(9x05) Virtuality Transcendent: Part 2, Episode 2
Recognizing the face of the Queen of Hell again, Tom immediately tries to use magic against her, believing himself to still be in just another simulation. But when he tries to focus his mind on the magic controls, he finds the necessary mental states coming through fuzzily, like trying to focus his eyes on something impossible to bring into focus. He urges Xiu to try as well, but she faces the same difficulty. Concerned at their apparent distress and seeming disorientation, Metis asks them what is wrong, and when they accuse her of being the Queen of Hell, she tells them the same story the other Metis did, about the Queen being a dark copy of herself. When they say how they've heard that story before, Metis merely finds it fascinating that they have been subjected to simulations within the simulation, and simulations of herself, and apologizes for how confusing it must be for them to have gone through all that.
Metis says that she has been deceived like that herself, and tells them her story. She recounts very briefly how she and her family were made immortal by the Ehrban tens of thousands of years ago, and how in that way she survived the collapse of civilization when the Berol destroyed the moon. She tells them of how she helped reunite humanity, and tried to help them reach for the stars again by summoning the ancient automata build at the height of civilization, and that she thought she had succeeded – thought she had even met the Ehrban and been granted the "magic" abilities of the ones who made her people immortal – but that all of that was a lie. In truth, while she was on her mission to contact the automata, humanity had nearly destroyed themselves in a nuclear war, and when she returned with the automata they seized control of the world for humanity's own good, forced everyone into the simulated reality of Virtuality which had somehow remained partially functional even after the collapse, and everything she thought she had accomplished after her return to Earth was merely part of that illusion.
Since discovering that illusion and breaking free of it, she has lead this rebellion to free the rest of humanity from the benevolent tyranny of the automata. She welcomes Tom and Xiu to join in that fight, and they accept. As they begin to train in the use of the advanced weapons such as mecha suits at their disposal, they are also offered the use of a memory-recovery technology to help them regain their grasp on reality. Through that technology they bridge the gap in their memories between the collapse of the old Virtuality and their rebirth into the lives they knew before the Queen of Hell was freed from her prison: Tom's life as Thomas the Elder Wizard, and Xiuying's life as Sue the Pseudo-Witch. But near the end of Tom's memories, he remembers something unsettling. Before he died in that life, he was rendered "human", and in doing so lost access to his magical abilities; and he remembers that his failed attempts to use magic in that virtual life felt exactly like the fuzzy mental block he experiences when attempting to use it now in this "real life".
Next: Virtuality Transcendent: Part 2, Episode 3