Part 60: Soaring Dragon


We ought to try and clear this cavern out on the way.

As long as you hurry!

We're hurrying!

Those overconfident pricks'll still be there, Emille.

Glad to see you're in good spirits, at least.

Man of Dignity: How could I not be? Even for just a moment, I get to see our very own Unit 13 in action!

I got you blue.


Armanos are back, and they're pretty similar to their showing in the first game, being big bunguses that roll in on atcha.

Advance, creatures of the night!

Attack Beat is a good skill.

This lumbering fool's almost down!

I would recommend you hurry!


Great job, Mio.

I do my best. As a master of VFX, I need to do what I can.

Another two-way split.

we should take the right path first imo

Okay, this time I know what's gonna happen.

Slay with haste!

How dare you?!

Geez, girl.


Alright, we're through.

Is it romantic to have someone who flips out over you like that?

I think it's sweet. Might not be for everyone, though.

I certainly wouldn't complain.

...Let's save the tube for later.

Oh. This is all that's over here.

i thought we should go that way first to give you more time to prepare for it

That's kind of you. Thank you.


God I hope that's the last one.

Sometimes when I play games that have map features that work like this I'll just leave the full map up on the screen for a while and my wife will look over and go 'How do you play like that?' and invariably my response is something like 'Oh, huh, I didn't notice'. I have this one video up on Youtube of extremely exciting CRYSTAR gameplay where you can see I just have the map up in the way of the main gameplay screen for a while and only turn it off once I'm stunlocking the boss of the stage. (Somehow, Youtube thinks it's a video of Tales of Berseria.)

Anyway, that's my explanation for why the map is just up on full size for the next bit.

My roommate in my sophomore year of college did this when he was playing... Path of Exile? I think it was Path of Exile. I did the exact same "how do you play like that?" bit at him. Then I played the 2020s and I'm doing the exact same thing. It's infectious, I guess.

This guy gets 2/3 of his health blown off on the preemptive turn and then gets mulched.

There's a big guy over there.

Go get 'em!

There's really no reason not to just bust 'em with an Attack Beat in situations like these. It's a pre-emptive turn and lets you get a ton of damage off.

This Armaros uses Rock Cannon on turn 2 instead of going for the Gather Power + Tumble combo...

...but Chisa hits him twice anyway lol

There's one more dragon in here. Let's clear it out before we head in there.

This one goes down like the rest. I wind up sticking with the Battou Stance for this one for efficiency's sake. It's worth noting that since Rock and Roll Out calls on tier 1 skills specifically, there's actually no Iai skills on its call list at all, so sticking on Battou is more efficient for skill usage.

It's a bit of unfortunate jank, in my opinion, but it also sort of encourages the use of battou skills when I think a good amount of people would just immediately stick with iai, so...reasonable game design???

There's no Exit out here, since the dungeon's pretty short, but I bounce here to head back to the Diet.


All the civilians, the builders, the injured... Requests are pouring in from everybody!

Frail Nurse: Unit 13, cough, cough... Thank you for fixing the Baths! They say a clean body means a clean soul... it'll certainly be refreshing for everyone! Please, Unit 13, try them out yourselves...

Frail Nurse: It looks like you know basic first aid, but if you're seriously injured, try this.

The game informs you you'll need to rescue Tomiko and Tatsuji to get the baths working, but luckily we already have!

Tomiko: It's because of you I'm in charge of the baths again, working to keep everyone healthy and relaxed. No greater joy in life, for me. I'm really grateful. But as always, the cold equations dictate we can't just fire them up willy-nilly... Whenever you have some Quality Fuel, you can head over here. I've got one unit you can use, so go ahead and we'll use it right away.

Obviously, we've unlocked the Baths far before we did in the first game, so the earlygame version spends Quality Fuel for a full recover and 150 SP. We'll get the lategame version from the first game later.

Here's Chisa, Mio, and Koron in a bath with a bunch of random other people.

Mother 3 vibes.

· Yes?
· Yes?
· Yes?


There they are!

It's SECT11! Be careful, everyone!

Hold it! That's Murakumo property you've got your mitts on!

Huh? Hey, Sho. Look who it is.

Ah, great. Try not to get too into your little catfight, Izumi.

Please step back from the capsule or we will be forced to engage.

Shouji sighed and turned around.

Yo, Unit 13. I was kinda hoping we could work together this time or the next, but...

Why?! The True Dragon's in Japan, you dope!

You wouldn't know what to do with it anyway!

...It's hopeless arguing with her. Soldiers her age... They don't have a true understanding of the 'why' behind their fight.

You wanna say that again?!

How young were you when you joined the military, Miss Sakuraba?

That's enough embarrassing my kid sister, guy. Don't act like you're more noble. We're all just here to enjoy the battlefield.

That sounds like the rhetoric of a gleeful murderer to me, sir. Please don't lump me in with you.

At that point, Emille quit seething and chimed in.

So this was their aim from the start... These bastards aren't a relief effort, they're enemies of humanity!

Ooooh, scary. Izumi, I'll leave the rest to you.

Finally! You got it, Sho.

Little brat, putting your hands all over something that doesn't belong to you. I suppose over in America, they don't teach their children to mind their own business?

God, will you shut up, already? You've got problems, lady.

I have problems?!

They not teach their children to not be sanctimonious little bitches here? Don't act like you're more noble than me! We're all just here to enjoy the battlefield!

Parroting your brother's words... No wonder President Griffith finds your unit so useful. A soldier who can do nothing but reproduce the rhetoric of their superiors is a soldier who's only good for fighting and dying.

You're clueless, little girl. How's about we give you a clue?

Prepare yourself, Izumi Sakuraba!

Welcome back to the stage of history. Round 1. FIGHT!

It's time for round 1 with Izumi. The Assault Soldiers bordering her are the same as in the prior battle, but obviously instead of a man with a rocket launcher we have some punk kid with a goofy-looking sword.

"We're all here to enjoy the battlefield" makes me think of a particular FF14 character that I used to want to punch a lot but changed my opinion on after Endwalker.

Shouji and Izumi have not earned that respect from me. I still very much want to punch them a lot.

Alright, team, let's keep strong!

Good plan.

Quit yapping!

Was that supposed to be an attack?

Tch! Why aren't the bullets doing more? Work faster!

Hey, get back here! I coulda won that!

The battle here ends after the end of the first turn.

Right, that's why I didn't have any notes for this.

Oh, you have got to be kidding me!

Wha—Shouji?! What's keeping you? Get going!

The capsule's empty. Emille wouldn't have been so impatient if she were bluffing, so I guess you guys didn't know that either.

What do you mean it's empty?!

Somebody else?! Who?!

Do I look like I know?! Christ... Let's head back to base and regroup!

What? Come on, it was just getting good!

And just like that, SECT11 left us to our own devices, hardly an instant into our fight.

It really is empty. Who else could've run off with this thing in the meantime?

All personnel who were in charge of moving the weapon are accounted for... What on earth?

Is it small enough you could hide it on your person?

No, not by a long shot.

Then, beneath us, the ground began to shake.


Shit! Where is it?

The reading I'm seeing is about a hundred meters below there! A wave of energy is coming! All of you, brace for a shock!


We all managed to stay standing, but just barely.

You kids good?


This hole—

What... the hell?

Deep below the Underground, a great maw opened wide, into an endless pit where the rays of the sun from cracks in the ceiling faded into nothingness. A single train track, well below us, twisted on towards its final destination—

—an ancient ruin, unlike any seen on Earth, standing tall within the caverns beneath Japan.

What on earth is that?!

What kind of Imperial Dragon made that?

Emille? President Emille?! Drat, she's left... where'd she go at a time like this?

Off to go yell more about how mad she is at Dave, maybe?

Well, it's not very convenient...

We will have to wait until later for this zone's very good BGM, unforch.


...It smells... like me?


Excellent work, Unit 13! I know our heads must all be spinning from everything that's happened the past few days, but for now, let's stabilize the situation by going back over our objectives.

We can't be certain of their motivation, but it seems they have orders from above...

They were also stealing data from City Hall. Do you think their goal might be to obtain Murakumo anti-Dragon technology?

That seems likely. President Griffith is likely aware that his country is at a disadvantage, and wishes for America to re-obtain its position as the world's foremost superpower.

What a jerk.

Additionally, we've located anomalies underground that point to the presence of another Imperial. We should remain wary of that threat—while the previous underground Imperial was fairly lethargic unless provoked, there's no reason to assume the same of the—

I-I was... okay, ma'am...

Where've you been?

What business is that of yours? Shut up and listen. We need to strengthen the radar at HQ to ascertain the weapon's current location.

Emille hung up just as quickly as she'd called us.

Yeesh, she's a charmer, isn't she? Guess you'll have to head to the Conference Room before you quit for the day.

It's pretty early anyway, all told. That's fine.

We'll continue investigating the Underground from here, but since it's a distance away, it's difficult to accurately assess these things.

...We just have to make do.

could you imagine if like. aitelle was our president instead.

"Oh... please... if you have the time... and energy... repair the Research Ward...?"

Oh come now, she'd take at least three conversations to actually directly make the request.

She's a good kid.

You... ordered us to.

The correct decision was following my orders! Obviously!

A, erm... 'Stuffy Scientist' wished to speak to you. If you should have time, please, pay a visit!

Alright, we should be able to upgrade the radar with this. Come here, Unit 13.

Ah, hello, Shibuki.

Shibuki: Ah, yes, you remember me, Shibuki, researcher of respectable seniority, head of human resources, who attempted to bribe you into doing your best. Naturally, I intend to do the same this time, as I must have your full cooperation. More people means more aid, more resources—as before, fifteen people would be enough to justify an exceptional set of items for you! Please, think of us while you're on the field.


Shibuki: Please, on behalf of everyone you've rescued, let me present this to you for your assistance! I call it the Cultivation Set 1!

We get the Skill Up and an SP Up 300.

Shibuki: Only fifteen, but a precious fifteen in these dire times! Please, continue thinking of us going forward.

He really did give us the whole diatribe again, didn't he.

Sleepy Scientist: This place has a pretty okay lab... it seems really cozy here, under my desk.

Stuffy Scientist: Ah, Unit 13, thank you for fixing this up for us. There's nothing that makes scientists as happy as a well-appointed laboratory! We're very grateful. This is from all of us, as a thank-you present.

Stuffy Scientist: ...of course, I told everyone it was you who did this, and nobody else seems to have bothered to thank you.

We're used to it.

It means a lot that you thought of us, at least, sir.

Well, we really just used the stuff we brought back.

Still. I'm sure that, by itself, was a great deal of trouble. And... thank you for waking up so early.

no problem chief

With this, I'm confident we can recover the weapon.

And you all are the only ones who can properly make use of this weapon—of that, I'm certain. I can't fathom what America is thinking, but under no circumstances can we surrender it.

Okay. What is it?


What's the weapon?

We aren't under a time constraint anymore. You don't have any reason not to explain it to us.

...If you were normal humans, I might expect you to brush me off or disbelieve me if I gave you a basic explanation. However... hmm.

Emille held her chin for a moment, and tapped her foot a few times as she did.

I believe a full, technical explanation should be saved for when we have it in our possession. However, I can explain the basics. The weapon we must obtain is called the ATL Code.


...What's that look for? Have you... heard of it?

U-uh, only—I mean, in passing, you know, haha. Ha.


Is she lying, Koron?

Why the hell would I tell you if she was lying?

Alright, Kazuki. Why don't you explain it?

Uh, alright.

The ATL Code's a process of metallurgy. You know, metal science. Well, I guess you could say it's sort of a cross-section between metallurgy and infophysics? Basically, it's the use of informational energy to directly alter the shape and construction of metals. It's a really specific informational code that lets you do it in this way—the code's been isolated by scientists and stuff, but no living human naturally has it in their informational field, and they didn't before the dragons attacked, either.

That sounds awfully similar to what Chelsea from Unit 11 can do.

Yeah, I think at least some of the experiments Natsume was doing over at Okitama Hospital were probably attempts to recreate the ATL Code in a human. But she doesn't have the whole thing—she can't create ore out of the metals in living beings, it's just stuff that's either ore or ore byproducts she can tool around with. Or if she can, I doubt she can do it on the scale that would indicate an actual, complete copy of the ATL Code.

...And you've never told me this why?

It never came up? And I mean, it was mostly speculation. Did you want me to technobabble at you about conspiracy nonsense about your tragic backstory?

That's fair.

You're more knowledgeable than I would expect. I suppose all that talk about stealing into government buildings wasn't hot air, was it?


A complete copy of the ATL Code is at stake here. I'm sure if you understand its functions, Kazuki, you know that it's important we get our hands on it.

Oh, for sure.

We'll initiate the search tomorrow morning. Go to bed and get some rest.

Y'know, Sumie, one of these days we're gonna have to hear about your backstory.

I have several!


Top Scientist: I'm sorry, Miss Nagataka, but I can't stifle this for the sake of appearing more personable! My passion is simply too strong!

We had a meeting.

Young Scientist: I thought and thought about quitting, but in the end, I continued in this unit. I mean, I couldn't find steady work anywhere else, times being what they are.


Blocking Researcher: You heard me!

Her company, her rules, I guess.



She's gotten real good at these, huh? I'm proud of her.

...Richter. What was that you were talking about about Izumi, anyhow?

Ah, that.

I just supposed she may have been recruited through a similar initiative to myself. I was recruited to the German military at fifteen, you see.


In an era with rapidly-growing new technologies and avenues of warfare, youth is a commodity—soldiers who are young and keen enough to develop the ability to fight in a world of information, a treasure. Within the world of informational combat, those whose minds can keep up with the stream of stimuli that is the modern world are prized among all else.

They called me a singular talent, which did little to account for the dozens of other boys and girls like myself. "Youth is wasted on the young," they say, so those in charge of these ventures aim to make use of that supposedly wasted youth in place of the young. No, there was no difference between me and those other children, save that when I was given orders I could not abide, thrust into a world I could not live in, I chose to leave instead of follow those orders.

I suppose I see some of myself there. Or, rather, some of the sort of person I could have been. Someone so certain of their righteousness that they can do anything in service of their country... I couldn't be that sort of person, and yet I find myself uncertain of how to define the sort of person I am.

That's heavy, buddy.

Ah, my apologies. Don't concern yourself overly with me, everyone. This is something I've been made to ponder for years—it's normal to me now.


And with that, our September 9th came to an end. It would take three further days for a lead on the hunt for the ATL Code—and until Fomalhaut made his next move.

Next time, it's Chapter 2 time, baby!

I'm sure nothing will go wrong when the next Imperial Dragon chooses to announce its presence.

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