Part 131: Post-mission 37 Intermission and Mission 38 (Orb Route) - PrologueSmall intermission before we move along, so lets get through it quick-like. Theres little reason to post the top aces since, without Gai, theres no one even remotely close to Kazuma.
Shihomi has quite a bunch of points, so we spend it all increasing her Shooting and Defense.
Vesna and Hiver also have a decent bunch. They focus more on Shooting but boost Melee a wee bit.
Finally, Kazuma spends his 4 points evenly among Melee and Shooting.
Only thing we have is Gates Gunfight, which goes straight for Blade.
I reckon I could spend a lil bit of cash to boost Mao and Kurzs damage (if only to increase the power of Uruz Strike).
Also, since Ill have to deploy Saburouta next, I give him a point in EN, Mobility and weapons if only so hes not completely useless.
Blade and Valguard havent had an upgrade in quite a while, so they take a point in EN and Weapons.
Thats all for this intermission. Now, onwards!
Athrun wakes up in the Valstorks 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 Athrun 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.
Cagalli asks, if they were so close, why did he kill him and, finally showing emotion himself, Athrun screams to that he doesn't know why: 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 Athrun's own close companions and leaving Athrun little choice but to kill him too; Athrun protests that Nicol was only 15 and was just trying to protect Plant, while Cagalli says Kira was also trying to protect something.
She 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?!
None of them know and are just left in tears.
It's been a week since our arrival in Orb, but the search for Tessa and Kaname is going nowhere slow.
Few clues to Amalgam's activities are turning up due to the combined intelligence work of Mithril and GGG; however, every anti-terrorist sortie we've gone investigate lately has been some kind of decoy.
Kazuma tells the log that our 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 Junkmen jobs once the fighting is over.
Professor is sure that all the learnings from the Neo-Wärter and Morgenleite, whom she got to help in exchange for stealing the 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 Kazahana will also be going with them, on a little courier job for the Serpent Tail.
Their job will be to escort Malchio over to Plant.
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.
Kurz thinks theyre being too hard, but Clouseau shows up and agrees with them both.
He starts by insulting our entire group, saying our so-called elite military group is looking more like a high-school drama the worst bit is the SRT team, whose incompetence, including its idiotic commander McAllen, has led to this huge mess in the first place.
Kurz tries to deck him in the face but Clouseau easily counters with a blow that sends him to the ground; Duo is already quite impressed with such a perfect counter-punch and 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 Clouseau take back his affront to McAllen; he outranks Sousuke, though, and asks whether he could actually strike a superior if the man refused.
Assuming of course that Sousuke isn't a total incompetent like his teammate.
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.
Our 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 Uruz-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 Arm Slaves 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; hes 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, figuring he mustve picked it up from "Hawkeye" Bless, 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, Kazuma realizes that Ruri too is fighting through loss.
She tells Sousuke to get the rest of the story from a "certain someone", that being Akito himself, who was hiding nearby.
Kazuma asks what hes doing here and Ruri tells him 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 and she fully believes that Akito will save us 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 and draws his gun, but its not to shoot at him.
It was to protect the group from a group of Hokutens soldiers, who have them surrounded; 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, even though he couldnt get Lapis, Ruri will still make a splendid guinea pig in his lab.
He makes a fine speech about how he was behind the abduction of Akito and Yurika, the tests done on the A-Class Jumpers, how he's the shadow of the Martian Successors and how his inhuman acts are all in the service of a new world order.
However, 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 the Nergal secret service 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; one of Hokutens warriors quickly moves over and Sousuke doesnt see how he can beat this opponent.
His hesitation 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 does not agree and is able to perform a stand-alone Jump to 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.