Part 87: Empire of Fools

So, hey. Speaking of people being sappy.

We were on our way over to Akiruno, at an entrance opened up by the recon team near the relay from the Hachioji underground. It had been a while since we actually got to drive in a car, so I appreciated the chance to sit.

When's your first date?


Richter started choking on his water.

You can't just! You can't just ask that, come on! I'm bashful, Miroku!

I mean, I've been waiting for you to finally ask him out for over a year now. I deserve to know.

He's drafted up a few plans for it in his notebook. Miroku is actually quite the romantic when he tries—

Shut up! She's lying!

Miroku, that's—*cough, hack!*

That's very sweet of you. Truth be told, I haven't had much time to think about it, so it's a good thing you're on the case.

Yeah, I guess it did come at kind of an awkward time.

What doesn't, these days?

I am not a romantic. I-I've just been listening to too much of the rookies blathering.

Oh, how's that going? Shichiro seems like such a gossip fiend, doesn't he?

You have no idea. Under all that super-keigo stuff he's like a schoolgirl. And he's the oldest one of the three of them!


He might get along with Ako, then.

When they're not talking about Taichi's arts and crafts thing, he's going all, "Say, I didst hear of the most salacious yarns", and then he starts talking our ears off about some mundane thing he thinks is romantic.

What is it that Taichi's been working on, anyway?

Not sure. He sounds pretty proud of it, though. Said he'd be debuting it next time he got on field.


The last remnant of a long-gone civilization, only known now as the 'Tokyo Metro Ruins'.

There's a certain sort of melancholy that comes with witnessing a civilization you have no context for. I still have no clue what demolished world these ruins came from—how long ago this entire civilization was wiped out. Now, it was just another piece of Fomalhaut's realm.

The scenery's amazing... It's like the ground is a post that's been driven in.

Much as Fomalhaut's sense of style is distasteful, I can't deny his sense for grandeur.

How are communications?

Radio communications are okay. Sensors and telemetry are on... Visibility clear, no problems!

In the vicinity, anyway. We've gotta look deeper in.

Alright! Time for some spelunking! I'm excited. Are y'all excited?

You bet! Let's get to work!

Alright. Sorry to leave you with the heavy lifting again, but try and head on to the Imperial Dragon's area. We'll guide you from there, alright? Initial mapping shows this area's fairly complicated, and there's a lot of ground to cover, so try not to get too turned around.

You can win this, guys!

Probably the best dungeon track on the OST, if you ask me. Both the normal and DIVA versions are great.

It's good for us, I suppose, that they needed to maintain the ground connection at all. Take care not to fall, everyone.

no need to worry. i've got quite the balance, you know.

Please, head along this path.

Looks like the welcome wagon's already here to meet us. Ready, ladies?

And Richter.

Thank you, Youka.

Waiwaiwaiwait, it's running!

What's wrong, scared?

Yeah, this dungeon starts with two Dragons facing you who immediately run and book it.

It really does seem... constructed by a society, I guess. This doesn't look like Dragon-made stone.

It's not Atlantean, so I don't think it's anything from Earth.

It wouldn't be Hypnos, either. Niara destroyed that planet—Fomalhaut had nothing to do with it.

Hey hold up


We're all new dungeons until the credits roll, so our last battle theme switch is back to our first set—Rushing Life and Wings Beat Back. I actually think the DIVA version of Rushing Life might've been made with its status as a lategame battle theme in mind, since it's a lot heavier in tone than the normal version. No complaints here, though, both versions of the song are the best random theme in the game.

Anyway, this is Sumie's Surprise Hunt skill in action, which gives us extra odds for pre-emptive attacks and negates surprise actions from Dragons. Very pog. Bunbuku are jokes—frail, and their only special trick is a single-target 35% chance to inflict Confusion.

Hold up. May I? Anyone have anything to declare?

I think we all want to hear it, Sumie.

To your heart's content.


Looks like there's just a lot of intersections, really.

oh hello. it seems you've come back around. might i interest you in some bullets to the skull?

I think we've got a taker!

With 3792 HP and exactly the skills you'd expect, Hammerers are our final variety of Blunt Object Skull Guys again. They're by no means unthreatening, but they're also not all that interesting.

yes, yes. keep going like that.

You know what to do, Youka.

You know it!

whispering, i love

Okay, I can take this shot. I got this.

Okay that didn't go according to plan

Asshole. Sumie, open him up for me.

Youuuuu got it!

Thanks, much appreciated.

Ehehehehehehehahahahahahaha! Bemoan your ill luck to have ever faced me, spawn of Fomalhaut!

She's so cute when she's mad with power... kuh... my heart...!!

It seems the architecture isn't in the best shape.

Oh, great. My favorite.

beep beep.

Ugh. This guy.

Otaku Guy: Huh? Have we met? Sorry, I'm not familiar.

At least he's ignoring me.

Froggles are also jokes. Even frailer than Bunbuku, with a Fire weakness. They have an all-target Sleep attack, but it's really not accurate enough to be a big deal.


We've a wall ahead. You ready, Youka? This one might take some doing.

Bring it on!

The Killhorn Dragon here was a quest Dragon back in the first game, but now here we are. Despite having lower HP than Hammerers, only 3196, Twinhorns are overall sturdier, especially physically. They're weak to Ice and... for some reason immune to Bleed and Freeze. Beats me.

Think I know what this situation calls for.

The something is heavy ordnance.

Huh. It doesn't look that hurt, huh?

Looks hurt enough to me. Nice shooting.

I mentioned this in the writeup, but Ragweed Ammo's been nerfed. It only has four status inflictions now, and they don't pierce resistances. Still alright for disabling and whatnot, though.

There's plenty more where that came from.

Wanna run that one back?

can't touch me

Think you guys have made it sick enough?

Not until it's dead.

Huh. Quite a sturdy head.

See? Homicide Hold is bad.

Ugh, shit. I'm all stiff.

Seal Cry can inflict a 2-turn Skill Seal. It's not that accurate, but not nice.

Watch out! It's rearing up to charge!


I concur.

Mu-ra-ku-mo Girls, we're unforgettable~ Pinpoint shots, concussions on top~ Firestorms so hot they'll melt your popsicle~


What is she singing?

No clue.

See, Mama? No issue. Just a Dragon.

Well if it gets more complex than that I'll have complaints.

Northcrowns are pretty chunky physically and can inflict nasty Paralysis, but are hideously weak to magic and Fire, which Koron specializes in. Incidentally, there have been no skipped randoms up to this point. Sumie actually got three pre-emptives in a row. Benefits of being a catgirl.

oops gotta turn around

Freesia are another Fire-weak enemy. They can debuff the party's offenses and inflict Sleep. Four in a row.

There you are.

quit hittin yourself

Yeah! Hit that Robocop!


hey do we have enough room for these


oh good thanks chisa

Anyway, back to the front of the area.


Five paths.

With multiple floors on each of the side paths. But according to our readings, the Imperial Dragon is in the path straight ahead.

While I'm filling out the map for later, Screw Shark. Screw. Screw. Screw. Screw. Chaos is restless. Chaos is restless. Chaos is restless. Screw Sharks are pretty straight upgrades to the previous Flying Sharks, with relatively sturdy statlines and good damage stats. Their one skill, Screw Buster, hits five times for minor damage and can inflict a fairly strong Bleed. They're weak to Fire and Aerial.

Sumie was literally one point of damage off of lethal there. ...I just like the animation.

Here's basically the whole of the opening segment of the Metro Ruins.

Through here, yes?

Okay, where's the catch.

There. There is the catch.

Stair troubles aside, this seems way too easy. Remain cautious as you head in, guys.

What do you suppose is lighting these fires?


Oh no. Oh we're going to have to climb all the way back up this.

Want me to carry you on the way back up?

Wehhhhh. Hooooo.

Fancy place, though! I might wanna come back around here to poke around.

The line ends here. Ready to jump?

Woohoo! I love jumping!

The beast was designed for brute strength above everything. It had a hard shell, and a tail like a mace—its fists clenched and cracked with the desire to fight. As it saw us, its breath became heavy—it shook with excitement for the fight. Most likely, this arena it had constructed for itself had been its home once upon a time—scores of warriors from this long-dead civilization falling to its fists.

'Jabberwock'. That's this one's name.

Brave of it to stand out in plain sight like this. ...It's not a jabberwock, though.

I agree... uh, with the first part. This is too easy. I've got a bad feeling about this.

In and out, three minutes, no question. You got it, boss man!

Y'know, come to think of it, this'll make ten, right?

I suppose you're right, aren't you?

Let's see. Warcry, Jigowatt, Lore-A-Lua, Trinitro, Sleepy Hollow, the Scaber, Zero-Blue, Tiamat, Oceanus...

Well, would you look at that! This one would be our tenth opponent overall.

Show us what you've got, lucky number ten!

Alright, let's see what—

It stuck its head in its shell.

Barely scratched it.

Agh, shit!

From above?!

That shell's going to be a problem.

Hide In Shell cuts all of your direct damage to Jabberwock to a tenth. Yeah, you aren't winning this one in the allotted time.

Lemme try poisoning it!

I put on the Blazing Ifrit here, so I got both Poison and Burn. Very nice.

Remember, we're surviving first of all!

No worries, I remember!

I have Presurrection and Death's Door, so no reason not to bust them out here.

Oh what's that? Don't like that?

There y'are, team.

You okay?

I mean it hurt but not that bad.

This's gonna be a problem if we have to keep worrying about the rocks.

Tch. What's that shell even made of?


It leapt out to breathe a jet of flame, then lurched back into its shell before we could launch a counterattack.

I don't think that's working.

Are we even capable of harming this monster?

For such a burly guy, it doesn't hurt that much. But there's no way we can outlast—

!! Wait! Everyone, we need to get out of here! Has it been three minutes?

You're good to leave!

We'll be back!

Hawawawa. I don't like this guy.


We reconvened at the entrance of the ruins as Jeanne and Miroku got to work analyzing the data.

It's wishful thinking to think it might dissipate if we wait long enough, but what could its purpose be?

I think I've managed to figure it out, if you don't mind a bit of speculation.

You're the best we have for that kind of speculation.

So, it's clearly all the way down here for a reason. Based on what we've seen, I think that the Jabberwock functions as a sort of tectonic engine. It's controlling as much underground space as it can so that it can attempt to manipulate the fault lines. If its domain spreads much further, it could directly reach the Median Tectonic Line and wreak havoc all across Japan.

That would be pretty bad. A living tectonic engine, huh?

But the only Dragons we've seen to possess potential energy even approaching these numbers are Fomalhaut and Chisa. This is violating all we've learned about maximum capacities. Either I've screwed up measuring, or—

Okay, say it's beyond what one Imperial should be able to do. Where's it coming from?

Let's look the place over at a higher resolution! ...Wait, whoa?!

Found them! I'm... I'm picking up three more Imperial Dragon readings!


Of course! It's using the other Imperial-class Dragons as living batteries to support its drawing in energy!

So that's why Fomalhaut's own Imperials have been so light on the ground. Four of them were down here?!

And its domain taking this shape—the power of four simultaneous Imperials could likely manage that, no?

Four Imperials in one, forming a tectonic engine that can disrupt the shape of the Earth from below... If you wanted to deal a decisive blow to a destabilized population, shattering the ground beneath them would be a good start.

Man, what? You're allowed to do that?

So, if we can take down the other Imperials that are supplying Jabberwock with energy—

Each one should cut the main Imperial's energy output by at least 20%, according to my calculations.

But this place is pretty big. And with four Imperials, there's gonna be a lot of lesser Dragons. And it's pretty twisty, too. With just Unit 13, it's gonna be a real complex operation.

Huh? Shizuka? What's happening at the Diet Building?

Oh, that's good to hear. But what is this call about, then?

Well, everyone at Murakumo HQ can see how hard-pressed you are down there.


Wait, what?!

You're actually sending Unit 10 out?!

I mean, the rookies besides, the dev team and Himuro are definitely ready for that.

I'm sorry, I'm just... well, Taichi seemed so excited, and I could hardly say no when I saw what he had ready!

What do you mean what he had rea

Taichi: Murakumo Unit 10, on the scene! Vanguard Taichi Inomiko reporting!

As the rest of our backup streamed in, I finally got to lay eyes on what Taichi had been working on since the 16th.



HELL is that thing?!

It... well, it resembled a lance, certainly. It had the general idea of the shape, and the tapered point. But... well, while it did have that, the rest of its body was covered in metal, and clearly had inner workings of some sort of mechanism, the central cylinder much more round than I would expect. It was like a polearm, a shield—with him sporting armor to match—and something else strapped together.

Lemme tell you, I like this kid. When he came to us with the plans, I almost passed out right there.

Your little brother's quite something, Captain~

Taichi: This is Unit 10's collaborative project—half spear, half mortar! I call it the Comet Spear.

Shichiro: The central cylinder contains a series of explosives that all three of us collaborated to construct. Through my support, they can be self-replicated without the need for carrying about traditional piles of ammunition, and Asumu-san's cartomancy—

Asumu: You'd best be glad I had some low-tier cards I had duplicates of, Taichi.

Taichi: Yeah, Asumu strapped a bunch of her cards on the inside, so I can detonate as many of them as I want at once instead of just having to fire one at a time. I can use it to launch myself into the air, throw the spear, fire off explosions—all while heavily armored!

Holy shit. You made that?

It's still a prototype, but the ideas are sound and it worked in field tests.

Taichi: I wasn't about to let my first chance to go into the field with my sister go to waste, y'know. The small fry in there better watch out!

Asumu: Don't get cocky. It's not like you can do it all by yourself.

Taichi: That's rich, coming from you.

Asumu: Tch. Maybe it is.

Shichiro: Please, Taichi-kun, Asumu-san, there's no reason for us to bicker in front of our senpai. We must present a united front of support! We of Unit 10 must be stalwart and steadfast—

Himuro: And if they do see some serious fighting, well, it's probably alright.

It's creepy and dark, and I don't like it! We'll be waiting up here, so if anything comes up, give us a holler~

Getting crowded in here.

Always nice to have more people along for the ride, right?

I feel better already!

Okay, well, then.

When they're down, engage the Jabberwock. Your final job is to recover its heart.

We'll be analyzing the energy sources on site.

Don't make me have to do more work than I wanna, you guys.

Taichi: Aww, c'mon. We're not that bad. Anymore.

Sure, sure. Put your money where your mouth is, why don't you?

Himuro: Alright. Unit 13, we'll meet up after. You three, let's go!

Please just be careful, Taichi.

Next time, we start knocking back a four-pack.

Next Update
Previous Update
Table of Contents