Part 34: The Dream Continues
Right out the gate, "Renton" is babbling about how one day, Dr. Dominic suddenly invited him and Eureka to hike up a mountain behind their base. At the time, all he knew was that the mean old doctor was suddenly being nice to him. It was the first and only time Renton had seen him smile.
In the flashback, Dominic tells them that it's the winter moonflower, and supposedly, every hundred years, when stardust rains from the heavens, it blooms into light in all the colors of the rainbow - and if you make a wish bathed in that light, it'll come true. He tells Renton that he'll have to go away for a while to do his research, and he wants the boy to keep the hill where the moonflowers grow safe for him. And he wants more thing - "someday, you two make that rainbow flower blossom."
Renton recalls that Dominic vanished the very next morning, just as he said. It would be a week before Renton learned that he had died participating in research on the monsters known as Imáge. The very same day, the military came to take away his friend Eureka, and he's tortured by the memory that he was powerless to stop them.
"That was eight years ago. I don't know if I'm any stronger now. I don't know if I'm strong enough to protect what's important to me next time..."
Movie Renton is pretty tortured.
The shadow team has gotten an actual mission from Chairman Roddick: recover a military secret that will be critical in the war against the Imáge. More precisely, back up the team that's already been assigned to the mission.
Either way, though, battling the Imáge should fall under the Council's jurisdiction. There's no obvious reason the Chairman should need us to recover this info for him... unless he wants us to steal it. Or more precisely, he wants it to look stolen rather than officially handed over, and the easiest way to do that is to actually have it stolen, by us. Ohgi and Crowe don't feel too comfortable playing the bad guys again when they're trying to be at least vaguely heroic, but Zero trusts Roddick to settle that. Besides, he must have a good reason for asking us to do this.
The most likely outcome is that he expects a distraction to present itself at the site, and that seat will be filled by the Imáge themselves. This is exactly the mission, and we will be expected to hold off the Imáge while the main team does the dirty work.
Before Sumeragi can actually explain what this big screaming deal is we're stealing, though, Feldt receives a warning that the U. N. transport is already under attack. We'll need to head for the site immediately, and the other group Chairman Roddick mentioned in the misison is already on the way too. WHO COULD IT BE? Sumeragi says Crowe already knows them, though...
The carrier warship Gekko has the Imáge in their sights. Captain Talho orders her KLF squad to deploy and secure the transport. Recovering that secret is their top priority, because they need it for "our plan."
Holland tells Talho not to push herself. She's been out of sorts lately. But you bet she's going to push herself (telling people not to never works in anime). "This is the beginning of our... no, of your dream coming true."
Chapter 17: The Dream Goes On
The U. N.'s KLFs are trying to hold off the Imáge.
It doesn't work.
The Gekko arrives to support (so they claim).
Their team has a new squaddie eager to take on the Imáge.
Also, to talk to this weird thing squeaking away in his cockpit. Holland suspects that his ability to talk to his KLF is what lets him pilot.
And so begins the fight.
I'm not even going to talk about Purple Nirvash.
Holland, Talho, and Renton are tasked with taking down all the Imáge. The U. N. captain is here as an allied NPC whose ship we have to protect.
For now, I'll place the Gekko team between the Imáge and the escort, I guess. Not like there's a time limit.
Talho doesn't have Hit and Away or Command. What's the point?
At least someone on this team knows how to shoot.
This is our dream! Our future! I won't let anyone take it from us!
Out of my way! I'll destroy anyone who tries to stop us!
They could be stronger.
The Imáge are smart enough to go for the U. N. ship.
Luckily, it defends.
Renton starts whining that there are too many of them. Holland tells him to shut up or he'll shoot Renton down personally. Fortunately, we're here to help!
Renton and the captain are surprised to find terrorists helping out, but Holland was the one that arranged this with Roddick. He asks what the hell took us so long. Jeez, buddy, you're welcome. Crowe tries to get everyone off his case, since he remembers Holland helping him at the lab so long ago. "I always pay back my debts." Anyway, we've been assigned to take down the Imáge.
The battle continues. It is not interesting in any way.
Eventually, the time comes to start counterattacking.
First, let's start an Attack! and cheer up the Gekko squad so they can use some decent attacks.
Chirico has some decent (P) guns now!
And he got hit! (This feels weird to be happy about.)
Also, he Attacks Again! I think this is a good start, don't you?
And he learns Snipe.
Ranging the faraway Imáge falls on the supersonic Getter-2.
Everyone else moves in to back up the Gekko, sweeping up lesser Imáge on the way.
With the ship safe for the moment, Holland and Renton get more aggressive against the next wave of Imáge.
I'm doing this. I have to!
I'll fight! I have to get stronger, strong enough that I never have to go through that again!
Sorry, wasn't that a Cut-Back Drop-Turn?
Anyway, that's enough of that.
Most of the Imáge go down on their turn, leaving cleanup.
I'm just going to skip to the part where they're all dead and a bunch of Damons show up.
Naturally, MD is with them. As in the other stage, Crowe sets his sights on the white Rhinodamon.
MD attacks the transport, sending it flying. Renton wants to help, but Holland orders him to ignore the ship and focus on the prize. "This operation is about our future!" he snaps. "We don't have time to worry about other people!"
Holland dives for the cargo, but MD blocks him with cover fire.
Nirvash tells Renton it's "found" something. Found what?
Nirvash takes over and flies Renton to the fallen ship, where he finds the cargo box is cracked open...
and inside is Eureka!
They have a tearful reunion, but Eureka refuses to escape with Renton. She insists that he'll be in mortal danger.
As the Damons eye the crashed ship hungrily, Eureka wails that she's not worth defending. Renton yells back that it's what he wants to do ever since he lost her in the first place. As he pulls her into the cockpit, she insists that he shouldn't do this, and he repeats that he wants them to be together. Finally, she relents and admits she wants to be with him too...
Obviously, this causes the Nirvash to shapeshift and stop being purple. Holland seems to recognize the phenomenon.
Gidget confirms that there are now two vital signs coming from inside the Nirvash.
MD is still looking at Holland, so Crowe rushes in to engage it. Sumeragi orders GOONZ to focus on MD.
Meanwhile, Holland reveals to Renton that Eureka is the big secret we've been trying to pilfer. He orders him to keep her safe.
Ime, watching, says that thing about the scales. "I came to observe the ones that nest between the dimensions, but here I find you. Heh heh. This must be destiny."
We get a bonus condition at last: within three turns from now, defeat all other enemies, followed by MD.
The carrier ship is gone, but instead we now have to deal with the whole Damon pack.
With so little time, I have to spread out and rush before thinking of fighting MD.
Sending pilots to remote edges of the map to pick fights.
Desperately trying to engage as many of the basic Damons as possible (remember - range of 5, can't attack on the run).
Soon enough, look who's brought his stupid awesome theme again.
Just like before, he moves in on the Brasta at the speed of bad news.
With nothing for it, I have to end the turn and hope Ime doesn't rip me apart.
Musashi adds Luck to his repertoire of support Spirits.
MD goes straight for Crowe.
Hey again, MD. I've been waiting to pay you back.
And not just for myself. I'm paying you back for someone else too.
Crowe focuses on evasion.
So we meet at last. Ha ha... I'm so glad.
Seriously, who are you? What did I ever do to you?
Ha ha ha. You are my brother.
Ah, you moved. You waver well.
Was that a lie? Just to mess with my head?
Get out of my way. I don't have time for your games.
And then he kills Crowe with a terrifying mouth beam.
Wait, that's not right.
I meant Crowe totally dodges. Yes, that definitely happened.
So now we have these non-conversation-having characters dealing with the stragglers.
Meanwhile, the stars and heavy hitters rally around the business end of the map.
We're definitely going to give Crowe as much support as possible.
And speaking of support, time to hammer Arietes. I need the turn after this one to destroy MD.
Ime gets in the first shot. Good thing Karen knows the Invincible Spirit.
And we'll give the kill to Aoi because she's very underleveled and she'll be involved next chapter. Crowe's going to level off of MD anyway (I won't hear of anyone else killing it).
She climbs to a passable level and wins Ime's Hyper Jammer.
Johnny learns Analyze.
Ime acts smug and leaves.
Oh, shit, I forgot about the new Nirvash.
Nirvash spec2 (Renton Thurston, Eureka, Nirvash)
Break Will Limit
SP Regen (Eureka)
Homing Laser (6 ammo)
Charge (50 EN, 110 Will)
Ace Bonus: Renton, Eureka, Nirvash's max SP +30.
Nirvash is actually a fair subpilot, but the robot is so dumb who cares (sadly, it has a better Spirit set than either Renton or Eureka). Eureka is one of few subpilots with a relevant skill and precious few anythings in this game with the built-in SP Regen skill, which can't be learned (until Restoration, anyway). But unlike in the first SRWZ, she has few good Spirits to use it on. In fact, it's probably fair to say that while the other Eureka had a spell list suitable for an ace, even when Renton took over the Nirvash, this version of the character has much more of a support role. Telling, and saddening.
Well, let's make him make himself useful.
Eureka! We're okay! It's going to be okay!
I know... I'm not scared becaues I'm with you, Renton!
Not just me! Nirvash is with us too!
Nirvash and I will protect you! I swear, Eureka!
I guess... it has those laser things theEND used to have now.
And then Talho supports.
Pick off some dickbag Bulldamon before it shocks someone.
That takes care of the rest of the Damons around here.
So it's about time to begin the assault on Rhinodamon MD.
Locked on. Target: white Rhinodamon-class DAMon.
Eliminating the enemy leader with extreme prejudice.
He'll regenerate some of it, but damage is damage.
Now there's only one Damon left... and MD.
MD and Brasta trade blows.
Now it's time for the final push.
After dealing with this, anyway.
Now nothing stands between me and Rhinodamon MD.
This Damon is clearly different from the others.
As fascinating as it would be to observe, I do not intend to die at the hands of an alien from another dimension.
You'll have to disappear, Damon. There is no place for you in this world!
Zero issues the Charge! order, which looks no different at first blush.
But remember that it pumps damage at the cost of defense and evasion. At this point, defense and evasion are done by Spirit commands anyway.
Also, let's Analyze it for good measure.
Be careful, Aoi. This thing's packing way more heat than the other Damons.
We'll be fine, Kurara. I'm the type that gets hotter the tougher my opponent is.
Brace yourself, white Damon! Let's go wild and see how much I can hurt you!
This'll be fun! This guy's extra strong even for a Damon!
I'll teach you that humans aren't gonna lie down and let you trample all over them!
This one is much stronger than the other Damons.
But it is still a cause for war. Destroying it is the duty of a Gundam Meister!
And Crowe gets the kill.
My own anger, my promise to Esther... I'm unloading it all on you!
SR Point: check.
But MD escapes again. Sumeragi keeps Crowe from chasing it down, reminding him that we don't have the resources left to back him up, but he still wants to settle things for good next time he finds it. And like the public team, the shadow team still has the mystery of Arietes to deal with...
Speaking of mysteries, how about that top military secret.
Holland calls that burst of light "the falling stardust" from the fable about the moonflower, and Talho confirms that they've gotten the Key to what Holland calls the plan to "restore the legend."
Later, Holland checks in with Roddick. They have an agreement, and Holland says he'll keep his end of the bargain and fight with GOONZ. In exchange, GOONZ will help Holland with his own goals, and to start with, he's made sure that the record shows that girl's death, setting the Gekko crew free to do whatever they want with her (but is that a good thing?). Holland reminds Roddick that their alliance is only temporary. Roddick says that all he wants is power to save the world. He has no intention of moving against Holland, provided Holland does nothing against Roddick's goal.
Holland takes his leave, and Roddick muses on this "Neverland" business. "But it doesn't exist," he says to himself. "Not in this or any universe."
Zero explains to Talho that GOONZ is already lashed together with shaky agreements of mutual benefit. Adding another card to that house won't topple it any time soon. As long as the Gekko crew follows the rules of the terrorist-GOONZ, no one will have any beef with them.
Zero asks about the Imáge, but honestly, even the dedicated counter-Imáge team has very little to say about them. Cool, more mysterious alien entities whose nature, origin, and goals are all unknown, we needed more of those. They appear out of nowhere, refuse to communicate, and attack humans - no, seriously, we've heard this all before.
As for Eureka, the Gekko team can't say about her either. They came upon her name while looking into the underside of the anti-Imáge research, and found that she was being experimented on - they don't know how exactly, but it probably wasn't good. That's why they left the regular military, formed their own specialist team and rescued Eureka, which brings us to now and them to GOONZ. Even Elgan Roddick, Chairman of the Peacekeeping Council, claims he didn't know Eureka existed.
Sumeragi then asks about the pilot that actually saved Eureka, and his co-pilot that makes weird squeaking sounds. Jobs, the mechanic, explains that the squeaking thing isn't a co-pilot, but the machine itself, which only Renton can communicate with. KLFs all contain a tiny creature called an Archetype that can expand to mech-size; add armor and you get a functional KLF. Most of them are basically just organic machines, though. What makes Nirvash special is just that it's self-aware and can act under its own power. The Nirvash archetype has been with Renton for years, and Renton's ability to communicate and get Nirvash to operate on its own will gives him a piloting edge.
As for Eureka, GOONZ hears all about how she used to know Renton at the laboratory in Warsaw before being taken by the military and experimented on. Luckily, now they're back together! Holland agrees to let her stay with Renton if it'll make her more comfortable.
In his mask, Zero feels something wrong with their conversation, like they're acting something out. "They're just like me," he realizes. "Wearing masks and playing their assigned parts." What's going on here?
In whispers, Holland and Talho plan their next move. They just have to gather "stardust", and everything will be okay forever. "The sacred white bathed in stardust. As the moon wanes, a rainbow bridge to the stars. The chosen boy and girl will return all the children of the earth to a blue world." This is the legend they want to restore, their only hope - but for what?
Eureka and Renton continue their joyful reunion. He promises to protect her from everything forever no matter what.
That's it. Gekko team has joined. Later.