Part 72: Waltz of the Gears

The Kokubunji desert.

You know, this is twice now we've run into some belligerent group in here. What do you think it is about the place?

As I recall, Takehaya chose it because of its distance from the special wards.

It'll make a good place for a battle. If they've even an ounce of self-respect, the Searsand itself is the perfect bait.

God fucking damn it.

Seriously, Youka, just take off your coat.

No. This thing is part of my identity these days. How would you feel if I told you to take off your cape?

tbh i've been considering starting to wear my coat like mama fudoji wears hers

Get that Kujo swag?

I always thought Jotaro was the coolest as a kid.

Hey, Youka. Did anyone ever, like, make fun of you for reading shonen manga as a girl?

Huh? Yeah, sometimes. But I'm tall and broad, so even before I became built like a tank, people with a stick up their ass were already making fun of me.

But was that really a guy thing, even? I mean, you know me, I don't have media literacy, but when I'd see covers of the guy's art later I figured he'd finally been honest about the appeal being all the hot guys. With all the exposed pecs and all, you know?

Are you into that?

Ehhhh. That was never really my thing, I just thought that all the fights were cool.

Why do you ask?

Just curious. Kinda struck me how basic a lot of my concerns were compared to the rest of you now that I know Richter was a child soldier and Sumie... y'know.

Oh yeah no, it's hard to bottom-line, I get it.

I suppose a lot of the abnormality of your circumstances came from who you happened to be surrounded by, huh? Myself included.

So you aren't a vampire?


I mean, that would be a fairly abnormal concern if you were a vampire.

I said 'a lot of' my concerns, you know.

Sure, but the tone implied—

Don't read subtext into my words.

Tch! Well-played.

I believe it may be a case of wave-particle duality.


Well, since none of us are capable of directly observing Mio's backstory, she both is and is not a vampire.

A charmingly even-handed judgment, Richter.

This isn't over.

There's no preamble to entering the Desert, and also all the treasure chests are already open from when we came here in the Prologue, if you'll recall.

Suzuki: Heeey, long time no see, Unit 13! Have you searched the Great Desert yet? I've got sand in my shoes, super annoying. Oh, you probably noticed this, but the Dragons here tend to stay underground until someone comes by to bug them. Those guys can sense monsters—they show themselves above ground to gobble 'em up. So if you want to beat them, first lure a monster over the Dragon. And for doing that, try this!

Suzuki: You can use it when you want to bring monsters out to fight for training. Go put it to good use for me. And after that, try THIS!

Suzuki: In this area, you'll meet monsters who use petrification attacks! This place is arid at the best of times... for pete's sake, don't let yourself get more dried up than you already are!

(Does anyone here know that guy?)

(No clue.)

Whereas in the first game the Dragons liked to leap up from under the sand and get brutally Chisa'd, as stated, this time we've got to use the Dragon proximity to lure them out.

Like this, right?

Magma Slimes are identical to their Prologue incarnation except with higher stats. ...They only have 162 HP, though.

Alright, let's square up.

There it is!

Snapdragons aren't a big deal. They're weak to Ice and Aerial, and while their magical defense is pretty high, their low HP (1444) means they're about to get beaten the shit out of.

Alright, let's see if it bites.


This Shuffle Pitch hit 4 times for roughly 170 damage overall. Pretty solid against a magically defensive foe.

Alright! Let's keep it up!

I'd call that biting!

Awww my glasses are all fogged up

Their Sand Breath can inflict a 40% accuracy penalty Blind and does solid damage.

Here, lemme fix us up.

Headlong Charge is as simple as it comes. Big damage bonk.

It's down!

What about the slime

Oh, right.

Nice flip, Youka.

Just trying to stay limber! case it wasn't clear, there's no music in the desert. Please feel free to put on your desert ambience of choice. Personally, I'm partial to the desert theme from Breath of Fire 3.

Gotta go with Dry Dry Desert Trek, personally.

This one appears to be moving beneath the sand.

Well, then it won't mind coming up.

Death Jackals can now Gather Power to self-buff and their claw attack has a Bleed rider. Scorpions' Paralysis attack has been upgraded to Shocking Thrust, which has both a Poison and Paralysis rider, and they've regained their EM Barrier veil skill from the first game.

Oh, huh. It actually ate the scorpion.

I can't help but feel sad.

Stony Dragons have less HP than Snapdragons and lower defenses to boot, but their attacks are a lot more threatening, as in the first game. Neck Bite can increase the odds of getting inflicted by ailments, and you'll NEVER GUESS what ailment they specialize in!!

Just as I remember them.

Oh, nice! I'll

Oh, beans!

Well, at least the Dragon's almost dead.


Just die already!


Youka had to cough a bit.


Well, we got through it!

For some reason, even though it'll take two turns, I decide to ride this encounter through to the Dragon.

Scarvipers are bigger deals, having higher physical defense and 1804 HP, along with actually resisting Aerial, a trait only the big hefty fuckers have.

I don't think that was the wisest decision.

Damn it!

Oops, you missed, pal.

You know Dark Seed runs at a weird VGA mode that I don't remember any other games using? It runs at 640x350, which limits it to 16 colors, but is still a pretty neat novelty for the time.

If you'd like to get revenge, darling, go ahead.


And you get out of here.

Huh. That's the same sort of roar the tyrannosauri use.

That might be bad!

Much like that one, Tyrant's Roar buffs their damage and lowers their physical defense for the next turn.


Aww, try again!

I turned Dry Ice on before the Dragon got here and as you can see it paid dividends.

That's enough outta you!

Can we try to avoid getting rammed in the future?

Sure, sure.

Great Horn is its only non-regular attack skill, so Youka proceeds to Counter it to death.

...Oh, hey. Scorpions have an 8% chance to drop that. Sick.

That's a touch grim.

Pvt. Shibata: I'm injured and that thing was right next to the building.

Yeah, that's fair.

Again, there's no chests or anything out here, since we really did clear the place out in the Prologue, so I'm just showing the Dragons.

This guy gets hit with an Otoshi Mae Joto, first of the playthrough...

...and gets mulched by a Woodwind Duet.

This guy...

...dodges Youka's counters for a bit by targeting Chisa, but all fall to Fudoji in the end.

The guy up there...

...takes three turns to get there, and takes three turns to die.

And lastly, this guy..., went fine, and definitely didn't go terribly due to me accidentally inputting a Maple Assault instead of a Blizzard Assault, what are you talking about, haha,

Pretty sure I told you about the time I lost 2.5 hours of work to accidentally pressing A in Three Houses while I was out of rewinds. Love mis-inputs.

Look! They leveled up it's fine it's fine. Full health. It's fine.

Anyway, that's the Great Desert done and dusted. Now on to the actual dungeon.

Let's try to outmaneuver SECT11!

Oh, we'll outmaneuver them, alright.

Much as freezing them inside blocks of ice may satisfy you, I do believe she meant tactically.

Hey, we can get an early start!

Gallant Soldier: Hah! Calm down, you chicken! We can walk home with our pride if we win—beating the toughest hombres in Japan!

At least you pricks are giving us our proper due now.

What the devil?! Marina's escaped?!

Wait wait wait. Let me guess. Did you guys put her in metal cuffs?

Agitated Soldier: Yeah. By the time we realized they were melting like butter, the girl was gone.

Gallant Soldier: The girl's in the Factory. Shouji and Izumi are chasing her. But you're not following them without going through—

A great quake shook the ground, and in the distance, the unmistakable sound of the factory beginning production roared to life.

What's that?!

...What do you think?

Agitated Soldier: W-waaaahhh!

Imperial Dragon signature detected?! With this signature... it must be Trinitro!

Fomalhaut wasn't going to miss an opportunity to butt in on a fight like this.

We've been surrounded! The mechanical Dragons are out in full force!

Then quit gawking and tear a path through! Rip them to shreds, Unit 13!

Seems they've gotten a bit of a remodel.

Fomalhaut leaving his mark, I guess.

Let's worry about that after we've not surrounded, okay, girls?

Machine Dragons are tougher than they were in the first game, boasting resistances to Fire and Ice and overall stronger stat lines, but they're not too sturdy magically and are weak to Aerial. They're also one of the only types of enemies to be weak to Lightning, if you're packing a Psychic.



That didn't do too much...

It's beginning to regenerate!

Don't worry. These fists killed a god, y'know!

Oh, you're right. These are hardly an issue.

It helps they can barely scratch her lol


Where's the rest!

Oh, they dispersed. We wrought enough havoc to scare them.

There's a ton of Dragon signatures inside the factory! Marina's in there—you have to hurry and help her!

That's the idea!

Let's go, everyone!

Oh, hey! You good?

Quit projecting and let us help you.

...anyway, I have 11 Dz now, so...


Prime Minister's orders, I hear!

What? An entire room for one person?!

Oh, whatever. Maybe someone will slink in there and be inoffensive and we can say it's for two people this time.


This time?!

Fine. Go give my regards to our new tenant, or something.

Oh, what do you know. Someone did slink in here.

Cowering Man: Er... thank you for renovating this room. In the Wards... lots of people are stressed out. Having a singer like her... will help. I think.

Much like the Lucier portraits, DIVA Mode is unlocked in system data, so you retain it into a repeat playthrough. ...That said, the DIVA version of Rushing Life is pretty heavy-sounding for a battle theme used at the start of the game...

Nice and cozy, huh? Feels a bit less attic-y than the last one.


I suppose it is still technically sort of an attic, but still.

People seem happy I'm here.

If a short blonde lady shows up to kvetch at you, that's our new boss Emille, don't worry about it, she's not actually that angry, she's just got a bone-deep need to kill Dragons and she gets a bit bothered when things don't let her do that.

Isn't that the woman who stabbed Chisa?

Oh, you told her about that?


No need to worry about that. We've reached an understanding.

Yes, exactly!

Your keen insight is always appreciated, Miss Hatsune.


Also bentos.

...Miya, we don't even have the Lounge available to repair yet. You good, girl?


Ugh. Hate this place.

Seems the manufactory's already running again.

We're not racing this time, so I guess it doesn't matter which way we go?

Her reading is definitely getting stronger the further you go in... please, hurry!

Ah, yes. I suppose this is the path Takehaya took last year.

A Dragon!

and then he was... KILL by youka

This one went a bit slower because I inexplicably kept using Blizzard Assault on Chisa instead of using Woodwind Duet. I'm an intelligent human being, with thoughts, who is good at video games.

ay yo hold up



Why are there ghosts here?

Eh. Probably Fomalhaut's fault.

Phantoms can inflict Downer and Curse but explode if you so much as breathe on them with an Aerial attack. Stone Monkfish can inflict Blind and Petrification and explode if you so much as breathe on them with a (physical) Aerial attack.

Another one's up there.

Death Beetles are fairly scary, being that they're pretty sturdy and have a variety of attacks. ...That said, it's a little weird that the fire-element version of the beetle enemy is the one in Shibuya and the non-fire version is here... in the fire level.

...oh yeah, the Dragon bunguses into this fight, too, huh.

See? There you go, me.

anyway i won

You don't suppose the elevator's working?

I hope it is, but I wouldn't get our hopes up.

Oh, son of a bitch!

I suppose we'll have to go back around to the front.

Rassafrassin' Bloom walls, if I never see another one again it'll be too soon.

*insanely spongebob narrator voice* Three. Minutes. Later.


it was worth it. how lovely.

At least she's happy. And...

Oh, no!

Not one of these!


Overall, Megamaw Dragons aren't as threatening relative to their position in the game as the first version were, but they're still no joke. They're slow and frail to magic, but have no weaknesses (and an immunity to Lightning) and can inflict Paralysis and deal heavy damage.

No screwing around!

No, ma'am.


It's Battering Gale! Hi, Battering Gale! You're the only skill in the game with this animation now that Diagonal Slash got flippified!


You okay there?!

I'll live.

Ball Lightning can inflict a 45% action negation Paralysis, which isn't nice.

Hey, his jaw's pretty easy to grab.

Yes, yes, nice shootin', minions!


I don't think it much liked that.

...No, really. I mean, I kinda figured the bite on this guy would be tougher.

Ah, well!

Thanks for the help, Mio, but I got it from here.


Youka punched the Dragon's tongue onto the roof of its mouth...

And two!

...and then struck its jaw hard enough that its teeth pierced its tongue.

Very nice!

Okay the first kind of those guys were huge jerks so I'm glad it went that well

That's the only Dragon on the top half, so back to the end over here.

I thought not.

We'll have to take the long way up, then.

Through these morons, in other words.

Cram it and let us through.

Faithful SECT11: I said, no entry permitted! You can whine about it all you want, but I don't give a damn!

Fine! Then we'll tear a path through you!

The Assault Soldiers are the same as ever, but the central enemy is the last type of SECT11 enemy, a Psychic. They have various spells, as you might expect.

Live start!

Faithful SECT11: Alright, eat lead!


You seem to have mistaken which guns were mightier.

Dry Ice at max level is guaranteed to start a Fever, so that's sick as a startup tool.

Faithful SECT11: You've gotta be kidding me. We all shot her and she's fine?

Yeah man, she can catch the bullets with her teeth.


Hapless SECT11: How did it get even hotter in here?!

Faithful SECT11: Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!

Nice followup!

How could I resist?

So we're clear, I'm not catching them with my teeth.


Hapless SECT11: Make up your mind!

Hapless SECT11: U-ugh... that's it from me...

Out-Of-Their-Depth SECT11: Don't worry, I've still got some fight in me!

Not for long you don't!

Soothing Song also cures the Blind here, on both of them. It's a good move.

Faithful SECT11: If we don't get through them quick, we're screwed!

Sap Command lowers your physical defense by 30%. ...Only physical. It doesn't actually affect the attack spell I swear this Psychic has. Huh.

Faithful SECT11: Oh, shit.

That isn't going to help you. I—

When the darkness clouds the sky, the Countess of the Dark arises to blaze a path through!

Mio Akaneno is here! Genuflect, show some respect, for your hearts are under my thrall! FEVEEEEEER!

Faithful SECT11: ...What am I looking at?

She's enjoying herself.

When Mio is at Fever 3, any skill with a musical note at the end of its description—so, a lot of skills—have a chance to activate the Star Sanctuary skill. Star Sanctuary turns Mio into a monster. We're talking a 4-turn buff of 50% damage increase, 50% damage taken decrease, 50% Speed increase, 50% extra evasion, and 50-HP regeneration for the duration, along with the special Superstar status which buffs the effects of several moves—for instance, Shuffle Pitch is guaranteed to hit its maximum number of hits in Superstar.

Once the buffs run out, she'll reset down to 0 Fever again, but the buffs from Star Sanctuary are so powerful that Mio will become near-invincible for these turns. It's absolutely worth using, though one note is that it won't overwrite already-present buffs—since I had Dry Ice up, that stays instead of the stronger Evasion buff. That's somewhat worth considering, but there's so many buffs on this thing that you're liable to get a bunch of value out of it no matter what.

Get off the stage and join the crowd, yo!

For instance, here, Shuffle Pitch dealt its maximum 4 hits and did about 360 damage, easily out-damaging Chisa and Youka's per-turn output with Counter Stance or the Assault skills.

It's nice seeing her all excited!

Faithful SECT11: I don't even know what I'm looking at, but I'm not going down yet!

Yeah you are.

Faithful SECT11: ...yeah, I am.

Remember, folks, support your local construction efforts! I need to get a better coffin, but I can't take that budget away from the construction teams in good faith.

I don't have any clue what that was, but it seemed quite effective. that it? Have I finally explained all the basic mechanics of how Idol functions, here, in the sixth chapter of this game? I think I have. Wow.

Faithful SECT11: It's hard for me to admit, but... you guys are real tough. Guess we don't have a choice...

The members of SECT11 beat a retreat.

That was baffling, yet impressive.

Hey! Masaki, you're drooling! You'll get the tables dirty!

This isn't gonna be the last fight we'll have with SECT11 here. We should stay on guard.

Oh! Thank you!

We tuned in.

—Tch! This kid's pretty slippery!

She's over there, Sho!

By the elevator? Hurry! She might break it if we don't catch up!

We gotta hurry, guys!

They aren't getting ahead of us that easily!

Next time, we start taking the long way up.

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