The sixth floor is a relatively simple one, a few side paths being the only distractions from heading straight up. But at the entrance to floor seven, it seems it is time for things to come to a head.
Dagda leaps out of your smartphone and stands before the group.
We’re deep inside the Cosmic Egg now. Krishna and Flynn should be near.
It’s nearly dusk. Soon, the full moon will rise. There isn’t much time left.
I need to know, kid: what do you plan to do about the Cosmic Egg?
Will you destroy it and maintain the status quo? Or wield its power and forge a new universe founded upon freedom?
Two paths, one choice.
Enough of this, Dagda. The Cosmic Egg must be destroyed.
That’s YOUR solution, Mother.
This world is home to countless deities and just as many different world views.
We need to embrace that diversity for the betterment of all life.
Only then can humans search for answers where there might otherwise be none, and foster their own growth and development.
Finding their own answers, huh? Well, can’t say I disagree with that.
Embrace the diversity of the deities?
Each single idea of theirs is toxic. Such narrow-minded views need to be eradicated.
Human evolution can only be made possible by casting away their imperfect selves.
You want humans to become gods. Do you have any idea what that would mean?
“Gods” is just a word, Mother. Point is, humans must become more than human.
Whatever word you use, the important thing is that humans answer only to themselves.
That they find a future governed by their own free will, as one with the universe.
:dagda; This evolution, this true freedom – it is my gift to humanity.
See, this whole “become unto as gods” thing would work really well as a motivation for Dagda on its own…
…but it comes saddled with the whole “you also need to betray your allies and become an isolationist juggernaut who resets the cosmos”. Dagda is ultimately just a more thorough Krishna, as his plan is literally Krishna’s but with the addition of destroying all of the gods on top of the humans. Under different writing direction and with a lower human population than what seems to exist in the world of IV/Apocalypse, this could be a genuinely conflicting choice of sacrificing the needs of the few for the needs of the still nonexistent many, but as it is it’s just edgeboy Dagda yelling at you to kill your friends and the rest of the human species because his plan will totally work.
Your proposed new world would change what it means to be human.
Do you not see that their relationship to others is what makes them human?
Danu is right.
I’m half-demon, but I’ll never stop being human.
Regrettably, I agree with Hallelujah.
We Samurai exist for the people – for the sake of others.
I simply cannot fathom how the existence of others would lead to one’s ruin.
O-Of course! What are you accusing me of?!
The narrative was trying to have a moment here, Navarre. Please.
Nozomi bursts out laughing, amused by Navarre and Hallelujah.
Still smiling, Nozomi turns to you.
What about you? What do you think, after all this time with us?
Wasn’t it rewarding to have each other’s backs?
Dagda’s scheme ignores how important, how meaningful, friends can be.
It also devalues all that we’ve accomplished together, as friends.
If even just one small part of you treasures any of that…
Stop a god? Well, it wouldn’t be the first one. Hell, we’ve got a whole stack of them killed from random encounters alone at this point, really.
As Dagda said, we are not perfect.
But we came this far. Is it not because we helped one another?
Whatever choice you make, I’ll be with you.
I need you. I want to become strong with you.
It seems we cannot see eye to eye, Dagda.
As much as it pains me, we must end this.
I will help destroy the Cosmic Egg. At all cost.
To be the rolling wind itself? To be the rain falling upon the earth?
Look at us now.
Pure nature forced to become Dagda and Danu.
We changed because humanity gained new understanding. Is that really so bad?
That doesn’t matter, Mother. This is about how far we’ve wandered from what we were.
The “understanding” YHVH granted humanity is what locked us in these god-shaped shells.
The power of humanity to make formless concepts take on the shapes of gods and demons in the world of SMT IV: Apocalypse is called Understanding or Observation; by giving these concepts names and definitions, we give them the forms of the gods, which is stated by supplementary materials to be intended as a reference to to Qualia, wherein there is a quintessential nature to the way we experience reality. It also has ties to the observer effect of quantum mechanics, wherein the observation of something changes it through nothing more than the act of observing.
While these ideas forge a union between philosophy and science that has been at the heart of the themes and aesthetics of the Megami Tensei brand for the length of its existence, the game doesn’t glue it together that well. Humanity is stated to have created YHVH just as they did the other gods, for instance, yet Dagda also claims here that it was YHVH who gave humans the power of Understanding in the first place. Similarly, YHVH is supposedly immune to understanding because he hides himself from human sight, which…doesn’t really make sense at all with anything given that the other gods were formed from abstract concepts that can’t necessarily be seen with the naked eye, but whatever. Long story short, cool concept, not necessarily the most cohesive execution.
The longer we stay like this, the further we get from the essence of what we were. We need to become one with nature again.
And if you will not change you mind, I have no choice but to stop you myself.
Can you really not live without others, kid?
Can you not fend for yourself?
No. You have a hidden strength – the power to find a path where none exists.
Don’t let sentiment blind you. These so-called friends only hold you back.
Join me, in my new universe.
The time is now. Choose.
And here we are at long last. The alignment split. Ultimately, you can choose whichever path you want, but there’s a price for going against your ideals. If you choose to walk the path of Peace with Danu after gaining a majority of Anarchy points, Dagda will remove all of your demons. By contrast, if you side with Dagda in spite of your following of the tenets of Peace, Navarre will smash all of your inventory. This isn’t relevant to us personally, as we shall follow our path to the very end, but it’s something you should be aware of.
Destroy the Cosmic Egg.
You hear that, Dagda?
He won’t abandon his humanity. It’s over.
He does not wish to be alone. He has chosen to live in harmony with others.
Is that what you really want?
Yeah, he’s sticking with this universe. With us.
Ask all you want, it won’t change a thing.
You look at your friends. They smile back.
Just look at all he’s been through, yet he still wants to remain human.
I’m pretty sure his answer’s final.
Dagda forces this line out with a fair bit of venom, and there is a horrible screeching noise that has started to creep into the ambient sound. This may get messy.
Dagda extends his arm toward you.
Very well then. The power I gave you, your very life – I’ll take it all back.
Dagda clenches his fist. As he does, a strange sensation comes over you.
The heat seems to drain from your body. You fall to your knees, unable to move.
Think on what it means to betray me while you stare into the cold abyss of death.
Hey, are you well? You’re looking rather pale…
It would seem Dagda is no longer supplying you with his power.
You can’t control your demons very well without Dagda’s power…
She’s definitely not wrong. As the warning said, our demons will randomly stop listening to us now, and on top of that Nanashi is losing about 500 HP a round. And in the background, Dagda’s boss theme is blaring. It’s…unpleasant.
Isn’t there something we can do?
Please, keep him occupied. I will take care of this…
We’re all counting on you.
You need only bear it a little while longer. We’ll be by your side until the end.
Yeah, we’re not about to let you die!
I can’t imagine what you’re planning, but I do know that your efforts will be futile…
If nothing else, I would have you die quickly so that it is painless.
Boss Battle!: Dagda
Dagda, given all his deathly aesthetics in this game’s interpretation of him, is unsurprisingly weak to Light. He’s neutral to Dark, however, his resistances instead being to the four elements of Fire, Ice, Electricity, and Force. Given how fast Nanashi leaks HP in this fight and your demons can now sometimes disobey you like Asahi’s did, I’d suggest having Isabeau on call to use Diarahan on you time and again.
Dagda’s repertoire is made up of Luster Candy for buffing himself, Debilitate and Energy Drain for making our life annoying, and the attack skills Power Punch and Megidolaon.
After a mere two turns of struggling to fight back, though, even the Diarahans aren’t helping anymore. Things look grim…
You wince in pain as Danu tries to assuage you with her kind words.
Thanks to your efforts, the preparations are now complete. You’ve done well.
Taking Inanna’s powers into myself granted me new abilities.
This allows me to create Dagda anew.
What?! Mother, no!
But please bear in mind…
As the Mother Goddess and Earth Goddess, it is my duty to shoulder such burdens.
You know, for all the shit-talking she did about Inanna, Danu sounds a lot like her now. Dagda’s actually a dick and all, but still.
Danu charges up a fancy Celtic knot vine spell thing, firing it in a beam from her staff…
…And from that beam a second Dagda appears. Well, that happened.
The entity created by Danu rises and turns to face his mother.
It should be noted that at this time, the battle music changes to Battle C3, which is one of my favorite tracks from Shin Megami Tensei IV. It definitely gets you pumped up to break another god’s face in, and is probably a better thing to focus on than the weird, weird events that are now transpiring.
Mother. Thank you for creating me.
As High King of the Tuatha De, I will strive to bring prosperity to humankind.
Dagda, my reborn son… Free him.
Yes, I know what I must do.
I will grant you power, just as my original self did.
But I will leave your will intact. Do as you please with the power.
I would ask, however, that as a Godslayer, you eliminate the older Dagda – who remains single-minded.
Newly rejuvenated, the only thing left to do now is kick Dagda 1.0’s teeth in.
He’s also quite the sore loser as he gets his teethed kicked in.
Could’ve escaped this shallow existence, but now you’ve discarded the chance to surpass humanity.
No, he simply chose a path he could share with his friends.
How inane. Are you so certain what you want lies at the end of this path? If so, prove it to me, kid!
At this point, he’ll start using the skills Lost Hit and Denial. Lost Hit is Carol Hit but with a 100% success chance to inflict Lost (sorry, Odin, I’ll find you later), while Denial sends a demon back to your stock and thus forces you to waste a Press Turn resummoning it.
It’s fine… Thought things might shake out this way, after all…
Unlike humans, the path of gods is set in stone, start to finish…
Those of us who represent human understanding cannot waver from the roles we’re assigned.
But that’s not how I would chose to exist…
So, you’re not going to kill me… You’ve…
After 20,000 HP is beaten out of him, Dagda dies and disperses into the wind. In the end, we at least freed him from an existence he never wanted in the first place.
With this hurdle surpassed, Nanashi gains his own Awakened Power. This gives us Pleroma and Pierce forr all damage types, making Nanashi a terrifying murderbeast whose strikes cannot be thwarted by anything short of Repel. He has achieved gnosis through punching, the most pure of philosophies.
Dagda, my reborn son…
Please, return to life the souls trapped within the Cosmic Egg.
Without them, the Cosmic Egg cannot hatch, halting the new universe from being made.
You can do that?!
Heh, of course.
I’m Dagda, the most powerful of the Tuatha De.
Dagda proceeds to raise his hand and start a light show as the souls trapped within the Cosmic Egg all flit back to their vessels. Oh, and…
I’m genuinely not sure how I feel about this plot point, even a year after I first played Apocalypse. I’m not an “everything must be grim and gritty and have a bad ending” type of person, not by far, but something about how brutal Asahi’s death was contrasted with the simplicity of her revival makes things feel…I dunno, hollow? A lot of events near the end of the Cosmic Egg feel like the writers were having trouble keeping their plot threads and thematic desires together as a singular vision.
Ohhhhhh! Asahi! You’ve come back to us!
You guys… I’m sorry, I…
What are you apologizing for?
You saved his life. Stand a little taller.
Thanks. That makes me feel better.
I’d imagine you weigh a bit less as a devoured soul, yes.
Like I didn’t have to worry anymore.
I know I’m not as strong as any of you.
I was constantly worried that I had no business being around the likes of you.
I was afraid I was holding you all back.
Hey, don’t worry ab –
But I do. I can’t help it. That’s why…
…You are utterly mistaken!
I know you cannot see me, but I’m going to say it anyway!
You’ve put yourself down many a time, but I have witnessed you in earnest.
You’re the kind of person who would risk her life for a fellow in need!
Sure, some may say that they would die for a friend.
Yet, how many would actually do it?
It took ages, but Navarre is actually kinda good in this scene.
You may not be as strong as the others in battle…
But your selflessness knows no bounds! Of that, I’m certain!
…My voice may not reach you, but my heart is with you.
Haha. Thank you for the kind words.
Nrgh… Of course…
True strength is knowing your limitations.
In that respect, you’re ahead of the game. Stop being so hard on yourself, Asahi.
Asahi nods once in agreement.
…I really need to get it together, huh?
I’ll probably get in the way sometimes, like usual, but I’ll always try my best.
I just want to be with you all again!
You hand Asahi her goggles.
Thanks, Nanashi. It’s good to be home.
A surge of energy courses through Asahi.
And yet another Awakened Power appears; not many left now. Asahi’s gives her High Heal Pleroma, elevating her to the most efficient healer we have. Only ever getting to Mediarama is now mitigated by the fact that her Mediaramas are almost always doing enough to be a Mediarahan anyway.
Alright. How long you gonna stay here, kid?
This Egg isn’t going to hatch anymore, but there’s still work to do.
Other than the whole “not wanting to destroy all life in the cosmos” thing, our new Dagda’s not that different from old Dagda.
Dagda’s right. There are still loose ends.
Kill Krishna, save Flynn, destroy this damn Egg… Got our work cut out for us.
Yes. Let us end this, once and for all.