Summary: We recover the Ether Cylinders after taking care of the defence system, watch in shock as Colony 9 comes under heavy fire and vanquish an old friend.
TW: Images of bugs.
Location: Mag Mell Ruins
I had accumulated some unspent AP and SP following the last part, so after quickly dispatching the Mell Lizards that respawned after loading up my save file I get a couple of new things. Fiora gets Screw Edge III and Power Smash II (Damage), Reyn gets Guardshift II and Shulk gets nothing as I'm saving his AP for Light Heal IV. He has learnt Healing Wisdom (15% bonus to healing) though, and I leave him in that skill tree.
Location: Cylinder Hanger (Colony 9)
That was... quick. I'm already at my destination but there's a lot more to see in the Tephra Caves/Mag Mell Ruins. The map not only indicates unexplored areas, but it has several floors to it as well.
I know I've shown similar views before, and my capture software isn't the best at translating how great this looks, but this is my best vantage point yet, so I get in all of Colony 9 and its Anti-Air Batteries. Everyone is in various outfits of blue with all the equipment changes I've made. Wonder if the best equipment for each person will look like their respective starting gear?
The Cylinder Hanger is exactly what you'd expect, a large repository of spare Ether Cylinders. I thought for a moment they may have been stored here, but Shulk remarks that while the Homs have the ability to manufacture them, its not always successful, making it useful to have this place. The Homs lack of ability to quickly produce fully functional cylinders, leading to them scavenging these ones, is something I think they'll come to regret. Also, Cylinderisation is a terrible word.
I'd guess these are from the vehicle that is the Mag Mell Ruins, but considering it's a different location (by the in-game map and my sense of the physicality of this place) I'm not so sure. I don't have any better ideas for who installed and left this place here though so maybe it's a storage area that's just more easily accessible from the outside?
Very few Ether Cylinders have been taken. It feels like much more should have been used by now.
And why is that? It's already clear that, assuming you can bypass the monsters (it is also a Defense Force training area, so it's fair to say yes), then how are there so many left? Was this place only recently discovered? Was my interpretation of what Shulk said earlier wrong, and that this place is more of a last resort as they can and therefore prefer to make their own? Is it difficult to reach (factoring in gameplay and story segregation)? Is someone or something restocking it? That last one was totally not serious by the way.
Shulk: "But I'll solve it one day and show you. If it's just technology that someone created in the past, it's not incomprehensible."
It's strange that these Ether Cylinders would work having been here for so many years. Shulk also says they are likely from an ancient civilisation which I find surprising for two reasons. Firstly, I had assumed the Homs were among the first technologically advanced lifeforms to evolve on the Bionis, even if nearly every RPG under the sun has tropes of this sort.
My second is answered by another of Shulk's theories, namely, he thinks this place has been maintaining itself (which I'll choose to believe) even though he offers little to no explanation of why (beyond what I can see with my eyes). Maybe I'm used to my main protagonist in games being the audience surrogate, but it's a little annoying how much Shulk knows that I simply can't know at this point?
It also brings me to question how the Hom technology we know was derived. Given that these Ether Cylinders left in the Mag Mell Ruins function perfectly with the current tech, I'd have to guess most of it has been reverse-engineered from places like the Ruins (assuming there are other similar sites).
My thoughts are interrupted by a boss fight.
Or not. They go down very easily. But why did they activate at this time? I have a bad feeling about this.
There's a small debate about whether these devices could be Mechon in origin but I beat Shulk to the punch this time. We could damage them, so it's much more likely they were part of the vehicle.
And then everything goes wrong.
- There's a deep rumbling noise that puts everyone on edge.
- There's a really sleek looking fighter and some larger carriers, all full of Mechon.
- Fiora: "Didn't my brother destroy them all a year ago?"
- In-universe or out, I didn't believe for one second all the Mechon were gone. It's interesting that the Homs do.
- I need to head back to Colony 9 and I'm given the option to save. That's never a good sign.
Thoughts on events in video:
- Got to say, I'm really worried for the people of Colony 9. These are terrible odds.
- Vangarre's command ability and decisions build back some of my respect for him.
- Vangarre: "We got it!" Even knowing what I know of the ways to damage Mechon, I would have been dubious at this remark.
- That said, it looked like the fighter protected the carrier, so maybe excessive force can damage Mechon?
- It's transforming?!
- That... that looks an awful lot like the thing that was attacking what I thought was Colony 9 in Shulk's vision. Especially the claws.
- So one of the Monado's powers is premonitions? What power doesn't it have?!
- Dunban! Can he save the day?
There's a H2H just outside the Cylinder Hanger that I didn't try before getting pulled into battle. Turns out I can't do it anyway, though I'm okay with that, it would have broken the tense mood somewhat. What does do that though is having to go back into the Mag Mell Ruins to reach Colony 9. The music playing in the video continued as the area theme, but changing areas set it back to the default, which I think was a mistake as a lot of the tension from the scenes is lost.
Location: Mag Mell Ruins and Tephra Caves
As I'm forced to come back this way I give the Cellar Bugworm another attempt.
It goes a lot smoother this time, which I think I can partially put down to letting Reyn be AI controlled. I also get off Fiora's Hidden Thorn art a few times, which dazes the Bugworm and keeps him completely out of commission for a bit. I also use another Chain Attack and this time I get the opportunity to use B to get an extra set of attacks. Or so I thought. I don't know if I do something wrong but only Fiora gets to use another art.
I use the drops from the Bugworm and other enemies to reequip Fiora again, and as well as wearing a fully matching set of clothing there are some irremovable Ether Gems so she gets a few boosts now too. I upgrade Hidden Thorn to second level seeing as how useful it was, Shulk finally has enough AP for Light Heal IV and Reyn gets Wild Down II (Topple on enemy suffering from Break, leads to Daze).
I'll need a skill book to improve Light Heal further, and regardless of the current state of Colony 9, I don't recall that being one of the book's being sold there. Fiora gained enough SP for Desperate Daggers (Counter Rate Up 15%), so I move her to Daring to work on Battle Stance (30 sec start of battle Strength buff).
Next time: Stopping the Mechon assault on Colony 9!