Part 16: BattlingOnce again, we turn the clock far back, to a time when Crowe never went to Japan at all, but pursued Celestial Being and fought with them and the Colony Gundams against Zechs Marquis and Graham Aker before fleeing their wrath and finding himself in Area 11.
Wing Gundam and Gundam Deathscythe are in our garage. For all it's worth, I've given them some upgrades.
And these two badly need EN Save.
We also temporarily have the Muscle Cylinder dropped by Chirico's Scopedog all those months ago. There will be machines that need it, but for now I'll leave it on the Brasta.
(I've given up. I still think it's a dumbshit name, and I have no idea how to pronounce it properly, but it's just how it works. But don't say why that's how it works, because it's going to be a plot point.)
Some text scrolls by. Area 11 is this world's second Japan, under the rule of the Britannian Union for seven years. It's been named Area 11, and "Eleven" is a fairly derogatory name for the Japanese that lived there. Several of the Japanese have formed a resistance, and so have many of the Astragians that have been herded into Kanto, in the middle of the Japanese isle, under the "care" of corrupt Enforcers. However, they can't put up a fight against the sheer might of the Britannian Union. "Until that fateful day..."
At the Gilgamesh base, Rochina has placed a tracker on Chirico and traced him to the Shinjuku ghetto in Kanto.
In Ashford Academy in Tokyo, the student council is starting their meeting...
And who should have joined the board but Saji Crossroad and Louise Halevy?
The leader, cool and stylish Millay Ashford, begins to tease the newcomers, but one Lelouche Lamperouge wants to get straight to business. And that business is the invitation of a new member to the circle! But everybody already knew that. The new member in question is the talk of the whole Academy.
Lelouche's sister Nunnally (fair warning: Geass is going to be one of those series where I get hammered on names, just like Gundam and VOTOMS) brings her in, and look at that, it's Relena Dorian. She's just moved to the Academy and already picked up the nickname of "Princess."
Relena is surprised to be invited to the student council as soon as she arrived, but Louise assures her that the "council" is actually just a bunch of friends hanging out. They do arrange parties and stuff, though. Relena accepts. (Isn't it convenient to have all the main schoolgoing characters in one place?)
Anyway it is time for introductions. First the leader Millay Ashford, the granddaughter of the chairman of the school board (also its namesake), and the kind Shirley Fennet.
Next, the boisterous Rivalz Gardemond and Millay's old friend Nina Einstein.
You already know Louise Halevy, who is here abroad from Spain, and Saji Crossroad, who aims to be a rocket scientist.
And finally, Millay's second-in-command, Lelouche Lamperouge. He's a chess ace, Shirley's crush, and your main character of the evening. Though that's a bit later. He comes with a little sister Nunnally, who lives right here in the clubhouse because she's blind and lame.
Relena's father is the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs to the UN, and he sent Relena to Area 11 to learn more about the world outside. Lelouche agrees that Area 11 is a good place to learn about the world in many ways, but not if you stay here in Tokyo. To see what's really going on? She'd have to leave the Britannian Tokyo and see what's going on the Ghettos where the Japanese live.
In fact, the ghettos are worse than that. Some of the Japanese swore fealty to Britannia and were named "honorary Britannians," but many refused and organized a resistance movement against the Britannian yoke. On top of that, the Astragians were placed in the ghettos when they arrived from their own universe two years ago, and it sounds like they're mostly soldiers without a war, which just adds fuel to the fire.
In fact, Lelouche finishes by backtracking and saying she should really just stay away from there and forget all about it. Lelouche muses inwardly that ignorance can be bliss, but he doesn't have that luxury... if he's to create a world where Nunnally can live in peace.
Around this time, Crowe has snuck himself into Area 11 and is wandering around the Shinjuku ghetto, trying to plan his next move to track the Gundams. It's obviously a very different place from the squeaky-clean Tokyo just next door.
A girl named Coconut approaches him and wonders what he's doing here. He doesn't seem to be a Britannian, because honest Britannians don't come to places like Shinjuku - though dirty ones do. Anyway, it sounds like the Enforcers are hunting for someone, and while Crowe figures it's probably not him, there's a good chance it's the Gundams, and Coconut is a lead.
She catches on his thoughts right away, and Crowe just goes with it and asks her to show him around the place. His reaction when she tries to move on him tips her off that he's no Britannian (guess we know what the seedy Britannians come here for), and she guesses he's a pilot. She knows the smell of a pilot, you know, 'cause she's an Astragian.
Since he's a pilot, she starts to offer him a job, but a man named Vanilla jumps in to try to take him away, and they get in an argument on who gets to sign him up.
The argument is broken up by gunfire, and Crowe guesses it's aimed at him. In the ensuing firefight, Crowe hits his attacker but takes a bullet himself. Coconut and Vanilla settle on taking him back to Gotho's to rest up. Crowe figures this is a great way to learn more about the underbelly of Shinjuku - if he doesn't bleed out first.
Looks like Relena decided to disregard Lelouche's and Shirley's advice and pay Shinjuku a visit.
She barely gets in when Heero jumps her. He's just passing through, it seems - he tells her not to touch him, to get out of his way, and then runs off.
Relena thought his eyes weren't a normal Japanese person's eyes, but a fighter's eyes. Several seconds too late, she introduces herself: "I-I'm Relena Dorian. Who are you?"
Coconut and Vanilla manage to drag Crowe back to Gotho's warehouse, where Coconut tries first to get Crowe's shirt off (to "show him your wounds") and then to extract "something in return" for her help. Brushing her off, Crowe introduces himself, and the lot give their names in turn. Gotho's just on his way out, actually, but Crowe's free to make himself at home.
After he leaves, Coconut and Vanilla gossip. Seems like Gotho's been meeting with a young man, and a VOTOMS pilot at that. Maybe the guy the Enforcers are after. Crowe doesn't understand what's going on, but whatever, Coconut takes another shot and invites him to go watch Battling!
Battling is an extremely Engrish word... basically, it only works as a proper noun in Japanese because it's Engrish and doesn't translate straight across, but I have a feeling VOTOMS translations have already used it so I'll grit my teeth. It's just giant robot wrestling. AT pilots who are out of a job because the Astragius wars don't matter anymore use their skills to fight each other in front of an audience for pay.
Gotho's just gotten Chirico into the Battling ring, and his first battle is due today. He speaks at great length about how lucky Chirico, pursued by the Enforcers, was to stumble into Gotho and land not only a hiding place, but a living wage. Chirico remains perfectly silent throughout.
Chirico's debut fight will be with the popular "Red Devil Eleven," a fighter who operates a Knightmare Frame and not an AT. His deal is being really really angry at Britannia and taking it out in the arena. (But of course, it's fake, because this is the Robot Wrestling Federation.) He's pretty good, to be sure. And the fight will be strictly melee, no guns.
Hey, guess who's snooping. It's that Conin guy! If you forgot, he was Chirico's old commander that got him into the weird operation on Rid and then tried to take him out after he discovered a woman in a box.
Duo and Heero meet up in an abandoned warehouse somwhere in Shinjuku. Duo tries to get Heero to treat him as a teammate, but Heero is only here so long as his and Duo's missions point the same way. The mission is to free Area 11, but that's a little out there. Duo will still call it a win if they can yank Britannia's chain some.
They get to talking about "that guy" who is probably Crowe. Duo figures it can't hurt to leave him alone, as much because he could be useful as anything. Heero wants to kill him.
And Duo's got one more piece of exposition. Rumors have it that the Enforcers Britannia is using to control the ghettos - the Astragians, the corrupt ones? - are secretly in cahoots with the PMC Trust, which includes the Red Shoulder squad that broke off from the Gilgamesh forces.
Chapter 5: Battling
(Area 11 route)
As Chirico wheels his Scopedog into the ring, Coconut, Vanilla, and Crowe join Gotho in the audience, where Gotho reveals that Chirico is his new Battling cash cow. Vanilla shoots back that he's got his own winner, but there's no way he can pay Crowe's price - of course, 980,000 G.
The opponent shows up - but it's not the Red Devil. And it's not one opponent!
Looks like they're Conin's flunkies. He just blew into Shinjuku and took over the Battling circuit, and he's decided to "test" the newcomer Battler.
Looks like the crowd is with him, two on one or not.
Despite his manager's objections, Chirico steps up to the plate. Of course, he really wants to get some answers out of Conin.
No SR Point yet, just Chirico vs. the two ATs.
I'm not going to introduce Chirico quite yet, by the way...
mostly because, as Gotho said, he's equipped for a robobrawl.
He can outfight both his enemies, though, with a 1-2 range punch against their range 1 fists.
(I discovered a woman on the asteroid Rid that they called a protobody. That day, my fate changed its course.)
(Maybe Lt. Conin knows what the goal of that operation was. I have to ask him...)
Let them just go.
Even when they do get attacks in, they have trouble against a Focused Chirico.
Not as good a strike, but oh well.
The other down on the player phase, without a scratch on Chirico's AT.
Conin curses as the crowd goes wild.
He's about to send out something else, but the Red Devil appears instead.
The Red Devil is a girl, and she's sick of waiting for Conin's games to end. The crowd's cheering shows they agree - enough with the shit, let's see some real fighting. The Devil herself intends to show the whole ghetto what a real Japanese can do. Looks like her gimmick isn't an act.
Unfortunately, there's nothing left for me to do.
She's a bit better than the ATs, but by disappointingly not much.
I started Battling to practice my KMF piloting, but I didn't think I'd fight someone this strong.
If I can't beat him, I can't beat the Britannian Union! I've got to try!
At least she tries to do a combo. ATs just punch.
After one more exchange of blows...
A bunch of ATs show up under Conin's orders to break up this show.
All objections are met with gunfire. Remember how we're unarmed?
Crowe grabs his Brasta and comes to the rescue, and Gotho follows up with weapons for Chirico and the Devil.
She's pretty fired up now.
And surprisingly, so is Chirico. (I don't know how I keep doing that.)
Still no SR Point.
Scopedog (Chirico Cuvie)
Arm Punch (6 ammo)
Heavy Machine Gun (16 ammo)
Assault Combat (4 Ammo, 120 Will, ignores size)
Ace Bonus: At 130+ Will, all weapons gain +300 attack.
Not much to say about Chirico that I didn't before. He has a majestic Skill stat and regular soldier-style Spirits. His ??? skill and maxed Prevail make him best when damaged, but good luck getting him damaged in the first place.
ATs are Small units, so they have trouble damaging enemies with weapons other than their best. Chirico calls for Attack Again and Ignore Size. I'm an eternal fan of Chain Actions, but you could argue for Ammo Save. The Offensive Support/Combo Attack (with Precise Attack) combo would be good instead if Chirico could use a flying robot.
Glasgow (Karen Koutsuki)
Slash Harken (4 ammo)
Assault Rifle (16 ammo)
Heavy Cannon (4 ammo)
Hit (15 EN)
Ace Bonus: 1.1x damage using Melee weapons.
The Glasgow is not a good machine for Karen, a super robot pilot in a series of chronically real machines who does heavy damage by charging in with melee attacks. She will get a custom machine in the near future that will make her a god of smashing things. Even then, she will consistently make you feel like she should really be in Mazinger.
(It doesn't help that the Glasgow is not a good machine in general. It is shitty at everything.)
Like ATs, Knightmares are Small units, so they dodge and hit well but have trouble doing damage outside of the Ignore Size skill or weapon property.
If you haven't seen Geass, here is a factoid about this character: she's half Britannian. In Britannian society, she goes by her official Britannian name of Kallen Stadtfelt, but uses her "real" Japanese name when fighting for the resistance.
Karen is going to need EN Save and probably wouldn't mind Break Will Limit. Ignore Size is good, but she won't need it as terribly as Chirico. And while I recommend Chain Actions for everybody and their cat, her ability to start the battle at 115 Will makes it especially delicious.
The enemies are spread out and Chirico is spent.
Not much can be done about Karen's defenses other than Prevail and prayer, but she has some rounds of Strike to make sure she hits at least.
And if they are kind enough to move into her melee range, it might not matter.
Worryingly, Crowe hits the enemies much better considering he's in a Gundam-sized machine against car-sized ATs. Note how pre-Focus it is.
This much noise is going to attract those Enforcers patrolling the block.
If those Colony Gundams are in the neighborhood, they won't be able to resist sticking their noses in.
Chirico takes out two, one from full HP.
Karen trades blows with another.
The others apparently go straight for Chirico, not stopping to attack.
Chirico's assault combo.
As soon as he takes out that AT, the Enforcers arrive.
Joining a squadron of patrol tanks and helicopters is that rat Conin in his own Scopedog.
But just as Crowe suspected, Duo and Heero arrive, evening the odds.
Win condition: destroy Conin. SR Point: Take out all enemies within two turns of now, saving Conin for last.
According to the game, Conin's ATs are in league with the Enforcers. Go figure. Luckily, I have the majority of my units bright and ready this turn - the problem will be positioning them to generate counterattacks against all these vehicles.
The use of the Invincible spirit is different between Real and Super robots. A robot that expects to get hit on just about every attack uses Invincible before it takes on a hard-hitting enemy. On the other hand, one that can dodge and expects to absorb just a few attacks can pre-cast it, at which point the Spirit will serve as a hedge against one unlucky hit, and even stick for as many turns as it takes for that hit to land.
I'm being safe here in a few ways: that the vehicles don't have (P) attacks, that they don't have amazing range, and mostly, that Conin will pursue Chirico. (The vehicles do have (P) attacks with reasonable range, but that's okay.)
Maybe you're just trying to survive, but if you've gotta be Britannia's lapdog to do it, you and I are enemies!
I'm Japanese! I'm not an Eleven!
Small blessings: helicopters are not nearly as durable as giant robots.
Neither are ground cars or whatever those are.
Crowe will, hopefully, draw the Enforcers from this corner the way Karen is baiting the ones in the northwest.
The Enforcers are just Britannia's hired goons.
But if we rough them up, Britannia's own forces will come out.
And that's where our real job starts...
Been a while since we've seen these Gundams.
(I like that blast effect going on right here.)
And that's one squad of Enforcers I no longer have to worry about.
Now we'll see what they do.
It's okay. Karen's buffered against being hit.
She dodges, saving her Invincible, then counters for the kill.
Chirico might finally get hit.
Oh come on Chirico.
So much for the "provide them targets" plan. They're ignoring my bait completely.
Not that this is bad for me... especially when they go for Chirico.
Really, it's not even a trap so much as a "tanks can't beat robots."
Karen is forced to spend her get-out-of-attack-free card.
Luckily, Chirico draws some of the fire from her...
and gets knocked down to death HP. Death for everyone else, that is...
I assume these machines work well at controlling people, but a single KMF can just cut through them.
Some stupid tank tries to ignore me. Dick.
Finally, Conin attacks Chirico. Unfortunately, right now all the luck is on Chirico's side.
Sergeant Major Chirico! You followed me all the way here?
So it is you, Lieutenant Conin. Tell me, what was behind that operation?
There's no need for you to know. You're going to die right here!
Fortunately, Chirico doesn't take him out. Yet.
Hi, Chirico! I've placed Crowe's stats alongside him for comparison. Any stat glowing green means that stat is being buffed by some ability.
The total effect of the ??? skill, which I'm so glad I got to show off, is to increase Chirico's Accuracy and Evasion stats by 30 points, and all his others by 20. Add that to Prevail L9 firing at full power and raising his accuracy, evasion, defense, and damage output, not to mention his Ace Bonus, and we've got a monster on our hands.
I'll hand Heero the last chopper. He could use a little extra xp.
There's really only one thing to make a movie of in this chapter and finishing Conin is a good time to show it.
Conin's defeat spells an SR Point.
Conin gasps that Chirico should have died back then, and then buys the farm.
Gotho yells at Crowe and Chirico to flee the scene. Crowe advises the Gundams and Karen to do the same.
As Chirico goes, he wonders what the hell is going on...
Gotho leads everybody to another warehouse outside the Enforcers' radar where he stores his weapons, and will now be storing the Gundams for a bit.
Karen has joined too, and she's brought along some friends to watch her back. She's understandably a little skittish about crashing with a gang they didn't know existed just a little while ago, and Duo knows just how she feels, but the alternative involves Enforcers and the Britannian army.
Introductions all around between the Gundam pilots, the Battling staff, and the Ohgi rebels - leader Kaname Ohgi and treasurer Shinichiro Tamaki. More small-worldness: Tamaki has actually been buying some of the group's weapons from Vanilla, who didn't realize Tamaki was fighting with that Red Devil.
The totality of Chirico's introduction: "Chirico Cuvie."
Gotho, Coconut, and Vanilla go back to arguing about who gets to manage Chirico in the ring. Chirico cares so much he closes his eyes, falls silent, and looks very much like he's asleep. Having both this guy and Heero in our team is going to be fun.
Duo explains his mission to the resistance to fight the Britannians. He's under no illusions that he can win with just Deathscythe, but he definitely intends to throw them off balance. If the surface-side balance of power breaks down, the Colonies can move to take advantage of it. For now, that puts him in Heero's boat, and the resistance's too. He agrees to help out Ohgi's group.
Heero: "Fine. Whatever."
Fighting Britannia means fighting the Enforcers, so Gotho's willing to sell Ohgi's team some firepower. And they can have Chirico as a bonus. No need to ask Chirico himself. According to Gotho, AT pilots can only live on the battlefield anyway.
Chirico opens his eyes, which they guess means "yes." He speaks up to add that if they'll oppose the Enforcers, he's in.
Crowe has to be in, too. He's got a price on his head and nowhere else to go. But first, he demands pay, to the tune of 980,000 G. That's clearly ridiculous to ask of the tiny resistance, so Crowe goes down to 50 G per job - just a quarter of what he got out of Ohtsuka. He's got a bone to pick with the Union anyway. What's that mean? "Ancient history. I almost have to thank 'em for it," he answers cryptically.
The next day, the Ashford kids are talking about how the scuffle in Shinjuku made the news.
Relena arrives, and Shirley asks where she went after the meeting yesterday. Relena lies that she was just doing something for her dad. "Oh, good. I thought Lulu put some crazy idea in your head to go to the ghetto." Yep. Yeah. Anyway, she's heard the news too, and she's wondering if the weird boy she crossed paths with and the skirmish in the ghetto are connected.
Lelouch, who puts crazy ideas into peoples' heads, continues to do so with a treatise on how the world is about to change in various ways. But what he doesn't say out loud to Relena is, can he do something to change it the way he wants it to be for Nunnally? "I need power. Enough power to change the world."
Chirico's Scopedog and Karen's Glasgow have joined. See you next chapter, in which Area 11 really heats up.