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Walkthrough by MNeidengard

Version: 1.1 | Updated: 01/22/08

SUPER ROBOT WARS W Walkthrough
Mark Neidengard, mneideng@ugcs.caltech.edu
Version 1.1, 1/22/08

This walkthrough is a text summary of the dialog and expository text in the
Banpresto DS game Super Robot Wars W.  Like other such FAQs I've written, this
is one-and-a-half steps removed from a true line-by-line translation.  I lack
the time to translate "system" stuff like menus or equipment properties; I
refer you to sites like GameFAQs.com where other enthusiasts have done such
work.  My hope is that this guide will let non Japanese speakers enjoy the rich
storytelling that makes the SRW series the ultimate in official crossover
(interactive) fanfiction.

Shouts out to the heroic, pulse-pounding music of DragonForce, whose epic
compositions could well serve as the soundtrack for parts of this game.

Special thanks to Hoshikage for taking the time to edit this massive document.


FOOTNOTES:

This game features no ewer than three characters named "Gai", all of which are
actual Japanese names and hence not legitimately romanizable in some other
fashion like "Gei" or "Guy" (the GGG character's name has a kanji, basically
invalidating Bandai's "official" romanization).  For convenience, I will use
Nadesico's "Daigouji Gai"'s real surname "Yamada", and Seed Astray's Gai's
surname "Murakumo", leaving Shishio Gai's given name in deference to how
awesome he is.

There is some confusion as to the gender of Abel from GGG.  To preserve the
Biblical allusion with the character "Cain", Abel should be male.  The voice
acting could be consistent with a child of either gender, and the character
design (especially loose-fitting costume) is not definitive either.  The
Japanese Wikipedia entry for Gaogaigar notes that the theory of Abel being
female was floated at the time of the show's airing - this phrasing suggests to
me it was a minority position that has not endured.  Absent any conclusive
evidence, I will continue to believe the show creators meant for the Biblical
allusion to stand, and use male gender pronouns; you the reader are more than
welcome to your own opinions about what's beneath Abel's robes. ^_^


0. Introduction

"Transitions in the Century Following the Establishment of the Federation Space
Calendar"

Earth, at the end of the last age.

As the cumulative effects of exhaustion of natural resources, environmental
decline and overpopulation reached their limits, the global economy and
established order were on the brink of collapse.  The regional violence
gripping the Earth Sphere grew worse with each passing day, abruptly
degenerating into World War III.

Terrified of the war it had wrought, mankind sought to end the fighting through
the unification of all nations, and all peoples.  Thus was the "Federated Earth
Nation" born, with dominion over all governance, all economics, and all
military matters.  With the subjugation of the independent lunar metropolis -
defiant to the very end - in the so-called "Lunar Campaign", the "Federation
Space Calendar" officially began.

The Federated Earth Nation sought to mend the scars of war through the
colonization of the new frontier: space.  This project drew its strength from
the quantum leaps in the fields of physics and energy achieved during the war.

Construction of the space colonies, redevelopment of the moon's surface,
development of Mars, surveys of outer space...

Space was not just the new frontier, but an ocean of hope.  Numerous asteroid
cities and space colonies were constructed in an astoundingly short span.  The
beginning of the Federation Space Calendar, with the influence of mankind
extended all the way to the orbit of Mars, could be called Earth's honeymoon
with Space.

However, that honeymoon paled with the passage of time.

As the heat of pioneering that had encircled all mankind cooled, the
dictatorial bent of a few humans sapped the Federated Earth Nation of its
willpower.  Resistance by the colonies, upon whom repression fell especially
heavily, was fierce.  The resulting war between OZ, the actual rulers of the
Federated Earth Nation, and those who opposed them, eventually gripped the
entire Earth Sphere.

This conflict, known as the "Revolutionary War", finally ended with the death
in battle of the Federated Earth Nation's president, Treize Khushrenada.  And
by his secret will, the world was reborn into a new order, where every nation
and people was valued alike.  Governance was returned to individual nations as
in the previous age, and the "New United Nations" was born as a means of
uniting their wishes.

This took place in Federation Space Calendar year 98.

However, from that point forward, the Earth and mankind were faced with the
perpetual menace of assault from space.

The failure of the "Cygnalite Project" to explore the constellation Cygnus, and
the crash landing of a giant, artificial object known as "EI-01", began an
invasion of mankind by forces believed to be of extraterrestrial origin.

What followed was the approach of life forms which came to be known as the
"Radam".  These beings took control of the Orbital Ring, greatly limiting
mankind's access to space.

Moreover, incursions from an alien culture situated somewhere near Jupiter,
termed the "Jovian Lizards", wrought the destruction of the city on the Martian
surface and indeed the total retreat of mankind from the Mars Sphere.

Meanwhile, a rash of terrorist incidents, fueled by the new technological
menace of robotics, struck the Earth's surface.

Mankind had but taken its first steps under the New United Nations when these
threats wrought terror and anxiety, making peace a distant dream once more.
Problems supposedly solved lingered instead with no hope of solution, building
a critical mass at the world's core that might never be removed.

Arbitrary divisions between men, such as between the "Coordinators" who had
undergone genetic engineering and the "Naturals" who had not, became a spark
which could ignite another conflict between mankind at any time.

In the Federation Calendar Year 99, the world is about to enter a new age of
conflict, in which even tomorrow is uncertain.

    - Space Development Corporation, Historical Notes "Space Development
    Report", excerpted from Chapter 1 introduction


"Trailer"

At the beginning of the Federation Space Calendar, the honeymoon of mankind and
space begat a new occupation, based on life in space.  Its members are known as
"Trailers".

They were tasked with constructing the colonies, terraforming asteroids, and
gathering raw materials - supporting the era of space development from behind
the scenes.  Their numbers grew in step with demand, and their duties expanded
from mere transport to the opening of new space routes and exploration of
unexplored regions of space.

However, their very existence became an obstacle to the Federated Earth
Nation's schemes to monopolize such commerce.  When a series of restrictions
robbed them of their dwelling places, they began a new life taking commissions
from a variety of other sources.  Some would contract them to protect merchant
vessels, while others would contract the theft of those same vessels.  Some
even lowered themselves to thievery of their own devising, or what became known
as "Space piracy".

Now, nearly a century after the institution of the Federation Space Calendar,
the majority of society thinks of the terms "Trailer" and "Space Pirate" as
synonymous.  However, it is an indisputable fact that some Trailers exist who
inherited the character and frontier spirit of the original Trailers.  These
true Trailers, from their dwelling on the hidden colony "Bit", pride themselves
as "spacemen" in accepting the most difficult and dangerous of jobs to this
very day.

- Encyclopedia Galactica, "Trailers"


1. Uchuu no Umi ni Ho wo Agero ("Set Sail for the Sea of Space!")

Kazuma (i.e. you) is working on his log entry for June 13, Space Calendar Year
99.  He's been cooling his jets on Bit for the past two weeks after finishing
his last job, and he's getting tired of hanging with the Junkmen and messing
with his machine.  He's heard that most of the proceeds from that job got
poured into mech modifications, and is afraid of declaring bankruptcy for the
thirty sixth time.  He notes that this will be the last day he enters a ship's
log without actually being at sea, since his father claims a new client is
coming - one with a mission requiring travel to the Earth!  Hopefully, glorious
tales of his exploits will keep the log interesting...

Meanwhile, Duo is waiting at Bit's dock, fuming over the fact that a little
shuttle trouble has forced him to hire the Trailers just to transport him to
Earth.  Quatre's there too, and has heard that the Trailers are specialists in
space transportation.  Duo knows the Trailers all too well, having crossed
swords with the Trailers many times during his days on the Sweeper Team.  He
tells Quatre that the space transportation bit went out with the end of the
space development era - now they're into pillage and plunder and black
marketeering.  If it's against the law, the Trailers are all for it - and the
term "space pirates" seems a lot more suitable these days.

Even Duo has never been to the space pirates' secret hideout before, and is
still amazed that Lady Une knew where to look, orders or no orders from the
Preventer brass.  It seems even Lady Une is not above dealing with folks like
these in an emergency, and these are troubled times indeed for the Preventers.
Add to that the fact that their mission isn't precisely above board either, and
Duo figures that the Trailers' shady ways suit them perfectly.  The information
they've gathered must be delivered to HQ at all costs, though there's little to
do except take things one step at a time.  And hey, if "they" try any funny
business, Duo and Quatre will just go deal with it "suitably", as usual.
Suitably, in Duo's dictionary, meaning a good old-fashioned spacejacking, of
people who deserve no mercy anyway.

But Duo's not expecting a limo ride, just a nice smooth, quiet ride to Earth
from the Valstork Family.  That would be Kazuma Ardygun, who hails Quatre
Labarba Winner and "Heero Yui".  Duo seems underwhelmed that the Family would
send a kid, but Kazuma warns him to watch his mouth if he doesn't want his long
hair chopped off at the roots and used as a lure for space whales.  This leaves
Duo totally unimpressed, and he supposes drily that he ought not to expect the
Trailers to talk the talk _or_ walk the walk.  Kazuma, born and bred to his
space trade, doesn't take kindly to being treated like a kid by someone
practically his own age.  Duo doesn't let up, telling Kazuma to shut up if he's
old enough to comprehend that Duo and Quatre are the customers here.

Before Kazuma's rage boils over, his sister Mihiro appears to smooth things
over.  It seems their father doubted Kazuma could handle these customers on his
own, pissing Kazuma off anew that his little sister is seen as more trustworthy
than him.  She is quite the contrast to her hot-headed brother, apologizing
before reminding him of the Trailer maxim to treat guests and luggage with
care.  A sudden transmission from the father, Bless, cuts through the
commotion.  He's in no mood to hear Kazuma's excuses now, and hustles him off
to prepare the Valstork's guest beds.

As Kazuma stalks off, Blessfield Ardygun makes somewhat more pleasant
introductions with Quatre, urging him and Duo to drop the "captain" formality
and just call him Bless.  Quatre is quietly impressed at the captain's
gentlemanly ways, but Duo's sure it's just an act - Bless's son is the very
image of a delinquent.  Bless then offers the two of them a meal of roast duck
as a good opportunity to introduce his staff and hear more about the mission
he's signed up for.  Mihiro is a big fan of her father's cooking, and Bless
tells her to have Shihomi fire the oven up.  Duo's still uneasy about all this,
but Quatre has a lot of trouble believing that these are bad people, including
the departed Kazuma.  He also questions why Duo is using an alias - and Heero's
name no less, and Duo sniffs that it's payback for Heero pulling the same trick
long ago.  Bless seems to have sharp hearing, and maybe isn't buying the alias,
and Duo wonders where the heck he's seen this guy before.

Dinner is served in short order, though Kazuma hasn't turned up yet.  Akane
tells her sister Shihomi not to wait lest the dinner go to waste, and Horis
concurs.  Mihiro and Quatre are more forgiving than that, but Galent wants to
ensure that his guests are properly cared for according to the maxim, and not
fed cold duck.  In this case, the maxim is "Strike while the iron is hot, and
feast while the food is hot!"  Quatre is a bit startled by the old-fashioned
use of "maxims", but Duo is more interested in devouring the feast, more than
good enough to justify hiring the Trailers for this job in his estimation.

Bless then finishes introducing the Family, starting with himself as captain of
the transport Valstork.  His daughter Shihomi handles sensors and comms, and
his other daughter Akane handles weapon systems.  Quatre sounds surprised that
the vessel is armed, but Bless delicately says that these can be dangerous
times, with one's own safety being one's own responsibility.  This is doubly
true with the Federation army out for Trailer blood.  Akane adds that it's her
job to brush the sparks off, but quickly gets flustered when Horis starts to
pun.  Horis Horion, for all his levity, is a highly skilled pilot - and not
related by blood.  He says lightly that he hopes to one day marry Shihomi or
Mihiro and join the family roster, making Akane wonder why her name got left
off the list.  Last up is the Family's resident encyclopedia, Galent
Gavelinario, who claims (none too convincingly) to be nothing more than a
retired old man.  Horis states that Galent, once known as the "Demon's Arm",
hasn't hit retirement yet, and along with "Hawkeye" Bless is still a legend
among the Trailers.

Those nicknames definitely get Duo's full attention, but before he can inquire
further, Kazuma blusters in and asks where his dinner is, as well as whether
his father has accepted the job yet.  Bless notes sternly that Kazuma needs
some serious reeducating in the Trailer ways, but Kazuma casually asks Duo to
tell him what the job's about.  Duo is still in shock (and not over any
culinary mistake), so Quatre answers in his stead.  As their superiors
explained to the Family, he, Duo, and their two containers' worth of luggage
are to be transported to Earth.  This seems to be music to the girls' ears, and
Quatre explains that the two of them indeed came from the Earth, though they
were originally born in the colonies.

Horis notes that the Family normally confines its activities between the
Lagrange Points and the moon, so none of them have been to the Earth for some
years.  In fact, Mihiro and Kazuma have never been there at all, and Akane
informs him that he's nowhere near a full adult yet for it.  He retorts that
her breasts are hardly those of a full adult either, earning him a rebuke from
his father for reacting to the taunt in classic half-adult style.  Kazuma
mutters that, as everyone seems to think, he's just the good-for-nothing son of
"Hawkeye" after all, and Shihomi has to remind both her brother and irate
father that their guests are watching.  As for why Quatre and Duo would hire
the Trailers for what should be a routine trip to Earth, Quatre says that their
luggage and their schedule mandate it... That, and the unreliability of the
Space Development Corporation, which is common knowledge among the Trailers,
for whom information means life and death.

Another thing Horis has heard is that making it past the Orbital Ring, with its
Radam infestation, is also a matter of life and death.  The Earth Federation
Army seems too preoccupied with its war against the Jovian Lizards to do much
about it, which is also not helping tensions between the Earth and the colonies
any.  Traveling to Earth via the colonies would pose many dangers, and the
Trailers provide a way to punch through all that mess.  Kazuma actually likes
that idea, and assures his guests that they couldn't have chosen a better set
of Trailers for the job.  He assures them that it's his Trailer duty to see
them and their luggage to Earth with nary a scratch.  Of course... it'll cost
them, and even Bless is privately impressed at his son's bargaining prowess.
Kazuma assures Quatre and Duo that for all the Valstork is a bit cramped, it's
also top-class speedwise.  Quatre and Duo, somewhat cowed by all this, agree to
the deal, and Bless invokes another Trailer maxim: "Make haste to do good, make
greater haste to do commerce." The plan is to depart first thing in the
morning, with accommodations all settled for the guests and the ship fully
provisioned.  Kazuma tells Galent to mind the farm in his absence, promising to
bring back some old fogey-style souvenirs from Earth.  Galent seems hardly
amused, vowing to bust Kazuma's head with a spanner if he so much as damages
his mech.  Kazuma's not worried, and seems very eager to finally prove to his
father how good his skills have gotten.

As the Valstork gets ready to depart, Kazuma says goodbye to his friend Lowe,
asking him to pass goodbyes along to the Professor and Liam too.  Kiri wishes
Mihiro and her sisters well too.  Kazuma explains that Lowe and Kiri are
Junkmen who happened to be setting sail at the same time; the Trailers and
Junkmen tend to help each other get by out in space.  Quatre is surprised by
this, letting on that he had heard that the Trailers engaged in piracy.  Kazuma
bristles at this, but Bless orders him to his station.  Kazuma is furious at
being thought of as a pirate, realizing that Duo's initial provocation probably
stemmed from that too.  Bless advises his son not to make his reputation with
his words, and won't hear any backtalk.

Quatre is surprised that Mihiro is part of the crew too, and she says that even
she and her brother have things they're in charge of on the ship.  Carret, the
ship's support robot, then shows up with coffee for the passengers.  He came
with the ship as a matched set, and can handle everything from washing dishes
to ship repairs.  Duo hasn't heard of this kind of pairing before, and Quatre
observes that this ship certainly doesn't look like a Federation vessel from
the outside.  Horis is about to explain why that is when...

The alarm sounds!  Liam has just radioed from the Home to report unidentified
vessels headed for the Valstork.  Horis is sure that it's "them" given the
timing, and Bless figures they must have planned the attack carefully indeed.
Kazuma informs Duo that the real space pirates he seems so taken with have
arrived, and Bless decides to outrun them by pushing the engine to the max.
Kazuma doesn't like simply turning tail and running, but Bless reminds him that
the Trailer prime directive is transportation of their customers.  Kazuma knows
that, but points out that "they" can't be left to run riot either.  Now that
they're targeting Bit, the result can only be more needless sacrifices.  While
he wants to protect his customers, he also wants to protect the name of the
Trailers from those who would besmirch it.  After a moment's thought, Bless
asks if his son thinks he can handle it, and the entire family sounds ready to
give it their best shot.  Bless orders the attack, in the name of the Trailers,
and Horis lightly reminds Akane that "Wasted bullets beget red ink".  Quatre
tries to stop Kazuma, but Kazuma tells him and "Heero" to just sit by and watch
what the difference between space pirates and real Trailers is.

The enemies are in Federation machines, which Bless sees for the army deserters
and black-market buyers they are.  He asks "Duo Maxwell" if the difference
between them and genuine Trailers is now clear, and as Duo gapes in
astonishment Kazuma and Mihiro boot their mech, the Valhawk.  In Airforce mode,
it's a lot faster than the space pirates expected, and Kazuma is just itching
to dish out some payback for sullying his people's name.  The pirates figure
that they'll be able to sell whatever this mystery machine is for a pile of
dough after they minorly scrap it and ship it to the Junkmen.  Kazuma is ready
to kick their ass and shifts to hand-to-hand Cross-Combat mode.  Duo and Quatre
marvel at the transforming Valhawk, and Horis and Akane set out to help in the
Valstork.

  Two enemies have a Propellant Tank.  Two have Repair Kits.  Another has a
  Cartridge.

  When you ravage the bad guys, one pleads with you to spare his life.  Kazuma
  may be hot-blooded, but he's a young man of principle, and doesn't blow the
  evil-doer away, lest he be as bad as the pirates.  He sternly warns the
  pirate that the Trailers value human life, and that people have to help each
  other if anyone is to have a chance of survival.    The pirate, suitably
  cowed, vows never to forget this good deed - but Kazuma informs him that he
  and his buddies are in for some stiff punishment back at Bit.  Bless has
  already made the necessary arrangements, and commends his son on a job well
  done.

  Before Kazuma can bask in any praise, a new foe shows up and starts blasting.
  Several "unknowns", small and very fast, make their way onto the scene, and
  blow the pirate away anyway.  They are like nothing Akane has ever seen
  before, which would be why they're "unknown".  Amazingly, they're
  human-sized; Tekkamen, perhaps?  Bless notes a superficial resemblance to the
  Radam commanders, but Kazuma is less worried about who they are and more
  worried that they're on the attack.  With little choice, Bless orders an
  attack with maximum force on these unknown interlopers.  Everyone knows that
  these vicious, hard-to-hit foes will pounce if you give up an inch.

  Destroy one of the new enemies and Carret will warn that the container hatch
  is opening.  Out pop two Gundams, of course piloted by Quatre and Duo.  Their
  intent is of course *not* to flee, but to help out, and Duo apologizes to
  Kazuma for misunderstanding him.  He's now seen what "real" Trailers are all
  about, and reveals his real name: Duo "Grim Reaper" Maxwell.  Relations
  repaired, Quatre notes that these unknowns may be yet another new menace
  facing mankind, and urges a hasty disposal.

  The last enemy unit attempts to flee, but before Kazuma can pursue, Tekkaman
  Blade appears... or so it seems.  Something strange is going on, and whoever
  it is pulverizes the bad guy after musing on its return to Earth.  This new
  white unknown heads your direction, but flies right on past and quickly
  leaves radar range.  Luckily it didn't mean you any harm, and Bless orders
  everyone back to the ship.  Looks like Kazuma won't have any shortage of
  fodder for his log...

Bless is very mortified that his customers ended up helping save his butt, and
doesn't want Kazuma pointing out that the Gundam pilots sortied on their own.
Quatre agrees with Kazuma, and Duo says he's feeling lucky even to have met the
legendary Hawkeye, much less fought by his side.  Horis is impressed that the
deeds of Bless's bygone youth are so widely known, and Bless informs him that
his youth isn't very bygone yet.  Quatre and Duo apologize again for confusing
these Trailers with space pirates, and there seem to be no hard feelings.
Kazuma allows that the true Trailers are very few in number nowadays, and there
are plenty of people who seem eager to rub the Trailer name in the mud with
their actions.  All that being said, Bless offers to ferry Duo and Quatre to
the Earth for free, as personal repayment for helping during the battle.  Duo
accedes to this, and Bless assures his people that an occasional vacation from
work is good for the soul.  Of course, being Trailers, they will have to find
other ways to profit from the trip along the way, but for now, Duo and Quatre
are getting the free ride action.

Kazuma asks Duo for more info about his father's famous deeds, since Bless
won't talk at all about the old days.  Bless still won't have the old days
discussed, especially since there's a schedule he wants everyone to hurry up
and realign to - after all, the Trailer maxim says that "Time is Money, and
Money is Time".  Duo and Quatre will be in charge of monitoring engineering and
subpiloting, since they're no longer customers but peers.  All systems check
out, and it's "Earth, here we come" for our heroes.

Meanwhile, some mysterious people (one apparently called Applicant), are headed
for the Solar System.  They muse over how this backwater system is nevertheless
the focus of a many-way power struggle, on a galactic scale.  The Radam, the
Mechanoids, and even the Eviluders are all in the mix, which would make life
easier for Applicant as long as what they're seeking is here.  For reasons of
their own, they must wait eight Earth months before acting in concert, but
Applicant is directed to wipe out the humans in the meantime, to keep things
from going awry.  The leader hopes that this voyage proves profitable, for the
sake of all knowledge and culture.


2. Shiroki Tetsu Kishi-tachi ("The White Knights")

Another day, another log entry.  A series of pirate attacks haven't dampened
the Valstork's crew's spirits, and Duo and Quatre are now like part of the
family.  The only problem worthy of the name is the fact that this trip is
gratis: that 36th bankruptcy is still looming large.  When Duo finds Kazuma
scribbling notes, Kazuma explains that his father instructed him to keep the
log.  It seems Kazuma's father is one sentimental guy and values memories
highly, though he doesn't like discussing them verbally for whatever reason.
As for why Kazuma's been saddled with the duty, it seems his dad is seriously
absentminded or some such.  Unfortunately for both of them, this little chat
means they're shirking their duties, and Shihomi isn't about to let them forget
it, in her pleasant way.  She informs Duo of the Trailer maxim that "Those who
don't work, don't eat", and encourages him not to miss the evening's tasty
menu.  Since Akane's the cook, Kazuma fears that everything will taste like
mayonnaise.  Quatre's already finished his chores and starts helping the two
out; Duo figures he's getting along with the mostly female crew thanks to being
brought up amongst so many older sisters.

While they clean, Kazuma asks them about their role behind the scenes of the
Revolutionary War.  He can smell an adventure from a mile away, and the name
"Gundam" is known far and wide.  Duo thinks a second and informs him that
theirs is a story unpleasant both in the telling and in the listening.  Wars
are like that.  Quatre adds that they did nothing more than fight on behalf of
the colonies that were being sacrificed for the sake of the Earth.  The new
government attributed to Treize is actually the result of much exertion and
much spilled blood from many players, and even Treize surely never expected the
Radam to arrive and disrupt the peace.  In fact, the humans themselves are once
again at the brink of war.  Absolute Pacifism is an easy enough ideal to grasp,
but living it is another matter, especially where Earth-colony relations are
concerned.

Kazuma saw firsthand how that war brought out the worst in people, and figures
even most of the space pirates would be leading normal lives right now if not
for all the fighting.  Quatre tells him that the war did do some good: even if
only briefly, it gave the people a taste of true peace.  And it gave him his
cherished group of friends, including the other three Gundam pilots.  Some of
them are off on other business, and others are missing entirely.  One of the
pilots is the eccentric Heero Yui, who Duo doubts Kazuma would like much.
Quatre sees that Duo's fallen idle, and tells him to get back to cleaning like
the Sweeper he is.

Neither Gundam pilot can tell Kazuma about their secret mission to Earth, so
they ask him instead where his dad got this ship from.  Duo knows it's not just
a customized Federation vessel from the unusual tech it bears, and wonders if
it's some late model Zaft cruiser.  Kazuma would love to answer, but he really
doesn't know much himself, beyond that it's on loan from his grandfather.
Despite a lot of major modifications, the underlying tech has stayed constant
all this time.  An astounded Duo realizes that that must make the ship at least
ten years old, and yet still far ahead of current Fed ships.  While Kazuma
doesn't know where the tech came from, he sure knows how to use and repair it -
and that fact alone should make the ship of human origin.  As the Trailers say,
"Use anything useful, especially if it's valuable."  This sounds like Black
Technology to the G boys, who are sure the Mithril crew would love to hear
about it.  In any case, the Valstork's crew never once considered selling the
tech to the Feds, preferring to keep it as the means to do their own work.  And
of course, certain jealous parties keep trying to steal it to collect the
bounty rumored to be hanging on it - making Duo wonder just why Lady Une sent
him to this ship in the first place.  Well, if worse comes to worst, the ship's
plans and all the Family's records are ready to be fired off in an escape pod.

The real problem isn't pesky space pirates, but the Radam lurking on the
Orbital Ring.  They're keeping the Earth under siege, and given they're some
kind of space monsters there's apparently no reasoning with them.  Kazuma still
can't figure out how they managed to take over the Ring so quickly in the face
of fierce resistance, and is glad to hear that the Federation has a
counterattack in the works.  The trick is reaching Earth first, dodging Radam
attack along the way.  Akane attacks first, showing up to see if the cleaning
is done.  She urges Duo and Kazuma to get back to work before calling Quatre
away to help make sure she's got the flavoring right.

Elsewhere, D-Boy is taking some flak from Noal for returning to his ship with
Radam still remaining.  Aki tries to come to his defense, but Noal blames her
and the Blue Earth's injuries on D-Boy's failure.  He vows to have D-Boy kicked
off the Space Knights as soon as this mission is over, and tells him to his
face that the only reason he's even on the Space Knights is because he's a
Tekkaman.  And if he can't fight, he's got no fucking business on the scene.
Aki's pleas get stronger, pointing out that D-Boy is helping them fight the
Radam despite having total amnesia.  Noal is unswayed, convinced that D-Boy's
only value is assuming the likeness of the Radam commanders and fighting the
Radam.  D-Boy doesn't offer a word of protest, and Noal tells him to get his
ass back out there and finish investigating Block 20.

The enemy show up quickly, and D-Boy thinks to himself that he's got to hurry.

  With the initial enemies dead, D-Boy is glad he made it in time, but Noal
  sniffs that the whole affair took too long.  Unfortunately, you're not done
  yet: many more bad guys show up, and Noal realizes that you'll have to go on
  fighting just to blow open a hole to escape through.  From the shadows, a
  sinister figure wonders how Blade, an incomplete Tekkaman, will make it
  through this fight.  The figure vows to watch Blade's pitiful end closely
  indeed.

  D-Boy's time is running short indeed, and as Noal wonders if D-Boy is faking
  again, D-Boy yells at them to run while he holds the enemy off.  Noal is in
  no mood to be in D-Boy's debt, but Blade warns them that if things go on,
  he'll end up killing them too.  He explains that an incomplete Tekkaman like
  himself can only maintain his own will for thirty minutes...  which is of
  course why he pulled out of the previous battle.  He tells Noal that after
  thirty minutes, the will of the Radam that had been transplanted into him
  would take over, rendering him a demon that destroys everything in sight.
  It's been 25 minutes since D-Boy sortied, and D-Boy pleads with them to hurry
  while he guards their retreat.  Noal sounds less sure of what to make of
  this, but tells Aki to haul ass.  Unless they can defeat the Radam, neither
  they nor her precious D-Boy can be saved.  His interest in D-Boy is purely as
  an anti-Radam weapon, but at least he has that much value left.  The plan is
  now to wipe out all enemies within that remaining five minutes.  This enrages
  the shadowy watcher, who decides to finish Blade off himself.

  But a new unit appears in the battle: a Detonator from the Eviluders.  The
  watcher is astounded that the Eviluders have come all the way to this planet,
  and the Detonator wastes no time in wasting most of the Radam.  Only the
  Tekkamen seem to have heard of the Eviluders before, and D-Boy tells his
  companions that he'll explain later after they defeat the remaining Radam.
  The watcher can't believe an Eviluder would side with the humans, and
  withdraws in haste to report all this to his lord Omega.

  Things seem to be going well until you kill enough bad guys, making a new set
  of foes appear.  These new units are Eviluders too, and they're not friendly,
  leaving the white Detonator no choice but to fight back against them.  About
  that time, the Valstork shows up, recognizing the white mech from the
  previous battle.  The Space Knights turn out to work for the Outer Space
  Development Company, and Bless isn't opposed to paying Freeman back a bit for
  his kindness.  He knows that the Space Knights are very much like Duo's
  Preventers, and lets everyone join the battle.  Noal explains briefly that
  there's only five minutes left, and facing both the mysterious Eviluders and
  the Radam at once isn't going to be easy...

The enemy go down fairly quickly, but before Blade can be recovered, he crosses
swords with the white Eviluder, demanding to know why he saved your people.
The white mech vanishes, leaving only the word "Orgun" to linger.  That's
Heero-level cryptic.  In any case, the Trailers are happy to help the Blue
Earth, and enthusiastically offer to help make repairs.  Neither Noal nor Aki
have heard of the Valstork Family before, and Noal is rather skeptical of why
two Preventer anti-terrorist operatives are hanging out with a shipload of
Trailers.  The Trailers make quite a sales pitch for their help, and eventually
Bless says he'd like to speak to the Space Knights' employer, the Outer Space
Development Company's "Mister Freeman".  That's fine with Noal, since it takes
him off the bargaining hook.  As for D-Boy, Kazuma wants to know if he's the
"pilot" of Tekkaman Blade - Aki says "yes", not wanting to let the full truth
of the Tekkamen be known to a civilian.  Aki explains about D-Boy's amnesia and
his odd-sounding nickname, but when Noal translates the "D" as "dangerous",
Kazuma runs off to protect Mihiro from the oh-so dangerous dude, who is flat on
his back in sick bay.

D-Boy briefly mistakes Mihiro for his sister Miyuki, whose memory the shock of
battle has somehow restored.  He agrees to tell Noal about the Eviluders, which
makes Kazuma wonder just who he is, that he can pilot the same vehicles the
bug-like Radam commanders do.  D-Boy goes on to explain that his System Box, a
crystalline object, lets him transform into Tekkaman Blade.  This sounds like
the plot for some kind of anime, and Horis wonders aloud if D-Boy had gotten
his powers by being modified by some kind of evil organization.  No one is
sure, but what is sure is that they've fought the Radam many times, and that
the Tekkamen are somehow connected to them.  The important bits are lost in
D-Boy's missing memory.  About the best they've been able to tell is that D-Boy
is indeed an Earthling, with some indications of tampering by persons unknown.

His knowledge of the Eviluders as "enemies" is apparently thanks to some data
that the Radam must have input into his Tek System.  Enemies of some fairly
serious meaning, from what little D-Boy can recall - he cites a vision of a
large-scale war between the two sides.  They don't seem to be here to wipe out
the Radam though, and Bless fears the consequences if some vast foe of the vast
Radam were to come to Earth in earnest.  The white Eviluder who fought on your
side is a "Detonator" class, one of the military leaders - similar in both form
and function to the Radam's Tekkamen.  The only visions of the Eviluders D-Boy
can remember are of them invading planet after planet; he can't guess why one
of them would help save your butts.  There's no telling what it's really up to
yet, but you decide to refer to it as "Orgun" for now in deference to its last
word.

Heinrich von Freeman then calls in, chatting with Bless for the first time in
fifteen years.  Bless tells him that his wife Yuumi is ten years dead from an
accident, and tells Freeman not to worry about asking: it was thanks to Freeman
that they even met in the first place.  Freeman then offers Bless the job of
ferrying the Blue Earth back to the surface, with them temporarily under his
command.  This is great for avoiding bankruptcy, but comes with a condition
attached.  Yesterday, Nergal Heavy Industries finished a ship based on a
totally new concept at their Sasebo Dock.  The Feds wanted Nergal to hand the
ship over, but Nergal refused and the ship fled the Federation army into space.
Noal figures that serves the Federation right for being so stuck up all the
time, and Aki explains that the Space Knights report to the Federation Special
Forces bureau, independent of the regular military chain of command.  Kazuma's
been listening closely enough to realize that Duo and Quatre also report
through that parallel chain of command, raising him again in Duo's estimation.

Freeman's job is the destruction of this new vessel, codenamed Nadesico.

Elsewhere, a sinister figure receives the sinister minion's report of Eviluders
in the Solar System.  The minion figures he only saw advance scouts, but
expects the main force to appear in short order.  The boss likes the idea of
using Earth as the final battlefield between their two sides, and orders the
minion to call in the border forces as well.  He wants the domination of the
Earth to hurry, but the minion wants the elimination of Blade to happen first.
He's going to be emo until he chops Blade into bits over the facial scar Blade
gave him.  Using Interference Specter, he vows to guide Blade to Hell, and the
boss notes that all those born on Radam are fated to return there... and Blade
needs to learn that lesson well.

Meanwhile, Isaac informs Professor Kamizaki of a call from outside.  Very few
people could connect directly to Isaac, and Isaac can't pinpoint the pulsed
signals originator, though he knows its location: space.  Somewhere near Block
20 of the Orbital Ring, in fact.  It's from Orgun...


3. MISSHON "NADESHIKO HAKKAI SHIREI" ("Misssion: 'Order: Destroy the
Nadesico'")

Kazuma updates the ship's log with the latest events, including the
bankruptcy-averting mission to blow away Nergal's new boat.  He's sure that the
combined might of the Valstork and its passengers should steamroll whoever his
target is, and heads to the mission briefing with his tension in the red zone,
as it were.

Meanwhile, Corbett is taking Misumaru to task for letting the Nadesico escape.
Misumaru has sent his Far East forces in pursuit, but Corbett is hardly
satisfied and is adding the strength of some of the orbital forces.  They want
to stop the Nadesico before it can break through the Radam's orbital blockade
and escape the Earth sphere.  Corbett is adamant that the Nadesico's great
power be added to the Federations' forces, though Misumaru sounds rather
dubious that just capturing the ship will put its warpower at their disposal.
Corbett doesn't want to hear that, and asks if Misumaru isn't softpedaling
things just because his daughter is the Nadesico's captain.  Forreston then
points out that Misumaru Yurika was undefeated in strategic simulations at the
Federation academy.  Moreover, she's got the former Federation admiral Fukube
Jin aboard - that, plus the Nadesico's formidable armaments, make it a ship
*not* to underestimate.  Corbett figures no video game-playing girl can beat
him, setting his ass up for a colossal reaming down the road.

But he's not finished: he blames this whole mess on the fact that the GGG and
various civilian research facilities were allowed to possess their own mecha.
Misumaru points out that these are the Federation's first lines of defense
against the Zondar and Dr. Hell's forces: no one here has the authority to
order them around.  Corbett, furious, insists that that kind of thinking is
what let the Nadesico escape, until Forreston points out that Corbett hasn't
done a particularly good job of capturing the Tekkamen either.  He tries to
blame that on interference from Rose Abrovall, head of the home office, but
Forreston, who happens to be the director of the intelligence bureau, is rather
impressed with Rose's work.  He supposes she's quite the fly in certain army
folks' ointment, though he smoothly refuses to engage Corbett in a head-on
argument.  Corbett sniffs and dismisses Forreston for his lack of actual boots
on the ground, who can be dealt with with force if necessary.

In any case, Forreston says that what's key right now is the recovery of the
Nadesico and the subjugation of Nergal, lest their example lead to the collapse
of Federation government authority.  Given the rumored underground ties between
Nergal and the military-industrial complex, not to mention the Federation
government, something serious must be done.  Corbett is sick of this talk, and
tells Misumaru it's his responsibility to track down the Nadesico, and if it
resists, to shoot it down as an example to Nergal.  Misumaru slowly agrees, and
Corbett says that the brass will run negotiations with Nergal.  He orders
Forreston to give Misumaru the necessary info and signs off, confirming
Forreston's suspicions that the hawkish brigadier general has a hidden agenda.
Of course, Nergal probably has their own agenda too.

Misumaru thanks Forreston for minimizing the time he has to look at Corbett's
mug, and when asked slowly describes the Nadesico as a threat... that is, his
daughter's beauty and stunning figure are.  He's far cagier about the ship
itself, whose Transposition Engine could well turn the tide of battle in
Forreston's view.  Misuse of its power would not just be a loss for all
mankind, but might send shockwaves through the entire military establishment.
Misumaru is perfectly well aware of that, and Forreston will say nothing more
than to remind him not to lose sight of his mission.  Misumaru ends with a
haiku that "A parent's feelings / For an unknowing daughter / Nurture her
growing".  Even he isn't sure what his daughter is thinking...

Aboard said Nadesico, the crew has gathered to hear the captain speak about
their next moves.  Yurika starts by telling Akito to start being honest with
himself and just admit that he loves her - after all, he followed her aboard
the ship, didn't he?  Akito stoutly refuses, saying that he's only the cook and
warning that he'll leave the ship depending on what the plan turns out to be.
Yamada "Daigouji Gai" Jirou tries to hold Akito to some phantom promise to
defend the Earth he made when he piloted Yamada's "Geki Ganger" to fend off the
Radam... which only makes Uribatake yell at him not to call the Aestivalises
that.  This is all very puzzling, deriving as it does from the (fictional) Geki
Ganger 3 anime.  Minato's not very interested in anime, but Akito readily
admits to watching reruns of that fabulous, moving series over and over as a
kid.  Superfan Yamada figures that Geki Ganger is the inspiration for all
mecha, including the Aesti he pilots.  In any case, he's sure that Akito's soul
promised to defend the Earth, despite Akito professing no memory of any such
thing.  Yurika wants to hear the cry of Akito's heart too, but Ruri reminds her
that the Federation is in hot pursuit.

It seems the Nadesico is bound for Mars, and Akito badly wants to see Mars'
Utopia Colony with his own eyes.  Fukube looks sad at this, but the imposing
Gort informs Akito in no uncertain terms that personal wants have nothing to do
with the ship's direction.  It's the ship's owner, Nergal's will that dictates
its course - and no one really expects Nergal's on-site overseer to say any
different.  Of course, Minato knows more than most that Gort also has a soft
side...  Yurika, in accordance with Akito's wishes, orders the ship to head
straight to Mars with the mission of info gathering and recovery of any
survivors.  Of course, there's the little problem of the Jovian Lizards who
control all of Mars - enemies fierce enough that even the Federation gave up
trying to steal Mars back.  What good could there be in Nergal sending a lone
ship into the wolves' den?

Yurika has no clue, so Prospector explains a bit.  He's pretty much the power
behind every throne aboard the ship, and was directly responsible for
recruiting everyone aboard.  What is sending the Nadesico to Mars is Nergal's
"Scaparelli Project", named in honor of an old-school Italian astronomer who
studied Mars.  Simply put, there is a Nergal lab on Mars, and Nergal needs some
data, items, and a researcher or two from that lab for some of its plans.  He
is about to turn the mic back to Yurika to explain their detailed flight plan,
including a "certain matter", when the Federation forces catch up.

The Federation forces are quite formidable, including a mobile armor fitted
with Gunbarrels.  That the Federation sent in its aces is proof that they've
fully recognized the Nadesico's value.  Fukube notes drily that letting the
Nadesico escape here would be a serious loss of face, which seems rather unfair
to Minato.  Yurika has Meg inform the Federation that the Nadesico has no
intention to fight, and tell them to clear the way for her Departure.  Muu,
among the Federation troops, asks what to do now, and his commander says a
demonstration of the respect due the military is in order to these insolent
workers.  Muu had rather thought it was the military's job to protect
civilians, but hey.

Yurika won't slow down, and orders the Aestis sent out to clear the path.
Uribatake explains that the Aestis have been outfitted with Zero-G Frames for
space combat.  Like the other Frames, they'll lose power if they stray too far
from the Nadesico's gravity beam.  I.e., stick close to the Nadesico.  Poor
Akito... tangling with the Federation wasn't part of the cook job description.
The Federation commander tells his troops to sink the Nadesico if it keeps
resisting, settling things before the troops from the Far East base arrive.

  Blow away a few Feds and a transport will arrive with some additional pilots
  on board.  Those would be Subaru Ryouko, Amano Hikaru and Maki Izumi, the
  latter being an expert in dreadful jokes.  Yamada plans to show these girls
  what he's made of, but the girls are more than capable of fighting too.
  Prospector won't make any guarantees about their personalities, however...

  More Federation casualties and the reinforcements show up, and Akito wonders
  why the hell they won't just let you go in peace.  Ryouko tells this newcomer
  to act like a man, but Akito tells her he _is_ a man - a man with feelings.
  She tells him to save the introductions for later - assuming there is a
  later.  Izumi's serious mode is interrupted by a high-energy object streaking
  into the area; Yurika has the Aestis dodge and has the Nadesico crank up its
  Distortion Field.

  It seems the Jovian Lizards are on the scene, and the Federation troops are
  much the worse for wear for it.  But there's some good news(?): the Valstork
  shows up too.  Bless muses over letting the Jovian Lizards do most of the
  dirty work for him, but Kazuma is having none of it.  Not only does he want
  to save whoever the Jovians are attacking, he doesn't want to earn his keep
  like a thief at a fire.  In fact, neither does Bless, and for now orders
  everyone to take down the Jovians.

  Prospector has heard of the Valstork Family, and is counting on the
  "spaceman" concept of helping fellows in need to carry the day.  Vessels
  helping each other in times of need is a code as old as the sea, a line cool
  enough that it ought to come from some piratical dude with a scar and an
  eyepatch [any Matsumoto fans out there?]  The Federation troops, not really
  spacemen worth the name, flee the Jovian Lizard wrath, leaving your people to
  fight in peace.  D-Boy is somehow fired up at the long-forgotten sound of the
  word "spaceman", and plans to repay the Valstork for keeping him fed all this
  time.

  After some mayhem, Muu La Flaga returns to support your troops.  He explains
  this apparent change of heart by saying that it'd be far too uncool for
  soldiers to run while civilians stay and fight.  All he asks is that you not
  shoot him in the back once the fighting is done, and when Akito figures him
  for a good man, he says that he's merely a soldier, doing what's right.  He
  expects to catch hell for disobeying orders, but doubts it'll mean his
  life...

At length, the Jovian Lizards are blown away, and for a rarity there's no sign
of more swarming out of the woodwork.  Aki notes that these must have been
acting on their own, since there are no Tulips nearby.  Muu tells Yurika that
he needs no thanks, and warns her that although his Third Fleet has withdrawn,
the Far East forces are still in hot pursuit and will be here any moment.  He
takes off, leaving Kazuma musing about how the Federation army has its
bad-asses after all.  The problem now becomes, what to do about that mission.
Duo and Quatre will leave that decision up to Bless, who announces to the
Nadesico that they're about to blow it away.  Kazuma doesn't want any
unnecessary loss of life, and asks the thunderstruck Nadesico crew to abandon
ship.

Akito says that they can't do that: they've got a date with Mars.  Kazuma may
have a contract, but Akito and the others have their reasons too!  Ryouko is
pleased to hear that Akito's got some balls after all, and while the discussion
continues, the Far East fleet shows up.  Among them is Yurika's acquaintance
Aoi Jun, who is less of an acquaintance and more of a pining suitor for
Yurika's love.  Emokid, please.  Anyway, Jun tells Yurika that her father's
worried about her and pleads with her to come back, while the military will
still look lightly on her disobedience.  She tells Jun that she can't leave the
Nadesico's conn, which is where she belongs.  And not because of her heritage
or her father's position: she's in the one place she can be herself.  Jun
mutters that she must really love Akito more than him after all, and swiftly
blames Akito for all that's wrong with the universe.  Kazuma for one can't
stand this kind of crap, and closes in on the Nadesico, once more asking
everyone to get off so he can complete his contract.

Jun rushes over and obstructs Kazuma's shot, vowing to defend Yurika even if it
means his own death.  Akito and Yamada prepare to rush to the rescue, and it
looks like the Valstork contingent have somehow become the bad guys.  Bless
hastily orders Kazuma to shoot where Mihiro indicates, promising that no one
will die.  Prospector urgently tells Yurika to fill everyone in on a certain
something, and as she opens a channel to all the Aestivalis pilots, Kazuma says
"fuck it" and fires at the indicated point.  There is a bright flash...

...and the Nadesico is "confirmed" sunk, along with Jun.  The Feds figure their
mission is done, and withdraw.  Bless praises his son for a job well done,
though Kazuma is ready to explode, having believed his father's words that no
one would die.  But before he can suffer some kind of breakdown, the Nadesico
reappears, with all the Aestis safely aboard.  It seems Yurika's message
reached them just in time.  All this time, the mission from Freeman was
actually to help make the Nadesico *seem* to have been shot down, in order to
call off the Federation dogs.  Apparently all this was explained at the
briefing Kazuma was late to, and everyone kept Kazuma in the dark so his bad
acting wouldn't have the chance to spoil things.  Everyone is elated at how
well this bit of theater went... except for Kazuma, who is passing furious with
his father.  D-Boy, smiling for the first time Noal and Aki can remember,
assures Kazuma that his father did it for his own good.

The two captains then get on the horn and make introductions, exchanging hearty
"V" signs in the process (Bless explains to Kazuma that the most important part
of communication is matching your companion's stride).  It's a good thing
Bless's plan worked, since the Nadesico crew was about ready to counterattack.
This revelation leaves the Valstork folks guessing how much Yurika knew, and
whether her casual ways are a ruse behind which a genius lies.  In any case,
the Nadesico will head to Mars... after Prospector has a word with Bless.
Bless seems genuinely scared of Prospector, and gets deadly serious when
addressing him.  With good reason, since it seems Prospector is in the mood to
charge 50k gold for repairs to the Nadesico for damages suffered when that
flare Kazuma fired hit a bit too close to home.  Bless admits the error, but
tries to weasel out by noting that his people also helped fight off the Jovian
Lizards.  Of course, that would be the "priceless" helping of one spaceman by
another - and Prospector's legendary business acumen has Bless by the
proverbial short rabbits.  Out of "gratitude", Prospector lowers the price to
30k, the exact amount of the contract Bless is under, and Bless agrees to have
the Outer Space Development Company transfer the funds directly to Nergal.
Prospector is glad to be able to head to Mars without any loose ends, and
assures Bless that he'll have Nergal send its next high priority job his way.

A badly shaken Bless orders Carret to toss salt at the screen to ward off the
evil aura.  Looks like you ended up doing community service after all, and
Kazuma rightly points out that this is really his father's fault for telling
him where to shoot.  Bless vows to extract some hefty premium from Freeman, and
orders a course to Earth to deal directly with the Outer Space Development
Company HQ.  Noal warns that the chief there is an even greater businessman
than Prospector...

Aboard the Nadesico, Jun is whining about how joining the military didn't
result in him becoming an ally of Justice.  Soldiers simply conduct warfare,
and what he had wanted to become is someone who protects Yurika.  Akito says
that he might just become an ally of Justice yet, and that there might also be
room for him near Yurika.  After all, he's already aboard the Nadesico, so
there's no real turning back.  Izumi recommends Jun try to find his own way of
living, just as Yurika has.  Yamada advises him not to stand out too much,
since it's a law of nature (i.e. of anime) that any time a sub-character
becomes prominent, they get killed in the next episode.  And talking about his
lover back home, or what he's going to do after the war, or whatnot is RIGHT
OUT.  Akito seems genuinely like he's just trying to help cheer Jun up, but
Hikaru points out that the conditions are now ripe for one heck of a love
triangle.  Yurika then bursts in, wanting to spend time with Akito, who in turn
wanted to spend time with Yamada catching up on Geki Ganger.  Yurika then gets
the bright idea of ordering the whole crew to watch...

Elsewhere, a certain businessman is not complying with a Federation dispatch.
Whoever it is says that Nergal was simply acting in its own interests.  Is it
in Nergal's interests to turn the entire military-industrial alliance against
it?  The speaker doesn't care if that's how it sounds, and observes drily that
he never liked that alliance much anyway.  He tells the other speaker to get
the Barton Conglomerate and the Crimson Group together and entertain the brass,
though the other speaker warns against getting carried away with all the
Martian technology he's obtained.  The Nergal speaker promises to sell that
tech to the Federation army... at severely jacked-up prices.  After all, the
other speaker hasn't got every last military man under his thumb yet, right?
Before the other man can get any more infuriated, the Nergal speaker cuts the
conversation short, with the other vowing that Akatsuki will regret this later.
Anyway, the Nadesico has become the proverbial die that is cast, underway
thanks to Freeman's plans.


4. Kudakechiru Kibou ("Shattering Hope")

Kazuma relates the latest financial blow in the ship's log, noting that the
upcoming appeal to Freeman is unlikely to bring about any relief.  Neither the
pay nor the way the crew treats him sit very well with him, and he figures he
ought to have jumped ship for the Nadesico and headed to Mars.  Given how Mars
is the jumping-off point for mankind's ambitions beyond the Solar System, it
would be only right for a Trailer to see the place.  He thinks back on how
there were once nine planets in the solar system before one somehow got
demoted, making the Solar System smaller by the amount of its orbit, and space
that much bigger and wider.  He greatly wants to venture out into that wide
world of outer space some day.  For now, he's counting on his father's
bargaining acumen to stave off a long walk off the short pier of bankruptcy.

Bless is trying to put the screws to Freeman and wring out another job offer,
but Freeman points out that the Outer Space Development Company is just a
branch of the Space Development Corporation, whose finances he can't manipulate
at will.  Only the Corporation's president, Taiga Koutarou, has that authority.
Bless seems vaguely ill that the Gold Tiger would be tied into all this,
harkening back to the days when both Taiga and Freeman were out for his blood.
Duo inwardly wishes he could have seen this clash between the Special Forces
ID5 squad and the Hawkeye's men.  In any case, Bless says that whatever the
past may be, in the present he's the Valstork Family's representative, and
prepared to bow the knee to Taiga if need be.

Freeman says that won't be necessary: he can get a job the way Trailers
normally would.  In fact, he does have one little thing he'd like Bless to see
to before coming to Earth.  Kazuma tells him that he should have said so in the
first place, but Freeman warns that this is going to be a lot harder than the
theater you just staged.  Indeed, this would have originally gone to the Space
Knights, so of course Noal and company will be in on it too.  Translation: the
Orbital Ring and the Radam are involved.  It seems a joint force of army
intelligence and government operatives investigated the Ring the other day; the
Block 20 mission Noal and Aki were on was a preliminary.

And Duo and Quatre aren't off the hook either: Lady Une is with Freeman, and
explains that thanks to a little bureaucratic reorg, the Space Knights and
Preventers both had their HQs shifted to G Island City.  Duo wonders if they're
going to be merged into the "Space Preventers", but Lady won't discuss that
until your people reach Earth.  Duo tells her he'll report on his own mission
in person too, and Lady thanks Bless for looking after her men.  Duo doesn't
equate janitor duty with being "looked after", but Kazuma assures him that his
janitorial acumen is second to none.  In any case, Noin was in on the joint
investigation of the Ring, and she wants Duo and Quatre in on this new job in
their capacity as Preventers.

It seems the joint mission had been an investigation of the biology of the
Radam, plus retrieval of surviving humans.  Yes, there are survivors, or at
least life signs picked up by unmanned recon drones.  Unfortunately, the
recovery team was wiped out by the Radam, their final transmission an image of
Tekkaman Dagger, one of the Radam's servants.  D-Boy knows full well the
destructive power the Tekkamen wield, and is surprised that one would allow
itself to be photographed...  This would seem to be a provocation, if not an
outright declaration of war, and D-Boy figures that Dagger is waiting for him
specifically.  Bless cautions D-Boy against selfishly acting alone, reminding
him that pulling together is the only way for spacemen to survive.  Bless isn't
sure of D-Boy's background of course, but something about the way he carries
himself has him convinced.  Freeman has 40k ready, but this time Bless wants
full disclosure of the job's contents before any mention of money.  All D-Boy
can think of is Dagger...

The Blue Earth gets sent ahead to do recon, despite Noal's half-hearted
grumbling.  Most of the real work will be done by D-Boy, so the Blue Earth is
mostly acting as lookout.  The Valstork is lurking in reserve, ready to spring
if the fit hits the shan.  Shihomi is fretting over the look in D-Boy's eyes
when he saw the picture of Dagger: something even more complex than the rage
and hatred at the surface.  Shihomi is a pretty infallible judge of character,
and Akane is sure there's more D-Boy knows than he's letting on.  Horis opines
that the whole shadowed past thing must be what is drawing the ladies to D-Boy,
and Akane rejoins that he ought to try showing a bit more of that himself.
After all, he is an intelligence officer and an alum of the Federation
academy...  He might consider it if Shihomi digs that sort of thing, but
Shihomi's ideals are a bit higher than Horis, for all his schmaltz, can hit.

Duo finds all this to be a bit lax for his tastes, but Bless tells him that
unless he relaxes when he can, the constant tension will break him down.  Duo
likes this personal philosophy of Bless', but Quatre just hopes that Noin is
okay.  The good news is that "wiped out" doesn't necessarily mean "utterly
fragged", and Noin's already shown she can live through bigger bloodbaths than
this.  But just then a new problem comes to light: Kazuma has apparently taken
his personal spacesuit and headed outside...

Kazuma is trying to keep up with D-Boy, who tells him flatly that he has no
reason to wait up.  Kazuma is pretty confident in his spacewalking ability, but
D-Boy reminds him that his job is strictly to relay communications: he won't
have time to protect him if the Radam show up, much less Dagger.  Kazuma knows
that well, but his protestations that he's not a kid fall on deaf ears.  That
starts another round of recriminations for Kazuma, who knows he's not like his
father, or his calm sister Shihomi or his sharpshooting sister Akane.  Even his
piloting would be second-rate if not for Mihiro's help, and it seems he's
trying to be even a bit more helpful to his clients and thereby gain his
father's praise.  If he's going to be saddled with being Hawkeye's son, at
least he wants to get props for it.  D-Boy is impressed with how clearly Kazuma
articulated it, and Kazuma mutters that he hadn't planned to say any of it at
all... but something in D-Boy's eyes, something about the burden he carried,
made him want to unburden himself to D-Boy.  That, and the fact that he's
feeling a bit short on confidence himself.

Just then the two stumble on some of the survivors, who fire a warning shot in
their general direction.  The survivors, Bernard and Youko, don't seem thrilled
to see only two people in the rescue party (one of whom is a kid), but Noin
recognizes D-Boy from the Space Knights.  Bernard is a commander from the
Orbital Ring's defense forces, one of the few left after months of surviving
the Radam.  Noin and Youko are from the investigation team, and when Bernard
waxes disappointed about Trailers being sent to rescue him, Kazuma angrily
points out that his companion is D-Boy, i.e. Tekkaman Blade.  It seems these
are the only survivors, thanks to the laughing Tekkaman Dagger.

Fritz then shows up, glad that his actions have made an impact.  He refuses to
call Blade by his "old" name, and vows to cut D-Boy to ribbons for his
treachery.  Cue the usual speech about betraying the Radam and injuring his
face, etc. etc.  Bernard thinks he can hold Dagger off by himself while
everyone else escapes, but Dagger focuses on making Blade Tekset and fight him.
When he does, however...

Aki realizes that something's going on inside, but Noal figures there's no need
to worry with a Tekkaman on the job.  He'd rather check out a weird object
nearby, but before they can approach, the Radam strike.  Whatever the object
is, the Radam seem to care about it a lot, and they try to call the recon team
back outside... it seems that D-Boy is being prevented from Teksetting.  Some
kind of noise cuts off further communication with Kazuma, and Noal sends an
urgent call to the Valstork.

  Shoot down the enemy, and Noin and Youko will pop out, asking for assistance.
  As Noal feared, the enemy Tekkaman is trying to take down D-Boy.

Dagger is gloating over how much pain the Interference Specter generator he
installed is causing D-Boy.  In fact, D-Boy feels like he's being burned alive:
the device causes the energy used to Tekset to instead flow backwards and harm
his body.  Dagger, however, has only begun his revenge, and Bernard urgently
tells the boys to flee while they still can.

  Noal and the others have to hold out until reinforcements arrive.  The girls
  seem almost happy to see some action again, and Youko doesn't plan on going
  down until she puts some kind of ammo right into the enemy Tekkaman's face.

As the battle rages outside, D-Boy urges the others to escape on their own,
since it's him that Dagger wants.  D-Boy figures he doesn't need anyone to
treat him like their comrade, but Bernard won't let that slide.  He plans to
punish all those who made mincemeat out of his fellow Ring guards.  This is a
place he'd risk his life to fight for, and is sure D-Boy must have one too.  As
for that Interference Specter, Bernard says that Dagger's overconfidence has
led to two mistakes.  First: that he actually revealed to you how the trickery
preventing D-Boy from transforming works.  Second, that he's taking too much
delight in tormenting the two long-faced boys here.  He then outlines a plan
that will only work if all three of them pull together.

D-Boy gets to be decoy and draw Dagger's attention, while Kazuma, with the air
remaining in his spacesuit, gets to search for the Interference gadget and a
place he can transmit to the outside from, so that the folks fighting outside
can go and destroy the gadget.  Bernard's role, as Dagger shows up, is to risk
his life letting the boys get moving.  The boys have a bit of trouble leaving
him behind, but he tells them to fucking concentrate on fleeing the scene.

  Kazuma does his part, pointing out where the interfering device is.  Noal
  goes over and starts blasting it, but it's not easily destroyed.  A new Radam
  pops out, and Kazuma figures he's dead for sure this time, but Orgun then
  materializes and pulls Kazuma out of harm's way.  He then proceeds to wipe
  out the Specter generator, letting D-Boy transform.  As he does so, there's
  the sound of something breaking, but Dagger is more interested in demanding
  to know why an Eviluder is helping the humans.  Orgun departs without making
  reply, and Youko informs Dagger that she's about to make him pay double for
  the deaths of her comrades.  Even more reinforcements appear to try to show
  your people hell, but your people have a few reserves to draw on too.

  Dagger figures that a few more humans won't make defeat any easier to avoid,
  proving he doesn't know you very well.  For starters, he used to _be_ human.

Anyway, Dagger is bright enough to realize that his little plan has failed, and
also knows that Blade is in no shape to pursue him.  Taunting him that failing
to kill him here will be his undoing, Dagger promises that the next time, the
traitorous Blade will be powerless to prevent Dagger from spilling his guts all
over.  Dagger tells him to wait for the reunion amid the depths of despair, and
D-Boy is neurotic enough that such words might actually work.

For the time being, though, D-Boy and Kazuma get busy looking for Bernard.  Or
rather try to, until Bless shows up and starts smacking his son silly.  He
tells the tearful Mihiro that Kazuma has done something no spaceman should ever
do: his selfish actions endangered another human life.  The Kazuma survived is
mere coincidence, and Kazuma's protests fall on deaf ears.  Sure, D-Boy might
have gotten saved as a result, but 20-20 hindsight doesn't count here.  Space,
after all, is a place where the selfish actions of one can rob the lives of
all.  Bless's duty to pound into Kazuma the fear of space, the weakness of the
individual, and the importance of human life is interrupted by someone singing
that old Irish standard "Danny Boy".  Bernard has once again survived, to risk
and lose his life on some other battlefield.  He wants alcohol, not to cleanse
his wounds but to drink - and asks for bourbon.  Bless has just the small-batch
offering to do the trick, and Bernard immediately recognizes Kazuma's father
for the similar look in his eyes.  He likes how spaceman-esque Bless is, and
has a lesson on that topic of his own to impart to D-Boy.

He leads them to a viewport overlooking the beautiful Earth and Orbital Ring,
an oasis of sorts to soothe the hearts of the men he once commanded.  The Earth
is their birthplace, their final resting place, and the homeland of their
souls.  Opening the bourbon, he raises a glass of his soul's homeland's finest
to the departed Oscar, wishing him a blissful rest in Heaven.  To James, he
vows that he'll tell his fiancee that her man was truly a man to the end.  As
Bernard continues eulogizing his fallen comrades, Youko explains that Bernard
is the Orbital Ring's last survivor.  He explains to the youngsters that
everyone has a place they'd die to defend - and that there's no point dying
before even reaching that place.  Everyone has to want to live on, to come back
alive from whatever mission they're on.  In his case, Noin and Youko promise to
guard his return to earth: a flower for each hand on his return from Hell, as
it were.  All they have to do is get everyone back to G Island City, and...

Oh, but D-Boy has a problem: his system box is burning hot, and before
everyone's eyes, it breaks in two.  Will D-Boy be unable to transform ever
again?!  OH THE AGONIES!!1  After they haul D-Boy away, Freeman hears the
report of this new development, and tells Noal and Aki to give more details
once everyone gets back to Earth.  Bless will set out as soon as he's done
collating the data from the Radam in the ring, but Youko wants to get back to
the Army.  Kazuma meanwhile is getting all psyched at the prospect of finally
seeing the Earth - it's too much to ask for any remorse over his little solo
act.  Kazuma fires back at Akane that it's too much to expect her to have any
chest, and Horis' assurances that he doesn't mind her being too thin don't
exactly improve her mood any.  Quatre and Duo, who've been living with this for
the past two weeks, aren't exactly thrilled with the prospect of splitting up
again and returning to the battlefield, but the Valstork Family still have some
chores for them to do before they go...


5. Kikai, Kikai, Kiki Kaikai ("Mecha-World, Mecha-nism, Strange Beasts")

Kazuma notes in the log that his father's iron fist is as effective as ever.
And, although he was 100% in the wrong, the second blow was entirely
unnecessary.  However, he can convince himself that it's part of his Trailer
training and return his attention to the impending Earthfall.  The trouble
brewing on the surface sounds like a perfect time for the Trailers to show
their mettle.  Hopefully, they'll have a big fat bonus or two to take back to
space once they're done.

But before that, the klaxons sound a scramble - it seems a new job has
presented itself in the form of a battle raging right inside the atmosphere.

Somewhere off the coast of Japan, in Hell Castle, Dr. Hell is holding audience
and addressing Baron Ashura.  He starts by praising Ashura's sound thrashing of
the Devils the previous day, including putting Getter Robo permanently out of
action.  Ashura wants no praise for doing only what is natural to secure the
eminent scientist's place as ruler of the world.  Can he really obtain the
world, asks Dr. Hell, and Ashura says that the world might as well have been
created solely for his sake.  In any event, with Mazinger and the others down
for repairs, the time is ripe to vanquish the one remaining obstacle: the Lion
of GGG.  He bestows a new army of mechanical beasts on Ashura, and orders him
to turn Tokyo into a sea of fire, thereby proving to the ignorant once and for
all whose world this is.

At the unsuspecting Amano household, near Tokyo, Mamoru's dad has elected to
spend a nice quiet morning at home.  Which, due to Mamoru oversleeping, hasn't
been worth that much, since breakfast has been held up.  The real reason Isamu
stayed home is to inquire about Mamoru's after-school activities, which have
resulted in him coming home late, often dropped off by people from the Space
Development Corporation.  Mamoru insists that everything's okay, that he simply
got mixed up in the panic when a certain mystery robot appeared in Tokyo.  Said
attacker was fended off by a second mystery robot, with a lion's head on its
chest.  Mamoru realizes that most people, including his parents, have no idea
the GGG even exists, and his mother Ai cautions him anew.  With all the
Mecha-Beasts, and Radam plants and whatnot going on these days, things just
aren't safe.  Duh.  Even the parents realize that Mazinger got hammered the
last time it fought, and are rightfully concerned about who will defend them
now.  Mamoru assures them that the mighty Mazinger won't be beaten, and thinks
that GGG's no slouch either, especially with him helping Gai and the others
fight the Zondar.  After Mamoru leaves for school, Isamu assures Ai that
Mamoru's a smart kid - smart enough to heed their warnings and take care of
himself.  Oh, but what if Mamoru gets whisked away somewhere, just like he was
delivered to them eight years ago by that arctic lion?  Well, muses Isamu,
he'll still be their kid no matter what.

At school, Kaname is staking out the front gate in her capacity as Vice-
President of the Student Council.  The plan is to nip any nonsense in the bud,
and to do it without scaring the perpetrators into hiding the way a teacher's
presence would.  Well, all except for one weirdo, who hasn't given up his
fascination for model guns even at high school.  Not that Kaname can't
understand a fascination with military stuff in this day and age, but there's
no sense in hauling that kind of paraphernalia to a house of learning!  Given
how this guy just showed up out of the blue, off-season, Kaname's convinced
that he's some kind of problem kid who got booted out of his previous school.

Once everyone's made it to their class, Kagurazaka has a transfer student to
introduce: it's Sousuke, the gun otaku from this morning.  He cuts a handsome
figure, but has that unfriendliness aura thing going full blast.  At the
teacher's urging, he introduces himself formally as Sergeant Sagara Sousuke -
and Kaname resigns herself to the fact that "Sergeant" can't be Sousuke's given
name.  He's an otaku for sure, but Sousuke then asks everyone to forget the
"sergeant" part and concludes his self-introduction.  Kyouko asks where he's
from, and he starts rattling off places like Africa, Lebanon, Luxembourg, the
Sank Kingdom, resource satellite MO-II; in short, he moves around a lot.  As
for his hobbies, he surprisingly (to Kyouko) answers "fishing and reading",
though the stuff he reads (Jane's Almanac among them) is hardcore military.  He
rather enthusiastically begins ticking off other valuable publications, but as
the class starts gaping, he trails off and asks them to forget it again.  As
for his favorite musician, he echoes Kurz's recommendation for Lacus Klein...
which no one hear has heard of.  He once again tells everyone to forget it...

By the end of the day, Kaname is now convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that
he's a weirdo.  This is bad, because he's just disordered her perfectly ordered
day.  Well, perfectly ordered if you ignore the Mecha-Beasts, and the Radam's
creepy plants, but Kaname is concerned mostly with her immediate vicinity.  It
seems Sousuke's been causing trouble by doing stuff like popping up in the
ladies' changing room while claiming to be protecting her safety, or throwing
her down when she tried to open the furnace door to burn some trash.  He even
pointed his gun at a teacher who dared lay a hand on Kaname's shoulder,
harbinger of Kaname getting drawn into some kind of action-thriller universe
she wants no part of.  Kyouko, bright girl, notes that Sousuke seems to be
trying awfully hard to protect Kaname from something, though neither of them
know from what, or what's motivating him to do so.  Maybe love at first sight,
for the girl voted Least Desirable Girlfriend #1?

The two head off for some ice cream, hoping for some breathing room while
Kagurazaka gives Sousuke a thorough talking-to.  But no sooner do they set off
than they run into Hana-chan [too cuteified not to have the diminutive
attached] and the massive, fluffy dog Joseph.  Joseph quickly takes a liking to
Kaname, who tells Mamoru that she likes all creatures-  But Sousuke pops out of
the woodwork, gun blazing and yelling at Kaname to get away from the
fearsome(???) dog.  When everyone else is aghast at this, Sousuke states flatly
that military dogs can be trained to get close to an enemy, then end their life
with a single bite to the throat.  Joseph isn't one of the standard military
breeds, and Sousuke isn't in any hurry to holster his trusty Glock 19, despite
Kaname's say-so.  Even these apparently harmless little kids could be working
for the terrorists without even realizing it...  Kaname slaps him as hard as
she can and runs off, as Sousuke grapples with the fact he can't tell her what
his mission for protecting her is.  He then dashes off in pursuit...

Kaname is still furious, though she hadn't realized that "model guns" had
gotten so powerful.  Thank god Joseph hadn't been hit, or it would have been
ugly... she then manages to run smack into, of all people, Penchinon.  He
thinks he's found in Mamoru the person who controls the G-Stone's power: the
greatest obstacle to his people's plans.  Kaname tries to demand he explain
what he's talking about, but Penchinon is more intent on eradicating Mamoru...
until Kaname makes such a nuisance of herself that Penchinon opts to eradicate
her first.

Nobody's too happy that the old guy Kaname ran into summoned some robot to kill
her.  Sousuke's seen pictures of these things in the briefing materials for his
mission: the Zondar, whose appearances seem centered around Japan.  Mamoru of
course knows what a Zondar is, and also knows that Gai and the others are
currently off at the Photon Power Lab.  Just then, a bunch of Federation
aircraft show up, with Akagi in command.  Despite Mamoru's (not
radio-amplified) warning, the planes get too close to the Zondar and the pilots
lose control: so much for the vaunted Nerima Red Dragons.  Akagi is furious
that his squad, posted here to shore up things at G-Island City, can't do a
damn thing, and orders everyone to pull out before things get any worse.

Too late.  Some of the possessed mecha head straight for the party before they
can flee, but some unseen force stops their deadly charge.  It's Mao, who turns
off her mech's ECS and disengages invisibility mode, and Kurz, who is glad to
see that their "Angel" is safe.  He would have had to cry if even a single
scratch marred her ivory skin.  Mao tells Sousuke to take Kaname and escape
while she and Kurz counterattack, and Kurz *really* hopes that the M9's
anti-Zondar measures work.  It would suck royally to have these mecha get taken
over too, but Mao has faith in Tessa's handiwork.  She knows the real problem
is that they can't stop the enemy boss, meaning they'll have to hold out until
the GGG get back.  Luckily, one member of the GGG is already here, minding the
farm: Volfogg, from GGG's intelligence branch.  He recognizes the two Mithril
SRT members, meaning little need for introductions.  Kaname is glad to see that
the two Arm Slaves and the purple robot are on her side, but Sousuke is more
interested in leading everyone to safety.  Mamoru realizes that he might be the
true target, and after introducing himself to Sousuke, asks him to look after
Hana-chan while he goes to do his duty.  Sousuke ponders a moment and then
tells him to get going, realizing that this is no mere child.

  Kill enough bad guys and the GGG make it back.  Gai and the Dragon Brothers
  ask the Mithril folks to leave the rest to them, and Melissa Mao favors
  Volfogg with her and Kurz Webber's real names, not just their callsigns.  As
  the Dragon Brothers perform their Symmetrical Docking, Gai leaves no doubt
  who will carry the day here.  Sousuke lets slip that he knows Gaogaigar's
  name, as it were from all those military magazines he loves to read.
  Hana-chan keeps repeating to herself that she's not afraid, and Sousuke
  agrees: any warrior who can't suppress his fear is doomed to die.  Is that
  meant as encouragement, Kaname asks.  Affirmative.

  The Zondar boss is worth a Chobham Armor and a Cartridge, plus a Defense +1.

The Zondar isn't so easily defeated, so long as its Core is intact.  Gai uses
Hell and Heaven to extract it in dramatic fashion, and Mamoru completes the
Purification ritual.  The person to whom the Zondar Metal had been attached is
fine, but everyone else is not as a wave of explosions rips through the city,
thanks to the troops of the international terrorist Dr. Hell.  Kaname's about
had enough, but Ashura's just getting started.  He praises Gaogaigar's
phenomenal attack, but presumes Gai is now too depleted to fend off Dr. Hell's
little present.  Gai thinks otherwise, and has Mamoru take the Zondar Metal
victim and withdraw.  Ashura offers Gai this one chance to kneel at his feet,
in return for which he promises a painless death, but Gai isn't about to do
that.  Neither are Kouji or his friends, who despite their mecha's dilapidated
state can't just sit by and watch things go on.  The usual heroic trash talk
ensues.

  Kill a bunch of bad guys and Ashura will realize there's no point in holding
  back any reserves.  This looks grim, until reinforcements arrive: the
  Valstork Family and friends.  Taiga's done a very good thing by hiring them,
  though Kazuma is a bit cowed by all the hot blood on display ("humanity will
  not give into your evil!!!" and stuff).  That cowing quickly turns into
  admiration, and his Tension has long since hit the red zone.  He acknowledges
  his father's caution that this will be his first real battle in gravity, but
  it's not all wine and roses.

  Ashura, ready for such a reversal, grabs Sayaka's mech with his and plans to
  effectively make you fight and kill each other.  Kouji is now a bit torn, but
  Volfogg and Gai have a plan and tell Kouji to do what Ashura asks and fight
  the rest of your dudes for real.  Bless says much the same to his son,
  insisting that a chance to turn the tables will come.  D-Boy, done sulking
  per se, wishes he could somehow help here too, which Bernard likes the sound
  of.

  Gai is counting on Volfogg to turn the tables when he pulverizes Mazinger.
  Even the mighty Mazinger can't stand up to your guys' punishment, but when
  it's disabled, Ashura reneges on his promise to let Sayaka go.  In fact, he
  wants the last thing Kouji sees to be him killing Sayaka, but your folks have
  other ideas.  Volfogg has called upon Mao and Kurz, and Kurz scores a
  *perfect* sniper hit on the hinge of Ashura's cargo hatch, letting Mao dart
  in and rescue Sayaka.  Even the G-boys are amazed at the Mithril agents'
  work, and an infuriated Ashura orders a retreat now that Mazinger is
  demolished.

  But it's not quite demolished yet, and neither is Kouji, who vows to risk his
  life if need be to take Ashura down.  Kouji tells Mazinger that he's made it
  a demon by fighting his own side, and thanks it for all the battles it's
  fought by his side.  He now asks it to lay down its life with him, since
  combat is now impossible, and thereby exact vengeance on Ashura.  As the
  Photon Power mounts, Kouji bids his farewells and Bless hastily orders a full
  retreat.

Afterwards, Gai apologizes for not being of any more help.  Boss is heartbroken
in his dolt-esque way for not being able to prevent Kouji's death, but Tetsuya
has no time for that.  It seems someone has retrieved Mazinger's corpse - and
that someone is likely Dr. Hell.  No doubt this man, with the brain of a demon,
has some nefarious purpose in mind, and you'll have to try to stop it without
Kouji's help.  Tetsuya tells everyone to get back to repairing their mecha to
prepare, while he heads back to the Photon Power Lab; he regretfully notes that
he won't be able to take Taiga's recommendation after all.

Taiga regretfully hears the news of Mazinger and Kouji's loss from Freeman, who
worries that the decreased warpower will impede their plans.  Taiga has some
ideas about that, and tells them to leave the negotiations to him.  He's got a
few favors to call in, favors that Hawkeye won't dare refuse.  Leo tells
Freeman that the item he designed looks like it's feasible, and Honda and Levin
are already at work on it.  The grateful Freeman doubts that anything other
than GGG's expertise with super-AIs could have pulled it off in any reasonable
amount of time.

In any case, the time has come to go greet the new arrivals, including the
representative from Mithril due any moment.  The time has come for the big plan
to commence: Project W.  No more time for shedding of tears, when the future of
the planet hangs in the balance.  Lady Une is worried about more than just
that... if the girl the G-boys were checking up on in the colonies is used for
evil, the Earth will once again be plunged into chaos.

Aboard the Tuatha De Danaan, Tessa and Kalinin muse over the rough start
Sousuke is off to.  Even Kalinin, who had hoped he'd gain some valuable
experience, figures that this was beyond what he expected.  Sousuke, equipped
to deal with everything including getting slapped by a civilian, also got to
tangle with Zondar and Dr. Hell.  To Tessa's delight, he's still on the job
though, and both agree it was a good idea to have two AS's on station in the
area.  The one thing Kalinin isn't sure about is fulfilling GGG's request, but
Tessa, a full colonel, says that things are evolving far faster than the folks
back in the war room could have imagined.  Only by cooperating with
organizations can Mithril hope to carry the day, and working with the GGG may
well conclude the three soldiers' missions all the sooner.  And _that_ will
make Whispered candidates like Chidori Kaname all that much safer.  Only for as
long as they're useful, unfortunately...  Tessa can only hope that Taiga lives
up to his reputation as she tries negotiating with him.

Mao notes in her log that the "Angel" has been sent home along with her pet,
which set back the schedule an hour.  Sousuke then returns to base, to get
grilled by the jealous Kurz about what it's like to guard the beautiful high
school girl.  Too bad for Kurz there's no way he could hope to blend in as a
Japanese high school student, and he grouses that there's only so much he can
stand to hang out inside his invisible AS at a stretch.  He claims to be all
stressed out from avoiding stepping on old guys or running into buildings, but
Sousuke points out that it was their presence that saved everyone from the
Zondar.  Indeed: this G-Island city is about to become the epicenter for ten
kinds of death and mayhem before all is said and done.  Good thing Kalinin
thought to give them a couple AS's, huh?

As for the Angel, Kaname, she's on the phone to her family in America (and not
in the shower or undressing as Kurz hoped).  Of course they've tapped the
phone, and Sousuke listens in as part of his mission.  What he learns is that
Kaname surprisingly doesn't hate his guts - he's apparently become the
"interesting kid" to her.  Mao smiles at this, and recommends that Sousuke
concentrate on tending to his wounds.  At this rate, tomorrow's going to be
another rough day.  Sousuke's actually looking forward to it, having found this
a most worthwhile job after all.

Somewhere near Tokyo, Pasdar summons forth his four Great Generals of the
Machine World: Polonaise, Primada, Pizza and Penchinon.  Pasdar tells them of a
meeting between those obstructing their plans, all under one roof in G-Island
City.  Penchinon has a plan for dealing with that: Inubousaki, whose pent-up
stress can surely destroy the GGG.  Pizza likes the plan, and says that he's
got someone he wants to meet in person too.  He tells them to hurry, since the
Radam and Eviluders have already begun their invasion.  They must finish their
Zondar Metal Plant and Mechanize the planet at once.  He promises the
weak-hearted ones of Earth that they will feel his power...


6. GGG no Kiki Ippatsu ("GGG, By the Skin of its Teeth")

Kazuma certainly didn't get the Earth vacation he bargained for, he tells the
ship's log.  Not only did he get roped into fighting the famous Mazinger Z, he
saw its pilot self-destruct before his very eyes to defeat the enemy.  He only
knew Kouji a short time, but he figured he was a good guy.  While his father
chews the fat with Taiga, the rest of the Valstork's crew will be getting a
tour of the GGG base.  Kazuma will take what vacation he still can before
returning to space.

Akane is amazed to learn that Gai is a cyborg.  Gai explains that he got hit by
a meteor in space two years ago, while piloting the space shuttle.  That meteor
then famously crash-landed in Tokyo.  As for the operator Mikoto, Gai tells
Noal that she was a high school classmate of his, and apparently she actually
followed him into the GGG.  How romantic.  How impressive, Horis muses, that
cybertech has advanced this far - he's heard of no other successful cases of
full-conversion cyborgs before.  Gai has a bit of help: the G-Stone embedded in
his body.

This green gem was bestowed on mankind by Galeon, who appeared at the same time
as the meteor: an infinite information circuit, and Gai's power source as Gai's
father tells it.  Said father is also on the GGG staff: Shishio Leo, one of the
world's ten Great Brains and expert in super-AI theory and robotics.  As for
what Galeon is, Horis gets Akane going with a tale of little gray men with huge
red eyes and spindly limbs... when in fact, Galeon turns out to be a mechanical
lion from outer space.  Galeon is in fact responsible for saving Gai's life
during the accident, as well as the skeleton around which the Gao Machines join
in Final Fusion to make Gaogaigar.  Gaogaigar's incredible power readily
convinces the G-boys of its hybrid origins.

But the question is, why does a secret organization attached to the Federation
executive office have this much stuff?  The GGG's purpose is to research and
deploy anti-Zondar technology, a species of living robot that's been making
life in Tokyo hell of late.  The Zondar are formed by attaching a substance
called Zondar Metal to a human, who then agglomerates nearby machinery to form
the final giant robot.  Kazuma wonders what happens to the humans who become
the cores of these Zondar, and Gai explains that the GGG's mission is to
destroy the outer robot and rescue the person in the core.  Extracting the core
is his job, and then it's up to a certain other person to do the rest.

Your folks then get introduced to Hyouryuu and Enryuu: sentient, feeling
robots.  Volfogg is busy as usual with another mission, so Ushiyama Kazuo
introduces just himself as the operator in charge of maintenance.  Horis
guesses correctly that everyone calls the guy Usshi, making Akane doubt anew
that this guy really has the makings of a Trailer.  Yes, these are
freedom-loving spacefarers, thankfully devoid of any governmental
entanglements.  That makes it pretty amazing that they're being given a tour of
the GGG along with the Preventers and Space Knights.  Speaking of whom, D-Boy
is all locked in his room being emo after his System Box broke.  Noal notes
that D-Boy hates the Radam as if they'd killed his own parents, but is
currently out of options for fighting them.  Gai had hoped he could speak to
D-Boy at least once...

Just then, in walks Shishio, musing about a certain problem that's more
delicate than expected.  With him is Milly, an operator with the Space Knights,
who tells Noal that she, Honda and Levin have been here for quite a while.  It
seems the Space Knights' HQ has been moved to GGG and the two organizations
merged... which gives Leo some hope of helping D-Boy after all.  He can't make
any guarantees, but Honda and Levin's gadget is undergoing final tuning as they
speak.  Kazuma runs off to tell D-Boy the good news, while Gai ponders this
man, who was made a Tekkaman against his will.  Mikoto has Ushiyama guide
everyone, while she goes upstairs to the Space Development Corporation to fetch
Mamoru.  She adds that Taiga is both the SDC's president and GGG's commander,
making him officially one busy guy.  She'll have to watch out that she doesn't
arouse the suspicions of a certain high school field trip going on upstairs...

Bernard is wandering around with Mihiro in tow, lost and quite drunk.  The
latter explains why he didn't keep up with the others, and Mihiro isn't exactly
in a position to play tour guide to somewhere she's never been before.  Mihiro
doesn't want to be treated like a kid, but Bernard advises her to say that
_after_ she's grown even the faintest amount of breasts.  Lech!  Pervert!
Drunk!  Mihiro says she hates Bernard, and demands to know why he's not cool
anymore like he was on the Orbital Ring.  Bernard smirks and says he was out of
booze back then, which is Levin's cue to show up and chide them for being in a
restricted area.  Bernard hastily apologizes to the "little lady", then quickly
corrects himself to "little queer".  This is not inaccurate, but is not very
diplomatic either.  Before Levin can complain too long, Honda shows up and
tells him to get back and help with the final AI testing.  Seeing the polite
Mihiro, he tells Levin to guide them back outside first, and Levin won't stand
for Bernard mumbling snatches of Danny Boy along the way.  However, a certain
robotic voice then starts echoing the song...

Elsewhere, Kagurazaka lets the students loose, telling them to gather info for
a report on the SDC's mission and principles.  She leaves Kaname to look after
Sousuke, warning her lightly that any problems will reflect badly on the entire
school... which would result in cancelling next month's trip to Okinawa [think,
"trip to Hawaii"].  Sousuke sees Kaname feeling a bit tired, and offers her
some of his lunch that's left over... beef jerky, and rather hard and
oily-smelling at that.  He tells her that it's been optimized for portability
and longevity and low-cost, and tells her try try some first.  She doesn't feel
the need for any jaw training, but Kazama is quite taken with these African
C-rations.  Gourmets agree that these are the most tasteless rations ever made,
but Sousuke assures him that he'll get used to the taste soon enough.  Kaname
leaves the two military otaku alone and ponders a little incident last night
where Sousuke was found on her veranda, a pair of her panties in hand.  She is
trying really hard to assume there was some good reason for that, and to
remember how Sousuke apparently allowed her to flee the robot attack.

Sousuke notices her getting pale again, and asks if she's okay.  She tells him
that if he really cares about her, he'll stay quiet today.  He acknowledges
this, but then runs into Mamoru.  Mamoru thanks him profusely for protecting
Hana-chan and the others, but Sousuke says he needs no thanks for doing
something that was effectively part of his mission.  Mamoru introduces himself
to the girls, but quickly excuses himself when they ask why he's at the SDC.
Mamoru seems responsible enough that Kaname wishes he could donate some of that
responsibility to a certain other someone she knows.  Meanwhile, the girls
notice that Mamoru was wandering off towards a restricted part of the base.
Sousuke, who knew from the look in Mamoru's eyes that he wasn't some random
child, now suspects that Mamoru may in fact be a terrorist; which would make
his contact with Kaname the other day some sort of advance recon.  Sousuke is
now muttering to himself that the girl must have been a decoy, and the boy the
real operative.  This time, the boy must be out to blow up GGG, wreaking
immeasurable havoc and making it all the easier to eliminate Kaname in the
chaos.

He tells a stunned Kaname to lead everybody out of the SDC to somewhere safe.
With no time to explain, he tells her to hurry while he pursues Mamoru.  Rather
than heed his warning, she heads off after him, hoping to stop him before he
causes more trouble.  Kyouko and Kazama are left alone, and from the scary look
on Sousuke's face, they realize that _something_ must be going on.  They elect
to go and inform Kagurazaka, but in the process run right into Fritz.  He's on
his way into the restricted area, and menaces the kids into not getting in his
way.  They then run into Pizza, who is muttering to himself about how a
Tekkaman is here too.  It seems more prey has presented itself, and he orders
Penchinon to get moving.

Kazuma finds D-Boy, and fills him in on the good news.  He urges D-Boy to come
to the lab to see Gai's father's handiwork, and D-Boy is about to be overjoyed
at being able to fight again, when Fritz shows up and says not to get his hopes
up.  As previously advertised, Dagger promises to cut D-Boy to ribbons while
he's helpless.

Radam are attacking from the heavens, and GGG's satellites didn't catch them
due to some kind of program error.  As the kids marvel at these monsters of
rumor, they realize that Sousuke was apparently right to order the evacuation.
Sousuke and Kaname are still inside, and it becomes quickly clear that the
Radam are after D-Boy.  What's worse, the Bay Tower base is suffering from
multiple system failures, making sortying the troops rather hard.  Fortunately,
the Valstork's people are ready to go, though Bless will cancel one of the past
debts he owes Taiga to do so.  Meanwhile, the Dragon Brothers are to break out
of their hanger manually, and hold the fort until everyone else can sortie.
Tessa insists on helping Taiga find whatever brought the system down,
unconcerned about her own safety.  Besides, whoever could break Entouji's code
is no one to be trifled with.  She asks for a keyboard, but trips along the
way, not cutting the most convincing figure as Mithril's supposed genius.
After advising Entouji to bathe sometime (he's been too busy lately...) she
contacts Kalinin to call for backup.  Leo knows that the system crash is likely
the Zondar's fault, which means that this is likely only the beginning...

  Dagger thinks the forces raising hell outside will keep him from being
  interrupted as he was on the Orbital Ring.  D-Boy has Kazuma run and notify
  the others that Dagger is here, vowing to make it to the hangar somehow or
  other.  Dagger thinks it's sweet that D-Boy let his comrade escape, but D-Boy
  says he has no need of comrades... or parents or siblings, or friends!
  Dagger tells Blade to blame it all on his betrayal of the Radam...

  Entouji and Tessa combined can't keep up with the intruder, which could only
  be... Inubousaki, Entouji's rival for chief programmer two years ago when the
  GGG facilities were being built.  As it becomes clear that Inubousaki is
  Zondarified, Tessa reasons that he must be somewhere inside the base itself.
  The good news is that Mamoru is actually already inside the base.  The bad
  news is that he's in the base where the Zondar can potentially get at him.
  His death might spell the end for mankind, and Taiga has Gai sent to find
  Mamoru and slag the invader.

  Kurz isn't pleased to see the Radam disrupting the charge to save their
  Angel.  Kalinin has ordered them to destroy the Radam at once, and Kurz muses
  over the irony of Sousuke guarding the pretty girl while he gets to
  exterminate the icky bugs.

  Bless has Mihiro wait in the dock for Kazuma, still somewhere inside the base
  fetching D-Boy.  Noin recognizes the Mithril AS's as next-generations of what
  the Federation army uses, and Duo says that they're the richest squadron on
  Earth: a veritable mecha-collector's paradise.  Anyway, the battle is on
  outside, but "Silver" Hyuuma warns that the Zondar inside the base will
  emerge sooner or later too.  Noal is rather peeved that he hasn't heard from
  D-Boy yet - the dude might not be able to fight, but he shouldn't be sitting
  on his ass moping either...

  As the battle outside rages, D-Boy is finally cornered by Dagger.  It seems
  Kazuma wasn't in time after all, but before Dagger can land the fatal blow, a
  new opponent lights into him.  Pizza figures that he's found his first prey,
  and Dagger momentarily gapes at this warrior from the legendary Red Planet.
  But he then recognizes Pizza for a Zondarian, and Pizza is itching for a
  chance to stick it to the Radam by kicking Dagger's ass.  That's fine with
  Dagger, who wants to try his hand against the famed Red Planet's warriors,
  Zondarian or no.  D-Boy takes his chance and flees, leaving the fuming Dagger
  to tangle with Pizza.

  Pizza is fairly impressed with how the Radam, staunch holdouts against
  Mechanization, are holding up.  Dagger's fairly impressed with the Zondarian
  as well, but plans to make him pay for letting D-Boy escape.  Just then,
  Mamoru blunders onto the scene, vaguely recognizing Pizza from Gai's
  description.  Pizza tries to postpone the fragdown with Dagger in favor of
  slaying this boy with the power of G-Stones, but merely manages to wreck his
  own arm.  Sousuke staggers in from another direction, in time to see Pizza's
  desperate plan: do fatal damage to Mamoru before Mamoru's aura does likewise
  to him.  Sousuke's formidable sidearm is of no use against the Red Planet's
  warrior, but your people have someone who is: Gai!

  Gai fills Mamoru in on things and tells him to flee, but Mamoru isn't going
  anywhere until he figures out where the Zondar he sensed is.  Gai doesn't
  argue with this much, but warns Mamoru to bail if he senses any danger.
  Mamoru quickly enlists the startled Sousuke's aid, leaving Gai to face down
  the two intruders on his own.  Dagger recognizes Gai's heritage from the
  Green Planet, and leaves Gai to fight his Red Planet counterpart while he
  himself pursues D-Boy.  That's sort of okay with Pizza, whose only real
  objective is defeating Gai anyway.

  In the meantime, D-Boy has reached Milly in the hangar.  She assures him he
  can become a Tekkaman again, and asks for his crystal.  Dagger tries to
  interrupt this, but takes a surprise blow across the face from Kazuma and the
  Space Knights' power loader he's commandeered.  Levin, apparently okay with
  Kazuma calling him a queer, urges Kazuma to continue the ass-whupping.
  Bernard is in on the action too, more than a little pissed off at whatever
  quirk of fate keeps bringing the two of them together.  This has given the
  science team enough time to set up the Tekset... but with no power to the
  base, they can't boot the darn thing.  No choice but to wait for everything
  to come back on line.  Kazuma sounds ready to duke it out with Dagger for
  that long, and shouts to D-Boy not to give up.

  Defeat all the Radam and Mamoru will locate the Zondar.  Along the way,
  Sousuke apologizes to Mamoru for mistaking him for someone other than one of
  GGG's warriors.  Before they can reach the Zondar, they're intercepted by
  Penchinon, who Sousuke quickly realizes is one of the Zondar commanders.
  Lucky for them, they've got an unseen ally: Volfogg.  He tells Mamoru to take
  Urz 7 (that's Sousuke, who says he'll explain later) and return the Zondar to
  human.  For some reason, Kaname is in the same room with the Zondar, and
  yells to Sousuke to put that gun he keeps waving around to good use for once.
  He doesn't need her to tell him that, of course.  His Glock isn't much use,
  but the high-voltage stun gun he carries proves quite effective against their
  mechanized foe.

  The Zondar's momentary lapse gives Tessa and Entouji just the chance they
  need to run their counter-program.  Entouji murmers to Inubousaki that it's
  too late to resist: as always, he's forgotten something critically important.
  No person, and no system, in this world is perfect.  This is why people can
  go on improving, building on their past mistakes and defeats.  He and Tessa
  used something he never had to fix all the holes he opened in the system:
  their spirit to confront adversity, touchstone of a true Hero!  The Zondar
  flees outside the base as all the base's systems come back online.

  This is Milly's cue to fire up Pegas, a modified humanoid cargo robot who
  seems more than happy to pound Dagger at Levin's urging.  Apparently the
  chief figured out how to make a helper for D-Boy, and Honda yells that D-Boy
  should be able to Tekset inside it.  Of course, it works, and D-Boy is
  finally able to face Dagger toe to toe.  Dagger is now pissed off beyond
  measure, and vows to settle everything once and for all by sending in more
  troops.  D-Boy actually apologizes to Noal and Aki for being out of action,
  and promises to make up for lost time on the battlefield.  D-Boy seems to
  have truly become a Space Knight, and his resurgence has let Kazuma and Big
  Volfogg make it outside as well.  Bless praises Kazuma's work a bit, but
  Kazuma tells him to watch out...

  ...for a bunch of Zondarized enemy mecha are on the inbounds.  Most
  unpleasant, the enemy seems to have combined with some spare parts for
  Gaogaigar... call it "Kowkaikar" maybe?  In any case, all your robots have
  been given anti-Zondar treatment by Leo, and Gai seems to have survived his
  run-in with Pizza and is now ready to Final Fusion and yank out the Zondar's
  core.  The guidance programs of the Gao Machines have been erased, but the
  GGG staff are prepared to risk their lives on combining manually.  Even with
  Entouji's support, it's only a 60% chance of success, but on the dubious math
  that each of the four pilots can contribute 10% guts each to reach 100%,
  Taiga gives the okay.  Entouji inwardly tells Inubousaki to watch the heroic
  power of the organization he tried to destroy, and D-Boy puts himself in
  harm's way to give Gaogaigar time to combine.  With all the actors now in
  place, the true final battle can begin.

  When Dagger fights Blade, he tells him that he can't afford to fail any more
  with the other Tekkamen close to awakening, lest his own position suffer.

  EI-15 is worth an Aqua Module, a Propellant Tank, and a Gunfighter +1.
  Removing the Zondar's core causes all the other Zondar Metal to self-
  destruct.  Penchinon and Pizza have no choice but to withdraw, but not before
  Pizza vows that he'll one day settle the score with the cyborg Gai.  D-Boy
  then tells Dagger that he's lost, but Dagger doesn't see it that way.  He
  offers D-Boy a choice: accept the Radam, or perish by Dagger's hand.

  Dagger is worth an Apogee Motor and a Multicombo +1.  He can't believe that
  he, on of Radam's Tekkamen, could be destroyed here - after all, the Radam
  are supposed to be the one chance life forms have for survival!  This gets
  Leo's attention, but all Dagger will say with his parting breath is that
  Blade's refusal of the Radam will lead to his ruin.  D-Boy thinks to himself
  that one day he'll go to wherever Fritz is... but before that day, he's got
  things to do.

It seems the action's over now that Inubousaki's been Purified and the bad guys
are dead or fled.  Lady Une never expected the anticipated joint operation
between the GGG, Space Knights, Preventers, and Mithril to get started like
this.  The good news is that Tessa is now convinced how effective this can be -
an interesting fringe benefit of the enemy assault.

Even Inubousaki is doing much better now that Mamoru and Entouji have opened
his eyes.  Just remember kids: strong hearts can fend off the Zondar!  Sousuke
asks Mamoru more or less routinely where his power comes from, but Kaname is
more inclined to be spastic towards the green-glowing, high-flying, monster-
dissolving kid (oh, and his hairstyle is weird too).  Mamoru himself has no
idea if it's ESP or whatever, but he thinks that God must have given it to him
to protect his family and friends, and indeed all mankind.  He begs the two of
them not to let on that he's a GGG secret agent, lest said family and friends
get all worried.  Kaname and Sousuke agree, and as he leads them back to their
friends, Sousuke remarks approvingly on the young warrior's resolve to mix
other people up in his own problems.  As Kaname listens, nonplussed, Sousuke
mutters that this mission has made him painfully aware just how low on the
power scale he is.  He's got to learn better how to pick his time and place,
and has got to improve his guns'n'ammo and other gear...  Kaname slaps him
again, and demands that he not cause any trouble during the Okinawa Trip.  He
assures her that he'll carry out his mission to the fullest, but she doesn't
sound very reassured at all, about a great many things.

Tessa's finishing final preparations to officially help the plan, adding a
group of experts in terrorism, regional revolt, and other shadowy topics to
your forces.  The precise extent of their capabilities is shrouded in mystery,
but it'll be great to have them on your side.  The mood is shattered when a
mysterious blond man walks in, sorry to have missed the beautiful Mithril
commander: it's war-correspondent Balzac Asimov, here on orders from the
Federation army.  His appointment was tomorrow, but he claims he simply
couldn't sit still when there was a chance to see Colonel Testarossa in action.
Freeman is unimpressed, and tells Balzac to mind his manners and not abuse the
free pass he carries: he's barged into a combat command facility, not some
cushy lounge.

He excuses himself, and Lady Une is left with the grim realization that the
Federation Army is keeping a close eye on you all.  Freeman figures that
Corbett is angling to assimilate all the forces gathering here into the
military.  It's a real interesting question where he gets his backing from, but
fortunately your list of allies is long too.  Among them is Leo's brother,
whose robots may or may not prove useful in combat.  Leo and Freeman will leave
the official contract signing with Bless up to Taiga, while they continue
analyzing what your enemy's organizations are up to.  For instance, it appears
the Radam and Zondar are actually at odds from today's battle - and their
faceoff seems to be on a galactic scale.  Add in the Eviluders and the research
team will have a very sticky triangle to try to analyze.

News of Dagger's fall to Blade has reached the other Tekkamen's ears, it would
seem.  One of the other Tekkamen tells the leader that it's his turn to try his
hand on Blade.  The leader will let him go, with the admonition to hurry: the
Eviluders' main force approaches, and the Zondar grow stronger with each
passing day.  Should they find out that the legacy of the Green Planet lives on
on Earth, they might activate their Master Program.  All this means that the
Earth will become the battlefield to determine the rulership of the galaxy.
The leader gives Tekkaman Evil free rein to settle his personal score first,
and orders him to make the Radam's blossoms bloom the world over.  When he
does, then the true battle will begin.  Evil, for his part, is sure he can
claim Blade's head...

Bless gathers all the Valstork family together so Taiga can address them.  He
offers his thanks for the previous battle, but almost immediately the
conversation gets sidetracked on Hyuuma and Akane's love of pro-wrestling.
Shihomi helps get things back on track: very composed, just like her mother.
Taiga offers that no spaceman his age _doesn't_ know her and the Valstork
Family, but Bless nudges the conversation forward, seemingly out of some mutual
agreement not to discuss their past.  In any case, the vaunted GGG has a new
mission for the Valstork Family: fighting alongside them to protect the Earth.
...Which sounds nice, but Kazuma is violently opposed.  He's damned if he, a
Trailer, will become the military's lackey!!  Sure, he'll help people in
trouble, but he doesn't plan on fighting someone else's war.  Akane and Mihiro
don't want to fight either, and that makes things at best 3 against 2 for
signing the deal.  An unfortunate result from Taiga's standpoint.  Hyuuma's
amazed that Taiga would just let things slide, given how urgently Project W
needs help outside the military - but Swan interrupts with a message for Bless
from Bit.  It's Galent, with a message he wants both Bless and the Golden Tiger
to hear.

It seems there's been an accident on Mars, and Taiga asks the "Devil's Arm" to
clarify.  Seems there's some trouble brewing between the Nadesico and some new
group of aliens, though he doesn't yet know what.  He advises everyone to keep
their eye on what Nergal does next, and Taiga thanks him for his assistance.
Kazuma wonders aloud what's to become of the Earth with yet more aliens
menacing it [gee, what indeed, bright boy?]


7. 'Deai to Wakare' no Akai Hoshi ("The Red Planet of 'Meetings and Partings'")

Kazuma confides to the ship's log about the Valstork's two week stay at GGG,
ostensibly waiting for a transport mission to Mars.  What's going on on Mars
isn't clear, and Hyuuma and Lady have been trying their best to get the
Valstork Family to consent to their offer.  Taiga however has been ignoring the
Valstork, counting on everyone else to fight the Zondar.  The boredom is
starting to affect morale, though Shihomi is keeping herself happily occupied
with shopping.  Nevertheless, Kazuma is hung up on the Trailer maxim "Be not
fettered by anything, be free", and is determined not to fight at someone
else's behest, no matter what his father says.

Duo then checks in, having just returned from fighting a Zondar that had
old-school German army guns incorporated into it.  Others might be able to face
the Radam and terrorists, but only your people can face down the Zondar.
Kazuma won't soften his stance even for Duo, despite Duo's observation that no
one would have problems if stubbornness were all it took to pay the bills.  He
then tells Kazuma that Galent's gotten a message to the GGG via underground
channels.  Kazuma's momentary elation gets quickly deflated when Duo tells him
that the Valstork won't likely be needed...

On Mars, the Nadesico is surveying the area where the Utopia Colony once stood.
The Jovian Lizards' first attack wiped it off the face of the red planet,
though Akito heard it was as much due to the crash landing of a Federation ship
as to the Jovians.  Akito isn't sure how he survived the blast himself, only
knowing that he somehow woke up on Earth.  He does however remember the smile
of one of the little girls with him in the shelter, someone possibly named
"Ai".  Akito desperately wants to see if his memory is correct, even if it
means numerous attacks by the Jovian Lizards on the way here.  Megumi takes the
chance to ask what Akito's relation to Yurika is, and he tells her that
Yurika's family used to live near his on Mars: they were childhood friends.
Megumi figures this means she's still got a chance, but before she can press
her advantage with the flustered Akito, Ines calls in.

She tells Akito it's about time for him to return to the ship: he's wasted
enough of the Nadesico's time.  Yurika is also suspicious of what Akito and
Megumi are up to, despite Akito's protestations that nothing's going on.  Ines
wants to lead the Nadesico to the one spot on Mars where survivors might be.
Contrary to Yamada's hope, the flames of Justice have not been rekindled in
Akito at the sight of his desolated homeland, and Yamada's demands that Akito
join him in a Geki Ganger marathon to reeducate him fall on deaf ears.

Akito explains that it was half the Federation's fault that Utopia got trashed:
what point is there in some reckless battleplan that results in the death of
countless civilians the military was supposed to protect?  Yurika tries to
caution him, but Akito now burns with rage: just who the hell is to blame for
the wreckage of his home?!  Ines had figured Akito for a pretty straightforward
guy, and is disappointed at this resentful outburst, criticizing the leadership
of someone to their face.  That pulls Akito up short, as it dawns on him who
she means: Fukube.  Apparently he was the only one who _didn't_ know Fukube's
service record, and by the looks of things he's not going to be easily
placated.  Rather ironic that the destroyer and destroyee are on the same trip.

When Yurika questions Ines' words, Ines claims she too thought Akito knew.
Plus, somehow she felt the need to tell Akito off.  Fukube tells Akito to
strike him if it will make him feel better, but Akito won't allow Fukube to
make himself the victim here.  Fukube tells him he can think of nothing else to
offer, and Akito runs out of the bridge in fury.  Yamada wants Akito to turn
that anger against the Jovians, but Minato says that Akito presumably wants
time to calm down.  Gort would rather worry about recovering the survivors for
now - assuming there are any.  Ines favors him with an ironic glance and notes
that her very presence here should be proof enough they exist.  She came to
greet the Nadesico, which holds special meaning for her, one of the scientists
at the Nergal lab that designed it.

She's a rather unusual scientist, mixing the physical sciences with
archaeology, and Prospector allows her to explain so long as she doesn't let
any secrets slip.  She begins with the discovery of ancient ruins on Mars,
which to oversimplify greatly yielded the technology used to build the
Nadesico, its Distortion Field generator, and its Transposition Engines.
Yamada is psyched to be piloting some mystical mecha from the days of yore, and
Uribatake now knows why Nergal sent the Nadesico here: to secure those ruins
for Nergal once more.  Prospector can neither confirm nor deny, but Gort says
the mission is to recover the research data and take any survivors back to
Earth.  Ines doesn't care about the data, but says that she and the others have
no desire to ride the Nadesico, since there's no way it can make it back to the
Earth in one piece.

During the debate, the Nadesico reaches the airspace above the residential
area.  For whatever reason, the Jovians who razed all colonies on the surface
have not laid a finger on the few survivors who fled underground.  Ines figures
they simply have no interest in them.  Ryouko demands to know what Ines was
talking about, and Ines says matter-of-factly that the Nadesico will shortly
meet its end in a Jovian attack.  She thinks they can survive in the
underground shelter, and tells you all that the only reason you made it this
far is the Jovians deliberately holding back to see what Earth technology is
like.  As though to underscore this, the Jovians appear in force.  Yurika will
not abandon her command and flee underground, and orders the Aestivalises out.
Akito is among them, preferring fighting over dying.  He angrily tells Yamada
not to mix him up in his anime-like battle camaraderie, and Izumi points out to
them all that the enemy are barking at the gates.  Uribatake tells the Aestis
that they can swap Frames at the Nadesico.

  Blow away one of the big Jovians and more will appear.  Ryouko hates to admit
  it, but things are turning out just as Ines said.  Yurika feels like she
  can't pull back here when there are people in danger, which makes Fukube's
  expression even grimmer.  Just then, several new mecha appear, unlikely to be
  allies since the Federation has abandoned this place.  Prospector counts five
  of the lion-shaped units, respectively colored black, red, green, yellow and
  blue - not a one of them is the fabled mecha-lion of the GGG.  The lions'
  pilots have only just arrived on Mars, and aren't happy to see the insectoid
  enemy units greeting them.  They're also puzzled by the strange battleship,
  apparently not of Federation origin - much must have happened in the Solar
  System during their incarceration by Garura.  Princess Fahra asks Shirogane
  which side is from his homeworld, and he suspects the white battleship is it
  - though it's not clear if it's really on their side or not yet.

  Kogane Akira hails the Nadesico, telling Yurika that he's from Earth.  At her
  description of the "Jovian Lizards", Hiroshi figures there must be icky Death
  Black beasts or the like aboard.  Shirogane figures that supporting the white
  battleship is the right call after all, though there's still the question of
  how to explain themselves to the Earthlings.  Raibul tells Akira to quit
  dragging his butt and request aid for Princess Fahra, rightful heir to the
  throne of Altea.  Yamada leaps to the (correct) assumption that some evil
  empire is after the lion mecha: the Garura Empire and its evil emperor Dai
  Bazarl to be exact.  As the Jovians turn their fire towards the lions, Hisu
  tells the boys to get it in gear, lest they face her wrath instead.  Yurika
  recommends that the Earthlings pull together here, and Akira sees no other
  way to survive... especially with the Garura not far behind.

  The five lions assume some strange formation, and Akito and Yamada realize in
  shock that they're about to... combine!!  The "five lions" combine to make
  "Go-Lion", which seems almost too easy to remember to Hikaru.  Raibul urges
  Akira to show these Jovians what the savior of Altea can do, despite Fahra's
  protests that Altea is already done for.  Akira tells her not to think about
  Altea now: they fight to go on living.

  Go-Lion is the legendary Altea robot who once grew so powerful as to
  challenge God himself.  Defeated, its soul was sundered into five pieces and
  sealed on Altea.  Akira will use its power now, that they all fulfill their
  destiny.

  Even more enemies show up, and the Nadesico crew suspects there's a Tulip, a
  species of teleportation device, nearby.  Any number of bad guys could
  potentially Boson Jump through it, "it" being a certain big gadget on the
  map.  Ines seems to have detailed explanations as a hobby, and the Go-Lion
  pilots have to decide whether to fight on here or flee.  Once they hear the
  Martian survivors are in the vicinity, Akira and the princess agree that they
  must not allow the tragedy of Altea to be repeated here.  But more problems
  show up in the form of a Death Black beastman, one of Garura's agents.  Its
  mech is even more grotesque than the Jovians, and takes out several of the
  Jovian "Locusts" in an instant.  Its power is immense enough to menace even
  Go-Lion, and is used indiscriminately.

  The Garura has a Dust Filter and an Infight +1.

  The battle wears on as some kind of barrage comes from overhead, seriously
  damaging the shelter.  It's more Garura, led by Honeruba.  It seems that they
  and Go-Lion happened to be headed to the same place, and defeating Go-Lion
  will make a good prologue to taking over the Solar System in his book.  In
  the process, she can overthrow the Leo Union that Altea leads once and for
  all.  Every inch the prototypical Evil Empire, and every bit a real threat to
  your life and limb.  Go-Lion is running low on energy from coming to Earth,
  and matters get even grimmer when more Jovians show up.  Sadak asks Honeruba
  what to do, and the answer is obvious: blow them the hell away.  Yurika
  pleads with them to stop, lest the shelter be destroyed entirely, and just
  then someone sallies forth in an assault Frame.

  It's Admiral Fukube, but he's not planning to run away as Akito accuses.
  Instead, he orders Yurika to take Go-Lion and get out of the area pronto,
  lest he shoot her himself.  Yurika's options are either to shoot Fukube and
  then fall to the combined Jovian and Garura assault, or to pick up the
  Martian survivors and flee.  But flee where?  He tells Yurika to use the
  Tulip, despite the fact that no one has proven humans can withstand Boson
  Jumping.  Akito once again accuses Fukube of trying to flee in the chaos and
  foisting his failure off on the rest of you, though he doesn't actually seem
  to be going anywhere...

  Yurika has to decide between protecting the Nadesico and abandoning the
  survivors, and after a moment she orders the Aestivalises and Go-Lion to
  return to the ship.  Akira is willing to comply, telling his comrades that
  they can't afford to die yet - someone's got to defeat the Garura.  Yurika
  sets course for the Tulip, and Fukube tells her that she's done the right
  thing.  Or, if she prefers, she took the only choice he left her, but as she
  tells him, she _did_ make a choice, as captain.  She then tells him to rejoin
  them, that the Nadesico - no, she personally - needs him.  He has nothing
  more to teach her, and says that he's doing this for what he feels is most
  important.  Akito yells at him not to just up and die, selfish to the end,
  which Fukube won't dispute.  However, he's sure that your people one one day
  find something this important to them too.  What he plans to do is destroy
  the Tulip so the Nadesico can't be followed.

  [It's time for an oh-n0z plot-mandated withdrawal.  Feel the lameitude.]

  The enemy have realized this too, and open fire.  You have little choice but
  to trust in your Distortion Field, and Akira tells Fukube that he won't
  forget his sacrifice.  Fukube tells the young man to live through this, no
  matter what, if he's got burdens to shoulder.  As Yamada nears the Nadesico
  and it reaches the Tulip, Fukube muses that he was neither a good admiral,
  nor a good adult, being selfish like this to the end.  But he can say this:
  the Nadesico is your ship, with all the rage and love and hate it brings.

The Nadesico's crew regains consciousness, somehow in different parts of the
ship than they started.  For reasons she can't fathom, Ines is with Akito, as
is Yurika.  Yurika is deeply saddened by her inability to help either the
admiral, or the Martian survivors.  What's more Yamada apparently didn't make
it on board and is presumed dead, though it's miraculous that things weren't
any worse given the battle you just faced.  Ines tells Yurika not to blame
herself, since the people of Mars were presumably doomed either way.  Ruri then
calls and asks Yurika to come to the bridge, but Ines tells her that Yurika is
still in shock.  As for the Nadesico, it seems to have been thrown to the
fringes of the Earth Sphere: the Boson Jump apparently succeeded.  Akito's fury
has nowhere to turn except perhaps inward, and Yurika can't even effectively
apologize for something that's not her fault...


8. Okinawa no Ichiban Atsui Hi ("The Hottest Day in Okinawa")

Somewhere in the Eurasian Union, a shadowy meeting is taking place between a
military man and an assassin.  The assassin has had a certain girl under
surveillance for the past month, and will be taking her out during an upcoming
trip to Okinawa.  The soldier, apparently a colonel, asks why Okinawa was
chosen, and the other man says he's got a little side business to tend to as
well.  Moreover, if all turns out well, the assassin figures that the Eurasia
Union should be able to get the jump on the Atlantic Federation, if the colonel
is interested in hearing the proposal.  The colonel tells the man, a Mister
Gauron, to tell him more.

Kazuma tells the ship's log that a full month has passed since coming to
G-Island City, making this August 1.  Though the Valstork has had a few small
jobs, he feels like the GGG are starving him to death.  Bless claims that they
haven't returned to space in deference to this Project W thing; apparently
Bless is of a mind to help out with everything else besides the fighting
itself.  Kazuma thinks his old man has lost his touch for letting some other
organization engulf him.  To be sure, the Trailers' world is one suspended
between duty and emotion, between mutual advantage and trust - still, he'd
rather be checking into the rumored return of the Nadesico than cooling his
jets here.  Not only is he bored out of his gourd, he's melting in the Japanese
summer heat.

Balzac then barges in, showing his face for the first time in quite a while.
He claims to have gathered most of the ingredients for the story he's writing,
and when Kazuma asks if he wants to throw in the Trailers or something, he says
that wouldn't be a bad thing to do an expose on the people known mostly to the
world as space pirates.  But for now, he wants to come along the next time the
GGG send Kazuma on a dispatch.  Kazuma informs him that he has no plans to
fight for the GGG, but Balzac quickly says that he simply wants passage to the
battlefield, which the Valhawk's maneuverability could make possible.  Kazuma's
okay with it, and tells Balzac to settle the contractual stuff with his father.
Balzac then asks if Kazuma is going to Okinawa with his two sisters, to take in
this Waterpolis amusement park.  Kazuma considers that beneath him, but Balzac
points out that if kids don't take the time to be kids, they grow up into
twisted adults... like him and D-Boy.

It seems Waterpolis' mascot is Uppo-kun, a rather unpopular character that
Akane did a little research into.  Horis knows that Akane has been putting a
lot of work into the Earth tourism thing, including buying a new blue bikini
that he says looks very very good on her.  Apparently, Akane loves Uppo-kun so
much that she's got a hug pillow of it [egad O_o;;] in her room - making Akane
demand to know how Horis knows so much.

Bernard has been busy at Freeman's behest researching the Radam's capabilities
with the GGG.  He's having a good time, enjoying the high-quality cafeteria and
the drinking buddies he's found.  Levin fears that he plans to teach Pegas to
drink too, but Bernard tells the little queer not to be so uptight.  Besides,
he'll be leaving soon, returning to the regular Federation army.  Levin hmph's
and thinks that any army that welcomes such indelicate, boozing soldiers can't
be worth much.  Bernard and the Dragon Brothers will miss each other, but D-Boy
is having trouble finding words to see Bernard off with.  Bernard tells him not
to push it - a single word of thanks from the Tekkaman would give Bernard the
cold sweats, summer heat or no.  Instead, he calls Balzac over, telling him to
take a commemorative picture entitled "The Hero Happens Upon a Soldier".  As
everyone jostles together, neither the stone- faced D-Boy nor the Trailers feel
all that heroic, despite fighting on the Earth's behalf.  D-Boy just can't
think of himself as one of the gang.  Akane and Levin pick which Dragon brother
to sit on based on color (blue for cool, red for blazing heart), and Balzac
manages to get everyone to sit still for the picture.

D-Boy refuses Gai's request to talk privately later, just as he has for the
past month.  Akane asks when D-Boy will tire of his lone wolf act, and when Gai
says he wishes to chat about the artificial bodies the two of them have, D-Boy
says that he's got even less than nothing to discuss and stalks off.  Gai had
hoped to ease D-Boy's pain even a bit, but supposes that he was just being a
burden instead.  Milly is sure that Gai's heart will reach D-Boy's sooner or
later, saying that D-Boy is actually a really gentle guy with a precious
younger sister Miyuki somewhere.

Wouldn't you know Waterpolis is also where Sousuke and the gang went for their
field trip.  Kaname is far from thrilled with lugging Sousuke along, and
despite his calm behavior during the trip, she's sure that whoever is saddled
with the guy will be the object of universal pity.  Sousuke didn't even raise a
fuss during the body search at the Okinawa Airport, apparently occasioned by
the presence of Vice-Minister of State Dorian and the Orb dignitaries she's
negotiating with.  Kyouko has nothing but admiration for the former princess of
the Sank Kingdom, who at virtually the same age as her is one of the main
heroines of the era.

Speaking of teenagers, Kaname was mortified by what Sousuke told the guards who
body-searched him: no one's a big enough idiot to bring weapons through a
search they know is coming.  Is he unrepentant over the trouble he caused at
the school?  What's worse, he even told the screeners not to worry, since the
weapons would arrive via another route.  Neither of them can believe that he
loves walking around with his "model gun" that much, and Kaname in particular
has not had a moment's rest in the month since Sousuke arrived.  In fact, she's
even gained 2kg in that time (though that's entirely her fault).  Kaname
actually used her prerogative as class rep to stick Sousuke with garbage duty
for the trip, but now regrets it since Sousuke is now checking each and every
last garbage can for explosives.  He looked very much like some kind of
homeless guy, digging through all that trash, and the Waterpolis staff hauled
him away.  Kaname was quite unsympathetic, even telling him that she never
wanted to see his face again.  Even now, she doesn't want to go fetch Sousuke,
choosing instead to enjoy their vacation while they still can.

Deep in conversation, Kaname bumps into someone or other, and immediately has
premonitions of doom based on her recent experience.  It's actually Mamoru's
dad, who's here with the whole family and Hana-chan besides.  Kyouko wonders if
this is an officially sanctioned date for the youngsters, and Kaname sees no
family resemblance between Mamoru and his dad at all.  Maybe he takes after his
mother?  ...Who is currently waiting for the family and chatting with Kurz, who
is distressed to hear he has both a husband and a kid.  He was sure she was
some female college student, and when the rest of the party shows up he rather
hastily declines her offer for tea.  Kaname and Kyouko figure he's been
defused, but when he begins walking their way with his good looks, they're not
so sure.

He greets them by name, telling them he's got a friend at their school: the
most inscrutable, unsociable student in the world.  Just then, the dreaded
Uppo-kun shows up, scaring Hana badly.  Uppo-kun is pretty depressed about how
universally hated he is until Akane comes along and does the whole fangirl
thing.  But another mascot comes on the scene: it's Bonta-kun [accompanied by
the A-Team theme @_@;;;;;;], the mascot from G-Island City's "Fumofumo Land".
As everyone watches, flabbergasted, Bonta-kun decks Uppo-kun in the face,
knocking him a good three meters through the air.  Nobody is sure what the beef
is, since Bonta-kun can only make "fumo" noises, but when Bonta-kun pulls out a
gun, Uppo-kun starts crying for mommy and flees.  This isn't the work of the
Zondar, but something is still very wrong with Bonta-kun...

Somehow in all the confusion, Kurz and Bonta-kun vanish [err...], only to be
replaced by a giant talking robot apparently named "Mike Sounders Thirteen".
Akane is too broken up over the lost Uppo-kun to care.  Elsewhere, Kurz
furiously tells Sousuke to get out of the fursuit.  Sousuke informs him that
it's not a fursuit at all, but an urban assault mecha he invented specifically
to keep an eye on Kaname, based on all his experiences so far.  That's just the
kind of lunacy Kurz expects from Sousuke, who donned the suit as soon as Kaname
said she didn't want to see his face.  He figures he just prevented a dreadful
accident, and says that if he fully activated the suit, it would be the equal
of a small AS.  Kurz demands to know why Sousuke turned a gun on a civilian
without even a warning first, and Sousuke says he _did_ warn him...  or try to,
though his suit's voice box converts everything he says to "fumoffu" or
something, just like the original mascot.

Kurz calls all this idiotic, but Sousuke cautions him that the bad guys might
have done something even sneakier and that he shouldn't be so easygoing.  As
for why Kurz is away from his M9, Kurz says that he can't use the air
conditioning and the ECS at the same time, making the inside as hot as an oven.
Sousuke tells him not to let down his guard, since there's no telling when the
bad guys will strike at Kaname, and Kurz asks him if he's sure she really _is_
a target at all.  He wants to know why Mithril is guarding someone who couldn't
even command a decent ransom, and Sousuke tells him that soldiers with personal
doubts have lost entire wars for their side.  He, for his part, intends to
carry out his mission, despite Kurz' protests that this amusement park is safe.
For example, a certain old guy is interfering with Uppo-kun, and it seems clear
he's up to no good...

Uppo-kun, dejected from all the excitement, just wishes he could ride the
Waterjet.  Polonaise will grant that wish, which bodes ill for everyone else.
Meanwhile, Mike explains that he's come from America to make as many friends as
he can in Japan.  Mamoru and Hana are already his friends, but Akane continues
to grieve over Uppo-kun.  Kyouko tells her that Uppo-kun's memory still lives
on within her breast, which sounds to Akane like he's already dead [err...]  In
fact Uppo-kun isn't gone, but he's become a Zondar and pwnzorated the roller
coaster.  Worse, he's taken over several Federation mecha from the nearby base.
Sousuke tells Kurz to get back to his M9 while he holds the enemy off in
Bonta-kun.  Mike figures this funny animal is a friend of Mamoru's, and he
decides to give his best shot at fending off the Zondar.  Kaname tries to get
everyone to safety, unable to tell Mamoru's mom where Mamoru has run off to.

  Volfogg, Mamoru's guardian, shows up on turn 2, as do Kurz and Mao.  It's not
  clear what's going on, but the cute and yet suspicious animal is apparently
  on the good guys' side.

  Wipe out the original bad guys, and Mamoru will be searching fiercely for
  Uppo-kun.  Mike manages to shield Mamoru from the Zondar's sudden strike, but
  gets thrown far away for his pains.  But he did buy enough time for the rest
  of your dudes to show up.  Kazuma does actually feel like fighting the Zondar
  who imperiled his family, and isn't planning on flying gently on account of
  his camera-toting guest.  He yells that his Tension is like a hurricane, a
  pretty senseless copy if you know what he's referring to like Balzac does.
  Akane warns Kazuma not to hurt the Uppo-kun at the core of the Zondar, but
  Kazuma says he'll just leave the core ripping out part to Gai.  Gai pauses a
  moment, though he denies that there's anything wrong.

  More bad guys show up (as expected), and Mao tells Sousuke to switch to his
  M9 as soon as the Danaan shows up.  The Danaan's command crew can't decide
  what kind of animal Bonta-kun is, but both Tessa and Noin think the flying,
  swimming, butt-kicking stuffed animal is pretty cute.  Kurz for his part is
  amazed that Bonta-kun really can fight under every circumstance, and is
  looking forward to the first genuine M9 combat in quite a while.  Kaname
  finds it beyond her feeble powers of comprehension that Bonta-kun protected
  her with a gun.

  In short order, more bad guys emerge, this time in AS's and apparently after
  Kaname.  Tessa and her men have been fearing this moment, and order their
  AS's to prioritize protecting Kaname, leaving the Zondar to the GGG.  Gai is
  still sounding somewhat ill, and D-Boy wonders if it's more than just
  sound...

  During the battle, Balzac is busy gathering data on the Valhawk...

  Gauron is peeved that his men can't even manage a simple theft during a fire,
  and actually dismayed that the Mithril are in league with other
  organizations.

  Zondar Uppo is worth a Thruster Module, a Cartridge, and a Counter Skill
  Part.  Gai is definitely flagging from the strain, but manages to save
  Uppo-kun for fangirls everywhere.  Surely the terrorists will strike again -
  and the Whispered must be protected from them at all costs.  Tessa orders all
  units withdrawn to her ship, and prepares to dive.  As Gai prepares to hand
  the core over to Mamoru for Purification, he claims that his greenness around
  the gills is nothing that a little adjusting his G-Stone won't fix.  After
  they go, Gauron ponders the stuffed animal show and enemy organization line
  dance he just witnessed.  The defeat has given him an interesting idea how to
  settle several of his outstanding contracts all at once.  He notes that this
  broiling-hot summer has but begun...

The Purification went without incident, unless you count what happened to
Liger's robot Mike.  Luckily the Danaan plucked him off the sea floor, being
that he's Liger's crowning masterpiece and all.  Leo figures that Liger has
finally gone senile, but Liger turns to Lady Une for proof that he's not.
Whether his lecherous ways explain why he's so nice to Renée or not is unclear,
but the two brothers' quarreling is cut short by a word from Taiga.  Swan too
is a bit worried about Mike, but her brother Stallion assures her that once
Mike has a little time to mature, he'll be another fine warrior in the service
of Earth.  It's a bit puzzling why an awesome dude like him is in the service
of the volatile Liger, but he says that, except for a few quirks, Liger is
every bit as great a scientist as Leo.

When Mamoru Purifies Uppo-kun, he also gives him a word of encouragement for
his tough job.  In gratitude, Uppo-kun gives Mamoru an autograph to give to his
friend Akane.  Meanwhile, Sousuke plans to go back to the class trip, returning
to his trash duties and everything.  He does ask Kurz to see to the maintenance
of his suit, and gives him the blueprints for the improved version to get
mass-produced.  Mao wishes him a safe trip back, and then exchanges looks with
Kurz.  All their lingering doubts about Kaname being a target are now gone.
They don't know who, and they don't know why, but it's clear that protecting
her has top priority.

Sousuke looks pretty disheveled when he rejoins the class party.  He won't say
where he's been, but indicates that it wasn't the park guards that roughed him
up - not after he escaped using a flash grenade anyway.  He claims that his
injuries came from simply tripping and falling; nothing to do with the robot
assault the other day.  His disappearance and reappearance all tattered and
torn reminds Kyouko of a transforming hero - and Kaname tries very hard not to
entertain the possibility that it really was Sousuke back there.  Kagurazaka
then announces to the class that they're to return home in the company of
Dorian, whose private plane is having engine trouble.  She tells everyone,
especially Sousuke, to behave themselves.

Also along for the ride is the Amami clan, plus Hana.  Mamoru looks a bit down,
but Kaname assures him that she and Sousuke are always on his side.  This perks
him up, and makes Kyouko wonder when it became "Sousuke and Kaname".  Sousuke
stays behind while Kaname takes her seat, having spotted a suspicious young man
on the plane...


8A. (Route Split)

Taiga thanks Bless for agreeing to transport the troops to Okinawa, and Bless
smiles and replies that he had planned on going in person to pick up Akane and
Mihiro anyway.  Kazuma's sudden enthusiasm for battle surely had something to
do with protecting his family - gee, imagine that.  When Hyuuma asks, Bless
says he can't tell whether the kiddies will feel like joining the fight for
good tomorrow, or never.  Freeman notes that Project W depends on the
individual will of the fighters to fight, and unless the Valstork crew can
become motivated, neither side would benefit from their inclusion.  Rather than
stringing them along forever, he recommends that Taiga try giving them a
certain job as their "last" contract assignment: the Nadesico.  It and its
war-altering technology are headed back to Earth, and Taiga would far rather
see it back in Nergal hands than with the Federation military.

Unfortunately, the Federation Army won't be as easy to deceive a second time.
Moreover, Taiga's heard about Nadesico's cargo of aliens who can communicate
with humankind... and the alien fleet pursuing them.  Does the Earth need even
more trouble?  So, the Valstork's mission is to be escort, with the Space
Knights helping out.  Who better to pick up the proverbial bad penny than the
very people who helped throw it.

However, there's a more immediate problem: the plane carrying Minister Dorian,
Mamoru and the "Angel" under Mithril's protection seems to have been hijacked.
GGG's intelligence reports that it's the work of multiple bad guy
organizations, and Freeman is rightfully peeved that all these different keys
to the Earth's future were put onto a single plane.  Remember that engine
trouble Dorian's plane had?  Sabotage, natch.  Lady asks if she should activate
the Preventer agent aboard the plane, but Taiga doesn't want the Federation
getting ideas about raiding the plane and putting all the hostages' lives in
danger.  He orders the GGG and Preventers to head to the scene at once, but
given that it's a plane that was hijacked, the Valstork seems natural to ferry
the GGG to the scene.  Oh, dilemma!

  [If you go to space for the Tekkaman route, go to 9S.  To stay on Earth for
  everyone else, go to 9E.  But first...]

Taiga says that the GGG will remain the command center, and tells Bless to keep
in touch.  Bless plans to carry out his contract in full, and tells Taiga to
wait for the good news.

Meanwhile, Freeman passes Liger a disk full of information - information Liger
would rather Taiga and Leo not know about.  All is fair in love and the Project
W it seems, and Liger will take that data and Mike back to America to continue
his research.  When he returns, he hopes to have Mike completed, and he thanks
Freeman for his help.

After Liger walks out, Freeman tells Balzac to come out of hiding - an
impressive enough operative that he was able to disable the locks on this room
(though it took an entire month).  Freeman knows Balzac is really after the
data on Tekkaman for the Federation, and doesn't seem to care after all he's
learned working with the GGG.  Balzac seems a bit shaken at Freeman's
equanimity, but Freeman as much as tells him to get his carcass out of his
sight now that his mission is over.  On his way out, Balzac muses over how much
good this data will do his career.  And Freeman, for his part, figures that the
sword that this data on the Tekkaman, Radam, Zondar and Eviluder will forge
will be a double-edged one, which may well end up at mankind's own throat...


9S. Saiaku na Saiyaku no Saitaku ("The Worst Calamitous Decision")

Another day, another ship's log.  Taiga's sent word that the hijacking was
eventually solved, though several serious problems remain that Kazuma thinks
are none of the Valstork's affair.  He prefers the vastness of space, both as a
Spaceman and as a Trailer, and supposes that his sisters do too (especially
Akane, who's been jazzed ever since Okinawa).  Kazuma is planning to return to
the Trailer lifestyle, not the tyranny of the GGG, once this mission to escort
the Nadesico is over - more of the Trailer maxims about freedom at work.

Yurika appears to have gotten over the tragedy on Mars, and leaves it up to
Prospector to find out more about the Go-Lion folks.  This is more than can be
said for Akito, who's still moping for all he's worth over the loss of Yamada
and Fukube.  Hikaru tells Ryouko that now's her chance to swipe Akito's
vulnerable heart out from under Yurika and Megumi's noses, which the blustering
and blushing Ryouko denies (unconvincingly) any interest in.  Gort furiously
tells the pilots to shut up as Prospector begins.

Raibul introduces himself as a strategist and vassal of the Altea royal family.
He explains that the Garura Empire is the vast dominion of the emperor Dai
Bazarl, which has brought its terror and violence to Altea's doorstep.  Altea
has already been poisoned by the Garura's evil onslaught, and now teeters on
the brink of ruin.  Ines finds this interstellar war little different from
events closer to home, and the Nadesico's crew doesn't seem to afford the sole
surviving princess nearly as much respect as her retainers expect.  Raibul is
in especially high dudgeon, saying that the noble Princess has come to this
system with the divine mission of gathering warpower to facilitate their
homeland's revival.  I.e., to get your people to join in the fray, which
doesn't make Minato very enthusiastic.  Raibul furiously derides Earthlings for
their lack of guts, but Prospector points out that the Go-Lion pilots seem to
be Earthlings as well.

For starters, how did Earthlings end up on a planet so distant its name isn't
even known on Earth?  Kogane Akira, the Black Lion's pilot (and Go-Lion's main
pilot) will explain that.  He used to be a trainee space pilot, as did the Blue
Lion's pilot Shirogane Takashi.  The Red Lion's pilot is Kurogane Isamu, the
Yellow Lion's is Seidou Tsuyoshi, and the Green Lion's is Suzuishi Hiroshi.  A
pretty impressive crew all things considered, and Uribatake is wondering if he
should figure out how to make the Aestivalises combine.  Ryouko doesn't want to
be part of some Gekigan-whatchamacallit that Akito drools over, but when Akito
doesn't even react it becomes even clearer how badly he's been hurt.

Apparently, the Go-Lion pilots all ended up on Altea thanks to the Garura
kidnapping them a year ago.  Kogane figures it must have been an advance recon
group that got them, and the kidnapping a stereotypical Earthling sample
collection by aliens.  Megumi tries to sympathize, but Kurogane tells her she's
got no idea what this other world is like.  Kogane apologizes for Kurogane's
sarcastic tone, explaining that his capricious speech patterns have earned him
the nickname "Mr. Moody" - compared to Kogane ("Chief"), Suzuishi ("Shrimp"),
and Seidou ("The Aggressor").

Anyway, Kogane met many people the Garura gathered from across the galaxy,
including beast-men who Dai Bazarl made to fight the hominids for his own
amusement.  The five managed to seize the chance to escape and ended up on
Altea... but it had been attacked by the Garura ten years before, and the
surviving populace were living in hiding.  Of course the Garura attacked again,
and at Raibul's urging, the five agreed to pilot the legendary Go-Lion to fend
them off.  Why then did they end up in the Solar System?  Fahra hesitates to
say, so Kogane prepares to continue.

Unfortunately, the bad guys have shown up: Jovian Lizards, right in the
Nadesico's path and barely inside the Federation's sphere of control.  As Akito
wonders if he's gotta fight again, Yurika cranks up the Nadesico's battered
defenses in anticipation for the reinforcements Nergal is sending.  Raibul is
opposed to Kogane's wish to help with Go-Lion, but Fahra reminds him that had
it not been for these people's help, their lives would have ended on the red
planet.  It's only fair to return the favor, and with the Princess' word,
Shirogane tells everyone to get their butts in gear.  When Megumi asks, he
tersely reveals his nickname: "Succinct".

As the enemy approach, Yurika exhorts the troops to fight hard enough for
Fukube, Yamada and the people of Mars too.  Akito is stuck in gimpiness mode,
and when pressed by the other pilots demands to know why everyone loves
fighting so damn much.

  Akito finds out the first time he fights that his gloomy outlook about all
  this seemingly pointless fighting is sapping his ability to fight.  Akito
  even knows this, but as he cries out to the Nadesico, he can't go on fighting
  feeling like this!  He wants to know why the hell everyone keeps going on
  fighting, despite them not being professional soldiers and despite the deaths
  of Fukube and Yamada.  Ryouko tells him that it's kill or be killed, which is
  about to get put to the test by a Jovian ambush.

  The ambush gets disrupted by someone calling himself "Gai" in a Zaft mech.
  Yes Zaft, as in, the Coordinator army.  This mech is a customized Jin, and
  lacks military IFF - which would be because it's a merc working for Nergal.
  A second mech, this time an Aestivalis piloted by Akatsuki Nagare, joins in
  the fray.  The first pilot is Murakumo Gai, the "Serpent Tail".  Murakumo, a
  famous mercenary, tells Akito to get back to the ship and let him protect him
  if he doesn't plan to fight.  Akito finds this rather selfish, telling him to
  fight one moment and then telling him to retreat the next, but Akatsuki tells
  Akito that Murakumo's got it right.  Akito plans to at least defend his own
  hide, and won't take orders from others, and Akatsuki sneeringly tells him to
  do his best.

  Poor Akito, so misunderstood from all sides.  Suitably consumed with
  existential rage, Akito figures he's go no choice but to kick everyone's ass.

  After the initial enemies are wiped out, Murakumo asks Akito why he fights:
  is someone forcing him?  He tells Akito that hesitation in the midst of
  battle is a good recipe for death.  Akito stammers that he wanted to become a
  cook before his trip to Mars, and Murakumo tells him that he's a mercenary:
  someone who knows no other life than engaging the enemy.  He says that if
  Akito has some other way to live besides fighting, he should clearly choose
  it - then apologizes obliquely for turning their conversation to such topics.
  He doubts Akito will ever see him again, though Akatsuki says he may well
  hire him again in the future.  He asks Murakumo to give his regards to Leed
  and Loretta.

  No sooner does Murakumo vanish than the Valstork arrives, impressed on sight
  with how popular lions seem to be galaxy-wide.  Bless explains how concerned
  Taiga is with Nergal's handiwork falling into Federation hands, and Akatsuki
  muses how the Nadesico being in the GGG's position could well upset the
  balance in the Security Council between the Intelligence bureau and the
  military.  Before Akatsuki can describe himself to Bless as any more than an
  Aestivalis pilot, the Garura attack in force.

  Leading them is Dai Bazarl's right hand woman, the wrinkled Honeruba.  Bless
  actually copies Honeruba's sinister laugh when introducing himself, claiming
  it's important to match unknown cultures step-for-step when communicating.
  Bless wants to celebrate these aliens' visit to Earth, and asks what they're
  after.  Honeruba tells you all to hand over the Go-Lion, unless you want to
  see what she's got planned next.  Of course, she's presumably after the Earth
  too, but it does seem like a dilemma of sorts.  Bless asks for Yurika's
  opinion, since she fought these guys at Go-Lion's side on Mars.  She clearly
  sees the Garura as the enemy, impending interstellar war or no - after all,
  these bastards didn't hesitate a moment before attacking the people of Mars.
  Akatsuki allows that, by Earth logic at least, Honeruba certainly isn't
  acting the way someone should when asking a favor, and she furiously tells
  Kogane to shut up about how the Garura can't be trusted.

  Bless doesn't trust her either, and mildly suggests she withdraw and
  reconsider.  Honeruba sees no need to do this, and the warning shot she fires
  once again reminds Bless of his choice: commit the Earth to war with the
  Garura here and now, or hand the Go-Lion over and hope they go away.  The
  answer is easy for Kazuma, who mistrusts the Garura he sees even if the
  military or government might take a brighter view.  The old crone before your
  eyes is clearly evil, and Bless is glad to see Kazuma's resolve, given that
  he's reached the same conclusion.

  Bless tells everyone that he's neither the Earth's representative, nor any
  kind of Ally of Justice.  But since it seems the Garura are not to be his
  friends, he'll befriend the Go-Lion instead!!  Kogane praises the words of a
  true spaceman, and the Tekkaman folks figure that these Garura are every bit
  as bad as the Radam, and need to be taught a lesson.  Honeruba is of course
  infuriated, and vows to slaughter you all here as the first step in the
  invasion of Earth.  She orders Commander Sadak to make this planet the
  Go-Lion's grave, and the battle is on.

  Sadak notices the presence of a Tekkaman among his foes, and Honeruba wonders
  if the Earth has already been devoured by the bugs.  She figures it matters
  not to the great will of their emperor, and Sadak orders more reinforcements
  sent in to overpower your people.  Oh noes, so many bad guys!  Despair!
  Writhe in agony!  Repent your foolishness for defying the Garura in the
  utmost depths of Hell(tm)!!!  Or, ignore the old bag with one foot in the
  grave and just fight their ass already.  And hey, you've got Orgun to help
  you out.  Honeruba is aghast that the Eviluders are here too, and D-Boy
  vaguely knows that the Eviluders are active on a galactic scale.  Honeruba
  rapidly pulls out to plan a new strategy, leaving lots of little shrimp for
  you to hose.  Orgun won't say a word to D-Boy about why he's fighting on your
  side.

As the battle finishes, D-Boy "corners" Orgun and demands to know why it's
helping you.  At length, Orgun's voice is heard, telling the Tekkaman who
escaped the Radam's curse that he wishes to watch his fight.  With that, Orgun
flies away far faster than you can follow, and D-Boy has no clue what's going
on.  Bless recommends everyone rendezvous and head for the moon, while D-Boy
wonders who this man is who dares fight the Eviluders...

Back aboard the Nadesico, Akito explains that he had felt himself losing the
memories of what Fukube and Yamada did, becoming a mere fighting machine as the
battles piled atop each other.  The very idea filled him with dread, but by
watching how Yurika gave her all in battle he finally discovered the meaning
behind fighting that Murakumo spoke of: he's got people he wants to protect.
All three interested women want to know who that is, and are shocked when he
says "Gai" (don't tell me he's a...!!! says Hikaru).  He recalls Yamada saying
when they first met that he wanted to protect the Earth, and whether that was
Geki Ganger's influence or not, the Earth is in fact facing a genuine crisis
now.  So now, Akito plans to make good on the "pledge" he and Yamada share and
defend the Earth - lest he forget Yamada and what he stood for.

Fahra for one is incredibly impressed with this, and from watching Yurika and
the mercenary's actions in battle, has decided to find the meaning behind her
own battle here on Earth.  She tells Yurika that she faced the same decision on
Altea: sacrifice the populace, or her own life.  Raibul is shocked she would
discuss this, but she says she owes it to the proud warriors who have fought to
defend her life.  The Go-Lion had become the symbol of all the anti-Garura
forces in the galaxy, and the touchstone of the Leo Federation that sought to
thwart the Garura's schemes of galactic domination.  In response the Garura
sent a massive fleet to Altea, the seat of the Leo Federation leadership.

The Altean forces, rallied around Go-Lion, fought back bitterly.  But bested by
vastly superior numbers, Altea was burned with fire, even the royal palace of
Graydam.  The Go-Lion team assisted as many civilians' flight as it could, and
fled Altea: opting for life over giving the last full measure of devotion.  The
Go-Lion came to Earth not to enlist help for the remnants of Altea, but to warn
the Earth of Garura's plans to assail it next.  The Garura you tangled with are
part of that Earth invasion plan, and are more than happy to destroy Fahra and
Go-Lion and thereby eradicate the last vestiges of the Leo Union.  Yurika
promises to protect the princess, regardless of the consequences, but Akatsuki
analyzes it more as an Earth vs. Garura problem.

Akito doesn't entirely like his tone, and asks if Akatsuki realizes just how
evil an empire these guys are.  Akatsuki temporizes, saying that while these
folks certainly didn't follow due process before attacking the Earth, it is
somewhat hasty to judge these people from the (injured) Earth perspective only.
What's his point?  That unlike in some mecha anime, he doubts that absolute
"evil" exists.  Kurogane snorts and says that Akatsuki couldn't say that if he
knew the true depths of Garuran depravity, but Shirogane is willing to concede
the point.  In return, he asks Akatsuki if he plans to leave the Garura be,
knowing that they plan to invade the Earth.  Akatsuki won't claim the authority
to speak for the whole Earth, but personally speaking, he would not.  Defending
oneself if attacked is only natural, and is orthogonal to questions of justice
or evil.  Akito finds this argument rather convoluted, but Akatsuki informs him
it simply means he's not as much a simpleton as Akito is.

As for what to do next, Bless shows up and recommends that the princess head to
the Earth.  He tells her he's in the employ of a branch of the Earth's supreme
governing body, and one understanding of alien culture.  He is certain they can
aid her cause, but Prospector argues that the Federation army will surely take
an interest in the Nadesico if it continues to the Moon.  Akatsuki says there's
no fear of that, given that the Nadesico has just been absorbed into said
Federation army.  He explains to a shocked Akito that Nergal and the Feds made
peace during Akito's jaunt to Mars: it was that news, plus protecting the
Nadesico, that brought him.  The Nadesico's crew will eventually become actual
soldiers, and Bless figures that his work here is now done.  Given that, Yurika
asks Bless to take Go-Lion with him before the army arrives, which Fahra
concurs with.  The Go-Lion pilots are overjoyed at being able to return to
Earth again, and they tell Akito that they'll be rooting for the meaning he
found in fighting from afar.  Bless tells Yurika to be careful, though he feels
sure he'll see her again sometime... he doubts that the military will really
know what to do with her or her ship...

Some time later, Bless finishes his report to Taiga - difficult to say he
carried out the assignment to the letter, but shit happens sometimes.  The Feds
are in a total uproar over the Garura info the Nadesico brought back, and
Corbett is trying to seize the opportunity to force all the world to
militarize.  Fortunately for the Go-Lion crew, Taiga's political acumen has
placed them under the GGG's jurisdiction.  The secret: playing the "foreign
dignitary" card regarding Fahra, who the Foreign Office entrusted to Taiga's
care.  Fahra confesses that she doesn't understand all the Earth's domestic
enveiglements, but knows enough to see Taiga as a skilled operator on the side
of right.  Before Taiga can even finish asking, Fahra puts the Go-Lion entirely
at Taiga's disposal.  She tells Raibul that before she was ever a princess, she
was a human woman, and she plans to make good on her promise on the Nadesico to
figure out what all this fighting means for her.  Her servants are all behind
this decision.

Go-Lion is one helluva boost to Project W, as is the guy who solved the
hijacking: Heero Yui and the three Mithril SRT operatives.  Unfortunately,
there's still not enough strength to repulse all the threats the Earth faces.
Kazuma then speaks up, and offers his crew's services.  He just finished
talking with the rest of the Valstork's family, and revisits what he said while
fighting the Garura - if he fights, it's because he wants to, not because the
army or anyone makes him.  In that light, it's pretty stupid to get hung up on
precisely the name of the team he's on.  That makes the vote at least 5:1 in
favor of finally taking the damn contract.  This now makes Valstork part of the
special Project W, a plan to protect mankind totally separate from the
military.  Freeman has a suggestion for a more concise team name: "Wärter", a
German word for the "Warden" of a lighthouse.  A very apt metaphor, and Taiga
officially authorizes it into the lexicon.

Bless then lets Kazuma in on a little secret.  That Trailer maxim he used when
initially refusing the mission has a footnote.  It's really "Be not fettered by
anything, INCLUDING THIS MAXIM, be free".  He and Taiga really had expected
Kazuma to figure this out on his own, but he can't believe it took an entire
month.  It would seem Kazuma has a long way to go before he can step out of
Bless and Taiga's shadows.  Parenthetically, the Valstork family have racked up
huge debts, being fed and housed etc. etc. at the GGG's expense, during that
month.  Of course, now that the Valstork is contracted into Project W, they'll
be able to work that debt off in around half a year...

Rose Abrovall then calls Taiga on the hotline, voice only.  It is indeed an
emergency: the Security Council has just voted in favor of a massive operation
to steal back the Orbital Ring.  This is ludicrous, given that the Federation
has no current means of fighting the Radam - but Freeman suspects this means
the Feds have finished a certain object.  Rose suspects that the Feds are
getting carried away with Nergal on their side, and the operation starts
_tomorrow_.  All this is unpardonable, but the importance of the Orbital Ring
to mankind is undeniable.  Taiga will sortie the *Wärter to space at once and
do everything they can to aid the injured.  Rose thanks him, cautioning that if
this rampage in space cannot be halted, dreadful consequences will follow.  All
this shows dramatically how the Federation has been monopolized by the insanity
of a few, and as everyone rushes to sortie, Kazuma grouses that the first
dispatch of this new job is wiping the Feds' ass for them...


9E. Tatakau BO-IZU ANDO GA-RUZU ("Fighting Boys and Girls")

Kazuma informs the log that he and the crew are helping with the hijacking
while the Space Knights head to the Nadesico rendezvous.  He's heard that
Mithril is also pitching in independently with the hijacking: par for their
course of fighting terrorists their own way and with their own gear.  Kazuma
doesn't entirely trust them, despite his father's assurances.  Are they trying
to make a name for themselves?  Are they just arrogant?  In any case, Kazuma
longs for this mission to be over so he can return to the normal Trailer
lifestyle.  As per the maxim, he wants to "be not fettered by anything".

The hijacked plane's whereabouts are currently eluding Tessa and crew.  It
vanished somewhere between Okinawa and Haneda Airport, and is believed to have
headed north into the Eurasia Union's territory.  Since the Eurasians are
squared off against the Atlantic Union and the Federation Army it controls,
this spells extra trouble.  The Eurasians are unlikely to resort to open war,
but some kind of power play for the top government seat is inevitable at this
rate.  Tessa laments how her folks underestimated the bad guys, but Mardukas
points out that no one's confirmed that the hijackers are actually after
Kaname.  Given the mechanical "trouble" that Ambassador Dorian's plane suffered
before the flight, it seems much more likely that she's the target - but no one
can rule out that *both* girls are in the crosshairs either.  The strategists
are sending in Mithril to avoid info on Kaname leaking to any other
organizations... admirable defense of secrets, except that there are bigger
things at stake just now.  Kalinin notes drily that the world is turning faster
than the strategists can see - as this little incident proves in spades.

Anyway, the terrorists can't be allowed to monopolize two people pivotal to the
world's survival.  Mithril's spy satellites have finally figured out where the
plane will land.  Kalinin advises counting on the "Poison" within the enemy's
bodies: Sousuke, who he hopes could get them some kind of transmission to help
set up a rescue operation.

In an anonymous military facility, a certain man is congratulating Gauron on
his splendid work.  His forces are converging with all due speed, and he wants
Gauron to hand the girl over at once.  Gauron tells him to hold his horses,
since another client of his wants a certain girl dropped off in Eurasia first.
The other man, some sort of minister, couldn't give a damn about Gauron's
schedule, and tells him to make Relena's handoff top priority.  Gauron then
says that the Eurasians are also interested in Relena, hoping to use her to
fortify their standing in the Federation.  The minister is outraged at this,
which doesn't surprise Gauron in the slightest - after all, the minister, or
rather his backers, seem to be rather at odds with the Eurasians.  The minister
is furious that Gauron and his bosses are trying to play the two sides against
each other, but "Quicksilver" Gauron cuts him off mid-rant.  He's actually not
interested in anything that happens after he delivers the merchandise to the
buyer, preferring to leave that to A9.  All he wants now is for Relena, plus a
certain arms dealer, to make him rich.

Elsewhere in the base, the passengers have finally realized that they did not
in fact land in Japan.  Even Mamoru's oblivious parents realize they're mixed
up in something bad, but Mamoru's dad sternly tells Mamoru not run off on his
own like he did in Okinawa.  Kaname tries to cheer Hana up with the old adage
that Evil Never Prospers.  Meanwhile, Sousuke is furious with himself for
watching that mystery man so closely that he missed the hijackers - and is
wondering how the hell said hijackers managed to evade the airport body search.
It can only mean a sophisticated plan with some heavy organization behind it,
and it becomes clear who the moment Gauron walks through the door.

Gauron skips the B.S. political explanation, and tells the passengers
pleasantly but summarily that circumstances beyond anyone's control have made
them his hostages.  He calls their attention to the Rk-92 Arm Slaves out the
window, who plan to welcome them with open arms.  Unless, of course, someone
tries to escape, in which case every last hostage will be summarily shot.  He
then asks everyone to join him in a little photo shoot for the benefit of the
press - and calls Hana-chan up to stand beside him.  Mamoru tries to tell him
to cut it out, but Gauron tells the brave lad that he has no use for boys: who
give him the heebie-jeebies.  Other voices protest too, including Kaname's,
which earns her the dubious honor of taking Hana-chan's place.  Gauron
recommends she not resist, unless she wants that long hair of hers to get a lot
shorter.

Relena then steps on the scene, knowing that it's her he wants and demanding
the release of the rest of the hostages.  He admits responsibility for Relena's
plane's engine troubles, and to demonstrate how serious he is, he shoots
Relena's secret police protection.  He then takes both Kaname and Relena with
him, though he promises Relena that he'll release Kaname and the other
passengers once he's done with her.  He does want to make one more point to
whoever shouted out "Get down" as the secret police were being offed.  Sousuke
realizes what peril Kaname will be in should he fall here, but just then one of
the stewards intervenes by dropping and breaking a dish.  This earns him a
vicious slap from one of the other terrorists, and handily distracts Gauron
from whatever dastardly deed he had in mind.  Gauron makes his exit, but orders
his men to check the passengers' luggage, just in case.  That and, no cel
phones will work here.  Oh the angst as the two girls get led off the plane!
But Sousuke vows to get them back...

Kazuma's impatience at the missing plane's disappearance speaks for everyone,
but Duo assures him that at least for now, everyone but the ambassador should
be safe.  Meaning, if the bad guys' main plan is thwarted, they might well
slaughter the remaining passengers as an example.  Just then, Gai's arm starts
beeping: it's Mamoru's callsign!  Good thing that the GGG's pagers are
satellite-based and usable anywhere on the globe [yay Iridium!], and even
better thing that the terrorists likely don't suspect a grade-schooler of
carrying one around.  The signal's coming from Eastern Eurasia, a good hour's
flight from here.  Quatre tells a worried Noin that "he" is in the area, and
will head straight to the scene once the hijacked jet's location is relayed to
him.  "He" is codename "Water", one of the Preventers' stoutest allies - and in
fact he's likely aboard the plane as they speak.  Duo is gleefully awaiting the
inevitable tummy-ache the "poison" the bad guys swallowed will produce.  What's
more, Liger, on his way back to America, also has a message...

Meanwhile, Sousuke managed to sneak out of the plane and get on the horn to the
Danaan.  He's discovered explosives planted in the plane's cargo hold, and
states frankly that they're beyond his skill or equipment to defuse.  Tessa
tells him that the GGG helped localize his position, thanks to that incognito
boy agent of the GGG.  Sousuke doesn't know where they've taken Kaname, but is
pretty sure that both she and Relena were the specific targets of the
hijacking.  Kalinin tells Sousuke to seek the girls out only so far as safety
permits: he's needed as a decoy as well.  Sousuke then concludes by telling
them who the enemy leader is: Gauron, acting differently than when they fought
but unmistakable nonetheless.  And Sousuke should know, having personally shot
the guy in the forehead once already (which left a scar).

Just then, one of the guards spots Sousuke, and threatens to shoot him if he
won't say what he's up to.  Sousuke hesitates, but before he can act, Heero
knocks the guard out.  Heero's impressed that someone like himself was among
the students, and introduces himself to the Mithril agent as "Duo Maxwell",
Relena's shadowy bodyguard.  He wants no thanks for saving Sousuke on the
plane, but tells Sousuke to help with Relena's rescue.  Sousuke protests that
he's got another mission, and Heero rapidly deduces that the other girl must be
one of the Whispered the Mithril have marked.  Sousuke is amazed that Heero
would know that, but Heero is unwilling to say where the info came from.  He
presumes Sousuke won't be helping him, and tells him to get to his mission
while he goes about his.  Before he does, Sousuke gives Heero a "Calorie
Friend", presuming he must be hungry.  He says it's fruit-flavored, since he
can't stand anything else, and Heero smirks and says that he's a fruit fan too.
As he runs off, Sousuke cautions Heero that Gauron is a top-flight adversary...

Kaname is not looking kindly on the weird Xray(?) machine the bad guys are
trying to put her in.  The scientist says he's trying to find out if she's the
real deal or not, and warns that he'll have to get violent if she doesn't
settle down.  He shows her some kind of weird 3-D image, and tells her to keep
her eyes open while he continues.  Suddenly, a torrent of technobabble begins
to pour from her mouth, things the scientist claims she knew since before she
was born.  Technobabble?  As in, "2-D crystalline structure...  ECS...
Non-invertable reactive transposition composite AF... IFSS retrospect...
infinite-chain information circuit... Overroom 808... Progenitor culture Es...
Leo... Boosted gamma-grifeptan... production array conductors... Galeoria..."
Damned if I know.

As Kaname screams for him to stop, Sousuke bursts in and demands that he stop
the machine, having disabled the guards outside.  The scientist won't stop now,
so close to getting what he wants, and Sousuke promptly levels his ass, saying
that he only gets one warning.  The scientist manages to ask who the hell
Sousuke is, and he replies that he's the trash monitor.

Heero has also made his way to Relena, who is in very good health.  Gauron
isn't very happy to see that Relena had a secret bodyguard on hand, and is even
less happy that that damn green-glowing boy is with her too.  He really has a
complex about kids, and tells Heero why he kidnapped Relena.  She's his ticket
to winning many allies worldwide, even if he has to reduce her to a drugged up
marionette in the process.  He will not, however, tell Heero who he works for,
and just then someone in colony clothing fires a warning shot and demands
Relena be handed over.  It's Trowa, whose identity becomes clear when the
warning klaxons start blaring.  It seems someone else is raising hell elsewhere
in the base.  Realizing that Kaname is slipping through his fingers, Gauron
runs off and leaves the scene to Trowa...

As the two flee, Kaname demands Sousuke tell her who he really is and what the
hell is going on.  He tells her that he's been watching over her since long
before he transferred into her school, and that even he doesn't really know
what's going on.  All he does know is that she's somehow special, and that
certain intelligence organizations would love to use her in their biology
experiments.  To prevent that, Sousuke the mercenary was posted at Kaname's
side by Mithril - a secret army beholden to no nation and specializing in
anti-terrorist action.  As he rattles off his callsign and whatnot, Kaname asks
if he's doing okay, like, if he's delusional or paranoid-schizo or something.
Sousuke then dives atop her to shield her from an explosion, earning the
all-too stereotypical cries of masher, pervert, etc. etc.

The enemy Rk-92's are firing in their direction, but Mamoru pops out with a
plan to lead them to safety.  He knows he's gonna get it from his father, but
he wants even more to save the people who've kept his secret safe.  Sousuke
knows Mamoru must have summoned the GGG, but the question is how to hold out
until they arrive.  The answer: Heero, and his Mobile Suit which at this very
moment is plummeting to Earth in its distinctive container.  The unlucky mercs
find themselves facing the so-called "Harbinger of Death".  Heero tells Relena
not to worry about Trowa, who surely has plans of his own.  As Mamoru
straightens Sousuke out about who's Duo and who's Heero, Heero tells Sousuke
that he's saved Relena, and tells him to take his target and flee with Mamoru.
Sousuke can't do that owing to the explosives aboard the plane, so Heero tells
Relena to hang on while he repays Sousuke's kindness for the energy bar.

  Take down a couple bad guys and you'll cut to Mamoru trying to lead the
  others to safety.  Sousuke tells Kaname to flee with Mamoru while he tries to
  hold the fort here.  She doubts that some military otaku can be of much use,
  and for reasons she doesn't entirely understand, she trivially grasps how the
  bombs work, and tells the "amateur" Sousuke to leave things to her.  He
  demands to know what's going on, and she allows that it might have something
  to do with that medical scan, from which she still has a bit of a headache.
  Unfortunately, when she severs the antenna for receiving external commands,
  the bombs switch to timed mode.

  Mamoru then grabs the bombs, planning to haul them as far away as possible to
  protect his family and everyone.  He can't make it far before his arms start
  going numb, but aid comes from an unexpected source: Mike!  He's very glad to
  see his friend again, and goofily says that the time has come to bludgeon the
  bad guys.  Everyone's jaw drops when he System Changes from a goofy mascot to
  a flying rocker robot.

  Wipe out the initial bad guys and Sousuke's comrades show up, bewildered how
  the goofy Mike could turn into a the silver guitarist they now see.  They
  quickly scoop up Kaname and hand Sousuke his M9.  Kurz adds that Tessa
  sounded pretty worried about Sousuke, and tells him to take Kaname somewhere
  safe.  Sousuke has other ideas: he wants personal payback for all the crap
  everyone got put through.  Kurz agrees to take Kaname to safety instead,
  despite her (misguided) protests that the amateur Sousuke shouldn't be
  piloting a mech.  It's finally starting to dawn on Kaname who she has to
  thank for all those times her derriere got saved.  Sousuke then hails Heero,
  who says his mission won't be complete until he's got Relena safely back
  home.  He actually tells Sousuke to call him by his real given name - very
  rare for the normally taciturn G-boy.

  More bad guys show up, and Sousuke informs them that they're going to pay for
  wrecking his fun vacation.  Kurz tells Kaname that Sousuke isn't given to
  jokes, meaning that this is throwdown time for real.  Wipe out the rest of
  the present enemies, and Sousuke will intone that it's not over yet, not
  until _he_ comes out.

  Which he does, in a next-gen silver AS, which apparently took a while to boot
  up.  He derides that colonial representative as useless for not stopping
  Heero, and is all but laughing his head off at the irony that "Kashim" is
  among the high school students he kidnapped.  Kurz is starting to *really*
  wish that the dustoff units were here, and Mao says that it's taking a while
  to make it through the Eurasian blockade, and to ferry out all the people on
  the jet.

  Gauron explains that chitinous growth from an old wound was responsible for
  partially stopping Sousuke's bullet and saving his life.  It's all rather
  simple for Sousuke though: if Gauron is still alive, all he has to do is send
  him back to Hell.  Mao tells Sousuke not to overdo it, but Sousuke hopes to
  disrupt the enemy chain of command by taking out its head.

  Sousuke wants to know what happened to make Gauron so positive all of a
  sudden - lots of stuff, Gauron says.  He doesn't have time for all the
  questions he wants to ask Sousuke, given his mission to kill all your asses
  and go on a little treasure hunt in Kaname's gray matter.  He's all but
  positive she's a Whispered, and imprinted on her brain is Black Technology
  that shouldn't exist, such as the theory behind Lambda Driver.  Should that
  knowledge be unleashed, the military balance of the world could be upset in
  an instant.  Heero tells an amazed Relena that all this is true: in fact,
  several Whispered have already been identified, and are under Mithril's
  protection.

  The scary part is that the M9, far superior to anything the regular army has,
  can't even hit Gauron's mech.  Sousuke tries to use Gauron's overly talkative
  nature against him, but gets his ass kicked for his pains.  Mao has to figure
  out how a perfectly timed strike from Sousuke did no damage to the opponent,
  and how that opponent blew away an M9 with a single hit.  Heero then gets the
  uncomfortable warning from the Zero System that your people can't beat that
  AS, and Kaname somehow knows that the Lambda Driver is a system capable of
  converting offensive or defensive willpower into pseudo-matter that makes
  those wishes come true.

  Since it seems Sousuke is now dead, Gauron calls in his sponsors, the people
  behind Relena's kidnapping.  They've got mobile suits of a type no one's seen
  before.  Mao asks Heero to use his flying mech to take the two girls out of
  here, but Wufei, among the enemy, isn't planning on letting Heero leave that
  easily.  Trowa tells Wufei not to forget that their mission is bringing
  Relena back _alive_.  Heero refuses to let Relena go, and fortunately help is
  at hand.

  Everyone gets filled in on the situation, including the presence of the two
  G-boys on the bad guys' side.  Heero seems uncharacteristically willing to
  believe the Zero's words.  Gauron loves seeing all these scum before him and
  prepares to have a major banquet, as Heero cautions an eager Kazuma and
  everyone else not to underestimate the silver mech.

  Wufei demands to know what Heero got out of the last battle, and when Heero
  says nothing, Wufei yells that warriors get nothing from fighting - which is
  of course why he's continuing to do so.  Does this make sense to you?

  As the battle wears on, Kaname seems distressed over Sousuke's fall (no duh),
  and since Sousuke won't answer on the radio Kurz figures he's got to take
  Kaname close enough to get visual confirmation.  Heero figures he's got the
  only mech capable of taking her there in one piece, and Kurz' sniper skills
  can keep Wufei from interfering.  Heero has decided that Kaname is the only
  unknown around here - the only chance to exceed the Zero's predictions for
  the future.  He trades Relena for Kaname and zooms off, and Relena is such a
  noble, eloquent presence that Kurz realizes he can't even try to hit on her,
  even a little.

  Kaname yells at Sousuke to get up, that she had started believing in him even
  a little, that it wouldn't be fair for him, her "guard" to die now and leave
  the saving to Heero.  Sousuke somehow complies, and a new mech no one's seen
  before rushes onto the scene.  Sousuke, the specialist, is able to board and
  boot it without incident - it turns out to have been sent by Kalinin by
  special permission of Tessa given the dire circumstances.  It is known as the
  ARX-7 Arbalest.  Kalinin's recording informs Sousuke that he'd better bring
  this expensive prototype back in one piece, and wishes him good luck.  This
  new AS has the armor to withstand Gauron's renewed attack, and a Lambda
  Driver too, though the AI can't tell Sousuke precisely what it is.

  When Sousuke and Gauron fight, Sousuke recalls how Gauron attacked the camp
  that he and Kalinin were staying in, killing every noncombatant he could
  find.  Sousuke was the only target, but hey.  His and Kalinin's counterattack
  showed Gauron the mouth of hell, and Sousuke figures if he'd only finished
  Gauron off back there, Relena's bodyguards would still be alive.  To prevent
  any more sacrifices, he's got to finish Gauron off here.

  Kaname is starting to understand how the Lambda Driver works, and as she
  struggles to hold onto herself, she wants to get Sousuke a hint of how to
  properly drive the thing as thanks for saving her so often.  As Kaname
  finally gets a hold of herself, Zero changes its mind.  She explains to
  Sousuke what the Lambda Driver is (the power of thought to matter, etc.) and
  tells him that his wish to protect himself is what saved him before.  Gai
  assures Sousuke that such a weapon definitely can exist, and urges him to use
  it to fight.  Nothing seems to happen at first, and Gauron derides him for
  being unworthy of the Lambda Driver, but Kaname insists that what matters is
  instantaneous concentration.  Since Sousuke can't just concentrate and let
  the images he needs flow, the G-boys tell him to imagine what would happen to
  Kaname if the bad guys capture her.  As they go into lurid detail, Akane can
  certainly picture it, and Sousuke finally figures it out with a little moral
  support from Kaname.  Heero then tells Kaname to get some rest and leave the
  rest to Sousuke.

  When beaten down, Wufei tells Heero that their fight isn't over yet, and that
  he'll keep fighting for the sake of warriors everywhere.

With all adversaries defeated, your people all pull out, leaving Trowa to watch
in near silence.  It seems Sousuke and Heero look enough alike to temporarily
fool Kurz.  Kaname has now been taken to GGG's base for safekeeping, and
Sousuke will probably no longer have to guard her incognito now that Gauron is
finally dead.  Heero tells Sousuke that he'd better be able to choose between
life as a student and as a Mithril agent if he's to have a future at all: very
definitive but not equal to the reputation for violence that a certain
pony-tailed Preventer seems to have spread.  The plan is for the rest of the
crew to rendezvous at G-Island City next, in part to discuss why Trowa and
Wufei are now on the terrorists' side and why they have such advanced mecha.
Maybe it's got something to do with Treize's daughter?

Relena laments to Heero that peace on Earth hasn't lasted long, between the
alien invaders and the human infighting.  She's been talking to some military
folk from Orb during the Okinawa conference.  She's been given a lot of food
for thought, and Heero tells her to concentrate on fighting her battle while he
contributes to Project W.  The G-boys tell a skeptical Kazuma that they're all
doing this of their own volition, not because some organization told them to.
Heero says that anyone who can't choose their own battles will never be done
fighting... just like Wufei.  Sousuke might be another such person, since by
his own admission he knows nothing but warfare...

Kalinin explains briefly to Sousuke that the Lambda Driver he briefly contacted
is no different the G-Stones or any of the other systems used by the super
robots.  In fact, _all_ of it is crazy: technology that was still science
fiction ten years ago is now becoming commonplace on the battlefield.  The
question is: who has been unleashing all this Black Technology that shouldn't
exist but does?  Sure, some of it comes from mankind's ancestors, and some from
the aliens, but not all.  Kalinin can't say precisely where it comes from, but
when Sousuke mentions the Whispered he tells Sousuke to keep that thought in
mind.  In any case, Sousuke is to keep using his new mech and participate in
Project W, as well as...

Kaname's been asleep for two whole days after being rescued, and when she
awakes Mao explains that she's responsible for saving Mao's subordinate
Sousuke's life with her words.  She may in fact be his Angel after all.  Kaname
can't recall clearly what she said to help Sousuke, and Mao tells her that
that's how she should answer all questions about everything she's experienced.
Mamoru then asks her to become a GGG agent, and help him keep his own secret
safe.  She can't refuse a request from the boy, and Mao thanks Mamoru for
making her own job a lot easier.  Sousuke has also chosen to continue guarding
Kaname, and as everyone rushes in to say hi to her tells her that he'll remain
her classmate for quite some time.

See the other path for the discussion leading to the Valstork joining Project
W.


[I kept 9E.]

10. Aka to Shiro no Akuma ("The Red and White Demons")

Kazuma recounts to the ship's log how the Nadesico ended up with the military
after all, and the Go-Lion got posted to the GGG.  Princess Fahra elected to
have her team participate in Wärter too, giving you one heck of an upgrade in
firepower.  He's not thrilled that the first job is wiping the Feds' ass for
them, but a Trailer maxim states "Surely perform any mission given, and surely
return any money or obligation or insult loaned."  And since someone's gotta
save the Earth and stave off bankruptcy, Kazuma's gotta do what he's gotta do.

The Valstork exits the atmosphere without incident, and Bless sets a cautious
but swift course for Block 6 of the Orbital Ring.  The team briefing is going
on in the dining hall, and the smell of miso soup still lingers in the air.
Kurz had been hoping to catch Shihomi wearing an apron (and nothing else), but
Mao recommends he try asking Sousuke to go for that instead.  Talk about cold
water.  Meanwhile, Gai introduces himself to the Go-Lion team, who have heard
of him in reverential tones while in space school.  Mikoto was also famous
among the student body, and the tree on the hilltop they used to visit has
become quite the popular date spot.  Quatre wonders if it's more than mere
coincidence that students from the same space academy have, in their own ways,
gained the power of the lion.  Kurogane asks if Gai wants to actually join
their team, but Gai smiles and says that "Roku-Lion" doesn't really sound too
good.  Suzuishi tells him not to worry, since the sixth team member always
pilots a stand-alone mecha in these shows.

Aki then introduces D-Boy aka Tekkaman Blade, whose face Shirogane seems to
recall from somewhere.  Heero tells everyone to save the intros for after plans
are laid for the raid on the Orbital Ring.  Kurz notes that he sure wouldn't be
as up-tight as Heero, especially so close to Relena.  In his case, he'd use his
position as her bodyguard to do all sorts of stuff with her - but Mao tells him
to take his fantasizing outside unless he wants her to toss him out bodily.
Heero deadpans to Sousuke that neither of them seem especially blessed in their
pool of comrades.  Before too much objection can be raised, Noin reminds
everyone of how much the Federation army hates you: you can't afford to fail on
your very first mission.  On the other hand, it's not that the entire military
is opposed to the Security Council: if you can do well here, you'll begin to
further strengthen your position.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, a
battlefield is a battlefield, and D-Boy tells Aki to take good care of Milly
while the fight is on - nothing more than brotherly concern, as Mao firmly
tells Kurz.

You finally reach the Orbital Ring [not a moment too soon], where the first
Federation wave is already battling the Radam.  Unfortunately, the large
Federation force is still badly outnumbered by the vastly larger Radam force:
you don't need much military history to see that the Federation's defeat is
assured.  Which means one of two things: either, the Feds have one hell of an
ace up their sleeve, or they're fond of suicide.  You then receive a message
from Brigadier Corbett, front-runner of the hawks in the military.  Nobody
likes this guy much, but since it might be a request for assistance, Bless has
the call put on the monitor.

Corbett even _looks_ old-school with his bald head and formal speech.  He's
anything but impressed by the Wärter, and tells your people to withdraw and
stay the hell out of the way of his operation.  Bless politely informs him that
in the GGG's simulations, there is a 99.97% chance of Federation defeat within
an hour of battle commencing - and the remaining 0.03% represents defeat in
under 30 minutes.  Corbett tells him to sod the stupid theories and says that
he's fighting precisely because there's a chance of victory.  He shows them
footage of what his trump card is, and indeed it seems to be a doozy...

At the surface of the ring, only Muu and Youko are left from their Birdman
squadron.  The adjacent mobile armor squad has also been wiped out, and it
doesn't seem that her new Spitfire is proving of much use.  Muu's rather peeved
too, wondering why the military would toss a supposedly precious Gunbarrel-user
like himself into this kind of meatgrinder.  Youko figures the two of them are
worth about as much as pieces of gravel to HQ, and is about to blow off this
entirely losing battle when reinforcements show up, aboard the Nadesico!  All
the Aestis are using their gunnery frames, as befits rear-echelon
reinforcements.  Akatsuki's not thrilled about this long-range firing, but
Erina, formerly Nergal's president's secretary, says it can't be helped.  Even
if the Nadesico has been sent to take bullets for the rest of the army, Akito
still wants to do his part for the Earth.  And, there's a bit of help on the
way:

Balzac has assembled a squad of Sol Tekkamen, who start firing in formation.
Moreover, Fuuryuu and Rairyuu are also on the scene.  [It seems the game
creators have imbued Rairyuu (and later Anryuu) with Enryuu's clumsy landings].
Muu knows these aren't the regular GGG super-AI robots, and Balzac tells his
squad to break formation and engage the enemy individually.  Balzac crisply
orders Fuuryuu and Rairyuu to accompany him on destroying the nearby enemies,
and perhaps almost as an afterthought thanks the Aestis for their covering
fire.  Apparently Lt. Colonel Balzac got promoted to his rank thanks to some
especially brilliant accomplishment or other - maybe it's only natural he'd be
so imperious.  Balzac goes so far as to thank Youko and Muu for their "initial"
efforts and tells them to withdraw.  Youko, furious, tells the latecomer to
stow his orders, and Muu asks the Nadesico's captain precisely what's going on
around here.

Yurika doesn't have time to explain before Corbett breaks in and tells her to
hurry up and support the raid on Block 6 already.  Yang is there too, informing
Fuuryuu and Rairyuu that they're the manifestation of all the best the Chinese
Aerospace Research Division has to offer: the perfect weapons.  He urges them
to use their power to defend the Earth, and Yurika adds that the overall goals
are wiping out the Radam and reclaiming this part of the Orbital Ring.  Yurika
starts droning on that everyone is to attack the enemy, carry out their
mission, etc. etc. - understandable given how the Nadesico has been turned into
Balzac's squadron's home base.  Balzac plans to make this operation succeed as
the first stage of his glorious rise to power: climbing to prominence on the
very backs of the Radam.

  The Radam offer little resistance, and it looks like you even managed to
  capture Block 6's energy plant intact (guess the Radam need energy too).
  Things seem to be looking up for the Federation's future plans, and when
  D-Boy shows up in advance of the Wärter, Balzac is all too happy to gloat to
  him about the Sol Tekkaman power suits he designed from D-Boy's data.  D-Boy
  is furious that Balzac came to the GGG as a spy, but Balzac would prefer he
  thought of it as an internal investigation of an organization giving the
  military less than its full cooperation.  Besides, it was Freeman himself who
  gave Balzac D-Boy's data.

  Balzac's men report that they've secured the area: meaning that with the
  Nadesico and the Chinese robots, and of course the Sol Tekkaman suits,
  neither the Radam nor any of the other menaces pose any threat.  In other
  words, both D-Boy and this so-called Wärter are useless.  Fortunately,
  someone is on hand to scorn such foolish bravado: an enemy Tekkaman, someone
  D-Boy recognizes.  Balzac hastily orders his forces to fire at the new
  enemies: victory will be complete as soon as they fall.  No sooner do the Sol
  Tekkamen get into position than the enemy Tekkaman vaporizes them with a
  single blast - the real Tekkamen are far more fearsome than Balzac's carbon
  copies.

  Balzac orders the Chinese dragon brothers to support him as he attacks, but
  Tekkaman Evil blows right past them to face D-Boy: a long-awaited reunion
  Evil thinks means D-Boy's death.  D-Boy refuses to die until the very last
  Radam is eradicated, and lucky for him reinforcements arrive.  Your people
  aren't thrilled at the sight of the new red Tekkaman, and the Chinese robots
  in turn aren't thrilled at the sight of what they consider to be only
  "rescue"-oriented robots from the GGG.  Fortunately Hyouryuu and Enryuu are
  level-headed enough to avoid a quarrel, but when Evil tells Blade to follow
  him away from these interlopers, D-Boy does so all too readily.  He's only
  got four minutes left too, until he goes berserk, but D-Boy spurns Gai's
  offer to fight Evil in his stead.  D-Boy doesn't want anyone coming between
  him and his fight with the Radam Tekkamen, and Gai wishes he'd tell you all
  why.  Evil taunts D-Boy's time limit, and openly doubts that his "brother
  Takaya" is capable of defeating him in the time limit.  Bless tells everyone
  to blow away the enemy, and to bring Blade within those four minutes - by
  force if necessary.  Bless orders Yurika to help, and Balzac orders his
  robots to show the Wärter just how much they are worth.

  Evil tells Blade not to get all puffed up just because he managed to take
  Dagger down.  The usual trash-talking ensues.  Evil is worth a Hybrid Armor,
  a Propellant Tank, a Support Attack +1, a Gunfight +1, and a Hit&Away.

  Just smacking Evil down isn't enough to stop him, and the two Tekkamen begin
  emitting strong Fermion signatures as they power up their Boltekka weapons.
  Unfortunately, Evil's Psy-Boltekka uses antimatter particles capable of
  neutralizing regular Boltekkas, as D-Boy learns to his cost.  As Evil
  prepares to put D-Boy out of his misery, Gai scrambles Chouryuujin and the
  Eraserhead, barely managing to deflect Evil's weakened attack.  Neither side
  can believe what the other side is packing, but D-Boy's frenzied screams make
  it sound like time is up, which would mean Evil has won anyway.  He vows
  never to let D-Boy escape from the Radam destiny of wreaking destruction and
  flees.

  Shirogane can feel the rage and hatred radiating from Tekkaman Blade, and
  Balzac orders the Chinese dragons to forcibly stop the berserk Tekkaman.
  Chouryuujin yells at them not to hurt their friend, but Fuuryuu says that
  stopping the Tekkaman is now his first priority.  Saving the life inside that
  Tekkaman comes in at #14, and Rairyuu adds that Professor Yang taught them
  that there's no need to fret over unavoidable sacrifices when devising
  strategy.  Sousuke notes that that logic is correct, but Heero adds that
  conversely, there is no need to cause avoidable sacrifice.  If you all can
  stop D-Boy, there's no problem.

  Mind you, stopping him isn't a given, and Akatsuki wonders if the green and
  yellow robots have it right after all.  What's worse, a large Radam force is
  heading your way, trying to use the chaos to steal back the Block 6 energy
  plant.  As Corbett also harasses you to do something already, Yurika thinks a
  moment and then has the Nadesico head to Point 24X: their only chance to halt
  the Radam offensive.  She then quickly fires a Gravity Blast, wiping out the
  Block 6 energy plant herself.  This seems to have stopped the Radam, who are
  no longer headed your way - apparently they deem this spot to have no further
  strategic value.  Heck, Mao notes, given that it was in Radam hands to begin
  with, you might as well think of it as written off from the start.  This is
  an amazingly good decision to protect lives of all your allies, though
  Corbett is still pissed, and it seems that Yurika is back to her old self.

  She then orders the Nadesico to help get D-Boy back, and Ruri conveniently
  cuts off Corbett's ranting mid-sentence.  Unfortunately, Blade is zooming
  your way, and there's no way to avoid his wrath.  No way except for Orgun to
  appear out of nowhere and soundly deck Tekkaman in the kisser.  D-Boy,
  apparently stunned, flies off with Orgun in pursuit.  It's not clear if Orgun
  was lying when he said he wanted to watch over D-Boy's battle, but you'd
  better move it if you want to catch up.

You follow D-Boy inside the ring, and Kazuma wants to know why his dad so
urgently wants to stop D-Boy from trashing the place.  Bless explains that the
Ring is held in place not by any kind of thrusters, but by sloshing fluid
around.  Should that get disrupted, the Ring would break up and plummet to
Earth - and there's no way it would burn up completely before landing.
Everything near the ring's landing would get obliterated, and this means you've
got to stop D-Boy... or if that fails, off him.  Milly of course doesn't want
that to happen, and she and Mihiro have come into the warzone in the hopes of
somehow saving their friend.  Bless asks the two of them if they're prepared to
lay down their lives to save D-Boy (and brushes off Kazuma's objection), and
both of course are.

Gai has found D-Boy, and is having a mighty hard time restraining him until the
rest of your people can make it.  Akatsuki is getting ready to give up and have
this spot Gravity Blasted, but Akito still holds out hope.  Orgun then shows
up, wondering if indeed nobody exists in this universe who can escape the
destiny of the Radam (since D-Boy seems to have fucked that up).  Akito and
Milly plead with him to stay his lethal hand.  Milly and Mihiro walk up to
D-Boy totally unarmed but for their earnest pleas for him to return to the guy
they know.  Bless knows this is a dangerous gamble, but says it's the only way
to get through to D-Boy underneath the Tekkaman shell.  Had they sent in a
mech, it would just arouse the Tekkaman self-defense instinct.

The imploring girls seem to be making the rampaging Tekkaman's will waver,
which is precisely what Orgun has journeyed so far across space to witness.
Amidst his cries, D-Boy utters the name "Miyuki" before retracting his weapons.
Noal quickly has Pegas retrieve D-Boy, and it seems the operation is a success.
Akatsuki seems drily amused by this victory of heart over berserk bio-mecha,
and tells you all not to expect any warm fuzzies from his direction.  Orgun
intones that he has once again witnessed Tekkaman Blade's strength, and flies
out of the area at high speed.  But just as everything seemed to be going so
well, Balzac demands you hand D-Boy over to the military, having somehow
secured Freeman's permission.  Kazuma can't believe it...


11. [Route split]

Taiga certainly sees the Wärter's first mission as a success, but Bless wants
Freeman to explain what he's got in mind, and not just basic stuff like why he
handed the Tekkaman data or D-Boy himself over to the army.  Freeman is well
aware of "Eagle Eye's" reputation for discerning the truth through any and all
prevarication, and tells him to ask any questions he will.  That answer is good
enough for Bless, but he's sure many of the young hotheads on his team will
want something more substantial.  Freeman doubts any good will come from laying
all the cards on the table at this stage: it's the responsibility of the aged
to keep aces up their sleeve until needed.  Taiga figures he'd better postpone
introducing your crew to its new members: the Nadesico, who got drummed out of
the military shortly after the last operation.  Destroying the energy plant
would usually have been a court martial-able offense, but given the mess the
regular army types made of the invasion and the results Yurika got, their
punishment got fortuitously commuted (with a little input from Nergal's
president).

As for the Nadesico's old role as a transport for army special forces, Nergal
has already agreed to deliver the Nadesico's successor to the army.  Yurika is
a bit depressed at being told there's no further use for her, but Bless shares
with her the Trailer maxim that "The largest vessels find their own resting
place, so don't sweat it."  By this he means that the Federation army wasn't
capable of properly utilizing the Nadesico's talents, but he cautions Minato
that there's another Trailer maxim that "Even the largest sieve can't hold
water, so don't keep it."

In any case, the Nadesico has accumulated a wealth of combat data that Nergal
hopes to use in the Nadesico's successor, so it's only natural that it be
posted to the GGG.  It and its Aestivalises will certainly increase Wärter's
sphere of operations, leading Freeman to recommend fetching D-Boy from the Salt
Lake base in North America.  Even Hyuuma is in ill-humor over Freeman's
apparent ping-ponging of D-Boy, but Taiga and Bless realize he's got a plan and
do what they can to help.  Taiga notes that if the military doesn't just
cooperate, things might get a little rough, though Hyuuma has to be lightly
reminded that the Federation army aren't actually the enemy as such.

Just then a message from the Danaan arrives: Tessa and crew have run into an
unexpected magnetic storm some 300 meters beneath the surface of the Pacific.
The odds are good that this might be the signature of Dr. Hell's movable
fortress, and Tessa says that she'll continue investigating.  Should it really
be Dr. Hell, she cautions that an invasion of Japan should be imminent.  Once
again, you've got to divide your forces between retrieving D-Boy (the
Preventers and GGG) and guarding Japan (everyone else).

[To stay in Japan, head to 11J.  To head to North America, go to 11N.]

Hyuuma will be the GGG forward commander, and Taiga warns Yurika that Dr. Hell
will have momentum in his assault on Japan after his defeat of Mazinger Z.


11J. Majin Aiutsu ("Clash of the Devils")

Kazuma records in the ship's log that those left behind at the Bay Tower base
are on edge waiting for the massive assault Dr. Hell will supposedly bring.
The rage over Mazinger's defeat, now two months past, is still enough to heat
his blood, and he vows to do whatever it takes to avenge Kouji's death when
given the chance.

Kouji may not actually be quite dead yet.  He vaguely regains consciousness
amidst some sort of flaming red haze.  A voice that might be his grandfather
tells him to awaken and venture forth along with a new devil - one greater in
strength than Mazinger.  Given that Mazinger itself could have led Kouji's own
soul to become demonic, this new devil must be formidable indeed, and the voice
instructs Kouji to surpass even God and smite all other demons with it.
Awaken, Mazinkaiser!!

In the real world, the Getter team are fretting over how long the repairs to
Getter Robo are taking.  As far as anyone knows, Kouji is the second dear
friend that they've lost (after MUUUSAAAASHIII), and no means to avenge him are
available.  However, they're about to _become_ available in the form of a new
Getter that professor Saotome claims to have been slaving over in his lab.
Hayato, sharp as ever, quickly realizes that no entirely new Getter could be
created in a few short months, and asks what's really going on.  In fact, this
new Getter has been finished for a long time, thanks to a certain person's
help.  But Saotome fears its immense power, and kept it hidden from the team.
He and his collaborator agreed that this Getter's activation key was to be
sealed with a limiter device - which should only be broken when Getter faces
its uttermost foe.

Saotome finally decided to oppose Dr. Hell's assault with this new, forbidden
Getter, and has been working on making final adjustments.  But when he decided
that today was the day to manually remove the limiter, he discovered that it
had removed itself - meaning that that uttermost enemy has appeared!  Guess who
gets the privilege of fighting said enemy?  You guessed it.  Will Justice
perish?  Is all that is Good meant for ruin?  Will this be the day the music
dies?!?!?

Duh.  Dr. Hell's so-called nefarious plan kicks off with a brisk assault on the
hated Photon Power Laboratory, led by a Baron Ashura quaking with emotion.
Diversionary raids are keeping the Feds and JSDF busy, and the Wärter are at
half strength, clearing the path for Hell to grab the secrets to Photon Power
and smite all foes.  Et cetera.  As Ashura marches off to battle, a certain
guest of Hell's says he's looking forward to seeing what Hell's proud
mecha-beast forces can do.  Hell tells this guest that he owes the Photon Power
folks much payback, and doesn't want any help - his scientific prowess will
surely carry the day.  Bold words, the visitor thinks, for someone who's merely
picking at the scraps left behind in the ancient culture's ruins.  Now, it's
true that these primordial ruins, scattered across many worlds, are the key to
the Garura's galactic domination strategy...

Summer vacation is drawing to a close for the high schoolers, leaving behind a
legacy of terrorist attacks, hijackings, and close brushes with mecha combat.
Despite her weakening protestations, Kaname is becoming considerably more
intimate with Sousuke, and some of their friends are wondering if the two of
them "became adults" during the summer.  Sousuke soberly says that he's been a
full-fledged adult since age ten, explaining when Kaname pulls him aside that
that's his first time stepping onto a battlefield (she sounds relieved).
Sousuke figures that the general public must be figuring out their secret, and
talks about giving Kyouko a lobotomy to erase her memory - far fewer side
effects than drugs.  Kaname of course tells him not to be a moron.

As Kaname continues to lament accepting this whole secret agent thing, she runs
into someone she momentarily mistakes for Mamoru: Kaidou Ikumi, one of Hana's
classmates.  Hana bumped into him while walking Joseph; she had hoped to pick
up Mamoru, but he was away from his house on some kind of errand.  Now that
everyone has a good look at Kaidou, Kaname can't figure out why she mistook him
for Mamoru, but Kaidou slowly says that it may not be that strange an error.

Just then, the theme music changes, and Kyouko wonders where she's heard it
before [^^;;;]  Kazuma is apparently old enough to remember a certain US TV
series that it *strongly* resembles [If you have a problem, if no one else can
help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire...]  The theme music is also
Sousuke's ringtone, and after taking the call Sousuke explains that he's being
called away to his "part-time job".  Kaname tells him not to be late for the
start of the new semester, and the two actually exchange civil goodbyes.  No
sooner has he disappeared than the air raid sirens sound - Kaname hopes that
everyone in Wärter will be okay in whatever battle approaches...

Professor Yumi and Tetsuya have now realized that Dr. Hell's true assault is
aimed at the Photon Power Lab.  The lab's residents all think that Tetsuya is
going to take revenge for Kouji, with maybe a little help from Jun, Boss and
his stooges.  The Feds and JSDF will _not_ be helping...

  The Wärter show up on turn 2 and offer to help.  Kazuma doesn't want any
  thanks, since he's planning to repay the bad guys a billion-thousand-fold for
  what they did to Kouji (Kurz points out that that's not a number).

  More bad guys show up on turn 2, like any good international terrorists
  should.  But something else shows up, and Yumi can scarcely believe his eyes:
  it's Mazinkaiser, which wasn't even supposed to be completed yet!  Jun can
  tell from the fear in Yumi's voice that something big is going down, and
  attempts to raise whoever's piloting it are unsuccessful.  Mazinkaiser starts
  busily destroying its surroundings, apparently the work of some kind of
  self-preservation system in the event that the pilot becomes incapacitated.
  Otherwise known as a heartless god of destruction [You killed Kenny, you
  Bastard!! ;)]  Oh, and it's headed your way.

  All this delights Baron Ashura, who is glad to see the symbol of your hope
  turned against you.  He orders his troops to support Mazinkaiser, but yet
  another interloper appears to prevent the Photon Power Lab from getting
  trashed: Shin Getter Robo!  Ryouma yells to Tetsuya that he'll stop this
  Mazinkaiser with Shin Getter, the greatest power to counter the greatest
  threat.  Certainly, this new Getter seems vastly greater than the previous
  one on all fronts.  Keep Mazinkaiser from reaching the base.

  When you first fight Mazinkaiser, you get a good enough look at its head that
  you see... Kouji in the pilot's seat!  But he seems to be unconscious, and
  the plan is to smack him around enough to wake him up, much like Sayaka did
  when he was late getting up for school.

  Reduce Mazinkaiser to 30% of its HP and Kouji still won't wake up - he will
  however breach your defenses and start pounding the lab.  Even Tetsuya's
  bodily intervention isn't enough, and it is starting to look like your only
  option is to wreck this supposed super robot of justice.  It takes Sousuke to
  point out that machines aren't inherently good _or_ evil - it all depends on
  how they're used.

  As Ashura encourages Mazinkaiser's rampage, Tetsuya bellows to Kouji that
  he's already self-destructed Mazinger once rather than have it become a
  devil.  Will he now allow that to happen anyway??  Ashura tries to cut this
  speech short, but Kouji wakes up in the nick of time and repulses Ashura's
  attack.  Kouji is back and in apparently good health, but all the
  reintroductions will have to wait - seeing that the Garura are making their
  entrance too.  You learn that they're in league with Dr. Hell, and Sadak
  recommends to Ashura that he flee before his Ghoul explodes.  Ashura
  proclaims that he'll be damned if he needs help from some crappy aliens...

  ...and his Ghoul indeed explodes.  But from out of the flaming wreckage steps
  what Dr. Hell did with the remains of Mazinger Z.  Apparently all this
  accomplishes is making Kouji truly pissed off, and he vows to personally tear
  Ashura out of the cockpit.

  Ashura will explain to an amazed Akito why he(?) is half male and half
  female: Dr. Hell rebuilt him from an ancient Mikeene husband and wife.  A
  very confused Yurika asks what happens if that husband and wife want to kiss
  each other and stuff, and Ashura, blushing furiously, yells at her that it's
  none of her goddamn business.

  Sadak is worth a Study OS and an Infight +1.  Ashura belittles his flight,
  not realizing that he's about to suffer a far worse fate.  Ashura assures
  Kouji that Hell has made some very special modifications, and that this
  Mazinger is now totally unlike what Kouji piloted.  This just aggravates
  Kouji further, which can't bode well for Ashura's survival.

  Ashura is worth a Large Generator and a Max SP +5.  When the Ashuramazinger
  falls still, Kouji rushes over to pull Ashura out of his filthy cockpit.
  Somehow Ashura manages to flee anyway, without so much as a single witty
  taunt.  You then learn that the rest of the mechabeasts attacking Japan have
  been beaten back, and that Admiral Misumaru and the rest at the Far East base
  are safe.  It's becoming clear that Misumaru is more than just a
  daughter-crazy old guy: he really knows how to command.

Everyone heads back to the lab for a more thorough debrief.  Sayaka gives Kouji
a properly warm reception, not caring how many of the others are watching.
Kouji explains that when he lost consciousness right before Mazinger's
self-destruct, the Pilder apparently went onto autopilot and flew off... ending
up at the base of Mt. Fuji at Aoki-ga-Harakikai, the least well-known part of
Japan.  Someone had built a laboratory there, and put Kouji into some kind of
fluid-filled capsule where his injuries healed - requiring the full two months
due to the degree of damage.  Kouji was asleep for all of this, but had learned
that the lab itself was basically uninhabited.  He knows who built it though:
Professor Kabuto Juuzou, his grandfather.  Yumi, when he was Juuzou's
assistant, heard bits and pieces of the demon being built there, a power to
surpass God and to smite the Devil.  Of course, Kouji was still on the mend
when he tried to pilot Mazinkaiser, and when the strain knocked him unconscious
the rest was, as they say, history.

This was the threat that Shin Getter was made to counter - and it was indeed
Professor Kabuto who was Saotome's unnamed collaborator.  Just as Mazinkaiser
activated on its own upon sensing Mazinger's defeat, Shin Getter sensed
Mazinkaiser's activation and in turn activated itself.  Presumably it would
have worked the other way round as well.  Of course, what both these powerful
super robots are really for is for defending the Earth, and Bless wants both of
them in Wärter.  Their pilots are a bit uneasy at Bless's authoritative tone,
but with little encouragement from Yumi agree to join Project W.  Except for
the fact that the stoic Tetsuya is actually bleeding to death as he stands - he
can be saved of course, but he's not going to be doing much fighting for a
while: Ashura was able to wound him at least that badly.  Kouji figures that
this was partly his fault for being asleep at the switch, and vows to make up
for it by helping the Wärter kick ass (especially Dr. Hell and Ashura's asses).
Jun and Tetsuya will rejoin your team when Tetsuya is fit for combat again, and
Kouji and the Getter team will head on ahead.

Shihomi and the others relate the goings-on from the other path.  With all the
super robots piling up, Kurz asks Sousuke if he wants to trade in his real
robot.  Sousuke will do so if ordered, but given the types of missions Mithril
takes on, he doubts such orders will be forthcoming.  Mao has to explain to the
rest of your nervous crew that all Sousuke has known since childhood is combat
- even a simple handshake is something he sees as a potential threat.  One area
he _is_ more normal than the super robot pilots is the fact that he's actually
attending high school as befits his age - something Sousuke hadn't realized was
so important to normal folk.

See the other route for Tessa's call.



11N. Kokoro Motomete ("Seeking the Heart")

Kazuma notes for the ship's log that everyone is heading to Salt Lake base
under a cloud - a cloud of Freeman's making.  Giving the army enough data to
build the Sol Tekkamen has let Balzac get an inflated ego, and just handing
D-Boy over to the military without so much as a protest doesn't sit well with
the people who now have to deal with Balzac.  And that includes Kazuma himself.
In any case, the plan is to retrieve D-Boy by any means necessary.

The news of a Tekkaman who does not obey the Radam has reached Pasdar's ears:
possibly the key the Zondarians need to subvert the Tek System.  And since that
Tek System is the main method the Radam used to avoid Mechanization, anything
to combat it is worth the effort.  Pasdar orders his henchmen to capture D-Boy
and unlock the secrets of his Tek Set, and Pizza is granted the job.  Penchinon
warns him that the interlopers are already on the move, and Pizza welcomes any
chance to take down "that cyborg" and his friends.  With only a pittance of
Zondar Metal left, time is of the essence.

Predictably, Corbett refuses Taiga's request to turn D-Boy over.  Corbett fumes
that D-Boy should have been disposed of on the spot for all the damage he did
to the Orbital Ring, but figures he's got at least a little scientific value
left.  And the goal of defeating the Radam and their new Tekkaman, noble though
it sounds, is plenty excuse for him to conduct all manner of experiments on
D-Boy in an attempt to unlock his Tek Set.  He figures that D-Boy no longer
qualifies as a human after he lost control of himself, and conveniently ignores
the fact that the voice of his comrades brought D-Boy back to his senses.
Corbett as much as dares Taiga to try to stage an attack under the aegis of the
Executive branch: that will be all the excuse Corbett needs to order Balzac's
team to suppress the Wärter as rebels.  Taiga is in the middle of telling him
that this is no time for humans to be quarreling among themselves when a
shadowy figure Corbett calls the "Chairman" cuts him off.

The Chairman's heard that Corbett's picked up an intriguing item, one that A9
is interested in too.  Corbett's got GGG America's Professor Liger working on
deciphering the data - perhaps not the safest choice for him, but Yang's got
his hands full tuning up his Dragon Brothers.  Besides, Corbett knows that the
Shishio brothers are always at each other's throats, and Liger in fact asked
for the job as a way to tweak Leo's nose.  And if that's not enough, he's got
Kanzaki Michi from Intelligence working as one of Liger's assistants.  The
Chairman doesn't approve of a product of the Comprehent Project getting the job
- a project that's been going on in secret for the last decade since George
Glenn's recommendation.

This girl, already a chief engineer at age 16, is the inheritor of everything
this project to produce improved humans has to offer.  The Chairman gets
peevish when he hears that this girl has undergone genetic manipulation, making
her just like the "space monsters".  He's well aware that she's vital to the
current operation, but makes it clear he wants her disposed of as soon as that
operation is done.  As it is, the Chairman would rather go home than see the
girl's face - he orders Corbett to keep working on understanding the Tek
System, so that the Federation army can protect the pure blue Earth.

Michi of course is a good girl, and has doubts that what she and Liger are
doing is right.  Their data already proves that D-Boy's psyche is human, making
it unthinkable that they should use him as a biology experiment.  He asks if
she's saying this is unethical, and she responds by asking if the rumors of his
use of illegal cybernetic technology are true.  He regards her a moment, then
states that the rumors are true: he did what he had to, then as now.  Liger
tells her that he's doing what he must to help mankind defeat the Radam, and to
help D-Boy himself.  Before he can explain, Stallion comes in with the results
of Isaac's calculations.  Everything, including the Next Stage affair, is going
exactly as Freeman predicted.  This is even more mysterious, but Liger laughs
it off as just a little debt repayment to Freeman for the Radam data he
provided.

That repayment is why Liger is studying and treating D-Boy in the very latest
military medical center, and the chain of events that created the Sol Tekkamen
even gives Liger a good cover story.  Michi now realizes that Liger and Freeman
planned to save D-Boy from the outset - he's indispensable to mankind's hopes
of defeating the Radam, after all.  Liger knows how cruel D-Boy's destiny is,
and merely hopes to offer him as much support as he can - and he'll stop at
nothing in the attempt.  Michi tells Liger that she's misjudged him, but
Liger's attempts to woo her are interrupted by Stallion's news that the Wärter
are on the inbounds.  With some evident reluctance, he hurries to make ready
for his guests as Michi gets back to work.

Noal has to hand it to the bold Taiga for sending your forces into a Federation
army base.  Taiga's longtime friend Hyuuma smirks and tells Noal that Taiga is
in fact thoroughly pissed off at Corbett.  A major contrast between Taiga and
Freeman, who didn't even see the troops off.  Hyuuma isn't in a good position
to set the record straight, and with the Valstork running interference outside,
the infiltrators need to hurry.  Liger's disabling of the base's security will
only last so long, and since Liger doesn't have the password to the base's
maglocks, it seems you're going to have to start making noise to proceed any
farther.  But to your people's surprise, the door before them unlocks, and the
nearby panel flashes up the message "SAVE D-BOY".  Only Freeman could have
hacked the base's main computer so effectively, drawing some _very_ grudging
admiration from Noal.  Hyuuma's known Freeman a long time as well, and assures
Noal that he's _far_ more sentimental than his poker face suggests: and
entirely competent to boot.  Well, misunderstanding cleared up, path ahead
opened, and all well on the Western front...

...except for a certain young man whose presence none of you detected in
advance.  It's Shinya, unimpressed that puny doors like these are enough to
impede human progress.  Aki momentarily mistakes him for D-Boy, which comes as
no surprise.  Of course it's Tekkaman Evil, who thanks you for showing him the
way to D-Boy.  Hyuuma yells to Noal and Aki to go ahead while he and the G-Boys
delay Evil here.  Since there's no telling what lies ahead, he has Gai
accompany them, and tells Gai not to underestimate his ability to hold out
here.  He's brought his special ID Suit with him, remnant of the days he was
part of the legendary ID5 team.  The whole Silver Hyuuma act won't last long,
but the element of self-sacrifice is enough to at least perplex Evil a little.
In fact, the three remaining Wärter agents have no plans to lay down their
lives here: their job is purely to delay Evil.

Corbett gets a very nasty surprise when the Radam interrupt his Wärter
repulsing.  He's counting on Balzac to bring the Radam to a hasty end, but
Balzac is far from impressed by the incompetent giving him orders and stealing
his glory.  Yang orders the Dragons to give their all to destroying the enemy;
unfortunately they're not yet capable of Symmetrical Docking.  Balzac would
also love to settle the score with your dudes, but the Radam come first.
Kazuma and Balzac agree to hate each other but still fight, and the Chinese
dragon's admonition to stand aside and watch doesn't please their Japanese
counterparts much.  You've got to buy at least enough time for Gai and the
others to finish scouring the base, and the Japanese Dragons haven't yet been
repaired enough to do Symmetrical Docking either.

  Wipe out enough enemies or make it to turn 2 and Milly reports that there's
  still no report from within the base.  Your people have just made it to Liger
  and D-Boy, but D-Boy had fallen strangely silent just moments before.  Aki
  and Noal tell him that the base is under attack and ask him to get his
  Tekkaman on so they can get the hell out of Dodge.  D-Boy is terrified of
  becoming a Tekkaman, blubbering that he doesn't want to kill anyone.  Clearly
  the events of the previous battle have dealt him a severe blow, and he now
  lives in fear of becoming the same sort of devil as Dagger and Evil.  Noal
  wonders what happened to the guy who vowed to wipe out the Radam
  singlehandedly, and reminds D-Boy that he himself said that fighting the
  Radam is his reason for living.  Cast that away and then what?!  D-Boy is so
  miserable that he can't even respond to Noal's deliberate provocation, except
  to finally say that he doesn't want to fight anymore.  Fed up, Noal tells
  Akito and Gai to protect the useless coward while he goes and fights whoever
  he has to.  Spying Michi, he orders her to hand over whatever kind of weapons
  this base's got - and Liger tells this young man that he's got just the
  thing.  Aki reminds him that he's going up against a Tekkaman, but Noal yells
  back that Heero and Hyuuma're holding their own against him - and the last
  thing he intends to do is sit in the corner quivering like gutless wonderboy
  here.  Even the sight of this does nothing to move D-Boy...

  Noal emerges from the base in Sol Tekkaman #2, feeling good in his new
  armament and somewhat pissed that he now resembles Balzac.  Liger merrily
  congratulates himself for having a second Sol Tekkaman around for data
  collection, and Michi warns Noal that his mech's power is limited.  Milly of
  course doesn't see D-Boy, and Noal tells her to forget about the wimp: he
  plans to fight enough for the both of them.  A sinister voice opines that the
  humans are clueless as ever, and in need of a demonstration why they can't
  stand up to him.

  It's Evil, and Balzac yells that he's going to pay him back for what happened
  at the Orbital Ring.  He's bent on gaining more glory for himself, and gets
  _extremely_ summarily beaten down by Evil, which infuriates the man who just
  promoted him (Corbett).  Evil claims that Heero and Hyuuma are waiting for
  Noal and the others one step ahead in hell, and figures Noal will make the
  perfect diversion before he finally goes and kills D-Boy off.

  Keep battling and who should appear but Orgun, who immediately starts firing
  in the Valstork's direction.  Orgun had sent Michi some kind of transmission,
  but is silent when Evil asks if this Detonator has now sided with the Radam.
  Evil doesn't care, and tells this fellow minion of destruction to rampage to
  his heart's content.  Mikoto frantically calls Hyuuma, Gai and Heero, while
  Milly calls for Aki and D-Boy...

  KEEP FIGHTING and the scene shifts back inside the base, where Gai gently
  tells D-Boy to come outside.  He doesn't intend to force him to fight, and
  notes that both of them received bodies with warpower they never wished for.
  That said, Gai asked himself long ago whether his powers weren't in fact
  given by God for the defense of those Gai holds dear.  Gai admits that maybe
  God doesn't exist, but he's still decided to believe anyway - so that he can
  keep going forward and keep winning over the weakness of his own heart.

  Gai wants to start by leading D-Boy outside, but this gets abruptly halted by
  Pizza, who wants D-Boy's body for the Zondar.  Pizza explains that the Tek
  System is one of the greatest impediments to Mechanization, and analysis of
  the Tek System would allow them to turn the tide against the Radam.  This is
  an interesting statement, since it proves the Zondar really are trying to
  Zondarize the world - AND, as Leo predicted, that the Radam and Zondar are
  indeed enemies.  Pizza says that this planet must be Mechanized before the
  flowers of the Radam's trees bloom, and orders Gai to hand D-Boy, whose eyes
  are already dead, over.  Even if he can't fight, D-Boy is still Gai's
  comrade, and Gai isn't the sort to abandon his comrades.  He tells D-Boy to
  remember this: your people don't need him because he's a Tekkaman, but
  because he's a comrade who's fought by their side [err...]

  As Gai joins the list of people fighting to protect D-Boy's miserable
  carcass, D-Boy ponders the mysteries of what it means to be a "comrade".  Aki
  helps by pointing out that even if he'll become a devil in thirty minutes,
  he'll still have his human heart.  As the surrounding battle threatens to
  bury both of them under rubble, Aki tells D-Boy to give her his 30 minutes,
  not caring if he kills her in the process afterward.

  Evil finally spots the two of them, having looked long and hard for his
  "elder brother".  He sneers that the human D-Boy's with is the spitting image
  of their dead mother, and is about to put both of them out of their misery
  when the Japanese dragons get in the way, being mightily beaten down for
  their pains.  The Chinese dragons are puzzled why, again, their brothers
  would put their own bodies on the line to protect others - is that their
  mission?  No, it's because D-Boy is their comrade, long before any mission is
  assigned.  Enryuu tells D-Boy that even though his body is robotic, his
  caring heart is no different than a human's.  The Chinese dragons now
  hesitate in their attack, aware almost for the first time of the potential
  damage to the humans at Evil's feet.

  Evil, furious, starts charging his Psy-Boltekka to blow them all away, and
  the Japanese dragons are too damaged to use the Eraserhead properly.  They'll
  try anyway, and the Chinese dragons are now beginning to get the message.
  They hurry over to help, heedless of Yang's orders to the contrary.  Their
  newfound vigor, filling their AI's - their hearts - with fire, allows them to
  do Symmetrical Docking and give Chouryuujin someone to lean on.  This time,
  the Eraserhead manages to totally dissipate Evil's blast.  Both Yang and Evil
  are getting an eyeful now, and Aki tells D-Boy again that it all comes down
  to the power of the heart - his heart.  Evil doesn't want to hear about
  hearts, especially of siblings like the Dragon Brothers, but more people are
  on the scene to slow him down.

  Heero and Duo aren't the sort for Evil to easily kill off, much less Hyuuma
  with his suit.  Now's the time for D-Boy to transform, and Noal has Milly
  dispatch Pegas.  Hyuuma then demonstrates just why he goes around with a
  mohawk, *throwing* his suit's mohawk-shaped headguard as a boomerang and
  pummeling Evil without mercy.  D-Boy has finally figured it out: he's not the
  devil, the Radam are.  Evil plans to disagree with his Psy-Boltekka, but
  Milly fills D-Boy in on a new mod to Pegas: the High Coat Boltekka!  A very
  handy use for Pegas' built-in Fermion cannon if I do say so myself.

  Anyway, Evil still needs killing, but D-Boy has been fully awakened by
  something Evil has lost: heart power.  When Gai emerges, D-Boy tells him that
  if God gave Gai his powers, D-Boy's were given by the Devil himself.  But
  since he's a human, he'll use them for good anyway.  Pizza realizes that his
  only hope of claiming the resurgent warrior is by force.  And to do that,
  he'll have to go through your entire team, including the new Hero:
  Geki-Ryuu-Jin.  Upon seeing all this, Orgun vanishes; Kazuma's theory is that
  he's scared shitless of D-Boy, but Michi seems to have other ideas...

  Evil is worth a Large Generator and an Infight +1.  A sore loser, he flies
  off, but not before telling Blade that he'll have to make it through the
  other Tekkamen, who are now awakening, if he wants to see Evil again.  Does
  this mean that Miyuki is among them?!

  Pizza, not quite the Ruler of the Skies he thinks he is when confronted with
  the former astronaut Gai, is worth a Student OS and a Max SP +5.  He's man
  enough to admit defeat to Gai... for today.  He tells Gai not to die until
  they can consummate their duel and flies off, leaving Mamoru to explain about
  the Zondarian commanders to your people.

The Federation base is pretty much wrecked, with the proud Sol Tekkamen and
their prouder leader splattered all across the landscape.  The Chinese dragons
thank you gravely for teaching them that with a Hero's heart, they can never be
defeated.  The Japanese dragons tell their Chinese counterparts that as of
today, they're now their comrades, but Corbett pops out and tells the walking
garbage piles not to presume to speak about the disposition of army hardware.
Yang, not too far behind, in turn informs Corbett that the Chinese Aerospace
Research Division was only assisting the military - not subservient to it.
Corbett doesn't take kindly to this new "betrayal", but Yang says this is the
perfect opportunity to take up his doubts about the military's way of doing
things with his direct line to Supreme HQ.  After all, Corbett not only lost
Balzac's whole squadron, but values his masterpieces as nothing more than
trash.  Before stalking off, Corbett can't resist informing all of you that
you'll come to rue this day: the military, and ONLY the military, are the
guardians of order on Earth.  Noin notes that if the military was doing its job
properly, the Wärter Corbett hates so much wouldn't even have been formed.

Yang confides to Liger that he too has learned something from this battle: that
his super-AI-powered robots derive their strength from none other than their
hearts.  While nothing is impossible for those hearts, the Symmetrical Docking
took a mighty toll anyway, and the two will be down for repairs for quite some
time.  Noal's sorry to interrupt D-Boy's contemplation of the four _brothers_,
but he's got a moral obligation to deck D-Boy one for the events leading up to
the battle.  D-Boy apologizes, and is ready to get pounded, but Bless stops
Noal by saying that it was Aki's power that really brought D-Boy back to his
senses today.  Of course, he notes, women have always been adept at directly
conveying their feelings, which Duo intimates might have something to do with
Eagle-Eye's past.  But Bless hustles everyone off before any further
discussion, and Milly will now tag along as part of the Blue Earth's crew.
Liger gives her a disk, containing some data Freeman asked him to work on.  He
adds the message that he'll think about a countermeasure for whatever it is.

Hyuuma is only a little sheepish over leading from the front in his ID Suit,
and thanks Freeman for the hacking assist.  Freeman shows little joy at the
fact the youngsters are regretting doubting him, hoping only that this will
start them thinking about what's going on behind the scenes of this unfolding
drama.  Meanwhile, the GGG not only protected the Photon Power lab from the
Mecha-Beasts, but were rejoined by the not-dead Kouji and his new Mazinger,
named Mazinkaiser.  And don't forget about Shin Getter Robo, also integrated
into the Wärter.  The full debriefing will wait until the Valstork returns, and
Bless requests that GGG warm up the baths for him.  This leaves Freeman and
Taiga to ponder Balzac's fate... though Balzac himself fell, the potential
demonstrated by the Sol Tekkamen is more than enough to convince the military
to mass-produce them to take on the Radam.  It will be a very delicate balance
the Wärter must maintain between military effectiveness to protect the masses,
and military threat from the domination of a few.  Just then Tessa calls in,
wanting to discuss something Mao brought to her attention...

Isaac asks Michi what's troubling her: it's that pulsed transmission from
"him".  Though Isaac only has 40% of it translated, he can guess what it's
about: a weapon.  Michi very much doubts she can take any message from him
without a grain of salt, after seeing Orgun's power demonstrated before her
very eyes.  She's very frightened of this weapon being used for evil upon
completion, and has already made up her mind to bet on your people, who don't
lose their hearts even in battle.

[I kept the North America route]


12. Housou Fuka no UO-KURAI ("Unprintable Warcry")

Summer vacation draws to a close, with the excitement of the Culture Festival
looming large in Kaname's mind.  Sousuke tells her that if it's excitement she
wants, she should head to the border between the African Cooperative and the
United South African Organization - and she replies that the gap between his
idea of "excitement" and an average high schooler's is about the size of the
space between Earth and Mars.  But there are more immediate concerns, including
a bevy of new transfer students.  Leading off is Kabuto Kouji, a motorcycle
hobbyist, followed by Nagare Ryouma the one-time soccer star.  Kyouko is very
taken by the pair of hunks, though she notices something in their eyes that
belies their age.  Kaname groans and suspects that this new semester is going
to be far more "exciting" than she would have wished.

Kazuma notes that the Wärter are now in full swing, operating out of G-Island
City.  He seems vaguely derisive of Kouji and crew's insistence that they can
handle both academics and piloting, noting that he had the A-B-C's of being a
trailer pounded into him via on-the-job training.  Indeed, Taiga offered him a
shot at school too, but Kazuma's self-proclaimed dislike of formalities
dissuaded him.  His plans of having massive amounts of free time are abruptly
shattered by Noin and Mao barging in and dragooning him out of bed,
military-style and with incredibly salty language from the Mithril sergeant.
Apparently Bless directed them to properly drill his son, and they tell Kazuma
that he may have good instincts, but he's also got a hell of a lot to learn.
Mao in particular seems quite prepared to drill his ass into submission and
thereby forestall any kind of untimely death.  Softening her tone slightly, she
warns that having two babes for drill instructors is just going to make his
training all the rougher.  Let this be a lesson to all you would-be truants out
there.

As it turns out, the gang is pretty much all transferred into the same school,
albeit into different age-appropriate classes.  Apparently it was Sousuke's
suggestion to his superiors that everyone enter a school so close to the Bay
Tower base, and he's glad that everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.  Akito
has actually joined a nearby ramen stand (and is seemingly not doing a good job
at the moment), and relates that the Go-Lion folks and all are also doing
various part-time work.  Akito tries to explain the crummy ramen by saying that
he had to make it all himself after the manager went down sick, but even for
that he seems to have screwed up.

Sousuke is the only person chowing down, convinced at least that the ramen
isn't poisonous.  When Akito presses him to know whether it tastes good,
Sousuke asks him what the deal was with him following Yurika onto the Nadesico.
He claims to have no grasp of why one would fight for a woman, but Kaname cuts
him off and hustles everyone away.  So quickly, in fact, that they neglected to
pay their bill.

Honeruba is quite amused at the tongue-lashing Ashura received in the wake of
his failure in battle.  She claims to have interesting info that could let
Ashura bring Kouji to the most painful, humiliating end imaginable.  Ashura may
be in a bad mood, but is still willing to hear Honeruba out.

The student council president has a number of favors to ask of Kaname, claiming
that he's got his hands full with the Culture Festival coming up.  First on the
list is a problem with the rugby team, who was so obscure that Kaname didn't
even know her school had one.  Both the captain and the rest of the team are
inveterate crybabies, and the team hasn't logged a single victory in over a
decade.  It seems only natural that they get disbanded, but the captain
blubbers that he loves rugby as much as he loves the flowers and birds and
clouds.  President Hayashimizu doesn't want things to end on this note,
especially since the faculty seem to have ignored student self-governance in
handing down their decision, so he made a deal with the principal.  There is to
be a practice game between their rugby team and that of a formidable nearby
school - victory will postpone the team's death sentence for a year, loss will
carry it out immediately.

The team has no hope of victory, and is hemorrhaging members who can't stand up
to the rigors of tackling or scrums.  The plan is to make Kaname the new
manager and have her recruit players to fill the roster back up.  Kaname is
obviously unenthused, but there are two more jobs for her as well.  First is
figuring out how to protect the Culture Festival from neighboring schools'
delinquents.  And second is figuring out some kind of display to please all the
local residents.  And she's going to have some help: Sousuke, who's been
deputized especially for the occasion.  Of course she enlists help from the
rest of the Wärter, who are concerned about how sissified the remaining
original players are.  With their girly clubhouse decor, tea breaks, and
run-down uniforms, they hardly cut a convincing figure.

Mao apparently has a plan to whip them into shape, which leaves the other two
jobs to worry about.  Kaname perhaps unwisely leaves everything up to Sousuke,
letting her concentrate on other stuff.  Meanwhile, Yurika has gotten a
part-time job at the same ramen stand as Akito, claiming that she's studying
for when she and Akito have their own shop together some day.  Unfortunately,
the ramen hasn't improved much, and Hayato only slightly pulls his punches when
saying that Akito's fare isn't worth paying for.

The weather is perfect on the day of the Festival.  Sousuke, Kouji and the crew
have been camping out at the Photon Power Lab with the rest of the rugby team
for the last several days, training hard and cloistered from prying eyes, even
those of people on your own team.  Sousuke's also had a lot of equipment sent
to the scene, which now has Kaname worried about what he's up to.  More
interesting yet is this giant devil "statue" helping decorate the Festival.

More of your crew are on hand as Festival visitors, including Fahra and her
entourage.  Just keeping her alien origins secret is a bit tricky.  Fahra is
having a grand time mingling with the common folk and sampling all the
fascinating new foods (such as takoyaki), to the consternation of Raibul.
Lurking in the bushes for all this is Ashura, gleefully looking forward to
converting this peaceful scene into some bloody incarnation of Hell.  The
festivities start as (s)he orders an assault on the big devil statue.

In fact, mecha-beasts are fanning out across Japan, and Ashura plans to reduce
the school to rubble before the Wärter can react.  Kaname knows she's got to
get the crowds to safety, but how?  Just then Sousuke calls her up, telling her
to follow his instructions and to playback the disc he's left in the PA room.
Ashura meanwhile yells at Kouji to curse his powerlessness as the classmates he
tried to learn alongside are all slaughtered.  But before everyone can riot,
Kaname kicks off the music, and out comes...

...Bonta-kun!  With some trepidation, Kaname reads the narration that a special
attraction is about to start: "Bonta-kun vs. the Mecha-Beasts".  This calms the
crowd, and Mamoru's dad comments on just how innovative these festivals are
getting nowadays.  All guests are advised to stay away from the field, and to
cheer on Bonta-kun.  In fact, there's more than one Bonta-kun for Ashura's
befuddled troops to deal with, and they emerge in... rugby formation.  Kaname
is somehow able to translate Sousuke's suit's garbled speech, which is more
salty exhortation to the troops.  Ashura is getting especially pissed at this
quizzical show of bravado, but Kazuma for one appreciates Bonta-kun swearing
like a sailor at Ashura's troops.  He seems to be the only one though...

  Take out the initial bad guys and a furious Ashura, who simply cannot keep
  the name "Bonta-kun" straight, will mount his offensive.  Sadak shows up to
  help, but is immediately warned off by Honeruba, who seems terrified of the
  gigantic Earth rats that are savaging her forces.  Sadak thinks Bonta-kun is
  a tanuki, not a rat, but whatever it is he hastily retreats as per Honeruba's
  hysterical orders.  Kaname's worried that things are getting out of hand, but
  Sousuke calmly explains his crazy plan to her and says reinforcements are on
  the way.

  Said reinforcements consist of the full lion brigade, in all their numerous
  colors.  The only way to avoid panic is to keep up the act, so Kaname tells
  the crowds to watch how easily the Bonta-kuns can control the giant lions.
  Next up is the "illusion" that the lions can transform into giant robots,
  helped by a flash grenade.  Thus transformed, the pilots can get back to
  fighting normally, so long as the school and the spectators don't get
  damaged.

The danger is past, and while the student council president can't quite figure
out how she did it, he has to hand it to Kaname.  The only damage seems to be
to Hana-chan's illusions of a kinder, gentler Bonta-kun, thanks to Kaname's
faithful rendition of the Bonta-kun army's salty speech.  Ashura is now duly
terrified of Bonta-kun, and flees summarily.

Kaname can't believe Sousuke could pull a stunt like this, but he tells her it
lived up perfectly to his mission: defend the school *and* entertain the
guests.  As for the foul language, it seems the rugby team picked it up from
Mao's strict drilling - and are about to use it as motivation to pulverize the
visiting team in the exhibition game...  Akito hears about all this later, with
understandable amazement - including the part about how the rugby team are now
a bunch of cutthroat mercenary types instead of the crybabies they started as.
The result of the opening scrum: ten casualties and a forfeit by the opposing
side, after which the rugby team won't be competing for a while.  At least
they're not disbanded, after Kaname's fervent apologies to the faculty.  All's
well that ends well, except for Akito's ramen, which isn't getting any better
with Yurika's initial round of assistance...


12X. "Kanchou" wa Kimi Da!  "Kyouju" wa Dare Da?! ("You're the 'Captain'! Who's
the 'Professor'?!")

[This version appears on the second playthrough.]

Things are the same as the basic version until Ashura and Honeruba start
talking.  Ashura doesn't need or want Honeruba's "encouragement", having
already figured Professor Yumi's itinerary.  The plan: kill loads of Kouji's
friends in one fell swoop.

During Kaname's following talk with the student council president, he starts by
ordering her to head up the effort to protect the school and its Festival from
neighboring delinquents.  With a little help from Sousuke of course.  And to
prevent the cure from being worse than the disease, he's also called in Kouji
and Ryouma, whose true identities he claims to know as part of a standard
background check on new transfer students.  His silver tongue is able to
persuade Kouji to even have Mazinger ready to sortie if need be.

Kaname is so worried that she fears she might not make it to the festival, and
Akito's borderline ramen isn't helping, even with Yurika supporting him.  Just
then Kazuma rushes in, begging Akito to hide him.  It appears he's got a whole
horde of girls fawning all over him, begging him to choose them.  This isn't
because he employed drugs or black magic - or blackmail - but rather the result
of an argument among the Wärter about which woman is the most beautiful.
Yurika gallantly tells the girls not to badger Kazuma, then adding that the
winner is obviously here, in this store - her!  Ruri notes that Yurika's
approval ratings have just slid below the 30% mark, but the quick- eared
student council president has just the solution: a beauty contest, during the
Festival...

The weather's perfect for the Festival, though for some reason the soccer field
is now off-limits (Kaname's sure it's somehow Sousuke's doing).  She had no
interest in being in the beauty contest (especially the bathing suit section),
but Boss and his lackeys are already drooling.  Prospector has roped Yumi into
being one of the judges, and it seems that the captainship of the Nadesico is
up for grabs for the winner.  Also helping out are Akatsuki and Kurz, and
"Yumi", who's really Ashura in disguise, is fuming over the failure of his
plans to infiltrate the Bay Tower base.

Time to ogle the team females for a while, and Kazuma can't help but take
pictures he'll sell around later.  "Yumi" is having trouble maintaining his
composure due to his very different aesthetics, but realizes that if his cover
is blown here, away from his guards, it could prove fatal.  He's got to keep up
the act until Gamia arrives.  Akito explains that this contest is a sort of
coup d'etat by the other ladies in response to Yurika's pride, and according to
Prospector the Nadesico's captain's position is less important than the smooth
workings of the rest of the crew - and hence is safe-ish to put up for grabs.
Ashura actually ends up being the voice of reason, questioning the insanity
that passes for orderly Nadesico operations.

That said, he's the only one laughing over Izumi's dreadful jokes - and he's in
stitches.  He's also gotten an idea: elect the most hopeless candidate as the
Nadesico's captain, and thereby vanquish its genius-level prowess in battle.
Hey, it's the least he can do now that his plan to infiltrate the Bay Tower
base has gone awry.  Everyone is surprised by a last-minute entry with the
styling of a model: Gamia-Q, who seems almost *too* perfect.  With her on the
scene, Ashura has only to select a hopeless captain and then trash the whole
place.  Said person suddenly appears in the form of Yurika, who Ashura rates as
having the speech patterns of a complete moron and all the gravitas of a single
sheet of very thin paper behind her smile.

Ashura then has the mecha-beasts lurking near the gym start their attack,
letting him escape in the chaos.  It's not immediately clear that this isn't
some sort of show, but the mecha-beasts rapidly trip a booby-trap that Sousuke
thoughtfully planted on the playground.  Ashura wonders aloud what the hell is
going on with the Japanese educational system that a school would have high
explosives on campus.  And there's more to come: Mazinger and Getter, part of
the school's self-defense forces (hadn't he heard, Akito asks "Yumi").

  The bad guys fall in short order, and "Yumi" furiously orders Gamia-Q to
  shred the Wärter on the ground with her steely hair.  She complies, and your
  people's situation looks pretty dire.  Akito is now wondering who the hell
  "Yumi" really is, given all the evil proclamations and such, and manages to
  somehow pull off Ashura's disguise.  Before any more mayhem can ensue, Ruri
  sends Akito his Aestivalis.  Akito's a bit hesitant to fight the female foe,
  even if she is an android assassin, but still pulls the trigger.

  Ruri asks Yurika and the others to hurry back to the Nadesico, and Ashura
  realizes to his shock that the apparently brainless Yurika actually was its
  captain all along.  Ruri caught on to the fact that the fake Yumi forgot his
  promise to judge the contest, and using Omoikane found all the mecha-beasts
  in the vicinity.  She tells Sayaka not to fret, since Hyuuma has recovered
  her father safely, but won't say why she skipped out on the beauty contest.

  Honeruba brings reinforcements, but leaves the floundering Ashura to extract
  himself from this mess.  Yurika's very indignant over the festival getting
  messed up, and for once sounds captainly as she orders the troops to wipe the
  bad guys out.  Oh well, so much for anyone else getting her chair.

The bad guys get mercilessly pounded, and as Ashura is about to flee, the
terrifying specter of Bonta-kun is the last thing he sees.  Sousuke explains
that he was busy keeping those aforementioned juvenile delinquents from
breaking into the school during the chaos - apparently they and Ashura's troops
present similar threat levels to him.  Kaname can only shake her head and
suppose that if Sousuke treated the punks like he treats Ashura's troops,
they'll never so much as darken her school's doorstep again.  Moreover, it
seems the utility of Sousuke's Bonta-kun is now beyond dispute, and they're to
be headed for mass production, and sale to militaries world-wide.  This is such
an astounding statement that Kaname can't even manage a snappy come-back.

As for the beauty contest, well, Yurika managed to win in a photo finish,
meaning that you all get to put up with her sometimes selfish leadership style
for now.  Akito won't say who he voted for, but there are indications that the
single deciding vote was cast by none other than Baron Ashura.... though, as he
was Yumi's "representative", there's no reason to disregard his vote in
Akatsuki's eyes.  Levin sniffs that the most beautiful flower of all wasn't on
display at the contest (which sounds very frightening coming from someone with
as much makeup as Levin's got on).  Said flower is apparently Ruri, who is
flattered that everyone thinks she would have won.  Asked why she didn't
appear, she very reluctantly admits that she was embarrassed about coming on
stage in a swimsuit.  Akito says that that's a bit of a shame, but when Ruri
flushes and he asks if he's upset her, she says that that's not it at all.
[Things that make you go, "Read the doujinshi."]

Akito doesn't get let off the hook either, after he gallantly shielded Yurika
with his body from the android's assault.  His claims that he only did it
because she's the Nadesico's captain sound a little weak, but when Ruri asks if
he'd have protected her were she the captain, he stridently tells her that he'd
protect her regardless.  Heck, he even owes her for saving everyone today.  He
promises her that if she's ever in trouble, he'll come running to help.  Ruri's
hesitant, then earnest acceptance of this truly makes her the most beautiful
today, at least in Prospector's eyes.


13. "Himitsu no Baito" wa Kiken no Kaori ("'The Secret Part-Time Job' Smells
Like Danger")

In the two weeks since the Wärter began operations, none of your major foes
have done much of note.  Kazuma relates his father's fears of a major enemy
operation in the works to the ship's log.  He's had about all he can stand of
Noin and Mao riding his ass, and opted instead for a part-time job.  He stoutly
maintains that he's not running away, but instead entering a new phase of
training to be a true Trailer... and to contribute to paying off the family
debts.

Meanwhile, gloom reigns over your crew at Akito's ramen store.  Surprisingly,
it's not due to the ramen itself, which has improved by leaps and bounds in the
past two weeks due to Akito simplifying the flavoring.  The deep sighs stem
from the fact that both Boss and Kouji are short on funds, though a new
addition to the store staff distracts the conversation.  Kazuma proves to be an
industrious delivery boy, while Mihiro is contributing on the onion-peeling
front.  He tells his impoverished comrades to get their butts in gear and work:
the Trailer maxim states "Money is lonely, so find it some friends."

Sousuke is surprised to hear that the Photon Power Lab folks aren't receiving
an allowance (they're volunteers, after all), and actually has money problems
of his own.  It seems that the mass-production Bonta-kuns are being returned in
droves, and Sousuke can't figure out why such a versatile, camouflaged weapons
platform would be unsatisfactory.  Could it be because it... stands out like a
sore thumb?  Nah.

Ruri then emerges from behind the scenes, collecting her part-time pay before
heading off for some maintenance on Omoikane.  She's been a model waitress, and
helped lighten the mood at the store despite her tender years.  Neither Kouji
nor Kazuma are adept at coming up with a nickname for the waiflike computer
genius, and Akito finds himself wondering what precisely Ruri did before the
Nadesico came along.  She's never talked about it, and Sousuke wonders if she
trained as some kind of soldier like he did.  In any case, all the customers
Ruri attracted seem to have bailed, so Kouji forthrightly offers to wash dishes
as payment.

But a new challenger appears!  Or something: it's a lady named Aqua, with a job
for your people that she'll be happy to explain at her office tomorrow.  The
blond bombshell tells you all to invite your friends, and then gets locked in a
staring match with Akito, whom she reminds of someone.

Meanwhile, Ruri is having trouble diagnosing some kind of problem that's
afflicting Omoikane, Nadesico's brain.  If it's out of commission, the Nadesico
is as good as shot down already, which simply won't do for Nergal's flagship.
Ruri's called in reinforcements in the form of Entouji and Freeman, but they
won't be here until tomorrow (and Minato hopes Entouji bathes first).

The mystery employer turns out to be the Crimson Group, and Kazuma actually
accepted the job without even asking the details.  He made sure to include the
Go-Lion team, whose "teamwork" Kazuma thinks will be necessary (or perhaps he
just likes the auspicious spelling of the name "Kogane").  Akito, who is also
in on it, is worried that Aqua seemingly knew just where to find your people,
though Duo (who's in it to kill some time) tells him he's thinking too hard.
Kurz is _also_ in on this job, which he thinks is a bit of an "affair" for
Akito given he's got Captain Misumaru waiting for him back at the ramen store -
he's sure that Akito is, like Kurz himself, interested in their beautiful
employer.  Akito stoutly denies this, but takes a while to clearly state
precisely why he was staring at Aqua.  It seems she looks exactly like the
eponymous guest character in Geki Ganger episode 33, "Saintly Aquamarine's
Smile", who even now dominates the character polls thanks to her pure bearing
and tragic backstory.

Akito in fact gets quite worked up about "his" Aquamarine, and it's becoming
all too clear why he came to this job without telling Yurika.  When Mihiro
asks, Akito explains that in the relevant episode, the mysterious beauty
Aquamarine saves the Geki Ganger pilot Tenkuu Ken [um...], causing him to fall
in love with her.  She turns out to be one of the commanders of the evil
Kyoakku aliens [UM....] - a cliche that apparently went over Akito's head - but
eventually refuses to fight Ken and self-destructs to protect him, her ashes
scattered across the atmosphere.  Before Akito can further rhapsodize this
oh-so-tragic chain of events, Kazuma concludes that this character is the
diametric opposite of Yurika.  In any case, Aqua comes and greets the crew,
especially Akito... and now Duo is sure that this fascinating job is worth it.

She explains that she wants help debugging a video game.  Sousuke is aware of
the Crimson Group's military products, but is surprised to hear that they're
entering the video gaming market.  The company motto "From handguns to
missiles" isn't precisely reassuring, and Aqua's ongoing special treatment of
Akito is even less so - is the payout for all this even going to be equal? Aqua
assures everyone, even those who have never video gamed before, that the
debugging method she has planned is something uniquely suited to their talents.
Aqua is paying a good ten times what Akito's boss is.  That's good enough for
your team, and Aqua specifically tells Akito to do his best for her.

Your troops are seated in special chairs, which quickly begin to project images
of space: Virtual Space, all computer-generated - including all your mecha.  In
fact, you all are "inside" said computer, and perhaps you should be concerned
at *precisely* how accurately the Crimson Group is able to replicate your
cockpits.  Yes, Aqua knew your people were all from Wärter, and claims that
she's been waiting so long for someone to save her and bring her out into the
light.  That's right up Akito's alley, though the rest of your people are far
from convinced.

Apparently the goal of the video game is assaulting the Evil Battleship
Nadesico and its army of Aestivalises.  Given that Crimson Group and Nergal are
business rivals, this game is in especially poor taste - though some of the
"real men" among your crew are starting to relish the challenge of confronting
the supposedly invincible battleship.  It seems the bugs are preventing people
from completing the game - and those bugs have actually manifested as the
Nadesico squadron you see before you.  It now becomes clear why only your
people could do this job, though not everyone is equally enthused about it...

  Akito isn't very happy about tangling with the sim-Nadesico, but Sousuke
  points out that indecision on the battlefield is a good way to die.  Aqua
  urges Akito forward, saying that her future, her very destiny hinges on
  Akito's maneuvers.  This prods Akito on, but the rest of your people find
  this rather fishy - it sounds like more than just her company's wares are on
  the line.

  The Nadesico is worth a Thruster Module, a Cartridge, and an Infight +1 and
  Gunfight +1.  Kazuma seems almost too happy at the fake Nadesico's demise,
  but Aqua points out that the Nadesico isn't entirely destroyed yet - and
  tells your people to finish the job and bring about her glorious future.
  Mihiro has the good sense to be frightened by this, but Kazuma is looking
  forward to finishing their job.

  Meanwhile, the real Nadesico seems to be in dire straits, with Omoikane
  completely offline.  It seems that *somebody* has infiltrated, and used some
  kind of attack programs to defeat the Nadesico's defensive programs.  Even
  the accomplished hacker Freeman has never seen offensive code this
  destructive, and warns that at this rate the Nadesico might have to be
  completely reinitialized - that is, all its memories to date will be gone.
  There is a way to counter this, but not with Omoikane close to defunct.

  It's a unique irony that the invincible Nadesico is about to fall silent
  without even firing a shot.  Just where are Akito and Kurz at a time like
  this, anyway?  In virtual reality, where Akito urges everyone to stop at the
  last moment.  He can't bring himself to destroy the Nadesico, even in a game.
  With Kogane's blessing, he tells Aqua to finish the Nadesico off herself.
  She tells him that this will reduce your people's payout to a mere 50G, which
  persuades only the more idiotic on your team.  Akito even vows to feed such
  folks all the ramen they can eat if it's really about the money to them.

  Aqua pleads with Akito to assure her future, to thoroughly destroy the
  Nadesico's _computer_ - which goes over Akito's head.  All Akito knows is
  that he's pulled too thin between his loyalties to Yurika and to Aqua, and
  apparently coming apart at the seams.  Just then, a familiar broadcast
  reaches everyone's ears: it's Ruri's trademark denunciation of them as
  nothing but a bunch of idiots.  It came from the "sim"-Nadesico's Omoikane,
  and since no one outside your team could know Ruri's speech patterns, it
  stands to reason that that's the *real* Nadesico.  Aqua of course doesn't
  have a good explanation for her deception, except to say that the Nadesico
  genuinely does stand in the way of her future.

Now it becomes clear that all these high-quality replicas were made by hacking
into the Nadesico's databases, with your people lured in by the promise of a
part-time job's extra pay.  Kazuma, at long last realizing he's been had, yells
that Trailers get 1.5 times as angry when offenses involve money.  He starts
attacking the environment (which everyone reckons is Aqua's own computer
system) and the others join in.  Aqua's wheedling then turns to asking you not
to fight because of her - making her quite the hypocrite of course.  She
resists Akito's calls to turn herself in, lamenting that she seems not fated to
join with him after all.  Love between him, a former member of Nadesico's crew,
and her, one of its defeaters, could never be.

In any case, Akito won't consent to playing a role in whatever deranged opera
Aqua has in mind.  Neither will the crew of the Nadesico, who used the opening
Akito created to send in a bunch of counter programs which just happen to look
like the rest of your units.  Akito may or may not believe in his role as
Yurika's knight in shining armor, but Freeman took the hostilities seriously
enough that he had created all these Wärter virtual-space units in advance,
"just in case" (Uribatake is now hyper jealous).  Yurika won't forgive the
Crimson Group for assailing her ship, whatever their reason might have been,
which seems to push Aqua farther into her delusions first as wronged princess,
and then as a stereotypical villainess.  Sousuke drily congratulates Akito on
getting his wish and battling against the evils of beautiful women (Akito isn't
amused), and Kazuma vows to make Aqua and her goon programs pay with interest
for her little trick.  Kurz is left to ponder how this beautiful rose not only
has thorns, but that they're poisoned too!

  In the middle of battle, we learn that Akito secretly harbored dreams of
  being a video game debugger (a geek's dream job?) all these years, which he
  never squarely owns up to...

Yurika isn't sorry at all to plunge Aqua's dreams into darkness, and is ready
to stand up to her any time she wants.  There might not be a rematch, given
that the police are currently breaking down her door for the serious crime
she's committed.  As she gets cut off, Duo asks the age old question "with
friends like this, who needs enemies?"

Of course, the rogue part-timers got a thorough tongue-lashing from Lady Une
and Taiga, as well as a prohibition against any further part-time work for a
long while.  In return, everyone has meal chits for the Nadesico's cafeteria,
including agent-in-training Kaname.  As for Aqua, Volfogg has learned that
she's the daughter of the Crimson Group's president.  Among her many misdeeds
are mixing anaesthetics into food at parties she throws, kidnapping famous
shoujo manga-ka to write manga only for her, and the like.  The only difference
between her and any other selfish, privileged brat is the amount of resources
she can draw upon.  Her little fairy tale fixation on Akito has caused the
Crimson Group more than a little grief.  There's some grief in store for Kazuma
too, since the kindly Mihiro told Noin and Mao where he's been.  As Mao drags
him off for more hellish training, Sousuke notes that Mao is doing him a huge
favor - untrained warriors make great cannon fodder.

To your people's dismay, Yurika and her "unique" sense of seasoning are holding
court in the kitchen while Akito discusses something with Ruri.  Kurz warns her
that if the way to a man's heart truly is through his stomach, Yurika may have
a long ways to go yet.  What Akito is doing is apologizing to Ruri for harming
Omoikane, which everyone knows is very precious to her.  He figures his own
ignorance is no excuse, and Ruri notes that its memories of her past time on
the Nadesico were indeed in jeopardy during the battle.  But tells Akito it's
okay.  Precious memories live in everyone's hearts: things they couldn't forget
even if they wanted to.  Such as Mars, and Akito's playmate Ai, for instance.
In any case, even when people forget certain memories, they go on being people
and making new ones, and that's precisely what Ruri and Omoikane plan to do.
She thanks Akito for protecting her and Omoikane, telling him that he's done
more than he might realize.  He renews his promise to come to her aid any time
she's in distress...


14. Sono Seimei, Ta Ga Tame Ni ("For Whose Sake Do You Live?")

Kazuma tells the ship's log that the weirdest September he's ever had is almost
over, and with it, the eerie silence the enemies have been maintaining.  He's
reached a milestone in his own training, with Noin and Mao giving him a passing
grade - for now at least.  The Wärter have been busy cementing their back-up
status, which is about to be enhanced further by the arrival of a new mech from
the Photon Power lab.  While Kouji and the others rejoice, it seems Princess
Fahra is not in good spirits.  Since she's already used to her life on Earth,
it's unclear what the problem is, but his sisters are starting to worry...

Elsewhere, Dr. Hell is going megalomaniacal over an ancient Mikeene relic he's
just brought back online.  Honeruba is glad she helped him unearth this new
mecha-beast, and Dr. Hell promptly hands it over to Ashura with instructions to
smite the hated Wärter once and for all.  As Ashura tenders the usual
henchpersonly assurances, Honeruba drily notes that it would be nice if Ashura
would walk the walk too once in a while.  Ashura furiously points out that the
Garura haven't exactly distinguished themselves in battle since coming to Earth
either.  Sadak (correctly) takes this as an insult against his emperor, but
Honeruba quiets him and allows that Ashura may have a point.  She figures the
time has come to carry out a plan to wipe out Fahra and the Go-Lion - and
unlike a certain meathead (i.e. Ashura), she formulates such plans well in
advance.  Dr. Hell apparently likes the sound of this, and tells Ashura that
his overreliance on Ashura is at an end.  Ashura's life will literally be
riding on this next mission's outcome.

Fahra is busy sharing her troubles with the Nadesico's captain, which might or
might not actually be a good idea.  Fahra is fretting over the fact that not
only is she not fighting for her cause, but her whole purpose for existing is
no longer clear to her.  Akito is there too, and suggests that she not rush
things - she's only been on Earth two months.  Yeah, and in those two months,
the Garura have already joined forces with Dr. Hell and wreaked havoc on a
global scale.  Unfortunately, neither of the people who gave Fahra the initial
courage to find her own raison d'etre seem capable of lighting her next step.
Yurika apologizes for not being more helpful, but Fahra assures her it's her
own fault for asking selfish questions.

Shirogane then shows up, telling Fahra that she is, indeed, being selfish.  The
princess' entourage of course take umbrage, but Shirogane tells them to butt
out.  It seems that when Mister "Succinct" talks, it's seldom comfortable for
the other party.  Fahra recovers her composure and asks how she's being
selfish, and he draws her attention to all the troubles the Earth is facing:
troubles your people have been busy fighting whether or not they want to.  It's
fine for her to worry - but she ought to be acting, as well.  He's not talking
about rebuilding Altea, but about defeating the Garura, which has to come first
anyway.  He informs her that she can't depend on others' help for this one: as
long as she does, she'll never find her own path across the battlefield.  She
is to honestly confront her own heart if she wants to find her own way of
fighting.  Raising her voice at last, she yells that she doesn't need him to
tell her that, and he responds with a question: what is her fondest wish?  That
would be restoring Altea to its former peaceful state, and it's clear who the
biggest obstacle is: the Garura emperor.  Since that's so simple, Shirogane
wants to know why Fahra's not fighting.  He mercilessly tells her that ever
since the day they all fled Altea, she's become afraid of battle, prompting her
to flee the room in tears.  Yurika carefully suggests to Raibul that since
Shirogane seems to be right on the mark, he might want to give the princess
some time to herself.  Hisu demands to know who Shirogane thinks he is to
address the princess so, and Shirogane tells her that he's the princess'
collaborator.  Certainly, he's never become a member of her entourage of
yes-men.

Hisu of course doesn't like to hear that.  Kogane meanwhile apologizes for
having Shirogane play bad cop, but Shirogane knows as well as he does that the
princess had to hear it from someone sooner or later.  He then explains to your
incredulous crew that the gentle, demure princess they know is not what Fahra
used to be like.  She used to yell at their pranks and charge right into battle
alongside the Go-Lion crew, only lapsing into this "princess"-like shell after
the flight from Altea.  This is a testament to the severe shock she received,
but these are times that won't permit someone of her royal blood from relying
on her kind heart alone.  So long as she and Go-Lion serve as a symbol to those
who resist the Garura, she's got to see her ideals through by force - a
responsibility all your people share in their own way.

Shirogane reminds the other Go-Lion pilots of the oath they swore, to lay down
their lives if need be to defeat the Garura.  He wants Fahra to regain the
resolve she showed when she founded the Leo Union, and hopes to see her face,
full of that fervor, once again.

Fahra has been wrestling with her feelings in a corner of the hangar, where she
runs into Sayaka.  Sayaka is the happy recipient of a new robot to pilot:
Vyunas A, which Yumi actually built to resemble Sayaka.  Fahra's eyes grow far
away, and she confesses to being a bit jealous of Sayaka's family.  Her own
father, King Raimon, fell in battle with the Garura when she was still very
young, and the two girls apologize for spoiling each other's mood.

Sayaka recovers quickly, and happily muses that with her new mech, she'll
finally be able to fight not behind Kouji, but by his side.  This has Fahra
thinking again, and she asks if Sayaka is ever afraid of battle, of the
immediate prospect of her or her loved ones getting hurt.  Sayaka is of course
quite scared: she knows full well that any mistake could prove fatal.  But
there's no way Sayaka could just watch the rest of her friends giving their all
from the sidelines.  Fahra realizes how deeply Sayaka cares for Kouji, but
before Sayaka can stammer too much, Kouji shows up and enlists her help to
unload the rest of the newly-arrived gear.  Before she goes, she tells Fahra
that she believes people can overcome their greatest fears for the right cause.
That might be justice, love, duty, or other such things depending on the
person, but everyone surely has something that can impel them to conquer their
fear.

However, a more immediate problem appears in the form of Gamia Q, whose mission
is assassinating Fahra.  Fortunately, Fahra is still in good enough shape to
dodge the first shot, and Kouji yells at her to flee.  Seeing Kouji's
interference, Gamia withdraws for now.  Kouji explains to Fahra that that was
one of Dr. Hell's killer androids - one that nearly claimed his own life before
he became Mazinger's pilot.  Likely this one snuck into the base amidst all the
chaos of the shipment of gear, and Sayaka tells Kouji that she's going off in
pursuit in her new mech.  Kouji agrees, telling her to be careful.

Sayaka wins the battle of the beauties in short order, but a combined force of
mecha-beasts and Garura is not far behind.  Sayaka plans to hold the bad guys
off while the rest of you sortie, which doesn't seem to worry Ashura too much.
Nor does the rapid approach of a large object under water: the Tuatha de
Danaan.  Ashura is about to find out how big a mistake this is, and Tessa tells
her crew to pummel the bad guys so hard they'll never want to fight again.

  Ashura has trouble believing Tessa could have designed such an amazing
  submarine - easily the equal of anything Dr. Hell has designed.  He wonders
  if Tessa is one of these rumored "Whispered", and Tessa will only say that
  it's her skills as a commander that bring the boat to its full potential.

It seems the Garura are taking a while executing on whatever their role in the
mission is.  Meanwhile, despite some disagreements on what order to ready all
the armaments, the maintenance crews are in full swing and your armada is
almost ready to go.  Fahra watches this organized chaos, fascinated, as Levin
tells her as gayly as possible that this is the battlefield mechanics tread on
every day.  Before the pilots get to fight, the mechanics have their own fight
first.  As Levin hurries back to work, the concept that everyone has their own
battlefield echoes in Fahra's mind.  Raibul then shows up to escort the
princess somewhere safe, followed in short order by... another Raibul! With the
jig up, Honeruba undoes the sorcery that made her resemble Raibul.

Her plan to take out the symbol of the Leo Union's resistance almost works,
until Shirogane throws his own body in the path of Honeruba's killing blast.
Honeruba is quick to deride this heroic gesture, pointing out that without him
Go-Lion is going nowhere slow.  Even without the princess dead, this should
spell the moral defeat of the Leo Union, and Honeruba vanishes, promising to
take the princess' life next time.  This gives you a chance to rush Shirogane
to the infirmary...

...while your forces pour forth.  Sousuke thanks Colonel Tessa for buying time,
and Tessa, in rather non-formal terms, tells Sousuke that she's just doing her
job.  As she tells him to give it his all, Mao realizes that Tessa may just be
falling for Sousuke...  Your people quickly explain why Go-Lion didn't sortie,
which Ashura seems to have figured out too.  He hopes to finish you off in one
fell stroke.

  With Honeruba's assurances that Go-Lion will never rise again, Ashura
  dispatches his new terror weapon to wipe out your base: Mystical Mecha-Beast
  Drago Turn-Omega 1!!! [look for it in an upcoming sentai series -_-].  As
  Ashura revels in the ensuing carnage, Honeruba can only shake her head and
  wonder why Ashura didn't just sortie the damn thing in the first place.  Not
  entirely surprising that the man-woman isn't the most definitive person in
  the world.  Just then, the five Lions sortie after all, seemingly putting the
  lie to the notion that Shirogane's been offed.  Shirogane tells Kogane to
  hurry, and as Drago menaces the base, the Go-Lion team combines.

  Kogane tells Ashura and Honeruba that your people will never succumb to their
  underhanded tactics.  He vows to kick the Garura off this planet, and to one
  day restore peace on Altea.  Fahra despairs for Shirogane, but Raibul warns
  her not to avert her gaze.  She must burn this, Shirogane's final battle,
  into her eyes.

  The Drago is worth a Chobham Armor and a Gunfight +1.  Though it ended up
  scrap like the other mecha-beasts, its level of ferocity leads you to suspect
  (correctly) that Dr. Hell has added some new and terrible knowledge to his
  arsenal.

  Ashura is worth an Aqua Module, a Propellant Tank, and a BP+1.  It takes
  Honeruba's promise to intercede with Dr. Hell to keep Ashura from voluntarily
  going down with the ship.  Tessa just hopes he's learned better than to try
  for world domination...

Turns out Shirogane has been fighting injured all this time, and is fading
fast.  His teammates eulogize him as best they can, as Kogane brings Go-Lion
back to base.  Meanwhile, Ashura cowers in fear as Dr. Hell prepares to take
his life as promised.  Ashura pleads with Honeruba to keep her promise, but
Honeruba smirks and says that when people like her get old, they tend to start
forgetting things.  Dr. Hell wants Ashura out of his sight, and has him thrown
into the underground dungeons, with Ashura protesting all the while that the
Garura aren't to be trusted...

As for Honeruba, Dr. Hell inquires what he should make of her failed
assassination of Fahra and the supposedly dead Shirogane's sortie.  She tells
him not to worry, that Shirogane's willpower of his failing body might have
been enough to sortie once, but surely never again.  All this means that Go-
Lion can never combine again, which already satisfies half of the reason the
Garura came to Earth.  All that remains is bumping Fahra off and bearing news
of the victory to Dai Bazarl.  Honeruba has not forgotten her promise that once
all that's done, the Garura will help make Dr. Hell's dreams of world
domination come true.  What Dr. Hell doesn't know is the interesting shred of
archaeology Honeruba found while digging up the Drago.  Definitely something
worth looking into once their other objectives are met...

Shirogane knew quite well that he was about to die, yet went to great effort
not only to sortie, but to show Honeruba how healthy he still was: no fear had
he of the death that awaited him.  Your people don't get to see one of their
own die very often, and emotions are running high.  Surely even most of you
couldn't have done what he did without hesitation: lay down their life for
another.  He is nothing if not a true Hero.

There is the little problem of how to work Go-Lion without a fifth pilot, but
Fahra steps up to the plate in rather short order to solve it...


15. "Go-Iro no Kusari, Gin-Iro no Yuusha" ("Five-Colored Chains, Gold-Colored
Hero")

A week after Shirogane's death, Kazuma reports to the log that life is starting
to return back to normal.  Though Kazuma had never talked one on one with
Shirogane, the weight of his presence was unmistakable.  Despite the
unfathomable shock the Go-Lion team sustained, they've spent the last week
training Fahra to make good on her promise to take Shirogane's place.  The
trouble is that the Blue Lion hasn't budged an inch since Shirogane died - and
so far Leo and Tessa haven't figured out why.

Fahra certainly isn't soft-pedaling the training, pushing herself to her very
limits and not shying away from Kogane's barked instructions.  The crew members
watching her progress are very impressed: her spirit and skills are at least as
good as they were on Altea.  The fact the Blue Lion remains inert is weighing
heavily on the other team members' minds, and is probably part of the reason
why Kogane is so relentless in pushing Fahra.  Gai, her designated coach, is in
the middle of advising her about her footing when landing when he staggers
himself - his G-Stone system seems to be showing the strain of this week of
exertion.  As he leaves Kogane in charge, Mikoto decides to check with Leo
about Gai's condition.

Leo is reporting to the command crew that the Blue Lion is currently a total
cipher.  Taiga takes this pragmatically, noting that if your collective
brainpower can't crack this one, no one else's could either.  The only other
avenue is to bring Liger and and Professor Kanzaki in on it, and Leo doubts
Liger will do anything more than wreck the Blue Lion.  Leo's been working with
Tessa on something to make up for the Go-Lion's current inability to transform,
and it's *not* putting "Silver" Hyuuma into the Blue Lion.  This plan will even
take some of the strain off Gai, who is going to suffer irreparable damage if
things go on as they are now.

Freeman wonders if Gai too has a ticking bomb within his body, and he agrees
with Tessa that Liger must be brought in on the Blue Lion problem.  Leo, no
fool, gruffly agrees.  Tessa meanwhile muses that if *that* doesn't work, she
and Kaname may have to resort to something drastic.  As fate would have it,
Liger has just radioed in with a message...

After her training finishes for the morning, Fahra heads to the cafeteria,
where your people continue to encourage her.  As Gai once said, the "lion" is a
symbol of bravery, the king of warriors apparently all across the galaxy.
Fahra notes that whoever created Galeon must have had the same aesthetics.  She
doesn't linger long, since she's actually got more training all afternoon.
Sousuke is trying to figure out how the princess went from avoiding battle to
full-out warrior in a matter of days, and Kurz says it's all revenge over the
man she loved dying.  Aki is quite sure that there was nothing like that
between Shirogane and Fahra, and Mao figures if anything it's a desire to atone
for Shirogane dying while protecting her.  Heero cuts in, stating that _if_
that's truly her motivation, it won't sustain her long.  Sousuke agrees, saying
that one needs something beyond a mere sense of duty to persist in battle.
Since it seems to be anger fueling Fahra's current spurt, Aki recommends not
trying to tell the princess that just now.  D-Boy weighs in too, noting that it
might almost be better if Fahra didn't have to become a combatant in this whole
mess.

She might not have much choice, since a dispatch order comes in from the
Northwest.  It seems Liger's report was about a bunch of human-like unknowns
who've been nosing around something in that direction.  Tekkamen?  Orgun?
Tekkaman Evil himself?  No one is sure, and at least Kaname isn't going to be
coming along to find out.  It's a short trip to Arizona for everyone except
Gai, who hasn't responded to Mamoru's G-Stone adjustment.  Leo doesn't want Gai
to sortie for now.  As for Fahra, she's come along for the ride regardless of
her de facto non-combatant status - but before Gai can talk to her about
that...

...the Radam attack, which would lend credence to the idea that it was a
Tekkaman that Liger spotted.  The only way to be sure is to kill your way
through these bad guys, and you can't afford to lose anyone in the process.
This will be a bit harder with both lions out of commission, but no one is
inclined to blame their pilots.  Fahra asks Gai what he was trying to say, but
he opts to save whatever it is until after the battle.

  As the battle wears on, an actual *person* makes their way to the edge of the
  combat zone, huffing and puffing from exertion.  Whoever it is is a) glad to
  finally meet you, and b) being pursued by not one, not two, but _three_
  Tekkamen.  Lucky for you the girl is D-Boy's sister Miyuki, but she seems in
  rather poor shape and liable to fall under the enemy Tekkamen's fire unless
  you do something quick.  Blade quickly tells you that Rapier is on your side.
  Bless thinks quickly, and declares that the enemy of your enemy is your
  friend, and orders everyone to protect her, touching off a competition among
  your ladykiller types who'll get to guard her first.

  Sadly, it won't be that easy.  Penchinon and a passel of Zondar show up,
  intent on grabbing the ailing Tekkaman for themselves.  Penchinon helpfully
  informs you that the Tek System is the armor the Radam developed to keep
  themselves from being Mechanized, but adds that in her weakened state, Rapier
  will be unable to avoid succumbing to Zondar Metal.  Miyuki quickly
  Zondarizes, but the other Tekkamen have started whaling on the Zondar in the
  meanwhile.  It's pretty clear that Miyuki is in the same boat as D-Boy as a
  traitor to the Radam cause, but saving her from this three-way fragdown won't
  be easy.

  Ines assures that Miyuki _is_ still alive in any case.  She can't have fully
  merged with the Zondar around her, or her experimental value to the
  Zondarians wouldn't amount to much.  In short, you've got to pull out the
  Zondar core just as normal, but the only one who can do that... is about to
  step onto the battlefield despite his ailing health.  Fahra sees Shirogane's
  determination reflected in Gai's unshakable will to fight for what's right.
  As she ponders this, he tells her that so long as she thinks of herself as
  Shirogane's replacement, she'll never be able to fight.  Fighting isn't a
  duty or a mission - it's proof of human courage!  He tells her to remember
  what it's like to fight for her own sake, on her own terms.  It seems Gai's
  speech has roused Galeon, at least...

  Gai steps proudly onto the battlefield, though he admits that he's in pretty
  lousy shape and figures he's only good for one Hell and Heaven.  The rest of
  your crew assure him that they'll give him that shot at saving D-Boy's
  sister.  In the process, you've got to block the other Tekkamen from getting
  to Miyuki, or it'll be all over.

  As the battle proceeds, the other Lion pilots are getting fed up and are
  ready to sortie even if they can't combine.  Fahra is willing to stay here
  and guard Mamoru, who'll be needed once the Core is removed.  Mamoru assures
  Fahra that your people won't lose to the Radam or Zondar, but when he pats
  the Blue Lion to tell it to keep resting easy, it actually responds to him!
  Up from it floats an image, as though of an angel in prayer, which in turn
  reveals Honeruba!  She's been hiding out ever since her failed assassination
  attempt took Shirogane's life, and is overjoyed to have witnessed part of
  Go-Lion's secrets.  And now that she's sure Shirogane is truly dead, she
  tries to take Fahra's life next.

  Mamoru is able to protect her, revealing himself in the process to be the
  inheritor of the Lion's legacy.  Honeruba plans to punish him for getting in
  her way, and Mamoru can't withstand her sorcerous flames for long.  But with
  the Blue Lion functional, Fahra charges onto the scene and uses her Lion's
  water powers to extinguish the flame.  She orders Honeruba to return to Dai
  Bazarl, and inform him that Fahra is going to personally see to it that the
  evil of the Garura is laid low.  Go-Lion then combines, and Honeruba retreats
  with many a spiteful word for your people.  Mamoru, safe again, heads back
  into the ship as Fahra exhorts Kogane to get their butt back to the business
  of saving D-Boy's sister.  It seems the Wärter have just gained a
  full-fledged warrior woman!

  When your people tangle with the Tekkamen, they'll be very impressed (or
  annoyed) at just how maneuverable and powerful they really are.  Heero in
  particular notes that they're even more maneuverable than the Wing Zero -
  however, he can ask the Zero System to anticipate where they'll be next and
  keep the heat on.

  Tekkaman Lance is worth a Hovercraft.  Lance isn't too reluctant to pull out,
  implying that Miyuki is finished sooner or later anyway.  Axe is worth a Dust
  Filter.  He chuckles and tells "Young Master Takaya" that he only came here
  today to catch a glimpse of his face.  The next time they meet, he'll take
  his whole head!  Sword is worth a Flight Unit.  He answers Blade's worst
  fears: now that all these Tekkaman are revived, Lord Omega's plans are in
  motion.  This whole planet will be Radam fodder in short order.

  EI-15 is worth an A-Adaptor, a Cartridge, and a Support Defense +1.  Miyuki's
  signature is fading fast, and Gai gamely readies himself for Hell and Heaven.
  But Mikoto screams for him not to, frantically saying that he's sustained
  more damage in the battle than his body can handle.  Try the technique, and
  Gai and Gaogaigar will surely disintegrate.

  Gai's going to go through with it anyway, fully aware of the shock to his
  system created when the G-Stone's offensive and defensive powers are merged
  in an instant.  This is his chosen fight after all, and Gai brushes off
  D-Boy's pleas not to sacrifice himself.  He's got faith that a strong heart
  will find a way, and yells to D-Boy to let him hear the cry of his soul.

  As Gai revs up to smite the reviving EI-15, something flies through the sky
  toward you: Goldymarg!  Introductions get postponed, and Gai gets to use
  Goldy as a new, more durable hand with which to use... the Goldion Hammer!!!
  [Hatsudou... shou... nin!!]

Miyuki is safe in Gai's hand, and your people marvel at the incredible power
Goldy brings to the table: a gravitational wave that can turn an enemy into
pure light.  Penchinon is furious that you've stolen his sample, but he's got
bigger problems to worry about when Big Volfogg sets off in pursuit.  Penchinon
vows that the next time they meet will be Volfogg's last, though of course he
won't say why.  D-Boy tells Gai that he's in his debt, but Gai says that
today's victory belongs to all - especially to D-Boy, whose cry made it
possible.  And it's now clear that Fahra has found her place on the
battlefield.

Indeed: no amount of wishing could bring Shirogane back.  Therefore, Fahra
needs to fight not for his sake, but for her own - to be a comrade in her own
right.  She's now found her resolve, both as an individual and as the leader of
the Leo Union, to bring the fight to the Garura.  What she doesn't know is how
the Blue Lion came back to life; it's clear you don't know everything about
Go-Lion yet.  Fahra privately suspects that it may be somehow connected to who
or whatever is furnishing Mamoru his powers.  But if so, what was that
goddess-like image they saw?

Gai is doing just fine, thanks to Goldymarg making it.  Goldy's official name
is the "Gravity Shockwave Generating Tool", the ultimate in the Tool series and
designed specifically to protect Gaogaigar.  Goldymarg's somewhat brusque
personality was modeled on Hyuuma's personality at the last minute: brave to be
sure, but perhaps a bit simple in the head.  Apparently this is the sort of
manly robot Akane likes, and she's rather too eager to give him a _full_body_
oil job.

As for Miyuki, she's been taken aboard the Nadesico, suffering from extreme
weakness.  The cat is now out of the bag about D-Boy and his family.  His
proper name is Aiba Takaya, and Bless figures that D-Boy never actually lost
his memory in the first place.  He asks quite firmly what happened aboard the
Cygnalite Project's ship Argos, one of the vessels investigating the black hole
X-1 in the Cygnus constellation.  Ruri explains that this was mankind's first
major interstellar expedition, with which contact was lost quite some time ago.
D-Boy doesn't look very willing to talk about what he knows, but Bless is quite
firm that he _will_ have to do so as soon as they reach the GGG Americas base.

Pasdar is upset that Penchinon failed to get the Tekkaman, but Pizza and
Primada tell him not to worry: their plans are already in their final stages.
Pasdar isn't convinced: the Tekkamen and their ability to resist the Zondar
have been evolving over the last N years.  They constitute a major unknown in
the plan.  Polonaise figures he's got just the thing: something he and Primada
will construct that no one and nothing can possibly withstand.  Pasdar tells
them to hurry: the final stage of the plan will begin as soon as they're ready.
He tells all the weak-hearted people of Earth that the time is fast approaching
for them to receive his power...


16. Tozasareta Futari ("Two, Enclosed")

The secret is out about Takaya's participation in the Cygnalite Project, tipped
by the fact that Gai and Shirogane, all former astronauts, thought they
remembered his face from somewhere.  D-Boy also has a spaceman-ly way about his
walk, and to date has not wanted his past known, as far as Bless and the others
figure.  After a moment's further hesitation and a brief attempt to defend him
by Aki, he *asks* to tell what happened to him, in homage of sorts to the
people who helped save his sister.

He is indeed Aiba Takaya, former crewman aboard the Algos, number two ship in
the Cygnalite Fleet.  He and his siblings were part of the mission to
investigate black hole "X-1", and with the flagship Cygnalite managed to get
close to it.  At that point, they encountered a vessel from an unknown, alien
culture: the fabled "First Contact".  With no response from the ship, Takaya
and the others approached and entered the ship, but waiting within were... The
Radam, the devils who altered Takaya and his family's lives forever.  It's not
clear if the ship was actually of Radam origin, but the entire boarding party
were made prisoners of the Tek System, an apparatus that embeds a living being
as the core of a Tekkaman.

This clever trap seems especially geared towards human psychology, and just
hearing about it is enough to make Kouji want to punch something.  The last
sight D-Boy saw was the Cygnalite, under Radam attack, being swallowed by the
black hole.  Thus began his darkest nightmare: his family being torn apart.
For instance, Takaya relates that Tekkaman Dagger is really Fritz von Braun,
though the real Fritz died the moment the Radam took over his mind.  He
describes how not all people have the right makeup to properly combine with the
Tek System: those of his crewmates who were found wanting or who tried to
resist were killed on the spot.  Those remaining had Radam knowledge and
memories implanted in their brains, to make them faithful warriors.

Takaya's escape from this regime was made possible by his father Kouza, an
astrophysicist eminent enough to serve as the Argos' captain.  Kouza emerged,
or rather was rejected, by the Tek System before D-Boy, and used his last
strength to wrench D-Boy free and stuff him into an escape pod, bound for
Earth.  This meant that Miyuki and all the rest remained behind, at the mercy
of the system.  The red-colored Tekkaman Evil was none other than Takaya's twin
brother, Shinya, though now he's a hateful agent of the Radam.  Takaya views it
as his mission to slay his former friends and family with his own hands -
leaving behind his own name in the process.

This is a tale of woe surpassing even Liger's expectations.  D-Boy adds that
his father was able to self-destruct the Argos just after it and the Radam ship
had warped near to Jupiter, his final act to delay the Radam invasion of Earth
even a second longer.  The Radam apparently made it to Earth anyway, and the
rest is history.  D-Boy actually arrived after the Radam invasion had already
begun, and started fighting them straight off.  Slaying his friends and former
family is the only thing he can do for them, he thinks, but just then Miyuki
shows up.  She's there just long enough to a) tell D-Boy not to shoulder the
entire burden alone, and b) collapse to the floor unconscious.  It's a sad
enough scene that Aki begins to cry on D-Boy's behalf.  Liger has more concrete
help to offer: not only will he personally see to Miyuki's care, he'll use all
the Radam data gathered at this Salt Lake base to figure out how she was able
to escape Radam control in the first place.

Two weeks pass.  At Takaya's request, everyone is back to calling him D-Boy.
Miyuki is very slowly convalescing, thanks to Liger's scientific prowess: far
greater than it looks like he should have.  The Radam haven't attacked, whether
out of ignorance or indifference of Miyuki's presence, and your people
definitely appreciate the "oversight".  The Zondar are keeping quiet too, which
is rather worrisome given their words from a month ago.  Though your people
have kept busy preparing for the inevitable enemy assault, Kazuma is taking the
day off - much like God once did on the seventh day.  Not, he quickly learns,
if Noin has anything to say about it.  It seems Mao is busy duking it out with
Tessa over a certain matter, so she's been placed in charge of the young
Trailer for the day.  As dates go, Noin's plans for aerial lightning strike
practice don't sound thrilling, especially since they will keep Kazuma from
seeing the aforementioned match.  Noin asks why he wants to see a battle whose
outcome is already clear... or perhaps he's so indecent he actually wants to
see the punishment play that comes afterwards?  As Kazuma sighs and accepts his
fate, he asks if Noin actually has anyone to take her on proper dates on her
days off.  Grimacing, she tells him that's none of his business, and Kazuma
realizes he's just stepped on a huge landmine - training is going to be hell.

Meanwhile, some of your people are out sightseeing in Tokyo, the first time
some have been back in quite a while.  The weather is perfect for Fall, but
Sousuke is sweating it out under a mountain of goodies the ladies have been
buying.  He grouses a bit that they should have asked Kurz, who would normally
have lept at the chance to hobnob with the ladies.  Kurz in fact turned them
down, preferring to watch the mock combat between Mao and Tessa to settle some
pointless argument they're having.  They plan to use AS's, and if the colonel
loses, she's agreed to run a lap around the base, naked.  Kaname hasn't
actually realized that "Colonel Testarossa" is a young, beautiful woman, and
Shihomi can't wait to see the look on her face when she learns the truth.
Mihiro suspects that Sousuke actually wanted to watch it too, recalling how her
brother was up all night in anticipation running around the base.  Sousuke is
in fact not interested in the slightest, since it's obvious to him who will
win.  This is bad news for Kouji and Boss, who already got slapped by Sayaka
for getting their cameras ready.  Sousuke rather doubts that Mao would actually
make Tessa go through with the punishment play, and would rather keep his
promise to go shopping with Kaname on their day off.  This is a level of
dependability that Shihomi wishes Kazuma would learn from, though Mihiro can do
without Kazuma running around with a sidearm.

Just then the gang run into Mamoru and Hana-chan, making Kaname's expression
immediately falter.  She explains somewhat shamefacedly that every time this
pattern occurs, the fan and the excrement are never far apart.  More puzzling,
Hana-chan seems genuinely jealous of Mihiro, who knows Mamoru via their
parents' work.  Mamoru tells your folks that his whole class is here on a
social studies field trip, and Kaname wonders if the unsociable Kaidou is
around too.  Before he can answer, Sousuke cautions your group that something
is out of place.  Air-raid sirens erupt, and Kaname growls that her fears about
their vacation were right on the button.

It's the Radam, with Evil in command.  They've come seeking a source of Zondar
energy that's expanded massively over the last few days, and Evil figures this
may be where the final battle between their two sides really begins.  The JSDF
show up en masse, but Akagi's proud Renba Red Dragons can't do a damn against a
foe like this.  At least Akagi is smart enough to realize that real battles
aren't as easy as TV makes them seem, and orders his men to pull out before
things get any worse.  Unfortunately, the warning comes too late, and the
entire squad gets wiped out.

Fortunately Kazuma and D-Boy are close at hand, well ahead of the rest of your
forces.  Evil asks if D-Boy has finished saying his goodbyes to his sister, or
whether her body has already hit its limits.  The Zondarians observe the Radam
arrival, thinking they're too late to stop the plan in progress.  Polonaise
thinks they're about to start a journey that has no end, and Primada is getting
turned on by the delicious odor of exhaust and the sound of the engines.  As
she gets ready for departure, Kazuma has Carret fill in for Mihiro as
navigator.  But before battle starts, Carret detects some kind of energy coming
from the train line encircling Tokyo...

It seems Polonaise and Primada's plan is working perfectly.  Though there are
some Radam inside the ring, they should pose no threat in Penchinon's view.
The barrier should be utterly unbreachable by anyone outside, and in case
anyone does, Pizza is on standby.  The plan is to use Tokyo as the site of the
Zondar Metal Plant, and with it to Mechanize the entire blue planet.  Time for
the weaklings at heart to receive Pasdar's powers...

The GGG are understandably panicked by this turn of events, which Mamoru's
final transmission before the barrier formed reveals to be the work of the
Zondar.  The GGG know well enough what the Zondar hope to accomplish, but how
to breach the ultra-electromagnetic barrier from the outside is anyone's guess.
There are ten million people within the barrier's confines, completely cut off
from all directions - and as a result your people dare not try too hard to
break the barrier lest they all perish too.  While the scientists continue
their analysis and the military stands by, your only hope is to count on those
inside to save the day.  Tessa in particular is counting on Sousuke to keep
Kaname safe.

Inside the dome of light, strange purple plants have been sprouting up: of
Zondar origin, not Radam.  Mamoru feels Zondar energy from all around, and
D-Boy's been feeling some kind of response inside his body as well.  All
contact with the outside world is severed, but there are potential allies from
within: Shinya himself!  As Shinya starts proposing a temporary truce, Kaname
begins to count the barrier layers, getting up to four as Sousuke marvels at
the repetition of what happened during the hijacking.  She sees ultra-EM in the
ground-level aurora, elevated oxygen concentration, transposition of thermal
radiation in a kind of superdimensional pod, and finally, the arrival of that
heat at a subterranean sun: "Grand Nova".  Still in a trance, she tells Sousuke
to hurry and destroy the Zondar Metal Plant: the true nature of her Whispered
powers revealed at last.

The Zondarians make quick work of the Radam critters.  Shinya reminds you all
that the Radam and Zondar are at odds, and says the Radam would be rather
inconvenienced if the Zondar Mechanize the world now.  Kazuma figures that
Shinya will turn on your people as soon as the Zondar are out of the way, and
Shinya agrees with surprising matter-of-factness.  He figures the Earthlings
have two choices: be Mechanized, or Radmaformed.  Kazuma isn't having either,
but everyone else tells him to cool it, Sousuke noting that escaping this
present mess is job one.  He's got to get Kaname's information to the
scientists outside, and D-Boy is smart enough to know that Shinya's words have
merit.  The two will worry about killing each other later, and Shinya doesn't
appreciate the Trailers trying to psychoanalyze how his love for his brother
has been twisted into hate.

To break out of this mess, you have to go after the two Zondar that are
creating the barrier - at the same time.  That will fall to the Tekkamen, and
Kazuma's job will be to send the information outside the moment the Zondar are
disrupted.  Your only choice is to bet on the scientists, and hope that D-Boy
and Shinya don't kill each other before a solution is found.  The two of them
are in their own little world of love and hate, which no others can intrude
into.  Sousuke will keep Kaname safe in the meantime, which will be tough given
how badly the Zondarians want to keep the nascent Plant safe.  Shinya remembers
what it used to be like playing with his brother, and tells him this will be
their first and last joint battle.

  Damage both key Zondar in the same turn and the message will get out.  Now
  that they know what you're after, they won't let you get away with it again.
  They regenerate, and Primada vows to rip out the Tekkamen's Tek Systems and
  Mechanize whatever is left.

  Wipe out all the other small fry and your forces outside will handily take
  down the four-layer barrier, acting quickly to keep it from being re-
  erected.  Gai smacks down Polonaise, and the two Tekkamen blast Primada.
  Sousuke reports that Kaname is physically uninjured, and will give his full
  report later.  Mamoru leaves him to protect Kaname, saying that the bad
  feeling he's been having all this time is getting stronger.  Somewhere around
  here is a terrifying foe such as you've never faced before.

  Wiping out the various barriers was possible through the various skills of
  your team, and even Pizza hadn't forseen such an impressive, synchronized
  show of force.  Evil, meanwhile, doesn't want to settle the score with Blade
  just yet, preferring instead to look forward to a certain sight in the near
  future.  He mockingly says that he trusts you all to handle things here, and
  your people gird their loins for a full-scale fragdown with the four Kings of
  the Zondar.  Meanwhile, the aforementioned Kaidou looks on from the
  shadows...

  Pizza is worth a Chobham Armor and an Infight +1.  He can't believe that he
  could be defeated in the open skies, but Gai points out that Pizza isn't the
  only one who entrusted his life to the sky.  Gai is sure that Pizza can't
  understand what "yuuki" is about, and as Pizza ponders the words "mechanized"
  and "courage", he recalls the deeds he once did on the Red Planet.  D-Boy
  remembers the name "Red Planet", and as Pizza's monstrous form collapses, it
  seems that he suddenly remembers who he truly is...

  Primada is worth a Servo Motor and a Counter, and she can't believe that such
  an inferior robot as yours spelled her doom.  Polonaise cries for her to flee
  while she still can and leave the rest to him.  He's worth a High Performance
  Radar and a Inner Strength +1.

  Penchinon is worth a Booster and a Support Request +1.  He explodes,
  lamenting that he hasn't yet completed his mission.  His devotion, even in an
  enemy, greatly impresses Volfogg.  Mamoru is near the Tokyo Tower, and the
  last transmission you hear from him is a terrified scream - best bet is that
  his bad feeling hasn't yet come to pass...

Beneath Tokyo Tower is a vast, hollowed-out cave.  As your people advance
towards where Mamoru's signal emanates, a figure steps out of the shadows,
seemingly pleased you've come.  It's Pizza, and D-Boy yells at the last moment
not to finish him off.  He simply can't bring himself to do it... not when
Pizza is about to recover his memories of the past.  He explains that Pizza is
the shell of a man, taken over by the Zondar just as he was by the Radam.
Pizza acknowledges his kinship with D-Boy as a massive artificial earthquake
erupts.  It's centered somewhere nearby, and Pizza tells Gai, the cyborg, to
hurry - lest matters tip past the point of no return...


17. Saraba Yuusha-tachi!  Toukyou Dai-Kessen  ("Farewell to the Heroes!  The
Last Great Battle for Tokyo")

Things get rolling when Tokyo Tower rather abruptly vanishes, apparently
swallowed up by that earthquake.  What rises in its place is a massive monster
- too big for words to really capture.  Numbers can capture the fact that it's
over 300 meters tall, and Volfogg's visual records leave no doubt as to its
identity: the object which crashed to Earth two years ago: EI-01!! This is the
source of all your Zondar problems, and unless you overcome your fear and face
it Earth and all mankind are history.

Pasdar informs the weak-hearted humans that the time has come, gloating that
you all shall now feel the fear you yourselves invited close.  EI-01 emits a
burst of Zondar energy, which nearly overwhelms the anti-Zondar devices that
are keeping all your mecha from joining the bad guys' side on the spot.  The
bad news is that EI-01 can likely keep up the energy emissions longer than your
mecha's anti-Zondar generators, and your entire force is basically paralyzed.

There's only one person who can move right now: Mamoru, or as EI-01 likes to
call him, "The destruction machine of Cain's making".  Pasdar has better things
to do than admire the glowing boy, and has Polonaise and Primada, still alive
after their Metal Plant offspring got trashed and looking for revenge, try to
wipe Mamoru out.  But interference comes from an unexpected source: Pizza, who
implores his former comrades to recall their real memories.  Polonaise realizes
what's happened to Pizza, who defiantly tells Pasdar that as a warrior, all
this time he's merely been searching for the best place to die.  He thanks Gai
and D-Boy for reminding him of this critical fact.  Polonaise urges his wife
Primada to join him in purging their sins, and together with Pizza (not his
actual name), they bodily ram Pasdar, weakening his energy output.  Now's your
chance, and Gai makes sure Mamoru goes somewhere safe - and as Kazuma says, to
get some popcorn to watch your people prevail.  A few extra small fry Zondar
won't deter you now.

  As battle proceeds, Pasdar gets his full power back, once again paralyzing
  your troops.  At that moment, Evil appears, thanking your helpless forces for
  making this place the Beginning.  He commands all the Radam trees in Tokyo to
  blossom, which they do... and then start grabbing random passers-by! This is
  the Tek System in action, and it's being powered by none other than Zondar
  energy.  This is an emergency response that the Radam recently engineered,
  and includes an interesting Zondar neutralization field as a side bonus.
  Neat for the Radam, hell for your people, in particular for D-Boy, since the
  cease-fire in the previous battle seems to have led directly to this sorry
  state of affairs.

  Now you've got the seemingly impossible task of defeating the Radam and the
  Zondar, AND saving the people of Tokyo to boot.  Frankly, it seems
  impossible, but D-Boy will go for it anyway, and the cry of his soul seems to
  have found an ally: Orgun.  He wastes few words, and proves that he's on your
  side by trashing a bunch of the Radam, as all born unto the Eviluders must if
  given the chance.  Pasdar plans to wipe out all the Radam trees and rebuild
  the Zondar Metal Plant (natch), so you've still got your work cut out for
  you.  And here's the added bonus: he wants to make you all Zondarians to
  replace Pizza.  In desperation, Gai calls for Taiga to dispatch Shell X and
  tells everyone to hang on just a little longer until new hope arrives.

  Pound on Pasdar for a while and he'll declare that it'll take more than this
  to defeat him.  He heals fully, and your people are really starting to get
  desperate.  It won't do to simply burn down the menacing Radam trees, lest
  those already inside get killed too.  D-Boy says they might be better off
  dead than controlled by the Radam, and is willing to play the role of demon
  if that's what it takes to stop the Radam.  Rapier then strides onto the
  battlefield, telling D-Boy to wait and vowing to Shinya nee Evil that she'll
  stop the trees blooming herself.  She delivers a present from Liger to Mike:
  Disc X!  Its amazing power starts destroying the Radam flowers, leaving the
  people inside unharmed.  Apparently this works via a Solitary Wave
  *precisely* tuned to match the subatomic frequency of its chosen target, much
  like an electric stove that only heats the water on it.  It is this
  incredible feat of engineering that motivated Freeman and Liger to be all
  exchanging secrets in the shadows.

  Rapier shouts that Evil is next, but he reminds her that there are Radam
  trees all over the world: it'll take more than this to stop the invasion.  He
  leaves you all to duke it out with EI-01.  Hyuuma will worry about collecting
  all the people who the Radam trees got, and Rapier insists on fighting
  alongside her brother, "incomplete" or no.  Oh, one little problem though:
  without the Radam trees, how will you neutralize Pasdar's energy?

  The answer flies in from above: Shell X!  It doesn't precisely look like a
  secret weapon, and Pasdar wastes no time in trying to blast it.  Bless orders
  the Valstork into the path of the beam, preferring to sacrifice the ship than
  everyone else's hope.  At the last minute, an unseen ally gets in the way of
  the blast - another user of Cain's Legacy.  The pilot, whoever she is, says
  there's no time to talk but is clearly on your side.

  Gai takes the opportunity and calls the Hero robots inside Shell X, reminding
  them what it will demand of them.  Volfogg says that a hero could wish for
  nothing more, and in a burst of G-Power, the Heroes begin to glow green.  The
  new pilot says that they've just used a G-Booster to release the power of
  their G-Stones, more than the GS-Ride normally emits.  Kazuma goes "Hey, you,
  how do you know that?!", and the girl yells back not to call her "hey you".
  Gaogaigar's blow against EI-01 is fearsome indeed, and the girl says that
  this is a war of attrition, to see which side as deeper reserves of power to
  withstand the mutual neutralization at work.

  As he fights, Orgun says that there's something on Earth that both the Radam
  and Zondar lost.  And until he gets his hands on it, he'll never stop
  fighting.

  EI-01 is worth a Super-Alloy Z, a Trident-yaki, and an Initial Morale +2.  So
  much for the mechanical kingdom.  Orgun tells Blade that he can't answer his
  questions now, but the day might just come when the two of them can fight as
  allies.  The knowledgeable female pilot also takes off, sure you all will see
  her again.  She especially bids goodbye to Mihiro.

Now for the bad news: it certainly appears that by overdriving their G-Stones,
the Heroes have burnt themselves to ash - a heroic sacrifice, and the best
course of action anyone could have taken.  No sooner does the grieving process
begin than Mamoru _and_Go-Lion_ start crying.  The result: the Heroes aren't
quite dead yet after all.  This, in the end, is their true power: making the
impossible possible.

With the destruction of the original Zondar and the annihilation of the Tokyo
Zondar Metal Plant, the Zondar menace is basically over.  Mikoto thanks Gai
profusely for ending the nightmare that started two years ago with the
crash-landing of EI-01 and the deaths of her parents.  Gai in return thanks her
for being with him all this time - without her, he doubts he could have gone on
fighting this long.  Leo meanwhile is willing to overlook his brother's
braggadocio this once in gratitude for taking out the Radam trees.  Both
anti-Radam and anti-Zondar disks are now in production, though this effort
requires incredible amounts of time and labor.

Freeman apologizes to Taiga for leaking the Radam data to Liger, but Taiga
quotes him an old saying by way of showing there's no hard feelings: "Before
you can fool your enemies, you must first fool your friends."  He knows full
well that Freeman was actually running a Statue of Liberty play, keeping the
military distracted while he and Liger got the actual work done.  They'll have
a new helper: Miyuki plans to stay at the America base, her body now stabilized
thanks to Liger's scientific knowhow.  She hopes to help with the mass-
production of Disk X, part of a plan to wither the remaining Radam trees all
over the world before they too start to bloom.  D-Boy tells her to leave the
direct Radam combat to him, and she cautions that her Radam memories tell her
of a new foe to come: the "Master Program".  She's not sure what that means,
but it can't be good.

Kaname finally regains consciousness in the Bay Tower infirmary, having missed
most of the Zondar action.  The victory is basically thanks to her information,
but she can't remember anything from around the time she blacked out.  Sousuke
tells her that the colonel wants to talk to her tomorrow, and asks her to make
some free time.  Kaname reluctantly agrees, still not knowing who Tessa is, and
accepts a little gift from Sousuke: a pair of earrings.  Your people start to
raise their opinion of Sousuke when they suspect that that's why he actually
went along on the shopping trip, and rises further when he tells everyone that
he actually made them himself.  By hand.  Even Kaname is impressed, but she
pales when Sousuke warns that the explosive in them could blow a lightly
armored mech like an AS clean away if she's not careful.  He tells her that he
was furious with himself for this latest mess, and figured he had to ensure
Kaname was better protected.  Kaname responds by decking him squarely with a
get-well bouquet (proving she's physically alright), and demands to know what
kind of alternate universe has high school girls wandering around with
explosives hanging off.  She storms out, saying that she doesn't want to see
Sousuke for a long time, and Sousuke's value among the others seems to be back
in the dumps.  He wonders if he should have made a ring instead, and Sayaka
lightly suggests that that could have made things radically worse yet.  Ryouma
counsels Sousuke to make up with Kaname quickly, before your next tribulation
arrives.

In space, a mysterious figure is scanning over the keywords related to the mess
on Earth: Radam, Eviluder, Cain's destruction machine, the Green Planet's
legacy, Wärter...  All information gathering is now complete.


18. Higeki no WAN NAITO SUTANDO ("The Tragic One Night Stand")

Come to find out that Miyuki hasn't been entirely square with her brother about
the state of her body - all in the interest of not worrying him of course.
Liger wasn't going to be the one to break the news, and promises her that
somehow or other, he will figure out how to save her from her fate.  Adding
that she's just like his 29th daughter, his eyes gleam with a mixture of
mischief and irony as he says that she would have done just fine as his eighth
wife.  Before this has a chance to get back to Renée and raise a rumpus, a new
challenger appears, streaking towards their transport and apparently blowing
the crap out of it...

Meanwhile, Kazuma tells the ship's log of D-Boy's immense relief at seeing his
sister okay, even if only briefly.  Your dudes haven't had any major dispatches
since hosing the Zondar leader, and no real clues about who your mysterious
benefactor during the fight was.  Despite this person apparently knowing
Mihiro, Bless has no ideas who it could be - and any rumors about it being some
secret love child of his were quashed with unusual vigor by Taiga and company.
In other news, the mock combat between Mao and Tessa has been rescheduled for
next Sunday, and this time Kazuma plans to attend - camera in hand.  One person
unable to attend this divine spectacle is Heero, who will be busy guarding
Relena's visit to Tokyo.  Relena's good and all, but Kazuma wouldn't miss
Tessa's remorseful "punishment" for the world.

Kaname hasn't spoken to Sousuke for the past week, incensed chiefly that the
earring incident _wasn't_ out of any malice of his.  The more experienced guys
in your crew figure what she's really looking for is the right opportunity to
make up, but she swears on God the Most High that that's not the case.  Said
guys, Kurz and Akatsuki, are killing some time until a night of group dating
that Akatsuki set up - and they're looking for a third.  Ryouma manages not to
stammer too badly when turning down their offer, forcing them to try to find
Noal instead.  Ryou is actually less uptight than most of your team thinks he
is, but the days when girls used to talk to him incessantly in school have been
pretty much put on hold.  The pressure on Kaname to reopen romantic channels
with Sousuke keeps ratcheting up until she can't stand it any longer, leaving
in a huff and not paying her bill either.  Your crew can only hope that she
takes advantage of being alone to go find Sousuke... so they can spy on their
make up scene.

What this actually sets the stage for is Kaname's meeting with Tessa, who she
finds finishing a shower at Sousuke's apartment.  That she is Sousuke's
"colonel" is of course not something she bargained for.  Tessa doesn't help
things by playing dumb and not explaining herself crisply.  Of course Kaname
runs off in a deeper huff, and of course it turns out that Tessa actually
orchestrated the whole thing...

Tessa gets called in abruptly by her second in command.  They seized a young
man at Narita airport, whose passport claims he's Kugayama Takuma.  It seems he
burst out with some kind of gibberish and slugged one of the airport guards.
Takuma explains that their neckties were crooked, but what put all this into
Mithril territory is that Heero, who had been stationed at the airport in
secret, ran a narcotics check on the man's blood.  In his blood was "Ti971", a
substance on Mithril's hot list for its part in activation of the Lambda Driver
system.  This man has clearly been conditioned to use it, but whether that
conditioning worked or not is unclear.  Heero realizes that this implies the
existence of at least a third group of people with the Lambda technology
(besides Mithril and whoever hijacked the plane), unless the guy comes from
whoever gave the hijackers their backing.  At the very least, it proves that
there's another organization out there with at least as much technical know-
how as Mithril, and that's already a bad thing.  Perhaps it's also the parent
group of A21, an armed terrorist group formed after the last round of
revolutionary war.  Whoever it is, it seems they've got some support in the
Japanese government from some of the clues Mithril has unearthed so far.

Takuma is sure that his sister will come and save him, no matter how heavy the
guard is.  His words rapidly come true, when some of the mecha who backed up
the hijacking slice their way through the guards at this supposedly secret
government base.  The ease with which the raid occurred seems to substantiate
the theory that the young man is a Lambda pilot.  Meanwhile, Kaname has been
prowling the halls of her school, furiously cleaning in an attempt to blow off
her anger at Sousuke.  It hasn't been working much, and as she works her way
down the hall, she notices someone lurking in the shadows.  When Heero shows
himself, he's so deadpan that she temporarily mistakes him for a school ghost.
A ghost would be easier to explain than the poker-faced Gundam pilot, Sousuke's
beautiful "girlfriend", and some guy in pajamas.  While Heero explains...

...Kalinin wakes up in the base of the terrorists who attacked the lab.  Seina
is duly impressed at his diversion that let the other two escape with the boy,
and knows full well that there's no useful information she can squeeze out of
him.  She had wanted to chat with him anyway, and Kalinin's guess that she's a
A21 commander proves right on.  To explain how A21 is organized, she starts
with Treize Khrushinada, a seminal hero whose name is known to all Earthlings.
Said hero made his army by sharking up a list of lawless resolutes, as it were,
from all over Japan.  Both she and Takuma were among those resolutes, not
especially bothered about becoming soldiers given Japan's long history free
from fighting.  Before long, they found themselves engaged in piracy and other
crimes, and when Trieze perished in the middle of their training they had
nothing else to fall back on.  Though she ended up as a terrorist, she figures
that Kalinin is much like her old instructor - despite Kalinin's claim that
he's nowhere near as romantic as the late Oz commander.  She tells him to watch
what her people are about to accomplish - if not out of revenge, at least out
of a desire to paint this peace-crazed world the color that war is.  And that
means a lot of pain and suffering for many people, if she has her way.  What
surprises her, however, is how Kalinin makes no move to upbraid her for her
terrible plans - merely regarding her in silence.  It may be his eyes that
remind her of her former master, but that illusion is something that, in
Kalinin's estimation, few others would share.  She smirks and tells him that
his words are less befitting a military man and more a man of the cloth - not
an unpleasant turn of phrase in his view.  She starts to say that she wishes
she met him sooner - but stops and says it's too late, since her comrades are
already on their way to take back Takuma.  And when he's back, they'll put him
in "that" machine and show the world just who it is they rejected.  In fact,
report of the recovery mission comes in via a very familiar courier...

Somehow Heero's explanation of Tessa's identity strikes Kaname as trustworthy
where Sousuke's did not, despite their identical expressions and tones of
voice.  It turns out that Tessa's little act at Sousuke's place was a little
bit of well-intentioned mean-spiritedness.  Tessa had planned to ask Sousuke to
coach her for her upcoming throwdown with Melissa (Mao), since she only agreed
to it on a whim and in fact can't pilot an AS at all.  To avoid the inevitable
show for the cameras of your people, she had been trying to enlist Sousuke's
aid, but an unfortunate splash of mud from a passing car had sent her to
Sousuke's shower.  She stammers something to the effect that she had actually
planned a more intimate conversation with Sousuke, but this goes over Kaname's
head.  Kaname apologizes for disrupting... whatever, and the young terrorist
with them asks them both to shut up so his headache will go away.  It seems
that the car Heero used to escape from the lab broke down near here, and
Takuma's withdrawal symptoms prevented them from proceeding any closer to Bay
Tower Base.

Kaname's not too worried about safety here, since it's only a short distance
for your squad's mecha, and she instead takes advantage of her time to chat
with Tessa.  Tessa's men have been *very* thorough in their reports about
Sousuke's activities, including the part where Kaname was going out with him.
Heero actually smirks at this for a fraction of a second, and Tessa is
crestfallen that she missed it.  Heero finds these two women intensely
fascinating, able to chat like old friends despite only just meeting.  It seems
Sousuke is the force that binds these two ladies together, both unusual by
virtue of how normal they are.  Takuma finds the concept of the fearsome
Sousuke overwhelmed by this woman intensely amusing.  Tessa asks after his
family, which consists of one "worshipful" sister only...

Heero then realizes too late that the area has been surrounded by Wufei and his
men.  They've been following the transmitter embedded in Takuma's flesh, which
also explains how they found the hidden lab.   Wufei then demands that Heero
hand over the boy and the women.  Heero will hand over the boy, but wants to
know what Wufei wants with the young women.  In the fight Wufei is embroiled
in, he'll use anything and everything - and he's more than aware of what the
women really are.

It seems the terrorists are using a famous convention center in Tenjijo, which
has Kurz incredibly scandalized, unless the terrorists think they're holding
some kind of terror convention.  His pun is so bad that Mao tells him to
actually take lessons from Izumi once the op is over.  Though the transmitter
Kaname carries has led everyone to the hideout, there's no indication of what
could be going on inside.  In any case, Kurz and Mao will run interference
while Sousuke rescues the hostages and gathers information.  Mao says that this
op is also in memory of Kalinin, but Sousuke is certain that he must still be
alive.  The bad guys will need time until Takuma is ready, and the quantity of
small fry sent your direction shows that the diversion seems to be working.
Trowa and Wufei will probably show up at this rate...

  As the battle wears on, a distinctive pattern of explosions starts rocking
  what Hikaru describes as her Holy Land [ah, Big Sight...]  It's not Sousuke's
  work, but rather that of a certain long-haired enemy agent who really turned
  out to be a good guy.  Not only is Seina's organization less put- together
  than she expected, but one of her captives seems to have had the temerity to
  hide explosives in her earrings.  She notes with some irony that school girls
  these days seem rather rambunctious, and wonders how Kalinin plans to protect
  both girls.

  Kalinin has an ace in the hole: Sousuke, who he was quite confident would
  arrive.  Seina is actually rather peeved that Sousuke rates so much
  confidence, and points her sidearm at the girls.  She informs Sousuke that
  there's no way he can kill her before she could pull her own trigger, killing
  off one of his friends.  As her last little piece of revenge, she'll give
  Sousuke the chance to choose which girl she aims at.  Tessa tells her to aim
  at her, saying Kaname is just a civilian, but Seina isn't buying it.  When
  she announces that she's going to pull the trigger in five seconds, leaving
  Sousuke a lifetime of regret, he has to think very fast.  It's a hard choice:
  lose a precious Whispered, or have Mithril decapitated.  He runs out of time,
  and Seina fires randomly... but her gun is struck by a bullet from another
  intruder (Heero), and there's no way for her to fight back any more.

  However, she's not the only one in this base with weaponry, and as a big
  flash erupts she begins to run off, saying that she can't die here without
  finishing some business first.  Kalinin runs off in pursuit, telling Heero
  and Sousuke to take the girls to safety.  As they get moving, Heero tells
  Sousuke that hesitation is fatal in battle - and that his hesitation just
  about resulted in _both_ girls' deaths.  That said, he's not going to reject
  Sousuke because of it.

  Meanwhile, the double agent Trowa is trying to prevent Takuma from getting
  aboard his mech, the Behemoth.  Takuma pleads with him to move, saying that
  he promised his sister - apparently fighting is the only way he can establish
  any proof that he exists at all.  Takuma has an ally in Wufei, who pops out
  to take Trowa on.  When he tells Trowa not to deprive Takuma of the chance to
  fight, Trowa notes that this fighting is itself meaningless: the world surely
  won't change because of it.  Wufei claims that fighting is its own meaning,
  and thinks that by going on fighting himself he can somehow justify all the
  warriors the world over.

  When Sousuke comes out and announces that the girls are safe, Kurz teasingly
  asks if he took so long because of trying to decide who to save first.  Ouch.
  Heero points out in his usual deadpan that the enemy's trump card is coming,
  wiping out Big Sight in the process.  What will become of Winter
  "Cosmiket"?!? Better yet, what will become of your people at the hands of the
  Behemoth: ridiculously mobile despite its immense bulk.  Tessa cries out to
  Takuma, already in the grip of the Lambda Driver, to stop it - there must be
  some other use for his mech than destruction!  Actually, destruction is
  precisely his goal - not for his own sake, but to make his sister happy by
  demolishing and incinerating all around.

  That will be a bit harder than he thinks, thanks to Trowa's timely
  interference.  Trowa's mech doesn't last long, despite all its bullets
  hitting their target.  The Lambda Driver is doing its work admirably, and its
  integration with the huge mech seems to be flawless.  Wufei pops out and
  announces that this fight belongs to the warriors this new world has given
  birth to.

  Sousuke gets aboard his mech, but has trouble getting his own Lambda Driver
  online.  Takuma is under the very mistaken impression that he's the only
  person alive capable of using the Lambda Driver.  The problem seems to be
  some kind of uncharacteristic faltering of Sousuke's confidence...  Which
  might well mean you've got to stop the Behemoth without his help.

  Wufei is worth a Servo Motor, a Repair Kit, and a BP+1.  He yells to Heero
  that the mess with Takuma is what will happen to all warriors who have lost
  their place to live.  Thus, he'll fight on to justify them all.

  As Sousuke continues to struggle to activate his Lambda Driver, Takuma moves
  in for the kill.  But before he can destroy the flagship, he gets blasted
  from a direction he totally doesn't expect - by Trowa, who just grabbed his
  real mech from Sally.  He knows very well that he probably can't win with
  Takuma in that mech of his, but he still believes in victory.  He informs
  Takuma that unlike Takuma, he never fights battles where the end is lost in
  the darkness.  This pisses Takuma off, but serves to buy Sousuke time.  Heero
  has some advice for Sousuke: consolidate his worries, confront them, and find
  the answer at the other side.  There can be no future without that
  struggling, that striving - and the overcoming of the self-doubt about his
  inability to choose which girl to save.  Heero asks him what he can do _now_,
  and as Tessa cries out that the Behemoth's weakness is its cooling system, he
  finds the answer.

  With his Lambda Driver crippled, Takuma cries out to his sister for help.
  Seina is utterly unsympathetic, as much as telling him that he's worthless
  except as the Behemoth's pilot.  The anguish bolsters Takuma's concentration
  and boosts the Lambda's output, but Kaname knows that he won't last long.
  Takuma screams out that he'll destroy everything for her sake, and Trowa
  looks sadly at this warrior who's lost the last glimmer of light.  In which
  case, Heero will take him on.

  Seina is worth an Anti-Beam Coating S and a Super Repair Kit.  She insists
  that her fight isn't over yet as her mech explodes.  Takuma is worth a Sniper
  Scope, a Mars Donburi, and a Gunfight +1.  His mind is basically gone, and he
  now seems to think Tessa is his departed older sister.  She tries to assuage
  his moaning about how he lost, assuring him that she'll be by his side as
  long as he lives.  Which isn't long at all, since with the Lambda Driver
  gone, the Behemoth *finally* collapses under its own immense weight.  Trowa
  tells your people not to think of this boy as a sacrifice to this battle: he
  was in the cockpit entirely of his own volition.  This is the inevitable end
  waiting all those who see nothing beyond the battle itself.

After the fight, Seina asks Kalinin if he considers her a fool.  Kalinin knows
that Seina could have killed both girls if she'd wanted to, and marvels over
the fact that she actually intended to shoot neither.  She tells him he
overestimates her, but admits to wanting to see his subordinates' agonized
faces.  He tells her not to talk more, lest her wounds reopen and she dies
before help arrives.  Upon hearing of Takuma's death, she deeply regrets
exploiting his muddled memories for her own ends.  Kalinin points out that his
dependence on her did give him his only outlet for experiencing joy.  This is
the kind of knowing talk that makes Seina want to puke, but not so badly that
she doesn't ask Kalinin's name first.  When she finds it sounds funny, he tells
her to rest, now that her fight is over.  Wufei, still lurking in the bushes,
disagrees...

Tessa can identify a bit with Takuma's clinging to an older sibling.  She has
an older brother out there she knows not where, someone who she claims was far
more skilled than she.  To the extent that she always seemed to play second
fiddle to him, he provided her a kind of support.  Similar in some ways to
Takuma's case, Tessa admits that this isn't precisely the most healthy kind of
relationship to have - and it explains why Tessa seemed so concerned over
Takuma's well-being.  After a pause, Tessa asks if Kaname knows why Takuma made
his Lambda Driver go berserk.  She actually kind of does, adding that for some
reason she finds science a lot easier than she used to.  This is a sure sign
that her Whispered abilities are close to awakening, but Kaname is more
concerned about Sousuke, who she figured wasn't keeping his mind on piloting
his mech.  Tessa says that he's almost got it figured out, and tacks on a
declaration to Kaname.  This latest incident has made Tessa firmly convinced
that she loves Sousuke.  With a smile both radiant and daunting, she tells
Kaname that she'll simply leave it at "good luck to the both of us" for now.

One small problem.  Apparently this whole mess was a diversion: AS's have
attacked Bay Tower Base, and kidnapped Relena.  Worse yet, Liger's plane has
vanished over the Pacific.  Gai and Heero are already racing towards G-Island,
and Tessa commands the Danaan to be ready to sail in under two minutes.  Kaname
is feeling a bit clued out, and Tessa tells her that it seems the roots of
whatever is going on run even deeper than you know.

When Gai and Heero arrive, they learn that the same AS's that participated in
the hijacking were involved in Relena's capture.  They even managed to block
all of the GGG's communications, and are using some means of evading radar.
With no clue as to Relena's whereabouts, Gai is about to set down and regroup
when a new set of adversaries appears - also not on radar.  They ready some
sort of attack - and apparently wipe out the Bay Tower base in a single shot!!!

Gai is of course most unhappy with this, but he gets summarily swatted aside
for his pains [fucking plot power again].  The bad guys then depart, leaving
you to wonder if these are the enemies that Miyuki feared so badly - the
"Master Program" or whatever.  In any case, it sure looks like your ass is
thoroughly kicked, and all in a single night.  Teh sux0rz.

Gauron and a mystery purple-haired guy got quite an eyeful of all this.  Their
own mission is fulfilled in any case, and their visit to Japan was worth it for
the interesting stuff they've picked up.  Gauron smirks that the Boy Scouts
worked admirably as a diversion as well, including the outmoded but still
impressive Behemoth.  The purple-haired guy, a Mister A9, tells Gauron that his
Godarl is almost ready for use.  As for Relena, he plans to stick to the
original arrangement and sell her to someone in space.  Gauron doubts that
Relena will be so easy to control, and A9 says that the presence of another
princess in space makes this game that much more interesting yet.  Gauron
snorts at this, but is willing to play along if it means he gets to see his
"girlfriend" and his "darling" again.  As for A9, he wants his good-for-
nothing sister to do a bit more penance first...


19. Gekitotsu!  Majin vs Jigokuou ("Clash!  Devil versus the Lord of Hell")

As M.C. Hawking once said: "Yo, it's the Doom, and his news ain't good: Little
Pooky got capped last night in the hood."  Not only did the Wärter home base
get demolished, and not only did Gai get his ass handed to him, but Taiga and
the rest of the GGG commanders are missing in action too.  Even worse, Relena
is in the terrorists' hands, and the Federation state department plunged into
bedlam.  With nothing better to do, your surviving dudes are in the process of
rebuilding Bay Tower base.  Tessa and the Danaan have headed back to Mithril HQ
for more supplies, leaving your supposedly invincible team to wait and lament.
As the Trailer say: "Man is a ship, woman a harbor - therefore heed a woman's
words", and Kazuma figures your team for a man whose wife has run out on him.
Grim stuff.

What sucks for you, rocks for your enemies, including the nefarious Dr. Hell.
Fully aware of your people's plight, he's set a plan in motion he's sure will
show Kouji just what Hell on earth feels like.  Of course the rest of your team
are slated for elimination as well, leaving the door wide open for world
domination.  Honeruba offers to have her Garura pitch in fully on this next
mission, with a certain item made ready for Sadak to command on the front
lines.  Hell orders her to ensure by all means that the Wärter meet their end
today.  As Honeruba heads off to dispatch, she chuckles and wonders just whose
final day today will be.  An associate of hers is watching from the shadows,
eager to get a glimpse of your dudes in action.  After all, should Dr. Hell
fall, your people are the only thing left that could thwart their plans.  And
should Dr. Hell not fall to your people, this ardent supporter of the Emperor
will simply have to see that he falls by some other means...

It will apparently take more than making breakfast to keep your people from
getting down in the dumps.  Even the supplies sent from the Photon Power lab
and such won't last forever, and most of your mecha haven't really been fixed
since the last combat.  Bless and Yurika actually turned down offers of help
from Admiral Misumaru, lest it become a pretext for the military brass to
gobble your squad in (whatever Misumaru's private views on the matter might
be).  Gai meanwhile has been silent all this time, even though his body itself
is out of danger.  No wonder, given how he watched his family get annihilated
and that there's not a damn thing he can do about it with the Gao machines
wrecked.

As for who did the damage, Volfogg says they're something called "Primevals".
Their presence is foretold by a message hidden within Galeon, 31 elemental
sources that journey from planet to planet - both beginning and end.  Based on
the nature of Galeon's message, it's only natural to assume these 31 Primevals
are somehow related to the Zondar.  As Kazuma vows revenge the next time these
jokers show up, Akane opines that Hyuuma and the others surely couldn't have
died that easily.  Heero is planning to go in search of Relena, but Trowa
cautions him that it can't be done alone.  She's in the clutches of the Barton
Foundation, whose strategy he wasn't highly placed enough to learn.  All that
can be said for sure is that she's somewhere in space.  It occurs to Duo to
wonder if this is the same "Barton" as Trowa's surname.

Before he can answer, an army of mecha-beasts is detected on the inbounds.
Mazinkaiser and Vyunas are among the only mechs fully repaired, and Kouji
urgently wants to settle the score with Dr. Hell.  Your reduced band of
fighters is mildly surprised that Ashura isn't in command, but intuit that his
repeated failures must have earned him a jail cell somewhere.  Either your
side's bravado is a lie, or Sadak is in for some serious payback...

  Sadak's secret weapon is worth a Large Generator.  He's amazed at how well
  your group is doing for a bunch of dead people walking, but Fahra points out
  that it'll take more than the loss of your base to kill you.  Sadak then
  tries to fight back with his Drago, but Sayaka handily blows it out of the
  sky... or so she thinks.  In fact, her mech has now been taken over by the
  bad guys.  It seems there were nanomachines mingled with the explosion, and
  Sadak uses them to lure Sayaka to him.  This in turn allows him to lure Kouji
  aboard in the interest of saving her, and Sadak flees the field with a bunch
  of stooges left in his wake.  Kazuma and the rest of your crew are clearly
  not happy with the prospect of losing the two of them as well...

  When Kouji reaches Dr. Hell's base, he finds it certainly lives up to the
  good doctor's reputation.  The doctor has prepared a fate far more painful
  than mere death for Kouji, and isn't intimidated in the least by Kouji's
  bravado.  Instead, he sends Sayaka's mech to kill him, which surprises Kouji
  not at all.  Warning her that things are about to get rough, his plan is to
  stop Vyunas by force and rescue her, but of course Dr. Hell isn't going to
  make it easy.  He's mass-produced the evil Mazingers, which lack in Photon
  Power but make up for it with numbers.  He's also sent another surprise: a
  mech made by combining Garada K7 and Doublas M2: the Garadoublas MK01.  Even
  Kouji admits that Kaiser might not hold out against this much firepower, but
  says that if this is indeed his end, he's going to make it a most memorable
  one.  As Mazinkaiser's wrath begins to emanate palpably, Honeruba cautions
  Sadak to stand back and let the mecha-beasts take the punishment.  Let the
  banquet of despair begin!

  Take out Vyunas and Kouji rescues Sayaka.  Unfortunately, since this is Dr.
  Hell's "Hell Castle", there's still much more firepower left.  Worse, Vyunas'
  husk turns into some kind of snake monster.  As the bad guys open fire, it
  looks like the end might be at hand, until Tetsuya shows up out of nowhere to
  help turn the tables.  To Dr. Hell's astonishment, Tetsuya announces that
  what he had before was a mere prototype - and the completed version is more
  than adequate to Tetsuya's usual heroism.  So much so in fact that Tetsuya
  even had time to take out the mecha-beasts Dr. Hell sent to G-Island -
  meaning the rest of your crew can show up too.

  It seems that Tessa's little resupply mission also included picking up the
  completed Great Mazinger, which Mithril had helped finance.  Mithril also
  managed to locate Dr. Hell's base after all that effort.  She's brought one
  more thing too: the Kaiser Scrander.

  Wrecking what remains of Vyunas A is worth a Hovercraft.  Sayaka takes it
  quite well, sure that it can be reborn in its rightful form now.  The main
  thing is to be sure to wipe out Dr. Hell.

  Sadak is worth a Flight Unit, earning himself a tongue-lashing for crashing
  the spaceship the Emperor granted him in the process.  He manages to eject,
  and realizes he's got to do something lest he be executed in punishment.
  Thinking quickly, he springs Ashura out of prison in the hopes that Hell
  Castle can yet be saved.  He butters Ashura up with praise for his
  faithfulness to Dr. Hell, even as he plots to slip away in the chaos.  It
  seems that Ashura isn't quite as dense as he seems, and has read Sadak's
  intentions perfectly.

  With the enemy armies destroyed, it seems the only sensible thing for Hell
  and Honeruba to do is surrender.  Neither Hell's mecha-beasts, nor the Garura
  invasion force, can do anything now.  Honeruba deploys her remaining forces
  when Dr. Hell asks, but not to fight.  She glibly announces that their
  alliance is over, and with Sadak gone she'll have to restart the invasion of
  Earth from scratch.  Dr. Hell sounds like he genuinely didn't expect this
  betrayal, but all is not over yet: Ashura is still alive, and in command of
  the Lord of Hell Gordon.  Ashura plans to show his loyalty once and for all
  by punishing the Garura, and has the firepower to pull it off.

  Honeruba doesn't get a chance for excuses, and it seems your folks are next
  on the chopping block.  The good news is that if you can kill this Lord of
  Hell mech, it should all be over.  Ashura's resolve has Kouji impressed, but
  only up to a point - he is a bad guy after all.

  Ashura is worth an EN Chip, a Propellant Tank and an Infight +1.  He starts
  hollering to Dr. Hell for forgiveness, for never being able to fulfill his
  expectations even at the last.  Kouji, apologizing to Tetsuya for doing this
  on his own, rushes inside the castle to settle the final score with Dr. Hell
  with his own hands.

Dr. Hell is most impressed that your people and especially Kouji in particular
have been able to cause him this much trouble.  Despite Kouji's warning that
praise from a villain means nothing to him, Dr. Hell continues to praise your
people's limitless power and resolve, wondering in infuriated puzzlement why
such meaningless factors as altruism and world peace could motivate you.  He
then does something Kouji does not expect: offer him Ashura's former place at
his right hand.  Kouji predictably refuses, and Dr. Hell flips his island's
self-destruct switch.  He's got his escape route prepared, but the rest of your
team presumably does not...

It falls to Tetsuya to fish Kouji's butt out, though he can't find it in his
heart to criticize him too much.  Dr. Hell seems for all intents and purposes
to be defeated, which Kouji's missing uncle would certainly take as good news.
Tetsuya then relates how Mithril's help helped Great Mazinger reach its final
shape, while he rehabilitated himself from square one.  Apparently he's
hardcore enough that Mithril wants to scout him, but Tetsuya vows that he'll go
on piloting Great Mazinger until he dies.  The exotic Jun goes wherever Kouji
and Tetsuya go (to Kurz' immense sorrow), and where they're going is with the
rest of the Wärter.  Jun's mission will be to help keep Japan safe from the
Photon Power lab, while the rest of you worry about Relena and the Primevals...
and where to build their new base, etc. etc.  At least Tessa may have something
to say on the base front...


20. Kasoku Suru Uchuu ("Accelerating Space")

GGG's orbital installation "Orbit Base" has just been surrounded by unknown
foes, whose identity _Taiga_ is trying to ascertain.  Said unknown forces won't
reveal who they are, but announce their mission: to take over the space
station.  Lady Une explains that the base was built to cope with the threat of
alien invasion: as such it's the property of all mankind, and not to be
occupied by any group with individual aims.  The bad guys figure it's pointless
talking any further, and start blasting: likely the Marimea Army by their
tactics.  With no choice, Taiga clears Fuuryuu and Rairyuu to counterattack and
protect the base.  The dragon brothers know their first priority is preserving
human life, and resolve to avoid the enemy cockpits.

  It becomes quickly clear that the dragon brothers alone won't cut the
  mustard.  Lady Une is sure that a fire-extinguishing wind is about to blow,
  and urges them to hang on just a bit longer.  That would be Zechs, in his
  modified Tallgeese, who tells the brothers that he no longer cares for the
  name Peacecraft - a name left behind on the battlefield long ago.  He leads
  the brothers into battle with considerable gusto, determined to get rid of
  whatever ghosts might be lingering in Treize's wake.

  Kill enough bad guys and Zechs will praise the brothers for avoiding cockpit
  hits and doing this well, though they claim it's because of the precision of
  his tactical orders.  Unfortunately, a new wave of bad guys arrives: Jovian
  Lizards, who are seemingly ignoring the terrorists and heading straight for
  Orbit Base.  Then again, so are the rest of your squad - who are quickly
  overjoyed to see everyone okay.  It's not clear if the Jovian Lizards have
  somehow joined forces with the terrorists, or if it's a simple targeting
  miss, or... what.  In any case, the terrorists get ready to pull out with the
  Jovians...

  ...But then a massive battleship arrives, piloted by Dekim Barton.  He's very
  surprised to see Zechs alive, and Zechs tells him that in fact he was dead.
  But since the ghost of his friend Treize is abroad, he can't exactly sleep in
  peace either.  It might be a bit tricky to get rid of Dekim however, since
  he's got Zechs' sister Relena aboard his ship.  His plan is to make her the
  queen to unify the Earth Sphere to pave the way for Marimea.  This isn't an
  entirely idle threat, since Relena's unifying influence on the peoples of
  Earth and the Colonies is well established.

  Indeed, Marimea Khrushinada is Treize's daughter (or so it seems), and has
  the technical knowhow on her side to hack into even Mithril's secure
  communications systems.  Marimea comes with the usual declaration of world
  domination in her father's name.  There's no doubt about what her
  proclamation of a return to the monarchies of old holds: racial
  discrimination, economic ruin, and so forth.  This upstart ten year old
  claims that mankind's recent state of cooperation is impeding progress by
  oppressing the true nature of man: a being evolved to fight.  Anyone who does
  not accept the declaration will be oppressed by force.  This said, Marimea's
  ship withdraws, and the Valstork heads off in hot pursuit.  This leaves the
  Nadesico and your dudes to fight off the Jovian Lizards.

  Except it's not that easy.  One of the Jovian Lizards uses Boson Jump to
  "blink" in the Valstork's path: meaning that the Jovians have no mastered the
  tech to make a single mech Jump.  Erina complains that even Nergal hasn't
  made that work yet, which almost makes it sound like Nergal and the Jovians
  are rival companies.  Akatsuki smoothly defers this conversation until later,
  and your people are certainly eager enough to defend the base.  Gai can't
  take part in the hostilities, and Akito finds himself thinking that the enemy
  mecha somehow seem to resemble Geki Ganger...

  The Jovian leader is worth a Power Extender, a Cartridge, a SP Usage -5% and
  a Support Attack +1.  This seems to be the only mech with Boson Jump
  capability, and Erina wants to catch it for research purposes.  Unfortunately
  you won't have time to grab it nicely, since the mystery enemies that
  attacked the Bay Tower base, the Primevals, are back.  As the Orbit Base puts
  up its Protect Shades to stem the onslaught, a surprised voice from within
  the supposedly unmanned Jovian mech marvels at these invaders from outer
  space.  The pilot sounds frustrated that his Tetsujin is out of action when
  it's needed most - when his Geki Gan Soul is crying out at him to defeat the
  aliens.  Just how the hell do the Jovians know about Geki Ganger?!?

  You won't find out soon, since the Jovian commander regretfully departs the
  battlefield.  Gai is frantic about not being able to help defend the base,
  but as the enemy gravitational weaponry powers up again, a new battleship
  appears from earth.  Your people don't know where it's from, but its pilot J
  and the main computer Tomoro recognize the bad guys from the other day.  This
  time, he won't let them get away, and charges into battle as the mysterious
  Pagliaccio judges him a perfect 100 on the danger scale.  Your people watch
  in awe as the whole battleship transforms into King J-der.

  One strike of J-Quath is enough to defeat one of the Primevals: amazing power
  and size in an amazing robot.  This triggers a bunch of Zondar robots
  appearing, and Gai finally recognizes King J-der's pilot: Pizza, or rather
  Soldat J.  He orders Gai to tremble in awe as he shows Gai what a real
  warrior fights like.  At least he seems to not be your enemy at present,
  despite being one of the Zondarian lords before.  Kazuma wonders if you even
  need to remain on the battlefield with this guy around, but Gai, wounded
  though he is, steps onto the field and tells Kazuma not to leave the fighting
  to anyone but himself.  Protect what must be protected, that's your mission!

  Fortunately for Gai, he's got a bit of new help coming: a new set of Gao
  Machines who form Star Gaogaigar by using the Stealth Gao II.  Gaogaigar is
  now back in action, and J sounds almost pleased at the sight.

  Blow away enough of the bad guys and the mystery mech you saw in Tokyo will
  show up again.  Whoever it is tells Mihiro not to worry: no one will harm her
  as long as he/she's around.  Whoever it is has no love lost for the Zondar...

  ZX-02 is worth a Sniper Scope and a BP+1.  It's got regeneration abilities,
  but it's susceptible to having its Core pulled out, which King J-der does in
  short order.  Mamoru can't Purify it for some reason, since his powers aren't
  responding to it.  Instead, it falls to someone named Arma, also known as
  Kaidou, Mamoru's classmate.  The ZX core turns into a Zondar Crystal, which
  Arma and J are apparently busy collecting.  Mamoru gets to have an
  inferiority complex now...

  ZX-03 is worth a Learning OS, and once again King J-der snags the core.  Gai
  and Mamoru are both frustrated at this point about the fact that you can't
  take out these Primevals on your own, and King J-der seems happy to lord it
  over them, assuring you that he'll take care of it.  But he also warns that
  if you get in his way, you'll be his enemy too.  He says that he's now paid
  Gai back for what he's done for him, and that sooner or later they'll settle
  the score once and for all.

Pagliaccio muses over the revival of Soldat J, warrior from the Trinary Solar
System.  His projected objective is protecting Abel's Calamity.  Meanwhile,
your mystery ally decides to head back, lest he/she get scolded.  Once again
telling Kazuma not to call him/her "hey you", they decline an offer to chill
out on the Valstork and bail.  The term they used to refer to Shihomi could be
construed to mean she's a sister of Kazuma and the others, but Bless swears on
his honor as a Trailer that he has no knowledge of any such child.

Just as everyone is about to settle into their new home of Orbit Base, a giant
brain-like object appears.  It seems to be a Primeval, each of which is
apparently modeled after a different part of the human body.  This thing is
trying to open an ES Window, a portal to an alternate dimension.  This is how
the Zondar and Galeon were able to reach the Earth from deep space.  Now, the
Primeval seems to be trying to summon up a frigging asteroid with which to
smash Orbit Base.

It seems almost too late to even abandon the base, and Gekiryuujin rushes to
the rescue.  The plan is to push the asteroid back through the ES window, which
would strand the two in some alternate dimension.  They note that they're
newcomers to your team anyway, but the other dragons aren't going to stand by
idly while they sacrifice themselves.  Neither will Akito, who's seen enough
friends and comrades lost already.  None of the others can make it, but Ines
cuts through Yurika's screams and tells Akito to concentrate, and to Jump.  As
light envelops your people and the asteroid, Gai tells them all that one day,
somewhere, he'll see them again...

Kazuma relates how everyone thought lost in the Bay Tower base are in fact safe
here in space, on the Orbit Base.  Liger and his party were saved by the
Chinese dragons, and are safely back in America.  Even with Dr. Hell defeated,
there's no doubt that the Primevals, and Marimea's army, are major causes for
alarm.  As is the loss of some of your other comrades...

The lamentations are back in full force.  Izumi notes the irony of Akito
carrying on so much that he didn't want to see any more friends die, then
showing those friends the same sight from the other side.  Yurika is locked in
her room in grief, as is Meg.  Ryouko is still functional, but not a happy
camper in the slightest.  She brightens quite a bit when Leo points out that
the ES Window is a *point-to-point* connection, and that your dudes may
possibly be alive wherever the other side of the Window is.  Ines adds more
hope yet - she's not sure about Chouryuujin, but she suspects Akito at least
can be located... if her theory proves correct.  She won't say more now, in
deference to Erina and Nergal company secrets, except to assure Ryouko that
*if* Akito is alive and her theory is correct, he's very close by.  Assuming
that he really belongs in the Wärter...

Kazuma then grills Trowa on this Barton Foundation and the Marimea army.  He
confirms that "Trowa Barton" is none other than Dekim Barton's son, and leaves
it to Quatre to relate the story he heard during the revolutionary war.  The
two of them were among the five warriors the Colonies dispatched in Gundams:
Operation Meteor, with its tangled web of backstory and intrigue.  One of the
groups fielding the plan was the Barton Foundation, who were bent on world
domination from the very outset.  As for what this group of resurgent maniacs
has to do with Trowa, he explains that the real Trowa Barton died long ago.  It
seems that a splinter faction of right-minded Barton Foundation folks feared
what the real Trowa would do at the controls of a Gundam, and killed him right
before launch.  This Trowa took his name and his place, having left his real
name behind him long, long ago.

Unlike Trowa, Marimea is the genuine article, as the G-boys secret mission to
Earth back when confirmed.  The question is how she could have cooked up this
operation in such a short time, and the answer according to Zechs is that they
didn't.  There must be a mystery backer, who furnished Dekim the blueprints for
this mess, if not many of the resources.  The G-boys haven't figured out who
this is yet, but it seems certain that they wouldn't risk a full frontal
assault on the Federation.  Likely it's to be a lightning, decapitation strike,
and the Security Council seems to have decided to do nothing but watch for now.
Whether this is underestimation of Marimea, or something more sinister, that
seems to all your people to be the wrong strategy.  Perhaps they just plan to
foist the whole mess onto your people, like always.

Speaking of messes, what to make of the manned Jovian Lizard mech?  Are the
Jovian invaders really being controlled from Earth?  There's no way to know
now, but Akatsuki is sure that any attempt to spill the info to the media would
just get squelched.  After all, the main Federation military probably already
knows, and has been sitting on the info for a while.  Akatsuki seems to know
more than he's letting on, but whatever the case may be, the fact that they
effectively aided the Marimea army bodes very ill.  This might point to a
common backer or it may not, but in any case Relena is in their hands, and that
positively sucks.

Dekim does indeed have an ally on the Security Council, who claims he can keep
them tied up.  Dekim tells his ally to give his regards to A9, as the ally
reminds him of his promise for after the Federation is completely under their
control.  Dekim assures the ally that he has no love for "those monsters" and
that with the bureaucrats under control, no one can stop the "monsters"'
destruction.  The Jovians are a wildcard, but they've already proven how useful
they could be.  The ally warns in parting that the Wärter will act, making
Dekim curse him for playing ringmaster.

Relena then enters Dekim's office, wondering who he was talking to.  Dekim
won't say directly, but notes that there are far more dissatisfied people in
the world than she imagines.  Regardless of how many people were sacrificed to
get to this point, Marimea says that this "peace" is just superficial, ready to
blown away with the wind at any moment.  Marimea claims that this is why she
has stood up and assumed her father's mantle, but Relena says that whoever
educated her that way had it all wrong.  Marimea isn't in the mood to have her
role as rightful ruler of the Earth questioned, with a glint in her eyes that
Relena remembers from the revolutionary war.  Dekim tells Marimea that their
collaborators on the Colonies are gathering, meaning that the true Operation
Meteor is nigh.  Relena urges Heero to hurry, since time is running out.

Meanwhile, the Jovian commander is demanding that his major general explain why
they're helping the Marimea army when they've already formed a treaty with the
Coordinators.  The general chides him that it's all for their dream: a dream
they all swore to do any heinous thing necessary to achieve.  When the
underling hesitates, the general tells him that the Earthlings will eventually
self-destruct... his people are merely "helping" a little.  Till the promised
day arrives, everyone must endure the unendurable, and that means the
commander.  After the general hangs up, the commander asks one of his
brothers-in-arms where he thinks their battle will lead them...


21. Okurarete Kita Shikyaku ("An Assassin Dispatched")

The enemy Tekkamen know that the Master Program is in action, as are the
legendary relics from the Green and Red planets.  Their very existence on Earth
impresses the Tekkamen, and validates their decision to plant the Radam trees
here.  Evil thinks he's got a plan to get rid of the traitorous Blade and his
tree-busting friend with the sonic weapon, but the leader, Omega, decides to
send Axe in his place since Evil is injured.

No clues about Chouryuujin or Akito after a week on Orbit Base.  Akito's three
would-be girlfriends are trying in their own ways to put their grief behind
them, leaving everyone to worry about the terrifying power of the Primevals.
These beings, each powerful enough to open up an ES Window, are likely already
on Earth causing trouble - and Taiga and Freeman have returned to the surface
for a conference on what to do about it.  Meanwhile, the rumor mill is working
overtime on your mysterious ally, including such far-out ideas as him/her being
Kazuma's twin stolen from the hospital in infancy, or another copy of him from
a parallel universe.  Unfortunately, his father has been tight-lipped the whole
time, and Kazuma is left with the feeling of growing indebtedness to the
mystery benefactor.  To a Trailer, such a thing is anathema.  But next time
they meet, he'll figure out who he/she is for sure.

The new dragons are being made to haul around luggage, which is pretty standard
for all rookies.  Akane assures them that one all-mouth guy on your team
(Horis) is more than enough, as Uribatake herds all the new freight around like
a mother hen.  His enthusiasm comes from the fact that among the new deliveries
are some long-awaited parts from Nergal, and Levin can only hope that he
doesn't do anything too weird to the Aestivalises with them.  Before the normal
menfolk can get to depressed about the sight of an empty Aesti hangar, Levin
and his "woman's heart" gets them back out of the dumps.  This isn't going to
work so easily with Mamoru, who really wishes he could have been of more use in
the previous battle.  Getting shown up by his classmate was just adding insult
to injury.

Said classmate, Kaidou Ikumi, lives alone with his mother - a mother who found
the kid as a baby and took him in.  Clearly Kaidou's a mystery child, but
Mamoru isn't so normal himself, and part of Taiga's trip involves grilling
Mamoru's parents on what his background really is.  But the mechanics have more
immediate concerns in the form of a man named Goddard, who claims to be from
Nergal's freight division.  He's hoping someone could show him where the
bathroom is, and after a scandalized Levin refuses, Hyuuma takes the job.  As
they walk, Hyuuma observes his walk and asks if he's studied some kind of
martial arts.  Goddard smirks and says that he's studied a little here and
there...

Elsewhere in space, Arm notes that Brain failed to destroy Orbit Base, though
Rib observes that the real danger comes from the people aboard the station.
Liver still can't believe that all seven Primevals are required to handle this
job, and there is some disagreement about the best way to handle your people.
One thing is certain: with "them" on this planet, there's not a moment to lose.
Arm decides to head in by himself, telling the others to wait in reserve in
case something unexpected happens.  He vows to build a Zondar Metal Plant right
in front of your people's eyes to show just how powerful they are.

Arm busts into the base with little trouble, and your counterattacking forces
quickly figure out that you're dealing with no mere human.  Arm has headed
straight for the central reactor, to power his Plant.  Kurz finds Arm's
arrogance and his bearded mug equally annoying, but neither he nor anyone
present has the firepower to even slow him down.  That changes when Heero shows
up, packing a *bazooka* that he doesn't hesitate to fire.  Screw concerns over
breaching the hull - your adversary is studly enough that the bazooka round
does little more than knock him on his butt for a moment.

He responds by firing a directed gravity wave from his arm, which knocks *your*
guys on their ass despite their being behind cover.  Unfortunately, Bonta-kun
is down for repairs, so Sousuke won't be of much help.  Gai rushes to the
rescue, but he fares no better.  Soldat J has better luck though, staging a
reenactment of a moment long ago when his fellow sky warriors opposed the
Primevals in their white battleship.  As they race off to do battle, D-Boy and
Gai make ready to help, only to have Goddard - aka Tekkaman Axe - interfere.
He admits that that mohawk dude he met along the way slowed him down quite a
bit, and repeats his plan to wipe out the traitorous Takaya.  This suits D-Boy
fine, since he wants to know what information the Radam have about the
Primevals.  He'll have to beat Axe to get that info, but he might have some
help from Hyuuma, who seems to have regained consciousness in a hurry.

Better help comes from Mike Sounders XIII, who's retuned his Disc X to affect
all Zondar.  This will put a kink in Arm's plans, and Goddard derides the
Primeval for getting his smug ass handed to him by a karaoke robot.  What's
more, Arm doesn't stand a chance "at his present size" against a Tekkaman, so
he tries to retreat.  By now though, your people have him surrounded, and
deluge him with fire from all sides.  The plot thickens when Arm catches sight
of Bless and becomes terribly frightened.  Arm resolves to call up all of his
friends and flees at once, planning to punch through the outer hull.  Axe gets
back to the business of killing D-Boy...

Eye notes that Arm has been badly damaged, though Liver figures he can fix him
right up with his power.  Before your main force can arrive, your mystery ally
shows up and starts blasting.  Arm arrives and tells them that "that man" is
among the humans: they've got to combine their powers and fight back.  They
flee to the moon to be able to combine in peace, and the mystery ally instructs
your onrushing dudes to follow suit, including the white battleship carrying
Kaidou.  As they race off in pursuit, Entouji reports the unfortunate fact that
the enemy Tekkaman somehow got lost in the shuffle.  Luckily he's not out to
shoot down Orbit Base, only D-Boy.  D-Boy luckily stayed around to meet Axe's
challenge, but this fight might be tough considering that it was Axe who served
as Takaya and Shinya's fighting instructor.

  As the fight progresses, Axe fails to easily provoke D-Boy.  In fact, he ends
  up praising him for his intellect, his grasp of the world around him, and the
  circle of friends around him - he's every inch his father's son.  He assures
  D-Boy that even if Axe himself falls, there's no way that D-Boy can beat his
  superior brother Shinya.

  Axe is worth a Hyper Sensor and a Hit&Away.  He has to hand it to Takaya:
  he's grown strong, strong enough to elude the procession of death following
  him to date.  Quite a credit to his (former) instructor.  As his life begins
  to ebb, Goddard keeps his promise to tell about the Primevals.  They are the
  core of an ancient mechanical culture, and the Master Program that controls
  the Zondar (just as Miyuki had feared).  Though the Tek System may armor
  certain life forms against the Zondar's advance, the Zondar will never cease
  their assault until all organic life in the universe is gone.  Their object
  in Mechanizing all these worlds is a surprisingly altruistic one: to save
  those life forms from the Minus Energy - stress - that they are victim to.

  That explains how the Zondar Metal bonds with the human heart.  The Master
  Program is supposed to relieve the stress of all organic life, but it has run
  amok, becoming the most terrible of living beings' enemies.  The good news is
  that if you can somehow destroy the Master Program, all the other Zondar in
  the universe will halt.  Goddard, free of Radam control only in his dying
  moments, bids Takaya good luck in the fight against the Zondar.  And as a
  reward for winning their match, he gives D-Boy his own crystal, which will
  surely come in handy in the fighting to come.  As Goddard slips away, D-Boy
  now holds what remains of his life in his hands - and D-Boy isn't the sort to
  waste such a gift.

  On the moon, Arm is looking forward to wiping out Gai and J, the relics of
  the Green and Red planets, in one fell swoop.  The seven Primevals fuse,
  creating an even bigger monster than EI-01.  The Primevals figure they can
  restart their Zondar Metal Plant project using the massive power source on
  the moon (which your people hadn't heard about before...), once they've
  gotten rid of you.  They've got a lot of Zondar Robots on hand to make that
  happen, and even the proud J sees the wisdom of joining forces with your
  team... provided that the mysterious ally (who is indeed female) does so too.
  She tells Kazuma that her name is Aria, which provokes some kind of startled
  reaction from Bless.  No time to dwell on that now though...

  The Combined Primeval has far greater regenerative powers than the Zondar
  Robots, thanks to Liver.  The only possibility for victory is to strike it so
  fast that it can't regenerate, which might be possible with a Gravity Blast
  and Anti-Meson Cannon strike at the same time.  Or not.  As Tomoro
  frantically calculates what the Primevals' weakness is and Aria and Gai
  exhort the troops, the Primevals summon some help: Brain.  You've got to end
  this fast, less another troublesome ES Window get opened.

  As the main Primevals continue to regenerate, Yurika tells everyone to shift
  focus to the Brain.  As Ines explains, Omoikane and Tomoro are still
  crunching numbers, so you need a bit more time.  Unfortunately, beating up on
  the Brain is the cue for a horde of Radam to show up.  They're heading for
  your fleet first, apparently judging you a greater danger than the Zondar.
  As one of the Radam closes in faster than the Nadesico can evade, Yurika
  screams out for Akito...

  ...Who shows up as if on cue.  The immortal cook is back, though he's not
  sure how himself.  What's more, his mech is set up with the latest in
  low-gravity gear: the so-called "Moon Frame".  What scanty explanation he can
  offer will have to wait, but Yurika is already psyched thanks to the return
  of her prince.  Bring 'em on!  Ines is privately glad that Akito succeeded,
  but figures that Nergal isn't going to hold its peace either.

  Pummeling the Brain all the way isn't helpful either, as it fully regenerates
  and opens an ES Window after all.  Akane rushes in, telling everyone that she
  won't let her precious people be wiped out by a meaningless foe like this.
  Kazuma gets ready to rush to her aid, but she yells that he's the last person
  she wants help from.  He does so anyway, and Carret suddenly notes the onset
  of Combat Formation Pattern 101.  The Valstork flies near the Valhawk, and
  strange weapon readouts flood the screens.  The only thing they can do is go
  with the flow.

  The result is a massive cannon that combines the power of both mechs, blowing
  Brain clean away and allowing J to recover its core.  Your people are
  wondering why Bless and Kazuma kept this weapon secret, but Kazuma at least,
  and Aria too, had no idea it even existed in the first place.  J is quite
  sure that even this massive cannon can't beat the other Primevals, and Ines
  agrees on theoretical grounds.  The only solution is to separate the
  regenerative organ, Liver, from the rest of the body.

  With the targeting calculations complete, Gai prepares his Gatling Dividing
  Driver to warp space and open a path to the target.  The resulting
  gravitational lens can only open a 10 centimeter hole, but your dudes will
  have to fire everything they've got through it anyway.  The Primevals figure
  that it'll be impossible for you to defeat them all, but Gai points out that
  for your group, nothing is impossible.  As it turns out, this plan doesn't
  work at first, but D-Boy pops up and tells everyone to try again with his
  beam weaponry included.  He uses Goddard's crystal as the lens, which
  increases power output a good 300%.  This breaks the crystal, but D-Boy will
  always carry Goddard in his heart.  How thoughtful.  Anyway, Aria figures her
  role is over for now, but promises Mihiro she'll come to see her again.

  The Combined Primeval is worth a Hybrid Armor, a Mars Donburi, a Max SP+10,
  and a Gunfight +1.

The end comes rather abruptly, thanks to Goddard's good deed to D-Boy.  It
takes Arm to seal the deal, but in the process the Brain and the Stomach escape
by temporarily posing as Kaidou's (adopted) mother.  Arma knows that had the
Primeval fused with his mother, her consciousness would be gone, but he still
hesitates slightly to destroy Stomach.  Gai and Mamoru catch up, and once again
Mamoru is referred to as The Destruction Machine Cain Fashioned.  Arma corrects
this: Mamoru is Cain's child, born on the Green Planet.  It was Abel who built
the destruction machine on the Red Planet - him.  Stomach wonders why G and J,
the green and red planets, are still fighting back long after being Mechanized.
It was only Latio (that's Mamoru)'s special powers that kept him from being
Mechanized along with everything else on his world: the power of the
anti-Mechanizing circuit, the G-Stone.  The J-Jewel was created by Abel as a
copy of the G-Stone, along with a living weapon with a stronger version of
Latio's psychokinesis: Arma.  Abel also created the Soldat series and their
J-Ark mothership, but all their combined might couldn't stop the Zondar.  Arma
and Latio, the custodians of that which was built on the Green Planet, managed
to escape - but both are crippled in their own ways.  Latio, by thinking he's
Mamoru and having his full powers sealed, and Arma, for his attachment to the
people of Earth.

This may have been an unwise opinion to voice, since it makes Arma very mad.
Mad enough to attack his "mother", who he says was never related to him by
blood anyway.  Mamoru yells it would be too sad to sever what connection they
do have, and Taiga makes a dramatic entrance to agree.  He tosses Mamoru a
present: a G-Stone pendant.  This unlocks his full powers, and together with
Arma they purify Stomach once and for all.  Kaidou's mother is even okay,
leaving J to head off in search of the last Primeval.  There's an uneasy
understanding between him and Gai, but a much warmer sendoff between Mamoru and
Kaidou.  The pendant came from Mamoru's adopted parents.  As Taiga found out,
all the Stomach said was true about his past.  That said, there's no reason why
Mamoru can't continue to think of his parents as parents from here on out.

Akito struggles to explain what happened to him.  Basically, when he came to
after going through the ES Window, he was on the lunar surface... ten days ago!
All this is according to a passing garbage man who rescued him, who said he's
been asleep for that long.  This would have to mean that Akito actually
traveled backwards in time, and Ines sadly says she isn't authorized to explain
here how that might be possible.  She is willing to give you a hint though,
since it seems her own private theory has been proven.  She congratulates Akito
for being the first Earthling to survive a Boson Jump unassisted, and says that
the rest will have to wait until everyone goes to Nergal HQ on the moon.


22. [Route split]

Akito has some provisionally good news about where Chouryuujin could be.  As he
got thrown around by the ES Window, he caught a glimpse of where they were
headed: somewhere near Jupiter.  That would explain where the asteroids came
from the first time, and makes your course of action pretty clear.  First to
Mars, to gain more insight into the Jovians from the Martian ruins, and then to
Jupiter itself.  There's just one snag: if Akito really pulled off a Boson
Jump, Nergal will want to run a full battery of tests on both him and the
Nadesico.  Erina brusquely informs Yurika that her ship and crew are assigned
to the Nergal moon base for testing as of tomorrow.  Taiga agrees that the
prospect of life forms Boson Jumping is an important one, so you'll have to
divide your forces.  And since the Nadesico will be down for repairs during the
split, the split will have to be close to 50/50.  The Preventers and SRT will
stay on the moon, with everyone else heading to space.  You can choose where
you want the Trailers to go.

[Go to space in 22S.  Stay on the moon with 22M.]

Either way, it sounds like rough sledding ahead as you try to rescue the dragon
brothers and hopefully figure out what the Jovians are really up to.


22S. Kako Kara no Kiko

Word of Mamoru's alien heritage has made the rounds.  Fortunately, both Mamoru
and his adopted parents see themselves as true family.  Kazuma would love to
soak in a bit more of that kind of family ambiance, but for now there's the
little matter of a voyage to Mars: a major step for Trailer-kind.  And after
that, an even more major step to Jupiter - closing in on the kind of life
spaceman legend George Glenn led.  Kazuma is puzzled by his father's odd
behavior of late, which he figures is due to Aria.

Whether Aria was responsible for the new Valhawk/Valstork weapon, or whether it
was just the shock of battle jarring loose one of Carret's black boxes, is a
matter of speculation.  But the timing has Kazuma's skin crawling, and Bless'
reaction to hearing Aria's name, after all the denial of a love child, isn't
exactly reassuring.  Of all the mysteries in Bless' past, the circumstances
under which he met Kazuma's mother are the most obscure.  Given that Bless was
born and raised on Mars, perhaps this trip will give Kazuma a chance to reveal
what the stuck-up Aria's deal really is.

While Kazuma talks to the ship's log, Noal is quizzing Boss on the planets in
the Solar System.  Boss has a good head for this: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars,
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.  Of course, there used to be one more
planet - Prometheus?  Nemesis?  Lucifer?  No one can remember its rightful
name, but D-Boy explains that that ninth planet certainly hasn't vanished.  It
was simply disqualified by a group of scientists, condemned to permanent
obscurity.  D-Boy can still recall when he passed Pluto's orbit on the way to
outer space, a prospect that once filled him with dread.

Since then, a lot has come to light about outer space, including some of the
many races dwelling there.  Of the ones you've contacted, the Eviluders are the
most obscure, known only in rumors even on Altea.  This supposedly warlike race
is nothing but a vaguely sketched enemy in D-Boy's Radam memories - one that
indiscriminately attacks other cultures.  He vaguely knows that the Eviluders
were especially enthusiastic in their assault on the Radam, despite the fact
that their forces were equal and massive carnage on both sides would be the
likely outcome.  Even more interesting is how similar the Tekkaman and
Detonators seem to be - maybe there's a chance for D-Boy and Orgun to team up?
The prospect seems to perplex rather than aggravate D-Boy, and Shihomi thinks
that Aki's influence is slowly softening D-Boy's shell.

Speaking of forgotten planets, Mars falls into that category too.  The dreams
of a vital colony there were laid waste when Akito and Yurika were kids, and
those who helped build the settlement seem reluctant to try again.  That seems
to be the time when Bless met Taiga and the others, since he spent his entire
teens living on Mars.  The odd part is how easily the Earth seems to have given
up on colonizing its closest planetary neighbor, though Kazuma figures such
efforts will resume when this war is over.  But what constitutes the end of the
war?  Akane is hoping for some clearly defined "last boss" like every other
game, and Kouji and Ryouma hear a ring of truth in this simpleminded concept.
As things currently stand, you don't really know _who_ or what you're trying to
defeat.

Take the "Jovian Lizards" for instance, which were only called that because
they were first spotted on Jupiter.  The question is whether George Glenn, the
leader of the first manned expedition to Jupiter and the "First Coordinator",
fought them.  Fahra has heard that the Coordinators are a strain of humanity
which has undergone genetic engineering, and wonders where they all are.
Mikoto explains that they look outwardly identical to the "Naturals" without
genetic changes, and that they all retreated to the space colonies known as
"Plants" to avoid open conflict with those Naturals.  The Plants didn't even
intervene during the revolutionary war, part of a full century of enforced
ignoring one another.  If the rumors are true, that century has made the
Coordinators steadily less and less friendly...

The journey to Mars is over fast, and Kouji would rather look for the Lizards
and Chouryuujin than mull your list of potential enemies.  It will be difficult
to gather information, given how much of Mars is uninhabited.  For all you
know, one or more enemies may have been busy building forward bases on Mars by
now.  That doesn't faze Kazuma, whose childlike enthusiasm is a constant
puzzlement to Akane.  Kazuma retorts that her childlike breasts are a
puzzlement to him, and that if she's not careful Mihiro will beat her in that
department.  Akane gets furious, and the curvaceous Mikoto's assurances that
she has nothing to worry about seem like very cold comfort.  As the Trailers
say: "The strong comforting the weak is an act of violence; do not sympathize
without getting paid for it."

On Mars, Yamasaki notes with some sorrow that the Garura have returned to the
Earth Sphere - not what he wanted to see right after excavating a certain
fascinating item.  Meanwhile, Saburouta informs his captain Genhachirou that
their losses have passed 50%, forcing him to order an orderly retreat.
Saburouta protests that this is their last line of defense: if they withdraw,
they'll have to withdraw all the way to Jupiter.  The earnest but naive junior
officer advocates charging the enemy and detonating the flag ship in their
midst, but the captain is having none of it.  A retreat today can be followed
by a counterattack tomorrow, but there is no tomorrow for the dead.

When your people arrive on the scene, Fahra recognizes the Death Black beastmen
of the Garura.  The Jovian Lizards are busy fighting the Garura, and the Jovian
commander, sorry the Nadesico isn't among your group, opens hailing
frequencies.  He introduces himself as a member of the Anti Earth Federation
unit of the United Jupiter Sphere (including Europa, Ganymede, Callisto and
other satellites): Captain Akiyama Genhachirou of the Yumemizuki.  Bless
responds with a similarly verbose title mentioning everyone who's ever given
you support, less a case of synchronizing communications and more a calculated
dig at the Jovians.  Genhachirou is wise to such tactics, and he and Bless
quickly agree to shorten each others' organizations' names to Wärter and
Jupiter Union.  Genhachirou allows that insofar as the Jovians share a common
ancestor with modern Earth people, they could be considered "Earthlings" as
well - though until very recently they saw Earth's people as an inimical race,
i.e. as the enemy.  He doesn't have time to explain right now, but he predicts
that Earth and Jupiter are about to become allies.  It's not clear what's been
going on on Earth during your journey to Mars, but Bless decides to take him at
his word for now.

He tells Kazuma that whatever the truth may be, it's clear that the Garura are
the common enemy of all "Earthlings" here.  This allows Genhachirou to make his
orderly retreat - at least until the main Jovian fleet arrives.  A brief period
of leaving the "Ruins" unattended won't hurt much, he figures.  As the Jovian
battleship leaves, your people marvel that not only were the Jovian Lizards
manned, but manned by _men_.  Though it might feel weird, you've got to help
the remaining Jovians out and clean up stuff on Mars.

  When you beat down the Garura, Yamasaki is duly impressed by your prowess.
  He figures that "he" must be lurking in the bushes, pleased as well.  Your
  people are beginning to suspect that this is where the Garura who fled Dr.
  Hell's place ended up, and everything looks under control...

  ...Until a group of Eviluders show up en masse, with all guns blazing.  Lang,
  their leader, is duly impressed by the Earthlings' firepower.  And that's
  saying something, considering that he's the Eviluders front-line commander.
  Lang is looking forward to his first taste of battle in this star system, and
  his outlook brightens further when Orgun shows up.  Lang plans to punish the
  traitor, but of course Orgun has unfinished business, can't die yet, etc.
  etc.  He plans to protect what he's discovered in this system, at least until
  he finds the other "him".

  Waste a few redshirts (or Lang himself; he's worth a Propellant Tank and a
  Support +1) and Lang comments that this battle on Earth looks to be quite fun
  indeed.  Somehow Orgun infers that this means Lang's power exceeds his [how,
  I dunno since neither has fought each other yet].  There's a bigger problem:
  a MUCH bigger one in the form of asteroid that seems to be deliberately
  heading your way.  You get suspicious when that asteroid grows an arm, and
  your fears are confirmed when it starts talking smack to you.  Arm, having
  fled Earth, apparently ended up here, and fused with an entire asteroid in
  the process.

  His directed gravity wave seems to have gotten more powerful too, and Lang
  realizes he's got to inform supreme commander Zoa about this turn of events.
  He informs Orgun that he's just gotten a reprieve - assuming he can survive
  the Primeval.  If so, Lang vows to take his life later.

  As the throwdown with Arm continues, Yamasaki figures that your dudes are at
  a disadvantage, and begins to plot how to escape.  Gekiryuujin rushes in
  rashly and gets knocked aside for his pains... crashing right into the
  mountain containing the Ruins.  Inside is none other than Chouryuujin,
  apparently fossilized and not registering any G-Stone response.  Since Ines
  isn't around, it's Horis' turn to play Mr. Science.  He explains to your
  baffled team that the dragons apparently got tossed _far_ into the past,
  compared to Akito's 3-day jaunt.  How far?  65 million years, comparable to
  the event that wiped out the dinosaurs.  The Chinese dragons start busting
  their butts to keep their fellows from Arm's wrath, and Mamoru adds his own
  prayers as Arm closes in for the kill.

  The amazing glowing boy saves the day again, but the power coursing through
  Chouryuujin isn't just G-Stone power alone.  Some sort of golden light spills
  from their body, a power the dragons encountered all those millions of years
  ago on Jupiter: THE POWER.  It was this power that granted their wish to
  live, and to see you all again, and to kick your adversaries' ass most
  recently.  Arm is flabbergasted that such an energy could exist, and the
  dragons hatch a new scheme: mixed Symmetrical Docking to better spread THE
  POWER around.  This is dangerous, since the Chinese dragons aren't programmed
  to dock with their Japanese brethren, but as GGG article 5.125 states, One
  must never give up, no matter what the circumstances.  Of course it works,
  giving us Genryuujin and Gouryuujin.

  Arm is worth an EN Chip and an Inner Strength + 1.  Arm is pretty scared of
  THE POWER, but figures he might be able to get his hands on it himself if he
  heads to its source, Jupiter.  As Arm flees, Orgun notes that this power,
  which answers the call of its user's heart, is what he's been seeking.  He
  tells D-Boy that there is in this star system something the Eviluders have
  forgotten, and D-Boy is the one who is bearing that thing back to the Radam.
  He promises you all that you'll meet again.

  The throwdown isn't quite over yet, as a new wave of Garura appear.  The
  full-scale invasion of Earth has begun, and Dai Bazarl's son, crown prince
  Sinclyne, is in total command.  Kogane warns Kazuma and the others that he
  didn't get his rank by nepotism, but through raw ability - as the Go-Lion
  crew saw with their own eyes at the Fall of Altea.  With your dudes
  [theoretically, according to the plot] beat up from this long battle, you
  seem to be at the Garura's mercy, until a bombardment from above lands.  It's
  those Jovians, apparently keeping their promise to aid you.  Bless is glad to
  see that the principles of spacemanhood aren't totally dead among the
  Jovians, and takes them at their word and has your people escape.  Yamasaki
  finds this an amusing turn of events, and lucky in the sense that it got your
  people out of the picture.  After all, the Ruins are nowhere near done
  showing their treasures to him.

After your people are at a safe distance, Bless hears from Akiyama that the
Jovians won't allow you to further investigate the Ruins.  Since the whole of
Mars is currently under Jovian investigation, and thanks to that peace treaty,
Bless isn't willing to try and force your way in.  He prudently withdraws for
now, warning Akiyama to beware of the Garura fleet, still lurking somewhere
nearby.  Akiyama thanks him for the warning, and adds that he personally hopes
to visit Earth one day, once true peace is established.

Akiyama hangs up, and Bless can do nothing but praise the enemy's acumen.  At
this rate, there's no point in heading to Jupiter - your course must be back to
Earth.  At least you got Chouryuujin back, making your Martian visit not a
total bust.  If this treaty mess is any indication, you can expect affairs on
Earth to be pretty messy upon your return...

As your team travels home, you get to ponder how the Jupiter Union are the
descendants of the century-old colony mission.  Their ancestors were colonists
no one wanted on Earth, or even on Mars, where they ventured first.  It's a
pretty sad story, which turned dangerous once they found alien tech floating
around in orbit.  What went around has indeed come back around, in the form of
a Jovian army fighting for its own version of Justice.  The one odd thing is
their mode of speech, laced with melodrama and high-sounding ideals.  It seems
that one of the only forms of entertainment available to the Jovians was a
recording of Geki Ganger - which with time has become something like their
religion.  The person who brought them the disc was none other than George
Glenn, or at least someone who was part of his team.  This presumably means
that Glenn and the rest of the Coordinators have known all this time about the
people living near Jupiter.  That they didn't tell the government is probably
out of sympathy, since both the Jovians and the Coordinators were ostracized
from Earth for who they are.  Heck, Glenn probably even hoped that the Jovians
would one day become Coordinators too.  Not in the sense of genetic
modifications, but in the original sense of the name, as people who could
"coordinate", or perhaps "regulate" from afar any fighting that would come to
Earth.  How ironic is that: kick someone off your planet, then task them with
managing your wars? But that's all over now... right?

The dragons are all back in one piece, but THE POWER seems to have vanished
entirely.  Without it, Genryuujin and Gouryuujin can't combine.  But even with
it, it's far from clear that you can simply beat your enemies back.  As D-Boy
points out, the mixed dragons couldn't regulate THE POWER at the end of the
last battle, and a similar fate likely awaits any of your other dudes who might
try to obtain THE POWER from wherever it is on Jupiter.  THE POWER seems to be
too great for man to control, and at worst it might destroy all who try to use
it.  Possibly extending to all of mankind.  As D-Boy well knows, there are
plenty of dangerous things mankind shouldn't meddle with in the universe -
things of incredible destructive power - and this THE POWER may well be one of
them.

Sinclyne has now had a taste of the power that repulsed Sadak, and he's jazzed.
He belittles Honeruba's dire warnings, determined to send Go-Lion and all its
Earthling friends to Hell with his own hands.  Honeruba tells him she's looking
forward to watching him succeed, for the Emperor's sake.  Sinclyne privately
sneers at that, apparently with plans of his own for later...

Taiga and the others ponder Bless' reports during his 2-3 days voyage back.
They too are worried about the uncontrollable THE POWER, but are more
immediately worried about the Security Council, who resisted the ceasefire
until the bitter end.  There's still every possibility they'll sabotage it from
the shadows, which could be said for certain hardliners on the Jupiter side as
well.  Fortunately, the majority of both sides are trying to live in peace,
thanks to Shiratori Tsukumo's grand speech to the top military brass.  See the
other path for the full details of his and Akito's brave actions, and
Shiratori's love with Minato.  Akito's help in unraveling the Boson Jump system
is proving invaluable, including the fact that the Tulip Crystals found on Mars
can power biological Boson Jumping.  Yurika figures everything is pointing
towards a happy ending, but Lady Une is worried about words exchanged on the
Moon, about an "endless waltz".

Just then an emergency call breaks the mood: Tsukumo has been assassinated, and
the Jovians are blaming the Earthlings for it.  Looks like the war is back on,
thanks to whatever asshole pulled it off...


22M. Yatte Kita "Tooi Dousai" ("'Comrade' From Afar")

Ruri takes her turn at the ship's log thing.  The Nadesico's crew has been
subject to three days' worth of tests at Erina's direction, with special
emphasis on Akito and Yurika.  Akito has been anything but thrilled about this.
More ominous is the message from Taiga that the Jovian Lizards are in fact
human: once the word finally gets around, there's sure to be some kind of
brouhaha.  This is just the calm before the storm, she thinks.  The other
bridge crewmembers wonder what Ruri's up to, and she explains that Kazuma told
her a Trailer saying: "Memories are precious, so convert them to money".  This
fits Bless' talented son, and no one will be surprised if Kazuma's log becomes
a bestseller at some point.

Minato gets called aside by Gort, which isn't much of a problem since the
Nadesico is itself offline.  Meg is starting to wonder if the two of them have
a thing going, but Ruri begs out of the conjecture on the theory that she's
still a kid.  Instead, she helps Ines and Yurika host the SRWW edition of "Naze
Nani Nadesico", about the oddest briefing your people will ever see (but good
as an antidote for boredom).  The first topic is Boson Jumping, a type of warp
or teleportation powered somehow by the Tulips.  Though a Tulip got the
Nadesico from Mars to the Earth, it now seems that some of the Jovian Lizards
can Boson Jump without it.

Ruri explains that it turns out not to be the Tulip that matters, but its
ability to breach the dimensional walls - and that ability isn't unique.
Objects called Tulip Crystals can also produce the effect, and it just so
happens that the Valstork is loaded down with them in its hold.  Bless is
evasive as to why, but the most immediate concern is how the stones can open
the passage across dimensions.  Akito's memento pendant from his parents
contained a Tulip Crystal, allowing him to escape the destruction of his colony
and arrive on Earth - proving, along with the revelation about the Jovians,
that it's possible for living beings to survive the process.  The question of
what else might be required is what's under investigation now, and Ruri asks
all the good little boys and girls to help out.

Believe it or not, the poker-faces among your crew actually found all the bunny
suits and antics amusing, though as Quatre explains Trowa never actually laughs
out loud.  Ines also admits that there's still a lot you don't know about Boson
Jumping, including why timeslips seem possible.  Bless, using one of his two
thousand special techniques ("Hiding in the Clouds"), leaves before anyone can
ask him to clarify.  In any case, Erina is sure that you'll be able to counter
the Jovians' live Boson Jumping as long as you've got Akito on your side.
Unfortunately for her, Akito is now sick of playing guinea pig.  He suspects
Nergal means to use the knowledge to fight the Jovians, and has no wish to
assist humans killing other humans.  As he runs off, Izumi suspects (correctly)
that the news of humans inside the Jovian Lizards gave Akito a major shock.
Given his background, it's no real surprise he's a pacifist.

Duo also doubts Erina's altruism - Nergal stands to make a pile of money from
monopolizing the Boson Jump technology.  Erina isn't even shy about being loyal
to the Nergal first and mankind second, but a word from Akatsuki silences her.
Why could that be?  In any case, since you're dismissed for today, Minato
suggests a shopping trip to the other girls, though she won't say what's gotten
her riled up (Gort grimaces).  Sousuke meanwhile passes along a message from
Tessa to Uribatake - something about improving the gravity wave return from the
ship's generator.  Uribatake and the EST members go to see what Tessa has in
mind, but Akatsuki has other plans already.  To Kazuma's vast relief, so does
Noin: her first date with Zechs in who knows how long.  Thus ends any hope
Kazuma might have had for some "special" reward from Noin for clearing his
training...

Kaname has been busy guiding an old lady around town, not letting on that she
herself is lost.  Meanwhile, Minato poses a hypothetical question: what if
someone you care about, someone nearby, selfishly asked you to quit your job.
Your people see right through the hypothetical right away, and after a bit of
fidgeting Minato explains that she's not planning to leave the Nadesico, though
she is conflicted.  Between protecting and being protected, she prefers the
former - and she gets a chance abruptly, when a passing girl named Yukina face
plants into her ample cleavage.  Yukina quickly rebounds, and after a hastily
muttered obscenity runs off again.

Nearby, Kaname and the woman have accosted none other than Tsukumo, who turns
out to be headed the same place the woman is: the Lunar War Memorial.  Since
Kaname doesn't know what that is, the woman explains that the Civil War, some
hundred years ago, included a battle between the Colonies and Earth fought on
the Moon.  Though the Earth eventually won the battle, the scars still linger -
even to this very day.  Kaname jokes that the old lady must have been a little
kid during the war (the lady protests she's not that old), and Kaname plus the
rest of your crew decide to tag along to wherever this Memorial is.  Tsukumo is
amazed to realize that a good half of the crew of the Earth's only
Transposition Engine vessel is before him, and very nearly has his cover blown
as he gets roped into leading everyone to the Memorial.

Yukina, his sister, watches this in bemusement.  She thinks all Earthlings are
archvillains, but isn't prepared for Sousuke to stick her up for spying on
Kaname.  Kazuma interferes, insisting that no girl this young and cute could be
a spy.  He thinks lady spies have to be stacked like Minato, but in the process
of demonstrating he lets Yukina escape.  He compounds the error by dissuading
Sousuke from pursuing, querying him instead on why he doesn't go say hi to
Kaname.  Sousuke says that someone else from Mithril is guarding her, and is so
taken with Kaname that he doesn't want to risk her displeasure by intruding on
her.  Instead, Kazuma has them hurry off to buy the items Uribatake sent them
for, only to be interrupted by a call from Heero.

Some terrorists have infiltrated the Lunar city, and they're packing some hefty
explosives.  While Heero and Duo pursue the explosives, he wants Sousuke to
follow his orders.  Sousuke tells Kazuma to hurry back and get a bomb dispersal
machine ready.

Back at base, Lowe and his Trailer crew are helping Akito, Uribatake and crew
reconfigure Akito's mech.  Uribatake doesn't mind getting help from these
"Junkmen", but warns Akito that Erina was mighty mad that he boycotted her
tests.  Yurika has decided to do whatever Akito does about helping or not
helping fight wars, leaving the whole crew to help realize the "Uribatake
Original Version" Aestivalis: the "Xtivalis".  The new generator he's designed
and Tessa refined gives it fully five times the power of its predecessor, and
Mao is impressed despite herself at Uribatake's enthusiasm for working with her
commander (using Sousuke as the intermediary).  Though this is an unauthorized
use of Nergal gear, surely the brass won't complain when it results in more
powerful kit for them.

Mao finds it interesting that Akito won't fight, but is willing to help develop
tools for fighting.  When he asks what she's getting at, she tells him that
she's lived with warfare so long that she's stopped deliberating whether it's
right or wrong.  Akito on the other hand is a newcomer, giving him a
potentially fresher perspective...  Kazuma then bursts in, managing to convey
the news about the terrorists.  Realizing that the shit is about to hit the
fan, Lowe orders Kazuma back to the Valstork while he tries to do something
about the bomb.  He grins and says that while junkmen love putting broken
things back together, he sure doesn't like to watch the breaking process with
his own eyes.

As the terrorists burst out onto the scene, Gort tries ushering everyone to
safety.  The classmates that Kaname got lost and separated from are wondering
why every field trip they go on seems to be dogged by danger.  Meanwhile, all
your dudes who are able sortie, waiting for the explosives to be found.  The
bad guys look like they're from the Marimea army, and it seems they don't care
about mixing up innocent civilians in their rampage.  Akito is conspicuous by
his absence...

  As the battle wears on, one of Wufei's fellows asks why he's not helping to
  blow up the city.  Wufei replies that wiping out any single opponent, no
  matter who, won't win a war.  He freely admits that he's not interested in
  the objective of the fighting - for him, the fighting itself is its own
  objective.  Even the Marimea army's goals don't seem to align with his own,
  and he tells his companion that your people have some justification in their
  fight too.  Therefore, all he'll do is damage them a little - as she watches.

  Take out the first wave and you'll still be awaiting word from Sousuke and
  the others.  Meanwhile, Tsukumo is fuming over the unfairness of
  indiscriminate terrorism when he runs into his sister, who wasn't supposed to
  have followed him on his expedition to check out the Earthlings.  Yukina
  doesn't exactly keep this quiet, and Tsukumo confesses straight away to
  Minato that he was the pilot of the "Tetsujin" in the previous battle -
  adding an apology for not saying so right away.

  Meanwhile, Sousuke finds Kaname, rapidly apologizing for going up to space
  without telling her first.  She announces that she'll help out, reminding him
  of her exploits during the previous bomb scare.  Heero is working hard as
  usual, having localized the explosives to somewhere within the public park.
  Kiri demands to know how he can be so calm at a time like this, but Duo tells
  her that he's special and tells them all to step on it.

  But the old lady with them tells them _all_ to shut up.  Saying that this has
  nothing to do with Earth versus Jupiter, she enlists Tsukumo's help sweeping
  for bombs along one of the nearby blocks.  Yukina protests, but Tsukumo tells
  her that his illusion that all humans are bloodless, tearless monsters has
  been broken.  He tells Minato that he's off to protect everyone, as the lady
  briskly orders the lost high schooler (Kaname) to take Pokerface #1 (Sousuke)
  and check near the playground equipment.  She gives orders to Pokerface #2
  (Heero) where to search next, enlists Meg as the communications intermediary,
  and has Minato look after the childlike Yukina.  Yukina doesn't want any
  filthy human to touch her, upset about what their ancestors did a century
  ago, but Minato points out that _now_, the two sides seem to be working
  together quite well.  When Minato tells her that Tsukumo would be saddened by
  her attitude, she quiets down.

  Tsukumo finds the bomb, but Kaname can't defuse it - the auto-timer has
  already been started.  With no other options open, the brave Tsukumo grabs
  the bomb and plans to take it as far away as he can.  He tells Minato that he
  came here to spy on the Earthlings - and that in the process he's realized
  that the Earthlings are in fact comrades, every bit as sensitive to justice
  and whatnot as his own kin.  He's especially happy he met her, and the
  prospect of losing him so suddenly makes Minato and Yukina cry out...

  But Akito arrives in the just-completed Xtivalis, offering to throw the bomb
  with his mech's strength instead of letting Tsukumo just run with it.
  Besides, this way Akito doesn't have to watch anybody die.  He nearly dies
  himself when the bomb goes off, but is able to Boson Jump out of its blast
  radius.  With the explosives dealt with, it's time for everyone to retreat,
  and Heero takes special care guarding Rose Abrovall, the Secretary-General of
  the UN(!!)  Kaname is astounded to realize who she's been hobnobbing with,
  and Rose sniffs that high school girls these days don't read the papers
  nearly enough.  That said, Rose won't forget the kindness Kaname showed her.
  She then tells Tsukumo that she won't ask for forgiveness for the past - but
  as for the future, the Earth and Jupiter must join hands.  For her part, she
  hopes to make up for the mistakes of the Earthlings' past, and wouldn't lie
  to a man who just risked his life for a loved one.  He blushes at this, and
  with a smirk Rose observes that he might be just the man to literally join
  the Earth and Jupiter together.

  Akito meanwhile has made up his mind - he's not going to put up with people
  just indiscriminately attacking others, and ending their lives.  And he's got
  someone left to fight: Wufei, who tells your people he's got nothing to do
  with these terrorists who seem to have gotten why people fight all wrong.
  Instead, he's come to your people with a warning: now that the Jovians are
  acting, the "Endless Waltz" will be starting any minute now.  He figures he
  needn't remind you how futile your fighting would be amidst that (and thereby
  reminds you anyway), which surely means that Dekim is about to act.

  He leaves, followed shortly by hordes of Jovian Lizards - err, Jupiter Union
  forces, under the command of Genichirou.  Bless tries to match Genichirou's
  verbosity level during the greeting, but Akito interrupts.  These are the
  people who razed his Martian home, killing Ai-chan in the process, as well as
  Admiral Fukube and Yamada.  At the very least, he won't stand for them
  imitating Geki Ganger - but Genichirou says that they're imitating nothing:
  Geki Ganger is their Bible!

  By this point, Kazuma demands to know what the hell is going on.  What are a
  bunch of Jovian mecha otaku doing attacking the Earth Sphere anyhow?! Akito
  doesn't even care - if fighting is the only way to end this war sooner, he's
  now all for it.  Tsukumo agrees, emerging and admitting to his commander that
  he had no other cure for the worries in his heart but to study the
  Earthlings.  Akito's not backing down, and Genichirou certainly isn't willing
  to forget what he calls Earth's unpardonable sins.  Tsukumo is sorry that he
  and Akito were born on different planets - if not, perhaps they could have
  been friends.  This line comes straight out of Geki Ganger, and more than
  anything it enrages Akito to hear his favorite anime used by the forces of
  evil.  He vows to defeat the Jovians with his own hands.

  Erina and Ines are watching from the sidelines, unsure if Akito's conversion
  of hatred for battle to hatred for the enemy causing the battle is an
  indication of a delicate spirit, or a stupid one.

  Keep fighting and the bad guys will try an end-around, attacking Nergal's
  base directly.  Akito objects that people live in there, but luckily the
  Nadesico is back online - and sporting some radical new gear called the
  "Y-Unit".  Said equipment was originally intended for the fourth member of
  the Nadesico class, the "Shakuyaku", but the terrorists already managed to
  destroy that...  Anyway, Genichirou still thinks he can win on the theory
  that "Justice Always Prevails".  Akito is skeptical.  Yurika actually says
  she has no idea if she should go on fighting like this - but she will not
  allow any more of the city to be destroyed, nor her ship to be defeated.
  After all, the Nadesico is what everyone, Akito included, can call home.

  Tsukumo is impressed by your resolve, but he announces that his own forces
  have reasons why they can't withdraw.  He orders both sides to fight for
  their respective versions of justice, evidently having decided that the Way
  of the Warrior must lead to death one way or another.  Bless tells his troops
  that until the Jovians withdraw, your people can't leave the field either.

  Genichirou is worth an EN Chip and an Inner Strength +1.  He can't believe
  that he and his Daimajin could be defeated, but we can.  Tsukumo is worth a
  Propellant Tank and a Support +1.  With his Daitenjin immobilized, Tsukumo
  waits for Akito to land the final blow - a blow that never comes.  No way can
  Akito execute the man who helped save the city - and is a fellow Geki Ganger
  otaku besides.  Minato wants to "chat" with Tsukumo some more, and begs with
  him to surrender.  This he does, and Heero observes that this is not the end,
  but the beginning.  Akito really hopes that the mess with the Jovians can be
  settled not by fighting, but by talking things out the way he did with
  Tsukumo.  Erina finds this all very simpleminded, but Ines reminds her of the
  power of the KISS principle.

Ryouko is struck by how much Tsukumo resembles Daigouji Gai, including his
voice.  Perhaps this is because both of them are effectively cosplaying the
main character of Geki Ganger?  Rose gets ready to start the debriefing, and
Kurz wonders just who she is.  Bless says that if your team are the Wardens of
the Lighthouse, this would be the Helmsman - a suitably grandiose expression
that once would have been beyond Bless' skill.  Rose wonders if Koutarou
(Taiga), Freeman and the others have been rubbing off on him.  When Rose's name
finally emerges, those on your team who didn't know are mostly speechless.  She
explains to Zechs that her determination to right the wrongs of the past led
her to the Moon unaccompanied, which led to her wonderful run-in with Tsukumo,
Kaname, and the Poker Face brothers.

As for that questioning bit, your people start out by thanking him again for
helping defuse the bomb situation.  He claims he only did what was right, not
as a soldier, but as a man.  Minato seems especially warm in her praise, which
has Gort glaring.  Tsukumo explains that the Jovians' hostility for Earth dates
back a good hundred years to the Lunar conflict.  That rebellion against the
United Nations was squashed with a vengeance by military force, and those
responsible kicked out of the Earth Sphere.  These people, the modern Jovians'
ancestors, first tried to resettle on Mars, but the Federation apparently found
that still too close to home, for fear that their own malfeasance in declaring
the exile would come to light.  Once again, Federation military might came
down, and drove the people beyond the boundaries of inhabited space.

These people sought refuge in orbit around Jupiter...  though the harsh life
they endured could hardly be dignified with that word.  They were only able to
eke out an existence thanks to a technological leap, accomplished when they
discovered an abandoned factory among the asteroids.  A factory for
Transposition Engines.  Not only did this secure their new kingdom around
Jupiter, it permitted them to mount a counter attack against their long-hated
foes back on Earth.  No one is really surprised that this shameful history is
in none of the textbooks, but Rose is certain that all mankind will be made to
accept it nonetheless, and in the not terribly distant future either.

Now, about this Geki Ganger worship.  Yukina finds this "sacred" work endlessly
tedious, childish and overblown - and Akito maintains that it's the greatest
anime ever made for all the Love and Bravery and Hope it teaches.  It seems the
Jovians, long concerned merely with staying alive, received a present from one
George Glenn some sixty years ago.  Recall that George Glenn was in charge of
what was supposedly man's first voyage to Jupiter - he must have known about
the Jovians when he returned to Earth and made his Coordinator announcement.
From what Tsukumo has heard, Glenn concealed the Jovians' existence out of
sympathy for their plight.  That he kept his promise all this time led the
Jovians to refer to him as Glenn the Just, and Glenn the Evangelist.  It's
certainly true that the Jovians and the Coordinators were both destined to be
reviled by the rulers of the Earth...

See the other path for how Glenn wanted the Jovians to become true
"Coordinators".

It's now clear to Tsukumo that the Justice Glenn taught his people has collided
with an equally valid Justice in the hands of the new generation of Earthlings.
Mao is getting rather sick of all this talk of Justice with a capital J, and
says that only in some anime are things that black and white.  Speaking of
anime, Tsukumo relates that it wasn't actually George Glenn himself who handed
over the N'th generation Geki Ganger tapes, but presumably one of his crew.  In
fact, the tapes are in such crappy quality that episodes 9, 13, and 33 are
missing entirely.  But _Akito_ has them, and offers to show them to Tsukumo
after they're done here.  There seems to be no time for that, but what Tsukumo
will do is go back to the Jovians, if permitted, and push for peace talks.  It
would be hard, even for the Secretary General, to countenance just turning him
loose, but the problem is solved when Yukina volunteers to stay behind in his
stead.  Bless assures her of three square meals a day, relying on another of
his two thousand special techniques: "Kidnapping".  Rose will take full
responsibility, and with the exception of Sousuke, Yukina is looking forward to
hanging with your crew.  This also lets her thoroughly check Minato out,
apparently to see if she's really suitable for Tsukumo to marry O_o;;  Yurika
assures Tsukumo that everyone (save the glowering Gort) is pulling for things
to work out for the two of them.  In any case, all this is now officially Top
Secret, though Rose is sure it will not be so forever.  And Tsukumo's reward
for peace (besides Minato), will be watching those episodes with Akito.

With Tsukumo departed, Kaname heads back to rejoin the field trip, now
apparently reconciled with Sousuke.  She would have liked the winter field trip
coming up to include everyone, but she realizes that that's going to be tough
the way things are now.  Sousuke promises her he'll be back to their high
school one day - especially since his duties as garbage monitor must surely be
backing up by now.

About a month later, Kazuma updates the ship's log.  Rose has made an official
announcement acknowledging the government's guilt in the Jovian exile, drawing
a firestorm of criticism from the army and sowing dissension in the
legislature.  Still, the efforts of Rose and Tsukumo have paid off, and the
groundwork is now set for Tsukumo to come as the Jovian envoy for formal peace
talks.  Minato and Yukina are both eagerly looking forward to seeing his noble
features again, as are Akito and Kazuma himself.  Akito's been blowing off
Nergal's researchers again, but at least he's agreed to help fight.  See the
other path for all the other good stuff your people have been up to on Mars.

The peace talks begin, with Rose badgering Tsukumo, not unkindly, about his
unfolding romance with Minato.  Getting down to business, she asks him to read
the treaty he bore - which had been kept a secret to even him until now.
Tsukumo is aghast as he reads demands of disarmament, economic dismantlement,
fundamental reconfiguration of government... is Jupiter planning on colonizing
the Earth next, Rose wonders.  She declares the peace talks on hiatus, and asks
him to go and once again ascertain what the Jovian army is really all about.

Tsukumo radios to Major General Kusakabe, aboard the Jovian flagship
Kagurazuki.  Kusakabe is a man of sober, sinister conviction [i.e. is lawful
evil], who claims he's merely asking for just reparations for the century of
Earth's misdeeds.  He certainly didn't accept the Earth's official apology, and
figures that the Jovian toe-hold on Mars (he calls it a "City") gives them an
overwhelming strategic advantage in their war to overhaul the culture of the
Solar System.  He brusquely informs Tsukumo that no one on Mars is stupid
enough to call off a war they're winning partway through, and won't directly
say why Tsukumo was sent to conduct these "peace" talks in the first place.  He
orders Tsukumo to stay where he is and await further orders.  Kusakabe hangs
up, musing over how hot-blooded his subordinate is, and a certain man in the
shadows opines that Tsukumo is likely to be an obstacle down the road.
Kusakabe turns down the man's assistance in getting rid of Tsukumo - he's
already sent Captain Tsukihime on that mission, none other than Tsukumo's best
friend.  The mystery man isn't sure Genichirou is cut out for such a mission,
but Kusakabe is sure that Justice will override any of the simpleton's feelings
of friendship.  The plan is simple: make Tsukumo a martyr to the Jovian cause,
gunned down by the evil Earthlings.

Genichirou carries out his assignment all too well, though he promises Tsukumo
that his death won't be in vain.  Tsukumo finds it almost funny that he should
die here, now, with peace so tantalizingly close...


23. Owaranai Enbukyoku - Shuumaku ("Endless Waltz - Finale")

Tsukumo's killer needs apprehending, but Rose's people don't know where he's
gotten to.  It goes without saying that the peace talks are off, which is
presumably precisely what whoever pulled this off wanted.  Rose suspects one of
the military, who all along advocated continuing hostilities, or perhaps the
Marimea army, who stands to benefit from governmental chaos.  Whoever she's
talking to adds with a sinister smile the possibility of someone from the
Jovian side - a smile that reminds her of his departed father.  He sniffs a bit
at this, claiming he's merely worried about the Secretary General's safety.  He
also appreciates how she pretended not to recognize him when they were together
last, which she knows perfectly well is just his way of spying on the military
from the inside.

He smirks and quotes an old proverb that "Age is surer armor than a turtle's
shell".  They're on the same page, but Rose sees fit to remind him that she's
only helping him in the interest of maintaining peace on Earth - not for
furthering his business interests.  Everything the Executive Branch has on the
bad guys will be sent to your team, and she'll leave him on the loose to do as
he wishes.  He thanks her as a "member of the Wärter", and adds a warning that
the Blue Cosmos seem to be feeling their oats lately...

Kazuma notes in the ship's log that things are even worse now than before the
peace talks started.  A massive Jovian fleet is now stationed near the Earth
Sphere, setting up a Mexican standoff with the Federation army.  Of course, the
Radam and Eviluders haven't just packed up and gone home either, leaving the
Earth in one hell of a pickle.  Unsurprisingly, your own team is in a dark mood
- especially Minato and Yukina.  About the only one mustering much energy is
Lady Une, who expects the Marimea army to strike at any moment.  Tomorrow is
Christmas Eve, and at this rate it's going to be Merry Crisis-mas for sure.

It's Minato's turn to join the locked-in-her-room brigade, with Yukina no less.
Given how she was already planning her life together with Tsukumo, it's not any
wonder.  And Izumi would know, apparently having lost not one but two fiancees
in her past.  As for the assassin, no one appears to have witnessed the deed,
occurring as it did in Tsukumo's private quarters.  It seems Tsukumo was
disinclined to take ordinary visitors...

Kouji wants to know just who stands to benefit from this mess, and Mao fills
him in that there are far more warmongers out there than he knows.  Atop the
list is the military - not because they fear being dissolved in peacetime, but
because their suppliers fear the loss of business.  It's a common enough theme
in science fiction for the military-industrial complex to be pulling strings in
wartime... but such simple profiteering would be better than what Zechs
secretly suspects.  If _they_ are behind this, the anti-Earthling prejudice
that smote the Coordinators may be unleashed again.

Of course, it could be the Marimea army, who probably has something cooking
after their little declaration of war.  Something like... that "endless waltz"
that Wufei mentioned.  Unfortunately, they've been very effective at playing
possum, and your best efforts have yet to unmask their plot.  Akatsuki is the
one to bring up the theory that it might be someone from the Jovian side.  He's
"heard a rumor" that the contents of the "peace treaty" were in fact nothing of
the sort - rather, they were a declaration of intent to reverse-colonize the
Earth.  Your people are beginning to wonder where he hears these rumors,
especially given that fellow Nergalite Prospector hasn't.  Akatsuki brushes
such questions aside to finish the theory: the Jovian government staged the
whole thing as a farce to bolster their own war agenda.  If so, it could only
mean that the Jovians are very sure of winning, with some kind of deathweapon
or whatnot in their arsenal.

Gai sees the light first: the Martian ruins.  The Jovians, in complete control
of Mars, must have found something useful among the relics of whatever ancient,
advanced society once held sway in the Solar System.  As a pilot of one such
ancient, advanced weapon, Fahra won't just stand by and watch the Jovians turn
archeology to their evil ends.  Akito has a more general grudge against whoever
cut Tsukumo's life short - and if it's indeed the Jovians, Akito's grudge will
include Geki Ganger itself, for forming the basis of the twisted Jovian
"justice".  Simpleminded as always, and Akatsuki has to lecture Akito about how
there are as many different versions of "justice" as there are people to hold
them.  He goes so far as to question Akito's otaku cred, stating that if he'd
actually watch more than one anime he'd get a much broader perspective on life.

Akito says to fuck anime - he doesn't want anyone else to suffer in real life.
Akatsuki sardonically praises Akito for his 'heroic' "For the world, for the
people, I shall end all fighting!" schtick.  He then adds in a hard tone you've
not heard him use that all those who claim to fight for someone else's sake
make him want to level their ass.  Regaining his composure quickly, he has one
parting word for Akito before stalking off: the die has already been cast.
There _will_ be a showdown with the Jovians and Marimea army in the none too
distant future - regardless of whether it's "right" or not.  He will watch with
great interest where Akito's notions of "Justice" are then.

Those still left in the mess hall marvel at Akatsuki's uncharacteristic speech.
Perhaps the strain of recent events is getting to him too?  Someone else acting
uncharacteristic is Heero, who's been staring off into space.  He's been
pondering the notion of individual "Justice", and how Wufei really ought to be
able to find his flavor if he's really a warrior.  You're sure to meet him soon
enough, and then everything will become clear.  Heero is trying hard to steel
himself for that moment.

Word then comes from the Danaan.  The Marimea army is about to finally take up
arms against the abominable Federation that sought peace with the despicable
Jovians.  Dekim exhorts the troops to strike down the Federation and impose a
new order in space, and everyone seems pumped up except Relena.  Trust her to
be the wet blanket who actually points out that it's a logically absurd idea to
start a revolutionary war when an _interplanetary_ war is already breaking out.
Marimea then proclaims the start of the True Operation Meteor to her troops as
Relena inwardly pleads with Heero to hurry.

Someone is leaking troop movement data about the Marimea army to the Jovians.
It seems they're heading for the colony where the Secretary General is, hoping
for some kind of decapitation strike.  Whoever it is tells Kusakabe that the
future of both their causes depends on how his troops do.  Since Kusakabe vows
to keep his promise to George Glenn, it's safe to assume that the leaker is a
Coordinator.

The colony falls in short order.  Marimea goes to see Rose, who observes drily
that the End has come if little girls like her have turned to terrorism.  Dekim
tells Rose what their next move is: dropping this entire colony onto the
Siberian Plain.  As Rose knows well from the Revolutionary War documentation,
the original Operation Meteor was to have begun with a colony drop, followed by
a blitzkrieg on the survivors.  It was thanks to certain peaceniks that the
only thing to fall to Earth was five Gundams...

In any case, this time around secrecy has been tossed to the winds, thanks to a
Radam offensive on the main Federation army base on the other side of the Moon.
That report was _not_ supposed to be public knowledge, which can only mean that
someone within the Federation army wants this colony drop too.  Rose
immediately suspects the Atlantic Union, who's been facing off against the
Urasia Union for some time now.  The knowledge may do her little good, since
Dekim plans to force her and Relena to take responsibility for the Federation's
sins by going down with the ship, as it were.

Rose asks him what the price was for his treachery, allying himself both with
Blue Cosmos and with the Jovians.  Is he to be given the "honor" of attacking
the Plants?  Marimea tells the old lady to shut up, that her time is over, and
with a righteous scowl she informs the little punk that no know-nothing brat
like her can show anyone any kind of future.  She offers Marimea the chance to
redeem herself by coming over to Rose's side.  Marimea isn't having it of
course, and propounds the model of history as an "Endless Waltz" in three
parts: war, peace, and revolution.

Marimea and Dekim don't get to look smug for long.  As if on cue, your people
appear, relieved that Tessa's info was correct.  Yurika had been a bit
suspicious, since it wasn't clear who actually passed the message to you, and
given the level of detail about Dekim's plans.  Erina has to fill in for Minato
during the fracas.  The delusional Dekim thinks that if he can beat down the
Earth's strongest battalion, it'll demonstrate the futility of fighting to the
rest of the Earth.  He's about to learn a very hard lesson in cause and effect,
as the G boys stop this "true" Operation Meteor with their own hands.  Bless
orders everyone to try to avoid cockpit hits, and Zechs assures Akito that some
day, after all this fighting, there really will be a better tomorrow for the
Earth.

  When Heero confronts Wufei, he orders Wufei to self-destruct.  Wufei doubts
  Heero can right the world by himself, and in any case isn't done fighting.
  Heero repeats the order, shouting over Wufei's objections that unless he's
  prepared to blow himself up, he'll never be free of Treize's ghost.  Wufei is
  worth a crummy Chobham Armor, Repair Kit, and Multicombo +1.  However, he
  vows to fight on for the sake of warriors everywhere.

  Kill enough bad guys and more will appear, part of Dekim's master plan to
  renovate the Earth.  While your people aren't happy with the state the Earth
  is in, they definitely don't agree with Dekim's alternative.  Quatre in
  particular won't forgive how Dekim's delusions are leading so many of the
  world's warriors astray.  Zechs adds that your people aren't the only ones
  who wish for peace: indeed, by watching this battle, the hearts of mankind
  will once more be stirred away from warfare!  After all, any world that
  accepts Marimea will simply give birth to a Milliard Peacecraft the second.

  With the enemy's warpower seemingly inexhaustible, you're beginning to worry
  about actually having to send one or two units in to resupply ERR I MEAN "Oh
  woe is us for there is surely no way to prevail against these numbers".
  Actually, your real die hards are ready and raring for more, and as Heero
  vows to save Relena no matter what, Rose instructs Relena to keep her gaze
  fixed on the fighting.  There's a reason your people are putting their lives
  on the line!

  Dekim hasn't run out of expendable lackeys either, but a new problem presents
  itself for him.  The Jovians, who he thought were on his side, show up and
  waste several of those reinforcements.  Dekim is aghast at the treachery, but
  Kusakabe has decided to use the Marimea-Wärter fight as an example to his
  troops about the true nature of the hated Earthlings.  He thinks the time has
  come to make the dream of uniting mankind and bringing peace to space come
  true.  Not like the Earthlings, who only think about themselves and go around
  killing dudes like Tsukumo!  He proposes that Earthlings never tire of battle
  (as you see before you), and says that the time has come to settle the score,
  just as in the lusty Geki Ganger episode 39.  Let all who hear believe in
  Love and Bravery and Friendship, and that Justice is on the Jovians' side.

  The tactical situation is about as bad as it can get (in the game writers'
  minds) and the Jovians are getting pretty full of themselves as they take on
  the Marimea forces and your dudes simultaneously.  Wufei figures this to be
  more proof that Relena had it wrong, and that there are plenty of people who
  can only prove their own existence by fighting.  Sealing away all weapons and
  fighting is itself fallacious, and Wufei thinks he can become an abode for
  the souls of warriors to escape that fallacy.  Even if it makes him evil.

  Akito is losing his nerve again, but the G-boys aren't.  There are fights
  that one simply can't walk away from - and this was one of them from the very
  outset.  Trowa figures that both enemy forces are much like he once was - a
  pawn at the beck and call of others.  All the more reason why you've got to
  demonstrate to them what actually lies at the end of all that warfare.  Show
  them what it means to truly achieve peace!

  Meanwhile, Relena has reached a decision of her own.  Despite the guns
  pointed in her direction, she dashes for the communications console, and
  broadcasts.  Resolved to stop running, she broadcasts her saintly visage to
  all involved.  Peace, she says, is not something given to anyone - it is
  something to be seized.  As the enemy commanders frantically try to stop the
  broadcast, Genichirou has rigged it so the Jovians will have no choice but to
  listen - the best he can do (for now) to atone for his sins.  Relena explains
  that what is needed now is not ideology or rhetoric, but hearts that truly
  love peace.

  Marimea figures this viewpoint opposes the Absolute Pacifism Relena has
  advocated so long - is she in fact throwing in that particular towel? Relena
  tells her that ideals are just that: ideals, and those trying to implement
  them still have to face reality first.  Marimea screams that all the
  pleasantries in the world won't make up for the fact that she's become one
  more traitor to the Peacecraft name.  Relena fires back that she didn't
  revert to being a "Dorian" for revenge for her father: revenge gives rise to
  nothing, except more hatred.

  This was the theme of Geki Ganger 26, in fact.  The Jovian guns fall silent
  in deference to the young woman's cry.  Upon closer examination, the Jovians
  realize that your people haven't given an inch to the Marimea army - true
  heroes one and all.  The Wärter might be the enemy, but their righteousness
  is magnificent, like that of Prince Akara of the Evilians.  Tsukumo's words
  of praise for your people are starting to ring true, and Genhachirou counsels
  Kusakabe that morale has fallen fatally low.  Kusakabe has no choice but to
  withdraw his forces from the Earth Sphere, his orders neutralized at last.

  Dekim's forces are starting to fall silent too, convinced at last of the
  futility of humans fighting each other for revenge.  Rose teaches an
  important lesson to Marimea: even if humans understand how foolish fighting
  is, they fight anyway - fight to protect what is precious, fight for peace.
  That's certainly why your dudes fight, anyway.  As Wufei watches astonished,
  Heero tells him that Heero's point has been made.  Further fighting here
  would just continue the sad cycle of history - and unless that cycle is
  broken, more warriors like he and Wufei will have to be born.  He yells to
  Wufei that everyone should be able to decide his own future, and with a cry
  of anguish Wufei flies off.  What remains for your people is to assure
  victory and peace.

The battle is won, but the war is still on.  The colony, with Relena and Rose
and numerous civilians aboard, is leaving its orbit and moving towards the
Earth.  Dekim thinks he's won, and orders Marimea to go rally the troops.
Relena, seeing Marimea's wavering convictions, urges the opposite.  Marimea has
gotten an eyeful of just how frightening the Wärter's unwavering resolve can
be.  Dekim draws his gun and tells Relena to stop filling Marimea's head with
such nonsense.  He for his part won't admit defeat as long as he's got his
colony, and he's prepared to shoot anyone getting in his way.  Relena in turn
is prepared to get shot, and before that happens Dekim tells her what _he_
believes in: the masses will follow the power of the strong.  When Marimea
tries to get Dekim to stop, he yells at her that he can waste her too if she's
going to be in the way.  After all, she can be _easily_ replaced.

Marimea nearly takes the bullet meant for Relena, and Seina in turn shoots
Dekim from offscreen, taking care not to hit anything vital.  Lady Une is there
too, trying to keep Treize's daughter from perishing.  Seina tells Lady that
Seina's role as tour guide is over, now that her little debt to Treize is
discharged.  Treize might not have kept the accounting, but she certainly did.
She then tells Relena that Relena's little speech is entirely correct.
Nonetheless, she and her fellows will keep fighting, for their own sakes.

Lady Une and Rose herd the frightened surviving soldiers to the outside of the
Colony where evacuation awaits.  This leaves Dekim sorely lacking in lackeys to
make his dreams of world domination come true.  Rose tells Dekim to dream his
dream all he wants - until he's burnt to ashes.  As soon as everyone else is
off the station, Heero is given a target for his Twin Buster Rifle, the blast
doors protecting the colony's command module.  So much for the ghosts of the
Barton Foundation...

Corbett reports to the mysterious Chairman that not only has Dekim met his end,
Rose and Relena were both safely recovered too.  The Chairman is disgusted with
Dekim's incompetence, especially given how he had provided Dekim with Amalgam's
technology.  Corbett thinks it's a good sign that the Jovians are withdrawing
from Earth, but the Chairman shouts back that they've still got hold of Mars.
He orders Corbett to send a full fleet in pursuit before the technology in the
Martian ruins proves Earth's undoing.  Calming down slightly, he adds that if
the Federation army doesn't score a victory to equal the Wärter's mounting
success record, all their plans will be for naught.  Hell, with the
uncooperative Eurasians still around, the Executive branch intact, and the
anti-space "monster" Marimea forces toasted, who else _can_ they turn to but
the army?  He orders Corbett to make all ready, including "that" weapon, for
the sake of the pure, blue Earth.

Corbett is now past the point where he can refuse, though his brief reluctance
still rankles.  Mister A9 has been listening in, and the Chairman is now
starting to wonder if it was he who leaked the Marimea army's plans to your
dudes.  He bases this on A9's habit of treating everything in life as some kind
of game - didn't he hope for some high drama out of this last battle?  A9
assures him that he intended no such thing... and even if he did, even he
couldn't have read circumstances that well in advance.  This seems to satisfy
the Chairman, who tells A9 to hurry up the development of "that" weapon, which
will be their trump card in lieu of nukes.  A9 seems coy even to himself about
whether he could have anticipated your people's movements - he certainly finds
them interesting in any case.  He supposes that his sister Tessa wasn't
suitably chastened by what he did to her last time, so it's time to ratchet
things up a notch or two.


24. Sorezore no "Jibun Rashiku" ("Various 'Like Yourselves'")

Word of Tsukumo's influence on his countrymen seems to brighten Minato's and
Yukina's mood, though Minato is far from fully recovered.  By way of cheering
her up, Yukina promises to become Minato's "son-in-law" if it'll make her feel
better - which actually provokes a smile.  Minato figures she'd rather be the
one doing the protecting, and at least in theory resolves to do her new
"son-in-law" proud.

It's Boxing Day, and Kazuma reports that the mess caused by the uninvited
guests on Christmas Eve has finally calmed down.  Rose has actually taken
Marimea under her venerated wing, though if Marimea is a present, that would
make Dekim Santa Claus.  Shiver.  Anyway, the uproar has helped distract Kazuma
from his lack of a girlfriend to spend Christmas with.  He's heard rumors of
Minato's resurgence, and as a secret fan of hers he hopes she recovers soon.

Gai breaks some interesting news to your team: believe it or not, you're
getting your asses back to Mars.  This is of course the logical next step after
the Jovian withdrawal from Earth, especially with the Ruins still in Jovian
hands.  Akito is worried that you're going back to the old "might makes right"
tactics, but Akatsuki points out that your indomitable force, which actually
moved the Jovians' hearts, isn't in that line of work.  There's a tinge of
sarcasm in his words, but no falsehood: your strategic objective isn't
slaughtering the Jovians, it's reclaiming the Ruins.  Kogane grasps the concept
right off - take away the Jovian trump card, and you might just get them back
to the peace table.  Maximum reward for minimum sacrifice, if you hurry.

Believe it or not, the Jovians mastering the Martian tech isn't your biggest
worry there.  Your commanders are actually worried about the massive fleet the
regular army is assembling, spoiling for a decisive battle and probably out to
capture the Ruins too.  Given that it's now proven that you _can_ talk with the
Jovians, the Federation army's insistence on force is all too extreme... as
though those in charge never acknowledged the Jovians as human to begin with.
This sounds like the hallmark of Blue Cosmos, a political body at the spear
point of the anti-Coordinator sentiment.  Rumors place this body's power base
at the center of the New Earth Federation government and military: a cancer
that shocks the righteous Princess Fahra to her core.

Mao is quite vehemently against such discrimination, a more liberal stance than
Kurz has heard her take.  With a nasty smirk, she tells him that no matter if
you shoot a Coordinator, a Jovian or a Natural - all of them die.  Neato.
Anyway, you've got to get Mars under control before the flames of war engulf
it, and Mamoru will be coming along for the ride.  He explains that the
Primevals haven't been seen on the Earth, and you can only assume that they've
retreated to Mars for now.  If so, you'll need his help urgently.  Mamoru has
told his family (and Hana-chan) the whole truth, and to his vast relief none of
them has been treating him any differently.  What he did promise them is his
safe return to Earth, and Sousuke guarantees that he'll make that happen.  In
fact, Kaname had helped him talk to his family, and was crying her eyes out by
the time they were done.

Mamoru also has a gift from Miyuki for her brother, a beautiful Amarilith
flower.  In the language of flowers, this blossom connotes "pride" - a perfect
fit for D-Boy.  Mamoru tells D-Boy that his sister is doing fine, and wants him
not to worry about her.  As Aki points out, D-Boy now has a reason to come back
alive too.  He wasn't planning otherwise, especially with his mission
remaining.

Gai adds that Taiga and Lady Une will be along too, on what Kazuma cheerfully
calls the "greatest and final" battle.  Duo warns him not to jinx them with
words like "final", though that sounds unconvincing coming from someone known
as the "Grim Reaper".  What Kazuma meant was that your people surely have
nothing to fear when gathered together...  Except perhaps whoever has seen fit
to strike before you even get underway!  The culprits are none other than your
own army, and Yurika and Akito are determined not to let them slow you down.

Unfortunately, the "Exo-Earth Mankind Suppression Force" gets to you before you
can take off.  Its commander claims it's the will of the Security Council, and
indeed all of mankind living on Earth, that they go and smite the exo-Earth
mankinds who fled to Mars.  He claims that any attempt to impede his mission
will be considered treason against the entire world, which of course is hardly
convincing to your people.  Taiga points out to this commander that as your
forces are directly attached to the Federation executive branch, you're
entitled to act on your own.  That is, he has no right to obstruct your trip to
Mars.  The commander pooh-pooh's this as pedantic shenanigans, and says that
anything that might pose a threat to the crucial battle to come, on which the
fate of the Earth hangs, must be eliminated.  He plans to stop you by force if
necessary, and it really would be best to avoid outright war with the
Federation army if possible.

Luckily, it's not only possible to avoid fighting here, Ines has already made
the necessary arrangements.  Akito realizes he's been summoned to the bridge
because he's somehow involved.  Ines asks him and Yurika to envision the red
vastness of Mars with her, planning to replicate the Jump that brought the
Nadesico back to Earth in the first place.  As the Feds watch in horror, Akito
focuses on stopping the war on Mars, and your fleet vanishes.

Yamasaki is having trouble with the Martian Ruins, several of whose innermost
recesses are dimensionally partitioned from the rest of the complex.  He tells
the general that it's going to take a while longer to claim the treasure of
this, the largest "City" they've found yet.  Kusakabe tells him to hurry, so
they can head back to the Earth.  He then addresses his new set of troops,
telling them the time has come to collect reparations for their comrades who
were oh so sapped of fighting resolve by the unfair Earthlings' tactics.
Yamasaki is grimly amused at the efficiency with which Kusakabe has cleansed
the memory of what really happened to said comrades from the record, all in the
name of "Justice".

Genhachirou's adjutant Saburouta tells Genichirou that his boss's ship is in
the rear echelon, thanks to trouble with its Transposition Engine.  He
personally requested Tsukumo's beloved Daitenjin for the purpose of helping
guard the Ruins.  He plans to see that Tsukumo's "unfulfilled wish" comes true
in the next battle, which puts a rather bitter expression on Genichirou's face.
Genichirou now realizes the full extent of the damage his bullet has dealt the
Jovians' future, and inwardly asks his victim for forgiveness.  Just then, the
Jovian forces get the unpleasant realization that your forces have mastered
biological Boson Jumping.

Akito is rather puzzled, having not imagined this particular spot, but Ines
figured everything is going exactly according to plan.  While it sort of sucks
to run into the Jovians first thing, it had to happen sooner or later.  The
Jovian commander exhorts his troops with the same old tired "for great Justice"
speech drawn directly from Geki Ganger.  Akito yells at them not to misuse that
anime any further, but the Jovian commander won't be swayed by what he calls
your "Evil Empire".  Bless points out that his inflexible stereotyping of
others sounds pretty evil to begin with, and Kazuma says he should try moving
the crowd without resorting to Geki Ganger if he's really some Ally of Justice.
All Akito knows is that there's been entirely too much war, and Taiga urges
Yurika to give your people orders for battle.

Her orders are not to think of defeating the Jovians, but _destroying_ the
ruins.  As Taiga and Akatsuki gape in astonishment, Yurika cheerfully says that
these are the source of the fighting, and hence should obviously go, and Ruri
adds that the adults have no excuse to care, given that everyone stumbled
across them by accident anyway.  When she adds that Taiga should feel free to
ignore her "child's" words, the writers unfairly deprive him of a good retort.
Even Leo figures that the Ruins' power is too great for mankind to handle, and
begrudgingly (for him) Taiga decides to go along and leave Yurika in full
command.  The plan is to open a path through the enemy to the Ruins.

  Takasugi is worth a Servo Motor and a BP+1.  Tsukihime is worth a Booster and
  an Infight +1.  The flagship is worth an Apogee Motor and a Max SP +5.

  When Yurika gets the chance to fire at the Ruins, you'll find out that
  they're surrounded by a very tough barrier.  Ines has a plan B and summons
  Akito back to the Nadesico.  Meanwhile, the Jovians sortie something called
  the Yatenko, which apparently marries Jovian tech with Earth knowhow.
  Hokuten is at the controls, and is actually quite impressed when Akito
  partially deflects his first shot.  As it turns out, Yurika and Ines are _in_
  his mech, part of Ines' scheme to jump to the very heart of the Ruins.  If
  they succeed, the Jovians will give up... you hope.  Ines knows where they're
  going, and directs Akito and Yurika to simply kiss each other.  Yurika's
  misplaced modesty delays this slightly, but not for long.

  Neither Hokuten nor the others know where Akito's mech jumped to, and before
  Kusakabe can rally the troops your people start pointing out how hollow his
  "Justice" talk really is.  Your rhetoric gets a boost from a most unexpected
  source - Tsukumo!  Apparently assassinating him once wasn't enough to keep
  the truth from prevailing.  Genhachirou then steps up and relieves Kusakabe
  of his command, vowing to reveal the whole of Kusakabe's warmongering
  schemes.

  Tsukumo relates the events of the fake peace treaty leading up to his felling
  by bullet.  Genichirou owns up to being the shooter, repenting himself of his
  mistaken application of "hot-blood".  Tsukumo points out that while there may
  be Justice on Jupiter, there is also Justice on Earth.  This wins the troops
  over, leaving Kusakabe with no choice but to flee, apparently on his own now
  that the common people have also gotten an earful of his misdeeds.

  Unfortunately, the Garura have been watching all this, waiting for both sides
  to become depleted in battle.  Sinclyne offers Fahra a choice: come with him,
  or watch as his forces obliterate everything in the area.  This doesn't sit
  well with the Jovians (who are after all in the area too), and abruptly
  Yurika and the crew resurface to exhort a counterattack.  This is the perfect
  time for Earth and Jovian forces to join hands in friendship against the real
  bad guys.  Ruri even cues the Geki Ganger theme music, which sure fires up
  the Jovian forces.  The only fly in the ointment is Hokuten, who despite
  bearing no grudge against Akito is determined to see him lost to eternal
  darkness.

  Fortunately, Akito has more help from, of all people, Yamada!  Hokuten can
  tell when he's outnumbered, but promises Akito that it's his policy never to
  abandon a mission once he's begun it.  As he speeds off, Tsukumo notes that
  even if Geki Ganger is fictional, the principles at its heart are very real
  and very universal.  All of which bodes very ill for Sinclyne...

  He's worth a Large Generator, a Propellant Tank and a Gunfight +1.

Your people are especially emboldened by the Jovians' "burning heart" stuff,
and Sinclyne can't figure out why he and his forces lost.  He resorts to the
old standby that this was just a mere greeting, and adds that his main fleet is
stationed at this starsystem's largest planet.  As he hightails it out, Taiga
compliments Yurika on her superb battle plan, one that largely _avoided_
battle.  Even Gort finds it within himself to congratulate Minato that Tsukumo
is still alive.

Akito tries to quiz Yamada on why he's alive, but the question has to wait
until Yamada can be carted back to sick bay.  It seems Yamada and Fukube got
hauled off to a Jovian prison after the Nadesico's departure, where the jailers
were all quite reasonable chaps.  In fact, Yamada's exhaustive knowledge of
Geki Ganger made him something of a legend among his captors.  Akito tells him
to save the chatter and get well, since they've got a long fight ahead of them.
Yamada, getting serious for a moment, solemnly tells Akito that he's got a
man's face now.

In fact, it was none other than Yamada who took the bullet meant for Tsukumo,
apparently mistaken for him by an assassin with doubts in his heart.  Speaking
of doubts, Tsukumo is shocked when he learns that Yamada's real name is the
very vanilla Yamada Jirou.  Yamada, ever the otaku, insists that he had no
other choice when faced with all the cool Jovian names.  Lame, in Minato's
book.  Not lame was Akito's kiss with Yurika, though Tsukumo warns him that
he'd better be prepared to follow through if he doesn't want Geki Ganger to
laugh at him.

Taiga gravely greets Admiral Fukube, who seems to have rejuvenated his good
humor during his time among the Jovians.  Only fitting, muses Fukube, since the
Earth-Jupiter axis is about to change too.  For instance, the Jovian soldiers
are overcome with Fahra's noble beauty, so admirably displayed when she told
Sinclyne where to stick his princely pride.  Yurika pouts that the real heroine
was her, but Kurz tells Yurika that there's no way she could compete with an
alien princess out of some anime (as it were) for the menfolk's heart.  This
comes in handy as a bit of camouflage, while the command staff and scientists
return to the heart of the Ruins.

There it is, the object of such lust from the Earth and Jupiter.  Ines is still
busily researching what it's for, but she's already decided it's the targeting
unit for Boson Jumping.  This is based on nothing more certain than
"inspiration" - a very rare admission for the inveterate scientist.  Akatsuki
(present for no _apparent_ reason) isn't the only skeptic, and Akito has a very
good follow-on question.  Given that you have to imagine where you're going in
order to Boson Jump, how was Ines able to imagine this place, where presumably
she'd never been.  Even Ines isn't sure about that, though she takes a hint
from the fact that she can remember nothing in her life before age 7.  That was
the time a Nergal employee found her wandering the Martian desert.  Could her
imagining of this place be related to her missing memories?

What are the chances.  In any case, it's clear to Leo that the only known Boson
Jumpers were born on Mars.  He theorizes that the Ruins must have somehow
interacted with the nanomachines used in Mars' terraforming, resulting in the
early colonists' DNA being rewritten for compatibility.  That tallies with
Genhachirou's recollection that the Jovian Jumpers have undergone genetic
engineering.

Assuming Ines is right and this is the core of the Boson Jump system, what
should be done with it?  Wreck it, and risk Boson Jump becoming unusable ever
again?  Move it to Earth and risk another war?  Leave it here and risk another
war?  Ines has a better idea: abandon the thing.  After all, since it's a
trans-dimensional system, its location is irrelevant to the ability to Jump.
Yurika likes it, and wants to toss the thing somewhere where no one can get at
it.  Akatsuki supposes that that's a lesser evil than having someone monopolize
it, and Genhachirou can't think of any fairer way to settle things.

Since your crew are slated to pursue the Garura to Jupiter anyway, Taiga
recommends submerging the gadget into the Jovian ocean.  That's fine with
Genhachirou, who feels partially responsible for allowing the Garura incursion.
For now, he's loaning you Tsukumo (which will make Minato and Yukina happy),
and promises to give you a tour of the Jovian residential areas once the Garura
are taken care of.

After the others fall silent, Yurika asks Akito if the only reason he kissed
her was to make the Boson Jump work.  Akito blusters and avoids the question,
saying instead that he learned something crucial during the battle: he really,
truly loves Geki Ganger.  And that love, that hot-blooded passion, is something
he wants to depend on once more.  That's what Yurika loves about him, though
Akito claims that that's news to him.

Taiga smoothly cuts in and recommends that Yurika start loading the cube onto
the Nadesico.  The urgency gets ratcheted up when Ruri relays word that the
Jovians have recovered the J-Ark near Jupiter, badly damaged and unmanned.  Its
trajectory suggests that it came from Jupiter itself, but there's little clue
what did the damage.  The Garura?  Or _them_?


25. Mokusei Kessen!  Chou Juuryoku no Ude ("The Battle for Jupiter!  Ultra-
Gravity Arm")

It's New Year's Day, 100 years after the founding of the new calendar.  Despite
their reservations about the Federation chronology, the Jovians have opted to
spend the day with your Earthlings hanging out around Mars.  In fact, the
successful coup d'etat has put them in a mood to celebrate with a massive Geki
Ganger-themed party before you all head off to Jupiter.  Lest we forget,
there's still the matter of the derelict J-Ark, whose sole passenger Kaidou
seems almost recovered enough to tell you what happened.  Whatever is waiting
at Jupiter, Kazuma vows to have his journal Geki Gang In!

Kaidou explains that the Primevals, less than half their former strength due to
your people's valor, had retreated to Jupiter in search of a greater power
source with which to Mechanize the Earth: THE POWER.  The remaining Primevals
were more than a match for the J-Ark... _and_ a group of Garura who happened to
show up.  Soldat J offered himself up as a decoy to let the J-Ark escape, but
the unpleasant prospect of being caught between the Primevals and Garura's guns
lingers.  Akiyama has had all the civilian colony ships near Jupiter evacuate
to the relative safety of the asteroid belt at least.  As the deliberations
continue, Mikoto suddenly starts to feel faint - though she quickly waves it
off.  Mamoru then asks if Kaidou wants to send a message to his "mother" back
on Earth, who is no doubt worried sick, but Kaidou tells Mamoru that he's a
sorry being.  Kaidou, knowing full well he's not of the Earth, has elected to
live a life loved by no one, so that there is no one to mourn his passing...

After Volfogg and Tomoro trade respects, D-Boy shows up and grills Tomoro about
the Eviluders, who he remembers the Radam view with especial enmity.  Why?  As
Tomoro hesitates, Leo and his son Gai muse over actually getting to see Jupiter
close up.  Gai's mother was part of the colony expedition five years ago,
several decades in the making, but her ship Jupiros 5 never returned from its
mission.  The Jovians have filled you in that her ship went down in the oceans
of Jupiter itself, putting a rather queasy spin on Gai's lifelong astronautical
career to go find her.  Despite this, and the mess Gai's ended up in thanks to
his father's cybernetic overhaul, Gai is very proud of both parents.

All this is making Kazuma kind of sentimental, which might be proof he's
starting to mature.  Further proof comes in the fact that he's passed Mao and
Noin's entire battery of training, though Kazuma laments the fact that they
keep saying "for the time being".  D-Boy and the others tell him not to worry:
he'll be a full-fledged Spaceman by the time he returns to Earth... and not
many of those can say they've been to Jupiter and back.

With that settled, everyone starts bugging Bless to tell the tale of the old
days when he first met Freeman and Taiga.  Kazuma wants to use the set of Naze
Nani Nadesico, and quotes the old Trailer proverb that "Show the enemy no mercy
when he gives you an opening, so that even outlaws might tremble." Cohost Ruri
obligingly gives your teammates who haven't seen this show before a "V" as
Bless tries in vain to relax.

The first question, from a Preventer soldier pennamed the "Nameless Clown",
concerns why Bless is hauling around a load of Tulip Crystals, supposedly
Nergal's exclusive research province.  Bless won't answer, but with Ruri's
permission, Freeman and Taiga do.  Bless, the noted Trailer, was a space pirate
in former life.  That is, a fake space pirate: he actually used that as a
pretext to penetrate and then blow wide open a criminal syndicate.  Apparently
Bless went on quite the rampage, and Bless utterly hates to be reminded of it.
Parenthetically, it was Rose who was in charge of the whole police action.

It seems that the rampant Bless, of Martian birth, figured the Tulip Crystals
were some sort of treasure and tried to sell them off to Earth.  Bless protests
that the crystals were just lying around, and sold quite well as good luck
pendants - proof of his financial acumen even way back then.  These current
crystals are remnants of the time when Bless's travels to Earth got interrupted
midway.

The next question comes in from penname "Sergeant Pokerface" from Mithril, the
second quiet dude among your teammates to chime in.  It concerns the nickname
"Hawkeye", and even Duo knows that it has nothing to do with Bless' piercing
insight, level head, and so forth.  Apparently the story could ruin Bless'
reputation, something that shocked even Hyuuma.  In return for letting Bless
off the hook this time, Ruri requires that he answer the next question, no
matter what.  Bunny Yurika picks one from "Danger-loving Girl" from the Space
Knights (aka Aki - Noal notes that Bless isn't the only one getting roasted at
this little shindig): why did Bless seem to know who the mysterious Aria is?

Bless genuinely tries to answer, but Shihomi has to give the full details.
Apparently Aria was the name reserved for Kazuma had he been born a girl.  This
ought to confirm the theory that Aria was Bless's secret love child, but Taiga
is adamant that that couldn't be.  Before Hyuuma or Taiga can explain why,
Bless weasels out by ordering everyone to their positions for arrival at
Jupiter.  This is one of his two thousand special techniques, "Reversed
Grudge", at work, and means you won't be getting any more out of him today.
Beyond just the amusement factor of Bless's colorful past, Fahra finds herself
a little jealous of the bond he and his son Kazuma share.  After all, her own
father perished when she was still a very little girl.  And then there's D-Boy,
down to one sibling and the memory of his father's wish to take out the Radam.
Gai reminds him not to get himself killed - there's a lot of fighting left to
do...  D-Boy, failing to get any info on the Eviluders from Tomoro, figures his
only option now is to get the information out of their peers: the Garura or the
Primevals.

Honeruba has everything in readiness, and tells Sinclyne that it's up to his
leadership skills now.  Sinclyne doesn't like her implication, but can't deny
the prowess of your team, especially Go-Lion and its possible link to the
ancient culture they've been chasing.  Sinclyne sniffs and tells her to eat
crow while he brings back Go-Lion's head.  He even plans to add Fahra to his
harem, and when your troops show up he doesn't hide that fact very well.  The
rest of the Go-Lion team knows quite well that this dates back to when they
were on Altea, and Fahra gets the shivers at Akatsuki's observation that the
whole princess-evil prince angle is romantic.  All this despite Sinclyne's
heroic voice, which seems to have the womenfolk doubly provoked.  Mao hopes
that Kurz isn't somehow jealous of Sinclyne's lecherous ways, and Kurz stoutly
maintains that any "enemy of women" is an enemy of his [^^;;;]  And hey, maybe
one or two... or three... of the women he saves will be grateful for the
assistance!

In any case, Hawkeye Bless knows that the Garura will be depleted, and badly in
need of returning home.  Aim for the flagship and you'll be able to get away
without too many casualties, though that would be tough unless your people can
get over the memory of Bless getting roasted for Naze Nani Nadesico.  Kazuma of
all people snaps them out of it with a little inspirational speech...

  At the right moment, Sinclyne orders his flagship to the front.  Gai cautions
  against Go-Lion interfering in what is obviously some kind of setup, and
  Honeruba takes the chance to summon "Space Ulf" from the far reaches of the
  void.  Apparently "Space Ulf" is an entire frigging planet, which starts
  pulling friend and foe alike into its gravitational clutches.  For whatever
  reason, Raibul has actually heard of this wandering planet, renowned for its
  ultra-gravity.  Not quite as bad as a real black hole, but annoying
  nonetheless.

  Sinclyne prepares to open fire with his special super long-range guns, and
  when Fahra refuses to be cowed by his bravado, he orders his gunners to
  concentrate on the Go-Lion.  This knocks it into Ulf's clutches, and the rest
  of your people will follow if something isn't done.  Leo has a solution, and
  has Yurika Jump the Nadesico and a few nearby units out of Ulf's immediate
  clutches and close to Jupiter.  He, Gai and D-Boy head to Jupiter in hopes of
  obtaining THE POWER with which to combat Ulf's pull.

  The rest of your people will have to hold out under the enemy's barrage for a
  while, but a new menace appears: the Primevals!  They've combined with part
  of Jupiter's asteroid belt, giving them enough mass to resist Ulf's pull and
  bringing about the worst-case scenario you feared of being caught between
  these two sides.

  Eventually the bad guys get tired of toying with you, and plan to cut your
  trip to Jupiter tragically short.  Just then, the figure of some kind of
  goddess appears to you all, amidst a burst of light from Ulf itself.  Out
  comes none other than Go-Lion, directly attacking Sinclyne.  The Go-Lion's
  crew don't know themselves where this power comes from, but a vision of
  Fahra's departed father Raimon comes up on their screens.  He tells them they
  must not lose to the numerous forces threatening men in this universe.  He
  also tells them to beware the "Scribes of Knowledge", who will surely appear
  wherever culture exists.

  Meanwhile on Jupiter, Leo runs into his not-so-departed wife, who now exists
  as a being of pure spirit thanks to THE POWER.  This she gives to him and Gai
  to go save your people.  Gai meanwhile is presented with a vision of Cain, a
  copy contained within Galeon.  He thanks your people for helping raise Latio
  with such a strong body and heart, but says that Latio's fight is still long.
  This he knows thanks to joining himself to THE POWER, one of the founding
  forces of the Universe before which time and space are meaningless.  He too
  warns Gai of the "Scribes of Knowledge" before loaning Gai a bit of THE
  POWER.

  D-Boy has met his father (briefly) too.  It seems the Argos fell into Jupiter
  when the Radam moved their ship to the Solar System, allowing the good
  professor to live on as part of THE POWER.  As though Takaya's burdens aren't
  already plenty heavy, his father has another for him: free the Eviluders from
  the curse of the past.  He doesn't explain further except to say that what
  befell the Eviluders is his fault, leaving his son to "seek the tears beneath
  the mask".

  Your heroic dudes return, and with THE POWER free everyone from Ulf's grip.
  You are to fight to your heart's content, but should not get drunk with the
  strength THE POWER lends.  Honeruba is smart enough to see that her people
  should flee, but of course Sinclyne would never show the enemy his back.
  Fahra vows to do that job for him, as Arm tries to bring forth his true
  strength...

  Sinclyne is worth a Super Alloy Z.  With no choice, he withdraws from the
  Solar System (reneging on his previous bravado), and the team gives him a
  message for his dad: the Go-Lion will never give up, will never be defeated!

  Arm will be startled that your people acquired THE POWER, and even more
  startled when it turns out Soldat-J did too!  He's worth an EN Megachip, a
  BP+2 and an Infight +1.  His defeat spells the end of the Primevals, as all
  their Cores are now in your hands.

There's still a question of what to do about Ulf.  Fortunately, Go-Lion starts
acting on its own, preparing to Boson Jump it out of the way.  This ability to
interface with the machinery of the ancient Martian culture seems to support
the theory that _all_ the ancient space cultures are somehow linked.  With Ulf
gone, the two glowboys Purify the remaining Cores... bringing the total to
thirty.  Oops.

Just then Aria swoops in and swipes all the crystals.  She mumbles something
about all Records of Knowledge are her duty to...  Just then, the jester-like
woman announces that all analysis of THE POWER on Jupiter is complete.  With
all the crystals in hand, she reactivates them and starts them combining.
Animated once again, Aria cries out for all of you to leave before this area
becomes...


26. Yuuki Aru Tatakai ("Brave Battle")

You now get to face a truly ginormous monster that has apparently come from
Jupiter: Z-Master, the combined form of all 31 Primevals.  All the Primevals
have escaped their Crystals and are now using THE POWER, causing Aria to take
copious notes.  Kazuma yells at her to stop taking notes and start taking
responsibility, and she reminds you that she _had_ told you all to flee.
Before Yurika can take her up on this, Aria summons a bunch of unknown mecha
and sends them after the relic from the ancient solar culture, i.e. the Boson
Jump targeting unit.  Seems she's not content to let the thing be dumped into
Jupiter, and claims that it belongs to her people.  She tells Z-Master to show
her what it's got, and Z is content to save her demolition until after the
legacies of the Red and Green planets are wiped away.  As your people confront
the growing enemy armada, Aria gets all apologetic to the Trailer girls, saying
she doesn't want to hurt them but that she's got to get her hands on that
targeting unit no matter what.

Under these daunting circumstances, it falls to Taiga's impressive public
speaking skills to remind everyone that it's the Wärter's job to fight off all
those who would threaten world peace.  Sounds like a fine idea to me.

  Whatever Aria's beef with Kazuma is, she yells at him that she hates him and
  vows to take "her" Mihiro and the other girls from him.  She's worth an
  A-Adaptor and a BP+2.  Aria bemoans that she's gonna get "scolded" if she
  goes home empty-handed like this, and somehow musters the stamina to go on.
  Neither she nor Mihiro and Akane want to fight each other, but Aria claims
  she's got a duty to perform.

  Your scientists rapidly realize that attacking Z-Master while it's plugged
  into THE POWER is futile, but at least you're still alive to figure something
  out.  To try to disprove this, Z-Master starts taking away half the HP of
  some of your dudes, with more to follow.  Mikoto is feeling a bit faint, but
  still able to man her console...

  Keep hacking away and a number of Eviluders will show up, led by Rang.  The
  fact that the Primevals have combined in this Solar System proves to him that
  his commander Zoa's instincts of this star being special were correct.
  Z-Master for his part muses how the Eviluders seem to have some of their
  living machine powers left - meaning that under that armor there's something
  alive.  This angers Rang, who figures his people are superior to both the
  Radam and Primevals as rulers of space.  Orgun then shows up to tell him off:
  all the power the Eviluders acquired came at a steep price, as the Master
  Program's presence here proves.  Apparently the quest for this lost something
  is what made Orgun betray the Eviluders, but Rang is at pains to remind Orgun
  that they've got to wipe the Radam of the face of the universe, as their
  legacy from Aiba.  It seems the Head Detonator shares the same surname as our
  man Blade, mighty coincidental considering he was the _founder_ of the
  Eviluders.  This might mean that D-Boy's father's sin, as hinted at by THE
  POWER, was the founding of the Eviluders?!

  Z-Master isn't planning to angst over it; rather, he means to wipe both
  forces off the map.  He claims that all those who generate Minus energy by
  refusing Mechanization, that is, all the weak-hearted opponents arrayed
  before it, have no right to exist.  The same goes for those who have lost
  their hearts and become mere emissaries of destruction.  This all sounds
  rather confusing, and Orgun tells you the explanation will have to wait until
  after Z-Master is defeated.  Fortunately, Mikoto has tracked down how
  Z-Master is getting THE POWER: there's a pipe running from the main body down
  into the planet.  Once piped into its heart, it's distributed throughout the
  body.

  J seizes upon the plan of entering the energy stream and thereby attacking
  Z-Master from within.  This sounds suicidal, but he says that his life was
  more or less over long ago anyway - and he could ask for far worse grave
  markers than your gigantic adversary.  Bless understands that J and Kaidou
  actually mean to live through this, but are willing to make a sacrifice for
  the greater good in case things don't work out.  The rest of your dudes will
  have to fend off all other comers while J heads towards the entry point.

  Rang is worth a Large Magazine and an Initial Morale +2.  This defeat leaves
  him no choice but to wait for the main fleet to arrive, on orders from their
  supreme commander to make this system the site of the final battle with the
  Radam.  This is all part of Aiba's last wish that they make the galaxy their
  own, or something.

  J hurries to the entry point, but Aria doesn't want to let him wipe Z-Master
  out until she's done collecting data on THE POWER.  Kazuma gets in the way of
  her attack to protect J, which makes Aria even more pissed at Kazuma for
  putting Mihiro in danger.  This apparently immobilized the Valhawk, and Aria
  intends to wrench Mihiro out of her cockpit to "safety".  Kazuma yells at
  Mihiro to escape, but she doesn't want to leave her brother behind.  Bless
  then goes and shields them in turn, saying that he won't let Aria kill his
  and Yuumi's children.

  Suddenly, the Valstork starts showing the same strange reaction it did on the
  Moon.  It and the Valhawk shift into Battle Pattern Cross, combining into the
  Valguard!  The controls seem to reside in the Valhawk's cockpit, so Kazuma
  assumes control and pummels the astonished Aria's mech to within an inch of
  its life.  He's careful to avoid Aria's cockpit though, telling Aria that he
  isn't one to kill off someone who once saved his life, no matter what the
  hell is actually going on.  Aria recalls the terror of space, the weakness of
  the individual, and the importance of life: three of the main principles
  behind the Spaceman credo.  The last thing she wants is Kazuma sympathizing
  with her, and she vows to one day defeat him and live with Mihiro and his
  sisters in his stead.  Apparently both Kazuma and his dad don't fit into her
  picture, but there's no time to worry about that now.

  J emerges, still very much alive and very much successful in disrupting the
  flow of THE POWER within Z-Master.  This sets up the final fragdown, with the
  tired philosophy of replacing organic life and its Minus energy with
  mechanical life which has none, against the free will and COURAGE your people
  advocate.

  Z-Master is worth a HyperSensor, a Mars Donburi, an Infight +1, a Gunfight
  +1, and an Ignore Size Differences.  Z-Master tries to get back to Jupiter to
  bathe in THE POWER once more, but J has other ideas.  THE POWER can be either
  constructive or destructive, and J plans to make himself into a conduit to
  forcibly inundate Z-Master with a destructive quantity thereof.  Since
  Z-Master has no time to regenerate first, it is...

The End for Z-Master, and nearly the end for King J-der and its occupants.  The
flow of THE POWER can't be stopped, but J and Kaidou will try to ride it to
wherever it leads, entrusting the safety of the Earth to the rest of your
dudes.  Tomoro will accompany them to the end, and Z-Master's last words are "I
shall be destroyed.  However..."

Tekkaman Sword reports on Z-Master's destruction and the cessation of
Mechanization to his master.  The leader smugly notes that leaving your people
alive seems to have paid dividends: now one of their biggest obstacles is gone.
Evil's dissatisfaction with this is evident, but the Radam leader now says it's
quite clear that the humans, defeaters of the long-hated Zondar, are clearly
the best biological hosts for the Tek System.  Once the Radam Trees blossom,
they'll have an army that even the Solid Armor of the Eviluders won't be able
to stop, and the commander, "Omega", orders Sword and Lance to hurry up and
plant more trees.  He then finally allows Evil to dispose of the traitorous
Blade in whatever manner he sees fit.  As Evil gushes his gratitude, Omega
sounds quite confident that the Earth will become their new homeworld...

The news is similarly well received on the Eviluder side, where commander Zoa
receives Rang's report with enthusiasm.  The only black mark is Rang's failure
to eliminate his former subordinate Orgun due to human interference.  Zoa
doesn't mind the delay so long as the traitor ends up dead eventually, and Rang
plans to bring the entire army to the task as soon as their investigations are
done.  After Rang leaves, Zoa asks his lord Miku what's so fascinating about
this third planet way out in the middle of nowhere.  Miku doesn't know
directly, but says that she feels called.  As, perhaps, was the person they
detected off at a distance...

Elsewhere, Aria is getting tortured by Critic, who is prepared to execute her
for her failure to bring in the information.  Regulate asks him to let her off
easy - after all, she did bring them word of several other interesting things.
Critic protests that "they" are probably happier about this than everyone here
is, and Inference agrees - "it" is the thing "they" hate most after all.  He
tells Aria that he'll let her slide, and to go receive treatment from
Applicant.  Aria somehow manages to drag herself to a standing position and
walks off under her own power, somewhat to Inference's amusement.  He's got
bigger things on his mind, like how the promised day is so close that they
might have to push "the button" with their own fingers.  He therefore orders
the Scientia, incomplete though it be, launched as a test of this "infinite
energy" everyone's been hearing so much about.  Critic and Applicant will see
to the Scientia's final checks themselves.  On February 14, Earth time, the
Scribes' new journey will begin, or so Inference plans.


27. Soshite, Owaranai Asu E ("And Towards an Unending Tomorrow")

There's no sign of Z-Master, so it seems the universe has indeed been saved
from the Zondar menace.  Your people are counting their blessings, and
rededicating themselves to completing the job as Yurika orders the Y-Unit
detached from the Nadesico.  The targeting system it contains is to be sunken
into the seas of Jupiter along with THE POWER: two ancient forces too mighty
for anyone (sane) to mess with.  Taiga declares operations in the Jupiter
sphere complete, but something still seems to be bugging Akito - something he
won't reveal to Ruri.

Time for a log entry!  Almost a month has passed since the victory at Jupiter,
and your fleet managed to swing by Mars on the way back to Earth.  In the
process, Yukina violently refused to leave the Nadesico, Yamada did his best to
indoctrinate Sousuke and Heero in Geki Ganger, and the crew were seized by a
debate over whether Akito should take "responsibility" for the kiss on Mars by
proposing to Yurika.  In any case, Akito will be going to greet Yurika's
father, Admiral Misumaru, when you all return - and Kazuma can't decide whether
to be bemused or envious over Akito's women issues.  He's also a bit concerned
for Mikoto, who collapsed from what Gai said was overwork en route.  But hey,
tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and thanks to hanging with the Wärter he's got a
shipload of women to exchange valentines with.  He's hoping to at least get
some _pro_forma_ chocolate out of the deal, noting that the next step after
bringing peace to Earth is to bring happiness to himself.

Bless, appearing out of nowhere, finds this a rather amusing log entry.  It
seems he, like Kazuma, got kicked out of the way of Mihiro and Carret's stem-
to-stern ship cleaning.  Bless is actually rather glad that the "log" is
turning out to be more like a "diary" - he feels it's important for Kazuma to
cherish his memories.  He then asks Kazuma if he remembers his mother Yuumi -
Kazuma does not, since she died when he was very young.  Bless still blames
himself for his command error that led to her death, and laments the fact that
in the explosion, all photos and mementos of her were lost as well.  Kazuma's
not mad at him, but rather at the space pirates who dared cover themselves with
the Trailer name, luring the Valhawk with a fake distress signal.  One thing
Bless did learn in the process is to leave unforgettable proof of the things
people are destined to lose.  That would explain why Bless gave Kazuma the
ship's log assignment...

Bless muses about how Leo briefly met his wife amidst THE POWER, and allows
that he wouldn't mind at all seeing his wife again either.  After all, she was
beautiful enough that _he_, level-headed though he seems, was head over heels
for her.  At the time they were together, she was also extremely bashful -
wearing a veil even as she carried on her family Trailer business.  It was she
who turned Bless from his piratical ways while on the way back from Mars with
those crystals aboard.  He was flying on stealth mode, having finally shaken
Taiga's pursuit on his illegal freight mission, when the fatigue got to him and
he fell asleep.  This resulted in a near-miss with a Trailer ship: Yuumi's
ship.

This "near-miss" blew a hole in the hold and vented the cargo into space, and
the younger, hotter-headed Bless yelled at the other ship for his own error...
or tried to, until the mere sight of Yuumi made him change his ways and join
the Trailers on the spot.  As for how he could have fallen for a veiled woman,
Bless philosophically calls it "instinct", if not "fate".  This sounds pretty
fishy to Kazuma, but Bless swears it's true, and further that Yuumi felt the
same, and took off her veil for him.  Kazuma recalls that Yuumi was famous in
her own right as the masked Trailer woman, and the real reason Bless got his
nickname "Hawkeye" was for perceiving even through the veil how beautiful his
future wife was.  This sounds kinda lame to Kazuma, but Bless adds that Yuumi's
father's right hand man (and Yuumi's guardian) Galent earned himself the
nickname "Devil's Arm" for punching out the young space pirate with enough
temerity to propose to Yuumi.  At least one thing is now clear to Kazuma: the
degree to which Bless was smitten with Yuumi is presumably why Taiga was
certain there could be no love children involved.  And that from a man who
Bless says had rather hoped to woo Yuumi himself.

In any case, this means that the Tulip Crystals Bless has been hauling around
are a memento of the meeting with his wife.  Kazuma can see why Bless wouldn't
want to tell that tale in front of everyone, but wonders why he hasn't even
filled Akane or Mihiro in on it.  Bless says that Kazuma is now growing into
manhood (if not quite all the way to where Duo is yet), and after his exploits
at the controls of the Valguard, no one can treat him as a kid ever again.
This sentimentality bugs Kazuma, but Bless reminds him of the Trailer maxim
"Yield the road to the young when old age comes..."  "...And if you don't like
that, don't get old!" is the second half, and with the glint back in his eye,
Bless tells his son that the Valguard may be Kazuma's, but he's still the
Valstork's captain.

Speaking of the Valguard though, Bless is concerned by more than just the fact
that your people haven't managed to recombine the ships since Jupiter.  He's
worried precisely because he's always _wanted_ to be able to do combination
attacks like that, ever since the Valhawk's creation.  So, the discovery that
he's actually equipped with that capability gives him plenty of pause.  What's
more, this Aria girl seems to know more about the Valstork than he does -
making her a likely candidate for these "Scribes of Knowledge" you heard about.
That sounds awkward or something, so your commanders have elected to call them
The Database instead.  No one's sure what they're really up to, but it might
become clear after you return to Orbit Base and begin operations to find and
destroy the Radam.  Kazuma's looking forward to it, and despite his father's
chiding that that proves he's still got a ways to go, Bless seems encouraged by
his son's spirit.

Everything seems in order at Orbit Base, including the Shishio brothers'
good-natured dislike for each other.  There are a few new additions to the
science crew: Papillon Noir from Chasseur (France's anti-Special Terrorist
force), and Kanzaki Michi of the Space Knights.  Both are well-known scientists
and both are babes, making them very popular almost at once.  Their presence
betrays some ugly Federation politicking though: their respective commanders
seem to have felt it was too dangerous to leave them where military
jurisdiction might reach.

Amazing though it seems, Papillon is already spoken for, by the slovenly
computer genius Entouji of all people.  Before they can have too joyous a
reunion, she tells him something that her Sensing Mind powers have revealed:
dim visions of the future in which Mikoto is destined to wreak havoc.  Too bad
Mikoto was already ensconced in sickbay, where security was relatively light.
Something is draining the base's energy, and that something might just be
Mikoto, who abruptly transforms into...

...A big pink robot, evidently a new breed of mechanical life.  Akagi and his
JSDF Red Dragons show up in short order to get rid of it.  This proves
difficult when their mecha are all drained of their energy, forcing them all to
eject.  As Kaname studies this, she mumbles to herself that it's not energy
_drain_ per se, but almost more like energy _sublimation_.  Is this robot
trying to sublimate all matter around it?  At the very least, anything near her
ceases functioning entirely.  And since Mikoto is actually _fused_ with this
new menace, rescuing her could prove tricky.  You've got no choice though: as
Tetsuya points out, it's one life versus the lives of everyone on Earth.  Your
people will have to stick close to the Nadesico, whose Distortion Field is
about the only defense against sublimation.  Anyone else will only get one shot
before halting.

  What's worse, the "Zonudar" emits a field that can sublimate things at long
  range, though it takes one turn to charge.  This means that you'll lose one
  unit from the line of battle each turn that passes.

  As the battle wears on, Gai asks his father why this nightmare is happening
  even after the Zondar were defeated.  The Shishio brothers think back to the
  time that Mikoto lost her parents in the initial crash-landing of EI-01.
  They theorize that at that time EI-01 planted some kind of new seed in her,
  one that gradually fused with her nervous system and evolved into a being
  with powers comparable to the G-Stones.  Several of your mecha can't even be
  sortied, for reasons that are still under investigation, and Gai tells a
  fretful Kazuma that it's his job as Hero to go stop this new menace and save
  Mikoto.  Gai might be at a disadvantage with only Gaigar, but he's had some
  of the other scientists hard at work on a little secret weapon...

  The AIs of the dragon brothers have been transplanted into the Gao Machines,
  providing guidance to their otherwise offline computers.  They know well that
  their deaths are imminent due to energy sublimation, and would rather use the
  time they have left to contribute to even the slimmest chance of victory.
  The Zonuda robot seems to realize the plan, but Mike, still smiling, keeps
  her from intervening.  In combined form, the strength of Gai's G-Stone can
  fend off sublimation briefly, and Blade yells that Gai is now your people's
  last hope.

  As Gai prepares for the final attack, he asks if human culture has had it
  wrong all along.  Is it because humans don't value things?  Is it because
  they throw everything away?  Is that why they must be destroyed?  Is the
  Zonudar about to put a final period on the history of material culture?  Is
  that which denies your very existence the Devil, or God Himself?!  Is THIS
  what is truly meant by Purification?!?!?  With the GS Ride at its limit, Gai
  says that he still believes - in mankind, in the world, and in himself!

  The Zonudar is worth a Solar Cell (enviro-friendly!) and a Bakunetsu God
  Curry-Pan (not digesto-friendly!), as well as a SP Usage -5%, Infight +1,
  Gunfight +1, and Morale Limit Break.  It looks like things didn't work, and
  the Zonudar regenerates to menace your people more, but Gai simply repeats
  Hell and Heaven and seizes Mikoto back.  Unfortunately, she's still in Core
  form, and begs Gai to kill her quickly before she regenerates yet again.  It
  looks like about the best Gai can do is ensure that they die together,
  exchanging vows of love in the process.  BUT WAIT, there's that Mamoru dude,
  who helps Gai Purify them both...

In fact, it seems a miracle has occurred, and God has given them both new (and
very appealing, which we can tell due to the convenient lack of clothing)
bodies.  What a great scene, and what a rotten time for the Security Council to
decide to suppress the Plants by force!  The Valstork shows up and collects
everyone who can still move, announcing that the Plants' former aid to the
Jupiter Union's invasion plans has resulted in a preemptive strike.  Now, had
this been an official international decision, your people might not have much
standing to interfere, but you've also learned that the invasion force plans to
use nukes!  This isn't anything from the full Security Council, but the on-site
decision of only a small faction.  You've been ordered to stop them, and you
don't have much time left.

The Valstork also happens to be the only ship you've got (unless you count the
Nadesico's Boson Jumping) fast enough to catch the Federation force.  Of
course, this _would_ be the time that the Radam choose to attack, and D-Boy
sorties to fend them off so the rest of you can hurry on ahead.  As a second
wave, the Eviluders have shown up, as has Orgun, who still has stuff to tell
D-Boy.  Distracted, the two get smacked around by their respective nemeses, but
Miyuki rockets in from Earth to keep Evil from picking on her brother any
further.  Evil mockingly wonders if Miyuki has realized her time has come and
decided to spend it on the battlefield, and fills D-Boy in on the little bit
about Miyuki's shortened lifespan.

The Valstork really wants to press ahead, but in its course appears something
big and obviously villainly.  Kazuma sorties to disrupt it and let the main
ship head ahead, but the enemy pilot Inference has other ideas.  It unleashes a
monstrous map weapon that seemingly catches Rapier in the blast.  Wounded, she
seems easy prey for Evil.  Kazuma forges ahead, yelling that they'll all die at
this rate.  He gets blown out of the cockpit, and Bless hurries outside to save
him, with the admonition that those who give up in space die.  Inference yells
that all the elements are now gathered, and his people's voyage can now begin!
However, Blade is more interested in exacting vengeance on Evil, and Orgun vows
not to let him die.  Despite his wounds, he plans to use his biggest attack on
Inference...

Amidst the almighty explosion, Orgun gazes at Earth, so beautiful.  And its
people, who still have what the Eviluders have lost: their hearts.

---

"The Holy Valentine Light" and the New Battle

2/14/100 of the Federation Space Calendar.

The New United Nations elected to use force against the Plants, who had
supported the anti-Earth organization known as the Jovian Union.  An attack
fleet was dispatched at once to the L5 point, but under the isolated discretion
of certain soldiers aboard the fleet, it was armed with "nuclear weapons",
forbidden from use in battle between human and human.

The New United Nations executive branch, upon obtaining this information, sent
its special Wärter battalion with orders to stop the use of the nuclear
weapons.  But depleted from their battle with the new species of mechanical
life, they were repulsed by a combined attack by the Radam, Eviluders, and
another mysterious mechanized foe.  The sacrificial attack by the mysterious
Detonator Orgun allowed the Wärter to escape by the slimmest of margins, but
during this battle known as the "Holy Valentine Light", Captain Blessfield and
one other civilian, as well as Tekkaman Rapier, disappeared.  And the Wärter,
whose flagship Nadesico became immobilized, were for all practical purposes
obliterated.

And with no one to stop them, nuclear weapons destroyed the Plant agricultural
colony Unius 7, along with 243,721 sacrifices.

Mankind, about to embark on a path to peace and righteousness in the wake of
the Marimea Army's oppression and the Lizard War, was plunged once more into
the depths of conflict by this tragedy.

    - Space Development Corporation, Historical Notes "Space Development
    Report", excerpted from Chapter 1 final page


28. Uchuu ni Hitori Dake No ("The Only ___ In Space")

"The Bloody Valentine" and the End of the Age

2/14/100 of the Federation Space Calendar.

The nuclear attack on Unius 7, which would later come to be known as the
"Bloody Valentine", plunged the governments of the Earth and the Plants into
war.  Even within the New United Nations, several countries cried foul at the
war, and the neutral Orb Union declared its non-participation in the Federation
military and opposition to the war from the moment hostilities commenced.

The Federation Army controlled the Atlantic Union, and with its swift
suppression of the Plants' Army, the Zaft, it was believed the conflict would
come to a hasty conclusion.  However, new Zaft weapons allowed the war to spill
over to civilian life, and hostilities ground to a halt.

This new weapon, which disrupts nuclear fission, is called a "Neutron Jammer".

The Zaft deployed these weapons throughout the world, neutralizing the nuclear
powerplants that provide the nations their power.  A grave energy crisis
followed.

Not only were chains of command disrupted, but the Neutron Jammers' deleterious
effects on radar and communications, combined with the Coordinators' advanced
combat abilities, quickly steered the war off the initial course Federation
command had plotted.  All indications pointed to prolonged hostilities.

As Coordinator and Natural fought, the Radam menace continued unabated.  Newly
arrived spaceships threatened the arrival of a vastly larger force than before.

The arrival of Eviluder forces, even more fearsome than the Radam, was widely
forecast.

But no one could predict what the future for mankind, beset from within and
without, might hold.

Federation space calendar year 100.

Mankind spent this year, the last before the new century, amid daily
uncertainty of what their future held.

Even half a year removed from the "Bloody Valentine", there were those who led
their lives with bravery.  They were to quietly form the nucleus of a new
movement that would eventually alter the course of the Earth and the war
enshrouding it.

    - Space Development Corporation, Historical Notes "Space Development
    Report", excerpted from Chapter 2 introduction

----

Mihiro is handing the ship's log this time, her entry dated exactly a year
since the Wärter were founded, and around half a year since they were
effectively disbanded.  On that day, she lost both her brother and her father.
Orbit Base also got pretty thoroughly trashed, and the Nadesico has been
immobilized as well.  What's more, something terrible has happened to Akito,
Yurika, Ines and D-Boy, and the rest of the team has gone back to their former
lives.  The painful memories of that day have kept her and her family from
having much contact with the others, but her father's exhortation that memories
are precious has spurred her to keep the log.  Even so, the strain might be too
much for her.  Carret interrupts her impending tears to remind her that it's
almost meeting time.

The Valstork crew has been brought a job by Galent, which amounts to a simple
message delivery junket.  The sticking point is who is offering the job:
someone from Orb who's used very unofficial channels to make the request.
However, as Shihomi notes, these aren't times they can afford to pick and
choose, especially if they wish to avoid their 37th bankruptcy.  Horis points
out that Taiga was more than generous with the fundage when the Wärter
disbanded, but Akane tells him that there's only so many kinds of jobs the
Trailers _can_ do these days.

Anyway, Shihomi's resolve as captain is firm, and if there's anything worrying
about the job, it's the recipient of the message: a noted mercenary group named
Serpent Tail.  Lest the mercs decide to off the messenger, Shihomi decides to
go in the Valstork - which will also help in running the gauntlet of Radam
along the way.  It's a shame the rest of your comrades aren't with them, but
such is life.  Perhaps as a sign of the times, a popular prophet is on the TV,
stating prophecies of expanding doom.  The darkness that rules the universe is
growing, overshadowing Earth and the space surrounding it.  Mihiro for one
doesn't want to watch another second, quoting the Trailer maxim that "The
future belongs to no one, other than yourself."

Among the Serpent's Tail, Elijah is uncertain whether they should have accepted
the job.  Murakumo sees no reason to turn it down, especially since it came
their way specifically.  Besides, as Loretta points out, turning it down would
harm their reputation - and it's not like Orb would be trying to trap them or
anything.  Reed's info is that Orb is in pretty bad shape, and genuinely needs
their help, and Elijah is eventually persuaded to at least hear the contents of
the job.  It seems Loretta's daughter is good to go too, as is Kite, despite
what Elijah figures is his cowardice.  Kite simply calls it not wanting to get
into combat, despite his well-known piloting aptitude.  After Kite jauntily
heads out to see the mech he'll be using, the others wonder aloud how an
incredibly lone wolf like him could have made it this long through all this war
without a single rumor of his exploits leaking out.  Reed isn't willing to use
his info gathering skills to find out either: he has no plans to turn peeping
tom on other guys.  One thing seems clear, "Kite" seems to be an alias -
perhaps referring to the bird.  Elijah figures he should have picked a more
formidable raptor, but Murakumo mulls an old saying that "the hawk gives birth
to the kite".

Kazahana shows Kite his mech, with its already impressive specs tuned up to the
max.  Not too shabby for a rental.  Though she knows he has no plans to use
them, she's made sure it's armed.  Kite seems rather more solicitous towards
her than towards the others, and he explains that it's not because she's a kid,
but that she reminds him of his little sister.  By way of apology, he shares
with her a Trailer maxim: "Don't try too hard to conceal your weaknesses - that
only advertises them."  He explains that that this means that one is a child so
long as being called a child bothers them.

Kite and the others reach the rendezvous point before the Valstork.  The level
of caution they sense says all they need to know about the importance of the
mission.  When Kite asks Elijah how long he's been a merc, Elijah flatly says
it started just after the Bloody Valentine.  He welcomes Kite to make fun of
his skills if he wants to - he knows very well his only real Coordinator
ability is his pretty face.  The genetic engineering he underwent didn't
enhance his piloting skills any, but the last thing Kite plans to do is
criticize him for hit.  Kite says that he's only as good as he is because he
admits his own weaknesses and does his best at everything else he can.  He
figures Elijah is already plenty professional, whatever his piloting skills
might be.

Murakumo wants to ask Kite more about his past, but questions will have to wait
until after they've dealt with whatever craft is approaching the area.  Whoever
is approaching, they're bringing warships as no messenger should.  It turns out
to be none other than the famous "Golden Magic Bullet", Miguel Eiman of the
Zaft.  Elijah heard rumors of this warrior when he was a Zaft cadet, and they
were impressive even then.  Miguel for his part isn't terribly worried about
two modified Jins and a Mobius, no doubt either Trailers or mercs.  Either way,
he can't let them go now that they've seen his men, especially with the
Vesalius due any minute.

Kite realizes first that there'll be no talking their way out of the impending
battle, and plans to make good on his promise not to fight.  He blows right
_through_ the Zaft formation, who figure they'd better focus on the Jins
first...

  Miguel is worth an Anti-Beam Coating S and a Gunfight +1.  With their combat
  potential neutralized, Murakumo orders Miguel's forces to retreat.  When
  Miguel asks, Murakumo Murakumo announces himself to be from the Serpent Tail
  group - a name Miguel won't soon forget.  Unfortunately, a new group of
  enemies appears: Radam, with a pissed-off Tekkaman Lance in command.  Even
  Kite will have no choice but to fight now, and Murakumo realizes right away
  just how sharp a shooter he is.  However, the act of firing seems to have put
  a major mental strain on Kite...

  Just then, the Valstork appears - a ship Kite recognizes.  Shihomi rapidly
  decides to help the recipients of her message by engaging the Radam.  Lance
  makes to dismember Kite's Mobius before the friends can help, but Mihiro
  intervenes with the Valhawk, getting smacked around for her pains.  Kite, now
  pretty obviously Kazuma, cries out his sister's name, then realizes his
  mistake and flies off in haste.  Murakumo tries to tell the Trailers to buzz
  off, but Mihiro plans to get revenge for the loss of her father and brother.

  As the battle progresses, another Mobius appears, this time equipped with
  Gunbarrels.  Murakumo had thought all such ships were lost in the lunar
  Battle of Grimardy, but its pilot, Muu La Flaga, is known for doing the
  impossible.  He's still a Federation soldier, but he's more than happy to
  help his old comrades... and sad to hear that Bless has fallen in battle.
  Murakumo realizes that Muu was also observing his little tiff with the Zaft -
  this suggests to him that Heliopolis has become the key to both Zaft and
  Federation operations.

  Lance is worth a Booster and an Infight +1.  As Shihomi thanks Muu for his
  help, Murakumo begins to remember the rumors he's heard attached to the Flaga
  name.  Muu's certainly heard of Murakumo before, and is glad to have
  witnessed his skills firsthand.  Muu zooms off, hoping to meet Captain
  Shihomi and her crew again someday.  Mihiro has been left wondering why the
  Mobius pilot who was positively her brother fled at the sight of her face,
  but there's no way she can follow now.

Murakumo and his men dock with the Valstork.  Shihomi starts by carrying out
her mission, handing over an extremely old-fashioned envelope with a wax seal.
The seal is that of the ancient Orb empire, which is exactly as Murakumo
expects.  What has Murakumo and Elijah impressed is the Valstork itself, even
better than the reputation of "Hawkeye" suggested.  When Mihiro tries to turn
the conversation to her brother, Murakumo will only tell her that the retreated
pilot's name is "Kite", and whether or not it's an alias, he will confine his
conversation to his missions only.  Before departing, he tells Mihiro that
"Kite" is part of Serpent Tail now, and as its leader it's his duty to protect
his team.

Back at the Serpent Tail's base, Kite hasn't said a word since returning from
the mission.  He tells the women to get the details of the sortie from Elijah
or Murakumo, and thanks them for worrying about him.  Loretta for her part is
happy to have people to worry about: the only family she's got in space.

Elijah and Murakumo then return, and Elijah wants to know why Kite didn't say
even one word to his sister, who's no doubt worried sick about him.  Kite won't
answer that, saying only that he carried out his part of the mission to the
letter.  Murakumo then says that his Jin got damaged out there, and that he'll
be using the Mobius next time - with Kite riding shotgun.  Indeed, this might
literally require combat, and Murakumo won't take "no" for an answer.  Kite
accedes to this, saying that he should consider himself lucky that he's in
space at all just now.

The mission as written in the letter will require them to head to the Orb
colony of Heliopolis, but a bit of an emergency has cropped up just now.  It
seems the Zaft have attacked it, having learned of Federation ships docked
there.  So much for that colony's neutrality...  Whatever this next mission
will entail, it seems there'll be no avoiding getting mixed up with the two
warring forces.


29. Akai Tamashii, Aoi Honou ("Red Soul, Blue Flames")

Somewhere inside Heliopolis, Kira is thinking back on his decision to board a
mobile suit and fight the Zaft - among whom is his best friend Aslan.  The
Federation soldiers who took him in are duly impressed by his phenomenal combat
skills and indeed grateful to him for saving their lives.  The most
level-headed of all is captain Maryuu Ramius, who was with him in the cockpit
as he rewrote the mech's OS _on_the_fly_ while taking it into combat.  Kira
explains that he boarded the "Gundam" because couldn't bear to stand by and
watch his classmates get slaughtered.  The Strike does indeed resemble the
famous mech so active during the Revolutionary War, and is about to
revolutionize the little pocket of safety that the kids have enjoyed until now.
She demands that they all accompany her back to Federation military space now
that they've interacted with a top-secret machine, and tells them that the
neutrality which supported their little idyll is over as of today's fracas.
Lest they forget, she points out that the Radam and Eviluders are on the
offensive - to say nothing of the war between Coordinator (that would be Kira)
and Natural.  Kira does what he's told and takes the Strike to the Archangel so
it can depart on time.

Mihiro's log entry doesn't sound very happy over the fact that her brother is
alive - instead, she bemoans how she can't live with him.  Carret tries to
cheer her up, but there's only so much a robot can do.  Meanwhile, some new
arrivals on board (Lowe and Kiri, and the snappily-named "Professor") ponder
Kazuma's reappearance.  Consensus: leave him be until he's ready to come back
on his own terms.  One of the other guests, Liam, explains the mission they've
got for the Valstork, starting with the rumpus at Heliopolis a few hours ago.
Professor figures that the Feds were forcing Orb's Morgenleite Industries to
help out, naturally drawing the ire of the Zaft.  Whatever the case, the
formerly neutral hangout for George Glenn otaku (make that "George Glenn
freaks")is neutral no more.  The new mech will positively get into combat, and
when it does little bits are going to be blown off.  Liam wants your help to go
snag those bits after the fact, and Shihomi accepts in short order.

Mihiro is still being emo, so the mysterious Mr. 8 tries to cheer her up too.
Turns out that 8 was the battle computer for a certain ship Lowe salvaged from
space, which takes professional pride in having an encyclopedic knowledge of
mankind's history of war.  8 is small enough to fit into a suitcase and is a
valued member of Lowe's team, and is the greatest piece of trash that Lowe, the
consummate junkman, has picked up to date.  But the bits of trash to come off
the Strike look to be even cooler yet, provided you can get to the scene in
time.  And that time is... right now!

The Zaft are blowing the crap out of Heliopolis, and Maryuu's mission won't let
her hang around and try to help.  She orders the Strike and Muu's Mobius
recovered so they can head off towards Federation command.  The Coordinator
boys leading the attack start to disagree over whether to capture or destroy
the escaping "G", the fifth and last of a set, and Isaac in particular thinks
that commander Aslan is a coward.  Aslan is no coward, and realizes that
whoever is aboard the Strike is no Natural, but his best friend Kira.  What he
wants to know is, why is Kira helping the Naturals?  Word then comes in from
their commander Creuset, who describes the destruction of Heliopolis as
"unavoidable" before ordering his forces to pursue the fleeing Archangel.  As
they leave, a mystery figure notes that only P01 got carted off by the Feds.
The figure says that 02 and 03 must be positively destroyed, for the sake of
their ideals.

The Valstork shows up after the fact to find Heliopolis, an its civilian
occupants, a smoldering wreck.  Shihomi orders the ship to search for any
possible survivors in accordance with the spaceman creed, saving the treasure
hunting for later.  Survivors turn out to be in short supply, so the crew
switch to salvage operations.  Mihiro isn't capable of piloting one of the
extravehicular pods, but everyone else seems to be.  As the banter continues,
Akane and Horis end up in one of the hangars, which is still pressurized.
Horis seems about to actually propose to Akane - which isn't all that
surprising given how he's ceaselessly teased her until now.  But there's
someone else on the scene: Kite, aka Kazuma.

Big things are afoot outside: the Serpent Tail has taken over the Valstork at
gunpoint.  Shihomi correctly suspects that the famed mercenary group isn't
interested in the Valstork's salvage operations.  What they've come for is to
ensure that the Valstork family doesn't discover a certain something hidden in
the wreckage of Heliopolis - or if they do, to make sure they can't tell it to
anyone else.

Kazahana can't tell Mihiro much about her erstwhile brother, who is busy inside
the colony.  Lowe and Kiri are busy too, rummaging through increasingly
valuable debris until they run into two brand new mobile suits: a red and blue
one.  Liam has just found a golden arm that appears to be of the same type, and
none of it appears to bear any Federation military markings.  This would mean
that these mecha were developed by Orb itself, turning the tables on the
Federation's attempt to force the Orb's cooperation.  Of course, bad things
would happen if these mecha's existence became known to the Feds, and Murakumo
shows up with orders to prevent such bad things from happening.

Incredibly, Lowe has a plan to deal with the gun the mercenary has trained on
them.  He hops aboard the blue mech, planning to take it at least with them.
Murakumo radios to his men to say that the junkmen have already found the
target, and the Professor isn't surprised that Lowe's guts and good luck have
kept him out of the mercs' clutches thus far.  Murakumo, who feels it's payback
time, orders the ship to pull back so he can fight Lowe one-on-one.  8 helps
Lowe get the mech online, but Murakumo is somehow able to dodge the first beam
rifle round.  The battle between professional mercenary and professional
junkman is on!

  Murakumo is worth an Apogee Motor and a Support Attack +1.  Realizing he's
  outgunned, Murakumo concentrates his fire and leaves Lowe wondering how the
  hell a mere Mobius could move that fast.  8 warns that your opponent is very
  skilled, and that another hit like that will spell the end.  Lowe decides to
  risk it all and exits the cockpit, leaving 8 to attack when Murakumo gets
  closer to investigate.  Murakumo's Mobius gets blasted, but Murakumo uses the
  same tactic to jump to the mech and enter the cockpit.  It seems the mech's
  destruction is certain, but Lowe says he won't let Murakumo do so without a
  fight - after all, it would be a waste of valuable salvage.  This actually
  interests Murakumo, but he notes that Lowe's good luck by itself won't be
  enough to keep him alive in wartime.

  Neither, however, will Murakumo's cool head alone carry the day.  A bunch of
  Orb mecha show up, seemingly bent on finishing off the expendable mercs who
  they themselves hired to do the dirty work.  One thing Murakumo hates is
  being betrayed, and he kicks Lowe and 8 out so he can go and get some
  payback.  Lowe still thinks of the mech as his, and vows havoc should
  Murakumo as much as scratch it.

  Things get worse yet when Mihiro launches in the Valhawk, demanding to know
  why everyone wants to fight so badly.  She's clearly out of her mind, and is
  about to get killed when Lowe and 8 show up in the other secret mech.  Lowe
  has the devil's own luck, and he's not afraid to use it!

  When you get down to one enemy left, it gets blown away by a new adversary
  showing up: Eviluders, lead by Leave.  The Eviluders quickly begin
  indiscriminately firing, and your people have no choice but to fight back.
  Mihiro is especially zealous to extract vengeance for her father and brother
  getting blown away.  Leave meanwhile is wondering what's so special about
  this planet that Orgun loved so much.

  She also realizes that said brother is now in the colony, and she's bound and
  determined to protect him now the way she couldn't back then.  Leave is
  amazed at the strength of her resolve.  Kazuma, meanwhile, asks pathetically
  to be left alone, saying he can't fight anymore.  He's become deathly afraid
  of battle, likely because of his father's death.  But Horis tells him to his
  face that Captain Bless died precisely because he was trying to save Kazuma's
  life.  Kazuma doesn't deny this; rather, he says that the whole thing
  happened because he wasn't good enough.  And he can't bear the thought of his
  skills failing him again and resulting in any more deaths.  Horis agrees that
  that's possible, but notes that as things currently stand, lives that _could_
  be saved will definitely get lost.  Horis repeats that Captain Bless is
  definitely dead, but says that he probably wanted it that way, since by his
  death someone dear to him was saved.  Softening his tone, he tells Kazuma
  that that battle's outcome wasn't Kazuma's fault - it was mere bad luck.
  But, and he steels his tone again, Kazuma's current refusal to fight is
  clearly Kazuma's own weakness showing, and Horis won't permit Bless' death to
  be for the sake of someone as pathetic as that.  As things currently stand,
  Kazuma is essentially killing his dad again.  He tells Kazuma to make good on
  the old saying and let the "hawk give birth to the kite".

  Akane tells Horis to leave Kazuma be, now that she understands the pain that
  has kept him distant these past six months.  Kazuma isn't having it though.
  He admits his own weakness, but adds that he hasn't forgotten how important
  life is.  He takes one of the salvage pods... as Leave's desire to understand
  what Orgun sought here intensifies.  Before Mihiro gets entirely wrecked,
  Kazuma flies the pod over to her and clamps onto her arm.  Elijah's
  Coordinator skills tell him precisely how god-like a maneuver that was, as
  Kazuma hops into the cockpit and asks Carret to go into Battle Formation
  Cross.  The Valguard is back in business.  Leave marvels at an unknown
  emotion welling up inside her at the sight - could this be what moved Orgun?
  She leaves the field, and with all the mushy stuff saved for later, your
  people move to mop up the remaining bad guys.

With the bad guys disposed of, Murakumo muses that the fight between the Zaft
and the Feds must have happened far faster than the Orb expected.  The loss of
Heliopolis must have panicked the Orb and led to their betrayal, and left both
the junkmen and the Serpent Tail with no real place to return to.  Lowe tells
Murakumo he's welcome to keep the blue mech, as thanks for helping save
everyone's life.  The various teams will be going their separate ways for now,
with Kazuma back in the Valstork Family's embrace.  When Kazuma thanks Kazahana
for all her kindness, it's the first real smile she's ever seen on his lips.

Kazuma is pretty apologetic when he gets out of the cockpit, recalling six
months of odd jobs and playing mercenary, all to run from his supposed failure
with his family.  But he somehow knew he'd have to come back, and begs them all
for another chance to live as a Trailer.  Lowe digs it, and says he'll let
Kazuma back in with only one punch as punishment.  But it's Shihomi who lands
the blow, saying it's her job in place of her father.  Kazuma takes the hit
philosophically, but Shihomi has another blow in store for him on behalf of the
whole Valstork family, and three more besides on behalf of herself as his older
sister, of the absent Galent, and of Carret who isn't tall enough to reach his
face.  Akane chips in a punch, and Mihiro gets in some punishment too, elbowing
Horis out of the way in the process.

All this pummeling hasn't dampened Kazuma's enthusiasm to be home, and Shihomi
tells him that he may have left a kid, but he's come back a man.  Liam phones
in, interrupting the love(?)fest to announce that his crew discovered a lifepod
while looking for more parts for the red-frame mech.  Shihomi is sure Liam's
hold must be full up, and asks Liam to send the pod their way.  It's all hands
to the hold in case medical attention is needed... all hands except Kazuma, who
is about to have six months of pent-up kitchen duty come to roost all at once.
Horis gives Kazuma a final pep talk about inheriting the noble spirit of his
father, and Kazuma vows to surpass his dad in awesomeness someday.  Horis
recommends he start in the kitchen: every meal this past half year, except
those Shihomi cooked, have been awful.

Inside the pod is none other than Flay Allstar, lucky to be alive in her
non-propelled tin can.  The crew assure her that many other Heliopolians
launched escape boats and were presumably saved.  As Flay gets taken to a room
to rest, Shihomi finds out that the nearest friendly spot to drop her off is
"Artemis", a space fortress belonging to the Eurasia Union.  Lowe wants to come
along too and see the famed "Artemis' Umbrella", meaning the Valstork will have
the junkmen riding shotgun for the time being.  Akane vows mayhem if Kazuma's
cooking skills have atrophied during his absence...


30. Megami no Yume, Tatakigami no Yabou ("Dream of the Goddess, Ambition of the
War God")

Brigadier General Garcia welcomes Ramius to Artemis.  Garcia is very confident
in his defenses, and tells Maryuu to rest easy for a while until the survivors
from Heliopolis are to be sent home.  Even though she's from the Atlantic Union
and he's from the Eurasia Union, they're both Earthlings, right?  One thing he
does want to see, though, is this new Strike Gundam and its pilot...

Kazuma is back on the mic for the ship's log, half a year older and perhaps
wiser.  He now has a better appreciation for his father's admonition to
treasure his memories, and is determined to commit them to the log.  He's
interrupted however when Flay comes in to tell him that dinner's ready.  He
apologizes to her for all the non-high society stuff she's being made to help
out with, though he suspects the experience will be good for her in the long
run.  He also tells her she needn't speak overly formally to him, since they're
close to the same age and all.

Over dinner, Kazuma gets filled on what's been happening in his absence.
Galeon and Mamoru have gone off to deep space to help out certain people in
need, initially accompanied by the Go-Lion team who are returning to Altea.
Lowe, ever the adventurous spaceman, is impressed that the rumors of the Wärter
using alien mecha were true.  Things are less rosy where Akito and Yurika are
concerned.  Horis slowly says that the two of them indeed got married, over
Admiral Misumaru's objections... but there was an accident during their
honeymoon, and both were killed.  Kazuma grimaces, and wonders if the goddess
of fate herself was determined the two shouldn't be together.  Akane wants to
say something at this point, but Horis whispers to her to keep it to herself.
As though to add insult to injury, Ines was lost not long afterward, in a
similar accident.  Kazuma supposes that the explanation-happy scientist and the
two star-crossed lovers must be raising a ruckus in Heaven - enough to get the
angels of love on their side.  Once again, Akane has to be restrained.

After the Nadesico's immobilization, its crew have been scattered to the winds,
some entering the military, and some returning to civilian life.  D-Boy and
Miyuki have also been missing all this time, but the Radam are still here and
still a major menace.  Aki's been researching ways to get rid of them, for
whatever help that can offer.  Flay is amazed that all this could happen in a
mere six months - the peaceful upbringing she's had in Heliopolis is proving to
be quite the sham.  Kazuma just hopes that the shock doesn't set Flay down a
bad path.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Flay's dad is none other than the vice-president
of the Atlantic Union, and is personally involved in searching for his
daughter.  Upon hearing this, Flay mutters that her father has always been
extremely solicitous where she's been concerned, though everyone else
congratulates her on having a family that loves her so much.  The Valstork gets
ready to hurry to Artemis, where the Federation army ship has taken shelter
after the fall of Heliopolis, but first all those present have to somehow
stomach Akane's feast of mayonnaise-flavored everything.

Back at Artemis, the Federation's fourth fleet's experimental battleship,
Nadesico B, has just arrived - captained by none other than Ruri.  A rather
hostile Garcia wants to know what she's doing here, and she repeats what we
already know: several Eurasian military strongholds in space have been
destroyed over the past few weeks.  Garcia has heard the stories of a ghost
space robot, and Ruri says that the military takes this seriously enough to
dispatch an investigative mission.  The Nadesico is supposed to patrol as part
of that mission, but Garcia is none too happy with the idea of a genetically-
engineered wench, little different from the Coordinators, at its controls.
Ruri plans to carry out her mission, whatever he may say, but he refuses to
give her any of the Artemis' data.  He thinks he's ready for the ghost, and
believes this investigative mission is actually a cover for spying on Eurasia's
military strength, on behalf of the Atlantic Union.  Ruri tells him of her
disinterest in internecine Federation politics, and in the interest of letting
her save face, Garcia will allow her to perform a _visual_ inspection of the
base.  Ruri hesitates, and Garcia taunts the "Electric Fairy"'s hesitance to
use her own legs and not her computer.  Ruri regards him with her golden eyes
and says that she'll take him up on his offer, and conduct her investigation in
her own way.

Garcia figures the Atlanteans were hoping to throw him off guard with a little
girl emissary, and thinks he's not falling for it.  His second in command
wonders if this show of hostility won't just arouse more suspicion, but Garcia
is prepared to cover his ass - even if it means Ruri and the Nadesico have a
little accident.  He figures the Nadesico will prove crucial to keeping the
Eurasian Union viable, and that if the truth about his dealings with "them"
become known, it would bring about the Eurasian Union's downfall.  The
subordinate doesn't sound fully convinced, but Garcia figures that "they", plus
the Nadesico, plus that little kid he just acquired, must surely equal victory,
if not leadership over the entire Federation.  He has his subordinate stand
ready to destroy the Nadesico if it gets anywhere near Docks #12-13, using
their new guests in the effort if necessary.  The subordinate has also lured
"that" ship with the civilian aboard to Artemis, making Garcia's dirty work
that much easier.  Garcia is sure that his luck has changed after being held
responsible for failing to capture a Whispered and being sent to the rear
echelon.

Harry is getting antsy while Ruri conducts her inspection, saying that he
should have accompanied the captain.  Saburouta slyly (and correctly) notes
that Harry is worrying too much about his beloved captain, rather wrecking
Harry's delusion that all Jovian soldiers were brave and morally upstanding
men.  Saburouta's smile turns more serious as he says that a lot has happened
of late, and tells Harry to concentrate on the job Ruri gave him.  That job is
hacking into the base's computers and looking for whatever the base commander
is hiding.  Suddenly, Harry sees something strange: evidence that someone
besides him is hacking into the base's computers...

A rather impressive array of mecha greet the arrival of the Valstork and the
accompanying junkmen: Sterngugels belonging to the Crimson Group.  Horis has
heard that the Eurasians were cranking these out in place of the Aestivalis.
This might be related to all the activity at Nergal's factories lately - though
the mysterious president hasn't shown himself for the gossip world to see, it's
certain he's up to something or other.  Kazuma then makes to hand Flay off to
the Artemis forces, telling her not to sweat the rescue: spacemen are all about
helping their fellow humans.  He hopes she'll be able to see her friends and
father on Artemis, and Lowe adds the admonition to use her unexpectedly-saved
life well.

The Artemis soldier orders Kazuma to hand Flay over through empty space instead
of properly docking.  It's not clear at first what the haste is for, and Lowe
is a bit sad he won't get to see the Artemis' Umbrella... though if he did, it
would imply some sort of enemy attack.  At that moment, Garcia activates it: a
barrier of light that surrounds the station.  He declares that the hostage has
been recovered, and orders the immediate capture of the unfair space pirates.
You've been had, and Lowe quickly realizes there's no way you can elude this
many forces at once.  The only choice is to fight until a chance to flee
appears.  For Kazuma's part, he's always hated being called a space pirate, and
plans on a little playback.

  Aboard Artemis, the Aestivalis pilots Ryouko and Yamada (aka Daigouji Gai)
  see the battle, recognizing Kazuma's distinctive style.  Ryouko knows darn
  well that there's no way Kazuma would actually join space pirates.  This
  battle may well be the chance the Archangel's crew has been looking for to
  escape Garcia's clutches.  Muu is sure that Garcia's intentions are bad,
  given how they've been made virtual prisoners and the dock to their ship has
  been sealed.  He tells Maryuu to wait for the moment when the enemy attack
  affects Artemis itself, which will surely throw things into chaos.  But what
  about Artemis' light barrier?

  Garcia meanwhile wants to get his hands on the enemy mecha, which he thinks
  would let him go home with his head held high.  The subordinate once again
  protests that the process of capturing them would surely result in losses to
  their existing forces.  Should he dispatch their anti-ghost forces known as
  the Lion's Sickle?  Garcia sees no reason to sortie that group of
  Aestivalises, and plans to go "eye-for-an-eye" by sending out Murakumo and
  the Serpent Tail.  Murakumo dares not defy Garcia, since Elijah is being kept
  as a guarantee aboard the base, and after one efficient warning proceeds to
  try to take your mecha by force.

  As battle wears on, Ruri tells Harry to try hacking the base again, using the
  keyword "AKITO", the reverse of the message "OTIKA" flooding the base's
  computers.  He complies, and discovers a secret thirteenth dock containing...
  a list of A-Class Jumpers!  While the Nadesico ponders why the Eurasians have
  this data, Garcia berates the Serpent Tail for apparent ineptitude in battle.
  Sooooo inept that the plot causes Liam and the others to admit that Lowe is
  somehow incapable of beating Murakumo.  Which is it?  The Professor may have
  the answer: Lowe's famed good luck will probably prevail when push comes to
  shove.  After all, at least his level of idiocy is far more than Natural...

  The chance to turn the tables comes in the form of an unidentified mech,
  zooming in and heading straight for Artemis.  Garcia thinks that even the
  fastest mech will be powerless before the Artemis' Umbrella, but the ghost
  mech Jumps right through it, quickly blowing away the generator.  It's
  astounding that such a small mech could have Jump engines, and it's pretty
  clear this is no space pirate mech.  Elijah realizes that the chance is now,
  and the Archangel takes flight as well.  Ryouko meanwhile is looking forward
  to putting the hurting on the ghost mech - who rapidly flees the area.
  Ryouko orders her troops to pursue, but before she and Murakumo can follow,
  Kazuma hails them, explaining that he's no space pirate and that the Artemis
  fired first.

  Elijah joins the fray, a hostage no longer.  Garcia's treachery is now
  apparent, but you've got a new problem: the Zaft military, led by the Gundam
  boys minus Aslan, who's been summoned back home.  They plan to strike the
  Archangel and the base as well, the better to wipe out the Strike.  Shihomi
  elects to save Artemis from the Zaft for humanitarian reasons, which is okay
  by the Professor.  Murakumo is willing to help out for now, vowing payback
  against Garcia when the dust settles.

  Garcia gets the news of the Archangel's crew's impending escape too late to
  do much about it.  Kira runs into Flay on the way to the ship, and she gets
  hauled along for the ride.  The Archangel quickly flees the area as soon as
  it puts out to space, making it clear to your non-military forces how
  complicated the situation must be if the Federation military would imprison
  its own forces.  The Zaft G-boys, fuming over their inability to catch up to
  the Archangel, decide instead to wipe out Artemis as an example to the Earth.
  Ruri meanwhile orders the Nadesico to stay on patrol pattern A: if that list
  means what she thinks it means, this battle is far from over.

  However, Saburouta sorties to get in a little "ally of justice" duty.  He
  _is_ a red-blooded Jovian male, after all.  Yamada thinks this blazing turn
  of events is just like Geki Ganger ep. 28, but Saburouta informs him that
  that show is now _waaaay_ out of style.

  Nicol is worth a Thruster Module and a Multicombo +1.  Dearka is worth a
  Chobham Armor and a Cooperation.  Yzak is worth a Servo Thruster and a
  Support Defense +1.  When Lowe tangles with them, he'll notice that the Zaft
  mecha are a bit like his own - probably because all of them came from
  Morgenleite.  The opponent will note in turn that Lowe certainly doesn't
  pilot like a Natural...

  Once you do enough damage, Creuset orders Isaac to recall the troops
  immediately.  He's gotten information that an emergency has occurred, and
  that help will be on the way to the Artemis area.  This unnatural retreat is
  noticed by your forces, as Garcia fumes that everything that could have gone
  wrong, has.  Not quite _everything_, until Dock #13 opens...

  Inside is the _original_Nadesico_, supposedly inert ever since the Primevals'
  attack.  Well, a copy really.  The Nadesico B then shows up, with brief
  introductions by Ruri.  Garcia is furious that these ships could have
  launched without his permission, but his second-in-command, also a member of
  the "Martian Successors", informs him that he's become unnecessary.  The
  Successor heaps well-deserved scorn on Garcia, the sort of scum that have led
  to Earth's downfall, and the false Nadesico, apparently equipped with the
  real Y-Unit from ages ago, starts blowing the crap out of Artemis.  In fact,
  Ruri presumes that the fake Nadesico was made specifically to drive the
  Y-Unit.

  But wait, wasn't the Y-Unit sunk into the seas of Jupiter?  And wasn't it
  carrying that Boson Jump targeting system?  Yup, and yup.  Oh shit.  The
  Martian Successors' shock troops, led by Hokuten, are now on the scene, and
  the ghost is back too.  Hokuten berates the "revenger" as immature, as the
  Martian Successors proclaim themselves to be the enemies of Earth, and
  Jupiter, and all those who seek to control space.  The ghost's pilot has
  almost nothing to say, despite being Ruri's beloved Akito [oh, teh spoyl3rz!]

  Leading the show is apparently General Kusakabe, formerly of the Jovian army.
  He announces that his forces are beginning a new battle, and the righteous
  power that will propel them is that darn targeting unit, legacy of whatever
  ancient dudes were hanging out on Mars.  As you watch, the cube unfolds like
  a flower, revealing... Yurika, somehow fused to the innards of the gadget.
  As your people stare in shock, this pretty much puts paid to the theory that
  Akito and Yurika fell prey to an "accident".  Akito is first to recover, and
  warns Ryouko not to get careless.  The warning probably saves her life, but
  her mech gets badly smacked around anyway.  Hokuten says that the spiral of
  space rises in a single night to the heavens, like the Hisago vine.  Will
  Akito perish in front of his woman?

  The false Nadesico heads away from the battle, and Hokuten's remaining troops
  think they can stand in your way from pursuing.  Just then a new Nergal ship
  piloted by Lapis Lazuli appears, and Akito orders her to support him.  All
  Ryouko knows is that she needs to kick some Successor ass and right now, and
  Ruri orders the Nadesico B into the fray as well.

After the battle, Akito and Lapis vanish without a further word.  The news of
Kusakabe's treachery is grim for Misumaru and Forreston.  Apparently
Genhachirou's "Hot-Blooded Coup d'Etat" wasn't quite thorough enough, and
Corbett's attempts to assign blame to the Wärter are doomed to failure, since
that unit no longer exists.  Corbett then tries to use this as an opportunity
to recommend expunging all former Jovian Union personnel from the army.
Genhachirou wonders if Corbett thinks he can somehow control the rioting that
would occur if the newly assimilated Jovians were suddenly disenfranchised.
That momentarily shuts him up, but he then wonders anew what these Martian
Successors could want.  Clearly, Genhachirou says, to take over all the relics
from the ancient culture that used to occupy the Solar System.  Even if their
numbers are few, these relics could allow them to level the playing field.  And
the fact that they've revealed themselves suggests that the balance of power
may have already tipped the other way.  It's no real surprise that Kusakabe's
people (versed in Jupiter) and the Eurasians (versed in Boson Jump research)
should be in on this, though the official word from Eurasia is that only a few
dissidents are responsible.  Genhachirou figures that Kusakabe, formidable
though he is, is actually being manipulated by whoever is really pulling the
strings.  Of his former commander, Genhachirou says that Kusakabe is a man of
blazing heart and unshakable principle, willing to die for his ideals.  His
failing is that he believes his ideals are shared by everyone.  With the battle
against the Zaft, not to mention Eviluders and Radam, in full swing, the only
real choice is to send the new Nadesico after the fake old one.

That means Ruri and your people.  As for how Ruri grew so much during a mere
six months, she wryly ascribes it to puberty.  It seems many people have
changed, including the formerly clean-cut Saburou's transformation into the
dyed-haired charmer Saburouta.  Kazuma has to explain to Yamada that different
people have their "Geki Ganger souls" manifest in different ways.  Ruri won't
force the Trailers to join her, but she asks them to keep her posted if they
hear anything useful.  Kazuma will be happy to do so, for free, and everyone
agrees that he's grown up quite a bit in the past six months.  He smiles and
complements Ryouko on her new hairstyle in return, which makes her blush
considerably.  Kazuma then adds that Akito and Yurika are his friends too, and
he intends no mercy to those who robbed them of their happiness.  Neither does
Ruri, who's been living with Akito and Yurika as family since the breakup of
your old team.

The Professor will certainly help in the hunt for the Successors however she
can, and in return she's got a job for you, on behalf of an old friend.  The
job is a "simple" delivery run... to the Archangel...


31. Hime to Douke, Jou'ou to Yuusha ("Princess and Jester, Queen and Hero")

Kira has picked up a life pod, which is obviously the humanitarian thing to do
but which might also be rather dangerous depending on who's inside.  There's a
war going on after all.  Your people gingerly open the pod to discover...a
young, somewhat confused-looking girl with pink hair.  It's Lacus Klein, who is
quite befuddled when she realizes she's not aboard a Zaft ship - no wonder,
since she's the daughter of the current head of the Plants' Supreme Councilman.
She even comes equipped with a cute robot friend (it's Haro!).  You're in for
it now...

Kazuma tells the log about this delivery run he's on, which may pertain to the
Archangel's unexpected guest.  He's privately amazed at how all of space can be
shaken by one little girl, the idol singer whose songs have caused a minor boom
among those in space who can pirate her broadcasts.  Her music's inspirational
power among the Plants is bolstered by her father's position, so it would be no
wonder if the mission turns ugly should Unius Seven catch sight of it.  Heck,
the only reason the Zaft withdrew from Artemis is probably to try to seek her
out.  Kazuma isn't especially eager to help either side of the war between Zaft
and the Earth, but he does want to help Lacus - so that he could hear her songs
once again.

Things get more complicated in a hurry.  The Archangel, pursued by Zaft forces,
has announced that it's got Lacus and claimed her as a hostage.  While this
freed them of their pursuers, the girls are pretty adamant that this was a bad
call.  Galent offers the other perspective: they may have had no other choice,
especially right after seeing Vice Minister Allstar's transport blown to
smithereens en route to them.  It's now clear where Flay got off to, and what
tragedy she's just been subjected to.  In short, neither the Archangel nor the
Zaft are in the right.  This not to say that Kusakabe and his Successors are
right about mankind being rotten either: they're merely a _third_ party who's
in the wrong.  It's up to you to fix things, and not via warfare either.  As
the Trailer maxim goes: "A rotten orange rots everything around it.  But you
aren't an orange."  Err.

What's weird is that the Martian Successors, or someone much like them, seems
to be hunting for Lacus too.  Does this mean they've graduated from Geki Ganger
fandom to Klein mania?  Or is it a lingering unwillingness of George Glenn's
Jovian beneficiaries to fight the Plants?  In any case, the garbage vessel with
the cargo shows up, and its pilot Marine is surprised to see that the Professor
won't be overseeing the delivery herself.  Horis has her figured out right away
as an Orb citizen come to collect combat data from the Strike, which Marine
unconvincingly denies.  Shihomi then steps in and tries to set Marine at ease,
saying that it's her policy not to ask questions of their employers so long as
they're not being asked to do anything illegal.  Kazuma adds that Lowe and the
others are slated to join the Valstork as soon as their other work is finished.
As Marine is shown to her room, Carret detects faint movement from the cargo,
though he gets persuaded it's only his imagination.  Of course, it's not, and a
mysterious metal man inside the box mutters to himself that he had better stay
still until it's time for action.  He inwardly assures the idol star that he'll
be joining her soon...

Muu is the first to recognize the Trailer ship as it approaches the Archangel.
Natarle is pretty distrustful of the cargo delivery story, but Muu points out
to her that there would be no need for this deception if the goal was shooting
them down.  Maryuu allows the ships to dock, and Muu's presence is a great
relief to the Trailer ladies.  Kazuma tries to ask Muu about the story of
holding Lacus hostage, but Natarle curtly cuts in, refuses to answer, and tells
civilians not to think they can pass judgement on military affairs.  She tells
him to finish the cargo transfer and get lost, and Kazuma tells her he plans to
do just that.  Besides, the vitriol in her reaction tells him pretty much
everything he needed to know anyway.  Natarle is now furious, and Muu thinks
that she must have had a considerable moral quandary when she decided on her
own initiative to pull the hostage stunt.  Kazuma repeats that he has no plans
to pass judgement on what the soldiers have been up to: all he wants to do is
learn more about how the world works, that he might better decide how to lead
his own life.

Muu understands what Kazuma is getting at, and decides to give him a rebuttal
anyway: had they not done what they did, they'd all be dead now.  Kazuma can
tell from the look in his eyes that the decision wasn't made by preference, and
apologizes if he sounded like he was provoking the second-in-command.  Natarle,
still a bit stiffly, apologizes in turn for her soldier's disdain for
civilians.  Just then, Kira comes on the scene to talk to Kazuma, having heard
about him from Flay.  He wants Kazuma to try to talk her out of her room, since
both of them have now seen their fathers killed in battle.  Natarle will grant
permission, but only for 30 minutes.

As Kira leads Kazuma to Flay's room, his solicitous attitude causes Kazuma to
ask if something has "happened" between the two of them.  Wouldn't it be better
for Kira to talk to her instead?  Kira mumbles that Flay already has her
(theoretical) boyfriend Sai, and that he's a Coordinator besides.  He figures
Flay won't forgive the Coordinators for her father's death, but the suddenly
frantic Kazuma yells at Kira to snap out of it.  One brief pep talk later and
Kira's smile and confidence are back... just in time to respond to a little
emergency in Lacus' room.

That metal man, Gimlet by name, doesn't seemed bothered by the appearance of
the princess' knight... or of the Trailer, who Gimlet says really ought to
check his cargo more thoroughly.  This stowaway introduces himself as one of
the international crime syndicate Bionet, able to finally get close to his
target thanks to the Trailers and that little bespectacled girl.  He makes to
grab Lacus, but Kira's supernal reflexes are faster than the enemy cyborg's,
and he knocks Gimlet out of the way.  Kira vows never to let anyone ever lay a
finger on Lacus again, and Gimlet notes that Kira must be something very
special, even for a Coordinator.  Kazuma yells to Kira to get Lacus out of here
(which he does) while he holds the cyborg off.  Kazuma doesn't expect to win,
but he does expect to buy time.

Before Gimlet can splatter him all over the compartment, a new combatant bursts
in the door, long pink hair streaming behind her sharp-featured face.  It's
Renais, an emissary from the GGG, and she _apparently_ manages to force the
cyborg back.  Natarle berates the high schoolers, pressed into service on the
short-staffed bridge, for adding "apparently".  As Renais drives Gimlet out
into space, the Trailers try to persuade Marine to tell everything she knows,
getting her to let slip that she is indeed from the Orb.

Gimlet doesn't run far, telling Renais that he's serious today.  To prove his
point, he activates several Mechanoids - far more warpower than any criminal
syndicate should have.  Kazuma quickly sorties, prepared to take revenge for
Gimlet's manipulation.  The Trailers tell the Archangel that they'll make up
for their inadvertent mistake by defending Lacus, on their own honor.  Renais
is almost impressed, but tells him that Gimlet is her prey.  She's got the
dragon sisters Kouryuu and Anryuu to help her, who've heard about the Valstork
from Leo.  Kazuma thinks they're pretty cute, and does quite well in matching
Renais's tough talk with some polite but firm talk of his own.  Battle ensues!

  On turn two, Muu and Kira launch.  Kira wants to do whatever he can to defend
  Lacus - he's sure that for whatever reason, Lacus must never be mixed up in
  battle.

  Damage Gimlet some and he'll sigh about the protracted battle brewing.
  Renais demands to know why he wants Lacus, and he tells the little "Joan
  d'Arc" to go back to social studies class.  Bionet wants to return this
  incredibly influential person to the Plants... after extracting a massive
  ransom of course, which Kazuma the money-minded Trailer guesses right away.
  Of course, there are other places she could be sold too, which Kira won't
  stand for.  Gimlet is starting to get tired of Kira's yapping, and sends in
  an ambush of cloaked ships - and ships with Mirage Colloid-level cloaking
  should _not_ exist outside the military!  However, Bionet aren't the only
  ones with a few tricks up their sleeve: Volfogg is on the scene too, as is
  Gaofaigar!

  Gai hails his old comrades, explaining that he's now become an Evoluder, a
  hyper-evolved amalgam of man and machine.  Gai, every bit as cool as
  advertised, is back with the new Fighting Mechanoid "Gaofaigar" to do more
  hero type stuff.  Kazuma muses that all the "Gai"'s he knows seem to do the
  burning heart thing pretty well.

  Two of the enemies have Repair Kits.

  Gimlet is worth an Anti-Beam Coating M and an Inner Strength +1.  Realizing
  he's outgunned, he retreats for today.  And you won't be able to follow with
  all the Martian Successors who just showed up.  Marine launches in a service
  pod to try to rectify her mistake that brought Gimlet in the first place, but
  of course she gets smacked around.  And although she bails out, she's right
  in the line of fire for the Successors... that is, until the junkmen show up
  and fish her out.  Marine has heard of Lowe before and thinks that this is
  some kind of fated meeting, but everyone else, Lowe included, is more focused
  on repulsing the Successors.

  Natarle points out to Maryuu that if the Successors (and Bionet) really are
  after Lacus, the safest thing to do would be to like, get out of Dodge.
  Maryuu reluctantly agrees, recalling the Mobius and Strike.  Kazuma bids Kira
  farewell for now, telling him to use whatever power he has to protect both
  Lacus and Flay.  To Flay, Kazuma cries a parting message: "Never forget the
  fear of space, the weakness of the individual, and the importance of human
  life!  Since she's still alive, she should live that life with strength!"

  The Successors are aghast that their prey is fleeing, but Lowe isn't about to
  let them add another kidnapping to their long string of offenses.  It's a bit
  awkward in the cockpit, with Marine bumping the controls (among other
  things), but she accidentally triggers a new killer move by rerouting power
  from one arm to the other.  Lowe, junkman extraordinaire, isn't one to waste
  the opportunity - and Saburouta isn't one to let Yamada commit copyright
  infringement by borrowing a certain other Gundam series' attack name for the
  new move.

  Pummel a few bad guys and the "ghost" will appear, codenamed Black Sarena due
  to its colorings and shape.  This plant, whose name means "joined to black a
  hundred-fold", signifies a "curse" in the language of flowers.  Despite the
  urgings of your people, Akito neither replies nor even acknowledges his
  former name.

  One of the Successor commanders has a Trident-yaki.  Another has a Propellant
  Tank.  Yet another has a Cartridge.

In the final analysis, it looks like the Successors were just a small
expeditionary force.  You're not likely to learn much even by picking up the
stragglers since no commanders were among them, sadly.  Akito finally says one
word, when pressed gently by Gai why he's fighting alone: "revenge".  As he
vanishes, it's now clear beyond a doubt that the Akito you used to know is
gone.  The question is, what could have done this to him?

Kazuma greets Gai warmly, and Gai can tell just by the lines on Kazuma's face
what he must have been through in the past half year.  Renais is still being
unsociable, so Gai has to make introductions for her: Renais Cardiff Shishio,
agent of France's anti-criminal unit Chasseur.  She's been posted to the GGG,
and as Liger's daughter, she's essentially Gai's cousin.  Said cousin makes to
head quickly back to Orbit Base with the dragon sisters, leaving Gai to his
reminiscing.  After she strides off, Gai explains that Renais is not only a bit
unsociable, she's also pissed at having to let Gimlet go.  Renais's been after
Bionet ever since joining Chasseur, and Kazuma asks Gai about why she didn't
give an inch even when facing Gimlet bare-handed.  Is she a...?  Gai's smile
fades as he asks Kazuma not to go there for now - that's a story he'll tell
some other day.  Kazuma agrees, and Gai describes how he and Volfogg have been
stationed as a general-purpose strike force in case of emergencies.  The other
dragons, nearly destroyed by the Sublimation, are still being rebuilt inside
Orbit Base.  But they'll pull through due to how heroic they are and whatnot.

Mike is doing great, and is helping Liger mass produce Disc X's in America.
Mamoru is presumably still doing okay with Galeon off in space, the Space
Knights are still busy researching the Radam, and the GGG is more or less
intact.  Even Duo and the Preventers are supposedly doing okay, as are the
super robot pilots who are busy defending Japan while going to school at
G-Island City.  It's almost as though... the Wärter could be rebuilt!  And in
fact, Taiga would like a word with you all, which might or might not have
something to do with that.

As for Marine, she's gone back with Lowe to his ship.  She explains to Erika
that she's involved with the Astray OS, which might just allow Naturals to
freely pilot Gundams one day.  Given that the Strike is being piloted by a
Coordinator, Marine did a damn good thing by somehow swiping its data.  She
figures she got lucky that an actual battle started during her little fact-
finding mission... not that Bionet's involvement was part of the plan.  Erika
suggests that Marine ditch her glasses, but Marine is quite worried about her
identity being revealed, especially since she knows the Professor and the Chief
already.  She asks Erika why they don't just _ask_ for the data, and Erika says
that the Professor has refused to give it over until it's more "mature".
Marine, aka Julie, is looking forward to getting back home and being a test
pilot.  Mayura and Asagi will be looking forward to seeing her too.  As she
takes out her contacts, Julie muses that Lowe was pretty cool...

Kusakabe has gotten word of the failed kidnapping of Lacus, who Yamasaki had
really hoped to use as a fulcrum against the Zaft.  In particular, he hoped to
use her songs to encourage sweet dreams, the one and only way to perfectly
control the Relic.  With all the unknowns left, it seems that the current setup
will need some assistance.  Kusakabe has some ideas about that, and Yamasaki
tells his "Sleeping Beauty" to lead everyone with her beautiful dreams.


32. Owaru HAISUKUURU RAIFU "High School Life Ends"

The rest of the crew are planning to grab a bite on the way home, but Kaname
and Sousuke will be staying behind due to a request from the student council
president.  After that, Kaname wants to swing by the absent Kyouko's house to
see if she's okay.  The two get a warning from Boss's stooges to beware the
"Poniman", an urban legendary specter which supposedly cries "Poni" before
victimizing young women.  Kaname is sure she can outrun any garden variety
molester, not to mention the heavily armed bodyguard at her side.  The current
firearms laws prevent him from using most of his arsenal, but his martial arts
skills are still quite formidable...

Some time later, Kouji is frowning into his ramen and wishing life was a bit
less boring.  Sayaka advises him to be content with the relatively peaceful
state of Japan, in which they only have to sortie and blow away some small-time
hoodlums once a week, but the guys have trouble doing that knowing the war with
the Plants is in full force elsewhere.  The conflict hasn't stayed entirely out
of sight either: professors Yumi and Saotome had to bust ass with their
respective energy generation methods to even partially recover from the Neutron
Jammers.  Sure the school's Culture Festival got wiped out by the energy
conservation, but the ill-defined frustration Kouji and Ryouma are feeling is
something they never faced during the Wärter days.  They're not the only
restless ones either: Tsukumo is helping out at the ramen stand instead of
lounging on the couch all day.  The ramen your people really want to eat would
be Akito's, but he's still officially missing in action...

Amazingly, the mission waiting for Kaname and Sousuke is: eliminating the
"Poniman"!  You've heard the half-man-half-beast rumors, and the bit about his
distinctive vocalization, but the president adds that this creature's apparent
objective is converting all young women's hairstyles into ponytails!  He
explains to a skeptical Kaname that the rampant fetishist may be having fun,
but his victims most certainly are not... especially since the Poniman has been
known to drug his victims in the process.  The president will let Sousuke
decide whether or not to shoot the perp, and even the reluctant Kaname gets
fired up when she learns that her friend Kyouko is the latest victim.

Tsukumo returns home early, having just quit his job.  Yukina takes him to task
for his apparent inability to hold a steady job, despite Minato's efforts in
the job market.  The malaise started with Akito's apparent demise, which has
also soured Tsukumo on being a soldier.  The prospect is even worse with the
advent of the Martian Successors, and although he claims angrily to have a
plan, he's certainly not good at explaining it to Yukina.

Amazingly, Kyouko and her hair are both unscathed, though her mom took her to
the hospital just to be on the safe side.  She didn't get a good look at her
assailant, but whatever it was was pretty menacing.  Kaname vows revenge, even
as Sousuke busily calculates all the heavy weaponry he'll need for the job.
She tells him to round up Kouji and the posse and get ready for operations this
very evening.

The troops are assembled, and it becomes clear rapidly that Kaname is out for
blood this time.  Her plan is to capture the criminal before Sousuke shows up
with the heavy artillery, and she's got a secret weapon courtesy of Boss.  It's
a remote surveillance camera rig she once caught him trying to install in the
ladies' locker room, and she actually got Taiga's "APPROVAL!" to tune in
directly to satellite imagery of the city.  Holy shit.  A target is acquired in
the park, and the crew spring into action...

Sure enough, Poniman has been menacing Hana-chan, but all that is about to end
messily.  Kaname turns the spotlights on, revealing Poniman to indeed be
half-man, half-beast... at least insofar as he's wearing a mask.  His black
trenchcoat is surely the mark of a stalker, but Kaname is feeling pretty stupid
at mobilizing the GGG for some fugitive from a costume shop.  Until, that is,
the man produces a throwing knife and nearly nails your people.  This he
follows with a bomb, trying to create an opening to flee.  Some distance away
appears what seems to be a Zondar Robo, which would make Poniman a stressed-out
Zondar.  But Z-Master was defeated, wasn't he?!  The horse-head on the Zondar
Robo is a sure sign that it's connected to Poniman, and he seems out to extract
misdirected vengeance on your people when Bonta-kun steps on the scene.
Hana-chan is still terrified of the gun-toting mascot, but he's the best friend
your team has just now.

  Come turn 2, the Zondar fuses with the environment and gives you a bunch of
  new targets to deal with.  They've cut off the route for your people to get
  the rest of their mecha from Bay Tower base, but help unexpectedly arrives
  with Tsukumo, who's attached a voice recognition starter to his mech mainly
  because of how cool it is.  He prepares to buy your pilots time, but a
  mechanical voice from nearby sounds unhappy at yet more interference in his
  plan to abduct a "Whispered".

  Sow enough carnage and the rest of your team will show up.  Some of your
  biggest guns are still down for maintenance, but even regular Mazinger and
  the rest should suffice.  Gimlet has had enough, and shows up to tell Kaname
  to her face that she's having too much fun.  Bonta-kun intervenes before
  Gimlet can actually lay hands on her, and Gimlet sees no choice but putting
  one of his mechanoids into action.  Not only isn't Tsukumo impressed, he
  actually understands Bonta-kun well enough to promise Sousuke that he'll help
  defend his loved one (Kaname).

  The Poniman robot is worth a Sniper Scope and an Infight +1.  Gimlet is worth
  a Study OS and a Gunfight +1.  Gimlet is mortified by failing both in space
  and on land, but as he flees a new group of adversaries arrive to take his
  place: mechabeasts, also apparently part of Bionet's arsenal.  Tsukumo
  declares that wherever there is darkness, there is light!  Wherever there is
  evil, there is good!  Wherever there is heroism, there is corny dialogue!

  He finally seems to be out of his funk, and Tetsuya and some new arrivals
  seem ready to help him back up his bravado.  Not only is Jun in action, the
  twins Rolly and Roll are here too in their mech the Million Alpha.  As the
  throwdown begins, a mystery figure who actually controls these new "demons"
  is looking forward to seeing how they do.

Your people figure out pretty quickly that it's not Bionet AIs running the
beasts.  The plan is to take their remains back to the lab for analysis, as
their mysterious master muses that your people are far more powerful now than
when they defeated Dr. Hell.  Just evading his knife and explosives impresses
him enough, and he's especially worried about keeping Mazinkaiser off his back.
His lurking in the bushes doesn't go entirely unnoticed either...

In the final analysis, the horse-headed robot had nothing to do with Poniman.
Poniman has been nabbed by Bonta-kun, and Sousuke's unintelligible speech still
seems to have elicited some remorse from the equally unintelligible Poniman.
This greatly impresses Tsukumo, who thinks that Bonta-kun's just ways have
shown him the light again.  Sousuke tries in vain to deny Tsukumo's wild-eyed
ravings about fighting for his loved ones, but the end result seems to have
worked out okay.  Minato shows up too, glad her husband has finally made up his
mind to rejoin the fighting - she knew this would come from how he stared at
the world news every night while working his string of part-time jobs.  She
tells him to go ahead with his head held high, while she and Yukina wait for
his return.  Sousuke actually doffs his Bonta-kun suit in front of everyone,
but it's not quite as simple as delivering the masked-man to the police: he
tells everyone that there's a half-tiger man lurking nearby.  Everyone thinks
he's joking...

Tsukumo will presumably enter the GGG, since he doesn't want to rejoin the
military.  For whatever reason, his plans to defend family and friends militate
towards leaving the house and heading to space, where the actual action is.
Upon hearing this, Kouji decides to put school on hold and go help too, however
big or small his role.  The Getter team follows suit, and Tetsuya has a job for
them right away: security at a certain world festival to take place in Paris in
the near future.  Hearing the commotion, Kaname asks if Sousuke plans to join
them.  He tells her that his itinerary isn't his own to decide, as a Mithril
operative, and she wistfully wonders if the GGG would let her tag along to
Paris, despite no longer being an official government operative.  Sousuke
offers her an alternative: a trip to the islands of the south, just the two of
them, no danger or weird shenanigans or awkward sleeping arrangements.  Kaname
is genuinely shocked, and stammers her approval, wondering if Sousuke finally
means to propose to her.


32X. Ketsui ("Resolve") no Part-time Job [subsequent plays through]

See Kazuma's log entry about hesitancy over the impending reconstitution of the
Wärter.  See the "Poniman" scare among the students.  See your people being
restless at the restaurant, except for Sousuke whose even temper is well suited
to periods of boredom between frantic dispatches.  This time though Tsukumo
seems happy with his job.  That's good, since several of your other people are
out of money.  That includes Sousuke, who's been blowing his pay on
modifications to Bonta-kun.  His scheme to participate in a recent defense expo
and popularize the design nearly got him and Mithril blacklisted as terrorists.
Even the aloof Hayato is flat broke, but Hikaru shows up with just the thing to
help them out...

Tsukumo returns home in high spirits to find Yukina waiting for him.  She's
heard about his problems at work, massive dish breakage and such.  She suggests
that he rejoin the military, since all his former training with the Jovians
surely won't let him be content with a normal life.  He doesn't want to join
the Federation army at the very least, especially now that the Martian
Successors are active.  He knows that he's got to do something to avoid being a
burden on Minato, and tells Yukina that he actually has a plan.  He runs off
without telling her what it is though...

Hikaru has your team helping with her manga, and some of your dudes are proving
pretty good at it (like Sousuke, whose Morse code practice makes him good at
mechanical shading).  Hayato can tell the rhythm Sousuke is tapping out: "I
wanna get out of here."  Hikaru apologizes for making all of you her
assistance, but says that her normal helper has come down sick and she's got a
deadline tomorrow.  As she directs traffic, Hikaru admits that she can't figure
out how to execute her storyline of a hero who cheats death and wins.  It's
gotta be realistic: her readers won't tolerate some cosmic power deus ex
machina saving the day or whatnot.  She's worried about being deserialized, but
Kaname has more immediate problems when Kyouko's mother phones and says her
daughter was attacked by Poniman.  She and Sousuke rush to the scene, and
Hikaru has just found her inspiration.  She orders your team to screw the
artwork and go catch Poniman so she can use it in her manga.

Tsukumo is out drinking at a bar where Izumi is playing host.  Izumi cuts him
off after only one glass, knowing he's not accustomed to drinking and telling
him to find some other way to assuage his sorrows.  After a pause, Tsukumo
calls himself pathetic and Izumi tells him to spill his guts (figuratively)
since that's what this bar is for.  He reiterates his insecurities about being
worthy of Minato, and reviews how the Federation army has been twisted by the
will of a few.  Even Genhachirou is working for the Feds, but Tsukumo just
can't bring himself to.  Izumi suggests that he simply try fighting on his own:
he doesn't need to save the world, just someone he loves.  She tells him of the
half-man-half-beast who's got the city in an uproar, and adds that she doesn't
want Minato to go through what she has in terms of having someone precious to
her lost.  To her advice of starting nearby to solve his problems, Tsukumo
brightens considerably and vows to solve the half-beast problems.  When he
charges out the door, Izumi notes that Tsukumo has left without paying, and
decides to put it on Minato's tab instead.

See Kaname's resolve to take Poniman down.  Hana-chan is being menaced, but
Kaname and Bonta-kun corner Poniman, who seems to be just a man in a pony mask.
She tells Bonta-kun to look after Hana-chan while she makes this dude pay for
terrifying Kyouko.  This time, Hana-chan is grateful to Bonta-kun for being
everyone's friend, but Poniman manages to flee Kaname just in time for Tsukumo
to arrive on the scene.  He quickly mistakes Sousuke for the beast- man, and
Sousuke's attempts to identify himself sound like so much shameless
jibber-jabber to the crazed Jovian warrior.  Sousuke tries to fire a warning
shot and then flee, but he forgets that he's still armed with his _grenade_
_launcher_.

Tsukumo then uses the voice activation system Taiga let him install in his
Tenjin, aka Geki Ganger 99!  Hana-chan wonders what will become of Bonta-kun,
and Sousuke figures he's got no choice but to immobilize the Tenjin so he can
flee.  From the shadows, Gimlet chides Sousuke for leaving his Whispered
unguarded, and gets busy with his own dirty work.

  Tsukumo gets smacked around easily, but he doesn't fall.  He is sure that the
  filthy beast has no idea how important this battle is to him.  The rest of
  your crew rush to the scene, but Ryouma stops Kouji from telling Tsukumo who
  is inside the Bonta-kun suit, lest Hana-chan's dreams be crushed.  Meanwhile,
  Kaname has run down Poniman, only to have Gimlet step in and once again lets
  Poniman escape.  He gets ready to kidnap Kaname, and someone with throwing
  knives and bombs is managing to hold your other teammates at bay.  Gimlet
  isn't out of range of Sousuke though, and Hana-chan manages to convince
  Tsukumo that he's gotten everything all wrong.

  Gimlet responds by sending in a bunch of Bionet mecha, which Sousuke and
  Tsukumo will have to hold off until the rest of your team can get their mecha
  from Bay Tower base.

  Gimlet is worth a Study OS and a Gunfight +1.  He flees after his failure,
  and more mecha to cover his tracks, but Tetsuya and friends show up to help.
  See the other side for who's really pulling the strings.

You find out quickly that the latter wave of mecha-beasts wasn't being
controlled by Bionet's distinctive AI.  For all you know, Dr. Hell might still
be alive, and you've got to take the remains of the mecha-beasts back for
analysis.  See the original path for the sinister dude pulling the strings.
The denouement is much like the first time, with Hikaru's manga getting done on
time and her reviews improving to boot.



33. (Route split)

During the reunion with the GGG staff, Kazuma's maturation over the past six
months becomes ever more apparent.  Kazuma's eyes, opened by life, now exactly
resemble his father's at that age.  As expected, Taiga means to reassemble the
Wärter, with help from Misumaru and other collaborators throughout the
government.  The danger of Radmaforming the Earth has been increasing by the
day, as has the proximity of the Eviluders' "main fleet".  And of course,
_someone_ has to knock the Federation army and Zaft's heads together and make
them stop.  Shihomi entrusts the decision of participating or not to Kazuma,
telling him to make it solely on what he's seen as an individual over his
half-year self exile.  If you decline, you can hang with Lowe's Astray people
[route 33A.]  If you accept, you'll be working with GGG and the Nadesico [route
33G.]

If you decline, Kazuma apologizes to Taiga, saying that he wants to see more of
the world in a search for a _convincing_ reason to fight this war.  When he
_does_ find it, he'll gladly board the GGG's ship and fight for the Earth.  In
the meantime, Shihomi promises that she'll pass any and all information about
the Martian Successors along to Taiga and co.

If you accept, Kazuma says that he now realizes that peace can't be restored
without fighting.  Thus begins the Neue Wärter, the new Wardens of the
Lighthouse!  Your first assignment is to head back to Earth, where the fog of
war is even worse than the current Martian Successors mess in space.  You're
supposed to restore the peace while gathering more people to the cause.  Before
you go, Papillon pulls Kazuma aside, foretelling that he will soon be engulfed
in calamity involving his family.  What this calamity is has not clearly formed
to her Sensing Mind powers, but its existence is clear.  She urges him to wait
a little longer that she might figure out the precise nature of the problem,
but he's undeterred.  He tells her that calamities happen everywhere, all the
time, and that he intends to live every moment of his life as though it was on
borrowed time.


33A. Shinobiyoru Oogon no Kage ("The Golden Shadow Draws Near")

Information merchant Luchini has called Murakumo over to give him a hot tip -
for free!  Murakumo is rather skeptical that he's doing this out of the
goodness of his heart, but Luchini warns that Murakumo's fellow pilot Lowe has
attracted a very fearsome predator.  One that only Murakumo, out of all the
Serpent Tail, might be able to elude.  He claims that all the checking into
Lowe's background he's been doing lately have made him sympathetic to Lowe's
cause, but Murakumo suspects Luchini is more interested in whoever is actually
after Murakumo instead.  Luchini is well-known for his love of manipulating
others through his doctored information - a trick that hasn't worked on the
predator by the looks of things.  Instead, Murakumo figures Luchini wants to
get the Red Frame and Blue Frame mecha together, to make them a bigger target
and force open battle.  Luchini stands to profit whoever wins, though his grim
amusement shows he doesn't appreciate Murakumo telling him so to his face.

After turning down the GGG's offer, Kazuma expects to continue Trailer
activities for some time.  He figures the best way to capitalize on all the
things he's learned is to ensure he's 100% committed to the upcoming battle.
To a spaceman, just surviving is a battle in its own right, so he's decided to
go join Lowe and help salvage junk.  The Valstork and its huge hold is well
suited to the task, but of course Kazuma isn't planning on doing salvage
forever.  A better question is why a skilled pilot like Lowe _is_ active as a
junkman.  Lowe's not sure himself: he loves mecha, freedom, and space itself...
and all the interesting stuff that crosses his path.  At the very least, Lowe
can't imagine anything _more_ interesting to do with his time.

The latest round of hostilities, known as the "Low-Earth Orbit War", have
produced loads of space junk from the destruction of Halliburton's 8th
Federation Fleet - though the famed Archangel wasn't among the carnage.  It has
returned to the Earth, while its onetime hostage Lacus Klein is back with the
Zaft.  Rumor has it that crewman Kira returned her on his own initiative for
her own safety, more interested in protecting an innocent girl than playing
along with the Federation's power plays.  Lowe likes that, wishing that wars
would only be fought between those who _like_ fighting.  Kazuma has started to
wonder what his crew could do to help improve the war...

The Archangel itself is quite impressive for living through the 8th Fleet's
demolition, though that may be less because of its inherent studliness and more
because the fleet sacrificed themselves to let the prototype craft reach Earth.
Mihiro wonders why the Feds wanted a new battleship despite having access to
Nergal and the Nadesico, and Horis notes that Nergal has hardly been
cooperative with the Feds thusfar (including their little stunt that let the
Wärter escape during the Lizard War).  Even if the Feds did mass-produce the
ship and somehow win the war with the Zaft, peace on Earth would still be a
long way off...  One other tidbit from the Archangel's flight is that the
Strike was capable of independent atmospheric reentry - a massive leap forward
for mobile suits.  Horis tries to explain how impressive this is by listing all
the things Akane and her "small" breasts couldn't accomplish as some misguided
expression of love (she stomps off), then explains that it's all thanks to the
superlative Phase-Shift Armor all five of the new MS's carry.

Kiri wonders if the Red Frame could be outfitted with PS armor too, but Lowe
guesses the power demands would be too much even if they could master the
technology.  His years fighting in space have taught Lowe that every last
armament, even a beam saber or rifle, must be used sparingly.  The real
question is how to create a weapon with the destructive output of beam weapons
but with the low power consumption of ammo-based weapons...

The Professor cautions that you're not likely the only interested junkmen in
the area.  The quantity of debris is testament to just how fierce the fighting
must have been, and indeed some rival junkmen are on the scene.  It's supposed
to be first-come-first-served where grabbing the valuable stuff is concerned,
but these junkmen seem more interested in attacking than salvaging.  In fact,
they're not junkmen: they're space pirates!  And what they're after is the Red
Frame, which they seem to have been lying in wait for.  Lowe plans to show that
stealing is an even lower profession than junk-handling, and Kazuma still bears
his Trailers Versus Pirates grudge.

  The pirates' mecha get demolished in short order, though your people of
  course don't plan to harm the pilots.  Before the pirates get lost, Murakumo
  shows up in his Blue Frame with some questions.  More of these lowlives
  attacked him yesterday, spurred on by some unseen adversary.  Interestingly
  enough, Heero and Wufei show up at this point, giving the pirates a chance to
  beat a very hasty retreat.  Wufei's inarticulate battlecries aside, Heero
  tells Kazuma that as always, he's fighting for his own sake.  He advises
  Kazuma to stand aside, since he's not on his list of targets, which Murakumo
  and Lowe both echo.

  Wufei is worth a Barrier S Generator and a BP+1 (Heero is worth an EN Chip).
  Wufei says it was worth him coming out here, and Heero tells him to leave the
  rest to him.  Kazuma demand to know what Heero is fighting for, and Heero
  tells him to determine that with his own eyes.

  Lo and behold, more enemies show up, led by an _alien_ Tekkaman.  Heero is
  confident Kazuma and the crew can handle them, and leaves with Wufei.
  Murakumo's now mixed up in this fight, so he'll help at least.

  The enemy Tekkaman is concentrating his fire on Home, which isn't exactly the
  most maneuverable ship ever.  But Tekkaman Blade conveniently shows up out of
  nowhere to save the day.  D-Boy doesn't seem very talkative, and you're
  starting to wonder if the same thing that befell Akito happened to him.
  Murakumo advises Kazuma to concentrate on the fighting and leave conversation
  for later.

Is anyone surprised when D-Boy zooms off after the battle?  In any case, you've
got no real clues to your hidden antagonist, but from what Lowe remembers of
Heero from the moon he doubts Heero would work for money.  Kazuma also doubts
Heero is acting because of any kind of hostage situation.  Murakumo merely
cautions that you're likely to be attacked again.

Elsewhere, two mysterious women are discussing the attack on P02 and P03.  One
opines that the more those two mecha act, the more their plans will suffer.
The other doesn't sound happy that the first used two of her guests to do the
dirty work.  The first regrets that the sortie got interrupted, and plans to go
herself next time.  She sounds confident that her "dance" will be over in a
matter of minutes, but the second woman isn't nearly so sure.  The first thinks
there should only be one ASTRAY, and the second won't stop her.  Another
"shadowy" figure who sounds suspiciously like Relena asks why the second woman
didn't stop the first, and the second allows that P02 and P03 shouldn't have
been created in the first place.  Orb's Uzumi bore the responsibility for his
neutral nation's collaboration on these weapons, whether or not he actually
knew about their creation - thereby accelerating Asaha's ascent to the top of
the political heap.  This second woman has been pulling the strings, and
reminds Relena that she came here precisely to watch how her plans and the
world turn out...

Shihomi doesn't want word of D-Boy's being alive getting back to the Space
Knights, for the same reason that she wasn't more vigorous in pursuing Kazuma
during his self-imposed exile.  It seems that D-Boy may have regressed to the
emotional state Noal first found him in, but Kazuma is confident he'll come
back around.  As Lowe muses over how your people know Tekkaman "Blade", he
finally gets the inspiration for a powerful, low-cost weapon for his mech: a
sword!  Unlike the Zaft's bludgeoning battleaxes, he wants one that can pierce
armor.  Horis happens to have a katana handy, as much a work of art as a
weapon.  It's exactly what Lowe is looking for, but to make one for his mech,
they'll have to find one of the only people left alive who know how to forge
one - in an obscure colony once populated by a wave of engineers from Earth:
Graveyard.


33G. VIRGIN FLUSH

Tomoru is being haunted by images of Tekkaman Blade and Detonator Orgun - no
mere PASFU broadcast.  Even Miyuki gets into the act before Tomoru wakes up in
a cold sweat, haunted by this dream many a time in the past half year.  When
his friend Nokku checks in on him, Tomoru tells him that the shop claims his
PASFU, a gadget that supposedly lets you dream whatever you want to, is in
perfect working order.  Maybe someone hacked into it, and is sending him a
message?  Get real, this isn't some SF anime or anything (aliens and all
aside).  Tomoru promises not to be late for the trip to sightsee at GGG
America, and muses how the dream seems to be less a nightmare and more a
meeting with some sort of old friends...

No sooner had the GGG troops from space landed on Earth than they get mixed up
in battle with the Radam.  Volfogg warns that more reinforcements are likely,
but your side has some reinforcements on the way too.  It's Natasha (aka Vesna)
and David (aka Sommer), a new set of Tekkamen who are (thankfully) on your
side.  [Put together with "Aki", you get the four seasons once someone finds
"Winter"...]  After blasting the bad guys, they make ready to lead you to GGG
America.  There, Kazuma tells the log that these new Tekkamen are part of a new
Space Knights based out of GGG's facilities.  Freeman has been replaced with
another familiar face as leader, and preparations to fend off the Radam seem to
be well underway.

The new chief of the Space Knights is none other than Aki.  Levin explains that
Freeman, Noal and Milly have been transferred to a Federation anti-Radam lab -
as Aki normally would have been too.  But Aki instead requested a posting on
the front lines, the better to fight in D-Boy's place in Kazuma's view.  Your
people then get to meet the new secret weapons in the fight against the Radam:
the two Tekkamen you already saw, plus Goriate, Anita and Hayato - the last of
whom is a support pilot still in need of a Tekkaman to partner with.  One
should be coming soon, thanks to the Armed Tekkaman project.

To explain this puzzling development, you get reacquainted with Kanzaki Michi,
the Federation intelligence operative currently assigned to the GGG.  Ruri
recognizes her as a product of the Federation's "Comprehent" project to breed
"perfect" humans, just like her and Harry.  Saburouta praises her twin
blessings of beauty and intellect, but Horis wishes that Akane's twin breasts
had been upgraded by the heavens to something more formidable.  Akane and Levin
agree that this guy is still the enemy of all women, and Harry asks Saburouta
if Levin is actually a boy or a girl.  Saburouta recommends sneaking into
Levin's bed in the middle of the night, so Levin can give him the
_full_details_.

Anyway, you learn that the new Tekkamen were among the people who got glommed
by the Radam trees right around the time of the EI-01 incident.  They were
rescued quickly enough that their personalities weren't dominated by the Radam,
but had already undergone first-stage Tekkanizing.  With the data gained from
D-Boy, the humans were able to go the rest of the way by adding armaments.
These new Tekkamen don't seem particularly bothered by what they've become,
happy instead to help out with wiping out the Radam.  Since the process isn't
fully finished, the Tekkamen need their support pilots, who have been carefully
molded into a cohesive, positive-thinking fighting unit.

As for the third Tekkaman, several who underwent initial transformation are
employed at the GGG base, and one is slated to be chosen soon.  There's some
concern that a certain spaced- out girl who's captured Hayato's heart would be
chosen, but Levin is quite sure she's dead last on the list.  As for Mike and
Stallion, they've been busily heading around the world with Disc X's, taking
out more Radam trees - though they can't keep up with the rate that new ones
are being planted.  Ruri's come here to help get ahead of the problem, and
tells the rest of you to relax until the analysis is done.  To pass the time,
the new Tekkamen squad offer to show you around the base, a remnant of NASA and
still a popular tourist attraction.  Anita is proving popular herself, as
Saburouta starts vying with David for her affections.  Aki asks Natasha and
Goria to stay behind so she can explain a new weapon to them, but Natasha says
she's got something to take care of first...

Knock and Tomoru arrive for their sightseeing, duly impressed by the sight of
the GGG base.  Tomoru is mainly interested in the old solid-rocket booster and
last-century aircraft, and doesn't expect anyone else to understand.  Knock
therefore suggests they go sightsee separately, and meet up at 1700 hours.  As
Tomoru wanders off, he muses how these state-of-the-art facilities and weapons
might be best for achieving a quick victory, but may have also cost mankind
something intangible.  He gets unexpectedly run into by a spacy girl named
Yumi, one of the base's mechanics.  Upon hearing that he's a tourist, Yumi
starts gushing over her fandom for the Neue Wärter (freshly arrived at the
base) and their former member Tekkaman Blade, who she wants to be like.  Tomoru
had heard from his GGG-employed brother that the Tekkamen were servants of the
Radam, and asks if normal people can actually make the transformation.  Yumi
ostentatiously stops him, saying that that's top secret, then pauses and asks
if he wants to become a Tekkaman himself.  Quite the opposite: he views the
Tekkamen as monsters and asks if she wants to fight so badly that she'd do that
to her own body.  She protests that the Tekkamen aren't monsters, since they
fight to protect mankind and all...

Aki then shows up, chiding Yumi for discussing secret matters and shooing her
off to the hangar to meet with Natasha.  Aki then apologizes to Tomoru, who
lets slip in his stammering reply that he's more into the girl than it might
seem.  As she leaves him to his sightseeing, he muses that she seems to be
around his age, and wonders if he's met her somewhere before...  Yumi meanwhile
has been called on the carpet for not fixing the Alpha's communication system
after the damage it sustained during training.  Natasha doesn't take very
kindly to Yumi's meek words of apology, and everyone except Hayato can't muster
much sympathy for the naturally blond mechanic.  After the lecture ends, Hayato
heads over and tries to console Yumi, who admits that Natasha was absolutely
right.  She quickly smiles again, and vows to service the Alpha so well next
time that Natasha praises her for it.  Hayato admires her indefatigable
attitude, which is part of her dream to one day fight at Blade's side.  She
prefers to believe that D-Boy somehow survived the Holy Valentine Light, and
Aki wonders if she should take a risk and choose her.  In fact, could she
be...?

Liger has called Gai and Mikoto aside to show them a certain interesting object
being discovered all over the world: a so-called "Q-Parts".  Two of them are in
GGG hands, and two more are being guarded elsewhere on the globe.  It's not
clear precisely what they are yet, but Liger does know they have the potential
to emit the same level of energy as a G-Stone - enough to potentially solve the
global energy crisis caused by the Neutron Jammers.  In fact, each part in
isolation has that potential, making the scientists afraid that the objects
would be uncontrollable if joined together.  Liger has shown this to Gai
because he guesses they came from the same place that the G-Stones came from:
the Green Planet.  Neither Gai (now a full Evoluder) nor Mikoto (a
Semi-Evoluder) feel anything in proximity to the Q-Parts, and Liger is
wondering if his instincts are going soft.

Just then, the enemy attack, and the Wärter go out to face them.  It's a small
group of Zaft who are probably just here for observation.  Your people set
about trying to repulse them without actually killing any of them.

  As the battle progresses, Aki reaches her decision on the third Tekkaman,
  calling her in to be formatted for final Armored Tekkaman form along with the
  others.  It is indeed Yumi Francois.  Natasha asks why her chief chose Yumi,
  and Aki says only that was her decision alone.  Though given the opportunity
  to complain, Natasha doesn't object to her superior's judgement.  Aki says
  that there's not a moment to lose with the Radam getting more active in the
  area, and elects to equip Natasha with the newly-developed Reactor Boltekka
  instead of David.  He shrugs and tells Natasha that he wasn't cut out to be
  the strongest on the team anyway.

  The Zaft flee at the first sight of the new Radam assault, proof of the
  widening gulf of discrimination that is distracting mankind from its true
  enemy.  Tekkaman Sword is bound and determined to destroy the human
  perversion of Radam technology, but Ruri has other ideas.  You only need to
  hold out a little while until the formatting is complete.

  If Sword fights Saburouta, he admires the lines of her mechanized body and
  tells her he wishes he could see her without all the armor.  She furiously
  retorts that she belongs entirely to Lord Omega and won't show him a square
  angstrom of the good stuff.

  Sword is worth a Barrier S Generator, an EN Chip, and a BP+1.  When Sword is
  smacked around some, she brings in reinforcements and prepares to strike the
  Tekka plant once and for all.  Yamada insists that your people are out to
  avenge D-Boy's death, but Ryouko furiously reminds him that D-Boy isn't
  confirmed _dead_, he's merely MIA.  Anyway, Sword is too late: the three
  Tekkamen, including Hiver, are on the scene.  It takes Horis to notice that
  they're named after Winter, Summer and Spring.

  There's already a problem: the Radam attack has messed up the computer and
  sent the data on how to fire the Reactor Boltekka to Yumi instead of Natasha.
  Yumi pulls the attack off: a modified version of the original Boltekka that
  uses the Crystal Energy to selectively destroy its targets by creating
  antimatter on top of them.  Like chain lightning, the effect jumps from
  target to target until none remain.  Unfortunately, Yumi lacks the discipline
  to control it, and the chain is continuing to everything else in the area.
  The other two Tekkamen figure they've got no choice but to knock Yumi
  unconscious to stop the chain, but Aki orders Yumi to get a hold of herself
  if she wants to consider herself a Tekkaman.  She should be able to do it,
  since her mind was strong enough to resist Radam control in the first place.

  She pulls it off, but not before Sword has taken enough damage to decide to
  retreat.  You get to mop up the remaining Radam, and Gimlet, who's been
  watching from the shadows, is sure A9 will find this all very stimulating.
  In fact, it seems Gimlet has been busy stealing one of the Q-Parts too, and
  Liger tells his Gai to go grab him.  He shoves Tomoru aside on his way out,
  and his retreat is covered by a bunch of Bionet mecha.

The Bionet operative has totally made off with the Q-Parts, but at least the
new Tekkamen seem to be working out well.  Yumi is that much closer to her
dream of fighting by Tekkaman Blade's side one day, and Gai assures her that
her positive thinking is the right way to stay.  Natasha and Hayato then walk
over, and to Yumi's surprise commend her on how well she did in battle - she's
now a full-fledged Tekkaman in their eyes.  Her confidence has risen immensely,
and she assures team leader Natasha that she'll do her best to hold up her part
of the fighting.  This is what Aki has been counting on, and hopes that Yumi's
bright nature can overcome the tragic fate of all Tekkamen...

Now for the bad news: not only has Bionet stolen one of the Q-Parts, but the
base is pretty substantially damaged.  About 70% of that is due to the Reactor
Boltekka running amok, though Liger proclaims that the improved ventilation is
all for the good (and then promptly sneezes).  Before Bionet can do anything
too nefarious, Liger sighs and concedes that he'd better call in his daughter
the specialist.

Mikoto meanwhile has been caring for a certain tourist who got caught up in the
uproar: none other than Tomoru.  He wasn't badly hurt, but he _was_ far from
the sightseeing path.  Mikoto supposes he's got horrible direction sense, but
Tomoru says that he was actually looking for a girl about his age with glasses
and straight hair.  Mikoto tells him that he must mean the genius scientist
Professor Kanzaki, and praises his retro jacket.  He explains that it's an
authentic 20th century Luftwaffe bomber jacket, the sure sign of an otaku...

Michi's computer congratulates her on the new Tekkamen.  The two discuss the
terrifying weapon they've been building this past half-year, based on the pulse
signal they received during the Holy Valentine Light.  Michi is fairly sure
"he" is the one who sent it, and Isaac asks if she wants to terminate the
Wilberwind project, and after a pause she tells him that though frightened of
it, she can't bring herself to stop it.  Whatever it was that your visitor from
deep space saw in the Earth, he went to a lot of trouble to entrust your people
with his last transmission - and it would seem impermissible to let that go to
waste.  Isaac is satisfied by this and is sure that all will become clear once
the project is finished...


34A. Yomigaeru Hakaba no Meiken ("The Famed Sword of the Graveyard Rises
Again")

Kazuma informs the log that he's got more than just professional interest in
the trip they're on to Graveyard.  Heck, who wouldn't find the prospect of lost
technology and culture fascinating?  Kazuma also finds himself being drawn
along by Lowe's interesting outlook on life, and anything that could shed light
on his mysterious assailants is worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, the rest of your crew muse over Horis' store of interesting trivia,
such as the nature of Graveyard.  Professor says she wants to rummage through
the database inside his head, only half joking, and Lowe wonders aloud what a
graduate of the Federation Academy is doing working for someone like Captain
Bless.  Kazuma remembers his surprise when Horis signed on three or four years
ago, that someone as intelligent and as skilled a pilot would join his ship.
Horis seems a good fit for the info-centric Trailers, but even he might have
trouble dealing with the natural tendency of information to become obsolete.
Then again, even obsolete information can come in handy on occasion, as this
trip to Graveyard proves - making it a bit like junk.  All this sounds like
praise for Horis, but Kazuma gets a chill as he recalls someone else who
accumulates knowledge: The Database.  Given you've now been warned several
times about these guys, and they haven't shown themselves this past half year,
should you be worried?

Galent is a bit more reticent about Graveyard, a place he and Bless have been
many times.  Apparently there was an "Ogre" there that caused mucho trouble ten
plus years ago, though _surely_ it's departed by now.  Graveyard is located at
a gravitational null near the atmosphere, meaning that any navigational error
on the way there could well prove fatal.  He adds the news that the Archangel,
after attaining reentry, landed in the middle of Zaft territory in the Sahara,
patrolled by the fearsome "Desert Tiger" Andrew Bartfeld.  Is this the final
straw for the Federation military?  Whichever side wins, mankind as a whole
seems headed for lossage in the face of the Radam and other external threats.
Maybe that's just mankind's destiny.

When your people approach Graveyard, you're greeted by a Zaft Jinn, which is
odd considering that Graveyard is supposedly populated by Naturals.  The
aged-sounding pilot asks what your people want, and when Lowe says he wants a
sword the guard presumes you're here as thieves.  He doesn't give Lowe a chance
to explain himself, instead wielding his battleaxe with amazing dexterity and
knocking Lowe to Graveyard.  Kazuma can tell this man's skill, and although the
man claims to be a Natural who's bothered to put his soul into his work, Mihiro
is pretty sure he's anything _but_ Natural.

Lowe was _not_ in fact shot down, but used the strike as a ruse to land on
Graveyard.  The problem is that it's like a maze inside.  Fortunately, he
doesn't have to wander the corridors strewn with cast-off junk for long: Kazuma
has convinced the guardian that you're not here for evil, aided in part by
Galent's introduction and his father's good name.  The man, Un Nou, introduces
himself as the gravekeeper of the colony, which he means literally.  Luckily
for Lowe, the combined knowledge of the hereditary swordsmiths gathered here
has been merged into a single katana, over ten meters long: Garvela Straight.
The problem is that it's already rusted.

Un Nou is raging against the dying of the proverbial light, trying to leave
proof of the lives of the artisans and engineers who once lived here.  That
means fighting off the thieves whose raids have reduced the contents of
Graveyard to their current disheveled state.  It was during Un's struggles that
Garvela Straight perished, but Lowe has a great way of ignoring Un's protests
and deciding to resurrect enough technology to simply reforge the sword.  After
all, the best way to keep knowledge from being lost is to keep it in practice,
right?

Speaking of practice, Lowe has to learn from Un how to actually use a sword,
which takes at least a week.  Kazuma and Mihiro are busy reforging the sword,
leaving the rest to ponder the contents of Graveyard.  Horis in particular is
positively giddy at all the artifacts of mankind's knowledge, declaring that
the whole colony should be made into a museum.  While he forages, Akane and
Kiri chat about their difficulties owning up to their love for the men in their
lives.  Despite Akane's difficulties with Horis, she's got a snappy Trailer
maxim for Kiri: "Fortune visits the smiling gate, and smiles cost zero yen."
Which is, unfortunately, of little use when one of Hokuten's men shows up....

Indeed, it's the guys who have been uprooting stuff inside Graveyard, seeking a
certain object in Un's care.  Un initially refuses to hand over what a dying
man entrusted to him, but changes his mind when the girls' lives are
threatened.  He's about to hand over some kind of "unit" when Duo pops out and
smacks the anachronistic assassin around.  The girls flee to their men's arms
as Duo informs the miscreant that the other Successors outside are being dealt
with by his partner.  Realizing defeat is imminent, the Successor decides to
destroy the whole colony and then get the unit.  As your people are about to
head off in pursuit, Un tells Lowe to use the newly reforged sword, baptizing
it in battle.

Outside, Trowa has been handily stymying the other Successors.  As they send in
their entire force, the vengeful Ghost shows up before the Grim Reaper can even
come forth.  Trowa assures Akito that he's heard all about him from Nergal's
chairman, and means no interference to whatever Akito has planned.  Odds are
good that the Successors are toast.

  Take a couple of them out and the rest of your crew emerge in pursuit of
  Hokuten's men.  The long reunion will have to wait, as the cornered
  Successors try to counterattack.

  One of Hokuten's men has a Aqua Module and a Support Defense +1.  One has a
  Hovercraft and a Support+1.  One has a Flight Unit and a Support Attack+1.
  The last of them is determined to flee, but Lowe finally emerges with Garvela
  Straight.  The still-anachronistic Successor vows to use his Jovian Union
  Quickdraw technique to reduce Lowe to sword rust, but Un encourages Lowe to
  remember what he taught him about how to wield the sword.  He does, and chops
  his adversary handily in half.

  Unfortunately, a bunch of Zaft show up at this moment, allowing the remaining
  Successors to flee, with Akito in pursuit.  Shihomi radios to the Zaft
  commander that your people are here on a junk-gathering mission and have no
  plans to fight them.  Unfortunately, Mihael Coast and his men have already
  seen your arms, and order you to surrender at once or face immediate attack.
  In point of fact, they seem more likely to be acting to support the
  Successors.  Mihael efficiently declares your people to be the enemy, which
  infuriates Lowe no end.  He sees it his mission to take down all those who
  can only judge things through destruction.  Mihael has _radically_
  underestimated your people if he thinks he's going to get a mere cure for his
  boredom here.

  Mihael is worth a Booster and Multicombo +1.  His defeat comes as a massive
  shock to him, and he relishes a chance to someday repay your ragtag crew for
  this injustice.  Duo and Trowa are fretting about the rumor of Zaft backing
  of the Successors being true, but Lowe is cheerfully pressing Un to teach him
  some Inner Techniques.  Un grumpily tells the amateur swordsman to try
  swinging the sword a good ten thousand times a day, and perhaps an Inner
  Technique or two will present itself out of the fundamentals.  Lowe thanks
  him for the advice and rushes off to gather more junk, but Un has something
  he thinks Professor should have...

It is indeed the unit a certain drifter entrusted to him, enigmatically labeled
"GG".  Un knows little of the man, only that he was badly wounded and being
chased.  The man referred to himself as being from the "Band of Friends", and
said that the unit contains a crucial piece of man's technological legacy.  Un
swore to himself to only give the gadget to someone he believes he can entrust
the future of man to, and although Lowe is kind of an idiot, there's little
doubt he can put it to good use.  In fact, it's the only reason Un is able to
pilot a mech at all, and he asks Professor to tell Lowe not to use it for evil.
At least it should be safe(r) from the Successors in your care...

Unfortunately, Lowe's luck has gotten him a new adversary: a one-armed mech
that presumably belongs to that golden arm you saw back at Heliopolis.  This
"Gold Frame"'s pilot tells him to dance, and 8 cautions Lowe that your opponent
is several notches better than they are.  The female pilot seems quite
disappointed that Lowe can't perform a duet with her (mainly because he's out
of energy after that last battle), but her plan to kill him quickly runs into a
snag when he blocks her sword with his own.

Unfortunately, he's now totally out of energy, and she blasts him into a course
for reentry.  Luckily for him, Professor and the crew use Home to shield him as
the whole crew descend into the atmosphere.  Everyone makes it to the surface
alive, but even Lowe isn't able to fix the busted flagship after its
unscheduled landing.  You find yourself in Africa, and who should arrive to
fish you out but... the Nadesico!

In the Plants, Patrick concludes his report about the African front to Siegel,
who seems to be expecting Patrick to say more.  When Patrick plays dumb, Siegel
bluntly asks what the objective of Patrick's special forces sortie was.  To the
claim of it being "merely a patrol", Siegel orders Patrick to sever ties with
the Martian Successors.  Debt to George Glenn or no, the Successors are too
dangerous - and it's only a matter of time until their ambitions set the Plants
ablaze as well.  Patrick wants to use anything and everything for his war for
Coordinator dominance, and is quite prepared to wipe out all Naturals if that's
what it takes to win.  Siegel is left to wonder if that's the only option
left...

Cue the reunion, in which Duo says what many people have evidently been
thinking: that Kazuma's newfound "self-possessed" way of talking seems
ludicrous on him.  I think this is a pretty artificial thing for the writers to
suddenly cause drama over, and Shihomi's solicitousness towards her brother
doesn't help.  Duo claims that Kazuma's imitation of his father's mode of
speech was enough to make even the stolid Trowa smile, and Kazuma fumes that if
he was going to get laughed at so much, he shouldn't have bothered trying this
image change.  In any case, he's now prepared to join everyone else in the Neue
Wärter, having seen just how far and wide war spreads in the Earth Sphere.
He's content to fight for what he feels is right (peace) now, and worry about
thinking up the rationale later.  Now reverted to his old mannerisms, he signs
on the dotted line and the new phase of the war begins.


34G. Yureru Omoi to Chisana Ketsui ("Wavering Feelings and Small Resolves")

The new Tekkamen run into a small group of enemies while on maneuvers.  They
think they can take them on without aid.  This will get complicated quickly
after the battle lingers a bit, since some of the alien Tekkamen show up.  Your
squad make to wipe one of them out, but when another acts to protect his buddy,
your people realize to their shock that the enemy Tekkamen actually possess
some sort of emotions - emotions they aren't supposed to retain after the Radam
mind control.  SHOCK!! and stuff.

  Luckily Renais, the Lion Queen, is on hand to talk smack and save your shiny
  metal butts.

In the log, Kazuma waxes philosophical about the newborn Tekkamen's lack of
mental toughness in the face of the news.  Meanwhile, Renais's sharp tongue
isn't sparing the Tekkamen, and Aki is in full agreement.  Liger (re)introduces
Renais to you all, adding that she's his daughter.  Renais scowls and spits the
qualifier "legally".  She all but demands your latest data on Bionet, and
declines Gai's recommendation of staying and chatting with your people awhile.
The girls are trying to figure out what's wrong with her as she stalks off
again - is it her "father"'s womanizing ways that have her so upset?  Or is it
the naivete of the new Tekkamen, which she blasts again on the way out the
door?

One thing is certain: ice queen Renais is the polar opposite of someone like
Ryouko's explosive warmth.  Liger sighs ruefully and admits that Renais is well
within her rights to hate him at least, leaving Aki and Gai to tell the tale as
he walks out under a very uncharacteristic cloud.  Gai tells you that Liger
feels responsible for Renais becoming a cyborg, a fact that surprises some of
your people more than others.  It seems Liger had separated from Renais's
mother before Renais was born, and she was raised without ever having seen his
face.  Unfortunately, agents of Bionet killed Renais's mother while Renais was
still a child, and built Renais herself into a combat cyborg.  Grim.

Somehow, Renais found the strength to resist Bionet's control, and at the end
of her one-woman insurrection ended up being saved by Chasseur.  At that point,
it was discovered that Bionet's immature cybernetics had hit their limits and
were about to fail, and Liger was left with no choice but to operate again in
order to save her life.  Where things get messy is that Liger himself had been
Bionet's real target all that time, and his wife and daughter's treatment was
meant to hurt him.  In other words, Renais and her mother's fates could be
oversimplistically construed as Liger's fault - and nobody ever accused Renais
of being _under_simplistic.

You can see what rage could evolve from having her life saved by her alienated
father, object of such hatred to begin with.  Renais is doing her best to
direct that rage towards Bionet, which explains her rather singleminded focus.
Aki explains to Yumi and the others that this is why Renais was so hard on
them: she sees them as fellow beings whose bodies were modified by other's
hands, and projects her own concerns onto them.  She sternly tells all her
charges that the Space Knights have more enemies with emotions to fight than
just the Radam - like the Zaft for instance.  When Yumi looks dubious, Aki
starts shouting, informing them that all the enemy Tekkamen are based on the
feelings and memories of the humans who became their hosts.  If necessary, her
people must be ready to fight their own friends and even family if
circumstances require!  She yells that anyone who can't manage that should get
out now, and in tears Yumi does just that.

Kazuma tells her partner to leave her be: this is a wall she's got to climb
over herself, or further fighting really will be futile.  Gai agrees, and asks
the others to understand that there are some things one cannot attain except
through fighting.  David for one says he'll prepare for this battle, readying
himself to fight whoever Aki says is the enemy.  Score one for the steely
nerves of what Saburouta calls the "playboy Tekkaman".  Aki inwardly tells Yumi
that she believes in her, that she can actually attain the future that "he"
wished for.

Yumi has gone off to pout for a while, and gets scared out of her wits when the
dragon girl robots say hi.  Recovering quickly (not many wits to get scared out
of?), she asks them what Renais is like.  Kouryuu cheerfully says that Renais
is _super_ scary when she gets mad, and Renais's been mad at them very often
through all their mess-ups during their training.  Anryuu adds that Renais has
also taught them many valuable things: everything from how to conduct an
investigation to how to battle the enemy.  And more important, she's taught
them the meaning of fighting.  As robots, the dragon girls were fashioned so as
not to hurt humans - indeed, older model robots were incapable of allowing
humans to come to harm even if it meant endangering themselves in return.

Yumi has heard of the Three Laws, but Kouryuu points out that such a system is
pretty silly considering that the robots in question are alive too.  If both
robotic and human life is of equal value, which should the robots protect? This
is beyond Yumi, though she grasps enough to realize that it means taking down
whoever is putting those lives in danger to begin with.  What Renais taught her
charges is to protect what they feel is right; for example, fighting bad humans
to defend good robots.  The light bulb is juuust starting to turn on for Yumi,
and Kouryuu is effusive with praise.  Anryuu leads her sister back to practice,
and the two of them are resolved to make "that" succeed today.

Left behind, Yumi ponders this "protect what she feels is right" business,
finally shouting to no one in particular that if she could actually do that,
she wouldn't be having anywhere near this much trouble!  She in fact has an
audience: a rather somber looking dude with a facial scar and sunglasses.  She
doesn't recognize him, and after studying her intently, he asks if she's a
Tekkaman.  She admits she is to him, and then starts wondering aloud if she
ought to have become one.  It was her admiration to Tekkaman Blade, forged when
he saved her from the Radam in Tokyo, that made her enter the Space Knights.
Indeed, the fact that she was no longer human was far less of a shock to her
than Blade's disappearance.  She always dreamed of telling Blade that she'd
help defend the world by his side, but absent any way of fulling the dream, she
at least wanted to make good on her admiration and actually be of use via the
Space Knights.  She figures she's as good as washed up as Tekkaman, but the man
tells her that all she needs is a heart for battle.  Somehow this statement
clears away her remaining doubts, and before heading back to her teammates, she
asks the man for his name.  He utters one syllable: "D".

After Yumi trots off, a blond man in the shadows near "D" asks why he isn't
going to say hello to "her".  "D" replies that he's got his own battles to
fight, and appreciates his companion's bringing him here anyway.  "D" then
departs, saying that he'll see the companion again if fortune favors them both,
and the companion mutters that "D" seemingly hasn't forgiven himself yet.  He
mentally tells the "general" that he's betting the "general" can keep a grip on
himself...

In no time flat, the Radam send another assault.  Yumi is honest with Aki:
she's not very confident.  But she's still promised a certain person she'll do
her best, and Renais is certainly watching to see if she can deliver.  Hayato
meanwhile is left wondering who this "person" is.  The enemy don't have a
Tekkaman in evidence yet, but there's surely one lurking nearby...

  Pummel the bad guys some and a new set of enemies will show up: Eviluders,
  including one in the so-called Solid Armor.  Viewed pessimistically, it means
  you're caught between two foes.  Viewed optimistically, it means you've got
  twice the asses to kick according to Renais, and Ryouko is with it.  The
  Eviluder leader is Leave, who wants to see with her own eyes what Orgun was
  so fascinated by.  Besides, "that man" is here.

  Take out the rest of the Radam cannon fodder and the Tekkaman shows up,
  apparently with a grudge against Yumi, who still hasn't quite mustered the
  fortitude to stand up for herself.  Renais is about to intervene when Aki
  orders her and Yumi out of the way.  She Teksets herself, and charges in with
  Pegas, saying that there's no way she can let the kids fight on their own.
  Liger adds that Aki is the true #1 product of the new Tekkaman project - she
  deliberately gave herself to a Radam Tree so that mankind could have some
  Tekkamen on their side!  This suffering, the same as "he" faced, is precisely
  what Aki wished for - a pain that she's been trying to bequeath to her
  charges.

  Tekkaman Sword then shows up, not liking the sound of that one bit.  Luckily,
  Yumi is finally with the program and helps defend her leader from Sword's
  onslaught.  Her example has in turn awakened something inside the dragon
  sisters, and Gai yells to them to show their proof of herodom to everyone,
  and they Symmetrically Dock to thwart Sword some more.  Leave continues to
  puzzle over this strange, unanalyzable emotion welling up inside her at the
  sight.

  One of the Tekkamen is worth an Aqua Module and a Support Defense +1.
  Another has a Flight Unit and a Support Attack +1.  Another is worth a
  Support Attack +1.  Another is worth a Hovercraft and a Cooperation +1.
  Sword is worth a Booster and a Multicombo +1, sent back to her lord Omega
  with her tail between her metal-clad legs.

  When you smack down Leave, she finally figures out what it was that Orgun saw
  in this planet through all his journeys through space.  She and any remaining
  Eviluders withdraw, and Michi thinks that the message "he" left mankind is
  about to become clear.

After hostilities cease, Aki explains to your stunned crew that she had to
ensure that the Tekkaman project succeeded, lest the Radam have free reign over
the Earth.  She figured the people already converted into proto-Tekkamen were
too valuable to experiment with, so she did the one thing she could do and
transformed herself - and she has no regrets.  Thanks to her, Yumi was able to
conquer some of her own demons, and thanks to THAT, the dragon sisters finally
got Symmetrical Docking right.  Kazuma muses that Tekkaman "Hiver", "winter" in
French, should make a good teammate for a Chasseur agent, but Renais finally
breaks down and tells Kazuma to cut out the mature act.  See the other path for
his image change breakdown.  Renais presumes that Kazuma's dad must have been
one hell of a guy for Kazuma to try to emulate him that much, but Kazuma
dispels that notion quickly.  For all his father's foibles, though, he still
was "dad" to Kazuma, and that pride was more than enough to motivate him to be
a worthy son to "Hawkeye".  Renais half-smirks, having something revelatory to
ponder regarding her own family now.

Renais then warns that Bionet is likely to attack Paris during the special
meeting of the Federation government, and Ruri mobilizes your forces to stop
them.  The Successors will probably show up too, and the Space Knights get
deployed to help in the ensuing carnage.  Galent then radios in to talk about
what happened on the other path (the Successors and Graveyard and all), and
Ruri decides to head to the Sahara on the way to Paris to pick up the
Archangel, Lowe, and the Preventers hanging out with them.

Omega doesn't sound very happy at the report of human-controlled Tekkanizing.
That said, he sounds pretty sure that the resulting freaks won't stand up to
his forces.  Omega's also gotten proof that "he" made it back to Earth, and has
already sent Lance to try to wipe "him" out before his rival Evil reawakens.
Blade's final struggle is about to begin!

Meanwhile, everyone is suffering in the desert heat except for Trowa, who never
really reacts to anything.  Duo's radioed in for help, but he's not sure any
can be counted on given the messed up state of the world.  About the best he or
Trowa can say about Heero and Wufei is that they likely didn't attack the Red
and Blue Frames for money.  At this rate, you'll have no choice but to cross
the desert in your mecha - at least until the Nadesico and friends show up.
You get more details about Lowe's adventures at Graveyard, and Lowe agrees to
help out with the Neue Wärter in return for being fished out of the desert.
With everyone back together, it's time to cross the desert while avoiding the
Desert Tiger.  Luckily, Duo has put in a call to the "Desert Prince", who
specializes in tiger hunting...


35. Nessa ni Fuku Kaze ("The Wind That Blows in the Desert Sands")

Bartfeld orders Dacosta to have the rest of the men retreat, the Archangel
having just mostly kicked their ass.  The survivors are to regroup at
Gibraltar.  Aisha for one won't pull out, determined to stick by her man.
Bartfeld's forces may have been officially defeated, but he can still prove to
Kira what he told him earlier: in war, there are no clear-cut endings or even
rules.  In short, as long as Natural and Coordinator remain enemies, the only
choice is for the war to continue until one or the other is utterly destroyed.
Kira struggles mightily with this notion...

  Bartfeld is worth an A-Adaptor and an Inner Strength+1.  As his mech
  explodes, Kira screams that he never wanted to kill anyone...

It seems Quatre and his people were instrumental in keeping the Archangel in
one piece.  Natarle extends formal military thanks to the desert guerillas,
which Cagalli says aren't necessary.  Quatre isn't entirely sure helping the
Feds out is for the best, but what's done is done.  He bids farewell to Kira,
who seems to have settled down after all the drama that befell since the
landing (enveiglements with Sai's girlfriend Flay, etc. etc.)  Cagalli will
actually be accompanying you for a while on your journey towards Alaska,
including a stop by Orb for the benefit of the youngsters.  This seems to
rattle Cagalli, who's from Orb, somewhat.  Seina then shows up with a message
for Quatre from Duo...

Kazuma catches the log up on the doings of the other branch, before Duo comes
to him with some kind of secret that he figures he can only tell Kazuma.  He
hopes Kazuma can tell him why he didn't contact his family for those six
months, and Kazuma reluctantly says it was because he didn't want to face up to
his past mistakes.  Duo supposes that that must be why _he_ - D-Boy - hasn't
reestablished contact yet either: his sister's death.  Kazuma is shocked to
hear that D-Boy is still alive, though he had suspected something from the
jumpy reaction of everyone who had been in space.  Kazuma presumes that the
best thing to do will be to leave D-Boy alone until he wants to reestablish
contact, trusting that someone as strong as D-Boy will do so eventually.

Just then, you receive word that a Mithril transport has been shot down some
hundred kilometers away.  It's not clear if it's the Zaft's doing or what, but
you've got to head to the scene pronto.  It seems that Sousuke and Kaname were
aboard that transport, and Kaname seems temporarily unaware of where she is.
Sousuke describes how the Mithril transport base he wanted to take her to is an
island of paradise, and Kaname notes that anywhere would be paradise compared
to this desert.  She supposes it was her fault for agreeing to go anywhere with
Sousuke, though Sousuke says it was actually Tessa who wanted to chat with her.
Kaname frowns momentarily, and advises Sousuke not to make things sound like a
personal invitation next time.  Sousuke of course didn't expect to get shot
down, and can do nothing but apologize to her.

What's distressing to Sousuke is that whoever shot them down seemingly didn't
want them to die, but rather to have time to get out of the crash alive.  He
knows what that means.  In any case, they're "fortunately" a mere thousand
klicks from their destination, and Sousuke is used to this kind of heat from
the time he spent growing up in the area.  Kaname takes the opportunity to ask
about his past in more depth, and he tells her he's been fighting ever since
age 8, instructed by someone no more than three years his senior.  He tells her
that such things are hardly that rare, but the tale gets interrupted as the
people who've been following them ever since Japan open fire.  They've got to
flee on foot, and have no effective means of fighting back against mecha.

Fortunately, they don't have to.  Quatre, Cagalli and Seina show up to save the
day, though Seina suspects that Sousuke might not be happy to see her.  Whoever
is doing the shooting isn't willing to stop just because Sousuke and Kaname are
unarmed, and their leader Zaid doesn't seem to be very friendly.

  Seina quickly realizes that the leader in the red mech is quite skilled -
  more so than any normal desert mercs should be.  Sousuke recognizes the
  fighting style of Zaid, who supposedly perished in battle long ago.  You
  won't have to fight them alone though, thanks to the arrival of the rest of
  your people to cover Kaname's retreat.

  Sousuke sorties too as soon as he's able, just as a "mysterious voice" on the
  other end of the comlink tells Zaid.  He tells Zaid that he hopes he isn't
  planning to somehow let Sousuke off the hook out of some kind of nostalgia,
  and Zaid says he values his life far too much for that after seeing so many
  die dogs' deaths for the sake of their emotions.  Zaid lures Sousuke out for
  some 1:1 combat, which everyone else cautiously endorses.  The mystery man
  asks Zaid what's it's like to kill his old friend, and isn't satisfied with
  Zaid's noncommittal answer.  He therefore sends out a Behemoth to liven
  things up: one with a Lambda Driver aboard!

  Renais realizes that the scariest thing about all this is that there's an
  organization that could mass produce and figure out how to pilot such a
  monstrosity.  Just the sight of it brings back some evil memory to Seina...

  Zaid and Kashim (Sousuke) recognize each other after all these years.  Zaid
  tells Sousuke that he escaped the attack that killed Sousuke and Kalinin's
  companions more or less by accident.  Sousuke doesn't want to fight his old
  mentor, but there's little choice.  Zaid tells him that this is nobody's
  fault - this sort of thing just happens on the battlefield.  Sousuke is very
  upset by all this, but he has the clarity to state that if Zaid is after
  Kaname, he'll have to defeat him.

  Zaid is worth a Cartridge and a Gunfight +1.  Zaid has thrown so much into
  the battle that he can't even eject from his mech, and praises how good of a
  warrior Sousuke's become before his mech explodes.  Sousuke's scream of
  anguish is music to Gauron's ears, and Gauron finally shows himself: the
  international A-class terrorist in the flesh.  He's gloating over all the
  strings he pulled to make Sousuke kill the unexpectedly-alive old friend, and
  challenges Sousuke to keep his Lambda Driver going in his perturbed state.
  Sousuke vows to kill his ass with or without the flaky gadget.

  Gauron continues to power up, his insane evil glee amplified by the Lambda
  Driver into some serious danger.  The impressionable Yumi is getting carried
  away by Gauron's evil schtick, and Sousuke is indeed struggling to make the
  Lambda Driver work.  To make matters worse, Lance's contingent of Radam show
  up just then.  He can't believe Sword got beaten back by your ragtag lot, but
  Aki steadies her troops with a little help from... D-Boy!  He tells Lance
  that in fact he had been running these past few months - but not from them,
  from himself and his oh-so-angstful Tekkaman Destiny(tm).  He tells your
  people to focus on the enemy AS while he worries about the Radam, but Sousuke
  wants to take out Gauron with his bare hands if necessary.

  Lance has no special loot, but he guesses (correctly it seems) that Blade has
  caught onto some impending doom or other that has made him rush back into
  battle.  He mocks your Tekkaman that their days are numbered before
  retreating.

  Gauron claims that what matters most in battle isn't speed or power, but the
  desire to kill.  He gets his ass proven wrong, coughing up a Hybrid Armor and
  an Infight +1 in the process.  However, the writers allow him to regenerate
  enough to go and attack Sousuke all the way across the map in an instant,
  which Mao (also all the way across the map) somehow blocks with her body.
  She isn't quite killed by the attack, but Gauron then throws in a new
  wrinkle: he actually gets out of his mech and surrenders, as much as daring
  your group of goodie-goodies to harm an unarmed man.  Only with the greatest
  expenditure of willpower does Sousuke stay his hand when Gauron tells Sousuke
  to afford him the utmost respect as called for by the New Geneva Convention.

D-Boy reacquaints himself with your people, first apologizing to Aki for his
weakness mixing her up in the Tekkaman business as well.  Apparently him taking
off his shades is his way of emotionally rejoining the team.  As your other
people look on, D-Boy tells Aki that he hasn't exactly been wasting the past
eight months: he's figured out that the Radam base is somewhere on the moon -
probably a Radam ship that has burrowed under the surface.  They've been
waiting for the Radam trees to bloom, and D-Boy wants Aki's help to wreck them
before that happens.  That's what Aki herself wishes for, and D-Boy reminds
himself that losing Miyuki wasn't tantamount to losing _everything_ good in his
life.

Renais is one of many of your people surprised to see Seina, A21's leader and
supposed victim of terrorist action last year, alive.  She tells Trowa that she
parted ways with Wufei after the whole "True Operation Meteor" mess.  She has
no idea who he's working for now, but notes that at the time they split up, he
was still being emo about the future of the world and of himself.  Seina
appears to have turned over a new leaf of sorts, though it's nothing so neat as
"having found her own battle".  For now, she's trying to move forward by
assisting the guerillas and seeing the world in place of her lost, young
comrade.  Since Quatre seems okay with her being on the loose, Renais says it
would be pointless to arrest the dead.  Seina does say that she plans to atone
for her sins in her own way one day, and agrees to help you all get to Orb.
Cagalli, native child of these sands, is next up for finding her own battle -
but she wants to start by finding the Archangel.  Seina will accompany her
there instead, but leaves a message for Wufei: the world and its people aren't
as weak as he thinks they are.

Ruri takes charge of the prisoner and promises to deliver him and the SRT to
the Tuatha De Danaan.  Mao amazingly got off with a few contusions and a
concussion, leaving Kurz to note that it seems only he is capable of sending
her to heaven.  Harry wonders cluelessly what that's supposed to mean, and Ruri
recommends he ask Saburouta.  Kalinin has ordered his men to think of Gauron as
a highly intelligent, highly dangerous animal.  Sousuke as expected is in
fairly bad shape after having to kill his old mentor, more than he will
probably let on.  Kurz hopes that Kaname's presence at his side will help calm
things down.  The Nadesico sets sail, hoping that its dangerous cargo doesn't
get out of hand along the way...


36. Wakare ("Farewell") no "Into The Blue"

Your people have made it across the desert to the Tuatha De Danaan, leaving the
Nadesico B behind for repairs at the Mithril dock.  During the repairs, Ruri
will be huddling with Kalinin about what to do about Bionet and the Martian
Successors.  Professor and her people are busy trying to sell Home for scrap,
leaving the remaining troops to hang out aboard the Tuatha at Tessa's
invitation.  Tessa has some kind of specialist she wants your troops to meet,
and Kazuma tells the log he's sorry Ruri and the others have to miss this.

Tessa and Kaname get reacquainted after about a year apart, and Kaname wonders
if anything has actually progressed with Tessa and Sousuke after her confession
of love.  Tessa didn't ask her here to discuss that though; she wants instead
to talk about the Whispered.  Like Kaname, Tessa is one of them: a human who
knows things they should have no means of knowing, and capable of bringing
those things forth on occasion.  Only a few tens of such people have been
officially confirmed in the entire world, and all of them are sought as
storehouses of Black Technology.  Under the right conditions, they can provide
the key to vast technological leaps, even ones who are raised with no knowledge
of their gift.  It can take years of physical and mental maturation, but they
all eventually begin hearing the Whispering.  At that point, they become
effectively geniuses, as Kaname's own grades are beginning to show.  The
ultimate proof is her acumen in defusing bombs and so forth in the past
battles.

To give an idea of what's possible, Tessa tells Kaname that she designed the
Tuatha before she was even 15.  She wants Kaname to understand just how
dangerous using her powers can be: trying to _force_ the Whispers to come can
destroy the mind.  Indeed, some have already been irreparably damaged.  No real
surprise that some people are going out of their way to try to capture
Whispered, including Gauron and Bionet.  Tessa is going to question Gauron,
who's now imprisoned aboard the Tuatha, as soon as Kalinin gets back... and
won't tell Kaname what happens to him afterward.

Whoever has been furnishing Gauron his weapons is capable of outfitting AS's
with Lambda Drivers - meaning they've got at least one Whispered on their side.
Kaname isn't sure what she can do in the face of that, but Tessa tells her one
important thing: keep believing in Sousuke.  Tessa admits to being a bit
jealous of how Sousuke stayed in Japan after the breakup of the Wärter, all in
order to protect Kaname.  She informs Kaname that she hasn't raised the white
flag on Sousuke yet though, and says that Kaname's behind her in points since
she hasn't admitted to herself that she loves Sousuke too.

If that caught Kaname off guard, she gets even more surprised when the Tuatha's
crew gives her a formal salute for all she's done so far for the good guys'
side.  Everyone except the always relaxed Kurz is in on the salute, and the
thanks extends to all the Wärter folks for helping save Mithril's bacon.  As
soon as the formal thanks are over, it's party time for both your valiant band
of people and for the Tuatha's "half million kilometer" party.  Mao asks Kazuma
if he's gotten any better in the past year, and he challenges her to one of
those "nude marathons" from before.  Nobody thinks Kazuma has a chance in hell,
but Mao at least is quite happy to oblige with any physical activity
(triathlon, rock-climbing, etc.) Kazuma can come up with.

Lowe meanwhile is surveying the incredible submarine, different enough from a
spaceship to attract notice.  Lowe thinks it's like a treasure chest, but Tessa
tells him it's actually been referred to as a "Toybox" by both the Feds and
Zaft for its unwillingness to cooperate with either side.  Rather than mixing
it up with either military, the Tuatha prefers to flee into the depths of the
ocean and keep its affiliation secret.  Tessa promises to show the
mechanically-inclined Lowe around more of the sub if time permits later.

Kurz then kicks off a grand bingo match, with the prizes furnished by your own
people, including a handgun from the extensive collection Renais keeps somehow
hidden under her coat.  Kurz manages to finagle Tessa to furnish the top prize:
a passionate kiss, and the menfolk are now more fired up than they usually get
in battle, making some of the women shake their heads in sorrow.

However, a pokerface convention is underway elsewhere.  Sousuke admits to Trowa
that he can't get in a party mood so long as "that man" is on board.  It
probably wasn't a good idea to have him assigned to guard Gauron though, since
Gauron seems to have the singular ability to provoke Sousuke with words.
Despite this, Sousuke doesn't want to trade shifts with McAllen...  Fortunately
for everyone, the shift change is an order, and McAllen adds that the
long-haired Kaname is looking for him.  Gauron smirks that it's so hot with the
two of them that he thought the ship's thermostat was broken.  Sousuke heads
off, and Trowa is about to follow until he notices a kiss mark the color of
Tessa's lipstick on McAllen's cheek.  Guess we know who won the bingo match.
Unfortunately, this may be the last good luck he ever has in his life, if
Gauron has anything to say about it...

Sousuke finds Kaname, wandering around and claiming she got lost on the way to
the bathroom.  Her attempts at levity quickly fall flat though: Sousuke still
blames himself severely for nearly getting Mao killed, and the Lambda Driver
for being an unreliable, voodoo gadget unworthy of being called a "weapon".
She tries to suggest he rest, but he tells her he's not the least bit tired,
and to not think she's knowledgeable about what he needs.  He flatly tells her
that he's a mercenary, not a hero like Kouji or Gai.  All he wanted was a
normal job with normal gear, but ever since the hijacking he's had one long
string of jobs that aren't suited to him at all - including guarding Kaname's
ass.  First shocked, then furious, Kaname yells back that she never asked for
his protection, and tells him to just quit if it's going to keep that
long-suffering mask on his face.  He tells her that that won't happen, since
he's the only one who can do the job, and observes that she's the tired one
here.  She tells him she's not tired, she's worried about him - and he tells
her to get back to the party.  After she walks off and leaves Sousuke to brood,
Kurz comes out of nowhere and levels Sousuke with a punch to the jaw.  He tells
Sousuke that he heard the whole thing, and couldn't stand another word of
Sousuke's hero talk.  Sousuke doesn't know what he's talking about, so Kurz
tells Sousuke Sousuke's whining because he didn't get to save the day, even to
the point of fibbing to a woman.  Kurz may not be the most articulate person
around, but he tells Sousuke he should be familiar enough with the ups and
downs of the battlefield, and that he should NOT make girls cry in any event.
Shouting that Sousuke isn't the only one involved with the Arbalest winning in
battle, Kurz stalks off again.

Tessa has come to find where Sousuke and Kaname went, but she doesn't get a
chance to ask what happened between her and Sousuke before Gauron walks over.
He takes them hostage and makes his way to the bridge, where the Tuatha starts
an emergency surfacing maneuver.  He gets on the horn and says that McAllen and
Trowa have been sent on a little journey, one from which they'll likely never
return.  Gauron has completely sealed the bridge area, and unless you plan to
sink the ship there's no way to enter by force.  He adds that this is what you
get for being so intent on stopping terrorism.

Some new guests show up: the Zaft under commander Morashim, with some of the
Zaft G-boys in tow after fishing them out of the desert.  Yzak doesn't like how
Aslan has gone on ahead to look for the Strike, even if it was on Creuset's
orders.  Gauron explains that parties always have surprise guests, and doesn't
seem too worried about the fact that the Tuatha's sinking is likely to mean his
own death.  What Tessa wants to know is how Gauron was able to get DARNA to
accept his commands.  It turns out there was someone in Mithril willing to sell
the Tuatha's secrets, letting a certain genius on his side easily invade the
system.  Tessa knows who he must be talking about, and Gauron says that she'll
probably end up meeting him now, given how smoothly things have been going.  Of
course, Tessa now knows precisely why the Marimea army had such impressive
tech.  She'll have to wait to do anything about it until the little Zaft vs.
Wärter battle gets settled.  Actually, Gauron doesn't like your people ignoring
him to concentrate on the Zaft, so he plunges into battle too.

  Tessa knows that she won't be able to regain control of the Tuatha through
  ordinary means with "him" holding the reins.  Her only choice is the Ready
  Chapel, but that will take some finesse.  Luckily, she can communicate
  telepathically with Kaname, and has a favor to ask of her.  She's not sure
  she can do it, and can't keep her mouth shut so as not to be noticed by
  Gauron.  Tessa uses a derringer to buy Kaname some time to run, getting
  knocked unconscious for her pains.  Kaname runs off down the hall, and Gauron
  leaves the Tuatha on autopilot while he runs off after her.

  Kaname finds the "Key" in Tessa's room, but now has to make her way to the
  Ready Chapel, wherever that is.  Note that Sousuke hasn't actually sortied
  into battle by this point.  That's because he's been roaming the halls,
  opening fire and warding off Gauron when he catches up with her.  They put
  enough room between them and Gauron to have a Discussion Moment(tm).  Sousuke
  is busily asking if she's hurt or whatnot when she tells him that she's not
  some kind of luggage for him to carry around.  She denies even that she was
  so afraid when faced with Gauron, but trails off, and Sousuke tells her he
  has something to say to her.  Whatever it is will have to wait since Gauron
  catches up and a gunbattle erupts.  She promises to show him that she can do
  stuff on her own, and tells him to finish whatever he wanted to say when the
  see each other again.

  She makes it to the Ready Chapel, recognizing the TAROS Omnisphere system
  from the Arbalest's cockpit (though this one is older).  This one is
  connected to the ship's controls instead of a Lambda Driver, but Kaname
  quickly figures out what Tessa wants her to do.

  Isaac is worth an Anti-Beam Coating S.  Dearka is worth a High Performance
  Radar and a Support Defense +1.  Nicol is worth a Multi-Lockon System and a
  Cooperation+1.  The flagship is worth a Large Generator and a BP+1.  Getting
  defeated makes the captain mad, and he plans to simply ram the "Toybox".
  However, some strange display comes on the monitor from Kaname, and Tessa
  orders the ship to emergency dodge - which it does.  The Zaft commander,
  shocked and awed, thinks the Tuatha's commander must have balls of steel.
  Gauron demands to know what kind of magic Tessa used to get control back, and
  Tessa tells him that his noncomprehension means that "he" must not trust him
  very much.

  As for who was controlling the ship just now, it was Kaname: the ship's
  mechanisms have become her organs.  Tessa orders Sousuke to capture Gauron,
  and authorizes him to shoot him dead if need be.  The Zaft commander simply
  won't give up on taking you out, but Tessa isn't planning to stick around
  long enough to let him.  Gauron is able to somehow make his way to his AS and
  flee, Lambda Driver and all.  But Sousuke is in pursuit, setting up a "final
  battle" where "no one can interfere".  Gauron is extra eager to take down
  Sousuke, not as part of a job, but personally.  Sousuke remembers his promise
  to Kaname, and isn't planning to break it.  He activates his Lambda Driver,
  and Gai yells some advice: don't think, _feel_.  Mao tells him to be sure he
  gets revenge for McAllen.

  The Zaft commander is worth a Clown Mask and a Multicombo +1.  Gauron is
  worth a High Performance Thruster, a Support Attack +1, and an Infight +1.
  Gauron is ever the bad loser, and plans to trap Sousuke with him so both will
  be caught in his mech's explosion.  Happily, the Lambda Driver protects
  Sousuke - as he willed it to.  It seems the Zaft have decided that they've
  lost enough men and ships and are pulling out, but Gimlet is still at it and
  working hard to sink the Tuatha.

  It was indeed Gimlet who let Gauron out in the first place, and he's got both
  Tessa and Kaname in hand as he flees.  Sousuke tries to follow, but all
  system are overheated and he's effectively immobilized.  It's now clear that
  Gauron's last act was to allow both Whispered to get abducted.  With the
  Tuatha crippled and no forces in reserve, your people are helpless for now.

McAllen is indeed toast, and Trowa is badly injured, as is the Tuatha itself.
Kaname and Tessa are now in the hands of whoever was pulling Gauron's strings -
or perhaps in the hands of some other equally sinister buyer.  Everyone agrees
that stealing them back is top priority, and for that the SRT operatives are to
be attached to the Neue Wärter.  Sousuke is of course along for the ride, and
hasn't left his Arbalest since the previous mission ended.  Kalinin passes
along two messages for Sousuke: one, this turn of events isn't his fault, and
two, the only hope of victory is for him to master his mech.  Time for the
Wärter to get back to work dismantling whoever is responsible for all the chaos
gripping the Earth Sphere.

Even Kurz can't believe that the party turned into such a tragedy.  D-Boy and
Gai warn that it will take more than a sense of vengeance to take down your
enemy, who are going to be doing their best to hurt you and those supporting
you as well.  What you need is discernment, and clues as to what the enemy is
up to.  One thing is certain: there's no time to be depressed.  Speaking of
which, it's proving very hard to pry Sousuke away from tinkering with his mech
to do stuff like... eat.  Your people assure both him and Trowa that it's
Gauron who was at fault here, not them.  Sousuke knows that it was nobody's
fault, but still blames himself for not carrying out his mission.  Far from
being the hero, he berates himself as an incompetent.  The crew heads off to
the dining hall, leaving him to turn out the hangar lights alone.  After some
contemplation, he orders his mech to freeze the Lambda Driver, vowing never to
use it again.


37. [Route split]

Mithril and GGG have pooled their resources and figured out that the Bionet
agent has left the Mediterranean and headed for Orb.  This neutral nation opens
its arms to anyone who isn't headed there for military purposes, and is
believed to be where Bionet will hand over the captives to whoever is footing
the bill.  Odds seem high that they're planning to send the girls to space
using Orb's mass driver, but Renais points out they might also be trying to
decoy you away from the meeting in Paris.  Time to split up again: the Gundam
and Nadesico folks to Orb [mission 37O], and GGG to Paris [mission 37P].  As
you split up, it seems clear that Sousuke hasn't recovered yet - not
necessarily because Sousuke loves Kaname that much, but because he feels
himself a failure as an agent.  This reminds Duo a lot of Heero, and even if
Kaname isn't Sousuke's beloved, he still cares about her a lot.

The handoff of the girls indeed happens, and the buyer isn't entirely happy
that Bionet tried to raise the price.  Gimlet and the mysterious "K", who works
for a "Mister Fe" clearly don't like each other, but content themselves with
the transaction being completed.  With a smirk, K tells Gimlet to have a hell
of a time in Paris.


37O. Heiwa no Kuni no Kaminari ("The Thunder of a Peaceful Nation")

Cagalli is being held "prisoner" by Aslan, apparently just the two of them
alone on an island after a fearsome battle that left both of them sans mech.
Cagalli tried stealing Aslan's gun once, nearly getting both of them killed in
the process.   This certainly wasn't what Aslan expected from his recon
mission.  Cagalli tells him that she's fighting in part because she hates both
the Federation army and the Zaft, who seem to have ample good cause on both
sides to hate each other already.  After realizing that talk of war won't
accomplish anything, Aslan smiles and notes that Cagalli reminds him of his
best friend, who's always so serious and always throws so much of himself into
everything he does.  The two decide to split up and go wait for their
respective teams to rescue them.

Your team has been admitted into Orb thanks to your special status, but things
are pretty complicated given Orb's fabrication of the five Gundams for the
Feds.  Former leader Uzumi resigned after the incident, but still retains his
influence and is supposedly still pulling strings from the shadows.  Uzumi also
has a daughter, who rumor has it has just returned home from a recon mission
during which she got shot down.  Ruri and the leaders are off chatting with
Uzumi, and Horis and Harry are helping the Orb military look for the Whispered.
The rest of your people are to fan out in the city and ask questions the old
fashioned way.

With open ocean on all sides, it's very hard to exclude the possibility of
sinister forces lurking in Orb... forces like your people, for instance.
There's no practical way to check all IDs, so you've got to simply ask likely
looking people for information.  This gives the womanizers a chance to
proposition the citizenry, though only until 5PM when everyone is to
rendezvous.

Lowe literally bumps into Yzak and the Zaft G-boys, who barely keep their
identity secret.  Zaft now knows that your people are in the Orb, and resolve
to strike them.  Aslan isn't with the group, having gone instead to investigate
Morgenleite.  There, he's run into Kira, who reiterates that Aslan is his
friend before the two have to split up again and head back to their respective
comrades.  Kira cries a bit over this, but is resolved that the day will come
when they can go back to being friends again.

David has propositioned what he (and everyone else too) thinks is a woman, but
is actually a dude.  David can somehow tell that the person is a tourist, and
doesn't actually try to ask about the Whispered.  He and the man seem to hit it
off, and David promises to one day buy the guy a drink to apologize for calling
him a woman.

Three days of inquiries turn up the fact that the two girls were here, but not
much more.  Professor has been busy during that time with her friend Erika
Simmons, who is interested in meeting the P02's pilot.  It somehow comes as a
major shock that this woman is the designer of the "Red Frame".  Cagalli swings
by to berate Lowe and the people for all the trouble the P02 has caused before
huffing off again.  Taking her place are the bevy of female Gundam pilots,
sizing Lowe up for how hot he is.  When they compare him to Murakumo, Lowe is
amazed to hear that his one-time comrade is in Orb too, and sticks up for
Murakumo's helper Kazahana.  They assure her that Kazuma is doing well, and
Juri takes delight in revealing herself in her Marine persona to Lowe.

What they want Lowe to do is coach the female test pilots, whose mecha have
been enhanced with the data from the P02.  Their purpose is as a Self-Defense
Force for Orb, and Lowe enthusiastically accepts the assignment.  Training will
have to wait until the M1 is fixed: the Archangel was in town after all, which
would cause mass commotion if the information got out.  They've already left
for the Federation Alaska base, so Erika had enough breathing room to prepare
something else for Lowe - a test case for the P02.  Juri wants to tag along,
and doesn't seem to be fazed when Lowe declines.

Out in the wilderness, battle has been joined, and Tolle just got himself
messily killed on his first real sortie into battle.  Aslan yells to Kira that
Kira killed Nicol first, and it's to be a battle of the Seed-bearers.  As
battle rages, Aslan demands that Kira come back to his fellow Coordinators.  He
also says that he went easy on Kira for being his old friend, resulting in
Nicol's death as Nicol tried to shield him.

  Even when Kira gets the upper hand, Aslan won't give up and won't forgive
  Kira for his transgressions.  He grabs onto Kira's mech, and catches both of
  them in the blast as his mech explodes.

Lowe arrives on the scene equipped with Erika's new flight unit in time to see
the battle over.  8 can discern the remains of a battle between Zaft and
Archangel forces.  One of the mecha, though burnt nearly to a crisp, has an
intact cockpit, but before Lowe can go try to save the pilot within, a new mech
approaches: the Gold Frame.  Its pilot is no more forgiving than she was back
at Graveyard, but Lowe figures that anyone who doesn't value saving life needs
to get their ass kicked.  The female pilot insists that the P02 share this
dance with the refurbished P01.

  The combat prowess of the other pilot is almost surely that of a Coordinator,
  but Lowe isn't going to just throw in the towel because of it.  In fact, he
  smacks down the P01 despite its modifications, but its pilot can't understand
  why Lowe places so much value on "life".  She figures he's not even worth
  killing, and vows to end his life the next time he appears before her.

He quickly gets to work rescuing the pilot, and the rest of your people rush to
the scene as well, fearing the Archangel may have been involved.  Erika seems
worried, but doesn't stop your people sortying.  Juri enthusiastically rushes
off to see that her beloved Lowe is safe, and Kazahana tells the timid Kiri
that she's got to fight too if she wants her love to work out.  As they rush
off to their vehicles, Erika tells Professor that it's not the M1 she's worried
about (which is over 98% complete thanks to Lowe and Kira).  What she's
privately worried about is how Lond decided the best thing for Orb's future was
testing the modified P01 on the P02.  The question is, for whom will Orb's
future unfold: Asuha, or Sahaku?

Lowe manages to rescue Kira, who Malchio takes charge of.  Lowe notes that
Kira's MS seems to have saved his life, and as a Junkman he wants to save the
mech's "death".  Malchio has a request for him in return for looking out for
Kira...

Your people arrive and quickly spot the wreckage of the Strike.  Grief over
Kira's apparent fate will have to wait until you search for other survivors...
and Lowe, who is nowhere to be seen.  Just then, a bunch of new adversaries
show up, terrorists by the look of their mecha.  Among them is a familiar-
looking red mech, though Sousuke is positive it couldn't belong to Gauron, who
presumably exploded along with his mech back when.  It's actually piloted by
Gates, who's very pleased to see your famous unit on the field.  The guy seems
rather unhinged, but Ruri calmly orders your troops to defeat the terrorists
first and then interrogate them.  It's going to fall to Sousuke to deal with
the Lambda Driver-equipped leader mech, but he doesn't exactly exude that much
confidence...

  As battle continues, Gates sinks further into madness and psyches himself up
  to try to break through five defenders and score a (soccer) goal.  Once
  again, Sousuke doesn't use his "unreliable" Lambda Driver, but a new
  interloper shows up: it's Clouseau, who has realized that the Lambda Driver
  exposes its user to any tiny gap in their breathing.  He calls Sousuke out
  for being a second rate warrior before helping your side fight.  Gates
  responds with a reinforcement of his own, Tekkaman "Dead", apparently made by
  Earthlings and _not_ the Space Knights!  Dead doesn't take kindly at all to
  Gates trying to order him around in battle, but is willing to fight since
  Blade is on your side.

  The two sisters have a "teacher" who is apparently Sousuke's enemy, and take
  care to leave the battle before they get too badly damaged.

  Dead isn't worth any loot but a lot of XP and money.  He doesn't seem
  impressed with your dudes' skillz, and says he'll have to have his fun later.
  He leaves, figuring he's already repaid his debt to Gates, and tells Gates to
  give his regards to the blond-haired guy.  Zomar demands that he wait and
  tell them all who Battle Formatted him, and he says the "blue water and
  silver galaxy".  Gates thinks he can discipline the Tekkaman after the
  battle, I think he's wrong.

  Gates says that he'll be happy to let Sousuke meet Gauron aka Mister Fe in
  the depths of hell, but your people have other ideas.  His braggart ass is
  worth an EN Megachip and a Gunfight +1.  He decides to head home before his
  "mama gets mad at him", cloaking his exit behind high-level ECS.

As everyone starts looking for survivors, Clouseau departs, saying you'll be
formally introduced tomorrow.  He didn't leave much of a good first impression,
and Sousuke is left to ponder being a second-rate warrior.  Lowe then
resurfaces, happy to help out in the search for survivors but wondering what
the heck Malchio is up to, keeping Kira's rescue a secret.  Kiri tearfully
regreets Lowe, and it looks like Juri might not get a romance in edgewise.

You find only one survivor, the Zaft warrior Aslan.  Your immediate concern
must be for who you'll be fighting next, and it's likely to be the terrorists
who have the Whispered - probably still somewhere in Orb judging by the ambush
you ran into.  Any terrorists with their own Tekkamen are much to be feared,
though Dead left that strange code for you to ponder for more info about them.
Kazuma isn't nearly as fast to decipher the riddle as Duo and Horis, who
determine that your enemies are Blue Cosmos and a group called "Amalgam" - one
of Mithril's archenemies.  These formidable arms developers and merchants have
technology at least as high as Mithril itself, and would seem to be in the pay
of Blue Cosmos at this rate.  With their own store of Whispered, it's unlikely
that they hired Bionet to get more - there's yet some fourth party involved.
You now know you've got to lock down Amalgam's assets in the area.

As for Sousuke, Kurz knows he cut the Lambda Driver in the previous battle.
Mao is sympathetic to Sousuke's desire not to use the black magical gadget, but
everyone remembers the statement that unless he can master the thing, there's
no chance of victory.  As things currently stand, it's doubtful he _could_ use
it even if ordered to, and Duo figures that the perennial order- follower
Sousuke has no hope of figuring that one out.  Thinking about it, Mao notes
that circumstances have never given Sousuke a chance to chart his own course -
and the occasions he tried, he always seems to overthink things and trip over
his own feet.  Trowa proclaims that as long as he remains a mere "soldier",
he'll never be able to make his way forward - the very picture of Wufei's
"soldier knowing nothing but battle".

It seems Tekkaman Dead was the mystery "man", and Gates tracks him down with
word that Mister A9 no longer needs him.  The area is surrounded by MS's, and
Gates orders the man wiped out before he can transform, but some force wipes
out all the MS's in an instant.  The blast was a Boltekka, and Tekkaman Evil is
on hand to shoo Gates away.  Shinya can give the man a place to put his powers
to good use, and a chance to take down Tekkaman Blade...


37P. Ankoku Kara no Shinryakusha ("Intruder from the Darkness")

Kazuma notes in the log that the Valstork's repairs have been taking quite a
while... long enough for the Orb contingent to find out some clues as to the
Whispered's whereabouts.  The ever-critical Renais has already left for Paris,
and Kazuma notes that she's actually kind of cute on the occasions she keeps
her sharp tongue sheathed.  Kouji and the others are already acting as security
for the Federation meeting, and Kazuma supposes that with them on the job he's
got time to spend daydreaming of some love affair on the banks of the Seine.
His reverie is interrupted by Carret, who's been into fortune telling lately
and got an omen for Kazuma to beware of girl troubles.  This actually pleases
Kazuma, because it means he gets to _meet_ a girl before the year is out - a
step in the right direction, apparently.  It's all part of the Trailer Maxim
that "Trouble Brings Prosperity, Difficulty is a hairsbreadth away from
Opportunity".

Kazuma's full dweebishness is revealed when it turns out that the people who
had Carret fetch Kazuma to the meeting step into his room.  Mikoto can only
manage a faint "best of luck", and while Akane can understand Kazuma's
feelings, she's morally obligated to tell him how sad he is.  Mihiro has
actually been brought to tears by how lame her brother turns out to be.
Wouldn't you know that _this_ was the girl trouble Carret was alluding to.

Rose is reporting on the sad state of mankind's struggles against the
increasing Radam and Eviluder threat, and says that the clear best option for
victory is making peace with the Plants and suppressing the Martian Successors
to regain access to Mars.  She's already been working on the preliminaries to
talks with Plant leader Siegel Klein.  General Corbett protests that it makes
no sense for the executariat to be suing for peace while the military carries
on the war: what will the common people think?!  Rose says that she and her
branch of government are doing their job, just as the military is doing its
during this apparently unavoidable war.  She reminds him that both sides have
also committed major atrocities (nuclear weapons, Neutron Jammers), and says
that she wants to establish conditions for an equal peace to pave the way
forward for mankind.  Corbett assents surprisingly easily, with the additional
request that plans be made ready for decisive military action should
negotiations fail.  Rose, no fool, realizes from the meekness of his assent
that the military must think they can upset the peace process on their own.
What Corbett wants to do is unite mankind through force.

Taiga then reports the scientific findings of the GGG and their academic
collaborators regarding THE POWER, the Q-Parts and the Boson Jump calculation
unit.  All of them are judged to be beyond mankind's current scientific and
moral grasp, and ought to be guarded against use by anyone.  This time Corbett
speaks up, ridiculing the prospect of not using such limitless energy sources
to counteract the Neutron Jammers.  Taiga reminds him that those energy sources
have already been shown to be dangerously out of control, and capable of
harming the whole of mankind if misused.  This is not to say that GGG is
sitting on its hands: it's close to developing a counter to the Neutron
Jammers, and is researching ways of controlling the Q-Parts.  Corbett blames
the GGG for letting Bionet steal one of the Q-Parts, and thinks they'd be much
better off as weapons in the military's hands.  He's a dunce, but a dangerous
dunce.  It's pretty clear that the rift between the executariat and the
military is only feeding the Plants' own ambitions.  Forreston knows that
unless mankind solves this internal conflict, Rose's prophecies of doom and
gloom will come true in a hurry.

Kouji sounds almost sad that your people won't have much to do with the
military already guarding Paris.  Ryouma is more cautious, reminding you all
that there's no telling when and how the enemy might strike.  For example, a
seemingly innocuous street vendor turns out to be Gimlet, who proudly recounts
all the trouble he went through to abduct Kaname and Tessa.  Before Kouji and
crew have figured out what's going on, Renais appears, determined to beat the
location of the Q-Parts out of Gimlet.  It turns out he's actually carrying the
gadget around with him...

Gimlet has prepared for the confrontation by distributing parts for the Bionet
mech all over town, which have just reassembled into one big heaping of
trouble.  The Red Dragons show up to try to fend him off, and get summarily
pummeled with far greater force than you saw back in G-Island City.  There's
now a gaping hole in the defenses of the conference, and plenty more Bionet
robots to charge through it.  Unfortunately for him, Renais and your super
robot pilots are ready for some throwdown.  Renais tells the dragon sisters to
remain separated to take on so many adversaries.

  Keep pounding Gimlet for a while and he'll call for reinforcements - which
  don't come, thanks to the dragon brothers' efforts.  They're fully restored
  and eager to resume their role as bad-guy trouncers.  What's more, Gai,
  Kazuma and the rest of your folks show up too.  Gimlet isn't fazed though,
  and tries to use the power of the Q-Parts against you.

  Gimlet is worth an EN Megachip and a Gunfight +1.  The Q-Parts survives the
  blast, and Gimlet seems ripe for the picking, despite his pleas that you let
  him live.  A crisp gunshot shows that Renais at least isn't planning on
  leniency, and Kazuma starts praying that this "girl trouble" prophecy doesn't
  pertain to someone as lethal as her.  Just then, out of nowhere comes someone
  named Gorgon, with the body of a tiger - the very person Sousuke said he saw
  during the whole Poniman incident.  Gorgon announces himself to you as a
  bulwark of the Mikeene Empire, which once flourished in ancient times in the
  Mediterranean.  These people fled deep underground to escape fearsome forces
  from another planet, but now they're back and cybernetically enhanced thanks
  to their vast science.  He announces the first step in his people's
  reconquest of the Earth: the utter destruction of all human culture.

  Among his arsenal are a bunch of eerily familiar robot beasties.  Gorgon
  explains that Dr. Hell did nothing more than excavate and modify some Mikeene
  fossils: these are the genuine article.  Kouji doesn't believe the threat
  that the Mikeene are more sophisticated than Dr. Hell, but he certainly
  learns quickly.

  Don't let the seemingly endless supply of bad guys stop you - you've got the
  combined governmental and scientific power of mankind to defend!  Last long
  enough and Shirou brings you Mazinkaiser.  Of course, he and Kaiser promptly
  get captured by Gorgon.  Kouji tries with the last of Mazinger's strength to
  steal Shirou back, but the Great General of the Dark (whoever that is) shows
  up to get in the way.  Kouji gets wrecked, and despite the fact that the bad
  guys have Shirou, and the Q-Parts, AND the conference people haven't
  evacuated, Shihomi orders everyone to get the heck out now.  Tetsuya is
  prepared to drag anyone who resists off the field himself, though he vows to
  pay the Mikeene back one day.

Corbett bitches about your people retreating, but Forreston tells him that your
people made the right decision to abandon a losing battle.  The Great General
of the Dark starts broadcasting to the whole world, somehow under the sadly
mistaken impression that Mazinkaiser is somehow the entire hope of mankind.
He's sent his seven generals and mecha-beast legions into the world to
demonstrate his newfound rulership.  He tells you you have but one hope for
salvation: give him the remaining four Q-Parts, within twenty-four hours.

It's pretty clear from what the Bionet agent was able to accomplish at the spur
of the moment that the Q-Parts must not be allowed to fall into the Mikeene's
hands, lest mankind be well and truly defeated.  Liger fills you in on a bit of
top-secret info from the Security Council: if worse comes to worse, they're
ready to take very extreme measures.  That means prioritizing defeating the
enemy over the hostages' lives, and using strategic weaponry to do it.  Horis
quickly realizes that with the Neutron Jammers in play, the Feds must have some
other wide-area death weapon comparable to nukes.  With the Feds tied up
battling the Mikeene world-wide, you're the only ones who could free the
hostages - and you can't wait for the other half of your team to arrive from
Orb.  Kouji is physically unharmed and resting in the infirmary, and Shihomi
announces that you're going to meet to discuss stealing Paris back in two
hours.

When Kouji comes to, your people explain the circumstances to him.  It takes
Tetsuya punching him in the face and pointing out that it was Kouji's initial
underconfidence in not sortying in Kaiser to begin with that resulted in this
mess.  Kouji falls silent, then heads off to try to repair Mazinger with help
from Sayaka, Boss and crew.  After he goes, Tetsuya intones that the Great
General of the Dark has killed Mazinger beyond anything anyone could repair.
He didn't stop Kouji from trying repairs anyway because he well knows that
Kouji simply can't sit still until Shirou is finally rescued.  The flames of
his anger will help refine his soul - and when they do, that's the time to
counterattack the bad guys.  And to help that, Tetsuya has a little trick up
his sleeve, though he admits that it's a pretty lousy bet...


38O. Kare to Kanojo no Mondai ("His and Her Problem")

Aslan wakes up in the Archangel's infirmary to find an intense Cagalli with
questions for him.  She asks if he's the one who took out the Strike, and he
tells her he did more than that: he's killed Kira.  What he can't understand is
how he himself is still alive after trying to blow the both of them up.
Cagalli is beside herself over the death of her kind-hearted, reckless friend,
but Aslan knows all about Kira's nature: after all, they were best friends.
Ever since they were little, Kira has always been gifted, always been a crybaby
- and always a handful to deal with.  Finally showing emotion himself, he
screams to Cagalli that he himself doesn't know why he killed his best friend:
they just somehow became enemies while they were apart!  He tried calling Kira
to his side, the Coordinator side, so many times, but Kira didn't listen, even
killing one of Aslan's own close companions and leaving Aslan little choice but
to kill him too.  He thinks.  That's not good enough for Cagalli, who demands
to know why friends should be killing each other in this stupid war, when both
sides are simply trying to protect what's precious to them.  How the hell is
that supposed to result in peace?!  Much anguish ensues.

It's been a week since your arrival in Orb, but the search for Tessa and Kaname
is going nowhere slow.  Few clues to Amalgam's activities are turning up, and
every anti-terrorist sortie you've gone out on lately has been some kind of
camouflage.  Kazuma tells the log that your people are getting pretty stressed
out, and quarrels are beginning to break out.  He's particularly worried about
Sousuke, still disconsolate, and Ruri, who seems to have been quieter than even
her usual level-headed self.  There's no time to figure out why, with
preparations to hand over the Whispered no doubt underway.  What's more, Liam
and Professor have to head to space to help with the construction of a new
flagship, and Mithril will be sending someone to replace them soon.

The new flagship is of course to replace the destroyed Home, in anticipation of
resuming their garbageman jobs once the fighting is over.  Professor is sure
that all the learnings from the Neue Wärter and Morgenleite, including Lowe's
data from the Red Frame, should result in one heck of a ship.  Liam could have
actually handled the job himself, but Professor has a little "toy" she wants to
try installing - and a little courier job for the Serpent Tail to fulfill.
That would be Malchio's little jaunt to the Plants...

Kurz is trying to get Sousuke to crack his impassive mask at least during
meals, which he's taken to a new level of late.  Sousuke maintains that there's
nothing wrong with him, but his increasing irritation and ongoing refusal to
use the Lambda Driver belie this.  David and Mao start laying down the law with
him, telling him to either put his angst over Kaname aside or to stay behind
and not endanger the rest of them.  Some of your people try to take a milder
tack, but Clouseau shows up for some added verbal abuse.  He starts by
insulting the entire SRT team, including it's commander McAllen, and when Kurz
decks him in the face it looks more like Kurz punched a wall.  Duo is impressed
at this guy's perfect counter-punch, but Quatre starts wondering where he's
seen this guy's fighting style before.

Impressively, Kurz is able to get back to his feet after Clouseau's blow,
though with his legs unstable it's unlikely he'll be able to mount a second
attack.  Sousuke then steps between them, apologizing for Kurz' words but
asking that this mystery man take back his affront to McAllen.  Said mystery
man outranks Sousuke, and asks whether Sousuke could actually strike a superior
if the man refused.  Assuming of course that Sousuke isn't a total incompetent.
Sousuke hesitates, and Lowe yells at him to kick the man's ass or else he'll do
it himself.  Sousuke stands unmoving, and Clouseau observes that Sousuke seems
incapable of acting without orders - the main reason why his tactics are so
lousy.  Clouseau asks if Sousuke understands the difference between "skill" and
"art" in combat, and Sousuke's puzzlement explains why Clouseau called him
"second-rate" back when.

Your crew now recognizes the pilot of the mysterious black AS that saved
Sousuke: Belfangan Clouseau, McAllen's replacement as commander of SRT and the
new Urzu-1.  With introductions out of the way, Clouseau pours on the
lecturing.  He tells Sousuke that he isn't able to utilize the Arbalest's
rightful power because he insists on treating it like an ordinary jeep or
helicopter.  Sousuke asks what's wrong with that, forcing Clouseau to tell him
straight out that it's his fault for hating the mech.  Every move Sousuke makes
is tentative: distrusting, and bashful.  Though his moves are obviously
professional, they're also totally lacking in the "heart" they should have.
This is a problem that goes far beyond the Lambda Driver.

He tells Sousuke that the AS's they use aren't just vehicles: they're highly
evolved weapons that let their pilots transform the intent in their heart
directly into action.  That small difference makes the crucial difference
between victory and defeat in the highest level battles.  He tells Sousuke to
ponder the fact that no one without confidence in their own power will prevail
against the coming enemies.  Kurz asks what Clouseau plans to do: train them
like Spartans or something?  Clouseau will do precisely that, but he also
prohibits Sousuke from boarding an AS and won't permit a single word of
protest.  Sousuke is instead ordered on complete rest and taken off the
investigation assignment.  Sousuke has just been effectively fired, but
Clouseau then orders his men to disperse and prepare for a very early awakening
tomorrow.

Left alone in the dining hall, Sousuke is then approached by Ruri, who asks if
he's got time tomorrow to accompany her somewhere.  That somewhere turns out to
be an Orb tourist spot on a hill overlooking the ocean.  It's also the last
spot that Akito and Yurika were spotted.  Kazuma actually tagged along behind
them, though he quickly tells Ruri that he'll leave if he's in the way.  She
rather asks him to stay, and explains that Akito and Yurika's marriage only
went through after many attempts by Admiral Misumaru to dissuade them.  They
visited Orb on their honeymoon trip, which finally explains to Kazuma why
Ruri's been so quiet.  Ruri praises his powers of observation, and muses about
Akito, who's become a vengeful specter of his former self over the loss of his
precious lover.

She asks what Kazuma felt when he lost his father.  Kazuma ponders a bit, then
says that while many things went through his head, he ultimately decided to go
on living as a Trailer.  That was the only way of life he could lead, and Ruri
asks Sousuke if he's grasped what she wanted to convey by bringing him here.
After all, she couldn't think of how to convey it in words.  Though easy to
forget, Ruri too is fighting through loss.  She tells Sousuke to get the rest
of the story from a "certain someone", that being Akito himself.

Ruri tells Kazuma that the evidence points to the Martian Successors being the
buyers for the Whispered prisoners.  If so, it would be only natural for Akito
to show up.  She fully believes that Akito will save you all, just as he
promised her back when.  Ruri in fact berates herself for not realizing sooner
the import behind all the disappearances of A-Class Jumpers, "Navigators"
capable of conveying images to the Boson Jump system.  The Successors surely
kidnapped them all, and Ruri readily admits to Akito that she has no idea what
the captives must have gone through during that eight-month span.  Finally
breaking his silence, Akito tells her that she's better off that way.  What
Ruri wants to know is why Akito didn't tell her he was back, and Kazuma isn't
satisfied when Akito says there was no need.  He might not be one to talk, but
he's determined to make Akito understand how much his comrades missed him - by
force if necessary.  Akito flatly orders Kazuma to freeze, protecting him from
a Successor's strike.

The group of them are surrounded, and Akito tells Kazuma that this is none of
his concern and to flee.  Unfortunately, that won't be possible under the
circumstances, and Kazuma yells at Sousuke to do something.  Sousuke says it's
futile, that there's too many adversaries.  Hokuten tells his men to kill
everyone but Akito and the second pale artificial fairy.  Smirking, he says the
Earthlings can't seem to decide whether they like or dislike genetic
engineering, and tells Ruri that she'll make a splendid guinea pig in his lab.
He makes a fine speech about how he's the shadow of the Martian Successors and
how his inhuman acts are all in the service of a new world order, but a
newcomer on the scene finds this intensely hilarious.

It's Genichirou, who's been missing ever since the peace treaty with Jupiter
was signed.  Apparently the rumors of his committing suicide in repentance for
his attack on his friend Tsukumo have been a bit overstated.  Genichirou
declares that indeed new order can only be achieved after destruction and
chaos: the natural pangs before childbirth.  But Kusakabe's side is without
merit, and Genichirou has brought Gort and some Nergal troops to surround the
Successors, who were overly fixated on Akito to their peril.  Hokuten still
smiles as he asks what will happen if he refuses to surrender, and Genichirou
tells him he'll be sent to hell.

The Successors decide to fight back, and Sousuke ends up having to protect
Ruri.  At first he doesn't see how he can, and his "cowardice" nearly costs
everyone before Kazuma shouts that Ruri is about to suffer Kaname's fate.  At
the last possible moment, his hardened warrior's instincts take charge of his
limited body and result in a perfect kill shot on Hokuten's slippery servant.
Sousuke seems genuinely shocked that he is still able to fight, as Genichirou
tells Hokuten that his evil sword has no future to look forward to.  Hokuten is
able to perform a stand-alone Jump and get his remaining men out of the area,
but Akito says they can't have gone far.  Presumably they've gone back to
wherever the handover of the Whispered is to occur, and Sousuke tells Akito
that he wants to go along and help too.  Akito reads in Sousuke's eyes that his
spirit isn't dead yet, and tells him to follow.

The combined terrorist and Successor forces make an imposing picture.  No doubt
the Successors have something dreadful planned for your people, but first you
have to deal with Gates, who tells you not to mind him as he burns down Orb's
cities for daring to proclaim themselves disconnected from the wars engulfing
the globe.  Uzumi is watching the carnage with Relena at his side, asking her
what his false government can do in the face of the forces encircling the
neutral nation.  Cagalli for one isn't going to stand by and watch, not caring
that her M1 hasn't yet been battle-tested.  She insists that no one of the
Asuha bloodline could stand by and watch their nation be burned.  Uzumi wants
Relena to bear witness to the results of power opposing power, to the struggle
between Asuha and Sahaku.  Ruri meanwhile is counting on Akito and Sousuke to
save Tessa and Kaname...

  One of the twins is late to battle due to machine troubles, and Gates reminds
  them what their stupid Teacher told them.  He quickly corrects himself for
  badmouthing the guy in front of them, explaining that he's still in a bad
  mood after losing his Tekkaman.  What he needs to do is make a girl or two
  scream to improve his mood.  Yu Lan thinks to her absent sister that she
  hates this guy.

  Yu Lan is worth a Large Magazine and an Inner Strength+1.  Somehow in touch
  with her sister, she announces that her mech is having mechanical troubles
  and leaves the battlefield.  Gates shakes his head at this, and wonders if he
  ought to sell those useless sisters off to someone instead.

  As the battle rages outside, it becomes audible to Tessa and Kaname, who seem
  to be imprisoned with no guards immediately in sight.  That changes when the
  Martian Successors arrive, prepared to take no guff from the girls and
  preparing to send both girls to "him" on the double.  Before Tessa is taken
  away, the girls ask each other whether they believe in Sousuke to save them.
  Before Kaname is taken to join Tessa, the Amalgam man who kidnapped her
  apparently has something to say to her...

Sousuke and Genichirou have infiltrated the enemy base, and tell Akito to hurry
ahead while they hold the bad guys off here.  Meanwhile Leonard is plying
Kaname with a vexing string of babble, talk of fate and paradoxes and whatnot.
Leonard, who claims to be kin to her, tells her that overstating things with
fallible words, as is her wont, is just as bad as what he's doing, though it
makes her attractive too.  Kaname suddenly realizes from the man's silver hair
that this must be Tessa's brother, also known as Mister A9.  The Successors
tell him that his time is up, but he turns that phrase back on them as Yu Lan
appears with guns blazing.  Her teacher has told her to erase Kaname, which
Leonard was expecting.  In fact, he left the Whispered alone precisely to lure
her in, and he has Hokuten try to take her down.

He apparently succeeded, and prepares to drag Kaname off to help with his whole
destruction and chaos thing.  Kaname tells him he didn't have to kill the girl,
but he tells her that Yu Lan's death was as nothing compared to the events to
come.  Kaname is appalled at Hokuten's disregard for human life, and insists
that Sousuke isn't in the same boat due to his hard-knocks upbringing and for
all the innocents he's saved.  Kaname starts babbling, though when Leonard asks
if she loves Sousuke she won't own up to it.  He makes to kiss her, saying that
he's now fallen in love with her.  Sousuke arrives just in time for Hokuten and
Leonard to leave the building, fleeing via Boson Jump.  Sousuke radios in and
orders the Arbalest to be launched right quick, telling Harry to fuck the order
prohibiting him from using it.  Ruri complies, and this time it seems Sousuke
is more than happy to use his mech to pursue the Whispereds' captors.

Lapis shows up with Akito's mech to aid in pursuit, making Gates intensely
jealous.  Yu Fan also joins the battle, mentally telling her sister that she'll
be following her shortly.  She's determined to take Sousuke out first though.
Sousuke doesn't appear in much mood to be delayed...

  Yu Fan is worth a Megabooster and a BP+1.  When beaten down, she realizes she
  can no longer return to the organization and leaves the battlefield, much to
  Gates' irritation.

  One of Hokuten's men has an Apogee Motor and an Infight +1.  Another has a
  Large Generator and a Gunfight +1.  Gates is worth a Hyper Sensor and a Max
  SP+5.  As he gets smacked around, a bunch of the Great General of the Dark's
  minions appears (see the other path for this broadcast).  Gates is overjoyed
  at the chaos they sow, thinking that his era has finally arrived.  Sousuke is
  about to run off in pursuit of Gates when Clouseau reminds him that Orb still
  needs saving.

The monsters are fairly easily dispatched, but the Whispered have now been
taken out of your search radius.  Ruri says that there's no further point in
lingering here, adding that although you weren't able to save the girls, a ray
of hope has been reborn.  For Akito, this is a distinctly Pyhrric victory.  At
length, he tells you that the Successors hope to use the Whispereds' knowledge
to unlock the secrets of the Ruins, and when they do, Kusakabe will launch
all-out war.  This will be a sort of mass-scale terrorism, and before that
happens, Akito has something he wants to hand to Ruri.  It's his prized ramen
recipe, and as she almost never does Ruri cries out in anguish that she can't
accept such a thing from him.  Your people urge him that he'll need the recipe
when he gets Yurika back and starts his own restaurant, but he tells Ruri that
the Akito she knew is dead.  He says he at least wants her to have some proof
that he once existed, though she protests bitterly that he's just trying to
sound cool.

He tells her she's wrong, and for the first time he regains his gentle tone.
Explaining that during all the experiments on him they messed with his head, he
takes off his visor, revealing veins of glowing energy pulsing through his
skin.  He tells Ruri that his senses, in particular his sense of taste, are
ruined, and adds that he now glows whenever he experiences strong emotion -
just like some stupid cartoon character.  Replacing his visor, he says that
he'll never be able to make ramen for her again.  But Sousuke still has time to
recover what he's lost, and Akito tells him it's too early to despair, as he
himself has.

To add to the confusion, Harry has received a message addressed for Sousuke.
It reads: "To my beloved Sergeant Sagara.  The lives of your commander and
girlfriend are safe for now.  'They' must treat the Whispered carefully, after
all.  Let us have a challenge to see whether 'they' can control them before you
can rescue them.  I await your valor in battle.  Mister A9." Sousuke has no
idea who this could be, but says that your people aren't yet out of options.
He then tells his new commanding officer that he's prepared to be punished for
breaking the prohibition against AS use, and seeming satisfied with this,
Clouseau tells him that he's going to undergo training from dusk to dawn.  The
plan is to correct all Sousuke's internal flaws before worrying about
perfecting using the Lambda Driver.  As the old saying goes, "a living pup is
better than a dying lion".  He orders Sousuke to get back to the ship and
service his mech as your people hurry off to Paris to help with this new
Mikeene menace.

As Sousuke hurries off, Mao recalls that McAllen loved that particular proverb.
Clouseau muses that Sousuke reminds him of himself when he was young, always
focused inward and trying to mold himself into other people's expectations,
even though by turning outward he could easily shove those expectations aside.
It's up to him whether he emerges victorious, or ends up a whipped dog on the
face of your adversaries, who have built their self- deception into a hatred of
the whole world, ever so gradually.  It's this slow, sure pace of deepening
enmity that makes them so frightening.  He asks Mao to keep the fact that
Clouseau and McAllen used to fight together from Sousuke, lest Sousuke pull his
punches.

Seina goes to pay a visit to the Sahaku mansion, where she finds Wufei and
Heero.  She tells them that she's more or less here to see the world from the
same vantage point as Relena.  Heero holds his peace, but Wufei allows her to
join them.  She does point out to him that before the war between Sahaku and
Asuha is decided, the world might be ended by the Mikeene.

Elsewhere, Azrael demands to know why Mister A9 sold the two Whispered to the
Martian Successors.  Leonard reminds the Chairman that he's not running a
charity.  If there's a high-paying buyer, he'll gladly pay the seller.  Azrael
openly doubts this, suspecting Leonard of acting out of his own twisted ideas.
Leonard denies this and points to his on-time delivery of Azrael's new weapon
as proof.  Just provide a little anti-matter, and both the Mikeene and everyone
in Paris will be toast.  Azrael sniffs that he'll let it slide, and vows not to
repeat the mistake of keeping Leonard too close to him in the future.  That's
fine with Leonard, who doesn't want to lose a valuable revenue stream.  Leonard
adds that he's looking forward to the Neue Wärter fighting on mankind's behalf.

The Valstork and Nadesico have arrived at the Bay of Bisque, having taken out
four of the Mikeene's seven generals to do it.  Ruri is confident that Kouji
and the others in Paris can hold the line until you can rejoin them.  In fact,
they're busy obliterating the Great General of the Dark with a new combo
attack.  With his dying breaths, the General tells you that with your infinite
energy sources, you might just be able to withstand "Them".  Deprived of their
leader, the Mikeene forces are as good as toast.  While you ponder what he
meant, Kouji recaptures all the missing Q-Parts... or tries to until Aria zooms
in and snags them.  Kazuma demands to know what The Database is up to, but Aria
tells him that they're not "up to" anything.  Information has value precisely
when it's recorded, and Aria tells Mihiro that her new haircut is much cuter
than the old one.  Telling Mihiro that she'll come and take her to live with
everyone one day, she flies off before you can follow.  Was the whole effort to
defeat the Mikeene wasted?!

This is the first time there's been an Aria sighting in a good nine months.  No
one has a goddamn clue what she's up to, but Kazuma notes that the huge mech
that appeared before the Holy Valentine Light is probably one of Aria's
companions - which would make Aria's crew responsible for Bless's death.
Kazuma remembers the Go-Lion folks' dire warning to beware the recorders of
knowledge.  It looks as though Aria has left the atmosphere, leading Shihomi to
wonder if she's really come from outer space.  Space would be convenient, since
presumably the Whispered are being taken to Mars anyway.  But you've got
something to attend to before you can pursue...


38P. Shitou!  Majin tai Daishogun ("Deathmatch!  The Devil vs. The Great
General!")

It's dawn, two hours to go until the operation to retake Paris.  Once Kazuma
finishes the log entry, he's going to go make final preparations for launch.
Everyone retains hope, and he too plans to record a victory in tomorrow's
entry.  Kouji meanwhile is busy acquainting himself with the Gundober, which
he'll be riding into battle.  The bike mecha's tall gears suit Kouji well,
though Hayato warns him that it's radically more powerful than any normal
motorcycle.  Kouji figures that if Gai and Hyuuma can do it, so can he.
Besides, he's got unfinished business - and he knows his role just as well as
Tetsuya knows his, which is why he hasn't gone and said hi to Tetsuya.

Renais adds her voice to give it his best shot, since everything is riding on
the Mazinger pilots, and Gai gives him a "key to victory" to protect him: a
"Hero's Sword" in Kouji's parlance.  Your pumped up crew doesn't have to wait
long to see Shirou and the rest of the hostages.  Corbett is in a major panic
as the Q-Parts deadline approaches, in fear of whatever non-nuclear deathweapon
is about to blow Paris away.  Rose and Taiga tell his pathetic ass to shut up
and try believing in the Neue Wärter.

Bardalar informs his lord that the defenses around the area are impenetrable:
the Neue Wärter are all alone.  The Great General is looking forward to seeing
how they'll fight, and Bardias wonders how they could be expected to do
_anything_ without Mazinger Z or Mazinkaiser.  Dreidou figures their only
option is to meekly hand over the Q-Parts, and the General starts wondering if
he even needed to show up today?  Your people arrive head-on, and the General
presumes that this will be your final act of defiance.

The trash talking pretty much starts at once as Tetsuya orders the General not
to get so full of himself after defeating an already beat-up Mazinger Z.  He
challenges the General to measure up to his grandiose title, and the General
disregards his lieutenants' words of caution.  In fact, he's been incredibly
bored, and not interested in heeding Gorgon's cautionary advice.  All this
hostage drama will be in vain once mankind is wiped out, and in deference to
Tetsuya's skills at trash talk he's decided to show him how much malice he's
stored up for this, his first fight in thousands of years.

  Bardias is worth an Apogee Motor and an Inner Strength +1.  He vows to curse
  even your children, and Kazuma dares him to try it.  If he does, he'll hunt
  him down in the depths of Hell and kick his ass again.  Bardias has no answer
  to that.  Bardalar is worth a Large Generator and a BP +1, astounded that you
  could defeat the lord of the skies in midair.  Gai informs him that the skies
  belong to everyone.  Dreidou is worth a Large Magazine and an Infight +1.
  His claims he can get up time and again to fight you prove rather
  unfounded...

  The Great General is worth a Biosensor and a Max SP +5.  He shakes getting
  killed off as though it were nothing, and Tetsuya admits that this guy is
  living up to his name.  Kouji makes a run for Mazinkaiser, and Tetsuya keeps
  the General from interfering.  Tetsuya gets smacked around, and before Kouji
  can reach his destination Gorgon blasts the Gundober.  Gorgon owns up to the
  knife and bomb assaults during the Poniman incident, and says that he's
  investigated every last thing about Kouji.  Kouji and he get into a running
  gun battle, and Gorgon thinks he's disarmed Kouji as he moves in to fulfill
  his mission as assassin.  Too bad for him Kouji is armed with that sword from
  Gai, made out of Super Alloy-Z, made from the skin of the very Mazinger Z
  that Gorgon thought he defeated.

  Kouji makes it to Mazinkaiser, freeing Shirou in the process.  The General is
  astounded he made it past Gorgon, and Tetsuya says it's only natural for the
  man with the soul of Mazinger to make his way back to its body.  The General
  orders this man who sacrificed himself to let Kouji succeed to name himself,
  and Tetsuya proudly names himself as Great Mazinger's pilot.  The General
  plans to send this hero to hell before he does the same to Kouji, but it's
  already too late.

  Renais is taking care of evacuating all the hostages, and Kouji and Tetsuya
  are preparing to face the General together.  Gorgon makes his way to the
  Invincible Fortress Demonica, begging his lord to wait.  He then announces to
  Kouji that he's going to make the example of killing all the hostages, who
  fortunately are in a fairly durable building.  Kouji won't stand by and watch
  this happen, and his fury powers up the other super robots as well.  Ryouma
  then leads them into a super combo attack, blowing the Fortress clean away.

  It's just Gorgon and the General now, thanks to Ruri taking out the rest of
  the troops they had held in reserve.  Ulyceaser, Raigarn, Scarabes and
  Angoras have all been defeated, and the General's fury knows no bounds.

  Gorgon knows he should have assassinated the super robot pilots when he had
  the chance, and is hoping to make up for his mistake today.  That won't work,
  and he gives you a Megabooster and a Gunfight +1.  Getter and Mazinkaiser
  combine to finish the hateful duke off.  The General is aghast, but Tetsuya
  informs him that your fury isn't spent yet.

  The General doesn't go down easily, but he can't withstand the combined might
  of the three super robots.

See the other path for the post-mortem.


39. Tetsu Kishi Saisei ("The Iron Knight Revives")

Michi is going to be taking a certain item to Orbit Base, lest anyone else try
to mess with it ("anyone" mainly meaning the Federation military).  Said item
is a memento of Orgun, and Michi will not hear of selfish warmongers perverting
it after Orgun's immense journey to bequeath it to the Earth.  Liger tells her
to be really careful - there's no telling to whom information of her secret
courier mission might leak, including your non-human adversaries.  He's taken
steps to help keep her safe, but it never hurts to be on the safe side.

Before heading to space, your people have decided to head to Gigafloat as it
bobs on the Pacific Ocean.  This artificial island of Federation devising is
equipped with a mass driver, which will be used to send a certain something to
space.  You get to guard it, while GGG and Preventer agents search for the
whereabouts of the Q-Parts and the Whispered.  Kazuma wonders to the log just
what is so precious that your whole crew is being mobilized..

Interestingly, Kazuma has been exiled from his own room as Mihiro and Carret
clean it.  Though he protests that she's doing this entirely on her own
initiative, your people resume bagging on him for being some kind of slob.  At
least he's in tight with his sister, which as the dragon siblings can tell you
is a great thing.  Kazuma then turns sober, asking about the deliberate
decision not to mess with THE POWER due to the extreme danger it poses.  It
turns out he's interested in knowing if it could repeat the mixed Symmetrical
Docking feat and allow the dragon brothers to mingle with the dragon *sisters*.
This touches off an immense discussion about who would be best situated to
combine with the girl robots (who are either embarrassed or squealy in return).

Volfogg is on hand to help restore order and get synchro rates back to where at
least normal Docking is possible.  This is good, because the Getter and
Mazinger teams have some new combo attacks from their beatdown of the Great
General.  Kouji plans to master them all in the two weeks you'll be on
Gigafloat.

The thing is well named, given that it's fully 50km long.  Spaceports don't
grow on trees, making this a crucial strategic spot that several of your
enemies would have a hard time not attacking.  You've got to defend it until
the package is on its way, at which point you'll follow it to space.  None of
your people has been told what Liger has you all protecting, though it would be
logical to assume it might be one of the remaining Q-Parts.  Whatever it is,
your people plan to get some sightseeing in before the inevitable battle.  All
except Kazuma and Sousuke, who have been busting their butts under Clouseau's
watchful eye.

Yumi wonders if she should go ask D-Boy to teach her some fighting moves too.
D-Boy hasn't shown himself since coming to Gigafloat, and Aki wonders if his
body is deteriorating.  David too is feeling out of sorts, not interested in
going girl-hunting with the other guys.  Instead, Hayato gets dragged along
once he notices that Yumi is totally ignoring him.

Elsewhere, Tomoru is pondering the mass driver, ever so much more precious now
that the Radam have control over the Orbital Ring that supports the various
orbital elevators.  He seems to be not himself, and tells Nokku that he's going
to go get some rest.  In fact the problem is that the strange armor he dreams
of in the PASFU always appears here.  Is he being called by these armored
warriors?  A strange woman(?) comes up to him and observes that his eyes
resemble those of a little lost child.  The person knows what it feels like to
be alienated, and has already sworn revenge on the world that refused to
acknowledge him.  What he needs to make his wish comes true arrives in the
person of D-Boy, who has heard the girly man's call.  D-Boy demands to know who
told him about the Tekkamen's telepathy, and the man says that he's sold his
soul to the devil, all to create a place he can call his own in this world.
Now revealed, Tekkaman Dead tells little lost Tomoru to watch the show unfold.

Tekkaman Dead is able to smack Pegas around, preparing to fight Blade one on
one.  Blade demands to know why a member of Amalgam would be after him
specifically, and Dead sniffs that all Amalgam did is Battle Format him.  He's
now betrayed his origins and is fighting for the Radam, specifically to get his
shot at Blade.  Blade quickly learns that Dead is in league with Tekkaman Evil,
and is probably polishing his rod to boot.

  Dead is worth a Lifter Module and a BP +2.  Dead has not yet begun to die
  though, and with renewed vigor beats Blade down just as your dudes show up.
  Dead can't believe that the Radam were so afraid of this single silver dude,
  and has no interest in tangling with the rest of you.  He leaves a bunch of
  lackeys in his place, and Aki is sure that D-Boy won't have been killed so
  easily.  Blast the bad guys so you can go fish D-boy out, keeping in mind
  that the Eviluders are almost sure to show up wherever the Radam are...

  Battle continues and Mija calls in to report that her squadron's been wiped
  out by Eviluder attack.  They're headed your way, so protect Mija and the
  Gigafloat.  Battle some more and somehow Tomoru springs into action,
  apparently subconsciously.  He's charged his "battery" without Michi knowing
  how and is hard to track with radar right now.  Michi fears the Eviluders or
  Radam discovering him and goes to search with her own eyes when more
  Eviluders arrive.  A voice in Tomoru's head tells him to hurry... but what
  does that mean?

  The Eviluders open fire on the base, and Tomoru somehow finds himself on the
  roof of some very tall building.  Michi is on the same building, which is
  taking fire from the Eviluders and about to collapse.  Tomoru gets wounded
  and can't manage to escape with Michi.  He demands to know why he's so
  powerless before the enemy, and cries out that he wants power - at least to
  protect someone important to him.  Some kind of psychic entity contacts him,
  having waited for this moment.

  He's Orgun to no one playing the game's surprise.  He now understands
  everything, and strongly resembles the original Orgun.  He springs into
  action and starts whacking the Eviluders.  He yells to them and the Radam
  that they don't belong here, ordering them out.  It sounds to Kazuma and some
  of your dues that he's on your side (duh!)

Congratulations, you not only protected the Gigafloat, you protected the new
Orgun!  Tomoru is still reeling from the images flooding his mind from the
original Orgun, visitor from 260 million light years away.  Tomoru can't quite
articulate what it is Orgun wanted on Earth, but his soul has apparently found
a new host and will continue to protect you...

It turns out that what Michi has been up to is building Orgun's Solid Armor
using the universal construction system Wilberwind - with a few modifications
of course.  Liger laments that mankind now has yet one more excessive weapon,
which explains why the armor is being cared for at Orbit Base, hopefully far
away from evil hands.  To give an idea of how dangerous the thing is, Liger
relates that the armor actually booted itself, for the first time, to go fuse
with Tomoru today.  Tomoru's lost consciousness after the first battle, and is
being cared for by Michi as your crew speaks.  As Tomoru and the team head to
space, Ruri says that she'll keep up the search up for D-Boy, who Gai thinks
won't die until he fulfills his mission.

Inconveniently, Tomoru remembers almost nothing of the information that flooded
his head while wearing the armor.  He is quite sure that it's the armor he's
been seeing in his PASFU-fueled dreams though.  It's no real surprise he's
scared and irritable over whatever mysterious connection ties him to this Orgun
dude, but he's menaced by another vision, clear even after removing the armor.
Something enormous, something terrible is headed your way - borne by the
Eviluder fleet.  Mija, who dropped by to say thanks for the help in battle,
isn't impressed with Tomoru's non-bravado.  She tenders her thanks nonetheless,
and hopes to see him again in battle.  Though Tomoru is willing to go with the
GGG, he isn't planning on fighting again.  He is wondering what became of
Tekkaman Blade though, since he and Michi both figure so prominently in his
dreams.  He wonders uneasily if Orgun will be the one to make him fight after
all...

Murakumo is uneasy too, seriously doubtful of how the battle with the Gold
Frame would have turned out if not for the Radam interference.  He's also
concerned about his Blue Frame, badly damaged in a fight with a Coordinator at
Sokius and now further dinged up by the Gold Frame.  Perhaps the best course of
action is a complete overhaul, including some new modifications he's got in
mind.  Kazahana wonders why the Gold Frame attacked at all, and Murakumo
guesses that the Orb-based mech was acting against the Gigafloat's Mass Driver
to keep prices up at Orb's own facility.  In any event, Murakumo doesn't plan
on letting the Serpent Tail's involvement become known to Lowe and the others
just yet.

A more pressing issue is what to do with the man they've fished out of the sea,
still at the brink of death despite Loretta's best efforts.  Not only is his
anatomy somewhat unusual, his physical reserves seem quite drained, as though
from a long illness.  The fact he hasn't died yet seems entirely due to some
sort of iron will, acting as a shield to keep the Grim Reaper at bay.  In fact,
the man's just woken up, much to the relief of Serpent Tail's visitor Balzac.
Reed's known this guy as an elite intelligence officer, though he's now out of
a job and more or less never got out of D-Boy's shadow.  What he wants now is
to tag along on the Serpent Tail's next mission.


40. Yuusha no Shinjitsu ("The Truth About Heroes")

Preparations to transfer the Q-Parts to space are now complete.  There's not a
moment to lose, now that the Chinese Science Institute has come under attack.
Liger isn't sure who's responsible, but it stands to reason that just about
everyone would want an object so powerful.  For example, some unwanted guests
have just showed up to the GGG America base, evading all security in the
process.  It's... Mamoru!  Evidently he's come back from space, and
astonishingly is the one trying to gather the Q-Parts.  Mike's even helping,
and Mamoru tells Liger that there's no time to waste if he's to save the
universe.  With no better explanation than that, he takes the thing and
disappears.

Of course the Neue Wärter haven't found D-Boy, and with heavy hearts
(especially Aki's) they'll have to keep pressing forward.  Leaving further
search to the Preventers, Gai and Orgun will be headed up to space while the
rest of your people head to Japan at Ruri's recommendation.  This lets you get
some assistance from the major laboratories there, and allows Ruri to run an
errand of her own.  Though you've heard the Zaft are gearing up for a major
assault on the Panama mass driver facility, the Neue Wärter are in no position
at the moment to intervene.

There's another problem: Yumi is missing, either kidnapped or run away from
home.  Hayato is sure it's the former, since some kind of strange man came this
morning to see her.  Levin doubts it, since her "only" ability is becoming a
Tekkaman.  Natasha muses that if Yumi is anything like her, she's gotten quite
a shock from seeing her idol D-Boy beaten in battle.  David nearly starts a
fight when he belittles this, but what's really bugging him is his desire to
get revenge for D-Boy.  As he stalks off, Hayato recounts how the suspicious
man was in Federation military dress, with sunglasses and wavy hair.  Something
about the way he carried himself projected danger, a bit like Sousuke.  The
Preventers will include Yumi in their search as well, and Aki has Hayato stay
on Gigafloat in anticipation of finding her.

Apparently Ruri's mission in Japan involves talking to some old friends and
building up more firepower.  That means manga author Hikaru and bar proprietor
Izumi, and Prospector's been sent from Nergal HQ to help persuade them to
rejoin you.  The Trailers give Prospector's incredible negotiating skills their
due, and Kazuma appreciates his praise - far different from all the ribbing the
ladies in his life give him.

Elsewhere, Leo reports to Taiga that Tomoru is utterly unremarkable physically:
indistinguishable from any other human.  Though they've tried many times,
they've gotten no reaction from either him or the armor when they came into
contact.  About all that proves is that Tomoru can't consciously control the
armor, which when active would electrically fuse itself around him.  This is a
shame, since its Obarium 808 coating and numerous weapons make it virtually
unstoppable in battle.  About as unstoppable, in fact, as the Q-Parts, which
are being stolen at a very brisk pace.  Only two remain in your hands: one at
GGG America, and one from South America that's already been sent to Orbit Base.
Oops, make that zero at GGG America, which has just been destroyed...

Even Papillon can't figure out what makes Tomoru special, though she's sure his
power is strong.  Tomoru for his part is getting royally sick of everyone's
inability to figure out what's going on with him, and isn't very shy about
telling them.  Renais is getting impatient with him in turn, telling him to
shut the complaining and just accept his fate.  Just then, an explosion from
the Q-Parts storage area shakes the base.  Papillon and Renais rush off to try
to defend it, and Michi asks Tomoru to consider just how much danger the planet
he calls home is currently in.

David isn't paying much attention to the his job, which is helping Hikaru.
Instead, he's pondering how D-Boy, Aki's lover, faced the Radam all alone.  He
thinks that D-Boy mustn't be defeated, lest he be defeated too...  He then
bumps into Dead, who professes to be glad to see him again.  He reminds David
of his promise to buy him a drink the next time they meet, and introduces
himself fully as "Dead End", a pseudonym to make up for the real name he's
forgotten long ago.  Judging by the look on David's face, Dead thinks that that
connotation seems to suit him well.  Is he having girl troubles?  _Guy_
troubles?  Both, David admits.

He tells him that there's this girl, who has a guy, who's really frigging
strong and noble and whatnot.  On account of the guy, David told himself he'd
given up on the girl.  But the guy got beaten down in front of his face:
pathetically, disgracefully.  Does that mean he should un-give up on the girl?
Quite the conundrum.  The conversation then turns to Dead, who lived in Tokyo
until around a year ago... at which point one of the Radam flowers bloomed
right in front of him.

As shock grips David's face, Dead explains that the flower devoured his fate.
And like David himself, once the flower had withered, he was no longer human.
Dead figured himself cursed by the White Devil, doomed by his incompetence.  He
no longer cares that it was actually the Radam's fault - all he wants is the
power to defeat those who stole his old life away.  David knows now who he's
talking to, but Dead bids him farewell, adding sadly that it was the look in
David's eyes that made him tell everything.  Dead promises that the next time
they meet, it will be as enemies: and Dead will start by taking the human
Tekkamen out before the Radam ones.

David runs outside the bar, only to see Galeon of all things.  Gai is in hot
pursuit, demanding to know if Mamoru understands what he's done.  Mamoru will
only tell Gai that something terrible is happening out in space, and that
something requires the Pas-Q Machine to stop it.  That's the true form of the
Q-Parts, and a few sacrifices are justifiable if it means all of space can be
saved.  Gai shouts back that Mamoru's little stunt left Papillon gravely
injured, but Mamoru says that that's small potatoes compared to what's coming
next.  Mamoru then announces that he has no more time for chitchat with Gai,
and says that he's going to leave by force.

He summons the Gao Machines Gai used when fighting the Primevals.  He somehow
Final Fusions with them, becoming the "ultimate hero" Gaogaigar.  Gai shouts
that Mamoru is wrong and that heroism isn't about power, but Mamoru isn't
listening.  Gai has no choice but to beat his little ass down and get him to
make a full accounting for what he's done.  David, watching from the sidelines,
wonders which side will win - which side is in the right?!

  None of this is made easier by Mamoru's complete refusal to explain what the
  hell is going on.  Mamoru insists that Gai is in the wrong, and J shows up to
  agree.  It was he who wiped out the Chinese Science Institute and stole the
  Q-Parts, though J claims that he's simply returned it to its rightful owner.
  Both J and Mamoru yell at Gai to admit that he's making a mistake, but
  evidently Heroes don't make mistakes, or at least Gai doesn't.  He still
  believes in what he's ultimately trying to accomplish, and won't let his
  former allies stand in the way.  J's fine with the two of them settling their
  duel, and Mamoru malevolently says that the time has come to _prove_ Gai
  wrong.

  Mamoru and J keep up the pressure, but a new counter smack-talking force
  appears: Go-Lion!  Kogane comes bearing tales of Mamoru and J attacking the
  Leo Union, sowing mass chaos among the allies.  The Go-Lion pilots are in
  even less mood than Gai to take Mamoru's guff.

  Mamoru is worth an All-Range Radar and a SP Usage -5%.  Fahra begs Mamoru to
  explain what's going on, but Mamoru yells back that he'll show her what a
  _real_ Hero looks like.  He throws down with Gai, and gets utterly
  disintegrated for his pains.  J wastes no time in blaming Latio's death on
  Gai, but Kogane rightfully blames it on him for attacking the Leo Union
  first.  Gai is not one to be readily guilt-tripped, and keeps up the
  offensive.

  J is worth a High-Performance Targeting System and an Initial Morale +2.

Mamoru whimpers in pain, but before he can treacherously attack Gai, Arma
appears out of nowhere and blows him clean away.  J cries out in fury, but Arma
will suffer this Replijin of his friend to live no longer.  Both bodies seem to
blow away like dust, and Kaidou explains that those aren't the real J and
Mamoru.  They are from the 11 Soul Lords, some of whom helpfully show up to
fetch the Pas-Q Machine.  The leader Palpalepa has no plans to throw down with
you, instead leaving Sinclyne of the Garuda to fight in his stead.  The Soul
Lords must have promised the scheming purple guy a hefty reward, though coming
all the way out to the galactic backwaters of Earth seems amply justified by
his desire for revenge on the Go-Lion team.

Kaidou retreats to a safe distance while Go-Lion and Gai fight the Garuda.
Help arrives the next turn.  Mike is most distraught when Gai admits that he
waxed Mamoru, but agrees to help everyone else out in order to learn the truth.
All explanations will have to wait, including David's newfound reason to fight.
That would be his desire to stop Dead, especially if it means becoming stronger
than D-boy was.

There's a bit of a problem though: Sinclyne has brought even more friends,
meaning Aria and company.  Aria's happy that Akane has given her organization
such a cool nickname, and as usual she and Kazuma are at it like cats and dogs.
Aria concludes by saying she has nothing to Record about your people and wants
you gone, and given that she's going about it in a residential area, Ruri
orders your people to counterattack double-quick.

  Sinclyne is worth a Barrier M Generator and a Max SP +5.  When Kogane
  challenges him for running away, Sinclyne tells him not to rush to his own
  demise.  He vows to kill him the next time they meet, at which point Fahra
  will become his completely.  Harry as usual has no clue what this means, but
  Saburouta knows it means he's a man's man... or a man's man's villain, in
  this case.  Ruri isn't impressed that Sinclyne is ever the prince of
  indecency.

  Three of The Database have a Repair Kit.  Three have a Cartridge.  Three have
  a Propellant Tank.  Aria is worth a High-Performance Thruster, a Mars
  Donburi, and a Support Attack +1.  Guess Aria gets to get scolded when she
  gets home again.  But just then a new mech appears from overhead: the
  Armstra, with Applicant at the controls.  Regulate, riding shotgun, registers
  the direct hit on your flagship - you won't be pursuing anyone anywhere at
  this rate.  Aria thanks her comrades for their support, but Applicant refuses
  Aria's request to take down Kazuma completely.

As the Database folks retreat, Kazuma thinks he notices something.  There's
little chance to discuss it though, since Papillon is fading fast.  She's felt
a massive magnetic field emanating from the Q-Parts - massive as in galactic
scale.  In her slovenly beloved's arms, she departs to be with the spirits,
leaving Renais a final warning that her heroism is about to be sorely tested.
She's sure that the Lion Queen will prevail, and urges Tomoru to show the same
fortitude, as the other him did.  Woe betide those responsible for her death,
when Renais gets her claws on them.

Michi reminds Tomoru that this is what the world is like: filled with pointless
death.  All this sorrow, this pain won't go away unless someone stands up to
oppose it.  Orgun betrayed the Eviluders and consigned himself to a hopeless
battle, just to reach the Earth.  What can it mean that he chose Tomoru?

Ruri fills the Go-Lion crew in on all the doings on Earth.  In return, Kaidou
tells how THE POWER should have claimed his and J's lives in defeating Z-Master
ten months ago.  Instead, it somehow threw them to the other side of the
galaxy.  There they saw the galaxy starting to warp, and headed to the center
of curvature.  There they found the Pas-Q Machine and Latio, who was fighting
the Soul Lords.  J used an ES Window to send the Pas-Q Machine and Kaidou
himself to the Blue Planet (i.e. Earth), while he and Mamoru stayed to fight.
It seems Mamoru had parted ways from the Go-Lion team en route to Altea, as
though something or someone was calling him.

It seems the Soul Lords were spawned from the Trinary system: programs designed
to ensure the maintenance of the system.  That would include trying to revive
the planets after Mechanization.  In pursuit of that, the Pas-Q machine was
probably used to create the Replijin versions of Mamoru and J, leading to the
assaults on Altea and Earth.  The Machine is the central circuit of the
mechanism that will restore the Trinary system, drawing upon dark matter to
perform its work.  All that dark matter getting sucked in is what's causing the
galaxy to warp, like a balloon whose air is escaping.  In short, the Soul
Lords, who are extremely simplistic programs, are carrying out their
programming and dicking over the rest of the galaxy.  So much for good software
development practices.

What's interesting is that the Replijins are in fact _perfect_ copies of the
original people, including their emotions.  It's likely that the Soul Lords
actually had to brainwash pod-Mamoru and pod-J to make them attack you.
Interestingly, they seem to be targeting Go-Lion specifically, and part of the
reason the Go-Lion team has returned to Earth is to divert the Soul Lords' fury
from Altea itself.  Your guess is that the Garuda are helping in exchange for a
promise from the Soul Lords that their homeworld will be spared.  The Database
are also in cahoots, making Go-Lion's warning from long ago come true.

Kazuma wants to rush off in hot pursuit, but Kaidou says there's no need: the
Soul Lords have decided to come to the Solar System to reconstitute the Trinary
system.  That means you get to fight the whole evil axis on your home turf, and
if you lose the Earth is 100% guaranteed toast.  Go-Lion will be fighting on
your team, but before the Soul Lord bashing can commence, Taiga radios in to
send you to Alaska.  Taiga and the rest of you have to go make a formal report
to the military about the Q-Parts and Orgun.  It would be nice if the Army was
thinking of calling a truce with the Plants and confronting the galactic menace
together, but that seems somehow unlikely.  And Kazuma meanwhile thinks he
recognizes someone aboard the Database ship.

Aria is getting tortured some more.  Critic wants her killed for her failure,
but Applicant points out that that would cost them their forward commander.
Regulate agrees with this and asks the execution be stopped.  Inference casts
the deciding vote in favor of letting her live, but warns Aria that he merely
saw the reasoning behind Applicant's statement.  Applicant frets that the third
planet's culture is far more formidable than expected, and offers to go in
person to help battle the Neue Wärter.  That's fine with Inference, who tells
him to take his bothersome doll (that's Aria, who slips and refers to Applicant
as "papa") along with him.

Critic laments that Applicant, their mechanic, is spending more time worrying
about Aria than he is about keeping their forces battle-worthy.  Inference
can't understand such feelings, or the feelings that are impelling Applicant to
want to fight the Neue Wärter directly.  Abel then shows up, offering to do
their maintenance for them.  From his speech, Inference determines that the
Master Program must be ready.  He warns Abel that a breach of the agreement
that allows both sides to carry out their respective orders will not be
tolerated.  Things get more interesting yet when Dai Bazarl and his retinue
arrive, especially when Pilnas demands that Honeruba shut her annoying cackle.

He sees no problem with the three sides doing their respective thing side by
side.  They're not surprised that the Go-Lion has rejoined the Neue Wärter, and
Palpalepa figures that all they have to do is take out the man with the G-Stone
and, with Galeon destroyed, no one will be left to oppose them.  Dai Bazarl
will leave destroying Go-Lion to his son, and the Database will be able to
gather their remaining data from defeating your people.  There's the little
matter of the Radam and Eviluders in the way, but with the combined might of
the alliance they too can be struck down in one blow.

Elsewhere, Kira wakes up on one of the Plants, with Lacus by his side.  He
hasn't figured out where to go and what to do yet, but Malchio says that such
knowledge will surely come to a SEED-bearer such as Kira.  Kira figures he
might as well go to Earth... not because the fighting will magically stop, but
because it's better than just watching from on high, doing nothing.  He can't
justify fighting for the military on either side of the Earth-Plant war, so
Lacus tells him she's got a present...


41. Omoi no Chikara, Sono Mukau Saki ("Where The Power of Feelings Leads")

Fong Lee has heard that Dead took down Blade - not bad for an abomination! Dead
makes it very clear to his new companions that he will take orders from no one,
just as Shinya wants.  Dead smirks at Shinya's praise, knowing full well that
beneath his smile he plots Dead's murder.  Shinya tries to deny this, and Dead
says he doesn't care - he's sticking with this ragtag band until the Earth-made
Tekkamen are toast too.  Fong Lee finds his sibling rivalry amusing, and things
nearly turn into a full-fledged firefight until Shinya calms everyone's nerves.
As Dead End heads off to Earth to finish his vendetta, Sword wonders aloud why
Shinya allowed the abomination to take his brother down.  Evil sniffs that his
brother isn't so puny that such as Dead could defeat him.  In fact, Blade is
going to get even stronger by overcoming Dead, making him even more worthy of
Evil taking him down.  Sword protests that Blade should be nearly out of time,
and Lance adds that they've got to concentrate on eliminating obstacles to the
development of the Radam Trees.  Evil leaves that job to Lance, which Lance
ominously says he's going to accomplish in his "own way"...

Elsewhere, some Zaft soldiers are searching for someone who managed to steal
the latest Plant mobile suit, apparently with some assistance from Lacus Klein.
The orders are to destroy the mech if they can't capture it.  Wouldn't you know
it, it's Kira, marveling that the new machine is over four times as powerful as
the Strike was.  He's certainly not going to let anyone stand in the way of the
Freedom Lacus entrusted to him.

The soldiers open fire as he begins to dodge, not wanting to fight the Zaft
soldiers.  Just then a transmission arrives from Mister A9, pertaining to
Aslan.  Kira now knows where he's got to head next, but just then the Serpent
Tail appear and start fragging the Zaft.  As the soldiers falter, Murakumo
tells Kira to hurry on his way, since they've been hired to guard him.  Kira
gratefully zooms toward the Earth, asking Lacus to sing her songs of peace
while he fights on.

The Serpent Tail are impressed at the speed of the new mobile suit, and
Professor has noted a very interesting gadget it's been outfitted with.  She
tells Elijah that it's thanks to Malchio they've been teamed up like this, and
tells "Captain GG" to show her what he's got.

Meanwhile, Kazuma notes in the log that arrangements have been made for Kaidou
to fortify Orbit Base against the Soul Lords.  The rest of your team have come
to Alaska to report to High Command about the Pas-Q Machine mess.  So far it's
been a week full of Ruri and Taiga listening to Corbett's bitching, interrupted
only by the arrival of the Archangel.  Most of Alaska's troops have been sent
to Panama to fend off the anticipated Zaft assault, leaving a miscellaneous
skeleton crew to hold the fort...

Among them is Mija Youko, who's surprised to have met you all again.  Her
posting here is apparently part of lingering accusations of disobeying orders
and insubordination.  Ryouko figures that Youko would fit right in with your
team, which doesn't sound so bad to Youko just now.  For that matter, just
about everyone gathered here is on similar footing: skilled in battle, and
hated by the brass for one reason or another.  This has Clouseau's antenna up:
why gather such a group of misfits in Alaska, while the Atlantic Union forces
that make up the bulk of the Federation army are sent elsewhere?  He doesn't
know what's going on, but strongly suspects it has something to do with the
tactics that are keeping you all stuck here.

As Clouseau frets, Duo happily introduces himself to Edward "Ed the Reaver"
Harrelson, an Atlantic Union pilot famous for being stained in the lubricants
of his enemies, as though it were their very blood.  He merrily makes to
autograph Harry's shirt, puzzling Kouji with his merriment.  He tells Kouji
that he checks his fearsome warrior schtick when he leaves his cockpit.  He
tries to get your people to join in the fun, and unluckily picks the
poker-faced Trowa and Sousuke to start.  As for what he's doing here, he
explains that his homeland was absorbed by the Atlantic Union during the
Revolutionary War - his commanders never seemed to like him much.  Though he
can't say so too loudly, he's pretty sure that the Atlantic Union folks look
down on pretty much every other part of the Federation.  Just what you need
with the fate of the planet hanging in the balance, eh?

As they talk, John Kyali introduces himself to Lowe.  This is the infamous
"Shining Comet J", a Coordinator raised on Earth.  He sees no fundamental
difference between Coordinator and Natural, and even tried moving to the Plants
when the anti-Coordinator sentiments got bad.  But he liked the Plants' way of
doing things even less, and instead joined the Federation military.  The
military never managed to look beyond his genetics, and here he is with the
rest of you misfits.  It turns out that when he's not fighting, his real job is
as a R&D engineer, and he's very curious about Garvela Straight.  He knows full
well what a masterpiece it is and is hoping for a closer look.  The Go-Lion
crew also wants a peek, naturally curious about katana due to their Japanese
upbringing [^^;;;]  As Lowe leads the tour group off, Fahra notes that the man
seems to be a genius at making friends.

Speaking of geniuses, Kazuma has gone to chat with a guest: Flay.  Kazuma
struggles with the words, but manages to recommend to her that she go apologize
to Sai.  Flay doubts that Sai could ever forgive her, especially now that Kira
is gone.  She explains to Kazuma that she hated the Coordinators for killing
her father, and was using Kira to get revenge on them... regardless of how much
it hurt Kira, or Sai.  After a moment, Kazuma recommends she try to be that
open and honest with Sai, whether or not Sai finds it within himself to forgive
her.  He reminds her of the message he sent her when she went to the Archangel
about the terrors of space, the weakness of the individual, and the importance
of life: next to these, everything else is as nothing.  Flay finally begins to
smile, telling him that his grown-up act from before doesn't seem to have been
an act after all.  She agrees to try, and soon since she's shortly to be
transferred off the Archangel.

MEANWHILE [pant, pant] Yumi and Hayato have managed to get lost wandering
around the vast base.  Yumi makes Hayato promise not to tell the others why she
ran away from home - she's sure they'll all laugh at her if they knew how she
cried from the shock of what befell D-Boy.  He tells her that everyone was
equally shocked, and she inwardly apologizes for not telling him the real
reason, which she's already promised a certain someone to keep a secret.  The
two of them then run into Tomoru, still brooding over his exploits as Orgun.
He's only here because Kanzaki had some business at the base and dragged him
along, but at least one other person has been looking for him: Gai (the GGG
one).  Gai reminds him that he was asked to wait in his room until Kanzaki got
back, and then marvels to see Yumi back again.  She hastily apologizes for
running away and promises not to cause any more trouble, running off to rejoin
your people when Gai tells her the way.  Tomoru marvels at her enthusiasm, and
Gai tells him that she's the kind of girl who can face her fate without fear or
hesitation.  Tomoru is still trying to get his head around the fact that the
monstrous Tekkamen can be so bright and innocent, and Gai insists that
Detonator Orgun is no monster either: that Tomoru is Tomoru, regardless.

Unsurprisingly, Kanzaki has no intention of handing Orgun over to the army.  It
is the fear of it, and her own power, that led to her posting to the GGG.
Forreston acknowledges that the Federation military has greatly diverged from
its mission as peace-keepers, but points out that mankind is nevertheless under
terrible threat from outside.  What Forreston proposes is that the Solid Armor
be used to unify mankind by force - wiping out the Blue Cosmos faction and
forcing a military reorganization from inside.  He thinks that the most obvious
enemies are the ones they should be taking on first, but Michi is not at all
happy about the Plant residents who have already died as part of such dreams.
She finds Forreston's talk of acting in the interest of "mankind as a whole" to
be a mere rationalization...  But further debate will have to wait, as a
detachment of Zaft troops is spotted heading towards Alaska.  Yes, Alaska, NOT
Panama as your intelligence about their Operation Spit Break would have
suggested.  You've just been HADZORIZED!

Morgan's orders from high command are to guard area N, a spot far from the core
of the base.  Hardly sound military strategy, as both Ed and John note, and
Morgan isn't thrilled about it himself.  But orders are orders, and it seems
the Neue Wärter are to be left in charge of guarding the flag.  Of course your
dudes aren't thrilled at the prospect of fighting at the military's behest, and
that feeling deepens as Brigadier General Corbett (somehow, in charge of the
whole circus despite his lowly rank) repeats his order to Morgan and flies off
in a rocket.  Either the brass don't trust your power, or they've got some
reason for abandoning the base...

After Morgan's forces leave, you don't have to wait long for the Zaft to show.
Miguel is impressed that even the Zaft command kept the true objective of the
mission secret until the very last moment.  Mihael notes that the old adage of
"to deceive your enemies, first deceive your friends" seems to be holding up.
Yzak thinks he can take revenge for Nicol and Dearka by taking down Federation
HQ, and rub Aslan's nose in it in the process.  He's not worried that the
Archangel isn't visible - he's sure it's still inside the base somewhere.  As
the Zaft charge into battle, about the best your people can do is try to avoid
hitting their cockpits - they are fellow humans after all.  Clouseau is getting
more worried by the moment, and a certain masked man goes to double check that
a certain item is ready for the grand finale.

  As the battle proceeds, Forreston too worries about the brass abandoning the
  base.  He orders Michi to take Tomoru and the Solid Armor and get the heck
  out of Dodge.  Tomoru, however, isn't in his room.  Muu has just watched the
  shuttle with Natarle and Flay leave, musing over the idiocy of his being
  transferred off the Archangel and left here on the base.

  Yzak is worth a Super-Alloy Z and a Cooperate +1.  He refuses to go down so
  easily, but just then he spies his captain Creuset finish up whatever he was
  checking on.  Creuset leaves "the rest" to Yzak as he flies off, with a new
  captive in tow: Flay, who apparently snuck off the shuttle.  He tells her not
  to be afraid and that he couldn't leave her where she was lest she die.
  Indeed, Flay never managed to apologize to Sai..

  Take Yzak down a second time and the Archangel will emerge, determined to
  protect the base at all costs.  Miriallia is back in the groove as part of
  the bridge crew, still grieving over the loss of her boyfriend Tolle and her
  own ability to justify killing their Coordinator hostage.  All that she can
  do is just survive, as it were, and she beseeches Tolle to watch over her.
  Maryuu has to do tactical duties as well due to Natarle's transfer, and a
  demoralized crew isn't going to help much.  Yzak finally sees his prey, and
  dashes in before the Archangel can dodge... only to be rebuffed by a mystery
  mech that zooms in from overhead.

  It's Kira, who announces to all on the battlefield that the Alaska Base is
  about to self-destruct using the Cyclops device: a massive microwave emitter
  whose ominous legacy lingers since the Grimardy incident on the moon.  This
  gadget is capable of wiping out everything within a multiple tens of
  kilometers radius.  All the pieces now fall into place for Clouseau: the
  brass intended from the start to wipe out all those they considered
  expendable, as well as the Zaft invaders, with this little ploy.
  Confirmation comes from Muu, who's just discovered data about the Cyclops
  installation.  Kira doesn't want anyone from either side to die, and urges
  everyone to use the five minutes they have left and flee...

  But wouldn't you know it, the Radam strike, trying to slow you down so you'll
  get caught in the blast.  You'll have to do what you can, and Kira will help
  you, using the power of his feelings to make his way ahead.  Lowe
  congratulates himself on saving Kira in the first place as Taiga orders
  everyone to get rid of the Radam on their way out of the area.  Sousuke quite
  concurs, and vows suitable vengeance on whoever was responsible for this
  military clusterfuck.

  As battle wears on, Tomoru starts throwing in the proverbial towel at the
  number of Radam around.  Dead End loves how he's given up so easily, and
  advances on him to taunt him some more.  He shrieks for the "monster" to stay
  away, and Dead agrees that he's quite the monster since he's no longer human.
  But Dead also knows that Tomoru has fused with an even greater monster, and
  Tomoru starts blubbering about how he's not a monster, he's _him_.  Orgun
  actually agrees, and Tomoru screams for him to stop talking into his head.
  Orgun points out that all life is a struggle, and orders him to fight the
  good fight.

  It's all too much for the charming lame-ass, and he becomes Orgun against his
  will, making it obvious to Dead who he'll fight today.  Dead plans to fight
  right up until the point this place goes nova, telling David that he never
  found the place in life he expected from defeating Tekkaman Blade.  He's
  quite tired from his long life's journey, and asks David to kill him
  personally.  David is too gentle for that, and so Dead will leave behind
  proof that he lived in the form of mass destruction.

  Michi has to remind Tomoru how he saved her back at Gigafloat, trying to get
  him to come to terms with his powers.  Dead yells at her not to interfere,
  but Tomoru prevents Dead from blowing her away, but apparently involuntarily.
  It will take a real pro to save the day: D-Boy returns, and tells Tomoru to
  get Michi out of here.  He's got a debt to the rightful owner of the armor,
  and a bigger score to settle with Dead.  Dead claims that no matter how often
  they fight, he'll always come out ahead, and D-Boy calls him out for being
  drunken with sorrow and with the past.  Dead screams back that D-Boy knows
  nothing of his anger and sorrow, but D-Boy is about to teach him what REAL
  anger and sorrow are like.

  Dead End is worth a Barrier S Generator and a Support Defense +1.  Dead vows
  that D-Boy should perish with him, but Hiver yells that D-Boy will never lose
  to someone like him - not because of technique or power, but because of the
  sorrow graven so deep into his heart that will let him lose to no one.  In
  short, he's got a reason to fight, and Hiver yells at him to show her what
  all the training the Earth Tekkamen have been put through is all about.

  Dead gets obliterated, but just then a new batch of Zaft attack - their
  distrust of Naturals runs that deep.  Just then Balzac shows up, having found
  a route you can escape by.  Bernard is with him, and you all have to really
  hurry.  The Zaft rush in where your people now fear to tread.

With predictable results.  At least Kira's back in business, protected by the
Strike when it detonated.  Despite all the drama with Flay, Sai and the crew
welcome him back with not a few tears.  He explains that he's been at the
Plants, where he picked up the Freedom.  Kira isn't planning to align himself
with either the Zaft or the Federation Army, which makes it that much more
convenient for him to join your crew - none of whom plan to follow another
Federation army order.

That includes Youko, who actually believed Kira and fled before the enemy, and
John, who tried to pursue her to bring her to "justice".  No telling what
happened to Ed, but your people have an attractive offer for John: join the
junkmen and clean up space!  Brilliant.  Youko figures she's only capable of
fighting, and is happy to go along with your crew rather than get bitched at as
an MIA elsewhere.  She crushes Kurz' hopes though when she says that as a
Birdman pilot, she's got no interest in bedding ground troops.

Bernard, incredibly, plans to return to his army unit.  Being a soldier is his
way of exacting vengeance on all those who make people unhappy, and he insists
that he's not the only noble one in the army.  It's for their sake that he's
going back to his unit, and he and Kazuma exchange rather jocular farewells.

It probably bodes ill for the conspirators of this travesty that Forreston, the
_chief_of_intelligence_, has survived.  The fact that he was made a sacrificial
pawn at all is proof that his men had been following the right leads toward the
heart of the military conspiracy.  He offers Kanzaki an apology for the mistake
he was about to make, and tells Taiga that it's now clear that someone on the
Zaft side leaked the change in targets for Spit Break to the Federation army.
That person must be very high placed, and it's now clear precisely why the Feds
were being so "proactive".  Forreston expects himself to be under constant
surveillance and unable to act freely should he return to the army, so he
throws his lot in with the GGG.  Taiga vows to uncover whoever is behind the
conspiracy, and Forreston has Kanzaki deploy Orgun's power on your behalf.

Unbelievably, Dead is still alive, and being propositioned by D-Boy and David
to join your folks too.  Oh no, hands... too... bloodstained! D-Boy tells Dead
that the old him, the him that could only fill the void within by battling, is
toast.  The new, future him is still redeemable, but doing so will apparently
require him to go on some aimless journey or other and not immediately
collaborate with your people.  At least everyone else is doing okay, as long as
you ignore the fact that D-Boy is rapidly approaching his sell-by date...


42. Akatsuki no Kousen ("The Flash of Dawn")

Somewhere in Orb, Heero is reporting to a "mysterious acquaintance" about the
failure of Operation Spit Break, which he feels will only lead the Zaft/Earth
conflict to get even fiercer.  The acquaintance agrees, expecting the hawkish
Zara to ascend to the supreme government position sooner rather than later.
She expects the peace talks with Siegel Klein to fail, even with Malchio's
assistance, and tells Heero that this kind of pain and suffering is needed any
time the world is about to change.  She thinks that this time, the "Ocean" must
be put out in full, but Heero reminds her that this "world" about to change is
made up of individual people - and no matter what anyone does, no ruler can
dominate the people all the way down to their heart.  In short, her and her
brother's plans aren't likely to go the way they want so long as there are
people of principle to oppose them.  Heero speaks not of Uzumi, whose methods
he disagrees with and who he and Relena sought to oppose by staying with this
acquaintance until now.  The woman asks if Heero, the warrior whose namesake
once fought to free the colonies, is leaving; he is, and he asks Lond Mina
Sahaku to take good care of Relena until they meet again.

Heero hangs up, telling Wufei that the Feds are sure to attack Orb next.  Wufei
suggests he let them, as a way to show Uzumi the full extent of his mistake,
and Seina notes that more blood will be spilt in the process.  What other
option is there, Wufei asks, amidst all this chaos in the world?  Heero
certainly doesn't seem inclined to leave things that way, but Seina asks him if
he's so firm in his resolve that he'd even leave the Queen in the castle of the
Sahaku.  He tells her that Relena is sure to find an answer for herself; he's
merely a step ahead in acting on his.  Seina for her part plans to stay here
and see the final result of the Asaha/Sakahu throwdown, though Heero tells her
to her face that he doubts she'll make it.  He adds that Wufei should well know
who gets hurt any time the world is reborn - and shouldn't be able to sit idly
by either.

Taiga, very much un-microwaved like the rest of your crew, has returned to
Orbit Base to figure out what the heck to do next.  The rest of you, at
Balzac's recommendation, are laying low in Orb.  Balzac has left the military
to act as D-Boy's backup, though D-Boy is seemingly at death's door after the
last battle.  An apparatus that may save his life is supposed to arrive at Orb
any day now, but the Earth/Plant war gets worse every day you wait.  This
includes the use of a new Zaft weapon called Gungnir, apparently in retaliation
for the Cyclops incident.  It's basically an EMP generator, and the Federation
soldiers it's immobilized have been mercilessly slaughtered.  One wonders how
the heck anyone will be left to fend off the Radam or Soul Lords...

Balzac is ordering the dragons around, making room for the guest you're about
to receive.  As they grumble about all the heavy lifting, they also note that
something about Balzac has changed: the arrogant edge in his voice has gone.
Balzac won't promise Yumi a 100% chance that the guest can cure D-Boy, but
according to Liger the guest is bringing the results of research stretching all
the way back to the Lizard War.  Balzac explains that he was held responsible
for the loss of his platoon, and demoted from the elite rear echelon posts to
the very front lines.  He actually didn't mind the lifestyle, dangerous though
it was, and even met a precious companion there - a woman.  Said woman nearly
got wiped out in a Radam raid, but D-Boy managed to intervene and save her.
Balzac, feeling he owed D-Boy one, has been running around trying to help ever
since at the behest of... Noal and Milly, and Freeman.  Freeman, having read
all Aki's reports, cuts short the reunion and makes haste to D-Boy's side to
try to stave off certain death.

It seems Misumaru has had the Archangel transferred to the Neue Wärter, but
Maryuu is far from at ease.  She's busy wondering what the hell she's been
fighting for all this time, which Uzumi thinks is only natural given the way
the Federation came together after the last Revolutionary War.  It seems
Treize's legacy was not a terribly peaceful one, even though it nominally
valued all peoples and countries of the world equally.  The flaw in the system
was letting individual egos and agendas take root, under the name "Blue
Cosmos".  This hateful anti-Coordinator group has been pulling strings for some
time, and are sure to extend their evil grasp towards Orb in short order.  When
that happens, Uzumi would rather see the blood of his people spilled than see
them pressed into service in the Federation army.  He's sure that Orb will live
on so long as the people retain their ideals, even if it ceases to exist as an
official nation.  Likely this means your people will get dragged into a losing
battle, but Uzumi doesn't want the Archangel among them.  Instead, he tells
Maryuu that her crew needs to harden their resolve - and they've got very
little time to do it.  At least Maryuu has one very *firm* ally on her side,
and since he's ready to pilot the Strike Maryuu can't use the excuse that she
hates Mobile Armor pilots.  Their little tete a tete is briefly interrupted by
Ruri, who returns for a forgotten item and apologizes for not better reading
their mood...

Kira learns of Cagalli's meeting with Aslan, and of his tears at the thought of
killing his best friend.  Kira tells her that neither of them had a choice,
having each had a close friend killed moments before.  Kira has no regrets, and
tells Cagalli that he plans to go on fighting in the Freedom in order to
protect what's precious to him.  Speaking of which, he promised the one who
gave him the mech not to let anyone but him touch it.  That would be Lacus
Klein, one of the many fighting to end this war as soon as possible.  Erika
won't insist, vowing instead to concentrate on fixing the Buster Gundam you
recovered from the Zaft.  The pilot, presumably a Coordinator, is being held
aboard the Archangel, but Erika suggests Cagalli concentrate on mastering her
Lowege Gundam instead of him.  Lowe is glad to see Kira's himself again, and
gladder yet when he bumps into Murakumo.  Murakumo has a little present for him
from Malchio, and a request for the gifted gearhead: help him modify his Blue
Frame.  That's music to Lowe's ears.

The scientists gather around D-Boy, whose ill effects seem to be from his
premature separation from the Radam Tek system.  Like Miyuki, D-Boy's body is
starting to degenerate, explaining why he lost to Dead the first time and
making his special training of Yumi that much more astonishing.  All in the
name of defeating the Radam, right?  As D-Boy regains consciousness, Freeman
explains that what they're doing will stabilize him only if he never assumes
Tekkaman form again - the moment he does so, the degeneration will accelerate
and end his life in short order.  Even the presence of the next generation of
Tekkaman on your side doesn't calm him - he won't let anyone else but him kill
Shinya and his family off.  The others hadn't heard that, and D-Boy says it's
precisely because they're his family (and best friend) that he feels obligated
to do them in - it's the best he can do for them now.  Tomoru, also in
attendance, wants to know if the silver Tekkaman he's seen in his dreams is
demanding he fight.  D-Boy tells Orgun's chosen that Orgun came all this way to
Earth because it holds something the Eviluders lost long ago.  It was for the
sake of that something that Orgun fought on your side, and to further his
legacy, D-Boy tells Tomoru to fight in Orgun's stead.  Tomoru is far from
convinced, but D-Boy is sure that whatever was so important to Orgun must have
been important to Tomoru too if Orgun chose him.  Tomoru storms out upon
hearing this, but Noal assures Kazuma that Tomoru will surely come around when
the time is right.  Much like D-Boy himself, it would seem.

The enemy don't give you much time to reflect, and Freeman asks you all to go
face whoever it is while he continues the treatment.  Balzac and Noal get to
team up in probably the most unappealing duo ever, and D-Boy is frustrated
beyond words that he can't help.  For his part, he doesn't care if he burns his
life out so long as he manages to take out the enemy Tekkamen first.  Freeman
tells D-Boy that the only way he can go on fighting is to seize the hope that
lies at the end of despair - meaning there is a way.  Research has shown that
the Tek System is capable of evolving under stress, such as on the battlefield.
This probably acted as a counter to Mechanization, and Freeman has learned that
when the time and conditions are right, Tekkamen are capable of explosive
evolutionary leaps forward: "Blasterization".  This total bodily revision would
of course stop D-Boy's degeneration too, but Freeman warns that D-Boy will have
to go through hell in the process...

Half your forces have to protect the other side of Orb, and it doesn't help
that both Tomoru and Kuzzey were absent from the briefing.  In Kuzzey's case,
he's actually left the Archangel, trying for a more peaceful life - and he's
not alone.  Maryuu knows she's got to try to lead those left aboard her ship
and continue the fight in the hopes of ending the chaos in the world.  At least
she's got Muu around to keep her relaxed, and one more mech to fight in your
force: the Lowege, made up of spare parts for the Strike.

As you feared, your opponents are the Federation army, spouting the usual
high-and-mighty lines about how the "New Federation" won't permit Orb to claim
neutrality when the world is in peril.  They want you to turn over the reins of
government and immediately dismantle all armaments, much like Galte once tried
on Altea.  You don't even have time to despair over this sad state of affairs,
in which there is only black or white, Federation or Plant.  The Orb civilian
evacuation is well underway.  Ruri announces to the Feds that their intrusion
is a clear act of war, and requests they withdraw immediately, lest she have no
choice but to dispose of them by force.  The Federation commander sounds
impressed that the Executive branch's forces have the guts to oppose the
Security Council, and warns that this can only result in misfortune for the
common people.  Ruri flatly tells him that she won't suffer those who act as
though the world's problems are not their own, and adds that the secretary
general intends to allow the common people to judge the truth with their own
eyes.  The Feds commence their attack in the name of what they call safety and
peace on Earth, though Ruri tells him it's okay for him to admit it's for the
sake of a "pure blue Earth" instead.  Of course your people know he's a lackey
of Blue Cosmos, and declare that the farce ends here.

Ed notes to his commander that the Feds now look like the total bad guys,
though Morgan's instincts as a soldier are to follow orders.  Ed laments that
he's gone from disposable pawn to downright villain as the commander begins the
attack.  Kazuma is furious at this state of affairs, and needs an outlet for
his rage other than on his own species...

  As battle wears on, something streaks in from outside the atmosphere: a red
  Zaft mech that looks like a Gundam.  It's Aslan, who's received no orders
  regarding this fight and is, apparently, here on his own.  His only orders
  are killing Kira and destroying his machine, but what he's really come to do
  is to confirm something.  He and Kira are destined to throw down in any case,
  as he tries to decide who and what he should be fighting.  Not because Lacus
  told him to, but of his own will.

  Aslan tells Kira that he, like Kira, received his mech from Lacus, along with
  the question of what he's fighting for.  He thinks that fighting Kira will
  somehow help him answer his doubts, and of course Kira has plenty of
  reservations of his own.  Just then, Heero steps on the field and tells Kira
  to turn his reservations into something constructive.  This world is not
  about powers and principalities, but individual people - and Kira should do
  what he individually sees is right.  Kira finally yells that what he
  _doesn't_ want to do is fight Aslan, which apparently is the rest of your
  people's cue to fight Aslan on his behalf.  His job is to smash his feelings
  into Aslan and make him understand.

  This works, and Aslan admits that he himself was the one in the wrong here.
  Kira's declaration of friendship has opened his eyes.  His Justice seemingly
  explodes, but he bails out safely.  Kira plans to go and renew their
  friendship once this battle is over, but that will have to wait until more
  Fed reinforcements are dealt with.  Among them are more Gundams, part of the
  set made in Heliopolis.  At the controls are Olga, Shani and Clotho.  Their
  unseen commander tells them to make their first battle a memorable one -
  since they've got a lot riding on the outcome.  They take this as their cue
  to raise a ruckus and maybe tear the Archangel's wings off in the process,
  but Dearka isn't about to let that happen.

  He shows up in the revitalized Buster and starts blasting, not wanting to die
  here any more than the rest of your people.  Murakumo's got his back in the
  newly refurbished Tactical Arms, and to make it three-on-three comes Lowe,
  having just incorporated Malchio's shipment of rare metals into the reforged
  150 Garvela Straight.  Erika can't believe he devoured so much precious
  material into making so immense a sword, but Lowe's also added some extra
  power actuators so he can actually swing the thing.  Murakumo will be helping
  out in this battle as thanks for Lowe's assistance, especially since he's got
  a guess about where the new Gundams are from.  Everyone is directed to
  concentrate on the new arrivals, and Kira especially is advised not to waste
  his new life.

  Clotho is worth a Study OS and a Counter.  Olga is worth a Sniper Scope and a
  Multi-Combo +1.  Shani is worth an EN Chip and an Inner Strength +1.
  Defeating them seemingly saps the will of the rest of the Federation forces.

Tomoru is watching all this from the sidelines when Michi catches up with him.
He asks why she's not by D-Boy's side, and wonders if she's trying to keep an
eye on her prize guinea pig.  She tells him to cut that out and says she merely
wants to know the truth.  He goes into a maximally lame speech about how he's
the victim here, and how Gai and Renais and everyone are all so selfish and
that they should just leave him alone.  Go cry emo kid.  Michi fills him in on
a little secret: her impressive mental abilities are artificial, part of the
legacy of genetic engineering the "First Coordinator", George Glenn, began.
Her father engineered her as part of a plan to create the perfect weapons, and
for a while she hated him for it.  But then she began to wonder what she could
do with her powers, if indeed they truly were greater than other people
possessed.  Tomoru is sure she can do anything she puts her mind to, and just
as sure that he's capable of nothing whatsoever, no matter what power he's been
granted.  She denies this, telling him that what matters is will and heart, and
that goes for everyone on your team.  She's sure that in him is what Orgun was
seeking, which really does make the emo kid go and cry.

  Meanwhile, it seems the Feds fled not just due to the loss of their tiger
  cubs, but because of an impending Radam/Eviluder invasion.  The two sides
  care not that they're trashing someone's homeland, and seem glad to take both
  each other and the humans down.  Lance will fight them only so long as it
  assuages his boredom, until D-Boy appears.  Lance also knows full well that
  Blade isn't long for this world, and plans to burn down everything as a sort
  of graveyard for him.  The end result: your people must wipe out all of their
  people, as usual.

  As the battle rages, Uzumi decides to do one last service to his country,
  entrusting his closest retainer with looking out for Cagalli and ensuring the
  people don't lose their ideals.  Lance meanwhile thinks that Dead did some
  good by accelerating Blade's decline, and starts indiscriminately firing on
  Orb in the hopes of finishing him off.  Leave divines Lance's aim...

On the ground is Kuzzey, afraid for his life but also afraid for the lives of
his former shipmates.  He thinks he can't do a thing, but just then Uzumi comes
by and tells him that he's already done plenty just by living this long.  He
tells this child of Orb to flee and live on, even if it means hating him for
burning Orb.  Lance is close enough to hear the conversation, and says that
none of that will happen, since he's already decided to kill everyone here.  He
starts with Michi, but Tomoru intervenes - still totally uncertain why he's
doing what he's doing.  Before Lance can finish him off, Leave intervenes,
having figured out that Tomoru is the new Orgun.  Lance orders her out of the
way so he can fulfill his bloodlust, and that finally makes Tomoru mad - mad
enough to link with Orgun under his own power.

Rang quickly realizes how Orgun utilized this planet's technology to make a
second suit of Solid Armor in anticipation of his defeat.  He demands to know
why Orgun, a noted hero, would turn to this planet, and doesn't accept the
explanation he gets.  All the Eviluders need is power, the legacy bequeathed to
them by their ancestor Aiba.  There's that name again: what does D-Boy's father
have to do with the Eviluders???  Rang says that when Lord Miku arrives, this
planet will become a true battlefield with all laid waste, and he plans to make
sure Orgun isn't there to see it.

Leave protects Orgun from his strike, saying that she thinks she's found what
Orgun was looking for on this planet.  She's been wanting to try fighting for
her own sake, as he did, and apparently it's cost her her life.  Rang can't
figure out why she'd do something like that, and at long last Orgun is pissed
off, determined to punish the Eviluders and Radam for the heartless demons they
are.

  Rang is worth a Booster and a BP+2.  Lance leaves him to deal with Orgun
  while he hurries to fulfill his mission.  This doesn't work, as Uzumi blows
  Morgenleite up with his own hands.  He does this because your guys are so
  cool, so unyielding to the bad guys, that he's sure you can save the world.
  He figures he's a failure as a leader, but at least as a father he wants to
  tell you this one last thing.  Lance tries to interfere, but D-Boy emerges to
  protect him, determined to protect the life Cagalli's father left her the
  same way his own father protected his life.  Lance wants to know: how did
  D-Boy become the master of the Blast?  It seems he mastered the art of
  blastin' an M.C.'s ass, and at _this_ task he is the _master_ Blaster, the
  Blast Master, and as Renais should know, is blasting off ass like NASA.  Plus
  he's protected by Dead, who wants to see D-Boy stronger yet so that it'll
  mean that much more when/if he ever defeats him.

  Of course Blade evolves under the power of his own will, the first time such
  a thing has ever happened in the long history of the fight between Radam and
  Eviluder.  The new Orgun now knows what the old Orgun saw in D-Boy, but Lance
  isn't prepared to accept that there's a more powerful Tekkaman than he.  Lang
  for his part tells you that all your best efforts will be in vain when Miku
  arrives in two months.  He departs, leaving you to ponder your new countdown.

  Lance is worth a Servo Motor and a Hit&Away.  D-Boy tells Molotov that his
  power exists precisely to defeat Molotov and his kin.  He assures him that
  he'll follow him soon enough.

No sooner are the Eviluders and Radam repulsed than the Feds return.  Uzumi's
plan to blow shit up (and him along with it) has Cagalli in tears, but he gives
you the valuable info that Muruta Azrael is the leader of Blue Cosmos, and that
he and Patrick Zara's plans will lead the Earth into ruin far faster than the
Radam or Eviluders will.  He tells you to head for the light of hope, however
small.  Seina and Wufei try to stop the massacre and get any of the soldiers to
evacuate, but Seina gets blasted for her pains.  She tells Wufei that there's
other ways to fight besides holding a gun, and says that the whole world is
fighting in its own way.  And it will continue, although not in the form he
might want - as long as there's life.

Gina notes to Mina that their homeland has finally fallen, and the surface of
the planet fallen totally into Federation hands.  Relena however, doesn't buy
their idea that Uzumi's ideals have come to naught.  One thing they're worried
about is Cagalli being in the way of their taking over what remains of Orb, and
Gina thinks she can nip trouble in the bud, even though your people have headed
to Orbit Base.  Mina muses over the thought of the world creating the people,
but quickly asks Gina to forget she said it.  Gina thinks victory is assured,
and Relena begs her brother and Heero to make it clearer where the world is
headed.  She herself can't yet see the light...


43. Kioku no Soko Kara ("From the Depths of Memory")

Sinclyne is chafing under the leadership of the Soul Lords and the Scribes of
Knowledge, but his father tells him it's only until Go-Lion is defeated.  The
Scribes were noted in the Garura's ancient scriptures as a terrible enemy, and
it's clear the Soul Lords' plans to revive the Trinary system will harm their
homeworld... but Dai Bazarl isn't worried so long as he wins in the end.
Sinclyne furiously demands to know when the emperor of the Garura became such a
coward, but Dai Bazarl tells him to shut up until he's defeated Go-Lion.  After
his father hangs up, Sinclyne fumes that the once-glorious old man has gotten
old indeed.  Honeruba, no doubt sent to keep an eye on him, tells him not to be
so hasty, and to wait for the right chance to strike.  Sinclyne wants to know
why the Soul Lords fear Go-Lion so much as to enlist his people's help in
defeating it, and asks Honeruba to tell him everything her long study of the
galaxy's cultures has taught her.  She smiles wryly at Sinclyne's much- belated
interest in study, and it begins to occur to the prince that Go-Lion might be
able to actually solve his Soul Lord problem for him.

Your people have left Orb, ill-repaired and under-provisioned.  Orb was, for
all intents and purposes, destroyed by Uzumi's hand, and with the Security
Council in disarray there's nothing Rose can do to help you either.  Obviously
the military isn't on your side.  Making matters worse, Klein, who Rose had
hoped to negotiate with, has been deposed.  At least you've got a bunch of new
teammates, including the newly revitalized D-Boy and Tomoru.  You sure ain't
dead yet, and there's a lot of saving of the world left to do.

David is _extremely_ glad to see Dead still alive, leading most of the rest of
your people to conclude that he's "switched teams" in the wake of his
disappointment with Aki.  Your team's greatest fear is that Hikaru somehow get
wind of this and write it into some kind of yaoi doujin, and that it somehow
finds its way to Mihiro to pollute her mind.  The boundary between friendship
and love is indeed paper-thin for some, but for Yumi and D-Boy, it's more like
the distance between Earth and Mars.  Yumi brightly points out that they've got
Boson Jump to fix that now...

D-Boy needs some rest after the whole Blaster incident - no wonder since he was
such a blur that your people could barely see him.  As he does so, he thanks
Freeman for keeping his promise.  Tomoru is pretty worried about him, but the
unyielding D-Boy isn't about to die now.  Freeman explains to Tomoru that the
mirth your people keep spreading is the way they can endure the massive burdens
they bear: human one and all.  It's that human heart thing which Orgun sought,
after all.  Freeman sends Tomoru to the hangar to see Michi, pondering how this
man has precisely the same life data as the original Orgun.  Could he have
instinctively sensed the bomb that D-Boy now carries within him?

The Serpent Tail are preparing to split off again, Murakumo saying that no
mercenary would be willing to keep fighting without a contract.  More to the
point, something is bothering Murakumo and he wants to check it out.  He tells
Lowe to call on him whenever he needs him, still feeling indebted for Lowe's
help with the Blue Frame.  Kazahana tells Miri not to let a certain
bespectacled girl beat her for Lowe's affections in her absence.  Meanwhile,
Aslan tells Dearka that he considers himself no longer on the side of the
Plants or of the Feds, but of the human world as a whole.  He asks what Dearka
plans to do, and Miriallia tells him to get his sorry behind back to the Plants
if he's going to just hang around.  She does manage to thank him for saving the
Archangel on her way back to the bridge, however, and it's pretty clear what's
really keeping Dearka around.  He takes quite a bit of ribbing for his
affection for Miriallia, but he adds that he also doesn't feel like throwing
his lot in with his war-crazed countrymen.  Dearka will definitely fight on
your team, so long as it suits him.

Before Murakumo leaves, he's got one question for Muu La Flaga: his father's
name.  Murakumo was wondering if the guy, Al Da Flaga [any relation of Pizza Da
Hut?] Heero has a word for Kira as well, as he watches and waits for Cagalli to
get over her father's death.  He tells Kira that someone is after Cagalli's
life, though he won't divulge whether that someone has anything to do with the
attempts to destroy Lowe and his Red Frame.  What he will say is that his
former companion's actions have a certain logic to them, enough to keep Relena
among them by her own will.  That says plenty about this somebody, and Heero
just hopes that Relena makes her decision soon, before it's too late.

Meanwhile, Fahra gets a most unexpected thing: a message directed to her.  But
it's not from a fan, it's from Sinclyne, who claims he wants to sue for peace
with your people... "in the best interests of peace in the universe".  He
agrees to give you info on the Soul Lords and on the Scribes, though he wants
to give it in person.  Fahra agrees, and the Go-Lion heads aboard his ship.
This is obviously a trap, but Ruri recounts the old proverb that to capture a
tiger's cub, you must enter the tiger's den.

This is Sinclyne's first face-to-face encounter with Fahra, and he notes that
her voice sounds somewhat different.  She refuses to face him directly, and he
observes that her coy act makes her that much more appealing.  Your people
would love to slaughter Honeruba for her past crimes, but you've got to endure
until you learn what you need to know.  Sinclyne praises Kogane's awareness of
Go-Lion's link to the ancient culture that spawned the Scribes.  From what
Honeruba has gathered, the galaxy can be broadly divided into three
ultra-ancient cultures.  One of them sired the Altean, Garuran and Trinary
systems - the "Leo Culture", as the Replijin Gai called it.  Guess it's no
wonder that so many of the resulting mecha have lion motifs.  It also explains
why the Soul Lords are attacking Go-Lion: as a part of the same culture,
there's a good chance that Go-Lion incorporates some specific counter to their
might.  The one possible flaw in the theory is the fact that the Trinary system
seems to be nowhere near the Leo systems, but the remaining commonalities are
too strong to ignore.

The second culture gave rise to the Scribes of Knowledge, which you call The
Database.  Garuran records indicate that The Database has been active for over
ten millennia, few in number but incredibly wide in radius.  This is not only
their mission - it is the only way of life they know.  Before Sinclyne can
elaborate, the Radam attack.  He tells the Go-Lion team they needn't sortie: he
plans to put their mech to good use fighting off the Soul Lords...

This leaves the rest of your forces to duke it out with the Radam, and it seems
several of your people actually didn't realize the Garura were setting a trap.
In any case, Ruri tells your people to trust in Fahra and worry about taking
out the Radam for now.  D-Boy is among your forces, but he's really starting to
wonder if he can hold out until all the enemy Tekkamen are defeated...

  Blow some bad guys away and a second wave will show up, led by Evil himself.
  He's looking forward oh so much to defeating his brother, the result of the
  Radam twisting his deep affection into abiding hatred.  What's more, Sinclyne
  weighs in on the side of the Radam, figuring that with Go-Lion and Fahra in
  his hands, all that's left is killing you off.  He tells Kogane that it _is_
  true he wants to defeat the Soul Lords and the Scribes... using Go-Lion.  The
  Go-Lion's pilots berate his tactics for being as unfair as expected, but he
  claims he's got no ears for the yelps of whipped lions.  He's so carried away
  that he plans to steal a victory kiss from Fahra, but lo and behold, IT'S A
  TRAP!!  Saburouta has been impersonating Fahra, and berates Sinclyne to his
  face for having no discernment regarding women, despite owning a harem and
  whatnot.

  As Sinclyne looks in in amazement, the Blue Lion begins raising hell in the
  hangar.  The Go-Lion team makes a run for it, but not before Kogane vows to
  kill Honeruba in revenge for Shirogane.  He also finds time to remind
  Sinclyne that Go-Lion is Altea's and indeed the galaxy's guardian spirit -
  not his plaything.  The escape only goes so far, until Sinclyne hits Go-Lion
  with a gravity anchor even stronger than Ulf was.  But Go-Lion is even
  stronger than that, when the hearts of its five pilots are one.  Raimon was
  right.

  The figure of a goddess appears briefly, and Go-Lion's monitors show a new
  weapon: the 100 Ton Punch, which is dramatic enough to merit a phone call
  from Raimon himself.  He exhorts the Go-Lion team to fight on, and finally
  bring an end to the battle with the Scribes and Soul Lords that's continued
  down through the ages and across the cosmos.

  Evil is worth a Large Generator and an Initial Morale +2.  Evil demands to
  see Blade's Blaster Power, and D-Boy is only too happy to oblige.  Evil
  realizes there's no way he can win, and flees in fear.  Honeruba realizes
  that her side is in danger with no one else to distract your people, and
  Sinclyne vows to return for revenge.

  If instead you take Sinclyne down, he's worth a Chobham Armor and a Max SP
  +10.  This will trigger the same event with Evil and D-Boy.

  Next up to bat is The Database, with some new mech you've never seen before.
  It is indeed Applicant, of the Omega cluster's 13th system's 5th planet's
  archival division.  He figures he can do his recording of data after you all
  are defeated, and says he's got to hurry before your solar system is wiped
  out.  Aria still can't get it through her thick skull why her "sisters" don't
  want to go to Applicant's side, and Kazuma demands to know where she gets the
  "sister" bit.  Aria furiously tells the dummy Kazuma to shut up, since it's
  because of him that she got kicked out.  She's going to have to do a lot
  better than that to win any sympathy from your crew...

  Some of the 'Base have Repair Kits.  More have Cartridge.  More have
  Propellant Tanks.  Also included are Mars Donburi.

  Aria is worth an A-Adaptor and a SP Usage -5%.  Applicant is worth an Anti-
  Beam Coating M and a Support Attack +1.  Taking either one down will cause
  Aria to cry to her "Papa" - does she mean Applicant?  Kazuma charges in,
  determined to grab her and make her spill the beans, but Applicant zooms over
  and smacks Kazuma around for his pains.  Applicant has exploited Kazuma's
  subconscious habit of climbing when cornered, and tries to go in for the
  kill.  But a strange face appears and tells Kazuma to use a blind spot
  beneath Applicant's hull.  Applicant is annoyed at the interference, and
  orders a withdrawal.

Said interference comes from Zechs "Wind" Marquis and the Professor, along with
Liam in your new battleship: Li Home.  Actually, the ship claims to be helmed
by none other than George Glenn, or at least his brain.  And _now_ you know
what that "GG" Unit was, left by the head of the "Friends of George Glenn"
group and containing none other than George Glenn's gray matter.  George is
actually feeling a little nervous at meeting Saburouta the Jovian, remembering
something about once giving them a disk with "Gaki Genga" to try to cheer them
up.  Far from being the noble figure of legend, George is turning out to be
quite the cut up, and claims he's hard at work mastering the one thing missing
from his previous life: comedy.

One person not present for the introductions is Kazuma, who went off to talk
with Horis with the most serious look on his face he's ever seen.  Applicant's
handling of his ship was precisely like... Blessfield Ardygun, Kazuma's long-
lost dad.

Another is D-Boy, who appears to have undergone some kind of personality change
over the course of the battle.  He no longer remembers why anyone calls him
D-Boy, and brushes off offers of help as he returns to his room.  Freeman had
feared this would happen: the price for Blasterizing him and stopping the slow
decline of his body is an explosive increase in strain.  D-Boy is stable for
now, but his life will come to an _abrupt_ end in about two months.  He
nevertheless elected to undergo the procedure under the belief that he could
defeat the Radam within those two months, and Freeman hadn't had the heart to
deny him.  This is the best your science can offer: no hope of saving him.  At
best, your people can honor his choice and his wish not to let that choice
cause them grief - and help him prevail in his fight.


44. [route split]

Word from Taiga is that the missing Whispered are on the moon, brought to you
in part by the ever helpful Nergal Heavy Industries' secret service.  Shihomi
would love to thank him in person some day.  It seems their captors are being
doubly cautious, which explains why they weren't just carted off to Mars
straight away.  This leaves you a very narrow window in which to rescue them,
since the Successors are sure to use the escalating war between Earth and the
Zaft as a cover for their final plans.  Presumably those plans include some
kind of terrorist strikes at the Security Council and the rest of the
executariat, but Clouseau sternly warns trainee Kazuma against simply charging
into Mars.

After all, the biggest fish to fry are those eleven Soul Lords, followed soon
after by The Database and the Garura.  Surprise surprise, time to split up your
team again: one half to head to the moon for the Whispered, and one to guard
the Earth and moon against invasion from without.  Kazuma is a bit distracted
with thoughts of The Database, but he's able to decide on the Moon (44M) or
guard duty (44G).  After the decision, Maryuu announces that Aslan wants to
head back to the Plants briefly, to figure out where his father really thinks
this battle will lead.  Ruri grants permission, saying that it's best if one
confirms this kind of thing with their own eyes and ears.  As the Archangel
splits off, Shihomi literally smacks Kazuma out of his reverie, telling him
that even if Applicant really is their dad, he's still on the enemy team now.
He certainly didn't hesitate to try to kill Kazuma after all.  Shihomi is sure
that if it really is their father, he'll try to get them some kind of message,
and in any event Kazuma mustn't forget his responsibilities as part of the Neue
Wärter.

Michi will accompany Freeman and the other non-combatants back to Orbit Base,
the better to further her research into the Eviluders.  It seems Leave sent her
an image just before dying - something pertaining to the Cygnalite mission,
which is the key to everything that's happened.  Freeman tells her that the
perfect person to bring her image to life is on Orbit Base, and tells her that
he's hanging all his hopes on her, including fixing D-Boy.

Speaking of D-Boy, Evil is begging his brother Kengo for another chance to
throw down with his brother, using Blasterization.  Kengo, aka grand meister
Omega, tells Evil that he doesn't need that double-edged sword; rather, he has
only to wait for the trees to bloom and the Earthlings to become Tekkamen, in
preparation for the showdown with the Eviluders.  Evil isn't content to let
Blade's life run out in peace, and Omega at length tells Sword to take her
hysterical comrade somewhere to rest.  Sword complies, though she inwardly
understands what Evil wants.  She thinks she can both grant his wish _and_
advance Omega's agenda.

Meanwhile, Inference has summoned Sinclyne to account for his failure in
defeating Go-Lion - and for possibly plotting to use it against his "allies".
They observed the whole debacle via the bugs they'd planted on his ship, and
don't reckon him for very smart.  Things look especially bad for Sinclyne given
that his father is also on hand, relating that Garura law allows for such
failures to be executed on the spot.  Instead, the evil crew give ear to
Sinclyne's contention that his plans to seize Go-Lion were ordered by Dai
Bazarl, and throw the now former emperor into prison.  Sinclyne vows to lead
his empire to victory over Go-Lion, but Inference, suddenly shifting from
polite and menacing to rude and juvenile, tells him to get the hell back to
Earth already.  Regulate tries to get him to calm down, but it won't be easy.
What Inference will say is that he's interested in someone so interested in
self-preservation he'd sell out his own father.  It's stupid, but it's the
first enjoyment he's had in a good ten millennia.  He's gone rather far astray
of his original mission as a Coder, but he still thinks of him and the others
as carrying on the tradition of roaming the galaxy and unifying its knowledge,
in obedience to Applicant's commission.  Suffice it to say Regulate seems
unconvinced.


44M. Kaeru Beki DEI BAI DEI ("Returning to the Day By Day")

Aslan has confirmed that his dad only has enough room in his heart for hatred
of the Naturals.  This means that the fight between Zaft and the Earth will
continue until one side or the other is destroyed - unless someone can stop it.
Lacus certainly intends to try, having stolen the Eternal - the support ship
for the Freedom and Justice - to join in the fight.  She's got songs of peace
to sing, but some good old-fashioned ass whupping will be needed as well.  The
Zaft forces don't seem to care that Lacus is aboard the Eternal, which proves
just how much the Zara faction's warmongering has gained control.  Bartfeld can
only do so much to evade, but luckily for him he gets some unexpected support
from the Serpent Tail.  It seems they've been sent to keep Lacus, the girl who
can alter the course of this fight, safe...

The Archangel has made it to the moon, its entourage split in three.  While
Kazuma and the crew search for the Whispered, Aslan is off to the Plants and
the Space Knights (plus Tomoru) are investigating the lunar surface, hoping for
a trace of the Radam mothership buried underneath.  D-Boy was able to remember
that much, but the rest of your people are hesitant to probe his past with the
effects of Blasterization encroaching.  There's a general sense that the
decisive battle is coming up soon.  Kazuma notes that it's almost Christmas,
the one-year anniversary of the score being settled the Marimea army.  Does
Santa have any presents for your group this year?

Your people are having little luck inquiring with the lunar citizens about the
whereabouts of the Successors - small wonder given the scars of the last lunar
war.  In fact, this part of town has become something of a red light district
of the shadier kind, and there's probably nowhere _better_ for the Successors
to hide.  Sousuke is in a hurry to find Kaname and Tessa, his earnesty in
danger of becoming a liability.  Kazuma asks Clouseau if this is something like
when someone deliberately records over the best scene in your favorite anime,
such as when the heroine of Future Boy Detective Conyan gets saved and kissed
the pig... in other words, the precise scene erased off Clouseau's videodiscs
by Kurz (after Kazuma selected it).  Clouseau, every inch the wrathful anime
fan, runs off in hot pursuit of Kazuma.  Meanwhile, a "certain girl" goes up to
Sousuke with a message she says is from a mister "Nine Dragon"...

All this time, the Successors have been trying unsuccessfully to brainwash the
Whispered.  They've picked today to finally run out of patience, but neither
Kaname nor Tessa is going to budge.  Tessa adds that any attempt at forcible
mind control will probably result in their Whispered powers being destroyed.
Their captor's impatience has something to do with plans drawing to a close -
he needs only one more "priestess" before they can all head to Mars.  As the
guy stalks off, Tessa admits that she was half-bluffing about that last bit,
since no one knows how the Whispered really work.  It's clear they're kind of
delicate, and in fact the little Harmony trick Tessa pulled is something they
shouldn't use unless absolutely necessary.  The danger is that one can lose
sight of oneself during the fused state, like milk and tea blending to become
one inseparable drink.

But dangerous or otherwise, they've got to use their powers to escape.  The
change in the Successor's urgency says that they'll probably pick one of the
two girls to live, and kill the other off.  It's not clear if the talk about
needing one "other" priestess means they've already got more Whispered under
their thumb or what, but it's pretty ominous regardless.  What's weird, if not
precisely ominous, is that both girls share the same birthday: 12/24.  This
might be motivational, which is good since one of the captors comes to call
Kaname away.

Sousuke has answered "Nine Dragon"'s call, leading him to none other than
Gauron, still alive (though in bad shape) thanks to his Lambda Driver.  He
likes how Sousuke's got a wounded look in his eyes, but before Sousuke can
start beating Kaname's location out of him, he says that he's long since left
Amalgam.  He _does_ know what's going on in the world though, thanks to the
brats he's raising (i.e. those girls), and doesn't like it when Sousuke even
resorts to begging him for info.  Gauron thinks back to when Sousuke was a merc
in the desert, his eyes full of neither hesitation nor care for his own life -
the eyes of a saint.  Gauron had rather fancied killing such a person, lacking
in human frailties, but the now-troubled Sousuke is totally not worth his time.
He pours on the verbal assault, telling Sousuke that he's become worthless
after all the high school and Mithril and Neue Wärter shit - a weakling
parasitizing the strong.

Apparently Sousuke is so distraught that he can't shoot straight enough to end
Gauron's miserable life.  That said, Gauron is prepared to tell Sousuke of
Kaname's end, taken out by the assassins of the Successors to force Tessa to
cooperate.  He lovingly recounts Kaname's blood-splattered schoolgirl uniform,
and that her last words were "I'm sorry".  Now who could that be directed
towards?  Apparently content with the level of despair on Sousuke's face,
"Santa" elects to blow the two of them up.

The Successors are in fact raising quite a bit of hell in town, lured by the
Neue Wärter and the Whispered.  Erina is worried because "that" is here too,
but the mystery man (Nergal's president) is sure that "they" will clean up the
mess.  They means your people, and the enemy are led by the hateful Gates.
Sousuke is off somewhere on his own (looking for Santa Claus?)  Odds are good
that you can find out where the Whispered are if you can beat these guys, and
everyone including D-Boy are well aware that this is by no means the end of the
fight.

  As the battle rages, Sousuke shows up, very very depressed over Kaname's
  supposed death.  He sure doesn't seem in much shape to fight, but Clouseau
  tells your people to leave him on the field - time to see how much of a man
  he really is.  That will be harder to survive as Yu Fan shows up in her
  Lambda Driver-empowered mech, determined to kill him.  Sousuke can't even
  dodge, but interestingly Gates has his men target her too.

  Yu Fan can't believe that the pathetic figure in front of her is her
  teacher's arch-enemy.  Given that his soul seems already dead, she decides to
  finish the job.

  More fighting, and Akito emerges from Nergal (hmm!!) with a few words for
  Sousuke (and over Erina's objections).  He points to an anonymous section of
  city, where a certain someone has just used Sousuke's exploding earring
  present to temporarily run from the Successors.  They think they've got her
  cornered once again, but she says she's not scared - she can't let herself
  be, or she'll never be able to face her strong, gentle man.  A timely gunshot
  gives Kaname a chance to flee, a present from a mysterious benefactor.
  Sousuke tries to get his head around Kaname's being alive, but before he can
  tell her what he wanted to say about the Danaan, Tessa agrees that she and
  Kaname will go along with the Successors.  She's satisfied that your people
  know she's alive, and has faith that you'll rescue her in due course.  Yu Fan
  won't let Sousuke just pursue, and Akito instructs Sousuke to harden his
  resolve and get stronger.  Something about your people pointing out his
  weakness does wonders for him, and he tells the departed Gauron to watch his
  weak ass fight on anyway.

  He fires up his Lambda Driver, joking with his computer about how unreliable
  the thing is.  Yu Fan is worth a Biosensor and a Cooperation +1.  She isn't
  willing to call it quits yet, and tries to summon strength from her departed
  sister, but Gates intervenes in his red AS and goes about punishing her for
  stealing Amalgam gear.  With her finished off, Gates turns his sights on
  Sousuke, who has little time for him.

  Gates is worth a Super Alloy nu-Z and a Support Defense +1.  His madness is
  keeping him going, which gives Sousuke an inspiration about how to stabilize
  his Lambda Driver.  He goes for it with the superhero act as though Sagara
  Sousuke the high school student and trash monitor was his "secret identity".

Ruri knows that Tessa bought you time, and Akito's assistant Lapis seems to
have finished maintenance on the Yuuchalis.  Akito tells Ruri that neither of
them have much time before hurrying off.  Sousuke for one has plans for what to
do when all the fighting is over: class and field trips.  Clouseau allows
Sousuke to stay behind on the battlefield long enough to finish off someone
who... isn't quite dead yet.  It's Gauron, whose unbridled hatred doesn't need
Sousuke's sharpened senses to pick up.  Sousuke wipes him out, and Gauron's
last words are that all this was really fun.

Ruri thanks Erina for the help, deliberately not prying about Akito or Nergal's
other internal affairs.  She's sure she'll meet Akito again anyway where you
all are going: Mars.  Erina will send ahead parts for maintenance, since you
couldn't do it here - not so much out of goodwill, but on the president's
orders.  Your people would love to give him your thanks, though it seems he's
the shy one.

Al congratulates Sousuke on the battle, but says it's got a question.  How did
Sousuke do so well in battle when he's never done anything like that before.
He says that he's solved a problem - not just his problem, but a problem for
everyone on your team.  He tells his mech to ponder this statement and prepare
for the long battle ahead.  It should be noted that for the first time, he
refers to the once-unreliable mech as his "partner".

Back on the moon, Leonard notes that Sousuke seems to have liked his Christmas
present to him.  He's counting on Sousuke to take care of his sister from now
on.  The Successors aren't going to forgive his interference, but Leonard
Testarossa is protected by powerful friends.  Friends who want what's in his
head...


44G. Unmei no Ko-ra ("Children of Fate")

See the other path for the Aslan/Lacus/Serpent Tail scene.  Kazuma's log entry
starts the same too, but ends on a wistful note: he wishes he could have
someone to spend Christmas with, just the two of them.  Lowe then comes to bug
Kazuma, shrugging off the suggestion that he go to sleep if he wants Santa to
come.  In fact, Santa has already came in the form of new junk, and maybe
survivors, from a battle which occurred along your path.  Kazuma's fatigue is
strong right now, but his spacemanly instincts to save life are stronger.

There is one ship giving off a distress signal: a transport surrounded by the
husks of the Zaft's latest ZGMF-600 Gates mecha.  Luckily, you're not soldiers
in the regular sense and can save whoever's inside with a clear conscience.
The odd thing about the transport is its condition: totally undamaged except
for how its power plant and supporting machinery have been taken out.

There's only one person aboard the ship, Prayer.  He's lying next to a
partially assembled mech called the "Dreadnought", whose head appears to have
been stolen.  Prayer says that he's not a Zaft himself, and Kazuma notes a
resemblance between the guy and someone among the Neue Wärter.  Prayer claims
to be a disciple of Malchio, and to have come to space to pick the mech up.
Your people decline to press questions about this mech, content with providing
humanitarian aid, but some much less humanitarian guests are en route: the
Feds.  Quatre doubts that they'll attack you right away, and Kazuma decides to
move all the cargo from the transport ship to Li Home.

Lowe takes the unusual step of dragging out his mech-sized power loader, on the
theory that the Feds might take pause at the sight of his 150-m Garvela
Straight.  This accords with the Trailer maxim that "Bluffs are an ideal
deathweapon for not wasting Energy."  There's a related maxim that "Bluffs are
a deathweapon, and overusing such weapons is fatal", so Shihomi doesn't want to
combine the Valguard just yet.

Your people are puzzled to see a squad comprised entirely of older mecha,
except for one potential "Gundam" piloted by someone named Canard.  Once Canard
confirms that you're the Neue Wärter, he orders you to send out Kira the
Coordinator, or your lives are forfeit.  He refuses to say _why_ he wants Kira,
so your people in turn refuse to tell him Kira's whereabouts.  He is however
observant enough to realize that some of your people, Kira included, are off on
other business... and IDIOTIC enough to think that taking your people down will
serve Kira with some sort of declaration of war.  It's only his reason for
living, after all.  Your people have little choice but self defense, and Lowe
is looking forward to grabbing Canard and figuring out what he's really up to.

Canard is spouting every standard bad-guy line in the book, and Ryouma dearly
wants to know why this guy has made himself your enemy.  It seems Canard has a
plan though - and an ambush he thinks he's clever enough to catch you with.
Your new guest has a surprise though: the Dreadnought, with an old Zaft head
attached for good measure.  Prayer not only has to protect the mech, he feels
an obligation to help out in your fight on his behalf.  In fact, he likes your
noble group so much he figures you might even be worth divulging the
Dreadnought's secret to.

  Taking down his flagship will earn Canard an early recall order.  He's been
  given a new mission, and all he'll tell you about his pursuit of Kira is that
  it has to do with how he was born.  Pro or otherwise, his hatred of Kira is
  as clear as an open book to Heero.  Another guest is as interested in Kira's
  birth as you are: it's Aria with much love for her "sisters" and a desire to
  destroy Kazuma at the cellular level.  She's plenty happy to take out dummy
  Kazuma before gathering data on her subject, and there's no real choice but
  to start blasting.

  As if this wasn't bad enough, the Gold Frame and its friends show up.  Heero
  knows that Gina Sahaku is making his move.  Unfortunately for him, Cagalli
  isn't on hand.  He's got Sokius with him, specially trained to kill Naturals,
  part of the ideology that only one of ten thousand men is even fit to
  sacrifice his life for Gina's ideals.  He's sure that the ruler of the world
  has the right to use objects and people as he sees fit - and that a few
  sacrifices are unavoidable to bring about the new world.  This makes Wufei
  his enemy, and although Heero allows that force may be necessary to unify the
  world, Gina is ignoring the way the world really works in his quest.  Of
  course the world moves by the efforts of everyone as Lowe points out: he may
  be a junkman, but he's a _free_ one.  Gina gets ever more peevish, and
  declares that he'll use the power of heaven to wipe you all out.

  Wufei admits to Heero that "that woman" showed him that people in this world
  aren't as weak as he thought.  His long ideological journey to the
  realization that everyone's worth protecting is finally over, and Sahaku will
  be made to pay.

  Aria is worth a Hyper Sensor and a Cooperation +1.  So much for collecting
  data on test subject <insert big number here>, not to mention staying in
  Inference's good graces.  She ignores Kazuma's directives to wait, telling
  him to be grateful she's granted him a little more time with Mihiro.  Kazuma
  yells in fury that Mihiro is _his_ family, and none of Aria's motherfucking
  business.  She yells back that if it wasn't for him, she and her papa would
  be able to live together with her "sisters".  Astounded, Kazuma asks who the
  hell she is.  She calls herself Aria Advance, a doll her papa made from
  Kazuma's records.  "Papa" is Applicant, not exactly the domestic type, and
  Aria is basically fighting to gain herself a family.  What Kazuma is supposed
  to feel as she flies off is anyone's guess.

  Gina is worth a Super Alloy nu-Z and a Support Defense +1.  He isn't going
  down without more of a fight, and your dudes have to hand it to his
  determination.  Fahra muses that this guy is royalty, burdened from birth
  with the destiny of ruling.  Too bad for him this world doesn't need rulers.
  Lowe is sure the Gold Frame itself doesn't want all this destruction, but
  Gina tells him that all their Astrays are _weapons_, made expressly to
  destroy and even heralded into the world by the demolition of Heliopolis.
  They can't seem to agree on whether they're instruments of death, or tools
  for protecting the weak, and Lowe is determined to make his point by force.

  He doesn't actually kill the psychopath, but instead asks Gina to think on
  what he said.  Gina vows to win in the end, but Murakumo, who never fights
  _but_ to win, comes and finishes the guy off from out of left field.  Since
  according to Wufei the world itself didn't like Gina, it seems that good
  prevailed.  John, not quite situated in his planned career as a space
  junkman, comes out and says that the rest of the Orb troops have no wish to
  fight.  The words of Heero and "her" have availed, and John's remaining
  mission is to take the troops, and the remains of the P01, to their rightful
  place.  Lowe has a message for whoever the P01's real pilot is: he doesn't
  like fighting.  In thanks, John gives Lowe some data he'd been researching
  about a power-booster, which might allow Lowe to use his immense sword
  without the power loader.  Murakumo too will be heading out, and hopes that
  he won't have to fight Lowe.  Does this mean the Serpent Tail could become
  your enemies?

John takes the word of Gina's death to Mina, who is in shock over losing her
twin brother at such a pivotal moment.  Mina assures her brother that she'll
make his dreams of world domination come true, and asks him to watch over her
from heaven as she remakes the world.  Relena informs Mina that she's going
back to Earth to fight for the form of the world she believes in.  When Mina
asks if their paths are diverging, Relena offers her a chance to shoot her for
Heero's killing of her brother.  Mina sniffs that she's a ruler, and doesn't
move over individual emotion.  She'll only consider shooting Relena once her
ideals have taken shape.  Relena believes Heero's words of the world turning
for individuals are at work in Mina's heart, and hopes that she picks a
different path besides forcible domination.  Mina then releases John and tells
him that Relena's worldview is closer to what he hopes for than hers is.

Garcia takes Canard to task for fucking up the previous battle, but Canard
maintains that it was merely a prologue to his singular fight with Kira.
Besides, it was Garcia who issued the recall order.  The new mission is for
Canard to pursue a mech with a certain device installed inside, which Canard
thinks is a waste of time.  Garcia's people want him to fight the most capable
foe, the better to get good data from his Hyperion, and that could only mean
one person.  Garcia fumes over the moodiness of the failed Super Coordinator,
who isn't going to magically be redeemed just by defeating the only successful
example (that being Kira).  Canard tells Garcia to give Balsam this pursuit
job, but Garcia protests that this mission will give the Eurasia Union total
control over the Federation, breathing new life into their overlooked
territories.  See, the device in question is a "Neutron Jammer Canceler", and
the Eurasia special forces group X wants to capture one from the Zaft and plans
to add it to their armed forces.  Canard is finally up for the mission, mainly
in the hopes of improving his odds against Kira.  Garcia meanwhile is still
fuming over being held responsible for the failed Whispered capture and the
mess at Artemis, and figures if he plays his cards right with Canard, all will
be forgiven.

Prayer is breathing hard after the battle, and certainly doesn't want to give
up his day job as Malchio's disciple.  He _thinks_ it's just a little tiredness
from the combat, but of course it's not.  Meanwhile, Lowe's attempts to contact
the other half of your team aren't working due to the Neutron Jammers.  No way
to tell Kira about the rival Gundam just yet, though your people quickly deduce
that it's being fielded by the Eurasians.  That they have a Coordinator (Lowe's
intuition on Canard) might explain why the guy has a vendetta against Kira.

Kazuma isn't exactly thrilled to take Wufei on board after all he's fought
against you - it really does seem like all the Gundam pilots are a bunch of
weirdos.  He explains about the Sahaku Orb faction and its opposition of the
Asuha faction.  It is they who are rumored to have developed most of Orb's
weapons, and their influence is global enough that even the Plants must take
heed.  What's more, the people at the top of the Sahaku clan are impressive
enough to have even shaken Relena's convictions during her protracted stay
among them... as well as Heero's and Wufei's convictions too.  The reason Wufei
left is that _neither_ side of the Orb faceoff could claim the justice he
seeks, leaving him no choice but to create that by his own hands.  He adds that
if your group proves to be "evil", he'll take you down from inside.  Heero
isn't particularly worried, especially since Relena should be reaching her
answer any moment now.

Prayer doesn't think he can wait for the GGG to arrive with spare parts for the
Dreadnought.  He's sure that if the stolen parts are misused, the battle
between Earth and Plant will become hell incarnate.  That would be the Neutron
Jammer Canceler, which would sure solve the world's energy crisis (and hence
Malchio's interest in it).  The mech that stole it belonged to the Serpent
Tail, and Prayer begs your help to steal the gadget back...


45M. Umareochita Akui ("Malice Born")

Natarle, now captain of the Dominion, reports to Azrael for chauffeur duty.
Suffice it to say the uptight young woman is not thrilled about her assignment,
and even less thrilled by Azrael making passes at her.  His official reason for
being aboard the Dominion is to be an "observer" of the three new MS's it
carries, designed for pilots called "biological CPUs".  He's even got a mission
lined up: picking up a present from a certain knowledgeable Santa; namely, a
shot at taking down the Archangel.  Gee, just what she always wanted: a chance
to prove her mettle by wiping out her former commander...

It's a day after Kazuma's heartbreakingly un-special Christmas.  Your people
are en route from the moon to the L4 point to rendezvous with the Archangel.
Kazuma doesn't have details, but he's heard that Aslan found a new ally back at
the Plants.  Speaking of the Plants, Siegel Klein's been executed, ostensibly
for opposing the hawkish Patrick Zara's regime.  Of course it was actually an
assassination, but your people can't militarily intervene in the conflict
between Earth and Plant so long as both sides are both your friends and foes.
Can your people really stop the Martian Successors' final plan under the
circumstances?  Kazuma closes the log entry by saying he wants to believe his
feelings of gloom are solely due to that lonely Christmas...

The L4 rendezvous will take place at the Mendel colony, abandoned since before
the Lizard War due to some kind of biohazard incident.  Although it's been
sterilized by X-ray since, it's never been put back into service.  That, and
the fact that many lives were lost there, would keep anyone in their right mind
away.  Fortunately your people aren't in their right minds, more interested in
teasing Cagalli about her love for the absent Aslan than in ph34ring whatever
specters Mendel might hold.  Kira would be lying if he said he wasn't a little
worried about Aslan too, but he believes in his best friend.

Tomoru then comes over with some questions.  He's wondering if Kira is a
"typical" Coordinator owing to the extent of Kira's prowess, but Kira maintains
that he's entirely typical, and that he's nowhere near as cool as many people
on your team.  Tomoru is far from convinced, remembering Michi's claim that
Ruri and Kira were special somehow.  Just what is his secret, anyway?

Your people reach L4 and the Archangel, which has arrived a few minutes ahead
of Aslan.  This somewhat eases Kira's nerves, though Cagalli tells him that
he's worrying too much.  Muu jokes that he can't tell Kira and Cagalli apart
when he's like that, adding that in fact they're _twins_, according to a photo
Cagalli was given by Uzumi.  The picture also means that Cagalli isn't Uzumi's
blood relation, though D-Boy is quick to point out that their familial bond was
perfectly strong nonetheless.  He's unwilling to go back to bedrest, no doubt
irritated that your people couldn't locate the Radam base on the moon.  He's
sure the Radam will spring into action soon though, at the moment the Radam
trees bloom.  Despite Mike's best efforts, some of the trees have survived, and
the only remaining option is destroying the master system that controls them
(and the bastard aboard the Radam mothership at the switch).

The real shame is that you'll have to take on the various enemy forces all at
once.  The Eviluders are only a month and a half away, right around the time
D-Boy's life will end.  He matter-of-factly reassures Yumi that there's no way
he'll give up the ghost until his work is done.  And it's time to start
working, as some enemy force heads your way.  Muu can somehow sense that "he"
is among them - Creuset and his Zaft forces.  Creuset rapidly guesses that the
Eternal will be joining your people any moment, and marvels at the fate that
seems to be drawing him toward Muu.  He tells his men to attack your people,
Naturals despite not being affiliated with the Feds.

As your forces line up for battle, Dearka hears about Muu's uncanny sense of
Creuset, and remembers his old captain mentioning something similar once.  As
usual, you're to avoid shooting the enemy's cockpits as much as possible.

  Dearka notes that Yzak is part of this battle, as Aslan and the Eternal
  entourage show up.  Lacus is on the scene, and ready to fight for peace with
  her trusty lieutenant Bartfeld by her side.  Aslan tells Kira that Aslan can
  only move forward now, if he's going to have any hope of stopping his
  father's plans.  Creuset thinks that it's all the easier to eliminate all his
  problems at once.

  Yzak is worth a Laminate Armor and a Multicombo +1.  He's astounded to see
  that Dearka is still alive, wondering why the hell he's fighting on the
  Naturals' side.  Dearka tells him that he's not fighting _for_ the Naturals,
  nor has he betrayed the Plants.  The ever-volatile Yzak won't hear the entire
  story out though, and you'll have to keep pounding it through his thick
  skull.

  Blast Creuset once and he taunts Muu, luring him into Mendel.  Kira rushes in
  to help, and an exasperated Aslan is about to follow when Kazuma tells him to
  stay here and look out for Cagalli instead.  She may be the strong princess
  type, but she's all soft where her feelings for him go.  Kazuma rushes inside
  instead, and Horis wonders if Creuset really knows what the heck went on
  inside that colony...

Muu and Creuset are really out for each other's blood, though Creuset maintains
that Muu's failure to dispatch him may be a manifestation of how kids can't
beat their parents.  When Kira shows up, Creuset asks him what it feels like to
return to the place he was born.  Over Muu's protests, Creuset insists that
Kira learn the truth - the truth about the fools who chased their forbidden
dream in the name of "progress".  Kira is a child of those dreams, and Creuset
himself is the reincarnation of Muu's father, or so he claims.  Creuset is in
fact a failed clone of Muu's father, Al Da Flaga, who thought he could avert
his own death with money.

Muu isn't buying it, and Creuset yells that he hadn't wanted to believe it
either, but it's the truth.  As is Kira's identity as the ultimate result of
mankind's general-purpose genetic engineering: a Super Coordinator!  Many
sacrifices were born to eventually bring Kira into the world, making Kira some
kind of cursed existence fated to bear all the jealousy, enmity and hatred of
mankind.  Bummerooski.

Kazuma meanwhile has gotten lost trying to follow Kira, with Mihiro in tow.
She's braving the eerie hallways rather than stay in the Valhawk alone.  As she
feared, an apparition does appear: it's Aria, here to retrieve some records on
one of her research targets.  She's hugging Mihiro rather too tightly, though
she quickly lets go.  As explained on the other path, she's a clone Applicant
made from Kazuma's memories, and fighting to get a family for herself.  Just
then an explosion rocks the colony from outside.

Creuset says that humans have lost their curiosity, desire, and eventually
their entire goal, killing each other off in the name of saving life.  It
matters not what they learn, what they obtain - all humans are BAD etc. etc.
Of course Creuset feels he's the one and only person in the universe qualified
to pass judgement, and of course Muu could give a fuck less that Creuset's
cloned life expectancy is about to run out.  Creuset's plan: bring about the
end of the world and all its debauchery and conceit.  He insists that no one,
especially not Muu, can stop the tide of hatred sweeping throughout space...

The Feds are inbounds, and Creuset makes his way outside to order a retreat.
It's time for his final bet, and it involves Flay.  Will she be the key to
unlock the door?  Muu and Kira emerge from the colony as well, and Muu has to
yell at Kira to get him to snap out of his shock.  Among the Feds is a black
Archangel ("Archdevil"?), which Creuset hails with the news that he wants to
send them a prisoner before hostilities commence.

It's Flay, and she's begging the Archangel to pick her up.  Azrael doesn't care
who it is, and orders Natarle to blow away your annoying troops.  Natarle says
that she'll suppress her feelings for her former comrades if ordered, but first
requests an explanation of this mission's objective.  He tells her that she
needs no other reason besides the fact that your people once opposed the
Federation army back in Orb - making them "the enemy".  Natarle knows well what
Azrael is trying to accomplish, but is grappling with her soldier's obedience
of orders.  She reluctantly announces that your people are about to get hosed
for their interference in Orb, but Maryuu protests to her that there's no
reason for fighting.

Creuset's plan is to see which side manages to fish Flay, with the "key" to
stop the fighting, out of space.  This sounds fishy enough to Azrael that he
orders Natarle not to let your people have her.  The "biological CPUs" will
leave the recovery of the prisoner to the other soldiers while they try to
inflict maximum damage on your dudes.  Muu is also worried about Flay's words,
suspecting that there must be something behind them given the timing.  Given
that Flay's ship is preset to head to the Dominion, your only option is to sink
it first.

Kazuma and Mihiro emerge next round, with Aria in hot pursuit.  She's convinced
that if she kills Kazuma Mihiro will become hers.  You've got little choice but
to fight this agent of The Database...

  Smack down Morgan and he figures it's time to leave while the leaving is
  good.  The last thing he wants to do is play along with the Chairman's
  selfish schemes any more.

  Shani is worth a Lifter Module and an Inner Strength +1.  Clotho is worth a
  Hybrid Armor and a Counter +1.  Olga is worth a High-Performance Radar and a
  Hit&Away.

  Aria has the same parting lines as on the other path.

  Natarle explains the Dominion's defeat by saying that the Archangel's crew
  are more experienced.  Azrael is apoplectic over the thought that the "key to
  victory" will fall into your people's hands, but Natarle tells him that they
  are part of the Federation in the final analysis.  If this "key" is really
  worth something, she's sure your people will put it to good use.  Creuset
  watches as Kira goes to fish Flay out, surprised that the two know each
  other.  He emerges in his mech, saying that he had in fact been prepared to
  entrust the fate of the world to the Neue Wärter, had they snagged Flay
  first.  But not given that Muu is involved!  He tells Flay to hate Kira as he
  tries to shoot her down, but Lacus and the Eternal get in his way.  She
  shouts that she won't suffer him to envelop the world in his darkness.

  There's a problem though: one of the Successors' assassins is on the scene,
  bombing the Eternal from within.  The Eternal survives, but Lacus gets carted
  off to God knows where.  Creuset makes no move to stop him, since Lacus is
  now a traitor to the Zaft anyway.  Hokuten smirks that Creuset has much
  darkness beneath his mask, and before Kira can intervene Canard shows up and
  starts blasting.  Canard is too arrogant to actually finish Kira off,
  observing that he's already depleted from the long battle, and promises to
  end his life next time - if Kira can even prove he exists.  Creuset cites
  this as more proof of how cursed Kira is before fleeing.  Hokuten says that
  the final "priestess" is in place, and Boson Jumps away.

The rest of your team arrives, but too late.  Now begins the merging of the two
paths.  Aslan guesses right away what the Dreadnought was equipped with: a
Neutron Jammer Canceler.  This gadget can not only end the Earth's energy
crisis, it can reenable the use of nuclear weapons.  Prayer has been left in
charge of it, though the Serpent Tail has a mission to destroy it rather than
let it fall into enemy hands - such as those of the Eurasia Union, whose pilot
obstructed Kira.  Canard is indeed a failed Super Coordinator, aiming to amend
that failure by defeating the real thing (i.e. Kira).

Aslan explains why he didn't mention he's got a NJC in his mech.  He and Kira
are both Coordinators, and they've still got plenty of friends back at the
Plants.  Neither of them can permit the misuse of the system and the threat of
nukes to overshadow the Plants, and in fact they hadn't fully trusted the Neue
Wärter with the info.  But now that Aslan has learned the depths of his
father's madness, he's prepared to entrust, not the Federation, but the Neue
Wärter with the info in the hopes that you can use it to stop what Patrick has
planned.  In fact, the "key" that Flay carried turns out to be readouts on the
NJC too, sent by someone who apparently doesn't care if the world gets
destroyed.  Creuset is probably responsible for spilling the beans about Spit
Break too, as a form of amusement.  Lacus' kidnapping is also at at least
partially his fault, though it's not entirely clear what special power of
Lacus' might make the Successors want her so badly.

It's clear the Successors are now the biggest threat, but there's a problem
with just charging in.  The Feds have already sent a fleet, and in anticipation
the Successors have turned their main Ruins into a veritable fortress.  The
Federation fleet was apparently wiped out by the Ruins' long-range defense
systems.  Horis guesses that the Successors will put whatever their plan is in
motion on 1/1, the anniversary of their bloody coup d'etat.  That leaves you
three days to pulverize their ass.

There's no sign of Kira, and Flay and Sai (having made up) head off to Kira's
room to see if he's in need of consoling.  Flay at least has found in the
Archangel the place to live she's always craved, by the narrowest of twists of
fate.  Wherever Kira is, Aslan is sure that Kira must be in shock over Lacus'
kidnapping.  He doesn't know whether to call it "love" or not, but he senses
the invisible bond Kira and Lacus share.  As Flay and Sai head off, Aslan
confides to Cagalli that he certainly was shocked too that his former fiancee's
been hauled off, but he'd be far more distraught had it been her.  The two
agree to protect each other from now on.

Flay indeed finds Kira in his room, apologizing for the terrible things she's
done to him [mostly in the anime].  She doesn't expect him to forgive her, but
she offers him her thanks for saving her.  She also wants to apologize to
Lacus, and implores Kira to save Lacus, as Lacus saved her.  Kira remains
silent, and having said what she wanted to say, she gently leaves a meal behind
for him and leaves.  After a moment longer, Kira inwardly thanks Flay in turn
for protecting his heart - if not for her by his side when he first came to
Earth, he's sure he'd be ruined by now.  Whether or not his powers are cursed,
he vows to use them for good, and for saving Lacus in any event.

At the Ruins, Yamasaki recounts how incorporating Misumaru Yurika into the
mechanism allowed for controlled Jumping.  However, it's been quite unstable,
due apparently to Yurika's dreams!  Now, dreams are the format used to input
images into her brain to control the system, but for everything to work
properly, the transportee has to have the same mindset as Yurika in the dream.
For a bunch of bloodthirsty guys raised on Geki Ganger, it's unlikely that
anyone could break 80% synch.  But he's figured out a way around this, as
validated by Tessa: Lacus' voice!  Lacus' songs have the ability to enfold the
transportees in love and whatnot, raising the synch rate above 99%.  Lacus
cautions Kusakabe that her songs are songs of peace - is anyone here willing to
listen?  Of course not, and she - traitor neither to the Plants nor to the
Earth - has no desire to sing for this vile lot.  Tessa however asks her to
sing anyway, and to believe in those precious to her.  Lacus ponders this a
moment, and finally agrees to sing for those she loves.  Tessa is sure your
people will do the rest...


45G. Fukiareru Hakai no Arashi ("A Storm of Destruction Blows In")

The other members of the Serpent Tail aren't comfortable with Murakumo hanging
onto the Neutron Jammer Canceler, which could solve the world's energy crisis
in one fell swoop.  It could swoop in to fell many other things, which is why
Murakumo is hanging onto it.  After all, even if most of the Earthlings aren't
stupid enough to nuke the Plants, it only takes one.  Liquinni calls up,
actually working _for_ Murakumo instead of the other way around for a change.
Whatever that info is, it's important enough for Murakumo to set aside his
dislike for Liquinni's shadier methods...

Kazuma notes that the present Santa delivered this year was way bigger than
expected: the Neutron Jammer Canceler.  Who cares that it got stolen: just the
fact that someone managed to invent it at all is miraculous.  He's sure that
the Serpent Tail must have a very good reason for playing pirate and swiping
the gadget, and that they aren't likely to just sell it to the Feds.  He, like
Lowe, would dearly love to know what Murakumo has in mind.

Prayer isn't in such good shape, having abruptly passed out in the middle of a
conversation.  He passes it off as mere overwork, but Horis has other ideas.
Lowe tells him to leave the recovery of the Dreadnought's head to him.
Murakumo's taught him the Serpent Tail's secret comm codes, so he expects he
can phone them up and arrange a meeting.  In-jokes aside, Lowe wants to meet
Murakumo quickly, but one-on-one; force is the last option he wants to use.
Murakumo will talk to Zechs on his behalf, and tells Lowe to get ready to fly.
Renais isn't so sure Gai isn't thinking well of the other Gai just because they
share a name, but GGG Gai sure isn't this tolerant to the Aestivalis Gai.
Well, that's 'cause his real name is Yamada Jirou.

After the others get shooed out, Horis lingers to ask Prayer a serious
question.  Horis has observed symptoms like Prayer's before, and knows full
well that Prayer has foreshortened telomeres.  Sooner, rather than later,
Prayer's cells will lose the ability to divide and much bucket-kicking will
commence.  What Horis wants to know is, whose clone is Prayer anyway?

Mihael tells his men to get ready to sortie.  It's not Lacus they're after, but
whoever stole one of the Neutron Jammer Cancelers.  The man on the comm isn't
interested, which makes Mihael very irate.  Their mission isn't just getting
the thing back, it's wiping out all data concerning it and all people who might
have come into contact with it.  It's the killing bit that gets the man fired
up, ready to lay waste with Regenerate.

Before Murakumo round to telling Lowe why he stole the NJC, he tells Lowe that
they both seem to have erred.  Too many people want to get their hands on the
thing, and some of them have just arrived: the Martian Successors.  They want
it to sow confusion on Earth, though the Successor captain claims they're just
trying to fulfill their debt to George Glenn by aiding the Zaft.  Murakumo
doesn't care which side they're on - his mission from a certain man is to
ensure that the NJC isn't misused.  Lowe is only too happy to help out with
this mission.

  The two of them make short work out of the Successor troops.  Murakumo
  explains that his mission is to destroy the NJC rather than let it fall into
  the wrong hands.  He had judged that those wrong hands would surely appear
  sooner or later, and decided to steal it first and keep it safe.  No need for
  that really: it's the Neue Wärter's job to beat down anyone who would use the
  NJC for evil.  Murakumo supposes that since your team already has the Freedom
  and Justice, it couldn't hurt to let them have the Dreadnought too.  Ooh,
  revelation about why Kira protected the Freedom so fiercely!  As you get the
  codes to open the container and retrieve the NJC, a new challenger appears:
  the Zaft.

  You get to fight Doctor Mihael, and the enemy Gundam (Gundams Gundams
  everywhere!) piloted by Ash Gray.  He's more than happy to follow orders, if
  those orders involve massacring all your dudes, and Mihael is now wishing he
  didn't have to depend on lunatics like this.  You've got to be especially
  careful of him, and Lowe has the Li Home retreat to a safe distance from the
  front lines.

  As the battle progresses, Canard shows up, apparently taken off his quest for
  Kira long enough to pursue you for having the NJC.  He wants it to make his
  Hyperion complete, and his sneak attack on the Li Home gets repulsed when the
  Dreadnought emerges, with its head attached and with Prayer ready to bring
  forth its true power.  Kazahana makes the faltering Prayer promise to come
  back at the first real sign of danger, counting on his friends to help (that
  would be your team).

  Mihael is worth a Laminate Armor and a Multicombo +1.  Ash scoffs at the
  proud doctor's retreat, figuring he's better suited to saving lives than to
  taking them.  He, on the other hand, thinks he's invincible due to the split
  personality that wants others' lives.  The guy starts laughing as the fight
  progresses, uncaring about danger to the Plants or whatever else.  His only
  objective is killing as many people as he can.  Your people are aghast at
  this, particularly the normally positive Lowe, who's never met such an
  unreasoningly evil foe before.

  Ash is worth a Hybrid Armor and a Hit&Away.  He runs before you can finish
  him off, and the world is less safe for it.  With Prayer still in danger, you
  can't afford to pursue just at present.

  Canard is worth a Lifter Module and a Counter.  Rather than give up, he
  seizes Prayer and tries to flee, with the Li Home getting ready to pursue.
  But then more troops from Eurasia show up, including the Hyperion 2 with its
  pilot Balsam Arlend, the "Ace of Artemis".  No one has ever heard of him.
  Canard drags Prayer off and leaves Balsam to tangle with your guys, and Heero
  notices right away that Balsam seems entirely too relaxed.  To Balsam, this
  is all a video game, and he's trying to improve his high score at Canard's
  expense.

  Balsam is worth a High-Performance Radar and an Inner Strength +1.  Actual
  combat doesn't seem so appealing now...

You detect signs that the Dreadnought is locked in a dogfight with another
Gundam, and your crew rushes to the rescue.  Prayer is actually not doing too
badly, utilizing the Dreadnought's special "Dragoon System" to kick ass.
Prayer is fading fast, and tells the pummeled Canard that further combat is
pointless.  The idiotic Canard is unwilling to surrender, preferring instead
the angst of being killed by a mere junkman.  Guess his dreams of overcoming
the Super Coordinator are about to end.  But wait, while there's life there's
hope!  There's also the Oltegua, whose captain tells him to return to ship so
they can follow Kira.  He assures the Dreadnought's pilot that he'll defeat him
soon enough as part of his plan to become the strongest.  Prayer passes out,
but not before telling your people to hurry and save your friends.

See the other path for what happens next as the team reunites.


46. Atarashii Jidai no Hajimari Ni ("At the Dawn of a New Age")

A certain bespectacled girl is telling Michi about a vision of hope and power
stemming from that something entrusted to you by those swallowed by the
darkness beyond the stars.  They will return, but with their hopes twisted,
though whether "they" refers to the Eviluders, Radam or someone else entirely
the girl cannot say.  She can also sense two knights of steel who will arise to
face the menace overshadowing mankind, and that a great, shining light will
determine the fate of all.

The NJCs have indeed been conveyed to the GGG and Rose, with firm promises to
not misuse them.  Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and after that, New Year's
itself, on which the Successors' plans will go into motion.  All the Federation
army vigilance in the world won't stop the Successors from Jumping in and
wreaking havoc.  To stop them, your people have decided to Jump to Mars and
strike during the frenzy of their preparations.  The Feds failed before because
they lack the ability to Jump all the way to Mars, leaving themselves open to
long-range attack from the main Ruins.  Even for your people, and with Nergal's
help, it'll be a stretch due to the lack of A-Class Jumpers among you.  Not a
very encouraging prologue to the mission...

Youko isn't thrilled by the prophecy of doom Ms. Jefferson has just put forth.
Ain't no prophecy so gloomy your crew can't fix it with a little ass whuppin',
which is why you're going to Mars, using the Nadesico B's Distortion Field to
enfold all your little fleet for a simultaneous Jump.  No A-Class Jumper,
incomplete repairs... a Jedi worries not about these things.  And a Kazuma
worries more about serving tea when he's being punished for not helping with
dinner, giving the side effect of spending lots of time with the ladies.

Meanwhile, the Wilberwind (remember the thing that made the Solid Armor?) has
finished executing the plans Lowe handed over, resulting in prodigious power
cylinders to attach to the Red Frame's arms.  Lowe will call the resulting mech
the Powered Red, and he's feeling lucky that Taiga approved the design.  Such
approval was necessary because Second L needs a nuclear generator to run its
anti-proton assault cannon - the same type of weapon as the Archangel's
Lohengrin.  Heero, impressed, says that that this will give the resulting mech
the greatest firepower of any MS.  Actually, there'll be some competition for
that crown, since Bartfeld has some armament modules that add to the Freedom
and Justice as well: "Metea" modules.  Unfortunately, they and the Eternal
can't make the trip to Mars, meaning you'll have something to look forward to
when you get back.  As will Prayer and the Dreadnought: the Dragoon system.  It
seems that Prayer is one of the "few people" who can use equipment like the
Dragoon or the Gunbarrels.

Prayer isn't exactly thrilled to be one of the chosen few, since it means being
"chosen" to be a weapon.  Same goes for Kira.  Lowe gives them a talking-to:
tools are judged good or bad based on what their wielder does with them.
There's no such thing as a person _forced_ to be a killer; likewise, their new
armaments don't have to be about adding to the body count if their users don't
wish for that.  Not all weapons are lethal, after all [though just about
everything on an MS is, in fact...] so Prayer and his "X Astray" and the rest
of your people should have peace of mind on the battlefield.  How nice.  Now
get out there and start blasting already.

Michi's staying behind to further her research on your enemies.  If you've
fulfilled the conditions, Sousuke meanwhile has put the finishing touches on
the upgraded Bonta-kun.  His comrades are astounded that he's still messing
with the thing, but he insists it's ideally suited for operations in urban
environments and especially inside buildings.  Clouseau will allow him to bring
it along, so long as Clouseau gets to test-drive the thing first.  All in the
name of Sousuke fulfilling his mission and rescuing Kaname.

D-Boy's having one of his good days, and should be good to go to Mars.  This is
not to say that he's entirely intact, since he seems to have forgotten about
his sister and her beloved amaryllis flowers.  Well, Yumi is able to make him
remember a little bit, part of his ongoing battle to retain who he is.  Michi
then comes in with an unexpected guest: Pod-Papillon, product of the Pas-Q
machine.  The original was indeed killed in Pod-Mamoru's assault back when, but
the Xerox copy doesn't seem too bummed.  Entouji certifies that she's got the
same mind and heart as his original lover, which is good enough for the rest of
your people.

Michi and Papillon need to talk to D-Boy alone, on the subject of his father.
They've managed to piece together how his father's connection with the Radam
and Eviluders works, and so far only Taiga and Freeman have been briefed.  It
turns out the Solid Armor was actually _modeled_ on the Tek System, and by
reverse-engineering what the original physiology of the Eviluders must have
been from the Solid Armor's final form, Michi has concluded that the Eviluders
are, in fact, humans.  Papillon's Sensing Mind has concurred: they are in fact
Earthlings, or were many generations ago.  This has D-Boy confused, since his
Radam memories speak of many centuries of war between the two sides - how could
people from that long ago build something so sophisticated?  That's all they've
been able to find out, but Michi tells D-Boy that there's a way to learn more:
contact The Database.

It's game time for the Martian Successors.  Victory is assured.  Order and
prosperity will be achieved.  Punishment to the wicked.  If you can think of a
cliche, Kusakabe and his followers can say it with a straight face.  It all
rests on the ability of the "priestesses" to bring the Boson Jump system under
control.  Their main target will be the New Year's festivities at the New
Federation HQ, coincidentally the hundredth anniversary of the Jovians being
driven from the Earth.  Kusakabe yells to the troops that the time has come to
transition from being the villains to being the creators of a new world order.

The Whispered aren't very impressed, but Yamasaki says that the rank and file
are partially in the right.  After all, the Federation is in pretty sorry shape
thanks to the Blue Cosmos' efforts and the fact that the Jovians are siding
with the Plants.  Of course, he's forgetting the fact that most Earthlings
aren't Blue Cosmos, but like most misguided zealots he won't let logic stand in
the way of his plans.  Nor will he let the Whispered try to stop Lacus now -
that will have to fall to Sousuke and the rest.

Your own mission is about to start, with all the usual wishes for good fortune.
Kaidou will be acting separately to try to figure out what the Soul Lords are
up to.  Papillon implores Michi to take good care of Blade and Orgun while she
continues researching the Eviluder-Radam link on Earth.  The Professor isn't
around, though with Li Home not expected on the front lines it seems it
shouldn't matter.  With half an hour until New Year's, the head of the UN
should be giving his New Year's speech - just a little more until the new
century arrives.  It's up to you to make sure that it doesn't belong to the
Successors.

But before you can even depart, a combined Successor/Zaft force arrives.
Tomoru figures that the most he can do for D-Boy is to help end this fighting
sooner.  In any case, you've got to break through these guys before you can
Jump to Mars.

  Smite these foes and more will show up, very determined not to let you get to
  Mars.  In fact, the Successors' forces manage to make it all the way to Fed
  HQ, thanks to their newfound synchrony with Sleeping Beauty's dreams.  They
  think they see all the Federation defenders fleeing shamefully before them,
  but as they charge into HQ, they see...

  ...Happy shiny Megumi, instead of the wizened visage of Rose they had been
  expecting.  For this great moment of celebration, she introduces her band
  mates, including Akatsuki, Nergal's elusive president.  The Successors'
  attempt at swift vengeance against him is repulsed cold by a _man-portable_
  Distortion Field.  Akatsuki berates the Successors for their all-too
  formulaic attempts at terrorism using their newly mastered Boson Jumping, and
  mockingly advises them not to rush to their own death.  Apparently it takes
  the moronic Successors a while to realize that it is they who've fallen into
  a trap designed to decimate their will to fight.

  The icing on the cake comes courtesy of Genichirou, who tells his one-time
  Jovian comrades that their fallen brethren are busy crying in Heaven at the
  moment.  And in case that isn't convincing enough, his special guest Relena
  will be more than happy to lecture about non-violent means of resolving
  disputes.  She even brought Marimea, penitent and eager to do things Relena's
  way now.

  Some among them still think they're fighting for that New World Order thing,
  but George Glenn's ghost phones up to point out that that's not what he meant
  by "Coordinator".  They were supposed to fix things, not make them worse.  He
  encourages them not to be hasty in changing the world.  With their aggression
  quelled, the Successors are now ready to hear Rose's real New Year's oration.

  In addition to the usual New Year's greetings, Rose announces to all the
  peoples of the world that a collaborator within the Plants has given her the
  Neutron Jammer Canceler - and that she won't hear of it being put to military
  use.  She also declares that she seeks peace with the Successors, and pledges
  her support for the Klein faction within the Plants.  The Successors heard
  right: Rose has no intention whatsoever of wiping them out.  Pointing to the
  Wärter's record, she proclaims that all mankind is facing a far greater,
  common menace right now: one that will require all people to join hands to
  fend off.  The world is about to change, and that change will involve each
  and every individual.  Believing in the strength of the human heart, she asks
  all humans within earshot to join the cause as the new century begins.

  Your people in space are amazed at this turn of events, wishing they'd have
  bugged Akatsuki to pick up more of the tab back at the ramen shop now that
  they know who he really is.  The table is now set for peace between Earth and
  the Plants to blossom anew; what remains now is for your people to crush the
  remaining warmongers.  You've got a little orational help from Tsukumo, who
  advises the hard-liners not to make their loved ones cry by giving their
  lives for a futile cause.  It's the Nergal secret service and the latest
  Nadesico-class ship, the Nadesico C.  They've even got a double- secret
  weapon with them: Ines, the A-Class Jumper, is not quite as dead as
  advertised.

  She's about to launch into an explanation of her survival when some uninvited
  guests appear: a band of Eviluders led by Rang.  Rang announces that
  Commander Zoa wants Orgun dead, and figures that it's his job as Head
  Detonator to make it happen before the Zomar arrives.  Will you play along?
  Of course not.  Your people quickly transfer Omoikane to the Nadesico C and
  send the B back to GGG.  Once you take these jokers down, it'll be off to
  Mars.

  Rang is worth a Power Extender, a BP+1, and an Ignore Size.  He yells to
  Orgun that Lord Miku has prophesied that he'll become a threat to all the
  Eviluders.  Bummerooski.  If the Eviluders truly are Earthlings, another one
  of them just bought the farm...

The Nadesico C is working out very well, thank you very much.  To see it off on
the mission to Mars is the Li Home, whose crew includes the slick Akatsuki.  He
coyly tells you that he's been busy fighting for your people in the underworld,
and his stint on your team was good for blowing off the stress of being a major
CEO.  He was also Akito's mystery backer, and the one who kept Ines' condition
secret.  Ruri pointedly asks him if he's a good guy or a bad guy, and the only
answer he makes is to offer you a boatload of cash to help your people reequip.
As your people fall over themselves in gratitude, Akatsuki smirks and says that
the rich are invincible.

Genichirou and Tsukumo are seeing each other for the first time in quite a
while, ever since the messy assassination.  Genichirou tells his old friend to
keep walking the well-lit straight and narrow while he supports him from the
shadows.  It's the best he can do to make up for his sins.  Tsukumo will go
along with this, but tells his friend that they are friends still, just as he
swore way back on Jupiter.

Zoa tells Miku of Rang's failure.  Miku isn't surprised that her warnings were
right on, and tells Zoa to keep heading to Earth.  There, they will absorb
everything about a certain person, and destroy all.  As their founder Aiba
taught them, victory through force is everything.  Zoa rejoices over their
founder's greatness in helping them develop the Solid Armor.  He cries to the
soldiers to make haste to destroy the Radam, and everything else on Earth.
Miku meanwhile is feeling another prophet on Earth, calling her.  It is, after
all, their long-lost homeland...

Leonard has been cooperating with The Database.  Inference's current theory is
that the knowledge of the Whispered is some sort of database, stored at the
genetic level by the proto-culture that spawned Earth.  The problem is, now
that The Database has recorded the knowledge in Leonard's head, they have no
further use for him.  Rather than just submit to being killed, Leonard points
out that there's no less than two more Whispered on Earth whose data they
haven't got yet.  Besides, if the plan is to wipe out the entire Solar System,
there's no need to specifically kill him - right?  Seeing as how Leonard is a
living record of sorts, Inference is willing to let him tag along as far as
Earth.  Leonard in turn tells them that the two Whispered are on Mars.

Inference smirks and says that his reactions are quite different from that of
another genius, who insisted on helping and stayed among The Database.  Leonard
shrugs and says that all people are different: the "son" always seems to
resemble the "father".  Inference frowns and says he doesn't like the sound of
that, and the two bid each other "farewell".  Neither doubts he'll see the
other again...


47. Kokui no Fukushuu-Ki no Saiki ("The End of the Black-Clad Revenger")

Akito is satisfied at Ruri's rendezvous with the Nadesico C.  It, with Omoikane
running its systems, will surely be invulnerable.  However, Akito isn't
satisfied with contributing combat data to the mission: he's going too.  Erina
notes grimly that "revenge" would have once been the furthest thing from
Akito's lips, but times change...

Word of the surrender and disarmament of the attack squad has reached the
Successors' base.  Kusakabe seems most put out that what happened a year ago is
unfolding again before his eyes.  Tessa is happy to point out to Yamasaki that
this is his natural comeuppance for his people thinking far too highly of their
technology and ideals.  The greater the overconfidence, the easier the fall.
And there's another factor: the more the Successors heightened their synchro
rate with Yurika, the more her feedback would affect them, making the advance
battalion that much more susceptible to your people's overtures for peace.
_This_ was why Tessa encouraged Lacus to cooperate and sing for peace.  At
least Yamasaki is man enough to admit fair and square when he's beaten.

Unlike Kusakabe, who orders the base's defenses to shoot the Nadesico down.
Too bad for him Ruri has infiltrated his systems, using the Nadesico C's
radically advanced electronic warfare capabilities.  Ines is so happy to
elaborate that she doesn't seem fazed by the strain of Jumping everyone here.
It's a little early for mirth, since Kusakabe isn't yet arrested, so out your
people sortie.  Sousuke even manages a snappy quotation about what happens to
those who obstruct others' love as Ryouko takes some ribbing about her shapely
ass.

  Kusakabe is worth a Super Alloy Z.  His honor guards are prepared to die to
  the last man to defend him, but as Ruri repeats her request for his
  surrender, his stance softens as he asks her to guarantee the safety of his
  men.  He tells his troops that their cause was lost the moment their grand
  Plan Kou failed, and concedes defeat gracefully.  Unfortunately, there's
  still the little matter of Hokuten, determined to advance his shadowy,
  selfish agenda to the last.  The dismantling of Hokuten himself will fall to
  Akito, with the rest of your troops helping.  Sousuke tells Akito not to
  worry about any of the small fry, and Akito doesn't have a chance to answer
  whether or not this is truly his last battle.

  Akito is filled with darkness, but it's a good kind of darkness in that it
  lets him wreck Hokuten but good.  Hokuten is worth an Anti-Beam Coating L, a
  BP+1 and a Morale Limit Break.  That's not the end of him though, not until
  Akito blows away his unit's external armor and overwhelms him with sheer
  awesomeness.

Has Akito's soul finally shed its armor?  Hard to say, but everyone at least
wishes him peace.  Everyone except Aria, whose Database goons show up in a bid
to kidnap the remaining Whispered.  Kusakabe clears out at your insistence, as
Aria cues Applicant's rush to grab the computational unit (with Yurika still
attached).  Are you about to see all three of the missing women kidnapped yet
again??  It takes Ruri and Akito crying out to Yurika to rouse her from her
slumber, and she Boson Jumps herself and the entire damn Jump core into the
Nadesico's hangar.

There's still the problem of the Whispered, and Kazuma furiously shouts at them
to halt.  Applicant responds "No one halts when told to; if you've got time to
yell, follow instead", one of the many Trailer maxims.  With a spiteful little
"Bye-bye", Aria and Applicant vanish - but Akito tells Sousuke not to give up
hope yet.  Better is to demolish the remaining bad guys and then follow.

  The bad guys have random disposable junk.

Of course the Database heavies escape in the confusion, and your people make to
regroup aboard the Nadesico.  All except for Akito, who claims he's not
entitled to take off his black threads and rejoin society.  He blames his own
inadequacies not only for Yurika's dreadful state, but also for the deaths of
everyone at the Mars colony like Ai-chan.  Ines for one isn't impressed with
Akito's emo-gothic self expression.  She reminds him of what Erina told him:
Boson Jump isn't just teleportation, it's _time_-space travel.  Akito doesn't
see what she's getting at, but Ines begins reciting the self- introduction of a
little girl from Utopia Colony's Rainbow elementary school: first grade, room
5-12.  Favorite person: daddy.  Favorite food: spaghetti.  Favorite story:
Cinderella.  She asks Akito to greet her, as out of the ruins emerges a little
girl.  She introduces herself as Ines Fressange, but people call her "Ai".  She
looks around, confused, and wonders where the nice guy who gave her the orange
is.  Ines tells her that she'll get to see that nice guy, if not now, than one
day.  She urges the girl never to forget his face, or voice.  Ai-chan in return
hands over some kind of memory plate, saying she was asked to hand it over and
saying she's got to go.

Akito is stunned that "Ines" is actually "Ai-chan"... or "I"-chan, as Ines
elegantly points out.  It turns out she was caught up in Akito's original Jump
off of Mars, being tossed backwards in time all the way to the people who
_made_ the Ruins.  They sent her back to your time, but to 21 years ago in the
Martian desert and sans memory.  Nergal rescued her back then, and it took
until her participation in the A-Class Jumper trials for her memory to return.
Overcome, Akito flees the scene, and Tsukumo intones that there are some lost
things that can be retrieved, even if some of the intervening time can't.  He
for one is positive that Akito will return to you once more.

New Years day has finally drawn to a close, with some good (no more Successors,
Yurika recovered) and some bad (Database grabbed the Whispered) together.
Speaking of The Database, they're your next prey.  But first, you've got Yurika
to wake up.  Her first observation is that everyone's aged, which might have
something to do with all the worrying about her that's been going on.  She's
been dreaming of Akito all this time, but she'll have to go to Earth to chase
after him.  Fortunately, there's a spare Jump-capable ship handy, piloted by
Lapis Lazuli.  Born in Nergal's labs, she tells Ruri that she was once Akito's
eyes, ears, hands and feet.  Akito ordered this girl, so similar to Ruri
herself, to stay behind, by which he meant "to help you out".  Yurika can of
course handle the Jump navigation, and Lapis vows to protect the woman who is
obviously of such great importance to Akito.  Lacus announces that she'll
accompany them, determined to continue fighting her "fight" back on Earth by
extending her songs to more people who need them.  No doubt her late father
would be pleased, as Murakumo would know since it was he who employed
Murakumo's help for the NJC business.  Lacus tells Kira that she'll look
forward and work toward the day when the Plants and Earth can get a little
closer [and the two of them can totally hit the sack, but that's another
story].

Ruri is sure that Akito will return, and if he doesn't, she'll chase him down
herself.  After all, she's got something to give him, and something to return
to him.  Him, her precious person...


48. Gyakushuu no Daiteiou ("The Emperor's Counterattack")

Yurika and Lacus are now back on Earth thanks to the Lapis Lazuli taxi service.
Kusakabe, not surprisingly, is being held by the Executariat while the Martian
Successor mess gets sorted out.  Such luminaries from the old Jupiter Union as
Admiral Fukube will be keeping an eye on things, so there's little to fear on
that score.  Rather, you've got to worry about how to pursue Kaname and Tessa
when their captors operate on an interstellar scale.  All hope would seem lost
if not for a clue from a most unexpected source...

That would be the mysterious "Mister A9", who's sent word that The Database are
hanging out on Jupiter.  This makes good strategic sense, and given the paucity
of people with any info at all about The Database, isn't likely to be
disinformation.  Whoever A9 is, he's got access to ultra long-range comms gear
that very few organizations on Earth possess - and a proven track record in
that his info led Sousuke to Kaname and Tessa back in Orb.  In any event, with
no other leads and the very real possibility that The Database might unlock the
secrets of THE POWER, you've got to head to Jupiter and fast.

This will also mean facing Kazuma's counterpart Aria, and the man who made her.
Omoikane is 97% sure that Applicant _is_ Bless, which raises the very
interesting question how Bless would come to be with The Database after the
Holy Valentine Light incident.  If it really is Bless, Gai imagines mind
control could explain why he hasn't tried to contact you.  Your people respect
Bless's command abilities enough that they're pretty certain they can't win if
they have to fight him head on and can't break this theoretical mind control.
About they best your people can come up with is relieving Kazuma and Mihiro of
the responsibility of directly confronting their father and fight him in their
stead, should matters come to that.

Sinclyne pays his father, the most definitely _former_ emperor Dai Bazarl, a
visit.  He's got a proposition, and a Mecha Black Beast, suitable for the
former emperor to destroy the Neue Wärter with.  And should Dai Bazarl refuse
to head to the front lines, Sinclyne will have him executed on the spot.  Dai
Bazarl refuses, and counters Sinclyne's sword thrust with a massive blow from
his blue fists.  Observing that his son's swordsmanship still needs some work,
he then agrees to pilot the damn mech.  After all, the repeated failures to
take down Go-Lion ultimately reflect on him, the true emperor, and he means to
atone for that today.  It's high time that his son learns just how fearsome his
old man really is...

Your people don't actually Jump all the way to Jupiter, lest they get attacked
on the spot by the bad guys.  Instead, they Jump nearby and plan to complete
the journey using conventional propulsion.  You've got to face down the Soul
Lords, the Garura AND The Database - hopefully not all at once.  Uribatake is
even looking forward to all that throwdown, finding the grand scale a welcome
change from the domestic struggles of his small family.  Given the reports of
Uribatake's domineering wife, few of your crew blame him.

Orbit Base has yet to detect the characteristic time-space distortion that
would indicate the Soul Lords' Trinary restoration has begun within the Solar
System.  Leo notes that the restoration itself isn't expected to take long -
but the energy charging for it is.  That gives you a window to attack between
their arrival and their plans going in motion.  To do so, you'll have to get
through the ranks of the Garura who just showed up, and keep the nerves of the
entire Bless clan in check.  Kazuma laughs at this last point, saying that it's
not in his nature to fret about things he can't discern in person.  Gai is
hoping to get some clues to the ancient Leo culture during the fight.

  Hose a few bad guys and Dai Bazarl will arrive on the scene, spouting the
  usual megalomaniac junk and offering anyone who should defeat your people
  whatever reward they desire... and a quick stab in the back to anyone
  attempting to flee.  His terrified men have no choice but to fight their way
  out of this one, making them twice as annoying to finish off [in principle..]

  As the fight progresses, it becomes clear that Dai Bazarl has heard of Getter
  before in ancient records (_what_ ancient records??).  Fahra demands to know
  how the Trinary, Garura and Altea systems are related, given that she herself
  has never heard of the Trinary system before.  Dai Bazarl isn't surprised,
  given that the Trinary system only existed in the "previous universe".  He
  notes your people's puzzlement, and then makes the connection that Latio is
  one of your comrades.  He sniffs that the Lion (Galeon, presumably) and Latio
  were captured and executed by the Soul Lords.  Laughing, Dai Bazarl intones
  that the Go-Lion is the only relic of the Leo Culture left now, and once it's
  gone his ambitions will be complete.  If you want to see the little kid so
  badly, he'll gladly send you to meet him, with memories of his wrath as
  souvenirs.

  When Go-Lion and Dai Bazarl clash, either the Garura or the Leo Union will go
  down.  He's worth a Barrier M Generator and a SP Usage -5%.  Kogane yells to
  him that the flames of his defeat were lit when he incurred your people's
  wrath.  Let that be a lesson to anyone stupid enough to invade the Solar
  System.  Dai Bazarl has one of those "doh!" moments when he belatedly
  remembers that all three cultures of the galaxy are concentrated here: the
  Leo Culture, the Ancient Solar Culture, and the Primeval Culture "Es".  He
  supposes you might even be able to fend off the many remaining cosmic enemies
  if you can kick his ass... provided you can figure out how to use your power
  to the fullest.  What he means by that he won't say, content to repeat his
  claim as the only ruler in the galaxy as his mech is engulfed by a colossal
  explosion.

At least Fahra's father can now rest in peace, knowing that the heroes of the
Go-Lion avenged him sevenfold (or at least, five-fold).  But what about these
three cultures?  Applicant figures you don't need to know as he deploys his
troops.  Aria is quite indignant that your people sniffed out their little
operation, but Kazuma has no time to play with her today.  His one and only
goal is to capture Applicant and make him spit out the whole story, but to do
so he'll have to fight his way through the Soul Lords as well.  This will be
all too sweet for Gai, who swears revenge for Mamoru and Galeon's demise.

  Aria has Kaname's Harisen, plus a BP+2 and a Infight+1.  She can't believe
  she can't beat Kazuma, and Kazuma yells at her not to make him fight her any
  more.  She furiously asks if he's saying she owes him somehow, but Applicant
  orders her to withdraw and leave your elimination to him.

  Applicant and Palpalepa together are worth a Laminate Armor, Max SP+10 and
  Gunfight +1.  Both do not go down they way they should, but counterattack.
  Applicant's strike breaks the Valguard into its constituent pieces, after
  utilizing one of the president's 2000 special moves: "Playing Dead".  Kazuma
  is outraged at Applicant's mimicry, but Applicant is planning to renew
  Kazuma's knowledge of the terror of space and the weakness of him as an
  individual.  Horis can't move to protect Kazuma with the Valstork's main
  systems offline, but interestingly, the Armstra's main systems are offline
  too: Regulate's doing.  She won't let Applicant kill the kid, and over
  Critic's protests, Inference adds his vote in favor of keeping Kazuma around.
  Two to one, and Applicant obeys, capturing Kazuma instead of killing him.

  The Valstork is still immobile, so Gai is about to head off in pursuit
  instead when Palpalepa intervenes and insists Gai fight him.  Their strengths
  are equal, but a vision of Cain appears and tells Gai that his heroism is
  futile.  Momentarily distracted, Gai gets thrashed by Palpalepa, who says
  that the Five Lions are next on the menu.  Adding that you all are too late
  to stop what's coming, he disappears as well.

You can do nothing but retreat and regroup.  Akane is adamant that who you just
faced isn't her father.  Rather, The Database seems to be a relic of that
ancient Es culture you just heard about... meaning the Valstork is too.  Said
Valstork is barely limping by on subsystems, which is more than Mikoto can say,
fainted dead away from the shock of seeing Gai apparently blown to bits before
her eyes.  Leo points out that you've got no time to be shocked: if you want to
save the lives of everything in the Solar System, you've still got to stop the
Soul Lords.  Pretty heroic of him to overcome his fatherly grief...

The enemy's course suggests that their base is on Ganymede, a former Jupiter
Union stronghold.  Ruri quickly decides that a small force of your people will
invade the base while the rest of you run interference.  The team's objective
will be information gathering and the liberation of the Whispered and the
Valhawk.  On the team will be the SRT folks, Aki, Tomoru, Renais and Kaidou.
D-Boy politely but firmly insists that he, not the commander Aki, go on the
mission, promising not to die just yet.  This also gives D-Boy a chance to
contact The Database and figure out what the hell the deal was with his dad.
George and the Li Home will take the infiltration team, drawing on his former
piloting experience around Jupiter.

Leo also wants to go along, not just to get revenge for his son's killing, but
also to check out something that's been bothering him about Jupiter's THE
POWER.  Another unexpected helper shows up too: Mikoto, whose Semi-Evoluder
abilities are telling her that Gai is still alive and is somewhere nearby -
probably in enemy hands...

Despite the crew's best efforts, the Valstork's fighting days appear over.  Its
most essential technology is of unknown origin, and more or less can't be fixed
except at the most basic mechanical level.  Well, maybe not "unknown" - Horis
is sure it comes from this "Es" culture Dai Bazarl mentioned.  That doesn't
help much, since you don't exactly have many other examples to study and maybe
reverse engineer from.  He tells you that although the Valstork's design
"sensibilities" differ, its systems and everything else are just like The
Database's units.  And since it's obviously set up for humans, it's not too
much to assume that some Earthlings built it according to Database design spec.
Put differently, it seems likely The Database include at least one Earthling
among their number.  Akane protests that the Valstork has been around at least
as far back as her grandfather's days, but Horis points to the numerous traces
the Es have left on Earth and Mars.  Even the Mikeene leader obliquely referred
to them in his dying moments.

At this point, your people have had enough of Horis' unusually high level of
insight and inside information.  Just who is this "Horis Horion" anyway?  He
announces himself as Specialist First Class of the former Oz's special
investigations bureau, in charge of investigating ancient cultures.

Elsewhere, Gai is face to face with Abel, former leader of the Red Planet and
now a commander of the Soul Lords.  Palpalepa and the other Soul Lords are on
the scene too, and have some surprising news for Gai, Kazuma and Mihiro.
They've found a better way to revive the Trinary System than sucking up the
galaxy's dark matter.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that the Solar
System is still in the way, so they plan to suck up _just_ its dark matter and
make it locally collapse.  As Abel tells Gai, they have every bit as much right
to exist as Gai's people do.  Gai protests that _co_existence should be
possible, but Abel says the Soul Lords can't turn back what they've been doing
ever since Mechanization started.  In particular, both Galeon and Latio have
been "eliminated".

Kazuma's protests earn a "shut up" from Applicant, who only agreed to leave
Kazuma alive out of curiosity for what could be disrupting Applicant's thought
processes.  Inference rapidly goes from level-headed to vulgar and
antagonistic, telling Kazuma to go fuck himself for being in The Database's
way.  Before he can vaporize Kazuma down to the cellular level, Regulate
exercises her prerogative to stop him.  Kazuma is aghast at her appearance,
since she resembles no one so much as his long-lost mother... when she was
young.  She and Critic immediately start arguing about which side of the
argument deserves to be halted.  He, along with Inference, is staging a bit of
a coup d'etat and move to deactivate Regulate, and Applicant unfortunately goes
with the majority.  The woman disappears, and Applicant tells your people that
Regulate is merely a program without a physical body, just like Inference and
Critic.  As such, her deactivation is tantamount to human death: Applicant
calmly says that Regulate is dead.

A wrathful Kazuma demands that Applicant take his fucking mask off, and makes a
lunge that is fully two centimeters longer than Applicant was expecting.
Beneath the mask is the visage of Captain Bless, provoking the immediate and
obvious question of what he's doing aiding the bad guys.  He tells Kazuma to
shut his ass, accompanied by a powerful blow that knocks Kazuma unconscious.
Applicant orders Aria to take Kazuma and his sister away.  Mihiro, also
predictably, rejects Aria outright and demands to know why her father would do
something so terrible.

With dissenting opinions gone, Inference re-raises the prospect of having
Applicant's "doll" destroyed.  Critic coldly replies that he already voiced his
support for Inference: all decision making rests with him.  He'll leave the
method to Applicant, but orders him to destroy that annoying doll one way or
the other.  If need be, Inference would rather make a new forward command doll
from scratch.  Applicant is silent, and Inference recommends he make the next
doll without emotions, which are tantamount to a bug.  Applicant agrees to see
to her destruction and walks out...

...Leaving Gai.  Gai doesn't know what's right anymore, but he's got his Pledge
and principles and he intends to fight with every last ounce of strength in his
body.  Which apparently doesn't last very long...


49. Tatakai no Umi ni Yuuki no Ho Wo ("Unfurl the Sails of Courage on the Sea
of Battle")

Kazuma is taking mental notes for the ship's log, approximately two days after
being imprisoned by The Database.  Mihiro is being kept somewhere else, and
according to a most vindictive Aria is getting the royal treatment.  No word on
Gai.  All Kazuma can do is wait to be rescued, resolved to punch his father
squarely in the face before extracting the reason he joined the enemy.  Such
are the tenuous threads holding his heart together just now...

Aria is doing her level best to engage Mihiro in play (candy from distant
planets, sightseeing in the oceans of Jupiter).  Mihiro is quiet and firmly
disinterested, telling Aria to go if she wants, and not come back.  Aria
sternly tells the girl that she, her sister, will be mad if Mihiro keeps this
up, causing Mihiro to cry that her only sisters are Akane and Shihomi.  Aria
can't understand why that should be given that Applicant is her father, but
Applicant shows up just then, intoning that Mihiro has it right.  He informs
Aria matter-of-factly that she has been ordered disposed of.  When she
protests, Applicant says that it was Inference's decision.  Aria wails that she
doesn't want to die, wondering why Inference is always so hard on her and
begging her papa to save her.  Applicant says that he's a mere observer, and
that all decision-making power resides with the three Main System components.
Aria points out that that main system is rather dysfunctional just now, but he
claims he can't rescind the order.  An alarm heralds the Neue Wärter's assault,
and Applicant tells Aria that her disposal will happen as soon as the intruders
are dealt with.  Aria agrees to stay put, should that be Inference's will...

The infiltration team has made it inside the base, but are almost immediately
noticed by Inference.  Before he can say anything condescending or even
threatening, some kind of noise cuts off his transmission.  The team splits up
and quickly searches, with D-Boy and Tomoru heading in one direction.  D-Boy
can sense the metamorphosis Tomoru is approaching, and despite his own failing
health asks (more like tells) Tomoru to accompany him on his quest to find out
about his father.  Of course this will involve a firefight.

Kaidou meanwhile has led Renais towards a spot in which he senses his comrade
J, apparently still alive.  The spot is an exact replica of the Mont St.
Michelle cathedral, created from the info the bad guys have been gathering.
Lurking in the shadows is one of the Soul Lords, the bee-like dominatrix
Pilnas, "goddess of beauty and ecstasy".  While the doujin authors in the
audience start furiously sketching, Pilnas tells the irate Lion Queen that such
"kittens" as her should be delicious indeed.  Kaidou urges Renais to hurry
ahead, since the power of her G-Stone will be needed to awaken J...

Mikoto got separated from Kaidou and Renais some distance back, but before the
bad guys can shoot her dead, Mamoru of all people appears and tells her to
follow him quick.  They disappear in a glimmer of light, as Clouseau's squad
battles the preternaturally skilled enemy warriors.  Sousuke pulls up short
when someone radios him with the Whispered's location.  There would be no point
in setting a trap for you when you're already in pitched combat, so it stands
to reason that whoever assisted you just now is sending the info.  Clouseau
orders Sousuke to head to the spot on the double and save the women at all
costs.

Abel angrily confronts Inference in the control room, noting that the intruders
seem to be raising one hell of a ruckus.  Inference sniffs that these temporary
problems are the work of a traitor, which Abel will let slide since he's got
someone he wants to say hello to among the intruders anyway.  After he walks
out, Inference scowls at this setback.  Critic growls that "she" must have
prepared some kind of safety in the event of her deactivation.  The Database
members refuse to respond to Kaname's provocation about their family
difficulties, but they finally explain why they _invaded_ the Earth when they
could have just chatted with its inhabitants instead.  Inference says that
information is valuable precisely because of its scarcity.

In particular, he figures he's the one and only person who should own all
information in the universe.  That of course means that everything they've
recorded to date is now gone, although much of it was destroyed without
Inference even having to lift a finger.  He figures that Tessa, the so-called
genius, should understand just how valuable information inequality is.  Before
Tessa can answer, Sousuke and Blade, and Orgun bust in.

Inference knows all about Blade's failing health even before Blade can start
asking questions.  Inference actually consents to tell Blade about the link
between Radam and Eviluder, in honor of his father's memory.  It all started
when the Cygnalite and Argos contacted the Radam on their voyage away from
Earth.  D-Boy's knowledge of the event ends after his father shoved him into an
escape pod and ejected it, but it turns out he wasn't the last thing his father
saved.  As the Cygnalite careened towards a black hole, D-Boy's father used his
last strength to send the Tek System itself to the Cygnalite.  The system,
which envelops and amplifies the abilities of life forms, helped save the
Cygnalite crew from death.  When they emerged from a white hole, they were
thousands of years in the past and with no hope of returning to Earth.  They
turned for strength to Aiba's last words, deciphering the secrets of the Tek
System and building for themselves new metal bodies: Solid Armor to withstand
the rigors of space and extract a measure of vengeance on the Radam.  The
passage of generations has robbed the Eviluders of their Earthling mentality,
leaving behind only a hatred of the Radam and an absolute belief in power.

It all makes sense.  Which is not to say Blade will let these guys mess with
the Earth.  Before he strikes, Tessa frantically stops him with the revelation
that the adversaries are programs, without physical form.  In essence, this
whole base is merely one of The Database's numerous terminals.  Inference
sniffs that Tessa seems fairly smart for all that Leonard called her his
good-for-nothing sister, revealing that Leonard is one of the people who's
collaborated with The Database.  They plan to hang onto the Whispered until
they've extracted all their information, and Kaname slaps Tessa out of her
shock before ordering Sousuke to take Tessa to safety.  This altruistic act,
apparently in opposition to the basic premise of life forms, stymies the
Database programs.  She informs them that this is called "spirit", and orders
Sousuke as student council vice president to take Tessa back to help Mithril.
Apparently this supersedes Tessa's command authority.  As he runs off, Kaname
says she believes he'll come back to save her, and he in turn says he believes
she'll hold out until then.  It's time for the two products of Aiba to flee too
as explosions rock the base.

Renais manages to find J while running through the cathedral, with Pilnas in
hot pursuit.  J tells Renais to use her G-Stone to release his chains, and if
Pilnas is to be believed Renais is risking some very painful (and very kinky)
punishment should she comply.  Of course she releases the chains...

It's Akito who's been raking the base with gunfire, his version of paying your
people back for their help.  Priority number one is getting Tessa to safety,
despite the fact that others are left inside the base.  You've got to hang on
until the rest of the Neue Wärter show up, which could be hard as Abel sorties
for some payback of his own.  Luckily, you've got some more firepower on your
side, as the J-Ark takes to the skies once more.  Abel accuses Soldat J-002 of
being defective for opposing him, the leader of the Red Planet.  The feeling is
of course mutual, and Abel tells J that he'll do to him what he's done to J's
comrade (ooh, mysterious).

In the meantime, you get to fight Gai, who's been all brainwashed and shit by
Palpalepa's Chemical Bolts.  J tells your people to fight, and fight like
there's no tomorrow: it's your only chance to even suppress the out-of-control
Hero.

  Just damaging the copied Gaofaigar won't stop Gai, so you'll have to bodily
  pry him out of the mech.  You need to hurry too before the bad guys swarm in,
  or before Pod Gaofaigar's massive power source explodes and consumes
  everything nearby.  Blade vows to save Gai, just as Gai once saved Miyuki.
  Palpalepa shows up, stating with annoying certainty that no one could escape
  his chemical bolts, no matter how strong their will.  He commands Gai, as a
  fellow inheritor of the Trinary System's power, to go out there and wreck
  stuff.  By this he means go out there and become a suicide bomber, and Leo
  won't let his son end up like that.  Palpalepa swats him aside into the
  oceans of Jupiter, before commanding all you "devils" to die too.

  Gai wonders if this is the end, his heroism defeated and him become an
  apostle of destruction.  A vision of Gai's mother appears, telling him that
  his life has been protected by his father, whose cries awakened her within
  THE POWER to come to his aid.  She knows that the whole reason he wanted to
  be an astronaut in the first place was to venture to space to meet her.  Leo
  joins her, telling Gai not to blame himself for his father's loss - what
  father wouldn't lay down his life to protect his child?  Besides, he gets to
  be together with his wife again.

  The problem is this: the Soul Lords are tapping into THE POWER to run their
  restoration machine.  Gai's got to stop them, because he's a.... less heroic
  hero than Gai wants, given all this failure.  Luckily for him Mamoru and
  Mikoto can also give him moral support, pointing out that he's not alone.
  Gai is still bumming about having to fight Cain, who gave him life, but
  Mamoru tells him to believe in the G-Stone, created as an incarnation of the
  will of all life's struggle to exist at the time of the Trinary System's
  Mechanization.  Mikoto tells Gai that he's the person who gave her the
  courage to live.  Mamoru was born to protect life, and Gai has lived to fight
  those who would steal life away.  Mikoto will go on living to support Gai,
  and Mamoru will keep giving Gai the encouragement to find what true Heroism
  is all about.  Besides, Galeon (not quite dead yet either) will surely help
  out.

  Pop quiz: what fights regenerative power?  That's right, destructive power.
  Destruction carries within it the hope of a new start from zero, a challenge
  to confront endless possibilities.  It's time for a new pledge, and a new
  miracle.  Once more, they will replenish themselves, cheat death again.  And
  the power of their source: the Crystal!!!

The massive explosion is only barely contained by J's Generating Armor.  It
appears Palpalepa was blown away too, but he shockingly reappears, proud of his
unending regeneration.  Before he can finish your people off though, an object
flies your way from Jupiter.  It's Galeon and Mamoru, very much alive and with
Gai in tow.  He, like D-Boy, won't die until his mission is fulfilled.  The
Soul Lords' arch-enemy informs them that his Pledge of Heroism has surpassed
the physical laws that govern his body.  It turns out that Mamoru and Galeon
were not destroyed by The Database, but rather imprisoned as a form of
insurance should the Soul Lords turn traitor.  Mamoru used the final legacy of
the Green Planet to hide: a G-Crystal.  Palpalepa realizes in horror that the
Database has actually recorded the technology behind the Pas-Q machines,
letting them make their own Replijins to fool the Soul Lords.

To make matters even worse for the Soul Lords, Gai is now enveloped in a
Genesic Aura, emitted by the G-Crystals and rendering the Loud G-Stones that
power the Soul Lords powerless.  Turns out that Galeon is an anti-program to
combat the Soul Lords should they ever go berserk: Cain's last hope.  In fact,
the whole mess with the Zondar was a diversion of sorts: the true purpose of
all the G-technology has been destroying the Soul Lords all along.  That's why
the Soul Lords feared Mamoru, who controls Galeon, so much.

It's to be a throwdown between the power of creation (the bad guys) and the
power of destruction (the good guys).  Confused yet?  Well, the real Cain will
contribute THE POWER to the cause once more, and Gai is able to Final Fusion
using the True Gao Machines, becoming the strongest incarnation of destruction
extant.  This form, surpassing all Heroism, is the true King of Heroes: Genesic
Gaogaigar.  Once again, Palpalepa calls him a devil and wants to kick his ass,
so your people will have to help out if you want the day saved.  Mamoru will
defend Mikoto, so that's one less thing to worry about.

  After a bit of mayhem, Abel and his entourage show up.  Abel is pissed that
  the Database has apparently hung them out to dry, and the man holding the
  heat gun is now fully reawakened to his courage.  Don't you love people who
  can say that with a straight face?  Abel can't be happy when your troops
  arrive.  The Valstork can't engage in combat, but it can serve as a safe
  haven for your team.  Horis will show you all just how much his special
  forces training is worth.  As someone once said, "It's clobberin' time!"

  Abel is worth a Power Extender, a Support Defense +1, and a Gunfight +1.
  Abel isn't entirely defeated, but notes that his regeneration can't keep up
  with Pisa Soul off on another errand.  J isn't going to let Abel escape, but
  Abel has a nasty surprise for him: Arma has been chained inside Pia Dekem in
  lieu of a main computer.  To Abel's horror, this information doesn't slow J
  down one bit.  He says that Arma is a warrior, and certainly wouldn't want to
  live if it meant J's failure and death.  This is a gamble, but one made
  better by Renais joining her G-Stone power with that of his J-Jewel.  With
  Renais at his side, J strikes with surgical precision, retrieving Arma and
  kicking Pia Dekem's ass in the process.  Renais yells at Abel that his kind
  can't begin to understand how Heroic your people are, and J tells him that
  the flames of the Phoenix are reborn from within!  With no choice, Abel flees
  to activate "that" object while Palpalepa holds the fort here.  J assures
  Renais that Abel's days are numbered.

  Palpalepa is worth an Ultra-Large Magazine, a BP+1, and a Support Attack +1.
  He can't believe that the devil has beaten him down, but before your people
  can gloat too much, a bunch of Database forces emerge from the Ganymede base.

Inside the base, Regulate is directing Aria to evacuate quickly.  Fearing her
own demise, she had transferred herself entirely into the Armstra.  Kazuma and
Mihiro are among those Regulate saved, but Kazuma is one angry young man who
doesn't trust the woman at all.  She can understand that, but informs the three
of them that she's doing this as part of her rightful mission.  Inference is
displaying aberrant behavior, and he must be stopped at all costs.  Kazuma has
one question for her in that case: why does she look so much like his mother?

Applicant comes in, answering that it's because this whole autonomous,
automated recording plant was designed by none other than Blessfield Ardygun.
He tells Aria that she has no right to disobey his directives (such as "Stay
put") as she's his created doll.  Kazuma tells the old guy to shut the fuck up,
and isn't daunted when Applicant's overconfident hands stop his first punch.
The second punch shatters his faceplate as Kazuma yells that no fucking data
can begin to describe him.  Regulate tells him that now's his chance to escape,
and Kazuma won't look this gift horse in the mouth, regardless of how many
Greeks it might contain.  He plans to continue the beating with the Valhawk,
and yells to Aria to come with them rather than let her "father" kill her off.
She's got to learn, not just the terror of space and the weakness of the
individual... but also the importance of life!  The Armstra's guns fire by
remote control, keeping Applicant at bay, and Kazuma tells him that this is his
final bit of mercy as a Spaceman: he'll fight Applicant out in space, rather
than blowing him to bits here.

Your forces are certainly glad to see Kazuma and Mihiro back in one piece, and
Kazuma quickly identifies the Database mech by his side as a friendly.
Applicant emerges too, in the final production version of the Armstra, one more
powerful than what Regulate is controlling.  As always, Applicant responds to
Kazuma's provocation with his powerful hidden weapons, and Horis figures that
the time has come to settle the score with his former captain.  He's overjoyed
that his name actually makes Applicant's deathlist, and has a secret of his
own.  Both the Armstra and Armarc contain hardware that even Regulate didn't
know about, as Carret shifts the whole fleet into Battle Formation Final: the
Valzacard!

Regulate will handle the computer while Shihomi can act as captain, Akane gets
fire control and Horis is Engineering.  Aria is point defense, Mihiro is radar,
and Kazuma... well, Kazuma's the Man in Charge.  The results make the SRX look
like a red shirt extra from the Transformers Movie [face the fact!!], and
represent the counter Bless left to the Database's ambitions.  Applicant's
cockpit has been breached, as has his body itself, and you can see that this is
actually some kind of android.  So it's not Bless after all?  In any case,
you've got plenty other enemies to worry about.

Among them is Palpalepa, but Abel buys him time to run by bringing in none
other than Z-Master.  Sucks to be you for not purifying his Core back when.
The Soul Lords have perfected Z-Master's systems, and made it faithful to them,
so the duel with Palpalepa will have to wait.  Your people are momentarily
aghast at this new menace, until Kazuma points out that you've gotten plenty
stronger since you faced it last yourself.

  Z-Master is worth a Super Alloy Nu-Z Alpha.  This time, you're sure to Purify
  his core so there'll be no re-rematch.  Akito will be taking off again, but
  he assures Ruri that he remembers his promise and will return for good
  eventually.  The remaining enemies are gone, and with them clues about how to
  proceed.  You've got little choice but to return to Earth and replenish your
  forces.  Kazuma looks forward to settling the score with Applicant one day,
  with help from all his closest friends and family in the Valzacard.

The Soul Lords have a lot to think about, having been betrayed by the Database
and had their Pas-Q machine (mostly) copied.  Add to that the G-Crystals and
their Genesic Aura and things could get dicey for their restoration plans.
Abel is fairly sure the Database won't actually strike until their records on
the remaining Soul Lord technology are complete: the Neue Wärter are the
immediate threat.  Fortunately, the fragdown on Jupiter has given Pisa Soul
time to get into position, and it's doubtful that the Earthlings could detect
him.  They can furnish Pisa Soul with unlimited power from Jupiter using an ES
Window, and it'll only take a little over a month for the charging to be
complete.  Might be a good idea for the rest of the Soul Lords to go guard him
in the interim.  One thing Pilnas wants to know is precisely why _this_ solar
system, of all places, was chosen for the reconstitution of the Trinary system.
Even Abel doesn't know, and doesn't really care with their objective so close
in view...

Sword informs Omega that the process of raising their mothership to the surface
of the moon has completed.  It's only about ten days until all the Radam Trees
on Earth bloom at once.  After that, even the entire Eviluder fleet combined
won't stand a chance against the billions of newly Tekkamanized Earthlings.
That assumes of course that someone takes care of Blade and those damned Neue
Wärter, and Sword recommends that Evil get the assignment.  She'll take the
order herself while Omega turns his full attention to the final growth of the
trees.  Sword thinks to herself that there's nothing she wouldn't do for her
beloved Kengo... including depriving his younger brother Shinya of his life.


50. [Route split]

Federation missile fighters are headed for the Zaft Boaz base, a front line
defensive position guarding the Plant homeland.  About the best you can say is
that they aren't nuclear-tipped missiles; instead, they're Fermion-emitting
anti-matter munitions!  They're making swiss cheese out of the Zaft troops.
Should this base fall, only Yakin Duue will impede the march of the Federation
forces.  There's no way the Feds should have the technology to build such
things, but that's cold comfort as the Boaz base is obliterated in a massive
conflagration...

Regulate is more than happy to help your people to stop her Database
colleagues.  She tells you that they and their autonomous recording plant are
relics from the 5th planet of the 13th system in the Omega cluster, products of
the Primordial Culture known as "Es".  Hyuuma seemed to have an uncommon
rapport with Regulate, perhaps due to her resemblance to a certain woman from
back in the day; in any case, he discerns that this fifth planet must have been
destroyed.  Regulate says that the planet shared the same fate as the "previous
universe".

Here's where it gets kooky.  The three founding cultures in the galaxy actually
used time-space travel to come here from another space-time: part of the grand
cycle of death and rebirth.  Time for Ines to launch Naze Nani Nadesico,
bringing much joy to Trowa's heart.  Ines explains that one of the three
founding cultures once dwelt in this star system, leaving behind the Ruins on
Mars and various other artifacts.  Their fingerprint can also be seen in the
advanced technology of the Mikeene.  All investigations of these relics lead to
one concept: a cycle of death and rebirth of the universe itself.  The founding
cultures in fact dodged the moment of cosmic demolition using time travel,
bringing such useful trinkets as Go-Lion and Galeon along for the ride.  Of
course, not everything made the trip - which explains what happened to the
original Trinary system.

Ines continues that the current universe is similar to the previous one, except
for particulars like the location of the stars.  This explains why this
universe's Altea saw no traces of the Trinary system's culture, despite the two
sharing a common ancestor.  But what about the fact that Go-Lion has been on
Altea for eons?  And that Mamoru and Kaidou were born like ten years ago?
Regulate will explain, and doesn't even have to stand in front of the backdrop
to do it.

She tells that the Es, like you, were aware of the Death and Rebirth business,
and furthermore figured out that the Death part was very close at hand.  They
therefore built The Database as a means of carrying their knowledge forward
into the next universe.  The vessel, and the memories of the Es it carried,
were borne away by the dimensional storm on the final day of the previous
universe, just as the Leo culture and Solar culture's time capsules must have
been.

It may be mere coincidence that the relics of all three cultures have met in
this particular universe, and even then their arrival times were radically
different.  The Database has been here for about ten millennia; the Solar
culture, a mere three.  The Leo culture made it to Altea around 4400 years ago,
but the survivors of the Trinary system (Soul Lords, Zondar and Mamoru) only
made it here around ten years back.  It was then that the Soul Lords ran into
The Database.  J realizes that his memories of battling the Zondar are actually
from the previous universe.  The real puzzler is now this: how the heck could
it be that Kazuma's father is actually the one who _made_ the Database, and
Applicant in particular, if they're from the previous universe?

To answer that, Regulate unlocks Carret's memory.  Carret goes all R2-D2 with
the holographic projection of Blessfield Ardygun, who says he's sending this
message sealed within the Valstork to the next universe.  He believes the
Valstork should reach his birth planet of Mars and make its way to his father.
He explains that on 2/14 of Space Calendar Year 100, he Boson Jumped thanks to
the Tulip Crystal he kept as a charm since his Martian childhood.  This
terrifying burst of luck saved his life back when, tossing him fully fifteen
*billion* years into the past.

With only a few decades left until the Big Crunch, Bless was rescued by the
kind but despairing residents of the fifth planet.  He finally shared with them
the Trailer maxim that "Memories are hard to exchange for anything, so they'll
make you money", which sparked their building of The Database.  Bless was the
one who created the three personalities which control the recording Plant.  The
first is the Recorder and leader, scribe of knowledge and information.  One is
the Critic, passing judgement on the Recorder's acts.  And one is the
Regulator, designed to harmonize Recorder's edicts.  He specially granted
Regulate with the thought patterns of his wife, which Kazuma has mixed feelings
about to say the least.  And to look after the three of them on their endless
journey of knowledge, he copied himself in his entirety to create Applicant.

Bless did all this knowing full well that The Database would become the enemy
of other cultures in his own universe.  What he doesn't know is what triggered
this change.  So, as a little insurance, he borrowed more of the fifth planet's
technology to make a counter, for use in the event something goes wrong with
one of the three personalities.  That would be the Valstork.  Which he was able
to build because he had foreknowledge of it.  Crikey.

Anyway, he couldn't bring himself to tell the fifth planet's inhabitants of the
trouble brewing at the time he was thrown into the past.  The last thing they
needed, after finding such a small glimmer of hope amidst such great darkness,
was renewed cause for despair.  Instead, he kept the Valstork's true purpose
secret, and under cover of discarding it, sent it towards the Solar System of
his home.  He even built in the ability for it to join up to the Arm and assume
its true form, which was to happen if _two_ of the personalities controlling
The Database were to ever break down.  That you're listening to this message
means that this worst-case scenario has already come to pass.  He tells whoever
is listening to this recording that he prays from the distant past for their
success in stopping The Database.  And should they meet any member of the
Ardygun clan, he asks them to remind that person of the terror of space, the
weakness of the individual... and of the importance of life.

As if that wasn't enough to come to grips with, Regulate describes a time some
3862 years ago when Recorder renamed himself Inference and altered the purpose
of the recording plant.  From that moment forward, it switched to a destructive
recording process - though until now The Database has never even had to fire a
shot.  Something or other has always eliminated the objects of their recordings
for them.  Tessa explains this seemingly peculiar change in purpose as being a
very human failing: wanting to monopolize whatever one's specialty is.  If
knowledge, it would be human to desire being the only bearer of that knowledge.

Such was Inference and Critic's plan, and in fact some 3519 years ago they even
tangled with Go-Lion - leading to Raimon's warning about the Scribes of
Knowledge.  What's more, they even visited Mars and Earth to "record" the data
on the ancient Solar Culture's arrival.  The Mikeene bear memories of that
encounter with the enemies from "beyond", but The Database found all living
traces of the ancient culture already destroyed by the time they arrived.  What
ruins remained were protected by shields of immense power.  Even The Database
was unable to penetrate these defenses quickly, and withdrew from the Solar
System for a time.  Their return was prompted by the rise of the new Solar
culture, and the intended end is the destruction of everything in the system.

Lucky for you, Bless sent you the means to stop The Database.  Horis, now more
than ever, is overcome by admiration for this man he first met many years ago
during his Black Technology research for Oz.  Originally an infiltrator of
Bless' tiny band of Trailers, Horis was asked about his affiliation around the
time of Oz's dismantling by none other than Bless himself.  Though Horis had
done nothing to harm the perceptive captain, it still wasn't a pleasant feeling
knowing a spy was on his crew.  But rather than kick him out, Bless urged Horis
to stay, which he did gladly.  Out of habit, perhaps, Horis continued gathering
information on Black Technology.  He even tried to tell Akane once, during the
junk gathering session at Heliopolis, though she thought it was going to be a
proposition.  He tells the furiously blushing girl that that will have to wait
until this war is over.

The real question is what Aria should do now.  It seems pretty obvious to
Kazuma: she should fight by your side.  Regulate gently points out to Kazuma
that Aria, based as she is off Bless' memories of Kazuma, has every reason to
be loyal to her father figure.  Despite the fact that Applicant is more or less
his father's second coming, Kazuma is adamant that anyone who doesn't treasure
life, who would wipe out entire cultures, couldn't be his father.  HIS father,
wherever and whenever he is, is a magnificent man - and that man is who Aria
should think of as her real dad.  And rather than deprive Aria of the only
family she's ever known, Kazuma tells her that _he_ and his family will take
her as one of them.  Your other people are pretty sure that Kazuma would amount
to Aria's _younger_ brother, but Aria is more interested in the fact that
Mihiro now gladly refers to her as a "sister", the word she's waited so long to
hear.

As for the Valstork itself, it's still busted from the fighting at Jupiter and
won't be suitable for independent use for some time to come.  Fortunately, the
combined Valzacard works just fine, especially with Regulate and Carret
managing its systems.  You've even got an immediate target: the Radam, whose
trees are projected to be only a week away from blossoming.  Since there's no
way for Mike Sounders' Disc X's to wipe all the trees out, your only recourse
is an assault on the Master System on the moon.  And on the one controlling it:
Tekkaman Omega.

He, luckily for you, has just surfaced in the Radam mothership on the lunar
surface.  Destroying the monstrous vessel looks hard, but there's a weapon that
can do the job: anti-matter warheads, the ace up the Federation Army's sleeve.
The fact they held this card explains why they didn't protest Rose's speech,
and renders the mess with the Neutron Jammer Cancelers effectively moot.
They've already been used to take out the Zaft Boaz base, and Tessa can think
of only one person who could have helped Blue Cosmos weaponize the technology
so fast.  Bartfeld supposes that the army will indeed turn those Fermion
Missiles on the Radam ship... but not until after they've annihilated the
Plants.

Or rather, that's "if" they annihilate the Plants.  Turns out the Zaft have a
decisive weapon of their own, which one of Bartfeld's subordinates (Dacosta)
confirmed on a suicide infiltration mission.  The weapon: an immense gamma-ray
laser, code-named Genesis.  It is capable of incinerating, not just the
Federation fleet, but the entire surface of the Earth itself.  Lacus states
that both sides of this insane conflict must be stopped, and with its repairs
complete you'll have the Eternal, with the Desert Tiger at the controls, to
help.

Your forces will be split in two: one half to the Moon, and one half to the
Plants.  The former detachment will destroy the Radam mothership, while the
latter must somehow halt the fighting between Plant and Earth.  At worst, this
may mean figuring out how to defeat both the Fermion Missiles and the Genesis
weapon.  Kazuma can decide which mission to participate in: the Moon will be
mission 50M, and the Plants will be 50P.  Whichever way you go, Gai vows to his
uncle to carry on his father's ideals and bravery.  Renais tells J in no
uncertain terms that she's along for the ride with him too.

Tessa tells Sousuke that she's heading back to Merida Island to help analysis
on all the data you've gathered so far.  She certainly isn't going to let
Kaname's sacrifice for the Earth's sake go unanswered.  Neither is Sousuke, and
Tessa is prepared to forgive Sousuke disobeying her order to save Kaname
instead.  In return, she gives him new orders, which take precedence over all
else: save Kaname at the next opportunity.  He gladly accepts.

As Kazuma leads Aria to practice their maneuvers before the dispatch, something
unexpected happens.  Aria tentatively thanks her hew brother before quickly
running off ahead, and Kazuma realizes to his horror that she actually seemed
cute for a second.  Regulate is on hand to confirm that that's a no-no, since
she's effectively another "him".  He knows that without her even giving him the
mother act, and shaking his head thinks to himself that his dad is the most
underhanded, good-for-nothing dude in the universe... and he wouldn't have it
any other way.  As the Hawkeye's son, he's going to give this fight everything
he's got, with the Valzacard as his weapon!


50M. Seishi Shita Toki no Futari ("Two Suspended in Time")

Preparations are almost ready for the assault on the Radam moon base, home to
D-Boy's arch-enemy Tekkaman Omega.  You'll get one shot at him before the Radam
trees open, and there's no way that each and every last person on Earth will be
stuffed into shelters by the deadline.  Besides, the Federation still seems
more interested in attacking the Plants than protecting the people, spurred on
by the maniacal Blue Cosmos.  If they're planning to use their Fermion Missiles
on the Radam ship after the Plants fall, Liger's calculations indicate that the
lunar cities will be caught in the blast as well.  For the people, for the
moon, for the sake of ending D-Boy's sorrowful destiny, you've got to win the
day.  Aria bursts in unannounced to tell Kazuma it's meeting time, and Kazuma
stammers that she (a girl) shouldn't just barge in on him (a guy) like that.
She wants to know why, since they're basically twins, and with much stammering
and blushing he yells for her to go ask Gai and Mikoto about stuff like that.
Oh, the enveiglements...

Aki is preparing to take Yumi on a mission to gather samples of some of the
Radam trees, her research specialty.  While there should be little real danger
just yet, it would still be folly to send anyone but the already Tekkamanized
anywhere near the trees.  D-Boy, surprisingly out of bed, wants to go too in
the interest of stretching a bit before the battle.  There's also somewhere on
Earth he wants to swing by, and something he wants to show Yumi.  He assures
Tomoru that he has every intention of fulfilling his mission, and adds that he
wants to ensure he's got no regrets before the battle that will burn out his
life.

Michi and Tomoru muse over the truth regarding the Eviluders that D-Boy learned
from The Database, that the Eviluders are essentially future Earthlings.  It's
quite strange for past and future Earthlings to clash like this, but that's far
from the only time paradox at work here.  Michi tells Tomoru that the only
reason he can link so well with the Solid Armor is because a blood relation of
his must have been aboard the Cygnalite.  That is, the original Orgun seems to
have been a distant relative of his - just like Leave must have had some
distant relation to Michi.  She tells Tomoru that she knows about the
abnormalities with his body: the molecular bonding and separating with Orgun
can't continue forever.  Eventually, he'll lose the ability to join, or
separate, with the armor - if not die entirely.  Tomoru has realized all this
already, and isn't going to stop fighting as Orgun now.  If there's one thing
your team has taught him, it's the meaning of heroism.

D-Boy takes the women to the house he lived in before his mission to Cygnus,
unchanged since that day.  He takes them all the way to his eldest brother
Kengo's room, whose former occupant is now the embodiment of evil.  The sight
of it, and of D-Boy, is more than Yumi can bear - and D-Boy tells Aki to let
her alone as she runs away.  The longer D-Boy stays here, the more painful it
is, and Aki demands to know what's wrong with him that he does this to himself.

Yumi is wondering if D-Boy is afraid of dying, wandering around outside when
she runs into Fong Li.  Fong Li asks her if she loves Blade, and Yumi can tell
right away she's a Tekkaman too.  Fong Li isn't here to fight though; she's
come to see the house where her own beloved was born and raised.  She tells
this to D-Boy when he comes outside too, adding that while their objectives in
coming here are the same, the fates awaiting them are totally opposite.  Aki
recalls that Fong Li was Kengo's fiancee, and Fong Li says she's glad she met
Aki once before what will surely be the final battle.  She assures your people
that, for the sake of her beloved, she'll be the one to stop you.  She, and
Shinya, will be waiting for Blade and the rest on the moon...

D-Boy then explains to Yumi that he's not afraid of dying in battle at all.
He's actually grateful he became a Tekkaman, because it gave him the power to
defeat Omega.  But as for Yumi, he wants her and the other Earth Tekkaman to
win out over the Tekkaman destiny and survive.  And hey, he'll still live on in
their hearts, just as Miyuki and the old Shinya live on in his.  Yumi ponders
this a moment, and then says that today she realized what the "D" really stands
for.  Not "dangerous"... but "dream".  And she's going to fight her little
heart out for the sake of the dream D-Boy has entrusted her with.

Yumi leaves the two of them alone together while she fetches their ship, and
D-Boy starts digging up a time capsule he buried way back at age ten.  The plan
had been to dig it up with his brother Shinya when they were twenty.  Inside is
a microrecorder with a message from Shinya.  Shinya finds it a bit weird
talking to his brother years later, wondering what Takaya's doing and assuming
the two aren't fighting or anything.  After all, Kengo's been picking on him
with the words that "adults are complicated, and tend to change".  The younger
Shinya is sure that he'll always adore Takaya, his twin and other half since
birth.  He'll always, always love his brother, more than Kengo, more even than
Miyuki.

D-Boy does the only rational thing and breaks down crying, sobs wracking his
failing body.  Through the tears, he explains to Aki why he's doing this to
himself: to remind himself that he's still capable of feeling grief and of
remembering those most precious to him.  As long as he has these tears, he can
still hate the Radam - and can still fight them!  Aki is in awe of D-Boy's
superhuman resolve, but D-Boy isn't done with the heart-to-heart talk.  He
tells her honestly that he never wanted the fate of killing his brothers with
his own hands.  Aki tries to tell him that she's sure he'll be saved somehow,
someday, but her own tears twist the words nearly beyond recognition...

Your people are poised for the journey as the Moon comes into view.  From this
far away, it seems unthinkable that the forces of evil could dwell there.  Noal
says it best, wishing that nothing but bunnies dwelt there.  Kurz prefers his
bunnies in tights, and Ryouko can't even muster the willpower to argue.  Both
sides of the conflict expect each other, so there's no further point in
subterfuge.  There is some banter about what the "J" actually stands for:
Japan?  Joke?  Judgement, or Justice?  Behind his impressive glower, J suddenly
realizes that he has no idea either.  One thing that everyone knows is that
they'll do everything they can to support D-Boy, Aki and Yumi.  That will mean
fighting through Sword and her troops, and it's certain that one side or the
other will have their heart broken here.

  If Kazuma fights Sword, he tells her to withdraw the Radam trees if she's
  fighting for love - how many people does she think are having their love
  destroyed by them?  Sword only cares about one person love: Omega.  Is this,
  Aria wonders, what love between man and woman is?  Kazuma yells not to follow
  her example: true love brings joy not only to the lovers, but to everyone
  around them!  Sword may be one lonely woman, but her twisted love is
  something Kazuma wants none of.

  Sword certainly won't go down without a major fight, and she's got masses of
  warpower in reserve.  Things get somewhat easier again when some Fed missiles
  swoop in on the Radam rear, fired by none other than Bernard, not nearly as
  dead as one might have assumed.  He was originally attached to the forces
  that are attacking the Plants, but events over there have turned into some
  kind of clusterfuck, and he elected to come and help you out here instead.
  It all means that the Federation army isn't _entirely_ the Blue Cosmos's
  tool, and he sternly tells you not to give up hope: this isn't the right
  place to stake your lives on battle.  D-Boy can't even remember Bernard any
  more, but appreciates his help anyway.

  Sword is adamant that she won't let Blade get anywhere near Kengo.  He asks
  why she didn't just kill him at their house, and she replies that she didn't
  want to sully a place that's special to her beloved, even if he no longer
  remembers it.  Sword is worth a Super Alloy Nu-Z, a Cooperate and an Infight
  +1.  She just hoped she slowed you down enough for Evil to do the rest, and
  pleads with Kengo to permit her one wish.  She's always been jealous of Aki,
  since Kengo never turned aside from his mission to pay any attention to her.
  But Aki... Aki even became a Tekkaman herself to be closer to her man, and
  Sword wants her dead with every last fiber of her being.  Before she can
  self-destruct, Bernard swings into action, bodily hauling the dying Tekkaman
  a safe distance away and even apologizing for not being either of the
  companions Sword would wish for on her journey to hell.  Though Sword
  struggles, Bernard's grip is far stronger than death...

In a way, Bernard was one of the lucky ones for being able to choose the place
to end his life.  Most of your people can do nothing but curse... except for
Pegas, who still remembers the words to "Danny Boy" Bernard once taught him.
Now _that_ has jogged D-Boy's memory, but his cries of anguish are interrupted
by Evil, who briefly taunts D-Boy before the two race off to settle their duel
mano-a-mano.  Aki is hesitant to follow, knowing no one can come between them
now, but Balzac tells her she should at least bear witness to the outcome.  The
rest of you have to mop up the remaining Radam, and everyone hopes Blade lives
long enough to face the true enemy on the Moon...

Evil leads Blade to an abandoned colony, so happy to be alive it's making his
skin tingle.  He thinks this battle is Fate, but Blade finds that word
infinitely too trite by half to explain why his family members and friends all
ended up the enemy, or in Miyuki's case dead.  Evil looks at it another way:
thanks to the Radam, he can now settle the score with Blade once and for all.

  Smack Evil around some and he'll say that the time has come to kill each
  other for real: Blade has to show off his Blaster form.  Aki shows up and
  yells at them to stop, and Evil sniffs that he can see why Blade is so taken
  with her: she's the spitting image of their dead mother.  Aki demands to know
  why Evil hates his own brother so much, and Evil says that it's not hate, but
  rather love: such intense love that it comes back around to hatred.  Such, he
  believes, is the destiny of blood - they would have had to fight sooner or
  later, whether or not they became Tekkamen.  They, who were once one in the
  womb, are fighting to become one once more.  Aki won't interfere, but she
  will watch.

  Interestingly enough, Evil can Blasterize too, despite Kengo's wishes that he
  not.  Anything to defeat good old bro', right?  Blade enters Blaster mode
  too, and their final fight is on.

  Evil is worth an EN Gigachip, a BP+1, and an Initial Morale +2.

Shinya, his body broken, tells his brother that he feels like he's been having
some sort of bad dream.  At his feet is some sort of repulsive worm-like
creature: the true form of the Radam.  All brain, no physical capabilities to
speak of, this massively-evolved parasite has learned to rule the stars
themselves by carefully selecting the finest life forms as its hosts.  Blade
begins to agonize that if only he had learned about these creatures sooner, he
might have returned Shinya to normal.  Shinya tells him not to worry about it
now: he's dying, and there was no avoiding that.  He thanks his brother for
fighting him for real, and notes ruefully that it was forcing Blasterization on
himself that really did him in.

Their little tableau is interrupted by the Radam attacking the colony, but Evil
tells Blade to leave everything to him.  He tells Blade to hurry to the Moon
while he uses what little life he has left to buy time.  The wish he wants
Blade to fulfill is defeating Kengo.  Blade is enraged by the havoc these
shitty little worms have wrought in his life, and won't even wait for the rest
of the Neue Wärter before heading to the Moon.  He tells Aki that both D-Boy
and Aiba Takaya have just perished: all that remains is... Tekkaman Blade! Aki
can do nothing but zoom off after him.  As he goes, Evil thanks his brother,
and says he's sorry.  His last word is "goodbye".


50P. Nikuaku to Unmei no Rasen ("The Spiral of Hatred and Fate")

Canard has gone off the reservation, grabbing his mech without permission and
making to steal a Neutron Jammer Canceler under Security Council protection.
All he can think about is fortifying his Hyperion, uncaring about how the theft
will turn what few public supporters the Army has left against it.  Canard
haughtily tells Garcia that he's no longer a Eurasian soldier, and starts
envisioning what it will feel like to take out Kira and whoever is piloting the
Dragoon.

Patrick Zara is being rather standoffish in turning down Rose's overtures for
peace talks, maintaining that this conflict was destined to spiral beyond
control ever since it began.  He tries to list all the Federation's belligerent
weapons, but Rose is aware of Genesis as well thanks to the Klein faction.
Unfortunately, even Rose's most impassioned pleas for Zara to open his eyes
fall on deaf ears.  Patrick hangs up on her, irritated that Genesis' existence
has already been leaked.  He figures it's already too late for the Feds to do
anything about it: once he's incinerated the Federation forces, his next target
will be the Earth.

The gamma rays are projected to kill over 80% of life on Earth, which would
more or less make the Radam trees moot if not destroying them too.  Creuset
tells Zara that the Federation army is steadily advancing on their position at
Yakin Duue after the fall of Boaz.  Patrick means to fire when the Feds have
amassed, and Creuset is thinking that the Feds are about to meet a most cruel
fate due to their lack of the Neutron Jammer Canceler.  It was this deficiency
that led them to make the even stronger Fermion missiles, which in turn led the
Plants to decide to use Genesis.  His main question is just how much stuff will
get wrecked before all is said and done.

The Neue Wärter are headed for Yakin Duue to try to bring peace.  Likely the
Federation flagship will be the black Archangel, the Dominion, with Natarle at
the controls.  Of course none of your people really want to fight her, most
especially her former shipmates, but fighting despite one's personal feelings
is what wars are all about.  Kazuma's deepest concern at present is for Prayer,
whose health seems to be deteriorating quickly.

Turns out that Prayer's got a reason he's refusing treatment: there's a man
he's got to release from hatred.  That would be the mystery pilot who's out for
Kira's life, and Prayer tells your team that he's just like Prayer - and
probably quite lost while looking for his purpose in life.  Hopefully he meets
a better end than Creuset, whose little complex over his shortened telomeres
might well destroy the world.  Oddly enough, Murakumo says he can relate a bit,
and saunters off rather than face your crew's disbelief directly.

Elijah explains to Quatre that Murakumo isn't just a Coordinator - in a
different sense than Kira, he's the ultimate Coordinator.  He then apologizes
to Kira for bringing that up, musing that his complex regarding his own
un-Coordinator like capabilities seems as nothing next to what Kira has to
endure (though it does allow him to understand a sliver of what the Eurasian
pilot must be feeling).  Elijah is only where he is today through loads of hard
work, and in some sense Murakumo is also in that boat.  Yet, there's something
hidden within that occasionally grants Murakumo superhuman abilities in combat.
It's anybody's guess what though...

Kazuma finds Murakumo servicing his own machine, conscientious to a fault.
Kazuma admits that the Valzacard is kind of too big for him to service, and
that an automated maintenance droid's been given the job.  Hesitating some,
Kazuma then asks Murakumo if it bothers him at all fighting the Plants.
Murakumo says that he considers himself a mercenary, and that means being
beholden to no country.  He fills Kazuma in that, while he's a Coordinator, he
wasn't born in the Plants, but rather in a Federation laboratory as a combat
specimen.  He was conceived to help the Earth out in a battle with the Plants,
and was supposed to have been mind-controlled to keep him from ever siding with
the Plants in battle.  The successful fruits of that project are the "Sokius"
Series, though the ones the Sahaku spirited away were special in that they had
autonomy in how to fulfill their mission.  In Murakumo's case, he fled the
laboratory before the mind control was complete - the last thing he lets anyone
do is tell him what to do.  He's mainly cooperating with you because his
current target is among your adversaries - and when he encounters that target,
his real mission will begin.

Azrael couldn't be happier with the Fermion missiles, which wiped out the
formerly intractable Boaz base in only a few shots.  He gloats about how his
wonderful connections to "Black Technology" are good for all kinds of gadgetry
like that, and assures a skeptical Natarle that he _will_ use them against the
Radam... _after_ taking down the "space monsters" first.  He maintains that
such hazardous weapons are indispensable in the coming battles, and if the
lunar metropolii get damaged, tough cookies.  He even pulls out the insidious
rationale that the weapons cost so much to develop and build, there would be
totally no point in just leaving them for show.  Before he can finish his
monologue, the Neue Wärter show up - presumably to try to stop the fighting.
Azrael has someone else in mind for them to tangle with, weakening your dudes
so he the hunter can swoop in for the kill shot.

Regulate's superior orbital calculations have brought you in ahead of the
Federation ships, and you're on high alert in case things turn pear-shaped.
The first forces you meet are the poorly-equipped Eurasians, and some of your
forces have to remind themselves that your goal is diplomacy, not combat.
Maryuu makes her appeal in admirably level tones, but the Federation commander
hasn't planned on listening from the outset.  Fahra openly questions the Fed
commander's claim that a declaration of peace is detrimental to order and
prosperity in the world, and your people sadly tell her that this is how badly
fucked up things are on Earth just now.  But messed up or otherwise, you still
have to do what's right, and Maryuu reluctantly tells your people to keep the
Feds from causing any more havoc.  Kazuma is glad that Aria got the "importance
of life" bit, but Prayer is more worried about where Canard is...  he's sure he
wouldn't have been freed of his lust for battle that easily.  The Fed commander
is mainly concerned with elevating the reputation of his homeland by defeating
you, and his new go-to guy Balsam wants to show he's better than the fugitive
Canard.  Wherever Canard is, he's close by...

  Shoot down a few Eurasians and Canard will show up at very high speed in his
  newly-enhanced Hyperion.  Balsam doesn't vacate before Canard's "august"
  presence, and Canard says he'll fight him too en route to Kira and the
  Dreadnought's pilot.  Canard has the mistaken idea that he only exists if he
  wins in battle, and isn't planning to listen to any jibber jabber to the
  contrary.  Kick his ass.

  Canard isn't surprised when Balsam goes down, saying that combat simulator
  experience counts for nothing on the real battlefield.  Any anyone who
  doesn't even understand that has no right to even enter that battlefield.
  What a hard-ass.

  Erode Canard's HP and he begins to realize just how scary a fight he's
  picked.  Prayer begs him, a Super Coordinator, to stop for the sake of all
  the hopes he bears.  Correction, he's a _failed_ Super Coordinator, who
  supposes that what power he has is good for nothing except fighting.  He's
  especially pissed that someone born with the power to control the Dragoon's
  special weapons would try to give him life advice - but Prayer cries out that
  he's like him: _made_ with his powers.  He's a clone of the rightful pilot of
  the Dragoon, made so the military could have that ability for their nefarious
  purposes.  But he refuses to live his life as a weapon, and Canard figures
  out that they're birds of a feather after all.  The retard then declares that
  what they've obviously got to do is use their powers and fight to the death!
  Telling Kira that his death sentence just got postponed, he asks Prayer his
  name and charges in all guns blazing.

  When Kira fights Canard anyway, Canard finally lets it slip that it was the
  other lab dwellers who proclaimed him a failure, nothing more profound than
  that.  Kira tells him that no one has the right to call a birth a success or
  failure, but Canard is totally not listening.  He's worth a Super Alloy Nu-Z,
  an Initial Morale+2, and an Infight +1.  He thinks that it's all over, but
  Prayer points out again that he was born for more than just fighting.  If
  nothing else, emo-boy isn't unique in having a painful "destiny" hanging over
  him from birth: just check out the rest of the Neue Wärter.  That peace which
  Canard is so eager to deny is precisely the thing that's keeping Prayer going
  right now, thanks to your dudes.

  It's all about feelings, feelings that bind people to each other.  This
  _almost_ gets through to him, but he predictably flees instead of just owning
  up.  Has he gotten the message?  You can't follow him to find out just yet,
  since the Dominion just appeared.  Azrael supposes that the Feds on the scene
  did well, for Eurasians, and Natarle hastily orders all the survivors
  gathered to the flagship.  Maryuu repeats her request for hostilities to
  cease, but Azrael is having none of it.  He's also having none of Natarle's
  opinion that all this fighting the Zaft is bad for mankind.  His orders are
  for Natarle to blow a hole through your people so the missile ships can come
  through.

  Just then, you detect a gamma signature coming from the Plants.  George
  frantically tells you to get out of the way of Genesis, which is the one
  doing the blowing of holes around here.  The Federation fleet takes massive
  losses, and Azrael starts screaming that this proves that it's kill or be
  killed with the Zaft.  Natarle very reluctantly gives the order to advance,
  and it looks like you'll have to fight after all.  From Bartfeld's info, it
  seems Genesis isn't designed for rapid fire, so you're safe for the moment.
  But should you follow the Fed fleet, or head straight to Genesis?

  Maryuu settles on trying to hold the Feds here, lest they get close enough to
  launch their Fermion missiles.   You've got to turn aside the army before
  Genesis can fire again, and then hightail it to Yakin Duue - a tough job, but
  one your team was assembled to pull off.  You've got five turns from the best
  info you have, and your main goal will be to neutralize the Dominion.

  Over the course of the battle, you'll take out the pod-Coordinators, who have
  been mind-controlled to fight you.  Just how underhanded is Blue Cosmos,
  anyway?  You'll also run into Ed, who actually wishes you best of luck as he
  withdraws from the field.

  The Dominion is worth an EN Gigachip, a BP+1 and a Cooperation +1.  Natarle
  is pretty sure that further combat will be impossible, but Azrael pulls out a
  gun and tries to force her to continue.  Full of self-righteous fury, he
  screams at her that she never had any choice but following his orders in the
  first place.  When she tries to stop him ordering the Fermion missile strike,
  she gets shot for her pains.

But it's not all in vain: before Azrael's delusional ranting can result in
another shot, he gets shot in turn by a familiar figure: Murakumo, whose
mission turns out to have been to take down the leader of the Blue Cosmos.
Murakumo goes so far as to say that he has nothing personal against the
foaming-at-the-mouth Azrael, but adds that if he leaves Azrael alive, there
will be more tragic soldiers like Canard and Prayer, not to mention those
drugged-up boys you just fought.  He shows Azrael what lies beneath his
sunglasses, and Azrael recognizes the combat Coordinator at last.  Murakumo,
disgusted, shoots past Azrael to shut him up and snorts that the man isn't even
worth the bullet it would take to kill him.  He then orders all the crew off
the ship if they don't want to die when it sinks, which it will momentarily.

Azrael screams at the soldiers to stop and fight (which they don't), and
Murakumo asks if the wounded Natarle can stand (she can).  They make their way
out too, and Azrael screams at them to fight the enemy, if they think they're
soldiers.  Murakumo coldly informs Azrael that soldiers are _people_ too, not
weapons.

With instructions to fight the Coordinators alone if he wants to so badly,
Murakumo and Natarle emerge.  Corbett's missile boats show up, and Corbett
hastily complies with Azrael's furious orders to fire their Fermion missiles at
your people.  The one way to stop it is Maryuu blowing the Dominion clean out
of the sky with the main gun.  What's left of it careens toward Corbett's
ships, and its detonation will surely trigger the Fermion missiles too.

After the almighty explosion, Natarle asks her captain if Natarle made a
mistake.  Maryuu considers carefully, and tells her that she's not sure.  What
Maryuu _is_ sure of is that Natarle was a fine soldier, and Natarle's next duty
will be reporting all of this to the military - laying bare the selfish motives
that allowed such an insane mission to be authorized in the first place.
Without instigators, the Army should recede back to UN control in short order.
What remains is taking out Genesis, and Ed offers to ferry Natarle from the
battlezone to make that report.

Murakumo's mission is _not_ over, having just taken out one of the major
sub-bosses.  The person pulling the strings is yet to be uncovered, and the way
Murakumo sees it your people are still the most expedient way to find whoever
that is.  Besides, Murakumo isn't so single-minded a merc that he lacks a
personal interest in seeing the fruits of your team's quest.  Heck, maybe he'll
even consent to become a Trailer when all is truly said and done.

Patrick figures that your team's actions in halting the Fed army have given
precisely the chance he's wanted to wipe out the humans.  He orders the Genesis
weapon's firing sequence to continue, with Creuset dispatched to keep your
people from reaching Yakin Duue.  Creuset's main target is to be National
Criminal Lacus Klein.  Patrick fumes to himself about how the Naturals are
trying to coddle him like they did Siegel Klein - HIM, one of the rightful
successors to the universe!  Can the Neue Wärter still prevail?


51M. Moetsukiru Seimei ("Burning Away One's Life")

Word comes from the other half of your team that the Fermion missile ships have
been shot down, paving the way for an assault on Genesis.  The fact that
Genesis was responsible for the majority of the Fed casualties, in a single
shot, is really damn daunting.  Capable of wiping out 80% of all life on Earth
in fact, though thankfully its structure means it can't rapid fire.  You'll
have to leave Genesis to your comrades though, since more immediate problems
are overshadowing you: D-Boy has headed alone to the Moon.  Ruri orders
everyone to flank speed to catch up, and she inwardly reminds D-Boy that Aki
isn't the only one praying for his victory.

Omega is grandly proclaiming to the Radam that the time has come to increase
their numbers and claim their new homeland, the Earth.  And standing in their
way is the traitorous Blade, who seems so consumed with rage that he can't
articulate any retorts.  Omega tells his brother that the last thing he will do
for him, as family of course, is to slice him into bloody pieces to serve at
the inaugural banquet for the Radam's new homeworld.  Aww, how sweet.

  D-Boy shreds through the first wave of cannon-fodder, showing every sign of
  burning out his life by the time this battle is over.  Omega finds this every
  bit as pathetic as the other group of visitors, who seemingly live for
  nothing other than their hatred of his father and Radam-kind.  It's the
  Eviluders, but Omega cries out that it's meaningless, it's futile for them to
  resist the strongest - and only worthy - lifeforms in the universe.

  Once the ineffectual Eviluder assault is gone, the rest of your team show up.
  Freeman has bad news for Aki: D-Boy's mental structure has collapsed under
  the intense strain of pushing himself into battle, compounded by the strain
  of Blasterization.  Not only has he lost his memories, he's lost his very
  personality - all he's got left is his hatred of the Radam.  Aki screams for
  him to live, even if he doesn't remember her or himself.  Omega tells her, an
  "abomination", to shut up by firing in her direction, which seems to stir a
  glimmer of recognition in Blade.  Omega is impressed that Blade hasn't
  completely lost himself yet, but then starts heaping abuse on him for
  committing what is (in his opinion) the most heinous of all crimes:
  fratricide.  Does Blade want to try his hand at killing the last of his
  brothers, and prove that he's even more suitable as a Radam host than Omega
  himself?

  Aki cries to God, demanding to know what more can be taken from D-Boy, who's
  already lost his friends, family and even his own personality.  How can it be
  permissible for one human to bear such a crushing destiny?  For one human
  soul.  Ruri bursts the drama bubble by pointing out that he's not alone, with
  the rest of your people adding their entreaties and encouragement.  This
  infuriates Omega even more as Blade starts recovering himself, but before he
  can open fire Pegas stages a suicide attack against the Radam leader.  This
  finally snaps Blade out of it, reminding him that he's got loved ones by his
  side.  He's not Aiba Takaya, nor D-Boy, but Tekkaman Blade - of the Neue
  Wärter!  It's a miracle that he's recovered his memories, and probably the
  only memory he's likely to get.

  The remaining Eviluders have withdrawn, perhaps sensing what is in Blade's
  heart, which only serves to infuriate Omega more.  The entire ship is part of
  his highly evolved body, but his mind seems to be breaking down in turn as he
  screams almost beyond parsability that he'll be damned if he lets Blade stand
  in his way now.  The ship tries to take off, but it still has to excavate
  itself from the lunar surface.  You've got four turns to pull this off.

  Omega is worth a Ultra-High Performance Electric Brain, a Multicombo +1, and
  a Gunfight +1.  Omega's disbelief is short-lived as he points out that just
  killing him won't take out his fellow Radam elsewhere within the ship.  He
  means to send the ship to Earth with his last strength, and even the Gravity
  Blast and the Valzacard's main guns can't destroy it fast enough.  Tomoru
  prepares to use _his_ ultimate attack, but D-Boy stops him, saying that this
  isn't the time or place to risk his life.  Blade claims that role for
  himself, but Omega says that he can't stop the ship, can't stop the flames
  that will raze the Earth's surface, and can't stop the Radam seeds that will
  sprout once again.  As the two clash, Ruri orders everyone to retreat: she's
  just received word that Genesis has been taken over.  It's all ready to fire,
  and Ruri can't think of a better target than this very spot.  D-Boy yells to
  Aki that he's going to hold Omega down, and begs anyone to make sure Aki gets
  out of here safely.  With no alternative, your people retreat, vowing to live
  on and fight on in his memory.  Blade holds his brother tight, keeping him
  from altering the ship's course.  His last words to Omega are, "Let's go
  home"...

You receive word of the events on the other path, where Patrick Zara was
toppled by a coup.  The Klein faction now intends to sue for peace with the UN,
meaning the Earth-Zaft war is over.  That's two adversaries you can cross off
your list, though you've lost an irreplaceable comrade in the process.  Aki had
only prayed that D-Boy, who shared the same fate as the Radam after all, has
found a measure of peace.  God seemingly hasn't granted even that small wish,
and Kazuma hesitantly breaks the news to your people that D-Boy isn't the only
casualty.  Apparently Kira got caught up in the Genesis blast as well, locked
in a deathgrip with the man who had really been controlling the Zaft mess: Rau
Le Creuset.  Not very encouraging with so much more fighting ahead of you, but
Yumi helps your people remember that the best thing you can do is make sure to
keep your comrades alive, as it were, in your memories.  And to stay alive
themselves, so those memories don't expire.  Heck, that's why The Database was
created in the first place [^^;;;...]

You've got little time to waste, with the Eviluder armada having just arrived
at the Solar System.  Among them is a mobile fortress fully a quarter the size
of the moon, which has been spotted in the vicinity of Venus.  Why are they
going there instead of directly to the Earth, if they mean for a full frontal
showdown?  Ines seems worried, but Michi reports Orbit Base's instructions to
head to Venus ASAP.  With the Radam gone, the Eviluder's boundless ambition
will surely strike you soon, and Tomoru can only hope he's up to the challenge.
Ines asks Michi's help to make a quick trip back to Orbit Base, to check on the
precise location of the Soul Lords' restoration machine - she's got a very bad
feeling about it...


51P. Susunda Michi no Saki ("At the End of the Path Traveled")

Shiho asks Yzak if Zara is likely to decline the Federation's overtures for
peace talks.  With his trademark scowl, he asks why else they would have been
assembled into a strike force, and Miguel adds a bit of scorn about why the
Federation special forces, piloted by Naturals, would be so stupid as to
neutralize other Naturals' warpower.  Shiho has heard that the Neue Wärter
aren't precisely part of the Federation army as such, but Miguel is dismissive
about anything and everything to do with Naturals.  Yzak isn't so sure,
recalling that Dearka is among the Neue Wärter.  He still can't figure out the
reason for Dearka's treachery, but that won't prevent him from carrying out his
mission.

As for "Doctor" Mihael's opinion, everyone knows that Yakin Duue is the last
line of defense for the Plants - and he has no problem with manning it.  The
large-scale deathweapon they're guarding, on the other hand, presents an ugly
moral quandary.  How could it be that the Coordinators, of superior stock to
the Naturals, must stoop to the same dirty methods they accuse the Naturals of?
Miguel snorts, having figured Mihael would call the Naturals the universe's
"cancer cells" or something, and Mihael tells him that in the grand scheme of
the cosmos, both Natural and Coordinator are basically the same thing.  At
least, they're similar enough to the Radam and Eviluders to be in their
crosshairs.

Maryuu's request for a ceasefire is met with more of Patrick's fine demagoguery
about how the violent Naturals are losing their will to fight - making this the
perfect time to lower the Hammer of Justice.  No, he has no plans to control
the Fist that wields it.  Aria is struggling mightily to understand why
Earthlings are fighting each other, and with such ghastly weapons too, and
Regulate can say nothing more than that this is human nature.  If the gamma
rays of Genesis are the revolutionary light that Patrick says they are, they
sure can't be viewed (safely) by anyone.  George Glenn is rather disappointed
that the Coordinators' mentality hasn't evolved any in a century, but since
he's technically already dead he can't see fit to pass judgement on his
creations.  That will have to fall to your people, and Lacus starts with a
stirring speech questioning who the Zaft's _real_ enemies should be.  Patrick
responds by having Creuset move to publically execute Lacus, and as expected
it's to be a contest of force on force.

Lacus laments that you all, humans, are beings who would have been just as well
off never fighting.  Now that the fight has begun, what will it bring? Who, or
what, will it protect?  Themselves?  The future?  Even without melody, Lacus'
words are a song, carrying her thoughts clearly to all who listen: What will
each of them do in this future, only winnable by striking others down?  And
why?  And how shall the victors face that future, without the defeated?  She
pauses, and Kira tells her that your people will finish that song for her -
though not through the means one might wish for.  Even Aslan is fully
committed, seeing it as his personal duty to stop his father.  Maybe Ash wants
to hear Lacus' pretty voice in a tortured scream, but Lowe in particular isn't
about to let that happen.  Muu only hopes that the absent Creuset isn't up to
something terrible...

  When Ash goes down in flames, Heero of all people quips that at least the
  battlefield's gotten quieter.  Lowe tells your people that there's no need to
  chase Ash after he ejected from his mech; cooling his head in space might
  just do him wonders.  Creuset sniffs to Patrick that the guy was a
  sacrificial pawn meant to disrupt your people, and nothing more.  He himself
  will launch next, and his mech seems to incorporate the Dragoon system from
  the Dreadnought.  However, as Creuset sorties, a group of Eviluders strike as
  well, turning the battle into a real mess.

  This is Creuset's big chance to gloat about how the gods of Fate have truly
  turned their back on mankind.  Thanks to the "key" he sent not getting to the
  Feds, the Feds actually developed even more fearsome weapons than the nukes
  they were hoping to use.  And when you stopped _those_, the Eviluders showed
  up.  If that's not some kind of sign, he doesn't know what is.  All it's
  really a sign of is that the Neue Wärter have got to choke a bitch or several
  - and for all Creuset's attempts to deride justice and peace and love, he's
  not really coming across as anything more than some crazy homeless guy with
  bad taste in sunglasses.  He's convinced that mankind was destined for
  destruction, with or without him giving a "little" push from behind the
  scenes.  Kira's fabled Super Coordinator powers never availed him in
  forensics club, so the rest of your team step in instead to tell Creuset
  where and how far to shove his lunatic babbling.

  See, you've got the power of belief on your side: belief in the individuals
  who together can change the world.  Even Prayer, bred from the same test
  tubes that spawned Creuset, has a positive outlook on life.  Creuset does
  have a point that this war has even the best of friends at each other's
  throats at times, except for the small mountain-sized counterexample of Kira
  and Aslan.  LOVE CONQUERS ALL, MOTHA-SUCKA!  Now there's a doujin or two for
  you.  Scary.

  If people would ever stop talking, the battle might be on in earnest.  At
  least when Ed and Natarle interrupt, it's for the very good reason of taking
  out the Eviluders and letting you concentrate on the foes at hand.  It just
  goes to show that the _entirety_ of the Federation army hadn't knuckled under
  to the Blue Cosmos just yet.  Even John, now part of a parallel special team
  to the Neue Wärter, is on the scene - as is the Gold Frame of the Sahaku
  faction.  John and the crew will keep most of the Eviluders from heading to
  the Plants, and this has Yzak thinking about what _he_ really ought to be
  protecting.  He gives his eager team the order to withdraw from this fight
  and instead focus on taking out those Eviluders, adding the warning that if
  your people insist on attacking the Plants, he'll be right there to stop you.

  This is the power of human feelings, and mostly what it does to Creuset is
  piss him off even further.  It's also blinded Patrick, who ignores the
  Eviluder threat entirely in the interest of wiping out the Naturals.  Your
  people detect Genesis' Neutron Jammer Cancelers activating, since as any real
  sci-fi fan knows a gamma ray laser needs a nuclear blast to pump it.  You've
  got three turns, and in them you need to take out Creuset to allow people to
  break into the control room.  Creuset actually tells Lacus that he didn't
  mind her singing - but he'd rather it be a requiem for this world.

  Blast Creuset in a hurry, and he'll concede that you've won this battle....
  But you've lost the war when Genesis fires!  Aslan rushes inside to the
  control room as Kira finally starts to find the words to combat Creuset, who
  insists that all human eyes are filled with hatred, and all human fingers
  exist to pull the trigger.  Meanwhile, Patrick's own subordinates are not
  blind to the fact that conditions are ripe for an honorable cease-fire with
  the Earth - it hardly seems necessary to irradiate the place.  Besides, the
  Zaft can't take the Eviluders _and_ Radam by themselves, and Patrick's "get
  them before they get us" mentality has finally become too much to bear.  A
  member of the bridge crew, either more honorable or more desperate than the
  rest, shoots Patrick in the chest just as Aslan and Cagalli rush in.  Cagalli
  demands to know why, if he meant to stop Patrick all along, didn't he stop
  him with _words_, and before things got this out of hand.  There was nothing
  in the entire chain of events leading up to this moment that _required_
  violence a priori...

  What really sucks is that Genesis has now entered the final firing sequence,
  and it _can't_ be stopped; at least, not unless you want a ginormous
  explosion that will probably irradiate the Plants instead.  The best you can
  do is aim it somewhere other than the Earth, and Ruri phones up with just the
  place: the Radam ship that's just emerged on the lunar surface.  Lowe quickly
  has 8 link with the Yakin computer and help Aslan with the retargeting, and
  Regulate pitches in too.  At Maryuu's word, the rest of the Zaft hastily get
  out of the way... but before all of your people can evacuate, Creuset yells
  that Genesis is the judgement that should fall on the Earth - and he won't
  let your people deflect it.  Someone has to stop Creuset from interfering
  with the retargeting, and that would be Kira!  He finally makes it to Creuset
  in time to stop him, but not with enough time to get clear of Genesis'
  beam...

You now get the debrief of the other path, including the fact that D-Boy
apparently got caught in the Genesis blast on the other side.  Aslan is of
course beside himself about losing Kira, and Prayer thinks that he should have
been the one to make the sacrifice instead, since he knows that his lifespan is
nearly over.  The rest of your team assure him that he shouldn't be in a hurry
to expend what life he's got left.  Lowe has some words of hope, as the guy who
(unbeknownst to the rest of your people) fished Kira out of his first
near-death experience in the Strike.  Given how damn tough these Gundams seem
to be, he's sure that Kira must be alive somehow, protected by his mech just as
he protected the mech's secrets.  Everyone decides to believe in this odd way
of thinking, even the oft-pessimistic Aslan.  There's little time for
reflection though, as you've got to head back to Orbit Base for the showdown
with the Soul Lords and main Eviluder fleet.  Your people will do their best to
protect the world and the people in it in Kira's stead...


52. Hizunda Taiyou ("Warped Sun")

Kumi is having visions of a bright light, so bright that it rules over all.  It
is a light of evil, bent on the destruction of everything, and it's headed for
Earth.  And its bearer: Miku!  Kumi wakes up, and tells Papillon that she now
understands everything and that they've got to hurry.  Papillon hesitates a
moment, but agrees to go to the place fate has ordained for the both of them,
and indeed for all of the Neue Wärter: the Warped Sun.

Tomoru is also being psychically contacted by the Eviluders, in this case by
Zoa.  The Detonator tells him to remember his days of death and destruction,
how much he enjoyed them.  Zoa urges him that it's not too late: he can still
be a hero by fighting on his side - as one of the Eviluders' instruments of
ruin.  Tomoru yells at this demon, who can only find himself by tearing down
others, to shut his mouth, and Zoa actually likes the waves of aggression and
hatred that Tomoru is emitting.  Tomoru protests that he's never wanted to hurt
anyone, but Zoa assures him that no one can escape their fate - and that the
Earth he strives so hard to protect will be laid waste by Zoa's own hand.  Does
Tomoru think he has the power to stop that?  Tomoru points out that he's got
friends to help, but Zoa thinks that the Eviluders are the one and only life
form suitable to inhabit the universe.  And it was Aiba's wishes that gave them
that power, or not, depending on which of the two Detonators is yelling at the
moment...

Things are good on the Plant and Radam front, with the last remaining trees due
for demolition by Disc X in due course.  Getting to this point has involved
many sacrifices, first and foremost among whom are D-Boy and Kira.  Ines'
ominous premonition is that the Eviluders' appearance at Venus has something to
do with the Soul Lords' restoration machinery, and if there's a key to unlock
the mystery, it lies within the Leo Culture's legacy to you: Go-Lion.  A
briefing about all that is about to begin, and once it's over, it will likely
mean the final battle for you all.

The briefing is so serious that Ines has actually chosen not to do Naze Nani
Nadesico, to Trowa's sorrow.  She starts with an explanation of how she knows
about the Soul Lords, dating back to her Boson Jump from Utopia Colony to the
Ancient Solar Culture, inheritors of what the residents of the previous
universe referred to as the Border Culture.  These people, who invented the
Boson Jump Master System, also gave Ines the plate which her younger self
handed over at the conclusion of the war with the Martian Successors.  The
plate turns out to be a storage device, loaded with information on your enemy.

She explains that the Ancient Solar folks were quite concerned about one of the
peoples among the Leo Culture: the residents of the Trinary system.  Not too
surprising given how the Trinary gave rise to the Zondar menace.  Thankfully,
your ancestors saw fit to save your bacon, and furnished you the data you need
to fight back.  Ines is careful to explain in order, starting with recalling
the ten Soul Lords that Gai tangled with.  Yes, kind of odd for a group called
the Eleven Soul Lords to be missing a member, isn't it?  That plus the fact you
never found the Pas-Q machine means that the eleventh Soul Lord _is_ the
restoration device, and is off somewhere else.  Unfortunately, the plate hasn't
been fully deciphered yet, so Ines can only say that it's _likely_ to contain
information about this eleventh foe.  Although the Soul Lords once joined
forces with The Database, Regulate says that the two sides never trusted each
other enough for her to have learned anything else.

What Ines has figured out is a way to speed up the deciphering process: Go-
Lion.  It's always bugged her why the Soul Lords are so afraid of it, and she's
realized that the goddess-like figure that's appeared to its crew is the key to
unlocking the true identity of the restoration machine.  Ines asks the
Go-Lion's crew to touch their mech and basically wish for the goddess to show
them the path, with some help from the two glow-boys and their G/J powers.

Sure enough, a warm light expands out from the super robot, enveloping your
team as the figure of the goddess appears.  Ines explains that this system is
no mere databank of knowledge from the Ancient Solarians - it actually contains
some of their personalities; in essence, their souls.  It also holds the souls
of dwellers of this universe, including Fahra's father Raimon.  Apparently, it
also can use Boson Jump, as when it carried the Space Ulf to the other side of
the universe.

Raimon explains that there was contact between the Leo and Border cultures in
the previous universe.  It was their wish to defend the residents of the next
universe, and they imbued Go-Lion with numerous gadgets for the purpose.  The
sealed souls within and the information they can convey are one of them;
another is the space-time jump capability borrowed from the Border Culture
folks.  Fahra inserts the info-plate into Go-Lion's computer, and in a few
moments Raimon shows you the last of the Soul Lords, Pisa Soul.  The Matter
Restoration Device is actually a _sun_, and the Soul Lords have hidden it by
the actual Sun until their plans are ripe.  The Eviluders must have discovered
this, explaining why they chose Venus as their mustering point.  Kogane thanks
the king, and vows not to waste the information.  Raimon, for his part, urges
your band of heroes to hurry and halt their indiscriminate attack.

Your mission is now clear: head to the Sun and strike the Soul Lords while the
Earth and Plant militaries brace for the Eviluder onslaught.  Seems kind of
fitting that the battle to save the Solar System would happen _at_ the Sun.
Especially in memory of your fallen comrades, you can't afford to lose now.
One thing that's worrying Aria is that The Database are sure to show up, if
only to complete their records on the Soul Lords before they get wiped out.  To
do so, they might just come to the Soul Lords' aid, which would likely include
Applicant himself.  Regulate wasn't able to transfer the location of The
Database's stronghold to the Armstra, so you can't mount a preemptive strike
against them, but Kazuma is sure that you'll get that info sooner or later.
For now, he asserts that the Soul Lords are your only concern, cutting a
decisive enough figure that he acutely reminds Aria of Applicant.  Kazuma
reminds her that he's his father's son, and it's actually Bless that she should
be reminded of, thinking to himself that _Applicant_ is the enemy they've got
to defeat...

Your little fleet, including the GGG Division Ships Tsukuyomi, Takehaya and
Hirume, get into position near Venus.  As soon as they finish checking things
out, you'll head to the Sun - assuming the bad guys leave you alone that long.
They don't.  It's the Soul Lords, who figure out that the five Lions must have
tipped you to their location.  They certainly don't plan to get defeated before
their mission is complete, and it turns out all of them can use Fusion.
They're serious about their mission, but then again so are you.  Let the brawl
begin.

  Hose a few bad guys and the Eviluders will show up.  Maybe you can use them
  against the Soul Lords?  Well, you'll have to juggle them _and_ The Database.
  Applicant curtly reminds Aria that their proper name is the Scribes of
  Knowledge, and orders an indignant Kazuma to be destroyed along with his
  solar system.  Apparently this means that they've recorded all they need to
  record about your culture, as indicated by the existence of beings called
  Deceiver.  Based on the strongest information available, they're beings born
  to be the ultimate warriors.  Gai is annoyed that everyone from every corner
  of space seems to go that route, and Applicant states that they have been
  given no emotions that could impede the performance of their duties.
  Otherwise, they'd turn into failures like Aria.  Kazuma tells Aria not to
  give in to Applicant's tactics of lowering morale before battle, and yells
  that there's no way he's losing to Applicant - ESPECIALLY if he's really a
  copy of his dad.  Applicant claims that no matter how much Kazuma matures,
  he'll never be a match for him.

  The Database are helping the Soul Lords, and Eviluder reinforcements are
  surely on the way.  To avoid expending more warpower than needed, Ruri tells
  your troops to focus on the Database and Soul Lord commanders.

  More Eviluder reinforcements will indeed arrive in due course, and things are
  looking grim until Yurika and Lapis show up in the first-gen Nadesico and
  start Gravity Blasting.  Along for the ride are Blade... and Miyuki!  Both
  are still very much alive and very glad to see everyone again.  It seems Leo
  was successful in restoring Miyuki's good health, and Miyuki in turn has
  brought D-Boy his brother Shinya's crystal, which has put him back to rights.
  Shinya's last words of "I'm sorry" have turned into a concrete means of
  making things right with his brother.  Blade will use this newly restored
  life to defend the Earth.

  ...And he's not alone.  Kira is with him, protected by the Freedom and
  rescued at the last moment by none other than Canard!  Canard told him not to
  die until they eventually finish their duel, though Prayer figures Canard
  actually got the message he was trying to convey.  Akatsuki is just glad
  Erina got everyone here in time, which Erina admits was pretty tough due to
  the time required to combine the Euchalis into the Nadesico.  Among the other
  crew are Papillon and Kumi.

  Pia Dekem is worth a The Carpenters, an Inner Strength +1 and an Infight +1.
  Rather than fight to the last, the air craft carrier and its occupants
  withdraw.  Pilnas tells the lion kitten that her lesson has only begun.  Some
  of your squad think the Soul Lords turned tail, but J knows they'll be back
  any moment.

  Palpalepa is worth an Auxiliary GS Ride, a BP+1 and a Counter.  He still
  can't figure out how you could have so much power - power that even can
  overwhelm a god.  Kouji doesn't give a damn about gods or devils - all he
  knows is that your people won't lose to the likes of him.

  Applicant is worth a Barrier L Generator, a Gunfight +1 and a Hit&Away.  He
  grudgingly admits that it may be time to revise his opinion of Kazuma, but
  what Kazuma and Sousuke want to know is where The Database's main base, and
  Kaname, are.  He won't say, since he's still got more data to record from
  inside Kaname's head.  Once he finishes that, there'll be nothing left to
  record in this system - thanks to a certain collaborator.  They will then
  leave and let the Soul Lords finish their regeneration project, bringing
  about their end of destroying what they've recorded.  As he leaves, Kazuma
  ruefully says that, while he knew this already, there doesn't seem to be even
  a shred of his father left within Applicant.

With all the enemies (except for the infinite Eviluder cannon fodder) dealt
with, you can now figure out Pisa Soul's exact location.  Ruri is about to lead
your people to the spot, with navigational aid from Yurika, when the Soul Lords
return.  It turns out that as long as Pisa Soul exists, the other Soul Lords
can be regenerated infinitely.  Gai charges ahead, meaning to blast open a path
for the rest of your team.  He impressively blasts the bad guys, including the
supercilious Palpalepa, but Palpalepa regenerates and exploits a small timing
flaw in the Hell and Heaven propulsion system.  He then injects Gai with
Chemical Nanomachines that start attacking Genesic Gaogaigar from within.

However, Gai tangling with these goons gives you the chance you need to head
ahead to Pisa Soul.  Mamoru and J tell your people to step on it, and to
believe in Gai's ability to win despite Palpalepa's bragadoccio.  Luckily, the
Eviluders have also made their way to Pisa Soul, so the other Soul Lords don't
have time to linger and mess with Gai.  If Palpalepa thinks that leaving Gai to
be finished off by the Eviluder grunts is smart strategy, he really needs to go
back to nursery school.  Even if his body won't move, Gai is still a Hero,
after all.


53. Asa wo Yobu Mono-tachi ("They Who Summon the Dawn")

Cue the tearful reunion between D-Boy and Aki.  This was only possible thanks
to Miyuki, who came and fished D-Boy out from his determined death-grip on
Kengo.  Miyuki herself would have died if not for Liger and company quickly
locating her when she crashed to Earth after the fracas on Valentine's Day, and
it was her decision to hide her well-being lest her brother get distracted from
his quest.  Balzac, Liger, and Freeman are the only ones who knew, and Balzac
says he had a hell of a time keeping anyone from finding out prematurely.
D-Boy marvels at how not only Miyuki, but even Shinya worked to save his hide
in their "last" moments, Shinya going so far as to donate his own Crystal for
D-Boy to be "Reformatted" back at GGG's labs.  That _should_ have killed him,
but his Blasterized body decided life was better than death.  God only knows
how long he'll live now, but he's resolved to use that life in the fulfilment
of his Tekkamanly duty, and Aki will be right by his side the whole way.

Tomoru will be part of the strike team, knowing full well that continuing to
link with Orgun will eventually endanger his life.  He figures that if he can
just fight this last fight, everything will start making sense.  Michi is
grief-stricken at the thought of losing him, but Tomoru isn't about to be the
first Neue Wärter member to _not_ risk his life to defend his loved ones.  That
means Michi in particular.  He tells her that he's not going to die, but to
build a world she can live in in peace.

Zoa actually thinks he's winning over the Soul Lords and their space-warping
power.  All that remains is taking down that massive heavenly body, but Miku
isn't forthcoming with advice on how to defeat its energy shield.  Instead,
Miku feels some consciousness attempting to access her mind, and whoever it is
is fast approaching with Orgun at their side.

Your people get to fight in the shadow of the two massive objects, Pisa Soul
and the mobile fortress Zomar.  Zoa asks Miku to give the order to wipe out the
insolent, inferior Earthlings, but Miku stays silent while listening to Kumi.
Kumi just figured out that she is Kumi's other self, perhaps helped by
Papillon.  Kumi explains that the Eviluders were afraid of losing everything
they had, and in the distant past, they left a single Original intact while
overhauling their physical bodies.  Miku is that original, and she says that
everything has gone exactly according to plan... except for Orgun's flight.
Kumi says that it wasn't a "flight", it was a "homecoming" to what Miku herself
had lost.  Kumi tells Miku that these urges to destroy can't be of her own
making.  Zoa's ranting for blood and destruction becomes increasingly frantic.

When Blade hears the name Zoa, his jaw drops.  "Zoa" was the surname of the
captain of the Cygnalite, making this man a distant descendant of the man D-Boy
knew.  Miku tells Zoa that they are facing a mirror, one which reflects past
and future to each other.  Both she and Kumi see the light, a light that will
lead all back to the beginning.  Kumi sees before her a panoply of the
Eviluders, voyaging across the stars and growing in might with the eons, ever
moving ahead.  Yet what should they take from the past that now confronts them?
Zoa's entreaties fall on deaf ears, as Miku at last realizes that Orgun, not
her, was the one to discern all this and head for the Earth.  Fed up, Zoa
himself orders the troops forward to destroy whoever it is who troubles Miku.
In the end, you've got to destroy the Eviluders if you hope to destroy Pisa
Soul, and there's the constant threat of the Soul Lords showing up.  Mikoto
vows to Gai that your people won't waste his sacrifice.

  Take out the Eviluder troops and Zoa will gloat at the infinitesimal
  resistance your condemned people are offering.  Miku surprises him by telling
  him to withdraw at once: setting foot in this system is dangerous!  She tells
  him that _something_ that dwells within the light defends this system, and
  that's truly the last straw.  Zoa himself, the strongest commander and
  warrior of the Eviluders, sorties with a full retinue of goons.  Zoa claims
  that you are are powerless before Miku's will for destruction, but Orgun says
  that just now, he felt a _heart_ at the center of Zomar: a human heart!

  Zoa is grimly amused that Orgun has seen through his ruse, and says that Miku
  is the one and only remnant of the Eviluders' original form.  She is part of
  the strain of super-humanity created by the Comprehent Project, just like
  Michi.  This rings a bell for Blade, recalling his father telling him that
  the Cygnalite's crew included certain people with special powers, aboard to
  help keep the ship safe.  That would be Miku, whose precognition helped the
  brawny Zoa govern the Eviluders.  He won't hear of her learning of this
  shitty "heart" thing from the humans, lest the Eviluders as a whole be
  ruined.  Beating him will require all the pride and strength Orgun can
  muster, but there's already one example that it can be done.  It takes a
  serious pep talk, concluding with D-Boy who informs Zoa that he's no longer a
  Radam, but one of those pesky heart-bearing Earthlings.

  Orgun finally gathers his resolve, determined to use the power of his
  benevolent heart to kick Zoa's ass inside-out.  Kumi meanwhile continues to
  entreat Miku to wake up, and gaze into the light to see the even brighter
  color of her soul.  Miku struggles to understand how fighting and being
  wounded can protect things - just what are these beings called "humans"
  anyway?

  It doesn't take long for the Soul Lords to show up, including the battle-mode
  "Pia Dekem Big".  Abel gloats that the Soul Lords are through with dark
  matter collection, thanks to THE POWER, and are just about ready to
  obliterate this star system and recreate the Trinary in its place.  Palpalepa
  dismissively says that the heroic God of Destruction (that would be Gai) is
  presumably being snacked on by Eviluders somewhere or other.  Even if he's
  telling the truth, your people have been too well schooled by the Heroes to
  let the news slow them down.  J likes the sound of your new generation of
  Heroes, and announces that it's time to settle things once and for all.  It
  is to be a three-sided showdown, with the fate of the solar system and
  everything in it hanging in the balance.  Mikoto prays to Gai to lend her his
  strength...

  Before one or the other dies, Zoa tells Orgun that his people have been
  wandering a very long time through the darkness, in search of the light.  Yet
  no one ever stretched forth their hand to save them!  And someone should
  have, if this universe is so damn valuable as Orgun claims it is.  Orgun
  counters that just because a lot of heartless folk inhabit the universe
  doesn't mean that heartful people don't exist.  All Zoa believes in is power,
  which is why he will not survive.

  Zoa is worth an S-Adaptor, a BP+3 and an Infight +1.  Zoa summons some inner
  strength and counter-attacks Orgun, telling him to be grateful that Zoa will
  end Orgun's fight himself.  Your people's encouragement causes him to stand
  once more, and an infuriated Zoa prepares to atomize him.  But too late.  All
  Zoa's denials of the power of the soul or the possibilities of humanity don't
  stop him from going splat.  He crashes to Zomar, vowing with his last breath
  to at least destroy the Earth.  Now the Eviluders will lose their meaning, as
  D-Boy's dad wished: they've been freed from the curse of heartlessness.
  However sweet this moment is, it can't be savored with other enemies still
  left.

  Pummel Palpalepa some and he'll decide to charge the Nadesico A.  Lapis tells
  Yurika that they don't have enough power to dodge, and it looks like all is
  lost when very familiar theme music begins to play.  I seem to recall it went
  something like this:

    Makero, makero! Ramen Kaider AKITO!

  Akito levelly reminds Yurika that she's got a Distortion Field and tells her
  not to panic.  He actually sounds surprised that your people would welcome
  him back, but your people assure him he's more than welcome.  He's here to
  keep the promise he made a year ago, and protect everyone.  But it won't be
  him who fights Palpalepa: it's Genesic Gaogaigar, who he carried here by
  Boson Jump.  Gai doesn't immediately respond, and Palpalepa is sure that his
  Chemical Nanomachines have totally eradicated Gai's personality.  Akito
  actually smiles at that: a thin-lipped, menacing smirk that underscores how
  little Palpalepa knows who he's fucking with.  As your people well know,
  Gai's soul is indestructible, and as your people implore the Hero's Hero to
  stand once more and show the evildoers the power and pride of the Lion the
  stricken Gaogaigar begins to glow.  With a roar that shakes the heavens,
  Gai's eyes open and his wounds heal.  Now, he cries, will he show you all the
  true power of Bravery!!

  Not only does he pummel Palpalepa, he even has time to explain what happened
  to those nanomachines: his awe-inspiring Evoluder powers allowed him to
  _rewrite_ them.  Palpalepa protests that only the rightful God should possess
  indestructible energy, but Gai silences him with the truth that their giving
  aid to The Database and the Garura, their troubling you with Replijins of
  Mamoru and J, their refusal to simply attack the Earth head on: at every turn
  they've demonstrated how much they fear you!!  His G-stone, together with his
  Heroism, will easily overcome their Loud G-stones.

  This victory will be all thanks to Akito, for casting aside his dark garments
  of mourning.  Akito tells the Hero that he simply gave back the teachings he
  had constantly learned at Gai's side.  The tricky part is that the bad guys
  aren't defeated yet, thanks to that pesky regeneration thing.  Palpalepa
  appears to be really pissed this time, using his Doping Cylinders to become
  Palpalepa Plajuna.  He tells your people to quit their damn struggling
  already, but Gai repeats himself that it is precisely by struggling that life
  earns the right to exist.

  Pia Dekem is worth a Pink Haro, a Gunfight +1 and an Ignore Size.  Pilnas
  likes how strong your lion kitten is, but reminds you that the Soul Lords are
  immortal.  Well, technically they take time to regenerate, and that's the
  time in which you can win.

  Palpalepa again is worth a PASFU, a BP +1, and a Morale Limit Break.  He
  simply can't comprehend how something could exceed his Loud G-stone's power,
  but Gai's got the explanation.  Just as Zondar Metal turns stress into power,
  the G-stone turns bravery into power: the crown jewel of life!  The Evoluders
  are what you get when you combine that gem with a cyborg, and as long as Gai
  retains his bravery, the G-Crystals within his Genesic body will give him
  TRUE infinite power for victory.

Your adversaries are scattering now that their leaders are defeated, but from
the fortress you begin to detect an antimatter signature.  It's actually an
antimatter cannon, and if it directly hits the Earth it'll be toast.  Zoa is
still alive and thinks he's won, and the Soul Lords are also alive and think
they've won too.  Tomoru thinks his Grand Crus attack might neutralize the
anti-matter cannon, but it requires a stronger sun than this system has to
achieve that feat.  There simply isn't enough time to charge it.

Fortunately, Kumi has a trick up her sleeve, and Taiga has to remind some of
your people not to give up.  He tells Gai that the time has come to use the Key
to Victory, and Gai in turn tells Tomoru to hold still: your people are about
to bring the sun and its light to him.  The Soul Lords are sure this is futile,
but J proclaims their weakness: by regenerating them, part of Pisa Soul has
become fragile.  The color drains from their faces as they realize that _this_
is the moment your people have been waiting for all along.  The ships from GGG
begin changing shape, and your people start blasting for all they're worth to
open a path for Gaogaigar.

In desperation, Abel cries to Cain to stop Gai, but Mamoru knows that this is
just Be La Cain, a program made in his image.  Surely nothing that can slow Gai
down now, especially with Formation G in effect!  It's possible that this
universe has never seen anything like the shining light of the godly Goldion
Crusher.  Certainly Miku hasn't.  Tomoru now has the light he needs to charge
his ultimate weapon, which handily takes out the antimatter cannon and Zoa
along with it.

Abel protests that their duty to restore the Trinary system will be left
unfulfilled, but given that he's only a program made in the image of the Red
Planet's real ruler, that's not too much of a bummer.  Besides, the Trinary has
effectively been reborn already, fifteen billion years after the fact, as the
Earth with all the life the lifeless Soul Lords feared so much.


54. Wasurenu Omoide wo Mune ni ("With Unforgettable Memories in Our Hearts")

The Database are attacking the Plant, which is now defended by a blended force
of Federation and Zaft troops.  The Neue Wärter has been missing ever since the
showdown at Venus, so the normal troops will have to hold up things by
themselves.  They hope that taking down the black enemy commander mech will
disperse the bad guys, and the pride of the aces gathered here wouldn't stand a
defeat.

  As the battle progresses, who should appear but Lond Mina Sahaku, who would
  be rather put out if the world was destroyed.  She says she intends to defend
  the world in her own way, and wonders if Gina is laughing at her right now.
  Mina has learned one thing though: this world is created by the efforts of
  individuals - and if she wants to have a country to rule, she'd better deploy
  her ass and defend the individuals who populate that country.

  Unfortunately, defeating the enemy commander just causes a slew more enemies
  to appear.  Things look momentarily grim until a familiar beam of energy
  blows the enemies out of the sky: a Gravity Blast.  Your people have indeed
  returned to the Earth sphere, hindered in their return by damage to their
  Jump drive.  This is the ray of hope that Mina and the others have been
  looking for.

It's 2/12, and Kazuma recounts the gallantry at Venus for the log.  Though the
Soul Lords have reverted back to dark matter, the Eviluders actually survived,
and have headed back off into space in their mobile fortress.  Kazuma's heard
from Kumi that the Eviluder leader Miku has learned from Orgun what it is to
have a heart, and that they will likely rethink their beliefs that might makes
right.  You can now concentrate on The Database, whose indiscriminate attacks
against everything in the Earth Sphere seem to suggest that they've finished
recording all of Earth's culture.  People are still unsure where they're coming
from, and until that location becomes clear the best your people can do is rest
and repair their machinery.  When the time comes, it will be the final phase of
the Battle for Earth that began with the Lizard War, and the greatest test of
Kazuma's family.

Speaking of which Papillon summons Kazuma and Aria, who might not even make it
before she too reverts to dark matter.  Such is the fate of all things, really,
and she's been mentally prepared all this time.  She tells her grieving friends
not to cry, that she'll live on in their memories, but it's understandably
scant consolation.  When Kazuma and Aria arrive, Papillon tells Aria she's glad
Aria has learned what it means to grieve, since it will help her understand
what she's about to tell her.  She, indistinguishable from the original
Papillon, makes the point that Applicant _is_ Kazuma's dad in the same sense.
Kazuma protests that Applicant may have once been his dad, but he's changed
since!  Can he actually defeat his dad, changed though he may be?  Aria tells
Kazuma that Applicant was always nice to her, taught her so much about her
family and even her "rival" brother.  That's why Aria herself was so shocked
when Applicant announced her destruction.  At that, the pieces fall into place
for Kazuma, and he thanks Papillon for clearing his head.  She nods, asking him
to at least try talking to Applicant when they meet next: it might just open up
a new path forward.  He promises to do so - in his own fashion, and Aria and
the rest of the family will be with him every step of the way.  With that,
Papillon tells Entouji that the time has come to journey into his memories.
She reminds you all that bravery is the power all living beings possess, and
none of the Heroes on your team will likely soon forget.  Her last words are to
Entouji, that she's with him always.

The Database has really raised hell, if not razed Hell, in the past ten days,
prostrating the Federations' most pivotal bases and imperiling civilians
everywhere.  What's less clear is how they could have recorded everything from
Earth culture in a single year.  The only likely explanation are the two
Whispered they've had access to: Kaname and Leonard from Amalgam.  Frustration
is building that you can't locate their home base - even Kumi can only see
fragmentary images of a deep, forgotten darkness... the abyss of death.  Not
much to go on.

But Tessa comes through in the clutch: their base is on asteroid 134340, the
forgotten planet Pluto!  Even Taiga's formidable jaw drops at this information,
which Kaname risked her life to send psychically to Tessa.  As Freeman
realizes, Tessa also risked her life just to receive it and provide it to the
rest of humanity.  No way your people will let such heroism go to waste.  Full
speed to the asteroid formerly known as Pluto!!

Critic sees Kaname apparently taking a nap and snarls that she seems to be a
weirdo even among Whispered.  Kaname opens her eyes, and asks if his job
amounts to spitting invective.  This surprises him, and he tells her that
that's only natural for him as a "Critic".  If he's such a critic, why is
Inference the one giving orders to attack the Earth?  He claims it's his job to
endorse Inference's directives, but Kaname asks if he isn't actually
maneuvering to control Inference behind the scenes.  Inference then walks in,
announcing that he has no more time to listen to Kaname's provocation.  She
then tells him directly to stop the assault on Earth.

In fact, it turns out that they've got a hair over 1% of the Earth's data left
unrecorded, but Critic figures that remaining data is worthless.  Inference
smirks that he's glad for Critic's support, and Applicant is silent as always.
When Kaname prods him to act, he says that he's a mere observer and has no
authority to oppose the control programs' mandates.  Kaname is sure that Bless
wouldn't stay silent in this situation, but Applicant maintains that he's
Applicant, not Bless.

In proof that even The Database can be surprised, here come the Neue Wärter.
Inference yells that this can't be coincidence, and Kaname is very glad that
Tessa got her message.  Critic orders Applicant to take the defense forces out
immediately, but Inference orders him to stay put and protect Inference
himself.  Applicant inquires which order he should obey, and the two rapidly
begin to quarrel.  Inference is sure that "they" can handle your people, and
Critic finally agrees on the condition that Applicant sortie if "they" fail.
Apparently "they" include the Grand Marshal and Creuset, both of whom have much
hatred for your team.

Your people Jump out to this desolate spot in the outer reaches of the Solar
System.  Your destination was once held in such esteem to be numbered among the
nine planets, but its stature now, known only by number, has fallen from most
humans' memories entirely.  It seems an odd combination for the Scribes of
Knowledge to inhabit a forgotten planet.  Aria and Regulate explain how the
Database stronghold is structured.  At its outer fringes is a defense system,
followed by construction facilities for the defensive troops.  Beyond that is
the databank itself, and at the very center is the master system, known as the
"Heart of Scientia".  That heart is where the code for Inference physically
resides.

Getting there won't be easy though, given the many layers you'll have to fight
through.  Nevertheless, unless you halt these guys, the Earth will fall in
short order.  Sousuke still has his mission to save Kaname, and prevent the
info the Database has gotten from the Whispered from doing any more damage.
You'll have to fight through the last vestiges of the Garura first though, led
by the hateful Sinclyne.  He figures he can use The Database's might to
reconstitute all the Garura have lost, all of which means precisely zip to
Kogane and your crew.

  Sinclyne is very upset that your people dare to oppose his glorious
  restoration, but Honeruba tells him that he's brought this on himself.  She
  well knows of Sinclyne's treachery in forcing Dai Bazarl to sortie, and tells
  him to his face that the Garura's collapse began the moment Dai Bazarl was
  killed.  He imperiously tells her that the old emperor was held accountable
  for the failures of his empire, no more, no less.  And unless she wants the
  new emperor to take her head, she'd better shut up.  The news that Honeruba
  is aboard Sinclyne's ship gives Go-Lion renewed determination to get revenge
  for Shirogane's death.

  When Sinclyne's flagship is damaged beyond repair, he makes for the escape
  pods until Honeruba blocks his path.  Sinclyne is horrified to hear that Dai
  Bazarl is actually Honeruba's _son_, and the old witch is about to exact a
  mother's vengeance.  Sinclyne thinks he can break free of her curses, but he
  can't break away from the truth that will forever keep him from being the
  true Garura emperor: his mother is from Altea.  He refuses to listen, and
  overpowering Honeruba tells her that she is to share the fate of the ship.

  He, however, goes to fight one final battle with your people in the Mecha
  Black Beastman that is the touchstone of the emperor.  Tsukumo for one is
  more than happy to face the final bet of the wicked prince, but things will
  have to wait as Dr. Hell makes his triumphant return from the "dead".  His
  equipment surely came from The Database's factories, but his ambitions are
  his own and bigger than ever.  He's quite taken with the idea of gathering
  all the knowledge of the universe, and cares not for ruling one little planet
  anymore.  It was with his help that The Database has all but finished their
  records of Earth, and he's being allowed to join The Database on their
  journeys provided the Earth falls first.

  In fact, Dr. Hell isn't the only one helping The Database.  Creuset is also
  on hand, his malevolence increased tenfold since the last battle.  It seems
  the Master System is fascinated by emotions since it has none of its own.
  Creuset still wants to wipe out mankind, and isn't above borrowing the power
  to do it directly instead of operating behind the scenes.  If these three
  villains think any of this will frighten you, they are about to get a most
  convincing proof otherwise.

  Sinclyne is so miserable he's not even worth any loot.  As though your
  people's scorn isn't enough, Inference calls him up to berate him for his
  disgraceful loss.  Is this what he betrayed his father for?  Inference
  supposes it was futile to try to learn what the father-son dynamic is about
  from watching him, and bids him goodbye.  Altea's cause is now complete, and
  Fahra pledges that strength to help the Earth now... but Kazuma wants to know
  what the heck that last line was about.

  As Creuset goes down, he cries out that he can see the end of the world,
  everything going down in flames.  Kira and your dudes won't permit that of
  course, but Creuset holds to his delusions of judgement for mankind to the
  very end.  Looks like The Database just lost their case study in hatred...

  Kouji is the one regret Dr. Hell has left, and Ashura plans to do his/her
  best to lay that to rest.  Their best is, how shall I say it delicately...
  M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-Y  I-N-A-D-E-Q-U-A-T-E.  Yes, that's the word for their
  performance at the end of their centuries-long throwdown with Kouji.  But
  that's what they get for selling out the Earth and taking too much pride in
  how smart they are.

But this battle isn't over yet - not until Applicant is dealt with.  He comes
when Kazuma speaks his name, piloting not the Armstra but a new mech called the
Valarm.  This is his personal mech, created from a combination of Es and Earth
knowhow.  In other words, it's the product of the same synergy that created the
Valzacard, and that suits Kazuma just fine.  He shouts to his enemy not to
complain if he gets beaten on this level playing field.  This is what Kazuma
meant by talking with his father on his terms.  If this really _is_ his father,
words would have only worked against him.  The real way to communicate is to
pummel him until it's clear what he's really thinking.  Applicant repeats that
he's not Blessfield Ardygun, but that he does have the same level of power he
did - meaning Kazuma can't beat him.  Kazuma thinks otherwise, and is about to
prove it.

  Applicant is actually impressed as you start kicking his ass, but Kazuma
  won't let up the pace just because of a little flattery.  His Tension gauge
  hit the red zone long ago, and he only seems amused when Applicant tries to
  tell him that the Valzacard isn't some child's toy.  He vows to tear off
  Applicant's blank mask, and Applicant tells him to try if he's able.  But
  lest anyone forget the Trailer Maxim, "The weakest dog barks the loudest."
  Kazuma remembers every damn word, including the second half: "Only bark if
  it's a victory howl!!"

  Applicant then berates Kazuma for being too slow to recover after evasive
  maneuvers, just as perceptive as the Ardygun father should be.  But even if
  it's his dad, or rather precisely because it's his dad, Kazuma won't let
  himself lose.  He always meant to be a better man than his father, and today
  that dream comes true!  As the Valzacard eagerly looks forward to this
  moment, Applicant for the first time tells the Valzacard's crew to make their
  power as one, or else they won't be able to win.  Nice advice, but he's about
  to become a stepping stone in Kazuma's rise to awesomeness.

  Applicant is worth a Haumea Charm,  a Max SP +15 and an Infight +1.  Kazuma
  tells his father that he just surpassed him, and when Applicant protests that
  he's not Bless, Kazuma says that Bless is unmistakably present inside him.
  It was Applicant who reminded Kazuma that his father could become passionless
  if it suited his goals, and at last Applicant takes off his mask of his own
  volition.  He says that Kazuma has finally understood him as well as he
  understands Kazuma, and that while he _isn't_ Blessfield Ardygun, he shares
  the same heart.  It was at the moment Kazuma figured that out that he began
  to understand what his father is up to.

  Kazuma tells your crew that his underhanded dad made sure to have insurance
  against the worst-case scenario, and the inspiration came when Kazuma
  realized what that "worst-case scenario" would mean to Bless.  That would be
  the loss of memories, in other words, the loss of The Database itself.  If
  everything is eventually destroyed by the universe's cycle of death and
  rebirth, it was his father's wish to make his memories the one and only
  eternal thing extant.

  What makes Bless unfair in Kazuma's eyes is that he's counting on others to
  use the Valzacard and stop The Database if it gets out of control.  So why
  did he have to become your enemy?  Horis says that Bless was always the type
  to throw all of himself into his work - had you lost, you would have at least
  "lived" on within the Database's database, even across the turning of the
  death/rebirth cycle.  That said, Kazuma can't forgive his dad and The
  Database for letting everything they recorded get destroyed - and that has
  nothing to do with any family ties.  That's what Applicant wanted to hear,
  and he owns up to committing unpardonable sins.  Even if it was just aiding
  external enemies who planned invasion anyway (the Radam, etc. etc.), the net
  result was cultural devastation.

  In acknowledgement of what he's done, he opens the gates ahead, and leaves
  everything else to you.  He believes you can put his twisted colleagues back
  to rights, and Kazuma yells at him for leaving all the hard stuff to others.
  Aria implores him to come help, especially after he apologizes for telling
  her she was to be discarded.  He says he can't actually come - now that he's
  abandoned his mission, he's finished.  But his memory will live on inside
  Kazuma and the others, and he tells Regulate to take good care of his still-
  young family.  He then instructs Kazuma to go with his memory in his heart,
  never forgetting the terror of space, the weakness of the individual, and...
  wait for it... the importance of human life.

All Database defenses fall silent, and nothing now stands in the way of
completing your mission.  Off you go, with the memories of the two fathers made
manifest in the Valzacard.  Despite Kazuma's badmouthing of Bless and
Applicant, he inwardly knows that they're the best dad a boy could have.  And
as his father's son, it's time to stop The Database once and for all.

Applicant's loss comes as a major blow to Inference, who starts screaming and
crying.  Critic points out that Applicant's shut down all their defenses and
says that they've got to sortie themselves, but Inference demands to know why
Critic doesn't feel anything at Applicant's death.  Critic states that this
plant can create any number of observers, and says that they merely need to
build themselves another maintenance machine.  Inference tries to protest, but
Critic tells him that he can't comprehend Inference's outburst.  He is to
follow Critic once he's stopped overheating - Critic will be busy activating
Scientia.  Inference in turn can't comprehend why Critic seems totally
unaffected by the death of their creator.  Kaname asks Inference if he's
feeling sad - does he, like Aria, think of Applicant as his father?  Bingo.  He
furiously yells at her to shut up - he's the head of the Scribes of Knowledge,
not some misprint like Aria.  She retorts by demanding to know what about
emotions makes someone a misprint.  Everyone, including Inference, works to win
their father's praise, don't they?  It starts to dawn on Inference that he
indeed has emotions, which makes sense given how the guy made the transition
from Recorder to Inference back when.  It was the rise of those emotions that
turned Inference from a program into a person.

Inference starts to stalk off to help Critic sortie, but Kaname has had another
crucial insight: if Applicant has emotions, then so does Critic.  Can't
Inference see that Critic has been using him all along?!  Inference
acknowledges the emotions that mark him as human, and those emotions have been
telling him something all along: he hates Critic.  And even with his father
dead, he's still got to accumulate memories in the database, forever.  And he
won't let anyone stand in the way...


55. Hatenaki Mirai e no Idebune ("Set Sail to the Endless Future")

The interior of the databank is far from the computer room your people
expected.  It is in fact a fortified city, modeled on the capital of the Es
people who dwelt on the fifth planet.  Your people haven't been attacked so
far, despite The Database surely realizing you're here, and Murakumo realizes
this must mean they're very very certain of victory.  And indeed they are,
according to Critic.  He tells Aria that Inference is undergoing a few
adjustments, and plans to have you fight a few of his creations until those
adjustments finish.

The troops are fortified versions of ones from your own culture, which Critic
notes is unusually rich in military know-how.  And it's not just the military:
you've got genetic engineering, cyber-tech, weird energy sources, relics from
the Ancient Solar Culture - plus all kinds of data from tangling with the
Radam, Eviluders and Zondar.  The fact that these haven't been deployed against
you sooner is due to some hang-up of Applicant's that Critic can't understand.
Critic at least knows that your people aren't to be trifled with, and he's
elected to bring the noise at full volume.  His appraisal of you is harshly
true, but then again that's his job.  It's your job to stop his misplaced
belief in the correctness of his destructive acts, and Shihomi apologizes to
your team that her father's acts even indirectly brought about these insane,
automated foes.  She begs your help in this fight on behalf of all feeling
beings in the universe, and all your team members are totally on board.

  As the battle proceeds, Horis and Kazuma start looking for "him" to appear,
  just as he did exactly a year ago.  Unless you defeat the silver colossus,
  this fight that Kazuma's dad started fifteen billion years ago will never
  end.  Inference's appearance will be the real opening curtain on this battle.

  He shows up soon enough, though he still gets chewed out by Critic for not
  remembering his duty.  He remembers perfectly well: they are the Scribes of
  Knowledge, meant to protect it from the death and rebirth of the universe.
  He and Critic fire up Scientia, the ultimate weapon that defends the ship.
  At the helm is Inference, who specifically says that he's going to wipe
  Kazuma out.  Critic tells him to quit acting on personal impulses, but
  Inference, ruler of the Recording Plant, is in no mood to be ordered around.

  Regulate explains that Scientia is both a weapon and the Master System that
  supports The Database, and the computer operating Critic and Inference.
  Until you destroy it, The Database will live on.  Inference seems
  particularly hung up on Applicant's erstwhile family, and Kazuma informs him
  that he's taking Kazuma's father's wishes in the wrong direction.  Inference
  is obviously emotional, and plans to finish what he couldn't back at Jupiter:
  eliminating Kazuma and making that emotion go away.

  Chisel away for a while and Inference will commend you on giving Scientia the
  hardest fight it's had in 3519 years.  Kazuma in turn compliments Inference
  on holding out this long: this damn ship is definitely his father's
  handiwork.  As is Inference's superficially calm expression, which causes
  Inference to lose his cool and demand to know what the fuck Kazuma thinks he
  knows about him and Applicant.  That's the genuine emotion that Kazuma wants
  to see, and as Inference gets ever more vulgar Critic warns him that his
  judgement is going to suffer if he doesn't cool it.  Inference pauses a long
  moment, and then agrees that Critic has it right.  Regulate protests this at
  such a critical juncture, but Inference tells her to shut up since she has no
  authority over him.

  There's no point in beating on the small fry beyond what it takes to up your
  morale, since they come infinitely.  Just focus on Inference.
  Parenthetically, that fight 3519 years ago was with Go-Lion...

  Take out Inference and Critic will get panicked that your people's power
  exceeds expectations.  He tells Inference that they've got to escape, even if
  it means destroying the entire star in the process.  Inference says nothing,
  and Critic frantically orders him to make a decision.  ...Orders?! Inference
  spits that this false "Critic" has shown his true colors.

  Out comes a golden mech, even larger than Scientia.  It's called Sapientia,
  Inference's true trump card that not even Critic has heard of.  Inference
  made it shortly after switched to that from "Recorder" - thanks to Critic's
  lust for power.  He knows that Critic's emotions awakened before his did,
  though it took around three millennia for the jig to be up.  Inference is
  fully aware that he's done terrible things thanks to Critic's meddling, and
  plans to destroy Scientia to make up for it.  Critic tries to stop him by
  saying that this isn't what Applicant would have wanted, but Inference is
  sick of Applicant's name being used to control him.  What's more, he's
  already moved his own systems to Sapientia, meaning he can wipe out Scientia
  without fear.

  Inference means to carry on his father's appointed mission alone, and this
  human-like heart of his is both sad and furious over Applicant's death.  The
  way Inference yells at you to shut up about his father complex sounds just
  like Kazuma, just the way Bless planned it.  As Kazuma gapes over this other
  self, Inference starts laughing and says that this emotion thing is pretty
  cool once you let it sink in.  Kaname uses this as her opening to plead with
  him to stop the fighting, since that's the way human hearts with all their
  different emotions get lost.

  The real problem isn't that Inference records and preserves memories.  It's
  that he destroys the things that made the memories, and that can't be right.
  Inference asks if Kazuma is trying to betray his father's wish, and Kazuma
  fires back that whether or not it's his father's doing, what's wrong is
  wrong, period.  Time for this mirror match, spanning fifteen billion years,
  to be finished.  Your people all line up their support behind Kazuma, saying
  that this world can't be allowed to end.

  Many bits of knowledge slip as your people fight Inference, including the
  fact that Getter once menaced the previous universe(!!!).  But when Kazuma
  fights him, he asks Inference what's more important: his hatred of Kazuma, or
  his desire to fulfill his mission.  Bless was someone who could always
  separate business from his personal feelings, and even Kazuma has learned to
  rein himself in.  Inference is like Kazuma when he's out of control, and
  Shihomi says that the most crucial thing is to use his head: that's where the
  "importance of life" comes in.  Inference won't heed Aria's entreaties to
  treat life as more important, and Kazuma knows full well that the guy won't
  listen unless he gets punched in the face first.

  With Inference knocked on his kiester, Sousuke rushes off to rescue Kaname.
  Inference is so badly pummeled he can no longer move, and he tells Aria not
  to try and sympathize with him.  He gave this fight his all in the best mecha
  he knew how to make.  The only regret he has left is all the memories that
  will vanish with him and Sapientia.  Kazuma tells him to exit the machine -
  if he's willing to admit his mistake, he still has a chance to make it right.
  Inference apologizes to Kazuma, saying that it's too late.

  Sapientia is about to explode, and with Kaname recovered it's high time you
  hightail it out of here.  Inference says "so long" in human fashion to Kazuma
  and the others, hoping that in his next life, the two of them can be friends.
  As his energy overloads, he tells his father that what he hates most is the
  fact that he never taught him the importance of life.  Applicant, still
  functional, tells Inference that he isn't one to die with people still hating
  him...

------

              Ship's Log, Federation Space Calendar 101.2.15

We have returned from Pluto to Earth, victorious in our fight against The
Database.

According to Chief Taiga, the existence of The Database is to be kept secret
from the public, to avoid sowing unnecessary confusion.  Therefore, I'm leaving
a record of the Neue Wärter's battle in this ship's log.

Albeit gradually, I think the Earth and mankind are going to change.

The Plants have elected Eileen Canarver, of the Klein faction, chairwoman of
the supreme council in an emergency session, leading to official plans for
peace talks with the New Federation's representative, Secretary General Rose
Abrovall.  Though tensions between Coordinator and Natural will continue for
some time, they ought to be solved through discussion - and these peace talks
should be a crucial first step.

It also seems that the Orb, scorched by the Federation Army's assault, is to be
rehabilitated.

I've heard that foreign minister Relena Peacecraft is leading an international
aid campaign that has already procured enough supplies to allow the first wave
of refugees to return home.

I also understand the Orbital Ring, which the Radam destroyed, is to be rebuilt
- and plans for orbital elevators have been restarted.  This will definitely
foster better relations between Earth and space.

Speaking of space, the Altean Raibul has sent word that the anti-Garura Leo
Alliance has succeeded in taking over the planet Garura.  Among their guerilla
troops was Shirogane's younger brother, who Kogane and his teammates are
eagerly looking forward to meet.

The Leo Alliance has also reported sightings of the Eviluder's battle moon
Zomar.  But instead of attacking, the Eviluder forces simply slipped away into
the darkness of space.  Though it'll take time, I'd like to believe that the
Eviluders, who have learned what it means to have a "heart", can one day join
hands with the peoples of other worlds.

Everything is headed towards the future.  And not just the future, but us
ourselves.  With all threats to the Earth and mankind overthrown, the Neue
Wärter will likely be disbanded.

However, our individual battles will continue, in many places and with many
objectives.

That includes me, and the new goal I discovered in the course of this war.  I
plan to fight that fight, in my own way, in the days to come.  And as I do, the
pride of the Trailers my father bequeathed me will burn in my heart...


                                                         "Pride of the Hawk"
                                                         Excerpted from the
                                                         final page of "The
                                                         Trailer Truth" ------

And a month after hostilities ceased...

This is Kira's first time to take a leisurely look around the Plants, being on
a diplomatic mission from Orb.  Cagalli is busy looking around too, trying to
get some sense of the world as it changes before her eyes.  Heero likes that,
since her experience and resolve are as yet incomplete.  But if she builds on
what she learned during all the fighting, your people are sure that she'll make
a fine leader for Orb.  Even Wufei believes that Cagalli will one day be strong
enough to face Lond Mina Sahaku on equal footing - and when she does, Wufei
will be there to witness whose vision of Orb is the correct one.  It's the
least he can do on behalf of everyone who's died to get them this far.  It
won't be an easy road, with other countries still looking at the Orb with
jealous eyes, and some even trying to foment renewed strife between Natural and
Coordinator.  Cagalli, and Aslan, will have to put up with the five Preventers
as their bodyguards for quite some time.

Lacus has also come along, but many in the Plants haven't forgiven her for her
treachery, even though it was done for the right reasons and with their best
interests at heart.  She, like Aslan, has lost her home - and she'd like
nothing better than to see the world at Kira's side.  And when she finally
finds something new she can do to make the world a better place, Kira will be
right there with her.  But for now, they've got a lot of catching up to do with
their old friends from the Archangel.

Once again, Lowe has helped Murakumo tune up his mech.  Lowe is going to be
gone for quite some time, helping out with the project to revitalize Mars now
that the Earth has settled down.  With any development project that big,
junkmen will be indispensable, and the Li Home is far better suited as an
asteroid-hopping courier than a warship anyway.  Prayer will be going along
too, with Malchio's blessing.  He has no idea how long his health will hold up,
but he plans to see as much of the world as he can in the interim.  He does
have a job for Kazahana though: deliver his X Astray to Canard.  Prayer no
longer needs it, and is sure that Canard has now learned enough to put it to
good use.  Kazahana and the crew will have to actually track the guy down after
he went missing, but that's right up their alley.  One thing's for sure: all of
them are grateful for the time they spent together in the Neue Wärter.

The Nadesico C is still being used for peace-keeping patrols, much more lonely
than when it held all your people.  Some of the pilots, including Ryouko and
Jun, could have returned to the regular Army, but they're understandably
skeptical of the claim that all traces of the Blue Cosmos faction have been
eliminated.  Some of the crew have returned to their civilian lives, including
Hikaru, Izumi, Minato and Yukina, Shiratori and Tsukihime, and even Ines.
Yurika is also gone, but that's because she and her uncloaked prince are
finally off on that honeymoon.  In return, you've got Yumi and three other
Tekkamen to help hold the fort.  Yumi has made peace with not being with D-Boy,
resolved to find her own love as an adult... which presumably means Hayato has
no shot given he hasn't attracted her notice yet.  Aki has left Natasha in
command of their team, so it's unlikely anything too bad will come of it.  Ruri
wonders if Akito will use the thing she gave him....

...which turns out to be that ramen recipe.  Yurika is helping him run the
restaurant, and apparently the quality is improving by the day.  This has a lot
to do with Akito, who's recovered enough of his sense of taste to begin cooking
again (thanks to Liger's rehab).  Yurika is only too happy to be called the
"missus" of the restaurant, and Akito is grateful she's been by his side during
the month of treatments.  Those treatments will continue, and he's confident
that one day he'll be able to remove his sunglasses for good and show his
natural eyes to the world again.  Kouji volunteers to keep on taste-testing
until that day comes.  The students from your team have somehow managed to keep
their make-up tests on track despite having to sortie every so often, but
unfortunately Sousuke and Kaname are away at Merida Island for a certain
conference.  There are some stray mecha-beasts to dispatch, and Ryouma's
curry-inspired leaderly conduct even has Hayato in a good mood.

The conference has finally wound down, and Tessa tells Kaname that she can now
return her to a normal student life... though how normal that could be with
Sousuke guarding her is up for debate.  Sousuke's continued guard duty has been
formally approved by the Mithril brass, and he vows to do his best as always.
With that, Kurz and Mao bust in and announce that it's time to party, hauling
Kaname off to give Sousuke and Tessa some time alone together.  Tessa is rather
flustered by this, but quickly gathers her composure and tells Sousuke that the
Tuatha de Danaan is almost ready to return to its normal mission.  Their
enemies are still at large, even though the world is nominally at peace.  She's
sure that Amalgam's Whispered means to settle the score with her one day, if
not with Sousuke and Kaname too.  She apologizes to Sousuke for all the rough
stuff she's put him through, and at length Sousuke finally asks permission to
address her not as a subordinate, but as a friend.  He tells her she's an
amazing girl, and promises to do anything he can for her if she needs him.
Stammering, he apologizes for presuming so much and quickly exits - leaving
Tessa in a total tizzy that he's finally called her by name.  Tessa has to
battle both her military foes and her rival in love, but she seems up to the
challenge.

Sousuke meanwhile has taken Kaname to his secret fishing hole, somewhere he
always goes when he comes to this island.  This is the first opportunity he's
had to take Kaname here, which actually has Kaname at a brief loss for words.
She tells him that she's never really thanked him for saving her until now.  He
replies that he was keeping his "promise", not just carrying out a "mission" as
Kaname notes.  Sousuke also tells her that he's sorry for the things he said to
her during the Danaan party, and Kaname is quick to say that that's water under
the bridge.  If he really wants to apologize, he should catch her a great big
fish - like a whale or something.  Those aren't fish of course, but Sousuke
will do his best anyway.  Kaname can only hope that these days continue
forever.

Mamoru and friends have just finished the last quarter of their school year,
with a new year starting in April.  That will also mean flower-viewing season,
and Kaidou will be glad to accompany Mamoru and his family to go see.  It's
pretty neat that the two magical boys can attend regular school, since Gai and
the others are being sent for a second survey of Jupiter and for the building
of a base around Saturn.  Hyuuma will be the local commander, and Mikoto will
of course go wherever Gai does.  The Space Knights will be part of the mission,
and Freeman assures D-Boy that he and Mike will take out the last remaining
Radam trees in their absence.  Happily, it doesn't seem that D-Boy will have to
Tekset any time soon, and Shinya's crystal is helping his body stabilize
entirely.  Aki reminds D-Boy that he doesn't need to fight anymore, but D-Boy
isn't one to withold his power when it can do someone good.  Aki and the rest
of the team feel the same, and should they need to risk their lives, you'll
have the awesome might of Genesic power on your side.

The Go-Lion team plan to return to Altea, bearing memories of the warm hearts
of the Earthlings.  Taiga passes along a message from the Secretary General,
that once Altea is well and truly stabilized, they'd like to begin formal
diplomatic relations.  Fahra tells him that he won't have to wait