Super Robot War Gaiden: Lord of Elemental Walkthrough Mark Neidengard (mneideng at ugcs dot caltech dot edu) Version 1.0 This is a plot walkthrough for Super Robot War Gaiden: Lord of Elemental. Only released for the Super Famicom, this game was Winky Soft's opportunity to tell the backstory and continuing story of the original character Andou Masaki, pilot of the Psybuster. Surprisingly racy dialog and numerous character portraits enliven this Turn-Based Strategy game, which not only features isometric battle maps, but also Final Fantasy Tactics-style element alignment and directional damage. Did I mention it does all this on the Super Famicom, with virtually instant in-battle saving to that cartridge? Much of the game's charm comes from the nuances of the dialog, and this walkthrough, one (and a half?) steps removed from a true line-by-line translation, may or may not do it justice. Those looking for a scenario flow chart should check out Pistol's walkthrough on GameFAQs. I've only gone through one complete path as of version 1.0 of this FAQ, and many stages have yet to be visited. As always, all comments are appreciated. INTRO There exists within the earth another world, "Ra Gias", a land of alchemy and sorcery. Within the kingdom of Langran, a prophecy had emerged from the Academy of Alchemists - the advent of an immense god of destruction, and calamity for all the peoples of Ra Gias. To combat this threat, Langran focused all its alchemy into the creation of all-purpose, humanoid weapons. Those with the strongest spiritual prowess were known as the "Elemental God-Machines", though their immense power concealed a terrible flaw. Only those of strong, primal Plana (spiritual force) could pilot them, and few such pilots were found among the sober inhabitants of Ra Gias. After a four year search, the rulers of Langran made a fateful choice: their pilots would be summoned from other worlds... Scenario 1. Ra Gias A very confused Andou Masaki wakes up to find himself in Langran, where Tutti Norback attempts to explain slowly to him what's happened (somehow mistaking him for Chinese at first, to his annoyance). Masaki isn't buying that he's in another world inside the hollow Earth, so Tutti brings him to somewhere he can check with his own eyes. The world is indeed laid out like the inside of a ball, and Masaki sarcastically asks if he's been summoned to some land of swords and sorcery to be some kind of legendary hero. Hearing that he's right on the money doesn't ease his mind any; nor does Tutti's explanation that all this got started because of a prophecy. According to that prophecy... Well, before she can explain, she gets some kind of call and agrees to hurry off to attend to whatever it is. She tells Masaki to sit tight, which proves to be a bit tough as a full-blown war seems to be going on outside. Should he take a peek outside? If so, 1a, if not, 1b. 1a. Masaki rapidly gets lost, ending up in some kind of hangar. A staffer hanging out there quickly figures out that Masaki is one of the Pilots from afar. Despite Masaki's protests, he hustles Masaki towards the Jaorm, a big-ass humanoid robot. Figuring he's got no other choice, Masaki gets into the cockpit. The machine starts by itself, and somehow the knowledge of how to pilot it appears directly in Masaki's mind. Out on the battlefield, Yang Long is startled to see someone piloting the Jaorm. Tutti and Masaki wouldn't have figured each other for mecha pilots either, but Masaki quickly offers to help out anyway. Tutti thinks it's too dangerous, but Yang Long and Simone tell her to give him a shot. Especially since the longer they argue, the more entrenched the terrorists get. Yang tells Masaki to watch his back, and not to turn tail to the enemy lest he suffer bigtime damage. The terrorist leader Gasba shows up on 1.5, figuring that four B-class Elemental Machines make for interesting opponents. But given that their pilots seem to be amateurs, he's sure he can trick them into his pace and get the upper hand. It seems he's getting paid some 300k credits just for toying with your people and gathering combat data: what a laugh! On turn 2, Masaki learns that his companions are from France and China. Looks like this isn't some comic where he alone is the hero from far-flung worlds after all. He asks Tutti if there are actually people aboard the enemy robots, adding that he'd prefer not to kill anyone if he can avoid it. She assures him that as long as he doesn't aim for the cockpit, ejection systems will save his foes. Simone adds an admonition not to get carried away, and to count on her mech for healing. Yang Long is taking a wait-and-see attitude towards Masaki, though if you make Level 2 he's considerably more positive. Tutti is positive regardless, and explains that the Elemental Machines differ from ordinary robots because they operate off their pilot's Plana, otherwise known as "ki" or "aura" or whatnot. I was level 2. After the battle, Feir thanks the pilots for their hard work. Tutti hastily fills in Masaki that Feirrode Gran Bilseia is the crown prince of this country, but Masaki sniffs that he, no citizen of this land, couldn't care less about this guy's rank. Tutti then points out that he's also their _commander_, though Feir says lightly that he's never been one to stand on ceremony. He thanks Masaki for weathering such a tough first battle, and Masaki ruefully admits that he wasn't much help. He then asks Masaki to run a certain errand for him. I refused. Feir graciously says that he won't force Masaki, and Masaki says that he doesn't plan to fight someone he knows jack about. He'd like Feir to at least tell him the reason for fighting, and Tutti informs Feir that she hadn't had a chance to finish explaining. He asks her to do so, and requests that Masaki consider further after he's heard the whole tale of woe. Like, whoa. Tutti finishes explaining to Masaki why they've all been summoned, and adds that no one is forcing them to help. Masaki asks her for a couple days to think it over, and Tutti suggests he contact his family and talk it over. Masaki looks uncharacteristically downcast, slowly telling her that all his family are dead. Tutti is in fact in the same boat, though Masaki quickly tells her he doesn't plan to pry. She makes arrangements for Masaki to sleep at Zeoroot's place: he's a martial arts instructor to the Court, and Tutti figures Masaki will become his student if he stays. Scenario 2. Akai Akuma ("Red Devil") Tutti introduces Masaki to Zeoroot, who is happy to take him in. She'll be back tomorrow, and asks Masaki to consider well. As Masaki is about to enter, a little girl named Presia greets him. Zeoroot introduces her as his daughter, and she seems extremely happy to see her new "older brother". She's made dinner, including lots of red peppers that Zeoroot will merrily give Masaki once it comes out that he doesn't have any foods he hates. Not that Presia will let her father get away with that... Masaki's heard a lot from Zeoroot, but still hasn't made up his mind the following morning. He asks Tutti if this demon god of legend is really supposed to destroy this world, and she offers that that probability certainly hasn't decreased. No one knows what that demon god even is, and Masaki seems none too thrilled that the Ra Gians have summoned everyone to combat a menace they can't define. That seems to have made his mind up for him to leave, so Tutti says that she'll take him to the person who can send him home. Presia wants to come along too, but Tutti doesn't have room for three in her mech. This starts Presia crying, and Masaki sighs and offers to give her a ride in his mech instead. Tutti isn't _happy_ that Masaki is leaving, in part because of his intuitive mastery of his mech. He huffs that it's his decision, but before much else can be said a group of enemies appear. Their leader is Saphiine Volkrus, who sounds amused to see two Elemental Machines out for a stroll. Tutti quickly tells Masaki that this woman, also known as the "Red Lotus", is a follower of the evil god Volkrus. Saphiine observes that Tutti has some guts to call her god "evil" to her face, and figures that any chance they had of her letting them go has just gone poof. When Masaki muses that this little quarrel doesn't concern him, Saphiine tells him that he's pretty unmanly to let the woman do all the fighting - that's about as low as one's guts can get. Questioning his manhood seems to get Masaki's goat, and he yells that he'll be more than happy to take her on. Or maybe he's too into this? Saphiine tells Masaki that he'd better grow up before taking her on - unless he wants her to _make_ him a man. To Tutti's accusation of siding with the terrorists, Saphiine sniffs that she's no "ally" of theirs - she's merely lending them a hand. After the battle, Masaki seems to be having second thoughts about leaving. Tutti doesn't want him to say something just to placate Presia, and the three eventually reach the Soratis Shrine, a giant pyramid near the coast, without settling anything. Tutti asks to speak to the high priest Ibun about returning a recently summoned person, and Ibun comes out in person to examine Masaki's face. The tough old bird sees in him potential that would be a shame to lose. Shaking that off, Ibun invites them to stay overnight and perform the ceremony in the morning, which Masaki shrugs and agrees to. Scenario 3. Juureiki Nagtsart ("Cursed Spirit-Machine Nagtsart") Presia wakes Masaki up bright and early in the morning, offering him one heck of a breakfast. She claims her skill comes from making breakfast every day at home, and Ibun sighs that Zeoroot shouldn't be surprised if Pia walks out on him one day over his laziness. Presia, still smiling, says that her mother has her own set of things to worry about. Ibun won't hear of Tutti trying to hasten breakfast; instead, Tutti contents herself with seasoning her breakfast the way some people salt their driveway. This also gives some bad guys time to approach the shrine. Masaki hesitates to go out and investigate, and Tutti tells him that she'll go out with him. They see no one at first, and Masaki wonders if the alarm is busted or something. Tutti at least can sense their adversary: it's Ruozoul Zolan Roiel, who has heard of the recently summoned Masaki and who compliments Tutti on her usual sharp powers of perception. Tutti recognizes the evil priest, also known as the Dark Noble. Ruozoul makes sure to tell them that his mech isn't an Elemental God Machine, but rather a "Cursed Spirit-Machine", and almost apologizes for the fact that both of them have to die before they can become a threat. Tutti starts to protest that Masaki is about to return to Earth, but Masaki stops her and says that he's changed his mind. For all that this place is a chaotic mess, it's just not in his nature to turn his back on those in trouble. Presia is delighted, and even Ruozoul seems pleased at Masaki's spirit. He sends forth some Demon Golems for your people to fight: weapons powered by the spiritual force of the dead. Outwardly impassive, they are powered by hatred, and make for tough adversaries. Ruozoul waits with anticipation to see how you handle this threat. Ibun figures your people to be outnumbered, and figures that this is an emergency big enough to launch an "Armored Warrior", an inferior sort of mech made to guard the shrine. You can accept the help, or refuse. I told her not to bother. As the battle wears on, Masaki begins to worry that it's futile. But a couple of newcomers help turn the tide: Ricardo and Yang Long, who is actually piloting the Granveil. Yang tells Tutti that the Granveil seems to have taken a liking to him, and accepted him as its rightful pilot. Ricardo is more interested in sweet-talking Tutti, but takes time out to introduce himself to Masaki. On Earth, he was a Mirage pilot for Brazil: fine preparation for his new role as the Zamjeed's pilot. Ruozoul realizes that he's at a disadvantage against two Elemental God-Machines, and elects to pull out. Ricardo has plenty of bravado with which to face the remaining Demon Golems, but is no fool either. After a quick count of the remaining foes, he asks Yang Long to use "it", the Megiddo Flame. He'll kick in his Resonance Quake, and tells Yang Long not to worry about never having used Megiddo Flame in combat before. All he has to do is aim at the enemies and pull the trigger, making sure no friendlies are in the way. Tutti sniffs that Ricardo once caught Ahamed and Madock in his attack in precisely that way. When Ricardo says that it was their fault for not dodging, Tutti cautions Masaki to stay out of Ricardo's map weapon's range, not believing Ricardo's vow to not catch them in the blast too. Masaki is happy to report his decision to stay, as Tutti suspects Ibun figured he would. Yang Long explains to Masaki that the Elemental God-Machines are mecha that surpass the normal Elemental Machines like the one he's been piloting: they are Elemental Machines with their own personality. Those personalities come from the spirits with whom they are contract-bound, and only four machines worthy of the title Elemental God-Machine exist. They are the Zamjeed, the Granveil, the Goddess, and the Psybuster. In theory, these machines all should have infinite power, but someone without suitable spiritual credentials has no hope of piloting one. In fact, Tutti is about to be tested to see if she has such aptitude, and Ricardo figures that Tutti's personality seems to best suit Goddess, of the two remaining options. Tutti is more guarded, noting that passing the test will be meaningless if neither machine wants her. Ricardo's assurances do not seem to help. A better question is what Ruozoul was doing lurking around here, and whether his stated rationale for attacking you two was in fact true. Ibun is sure it's some part of his fiendish plan to resurrect Volkrus, the Destroyer spoken of in myth and legend around these parts. Ibun growls in her grandmotherly voice that Volkrus is no mere legend... or at least, so Ruozoul believes. It's clear why Ruozoul needed your people out of the way: Volkrus can only be resurrected amidst great upheaval. The sort that would be a lot harder to cause with the Elemental God-Machines on the job, wouldn't it? Tutti heads off to fill Feir in on these latest developments, and to formally induct Masaki into the ranks of the Elemental Machine pilots. Scenario 4. Masou Kishin ("Elemental God-Machine") Feir is dismayed to hear that Ruozoul is on the move. In the interest of keeping the peace, he dispatches Ricardo to the Drent River to keep an eye on the border with Shutedonias. He's heard reports of people spotting Elemental Machines resembling the Nagtsart, and he'd like Ricardo to help the local Demgusas maintain their vigil. Ricardo apologizes to Tutti for not being able to be with her during her test, but Tutti sniffs that it's not like his presence would make her any more likely to pass. He professes that the power of his love would assure her victory, earning nothing more than a "don't let the door hit you where the dog bit you" on the way out. Masaki certainly isn't planning on going back on his word once he's made a decision, despite Feir's hints at how rough the job can be. A bit later, Senia goes over and introduces herself to Masaki, who doesn't immediately know why she's there. She explains that she's a member of both the design bureau for the Elemental Machines _and_ the Intelligence bureau. Feir seems mildly surprised to see her on the scene, and when she greets her _brother_ Masaki belatedly realizes that he's been blowing off a _princess_. Or... not. She explains that she lacks the right to ascend to the throne, and has no way to argue the point. According to her, everyone among the royalty are tested for magical aptitude at age 15 - and only those who pass receive the right to ascend to the throne. She is, in her own words, a dropout - incapable of carrying on the royal duty of maintaining the Kekkai around the land. The fact that even the royal family are a meritocracy comes as news to Masaki, but Feir reminds them that Tutti's test is about to start. He advises Masaki to watch too, and Senia idly observes that Masaki might just get chosen by the Psybuster for all anyone knows [What were the chances?] Masaki's first impression of the Goddess is that it's pretty puny looking. Senia rather likes its looks: elegant, beautiful lines that make it worthy of the name of Elemental God-Machine. Simone is among the spectators too, a bit sad that she's not cut out to be the Goddess's pilot. She contents herself with her Zein, freely admitting that Tutti is the better pilot anyway. The ceremony begins with King Alzarl asking Tutti if she can consent without reservations to living and dying with the Goddess. She can. And can she unconditionally vow to the spirits of heaven and earth to fulfill her duty as the Goddess' pilot? Yes. Etc. As Masaki notes, this is very much like a wedding (Senia tells him to keep the kibitzing down). Alzarl finally tells Tutti to look into the face of the water spirit "God" that dwells within the Goddess. Tutti calls upon the spirit, pledging to walk side by side as long as their journey runs. There is a very long pause, long enough to make Tutti's candidacy seem in doubt and give Masaki an opening for a bit of trash talk. But Senia yells at him to shut up and look: in a burst of power, the Goddess answers Tutti's call! All seems well until Tutti and Masaki both begin to sense something wrong. It's Ruozoul again, crashing the ceremony and offering his own congratulations. Feir is astounded to see the Nagtsart able to enter the powerful kekkai, but Ruozoul scoffs at Feir's concept of "power". His Nagtsart is easily powerful enough to pass through the kekkai, if not break it outright - and to bring a bunch of Demon Golems with it. He hopes that Tutti will fight his servants, and after seeing to it that the king escapes safely, Tutti does exactly that. On the way out, the king has the royal guard evacuate the civilians, and Feir yells to all the Elemental Machine pilots to board their mecha. Simone doesn't need to tell Masaki twice to get with it: he's aready got a score to settle. The two of them show up on turn 2. Feir yells to Tutti to be careful when using the Kelvin Blizzard, lest she catch her friends in the blast. Tutti is surprised to see Feir and Senia still around, but Feir says he's not one to evacuate when the common people themselves aren't all out yet. Simone demands to know why Ruozoul enjoys this kind of thing. He retorts that he's doing it not because he enjoys it, but because it's necessary. Once again, Ruozoul flees after getting a taste of your power. Simone rather doubts that it's because your people are that kick-ass... In any case, the king congratulates Tutti on becoming Goddess' pilot. Feir is happy too, but also worried that plans for defending the capitol will have to be rewritten now that the kekkai has been proven so easily ignored. The king responds with a parable of a swordsmith and armorer, each of whom devoted their life to polishing their craft. The swordsmith devoted his life to cleaving the armorer's shields, and the armorer devoted his life in turn to blocking the swordsmith's blades. Though initially friends, their rivalry escalated with time and their friendship was replaced with hate. One day, a trivial matter sparked a quarrel, and the two masters bore their craft into battle. Though the swordsmith's blade clove the armorer's shield, it broke in the same instant, and the shards ended the lives of both men. Alzarl looks downcast at the memory of this parable, one of many written in "Graf's Famous Parables". Feir testily tells his father that he's heard it many times, but his father smirks and says that it's worth hearing again. Feir knows what his father is getting at, but says that under these unusual times their only choice for now is to strengthen the kekkai. The king, surprisingly mild-mannered, notes that as things stand Shutedonias and Bagonia will just have their suspicions further aroused. Feir would like to leave that in foreign minister Gram's capable hands, and formally recommends strengthening the kekkai as the minister of homeland security. The king will bring it before the cabinet, but also wishes Feir to think more seriously about preparing to assume the throne himself. Before he can finish asking, Feir says that he has no plans to step down from his post, which he takes pride in. The king gently says that the royal family is usually best suited to governing the people, but Feir notes that can best be done when one has a thorough understanding of what the people are facing. Masaki can only watch this exchange in silence, and breaking free of the reverie the king urges them all to rest after the battle. Scenario 5. Shi no Kyoufu ("Fear of Death") Masaki can't help but be impressed by the Elemental God-Machines, and Presia assures him that he'll get to pilot one himself one day, at least from what her father told her. Tutti shows up to tell Masaki a bit more about what being an Elemental Machine pilot entails. Basically, it means being subject to the defense bureau, whose head is Feirrode. However, pilots have the authority to refuse orders thought incorrect - so long as they don't do so too often. Masaki seems a bit mollified that he'll have some amount of freedom, but Tutti tells him that if it's freedom he wants he'd better become an Elemental God-Machine pilot instead. She won't say more on the subject, other than to observe that he'll have it explained to him if he's chosen. She's also got his first assignment: guarding a public referendum starting tomorrow in the city of Emille, Zaborl. She and Ricardo will join Masaki for the latter two days of the conference, and with a shrug Masaki agrees to the drudgery of spending the first day alone. Thanks to his onboard navigation system, Masaki manages to reach Emille without getting lost this time. As it turns out, drudgery is the least of his worries... The terrorists have chosen the day before the council to attack, hoping to sow as much chaos as possible. The terrorist leader is quite pleased to see Masaki, looking forward to much mayhem as payback for his previous defeat. The remaining Langran soldier on the scene gratefully turns the battlefield over to Masaki before withdrawing to care for his wounded. Masaki shouts that there are no worthwhile people in the terror business, and isn't worried in the least that he doesn't "understand their ideals". After all, such "ideals" are what killed his parents. Interestingly enough, something is wrong with the terrorist's ejection system. He has just enough time before his mech explodes to scream that he doesn't want to die. Is Masaki happy about killing his fellow man? Hell no, we won't glow. Even less happy are the the terrorist's friends, whose fury mounts even as Masaki quails. The new leader Gasba notices Masaki's shaking, realizing that he's never killed anyone before. He tells Masaki he should just die so he'll never have to kill anyone else again [bad advice!], and insists on having his revenge even when you overcome the shakes and kick his ass. That's Saphiine's cue. She points out to Masaki that he's pretty naive if he thinks war can actually be waged without killing people. Adding that he'll never be a threat to her people if he quails at something this minor, she elaborately announces that she'll leave him alone this time, and departs. Tutti and Ricardo then show up, and with a very long face Masaki explains that he _thought_ he was prepared for the possibility of killing people, but... Ricardo is [for whatever reason] not surprised at Masaki's queasiness given that he's Japanese, but he says bluntly that Masaki'll be of no use to him or anyone else if the death of each and every enemy affects him this badly. After a moment's thought, he asks Masaki if he stayed in this world to protect something or someone. Ricardo, no pacifist himself, tells Masaki that he shows no mercy to those who threaten to destroy what he loves. Masaki agrees with Ricardo's viewpoint, saying that although he had no wish to see his enemies die, he'd be even more upset to see his _friends_ die by him failing to protect them. Tutti concurs and notes that his Elemental Machine gives him the power to protect others. But, she warns, he must never become drunk with that power, lest he himself die. Scenario 6. Hokori to Teki'i (Pride and Animosity) Masaki's new resolve is visible to Zeoroot, but he doesn't have long to chat before another summons comes in from Tutti. She tells Masaki that she is to have Familiars made for her. Much like the black cats that accompanied the witches of old, every Elemental God-Machine pilot needs Familiars, and acquiring them requires visiting the Soratis Shrine. She was wondering if Masaki wanted to go, but he seems somewhat less than thrilled at seeing Ibun again. Given that, Tutti will ask one of the other pilots to escort her - letting Presia invite Masaki along on a picnic with her and her father. Think Presia will take no for an answer? Going on this picnic, by the way, requires flying in Masaki's mech. Zeoroot likes how the Elemental Machines are convenient in so many ways, and muses that it would be handier yet should, say, Ruozoul decide to strike. Since he seems to be targeting Elemental Machine pilots in particular, one can't be too careful. Indeed, if not for Zeoroot's influence, Masaki probably never would have gotten permission for this little personal trip. The party quickly get down to eating Presia's boxed lunches - including the asparagus, to Zeoroot's vast sorrow. Masaki, curious despite himself, begins to ask about Familiars. Zeoroot explains that Familiars _look_ like ordinary animals, like the monkey that Ricardo keeps with him. In fact, they are fully intelligent, autonomous beings (technically known as "Personas") created from their master's subconscious. Their job is to protect and assist their master in various ways, including one special function for the Elemental God-Machines. They actually become the guidance system for its weapons, a little-known fact that Zeoroot supposes Masaki would have found out anyway upon being chosen as one of the Elemental God-Machine pilots. Zeoroot reiterates that Masaki is quite likely cut out for the job, and invites him for a bit of martial arts practice after lunch is done. Masaki, always happiest when he's doing something active, doesn't need to be told twice. Masaki's skills have improved considerably, and Zeoroot says that if Masaki keeps going he himself will be out of a job. That would of course be the time Ruozoul chooses to attack, politely but firmly telling them that he's here for Masaki's life. He figures he's got enough goons that even Zeoroot couldn't keep Masaki safe. Fang shows up on turn 3, a member of the royal guard and a former student of Zeoroot's. Masaki gets a bit taken aback when Fang doesn't answer his greeting, but Zeoroot explains that Fang is a bit bashful around other people... Zeoroot compliments Fang on his mastery of his Galgard, then explains that he's one of the few Ra Gians with naturally high Plana. That lets him work as an Elemental Machine test pilot, far more talented, Zeoroot gushes, than his master. One thing Fang seems adamant on is that the Ra Gians should protect their own world, not count on people from the Surface. He cites someone named "Rubikka" as an example of why the Surface dwellers can't be trusted, but Zeoroot silences him. Such words are not befitting for those sincerely fighting for Ra Gias' sake, regardless of their place of origin. Fang does not heed Zeoroot's directive to apologize, instead saying that his mission is over and excusing himself. Zeoroot then sighs and tells Masaki that Fang has a bit too much pride, which Masaki ruefully says he doesn't _not_ understand. He asks Masaki to remember that although Fang is not alone in his beliefs, his beliefs are not universally held. You've got a bit of time left, so you can either stick around or return. I did the latter. Presia pouts a bit, but Masaki says he's got some kind of bad feeling about doings at the Capitol. He sure hopes he's wrong... Scenario 7. Monica Yuukai (Monica Kidnapped) Tutti tells Feir that Senia has taken Masaki to the Academy's number two hangar. Feir seems mildly irritated that Senia would use Masaki as an excuse to go look at the Elemental Machines, but figures that Wendy's presence should keep everything under control. At the hangar, Senia explains that seven of the sixteen "proper" Elemental Machines are currently stowed at this huge facility. "Proper" as distinguished from the "ordinary" Elemental Machines that are being mass-produced based on the "proper" machines' specs. When Wendy comes over, Senia asks her to let her and Masaki have a look at the Elemental Machines. Wendy agrees, happily adding that Senia mustn't fiddle with them like she did last time. Senia, quite embarassed, makes introductions for Wendy Rasm Iknart, the chief architect and mechanic for the Elemental Machines. Masaki greets Wendy with a highly uncharacteristic degree of deference, which does not escape Senia's notice. Wendy smiles and says that Masaki appears quite nervous - does she appear that frightening? Masaki stammers that that's not it, and after complimenting him on being a good person and thanking him for his efforts in battle, Wendy returns to work. Senia then smirks and asks him if he goes for older women. Masaki irritably claims that that's not it, but allows that something about Wendy just overwhelmed him. Senia waxes philosophical about how it's only rational given how beautiful Wendy is, but then notices when Masaki startles at something unrelated. Masaki struggles to put into words what he felt: it was like someone was calling him, and wonders if it was just his imagination. Senia brushes it off in the interest of admiring all the wonderful Elemental Machines. Among them is the Galgard, the newest and most powerful, almost the equal of an Elemental God-Machine. However, her favorite is the Psybuster, with powers far above and beyond even the other Elemental God-Machines and coolness points to boot. Unfortunately, it's not here - Wendy, its designer, is running final checks as they speak. But further mecha fangirling is cut short by the air raid sirens: another enemy attack, and before the kekkai fortification has even finished. Masaki rushes to the scene, finding that persistent bastard Ruozoul at it again. Tutti's mech will take some time to launch, so she asks him to hold the fort in the interim. Senia also heads out in another Elemental Machine, brushing aside Feir's objections and yelling that she's got to help Masaki out (she rises in his estimation). For his part, Ruozoul is sure Saphiine is doing well, since even he himself is helping provide camouflage for her. His terrorists have a new mech they think will make this battle a piece of cake. They are sorely mistaken. As in their ass, when your dudes are finished kicking it. Masaki is not having any cake though, since his first attack against Ruozoul is totally ineffective. This must be what Ruozoul meant about getting serious today. As Masaki tries to figure out how to repel the Nagtsart, Tutti rides to the rescue. She figures that her Familiars can at least scratch Ruozoul's machine, if not defeat it altogether. This is because Ruozoul is half on the Astral plane - to combat that, she had Wendy apply a coating of ectoplasm to her Familiars. Masaki [who has not watched Ghostbusters] has no idea what this ecto-stuff is, but is happy to let Tutti take a whack at his troublesome foe. She is, in fact, able to at least graze him. Saphiine eventually shows up, having actually failed in the mission that Ruozoul was providing camouflage for. But she's got a souvenir anyway: princess Monica! Ruozoul, realizing the utility of their hostage, decides to pull out for now. He does, however, ask Saphiine to tone down her dominatrix act and ditch the gag she's put in Monica's mouth. Saphiine smiles slyly and replies that everyone's got to have a hobby. Masaki, peeved as all get out, yells at them to quit their jibber jabber and fight him face to face. Saphiine would love to, but she's got other priorities - like Senia's twin sister. Not only does she want your people to keep their hands off, she also wants the Psybuster handed over. Feir shouts that there's no way he can do that, at which Saphiine threatens to take Monica home with her to be her pet. And lest your people object, she points out that Monica's gag has an explosive charm placed on it. Quite a conundrum for Feir, but Wendy takes matters (and the Psybuster) into her own hands. Feir doesn't want the Psybuster handed over for the sake of one person (even the princess), but Wendy says that the Psybuster can possibly be recovered later... unlike Monica. She'll be happy to be scolded later, but tells him to recover Monica for now. Saphiine is glad someone around here understands what time it is, and happily snags the Psybuster. Ruozoul is actually a bit ruffled that things didn't go according to his original plan, but contents himself with the results and pulls out too. Releasing Monica is almost an afterthought, and Saphiine promises Monica that the next time they meet she'll take _much_ better "care" of her... Feir's joy upon his sister's safe return is almost unseemly. When the jubilation dies down, the question becomes what the bad guys plan to do with Psybuster given that they don't have anyone to be Chosen as its pilot and therefore can't actually operate it. Monica, who is refusing rest on the theory that this is all her fault, has an idea: Saphiine mumbled something about how "Psyfis of the Wind" might be especially suitable. Despite Monica's muddled grammar, the idea is clear: the bad guys must somehow know about Psybuster's guardian spirit. ...Which could actually mean that the bad guys _do_ have a suitable pilot, unlikely though that seems. That means you've got to recover Psybuster posthaste, which is hard given that you don't know how to pursue the evildoers. But Wendy has a plan, tenuous though it may be: _Masaki_ should try to locate it. She intuits that he and it are being pulled together, and given that she's effectively the Psybuster's mother, she probably ought to know. Masaki's not at all sure about this, but he's willing to give it his best shot. Scenario 8. Psybuster Ruozoul and the others have been spotted heading north, and Masaki is to form the core of the pursuit team. While he heads due north, Tutti is to head North-Northeast, Ricardo to head North-Northwest, and Simone is to head due Northeast. Feir warns the pilots to contact their fellows instead of fighting alone. Tutti tells Masaki that he's the only one they can rely on, and after he and the others leave, Tutti asks Feir if it isn't dangerous leaving Ricardo alone. She somehow figures that Ricardo is rushing toward his own death, and hopes that Feir is right and that she's simply overthinking things... Masaki meanwhile isn't sure how to go about his assigment. He does however like the thought of being able to stick it to Yang Long if he really is the Psybuster's chosen pilot. He begins to get drowsy as he searches, until a sudden sound rouses him. It's Senia, who seems a bit cross that Masaki doesn't seem to have a clue where he's going. Lucky for both of them she anticipated Masaki's terrible sense of direction and snuck aboard - or so she claims at the time. Anyway, once he gets properly oriented, he begins to sense a voice calling to him - which might have something to do with a sudden response on radar... Saphiine is genuinely aghast that someone figured out her location, and Senia gushes that Masaki's miserable directional sense seems to have come in handy after all. It definitely seems that Psybuster is calling Masaki, and Saphiine isn't about to simply let him get aboard. After defeating Saphiine, Masaki climbs toward the Psybuster's cockpit, as the mech seems to cry out in synchrony. Suddenly, Masaki is teleported to within the Psybuster's cockpit, just in time for Yang Long to show up and be astonished. Yang is skeptical to say the least that Masaki is suitable to pilot what is supposedly the greatest of the Elemental God-Machines. From the verbal barbs, it seems clear that the sober Yang Long and Masaki aren't destined to get along well, despite the fact that their mission is a success. With the Psybuster back at the capitol, Feir acknowledges that Wendy's insight was right on the money. Both Feir and Wendy are overjoyed that Masaki managed to pull this off so smoothly, especially since it was Wendy's insistence that put Masaki in this position in the first place. Masaki tells her that he didn't go because she told him, but because he thought it was the right thing to do. He assures her that there's no need for her to feel guilty, especially since all's well that ended well. Wendy thanks him, but cautions him that now that he's the Psybuster's pilot, he's sure to get tangled up in all kinds of unlooked-for messes. Should the weight of all that potential misery become too much for him, she wants him to tell her: she'll do everything in her power to lighten his burdens. Masaki doesn't seem too worried, being very much of the "go with the flow" school of thought. Masaki wiped Saphiine out before Yang Long had a chance to intervene. Scenario 9. RANDAARU no Na (The Name of Randall) Masaki gets woken up by Presia and Zeoroot, with news that the king is about to confer an honorific name on Masaki as the Psybuster's new pilot. Masaki largely shrugs at this, saying he's already got one name given him by his parents, and doesn't really need another. Masaki wants to have Zeoroot refuse on his behalf, but Zeoroot muses that the name in question happens to be one of his own ancestors. He had even been planning on adopting Masaki, making him Presia's older brother in actuality, which would in turn lighten the household's financial situation. Grumbling briefly, Masaki gives in and journeys to the palace under Presia's direction. The king gives Masaki the name of Randall Zan Xenosakis, and Feir hastily walks Masaki through the ritual words. Masaki mostly gets the wording right, and then has to sit through around thirty minutes of cool-sounding frou frou benediction. Masaki is ready to nod off when a conveniently-timed enemy attack jolts the entire ceremony. Ruozoul is at it again, having easily penetrated even the strengthened kekkai. He advises Feir to stop wasting his effort, to which Masaki replies that Ruozoul's efforts are also wasted as long as he and the others are on the job. This time around, _all_ his weapons are coated with that ecto-whatchacallit stuff, so Ruozoul's attack cancellation from before won't work. Ruozoul is looking forward to seeing just how powerful the Elemental God-Machine is, and Rasetsu is figuring that his country's newly developed Baform should at least be able to put up something of a fight. Ruozoul is interested to hear that Masaki just inherited the name of Randall, someone who once caused his god a great deal of discomfort. He considers it an honor to fight the inheritor of that name. When Rasetsu is defeated, he marvels at how quickly his mech fell to your forces. He figures that he's got to put "that plan" into motion. Ruozoul pulls out after collecting all the data he wants, but Senia has gathered some of her own. She's now convinced that Shutedonias has allied itself with Bagonia, and Wendy agrees that something about the heretofore unseen enemy mecha's movements has strong Shutedonian earmarks. The king wonders if he should continue the ceremony, but Feir tells him that it was clear from the battle that Masaki is more than worthy of his inherited name. This comes as a major relief to the king, who was beginning to get worried when he heard Masaki snoring during the ceremony. Senia was sure her "father" was in a major sweat over that, but he implores her to call him "papa" instead, as she did when she was little. He pouts so much that Senia has no choice but to give in, and Masaki can only shake his head at this most eccentric of kings. Ricardo finds Masaki after the ceremony disbands, seemingly thinking higher of the newly christened "Randall". Masaki tells him to keep calling him by his regular name to avoid any awkwardness. What Ricardo wanted to show him are some demonstrations in Shutedonias that were on the news. These doings in another country would seem unconnected to Masaki and friends, but Ricardo says that Shutedonias is busily blaming Langran for all the uproar: the demonstrations were over the Elemental God-Machines. Masaki is understandably confused as to why machines supposed to save the world would cause people to take to the streets in protest, but Ricardo explains that the Shutedonians see them as a strategic threat to the region. Especially with all their dispatches to fight the recent wave of terrorism, the public at large has gotten quite an eyeful of their fearful powers. Masaki tells him not to sweat it, which is just what Ricardo figured he'd say - he tells Masaki to keep his cool no matter what comes out of all of the unrest. Scenario 10. Masaki to Tsukaima to (Masaki and his Familiars) Presia wants to go along when Masaki has his Familiars made. Masaki doesn't mind, but wonders if he shouldn't wake her father to get his permission too. She tells him not to bother, since her father has been sent to Shutedonias. When they get to the shrine Ibun amusedly chides Masaki for not respecting his elders before preparing to make the Familiars. Ibun has another guest, Becky Turner, the pilot of the Elemental Machine La Wentar. Masaki predictably tells her not to bother calling him by his formal name, which Ibun smirks is too great a name for her impudent charge anyway. Masaki's vision for his Familiars (two of them) is a bit ad hoc, but the results delight Presia: a black and a white cat! Masaki ponders a moment, then names them Kuro (black) and Shiro (white). They protest that Masaki should be able to do better than that, letting Presia know that they're a boy/girl set. She happily gives Shiro a cute little bell and Kuro a ribbon, making the cats beam with pride [and making them forget about their incredibly banal names ^^;;] The terrorists choose that moment to strike again, making Masaki wonder what the hell is wrong with this country's self defense forces. Ibun asks Masaki and Becky to go check it out. These bad guys include some mecha Masaki's never seen before, and Ibun growls that these are no terrorists - they're more likely to be the Bagonian army. Of course, there's been no official declaration of war, and of course these dudes are unlikely to admit their origins, but Ibun seems the sort of person whose hunches are seldom wrong. That said, she wishes Senia or someone was on the scene to judge the way the enemy move and sound. Becky figures this to be some sort of test run for an actual war against Langran, and in fact the enemy commander Gino has been sent here specifically to ascertain the Psybuster's power. He cautions his men that there's no call for them to risk their lives this time out. He is indeed quick to withdraw his forces, leading Becky to figure that your dudes are just that scary. Ibun cautions that something is still lurking nearby though: it's Saphiine, who's impressed with Ibun's powers of perception. She says that she _had_ been just planning to watch from the sidelines, but something about watching your people fight gives her body an "itch" she needs to scratch. Becky isn't having any of Saphiine's nymphomaniac talk... Half a turn later, Madock shows up to try to put a stop to the Red Lotus' machinations, after a good century of trying. Saphiine purrs that she's not so bored as to consider dallying with this old man, and with a foolish grin Madock squeals that he's got a thing for younger girls and asks her to reconsider. If _she_ can berate him for being a dirty old man, he must be pretty bad... He introduces himself to Masaki as the Diablo's pilot, and Ibun sighs and tells him not to push too hard. Ahamed and his Solgady are also on the scene, taciturn as always. Saphiine figures that Masaki has gotten a bit more manly, which makes Masaki grin and reply that that must mean she's gotten a bit closer to grandmother status herself. _That_ definitely gets her goat. When she gets smacked around enough, she muses that her urges have been satisfied enough to let her sleep tonight, and withdraws. Becky is quick to propose a victory toast, and Ahamed as a devout Muslim is quick to take his leave. Becky opines that not drinking saps half the fun in life, and when Masaki asks she says that the other half is sleeping with good-looking guys. Madock is quick to agree, though of course in his case he prefers women. The cats sigh at how strange the Elemental pilots all are, including their own master - Masaki says not to lump him in with the others, and Ibun observes that it's pretty rare to find someone who can disagree with his own Familiars. That's not to say that Familiar personalities always accord with said master: that's part of what it means to be independent Personas. At length, Becky has had a _bottle_ or two (or more??) of bourbon, claiming quite erroneously that it'll take more than that to get her drunk. Presia isn't fooled, and as Becky comments on how hot the room is getting Masaki points out that he's under age and shouldn't very well be drinking. Becky insists that he's quite manly enough, and starts taking off all that annoying hot clothing she's wearing. Masaki alternates between shock, and annoyance that Madock is partially blocking his view. Now topless, Becky figures that it'd be unfair if she didn't take off her bottoms too, and Masaki isn't precisely in a hurry to stop her. It takes Ibun to intervene and point out that they are all in a _holy_shrine_. The next morning, Becky apologizes for getting a bit too frisky. Masaki tells her not to sweat it, especially since Madock seemed to be enjoying himself. Presia gives Masaki a "look" and points out that he was too. Becky then has a favor to ask Masaki: since his Psybuster can freely commute between this world and the Surface, she wants him to buy her some more bourbon sometime, which is better than the merely passable stuff available here. He hadn't realized that the Psybuster had such capabilities, and while telling him not to talk about her little request, she hands him some money and a paper describing the brand she wants. It seems this is to be a secret just for the two of them. Presia and the cats can't believe he'd take her up on it, but Masaki points out that she said he could take his time, and figures that surely he'll have a chance to make good sooner or later. Scenario 11. Chijou De (On the Surface) Tutti is quite taken with Masaki's familiars, but _her_ familiars, the wolves Freki and Geri, seem rather dubious that the cats can actually protect their master worth a damn. Tutti realizes that Masaki may have stolen a march on her in the cuteness department, and has to point out to her canine servants that there's no such thing as a "higher" or "lower" animal where Familiars are concerned. Feir then sends for Masaki, with some important thoughts regarding his rights and responsibilities as an Elemental God-Machine pilot. Masaki suspects another long speech is in the works, but Feir tells him that the _explanation_ is quite straightforward. It is the right of every Elemental God-Machine pilot not to follow orders from _anyone_, including Feir himself. He notes that about the only thing that could stop an Elemental God-Machine is another Elemental God-Machine anyway, and when Masaki worries that such a setup seems to be an invitation to crime, Feir says that that isn't possible. Only the righteous of heart can be chosen as Elemental God-Machine pilots in the first place, Feir says, and Masaki pauses before saying he doubts he's that righteous a guy. Feir says that the spirit bound to the Psybuster is of the utmost purity: _it_ would refuse to heed commands from a pilot whose heart turns to evil. In other words, Psybuster has the ability to abandon Masaki, which is connected to the one and only duty of the Elemental God-Machine pilots: to confront any danger that could destroy the world, at the cost of anything and everything else. Masaki notes in some puzzlement that almost seems like common sense, but Feir assures him that this is a far crueler duty than it might at first seem... Masaki then gets aboard Psybuster for more practice, leaving Tutti wondering where he got to. In fact, Masaki has somehow gotten all the way back to _Japan_ without even understanding how. What's more, a JSDF fighter makes contact with him, ordering him to leave Japan airspace at once. Masaki replies that he's _Japanese_; there should be no problem with him flying in his own airspace. Of course, he has no flight clearance or anything, and when the fighter threatens to shoot him down he simply accelerates away and leaves the pilot scanning the skies in vain. Shiro has helpfully put up a spiritual shield to keep Masaki off radar, but that doesn't stop all the citizens of the town he's landed in from being in blind panic. Masaki insists that he's not clumsy enough to accidentally step on cars or whatnot, but he's got much bigger problems thanks to a new mech approaching at high speed. Aboard it is Shirakawa Shuu, who recognizes the Psybuster and seems amazed to actually meet it here on the Surface. What's more, Shuu knows both of Masaki's names, being from Langran himself. He tells Masaki that the robot he's piloting isn't an Elemental Machine, but something he developed himself: the Granzon. Masaki tells Shuu that he has no idea where his fellow Elemental God-Machine pilots are, and that he prefers to be alone anyway. That's fine with Shuu, but he would like Masaki to stop causing a fuss here given that the JSDF are about to arrive. Masaki is angrily forced to admit that he didn't exactly come here to pick a fight with the _army_, and leaves in a huff. Shuu meanwhile muses on the fact that, evidently, he wasn't fit to pilot the Psybuster himself, and that Ra Gias just got a lot more interesting. Masaki can't shake the feeling that he's met Shuu somewhere before. Although he stoutly maintains that he's just familiarizing himself with his mech's controls, the cats figure he's just goofing off. When he finally returns to Ra Gias, he does _not_ find himself at Langran's capitol where he tried to go. You can head either East or West [I went East], as Feir stews over Masaki's disappearance. He promises to give Masaki a good talking-to when he gets back, and instead gets to preside over his brother Telius skipping class to look for Monica. Telius has little interest in his studies, and is more interested in talking to Monica about what he calls her "good friend" Christof. He's been missing for two years, but Telius overheard some of the army intelligence officers discussing how Christof has been spotted on the Surface. She's overjoyed that Christof is all right, but what's bothering Telius is why the _army_ would be talking about that - he suspects that Christof must be on some kind of mission. Monica figures that couldn't be, since Langran has a policy of not setting foot on the Surface, but Telius says that one never knows what's going on behind the scenes. Anyway, Christof seems to be in good health, and Telius wanted to ease his sister's mind on that score at least. Scenario 12. Rival Inertial nav on the Psybuster is busted and taking forever to fix, and Masaki is smart enough to know that if he tried to help the cats he'd just do more harm than good. He's quite impressed at how the cats managed to rewire the computer using only their mouths - but hey, what are Familiars for? With the nav system finally back online, it turns out that Masaki ended up somewhere very near the Bagonian border: _very_ far from the capital. Worse, they actually passed through Bagonian airspace just to get here. Thank god they weren't found, huh? More amazing yet is that _Zeoroot_ is here, and quite surprised to see Masaki. Seems Zeoroot was running an "errand" in Bagonia, and is on the way back home. He finds Masaki's presence here a bit suspicious, but is willing to let it slide. He does caution Masaki not to cross the border, since he has no visa, and hurries over to Masaki before he can commit any more border violations. He then merrily stows his luggage aboard the Psybuster. It seems he was in Bagonia for a martial arts tourney, where he met his old rival Shemel Hell, winner of three consecutive world championships. Zeoroot modestly says that his rival was by far the stronger of the two, though he's now retired. Masaki is a bit reluctant to head home and face the music from Tutti and the others, and Zeoroot is in the middle of telling him that he'll try to calm the waters, when something appears on radar... It's the terrorists again, and Zeoroot is having a hard time figuring out what they'd be targeting all the way out here. The terrorist leader for his part is eager to try out a certain item he just received: several mecha of the same type used during the theft of the Psybuster. These guys are certainly up to no good, and Masaki and Zeoroot agree that they need to go down. They have an ally: it's Fang, who on a hunch came back to his master Zeoroot. He wants to show off the results of all the training he's been doing. Masaki for his part figures he doesn't need the assistance, but Zeoroot short circuits their argument by proposing a contest to see who can take down more terrorists. The loser gets to buy the winner lunch. The two reluctantly agree even as the terrorists are listening in rage. Masaki wins [in my case], and Fang agrees to his master's instructions to buy Masaki lunch and not hold any sort of grudge. Masaki for his part was favorably impressed by Fang's prowess, upgrading him in his estimation. Fang's glad Masaki recognizes his talents, and the two hotheads seem like they'll be able to get along after all. Before Feir can get two sentences in with Masaki, Tutti starts giving Masaki the verbal what-for. Masaki's apologies appear to fall on deaf ears, and he trudges off with Tutti still berating him. However, Feir knows that Masaki actually feels a strong sense of responsibility beneath his exterior, and believes that Tutti knows this too and is actually treading with care. Monica remains unconvinced, but their banter is quieted when the time for Feir to take his medicine arrives. Feir has his doctor's assurances that he'll be fine, but Monica is understandably still worried. Feir inwardly hopes that he'll be fully healed... soon... Scenario 13. Hakkaizou TIAN (Fallen Monk Tian) Masaki thinks he's gone far enough afield that Tutti will give up, and figures that this little trip isn't as bad as his previous unauthorized visit to the Surface. The cats observe that for all the friction, Masaki doesn't actually dislike Tutti, the older sister he never had. For that matter, Masaki seems to have a soft spot for Presia too, not to mention Wendy... Does that mean that he's just weak regarding women in general? Masaki grouses at them to just keep their eyes on the radar, and tries to figure out what to do next. [I went East.] Masaki stops short of heading to the next country over, finding a nice quiet spot to take a nap. He falls asleep almost instantly, his peaceful face making his Familiars sleepy too. They drift off, only to be awakened by the boisterous shouts of someone in monk's robes. Apparently Masaki is sleeping in this man's favorite spot, and the monk recognizes Masaki and his mech almost at once. Masaki rather irreverently tells the monk that the early bird catches the worm, and dismisses the monk's claim that he needs this _particular_ spot for his spirituality. The monk threatens Masaki with Buddha's punishment, then adds that if Masaki would try elevating his spirit sometime, his combat prowess would improve too. Masaki is still not persuaded, and the monk Tian is about to shout again when some terrorists appear and notice the Psybuster. Their plan is to grab it and sell it, but Masaki is of course not about to let that happen. Tian tells Masaki to leave this to him, and says that he'll counter the bad guy's Elemental Machines with his own: the Disforce! He is indeed a qualified pilot, having taken over the Disforce after Yang Long graduated to his Elemental God-Machine. He says that he'll give Masaki plenty of time to nap and rest his spirit - PROVIDED he does so somewhere other than his favorite spot. While Masaki appreciates the thought, he has no plans to sit this fight out, and Tian finally harumphs and tells him to do as he pleases. After the battle, Tian asks Masaki why he didn't use Psyflash, the Psybuster's Map Weapon. Masaki didn't hear about any such weapon, and Tian advises him to check with Wendy for the details. Masaki thanks him for the advice, and asks him to stop calling him "Randall", a name he still hasn't gotten used to. Tian agrees, but chides that Masaki is still too mundane if he's hung up on names. He then perceives that Masaki is having some kind of trouble with women. He cajoles him in the interest of cosmic harmony to unburden his soul: he'll be glad to help him out, though not precisely for free. Masaki sighs, and figures he'd best go back home to the capitol. Great timing, grins Tian, since he happens to have business there too. This time, Tutti is in tears when she sees Masaki, worried sick about him. Masaki never expected Tutti to be crying, and tells Tian to make good on his offer and help out already. Tian notes that Masaki hadn't told him that it was _Tutti_ he's having trouble with, and states that Christians are outside his spiritual province. Ricardo tells Masaki to leave Tutti to him, and indeed he manages to get her to smile. But Tutti then figures that Ricardo put Masaki up to something weird. Her smile and the dangerous note in her voice make Ricardo justifiably scared, and before he can utter a protest Tutti starts industriously strangling him. Masaki, slack-jawed, trembles at this display of violence, and even Feir stammers as he suggests that Tutti give Ricardo a break. Tutti blinks, releases Ricardo, and like a natural blonde muses that she doesn't know what came over her... Scenario 14. Chitei de no Souguu (Encounter Underground) Wendy wants a bit more study before she enables the Psyflash. The other Map Weapons in your arsenal don't distinguish between friend and foe, and she's trying to perfect a way to overcome that limitation. Masaki figures it can't be helped, and thanks her for her efforts. She looks downcast, apologizing that she can't have it ready for him right away, and he blushes and tells her it's nothing she need apologize to him for. That makes her smile, satisfied that she was right in figuring Masaki for a good guy, even if he's a bit awkward at times. Masaki's returned to the palace at a good time: there have been sightings of what's believed to be the Nagtsart on Reg Island. Feir is especially worried becaue Reg is in a remote spot in the North, with nothing of known value nearby. He asks you to go take a look [and I accepted]. Masaki does ask why Feir, his former commander, is asking him instead of telling him, and Feir reminds him that _nobody_ can order him around anymore. This seems somewhat humbling to Masaki, and shaking it off he heads off on the mission. Wendy hears of the dispatch, and fusses that she's got to get the Psyflash perfected. It _works_ now, but it takes a huge amount of Plana, enough that Masaki's life might be endangered with more than one shot. She makes him promise not to fire it more than once, and wants to do a "finger promise" the way she's heard the Japanese do - someone from Japan once told her about the custom. Masaki is surprised to hear of another Japanese in Langran, and asks where he is now. Deceased, three years ago, but Wendy doesn't dwell on the past and makes the finger promise with Masaki, which if he breaks will result in him eating a thousand needles according to the ancient rhyme. Masaki is quiet on the flight, explaining when Shiro asks that he's realized something about being free of others' orders. It means that the responsibility for all his actions falls on his shoulders alone. Heavy stuff, though Masaki brashly denies that he's quailing now. Just then, an ally shows up: it's Simone. Masaki doesn't think he needs the help for mere recon, but she reminds him that Ruozoul may be involved and adds that two is always safer than one. Masaki won't stop her, but warns her that he's got his own way of investigating. She likes the sound of that, but given that Masaki is about to head in the wrong direction _twice_ she sighs and figures that he really does need her along. They reach the island, and Kuro detects a huge cave near the sighting using the Psybuster's Dowser. Off to investigate! The cave is _huge_, and Simone can't say whether it's natural or man-made. Her sharp senses catch someone nearby, and who should appear...but Shuu! Masaki demands to know what Shuu is doing here, and Shuu says levelly that that's his line. _He_ merely came here to investigate the ruins of a temple that lie deep within this cave. Said ruins are of a culture that vanished long before written record, at least fifty thousand years ago. Simone is trying to remember where she's seen Shuu before, and Masaki asks if Shuu is an archaeologist or something. Shuu claims it's merely a hobby of his, and is far more interested in why some _non_ archaeology buffs would be in this cave. Simone tells him of the Nagtsart sightings, which makes sense to Shuu given the evil aura this place has. And, speaking of the Devil, out come a host of Demon Golems. Shuu observes that some magic user appears to have created and then left them behind, and asks what your people intend to do. He's not worried about the fact that he's trapped too, shrugging that he can easily vanquish this puny an enemy, and suggests that Simone worry more about her own safety than his. Masaki angrily says that he alone is more than a match for these guys, but Simone tells him to think calmly about just how many there are. Shuu agrees, and offers to help out. I took him up on the offer, and when Simone hears the name "Shuu" she figures she must have been mistaken. After the battle is over, Shuu excuses himself to go investigate the ruins. Simone asks if Masaki has some kind of grudge against Shuu, and Masaki shrugs and says it's nothing specific. He just has trouble trusting smooth-talking folk like Shuu - uneasy for reasons he can't name. At this point, you can investigate the ruins too, or go elsewhere. I investigated. Scenario 15. Jashin no Shinden (Shrine of the Evil God) It's an interesting question why someone would build a shrine so far underground. Simone begins to suspect that it might be sacred to the evil god Volkrus, spoken of in legend. That would certainly explain what Ruozoul would be doing here... Your people find Shuu, who tells them there's nothing that would interest them here. What, Masaki asks, if this should prove to be a shrine to Volkrus? Shuu is impressed at your knowledge - confirming Simone's suspicion. Shuu is a tad miffed when he realizes she was testing the waters, and sniffs that he'd have told you outright had you but asked. Shuu reiterates that he's here for archeological reasons, though there's little of academic value left here now. Masaki doesn't believe Shuu one bit, and is in the process of heading over to say so to his face when Shuu advises him not to proceed any farther forward. Masaki angrily ignores the warning and triggers a trap. Shuu chides Masaki for not heeding people's warnings, and tells Masaki to do his best to clean up this mess he made. Shuu himself plans to watch from the sidelines. Simone wishes Masaki wouldn't be quite so foolish, and the cats fill Masaki in that Psyflash isn't available right now. He'll have to have Wendy look at it when they get back. While the battle was raging, Shuu rechecked the area, and still found nothing of interest. Masaki isn't inclined to listen to Shuu, but Simone points out that Masaki got burned by that attitude just moments ago. Shuu has little interest in things with no academic value, and is more than happy to let Simone have some of the beautiful (and valuable!) jewels lying around. This puts Simone on fairly good terms with Shuu, who takes his leave. Masaki vows to expose whatever nefarious secret Shuu has one day... Masaki is still blaming Shuu for all the trouble they had, but Simone asks if he's ever heard the term "mis-grudge" before. Masaki accuses her of being bought off by Shuu, and she articulately says that she plans to sell the jewels - she's certainly not planning to _keep_ them. In any case, it really does seem that there was nothing going on at this shrine, and the two head back to report to Feir. Senia notes that there's at least some value to confirming that your information about Ruozoul had been false. Meanwhile, Wendy has figured out how to fix Psyflash, letting Masaki use it as often as he wants. Scenario 16. Yureru Kororo (Wavering Heart) Tutti asks Monica to do a bit of fortune telling, though Monica cautions her that her precognitive powers aren't good for that much. Apparently Tutti wants to cure Masaki of his disbelief in prophecy and so on, and Masaki allows that given all he's seen since coming to Ra Gias he's willing to believe just about anything. Still, she bets he's never seen one come true, and Monica, in her broken-grammatical fashion, is quite happy to help. As Monica begins, Tutti tells Masaki that there's no telling what kind of vision she'll get until she tries. He very reasonably asks if such an uncontrollable craft is of any use, and she allows that the majority of visions are, in fact, largely useless: like the weather on a specific day 500 years in the future, or what will be on the menu for tomorrow's breakfast. That said, the foresight _is_ very accurate, and the lack of directedness in the vision is made up for by the number of people who can use the craft at once. Monica interrupts the explanation to point out that she's already done. She begins by telling Masaki that soon, perhaps today, he'll get a request to dispatch. And when he gets there, he'll receive a major shock. She doesn't know _what_ kind of shock it will be, but that's the vision she saw. She also has news for Tutti - _she_ will very soon meet the last person she would wish to meet. This meeting may well spell misfortune, and Monica asks Tutti to be extra careful. Tutti doesn't know who that could be, but she thanks Monica for the warning anyway. Monica notes that there were great fluctuations in her vision, so perhaps the future may yet be changed. Not the best news, to be sure, but Masaki is taking the positive view that your hard work can fix whatever problems are in store. Senia then rushes over with word that the Nagtsart has been spotted in the province of Valentine. Masaki is ready to charge off to settle Ruozoul's hash, but Tutti has elected to sit this mission out thanks to the fortune. The call goes out to Ricardo instead, who meets up with Masaki and immediately asks about his lack of directional sense. Masaki's a bit dismayed that everyone's heard about it, but Ricardo tells him not to sweat it - _everyone_ has their weaknesses. Except, of course for him - a claim that lasts about as long as it takes for Masaki to have his Familiars visit Ricardo in his cockpit. Becky filled him in about Ricardo's little fear of cats, started by getting scratched long ago in a certain sensitive spot. Masaki then asks what Ricardo would do if Tutti follows up on her love of cats and gets one of her own. Ricardo replies that he'll cross that bridge when he comes to it, and storms off in a huff just _before_ Masaki catches up with Ruozoul. Ruozoul had in fact just finished telling a certain someone to take Masaki's head: it's that old terrorist Gaspa, still in the mood for revenge for the death of his comrade. He reattles off a long list of grievances, such as how one of his fallen comrades was a boy, and another had a woman he had gone out with for fifteen years he was supposed to marry next week. Masaki isn't to be swayed by someone who uses fear to control others, but the terrorist leader screams at this know-nothing brat not to act like he's all got justice on his side. Masaki, too, is just some murderer in his book! Masaki, in fact, doesn't like what all he's heard, and although his Familiars tell him not to sweat it, Ruozoul finds the whole spectacle quite amusing. He tells Masaki that the line separating comedy from tragedy is paper-thin, and in the hands of a second-rate actor tragedy can easily turn out comedic. Ruozoul acknowledges that people die in war as a matter of course, but tells Masaki that he has no right to be the agent of that death. Death is the great Equalizer, and Masaki's overactive emotions have lead to Death being casually scattered around. To the followers of Volkrus, whose ultimate goal is death, Masaki's "thoughtless" actions are indeed the ultimate in unforgivable sin. The plan is to punish Masaki in Volkrus' name, but first Ruozoul tries to figure out why Masaki can fight so hard when he has no cause worthy of the name to fight _for_. Can Masaki actually say that his actions are just? Ricardo then shows up, noticing right away that something seems wrong with Masaki. Ruozoul sends out reinforcements of his own, and takes off after finishing his "sightseeing" for the day. After the battle, Ricardo figures that nothing big was going on here after all, which should be a good thing. An even better thing is that things should quiet down for a bit with the terrorist bosses gone. But Masaki is in very ill spirits and not willing to discuss why. Senia sighs and figures that her newly developed computer "Dekakis" won't be needed for a while: a machine capable of leaps of logic, or "intuition" in layman's terms. Back in his room, Masaki is still fretting over why he's fighting. The cats' pointing out that he's fighting to save the world isn't working much, and it seems something more concrete is needed. As if on cue [*nudge nudge*] Wendy knocks on the door, and Shiro quickly tells Wendy what Masaki is worrying over. Wendy reminds Masaki of what she told him earlier: that if his burden as an Elemental God-Machine pilot gets heavy, to tell her. Masaki slowly asks if he's really doing the right thing, and she allows that that's a difficult question. She asks if Masaki knows why a high-ranking spirit dwells within each Elemental God-Machine, and explains that what the public has been told about the spirits controlling the mech's movements is a bit incomplete. The spirits, which have their own will, choose their own pilot: which means that the spirits, at least, believe Masaki is in the right given they've chosen him as pilot. Wendy is sure that Masaki's heart is in the right place, but Masaki asks if she isn't so much believing in him as in the spirits themselves. She replies that the spirits themselves only exist because the hearts of man believe in them first. Masaki finally looks up at that, saying that he half doubts the existence of spirits himself. The natives of Ra Gias are quite different, believing in spirits from childhood and even being able to see them - not _that_ different from the small number of genuine spiritualists on the Surface. The short form is that the spirits are the reflection of the hearts of all people: a manifestation, if you will, of the collective unconscious. Their decisions are tantamount to the decisions of all the people of Ra Gias, and Wendy tells Masaki that even if that doesn't make sense just yet, he should go on doing what he believes is right. And whatever anyone else may say, _she_ will always believe in him. He thanks her with a thoughtful look in his eyes, and she tells him to cheer up: it's not like him to be down in the dumps. Scenario 17. Wendy no Himitsu (Wendy's Secret) Becky has a present for Masaki: a pendant made out of Orichalcum. She found an uncut stone while taking out Demon Golems, and had the pendant made for Masaki to give to Wendy. Masaki's not sure he wants to accept, but Becky says that it's the least he can do for Wendy given all she's done for him. Orichalcum is a magical metal used in the armaments of the Elemental Machines, found almost never on the Surface. Masaki plans to go see Wendy before deciding whether to hand over the pendant [I handed it over]. Wendy is very impressed with the gift, explaining that Orichalcum is a metal that reacts to emotions. It's popular for lovers to exchange gifts of Orichalcum, so that no matter how far apart they are they'll be able to sense each others' hearts. She playfully asks if she should take this as a "proposal", and as Masaki stammers that he didn't know, she says that although she was joking, she _will_ treasure his gift. Masaki later berates Becky for not telling him the significance of the gift, though he's glad that Wendy seemed to understand anyway. Becky's impressed that Masaki's relationship is progressing so fast, then reminds herself with some wistfulness that it's his first. That gets a rise out of Masaki, and she smiles and says that he's so much fun to tease. Yes, Masaki is her plaything. Feir asks Masaki to go with Ahamed for more Demon Golem hunting. Masaki notes that those are a pretty annoying opponent - he's not trying to refuse the job, just saying that the Demon Golems are, in fact, a pain in the ass. Ahamed asks if Masaki has gotten used to piloting yet, and when Masaki starts tooting his own horn, Ahamed figures he's still got a long ways to go. The ultimate proof of that is how irritated Masaki gets when Ahamed merely implies that he's immature, and Masaki is at least smart enough to relent when this is pointed out to him. Ahamed hopes that Masaki can become a good enough pilot to not dishonor the mech that chose him, and then notices that they're being followed. It's Senia, who wants to get in some Demon Golem bashing of her own and who bristles at the suggestion that she might not be able to pull her own weight. Your people actually reach their destination before the argument is settled, and Masaki asks Senia to at least not to get underfoot. Ahamed figures that the Demon Golems look freshly summoned, meaning that their summoner may still be nearby. He and Masaki agree that it doesn't matter who did the summoning: you've got to fight regardless. After you wipe out all the Demon Golems, it turns out that it was in fact Saphiine who summoned them. She pouts momentarily when she sees it's Masaki again, but says that since she's in a good mood today she'll let it slide. And hey, Senia's Norse Ray didn't even get wrecked! It's time to head back, though Ahamed complains that he feels a certain lack of mayhem. Wendy is glad to see Masaki back so soon, and knows Senia is hiding somewhere too. She sternly asks what Senia was up to, and Senia pouts that she was bored. Wendy tells her to have some consideration for Masaki and Ahamed, who had to strive to keep her safe, and Senia implores her to not tell Feir about her little trip. Wendy will agree, on the condition that Senia not do something so selfish again. And as for how Wendy knew, Monica told her out of concern. Wendy explains to Masaki that Senia and Monica, being twins, are very very close. She says so with such conviction that Masaki asks her if she's got a twin too. Had, Wendy says sadly - said twin died shortly after they were born. Masaki says he's sorry he asked, but Wendy tells him it's okay: she believes her sister lives on within her. Scenario 18. "Mashou Kishin" no Na ni Kakete (In the Name of the Elemental God-Machines) Feir gathers all the Elemental Machine pilots together to explain that their mission has changed. The public will know nothing about it, but they've become freer. The Elemental Machines are of course not just for defending Langran, but Ra Gias as a whole: thus, the Langran government can ask their pilots for help, but not command it. And that goes double for the Elemental God-Machines. It seems that the pilots are being given fuller responsibility for their actions, though Langran is still more than happy to back them up. Masaki has already been acting pretty independently, as Madock once did himself (though he claims gamely his memory has gotten bad lately). The pilots are in effect the heroes that will save Ra Gias, opposing anything that threatens Ra Gias. A little less than a year remains until "the" prophecied day, and Feir looks forward to everyone giving it their best shot until then. Becky notes afterward that almost never do all twelve Elemental Machine pilots gather at once. Even she can't remember everyone's name: in particular a Russian guy standing over to the side. Masaki actually knows him: he's the person who took over the Jaorm after Masaki graduated, Gennajy I Kozilev. Demekusa then introduces himself to Masaki, as the inheritor of Tutti's old mech. Impressively, this is the moment that the remnants of the terrorists choose to strike the city of Banan, using a type of ancient, forbidden weapon of mass destruction called a "Descending Demon Bomb". These are even worse than nukes in that they destroy spirits as well as living beings, and aren't supposed to even exist anymore. The damage report won't be ready for another three hours, and your people hurry to the scene first. In fact, _all_ the Elemental God-Machines are here. The terrorists are still here too, apparently using this whole attack to lure you out. The leader presses the switch to start a timer on another Descending Demon Bomb, intending to take all of you out with him. The timer is set for ten turns, and even if you ran away now you'd never make it to safety. However, Senia sends you data showing that it takes a large amount of magic to ignite the bomb: if you can stop that, there will be no explosion. The bad guys' mecha are that magical source, but you can't just wreck them piecemeal or a chain reaction will occur and detonate the bomb anyway. There is another way however: Map Weapons! You've got to destroy the central three (yellow) bad guys simultaneously. This is tricky but not impossible, and when you pull it off Becky can scarcely wait to get back to the capitol before celebrating with some booze. Masaki gets to be the voice of reason for once, which is immensely gratifying to Tutti. Presia has a meal of sukiyaki waiting for everyone when they get back. Hilarity ensues almost immediately as everyone proceeds to misprepare the sukiyaki. Tian in particular has an interesting reason for eating all the meat: he's a vegetarian, and so he claims to want to keep everyone else from eating meat by devouring it all himself. Becky has brought the booze after all, and the strip tease begins again in earnest. A very chaotic gathering, but good for blowing off stress at least. Wendy is even on the scene, and she's been on the sauce too. Masaki is hesitant to heed her slurred words, but between hiccups she tells him that he's got to learn how to read girls' emotions better. I mean, he's all bad-ass outside, but inside he's all gentle and stuff. She manages to thank him again for the pendant before passing out. Scenario 19. Gozen Shiai (Tournament Before the Throne) Despite not having paid Tutti's 20k credits back, Ricardo wants to borrow more from her. He thinks he can pay her back double tomorrow, but doing so seems to involve some gambling - on the morning before an important match before the royal throne. He flees before Tutti can berate him at too much length, and runs smack into Masaki. He asks Masaki to hide him for a while, and when Tutti comes calling Masaki can either give him up or not. If you give him up, Tutti berates him some more until Masaki tells them to take their lovers' quarrel elsewhere. Tutti leaves in a huff, and it falls to Ricardo to explain that this tournament happens once a year - and Masaki's entered! The odds on him are even good, though Ricardo is sure that he'll win the million-credit prize (a credit is worth about 10 yen/cents). Masaki has other ideas. First up is Madock, who thinks that the wisdom of years will be his best defense and is looking forward to partying _hard_ with the young ladies with the prize money. Becky is up next, vowing to take the prize money and adding that the pride of the Iroquois won't let her tell a lie. Ahamed says that everything is according to the will of Allah, which Simone rephrases by saying that she hopes she's more lucky than good today. Tian figures it's the will of Buddha that he win, then starts chuckling and adds that his stature as former Muy Thai champ should make him a shoo-in. He reluctantly agrees not to dance, leaving the stage for Demegusa, whose only wish is that nobody get mad at him if he loses. Gennajy is very much the strong, silent type, leaving the announcer to wonder how the heck he got stuck with this job. Next up are the big shots, starting with Fang, who is determined to show how well he can pilot his mech despite being a Ra Gian. Masaki simply smiles and says that today he'll show everyone what the Psybuster's real power is like. Next is what the announcer calls the "beautiful nereid", Tutti. Tutti thanks everyone for their support as the announcer looks on in admiration. Yang Long states something a tad cryptic about how the true warrior will first win here before seeking the true battlefield. Ricardo thinks he's got the whole thing sewn up, and tells everyone else to try anyway. The battles are to be single-elimination, untimed bouts that continue until one opponent is defeated. To handicap the Elemental God-Machines, they are forbidden from using their Familiars or Map Weapons. Things will start with Masaki versus Becky, and she brightly warns him not to treat her as mere pre-game stretching lest it come back to hurt him. Becky will [presumably] go down fighting, which Masaki commends her for, and Becky good naturedly figures she's got to root for Masaki to win now. Ahamed is up next, and sounds rather affronted that the still-immature Masaki has been chosen as his opponent. Masaki tells him to see just how much this past year of piloting has been worth, and when Yang Long asks Ricardo for his assessment, he's sure that Masaki is far superior to the stout Ahamed - both of whom use Wind spirits. Ricardo cheers Masaki's victory, and Yang Long tells him to cool his jets. Ricardo wonders what Yang's problem is; is it something to do with losing to Fang? Yang says that while he did get a bit careless, it's amazing just how strong Fang has grown. He figures that even Ricardo might be in danger from Fang, but before that Fang will have to get through Masaki first. Neither fighter will hold back in this contest, and Masaki is a bit puzzled at precisely how frustrated Fang is at losing. Ricardo figures that this avenges Yang Long in some sense, as well as cashing in some of his bets. Tutti shows up to call him on that, but he has the convenient excuse of heading out to wage the title bout. Tutti vows to give him a good talking-to later. Ricardo commends Masaki on making it this far, and says that all that remains before his victory is taking Masaki down. Masaki asks whether Ricardo hasn't yet learned that things in life seldom go according to plan. Ricardo smirks and replies that he attended some pretty crummy schools, then cuts the trash-talk short. Ricardo is a good loser, glad to see how strong Masaki's become. Both guys enjoyed their duel, as did the king. He commends all participants, looking forward to their wonderful abilities keeping Ra Gias safe. He then tells Masaki that his skill and passion are truly worthy of the reward, and of the Psybuster's choice. He asks Masaki to strive to protect not only Ra Gias, but the Surface too. Tutti's tinkered with Masaki's winnings a bit. Of the half that wasn't eaten by taxes, she gave a good 90% to charity, saying brightly that surely Masaki would have wanted that done - right? Yang half-sarcastically praises Masaki's "charity", and Becky laments that that would have bought her a lot of booze. Masaki doesn't much fret the charitable donation, and gives the remaining dough to Presia for use on living expenses. Presia, humbled, plans to put it into Masaki's retirement fund. Scenario 20. Haikyousha (Heretic) General Kirkus seems a bit evasive about why plans for defending the capitol are taking longer than they should. Instead, he is very interested in not missing his lunch date elsewhere. Feir tells a dubious Senia that this is just Kirkus' way, and that he comes through when the chips are down. In principle, Kirkus is part of the kekkai strengthening, which might be why there have been no recent terrorist attacks or incursions by Ruozoul. Masaki for one is finding the lack of action stressful, when Kirkus' son Zashford comes over seeking his dad. It seems his father forgot his lunch, but given Kirkus' recent proclamation of eating out, it seems Zash is too late. Masaki smirks at Kirkus' spaced-out ways, figuring that he's the stereotypical "night owl". He wonders aloud if such a man can really make a good general, then quickly apologizes when Yang points out that said man's son is right there. Zash meanwhile is astounded to realize that these are two real-life Elemental God-Machine pilots, his idols. Masaki, puzzled, gives this would-be Elemental Machine pilot his autograph and a kind word. Yang likes the kid's honesty, and says that he figures Masaki is better suited to dealing with such people than he is. The peace is broken soon enough though, by Shuu (a.k.a. Christof). He's not seen the residents of the capitol (except for Masaki) in a long time, and says that if Feir insists on calling him Christof, his full name would now be Christof Zeo Volkrus. He's coy about whether he's actually become a follower of the profane god, but says that in any case he likes the name Shirakawa Shuu better. He's here on two errands: to tell your people goodbye, and to declare war. As of now, he relinquishes his right to inherit the throne, and proclaims Langran his enemy. This is what he lightly calls the will of the God of Destruction, and adds that the toylike kekkai will not avail your people. Saying that today was just a greeting, he voices hope that next time will be a bit more flashy. Masaki wants to go out in the Psybuster, but Wendy cries that it's being readjusted right now: should he go forth, something terrible would happen. If you heed her warning, Zeoroot sorties in his stead. Shuu tells the swordsmaster not to do something so futile as oppose him, but Zeoroot says that Shuu's aura is too evil. He's not sure what happened to him, but he can't afford to leave him on the loose. Unfortunately, and as Zeoroot feared, the power behind Shuu is more than he can handle. Shuu claims that his completed Granzon is impervious to all attacks. Zeoroot has to be sacrificed, and since his ejection system doesn't fire he buys the farm. Shuu sighs that all deaths are unsatisfying, and that everyone is equal in death. Masaki finally hurries out, only to find that he, too, can't scratch the Granzon. As Shuu gloats a bit, Masaki demands to know why Shuu killed his mentor. Shuu says that Zeoroot must have wished for it: after all, it's only natural for people to die in battle. Masaki becomes crazed with rage, but Shuu says that the same thing will happen to him if he fights him here. Well, he _had_ intended this to be just a greeting skirmish, but if Masaki insists... But then, Shuu senses something strange, and his familiar Chika notices their rejection field faltering. It seems that Zeoroot did a bit more to Shuu than Shuu suspected. As Masaki prepares to mount his attack, Shuu announces that he's now at a bit of a disadvantage and pulls out: no need to push things with the Granzon only lately completed. Masaki is ready to run off in pursuit, but Wendy begs him to wait lest both he and the Psybuster collapse in ruins. Gritting his teeth, Masaki complies. Presia is consumed with grief, and screams at Masaki that he's not her brother anymore, and to get away from her. The shock has hit Masaki very hard too, and he more or less stops eating. His Familiars try to cheer him up, or at least get him to eat, but all he wants them to do is shut up, lest he turn them into a shamisen! [I doubt he's serious, but...] When Ricardo and Tutti get back, Tutti wants to go and try to get Masaki to come out of his room, but Ricardo stops her and says that that would just have the opposite effect. Feir believes that Masaki will stand up again of his own accord - his confidence in him equals his confidence in his other Elemental God-Machine pilots. Scenario 21. Zetsubou no Fuchi (The Abyss of Despair) Wendy doesn't heed Masaki's claim that nobody's in his room, and finds him with his arms around his elbows in a classical depressive pose. She asks what he'd do if she told him she was here to make him smile. Whether you deliver a Masaki-like angry comeback or a depressive "yeah whatever", she tells him that he shouldn't be down on himself so much. After all, nobody expected so much of him that he should berate himself this badly. Everyone else simply believes in him. She mentions in passing that the Psybuster's repairs are complete, and that she'll leave it ready for him to depart at any time. As she leaves, Shiro opines that this chilly speech of hers was very unlike her. But Masaki's smarter than that - he realizes the warmth in her words. That "nobody is expecting anything of him" is her way of telling him to do as he sees fit. Gathering his Familiars, he heads off to give Shuu a _firm_ piece of his mind. Simone realizes what Wendy was up to, even though Wendy blushes and refuses to admit it. Wendy excuses herself to get in some more maintenance on the Psybuster, but what she really does is sneak aboard. Masaki doesn't realize this for a good while as he flies around, acting on instinct alone. It isn't until he feels his stomach growling that Wendy pops out with a picnic lunch for him. Her sheepish apology is like that of a little girl, despite her being all of 27. It does relieve her greatly to see Masaki back to his old self, and he credits her with opening his eyes. Shuu had felt Masaki's vivid, fierce Plana from afar, and saves Masaki the trouble of searching for him. Masaki shouts that he's better have his life insurance paid up if he's brave enough to face him of his own accord, though Shuu has no idea where the heck Masaki's confidence comes from. Chika reminds Shuu that repairs aren't complete yet, though Shuu figures he has utterly no reason to be afraid of the Psybuster regardless. Wendy meanwhile demands to know why Christof became a believer in Volkrus, forsaking even his right to the throne. He says that the only way to save the world is to destroy and remake it, but Wendy doubts that that's Shuu's own desire. Shuu gets some strange gleam in his eyes, saying that there's no point in continuing the war of words with one inimical to him. Only coming to blows will settle this. Shuu informs Masaki that he's got less than a one-in-ten-thousand chance of beating him, so why throw his life away? Masaki acknowledges that the odds are bad, but is determined to fight until he's satisfied. Shuu laments such pride, and Masaki even admits that he's at a disadvantage. But he's determined to take revenge for Zeoroot, and Shuu tells him that as long as he's bent on "revenge" he'll never mature. This brings Masaki up short, and he begins laughing heartily. Wendy is alarmed, but Masaki says that Shuu is absolutely, positively right. He assures his cats that he hasn't lost his marbles, and then tells Shuu that the real problem is that he doesn't like Shuu personally. What started as mild annoyance blossomed to full-fledged hatred in the engagement in the capitol. Something within him insists that Shuu get his clock cleaned - which Zeoroot must have felt too to charge in so recklessly. So it's not out of revenge that he seeks Shuu, it's because of his proud mission as an Elemental God-Machine pilot. Both he and the Psybuster could care less what Shuu is actually up to: as long as Shuu wears the mantle of evil, his ass is theirs. The Psybuster apparently agrees, as its power begins to mount explosively. Wendy is dumbfounded to see Possession occuring: even though it's theoretically possible, the fact that Masaki is actually doing it is stunning. Shuu is also having trouble believing that Masaki can fuse with the spirits, and despite Chika's warning says that the Psybuster with its true power brought forth is worth fighting. Shuu recognizes that Masaki is effectively invincible right now, and after complimenting him on his valor decides to pull out. It appears that Shuu has been destroyed, but Masaki himself collapses as the power of the spirits ebbs away. Wendy scolds him, saying that at his current power level he shouldn't try reckless stuff like Possession - he won't be able to control it at all. She tells him to sit still while she gives him an infusion of Plana - mouth-to-mouth of course. Now she herself is feeling a bit faint, telling the worried cats that it's just like anemia and will pass soon. They hurry back to the capitol, where Wendy seems to require nothing more than a little bed rest. Masaki assures Senia that he's back to normal - he doesn't have _time_ to be all depressed and whatnot. Presia then comes over, and timidly apologizes for the selfish, terrible things she said. She meekly asks if she can call him her brother again, and after Masaki chides her and says that "bro" will do great, he in turn apologizes for not being able to do more to save her father. She no longer blames him, and gives him something Zeoroot left behind. It's a holo-letter, and Zeoroot starts by saying that he must be brief. Should Presia be reading it, it means he's already dead. He says that he plans on challenging Christof to a duel, one he doubts he'll survive. Well, if she's reading this it's a bit beyond doubt... anyways, he assures her that he is doing this entirely of his own volition. Of course, his action is in part to help keep her and Masaki safe. But also in part, he senses too much danger in the aura Christof has donned: left unchecked, it will surely bring calamity to the world - like the demon-god of the prophecy. Therefore, even if the odds are slim to defeat Christof, he'll take them over doing nothing at all. Though again, if she's reading this it means he failed anyway. Le sigh. In any case, he tells Presia not to give into her grief and blame Masaki, who will no doubt be as sad as she is. And he himself is. And as for Masaki, he mustn't think of revenge, as such thoughts are unbecoming of an Elemental God-Machine pilot. What he is to do is clearly perceive who his enemies are, and live at peace with Presia. He bids them farewell, and both his "children" can't stop their tears. Senia, too, laments Zeoroot's loss above most others. Scenario 22. Sangeki no Kioku (Memory of a Tragedy) Kirkus is being made to retire, and Feir can't keep protecting him any longer. Kirkus says that the scenery in Calatamify Provice is wonderful anyway, and supposes that Feir may think that he's been "retired" for a long time already. He says that being a general is too heavy a burden for him, and looks forward to some leisure time. His only regret is the Ultra- Elemental Machine Project, which is now back to square one. The results would have been a means to combat the demon god even more dependably than the Elemental God-Machines. At the last, Kirkus bids his lord farewell, and tells him to look after his health. With the night owl (or was he, Feir wonders) gone, Wendy notices that it's a bit odd that Ruozoul and Christof's incursions into the capitol didn't result in much damage being done. Their raids almost seemed more as a mockery of the kekkai fortification process itself, and their ultimate goal seemed to be to wipe the kekkai out. Feir resolves to keep strict guard on the device that helps generate it. Tutti and Masaki are on a rare joint patrol, one important enough to get Tutti to come in on her day off. Masaki asks if she was planning a date with Ricardo or something, but she says that it's almost the two-year anniversary of her family's death. Masaki's expression sobers up at that, but Tutti quickly tells him not to worry: all that's in the past now. Just then, the Familiars catch an Elemental Machine coming their way, and it's not a friendly. Is it Ruozoul, or Saphiine, or...? It's Rasetsu, and a number of troops belonging to Rubikka. Rasetsu has paid handsomely for Rubikka's services, and Rubikka doesn't plan to let him down. Rasetsu has some special troops here of his own, specifically for taking on the Elemental God-Machines. Tutti recognizes these strange mechs as either Shutedonian or Bagonian in origin, and has some kind of bad feeling about the impending combat. Her fears are confirmed upon hearing Rubikka's voice: a man she can't believe is still alive. He'd rather she not put it that way, saying that it's thanks to her that he became masterless for a time - but happily, the Shutedonian army took him in. Rasetsu is furious that Rubikka would mention his country by name after warnings to the contrary, but Rubikka smirks that their enemies have figured it out long ago anyway. What's more, why would the people of Langran believe the word of someone they kicked out long ago? Tutti is in a rage such as Masaki has never seen before, and the Plana coming from her is fearsome indeed. The bad guys fall in short order, but Rasetsu is happy to at least have gotten some data on your people. Tutti explains afterward to Masaki that Rubikka is a murderer, as well as being an Elemental Machine pilot summoned to Langran around the same time she was. Tutti found out about his murdering ways some time after the summoning, and when she informed the king it was decided that he was to be forcibly sent back to the Surface. However, he managed to kill two of the guards and escape to Shutedonias, where he apparently became a mercenary. As to _how_ Tutti knew of his murderous past, it seems that _he_ was the one who killed her parents and brother, right in front of her no less. He's the one man Tutti can't allow herself to forgive, and Masaki laments that Tutti is filled with this much hate. Not that it's any surprise. Tutti has a very bad feeling about this whole business, and every time Rubikka looks at her, her flesh crawls. Tutti knows well that sooner or later she's got to settle the score, or it'll haunt her forever. News of Rubikka's continued existence and aiding of Shutedonias is not pleasant for Feir. What's worse, a bunch of the old geezers have come up and recently begun to protest the Elemental Machine project. They'd prefer that budget spent on defending the capitol and so on. These objections, along with Kirkus' forced retirement, are the net result of Ruozoul's repeated attacks: Rubikka's resurgence gave the old fogeys just the opening they need. That, and part of the royal guard still resents the dependence on the Surface dwellers. Now would _not_ seem to be a good time for internecine strife... Scenario 23. Chouwa no Kekkai (Barrier of Harmony) Saphiine asks permission to enter Shuu's room, which he grants. She is greeted by the delicious sight of him stripped to the waist, but something on his chest catches her attention: a very old scar that a certain person gave him. The person responsible is now imprisoned for their affront, says Shuu with with a low chuckle that seems to shake even Saphiine's composure. She asks him if anything is wrong, since she heard him crying out in his sleep, and he asks her if she's ever felt like her mind and body were not her own. Of course, she says: her heart and body belong to her lord Shuu at all times. Shuu's narrowed eyes might suggest that that's not what he meant, and he summarily asks her if "that project" is ready to get underway. That certainly wasn't what she expected, but she quickly tells him that things are almost ready to go. He's decided to move up the schedule a bit, and tells her that the plan will go into motion tomorrow. He has her inform Ruozoul too, and she hastily says that she'll have everyone redouble their efforts to be done in time. As she hurries off to do her lord's bidding, Shuu continues to feel some kind of strange unease, and figures he's got to hurry. Feir has asked Senia to put Dekakis into action, though it's not fully finished yet. The goal would be to predict Ruozoul's next place of attack, and fortunately all the Elemental God-Machines are around to act on its advice. The result is that there's a 78 +/- 6% chance that Ruozoul will strike the Ira Harbor sometime in the next few days. That makes sense, since it hosts the largest kekkai maintenance device. This seems doubly effective given that Ruozoul has drawn your attention to the capitol with all those attacks, and Masaki resolves to go and not let Ruozoul escape this time. Tutti offers to go with him, and Ricardo in turn offers to go with her, his "other half". She huffily asks when they became two halves, and he tells her that it was just yesterday! Flustered rather than angry, she hustles Masaki out the door, and Yang Long says levelly that he won't be coming too; after all, the capitol still needs defending. The kekkai device is actually underwater, supposedly for safekeeping. But you rapidly learn that Ruozoul has already beaten you to it... Your people confront him, and he agrees to fight you rather than wreck the kekkai device out of hand. It is a bit odd that Ruozoul isn't simply destroying the device, which would be a lot easier than this fight... When taken down the first time, Ruozoul figures it's too early to end this, and reappears with more bad guys in tow. This goes on for a little while, then he pulls back, leading you to believe that he really wasn't here for the generator at all. Then, what were they really after? Clearly they want to take down the kekkai, but it wouldn't make sense to target any of the other generators, since all are smaller than this one. Except for... the capitol! Tutti realizes that Ruozoul's "diversionary" attacks on the capitol were in fact not a diversion at all. And right now, the full government of Langran is meeting: the perfect chance to strike. Back at the capitol, Feir is having a very hard time persuading the elders, and he's got another month's worth of meetings to go. This is thanks to the business with Rubikka: they want to completely reexamine the plan to summon Surface dwellers from top to bottom. Everyone is being run ragged, despite the fact that the Spirit Festival is fast approaching. The king is among those tired... and Feir realizes something very important he was overlooking. The kekkai needn't be _destroyed_: the magic that maintains it can be halted, and the kekkai, which everyone has taken for granted, will vanish. Feir orders all the Elemental Machine pilots gathered together to defend his father, and Senia hurries off to tell Masaki. Scenario 24. Houkai no Yokyoku (Prelude to the Fall) As Masaki and the others race back to the capitol, they detect a very powerful Elemental Machine in their path: probably, the Wizoul - meaning Saphiine has been sent to stand in your way. Tutti's bad feeling is getting worse, but she's forced to admit to her wolves and to everyone else that it's too dangerous to turn her back on Saphiine. Saphiine wants your people to hang out with her for a while, but Roberto urges Masaski, whose mech is fastest, to hurry ahead. Saphiine supposes that letting one mech through isn't so bad, but she's got some Demon Golems for the remaining folks to play with - as well as someone Tutti knows well: Rubikka. He's here as a part-time job from his posting with the Shutedonian army, and has already guaranteed his bosses success. Tutti yells out that she won't forgive him, but he dares her to even try taking him on. She, he says with an evil chuckle, is far better suited to cowering in the shadows crying - just like back then. Tutti spasms, and apparently loses consciousness, but when her eyes open, they only contain the desire to kill Ricardo. Rubikka smirks, amused at how easily Tutti fell under his hypnosis - must have been the shock back then. Ricardo is faced with fighting his own beloved, and the supposedly wicked Saphiine isn't sounding so wicked when she objects to this way of doing things. Ricardo must defeat Rubikka, then Persuade Tutti to bring her back to her senses. She apologizes for being controlled, but Ricardo tells her to save her apologies for after the battle, when he'll hear them in full. For now, the greatest pair in the universe is back (or so Ricardo says), and Saphiine sniffs and says she figured it would end up this way from the start. After the battle, Tutti is still feeling dizzy. Ricardo is about to give her something to clear her head, mouth-to-mouth if need be, when a gunshot rings out. Rubikka is furious that Ricardo got in the way, and tells Tutti to come over to him herself unless she wants Ricardo to get another bullet or two in his head. Tutti is about to comply when Ricardo yells at her not to go, and gets shot again for his pains. Tutti sics her wolves on Rubikka, but they can't kill him before he runs off, figuring that he's going to stain her beautiful face with blood soon enough. Unfortunately, that last shot hit Ricardo squarely in the heart, and he begs Tutti not to leave him alone even long enough to grab a medical kit. He worries how everyone in the capitol are doing, and his last thoughts are that her presence by his side is like an angel... Masaki for his part has the pedal to the metal, telling the Familiars to keep the overheating mech flying just long enough to reach the capitol. He can somehow sense that something bad happened to his comrades, but doesn't dare slacken his pace to find out what. Meanwhile, the king is in the midst of more talks when a bunch of bad guys appear in the capitol, apparently using a massively improbable _teleportation_ no less. And then they fire a magical bomb directly at the conference hall... Scenario 25. Sangeki (Catastrophe) Masaki arrives to find that he is, apparently, too late. He spies Shuu and demands to know if Shuu did this, and Shuu observes that even if he claimed otherwise, he doubts Masaki would believe him. After all, Masaki cares less about facts than about the "truth". As Masaki's fury rises, Shuu smiles and says that he couldn't hold out against Masaki, and that he's got to go about a certain errand on the Surface. Or...perhaps it's fair to say he's not bored enough to take Masaki on. He then teleports away. As Masaki is about to follow Shuu's teleportation, Wendy's cries halt him. She's badly injured, but in stable condition thanks to her own healing craft. She has no idea how any of this could have happened, saying a large army of unidentified Elemental Machines appeared out of nowhere. In short, Shuu and his Granzon didn't appear until the end, as though to simply confirm the result. Wendy doesn't know where anyone else is, except that the hall where the king was in conference took a direct hit. Masaki then demands to know what of Yang Long, and Wendy says that he, Simone and Becky did a splendid job... but couldn't protect everywhere at once. Yang Long then appears, seemingly expecting Masaki's hatred. Which Masaki quickly reins in, bitterly saying that he's every bit as guilty as Yang is for this calamity. A number of enemy mechs then appear, startled to see any survivors. One of the soldiers is worried that they're facing two Elemental God-Machines, but his comrade figures that this last battle proved such mecha to be no major problem. Masaki informs his adversaries that he's in an _extremely_ bad mood right now, and advises them to piss off if they don't want to die. The soldier figures he's all talk, which is about to prove a most costly mistake. Yang is of the same mind as Masaki. When Masaki makes mincemeat out of the troops, their commander comes out, aghast at their carelessness. He prepares to take revenge, but Rasetsu also shows up and chides his underling that his army's mission is complete. Besides, he's still got a different job to accomplish, and it wouldn't do to have him defeated untimely-like. That mission, which the soldier had heard nothing about, is to die like a traitor as a sacrifice to Volkrus. That the commander didn't realize what Rasetsu was up to until now is just all the more reason for him to die, and Rasetsu activates the commander's self-destruct switch. Rasetsu isn't willing to tell Masaki who he is, but he will say that Shutedonias is about to declare war on Langran - not that there's many people left to receive that declaration. He mockingly tells Yang that all this _seems_ to have been the work of traitors, so it wasn't any war crime on the official record. Masaki tells him he won't get away with this, but Rasetsu assures Masaki that as long as appearances are kept up, a good politician can explain anway any number of things. Tutti then arrives and gets to survey the carnage too. Masaki laughs bitterly at the futility of being an Elemental God-Machine pilot, but both he and Yang get more embittered yet at the news of Ricardo's death. Tutti herself doesn't want to believe that Ricardo could die, but he's getting colder and colder in her arms, and refusing to answer her calls. In any case, the capitol is in ruins, the king and the rest of the royal family are missing, and Shutedonias is about to declare war. Yang tells the others they've got to pull themselves together and defend Ra Gias, but Masaki announces that he's going to head off in pursuit of Shuu. Yang thinks this is actually the correct course of action, saying that this assault is only the beginning of something bigger. Masaki flies off, leaving his remaining friends behind in the rubble. HERE ENDS PART ONE. THE RISE OF FEIR AND KIRKUS' ARMIES IS CHRONICLED IN SRW4 (OR F/FF), AND HAS NOW PASSED. Scenario 26. Memorial Day Ryuune asks Masaki to come with her for a bit, since she wants to ask him about his past. He's a bit reticent, but since Ryuune is planning on staying in Ra Gias for the forseeable future, he relents. If Ryuune asks, he'll tell her about the "chance"(?) meeting with Shuu at the South Pole, as he followed him in the wake of the destruction of the capitol. Masaki found Shuu amidst the ruins of Federation armed forces. When Masaki asked, Shuu said that he certainly wasn't here on a mission to destroy the Federation as such. He just put some people trying to use him in their place. Masaki was now sure that Shuu was too dangerous to be left on the loose, and Shuu for his part was pretty sick of Masaki's desire to settle the score. In fact, Shuu had a date with one Professor Vian, whose name the cats had never heard before. That set Masaki off on the path of investigating the Divine Crusaders, which Ryuune's father Vian Zoldark founded. This was right before the DC began their campaign of world conquest, also known as the "Second Super Robot War". Ryuune laments how her father was an idealist whose feet never touched the ground: there was no way his plan would work. She's thankful to Masaki and the others for stopping her father's rampage, though some of what Vian was saying did indeed come true after all: it took less than half a year for the aliens to invade after Vian's downfall, in the "Inspector War" also known as the Third Super Robot War. Ryuune then reminds Masaki that tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of their meeting. It's a bit hard to tell that in Ra Gias, whose lunar cycles don't match those on Earth, and it's been a very _eventful_ year too. Both Feir and Kirkus are dead, and lots of combat has gone down with the Inspectors and DC. And Shuu himself, who declared war right after the Inspector boss Wendolo was defeated. It seems Shuu was waiting all that time for your people to become strong enough to take him on, lest he bring shame on the name of the Granzon for bullying those weaker than himself. Masaki didn't hold back either upon hearing that. To be sure, it seemed Shuu was probably being controlled by Volkrus most of the time, and upon reflection Masaki recalls several times where Shuu's words even made him doubt that Shuu was acting by choice. The fight against the Neo Granzon was especially bad. Masaki demanded to know what profit any of this had for Shuu, and Shuu said that it wasn't about profit or loss: he was merely doing as his heart commanded. When Masaki struck Shuu down, Shuu said that he's fought as hard as he could, and had no regrets. Everything meets its end, and now was simply his time. At long last, all the chains binding him were undone, and stuff. Masaki couldn't exactly be happy upon hearing that. Shuu was, in fact, stone cold dead, but was brought back to life by Ruozoul, moving the battlefield here to Ra Gias. Mio then comes over, asking if Masaki and Ryuune are on a date or something. She then fills them in on how she came to Ra Gias herself: Gated out of her bed while asleep and more or less tossed on the ground for Masaki to find. She figured she'd been kidnapped, and when Masaki tried to explain about Ra Gias to her, she informed him that kidnapping wasn't a crime as long as he married her. Apparently Mio looked younger than her fifteen years, but she was surely capable enough as the Zamjeed's pilot. Mio recounts how a geas was used to force the Zamjeed to turn against your people. Its guardian spirit would have been in incredible pain, forced to combat your forces, and Mio could sense its tears. Given how easily she was able to pilot the Diablo, Masaki was sure even then that she was the Zamjeed's rightful pilot, though Tutti didn't want to let Mio do it so young. As for Feir himself, he was a man with a very strong sense of duty. He summoned many Surface dwellers to help repulse the Shutedonian attack, but due to an accident he summoned too many, destroying his constitution and giving him a mere six months to live. He did manage to unify Ra Gias... briefly. It was afterwards that the evil consumed him, and the Elemental God-Machine pilots had no choice but to strike him down. Feir didn't expect Senia and Monica to understand, but he did ask their forgiveness anyway. Lest we forget, it was he who taught Masaki his duty as an Elemental God-Machine pilot... and it was under Masaki's hand he fell. Mio starts sniffling over Feir's fate, but with a mighty blow of her nose pulls herself together. Then it becomes Ryuune's turn to explain why Kirkus the night owl took his drastic action. Ryuune and Yang Long were met by Kirkus' son Zash, who had entered the army and been sent to tell them that Kirkus would be a bit late due to talks with Feir. Neither Yang nor Zash knew what these talks might pertain to, but it almost seemed more important what sparks were flying between the 18-year old Zash and the 17-year old Ryuune. Ryuune seemed mistrusting of Zash's sudden interest, and warned him that flattery would get him nowhere... but her demeanor changed the moment he called her and her matching robot "cute". Kirkus finally showed up, instructing his son to hit on this girl in a more manly fashion if he planned to hit on her at all. Kirkus then announced that he'd signed a peace treaty with Feir, on the condition that Prince Telius receive the throne. This astounded all present, but Kirkus said that while even he knew it was an absurd condition, he found that he could not fully cast off his long-cherished dream to unite Langran and the rest of Ra Gias. Yang shouted that this totally ignored the question of the people's will, and doubted even the ailing Feir would so thoroughly ignore the proper channels for ratifying such a treaty. Kirkus countered that recovery for Langran was a more immediate concern than the will of the people. It was Langran's reconstituted power which should guarantee peace throughout all Ra Gias, and Kirkus wanted Yang Long to help. Ryuune knew all too well that despite Kirkus' pretty words, his plans amounted to "world domination", a concept she was all too intimately familiar with. She observed that Kirkus' eyes were just like her father's, whose overreliance on power led to his downfall when faced with an even greater power. She knew that there ought to be a better way than force - and possessing force tends to blind one to that very fact. She then made a HORRIBLE, BRILLIANT pun, to Yang's discomfort. Kirkus had no plans to alter this painfully-chosen course, and was sure that history would vindicate him. Ryuune noted that that's only for the victors - and there are far fewer victors than losers in the history books. Yang announced that as an Elemental God-Machine pilot, it was his duty to take Kirkus down, but Kirkus didn't want to fight his old comrades and lay down his life just then. He said that he planned to join forces with Feir and fight Shutedonias, and would hear Yang's judgement afterwards. Evicting Telius is what led Kirkus to go to war with Feir, taste defeat and eventually side with Ruozoul. Finally, Kirkus himself faced your people in the Euleed, the "Ultra-Elemental Machine" whose whole project was supposedly halted years before. Of course, Kirkus continued it in secret, and of course he figured that its power would defend him from all evil while he put his plans into action. He conceded to Yang that the revolution he had planned would likely be bloody: no one can get anything accomplished by simply fearing the spilling of blood. Ryuune noted that that's simply a sign of how incompetent he was, and the battle was on. The mighty Euleed showed what the Elemental God-Machines could have been, had people relied on their power instead of their innate goodness. Kirkus' final refusal to admit the error of his ways, and his refusal to eject, caused Yang to finish him off. After that, Ra Gias has been _mostly_ peaceful. The biggest problem right now is the ascension to the Langran throne, since Telius and Monica have both gone off with Shuu. The new prince is some cousin of Senia's or something, and Masaki can't recall his name. Just then Senia shows up, another obstacle to Ryuune getting in some quality time with Masaki. Ahamed has appeared too, drifting in on the wind as his nature would demand. He bears tales of Christof's personality changing, which fits what Shuu told Masaki about being free from Volkrus. Senia recalls the ceremony for resurrecting the god. With some awkwardness, Monica assumed her place, followed by Shuu. Shuu read from a scripture describing the equality and universality of death and destruction. Ruozoul then commanded Shuu to plunge his blade into Monica, who in turn asked Shuu with doe eyes and trembling lips to not make it hurt. Saphiine grinned and said she likes a bit of pain, and added that it'll only hurt at first, but after that... As Ruozoul fumed at the interjection, Shuu told Monica that Volkrus' resurrection required the despair and death of someone whose hopes have been betrayed, the stronger the better. Monica didn't seem to mind, but Shuu had actually picked a far better target: Ruozoul himself. As Ruozoul writhed in pain and astonishment, Shuu told him that he ought to look happier at being sacrificed for his beloved god. Moreover, Shuu referred to Volkrus without honorifics: some flaws in Ruozoul's resurrection had allowed Shuu to elude his contract with Volkrus. Shuu _would_ bring Volkrus back, so he could kill it once and for all - surely Ruozoul remmebered how much Shuu hates being controlled? As the resurrection began in earnest, Shuu told Saphiine to withdraw, lest its power overwhelm her and bend her to its will. She realized that she faced that fate at least once before, on the verge of becoming like Ruozoul: a slave. She told Shuu that she'll stay and fight by his side, and would happily let him kill her if her resolve faltered. Volkrus was in fact unable to turn Saphiine against Shuu, and Shuu and the others prevailed at the end. Mio seems very smug about Saphiine's proclivities, and Masaki wants to know how Shuu could be freed from the contract simply by being able to forget about it. Senia cautions him that the contract may have been hypnotic, and hypnosis is never to be underestimated. In any case, Shuu put paid to it all with his usual aplomb, and the evil seems to have receded from him, but Masaki still distrusts what's going on deep in his heart. Ryuune is looking forward to more one-on-one time with Masaki, but Senia then tells Masaki that Wendy has come back. Ryuune realizes that she's got a rival for Masaki's affections, one who's known Masaki longer than she has. But there's more important news: the prophets have foretold a new calamity overshadowing Ra Gias. It's not clear _what_ that calamity will be, but it is clear that Masaki will face it. He will, of course, have help in the battle, but the fragdown is expected between six months and a year from now. Scenario 27. Sasurai no Presia (Wandering Presia) Your people do a headcount, trying to figure out how to protect the world. Gennajy is among those present, but as usual he gets overlooked until he actually speaks up. There are six pilots, plus a very eager Presia. If you tell her it's too early for her, she runs off in a rage. Masaki's excuses about it being too soon seem lame even to him, and in a huff he agrees to go and try to win her back. Mio figures that Masaki is just clueless about women, but Ryuune realizes that Masaki said what he did out of concern for Presia. If only he'd be even a tenth that concerned about her herself... A message then comes in: it seems that Presia has gone off on her own in the Diablo. She's every bit as impetuous as her "brother" Masaki, even if she's no blood relation of his. Presia's indignation at Masaki's admonition quickly cools as she realizes that she's being pretty reckless herself, and has nowhere in particular to go in the Diablo. She quickly runs into some Bagonian troops, led by Gino. When the troops realize that a little girl is at the controls, some want to capture the Langran machine, but Gino is more inclined to speed Presia on her way. He seems quite taken with her in fact, and one of the soldiers professes open puzzlement that his captain, the Demon Valencia, has a thing for little girls. Presia hesitates to go back, and Gino determines quickly that she must have run away from home. He guarantees her a place to rest at his house, and instructs his troops to say nothing more of it. It's when he starts composing a poem to Presia that his troops know he's got it bad. Your people arrive just after Gino leads her away. You can try to beat Presia's whereabouts out of them, but if you don't, your people withdraw so as to not disturb the recently signed peace treaty with Bagonia. Masaki is of course impatient to get Presia back, but Tutti tells him to be patient until Senia finds out her whereabouts. The cats recall an old acquaintance of Zeoroot's in Bagonia: Shemel Hell, the Sword-Saint. He's as good an excuse as any to get into Bagonia... Scenario 28. Densetsu no Kensei (The Legendary Sword-Saint) Tutti gets visas to enter Bagonia, but you'll have to tread lightly. Should you break the seals the Bagonians will place on your weapons, you'll have to pay a heavy fine. The border crossing is quite painless, but you find Shemel quite inhospitable at his house - apparently he's in the middle of making something. As your people wonder what's up, Shemel's student Rosa Lee appears. She convinces her master to stop his lousy painting and greet the guests, just in time for a Demon Golem to appear out of nowhere. She doesn't heed her master's call to trade places with her in the mech, determined to take it down herself. Rosa Lee seemingly sees it as a matter of pride for her as the first pupil of Fueki Kuon Style to smite these guys down, but more golems quickly pop out to overwhelm her. Masaki, in no mood to watch this girl get thrashed, says that he'll pay any amount of fines if need be, and even without Shemel asking springs into action. As the battle wears on, Masaki shouts to Rosa Lee that there's no way he can protect her if she keeps lollygagging around. He tells her to do exactly as he says, which she takes as some kind of sexual dominance ploy at first. Tee hee. Shemel has at least one good way of thanking your people for their help: serving as witness that you broke the seals on your weapons in self-defense. He's also very happy to see that Zeoroot found so worthy a successor as Masaki, and asks how Presia is doing. When he hears of her abduction, he considers it his duty as Zeoroot's brother in arms to help you out. Gino's name comes up quickly as someone to check with, and Rosa Lee makes to contact him right away. Scenario 29. Bagonia no Yami (Darkness of Bagonia) Shemel isn't inclined to rest on his old laurels as "Sword Saint", saying that the "Sword Emperor" Zeoroot was far better than he was. That he won those tournaments versus Zeoroot back when was more due to luck than anything. Rosa Lee, for her part, more or less forced her way into Shemel's household to become his student, and perhaps self-proclaimed fiancee. If you elected not to fight the Bagonian troops, you can recover Presia right away from the trusty Gino. She'll be headed to Shemel's house forthwith. In the meantime, Shemel offers to paint everyone's portrait, though Rosa Lee makes him sound like the world's worst artist. Finally, he agrees instead to come to your people's aid should you need him later. Gino then shows up with Presia, thanking Masaki for avoiding combat with his border guards, which would have surely meant their destruction. Presia can't believe that Masaki actually controlled his temper for once, and Masaki smiles and says that he's got to grow up some time. Presia, in tears, apologizes and rushes back to him. They exchange apologies and praise, and Gino has another poem to commemorate the beautiful sibling love he sees. Presia corrects his poem, but that's not what has Gino suddenly peeved - _that_ would be a certain mad scientist lurking behind the scenes. It's Zetsu, mad with glee over being able to trash the products of the hated Academy. This crazy coot has authority over all Bagonia's defenses, and isn't one to take shit from Gino. Gino, with many apologies, has no choice but to withdraw and let Masaki and the others fight Zetsu. Presia wants to fight too, and this time Masaki relents and allows her to try out a few tricks that Gino showed her. Zetsu has some reinforcements hidden away too, and Rosa Lee can't believe that a dirty old man like him is in charge of the national defense. He goes down fairly easily, and heads off in fury to develop a stronger Elemental Machine to kick your ass later. Gino apologizes again for not being able to use his position to stop Zetsu, embarassed at that fact in part as a former student of Shemel's. He advises you all to leave quickly, since Zetsu is a very vengeful guy and will surely be back soon. Masaki and Presia thank Gino for everything he's done, and your people head back. Once more Presia and Masaki apologize, and Presia assures Masaki that she'll be an adult soon too. Ryuune wonders if she's got yet another rival for Masaki's affections. Shemel gives you his sworn deposition to help with the weapon seals, and thanks you for bringing some actual civilization into his isolated mountain life. He tells Presia that he'll welcome her any time. Scenario 30. Uragiri no Daishou (The Reward for Treachery) The seal of the famous Sword Saint is enough to get your people back across the border with no uproar. The uproar actually starts after you get back to Langran: it's Zetsu, still out for revenge. Among his posse is an American with a WAY stereotypical American affectation to his Japanese, Thomas Platt. [Why he should be like this when people from numerous other Earth nations speak perfectly good Japanese is beyond me.] It so happens this guy was in the DC long ago, and recognizes Ryuune on sight. Now a mercenary, he readily accepts the order to wipe your people out. But more troubling is that _Fang_ is on the bad guys' side. He claims to be there because he loves Langran, though he won't explain himself except to say that your people are somehow to blame. The old geezer just isn't giving things a rest, and at this rate it seems you'll have to face more assaults from Bagonia. Masaki figures that this guy's hatred of Langranian Elemental Machines must have something to do with the Alchemists, and makes a note to ask Wendy. Plus, there's Fang's treachery to consider... Scenario 31. Triangle Love Ryuune goes to Tutti for information about what her romantic rival is like: how old is she, and is she good looking? Tutti ponders this, and says that if the 29-year old Wendy _isn't_ beautiful, neither are a good eighth of the supposedly beautiful women on Earth. Ryuune blanches at this assessment of how beautiful Wendy is, but figures she's still got youth on her side. Her conviction begins to waver when she actually sees Wendy, who certainly doesn't _look_ 29. No sooner does Ryuune try to butt in on Masaki's reunion with Wendy than Wendy's maturity (even complimenting Ryuune on being "cute") becomes evident. Masaki gruffly refutes Ryuune's claim to be his lover, and Wendy smiles and says she's jealous of how well the squabbling pair seem to be getting along. As for Wendy herself, she's still on medication but well enough to travel with the rest of the crew. Masaki's obviously concerned for her welfare, but her calm determination to do whatever she can to help in the trials to come carries the day. That night, Ryuune comes and wakes Masaki up, asking if he'd chat with her given she can't sleep. Masaki tells her to come back tomorrow... The next morning, Wendy announces that she's fixed Cosmo Nova, commenting that Masaki is, as usual, pretty rough on his mech: even the Psybuster's self- healing can't keep up. Masaki promises her that he'll take better care, and Mio figures that with Masaki's openness to Wendy, Ryuune's really behind the eight ball. The romance stuff gets preempted by a report of suspicious Shutedonian activity near the border in Troia. It's Rasetsu, who has his men searching for someone who is hiding in the vicinity. Though he knows he's violating the border and realizes how fearsome his adversaries are, Rasetsu isn't one to back down. His henchman Jog is glad to hear that, looking for some payback for the beatings he suffered during the last war. Whatever or whoever the Shutedonians were looking for, it's surely not good news for your people. The fugitives are Rodney and Radius, whose absence Rasetsu isn't inclined to lose too much sleep over. Jog politely points out that of those two, at least General Jes'ha (Rodney) is a pretty sharp guy, and Rasetsu figures that maybe he'd best put some of his plans into action, just to be on the safe side. And that will take some time... [Battle ensues.] After things settle down, Ryuune goes over to Wendy, announcing that she can't manage to talk around things and that she'll come straight to the point: what does Wendy think about Masaki? Wendy gets quite flustered, but Ryuune tells her straight up that she loves Masaki and pretty much forces Wendy to say that she does too. Wendy wants to know why Ryuune asked, and Ryuune notes how girls often get into all kinds of drama over their crushes. Ryuune knows she's bad at all such machinations, and figured it'd be easier to let Wendy know where she stands up front. Wendy rather adores Ryuune's honesty, and promises her she won't do anything to earn her ire. It's to be a womens' contract, far more binding than those between men if Wendy is to be believed. Masaki of course has no clue what's going on. Scenario 32. Yang Long no Shuugyou (Yang Long's Training) You finally get in touch with Yang Long, who tells you that he's almost done with his training and will be back soon. This "polishing his mind and body" business is supposed to result in some new killer move. That move would be when Yang can fuse with the fire spirit Granva, and now that Yang has finally sighted the beginning of the process, the results should show themselves very soon. Yang tells his Familiar that he'll make sure he's got the hang of it before rejoining the rest of your people, who he's confident can mind the store in his absence. Though Yang still sees much in Masaki that could stand improvement, he's already improved enough on so many fronts that he's very nearly the worthy pilot of the Psybuster in Yang's eyes, and he suspects it's thanks to Masaki's runins with Shuu and the other menaces on the Surface. Heck, Masaki's honesty and openness with his emotions even make him jealous sometimes... Yang easily takes out one of the practice drones, grimacing and figuring that he can't advance his training any more by just fighting with them. Lucky for him, Saphiine shows up, maintaining that she came to play with him today. It seems that Shuu, absorbed with his research, isn't paying enough attention to her. Yang doesn't intend to attack her, given she hasn't done anything wrong, but tells her sternly that given all the stuff in the past, she's not precisely entitled to just "come and play". It's a strange relationship that's neither friend nor foe, and in any case Yang wishes she wouldn't interrupt his training. However, a pack of Demon Golems shows up. Saphiine is quick to say that their arrival isn't her doing, and while she doesn't like Yang ordering her to help him eliminate them, she decides to help of her own accord to blow off a little stress. As Yang fights them, he realizes that this is in fact good for his training, and wonders how Demon Golems could prove such formidable allies. Saphiine thinks that this might mean that "it" is the real thing, and coyly tells Yang that what she means is a secret. Just then Masaki and the crew show up, and Saphiine excuses herself without much protestation. More Demon Golems show up instead, and it's up to your people to eliminate them. In the process, Yang finishes his realization about his new attack. With all four Elemental God-Machines now gathered, and no immediate threat from Shutedonias, Yang suggests that the others try some training too. Masaki seems a bit dubious, noting that if you get too hung up on trying to acquire new deathblows, you may miss something more important. Wendy assures him it's alright... Scenario 33. Reiseikai no Shuugyou (Training in the Spirit Realm) Masaki figures that the fastest way to "train" would be to go ask Ibun to help you unlock your hidden potential. Ibun has the same worry that Masaki did about getting carried away with power, but Wendy assures her too that it'll be okay. Ibun can only help three people at a time, and since Yang has just finished his own training he offers to step aside. Including Ryuune, there's still four people to whittle down to three, and Ibun decides that the training will take place in the Spirit Realm, also known as the Astral Plane. This place, which mortals can't normally enter, is a realm where spiritual force avails more than force of arms. You really only reach the entrance to the Spirit Realm - even Ibun can't take you entirely inside. After you select the three people, she tells you that you'll be fighting... yourselves. It'll be hard, but if you can live through it you should find something nice awaiting you. Your opponents seem like versions of yourself but drunk on power, and fighting them is no picnic. Ibun is sure you all learned something, saying that the difficulty level was unavoidable given the short amount of time available to her. Your people then head back to the capitol, leaving Wendy to consult with Ibun alone. Wendy is still suffering some kind of symptoms that Ibun sadly says may be supressed, but never erased. Wendy is fully aware of that, but wants to stay by "his" side even one day longer. Ibun growls, not unkindly, that "he" isn't worth falling that deeply in love with, and then begins the treatment. Scenario 34. Presia Tokkun (Presia's Special Training) Presia complains to Gennajy that it'd be nice if they could learn some new deathblows too - that would at least make them able to help out a bit. Gennajy is at first skeptical, but after remembering that Presia is the daughter of the fabled swordsman Zeoroot finally agrees. The spot for their training was where they previously held a picnic. Gennajy insists over her objections that she's got to start by building her stamina, and adopting a sort of gym teacher-like persona has her run ten laps. She's not very speedy, and luckily the appearance of some Demon Golems causes PE to get interrupted. Becky shows up on round two, apparently looking for treasure but professing to be on "training" when Gennajy asks. This training is indeed good for learning some new moves, as well as raking in the money from the golden golems... which of course was part of Becky's reason for being on the scene. Masaki is about to chew Presia out for going off on her own when he's surprised to see Becky back. Becky, finding Masaki much more manly than before, is about to give him a reunion kiss when Ryuune objects. Masaki makes introductions, then storms off as the girls start teasing him about having more than one lover. Becky hits it off with Mio, a fellow "Earth"-type pilot. Scenario 35. Shishi, Iki ni Toozu (A Noble's Pride) Masaki is busy losing at arm-wrestling to Gennajy (five times running). Neither Becky nor Yang want to fight that losing battle, and it's looking like Gennajy will reign unchallenged until Ryuune asks Masaki to let her cut in. Despite warnings from all around, Ryuune pulls off a stunning display of bravado and manages to somehow overpower Gennajy, who confirms in shock that he wasn't holding back at all. Ryuune says that it's less about how strong she is and more about how she conditioned herself - at her father's insistence, given his foresight that she was destined to be a mecha pilot. Part of the training was the special wristbands he made her wear, each of which weighs a good five kilograms. Her father was certainly an oddball, but she doesn't resent the things he taught her: they've come in handy for, among other things, letting her get close to Masaki. Mio whispers that Masaki had better watch out the next time he and Ryuune quarrel... ...but then Senia runs in with some real news: Bagonia has declared war. That the avowed neutrals would do this is surprising, and Ryuune wonders idly if that old geezer Zetsu is still after you. Wendy is astounded to hear that name, so famous as an "outcast" of the Academy of Alchemy. It turns out that this man, known as the "Merciless Alchemist", has broken the Council's sternest strictures and dabbled in many forbidden arts, caring nothing for the outcome of whatever new technique he could perfect. She explains that all alchemic academics must consider carefully the consequences of any new discovery, how to take responsibility for them and whether or not to make that discovery public. But Zetsu, purely for his own enjoyment, made countless instruments of death, and was exiled from the Council a good 30 years ago. Well, it seems he still harbors designs on revenge, and apparently he has the ear of Bagonia to boot. Masaki vows that something must be done about Zetsu before things get any worse, and Presia wonders if Gino and Shemel could be of some help. Probably, and the only way to find out is to sneak across the border now that a war is on. Shemel's assistance is being enlisted by Zetsu, who suggests that the penalty for refusal would be Shemel's precious apprentice being fed to wild beasts. Shemel realizes that his country won't last long with this lunatic calling the shots, and consents to be led back to the capitol. Zetsu is mad with joy that he's now got all the ingredients to construct the Gattsoul, and orders one of the remaining soldiers to obliterate Shemel's house, without leaving any evidence. Before the deed can be completed, Gino appears and demands to know Shemel's whereabouts. The soldier can't answer that, nor can he confirm whether Zetsu ordered the act. That tells Gino all he needs to hear, and he orders the soldier to return to Zetsu at once and inform him that Gino's resigning his commission, effective immediately. And that the next time Gino sees Zetsu is the time he'll chop off his head. The soldier, sympathetic to Gino's standpoint, wishes he could help Gino - but Gino tells him not to overstrain himself; if Gino recalls correctly, the soldier is a newlywed. The soldier, in awe, withdraws with a prayer that he never need face Gino on the field of battle. Gino then takes stock, uncertain how to act on his impulsive speech. A poem comes to him suddenly: "Lingering twilight / Departs with the dawn, leaving / One shadow behind". That proves especially true since Thomas and his men show up, sent by Zetsu to see that Gino doesn't make it out of here. And should Thomas succeed, he's been promised an extra-special bonus. Gino's lucky too, since Masaki and the crew show up. Gino tells your people to flee, insisting that he can take care of this himself until Thomas brings out his reserve units. After some suasion on your people's part, Gino shakes his head, thinking that he should have brought the Ginshas Plus instead. He then agrees to accept Masaki and the others' help. [Battle, again ensues.] Thomas is astounded that his "lucky day" turned out this way, with him getting his ass beaten in. After the dust settles, Gino tells you that Shemel was opposed to the declaration of war, which is probably why Zetsu hauled him away. This shouldn't have been possible except for Rosa Lee being held hostage, and Gino at least has some idea where she might be. Shemel himself, however, could be anywhere. Masaki asks Gino to lead you all to where Rosa Lee is - he's not doing this for Langran, but for all of Ra Gias in accordance with his duty as Elemental God-Machine pilot. Gino protests that that was just a cover story cooked up by the Langran government, but Masaki shouts that that "cover story" was more than good enough to make him fight and kill Langran's highest official, Feir himself! Gino realizes the truth in this at once and apologizes, adding that he's envious of your ability to live so freely according to your ideals. Your people advise him to cast off his Bagonian citizenship as such and become one of you - it's Presia's plea that seals the deal. Thus, he needs to be chosen by one of the Elemental Machines, but all that's handy are the Lastoll and Jayfar. Until the test can occur, Masaki tells him to keep using his current machine. Scenario 36. Shemel to Rosa Lee (Shemel and Rosa Lee) Clues are proving elusive, and the only thing left in Shemel's house is a large collection of strange paintings (which Gennajy likes). With no other choice, Gino leads you off towards Rosa Lee. Gino explains to Ryuune that Rosa Lee, entranced with Shemel's swordsmanship, elbowed her way in as his pupil. The bit about her being his fiancee is entirely her own invention, which reminds Mio a bit of Ryuune's situation with Masaki. Ryuune contains her temper and doesn't pound Mio, but before she can quiz Gino any more your party arrives. There are no guards at your destination, and Masaki suspects that the bad guys are using some of their fiendish plans against you. And the fiend himself then shows up. He's got a special surprise waiting for you: it's Rosa Lee, whose mind he's fiddled with and who now sees you as nothing other than the ones who killed Shemel. This is going to make it much harder to save her, though Wendy thinks there's a way if you can somehow deliver a shock to her. To rescue Rosa Lee, you've got to get rid of Zetsu first, then reduce her HP to below 50%. Zetsu has rigged her mech to explode if she regains her senses, but she manages to eject just before it explodes. Zetsu is beginning to realize that he's not good enough to defeat you, and leaves in a huff. As for how your activities are being anticipated so well, it turns out that Gino's mech is made out of a particular metal, whose radiation patterns can be tracked quite easily. The offending radiation source can't be removed without totally dismantling the thing, and Masaki thinks that it'd be worth Gino trying an improv piloting of the Lastool. Gino apologizes for all the trouble he's causing, but Masaki says he needn't apologize to the rest of his comrades. Rosa Lee meanwhile has no recollection of her ordeal, but does recall that her teacher is missing. She's about to be seriously angsty when she realizes Zetsu could only haul him away because of her, but the news that your people are planning to rescue Shemel cheers her immensely. Part of what's so great about your people (Gino included) is the ability to set aside personal hatreds for the greater good. Also, she happened to spy a large pile of supplies when she was brought here, and hopes you can put them to good use. Scenario 37. Fang no Shin'i (Fang's True Intent) Ryuune wants to know if Rosa Lee really loves Shemel. Rosa Lee blusters and says of course she does, as his wife and his student, but Ryuune thinks that her gaze when looking at Shemel is more the way one looks at someone they hate. Apparently Rosa Lee starts babbling when she gets excited, and Ryuune tells her that she won't press - it was just something she wondered about. Rosa Lee assures her it's just her imagination... As for where Shemel is being kept, Gino can think of no better way than starting from the largest known Zetsu base and working down from there. The chances for success are low, but you've got little other choice. The first base is very heavily guarded, and a frontal assault is the order of the day. Who should be waiting for you but Fang! Does he really want to kill you? Well, he blames the Surface folk for... something or other bad happening. Meanwhlie, Zash shows up, claiming to be a changed man after all the training he's had (Ryuune sure hopes so, for his sake). Masaki can Persuade Fang, and it turns out that Fang is still bitter over the fact that your people killed Feir. He thinks you all are criminals who led Langran to its present sorry state, but at that Masaki questions how Fang can even call himself an Elemental Machine pilot. He forcibly reminds Fang what the duties and obligations of such a pilot are, spitting the words out between tears. Finally, Fang comes to understand why Feir fought you: because he left everything in your hands. Howling in anguish, Fang realizes that not only had he misunderstood his lord's heart, but also tarnished his good name. Making matters even worse, he realizes he allowed his own unfulfilled rivalry with Masaki to further cloud his judgement. He tries to apologize for his irreversible bad deeds, but Masaki yells that there is no such thing. Should Fang want to make amends, Masaki will welcome him with open arms - and in the spirit of "better late than never", he joins your team. However, the fun's not over - Thomas shows up for a rematch. He claims that Shemel is either in heaven or hell, but no longer here or anywhere else on this world. Saying that Zetsu killed him as part of some kind of experiment, he tells the increasingly furious Masaki that he's got to go through him first before he can even think about Zetsu. So Fang is back on the scene, and Masaki tells him he needn't be all penitent about it. Meanwhile, his machine has the same radiating metal that Gino's did, and Senia will happily dismantle it. Fang's sure he can pilot whatever is left, since his old machine is now taken, and Masaki tells him to try the Jayfar on for size. All of which is very well and good, but Shemel still appears to be dead. Rosa Lee can't believe it, insisting that her teacher, the man who killed her father, couldn't die from something this trivial. She explains that her real name is Rosa Lee Gimnas, and her father was Harry Gimnas, a swordsman of some repute who died from a wound suffered in a match with Shemel. Rosa Lee had wanted to steal the techniques of her father's killer, and eventually extract revenge. But as Ryuune preceives, that killing wish had turned into genuine love with time. Ryuune has a similar tale to tell of how Masaki killed her father, but she says she's too simpleminded for some kind of "revenge served cold" business. Plus, she knows that both her father and Masaki did the best they could under their circumstances - and figures that her father's little world domination scheme was going a bit too far. She's even grateful to Masaki in a way, and while she doesn't like the word "fate" she figures that her father's end was somehow inevitable. Rosa Lee knows as well as Ryuune does that revenge only breeds more revenge, and she had indeed started seeing in Shemel a new father figure. Ryuune councils her to rest for now, and let time warm but not erase the wounds. Obviously Zetsu is the real bad guy here, and you've got to kick his ass fast before any more bad stuff occurs... Scenario 38. Wendy no Kushin (Wendy's Worry) Though your people would love to wipe out Zetsu, there's only so much you can do given that he's a Bagonian official and all. Gino has the idea of rounding up proof of Zetsu's misdeeds and using the network to circulate it as a broadside, though he dislikes the taint of underhandedness such tactics exude. This requires returning to the capitol to gather all the paperwork, and will give Senia a chance to use her nifty computers for a bit of illegal hacking. However, you are met at the capitol by some soldiers, with orders from the Alchemists' Council for Wendy to show herself at once. There are similar orders for the Elemental Machine pilots, and the soldier tells you to find out why at the council itself. Tutti agrees to go as your representative, at which the soldier orders the rest of your people to wait in Langran. Masaki heatedly points out to this punk that nobody has the authority to order him around, and the soldier replies that if his demands are not met he's authorized to use force. It's not clear what's happened in your absence, but it seems to involve Shutedonias and Bagonia, and has made things a lot more awkward. Masaki muses that Langran seems a bit less inclined to work for the best interests of all Ra Gias than when Feir was at the helm. Wendy and Tutti are sure taking a long time at whatever this meeting is, and an emergency message comes in that Langran is about to be... but Wendy's long-staved off condition is coming back to haunt her, and cuts her off. It's not clear what Wendy was trying to say, but at least Tutti makes it back. Shaking her head, she tells you that you've been requested to take out some Demon Golems nearby. The stupidity of the Langran government has her aggravated, but the tale will have to wait. It's more than a bit odd that Demon Golems would appear in the middle of town, but... Assuming Becky makes it through the battle, you'll see a bunch of golden golems come out. Given that the government hasn't been giving you much of an allowance, maybe this is pennies from heaven? Tutti tells you what the council was up to: pondering making the Elemental Machines part of Langran's regular army by ignoring their fundamental mission. Fortunately that was only coming from part of the council, but a part with influence. Masaki wants to run right over and give them a piece of his mind, but Tutti tells him to leave the negotiating to her. Instead, Ryuune suggests he go check in on Wendy, given that the Academy is nearby. Wendy had in fact lost consciousness, and is being tended to by one of the guards. He seems evasive when he denies that she said anything strange, and Wendy has a vague memory of something regarding her sister. But why? Scenario 39. 17-ban-me no Masouki (the Seventeenth Elemental Machine) Ryuune takes the lead, lest Masaki's infamous sense of direction or hot headedness cause trouble. She finds them a secluded spot to park their mecha, and they sneak in through an air duct. Since Ryuune's in the lead, this gives Masaki a good look at her large, shapely ass, and she fiercely tells him not to stare. Hilarity aside, the two of them manage to catch sight of something shocking on the way to Wendy's room: a newly developed Elemental Machine! The fact that Langran made it without telling the other Elemental pilots is a bad sign. Masaki has his cats search for Wendy's plana, the work of but a few moments. But what Masaki finds upon entering her door... ...Is someone _resembling_ Wendy but with flaming red hair. And with Wendy's clothes and perfume. Masaki and Ryuune are taken aback, but whoever they're talking to thinks it's time to give "it" a little test. Before starting the experiment, the woman says her name is Teldy Rasm Ignart - and informs Masaki and Ryuune that they're going to help her. But before she can throw a certain switch, she collapses, morphing back into the familiar Wendy right before their eyes. Wendy explains that what they just saw is her twin sister Teldy, but a giant explosion cuts her off. In panic, she realizes that the Ishmael's autopilot has been engaged, and pleads with Masaki to reign it in. The Ishmael is in the hangar, and it's pretty clear that only Masaki and Ryuune are in any position to stop it. Further explanation from Wendy will have to wait, but for now Masaki vows to take this "Ishmael" thing down in no time flat. When he does, he notes how tough it is - almost like an Elemental God-Machine. The debris is even trying to regenerate as they speak, and Masaki makes sure to keep the pieces separate. Wendy explains that her twin's heart dwells within her - something she never even realized until she was badly wounded during the assault on the capitol. Ever since that day, she's been plagued by hallucinations and headaches - and as her constitution has worsened and her plana lessened, her sister has come to show her face more and more. She and her sister share thoughts and memories, so she knows precisely how her sister feels. Indeed, the fact that she can lead an even remotely normal life is thanks to her sister being sacrificed, for which Wendy can find no words of gratitude or apology good enough. At first her sister was cooperative, but Teldy's heart is filled with nothing but an all-encompassing blackness. Her hatred of this world that allowed her to live yet denied her the right to be born rules her heart - and Wendy can no longer contain her sister's spirit. Wendy fears that her sister will replace her at this rate, and even as they speak feels a swoon coming over her. Masaki and Ryuune get her to pull herself together, and demand to know more about this Ishmael thing she seems mixed up in. She explains that the Ishmael was born out of the Langran government's fear of the Elemental Machines moving out of their control, and made possible by restarting the abandoned project for a seventeenth Elemental Machine. Wendy herself refused to help, but Teldy was more than happy to - and now Ishmael is something far more powerful and far more malevolent than what Wendy had originally designed. She tells them that this forbidden number 17th machine must not be allowed to exist [think the unlucky number 13]. Masaki tells Wendy to come with you, vowing to see to her well-being on his authority as a pilot, and says he'll have Tutti try to do something about Ishmael... Scenario 40. Ishmael Goudatsu (Theft of the Ishmael) Wendy has calmed down, but it seems clear that some serious therapy is needed. Given the spiritual nature of the problem, Ibun would be the best bet, and Ryuune is especially enthusiastic about seeing that her friend/comrade/who-knows-what is cared for. Ibun of course knows about Wendy's condition already, and says it would be a lie to say that there's no way to _cure_ it... but the method is rather rough - possibly too rough for Wendy in her weakened state. Wendy, who managed to wake up without the others noticing, is willing to give it a shot: it wouldn't be fair for her to be the only person not risking their life around here. While she feels badly for her sister, she'd rather have that sister driven from her than allow Teldy to fully possess her and bring great evil to Ra Gias. She agrees with Ryuune that their little "contest" is to resume once she's better, though Masaki has no idea what this contest entails. The angst is broken up by word of a raid on the Academy. Rasetsu is definitely not heeding the guards' commands to stop, and tells Jog to help the money-minded Rubikka mop up things around here. Your people show up in time for the guard to tell Masaki that the Ishmael has been stolen by Shutedonias. Masaki blames Langran for making the monster in the first place, but realizes quickly that the only thing to do is go steal it back. But before you can do that, you've got to frag down with Rasetsu's lackeys. It seems Rasetsu is a rising star in the Shutedonias power elite. It's very fishy that he managed to infiltrate the Academy and all, and Senia finds some disturbing info when she checks up on him. Shutedonias is in fact split into two factions: Rasetsu's, and _Jes'ha's_ - the old guy was temporarily exiled for opposing Rasetsu's ideas, but he's recently come back into favor. Enough favor that he might well replace the current president, the disfavored Zoraushald. This seems to be forcing Rasetsu's hand, and on the heels of the mess with Bagonia it appears certain that Rasetsu plans a full-on offensive with Langran. After all, proof of defeating the Elemental God-Machines would give the Shutedonian hawks ample encouragement for war. Scenario 41. Kishi Kaisei (Death and Ressurection) Ryuune is pondering one of the larger questions in life: is it possible for one person to become happy without another becoming unhappy? She's thinking of Wendy and her sister, but Masaki tells her it's wrong to think of happiness in ways others define. It's up to each person to define happiness for himself: obsessing about unhappiness will surely be a self-fulfilling prophecy. He's sure that Wendy understands that, and Ryuune tells him that she's just found a new reason to love him. She snuggles up close to him, but says she won't go any farther, because of a little "promise" she made. Rasetsu doesn't wait long to launch his offensive. He's not happy about having to pull something this grandiose to solidify his power base, and figures that the usefulness of allying himself to Zoraushald may be at an end. He and his troops are waiting for your people to show up, and Masaki for one is furious with anyone who would use war as a means to advancing their career. Rasetsu is forced to retreat without much of a fight, but everybody knows that the Ishmael can be far more dangerous. Both sides are sure that when Rasetsu comes again, one side or the other is going to go home in body bags. On a lighter note, word comes in that Wendy's treatment has been a success. Masaki hurries to see her, but Ryuune recommends he swing by the capitol first to buy her some kind of get-well present. The entire crew comes along, quickly squabbling (nicely, for the most part) about suitable presents. Scenario 42. Yabou no Owari (The End of Ambition) With Mio's Familiars doing the Three Stooges act, Masaki and Ryuune head to the Soratis Shrine first, leaving the others to follow later. What they find is pretty astounding: Wendy, fresh from her bath, is happily humming to herself in her room - sans clothing. Ryuune is incredibly fast to shield Masaki's eyes, and the two of them end up in a heap on the ground. It's hard for them to even get out so Wendy can get dressed. Masaki maintains that he saw nothing, but lets it slip that Wendy is awfully well proportioned for someone her age. Further hilarity is cut short when Ibun passes on a report from Tutti - Rasetsu has struck again. Rasetsu, seeing that the Psybuster isn't here yet, stays in reserve and performs some final adjustments while his subordinates take on the rest of your people. Once you defeat the first wave of bad guys, Rasetsu shows up, ready for the final battle. If Rodney is so inclined, he shows up here too, to help your people overthrow Rasetsu's plans of coup d'etat. He taunts Rasetsu with the knowledge that his plans are finished, and says that the Elemental God-Machines will get the honor of ending his miserable life. Now it's really the case that Rasetsu and his stooges are done unless they can eliminate the Elemental God-Machines. When you put paid to Rasetsu, he realizes that he simply wasn't strong enough - he probably deserves to go down fighting like this. Rodney thanks you for taking out the trash, quick to point out that he isn't planning to fight you today. He did want to tell you that he's planning on entering the Shutedonian presidential contest, saying that if he wins he might just be able to make Shutedonias a slightly saner place. In any case, it appears Shutedonias has been taken care of - leaving only Zetsu. The plan is to return to the capitol, check in on Wendy, and gather information on doings in Bagonia. Scenario 43. Gattso no Ikaku (The Menace of the Gattso) Wendy actually comes to greet you as you head for the capitol. She explains that Ibun has separated Teldy from her, keeping her soul with the spirits at the Soratis Shrine to placate it. She's come to terms with her decision to act for the greater good, and has vowed never to forget her sister. As long as Teldy has someone to remember her, perhaps her soul will be saved after all - and Ryuune vows to remember Teldy too. Senia then runs in with some good news: Bagonia has chosen to expel Zetsu! This will lead to a peace treaty with Langran, and the only thing that remains is to capture Zetsu himself, now a fugitive from the law. There's only one place he could be trying to attack: the Academy. Senia's put all her computing expertise to use and figures the defenses are perfect, and in fact your people get very early warning of Zetsu's attack. Thomas is getting a bit tired of going along with Zetsu's revenge jag, but it's a bit late to back out now. Zetsu's crazed talk of vengeance is interrupted by your people's appearance - it seems he's so far gone he no longer recognizes your crew. Thomas contents himself with trying to settle his score, and offhandedly admonishes Zetsu not to hit him too. In time, Zetsu discovers a strange red substance coming out of his belly. Something about it tickles his addled mind, and he begins giggling, interupted by increasingly severe coughs. The explosion of his machine takes him with it. Thus ends the last sliver of darkness threating Bagonia, who along with Shutedonias will _not_ be engaging in a pointless war with Langran after all. Shemel may also be able to rest in peace now: a reminder that much was sacrificed to get to this point. Yang grimaces and notes that even you all, no gods, have limits to what you can accomplish. Masaki just hopes that this is really the end... With peace seemingly guaranteed, Ryuune asks Wendy if she wants to get the competition for Masaki actively underway. Wendy stammers a bit at this until Ryuune says she was joking, and both women agree it's a good thing Masaki doesn't have more of a clue about women, or they'd have even more rivals... Scenario 44. Saikai, Shuu (Reunion with Shuu) Ryuune manages to pester Masaki to take some time off from the war recovery work long enough to go swimming with her and Wendy, though she has to resort to telling him that Wendy's bought some "daring" swimwear and _then_ badger him on top of it. Ryuune is miffed that Wendy's name did the trick, and more miffed that it's turned into a group outing. We find out that Tutti, although protected by the water spirits, can't swim; though she does point out that Masaki can't exactly fly either. Mio, meanwhile, IS practicing tunneling underground, hoping to get in a good eight hours of yoga on her next dig. Lucky for Tutti there's a very suitable coach around: Gennajy, former Gold medalist in swimming. The sight of Ryuune in her very skimpy bathing suit doesn't stir Masaki, but Zash is practically falling over himself to praise her. She is about to delicately point out to him that she's out for Masaki, but he tells her he knows all about that. He's still free to fall in love with whomever he chooses, even if he can't do anything about it - indeed, Ryuune is in much the same boat. As your people approach the beach, they spot some very unwelcome visitors: some Demon Golems! What's more, Shuu and Saphiine are here as well. Shuu efficiently calms Masaki down and assures him that the Golems aren't his doing. He tells Masaki to help wipe the bad guys out if he wants to hear whose fault they _are_, and Saphiine adds that girls hate people who do nothing but harangue them all day. After the battle, Saphiine explains that she and Shuu had come to enjoy the swimming - in the nude, in her case. Shuu has to keep her from squabbling with Masaki, and explains that this came about due to that Ruozoul guy getting resurrected. Of course, Shuu is more than a match for the Wizoul... at least, the normal one. After taking down Volkrus, Ruozoul has been hounding Shuu even more fiercely than Masaki once did, and Chika adds that she suspects Ruozoul must be in love with her master or something, not that that's anything but creepy given the guy's ugly face. Masaki has to threaten Chika with his cats to get a word in edgewise, and Shuu agrees that this sounds like a good plan for Chika to learn to hold her tongue. In any case, Masaki realizes that Volkrus and Ruozoul are a major threat to Ra Gias, especially combined. He happily offers to help Shuu, and Shuu is duly impressed with how much Masaki has matured. However, he warns Masaki that if he's to become a true pilot, he's still got a lot to learn: and he'll see that shortly. Scenario 45. Jashin Kourin (Advent of the Evil God) Shuu and Masaki are both taking a walk through the capitol: Shuu's first visit in a long time. Shuu's women are squabbling over him somewhat more aggressively than Masaki's, and when sparks fly between Saphiine and Masaki, she gets back at him by baring her ample bosom right in the middle of the street. Shuu sighs and asks Masaki to join him inside the palace where they can actually talk like civilized human beings. Shuu tells Masaki that he's pretty certain where Ruozoul is, but isn't quite ready to go yet. He's got Senia working on a way to defeat Ruozoul's old "invincible mode" trick. In fact, Senia finishes very fast with Wendy helping out: she suggests that Masaki be the one to thank Wendy for her part. Shuu explains how the battle will unfold: he's got to attack first, which will disrupt the Nagtsart's Astral Shift and let everyone else take a whack at it. Masaki is content to let Shuu get the first strike in, and everyone heads off to battle. Ruozoul seems almost happy to see his two tormenters here in person. As for Shuu, he's determined to see Ruozoul destroyed so utterly he'll never be able to come back. Unfortunately, Shuu's recovered memory makes him susceptible to Volkrus trying to control him. Ruozoul does indeed suceed, and tells Shuu to return to Volkrus' service. There's only one chance: for Masaki's words to pierce Shuu's hypnosis and return him to sanity. You must Persuade Shuu twice with Masaki, while dodging bad guys left and right. Masaki demands to know how Shuu can talk down to him so damn much if he's one to let himself be controlled by such a loser as Volkrus. Masaki's verbal abuse, plus Shuu's will, prove stronger than Volkrus' curse. Shuu is grateful to Masaki, and more than ready to make the already-dead Ruozoul pay for this humiliation. Ruozoul can't believe that a mere mortal could refuse a god, and Shuu reminds him that anyone who stands in his way, be they man or god, will be shown no mercy. If Saphiine fights him, she says that although her tastes are _broad_, they don't extend to necrophilia. Ruozoul is disbelieving that man could topple God to the end, but Masaki yells that your living people are far more important than some "God" anyway. Gino is heading back to Bagonia temporarily to help settle the political situation there. Presia is looking forward to his return, and Rosa Lee tells him not to forget her luggage when he comes back. He in turn reminds her not to slack off her practice, since she's now an official Elemental Machine pilot. Gino figures Presia is in good hands with Masaki as her "older brother" and departs, just soon enough for Becky to miss giving him a farewell toast. Becky likes the fact that he's the only other guy, besides Ricardo, who can stand as much alcohol as she can. She feels a bit sad that her drinking partner is gone, but figures she can still drink alone and heads off to do so. Gennajy and Mio were also late, apparently because Mio took too long changing into some _very_ girly pink getup for Gino's benefit. Apparently she and Gennajy have formed a comedy duo, though Gennajy seemingly doesn't have his heart in memorizing the material. His protests do sound a bit weak though as he and Mio leave. Fang, also late, then shows up, wishing to say "farewells" to Gino. It seems he wants to go on a long trip, to iron out something he still feels itching him at the bottom of his heart. Masaki understands fully, and to Fang's surprise Masaki tells him to take his mech with him. This is supposed to help him recall his decision as an Elemental Machine pilot, and Fang gratefully accepts. He tells Masaki, with a smile, that they'll have to settle their score later. Next up are Yang and Tutti, who said their temporary goodbyes to Gino last night. They actually have tidings that Shuu, for once, is looking for Masaki. Masaki realizes that Shuu can't well hang around here, and that he's planning to leave. Masaki plans to go see him off, and Tutti announces that she's getting ready to do her turn at making dinner. Presia is aghast, offering to help becasue of Tutti's very... "individual" style of flavoring. Yang and Masaki both urge Tutti to accept Presia's help, which she sighs and complies with. Zash then shows up, noting that neither Saphiine nor Wendy are here. He goes off to look more, and the cats realize that Zash is very much interested in the opposite sex - unlike a certain someone they know. Shuu then appears, confirming that he's about to leave. Masaki comments on how much Shuu has changed, though he still doesn't 100% trust him since he's never really heard Shuu talk in terms of doing things for the good of the world and the people in it. Shuu smiles and supposes that Masaki's got that right, and marvels again at how Masaki was the one to save him. Masaki never would have guessed that either, and asks Shuu what he plans to do now. That's Shuu's question: is Masaki thinking about his future? Masaki... has no idea, and Shuu says that he's in the same boat: given that both of them are mere mortals, neither can really see the future that well. With that, Shuu takes his leave, asking Masaki not to do anything to upset the two ladies by his side. Masaki smirks and says that that goes for him too, and with a smirk of his own Shuu sets off. Just then Monica and Saphiine show up, wondering where their Shuu has gone off to. Masaki has no clue, and the women squabble over whose fault it is Shuu is so upset with them. Gathering herself, Saphiine prepares to head off after Shuu, pointing out to Shuu's reconciled acquaintance Masaki that Shuu is _not_ gay. Masaki doesn't get this at all, and she flies off, leaving "see you again" as her farewell. Ryuune then shows up - not to say goodbye to Shuu, but possibly to tell Shuu not to lay a finger on "her" Masaki. Wendy is shocked, surprised at the thought that Shuu might swing that way, and Ryuune says it certainly seems like that to her. Wendy is now quite flustered, wondering what to do with that information, and Masaki asks why the heck women are so obsessed with that kind of logic. It's nothing but disgusting to him. As the women continue pondering the topic, Masaki figures that he knows a bit of the troubles Shuu must be going through... THE END!