanne, Nami and Yuki, Mio, Sumie, Richter...

Oh my god you're awake!

Chisa! Oh, thank goodness!

...Mrrrgh. Tell me I didn't lose a month this time.

I immediately tried, on instinct, to get out of bed.

Well, it's not a month.

You still sleep way too dang long when you're like this!

I mean to be fair I think all of us were out for like at least a day?

I was still worried!

Chisa... Please don't push yourself.

Three days ago... Then Fomalhaut's already had time to invade the world, I suppose.

I'm sorry... I couldn't do anything.


Wait, what?

What happened to Kirino?!

While the survivors were escaping the Skytower, there was an incident... he's... unconscious, and in critical condition.


There's... nothing we can do but wait and hope, I suppose.

Chisa... what do you think we should do?

Oh, come on. She just woke up.

I'm aware of that. That's why I'm here. So you've been apprised of the situation?


Good. I'm sure you can see why an operative with a fundamental understanding of Fomalhaut and the True Dragons would be valuable for intel. It's not as though I'm omnipotent.

You have the bedside manner of a sharp rock.

Nobody got anything done worrying about bedside manner.

I blinked.

You're the president of Murakumo?

Acting, but yes.

And you... want me to come to Murakumo HQ?

Much as I am loath to admit it, a mutually beneficial relationship with you would be best for everyone right now. Besides, if I incurred Richter's wrath any more he might try to 'hack' my neck, and that would be an unfortunate setback.

I'm fine.

Whenever you feel sufficiently limber, I suppose.

I waited until Koron and Youka returned from the bar.

Hey, asshole! Who gave you permission to sleep in?

At least it wasn't a month this time.

Yeah, at least.

...You're from the exam on the 2nd, right? Did you guys get emergency signage privileges?

Sardonic Rookie: No different from you, really.

Yeah, yeah, I get it. I'm incompetent. Will you fuck off already? Where's my brother?

Sardonic Rookie: Over by the elevator.

Buncha stupid ingrates.

I grumbled for a bit as I walked.

...shouldn't even have rescued you bunch of bastards, tell me I'm a hero and then act like I'm some burnout who peaked in high school, show you who was picked by fucking focus test...

Babe, are you... good?

I have no idea how you exist in a profession that is predicated on people's opinions of you when this stupid race can be so god damned entitled.

Ain't that the truth. Takes effort to find the good ones, but in the meantime you've gotta hear everything everyone says about you without knowing shit about it.


Taichi: Yeah hi sorry what I'm paying atte—Nee-san!

He grabbed my shoulders.

Taichi: You've been asleep for three days! Do you know how worried I was?!

At least it wasn't a month?!

Taichi: Oh my god, shut up! They tell me you came back nearly dead from the epicenter of the invasion and now you're joking about being unconscious longer?!

No, seriously, last time this happened she was out for a month.

Taichi: And you were out for two days! Don't think you're off the hook yet!

Think about it this way. You got the posting!

Taichi: Well yes I'm excited about that. I mean, I know I don't really deserve it yet, but Emille kind of insisted, you know?

Did she?

Taichi: And I quote. "The boy may have failed his entrance exam, but a sanctimonious brat like him is going to get in either way, so we might as well put him to use." If I translate from Emille, that means, "I like the kid, so let's bring him on."


Wait. Are you and Emille... friends?

Taichi: Eh, yeah, I'd say so.

Polite Rookie: It's a useful friendship to have in the current environment.

Taichi: Hey! Don't you accuse me of nepotism! I deserve this just as much as you do!

Polite Rookie: Oh, I didn't mean that, of course. Just that President Emille seems rather blunt, and translating may be good for morale? I think?

Taichi: Well, with Nishitani over there brooding I'm not sure what we're gonna do about morale yet... B-but I'll figure something out!

He looked at me expectantly.

Of course. If anyone can, it's you.

Who's Nishitani, again?

Taichi: Oh, that's the lady with the purple hair. Asumu Nishitani.

Ah. And you?

Polite Rookie: Shichiro Togetsu, ma'am. I'm 23 years old, seventh son of the current Togetsu line, having moved from my family home in Nara to Tokyo to further career opportunities not in the family business.

What's the family business?

Shichiro: Political subterfuge and the occasional assassination mission. I have no talent for it myself.

That's quite a family business.

Shichiro: Quite. I, however, possess some small aptitude in the art of the Universal Hacking Interface. I aspire to the level of Agent Esslinger, though reaching his level might be quite impossible.


He's kinda depressed right now don't worry if he doesn't respond

Shichiro: Understood. Though my talents may be meager, if they might help my nation and my idols, I shall strive for greatness with my young friend here!

Taichi: You're twenty-three! You're young!

Shichiro: Yes, but you're younger than every member of Unit 13. And me.

Well, it was nice to properly meet you. We have to go to HQ, but I hope to see you doing good things soon.

Taichi: If you get yourself killed out there, I will find you in the afterlife and kill you myself.

Right, right.

Transitory shot to show you we're in the Lobby now.

You can't worry about losing! Every nail that sticks up gets whacked now and then! Get back in the saddle and give it your genki!

Thanks, Sharon.

Unit 13! You guys are all up!

Yeah. Sorry about the wait. I think my body needed time to adjust to the Bloom in the air again.


Yes, ma'am!

Despite our attempts at resistance, the Earth's major cities are all under the Dragons' control.

What do we do? What do we do with the Dragons back? It's only been one year. We hardly have any peace and then it's over, just like that!

With that said. Do you have anything to offer, Captain? If anyone here is an authority on our enemy, it would be you.


Fomalhaut... He's the 5th True Dragon, and he's called the God of Plagues. He's much less passive than Niara was—Fomalhaut prefers to blitzkrieg planets he attacks. You can see it in his Bloom.

Fomalhaut prefers to feed on consciousnesses full of terror and despair. His strategy is to instill as much terror in his prey as possible. The Black Bloom can be lethal just to a touch—a contagion which spreads from the affected area to the rest of the human body, I would wager within the span of an hour given an average human's biology.

So it's a shock and awe strategy. That's why he showed up so soon instead of waiting for us to reproduce or something?

Yes, exactly. In this case, it's quality over quantity. He likely thought that Earth would serve as a unique crop given the circumstances.

In other words, he's going to likely be taking a much more active role in battling us?


Nice. Bring it on.

With knowledge of his strategy, our path forward is clear.

Sitting around and waiting to die will just be giving Fomalhaut what he wants.

However, the Skytower is currently entirely wrapped in the Black Bloom, and the standard red Bloom has infested Tokyo once more—we were only able to clear it from within the Diet Building.

It's a dire situation, but—...yes, Kazuki?

Oh I was just about to say that sounds like our job

Right. I could hardly imagine those four, at least, not continuing to fight, even if Richter looks rather depressed.

I'll continue to fight, of course.

And me too! I didn't join Murakumo not to fight at a time like this.

Your tenacity is startling but appreciated. ...That just leaves you.


Even if I had nobody I wanted to protect—which I do. Even if I didn't live here—which I do.

I'm really goddamn angry. So I'm gonna paint Tokyo with the blood of every last one of his spawn!

Now you're speaking my language!

Ah, yes! Well, all of Japan, excepting this Diet Building, is already under the dominion of the Dragons. We can't even venture outside the building limits.

As before, we'll need to slay Dragons one by one, and reclaim territory bit by bit. You know how this goes.

Alright. We got any Imperials on the radar?

It's just around the corner, but major abnormalities consistent with the presence of an Imperial Dragon are present. The Bloom has been spreading daily from the area, so it would be... unwise to leave it be.

Ah. I imagine our intelligence hasn't gotten much farther, then.

That's correct, ma'am.

That's how things stand. Any questions?

Well... Unit 13 is in a bit worse shape than any of us expected.

That's true enough. We're getting back into the swing of things fast, but not fast enough yet.

We've got a lot of wounded, and I don't think we can take on Dragons.


And that would be?

You'll understand soon enough. With that in mind, consider this your formal mission notice.

Harvest three units of Dz from the corpses left behind, and get back in the swing of things while you do. If only you were in peak condition already—but no, it's useless thinking about that. You've got someone off of remission, a new operative... Of course, it's not like you aren't already in the 99th percentile of humanity even now...

Can you stop muttering to yourself about how disappointed you are?

I'm not disappointed. It's just a fact we'll both have to deal with. I fully believe in your ability to reclaim your former glory. Now, Shizuka, all hands to the Diet Building Plaza! We'll see you off.

What are we gonna do without Kirino...


We have to keep working the best we can so everything is alright when he gets back.

This 'shock and awe' bastard... I'd kill him myself if I could, kicking us while we're down!

That's our job, kiddo.

Masaki, as he ever is, is having a normal one.

We walked out of the door to head to the Diet Building Plaza.

Unfortunately, we were beset by a pair of hecklers.

Uhhh... hi?

Do we know you?

Nah, if you don't remember it, that's fine. You guys are this country's heroes.

After all we'd heard about you, all the rumors about your 'legendary' Unit 13, I'd hoped to have a little sport here. What a disappointment that was!


Who the hell are you?

Better than you, is what I am. 'Human Dragon' my ass, ha!

Hey, Izumi! Don't cause any problems here. We're still assigned to this area until our unit arrives. Act like a grown-up.

S-sorry, Sho...

Wow. Okay.

To answer your question.

Keep your nippy dog on a leash, Sakuraba-san. She has poor manners, saying that to people she's just met.

Trust me, I know. Sometimes I wonder if she's capable of acting her age. Anyway, we're all soldiers here, so I'd like to see what you've got.

Shouji walked away. Izumi pointedly lingered.

...For the record, yes, it was quite obvious from her accent.

Izumi, right? Here in Japan we have a phrase for people like you, 'kuuki yomenai'.

It means someone who's incapable of reading the atmosphere of a situation and acting appropriately. Read the room!

Also, you are ethnically Japanese yourself!

WE could try to—?!

Izumi! Let it go!

Sorry, Sho, it's just that they were—W-wait up! Sho!

Kill I'll kill you I'll kill you I'll kill you kill you kill you

Sweetie, here, your gum.

I had to chew for a good five minutes before I could taste it.

Hah. Hahhh.

here lemme bag that for you

...Are you alright?

I would recommend you give Dr. Hashizawa's Info-Chew! a taste if you want to feel complete and utter misery.

...At any rate.

Did you see two unpleasant brats come through here?

What? No. Come on. It's time to go.

We've beaten them before. We have the knowledge, the experience.

And in the name of that ideal—


Tokyo Station, huh...

I miss trains.


But we're not getting trains back unless we get out there and give it our best!

True story!

The Marunouchi Skyrift.

In keeping with his shock and awe strategy, the palace taken by Fomalhaut's first Imperial was a striking indicator of Japan's utter defeat. Wrapping and entangling Tokyo Station, prismatic vines of a curious crystal wrapped into the sky, tearing the land beneath it and holding it aloft—and beneath it, a rift in space, as though the entirety of Tokyo Station had been torn out of reality, leaving a gaping maw of unreality in its place. What would happen, I'm sure many wondered, if you fell into that rift? Would you fall endlessly? Would you simply cease to be?

What... the hell is that

...Good god.

65.7% corrosion rating by the Bloom... the whole station, dragged into a localized hyperspace.

It's almost kinda pretty.

We need to remain on guard.

Right. It looks like we can get in by following this vine. Richter, can you ensure we don't fall?

I'll do my best.

I felt a message from this. 'Welcome', it said. 'Welcome back to the realm of the Dragons. You're never, ever leaving.'

You've been ordered to return once you've obtained three units of Dz. Take it piece by piece, and don't overdo it.

Obviously, Dragon spatial distortions are already impressive, but to think this one can tear through space itself...

We've got a brutal first opponent on our plates, everyone.

Shichiro: Dz is highly valuable material we obtain by defeating Dragons!

Yup. Why are you telling me this?

Shichiro: I believe it'll be on the exam!


No, Sumie. We'll go around the side.



im happy now



Blossoms are about as you might remember them. Kickbirds aren't too threatening, but are mostly notable for having relatively high MDF compared to everything else, so they're more weak to physicals than magic.

Do you think Sega might've taken out a lot of advertising space here before the first time?

Unit 10 wasn't looking too hot.

Taichi: This is as far as we go! We have to use an Escape Kit!

Asumu: Argh! W-what?! I can still do this! Argh, why am I burdened with these fools?!

Himuro: Unbelievable. I have no words. At least this isn't your first taste of anomalies.

So Taichi is an acrobat who uses polearms, and Togetsu is a YUUHI operative. What's Nishitani's claim to fame?

Himuro: Frankly, I'm still not sure how to describe the cockamamie crap she gets up to. Throws around pieces of cardboard like she's playing some kid's game.

Asumu: How dare you?! Catch Monsters is more than just a kid's game!

Oh, I see. So she's a wizard who uses trading cards as her focus? That's neat.

Taichi: Yeah, but instead of just summoning something to use a Fire spell or something, she keeps running in to get hit and try and trigger some kind of trap combo?

Asumu: Barbed Wire has a higher outgoing damage multiplier than Fire 1!

Taichi: You have a higher incoming damage multiplier! ...Where's Shichiro?

Over there.

Taichi: Heeeeey! Shichiroooo! What are you doing over there?!


Himuro: ...Look, we're just hunting small fry. You guys go on ahead.

Try not to get hurt too bad, Taichi!

Poor kid's really got his work cut out for him.

If anyone can do it, it is him.

The overall team dynamic is off, but I'm not sure how to fix that quite yet. I'll need to think on it.

MORE GOLD $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Alright, Sumie, which way's the loot?

heef heef. heef heef.

i founded them

These items were in the first game, but I never bought any for free and there really weren't any in chests. Flashbangs let you escape any non-scripted battle, simple as.

And down here is...

Oh, Miss Tomiko!

Tomiko: Oh, thank goodness! I'm saved. I couldn't move a muscle, I was so afraid. Come on now, help me up.

That sounds fantastic.


We haven't rescued Tatsuji, but when we do we'll be able to use the baths.

also loot

You two limber?

As a biscuit!

This is gonna be fun.

We'll handle the back! You two go all out!

The game finally allows us to start using Exhaust here. Exhaust is back. That mechanic is back now. Okay anyway

Our first regular Dragon variety of 2020-2! Twinhorns have no particular weaknesses, but they shouldn't be taken lightly.

So while you guys were out—

I woke up first by the way

—I was working with Masaki on a new trick actually. Y'all wanna help me test it out?

Always. Show us what you've got.


Alright, now slam this ponce!

Satsuki's new toy, Mine Toss, is a skill with some pretty interesting parameters! While it deals lower damage than her Aimed Shot attack, it's also her cheapest offensive move (giving her a toy to deal more damage without running out too quickly), and as you can see, it inflicts the Mine status. Basically, until the end of the third turn it's been set, the Mine will store a certain percentage of all damage the enemy takes, and detonate for that damage afterwards. A Level 1 Mine Toss stores 20% of all damage taken, and caps out at a possible 250 damage if you deal a total of 1250, for instance.

Mine is guaranteed to be applied and is an actual ailment for all that implies—in fact, it also comes with a guaranteed Hack Weakness for as long as it's on, if you're using Trickster and Hacker together! It's a pretty neat toy for Satsuki overall, diversifying her gun-based offensive portfolio quite a bit, and while the damage is never going to be the main contributor to your DPS, it's nice to have.



Hey, babe. So this one is... a dinosaur, right?

Correct. It's a theropod. While the arms are technically larger than you might expect, the bone structure is certainly theropodal. As such, it's a dinosaur.

Okay just cheOW

It's rearing up to attack!

Looks like we might have to weather it.


Aww, you healed me! Thanks!


Damn it!


It's almost down!

(great shot! excellent.)


Good thinking, Sumie!


Yeah, that's a really neat trick!

Well... Some of my little doohickies were designed by Dr. Akaneno, you know?

But I shouldn't rely on that. I've got to make my own stuff. I have to take a bigger hand in the stuff I made.


no, it's fine.

Incidentally, now that we're here, I feel like I should mention that all of the new dungeon themes in 2020-2 absolutely whip.

Indeed. Even just up from sickbed, they're strong. The title of Hunter isn't honorary, after all.

Truth is, Mio, I always really admired your mom before. I mean, she was out there, proud, queer, making everything work for her. I kind of wanted to be like that, just... making people accept me through sheer force of personality, you know?

She makes it look effortless. But I didn't really think about what it must be like to be related to her, and seeing you and Chisa be related to her... it kinda... put this bad taste in my mouth.

oh nice sweet

So I've been doing a lot of thinking this last year. I don't wanna be like that, you know?

So, I decided I should take the wheel more!

To be fair, you did already help develop that saxitoxin on your knives, at least.

You are quite an intelligent young lady, Sumie.


You're a really nice girl, Sumie. I think you care way too much about other people to ever be like her.

I'm glad we all understand what a lovely catch my girlfriend is.

Haha, yeah.


Roper Bs are like regular Ropers with their paralysis attack, but can also buff party attack. They're not too sturdy, though.

Pvt. Hoshino: Thanks for taking out that Dragon! I don't know whether to go back or not. I mean, I already knew this, but... Dragons are majorly tough!

There are a few nicer status items they added to 2020-2. Paracel Alls... cure the entire party of Paralysis! Stunningly!

Alright, there's another one.

Follow my lead, team!

Boom! Nice!

Scripted fights in 2020-2 use Ever-Building Rage, but now that we're into regular on-map Dragons, the new area Dragon theme, Wings Beat Back, starts playing. I do not like it as much, either, but it's one of the songs I think is most improved by its DIVA version.

Oh, yeah, and it's a Salamander. Much like in the first game, they're Ice-weak guys whose only noteworthy skill is Fire Breath. Notably, while weakness multipliers were always a flat 50% in the first game, this time they vary in efficacy—this one's 30%.

It seems these ones aren't quite as sturdy.

Their defense stats are lower and they've got somewhat less HP, so Salamanders are a lot less threatening than Twinhorns overall.

Piss off!

Down there

Free armor upgrade! It's +4 DEF, +5 MDF over the basic Uniform. I give it to Chisa for the moment.

One more. No juking this one.

We got you guys patched up enough?

It's been a lot easier with you around, Mio.

I try.


Ahhh, I can already feel myself getting stronger. Being a Hunter does come with its perks.

Here you go! It's rearing up!

Wrong... target!


Let's just get each other up! It'll die in just a second!


I'm the best! I'm the best!


Yes, I'm fine.

Alright, we'll be right back!


Those two kids are awful brave to be playing out here these days.

Good work. It's been a while since I saw any of you fight, but it won't be long until you're back at this rate. I must confess I'm relieved.

You can tell? We fought for less than a minute.

I watched some against Niara.

As you've likely heard, we'll be allocating Dz using the Conference Room from here on. Shizuka!

Y-yes, ma'am!

Whoaaaaaa... what a job for someone like me! I can't believe what you're saying... I-I'll do my very best, ma'am!

For the time being, call a meeting of our primary operatives. Unit 13, head on over.


Well, then, let's not delay. Please come in, right behind me!

Pleaaaase send Dz to our beloved Factory! I promise it'll be worth your while!

The construction menu is the same, but now we get silly little quips from the appropriate characters when we select and repair a given area.

Well, that is what we got them for.

You're still coming through for us! Nice work, guys!


Unit 4 wanted to say thank you, so please go see them! After that, President Emille wanted to see you.

Thanks to you guys, we've been able to soup up the gear here a fair amount!

I heard about your request, kid. I can get this upstart doing what you want just fine.

The item shop has added Heal Aero 2s, Blinol Zs (a slight heal and Blind cure), Flashbangs, and Camo Tools, and we've unlocked the armor and weapon shops.

So, here. I figure I can give your megaphone pal some little kitty ears and that might improve the acoustics or something? Make it all, "Nya~!" or whatever Reimi said.


See? I knew you could do it.

There's armor in the shop for both sets of armor (Idol is a third light armor class along with Psychic and Hacker), and generally, equipment selection can be a bit more varied and polarized between like, evasion or phys defense or magic defense or whatnot in this game than in the first one. Mio will also frequently have the option of weapons that either buff her physical or magical attack. I tend to prefer the magical attack ones.

Did you bring us our li'l materials, Satsuki? Didja? Didja?

You know it, my bud

So, we spent a while exchanging materials with the dev team again. Those three can really get to work with just the smallest amount... It's pretty impressive.


We're baaaack!

If you don't mind, I'd like you all to sit in as well.

Just so. In the last war, the United States lost over 70% of its territory and 90% of its people. However, David and the core of their government escaped Washington before its destruction by fleeing on an intact aircraft carrier. They've set up an interim government in Los Angeles to oversee reconstruction.

I heard about what happened in America. That Muller guy... sounds like he was a good leader.

He was a good man, and brave. David was his hand-picked successor.

E-excuse me!


You too, David.

Ms. Emille, members of Murakumo, everyone. I'm glad to have this chance to speak. Let's begin by thanking God we're all safe.

We've been able to hold out on our side. How are you doing?

We've been able to beat back the invasion thus far, with some difficulty... but it's only a matter of time. Our promise to you remains unchanged.


They should be there within the day.

SECT11? What's that?

A United States special forces unit, selected solely based on ability. You could say they're America's equivalent to Murakumo.

Reinforcements are coming?! That would be a huge help!

Your assistance is appreciated, David. SECT11 can boast of some significant achievements in the last Dragon War. Combined with Unit 13, they'll be a formidable fighting force. ...That said, affairs being how they are, I didn't expect you to dispatch SECT11 to assist us so readily.

That... is true, yes.

And the True Dragon's stronghold is Tokyo. If we follow the course of the previous war, slaying the True Dragon will destroy the rest. We may not fully understand the situation, but we're not here out of charity.

Naturally not. I'm glad you're quick studies.

Things as they are, we need to cooperate. It seems as though you're doing a good job of that yourself—unless I'm mistaken, I was under the impression you and the captain of Unit 13 were mortal enemies of some stripe.

War makes strange bedfellows.

Sure enough. I'll be in contact again once our forces have arrived.

The transmission has ended.

Sounds like we'll be getting the help we need. We'll await their arrival to begin our plan in earnest. ...What's that look on your face?

An American equivalent to Murakumo, eh? A few of them may have arrived early, in that case.

Oh, those... what'd you call them... 'unpleasant brats'? True, they can be a rowdy bunch. What'd they look like?

Two siblings. Blue hair. One was this guy with goggles, the other was his little sister, had this funky-looking sword and a big ponytail.

Ah. Shouji and Izumi. I take it she told you you 'weren't shit', or something along those lines?

I really don't like her.

Well, good. Then we can work to get a leg up. I'm ordering the SDF and you lot out to Marunouchi to continue reconnaissance in Marunouchi with your improved gear. Let's get some intel. That alright?

That should be fine.

I'm good for it, too.

Well, then. Move out! Carry out your assignments!

Next time, America! Fuck No!

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