Part 31: Night Battle at Shinjuku
Back at Izu, Crowe tells Esther the tale. She's disappointed that MD got away, but she says she's mostly disappointed in herself. She only has to depend on Crowe to take MD out for her because she's powerless to do it on her own. Crowe just grins and assures her that he's taken the job and he's a professional.
Esther scoffs and tells him to get out there after MD if he's so confident. But Crowe is concerned about the freak who crashed the fight and asks Esther to get the boss to do some sniffing for him. He wants to know if Ime was put up to it by Ritchie Rich. (We know it's the other way around, but let's not quibble.)
As Crowe is ready to hang up, though...
Hold it right there!
What is it? You think of a parting shot to hit me with?
No... just... watch your back.
I will. Dying is the least classy way to get out of debt.
And elsewhere in camp, the Crushers are still talking about the movie, of which Ranka's special song, the only early memory she has, has turned into the theme song. Alto is happy for her, he guesses, but the others warn him to watch out for the shadow of her protective older brother. The Crushers feel he still has doubts about her fledgling music career, but Michel has his own theory: "I'm thinking it's about the kiss scene."
Akagi is just glad the Frontier crew is getting comfortable on Earth, but Ibuki and Aoyama seem to have other things on their minds.
And when Mrs. Myojin brings the team coffee, Crowe quips that his gynophobia melts before her aggressively motherly aura, which strikes a nerve in Aoyama. Akagi, of course, assumes Aoyama wants a piece of the coffee cake, if you know what I mean, but for once Aoyama is serious; he really does have something on his mind, and it might seriously force him to quit the company!
But he won't say why, just "they're my issues, and I'll deal with them by myself." As soon as he leaves, the entire Japan team gets into a furor about what it could all mean. Panicked, Akagi looks at Ibuki, but she assures him that she's not going anywhere, certainly not off Dai-Guard... but being in GOONZ' operations is another matter. She admits that she's only in it to handle the Heterodyne threat. Fighting terrorists and monsters is not what she signed up for.
Shirota arrives to give her his blessing. Japan has other solutions to the Heterodyne problem anyway. Akagi protests that the defense force doesn't have the resources to take on a Heterodyne...
"You always had a bad habit of getting ahead of yourself, Redpen."
It's Iizuka, Akagi's former giant robot piloting instructor in the defense corps! He always calls Akagi that because of the "red" in Akagi's name and the inevitable red failing marks all over Akagi's reports.
He remembers that Akagi was the only one who actually wanted to pilot a giant robot in a class that just wanted to pass and go. Now Akagi is a real giant robot pilot, but so is he, Iizuka. To Akagi's shock, the Defense Corps didn't forget that Dai-Guard was originally their project, and they've built a better robot on its specs.
The Corps machine's name is Kokubougar, which is exactly like naming your robot NatSecGar in Japanese. (Nakahara: "National Security Gar. What's the Gar for?" Tetsuo: "It's just how it works with giant robots." Irie: "'-on' and '-der' also work.") The point is that now that the Defense Corps have their own unit, Dai-Guard is unnecessary, Aoyama is free of obligation, and since KBG is mostly a Heterodyne response unit, they've got an opening for a navigator, Ibuki, if she wants, hint.
Akagi wants to know why the military doesn't just take on Dai-Guard, then - they may not actually need it, but it can't hurt. "Why can't salarymen fight for peace, anyway?" Iizuka proposes a challenge, then. The military can't accept shitty pilots, so let's have a test: Akagi vs. Iizuka, to make sure he hasn't forgotten everything about piloting a giant robot. In fact, he's so confident, he's going to test our civilian and private pilots too. Throw Kouji and Watta into the fight, he'll take them on three on one.
Soon, all three machines are there. Ibuki and Aoyama would sort of like to have their lives back, but they agree not to hold back because they want to lose.
Incidentally, Kouji overheard Aoyama on the phone after he left earlier. It sounded like someone was sick, maybe someone in Aoyama's family. But there's no time to talk...
because the guest of honor has arrived, in a machine that looks awfully similar to Dai-Guard itself.
Crowe is cheering them on from his safe perch, beer and hotdog in hand. Kamina supplies his own commentary: "This is a battle of guts! Let's see who burns hotter!" It's clear that Dai-Guard and Kokubougar have very similar specs, so this is a matter of Iizuka showing Akagi what fighting like a soldier really means. Ozma, however, suspects that the real battle may not be that simple - it's true that the experience gap is tremendous, but there's an odd chance that the kids can teach the old dog a new trick.
Incidentally, "fighting like a soldier" apparently means casting Strike and Guard on himself every round.
I suppose it's only fair to start with Dai-Guard.
You've learned a few moves, I see. But you've got a long way to go.
You're just a salaryman. Go back to filling out forms.
You're right, I'm a salaryman. But I'm not just piloting Dai-Guard because it's my job.
But this is a job.
If you think that, I can't let you beat me.
You can't even do your own job. What can you do against me?
At corporate HQ, Nishijima asks Ohkouchi what he plans to do if Dai-Guard fails and their company loses public face. Ohkouchi has faith in Dai-Guard, though.
You don't think that's a little big for you to play with, kiddo?
Trider's not a toy! He's a real super robot that fights for our company and the whole world!
You talk a good game, but you pilot like an amateur. What good are you?
Fine! I'll show you I'm not just playing around!
You're welcome to try, but you'd best show respect for your elders.
I am so hosed.
Okay, Kouji has no experience, but he's in a stupid good robot, right? He's certainly the muscle of this operation.
Absolutely pathetic. You're not using a fraction of that machine's power.
That's what the landlady said!
You've got some muscle, though. Join the Corps and I'll train you myself.
I may be new at this, but I'm not leaving Mazinger!
Let's do this, Kokubougar! I'll make up for my skills with force!
You're naive, kiddo. Whoever taught you was way out of date.
So that was turn 1. It really sucked.
Iizuka recasts his Spirits and goes for Mazinger.
Kouji lands a Rust Hurricane that will drop Kokubougar's armor.
Now we attack for real.
By the way, these two robots are indeed pretty similar. I'd guess they were near identical outside of upgrades.
Also, that fucker has my Knot Buster!
So anyway, we're going to surround this fucker, keep up our Invincibles, and do some hammering.
Surrounded and with reduced armor, this is about as good as it's going to get.
Dunno why Iizuka is so down on Kouji for having zero experience. He's been doing the best out of this whole team, and not just in raw damage - he's gotten countered less, too.
This is taking too long.
This time he goes for Akagi, and... oh my. Have a video.
Seriously, that fucker has my Knot Buster.
Okay, he's down to like 2000. Let's show him what an actual Knot Buster does.
That's how it's done. He drops an A Adapter.
He gets back up, tells off Akagi for not realizing Kokubougar wasn't down yet, then smashes Dai-Guard's face in. Shirota calls the match in favor of not Dai-Guard, reminding everyone that his goal was just to show the fighters how long they have to go compared to a real soldier.
Iizuka gives Akagi an "A for effort" and asks what he's doing fighting so hard for a corporation. Akagi says again that he's not fighting for the company, but for the world. Is that so wrong for a salaryman?
Good news, then - the quake alarm just went off. There's something building in Shinjuku.
10 PP. Woo.
Chapter 17: Night Battle at Shinjuku
Three days later, the quake happened and the Heterodyne emerged, all right, but it's just been sitting there, motionless.
It's huge, though. Since it's not doing anything, Shinjuku has simply been going through its normal life around it. That said, the GOONZ are watching the thing like a hawk while R&D whips up a piece of tech that can get into its Fractal Knot. Basically, if we can just break the core Knot, the Heterodyne problem will be over, so we're just standing by in case the Heterodyne goes on the move first.
The problem is that Dai-Guard has been in the garage ever since the battle. Luckily, Kokubougar is standing by with us in Dai-Guard's place, providing another unpleasant reminder for Akagi that no one really needs Dai-Guard anymore.
Watta's family visits, bringing gifts of food. Seeing his mom reminds Aoyama of something, and he slips away, claiming her food made him hungry and he has to go scrounge some up. Irie accuses him of going to phone a woman, and he replies, "something like that" before making his break.
Ibuki has a lot on her mind too. Like Aoyama, seeing Mrs. Takeo stirred some worrying thoughts - in her case, that Watta's father passed away. She hasn't had one either, since he was killed in the very first Heterodyne attack twelve years ago. And while both she and her mom moved on, she could never forget, and found her way to Dai-Guard hoping to fight Heterodynes for some sort of closure.
She only told Akagi because he kept badgering her about it, though (he asked like twice, come on), and tells him to keep it from the rest of the company. The point is, she does have her reasons, just like Aoyama has his reasons for not wanting to stay on Dai-Guard.
Shirota invites Akagi to come eat with him...
Meanwhile, Aoyama is on the phone. Demanding his mother tell him what the doctor said, and by the sound of it, not getting an answer. She sounds more worried about Aoyama than herself, and he hangs up in frustration.
Crowe was just passing by and couldn't help but overhear. Aoyama explains that she has a weak heart, but every time he calls to check on her, she insists she's fine. But that's why he was thinking about quitting the company, to take care of her. "Laugh if you want. Call me a mama's boy."
Crowe just smiles. "You're an idiot. What son doesn't look out for his mom, huh?" Still, Aoyama asks Crowe to keep it to himself. And, since he's going to her hospital now, if Crowe would cover for him out in GOONZ. Dai-Guard can't deploy anyway, so we've got their backs.
No sooner does Aoyama take off than this douchebag should approach Crowe. "He made the right choice," he murmurs. "It would be best for him to meet his mother as quickly as possible." You see, he's Mrs. Aoyama's doctor, and he says the woman won't last the night.
Horrified, Crowe asks why Aoyama didn't tell him, but Ime just laughs raucously and praises Crowe's excellent reaction. It was all a lie, which is good, but why? Mr. Liard claims he was testing Crowe's friendships, and that's when Crowe recognizes his voice - the pilot of the mysterious machine from Limonesia.
Ime Liard introduces himself properly, and claims to be "your lover, and together we swore an oath of everlasting love in a past life." Again he indulges in Crowe's surprise: "You may put up a cool facade, but your true feelings are plain to see." He adds that his job is to cause Crowe doubt.
Crowe finally breaks down and threatens to beat the truth out of him, and Ime says one more strange thing: "An excellent reaction. My words are making you waver, but truly, your fulcrum will not break. But fret not. I have much, much more doubt and suffering ready for you." Besides, he says, he doesn't care to settle things with violence. "My weapon of choice is..."
And he snaps his fingers, and a familiar squeal rings in Crowe's ears. "That's right," continues Ime. "My weapons are dimension shocks."
As Crowe confronts Ime Liard, Shirota has taken Akagi to his eatery of choice, but Akagi is still thinking about what would happen if 21st and GOONZ parted ways. Shirota tells him it's not his problem, but Akagi insists it is. Shirota says it's a military issue, not a civilian one, but Akagi points out that Kouji and Watta are in too. Shirota reminds Akagi that they're doing it because they want to, not because it's their job...
Kakekouji is loudly delivering a similar lecture to Kinoshita: "Just do the job we give you!" Shirota begins again with a "Doing a job means..." but Kakekouji obliviously takes the words out of his mouth again: "Doing a job means accepting what you can't do without help, no matter how hard you try!"
There's only one thing left for Shirota to say that Kakekouji hasn't. "Everyone does their job their own way, but there's one thing I can say: A soldier's job is protecting civilians. I can't let you get yourself into danger anymore." Akagi is about to say he still refuses to leave Dai-Guard, but that's when the dimension shock hits...
The usual spread of Damons, Bulldamons, and Rhinodamons materializes, and the Quarter attempts to scramble its troops with all haste.
With Dai-Guard out of commission, the Shuttle is out in case someone needs energy.
Crowe is trying to figure out if Ime was telling the truth about being able to cause shocks.
Iizuka is standing in for Akagi, since he's the one that broke "Redpen's precious machine" in the first place.
In other news, no bonus condition and an order to wipe out the Damons as quickly as possible. Kokubougar isn't allowed to fall.
The S. M. S. takes point.
So if Ime caused the shock... he basically summoned the Damons.
How does that work? Does he actually have the power to cause dimensional quakes?
One turn down.
The Damons move in.
The Rhinodamons are aggressive today. Elite enemies usually hang back for a turn.
Time to take out as much trash as possible and see if we can't trigger anything.
Am I surrounded by fools who can't land a kill?
Stacking Command is awesome, by the way.
Oh, and Kouji learns Guard. At 15 SP, it's a crazy cheap Guard, too, in case you thought Mazinger wasn't tanky enough.
Sure enough, all the violence gives causality a push. From his perch god knows where, Ime gloats that he did get Crowe... off balance. There's something he wants to try, and now seems like a good time.
He causes space to twist again, but this time, it becomes a spacetime quake and produces a new Heterodyne.
Busujima orders Iizuka to charge Kokubougar in. He chafes at the order, especially since it's a lot like "be Akagi," but he hasn't a choice.
Naturally, the Heterodyne overpowers him, then swallows Kokubougar whole, absorbing Iizuka and the mech's machinery. Thanks to Busujima, the Heterodyne is not only bigger and stronger, but our only Knot Buster is out of the game and we can't destroy the Heterodyne without killing Iizuka. Awesome. Ime, meanwhile, is enjoying the plot thickening...
Akagi is trying to assure the panicking citizens that GOONZ, the U. N. force for peace, will handle the Heterodyne, and there's nothing to fear. He's picked this place, around the hospital, because the sick need to evacuate as quickly as possible.
Ohsugi suggests to Shirota that maybe Akagi didn't care that much about Dai-Guard after all. Shirota objects, since Akagi fought so hard to stay with GOONZ, but Ohsugi reminds him that this doesn't necessarily mean piloting Dai-Guard. Akagi just wants to help people, and he sees GOONZ as the way to do it. Ohsugi guesses that Akagi would even stay on with GOONZ without Dai-Guard. He admits that while the rest of the department are good employees who keep the company at heart, Akagi and his devotion to heroics and justice might be growing on them.
Sure enough, the other members of PR Division 2 are helping Akagi with the evacuation effort, and ask Shirota to give them direction.
Even Aoyama's mom (!) helps calm down a crying child. She tells him that the nice man is actually Dai-Guard's pilot, and he'll be protecting them with the robot as soon as they're safe. She tells Akagi to give her son her regards. Akagi asks if she doesn't want to see him. "I'm sure he's hard at work. He's finally found a job he likes, and I don't want to bother him." As the evacuation finishes up, Ibuki and Aoyama are ready to go to work. And Dai-Guard's ready for work, too - with a new weapon on board! The whole cast is psyched up, so let's go save Iizuka!
Dai-Guard rolls out to a warm welcome from GOONZ, and ready to use its new Knot Punisher! Which is good, because according to Jeffrey's data, Iizuka is still alive, but he's got maybe five minutes.
Okay, so! The simple win condition is to take out the Heterodyne within five turns; the hard one is to take out every enemy, the Heterodyne last, in three. Either way, the finishing blow has to be delivered by the Knot Punisher.
Which, by the way, is a low-ammo, high(-ish) power midrange charge that punches through barriers. It's a lot like a stronger Knot Buster.
But enough about that for now. First, we have Damons to take down.
Oh, and hammer down the big guys, especially since this one is softened and soon to be surrounded.
At the end of Dai-Guard's first turn (remember, I have three), the Damon army is full of holes.
Most of them go after Crowe, who survives and takes the weaker ones down with him.
Come on, Heteroblob! Brace yourself!
Akagi, don't forget Iizuka's in there!
I know! But I know him, and he can take a little damage!
I never know where he gets that confidence from.
Wherever it is, we have to do something!
All right, all right. If we can't save Kokubougar, we've got no right to whine anyway.
As usual, we're getting dragged along in Akagi's wake.
Stay with me, Ibuki! Dai-Guard can't be strong without all three of us!
That's a lot of HP.
So I'm thinking, move in and wipe up the Damons this turn, focus on taking down the Heterodyne next turn?
Dai-Guard should regroup with the team. If I keep my units below that line (the Heterodyne's sniping range), it should be forced to move down to that same line (its movement range), right into my firepower.
And there's the matter of actually hurting the Damons.
Picking off the lesser ones goes quickly.
There's even time to turn around and shoot down a straggler.
Which brings us back to the small issue of the Rhinodamons. The super weak Damon will just kill itself within a turn.
Support should make that easy though.
And that takes care of one of them.
Alto learns Sense.
Then we start on the second one.
You know what, Kakekouji can just put that last one out of its misery (for Will).
Kinue learns Cheer. Sweet.
So anyway the last Rhinodamon is out.
Now it's just me, the Heterodyne, and one turn left on the clock.
Well, that was boring.
As usual, we'll open with Luca's Analyze, hoping to counteract the cover from the woods.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! You can't just pop outta nowhere and start eating dudes!
It's no good talking, bro! That's not a person we're fighting!
That's not what this is about, Simon! Trash-talking is what you do to get yourself psyched up!
Plus we'll let that old man in there know we're here! It'll help him feel better!
Bro, you've actually thought this out, haven't you?
You bet! Now let's put a hole in this thing, Simon!
You can't do that! You haven't thought about this at all, have you?
This planet wasn't bad enough, they have these monsters here too?
Damn it! I don't want to be the hero of a monster movie!
Okay, this thing is going down way faster than I hoped, mostly because it's a huge bag of HP with no interesting powers. I'm just gonna dump the rest of the conversations and skip to the part where it gets stabbed with a Punisher.
Mr. Iizuka, I owe you one, and I can't let you die before I pay it back!
So wait! I'm gonna pull this ballpit apart and get you out of there!
You big jerk! You're holding that man hostage!
Akagi, take him out with your new weapon!
I can feel Mr. Iizuka's life force fading... we have to act fast!
Hold on, Mr. Iizuka! Akagi will save you!
First Damons, now this thing. Those other dimensions are just full of bad news.
I make my living off them, but the citizens don't like them so much. Why can't you ever attack where people aren't, huh?
And here's the finale:
SR Point confirmed.
Kokubougar's safety also confirmed. Iizuka promises he'll do what he can to keep Akagi with us, and recognizes Kouji and Watta as well.
One more thing to do, though - Team Dai-Guard turns the Knot Punisher on the giant Heterodyne, and fires...
as the chapter comes to a close on the lovely smell of Kinue's cookies and some bonus PP.
Everyone's still coming down from that battle. Akagi is still worried about losing his partners, but Ibuki is staying. His hero craze is rubbing off on her, she guesses. She jokes, but she wants to make sure no one else has to go through her loss.
And hey, Aoyama's not quitting either. His mom convinced him to stay and do what he really wants to do, and Crowe adds her to the list of women he can stand. Besides, he's glad Aoyama's staying; otherwise, he'd be the only one on the public team drawing the short straw all the time.
Akagi maintains that if he had to choose between the company and GOONZ, he'd choose us (aww!), but Shirota says that won't be necessary. It's been decided that Kokubougar continue functioning as Japan's Heterodyne response system while 21st Century's agreement with GOONZ will stand. Apparently, Kokubougar's pilot testified that there was no one in the Defense Corps qualified to pilot Dai-Guard better than the three employees.
That said, Iizuka's report also said that the pilots of Mazinger Z and Trider G7 need to be trained in piloting, and Ozma is up to the job. He's already trained Alto up from scratch, and now he's going to "beat piloting into your skulls from the basics." Good luck, Kouji, Watta!
Finally, we meet the eccentric genius R&D head who's been making those weapons for Dai-Guard, Rika Domeki.
She asks Crowe for his Damon data. He's willing to pass it over, though of course, not for free. She says Ohkouchi will handle all of that - the CEO of 21st Century Security. What do they want with combat data on the Damons? Domeki says that since dimensional and spacetime quakes look so similar, they want to compare the data and look for patterns. Ibuki notices she's carrying her dad's research on dimensional instability. Meanwhile, Crowe is still thinking about Ime Liard's claim and the implications that he can summon Damons and Heterodynes at will.
Coming up: one of the greatest conversations in the game. Spoilers: it involves Kamina.