Part 103: Post-mission 30 Intermission and Mission 31 -PrologueI wont even bother with top aces because Kazuma is still ahead by such an insane margin. Lets get this done quick-like so we can move on to the prologue:
Shihomi is the only one with a decent amount of points. She spreads them evenly across Shooting and Defense.
Home takes two upgrades to EN, one in Armor and Substitute.
Lowe takes the rest of the cash getting a boost to EN, Mobility and Weapons.
Mind you, we do have a decent amount of Skill Parts but lets save those for people who have bigger need for them. Thats all well do for now, so off we go:
Kira is getting grilled by Natarle for picking up a life pod, which is, obviously, the humanitarian thing to do but might also be rather dangerous depending on who's inside.
The pod was found at the site of a recent battle between the Feds and Zaft, and it has markings indicating that it came from a Zaft ship.
The Archangel crew 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, Muu figures, since she's the daughter of the current head of the Plants' Supreme Councilman.
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 Plant is bolstered by her father's position, so it would be no wonder that the mission could turn ugly should Junius 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. Galent reports that 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, our 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 Allster's transport blown to smithereens en route to them.
It's now clear why they didnt find Flay when they checked inside Artemis, and what tragedy she's just been subjected to.
In short, neither the Archangel nor the Zaft are in the right; neither is the Federation, whom weve seen has its own share of dark secrets (like in Heliopolis).
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 the Trailers to fix things, and not via warfare either; as the Trailer maxim goes: "A rotten orange rots everything around it. But youre not an orange."
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 we need to deliver, shows up and we quickly welcome it aboard before looking for the Archangel.
The pilot of the vessel is Marine, who is surprised to see that the Professor won't be overseeing the delivery herself.
Shihomi says weve been asked by the Professor to escort her and Marine figures theres no other choice; Horis finds it a bit odd that this delivery needs to be made even when the Archangel is in the middle of a battle zone.
He figures not many people, besides the Federation, would be crazy enough to do it, which quickly tells him that she must be from Orb.
Marine starts blustering but Horis already figured that she was probably sent to gather data on the Strike and Archangel since theyre facing combat; she denies it, saying shes just making a delivery.
Horis doesnt buy it, saying that shes blinking her eyes a lot a sign that shes lying, perhaps? Marine says its because one of her contacts came loose! Akane quickly criticizes stupid Horis for making their client feel uncomfortable like this.
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.
Shihomi introduces herself and states our business here but Natarle is pretty distrustful of the cargo delivery story; Muu points out to her that there would be no need for this deception if the goal was shooting them down.
Murrue 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, saying thats confidential, and tells civilians not to think they can pass judgment 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, despite her words, 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 judgment 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 soldierly 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 to her, whos been locked inside her room ever since her father died; Kiras heard from her how Kazuma also lost his father and thinks hed be able to help her overcome this.
At Muus request, Natarle will grant permission, but only for 30 minutes Kazuma and Kira thank her but she says shes only looking out for the mental health of the crew.
In the corridors of the living quarters:
: Sorry that I had to ask you to do this in the middle of the job
: No need apologize so much. Besides, were around the same age, too.
: But theres something about the way you talked about her is something going on between you and Flay?
: Huh ?
: I mean wouldnt it be better if you were the one at her side?
: But Flay shes already with Sai
: Besides, Im a Coordinator, so
: Her father was killed by Zaft soldiers shell probably never forgive the Coordinators So, I-
: The hell are you talking about?! Snap out of it!
: Sure, there are people like Blue Cosmos that would discriminate against Coordinators
: But now youre gonna start discriminating against yourself?!
: Are you saying that just because two people are a Natural and a Coordinator, there's no way for them to get along ?!
: Thank you, Kazuma
: Yeah, thats more like it. A HUMAN shouldnt have such a gloomy face.
Their conversation is interrupted by a scream coming from Lacus room.
That metal man, Gimlet by name, doesn't seemed bothered by the appearance of the princess' "chevalier"...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 supernatural 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, if hes able to keep up with him.
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, surprising Gimlet and quickly opening fire.