Part 13: Towards A Faraway Peace
Nova Eagle and Dancouga Nova share upgrades. This should make the Eagle less fragile and bring Dancouga up to the level of Super Robot we need.
Aoi learns EN Save, which will help Dancouga burn up less while throwing its Severance Cannon and Sword around. Let's also burn some points on the Resolve skill. Bumping her up 10 Will at the beginning of the fight gets her into Dancouga faster, especially with the +5 bump for being an Ace.
It's morning, and the Dancouga pilots are in jitters because they woke up in rooms that were painstaking replicas of their own rooms back home - even a cardboard box and crumpled newspaper for Sakuya.
Despite everything, they seem to have all accepted the contract. For Sakuya, this is an obvious step up from being a bum. Aoi doesn't like the idea of her memories being wiped, while Johnny is just looking for some variety. Kurara, always on the job, wants to dig into the shady Dragon's Hive's secrets.
They all have one condition, which is their privacy. They want their own spaces, and they each want to be left alone when they like. Forget working with Celestial Being, these kids can barely work with each other. What did they expect, though?
As the conversation moves from negotiations to briefing, or more accurately "what the hell is going on," Tanaka brings in "WILL", an entity that serves as Dragon Hive's mother computer, to supply some answers.
So, Dancouga Nova. According to WILL, it's designed and operated to waste any resources being put towards any kind of conflict or terrorism by supporting the loser and equalizing the playing field, no matter who thinks who is right or wrong. Apparently, this is pretty much what journalist Isabelle Cronkite wrote in her award-winning "Does War Need Dancouga?" introducing one of Nova's few subplots.
So Kurara asks again, why them? Apparently, many tests were involved, but Tanaka refuses to answer what they are directly. Kurara figures she can find out on her own, so next question: why work with Celestial Being yesterday? Oh, but it's not just yesterday. CB is shacking up with Dragon's Hive in the long-run, and the base's stealth will just have to protect its staff as well as the terrorists they're not associated with.
Well, the team is resolved to work with Celestial Being whether they like it or not - and that goes for Dancouga too - but Aoi is still concerned that Dancouga's operations go against Celestial Being's goal of ending war. Maybe, but by WILL's calculations, if you look at it in the sense that it's Celestial Being against the whole world, there's really nothing to do but support the weaker side - Celestial Being. Again, the individual sides' goals and whether they're right or wrong don't figure into it.
Celestial Being is actually docked in the Hive right now, so for a transition, the Dancouga team decides to go say hi... though they can't promise to be friendly.
In the hangar, Ian Vasti is finishing up on the Gundams' maintenance. He's the only one here he's willing to trust near those GN Drives. Seimi scoffs that suits her fine, since Dancouga is all she has time for. Anyway, a package has come in for Setsuna - a new GN Blade. Stack that onto (deep breath) the GN Sword, the first GN Blade, the beam sabers, and the beam daggers, and it's pretty easy to see why Exia was codenamed the Gundam Seven Swords.
Setsuna stalks off. Ian is quite insulted, but the other Meisters point out that he was thankful in his own way - he was headed to see the new Exia, after all.
They're all fond of their Gundams, but Setsuna takes it to another level. For Crowe, the Blaster is his partner and his livelihood, not to mention, if he doesn't take care of it, there's another huge pile of debt hanging over him. So he's pretty attached to it himself.
Tieria and Ian plot in whispers to find a chance to inspect the mystery machine.
Seems in each timeline, Crowe grabs a part-time job from someone to supplement his salary from Traia. This time, he's helping Celestial Being out with repairs for extra pay.
The Dancouga team arrives, and this is probably the first time the two terrorist squads have ever been face to face. They briefly introduce themselves. Crowe asks what they're getting compensated for their fighting, and while we don't get to hear the answer, he's blown away by the figure.
The Dancouga team is about to leave, but the Meisters stop and ask if they shouldn't be angrier about Celestial Being's moves. Again the four find something in common: they don't really care. "There aren't any good guys in war, so we can't call you good or bad guys anyway." Crowe finds them pretty dry, but that's better out on the field than soppy wet.
Sumeragi wanted to introduce herself too. She has a couple of pieces of news: Liu-Min is out in Area 11 doing her day job (while gathering information), and more importantly, the next mission is in and it takes place in Ezemistan. That's a little country in central Asia under the rule of the HRL. For over ten years, it's been wracked by conflict between the HRL and a rebellion, and now that the war is heating up, it's time for Celestial Being to fly in and pop it.
Chapter 6: Towards A Faraway Peace
(Celestial Being route)
We arrive in the middle of a pitched battle between the HRL soldiers and the rebel machines.
Celestial Being + Team D (as Tanaka is calling the Dancouga pilots, it stands for Dancouga - though the little girl reassuringly adds that it can also mean "Dangerous") arrive. They take a moment to lament the senseless waste - there's no point earning your freedom if you destroy all your homes in the process.
Before the lamentations can go on too long, though, it becomes clear that both enemy armies are gunning for Celestial Being! This will be the first three-way battle in the game, and I'll have a couple things to say about that.
As usual, Setsuna butts in. Eager to try out his new weapons, it seems. (I was going to try to fix this image, but it's evidence of such accidental frame-perfect timing that I'm just going to leave it.)
Kill all enemies, do it in three turns for bonuses, don't die, blah blah.
In this chapter, the two opposing sides are simply enemies that will attack each other, but occasionally in the future, a genuine neutral party or a "side 3" will make a difference. Oh, enemy units opposed to each other can kill each other, and that'll deny me the rewards for their destruction. Oh well.
Setsuna's new toy is called the Seven Swords Combination, a single attack using all of his blades.
As promised, Aoi's Will starts at 115. That's enough to use...
that VBM charge attack on the nearest HRL mecha.
Allelujah starts off the CB assault by reaching as far as he can.
Lockon follows up by moving in.
Tieria takes the HRL side instead.
But absorbs the enemy attack.
Crowe flies further into the HRL side.
And qualifies for a double attack!
I've got nothing against you guys personally, but I can't stand war.
Turn your hate on us and this war. That way, if you get out of this alive, you'll never pick up a gun again.
I really like Attack Again.
Anyway, Setsuna, already in an advance position, dives deep into the battle.
By the way, Crowe's right. Axios are everywhere.
At the end of the first turn, it's pretty clear we're about to see some NPC-on-NPC action.
In a bit. First, the nearer targets go.
It's fairly clear that the HRL has better mecha overall, while the rebels are pretty much depending on their giant Genocidrons.
A lot of enemy phases in this game are boring, but the monsterbating ones are the worst.
This one isn't even fair.
Finally, back to me.
Even the HRL's better Tieren can't penetrate Virtue's barrier right now.
Tieria does a boatload in exchange.
And back to the computer.
Screw it, I'm just going to point out when enemy units die.
Which happens to the rebellion units a lot. Wow.
In fact, by the beginning of turn 2, the rebellion is nearly quashed. In the next couple of turns, I pretty much just have to clean out the HRL and then wipe out a couple of Genocidrons.
That reminds me. This thing is the other kind of Genocidron, dubbed the Genocidron Landship. It appears to be a carrier that rears up into a giant snake type thing, which seems like a very unproductive thing to do to your land carrier, but I guess that's why I don't design mobile weapons for terrorists.
As an opener, we'll send Allelujah to harry that one a bit.
Behind him, Aoi weakens an HRL mecha...
(and gets hit herself, but the Nova Eagle's armor isn't bad and has only been upgraded)
which enables Lockon and Tieria, who are slower and less main-charactery and therefore lower level, to reap some kills.
Crowe does what he does best, but takes a bit of a hit in the process.
Setsuna tries to gun down the remaining Tieren, but just misses the mark.
I'm expecting that Axio to go down pretty quickly, which means the second Genocidron is about to get engaged.
This enemy turn and one full turn afterwards are what I have left to clean out all these enemies.
But not for long.
Holy shit that Axio is a hero of the revolution.
Anyway, enough enemies.
Oh my god this Axio wants to be a real hero! (This is good, actually. If it finishes off the last HRL unit on the board, the second Genocidron will advance towards my forces and let me bring more attacks against it.)
Son of a bitch! Good-bye, heroic Axio. You fought well.
Genocidron 1 humors me and attacks Allelujah.
Genocidron 2 attacks the HRL. Why'd you have to die on me, Ace Axio?
And it doesn't even have the courtesy to hit.
The good news is that it's my turn and I have a fair shot at clearing the board.
Virtue is too far away to be any good as damage. Dynames is too far away to focus on the second Genocidron, but pretty much everyone else can reach him.
Lockon's Ace bonus is fantastic, by the way.
As he gets to level 7, his Haro learns the Focus spirit, which can be pretty useful keeping Dynames alive. He can't use it as a staple like, say, Setsuna or Crowe, because Haro has a terrible SP pool and a very expensive Focus Spirit, but it'll help on occasion.
With the destruction of Landship 1, Setsuna has enough Will to trigger Chain Actions.
Say, by finishing off that little ball of metal.
120 is not only the threshold for getting another turn, but for using that turn on his sweet new attack. Just need to lay some groundwork.
Damn it, Aoi, what's the matter with your pilot suit?
Maybe less groundwork than I thought?
Dancouga is pretty tough.
One more to be safe.
And now for the finish:
Seven swords. Count them.
The SR Point is over...
But the chapter is not. Looks like the HRL knew Celestial Being was coming and prepared a surprise.
The surprise's commander is Sergei Smirnov. Celestial Being is determined to stay and finish the job. Aoi decides to stick around too, and the rest of Team D agrees to stick by her one by one.
At this point, the win condition is simply to destroy the Tieren High Speed B, Sergei's machine. The rest are optional.
The only playable units left this turn are the Blaster and the Virtue.
Crowe hangs back and shoots. I don't want him to get swarmed too much.
Maybe Tieria can take some heat off of him by presenting a (hard-to-damage) target. He Attunes himself first so he can counterattack effectively.
This piece of work is the head of a Tieren Long-Range Artillery, an HRL sniper machine that causes pain for any unit that can't counter at long distances, to the tune of 9 squares.
The little guys go quickly.
See what I meant about long range?
So long that Crowe, whose longest range is the 7-square Clutch Sniper, can't even counter and is forced to defend or evade (the enemy can't hit him either way, which is nice).
Finally, countering Crowe rips a series of holes in the squad of Tieren Infantry Sergei brought with him.
Sergei himself holds position.
Now that I've got control again, let's talk about the enemies.
The Tieren Long-Range Artillery is lives on shooting from where its enemies can't reach it. It's not very strong otherwise, and is completely helpless if I (or its enemy) closes to an adjacent square.
Sergei's Tieren High Speed B Command (whew!) is just a Tieren Infantry, but slightly better in every way - faster, stronger, better weapons, and so on.
That said, Sergei himself is miles above his subordinates. His much higher stats are just the beginning. While the mooks don't have any skills at all, Sergei has Prevail L4 to make him stronger at low health, Predict and Guard to boost his defenses at high Will, and the Command L3 skill, which does this:
Command is a nice skill that, in this game, cannot be learned or upgraded with PP, only by leveling specific pilots. It projects an aura around the commander, seen here, which increases the hit and dodge rates of every allied unit inside the field, and the bonus increases the higher the commander's skill level is and the closer to the commander that unit is. We'll be getting commanders of our own in the near future.
(It's a nice touch that Sergei also has way more SP than his subordinates, even though that doesn't do anything for enemies.)
While the other four advance...
Tieria and Crowe use their Hit & Away skills to tag enemies and then regroup.
Crowe in particular is finally in trouble.
While both remaining what're-they-calleds, the little ones, just give chase, all but one of the cannon Tieren find themselves without targets in range.
Meanwhile, Tieria tears through the Tieren Infantry.
Sergei again chooses not to move.
Celestial Being finishes off the, um, mecha-tribbles.
Setsuna spends his other turn engaging Sergei.
So the Gundams have allied with Dancouga.
It was good I made sure with my own eyes. Now show me your dedication to ending war!
Haven't seen a named enemy with a cutin and everything for a while. He even gets his own dialogue.
Setsuna starts counter-weakening all the snipers (one goes for Dancouga). They turn out to be none too accurate or powerful.
Finally, his accuracy boosted by Setsuna having to dodge cannon fire, Sergei makes his move.
It is not a very effective one.
Time to actually take out Sergei.
Taking a risk, Crowe is first up, charging in with the Eagle.
Luckily, it pays off.
Tieria goes next, using Attune.
He uses his most powerful attack from outside Sergei's range.
Last is the out-of-SP Setsuna.
He finishes off a cannon mech for a quick Will boost, since he'll get a second turn from it.
This is as good as it gets against Prevail L4 and about 15% HP, I guess. At least Sergei doesn't have his Predict on, because his Will isn't high enough.
Anyway, it works.
So Setsuna grabs Sergei's dropped item: an E-Carbon Armor, which raises the equipped machine's armor and HP by a bit.
Sergei retreats, taking his remaining Tierens with him. The battle is officially over.
Afterwards, we're over to Liu-Min talking to Alejandro Corner, who is asking her if she's "made contact with them". No one can actually name anything in this game! And tomorrow he's meeting with the empress of Azadistan. He's a busy man, and he's only going to get busier if he gets to be an ambassador to the UN.
He sees her off saying that he's eagerly awaiting Celestial Being's next move. His assistant, Ribbons (seriously? even for Gundam...), can't believe a famous personality like her is a Celestial Being agent. Alejandro himself is a Celestial Being "observer", meaning his job isn't to act, just watch out for the others. "Even if they're heading to their doom," he adds menacingly.
Back at Dragon's Hive, Crowe and Sumeragi banter about pay (what else does Crowe talk about?). Tanaka's relationship with the team is less convivial - they can't even trust his compliments. Saying he has to tell his superiors how well they did only reminds Team D that they have no clue who the Dragon's Hive's real commander is. Even Sumeragi has only spoken to him over comms, but never seen the man's face. Tieria recalls that this is a man who built Dancouga, founded the likes of Dragon's Hive, and even managed to contact Veda directly.
Meanwhile, Team D isn't quite as into the idea of playing whack-a-mole with political conflicts until they finally stop, however many years that may take, as the Meisters are. Setsuna, righteously offended by Aoi's comments to that effect, stomps off yet again.
Immediately after, the remaining soldiers get into one of those conversations about alternate routes, specifically the last stop on our journey, Area 11. The short version is that Clovis la Britannia has been murdered, and terrorists believed to be Japanese from the Shinjuku ghetto are crawling all over the zone, aided by the five Colony Gundams. The rest is material for the next path, but the takeaway is that Sumeragi has sent an agent out there to scope it out more closely.
Speaking of Area 11, Graham's team is chatting about the HRL's defeat at Ezemistan at the hands of the Gundam/Dancouga teamup. Daryl is doubtful that their Flags can take on the Gundams in the first place, while Howard has faith in the robots. Graham's plan is simply to push the Flags are far as they can go and hope that's enough.
Professor Eifman is heartened by that attitude. He can tell (it isn't obvious?) that the Gundam's might comes from the sparkle emitter on its back, a piece of technology decades ahead of its time. Such a shame it should be used on other humans at a time like this. We have to deal with the Damons, the Image, and even what appear to be aliens from outer space (which we know to be the Gishin).
Graham gets a call, and it appears to be some kind of shocking news about Ezemistan!
Over in Area 11, reporter Kinue Crossroad is ditching her brother Saji to go chasing the Clovis assassination scoop.
At least Saji's girlfriend Louise Halevy is around. She's studying abroad from Spain, but wants to stay with Saji - and besides, the AEU and the Union haven't started any open conflict. Kinue fills them both in on the hush-hush happenings over in Ezemistan. Apparently Celestial Being had a real effect. The conflict that's been burning ever since the big dimension quake is cooling down and the door is open to a peaceful resolution. Not bad.
Anyway, Kinue's in a rush. She warns Louise that she's free to eat at the Crossroads' apartment, but not to stay overnight. After she leaves, Saji and Louise talk some more about the goings-on in the third path split. Saji is pretty nervous about the whole thing, and tells Louise to go back to Spain after all. In a school that ostracized him for being part-Eleven, Louise was the one who reached out to him, and he doesn't want her to be in danger. Louise starts about how now, of all times, they should be together...
But at just the wrong moment, Setsuna charges through, and it turns out he's moving into the apartment right next to Saji and Kinue. WELP.
Saji tries to start a conversation, but Setsuna just shortly gives his name and walks off. This kid...
See you next chapter.