Part 106: Post-mission 31 Intermission and Mission 32 -PrologueWere starting this intermission with a whole lot more people than before. With this, its now relevant to start showing the Top Aces again:
Gai (Shishioh) is the closest thing to a real competitor for 1st place. Nevertheless, his long absence has allowed Kazuma to grab quite the lead.
The Nadesico team has finally joined and with them comes a bevy of points to spend. Ruri goes for the bread-and-butter build: 18 points in Shooting, 11 in Defense, 5 in Accuracy.
Saburouta follows the same line as all other Aesti Fighters, with a focus on Melee (14 points) and a lil bit less attention on Shooting (12 points).
The remaining 8 get spread evenly among Evasion and Accuracy.
Ryouko has also returned with a decent bunch to spend: 7 points in Melee, 3 in Shooting, 4 in Accuracy.
Mr. I dont learn Focus Daigouji still requires a more even split: 4 points in Melee and Shooting, 1 point in Evasion and Accuracy.
Volfogg also takes some extra Melee (4 points) and spends his remaining 6 evenly among Evasion and Skill.
Gais 8 points are spread evenly on Melee and Defense.
All 5 of Kazumas points go into his Defense stat (I couldnt have boosted this before or itd have tipped people off that he wouldnt be dodging for the whole game! ).
Lowe is still being Lowe. 3 points in Melee, 1 in Evasion.
Someone needs to take this Support Request+1 and Im pretty damn sure well be seeing a lot of Gai (Shishioh).
Due to the lack of someone who needs it more, Kazuma takes the Prevail+1 (taking his total to L6).
Same deal with Lowe, he takes the Multicombo+1 even though I believe that anyone who learns the skill naturally will max it out on their own.
Along the last few missions, weve gathered quite a decent amount of consumables that Ill never use. So, lets sell these 3x Repair Kits, 1x Cartridge and 1x Propellant Tank for an extra 25000 cash.
Volfogg is lagging a bit behind on upgrades, so lets give him some love. 1 point in EN, Mobility and Weapons.
Lowe is getting his last big boost in a while. With 1 point in EN, Mobility and Weapons, he should be good for a long while.
The remaining money gets spent boosting Saburoutas Aesti up 1 point in EN and Evasion (he wouldve taken upgrades from Akatsukis Aesti but yeah fuck that).
Having joined our group, I can finally give Gaogaigar his Megabooster (Movement+2) and Hybrid Armor (HP+800, Armor+150) back.
Volfogg takes a Hover Module.
Gai (Daigouji) takes his Apogee Motor (Movement+1, Mobility+5) and Servo Motor(Mobility+5) back.
The Nadesico takes a Cobham Armor (HP+500, Armor+100) for the extra defense.
Ryouko takes a Booster (Movement+1).
Finally, because hes still a fixed deployment, Saburouta is taking the Hyper Sensor (Mobility+10).
Now, before we move along with the plot, heres a quick overview of our new Aestis:
These Aestis take a few steps in the right direction and a few away from it. They are all competent (on all terrains), if underwhelming, units on their own and thats precisely the issue: Aestivalis are made for teamwork and, due to the Prince of Darkness plot, were stuck with half a team and NO.COMBINATION. ATTACKS.
They all have friendship bonuses with each other and thats good, but taking away most of their post movement attacks (and the Field Lancer, their primary weapon against Fielded enemies when they couldnt use the Distortion Attack) has left them with only three attacks (one weak and short-range, one pre-movement and long-range and one with a morale requirement) and a lack of versatility.
I wasnt kidding when I said at the beginning of the LP that the Nadesico units lose value after the first half of the game and itll be a long slog before they regain the utility they had before by which point itll probably be too late for them to regain their spot on the deployment list.
With that rant out of the way, lets head on to the story:
Kazumas new log entry starts right as they're headed for Orbit Base to speak with Taiga, who wants to rebuild Wärter as a way to, once again, fight back against all the threats currently endangering the Earth Sphere.
The three major issues are, currently, the Radam, the Eviluders and Plant, whose constant skirmishes have left the Earth Army heavily damaged enough to give breathing room for the birth of new problems in the form of Bionet and the Martian Successors.
The Trailers havent decided to accept Taiga's offer yet but rebuilding Wärter with whats currently available wouldnt do much against the massive enemy army, anyway. As such, Kazuma and the others are hoping that the other ex-members will answer the call-to-arms; he's especially eager to hear about the Japan folks (Kouji, Getter Team, Mithril, etc).
Kazuma knows that theyve been having a peaceful life at High School but knows that without their help things will only get worse.
The scene shifts to Kyouko, who has taken a wrong turn when coming back home after spending the afternoon studying; she doesnt get time to figure out where she is before getting jumped by someone/something.
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 (NOT a date).
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 "Ponyman", an urban legendary specter which supposedly cries "Pony" 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 Plant 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 our 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 "Ponyman"!
Shes already privy to this 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 50 women have been victims thus far!
He explains to a skeptical Kaname that the rampant fetishist may be having fun, but his victims most certainly are not... especially since the Ponyman 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 it, 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.
She actually got Taiga's "APPROVAL!" (SHOUNIN!) to tune in directly to satellite imagery of the city.
A target is acquired in the park, and Operation Ponyman Hunt is good to go.