Part 79: ASH TO ASH

The lobby of the Diet Building was choked with Fomalhaut's miasma. My heart started racing the instant I exited the door. Dragons, as far as the eye could see, were hard at work making our home their playground.

This is amazing! With this, they really can go aboveground! But from here, it's a race against time. Everyone, please hurry!

There are twenty dragons inside the lobby of the Diet Building, as well as the nascent Imperial just outside. To clear this segment, we've got to take out every last one of them.

This segment can be really, really tough. There's no way back inside, so you've got to do all of these fights with what you've got. The game's given you the ability to get real geared up for it, of course, but it's still twenty-one dragons all in a row. Moreover, you'll note that a lot of them are in close proximity—these are not likely to be one-Dragon fights.

Let's head left first.

Any particular reason?

I can smell another one of these walls over there. It would be bad if we cleared it from the other side and were pounced upon.

Alright, let's get to work!

'Hey Kinu, why is Youka slightly below her caps'—This is a question I don't have an answer to.

You three, watch our six!

Got it!

Before we become overwhelmed.


Man, these kitties are beefy.

Level 40 Stabdragons have a whopping 4,760 HP. They're beefy! In general, the dragons here know you've just gotten adequate gear, and have the bulk to match.

Gonna have to try harder than that!

Heads up! Got a doggie!

And one more on the prowl.

For these ones...


These Little Dragons have 3,360 HP. A fair chunk for these little fellas.


They've also gotten an upgrade to Gnaw. It's become Downer Bite, which has a Downer rider. A nice little kick in the teeth.

The third's arrived! This is the last one around here.

Please give me emotional recompense.

This may come in handy.

This turn goes messy. I picked Fang, most of them rolled Claw, and the only Fang attack targeted Satsuki.

Please make my job easier and kill them already.

Hey, we're working on it!

Ah, phew.

Get bent!

That one's almost down!

As is that one.

And that one was just unwise.



You get Richter up, I'll take care of these guys!

You good, champ?


Fucker! Cut that out!

Eat shit!

Okay! Just one more, guys!

This should be no problem!

Yeah, but it's pissing me off!

Great shot!

Crippling Kicks is a D-Depth 1 skill that deals solid damage and lowers enemy status resistances.

And... begone!


Hoo. Shit.

You guys okay? We gotta keep going.

tell me i'm doing good

You're doing great!

Woohoo! I can do anything!

It seems the main chambers are still locked off. Good.

Less work for us.

Alright, let's tear through here next!

There's another puppy and a cat coming!

Youka, please prepare yourself.


Yeah, I whiff it, and the doggo goes for Satsuki on the Downer Bite.

Alright, fuck this.

yeah agreed tbh


Both of you, get the fuck out of my way!

Alright! We've got a good pace!

A heckler's on the way in.

We need to do as much as we can before then!

Eat shit!

Oh. Well, I suppose that's fine, too.

lol wasted that hack

Here comes the big one!

Hi, come in, here's a present!

Piss off!

Alright, now it's just you and me, big guy!

And me!


Get over here!

Yes, ma'am

Alright, I'm in!

Stay off our backs for a moment!

Alright! All over but the crying, big guy!

Suffice it to say, it was.

...I think this is the only time I use Homicide Hold for much of anything. It's another new skill Youka has that gets stronger for each ailment the target has on it, but its base damage isn't high enough to make it very worth using.

Alright. We're still doing alright. Ugh, damn it, heal faster!

You're doing the best you can. Don't push yourself too fast, or it'll turn out worse.

I know!

Wait, hold up...

Yeah, baby!


I can try and do quick.


Dragonflies' 30% evasion is never something to forget.

Here I'll give it a stinger for you

Ugh, great. Now there's two.

More coming soon!

Youka, stance up!

This is a use case for Fiend Shifter, Youka's counter that negates status riders.

You little shits are gonna have to do better than that!

I'd recommend getting one down as soon as possible!

On it!

Please, let this work...

Downer Beat replaces Sleepy Beat for these guys, hitting your whole party with Downer. Giving a bunch of enemies extra Downer riders in a segment where your resource management is put to the test is pretty rude, but I can't knock it for efficiency.

I think they're both almost down!

Let me fix that!

Tch! Another one's entering the fray!

Could be worse! Two down!

I'll blast you out of the sky!

As long as Youka's got those forever fists, we'll make it through!

Don't celebrate just yet!

They're still coming?!

Break 'em down, Mama!

Hoo... no, c'mon, I can keep going...

(we've got this! just keep on swinging!)


It's the last one! We'll have a moment to breathe if we can take this one down!


Three down!

Almost there! We have the advantage!


You okay?!

Yes, I'm fine!

You had better be.

Okay I'm kinda starting to flag guys

Cut that shit out! I hate that fucking noise!

Piss off!

Okay, I'm good to go.

Same here.

I told you all that hoarding would come in handy one day.

Yeah okay to be fair you were right.

Hold up, if we just...

Sidle up like this, and...

I get mad unlucky here. Richter gets paralysis-negated on letting out a luvshock, and my correct predictions on the moves sometimes get targeted at other characters, so...

Just go down—!

The other one's caught wind of the fight!

Get up!

Yeah, this one kinda just winds up taking a while. It wasn't that interesting.

Alright, let's clear out the wall in the main hallway first. The more room we have to fight, the better.

See all those wounds on it?

Those are grenade wounds. This is probably the one that took out Shouji.

it would be rude of us not to capitalize

The Hurt Bloodwyvern internally has 11424 HP, but Shouji softened it up for us. (Just like him to lack the follow-through.) This fight is pretty simple.

Everyone, be careful!

The Bloodwyvern will start with Daunting Roar, which halves the party's action speed for a few turns.

Then, Tyrant's Roar, buffing its magical attack and lowering its physical defense.

Bad move!

Its next action will be Exhaust Breath, a 1.7x MAT attack off of its very sizable MAT and with the buff, which will likely punch a hole in your party.


If you deal enough damage or get past that, you likely win. Thank you, Youka.

They just don't end...

Over here are two more Catraptors.

Hey. There's that pack of three puppies patrolling the entrance, right? Wait, and...


Ah, you want to lure some of them over here?

Feeling up to the task, guys?

Who do you take me for?

It's working!

Let's make some noise!

Welcome to the party, pal!

Another one's just about to round the corner!

We need to remain as flexible as possible. We can't be worn down!

Eat it!

Swing for the fences, Mama!


Hope you weren't getting too comfy!

One more!

We're in good shape, but we need to make sure we don't give any more room to enter the fight!

Engaging mass hack!

That's right motherfuckers, I just actually used Hack All and it worked. RICHTER GAMING

Wrong move!

Get the hell outta here!

You too!

Destroyer as a class is basically tailor-made for this segment, with the heavy armies of guys with counterable moves and more physical than magical attacks. It's a lot harder with physically frailer teams.

Alright! It seems we've got a moment to take out this last one!

I'm helping!

Dah! Dah! Dah!


You got it!

Okay, we led two of those guys out of there.

And this guy hasn't gotten the picture.

Exactly what one might expect to happen to a lone Stabdragon here, happens.

Okay. Okay.

I can handle the first aid for a bit, you take a second, Koron.

Ugh, fine.

We're getting there!

Oh, no! This one appears unharmed!

It's not quite as strong, but it's still liable to be a tough opponent!

The Red Wyvern is pretty similar to the Hurt Bloodwyvern, with slightly lower stats but more effective HP. 6590, to be exact.

Access approved! I've gotten the pre-emptive hack!


Great work, Richter!

stingers cutely

Lest you forget, Quick Hack gives me two turns of Luvshock here.

It's pretty sturdy.

No kidding.

It's attempting to slow us down!

Watch out! It's going to breathe fire!

No problem!


They were guarding.

Alright, now we know what to look for.


lmao gottem

lmao gottem


I guess for getting 'em.

Can't take too much more of this, can you?!

I guard for a turn thinking Exhaust Breath is coming out. It isn't, so mostly Satsuki just Stingers.

...and then Paralysis negates an action, meaning I basically get another free turn.

Now stay down!

We're... almost there, right?

Just the remaining ones in the front, and outside.

Ohhh I'm thirsty please give that here



Come on... we're almost there.

I'm not doing down just yet, asshole!

You want it?! Come on!

We're almost to the outside!

C'mon c'mon c'mon

(you've got this. you've always had this. you know that, right?)

You won't break me!

Youka! The little one's coming!

Not anymore, it ain't!

Come on! Throw what you want at me! You'll never break me, you little bastards!

Aaaaaagh, come on, come on

(you've always had this, sumie. c'mon. i wouldn't lie to you.)


(I can do this. I can do this. I gotta! I gotta... protect everyone!)

Just die!

Diet Building lobby... cleared!

We've got to clear the grounds, or it'll all have been for nothing! Let's go!


Wait! Unit 13 is fighting up there right now! Give them an hour—no, thirty minutes! Delay the expedition!

MP Ariake: Even if we delay the expedition, the remaining oxygen here won't allow—

All I'm asking you to do is believe in them!

MP Ariake: ...


Even through the thick haze of Fomalhaut's fell clouds, the sun was clearly visible in the sky. Our time limit was rapidly approaching... but we didn't even have the time to think about that.

Fomalhaut's beast sat in the middle, where two young children had once played. A throne of flowers had risen to cushion it.

There! Amidst those flowers!

Ugly, isn't it. So this is what's attempting to ascend through devouring us?

You... You're going down!

All we can do is go at it with everything we've got...

Let's give it hell, team!

I'm not scared. I'm not scared! I can do this!

Rounding out this absolute gauntlet is the Satanic Dragon. It's not too complex an enemy, but it resists Fire, Lightning, and Aerial, it's immune to Burn, and it has a very chunky 8645 HP. It's weak to Ice, not that that means much to us at the moment. If you can make it here, you can take it out.

(you've grown up a lot, sumie.)

You'll go down like all the rest!

Ground Thrust is just a slightly stronger physical attack.


I can't, I can't, I...

No! I can do this! Nobody else is going to die!

Purgatory Flame, meanwhile, is an all-target that is both pretty much guaranteed to inflict Downer and can inflict Burn. Nasty stuff.

I like the sound of that!

If this mental weight continues for much longer, we might be crushed under it... I can't let that happen!

Come on! That all you got?! It's gonna take a lot more than that to become an Imperial, buster!

Come on, don't make me... work so fucking hard...

You can see here this guy's 50% Aerial resistance does put a bit of a damper on Sumie's damage with guns, but the action economy's worth it.


Everyone, watch out! It's gathering energy from the surrounding environment in its tail!

Energized Briar does increase the damage that the Satanic Dragon takes by 50% for a bit, but it's also the obvious lead-in move for its super.

It's okay. I'm gonna... We're not gonna run out of time. I can do this. I can do this.

I won't lose! I won't!


...It's not much of a super.

That all you got?!

Just... I just... I gotta...

Move! Move! Everyone move!

I felt a very sudden and stark burst of energy. Familiar, but perhaps less subtle given the circumstances.

We just need to keep standing...

I'll rip you open, you piece of shit! Die!


I'm alright, I'm alright!


(...Hey, Sumie. You know... I never really had a 'home' before I had you.)

(Just floating along the annals of history, getting incarnated in whoever...)

(But getting to be part of you, I got to be myself for the first time, too.)

(I'm thinking now about how lucky I really am. But, you know... It really was always you.)

Move! Move!

Alright, alright, I'm going!

(You never give yourself enough credit. Not really. You're always letting me take it, if you even let it get next to you.)

I... I can't... I...

Koron looked as though she was on the verge of passing out.

(Hey. Sumie. ...Do you trust me?)

Koron's down!

Damn it, come on!

...What do you mean?

(Do you trust me? I want to keep them safe, too. All of them. Unit 13, everyone down below... We're out of time. We need to make sure this thing dies. So...)

(Y'know. Do you trust me? Am I, the beautiful SATSUKI, a reasonably trustworthy person?)

Well... of course. Of course I do.

(Then you'll trust me if I'll tell you, it'll all be alright?)

...Yeah. I would.

By the time I saw Sumie talking to herself, it was too late for me to react.


Now you listen here you big drip, I'm awful sick of you stinking up the place. So I'll give you a one-time-only special ticket outta here—the Royal Historian of Atlantis's special maneuver, Murakumo-style!

Whoa, wait, what's she—?

And then, SATSUKI leapt into the air, and harnessing the power of the Code of Atlantis within Sumie's body...


...These readings show... they did it?! They did it! The bloom around the Diet Building is disappearing!

"Arms Fabrication" is available at HQ!
"Skill Lab" is available at HQ!
"Build the Dragonslayer" is available at HQ!
"Res Ward D" is available at HQ!
"Lounge Lv. 1" is available at HQ!

Wavering Man: What are you doing, MP Ariake? Isn't it time for us to leave? If we don't leave now, our oxygen—

MP Ariake: There's no longer any need.

Wavering Man: What?

Wavering Man: They... saved us?

MP Ariake: Thank you, Unit 13... this is wonderful.


The wall of exhaustion that crashed full-force into our bodies had half of us down on the ground in instants. Koron fell, as did Youka and Sumie. Richter was soon down, too.

God... damn it, SATSUKI... what the hell was that... supposed to...

I could hardly even lift my head to see Sumie's physical condition if I wanted to. I tried to take a step towards her, but my leg failed me, and I fell face-first onto the ground and into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Unit 13?! Can you hear me?! The relief unit is coming, so just sit tight!

We had done it. We had rescued the Diet Building from Fomalhaut's attack. But why? I kept wondering to myself. Why? Why had we had to lose so many for that? Why had we had to lose so much? And as long as the Dragons continued to assault this world, was that inevitable? Was it inevitable that we would continue to lose those we cared about in these senseless battles?

...What must it be like to review the entire history of a society? To exist alongside it, both as a member and as a presence outside?

September 18th came and went. We slept, once again, through all of it.

This concludes Intermission 2. Next time, Chapter 5.

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