Joule's Story is a short side-story written by Toshiaki Tai, featured exclusively in three issues of the Dengeki Nintendo magazine (March 2016 issue, April 2016 issue, May 2016 issue).
This event takes place in the six month interval following Joule's rescue from Sumeragi.
“Jo, there’s something I’d like to talk about with you...”
Joule’s friend Hatano called out to her during the middle school’s break time. “Jo” was Joule’s nickname at the school.
Joule, who’s being chased by the grand corporation ruling Japan, the “Sumeragi Group”, uses a fake name at school but the nickname she’s called out casually can apply to her real name as well so she had a somewhat complicated feeling about it.
Well. It’s easy to react when they call me like that… I guess.
If you had to describe Hatano in one word that was “gamergirl”.
She plays FPS games with online mode or similar games with high playability: she’s the only one with those hobbies in the class.
However, given her cheerful nature and kindness she gets fitted in a position similar to the class’ mood maker.
“She would be a nice girl if she didn’t talk about games”: that was all she was in the school – on the other hand, she was a girl somewhat hard to deal with so she was also famous as a trouble maker.
But, nevertheless, and despite Hatano’s personality, she was a person whom Joule – who was shy when it came to interacting with others – could immediately open up her heart to.
“I’m afraid Hata’s in the trouble maker mood today…”
“Huh? You were saying?”
“N-no. It’s nothing. Well… What’s up?”
Hatano’s eyes suddenly glow black. Joule gets nervous. This is the prelude before Hatano talks about her hobbies (the games)… This may take a while.
“Jo, do you know about “September Record”? The MMORPG.”
“Huh? An RPG? You’re playing that, Hata – chan? It’s not the EfPeeSs (FPS) you always play?”
“Yes. An MMORPG. So… you don’t know it?”
They’d only known each other for a short while but it was rare for Hatano to discuss about RPGs. That was exceptional but the name felt like it existed somewhere on Joule’s memories…
“Yes, I know… or so I think. If memory serves… you could become an Elf or a Human…? And there were about 7 types of species… Was it?”
Thanks to the title being “September” it’d gotten stuck on Joule’s memories. She pulled out the information of “7 species” from there.
“Whoa! You sure know a lot about it, don’t you! Good: I can get down to business. It’s a famed title to the point that almost everyone on the net has heard about it but most girls of my age don’t have so...”
“Yes. But it’s not like I’m versed into that, either…”
“It’s enough. As long as you know that it’s a famous MMORPG. Ah. It’s about that “Ber-Rec” but… Did you know that, about half a year ago, its services came to a stop?”
“You shorten it to Ber-Rec, huh… No. Sorry. I’ve heard the title but other than that… Is that so?”
“Yes, indeed! Back then, when the service suddenly halted without any forewarning, I wept my eyes out during a whole evening… There’s been no info disclosure by the company yet. But… According to one theory… The game servers suffered a cracking so… I’ll never forgive you, you cracker! And that was how I felt."
"Well, truth to be told, I am mainly playing shooter games but I originally was addicted to Ber – Rec. And the dedication I put into Ber – Rec wasn’t the same as the one I put into shooter games or other game genres. I dragged on with Ber – Rec as a kind of incomplete combustion. And I felt hazy about having an affair with other MMORPG games so I wasn’t able to get myself to try out other similar games…"
"Ah! I am sorry. You needn’t care about my feelings. So, you see? That Ber – Rec, which has been in a dormant state for half a year, is finally going to renew anew, smiles included, today! Its name is “September – Historia”! AKA “Ber – Sto”!
Hatano narrated all of that in a rush.
Most of her talk slipped through Joule’s ears from right to left, but the “renewal” and “Ber – Sto” towards the end were able to remain in Joule’s mind.
“Ber – Sto? Is something the matter with that game?”
“There is! You see, that Ber – Sto…”
“… And so you ended up agreeing to begin playing an online game with that friend of yours?” GV summed Joule’s narration.
There’s only 1 PC in the common space of the refuge in which GV and Joule live and it’s in the living.
Since Joule had a deal with Hatano she turned on the PC as soon as she got back home.
GV, who casually happened to witness that moment, asked Joule the reason so Joule ended up explaining her interaction with Hatano to him.
“Yes. She doesn’t know whether it’ll continue or not but… She says that, as part of the celebration of game’s start, if you begin playing it with a friend, you can get a bonus item within the game. Hata – chan seems to want to get her hands on it no matter what.”
“A net-game, huh… Hum… Will it be alright…?”
“It’s not that you can’t but… We’re, after all, hiding from the enemy. We must be very careful about what we do in the network and…” A familiar voice suddenly echoed inside of GV’s head.
“Hold on, GV. Can you spare me a moment? It’s about this topic, but… Ah. Try to avoid being noticed by Joule.” Joule’s Septima incarnation – Lumen, the Muse. But she wasn’t visible.
Given her way of talking(?) it seemed like it was something to be kept a secret from Joule.
[Translator's note: GV wonders if telepathy can be considered "talking" hence the (?)]
Lumen, who doesn’t have a solid body, wasn’t actually speaking but, rather, conducting a conversation through something similar to telepathy.
By remaining invisible and by choosing whom she wanted to talk to it was possible for her to conduct a secret discussion with someone.
“…I’ll try asking Zeno. Wait for a lil while.”
GV left the living after telling that to Joule. Zeno had been the one who’d set up the network surrounding the house where the two of them lived at.
To avoid their location being revealed to Sumeragi the house’s PC had a special protection installed to it and the network circuit went through QUILL’s concealed server.
So when they had some net-related problem they had to ask Zeno for help… that was the reasoning GV employed. Joule didn’t doubt him.
GV spoke in a bit of a low voice while paying attention to not to be overheard by Joule.
“Will this do, Lumen?”
Lumen appeared before him.
“Thanks, GV. Despite what it seems, Joule was actually looking forward to having a net game play with that friend. So I thought it would be bad to spoil that fun.”
“So it seems… So? What’s up?”
“Truth is… “September Record”… Ber – Rec… The company running that is Sumeragi, you see.”
“And its sequel… Ber – Sto… Was it? I don’t know if that’s also being run by Sumeragi but if you think about it…”
“Sumeragi’s involved, you mean to say…”
GV ran a search for “September Historia” with his portable terminal (cellphone) once he’d said that.
“…It seems like this name is indeed a Sumeragi-affiliated company. But why did you know that, Lumen?”
“I don’t about Ber – Sto but Ber – Rec wasn’t your everyday game. It actually was an Adept Identification System that exploited my abilities.”
“What’d you say?”
Despite being surprised GV remembered about the UTU Media Tower.
That tower, which was called one of the nation’s symbols, was an amplifier to detect and sort out the Septima Adepts across Japan.
It wouldn’t be odd for Ber – Rec to have been another of Sumeragi’s traps as well.
“I don’t think it’s working anymore: I’m the system core and I’m in here… But it’s picking me, nevertheless.”
“Could that talk about the system being halted half a year ago be that…?”
“The Muse Annihilation Mission… GV, you and your pals freed me… freed Joule from Sumeragi. That’s what it was.”
“Does Joule know… about that?”
“I’m not more than one facet of Joule. We’re the same person. Joule is supposed to actually know the same things I know but…”
GV is always feeling like he’ll forget that but Lumen was a manifestation of Joule’s heart – it didn’t matter how much she tried to behave like she was another person, they were the same girl.
“Maybe she’s excited because her friend invited her to. Or maybe she’s pretending that she’s not looking by sealing the truth in the depths of her heart.”
Joule had always lived imprisoned by the Sumeragi scientists. There was no way she wasn’t going to enjoy playing a net game with a friend.
“Gotcha. Before telling Joule to go ahead I’ll ask Zeno about this.”
“Thanks. I owe you one, GV.”
Lumen vanished after thanking GV. He brought out Zeno’s personal terminal number from his own portable terminal’s address book. A mechanical sound rang out and Zeno answered the call.
“Yo! GV. What’s up, man? It’s very rare for you to directly call me, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. You see, Zeno…”
GV summed up what he’d heard from Joule and Lumen and told Zeno.
“Hum… “Ber - Sto”, huh…”
“Do you know it?”
“Well. As a gamer, I obviously do… But, say… You don’t know about it? Ber – Sto’s prequel Ber – Rec was the thing that made us QUILL realize that Lumen was a trap (a sonar) to lure out Adepts, ya know?”
“Eh? Is that so?”
“Yeah. There was a fuss at one time involving some hacking into Ber – Rec… Sumeragi’s reaction back then indicated that they were nervous. Their reaction was unusual taking into account it was a “normal” net game… So when the Intel Team looked into it… Bingo! And that was it.”
“First-timer. Nobody told me anything about that…”
“That’s because you never play net games and the likes. And the Leader didn’t tell ya the important info. And, also… You quit QUILL right after that, didn’t ya? It can’t be helped that you didn’t know about this… Ah. Yeah. True. You were asking about Ber – Sto? I’ll go straight to the conclusion. There’s no problem with it even if you install it.”
“It’s not dangerous? For real?”
“Yeah. Ever since there was the Ber – Rec incident… QUILL’s also been looking into it. Obviously enough. The sequel Ber – Sto is an extremely normal net game. Since the prequel had the goal of luring out Psychics. The September Series got a lot of money through adverts and other stuff but it actually seems like it was on a deficit. It’d seem the guys are desperate to try to recover from the debts, ya know? September Historia is a sequel that reuses the game portions to fill up that deficit… That sums it up.”
“But it’s still a Sumeragi game, no? Is it alright?”
“Well. The guys don’t want to lose money but it’s too late by now. It’s impossible not to get in debt with Sumeragi if you’re living in this nation. To begin with… The electricity we’re using to recharge the communications terminals is provided by Sumeragi, ya know? Well. As a member of QUILL I suggest that you play the initial free service period and then quit the game…”
“Can I really take things so lightly?”
“But, say… I’ve been playing it until now. Playing Ber – Sto, see. Man! It’s pretty interesting. So much that it makes me consider paying to continue playing.”
“Zeno… Huff. Then what was the point of our discussion?”
“Regardless of the maker… The product itself isn’t guilty, right? I cast this on my name, the name of Zeno… Well. If something were to happen… Use your Azure Thunderclap (Armed Blue) to alter the logs or that stuff. Ya know, like we did with your school’s incorporation procedure.”
“But that was because you guys helped me out, Zeno. Wasn’t it? You know that it’s hard for me to alter rather complicated data, don’t you?”
“Man. I didn’t imagine that Joule liked games… Maybe I should tell her my games suggestions one day…Maybe that one where a bike turns into a robot will do… Or maybe… That one where you control a girl-model Navi(gator)… Or better yet, the one that makes girls get madly in love, that eye sho(oter)…”… Beep.
Zeno didn’t seem to be listening to his talk so GV cut off the call. He had the impression that he’d heard Zeno talk about some nefarious plotting but… He’ll pretend he didn’t hear it.
GV returned to the living and told Joule that he’d gotten permission to install “Ber – Sto”.
“Really? Thank you, GV.”
“I haven’t done anything. Zeno’s the one who deserves thanks. It’d seem he’s also playing this game so you might unexpectedly run into him inside the game, even.”
“Hum… There are 7 types of species you can play with: this hasn’t changed… Well. It’s a “September” game… That was obvious.”
In Ber – Sto the player has to choose one of the existing 7 especies: Giant (Cyc[lop]), Insect-Human ([In]sect), Elf, Dwarf, Golem, Human and Sorcerer.
Joule began the game immediately and began to work in the making of the character that would become her avatar.
“Ah. The elf is cute. Maybe I should choose it?”
“Wait, Joule. It says here that elves are suit to experienced players. In your case, Joule… Maybe…”
GV then visualized Lumen’s form. She did have cybernetic wings like those of a butterfly as her name indicated.
“How about an Insect-Human ([In]sect)? See, the manual says they’re suit to beginners and…”
Lumen suddenly showed up and complained along with Joule.
“Do you know that the [In]sects look like this!?”
Joule operated her Device and the graphic of a grotesque character was displayed on the monitor…
The [In]sects were, maybe due to their creature-like form, a really unpopular species, even in the prequel (Ber – Rec).
“GV, you..! You were thinking about me when you said “[In]sect”, right! I’m not a bug… I’m a fairy…”
Lumen glanced at him with an annoyed glare and then beat (her wings) before vanishing.
Lumen… I guess this is one of her aspects she shares with Joule…
“Come to these… I swear I’ll chose the elf… Because Lumen is a cybernetic elf…!”
GV, when faced with the aura oozing from Joule was unable to argue back that Lumen was a muse…
Joule then made her character and, once she finished the controls explanation quest (the tutorial), she entered the plaza within the game.
I think it’s better to get a bit more used to the game before meeting up with Hata – chan…
Her deal with Hatano was that they’d meet at night-time inside the game and take part in a quest together.
According to Hatano’s talk, she was a veteran player who’d also played Ber – Reco.
Joule still hadn’t grasped a lot of stuff about the game but she was thinking to try to be as less of a burden as possible.
At that moment…
“Hey. You over there.”
Someone called Joule out. The owner of the voice was a scary sword fighter (male) with various muscles and bones.
(That was happening in the game screen yet) the sword fighter was glaring at Joule (her PC [Playable Character]) with a powerful glint on his eyes (or so it seemed).
“Could it be that you’re…?”
… 2 hours later.
“Sorry, Joule. I gotta heal so can you shield for me a lil while?”
Joule and the scary Human had tagged together and were challenging a monster horde within a dungeon.
The scary guy’s identity (the person on the inside) turned out to be Zeno. It’d seemed that he’d heard she was going to start playing Ber – Sto so he’d been calling out to characters which seemed like the type Joule would use whenever any of them logged into the game.
The reason both were using their true names was because they were having a conversation through a voice call system which wasn’t a part of the game system.
Ber – Sto also had a private chat function yet the 2 of them had decided to prioritize safety hence why they were employing a communications system provided by QUILL.
The dungeon in which they were teaming up was a limited dungeon in which only a few were allowed to come in.
There were 2 simultaneous entrance conditions: one was to be an owner of the “Bond Proof”, part of the itemset given out in this start campaign. And the second was to use the invitation attached in the item to come inside one after the other: 2 to 4 players were allowed to come into the dungeon.
According to the official site, it’d seemed that this dungeon was aimed at beginners to be able to build up experience points and money.
“OK! Lord Zeno’s completely healed!”
Zeno finished healing but he jumped into the enemy files to change places with Joule.
Zeno used his sword skills (skills) to cut the monster horde into pieces one after the other. The monster horde vanished in the blink of an eye.
“Phew! Maybe it’s starting to get hard to play together? Well. You can get tons of healing items in this dungeon so… They’ll be useful if we run into trouble.”
“Looks like my level’s increased as well. It’s thanks to you, Zeno.”
“Glad to hear that. That classmate that invited you might be surprised to find you’ve got higher level than her, even! You could say that that senior player gets more fortune than she deserves…”
At first, Joule approached her benefactor’s colleague (Zeno) thinking that he’d get annoyed (at her gameplay), but it looked like she’d been able to overcome that through their party-play.
The duo, being full of harmony, shared the items dropped by the monsters and proceeded further into the dungeon.
Suddenly… A mysterious SE (roar) made Joule’s headphones tremble and shudder. The BGM changed to a tense BGM.
A gigantic machine-human (a Golem) wielding a sledgehammer appeared behind them: it was a whole world apart from the small fry they’d been hunting down insofar.
“This BGM… An arrangement of the prequel game’s (Ber – Rec’s) Event Boss BGM!? A boss battle here of all places!?”
Zeno reacted at once and launched a preemptive attack yet the health bar didn’t decrease.
No, it must’ve decreased at an internal processing level but, because the boss’ initial health was very high, then it they couldn’t notice that decreasing.
The monster’s name, displayed on the game window, was “Hammer which punishes greed”.
When that “Hammer which punishes greed” brought down the sledgehammer into the ground with a wham an abnormal amount of weak monsters appeared: they were so many that they seemed to cover the whole floor.
“What the hell is this!? Wasn’t this a dungeon for beginners only!?”
Despite his astonishment Zeno went on cutting to pieces the weak monsters in a smooth manner. It could be called a blessing in disguise since the weak monsters that had appeared were the low-leveled monsters they’d been hunting insofar.
However, the “Hammer which punishes greed” continued to spawn weak monsters one after the other.
“No, hold it… Punishes “greed”…? Could this thing appear automatically if you stay too long in this dungeon…? Maybe it’s a stopper?”
In Ber – Sto… When you get beaten by a monster you turn into “corpse state”. Once a specified amount of times passes you lose a specified amount of money and gained experience points and you get returned to the closest city. Those were the game’s rules.
This “Hammer which punishes greed” was a monster to remove players who kept on “building up” for a long while in this dungeon. That was Zeno’s guess.
The fact that it summoned monsters without end and that you could beat a huge amount of weak monsters was some kind of favor gone wrong from the developers to at least compensate to some extent for the loss due to the death penalty.
Joule was unleashing magical attacks one after the other and slowly decreasing the amount of monsters one by one but it didn’t seem like the average amount was decreasing. The MP (Magic Points) were about to hit the bottom as well.
“Huff… Give it up, Joule. This is some bad taste pestering, man. You can’t possibly inflict any harm at your current level. Sheesh. The company running this (Sumeragi) does cruel stuff, man. And this is supposed to be a dungeon for beginners… Feels like that bird-shaped boss of some side-scroll action game, man…”
GV, overseeing Joule from the edge of the room, also felt that it was an impossible task.
“Joule… Maybe an [In]se… I mean, choosing another species wasn’t that bad of an idea?”
That was an absurd hunch he got despite that he usually never played games. But those words ignited Joule’s sleeping fighting spirit.
“That’s not it! Because I can properly play, even using the elf!”
But reality is ruthless. Joule’s health was being slowly eroded as she spoke and it finally got reduced to a very minimal amount. Joule’s shoulders shuddered from the frustration.
“Won’t give up so easily!”
Just as GV thought that he’d seen Lumen’s form overlapping Joule’s, Joule let go of the control device and shut her eyes. And, then, Lumen vanished like she was being sucked into the computer…
The next instant, Joule’s PC’s movements in the screen “changed” in an obvious manner.
The monsters surrounding Joule set their sights on her and attack… MISS.
A lot of “MISS” displays overlapped into Joule’s character.
Joule moved into counter-attacking as the MISS displays scattered all around. The attack means that Joule had learned consisted on just beginner level magic.
The casting time was short yet the attacking power was low.
But she foresees the attacks and uses the small opening created once the enemies have moved to shoot her attacks to the monster horde with a precise timing.
Critical hits which should only happen through probability pop out one after the other and the monsters are beaten one after the other.
The beaten monsters uniformly dropped MP (Magic Points) restoration items: Joule picked one and drank it, picked one and drank it and so by repeating that processing she continued to use magic semipermanently.
GV and Zeno were dumbfounded when faced with this phenomenon. Joule’s PC sometimes underwent mysterious actions but Zeno figured out the reason: “random number adjustment”.
That was an academic gossip of the real-time online games. Those were totally impossible actions but Joule’s Septima was the "Muse".
By digitalizing her will and fusing with the network data, she was capable of processing enormous data and was also capable of perfectly figuring out the random numbers (randomness).
…It was possible that not even GV’s Azure Striker and its electron control (hacking) could be capable of carrying out such detailed controlling.
The next moment, almost all of the mass-summoned monsters had been reduced to zero and the character that Joule controlled chased the “Hammer which punishes greed” until she was in front of it.
The “Hammer which punishes greed” changed patterns as well and tried to attack Joule…
“Slow! You’re as slow as sound!”
But when Joule’s magical attack was about to deliver the first blow to the enemy…
“But… This is cheating, isn’t it…?”
Joule stopped her movements upon hearing GV’s calm reaction (comment). The character controlled by Joule ended up receiving a direct blow from the enemy’s skill and it was defeated…
… Some hours later… Joule told Hatano that someone at her home (Gunvolt) had prohibited her from playing any more net games: once she’d told her about the instructions she’d received she made sure to quickly pull out of Ber – Sto.
And, also, as a sequel… Some of the players who’d casually witnessed from the start to the end part of what had happened will surely go around whispering rumors of the “legendary lucky elf” yet that’s another tale.