Part 19: Keyser's Last Stand
Welcome back. Last time on Exit Fate, we rescued the old warrior Shiro from house arrest in Blackwater. In doing so, we confused the shit out of Keyser and disrupted his ability to plan ahead for our future moves. Now that we've done that, it's time to head back to Bast to see how we might go about dealing Keyser a finishing blow. So let's get to it.
It's been a while, Bast.
Good to see you again, Shiro. I'm glad that you've all returned safely, but let's not waste any more time.
Fade to black...
Music: Mission - Xenogears, "Leftovers from the Dreams of the Strong"
Captain, you'll have to relay my plan to the rest of the State Army.
Daniel, the Elysium army is going to play an essential role in this battle.
Us? What is this role?
Let's start at the beginning.
But those numbers mean nothing. They're on the defensive, and we can't afford big losses. The whole Kirgard Royal Army is still larger than the whole State Army. But, we also have the Elysium army, and I want to make good use of that. Daniel, I'll need to borow 500 of your men. It doesn't really matter who, as long as they're a good team and I can trust them to follow my orders to the letter.
That won't be a problem.
Also, I need as many military transport ships as possible, as well as a group of civilian volunteers. A few hundred would be enough. Don't worry, they won't come to any harm.
The volunteers won't be an issue, and I'll see what I can do about those ships. When will you be needing them?
Whenever this operation commences, which means as soon as possible. Now, this is what the situation's like.
So, let's move on to the plan. Everything revolves around drawing as many troops away from Mayfall City as possible. The State Army will mobilize and march on to capture Amen Corner. This shouldn't pose any problems. The Elysium Army will stay there temporarily, while the State Army moves on to the Mayfall River bridge. Being a location of great strategic value, Keyser will definitely send the Blackwater troops to the bridge, and maybe even some of his own. The more, the better, as it's only meant to distract them. Once the Kirgard reinforcements are on their way, Elysium will move out as well and head straight for Mayfall City. At that point, I estimate both sides will be equal in numbers, but Keyser's troops will still have the advantage.
Are we supposed to make a serious effort in taking the bridge?
It doesn't matter. Even if they realize it's only a distraction, they can't abandon it. Press on hard enough that they can't let up, but don't strain yourself.
Do you have any questions, Daniel?
Not at all, our role is perfectly clear. I have faith in your ability to handle the rest.
Oh, I certainly do. You'll be serving another use, Shiro. I'll tell you what I have in mind later. All right. If everything's clear, then go get everything in order. I want to leave as soon as we can.
I'll return to Matrech and get those ships ready, as well as gather enough volunteers.
That's all, then. Come see me when you're ready, Daniel.
Once again, we're given control in case we want to do some preparations. Our party is just fine at the moment, so let's get moving.
We're given a chance to change our war unit setup before we begin. We've gotten a few new characters since the last time we did this, so let's take a peek.
Daniel's unit is good as is, but Ljusalf replaces Mike with Richard for a +1 attack boost and the Forester skill.
Outsider, meanwhile, replaces Carson with Rorschach for the Evasion skill at a cost of a tiny dip in men. All three of our main units now have Evasion, and, well... considering the stupidity you're about to see me display, let's just say it was good that they all had it.
After that, it's time to move out.
Fade to black...
Music: Suspicion 2 - Suikoden V, "Standing Firm"
So, they have finally begun to make their move.
It's just like you predicted. They're trying to take the bridge first.
General! We can't afford to lose the bridge! If we do, they'll be able to attack this city from the north and south at the same time.
What about the Elysium Army? Are they on the move as well?
According to our last reports, they're still at Amen Corner. We have no idea what they might be up to.
Hmm... The attack on the bridge... it's most likely a distraction. They're trying to draw our forces away from the city. But even if that's the case, we have no choice but to send reinforcements. Colonel Erickson can't hold the bridge by himself. Have all men at the Blackwater camp help defend the bridge. Everyone else will stay here at Mayfall City. We'll have more than enough troops left here to defend ourselves against any other attacks.
Fade to black...
Music: Mission - Xenogears, "Leftovers from the Dreams of the Strong"
We find our heroes in the newly-liberated Amen Corner.
There was little resistance here. The State Army has already left towards the bridge according to Sir Gunwood's plans. I will be following them soon.
Good. We'll move out shortly afterwards.
The remaining Kirgard troops have all withdrawn from this area. You should have a clear march to the city.
But this time we have Bast on our side!
That's true. We'll just have to trust him.
We've all been given our tasks. We don't need to know how Bast intends to win the battle. He knows that the success of this mission depends on Keyser being unaware of our plans. The fewer people know about it, the lower the chance of leaks.
And you are now ruining that secret by blabbing it out loud to everyone within earshot. Do you not see those soldiers all around us? I suppose Bast's presence can't remain a secret for much longer anyway, but come on dude.
He's very serious about this, but the captain has given him her full cooperation, so we'll do exactly as he asks.
As we should. We didn't bring him back from retirement to interfere with his plans. I have confidence in Bast's skills. He's the only one who could outsmart Keyser.
We won't meet again until the battle is over. Good luck, Colonel.
Fade to black...
Music: Suspicion 2 - Suikoden V, "Standing Firm"
According to these scout reports, all known Elysium officers are openly present. There's no one missing...
There were reports that Lord Shiro was wounded during the escape from Blackwater Port, and as such is unable to fight.
That's a false rumor meant to trick us. I'm sure we'll hear of him soon enough.
A large fleet of transport ships has gathered together at the shore north of the city! We believe the State Army may be using them to transport troops!
Transport ships? Is that how they intend to get around our defenses?
There's twelve ships in total. If every one of them carries four hundred men, we're looking at almost five thousand in total!
What!? With that many, we'll be forced to split up our army and fight on two fronts. General! We must act quickly and deal with the landing forces first!
Are there really soldiers on those ships, or...
Hundreds of men are disembarking from the ships! And Lord Shiro is among them!
Shiro!? So that's what he was doing!
General! It's obvious now! We must act!
Putting them on unarmed transports leaves them highly vulnerable, and they'd be unavailable to defend the capital if there was an attack during transit. Moreover, Shiro's absence was too obvious. Even if he was wounded, they'd have taken him along just to give the impression nothing was wrong. This isn't right. There can't be any soldiers on those ships.
How much more evidence do you need, General!?
And here we have another effect of our rescue mission: not only is Keyser starting to doubt himself, but his own subordinates are now second-guessing him. It's hard to think of someone as a genius strategist if they can't even predict the enemy's next move.
We must protect the city. Send the fourth and sixth divisions to the north to intercept the landing party. I will take the main force to the south gates to meet the Elysium army.
Yes, sir. We'll move out at once.
Let's do this shit.
Music: War Battle - Final Fantasy IX, "Consecutive Battles"
I'll make you regret those words, General.
Hmm... We've nearly lost our superiority in numbers, but this is still a hopeless battle for them. I'm convinced there's something more to this attack. They will not be making a regular frontal attack. Adjust the formation and spread out to encircle them!
Wait, what? "Nearly lost our superiority in numbers?" You outnumber me nearly two to one. Hey, uh, Bast, your plan takes this into account, right...?
We're backed up this time by two generic Elysium Army units, an infantry and a cavalry. These guys are under our control, thankfully. We're gonna need some bait if we're going to win a battle with these numbers.
Keyser no longer has Bruce's battalion on his side and he's lost a bit of men in his own unit, but he's still a brick wall defensively and has somehow managed to pick up the Shield skill. We're going to need to do a lot of sniping before we dare attack Keyser directly.
Nothing worth noting happens on turn 1 since the armies are so far away from each other, so this is the way things stand after both sides have moved. The more astute among you may notice that this is actually a slightly different map than our first go-around with Keyser. I think things are slightly more zoomed-in this time, and a few forests are now present to the south where there weren't any before.
On turn 2, I start spreading my units out a little bit. The poor infantry in the northwest is struggling to keep up, since he started further back and half of my units outrange him. Keyser makes little movement on his turn, bunching all of his units up into a ball. Spoiler alert: Keyser's orders to encircle us at the beginning of this battle will have absolutely no effect on how his AI behaves.
It should come as no surprise that I'm going to need to play this battle defensively if I stand any chance of winning. Even then, I don't think I have the manpower to take on all of these units. Hey, Bast? Now would be a good time to put that plan of yours into action!
My strategy for turn 4 is fairly simple: I'm going to bunch everyone together, bait out one of the enemy cavalry with my own, and then use my stronger units to decimate it. I can probably hold out this way for a turn or two, but something better happen after that to shift things in my favor.
Predictably, the enemy cavalry takes the bait. My own cavalry is crippled now, but the enemy cavalry is wide open to attack.
Luckily, Keyser doesn't press his advantage, instead opting to leave his forward cavalry all by its lonesome while hanging back with the rest of his army. Even then, we're still in a sticky situation here. We're going to have to advance to take out the forward cavalry, opening ourselves up to further attacks. Can we really win this...?
But just then!
The Zelmony landing forces retreated when we got close and are avoiding battle!
So... it was a trick after all!?
S-Sir! Movement detected in the forest to the south!
WHAM! 1550 new men fall right into my lap.
Long time no see, Keyser. Daniel! We're taking his remaining army head-on! That's the last thing he's expecting!
You... You fooled me again! Quick! Order the fourth and sixth division to return from the north! We must hold out as long as possible!
Bast and his battalion are allied units, but in the case of his personal unit I don't really care because he is a goddamned monster. As if to demonstrate, he attacks the scout north of him and destroys it with a single blow. These are some reinforcements I can get behind!
His scout and sorcery unit follow up by taking out one of the enemy sorcery units, removing a big long-range threat to the units under our command. Unfortunately, he also leaves his scout right next to Keyser and in range of just about every unit he has. Oh, and you know that efficiency rating you get at the end of battles? Bast's units count toward that!
That said, now Keyser has nearly lost his superiority in numbers. And look at the fucking stats on Bast! He is going to be spending the majority of this battle wrecking enemy units with impunity because the enemy AI is too afraid to attack him. I never doubted ya, buddy!
Aaaand then I repay him by bringing the stupid. Mistake #1: I move Outsider up to attack the enemy cavalry instead of moving Daniel northeast and letting Outsider attack from where Daniel was standing. Outsider is now in range of the enemy infantry, which is generally not something you want to have happen with a scout.
Ljusalf finishes the cavalry off.
Mistake #2: Instead of letting Outsider take the punishment for my stupidity like a man, I move my cavalry in as a meatshield for Outsider, in addition to Daniel. While the cavalry will certainly serve its purpose, it will not be surviving, which means another hit to my efficiency rating.
Finally, the straggler infantry forms up behind everyone.
Predictably, the enemy wastes little time taking out my cavalry.
Keyser then attacks Bast's scout with one cavalry...
... and the other, crippling it.
Keyser's scout takes the chance to get a shot in on Bast's sorcery unit.
And his sorcery unit deals the finishing blow to Bast's scout.
Keyser himself, however, prefers to retreat out of the sorcery unit's range.
Bast opens turn 6 with another one-hit kill. This is going to become a theme.
His sorcery unit gets in a potshot on one of the cavalry units while also moving itself out of range of Keyser's entire army, thanks to the forest. Intelligence from an allied unit? Why I never!
Ljusalf and Outsider take out the forward infantry. Mistake #3: Outsider is now in range of the stronger cavalry.
I also move up Daniel and my generic infantry, placing Daniel in Keyser's range. This is actually intentional--I want to bait Keyser over to me, because if I don't Keyser might actually start running away. I saw the war AI do this a bunch of times on my first playthrough and if Keyser does it here my speed rating is going to get ugly. I'd rather let Daniel take the hit.
Keyser moves up his infantry and weakened cavalry to start turn 6. The AI continues displaying the quirk we saw in the Grunthall battle, and prefers to act as though Bast's overpowered unit simply isn't there. I'm not complaining--those two units are prime targets for Bast's battalion next turn.
Then the stronger cavalry is like "hey outsider i'm attacking you now" and Outsider is like "lol nope". Outsider activates Evasion, essentially canceling the battle. This also means he doesn't get to counterattack, but that's a fair trade for remaining at full health.
The sorcery unit goes for a shot on Bast. He chips off a decent amount of his men, but Bast is still well within juggernaut range health-wise.
Finally, as Keyser attacks the stars align and what would have been a crippling hit to Daniel gets completely negated. I'll take it.
Bast is not having any of that sorcery unit's shit and annihilates it. Even injured he's still killing enemies in a single blow. Bast
His sorcery unit follows up by attacking the weakened cavalry, just barely leaving it alive.
Ljusalf begins the arduous process of wearing down the commander with a snipe on Keyser.
Mistake #4: I have Outsider go after the enemy cavalry instead of, y'know, those two bigass infantry units threatening Daniel. Daniel now has no real choice but to attack Keyser directly despite being at a sizable disadvantage in men.
The straggler infantry gets his one moment of glory of this battle and takes out the cavalry.
And Daniel makes the obligatory attack on Keyser, but Daniel is definitely the loser in that battle.
The enemy infantry quickly slams my generic, crippling it.
The cavalry follows up by making a suicide run. He gets taken out, but not after depriving my infantry of 23 men. Those must be some damn good horsemen.
And Keyser attacks Daniel, dropping him to critical health. Remember, we lose if Daniel's unit gets taken out, so we are now officially in the Danger Zone.
To make matters worse, Bast's units are out of range of both of the enemy units, so they have to waste a turn trudging back.
Mistake #5: I use my long-range units to weaken Keyser instead of taking out the other infantry. Why is this a mistake? Well, you'll see in a moment.
The generic infantry stays put, and Daniel retreats behind my wall o' units. Except...
... it's a really shitty wall. The enemy infantry wastes no time destroying my generic infantry, leaving Daniel wide open to Keyser's attack. And that's it. Game over. After all, Keyser's a genius strategist. Surely he's going to end the battle by attacking Daniel, right?
No! He's going to go after Ljusalf! And then, as if to punish him for that incomprehensibly stupid move, Ljusalf evades his attack.
Now why the hell would Keyser do this? Judging from the AI's behavior in this battle, I'm forced to conclude that the AI will always go after vulnerable sorcery units if they can: Bast's scout charged directly into the entire second legion to take out one of Keyser's sorcery units, and Bast himself ran away from the rest of the battle to take out the other one. I think we need a in Elysium colors with a sorcery unit instead of an APC.
And for the record, I had no idea that this was normal AI behavior at the time. I did not plan this; I genuinely thought I was screwed.
Bast opens turn 9 with his only attack of the entire battle that doesn't result in a kill.
But his sorcery unit is there to clean up.
I'm not taking any chances here. Ljusalf and Outsider knock Keyser down to critical health...
... and Daniel retreats. While it's possible that he could have taken Keyser out, I don't want to risk it. If he fails, Keyser is going to get two hits on Daniel, and as we saw with that cavalry earlier, even a unit with 3 men remaining can easily do over 20 men worth of damage.
Keyser goes after Ljusalf again and actually succeeds in hitting this time, but it's nowhere near enough.
And that's that.
Oh fuck that shit. I handed you victory on a silver platter and you didn't take it. This is entirely your doing!
Sorry, old buddy. Looks like it's over for you.
Damn you, Gunwood... Everyone! Retreat!
Music: War Battle Won - Suikoden V, "Cry Victory!"
So yeah, not exactly a shining beacon of strategy there, but we won. Our reward for the C-rank is a Charged Pearl, an attack item which casts Photon Beam, the second-tier light spell. A B-rank would have gotten us another Mend-All, and an A would have landed us a copy of Photon Beam itself. These aren't huge losses, as I can buy three more Mend-Alls just with the money I currently have, and Photon Beam won't be out of our reach for long.
However, we're not quite done liberating Mayfall yet.
Music: Fuse - Xenogears, "Fuse"
We've already sealed off the north exit before the other enemy divisions could return. He has to be somewhere in the city.
He's probably holed up inside the city hall somewhere. Daniel, let's go look for him. I've been hiding myself for long enough. It's time I got some action too.
And Bast joins us temporarily.
So, those guns on Bast? They ain't just for show. Bast is a goddamned powerhouse, with the highest STR of any character we've currently recruited and not far from the highest STR in the game, not to mention a prodigious PDF rating. This guy has frontline written all over him, but he's not perfect: he's very slow (slower than everyone in our active party) and fairly inaccurate, though not quite as bad as Outsider in that regard. Bast was another of my mainstays during my first playthrough, and you definitely can't go wrong putting him up front.
Look at that damage. That's without a critical or elemental advantage. Can you guess that I want you to vote for this guy?
Now then, I believe we were in the process of capturing Keyser.
Random battles will pop up while we're in the city, but they're all the same groups of shitty Kirgard soldiers we fought back in Blackwater. They were a joke then and they're a joke now.
Our destination is the city hall/army headquarters, where we can now open this door on the left that was locked when we first visited.
There's not all that much to see here, but there is a bit of loot lying around.
Of particular note is this Feather Robe, which is one of the few armors in the game that is completely weightless. This goes to Midian.
Eventually we come across a save point, and a door in the back, which leads to...
... the man himself.
So... have you come to laugh at me? Keyser, the Undefeatable, losing to a mere traitor and a ghost from the past? Suffering a humiliating defeat in a battle that was considered impossible to lose.
Good luck with that, buddy.
BOSS FIGHT: Keyser
Music: Boss Battle - Wild Arms 2, "Battle vs. Solid"
It's time to add injury to insult.
Well, actually it's time to steal shit, then add injury to insult. The Mithril Bracer is an accessory that grants +4 PDF.
Keyser fancies himself a bit of a spellcaster, and will cast Splash rather often for someone who isn't actually a mage. This is only really a danger to Joe with his element and low MDF. Unfortunately for Keyser, he displays the same genius in targeting as he does in war battles, often opting to hit the back row. Midian and Yan Angwa laugh at him.
Much like the battle with the Kirgard Captain, the lackeys in this battle are gone in seconds, leaving only Keyser himself. He's got a decent physical attack for around 80 damage, which I unfortunately missed the screenshot of, but it's nothing we can't handle at this point. That plus Splash is his entire moveset.
The battle is easy but not entirely trivial. Of note is the fact that Keyser has a pretty high PDF, and not just because he's in the back row. Daniel and Joe will often struggle to do damage against him, but Ayara and Outsider are strong enough to still get things done.
But he's still not much of a challenge. Joe ends up amassing a bunch of MP by accident and I use a Thunderbolt to finish Keyser off in style.
Music: Boss Battle Won - Chrono Cross, "Victory (A Cry In Summer)"
We only get about 200 experience for the battle, but it's enough to push everyone over to the next level. Apart from that our only reward is some money.
Music: Reflection - Chrono Trigger, "At the Bottom of the Night"
I... I don't believe this...
That's the way it is, Keyser. Nobody is undefeatable. Your fame and reputation worked in your favor up until now, but it also meant your downfall. You couldn't win against someone you weren't aware of.
The Royal Army is still stronger, and we still hold Helman Island. We are far from defeated.
You're wrong, General. I know how high your reputation in the Royal Army was. This is more than the defeat of a single general. It's a clear sign that the State Army can stand up to Kirgard. All we want is an end to this war. This battle may well send a signal to Kirgard that the price of this land is not worth paying. Everything may end here.
Nothing will end, Vinyard. It may stop for a week, a month, a year... but it will never end, until either country falls.
But one thing's for sure. It's over for you. All right. It's time to clean up the city.
Fade to black...
Music: Elysium - Chrono Trigger, "Frog's Theme (Orchestral Version)"
Bast, we are all in your debt. A victory like this would've been impossible without your help.
It wasn't just my doing. All of you carried out my plan flawlessly. It was an excellent effort by everyone.
What about the bridge, Captain? Is it under our control as well now?
Yes. The enemy put up heavy resistance at first, but once the news about the fall of Mayfall City reached them, everything fell apart quickly. The commander there managed to escape with most of his men, but it's not a great loss. The important part is that we've liberated Mayfall.
It was a resounding success on all accounts. Everyone involved desrves a part of the glory.
Ah, Captain Erin. You've done excellent work. I can't express how happy I am to see you all here. Oh... and you must be the commander of the Elysium Army?
Yes, I'm Colonel Vinyard. I'm glad to see you're all right, Governor.
The colonel and I are both fine, thankfully. We've been through a tough time, but thanks to you all, it'll all be back to normal soon.
I've got no excuse for letting Kirgard take Mayfall, but I'll do all I can to work together with the rest of the State Army and fight back.
That's a really bad idea. With this defeat, Kirgard may lose hope for the war altogether. We shouldn't risk prolonging the conflict over a place as disputed as Helman Island.
What!? You're saying we should just hand the island over to Kirgard!? They started this war! We can't let them get away with this!
Enough, Colonel. This is not the time and place to discuss these matters.
Let's just sit back and see what happens.
We still have a lot of work to do here, Colonel. For now, let's work on restoring order to Mayfall and bolstering our defenses.
Hmm, all right. We'll talk about this another time, Captain.
Bast, the war may not be over yet. We may need to call on your expertise again in the near future. Will you come back to the State Army? If you do, your old rank will be restored without question.
No, that's not it. Daniel, do you know the reason I left the army in the first place? I got sick of the people in Matrech, and all the dirty politics. They all tried to meddle in military affairs for their own good.
Captain, you know what I'm talking about, don't you?
It... takes a certain kind of personality to be able to do this work. You're a peerless strategist, but you may just not be cut out for dealing with what comes along with it.
That's right, I'm not. Sure, I want to help Zelmony, but I don't want a repeat of the past. So, the only solution is...
And I am not going to turn you down.
I see, so that's your solution.
I understand, and I'll be glad to have you with us, Bast. I hope the Elysium Army will be good enough for you.
Don't worry about that. I've liked my stay at your place till now. It's not like I'm doing it against my will.
Won't you return to Blackwater, Lord Shiro?
To be honest, being mayor of Blackwater is more of an honorary position than anything. The town will run fine without me. If it's come to this, I would rather use my modest skills once more to defend this nation. My honor demands that I repay you for saving me.
Great! I knew I could count on you. It's settled then. Daniel, we're both at your service.
Need to absolutely, positively make sure that you're going to hit an enemy with a physical attack? Then Shiro's your man. With the highest ACC in the game, Shiro will not miss, ever. Apart from that he's a bit of an odd one. He's meant to be a frontliner, but he seems to be a warrior focused more on speed, accuracy, and skill than strength--all of our other frontliners beat him in the STR department. He can definitely hold his own on the front line, but I'd argue that he's really only useful if you put him in the party with Bast, where his A-rank relation (which Bast reciprocates at A-rank) will make him quite strong, while also turning Bast into even more of a killing machine.
Shiro is pretty much a walking samurai stereotype, which of course means he has to fight with a katana. He also criticals a lot, which can help make up for his lower STR.
It's about time we got going, too.
Yeah, we're done here. It's time to go back to Elysium and celebrate this victory. Everyone! We're going back!
Music: Suspicion - Suikoden V, "Suspicion"
Colonel Erickson? Why are you here?
That bastard! He did it! He beat us! We had to run for our lives! It was all for nothing! The general, he... Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!
Calm down, Colonel! What happened?
I don't know exactly what happened, but we lost Mayfall City and he was captured by the State Army.
What!? General Keyser? Captured? H-How is that possible?
I don't know! We were defending the Mayfall River bridge against the Matrech Guard, when we suddenly got the news that the city had fallen. I don't get it at all. How could this happen?
Colonel Erickson, if General Keyser will not return, then I will temporarily take command over the remaining forces of the second legion. Since General Knight is busy himself, it will be up to me to determine our next move, but I'm going to need some assistance with that.
Let me do it! I'll take revenge for the general!
Very well. Let us get to work immediately.
Next time: We receive our next objective, pick up a few more characters, and then it'll be time for the next party vote!