(part twenty-one)

So, what does a priest need with a giant robot? It is not catchy enough to be a domain name, but it is a question that must still be asked. As it happens, the answer is pretty immediate!

Why, to fight the 40 foot tall zombies, of course!

Why does anyone even live in Aquvy?

You would not believe how cheap real estate is here. I own an island.

If this fight is any indication, when you punch a zombie in the face, it grows ten feet. Each time you punch it! Romero never mentioned that, but he was working with limited budgets. Luckily Billy's giant robot was considerate enough to pick up the rest of the party's giant robots on its way over. They manage to kill it even though it's like two hundred feet tall by the end. Science?

They return to the Yggdrasil, and Billy apologizes for being a butt before and says that he probably could not have handled this mission by himself. Honestly, though, if he had just brought his giant robot along to begin with he could have fired shots at the ship and the giant zombie until they both sank.

Man, your missions suck.

My divine mission, you mean?

Look, put as many qualifiers on it as you want, that sucked.

Bart offers to take Billy back to Ethos Headquarters, as "it's on our way." On our way to where? It is not on our way. Well, we're not doing anything else while waiting for Fei to wake up. Let's go bother those priests again!

I don't remember everyone being this dead.

Everyone's been shot! Billy finds a shell casing on the floor and says its one of Jesiah's. He must initial them or something.

Does he really hate me this much?

It is possible with him.

Ah, Citan, always a comforting presence. They head deeper inside, tripping over bodies all the while, and eventually run into a team of assassins consisting of, hm, a pair of wizards and a pair of awful Wolverine-Nightcrawler fusions. None of whom have guns. Well, who's counting. Our heroes kill them and go on to look for any survivors.


The Pope!! The actual Pope! There are monsters eating the Pope!

Oh no! The jig is up!

Okay, that's... that's too actual1. Anyway, he says a couple more vaguely incriminating things and then dies. The party politely waits for the assassins to finish eating him and then kill them. So that was a wash. Maybe there are some less hilarious survivors in here somewhere.

There are! They find a guy hiding in a room. He... doesn't... know... anything... and... he... can... only... talk... like... this... and... he... is... from... Shevat. That was annoying to type.

Elipsis poisoning! This man needs a doctor!

Yeah, too bad there aren't any of those around! They have him, uh, beamed back to the ship and keep going. They finally end up in a room full of conspicuous computer equipment.

Billy says that they are under the main cathedral, so this is probably the primary Ethos data bank. All of the church's records going back to its founding are in here, but it's off-limits to most Ethos clergy.

This is a very sophisticated set-up. It would be hard to find something like this even in Solaris.

This is Solarian equipment, you guys!

What? How do you know?

Because I'm Solarian.

And it's not like any of you unwashed masses have technology like this.

Hey, I have a viewscreen built into my planning room's floor, you take that back!

So the Ethos has been attacked, and in the basement we find a Solarian computer facility. What does this mean? I am not good at connecting dots.

Yeah, me neither. Billy, what's going on here?

Sorry, can't help you. Still freaking out over the Pope.

Well, there's only one thing to do: HACKIN'. Citan cracks his knuckles and manages to get a random sampling of recent transmission records to show up on the viewscreen, which, for the record, is on a wall as God intended. They consist of a report from Bishop Shakahn (!!) about... something something giant robots something, and a transmission of all Battler data from Nortune's D Block. Huh! Bart is intrigued and takes it upon himself to start hitting random buttons, and that pulls up a report on a new screen, but it's in Solarian. Half of the party consists of Solarians at this point, but apparently Elly is the only one who can read.

All right, let's see.



Come on, lady, spit it out!

Well, all right.

Five hundred years ago, there was a great war that occurred between Solaris and the land dwellers. It's not clear what the outcome was, but after the war, Solaris feared another land dweller revolt. So Solaris built a "Gate," or barrier, that seperates Solaris's land from the rest of the world's land. The land dwellers who lived within this gate were made to dwell as seperate races and were thus supervised to carry out the actual supervision, and Solaris established the "Ethos." So the "Ethos" is actually controlled by the "Gazel Ministry" or Solaris's highest governmental body. So yes, the "Ethos" is really a front or a subsidiary organization working for Solaris! Excavation findings, goods, and natural resources from the surface are transported to Solaris by the "Ethos." This also includes "human resources," or people used for manual labor and so on.

...it says all that on that little screen?

Copied and pasted from the script, my friend.

Citan finally also remembers how to read his own language and points out that most of the people that the Ethos had shipped to Solaris were people who came to the church for help. So, to summarize: the Catholic Church is a sham!


All right, so what does happen to people who come to the church for help?

They vanish and are never heard from again! Perfectly normal! Anyway, this doesn't explain why the Ethos was attacked!

Citan continues reading and reveals that the Ethos has discovered the remains of an ancient advanced civilization called Zeboim, and they have been excavating it themselves without reporting their findings to Solaris. He then concludes that the Ethos are planning to hoard the stuff they are finding so they can break free of Solaris and TAKE OVER THE WORLD! This must be one hell of a ruins site. Anyway, it seems that Solaris found out and attacked the Ethos themselves. Billy is still twitching.

Are you still freaking out about the Pope?

No. I have moved on in my freaking out.

This is all just speculation based on mountains of evidence, mind you.

They leave the data bank room, but Billy is in too much of a daze to help them get around anymore.

What, I'm supposed to be okay?

You would have been if you hadn't left the monastary!

Someone's alive! Maybe he can shed some light on all this confusion! Take it away, inexplicable nineteenth century Symbolist poet!



why is everyone hitting on me

Suddenly shots rings out and hit the guy Verlaine considerately brought along for that purpose. It's Jesiah! He seems satisfied with downing the guy with no lines.

Dad, stop shooting my coworkers!

Billy, these men aren't Ethos! They're a Solarian assassination unit under Stone's command!

It's true!

But why?!

This narration is going to spare you the truly enormous wall of villain monologuing here and just summarize.

The Ethos want to take over the world. They also fuck kids.


Fuck kids.

...Kids specifically?


But mostly we are upset about the first part.

Also, there's no God.


Stone shows up out of nowhere and shoots Verlaine! God, finally. Billy carries on like this is somehow a bad thing, and Stone launches into another exposition dump that is somewhat less easy to summarize glibly. Let's try anyway, Christ.

Stone explains that he is not really a bishop at all! He was sent by Solaris to organize the Etones, a group that a) kills zombies, and b) kills Ethos who are looking shifty. Apparently he came into work today and just everybody was looking shifty! Billy didn't get let in on part B because he left the monastary so early to look after kids or something, pshh, and also because Stone just didn't feel like telling him. He had other plans for Billy.

Is there a sign on my back today that says 'sexually harrass me?'


Yeah, we saw that! Can we back up to the "other plans" thing?

Oh, I can tell you! But only if you're sure. Are you sure, Billy? Maybe you should think about it first. I'll tell you! But only if you're sure.

Ugh, shut up, Stein!

DUN DUN DUNNN-- wait a second, Stone's real name is Stein? Why did he even bother?

Oh, just hearing you call me that makes me twitch in delicious pain! I could succumb to the desire to slice up your body here and now, and drag out your innards, and dance in the spray of your blood while singing a little song I wrote about it. It'll have to wait, though. Duty before pleasure.

holy shit

The song is called "I Hate Jesiah And I Want To Step On His Pancreas." ...I have to go.

Billy! Call me!

If you think that outsider take on Catholics is crazy, you should read Yami no Matsuei! ...No, nobody should read Yami no Matsuei.