(9x06) Virtuality Transcendent: Part 2, Episode 3
As Tom and Xiu continue their training to fight the automata under the acting assumption that this is actual reality, Tom shares his suspicions with Xiuying about the possibility that they are still in some kind of simulation. Xiu confirms that she has had her own suspicions as well: since recovering her memories of her time in Virtuality before the fall, if those are in fact true memories, she has also recovered her well-honed ability to detect deception, as oft practiced by the duplicitous so-called "trolls" of the lower realms of that old virtual world, and she finds many facets of this world highly suspicious. Tom and Xio debate whether it's some kind of tortuous deception by the Queen of Hell, given Metis' obvious resemblance to her; or, given the implausibly genuine-seeming memories they have recovered, if something more like the benevolent tyrant automata story might actually be true.
While they fight these possibly-virtual automata, Tom meditates on his memories both of using magic, and of his failed attempts to use magic as a "human" in the land of Sphidia, and compares and contrasts them to what it feels like to try to no avail to use magic in the world he now finds himself in. In time, he begins to home in on a way to focus his mind past the mental blur that obscures the thoughts necessary to access magic controls, something analogous to crossing his eyes to perceive a stereoscopic image in what would otherwise just look like noise.
As he makes progress on that front, the automata begin to counterattack ever more vigorously, and just as Tom thinks he has this magic thing figured out, the automata locate the underground base of the human resistance, and send a force to attack it, forcing Tom to gear up and head to the front lines to to defend the last scraps of humanity. But he finds the timing of this all too suspicious, almost like whoever is controlling this world is trying to distract him from the truth. Even while fighting a war he continues trying to focus his mind to summon magic to use against the enemy, and as if on cue the enemy press him even harder, but that only crystallizes his resolve until he finally finds the mental breakthrough he was searching for, perceive the "magic" controls of this still-virtual world, an annihilates the entire battlefield with a powerful magical explosion.
Next: Virtuality Transcendent: Part 3, Episode 1