A Reckless Disregard for Temporal Continuity
To everybody’s surprise, we recovered “miraculously fast” and are back up and running… eh, let’s just go with “the next day”. After a short chat with Mio – she still can’t seem to wrap her head around how readily we’re jumping into this – we head to the War Room to confirm our participation. Her dialog is starting to repeat itself a bit… but given her situation, I can understand that she hasn’t settled down inside.
ISDF is already on to Nodens with an inspection planned later today. Seeing that we’re on board, Allie and Julietta reveal one of their key posessions: Specimen from the 1st True Dragon, Iod. According to them, Iod is the one who appeared on Earth forty million years ago and planted “the Seed of Life”. Basically, all life on Earth can be traced back to Iod. If I’ve seen Evangelion, I’d be making jokes by now.
Another True Dragon specimen, belonging to Fomalhaut, is apparently in ISDF’s posession. Locations of the remaining four are yet unknown – and that’s where our team comes in. Allie decides to call us “Unit 13” after the ~legendary~ team. [Adjusts collar.] This is some serious deja vu, though in a good way. Also, I find it a bit funny that Julietta considers a name containing the number 13 to “carry good luck”, but hey, I get ya, dude.
Now that we’re officially part of Nodens, Nagamimi drags us all over to various facilities. There’s the quintessential item store; we’ll be able to do quests later. And construction of new floors can be done with Dz, a special currency gained from slaying Dragons. Don’t ask me how Dragon samples help in construction though; for all I know, Dragon sweat probably makes a great varnish. It’s like Dragons would be great material farms if they weren’t trying to kill us.
Next stop is R&D, where Julietta works. A guy there gives us shots of… I don’t know – “Dragon juice” is my guess. What it does is unlock the ability to earn and spend SP to develop various skills. The system is exactly the same as in 2020, and once again, I am so happy to see it intact. One of the major reasons I took to 2020 so well was because its skill system isn’t bound by a tree of complicated requirements and limited room for experimentation like its older sibling series Etrian Odyssey, or even the very first 7th Dragon.
Finally, we head to the Portal room, where the time machine is. How did they get a time machine? Eh, Julietta whipped it up because he’s a scientist; no biggie. The IMPORTANT thing is that we’re going to the past as well as the future to get the remaining True samples, since they’re not present in our present era. …How they intend to change the present by tinkering with the future, I don’t know. We’ll find out eventually, I guess.
For now, our destination is the Kingdom of Atlantis; specifically, the capital Atlantica. …Which, I assume, has seen better days, because the city is in shambles and there’s Dragonsbane all over. It’s inhabited by a race called Lucier, who sport pointy ears. Well, males sport pointy ears, while females sport Nekomimi – because of course women get the Nekomimi. That doesn’t quite fit with Allie’s ears though. Hmm.
The whole area start shaking suddenly and the temporal Wi-Fi goes wonky. We get a first glimpse of the Queen of Atlantis, Ulania, and her Consul, Tallieri. According to Ulania, the earthquake means another “Star Crystal” has fallen. Once we’re back online, Nagamimi tells us that the earthquake is caused by our target: 3rd True Dragon Nyala. Nyala was also responsible for the 2020 Calamity, meaning the Lucier lost their battle in this time period – though not without dealing some damage to it. But what we need is specimen from a mint-condition Nyala – not roughhoused.
We also unlock Field Skills: Kinda like a smaller extra stash of basic items, except they can’t be replenished at the store. That’s what the upcoming Dormitory is for, and we need 3 Dz to build it. (Though the infirmary can serve that purpose for the time being.)
The city guards are understandably on edge and we got into a scuffle with them. Seeing as no reinforcements come after we knocked the current ones out, I’ll take that as a sign that the city is running dangerously low on manpower on top of being in really bad shape.
Further in, we save a girl being harassed by monsters, despite Nagamimi telling us to ignore it. The girl, Milra, gets reunited with her grandma – who, upon hearing that we’re here to hunt Nyala, tells us the situation. Their king, Utrello, has died fighting Nyala, and their numbers have been dwindling ever since. As a last resort, Counsul Tallieri is planning to destroy their kingdom’s Star Crystals, which will sink all of Atlantis and take Nyala along with it. She doesn’t want us to interfere, as may of the citizenry have already resigned to their fate. Nagamimi agrees with her… but of course he can’t presuade us. And wouldn’t you know it, we soon run into people we can rescue and send back to Tokyo – despite Julietta’s explicit instructions not to. Because when has breaking temporal continuity ever resulted in shenanigans?
After beating the first Dragon in the area, we get a closer look at a floating rock of pure Orichalcum, but get interrupted by the Consul and the Queen arriving and telling us to stop touching it. The rock is one of those aforementioned Star Crystals, and it’s slated for destruction like all others. We ask the Consul to reconsider the self-destruct plan, which he’s staunchly unwilling to, but the Queen is willing to have a chat. She asks us about our land, talks about how she wish she could show the city at its best – not really a serious talk, but the love she has for her country and her will to live are quite obvious. Unfortunately, she’s also under pressure because they’re out of alternatives and time is running out before Nyala could escape to the rest of the world. And she’s not gonna let that happen after her father, the late King, has already died trying.
So… that was depressing. Nagamimi tries to “console” us by reminding that fall of Atlantis is established history as far as we’re concerned.
After two more dead Dragons, we prepare to head back, but not before unexpected visitors. Somehow, Yuma and Yorimoto have dropped into Atlantis – which means they must have come through the Portal. They’re not doing anything here yet though.
Upon return, it turns out that ISDF is already snooping into Nodens’ plans, particularly the Dragon Chronicle. I would say that makes them suspicious, but honestly, Nodens isn’t anywhere near peachy-keen either.
We see Julietta and Allie with Yuma and Yorimoto in the conference room. They’re currently in the middle of a “negotiation”, but neither side is succeeding in hiding the hostility. Yorimoto demands that 1st Dragon Iod’s sample be transferred to them and Nodens cease dragon hunting and time-traveling; Julietta is obviously having none of that. The atmostphere stays barely civil because of Yuma and Allie, but even then, it’s obvious that they’re only putting up a friendly front – which is actually more unsettling than Julietta and Yorimoto’s overt friction. Hell, Julietta even threatens to sic us on the other two – which I am tremendously grateful for not happening, because I’ve already seen Yuma take out a High Dragon in one punch just yesterday.
Anyway, Allie makes the sole counter-proposal: They’ll hand over Iod’s sample only if ISDF hands over their Fomalhaut sample. Yorimoto says he’ll ask for ISDF’s decision, and leaves.
Julietta isn’t counting on ISDF agreeing, because according to him, the ISDF Commander, Akutsu, is a “cold and calculating man”. (Unlike the open and friendly Nodens, I’m sure. No, the touchy-feely stuff don’t count.) Allie suspects that they’ll want control of the portals too.
Dialog choice: “Their strength will help us.” or “I’d rather not be watched.” Hmm… My trope senses suggest that the two groups might end up working together down the line after a huge disastrous event anyway. But in the meantime… I’m already working with a shady organization and I don’t want another one in the picture if I can help it. Both Julietta and Allie obviously agree. Also: Why do I have the feeling that Allie would “taste” Yuma if she could?
Well, that’s done with for now, so next stop: the Dormitory. But first, there’s a guest for us at the entrance, according to Nagamimi. Oh~ I know who came back after running away~~~ And Julietta makes a joke about my character having some “fun time” with her in my room. Dude, stop being creepy (again). She’s… well, I don’t know how old Mio is, but she looks underage enough. And I don’t even know how old I’m supposed to be! …And wait, I’ve been playing as a strictly female team, so does that mean my character is a lesbian? Also, “me” in the context of the game is a team of three people, so… does that make “me” being with Mio actually a four-OKAY, MOVING ON.
Dialog choice: I could tell Mio “I’m fine.” or ask “Are you worried about me?” Going with the latter, because it’s more interesting to ask her what she feels. She says yes, and seeing us makes her want to help too, so she brought some medicine from “her grandfather’s clinic” – in green text, which means it’ll come up again later. She even gently applies it on my wounds because she “doesn’t want to leave scars”. Girl, you are just asking for a ship, aren’t you?
Mio asks me if I’m gonna continue working here after all the injuries I’ve been supposedly getting. (Can’t help feeling like there’s a discrepancy here. The game’s mechanics show me being perfectly okay; the narrative implies I’ve been getting by, but not without some minor damage. Although that could also be Mio being a worrywart because she’s so fragile herself.) Dialog choice: “That’s my decision.” and “I want to protect everyone.” – the first one sounds kinda cold, so going with the latter. This seems to have inspired Mio a bit – about how I “do things in a way that only [I] can”.
Anyway! Finally time to check out the new Rest Floor at 4F. On the right is a terrace with a blue save point, so I’m assuming it’ll be a boss battlefield later in the game. What’s neat about our dorm is that I can see my team’s non-leader characters lounging around; not that they have anything special to say, but hey, it’s still nice to see the game try to create a semblance of atmosphere using characters otherwise strictly exist for gameplay. Lastly, there are a couple of lunchboxes on the table; apprently, Allie makes good food and Nagamimi sucks at it. How much? His Low-Grade Bento recovers 1 HP to 1 member while Allie’s Handmade Bento heals 60 for everybody.
Yorimoto and Yuma report to their Commander Akutsu, who’s sporting a face so lime-suckingly frowny that even Grumpy Cat would get jealous. (Alternatively, he looks like a square-jawed bulldog with spiky hair.) As expected, he’s not taking Nodens’ counter-proposal well, and he wasn’t expecting them to have time-travel technology either. He asks Yuma about report on “those ruins” (Atlantica, or something else?) and wants to be ready for “3rd Invasion of Tokyo” before… something that he and Yuma both know begins. In any case, he assigns both Yorimoto and Yuma to get a sample of Nyala tomorrow, even if they have to hand over the Fomalhaut specimen for portal access.
Once Akutsu leaves, Yorimoto and Yuma talk a little bit. Yuma is surprised by our drastic leap in combat ability – must be all the SP we’ve been downing – which surprises Yori because Yuma usually doesn’t show interest in others. They also show signs of friendly concern over each other.