Xenosaga Episode III Part 14: Blood, Gnosis, and Tears

Previously on Xenosaga: It only took three games, but a Testament has been defeated! Granted, he was taken down by ghost hugs, but I’m still counting this as a win for the team. Go team! Now let’s go rescue Shion. Again.

Picking up seconds after we left off last update, Kiddy Shion has run off into a building filled with medical experiments, berserk robots, and the occasional insane soldier. I’m sure she’ll be fine.

So, finally, after two visits to the Labyrinthos basement, we’re allowed to explore the Acute Neurosis Treatment Facility again. The elevators are broken, however, so we’re going to have to use the stairs.

We’re at 11:27, and we may explore this lobby again for the last time. There are more corpses now than there used to be.

The stairwell is the only way to go. Hm, I wonder if detonating the entrance to the fire exit is a fire hazard.

For every bit of this update, note that Kiddy Shion somehow beat us to the top floor despite… everything.

For instance, there’s a raging fire up the first set of stairs, and we have to blast a nearby water main to proceed. I guess Kiddy Shion… jumped?

ANTF is now an official dungeon, filled with mutant monsters and berserk Realians. The Realian Justice Warriors are not remotely conflicted.

Second floor! We never got to visit this floor during peaceful times.

It… looks about like the other floors.

You may blast a chandelier in the middle of the room to cause a treasure chest from the third floor to come tumbling down…

With a Realian fight. Nothing complicated, particularly given it’s like the second battle in this dungeon.

Here’s Loria. She was on the fifth floor before, but now she’s on the more easily accessible second floor. If you found all the Federal Reports, she’ll trade for a door decoder. This will also allow you to look at the Federal Reports later, assuming you swing by Assistant Scott’s terminal on the Elsa.

And the matching red segment door is like five feet away. There’s a Ring of Coercion in there. It’s not that exciting.

Here’s the first of those weird “how to avoid battles in a JRPG” puzzles for this area.

There are a large number of Realians in this area, and, if you talk to the NPCs in the previous room, you’ll hear that there’s an anti-Realian drug in the overturned locker in the debris. If you destroy that locker first, it will freeze all the monsters in place, and you may leisurely stroll through the field of immobilized enemies. If you destroy any other block first, though, you’ll be assaulted by encroaching robots. Either way, these are just basic enemies, so it’s not like “failing” has a particularly bad outcome, and, if you avoid the Realians, you don’t get any sweet, sweet EXP. It’s not like you’re ever more than five minutes from a save point in XS3, anyway…

The next room features Rosley, who must be saved from a Realian. After the Realian is defeated, Rosley recommends you check the nearby console.

This is related to the second “maybe avoid battles” puzzle. There are a list of Realians that are not berserk listed here, and, if you want to play “right”, get out your official Xenosaga notebook and jot down the serial numbers of friendly Realians. It will come in handy shortly.

Also, you may “watch news footage of the invasion”, which is actually a reused video from the start of XS2, sans narration. Cute.

Done with Floor 2, moving on.

Floor 3 appears to have a collapsed entrance on both sides, so no Floor 3 for you. Dear XS3, why make a five floor facility if you never get to visit one of those floors? Was it simply to have that collapsing ceiling bit a few images ago?

So Floor 4 it is. This was the floor with Kevin and Mizrahi’s labs, if you recall.

“Except staff has run away screaming, so maybe some kindly heroes from the future will handle it.”

Here’s the other side of the Realian “puzzle”. Each of these tubes is holding a Realian, and each tube is clearly labeled. If the serial number matches a friendly number from that console earlier, you’ll be freeing a gracious Realian that will provide an item or cash. If you blast the wrong tube, though…

Battle time! Again, these battles aren’t that hard, and EXP/money/item rewards are usually worth your wasted time/HP.

If you stick to the proper serial numbers, you’ll be able to free the entire Funky Bunch.

You have to blast at least a few Realian tubes to make progress, and then it’s time for a hallway that has seen better days.

There’s a man being attacked by Realians in one of the southern rooms. You’re told to use the foot switch, but good luck finding it!

Here it is.

Save the man, and you’ll find the treasure chest that was inaccessible on your first trip through the area. This hides the all important Decoder 05, which will unlock the golden door in the basement. You can probably scoot down there now, but that would make Shion a poor babysitter. Well, poorer.

Kevin’s room just holds abominations now. Well, abominations he has nothing to do with, at least.

And Mizrahi’s office is similarly devoid of friendly life.

Last stop on Floor 4 and… hey, man, are you okay? Realians aren’t fireproof, are they?

Better hit that nearby sprinkler switch.

Could have fooled me.

Intermission! Mizrahi and Sellers are having a candid discussion on the nature of destroying an entire planet.

Song of Nephilim is killing everyone and everything. Got it.

“I don’t care if you kill everybody, but you’re getting the science wrong!”

“Oh bother, why did I have to build so many doomsday devices?”

“We’re already launching our Singy Death Pyramid, so shut-up, old man.”

Meanwhile, Suou Uzuki rushes to his wife’s side.

Suou seems to be concerned that the Federation is going to blanket kill all the test subjects or something. Oh, Suou, what you should really be worrying about…

Again, Kiddy Shion has some kind of teleportation ability. Or she’s fireproof? Maybe she made it through the ductwork? I don’t know.

“Dammit! I knew I shouldn’t have trusted that random spy I just met to babysit my daughter!”

Even better, an Asura series Realian is sneaking up on Kiddy Shion.

So Suou shoves Shion into Mama’s room. She’ll be safe there… right?

Safe, though maybe not happy.

Suou tries to call for reinforcements… or at least some better childcare.

“Things are getting… dicey.”

Suou is interrupted when the creature with swords for arms does exactly what you’d expect a creature with swords for arms to do.

Daddy is getting stabbed right now, sweetie, he’ll be with you in a minute.

Suou Uzuki is done, folks. As you might expect, this is a little bloodier in the Japanese version. We’ll be looking at that more, soon.

Hey, Shion, don’t worry, maybe it’s just a flesh wound.

Or… not.

Kiddy Shion hides under her mother’s hospital bed. Probably a good plan.

Except it might have gotten her mother killed. There isn’t much data on how the Asuras “work”, but if they’re trying to get at Shion “through” Mama Uzuki, then Shion just inadvertently turned her mother into a pincushion. Just throwing that out there to add a little extra horror to the situation.

But I guess Kiddy Shion is safe under the bed for now. We still have a floor to go.

If you’re a complete monster and backtrack a bit, you’ll find an ES treasure. Kiddy Shion cowering in fear, Adult Shion leisurely exploring the area.

Random doomed NPC to fill in the details on the Asuras in case you missed all that foreshadowing earlier.

Floor 5, last stop.

Random monsters bust through a previously sealed door. Guys! We’re in a hurry!

There’s that elevator again. Almost there.

Shion, use your Level 2 Special and clear these hallways. We’ve got places to be!

That dude that claimed he’d stop us from blowing up anything in this room is dead now.

Long live blasting random consoles for treasure!

In case you missed it on your last trip, there is now a doomed NPC noting the console with Mai’s Dad’s information. Remind me to swing by and talk to Mai after the planet has exploded. Wait….

Here we are, our one stop shop for repressed memories. Yes, this area deliberately recalls the “horror” camera angles of the original flashback during XS1, even if the geography is a little off.

“Lotta blood… that… uh… is invisible right now.”

Okay! Good! One less corpse!

Shion rushes into her mom’s treatment room.

And finds her mom resting peacefully. Uh… we’ll look at the other version in a moment.

This enrages Shion, so it’s time for…

Coach McGuirk! I mean… a boss fight!

The real “combat finale” of Act 2 was Virgil, and this is more or less just a cathartic fight for our heroine. Three Asura units attack, and they’re not all that difficult, just very likely to drain your break gauge.

They’re not very strong, so I guess using area attacks will win the day. Beam attacks are good, so KOS-MOS is probably going to be your MVP.

Because they’re prone to revenge and BP attacks, you might want to kill them one at a time to reduce strain on the party. I guess it’s your choice, but, while this battle is likely to be annoying (being broken is never fun), you’re not likely to lose.

I think it’s supposed to be ironic that they drop Med Kits upon defeat. You can’t use a Med Kit with sword arms!

Alright, let’s get this update rated T for Teen. Here’s the scene after the defeat of the Asuras. The top frame is captured by yours truly, the bottom one belongs to the original Japanese version (which was helpfully uploaded to Youtube [I put the link to the source video in the FAQ]). As you can see, in the original version of this scene, it’s a lot more evident what happened here.

Lot more evident.

Also rougher on the linens.

Shion is just as sad in both versions.

Here’s where it gets goofy. Kiddy Shion is in shock, and trying to “put back” Mama’s blood. In the Japanese version, it’s clear what is happening, in the censored version… this doesn’t make a bit of sense. Seriously, this must have been some zero hour editing, because there is no attempt at making this comprehensible and conforming to the “no blood” rule.

Still pretty sad, though.

Also completely absent: Shion kind of goes into (more?) shock at Future Jin’s prodding, and “drops” her handful of blood. It’s disturbing in the original, and, in the American version, it’s just a shot of her knees with absolutely zero context.

And, as Shion freaks out and rejects the reality of her situation, you can see she’s basically kneeling in a pool of blood in some versions.

Anyway, that’s about it for the edits for this scene. There will be more in later updates.

So the Zohar, deep within Labyrinthos, reacts to Kiddy Shion’s issues.

And here come the gnosis!

Kiddy Shion kinda freezes in her freakout pose, while the party is left to wonder what happened.

There are gnosis abound, so, KOS-MOS, do your thing.

This is like the third least impossible thing that has happened today, Shion.

Jin tries to calm his sister. There’s a distinct reason for that…

And she’s standing over there.

There it is! It wasn’t Mizrahi. It wasn’t The Song of Nephilim. It wasn’t U-TIC or Ormus or any of those. It was Shion, our heroine, that called the gnosis into the universe. Kiddy Shion freaked out so thoroughly at the death of her parents that she resonated with the Zohar and ripped a hole in time and space. Way to go, Shion.

Whoops!

Shion takes it all as well as you’d expect.

Hey, wait a minute, if Kiddy Shion was able to so thoroughly trash all of space with one freakout, what happens if Adult Shion joins in the fun?

Not like she was having a good day before she found out she was inadvertently responsible for millions of deaths across the universe…

Double whoops!

And the payoff! The Double Shion Freakout™ summons the biggest gnosis of them all: Abel’s Ark. If you squint, you can see little tiny Old Miltia there in the center. Abel’s Ark is big, ya’ll.

Well duh.

The party, I guess, just knows Abel’s Ark appeared? Like, they can see it, but they should be able to see it in the same way an ant perceives a monster truck. Whatever. The party needs to catch up to the plot sooner than later anyway.

And, yes, we never really went back in time. This whole time we’ve been in a simulation, like when we dove into KOS-MOS’s subconscious during XS1, or MOMO’s during XS2. Though chaos does note that whoever put this all together tapped into the subconsciouses of everyone that was on Miltia, so I guess that explains why we got to see stuff that Shion would have had no way of knowing. There, plot hole filled.

And then we’ve got a villain to fill in the rest of the details.

“One Shion screwed up the universe but good. So we figured, hey, why not try for two?”

“Way to break the universe and not even remember it, hero.”

Bum bum bum!

That’s Allen speaking, possibly the only other party member that would recognize Kevin on sight. Jin is debatable, as, ya know, Shion isn’t likely to bring any dates home to her doofy brother.

This update is going to be long enough as is, but Junior follows this up with the complete non sequitur, “He was Shion’s boyfriend?” I like that Junior has been maybe trying to suss out Shion lore for the last year.

“And Testaments are bad… right?”

Burying the lead there, Kevin.

“Could have saved me a few therapy bills, you jerk.”

“My HP stat was atrocious. One KOS-MOS attack killed me? I needed a boost.”

“I noticed that your younger self was kind of a dick. And worked for U-TIC. And destroyed my home planet. You never mentioned this when we were dating.”

“It seemed like the thing to do.”

… Seriously? Shion, you’re not buying this, are you? Shion… why are you walking over to him? Shion?

I do like that it’s Junior that leaps to defend Shion, and not Kevin’s (albeit hapless) romantic rival.

Do good guys ever say, “Silence”?

“Great, now I’ve got to deal with my girlfriend’s overprotective brother. Put down the sword, dude.”

Bum bum… Wait, we already figured this out like two updates ago.

That was already assumed!

Ah, an explanation…. Wait! We knew this, too! From when Shion looked at the Mizrahi data and… okay, for anyone that missed it the first time: there are people that resonate with the Zohar, and they can talk to U-DO. This is, basically, exactly why Kiddy Shion could “summon” the gnosis, she told God everything was not okay, and God was like, “Sure, okay, would some unspeakable salt monsters help?”

But bad news: talking to God leads to death. Prayer kills!

Allen believes that everyone would be fine if jerkass scientists didn’t keep prodding people like Shion’s mom into communicating with U-DO.

But Junior, U-DO expert (remember, he was literally born to kill U-DO), points out that you can’t escape an omnipotent god.

So there ya go, Kevin sided with Team Badguy to get the necessary power/information to save his fiancée. … That story check out?

This tale does probably hold a little more impact being given over Coma Mom’s corpse.

Oh, btw, KOS-MOS is old news. T-elos is where it’s at.

KOS-MOS is U-DO powered? You’d think someone would have noticed that.

This means…

“KOS-MOS… is shortening Chief’s life span?”

Hey, KOS-MOS killed Kevin, too, and he turned out okay.

“Step away from the robot.”

Kevin is a lot more in touch with his feelings than other Testaments.

Less likely to use the ol’ telekinetic choke, too.

“I understand. It’s all right. I’m right here with you.”

Kevin claims to be “right here with you.” Where have I heard that before?

Shion admits that she’s happy Kevin is alive. She had issues with that about an hour ago.

Kevin, you’re starting to sound creepy. The cloak isn’t helping.

Jin has had enough of this.

“Shion, you’re an adult, but I don’t trust you to make the right decision because you never have in your entire life.”

“Probably something to do with everyone we’ve ever seen wearing a cloak like that trying to kill us.”

“I never liked you.”

Shion literally pleads with her brother to stop.

Jin makes a good point. Most people don’t die and come back to life after… Uh… sorry Ziggy.

“And he’s probably immortal now, which is a plus.”

The Brews are having a bit of a… personnel problem.

Jin’s solution is to get KOS-MOS to get Shion the hell out of here.

“Come on. Yoo-hoo. Come ‘ere, girl.”

Not helping, Allen!

Kevin tries to command KOS-MOS, but it doesn’t take.

“Whom you may have killed at least once?”

And KOS-MOS reveals that, thanks to her destruction and reassembly, she is now a product of Allen and Shion, and not beholden to any Kevin protocols. She, unfortunately, does not mention Professor or Assistant Scott at all. No respect…

I build the robots around here!”

“Your parents’ corpses are starting to stink.”

“Waahhh!”

So KOS-MOS knocks Shion out, ostensibly for her own good. Nobody respects Shion’s opinion at this point.

And then KOS-MOS crashes through a window to escape. For the record, she could have easily shot the window first, then jumped, but, ya know, whatever. Broken glass never hurt anybody.

And she summons her rad space coffin motorcycle. Now available as a model kit!

Away she goes!

T-elos moving to intercept.

But she’s momentarily sidetracked by Past ES Asher. For anyone keeping track of the timeline, this is the Asher either just about to or just after picking up Junior and Gaignun. Also, I guess this whole fake past simulation thingy is still running.

T-elos gives up pursuit, because at least one robot around here follows orders.

And KOS-MOS escapes with unconscious Shion. Hey, I think this means KOS-MOS won one! KOS-MOS: 1, T-elos: 2. Catching up!

I guess the crew of the Elsa got bored and decided to swing by and see how the party was doing.

Good thing, too!

KOS-MOS requesting permission to make a super cool landing.

Permission granted.

“Go pick ‘em up. I’ve gotta get this girl to bed. She’s had a busy day.”

Again, “the past” is still “running”, so the air is a chaotic mess of gnosis, AMWS, and escape ships.

And, hey, since someone left this simulation running, let’s take one last look at Mizrahi and Sellers.

It was mentioned in the Canaan data, but here’s the proof: Mizrahi dropped Old Miltia into the double black hole because he felt he had to seal the Zohar. Remember, half the reason he did this was because, essentially, one little girl resonated with the damn thing and nearly destroyed the universe.

Sellers blames the whole thing on Mizrahi being a sentimental old fool.

But Joachim is kind of okay with MOMO being born in Sakura’s place. He’s doing this so she has a world that isn’t completely gnosis bait.

Sellers… does not agree.

So Mizrahi busts a cap in his kneecaps. And that’s the story of why Sellers needs a hoverchair in the future. Thanks for watching!

Mizrahi walks off, and, according to Xenosaga DS, Sellers somehow gets over to the Song of Nephilim in time for its launch. Uh… I guess he rolled there?

So here we are with Mizrahi where we first saw him in XS1: Up on top of Labyrinthos…

… Surveying the damage he helped wrought.

And then he starts ranting and quoting the Bible. It kind of makes a little more sense “in context” now, as he’s convinced he brought about the end of this world, so may as well dip into the Revelations.

Then he quietly laments that he won’t go to Heaven with Sakura. Poor ol’ mad scientist.

And explosion. Guess his death wasn’t a complete suicide?

And as he plummets to his death, he apologizes to his wife, and asks that she look after MOMO. Don’t worry, she’ll come around to that idea in a good fourteen years or so.

“MOMO, I just saw your dad fall off the building. I think that means it’s time to go.”

To be clear, they’re talking about Kiddy Shion here, who is still frozen like a statue. Also, reminder, chaos just said this whole thing was a simulation like five minutes ago.

But some rubble falls, and Kiddy Shion is stuck aaaaaaaall the waaaaaaay over there.

Don’t worry, you can just about see Past Jin drop in to rescue Kiddy Shion. Guess this means that Jin has known Shion was responsible for some freaky nonsense for the last fifteen years, but didn’t bring it up. I’m starting to see Shion’s problem with the guy…

But who cares, our ride is here.

And the Elsa escapes, party in tow, just ahead of The Song of Nephilim launching into space.

Then Abel’s Ark starts glowing like crazy, and it all goes dark.

Meanwhile, back at Bad Guy HQ, everything is going according to plan, again.

Once again, we get references to the Vessels of Anima being divided long ago. Guess Margulis’s villainous religion was on the right track.

Gotta catch all the Vessels of Animas and Zohar. Got it.

And that’s the end of the chapter, folks. If you’re paying attention to such things, the last chapter ended with Shion’s capture, so this entire chapter was chasing Shions of one age or another. Guess it’s appropriate that she got the chapter pinup. Chapter 6 also ended at 9:49, so you can probably guess why this chapter was three different updates.

It’s also the end of Disc 1, so let’s talk about what just happened during the disc swap.

As mentioned at the end of Act 1, Xenosaga Episode 3 follows the three act structure, and this marks the end of Act 2. This doesn’t mean Act 2 actually belongs in this game…

Starting with Chapter 4 (Part 8 of this LP), Shion and the gang have been stuck back in time. Specifically, this entire act explores primarily Shion’s past (it’s also Jin, chaos, and Junior’s past, but they’re predominantly ignored) with a sprinkling of Virgil and Feb in there, too. This is highly unusual for Xenosaga as, if you noticed, there was only one cutaway to “what else is going on” (specifically, it was the entirely perfunctory look at Mary and Shelley saying “hey, where’d they go?” aboard the Durandal). Considering the first act spent all its time setting up four separate rival factions (Scientia, Federation/Yuriev, U-TIC/Ormus/Margulis, and Wilhelm/Vector), it’s downright odd that we get a second act that ignores pretty much all of that. Margulis, for instance, appears during this section, but it’s exclusively to give more context to the past/XS1&2 events.

Which is probably the weirdest part of this whole bit: it’s all stuff we’ve seen before. Okay, maybe we haven’t seen it specifically before, but it was all stuff that could easily be inferred by the earlier episodes. Margulis and U-TIC framed Mizrahi for the fall of Old Miltia. Kevin was Mizrahi’s apprentice. Feb and Virgil had a loving relationship. The Miltian Conflict was a bad time for everybody. This is all data we already learned from earlier episodes (some of it going all the way back to the beginning of XS1), simply reiterated or elaborated upon here.

And Shion is, as ever, the crux of all this. We already knew, with absolute certainty, that Shion watched her parents and Feb die. But here we have an entire act that serves only to make that traumatic experience that much worse… except… it kinda doesn’t work. Aoi Uzuki, Shion’s mother, is a vegetable through this entire area, so, uh, it’s kind of hard to feel bad for the death of a woman that has exactly the same number of lines as Shion’s beloved flowers. And then there’s Suou, who was granted a potentially malevolent backstory during A Missing Year, spends 80% of his day being a rotten monster, and then, at the last minute, reveals that he was a good guy all along because he was trying to save his family (through, ya know, being a jackass). It sucks when he dies, but, man, I’m pretty sure I felt worse about his death when he was just “khaki dad”. Now, especially considering he was involved in the development of the very creatures that killed him, it seems like a “deserved”, comeuppance death. Way to dull the impact, Xenosaga.

Now, this isn’t to say this entire area is a wash. The Miltian Conflict is a watershed moment for the entire Xenosaga galaxy, and getting to experience it firsthand is a fun time for everybody. And, like many sci-fi nerds, I’m a giant time travel geek, and going back to hang out with a doomed population is always entertaining (see also: Legend of Legaia). At no point in playing this area did I ever feel like it was an enormous waste (like, say, exploring a certain giant gnosis riddled with Cherenkov backstory), and the dungeons and town of this world are actually better than most XS areas.

But it’s still a very odd choice for the second act of the final chapter in a series. All the setup from the first act is completely ignored, and everything focuses on KOS-MOS and Shion. Yes, they’re the main characters, but Xenosaga has been juggling a hefty number of character/plot balls since the moment the Woglinde crashed. If you go back and look at “Memory Lane”, the similar Encephalon dive from XS1, you’ll see that that Miltian Conflict also focused on Junior and MOMO… who are generally ignored here. Yes Junior and MOMO had their share of the focus during XS2, but, come on, it’s not like Junior’s damn family isn’t going to be the very next threat to the universe.

So, in short, Xenosaga Episode 3: Act 2 is an intimate look at one character’s past while every other character hangs out wondering when they’ll get a turn. Guess we’re going to have to wait for Act 3 for that…

And now for a bit of out-of-continuity housecleaning. As I’ve mentioned before, you may return to Old Miltia via the UMN at any point in the future (well, any point that isn’t in the middle of fifteen minute cutscenes). As you can see, you may then swing by any location with impunity.

We didn’t have time to stop by the mine in all that insanity, so let’s tell Mai what happened to her dad.

She takes the information well, and forks over a decoder key for the info. She vows to return the mine to its former glory in the remaining ten minutes that this planet exists.

Incidentally, there’s something deeply tragic about Mai and her grandfather hanging out at the mine entrance. They’re likely far enough from the city to avoid to all the carnage and berserk creatures running about, but they’re going to be rudely sucked into a black hole in all of a few moments. Kind of a terrible way to end your day.

But in happier news, we now have Decoder #5, so we can hit the Labyrinthos basement for the next Erde Kaiser summon, Erde Kaiser Fury.

Erde Kaiser Fury returns in his Type A form to deliver righteous ice attacks. Again, he’s not nearly as powerful as his previous appearance, and works basically like a slightly more powerful “Ice 2” spell.

Here is the skinny on Erde Kaiser Fury from Professor’s computer console.

And while we’re here, let’s look at those Federal Reports…

Turns out all the Federal Reports were written by Past Jin, and they’re basically Easter eggs on “what did Jin think of Old Miltia”. There really isn’t any new information here, but it’s cute to learn exactly what Jin thought of the various goings on of the past. It’s a neat way to cram one more perspective into this story.

And, since much of this update was kind of a downer, here’s one last look at the best relationship in this franchise. Assistant Scott believes in Allen forever!

Next time on Xenosaga: Oh fiddlesticks, now we have to catch up on what every stupid faction has been doing in the present.

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