Prologue - Special Support Section
Zero no Kiseki opens with a scene in which the Special Support Section (SSS) explores an ancient ruin. Tio Plato finds that the higher elementals are active, which reminds her of the lodge she was once held at in the west of Calvard. She describes the ruin as a path toward Gehenna to turn away from Aidios' influence to side with demons by performing "rituals". Section leader Lloyd Bannings motivates the team by announcing they will successfully infiltrate this enemy base.
A disembodied young girl's voice is what wakes up Lloyd with a start. He finds himself on the Transcontinental Railroad train from Calvard toward Crossbell, his final destination. The elderly couple across him offer him a beverage and, upon arrival, guide him toward the Central Square. At the Crossbell State Police Department he is welcomed by receptionist Fran Seeker. Sergei Lou, chief of the SSS, welcomes Lloyd and guides him to the nearest conference room, where fellow members Elie MacDowell, Tio Plato and Randy Orlando introduce themselves. Sergei guides his section to the Geofront, hands them their Enigma and appoints Lloyd as the group's leader. They introduce their weapons of choice to each other and head into the underground labyrinth.
During their exploration of the Geofront, they run into the Crossbellan children Henry and Ryu, of which the later was surrounded by monsters. After defeating the monsters, the SSS is approached by a much larger monster. A-rank bracer Arios MacLaine shows up, defeats the monster in a single strike and escorts the children out. Outside, both Arios and the SSS are ambushed by journalist Grace Lynn of the Crossbell News Service. Reporting back on the police headquarters, they run into fellow investigators and learn that the 30-year old building at Central Square serves as the SSS's new office and dormitory. At night, Lloyd swings by his fellow members to get to know them better.
The next day, Tio teaches the SSS about the orbal network she had been working on with the Epstein Foundation in Leman. The start their tour through Crossbell City at Genten Orbal Store, where Lloyd reminisces with his childhood friend Wendy before Randy starts hitting on her. They continue through the West Street into the Residential Street, which triggers Elie's nerves. The Entertainment District leads into the Administration District, where receptionist Rebecca informs the SSS about Detective Points (DP). After running into Rixia Mao looking for an affordable apartment, the SSS stops by the Waterfront, the IBC and East Street, where Crossbellan Bracer Guild receptionist Michel welcomes the SSS. Their tour concludes with Downtown and the shady Back Alley of Crossbell.
A conflict between two delinquent gangs in Downtown Crossbell leads to the SSS's introduction to Wazy Hemisphere, leader of the Testaments based in Trinity, and the Saber Vipers leader Wald Wales, who can be found in Ignis. The SSS calls the conflict to a stop. Journalist Grace invites the group over for dinner, where they exchange information and the SSS learns about the underworld of Crossbell. Sergei forwards them to lawyer Ian Grimwood, who reveals that the newly established Heiyue Trade Company is a mere facade for the Calvard-based Heiyue crime syndicate.
With the information he gathered, Lloyd devises and proposes a new plan to the SSS in collaboration with the gang leaders to reveal the culprit. Lloyd, disguised as a member of the Testaments, lures the mafia members into a back alley where they get ambushed by Elie, Tio, and Randy. In an attempt to escape, Wazy and Wald guard Downtown's two exits. The combined efforts easily defeat the mafiosos and afterwards the SSS reports back to Sergei. He laughs at their success and surmises that the days of the SSS as a Bracer Guild rip-off have come to an end.
Chapter 1 - Afternoon of the Wolves
It starts with Michel being concerned for Arios because of how much work he's doing for the guild and suggesting he scale back a bit, especially since his workload is hardly going to decrease if his promotion comes through. Arios says he has no intention of overdoing it and some words are said about an incident in Remiferia that Arios helped solve but where he wasn't able to catch the culprit ultimately responsible.
Speaking of S-ranks, Arios mentions Cassius (who he notes was a senior pupil of their shared teacher Yun Ka-fai) and what he's accomplished. Then a pair of bracers newly transferred to the Crossbell branch of the guild arrive, Estelle and Joshua Bright.
At the same time, the SSS are having a meeting when Sergei shows up (late) to tell them that they have an urgent request from CSPD headquarters, something about suspicious sightings but he doesn't know the details. Everyone heads to HQ where they're met by Deputy Chief Pierre, who isn't a big fan of theirs. Waiting with him are two women from the Crossbell Guardian Force, Deputy Commander Sonya Baelz and Sergeant Major Noel Seeker, both serving at Tangram Gate. They're the ones who requested the SSS' assistance.
Sonya wants the SSS to help investigate a series of monster sightings that have been going on recently. Elie asks why they're asking for help since the CGF has jurisdiction outside of Crossbell City and is told that their own investigation has stalled so they want to bring in people better equipped to investigate the matter. She leaves the SSS with the evidence that has been gathered so far.
Back at the SSS Building, the group looks over the evidence. It seems like the monsters are wolves of some kind, but they appear to be outside the normal behavior pattern of monsters. To investigate, they decide to first head to Armorica Village where the first incident was reported.
The trip there (on foot because they missed the bus) necessitates a short rest stop as the girls aren't as used to long hikes as the guys. Once they arrive, they begin questioning people. They encounter Mayor Torta in the middle of a negotiation with a merchant from the city named Harold Hayworth. Torta explains that about three weeks ago monsters appeared and made a mess of their crops. The CGF investigated the next day but didn't get anywhere. People remember seeing something that looked like a wolf and canine-like footprints were found.
Although he's not sure if it's important, Torta mentions a legendary species of Divine Wolves with white fur that were driven away by human foolishness. They were believed to give warnings of coming danger and come to help.
The SSS isn't able to conclude anything new from this information so they decide to head to the second location where an incident was reported, St. Ursula Medical College. While checking the bus schedule to St. Ursula, Tio hears something that sounds like howling but nobody else does. They tell her they have no reason to doubt what she thinks she heard and are impressed. Tio apologizes for implying they didn't believe her.
Harold offers the SSS a lift back to Crossbell City in his orbal car. It's mentioned that the things are really expensive and it's still rare for private individuals to own one. Harold offhandedly mentions that his family should consider themselves blessed, but... He doesn't conclude the thought. The SSS wonders about the legend of the Divine Wolves and if they'll discover anything about them.
Returning to Crossbell, the SSS waits for the bus to St. Ursula to arrive and Lloyd thinks about how he hasn't seen Cecile Neues in three years but he'll have a chance to meet her since she works as a nurse at the hospital. The bus fails to arrive on time and after waiting thirty minutes, Lloyd contacts the CSPD's traffic division to ask if they know anything. They haven't heard anything from the bus and can't raise it on the radio. Fearing trouble, the SSS decides to walk to St. Ursula and look for the bus on the way.
On the road, they find the bus surrounded by large monsters. Its orbal engine broke down but the driver can't get out to repair it as long as the monsters are surrounding it. The SSS fights off the first group, only for more to arrive and surround them. When they think they're in real trouble, Estelle and Joshua arrive and defeat all of them with a single combination attack. The SSS is amazed at how powerful the two are. Joshua gives the driver a hand with the repairs as Estelle explains how they came to be there. They have a talk about how the SSS work like the bracers which doesn't really bother Estelle; she laughs and thinks it makes them comrades of a sort. After the bus is repaired and on its way, the young bracers leave and the SSS continues on to St. Ursula.
Upon arriving at the hospital, Lloyd requests the receptionist page the head nurse so they can ask about the incident, while the other members talk behind his back. Cecile is both the head nurse and just happens to be passing by at that moment so she surprises Lloyd with an enormous hug and compliments. The reaction of the other SSS members is mixed, with Randy in particular being envious that Lloyd knows such a hottie.
Everyone sits down and Cecile properly introduces herself (as Lloyd's older sister, essentially) and she's pleased that Lloyd has finally found himself a nice girlfriend (and wondering if he's dating Elie and Tio at the same time) before being corrected that they're his teammates (she also wonders if Randy could be Lloyd's boyfriend). Cecile then decides that it's going to be her mission in life to get Lloyd a girlfriend. Lloyd quickly turns the discussion towards the monster incident.
A week ago, one of the interns was attacked by monsters while on the roof of the hospital. The CGF thought there must have been some kind of mistake because they couldn't imagine monsters attacking someone under those circumstances. The SSS goes to ask Lytton to tell them his story. He's in good spirits and even he wonders if he wasn't imagining things. He wasn't able to sleep so he went out for a walk and saw things with black fur and glowing red eyes. They attacked him and he lost consciousness. They wondered why the monsters left him unconscious rather than dead and how they got up on the roof in the first place. The SSS head to the spot where Lytton was attacked to see if they can get some answers and Cecile leaves to get on with her work.
The team looks for a way for the monsters to have gotten on the roof and finds a set of stacked containers on a lower terrace. Investigating those, they find tracks and they guess that something like a wolf could have reached that level from the ground by jumping. They return to the nurse center to contact Cecile with what they've learned. There, head nurse Martha informs them that Cecile is on rounds, then stops and is surprised and delighted to see Tio looking so good. The two have evidently met before.
Heading to the room where Cecile is, the SSS finds her and meet a little girl being cared for named Shizuku, Arios' daughter. She's blind but has developed incredibly keen hearing; she says that she remembers hearing Lytton's scream and moreover, what she thinks was the monsters breathing and a high-pitched sound of some kind. The SSS thanks her for her information and tells Cecile what they've learned. The hospital plans to put up a fence to deter further incidents and the SSS return to Crossbell City and turn in for the day.
That night, Lloyd has a dream about a conversation years ago when Guy left for a time, saying he had to escort a girl to Remiferia. Lloyd wonders what Cecile would think of that, to be told that Cecile already knows and it's police business. Also, it's implied that Lloyd is a bit more in tune with what Cecile thinks about Guy than Guy is. While reflecting on the memory after waking up, Lloyd gets a call on his Enigma from Sergei who tells him they have visitors.
The SSS assembles in Sergei's office and finds Sonya and Noel waiting for them. The two CGF officers want to know what the SSS has learned. When asked what the rush is, they're told that the commander of the CGF just ordered them to stop their increased patrols around Mainz (the location of the most recent monster sighting) and stop all investigations, with the commander citing the need to avoid weakening their overall position by tying up too many forces on a fruitless job. Randy makes it very clear he doesn't like the man, who he considers a career ass-kisser. It's made equally clear that Sonya and Noel don't think much of him either. He's also mentioned to be firmly in the pro-Erebonia camp of Crossbell politics.
Oh, and Sonya officially introduces Noel, praising her as a rising star in the CGF. Lloyd recognizes Noel's name and they realize she's Fran's older sister. Randy also recognizes her name because, well, she's female and was in a position where he might have flirted with her while he was still part of the CGF.
Sonya approves of the SSS' efforts so far and asks them continue the investigation on their own since she's been pulled off the case. They agree and head towards Mainz. If they choose to, they can take a detour to visit Rosenberg Studio on the way, it's the home of Joerg Rosenberg, maker of the famous dolls that fetch such a huge price at auction and are eagerly sought after by collectors. Outside the gate, the party meets a little girl with violet hair. They mention that they're looking for anyone who might have information on the recent monster incidents and she mentions that she heard a howling sound recently. Lloyd tells her she should stay inside but she thinks the SSS seem like interesting people so it might be fun to tag along with them; she might even try to play tag or hide and seek with the monsters. Lloyd tells her she can't go with them and in response she says she's bored staying inside and wonders if she should go play in the "glass castle" or with "Freckles". Then she introduces herself: Her name is Renne and she has someone else she'd like to introduce to them but Meister Joerg is still fixing up his leg. Lloyd wonders if she's talking about a doll. She then heads back into the studio with the parting line, "Special Support Section, keep up the hard work, okay?". The team talks about how she seems to have a unique outlook on life and that she must be Joerg's granddaughter and Elie thinks she's cute. Lloyd on the other hand notices what the others didn't: They never said anything about the Special Support Section, she already knew who they were.
Continuing on the way to Mainz, the group sees a large wolf with white and blue fur sitting in the middle of the road. Elie remarks that the appearance is similar to the Divine Wolf that Torta mentioned and Randy is looking forward to settling things without having to run around investigating further. Tio tells him to stop and walks up to the wolf. She thinks he was waiting for them and has something to tell them. Lloyd and the others are worried but she tells them to trust her. The wolf growls a bit and Tio seems to be able to understand what he's trying to say, or at least the nuance. Then the wolf runs off and Tio explains that he and the monsters that have been terrorizing the area are not the same. Also, he wanted to indicate that the answer to the mystery awaits in Mainz.
Arriving, the SSS sees that someone else has dropped by to visit. There's a large van parked by the entrance to town and when the SSS goes to see the mayor, who should emerge but some Revache men. Mayor Vixen says that there haven't been any serious injuries from the monsters but the damage is starting to add up. He considered asking the bracers for help but they seem overworked so until they left, he was happy to rely on the CGF's extra patrols. While they were in the area things were quiet but now that they've left...he doesn't have very good things to say about them. Revache came by to offer their services as bodyguards to replace the CGF, offering to come whenever the monsters appear. In return, Mainz would give them the right to control the sale of septium during any period where they're helping to protect the town. Lloyd offers the services of the Special Support Section and the mayor agrees to give them a chance at resolving the issue first.
Heading to the Ash Tree Inn, Lloyd and the others lay out what they've discovered and conclude that Revache has manufactured the attacks as a test. It's known that monsters can be controlled through various means and the sound Shizuku heard must have been a whistle used to control the monsters. The pattern indicates that Mainz was always Revache's objective; they want to corner the lucrative septium market through a protection racket. They anticipate that Revache will try to persuade the mayor to agree to the proposal by staging another incident that night so they plan on how to expose the mafia's real objective.
That night as predicted the monsters (a type of trained attack dog) appear again. The SSS' ambush works and the initial attack is thwarted. Following them, they find Revache men with the monsters, rather unhappy that a group of kids have spoiled their plan. One fight later and they release all the monsters, surrounding the SSS. When things look desperate, a pack of wolves appears from the surrounding hills, led by the white wolf the SSS saw earlier. When the wolves howl, Revache's monsters collapse in fear. The SSS arrests the mafiosos and everyone is happy.
Watching this from a distance are Arios and Renne. They both make it clear that they know exactly who the other is, dropping each other's titles (The Divine Blade of Wind and the Angel of Slaughter). Renne wonders if Arios came to lend the SSS a hand and he says he did but found the situation resolved itself without him needing to intervene. He asks Renne if she's in Crossbell on business for the society and is told that she came for entirely personal reasons, which puts him at ease. She offhandedly mentions that Arios reminds her of the strongest person she knows while the two are talking about Cassius and Arios' possible promotion to S-rank. Arios also asks how long Renne plans to run from "them" and from what's right in front of her. She says Estelle and Joshua have nothing to do with it and Arios says he won't tell them about Renne.
Sonya and Noel arrive and praise the SSS for their work but note that it's very likely that the thugs will be released soon. Crossbell's political situation is a mess and some of its most prominent politicians have ties to Revache and can pull strings.
Returning to the SSS Building, the team is met outside by Sergei who congratulates them on their work. He then says that someone is waiting for them inside and wonders what's going on. Puzzled, Lloyd and the others enter the building and find the white wolf sitting in the entryway. Tio goes up to him and asks him what he's doing there, then interprets his response. He says his name is Zeit, he thanks the SSS for proving he and the other Divine Wolves weren't responsible for the attacks and declares that he has decided to lend the SSS his assistance, partly in thanks and partly because it's obvious they can't keep out of trouble on their own. He then takes a nap as the SSS decides what to do with their newest member.
Chapter 2 - Golden Sun, Silver Moon
The chapter opens at the headquarters of Revache and Co as Underboss Garcia Rossi lays into his subordinates for their recent failures and for making him need to call in political favors to get them out of jail. He's also extremely unhappy that the source of Revache's recent problems is a bunch of rookies. The boss, Marconi, calms him down, saying that they have only suffered minor setbacks. Instead, they need to focus on Heiyue's recent actions and preparations for "the auction".
Next, we visit Arc en Ciel's theatre as Rixia Mao practices for the upcoming performance. The troupe's star artist Ilya Platiere walks onstage after she's finished her set and compliments her while also offering advice. Rixia is nervous about making her big debut in the new show and about holding Ilya's own performance back with her lack of skill. Ilya reassures Rixia, saying that nobody else has ever managed what Rixia has in keeping up with Ilya's training. She even thinks Rixia has the potential to surpass her one day and she's looking forward to having a good rival for her position. We also learn that Ilya forcibly recruited Rixia into the troupe and now that she has such a fine catch, she's not letting her get away. Rixia was originally a tourist from Calvard and expected to be heading home by now.
Rixia then reveals that she's also worried about a letter recently sent to Ilya from someone called "Yin". Ilya thinks it's just a joke and that stars get weird letters all the time and can't worry about every single one. Ilya then adds that after her debut, Rixia will probably get lots of fan letters herself, especially given her "assets" which she emphasizes with a poke or two. Before she can molest her protege too much, she's interrupted by the manager who says that someone is calling for her. Ilya is expecting to hear from someone and goes off to take the call. Rixia and the manager discuss the letter some more, clearly more concerned about it than Ilya.
Ilya takes her call and we find out that it's Cecile, thanking her for getting her a pair of tickets to the opening performance (and speculating that she's flirting with the new member and teasing her about it). Ilya tells Cecile she should bring a good-looking man with her, only to realize that might not have been the best thing to say. Cecile tells her not to worry about it. Ilya remembers Cecile always talking about her "little brother" and suggests she bring him to the performance. Cecile thinks he's probably busy but she'll ask.
In an unknown location surrounded by computers, a young boy named Jona Sacred is accessing information stored on Crossbell's orbal network which he plans to sell to interested parties. He's looking forward to determining the real identity of "Kitty", someone he's observed on the IBC's network. He receives orbal mail from Heiyue's server from Yin requesting his services and thinks that this should be an exciting job.
The SSS is enjoying lunch and discussing their recent work, their slightly increasing popularity, the addition of Zeit to the team (he's officially considered a "police dog" by the CSPD) and the attention the press has been giving to a certain pair of young newly-arrived bracers. Then the topic turns to Arc en Ciel's upcoming performance and how hard it is to get tickets. Since the opening of the show coincides with Crossbell's founding anniversary, the SSS is likely to be really busy and won't be able to attend even if they could get tickets.
After eliminating some monsters from the vicinity of Armorica, Lloyd is contacted by Fran with an urgent dispatch request, asking them to return to their building immediately. Getting there, they find Rixia waiting for them. While Ilya is brushing it off, she's concerned about a threatening letter and asks the SSS to investigate. They agree and head to the theatre to talk to Ilya. They watch her practice for a few minutes and are suitably impressed. Ilya still thinks the whole affair is some sort of prank and that Rixia is worrying over nothing. She also recognizes Lloyd as the person Cecile keeps telling her about and her way of showing it sets off the other members, especially Randy.
Ilya gives Lloyd the letter she received. It reads "Cease production of your new show, or tragedy is certain to befall your beloved Blazing Dancer," and is signed by Yin. Lloyd asks if Ilya has done anything recently that would make someone write a letter like this and is told by Rixia and the manager that yes, there was. Ilya already put the whole incident behind her but just a few days ago, she was propositioned by the head of Revache who wanted to bring her to the opera house in Erebonia's capital to perform there, telling her he had connections there. Given both the offer and Marconi being sleazy as hell and trying to force the offer, she responded by slapping him.
The SSS decides to investigate the lead with Marconi first despite knowing that they're police and especially unpopular with the mafia at the moment. The mobsters guarding the entrance tell the SSS to get lost but are stopped by Garcia emerging and inviting the SSS inside. Garcia doesn't think much of the idea of his boss writing letters to Ilya, saying that he was so drunk he hardly remembers the incident anyways. He asks to see the letter and acts surprised at something but when asked he says he's sure the letter is a prank and denies finding anything interesting in it. Lloyd suggests they ask Marconi himself, Garcia thinks that's a bold idea but makes it clear it's not going to happen, giving them a friendly warning not to interfere with Revache's business again. It would be a shame if something were to happen... As the SSS leaves, Garcia stops Randy for a second, thinking that his hair reminds him of someone he's met before. Randy says he likes hearing that from pretty ladies, he's not used to hearing it from older men.
Having struck out there, the SSS decides to follow up their other lead. Lloyd realizes that when Garcia reacted to the letter, it must have been the sender's name that surprised him. Following up that lead, they go to consult with Ian who says he's heard the name Yin before, but only as a rumor spoken of in the immigrant neighborhoods of Calvard. Yin is supposedly the name of an assassin of legendary skill; he wears concealing black clothes and a mask and nobody has seen his face. Lloyd guesses that Heiyue might have employed Yin so the SSS decides to pay them a visit.
The team is met by Cao Lee, the young branch manager of Heiyue's newly-formed Crossbell branch. He says he has read about the SSS in the Crossbell Times and is a great fan of the work they're doing. He knows of Yin and mentions some of the rumors he's heard: That Yin has lived for over a hundred years and is immortal, that he can vanish into shadows, and that he never fails to kill a target. He first appeared in Calvard at the height of the troubles stemming from the Republic's democratic revolution and was responsible for the deaths of a number of prominent individuals of that time. While talking around the point a bit, Cao confirms that Heiyue has employed Yin but denies any connection to the letters. Yin works for whoever pays him and Heiyue has no interest in public entertainment as a business venture.
Upon leaving, First Investigative Division's Detective Dudley appears to ask the SSS what they think they're doing and warning them that between the mafia having ties to major political figures and spies from Erebonia and Calvard everywhere, trying to push too hard is dangerous and the SSS is in way over their heads. He wants them to hand over the case to the First Division. Elie in particular is unhappy about being forced off the case and being reminded of Crossbell's political reality.
The SSS returns to the theatre to explain what's happened to Ilya and Rixia. Arriving, they see two men exiting the building, an older man and his secretary who recognizes "Miss Elie". Elie addresses the older gentleman as grandfather and promises not to bring shame on the MacDowell name. The rest of the SSS introduce themselves and we learn the others names are Henry MacDowell and Ernest Ries. The latter reproaches Elie for not visiting at least once and she apologizes, saying she wanted to be independent of the family. Her grandfather approves of Elie's decisions and takes his leave. Lloyd is lost in thought as this is going on, only to belatedly realize that Henry MacDowell is the mayor of Crossbell. Elie admits they're related, is surprised nobody figured it out sooner and takes pains to emphasize that her grandfather had nothing to do with her appointment to the SSS.
The SSS watches Ilya and Rixia practice and then fill the two in on what they've learned. Ilya is fascinated by Yin and thinks it sounds like a character from the stage. She insists that no matter what happens, the performance will go on and since it sounds like Yin isn't really after her, there shouldn't be anything to worry about. She offers the SSS a set of tickets to one of their shows as a way of thanking them for looking into the matter. Elie seems uneasy.
Ernest is waiting at the SSS Building, having something to say to Elie. He clearly sees she's upset about the Arc en Ciel matter and asks if she won't consider leaving the police and coming back to help her grandfather, mentioning all the things he's busy with and how great a help Elie could be. Elie says she needs to think about it and heads inside. After, Ernest asks the rest of the SSS if they know that Elie wants to be a politician some day. The reason she spent time studying abroad was to study the politics of all the major countries so that she could be better trained to handle things when she became a politician herself. Ernest says he'll look forward to hearing Elie's decision and leaves.
Lloyd and the others report to Sergei about the investigation and the First Division wanting to take over the case. Sergei says he's not going to clean up the SSS' messes for them, then tells Lloyd that his first priority should be making sure the team runs smoothly. After thinking things over for a while, Lloyd decides to check on Elie. She isn't in her room but Lloyd finds her on the roof where she likes to go to think. Elie thinks there's nowhere else in the continent with a view like Crossbell City at night but those same lights that make the city so beautiful also hide the light of the stars, the sign of Aidios' kindness.
Elie muses on the city's political situation trapped between two far greater nations, internal divisions and its criminal underworld, and how everyone seems resigned to the city's troubles and focus only on money and pleasure. Lloyd thinks Elie doesn't want to feel that way and she starts talking about her parents. They're both alive but they divorced and left the city. Her father was born in Calvard and met her mother while in Crossbell. He went into politics after marrying the mayor's daughter but after realizing the depths of Crossbell's problems and repeated failures to initiate any reform in the system that cost him all his friends and political allies outside of MacDowell's neutral group, he resigned in despair. Her mother divorced her father, who returned to Calvard, then she couldn't bear to live in Crossbell anymore so she went to live with relatives in Erebonia and left Elie to be raised by her grandfather.
The two then discuss the metaphorical "barrier" that keeps Crossbell from changing and how the very agreement that created Crossbell State is undermining it because it was written by Erebonia and Calvard. Elie still dreams of changing the system but for that, she wants a different perspective from her father and grandfather. After seeing how things went today, she wonders if she really can change anything or if she's just pursuing a childish dream. Lloyd thinks she's being too harsh on herself and that she can't change everything in a day. Maybe today was difficult but if she keeps trying, one day she'll be where she wants to. Lloyd says they'll all work together they can definitely get over the barrier and tells her that the SSS needs her. Elie thanks him but also teases him for sounding like something out of a drama program. Lloyd belatedly realizes that he's also sounded like he's been working up to a love confession which gets him more teasing.
Meanwhile at Heiyue, Cao and his right-hand man Lau are discussing Revache's latest movements. As the latter leaves, Cao tells him to bring in half the men they have standing by in Altair City in Calvard. He thinks that this is going to be tricky when Yin suddenly appears from the shadows, surprising him. He asks why Yin turned down the request to deal with Revache's guard dogs and is reminded that their contract was for Yin to deal with Garcia, not animals; Heiyue should be able to handle those on their own. Cao then asks about Arc en Ciel and if that's going to cause a problem. Yin responds by asking what Cao thought of the SSS and he gives a pretty good rundown of their characters, adding that they're definitely worth watching. When asked why the sudden interest, Yin says that he wants to test them, thinking the SSS could be worthy targets for his skill.
The next morning, the SSS are meeting downstairs when an orbal mail arrives for them, claiming to be from Yin and saying 'find me'. The routing information indicates that the message came from the IBC Building. Lloyd doesn't think they could investigate this as the IBC isn't likely to let anyone poke around in their systems. Elie says that she has a friend who works there who might be able to get them the access they need if they explain the situation.
As it turns out, her friend is Mariabell Crois, the daughter of the head of the IBC. Her father Dieter Crois is like an uncle to Elie and will be happy to hear her out. While waiting, the group discusses the IBC's operations and how they paid most of the costs to install Crossbell's new orbal network. We also hear how other companies lease space in the building (with access controlled by security cards) and that the Epstein Foundation is conducting its operations out of the IBC. The SSS also encounters Ernest, visiting the IBC to discuss the management of some government money. He sees that Elie has made her decision about the police, though he wishes she would reconsider as the mayor is approaching a very busy time and could use more help. It also is revealed that Ernest was Elie's tutor when she was younger. He leaves and the SSS goes on to meet Dieter.
Their introduction to the wealthiest man in Crossbell goes well as he's happy to see Elie doing well. The topic turns to their mysterious message and Dieter is certain that nobody sent the message from the IBC because all the terminals are monitored and there haven't been any reports of suspicious people and no new employees. He briefly jokes that maybe he sent the message which eventually turns the conversation to the possibility that someone broke into the IBC's network to make it look like the message originated there. Tio says that if she can get access to the mainframe, she can verify whether or not someone hacked into the system. As an assassin either hiding in the staff or hacking into the mainframe would be a major concern, Dieter gives Tio access to their systems to investigate.
Dieter also says that he thinks Elie's decision to join the police will be a good experience for her and that he'll be cheering for the SSS to succeed because he sees the potential in what they're doing. He looks out at Crossbell City and bemoans the lack of justice, how people shut themselves out of everything but work and the unfortunately decaying political system. The bracers are popular because they offer the citizens the promise of safety. However, the guild is limited in its ability to influence the root of Crossbell's problems. That's why Dieter has hope for the Special Support Section. If they can restore the people's trust in the police and the state, maybe they'll be able to find a solution to the city's deeper problems one day.
Dieter offers to call someone to escort the SSS to the terminal room but is interrupted when a young woman walks in the door and immediately greets Elie. Very affectionately greets her, as Randy and Tio note. Untangling herself, Elie introduces the other woman as Mariabell, her friend and Dieter's daughter. Dieter quickly makes himself scarce as Mariabell lays into the males of the SSS for getting Elie involved in all sorts of strange things, not helped by Randy's flippancy. She eventually agrees to take the SSS to the computers but tells the rest of the SSS that if anything should happen to Elie while they're on the job they'll have to answer to her.
In the terminal room in the IBC's basement, technicians look over the system logs but can't find any evidence of hacking. Tio asks if she can have a look. She uses something integrated into her staff and armor called the Aeon system to rapidly process information from not only the IBC's mainframe but all the systems linked to it, shocking the technicians. She discovers an abnormality in one of the machines located in the Geofront's B Sector which could have been used to spoof the message the SSS received.
The SSS go to City Hall to request entrance to the Geofront, expecting it to be a difficult process. Instead they're simply given a key they can use whenever they like and are told that the bracers have a similar key in case they're required to investigate things there. The entrance to B Sector is in the Residential District. After passing through the tunnels and fighting some malfunctioning cleaning robots, the SSS finds the room where the terminal is located and hear music coming from behind the door. Waiting for them is Jona sitting in front of a massive terminal. He's shocked the SSS found him until he sees Tio and guesses that she located him with the Aeon system. Lloyd asks if the two know each other and Tio says that Jona used to be a system engineer with the Epstein Foundation. One day as a prank he messed with a research project and caused the foundation to suffer a serious loss, then ran off before he could be punished for it. An annoyed Jona threatens to expose Tio's embarrassing secrets all over the orbal network, only for Tio to point out that she doesn't have any and he knows it. She also implies that if he ever did try anything, there would be swift retribution of divine proportions.
While discussing his "information shop", Jona mentions he's still trying to track down a hacker going by the alias of Kitty. He admits to having contact with Yin and says that he received a request to send that message to the SSS while making it look like it came from the IBC. He had a second message from Yin to deliver if the SSS was able to find him: "The door has been opened. I summon you to challenge me at the Tower of the Stars and hear my wish." The group discusses what that could mean and conclude that it must be talking about a ruin from the Middle Ages located near Ursula Byroad known as Stargazers' Tower. They head there to see if they can find some answers.
When they arrive at the structure, they find Noel investigating damage to the fence that keeps people from entering the tower. Lloyd explains everything the SSS has learned about Yin and their reasons for being there. Noel decides to lend them her assistance, particularly because the tower is part of the CGF's jurisdiction so she wouldn't feel right letting Lloyd and the others go in alone.
Entering the tower, the team is surprised by the beauty of the place. Tio also tells them that she can sense that in addition to the four elements that control everything in the natural world, the higher three elements of Space, Time and Mirage are active. She warns them that abnormal phenomenon may occur and to be on their guard. Proving that her warning was accurate, the tower is full of animated weapons and suits of armor and strange creatures.
On the top floor of the tower the team finds huge shelves full of books and massive armillary spheres and wonder what they are for. A voice from above says that Stargazers' Tower was created long ago by alchemists and is a remnant of their dreams. Looking up, the team sees a black-garbed figure; Yin welcomes the SSS and the unexpected guest Noel. Yin suspects that the SSS has many questions but before that, he has one final test, stating that he has no time to waste on weaklings and needs to know if the SSS is strong enough to fulfill his wish.
One battle later, the team thinks that Yin was strong but they've won. Randy however seems to sense that something is off. Yin says he has good senses and vanishes, leaving only a paper talisman behind. Randy realizes that they defeated a double of Yin while the genuine article observed from the sidelines, which an impressed real Yin confirms. Randy shrugs and says he's had a bit of combat experience and good senses.
With that done, Yin claims that he wasn't the one who sent the letter to Arc en Ciel, whoever the true culprit is must have appropriated his name. Lloyd agrees that the letter and what he heard of Yin during the investigation didn't seem to match. Whoever wrote the letter must have some other aim in mind because the only thing the letter did was bring the First Division into the case, ensuring airtight security around Ilya. Yin wants to know the identity and goals of the mysterious sender, which is why he arranged to get the SSS to somewhere where he could test them. Yin says he would do it himself but he's rather occupied with the matter of crushing Revache's forces on behalf of Heiyue. Lloyd agrees to investigate but not for Yin's sake. He wants to know the truth himself.
The SSS speculates that whatever the true culprit is up to, it must involve the opening of the new show so they plan to arrange so they can patrol the theatre on both the private and public opening days. Yin says it's time to take his leave and dashes for the stairs. The SSS follows him to the roof, only to find it deserted. After looking and seeing nothing but a bell hanging in the center, Lloyd asks Tio to scan the area. She detects a reaction from below and concludes that Yin must have leaped straight from the roof.
Back in town, the SSS arranges things with the troupe and plans their strategy for the performances. Lloyd and Elie will patrol inside the theatre while Tio, Randy, and Zeit will patrol outside. The night of the opening performance arrives and the cream of Crossbell's society is in attendance with officers from the First Division carefully watching over everything. Rixia has taken Lloyd and Elie to the private section of the theatre reserved for the troupe members so they can observe without being seen by Dudley or the other CSPD officers. The mayor arrives and Elie comments that he's a huge fan of Arc en Ciel and mentioned looking forward to the debut of its newest star. She says she hopes she can live up to his expectations, then wonders if something will happen tonight. Lloyd reassures her that with so many police watching over her, nothing will happen to Ilya. They'll just have to make sure nothing happens to anyone else either.
Lloyd notes that Rixia really seems to care about Ilya. Rixia admits that while her induction into the troupe wasn't exactly her idea, she's truly glad it happened; she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life but after seeing Ilya perform she had an epiphany. She might not ever reach Ilya's level but she'll try. Lloyd reminds her that tonight, she plays the Moon Princess. Maybe in her own eyes Ilya shines brighter but to an untrained eye like his, both are equally bright. He tells her not to worry and to just dance with all her heart; the SSS will make sure nothing happens. Rixia thanks him and leaves to prepare for her debut.
The lights in the theatre dim and the performance starts. Lloyd and Elie begin to make their rounds inside while Randy and Tio patrol outside, each promising to call in if anything suspicious happens. Shortly after the third act begins, the director runs up and tells them that someone suspicious has been spotted in the upper right wing and that they aren't on the invitee list. Racing to the scene, Lloyd and Elie find that the suspicious individual is none other than Grace, talking to herself and annoyed that Dudley is present and could blow her chance at a big scoop. She explains how she snuck in without a ticket and that she can't let any other reporters get any juicy information before she does.
Lloyd asks if that's the real reason she's here and demands to know if she wrote the letter for some reason. Grace has no idea what Lloyd is talking about and doesn't know why the First Division is all over the performance, saying that she actually has a lead she's following up. She wonders if Dudley and the others are watching "him" as well. Lloyd asks if Grace is talking about Yin but she says she's never heard that name. She agrees to say what lead she's following in order to maybe learn something new from them but wonders if it's okay to say it in front of Elie. It seems she heard a rumor that Ernest is suspected of diverting government funds and that he's been consorting with the Imperial Faction to an unknown purpose, wondering if maybe they're planning to kill the mayor before laughing that off as absurd. Lloyd and Elie don't think it's so funny, realizing that by diverting everyone's attention to Ilya and putting the notion of Yin in everyone's heads, if someone else were to die at the show suspicion would fall on Yin and not on whoever might have actually committed the crime.
The two race into the theatre, shocking Dudley with their sudden appearance. They burst into the private box used by the mayor just in time to see Ernest standing over his prone body with a knife in his hand. Lloyd charges in and knocks the knife away, only for Ernest to grab the mayor and point a gun at his head. Dudley arrives and quickly sees what's going on. Elie asks why Ernest would do such a thing and he says that the two of them are both alike in wanting to change the system, but Crossbell is in such a state that in order to make a difference one has to be strong. That's why he acted. Dudley tells him he has no chance of escape and to just surrender quietly. Ernest refuses and tells everyone to stand aside or he'll kill the mayor right there in front of Elie. Everyone does so and Ernest begins to walk out, only to shove the mayor at Elie when he gets to the door, after which he runs away.
Elie stays to take care of her grandfather while Lloyd and Dudley follow Ernest, who is somehow running far faster than they can follow. Lloyd calls Tio and Randy and tells them what to do. They intercept Ernest right outside the theatre, though Randy is surprised by Ernest's strength. Lloyd and Dudley arrive and Tio asks why "Mr. Four Eyes from the First Division" is there. Ernest somehow manages to get up and runs off again. As he flees, he thinks to himself that with Hartmann's backing, he could definitely become the next mayor of Crossbell. He is stopped by Zeit and the others catch up. Also quickly catching up is Grace, who catches the entire incident on camera.
Back in the theatre, the performance finishes as Elie and her grandfather look on. Next, we see the latest edition of the Crossbell Times discussing the incident, followed by the SSS minus Elie doing the same. The attempted assassination has put the city in an uproar with a huge outpouring of support for the mayor from most of the citizens. The SSS discusses the Imperial Faction and whether the use of Yin as a scapegoat was meant to indirectly undermine the pro-Calvard Republican Faction, which has links to Heiyue in the same way that the Imperialists have links to Revache. Tio wonders about Ernest's unnatural strength and speed. Sergei arrives and says that for now Ernest is being held in prison and there will be doctors from St. Ursula and counselors from the church looking him over. He also congratulates the SSS on its spectacular success; now the entire police department is talking about them.
At the MacDowell residence, Elie berates her grandfather for wanting to get back to work only days after being stabbed. She thinks he should rest more, especially since his work is only going to be harder without his right-hand man. He says his wound was barely a scratch and with the anniversary festival approaching, the city needs him more than ever. He apologizes for not being able to do anything about Elie's parents and she says that he doesn't need to be sorry, yes it was sad but she's moved on with her life. Elie says that she'll leave the police and help him full-time but he forcefully stops her, saying that she's following the path she chose and leaving for his sake would be betraying her companions and betraying herself. He's considering retiring when the next election comes but is certain he can manage another five years just fine if he has to.
At Heiyue's office, Cao and Yin discuss the incident. They doubt that Ernest came up with the idea himself, probably his strings were being pulled by Hartmann and indirectly Revache, as a move against Heiyue. If the plan had succeeded their interests would have been seriously compromised due to the strain it would have put on their ties with the Republican Faction in the government. Yin reminds Cao that while he works for Heiyue, he isn't part of the group and to stop assuming their interests will always align. Cao confirms that Heiyue will make its move against Revache on the final day of the upcoming festival and asks Yin to take care of it. Yin agrees, says "It's time," and vanishes. Cao thinks that Yin is an enigma, then wonders just what "time" he might have been referring to.
Yin leaps across the rooftops until arriving at the roof of Hotel Millennium and says that he made it in time. Yin quickly changes, revealing the identity of the person beneath the mask: Rixia Mao.
While entering the theatre, Rixia is greeted by Ilya who congratulates her on her debut. She thinks Rixia has the makings of a star and believes she's just witnessed the birth of her new rival. Rixia says that it's all thanks to Ilya's training but isn't confident she'll ever eclipse the light that is Ilya. This afternoon they will be practicing the third act again and Ilya wants them to be a hundred times better when they perform again next month. Rixia smiles and the two walk into the theatre.
Chapter 3 - Crossbell's Anniversary Festival
Crossbell celebrates the 70th anniversary of the state's founding with a five day festival. On the first day of the festival, the SSS has the day off and everyone does their own things. On the second day, the SSS receives a request from Mireille to find a missing set of keys at Bellguard Gate (reminder, the CGF's commander is incompetent), followed by a missing persons request from St. Ursula. Said missing person (Dr. Joachim Guenter, specialist in Pharmacology and Neurology) decided to skip out on work to take part in a special fishing event. Fishing is Serious Business in Zemuria.
Following this, the SSS gets called to mediate another dust-up between Downtown's gangs, which the Brights get involved in as well. They wind up settling it with a street race in three teams of two. During the race, Randy gets fired up and does... something. Lloyd takes the opportunity to ask about Randy's past, suspecting there's a connection. Randy brushes it off. Afterwards, Estelle and Joshua ask if the SSS has heard about the Schwarz Auktion, which is held at the close of festivities each year. Revache is involved in this auction and it is rumored to be a front for illegal activities, although no one has yet to prove it.
The SSS tries to locate a suspected smuggler of counterfeit goods and eventually finds the perpetrator (who is very shouty), with a bit of help from a woman named Kilika who claims to be an entertainment producer. Next there's an optional yet extremely significant Support Request which introduces Sully, a homeless girl who gets recruited into Arc en Ciel thanks to showing off her natural acrobatic skills in front of Ilya while attempting to evade arrest.
Next, the SSS assists Jona in his attempt to catch the hacker known as "Kitty" using a terminal deep within the Geofront. While on the job, Tio lets Lloyd know that she knew Guy and Lloyd realizes that this is the girl his brother mentioned he was escorting home at one point before his death. The attempt to catch Kitty fails, though they're able to determine that the terminal used by the hacker is located at Rosenberg Studio. Later, Jona provides the SSS with information on Revache and the Schwarz Auktion, as well as linking Speaker Hartmann to the mafia.
The SSS gets an urgent request to help find a missing young boy; Colin Hayworth, the only child of a wealthy local family (Harold has previously helped the SSS out). He went missing during the festivities and his parents haven't been able to find him. While the team splits up to look for him, Lloyd is accosted by Renne, who insists on helping him because it looks fun, interjecting with commentary constantly. The team plus their newest member locate Colin, who had wondered out of the city to chase animals and was surrounded by a pack of monsters. Renne whips out her scythe and dispatches the monsters threatening Colin. After the rest are dealt with, Renne breaks down and says that she didn't intend to get involved like this. Back at the SSS Building, the Hayworths come to pick up their son (who is sleeping). Before they enter, Renne hides in a nearby closet. When Colin wakes up, he wonders what happened to the girl who "had pretty purple hair, just like Papa's!" This sets the older Hayworths off and eventually, they explain: They had a daughter once. When Harold was first making a name for himself, he wound up making a bad business decision that left him owing a lot of money. To keep their daughter safe, they left her with some friends while they worked to get themselves out of debt. When they returned for her, they found that their friends' home had burned to the ground in an accident. They tried to look for their daughter, but eventually gave up and took her for dead. Sophia thinks that the girl who saved Colin must have been their dead daughter, sent back as an angel to look over her younger brother. The three leave and Renne emerges from hiding. Having heard their side of the story, she realizes that her parents aren't the monsters she believed them to be, letting her put that part of her past behind her. She leaves and immediately afterwards, Estelle and Joshua arrive, having heard that a girl matching Renne's description was seen with the SSS. They're disheartened that they missed Renne by mere minutes and explain their search for her to Lloyd and the others. Estelle resolves to keep searching for Renne no matter how long it takes.
In the morning, the SSS finds an unexpected gift in the mail, an invitation for two to attend the Schwarz Auktion, courtesy of Renne. Not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, the team decides to investigate the auction, which is being held at Mishelam, in a mansion owned by Representative Hartmann. On the ferry ride over, the SSS encounters a young man strumming a ukulele and acting like he doesn't have a care in the world. Meet Lechter Arundel and his unusual sense of humor. He pretty much admits straight up that he's an Erebonian agent and that now that the SSS knows this, he's going to have to kill them. Okay, the latter part was a joke. Kilika is also present, claiming that she's visiting Mishelam partly on business and partly as a tourist.
Arriving at Mishelam, Lloyd hears a voice telling him "Find me!" but nobody else hears it. Going to the local hotel to plan their next move and figure out how to get into the auction without immediately being thrown out by Revache's goons, the SSS encounters Wazy. It turns out that he's quite popular with Crossbell's ladies and has been hired to escort one of them to the event. He gives the SSS a hand in dressing for the occasion; the player can pick who gets to join Lloyd with the other two members being left outside as backup.
Once inside the mansion, Lloyd hears the voice in his head for a second time. While the guests mostly have a free run of the place, the rooms where the items to be auctioned are kept are guarded by totally legitimate hired guards, not mafiosos, no sir. Lloyd runs into Mariabell, who wonders what they're doing there but goes along with their cover story and explains that she's here to bid on the most valuable item: a new doll made by the famous Rosenberg Studio. Just because the auction is largely a front for illegal activities doesn't mean it doesn't have legitimate aspects as well. They also run into Garcia, who isn't fooled by their disguises or Lloyd's cunning ruse of pretending to be his (famously deceased) older brother. However, he's got other things to worry about than rookie police officers, like Heiyue's hired assassin. Yin shows up and makes a mess of things before informing the SSS (joined by Wazy) that there's something interesting in the storeroom.
Taking the opportunity to look for evidence of criminal activity, Lloyd and the gang start searching, only for Lloyd to hear the voice in his head for a third time as he approaches a large box. Opening it up, he finds the Rosenberg doll that Mariabell wants to bid on. Or at least, he thinks that until the "doll" opens her eyes and looks around, confused. Her name is KeA and...that's all she remembers. She has no memories before waking up inside that box. Everyone beats a hasty retreat before Revache's men arrive, hiding in a room that happens to be occupied by Lechter. He covers for them and gives them a chance to escape. After running and fighting their way out the mansion, they reunite with the other SSS members, and break for the dock with the help of an unseen benefactor. Unfortunately, the ferry is gone and everyone is trapped with a very annoyed Garcia on their tail. After fighting the SSS, Garcia reveals what he had expected for a while: He calls Randy out, identifying him as the "Son of the War God" and the "Red Reaper", a former member of the most (in)famous jaeger corps in western Zemuria: the Red Constellation. Before working for Revache, Garcia was a member of an equally powerful rival corps, Zephyr. Before the two can fight it out, Sergei and Zeit arrive on a speed boat and help the SSS make a hasty retreat.
As the chaos dies down and Revache tries to salvage the situation, Lechter and Kilika are seen together, paying their respects to one another on behalf of their respective governments, before getting down to business.
Intermission - KeA
The SSS spends time with its newest and youngest member. Attempts to find KeA's family prove fruitless and she hasn't remembered anything new. The bracers offer their help but don't have any information so the SSS turns to the church as they have methods that might be of assistance. Unfortunately, their powers fail too. It seems like KeA's problems are in body rather than in spirit. KeA does get invited to attend Sunday School in the process though so the visit wasn't a total loss. Lastly, they take her to St. Ursula to see if her amnesia is something their psychiatric ward can treat. On the way they're sidelined by Cecile who briefly mistakes KeA for Lloyd's child. Joachim examines KeA and suggests she remain at the hospital so he can run some tests to see if her condition is treatable. KeA is vehemently opposed to this and runs off, only to find an unexpected friend in Shizuku, also confined to the hospital. Maybe spending more time there won't be so bad after all...
Elsewhere, Garcia and Marconi argue over their response to Heiyue (and the SSS) making a mess of their auction. Marconi intends to use what "that person" gave them while Garcia says the risk is too great.
Chapter 4 - Creeping Wisdom
Finale - Crossbell's Longest Day
Joachim Guenter of the D∴G Cult convinces Revache and the CGF forces at Bellguard Gate to take his drug Gnosis, without mentioning that this will allow him to mind-control them. Resident Evil Crossbell happens and it turns out that Joachim wants KeA for some reason. The SSS goes to the location Joachim is working out of (the Sun Fort) to stop him, where they find Estelle and Joshua waiting to give them a hand. They make their way to the deepest level, fighting Ernest and Garcia (both using Gnosis, the latter against his will) as they go. Also, they find some of the people Joachim has used in his schemes/Gnosis tests, which gives the SSS the opportunity to shut Revache down and arrest Hartmann.
Joachim claims that Aidios is a lie the church uses to control people and that his organization has found a True God that he hopes to awaken. KeA is the "Divine Child" and is the key to awakening D, from the cult's namesake. He takes large amounts of Red Gnosis, which transforms him into a giant demonic creature and shows him "Wisdom". After being beaten, he realizes he's dying and tries to take everyone with him. Renne arrives with Pater-Mater and frees everyone, leaving Joachim to die. Before he goes, he taunts Lloyd with his knowledge about who killed Guy and says that he leaves everything in KeA's hands.
Estelle and Joshua are overjoyed to finally meet Renne but she tries to run away again...only for Pater-Mater to refuse her orders and deposit her right in front of Estelle who immediately hugs her and says she won't let Renne run away anymore. All three of them leave for Liberl together, the Brights having adopted a new family member. The SSS is proclaimed the heroes of the city, new elections are held in which Dieter becomes the next mayor promising a bright future for the city and KeA remains with her new family and begins to attend Sunday School. Cue credits.