Part 81: Electric Guitar Ambience

Alright, we'd better get to work on this.

Rin had beat us there, as had Marina, who had apparently decided to try and pep talk Izumi herself.

Unit 13? What's with this noisy GI Jane?

That's Major Dojima of the SDF.

She came for you, you know.

SECT11 is going to Ikebukuro right now.

Izumi, you should come with us. Don't you want to do right by Shouji?

You don't know anything. You guys go do what you want. It's not my problem.

So, what? As soon as Shouji's gone, you completely collapse? Are you really that pathetic? You kept yelling about how strong you were, and now after your older brother's called you to stand up, you just break down and cry about it?

Of all the fucking times for you to figure that one out.

I shouldn't have even bothered trying to fight you. Sho knew. Everyone knows it. Human beings can't win against Dragons. I was the only one who didn't see, so I stood by while Sho and Tony died.

Are you joking?!

Get real! Shouji left you here for a reason. Listen, I know it's hard, but believe me, I know how you're feeling.

It's too late. I can't do anything. I'm not strong enough.

So quit your bawling and get out there! Put that power to use for the rest of us!

You really think that the reason you lost to me is because I'm a Dragon? If that's all you can figure out about it, then—You really are just determined to make your brother's death completely meaningless, aren't you?!


...Izumi is trying hard. She really hurts right now. Don't be mean to her.


You're lucky you have her here. Let's go.

Yeah. Let's.

Izumi. May I say one last thing?


When Shouji made his choice of which of the two of you would live and which would die, do you really believe he made the wrong choice? Are you so certain of that? Do you want your brother to have been wrong?

Think about that, please.

Alright. That's all.


As we headed out to go on our way, we made through the path we'd walked so many times before...

...but we were stopped just as we were about to leave by a shout.

Heeeeeeeeey! Hold up!

I turned my head to see Homura running toward us. ...Ah, let me rephrase that. That doesn't get across the deep fear this moment struck me with.

What do you want?

So! I heard!

She was panting from running after us.

I heard. I heard Kazuki was still unconscious, right?

...Oh, no.

Homura was running toward us with a gun in her hand. The safety wasn't even on.

Dr. Akaneno, please put the safety on. You might hurt someone.

No way, man! I know what I'm doing!

No, you don't. What do you want?

No for real though! I've leveled up! I'm like, Neo New Homura now! I can use these things! Check me out!


I mean I figured maybe you know, since your regular gun lady's still out maybe I could help out, you know? I've been practicing! I'm like, an expert now.

How long have you been using those?

Like a week and a half!

No! What?!

No no no for real! I'm a natural! I'm Japan's most beautiful genius, so my talents naturally extend to marksmanship! I can shoot guns with the best of them!

...You're... are you serious?

As a heart attack, darlin'.

Youka, could you knock her out?

Yeah, one sec.

Youka and Homura got into a chase, and Homura demonstrated some pretty deft maneuvers to escape Youka's arms.

C'mere! Damn it!

Aww, we're having a good time! This is great for our team dynamic or whatever!

We are not friends! I hate you!

We don't have time for this.

What if you froze her inside a block of ice, Koron?

Tempting as it is, that would likely kill her.

Oh, okay. Hey, Chisa, what if you cut her in half?

I'm not going to kill Homura, Mio.

Come on, I'm not that bad, am I? I mean I know last time we really talked it went really badly, but I'm really trying here, Mio.

Dr. Akaneno, you realize we're walking into a warzone, correct? The territory of an Imperial Dragon.

Yeah yeah yeah, that's the good shit! I'll show you I've got verve and style!

Youka finally ran out of breath, and Homura stood victorious in that little battle.






Pweaaaaaaaaase? I'll be a good giwl! I'll even make jokes! I'm great at that!

Let, uh... let us huddle about this.

Okay, so the likelihood that she goes off on her own and gets herself killed if we don't let her come is high, right?

Based on the look in her eye, yes, tragically.

What is it with today and all these breakdowns?

So... it's probably better if we let her get this out of her system. Right?

You want to put her in combat? On the front lines?

Look, she needs to get it out of her system until she forgets about it and focuses on something else instead.

I'm not fighting on the front lines with her.

I wouldn't make you. So... uh, do we have straws or something?

I can roll random numbers.

Okay, that works. You'll be 1, I'll be 2, Youka will be 3, Koron will be 4.

Not me. Not me. Don't roll me.


...1... and 4.

Damn it!

Oh phew.

Woooo! Yeah, baby! Thank you, Lady Luck!

Then Koron and I will escort her until she... 'gets it out of her system'. You three can handle keeping monsters off our back.

Alright, Homura, you can come.


But stick near Richter and Koron. They'll be with you on the front lines. Make sure you don't stray far from them, alright?

Oh for sure. Ain't that right, besties?



So what're we doing?

Attempting to save the troops from SECT11 from getting themselves killed.

Cool, cool. What's SECT11 again?

Well. Um.

I wish the Black Bloom had killed me.


Ikebukuro is the last returning dungeon from the first game. Once we're through here, it's all new to the end.

I can see why having Shibuya, Kokubunji, and Ikebukuro all return might bother some people, but on the whole, the actual dungeoneering experience of these places is different enough that in terms of actually playing them it doesn't bother me much. In Ikebukuro's case, jumping from the second Imperial dungeon to the fifth means that you have more flexibility, but it also means the enemies have more room to kick your ass.

First we'll be extracting the SECT11 advance tea—


W-what is Dr. Akaneno doing there?!

Heeeeey! Hey, we're chatting over radio!

Hey, that's the greenhead brigade, right? Hi! I'm here to help!

The connection was furiously narrowed.

What are you doing?!

Unfortunately, we don't have much of a choice. She has a gun and she's going to be a danger to herself and others if we don't, ah, 'let her get this out of her system'. Or so Chisa says.


Can you at least put some clothes on, lady?

What, and ruin my rep as Japan's most beautiful genius?

Think your reputation's already plenty ruined.

Oh, don't antagonize her—Alright. Fine. For the time being, I'll leave you in charge of Homura's safety as well.

Er... so I should... continue navigating?

It would be a great help.

Okay, well, Unit 13... and Dr. Akaneno. Our primary objective is to obtain Jigowatt's heart. Survey indicates it's positioned at the peak, as before.

Oh boy oh boy, are you guys excited? I'm so jazzed!

Which one was Jigowatt again by the way?

...Um... That would be the Imperial Dragon with the electromagnetic cannon, Doctor.

Oh yeah! That guy! That one was fun. Well, except for that part where Nacchan stiffed me. That part blew.

Is that all you remember?

I mean it was like a year ago or something, it's kind of a blur. Why? Did something else happen?

...Did Hikasa hitting you over the head deal you brain damage?

No, it just wasn't a big enough deal to her to remember that long after. This is normal.

Should I explain it to her?

No. That would take too long.

Yoooo! Wassup!

Makita briefly took in Homura's presence, then looked past her to talk to us.

Sgt. Makita: Can you guys talk to this guy? He's... I mean, Shouji wouldn't have wanted this.

That's not what we're here for at all. We're—

Jake: US troops are always strong, always proud! We'll mow these assholes down, ice cold! You stay out of our way!

Pvt. Ogishi: Hey, you're already—just, just listen when people talk!

Kate: We all... we all really loved Shouji. A commander who always fit in with us roughnecks, and always fought by our side... that's Shouji. I donno if it's the right thing to do, but I don't care. We're pushing onward for him!

'Even the evil need a savior', is it?

What's that?

No matter if Shouji was an ill-mannered brute, to some people, he really was all they could rely on.

People are always looking for a 'great man' to drag them out of the darkness. For the troops of SECT11, that man was Shouji, no matter how he appeared to the outside world. It doesn't make him any less of a prick. Such organizations must necessarily accept when their idol is subject to outside scrutiny, be it someone like Shouji or...

Hey what are we talking about

...present company.

Oh, you're talking about me?

After, we patrol to find all of the wounded. You guys, head after SECT11 to find their main force, okay?

Youuuuuuuuuuuu got it!

Huh? Who's that on the line?

We're overseeing Dr. Akaneno on a trip to the battlefield.


Hey, c'mon, don't doubt me, lady! I'm pretty cool, you know! I pick things up easy!

Ugh, whatever, sure. You guys know what to do, right?

Yes, of course.

For some reason I forget to talk to this guy. He probably says something very SECT11, if I had to guess.

So this place is like, a gravity well bent all the train tracks up into a nest for the big guy, huh?

That's correct. It also serves as something of a firing array for his electrocannons.

Cooooool. Wonder if I could make something like that? Like, a pew-pew ball gun!

That would likely benefit nobody.


Hey, that's—

Just as before, Ikebukuro's train tracks were hardly bereft of corpses.



...Damn, that's a dead guy.

What did you expect to see?

I mean, uhhh...

Let's—let's move on!

Ah look! Guys!

Yeah baby, it's Homura time!

Dr. Akaneno, please—

Pow! Eat that!




Wha—y-you get out of the way, we need a second.

Oh you need a second do ya?

POW! Damn, I'm good!

Woohoohoo! Good fight, team! Yeah!

How did you do that?!

Mio, do you have any insight.

What? No. What?

...How on Earth?

Enragelopes can inflict Confusion with Ultrasonic, but are otherwise rather plain bunguses of enemies.

Yeah I can see why you guys do this, that was pretty fun.

Dr. Akaneno... you picked up a gun for the first time roughly a week and a half ago, yes?

Yup yup.

I... I see.

Godwin: Everyone's... dead. Dammit... dammit!

These damn fools. They didn't even take a moment to prepare!

I can't believe this. This is horrible—

Hey what's that?

W-wait, Dr. Akaneno! That's a charged electrolaser!

No problem! Right, pals of mine?

How are you already over there?!

Fuck! Will you just stand back?!

Here, maybe this will help keep her safe.

Bang! Dynamite!

Who gave you dynamite?!

Oh Kazuki wasn't using it so I borrowed it. She won't be mad, right?


Freeze! Die! Get out of my way! Leave me be!

Ah, that helped.

So the Electrolasers are... actually pretty sturdy! They have low magical defense, but resist Fire, Ice, and Lightning, and have 4160 HP.

Owww! It singed my coat!

You have no idea how lucky you are.

Ow! Fucker!

For once we agree.

They also get two actions. Clean Sweep is like it was in the first game—low accuracy, but five weak hits.

Huh. You know, this thing isn't dead yet.

No, really?

Fuckin' mortifying.

Grrrrgh. Burn!

Wahoo! Whoo! Hey, you missed, pal!

This is it. I'm in hell.

Yeah baby, got it in the legs!

P-Past me, please, use Air Spear or Microburst, at least. They don't resist those! They'll work better!

Access approved!

Hey what's he doing?

The Electrolasers, and the later Railgun, are actually particularly vulnerable to the Hack status, so Richter has a much easier time here.

Owww! Why isn't he getting as hurt?

Slacks created with love and care.

...Love? Should I be saying love? I, er...

YEAH BABY! Check that out!

We don't have a choice.

Dr. Akaneno, please throw another thing of dynamite on!

Oh you mean like this?

Huh. Did you just cause its electrical organs to rupture and short-circuit it by hacking into it?

Yes. I do that sort of thing frequently.

Daaaang, I'm good!

But I was the one who—

...thank you for assisting me, Doctor.

We're almost there!

Is everyone alright?

Physically, yes.

Hey, so Mio does that thing where she makes you guys go fast, right?


Do that! Go go go go go!

Wait, wh—

There's a Dragon incoming! Hurry!

W-what the?!

Homura spun her guns around in a likely imitation of Sumie's own imitation of Robocop, struck a sassy pose, and shouted,

DAAAAAAAAMN I'm good! See that teamwork, team?

Wha... How...? Koron, you experienced that too, right?

Yes, there's... t-there's no doubt.

Dr. Akaneno, how did you do that?

Do what?

Make us go faster.

Oh I just kinda did it like Mio does, right?

Well... yes. I'm asking you how you did that.

Because I'm Japan's most beautiful genius, baby! Yeah!

Real helpful.

Thanks I try

Unit 13! ...a-and Dr. Akaneno. Let's hurry and stop them.

Can't you say something a bit cuter? Like, "Let's mosey, ladies!"

No, I can't say that.

Why not?

Because it doesn't have 'and Richter' on the end.

Why would that stop you? Here, watch.

Let's mosey, ladies!

See? Easy as pie.

No, Dr. Akaneno, you see, it's... it's a—

Oh hey can I have this thaaaanks


Col. Kamachi: Guys, this fool's in no shape to fight. I'm begging you, get him to go back to the Diet!

Chan: I can still move my left arm! I can be a shield!

Do none of you idiots value your own lives at all?!

Chan: They mighta popped me first, but I can still... I can still enjoy the battlefield!

...How deeply do these fools believe this narrow worldview? Are they all so desperate for meaning?

Doctor, please stop. There are Dragons on the track ahead.

Ooooh, really? I wanna try!

Twilight Wings are fast and can hit decently hard, but only have one actual skill with a minor Paralysis rider, and are quite frail.

Homura, being a Gun Trickster, tears them to shreds.

Hey, get back here!

Amethyst Fans are magically-oriented enemies with the ability to inflict Blind and use an all-target Fire attack.

They are juuust frail enough for Homura to give them the donk.

Alright, caught you!

So how do these ones work?

I don't know, this variety is new.

Fun! Let's discover new things! Science rules!

Mole Dragons only have 2730 HP and are pretty slow, but also have no particular weaknesses, and can hit pretty hard physically.

Hahahaha, gun!

How is she doing that?!

At least I'll have killing you to make things less awful.

It appears it can tunnel under the ground!


I'm not sure.

Surprise Smash is more accurate, and can inflict a 25% accuracy penalty Blind.

Tch! Quit jerking around!

Evasive Maneuvers gives it +45% evasion. Not nice!

Much as I hate to admit it, Dr. Akaneno's inexplicable perfect accuracy might be helpful here.

Did someone say meeeeeeee?



Rollerderby just does a lot of damage. Or, it would if it weren't targeting current ultratank Richter and his amorous pants.

Tch! This one's pissing me off.

Seriously, how do you keep hitting it?

All skill, baby!

Ow, shit! I got dust in my eyes!

Shoulda worn my sunglasses!

Just die. I can't stand this battle any longer.

And now you've got a bullet in the eye! Pow! Gottem!

Dr. Akaneno, may I see you hold your gun as if to fire for a moment?

Yeah, sure.

She certainly held it up.


That... How is the recoil not blowing your shoulder off? And how are you...

This is the same conversation we had with her about the bikini top. Five times.

No, that's an issue of public decency, this is a firearm! She can't possibly be landing this many bullets with such accuracy if she's so obviously inexperienced with firearms!

Ooooh, number two!


Yeah, baby! Pow!

Owwww. Heeelp.

Yes, actually, help.

Ignite Mode, engage!

Whoa! What'd you just do?

Well, the way my healing technologies work is by 3D printing a swarm of nanomachines that—

Whoa, you can do that? Damn, I'm good!

Dr. Akaneno, what did you use YUUHI for?

Huh? Oh I just thought it would be super sick if I made something that could hack anything, so I just kinda did it, y'know? Just genius things.


That's it?

Huh? Yeah.

You didn't have any use in mind at all?

It hacks anything!

Right, but what was it meant to do?


But what does that mean?

Y'know, like a super spy sneaking into a base and hacking everything with his sick tools!

That's not... Well, admittedly this is a bit hypocritical of me to say, but why would you think that's how hacking worked?

Cause it works like that in superhero movies and stuff!


You're telling me you invented a technology that allows for informational manipulation of objects' physics, the creation of nanomachines, holographic projections, instant soporifics, biokinetic feedback loops—

Sorry what does that last one mean?

How did you even invent YUUHI?!


How did you invent YUUHI? What... What principles did you figure out you could operate it under?

Oh I kinda just threw stuff at the wall until I figured out how it worked.

I mean, I'm a genius, so that kinda stuff just works out, y'know?

...You... you don't actually understand the underlying principles of your own technology?

It hacks stuff!

Richter took a long, pensive look down at his own Gauntlet.

I mean that's you guys's job, right? You get it.

Yes. Yes, I do. I understand YUUHI quite well, I like to think.

Good for you, buddy!

But for real though, how long's this ramp up?

Long. Richter, are you okay?

"This is an accident, a forgotten, perpetual public works project. Do you think anyone wants to ask questions?"


You're really getting it now, huh?


Mio, did Homura invent YUUHI prior to the implementation of Project NEW GAME?

Huh? Yeah.

I see.

Let's see. If the two are capable of producing the exact same sort of effect... Could it actually—I hadn't even considered that. A hereditary power? Natural psychics like Himuro-san are rarer, yes, but there's nothing to say that a configuration of the Psy-Gene couldn't be hereditary...

Bobby: Hey, hey, hey! Go home or you'll get hurt! Why don't you take your chance now, huh, you Japanese weaklings?

I know you guys are strong, but brute force isn't enough to beat this thing!

Don't bother. They're too enveloped in their own idea of—

Sorry, okay, no, how long ago did you first pick up a gun?

Week and a half ago.

How have you not blown your shoulder off?!

Being a genius, baby!


Ugh, I don't have time for this. Just go.

If it's a hereditary power, then that means that the things that are unusual about Mio and the things that are unusual about Homura must operate under the same principle.

Mio. I'm sorry to keep asking you questions.

It's okay. Are you alright?

I'm deep in thought and I fear I can't escape this train without riding it to its conclusion. The Akaneno family—they were long-time friends of the Hikasas, yes? A family that produced geniuses, and a family that managed them?

Yeah. The Hikasas were always kind of like the Akanenos' stewards, I guess. Akanenos had a history of being fantastic.

What is a 'genius', in the eye of the Akaneno family?

Someone who does things that change the world. A mover, a shaker. If you aren't exceptional, you aren't worthwhile. If you couldn't do something, you simply hadn't set your mind to it enough, and you were a quitter.

So a 'genius' doesn't necessarily have to strictly mean knowledge?

Homura was a B-to-C student in school.

Could it be...

But, if that's true, that—

No, that could very well be—That might just be it, but that would be—!

One last question. Chisa, a long time ago, you mentioned something about Mio. You mentioned she does very good work under deadlines.

Oh, yeah. I don't know how she does it, but she always manages to pull it out at the last second.

I just kinda get in the zone, I guess.

Alright. Thank you. With that in mind, I have an experiment to run a bit later when the situation allows.

—and I say to the guy, "Your wagon?" and we both start laughing so hard!

Please tell me you're back with us.

Yes, my apologies.

!! Up ahead!

Gary: Ooooorah!

Two SECT11 members were charging ahead in front of us.

The woman—her name was Lucy—it seemed had been underestimating us last time we'd faced these two, alongside Will in the underground. She was capable of teleportation herself.

With their combined attack from both sides, the electrolaser did eventually fall.

Gary: Yeah, it's not as bad as it looks. I bet this is more fun than you were having before, chasing some girl with funny ears around!

Lucy: Shouji's final directive... was to defend Tokyo. Let's head out!

Gary: Yeah. Not gonna be able to look him in the eye if I go down before things've even started.

They're just going full force at the problem, without even taking a second to think about it!

...Shouji was their 'hero'.


Shouji was their hero. They placed all their hope in him... all of them, not just Izumi. How many members of SECT11 were even left from the first war? Those hopeless, with nothing left but the battlefield, putting everything they have behind a 'great man' with a lust for battle... It's sad. Those who overly rely on a hero can't so easily find the power to move forward by themselves.

It's pathetic, that this bunch of lemmings was what we had to spend so long wasting our time with.

Termites can build colossal structures when viewed from the outside, but a single termite doesn't know what it's creating. With all of these people... The unit works as a whole, how a man in charge desires it. They just need a single conduit to shape those who don't have anything else to be. Griffith had Shouji. Shouji's rebellion was the only thing that could get a true shift. ...Alan Smithee, too. In his own twisted way, that's what he is. A 'hero'. A 'savior' for the bereaved.

You really think all these grown adults are lost sheep like that?

Maybe not all. Maybe not even most of them. But... it made me think, I guess. There are humans without a real will too, aren't there? People who need to borrow another's will in order to survive. Will is shared, by necessity and through connection, but share your will too much, and you become one of these 'great men'. A 'savior'.

Or something. I don't know.

You aren't like him, babe. You know that, right?

Yeah. But I'm still not sure what being not like him means.

Ooh, ooh, a dragon!

Hover Dragons are weak to Aerial, shockingly. 2164 HP, but they're fast and have higher magical defense than the Moles.

Got you!


Kyahahahaha! Perish!

Richter Gaming!!!

Hey hey, another cannon!

I'll tear it to pieces!

Be careful! It's charging its laser!

This Electrolaser uses Energy Charge, which temporarily lowers its defenses to signal an attack on the next turn.

Pow! Right in the kisser!

EM Laser blasts the whole party and can inflict a 2-turn Stop. ...But it has normal accuracy, so Homura's Blind actually did help Richter dodge that! Thanks, Homura!

Alright! I've got control of it again!

And this ought to help.

Hey whatcha doin'

I'll explain later.

He didn't, and she forgot about it.

Anyway it gets owned

More of those digging Dragons ahead. You good to keep fighting, Richter?

Of course.

Is my contempt for SECT11 justified?

Perhaps not to the degree you've expressed in the past, but yes, completely.

Okay, thank you, I needed a reality check.

Hey, like the kid does!


Mole Dragons aren't too sturdy, but they honestly can be fairly problematic. They also have an all-target called Hopping Ball that I haven't found a good time to show yet.

Really, how the hell does she keep landing these shots?

It doesn't make sense.

One more!

It kills itself to death.

Hover Dragons float around in a diagonal movement pattern that only infrequently makes contact with the platform. This one actually doesn't at all. Instead...

Man, did it just eat that bird?


Since this one isn't getting Richter Gaming'd, it's able to use Death Fang, which lowers magical defense and has a 100% lifesteal effect.

Argh! That remaining bird isn't to be trifled with.

Wait, its fangs... They're lowering our resistance to the bird's flame blasts!

I hate teamwork.

Uh, hey, you! I don't... like your beak!

Ah, lovely.

Dr. Akaneno!

Whoooo! Pow, pow, pew pew pew!



Not to worry.

I'm in pain!

You're right, that is worrying.

Oh, I see a treasure chest over there, in the distance.

Ah, these'll be helpful.




Hey, loot!

I'm going to push you off these train tracks and watch you go squish!

Hey, hey, what'd I do?

Ah, perhaps now is an opportune time.

My apologies, sir.

Richter reached down and picked up a pistol of a similar make to the ones Homura was wielding.

Dr. Akaneno, you like science, yes?

Science rules!

Alright. Do you want to assist me in an experiment?


Now, you see this gun? You see it's like yours, yes? You see, I am actually briefed on how to operate a gun properly.

Richter demonstrated proper posture for that sort of gun.

You see, if you wield the gun improperly, you have a chance of firing in the wrong direction, or losing control of the gun as you fire from the recoil. You could even injure your arm from the recoil. After all, guns do operate based on explosions—they have quite the kickback, even small ones.

Aww shoot, for real?

Yes, that's correct. See, try shooting one like you normally do. Youka, stand behind her, please?

Uhhhh... okay?

Fire your gun at... oh, let's say that traffic light over there. It's a still target, after all. Okay? On three. One... two... three!

Homura pulled the trigger, and let out a yelp of pain and shock as the gun burst upwards with her arm, causing the bullet to sail above the traffic light and, I think, embed itself in some tracks on the other side. She rubbed her shoulder.


See? You should try to use your guns more properly in the future, Doctor.

That hurts, but thanks for letting me know, man, really appreciate it.

...What was that?

Yeah, you lost me.


I'll explain later. Privately. For now, we have to hurry on.

Can we leave her like this?

I wish.

One last Hover Dragon in this area. Stop Beat can inflict... well, Stop, to the whole party. Homura gets hit here.

I feel safer already!

There's two boxes on the tracks still.

A unique piece of equipment with high MDF. I give it to Koron, since Richter's covered by his amorous pants and Homura has the strongest bikini top known to man.

Another ramp?

Real pain, am I right, Mio?

Eh? Eh, Mio?


Next time, we continue attempting to save SECT11 from themselves.

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