Part 42: The Truth Revealed
The S. M. S. team can't believe they made it all the way back to their home planet (sorta), only to be branded as terrorists. They even signed up to cooperate with the World Peacekeeping Council! Chairman Roddick was supposed to give them cover against the great nations, since he's the one that put them together with the Black Knights and Celestial Being in the first place, but... it's just the U. N. They only get so much respect from the world superpowers.
Still, Alto is frustrated. Humanity as a whole should have better things to worry about than coming up with reasons to fight each other. Michel reminds him that even their world's humanity isn't exactly a race of saints, even after having made peace with multiple alien races. Even on a ship aiming to expand the human race, there are still those who seek to spread terror and seize power. That's just how people are. In fact, he suggests, the only time humanity has ever stopped infighting for even a moment was when they were on the brink of extinction. But even so, he and Klan believe that somehow, deep down, everyone can be friends.
Takeru agrees and makes a very sweet speech about how his family and friends give him hope to see the good in humanity. Sure, they used to doubt him, but that's all over now. If everyone could be as forgiving as Takeru, where would there be war? But if it were so easy to convince all those politicians, where would we be?
Well, right now, we've got U. N. joint force soldiers on our tail. According to Captain Kenji, we have two choices: wait for Elgan Roddick to bail us out, or divide into two teams again and wait until it blows over. Splitting up would get the public team out of danger, but on the flip side, the shadow force would be facing down the pursuit with half their firepower. They may be terrorists, says Akagi, but at least they're on our side. He struggles to explain how they're different, but the point is we're not abandoning them. Everyone agrees, but that means all we can do is wait and count on the Chairman.
Or does it? Alto has a third choice: take care of the problem ourselves. It's a lot like Zero's idea to play himself as a force for good. For starters, if we take down the WLF, the joint forces won't raise a hand against us, right? Well, it's easy enough to say, but the Chairman himself doesn't know where their headquarters are, so we have no way of going on the attack.
But suddenly, a voice calls out for Mars, and only Takeru can hear it. It explains that it's speaking telepathically directly into his mind, and it's the same voice Takeru heard telling him about Godmars back when he first piloted the robot. And the voice wants him to come and meet it. It says it will handle those who are after Mars...
and right on cue, the Pixie Squad reports that the enemy army has peeled off to chase down a Gishin platoon. It's enough to buy some time but not enough to overpower the joint forces, which is great for everyone - but as the voice continues to beckon, Takeru alone is suspicious.
Chapter 21: The Truth Revealed
Takeru arrives at the coordinates the mysterious voice told him.
He's attacked by a Gishin battle mech, and he recognizes the pilot's voice! He immediately smells a trap and destroys the robot with Gaia, but the pilot just says that they can talk safely now and ejects.
Takeru hunts down the pilot, who comes out and says he's Mars' twin brother Marg. The whole thing was a setup to throw off Emperor Zuul, you see. Marg tells the story of how he stayed with Zuul because he didn't have any other way to even try to save his brother. Zuul ordered him to kill Mars, but instead, Marg put on a show of being killed by Mars.
Takeru believes Marg completely for reasons he doesn't fully understand - he knows in his heart that he's talking to his one and only family in the whole universe.
So Marg begins showing Takeru memories telepathically. First, of how Zuul came to know that Idea and Aida had born twin boys, and demanded to take one for himself. He intends to send it to Earth, the eye of the great dimensional storm, to help him take the planet and use it to conquer the galaxy. Why not? As a father, Idea should be glad that the boy is to inherit Zuul's vast empire.
Idea objects - his research on antiproton power was to be used for the good of all, not for Gishin's power alone. He wants his child to represent peace, and he knows that Zuul is building an antiproton bomb. Zuul sends him away and warns him what happens to those that disobey the Emperor's will.
You know the end to this story - Mars was seized from his parents by force, put on the bomb, and packed off to Earth. But Idea managed to secretly build the five godbots and send them after his son to protect him. When Zuul found out, he had Idea tortured, and when he wouldn't talk, executed; Aida, their mother, followed ten years later for begging Zuul to return Mars.
But not before entrusting to Marg a crystal necklace. It was created by Idea as a control mechanism for the godbots, allowing the pilot of Gaia full control of their power. His wife kept it safe, and her son delivered it, and now it's with Takeru where it belongs. A happy ending! Marg urges Takeru to fulfil their father's life's wish and use Godmars to fight for peace across the whole universe. Takeru begs Marg to join him and fight with him, but Marg has taken on another job. He wants to find out what Zuul is so interesting in Earth for, and if that can help them defeat him.
Unfortunately, Wahl now knows what's Marg's been up to, and he will have none of that. He fires on the boys, and Marg pushes Takeru out of the way and grunts that he'll protect his brother with his life. Wahl captures him in some kind of psychic cage doohickey and says he'll take him back to Zuul to execute personally. Marg tells Takeru to forget about him and call Gaia.
Takeru does so, and Wahl flies away with Marg and an angry Gaia on his tail.
And that's how the stage starts - Takeru versus a swarm of Gishin robots.
Takeru's newfound control of the five gods takes the form of a much welcomed new attack. It's expensive, but it hits hard, and most importantly, Gaia has had issues with its combination of low range and low movement.
Speaking of movement, I gave him a Vernier for the mission.
And this is what it looks like. Godmars: Moving is for other robots.
Seriously these jets are completely worthless.
And that's when GOONZ shows up.
Takeru explains the whole thing about his brother, and the rest of the pilots get all fired up to sink the Gishin warship and save Marg!
But still no SR Point. The one this chapter is actually an interesting one. (I've never gotten it without abusing Gurren-Lagann, but this time around I have more upgrades, so we'll see.)
It's still the enemy turn, and some of the Gishin fighters attack the main body of GOONZ.
Takeru continues to wipe out all the ones that cross his path. This is why his Ace Bonus is so ridiculously easy to get.
The soldiers advance (mostly at Takeru) but Wahl's ship stands by.
Gurren-Lagann begins the charge and brings me to the reason Kamina is such a ridiculous crutch in the early game: Valor.
Valor, or Hot Blood for purists, is probably the single iconic mechanic in Super Robot Wars. Almost every fighting pilot will get it or a related Spirit command at some point in their lives. Hot blood represents the strong emotions like love, anger, and passion that give a super robot hero power and drive him to stand up, yell at the top of his lungs, and push every drop of strength he can muster into beating the bad guys. It's the distilled essence of heroics for Japanese boys.
So Valor has a simple game effect. It's very expensive (generally on the order of 40 Spirit Points) and doubles the damage of the next attack the robot initiates. Around level 30-40, every single boss will be balanced around the idea that we will surround them with mecha, get every single pilot screaming mad, and hit them with a barrage of the strongest attacks available.
And fuck yes we will.
Kamina gets the Spirit freakishly early because he's just bigger, louder, angrier, and stupider than everyone else, and apparently that's what little boys want to see. (It's awesome when Spirits are used to express a character - remember how Kamina also has that super cheap Trust?) The even better news is that, like his Sense Spirit, the effect passes up to Simon if he's driving.
As for what that has to do with the SR Point, you'll see. It's one of the most annoying types of SR Points in Super Robot Wars.
Also, I really wish this game had the Chain Attack mechanic from OG that lets pilots with special weapons hit every enemy in a row.
Anyway, I'm pushing northward pretty aggressively, also for SR Point related reasons.
The bad guys start thinning themselves out...
But Gaia's out of power.
Meanwhile, Wahl continues to refuse to do anything.
Zero's command radius: still enormous.
I guess someone should go bait the boss while I lay my trap up north.
This is going to take a few swings, I guess.
This is boring. Ryoma, wanna switch?
Piss off! Take out your own trash!
Other than that, though, everything's going great.
I could recharge Gaia, but we're going to need Godmars soon anyway.
And we'll take a couple more swipes at Wahl, I suppose.
Status of all the non-Wahl enemies.
Wahl, naturally, goes right for Takeru.
Mars, you are a fool to resist Emperor Zuul! I will execute you myself!
Why are you so loyal to Zuul? He values his ambition over the lives of his own men!
I have no sympathy for you if you follow him knowing his ways!
How few fucks does Godmars give? He doesn't even move while defending. Most robots make a little blocking pose or something, but not Godmars!
Anyway, he dies with little more fuss and drops a Thruster Module a.k.a. don't-suck-in-space-maker.
Emperor Fucking Zuul himself comes to deal with the problem. Takeru does the Luke Skywalker "you killed my father!" routine. Zuul insists, quite appropriately, that he is Mars' father, but that doesn't work this time. He tries the angle that the Earth is a threat to the entire wide universe, but stupidly refuses to elaborate. He just says Mars is coming back to Gishin with him or else.
Mars refuses once again, so Zuul decides to destroy the planet right here and now and take Mars with it. But the rest of GOONZ decides to take the golden opportunity to defeat the leader of the Gishin once and for all, and protect the Earth forever!
(It's only chapter 21.)
Anyway, Zuul sends Wahl away (taking Marg with him) and deigns to fight with us. "Accept your powerlessness!"
SR Point: Defeat Emperor Zuul. However, Zuul retreats if below 10,000 HP, or after two turns from his arrival.
In short, this is a twofold battle. First, can I deal 40,000 damage within two turns, and second, can I subsequently muster 10,000 damage in a single action. Let's tackle this one step at a time.
This is gonna be fun, big guy! You've got guts to come down here and face us!
B-bro... he's in another league from everything we've fought before...
Great, then he'll be a challenge! Being a man is about taking on the hard stuff!
Ignorant fool. But such fools can cause surprisng results at times.
I see... this world and these people hold the power he fears.
Quit mumbling! We're right here and we're coming for you!
You may be at ease, Spiral King. I will erase one of your worries.
: Whaddaya mean, psychic powers! Fight me like a man, with your own fists or a drill!
Just a taste of what Valor can do for you.
Godmars series attacks are so lazy. But that move drains Will. Simon has plenty to spare.
So this is Mazinger Z... It does look somewhat like him.
He... recognizes Mazinger? What does he mean? What does it look like?
I am Zuul, ruler of all the universe.
You do not pose a threat to me, not even with a fragment of an imitation of the power of the gods!
Reducing Zuul to 10,000 HP has never been the problem - GOONZ already has too many powerhouses for that. It's the last leg that causes trouble.
Only Getter-2 of the Getters can make it adjacent, and we're trying to surround Zuul, so we're opening with him.
Getter Rays. Giving them to the denizens of this world is as pouring oil onto a flame.
What's he talkin' about?
Forget it! If he's praying, he can pray in hell!
A world where the Getter Rays rain... truly a danger to the cosmos.
These children... possess that which humanity lost long ago.
Sorry, but those mind games aren't going to work on me. I wasn't born yesterday.
But you are still bound by your foolish rationality. It will be some time before you can awaken...
A robot that diffuses consciousness through its core!
I will destroy every machine that creates those particles before they discover its true power!
This is going quickly.
It twists around him. Could this be what it's searching for?
Interesting. As the ruler of all the universe, I will overcome your power!
Chirico: Dodgin' lightning storms.
Well, that's all I'm doing this turn.
Zuul attacks Takeru, who will defend.
Mars... however hard you resist, you are merely dancing on the palm of my hand!
Shut up, Zuul! You won't get away with this!
This is for everyone you've sacrificed!
Anyway, let's get this over with. Zero gives the order to Charge!
(What's going on? My eye is burning...)
A bearer of the King's power. You've been chosen, I see.
What do you mean? What do you know about my power?
Ha ha ha. If you're so curious, I will tell you. Your power will inevitably lead to your destruction.
Don't make me laugh, self-named ruler of the galaxy! I'll reach my goal before that happens!
I have reasons I can't afford to lose!
(By the way, not pictured: Renton's conversation with Zuul.)
Then Johnny Analyzes Zuul for another 10% damage.
Finally, we get to see if Takeru and Crowe can take out the rest of Zuul's HP together.
Good so far.
Yes, Godmars, you look in so much pain. (Takeru is immune to Will drain, which is very nice.)
Crowe makes it for the finish! It's a good thing Zuul doesn't have Prevail or anything. But Zuul just murmurs "Excellent..." when he loses his last HP.
The spoils of victory.
Zuul laughs madly and reveals that we may think we've vanquished him, but this is just a fraction of his full power.
He busts out his MAP attack (that he never bothered to use for real) and zips out, cackling that we've still only experienced a little bit of what he can do. GOONZ is in awe of his might. I guess.
Right then, some Rhinodamons spawn out of a shock.
GOONZ can't handle all of them at once, but they go for Zuul instead. Cool!
But Zuul just chuckles. "So these are them. I see that sending my copy to Earth was worth the trouble." As GOONZ reels at the revelation that this wasn't even the real Zuul, the Emperor cackles that he'll let Mars off easy this time - but he's taking Marg.
Now the GOONZ just have to deal with the Rhinodamons, which doesn't make them feel much better, but Ime Liard (ugh) steps in and says he'll handle it.
The Rhinodamons docilely fall into step behind him. "Who the hell is he?" wonder GOONZ, but Ime claims that that's why he came.
Interesting. He wants to talk. He says these DAMon issues so far have been to test us. Yes, Arietes can cause dimensional distortions, but while he'll admit to causing some of the attacks, he can't take credit for all of them. He also claims Arietes is equipped with a dimensional agitator system developed by Nein Industries, a shadowy R&D corporation few people know about. He's after Crowe because the Brasta is also equipped with a piece of Nein tech, and they want it destroyed "to keep it out of the wrong hands."
Crowe guesses he mean the VX, the Brasta's mysterious power core that even the thing's engineer doesn't know anything about. That engine is what got Veda's eye on the Brasta too. Ime says VX stands for level 5 secret, and it was stolen by Axion. But the VX can't cause dimensional quakes, oh no. It's the incomplete version, and Arietes has the real one, or something like that. Nein's area of research is both the dimensional swirls and the monsters that come from them, doing experiments on them, placing them under control, and then sending them back to the dimensional fold to await use. That's how Arietes summoned those Rhinodamons and took control of them. But why do all this research? To weaponize the DAMons, of course. We've seen how dangerous they are, but imagine if they could be pointed.
But this doesn't make sense to Crowe. It's sort of understandable that he's attacked the Brasta, but what about the rest of GOONZ? That's where it comes back to Ime testing us with his Damons. And if it works out, he wants us to help him save the world. Nein has their own ideas of world peace, and they don't necessarily line up with those of our boss Elgan Roddick. Nein thinks he's dangerous, so their representative (Ime) came to us instead. And now that we've proven ourselves...
Crowe doesn't buy a word.
Ime shrugs and says that if that's how it's going to be, there's no point talking right now. But he'll be back to ask again until Crowe believes him. And as a show of good faith, he's willing to give us the name of the WLF's commander and the location of their base. Even Roddick couldn't find that out, and Ime reminds GOONZ that this is a taste of Nein's intel. And what intel it is - the base is the Republic of Limonesia, and its head is none other than Carlos Axion Jr. Nein doesn't have the force to act on this itself, not yet - but GOONZ just might. That's fair, right? What we do with this information is up to us - just remember, we and Ime are ultimately after the same goal. And if we side with him, he won't have to destroy the Brasta anymore, either.
Ime leaves, and only Crowe has a bad taste in his mouth. Everyone else is tentatively convinced, and we're on our way to Limonesia.
Or are they? In hindsight, all three commanders can see the trap plain as day, but Tieria has run voice analysis on Ime Liard and there isn't a hint of deception. Crowe is sitting in on the strategy meeting because he's the only one in GOONZ to have met Ime face to face, and he knows damn well that there's no way to tell if Ime's a liar - but that it's almost certain he is lying. "That guy lies like he breathes," he says, and no amount of voice analysis nor the most sensitive polygraph will register a blip. Not even Veda's computing power, to Tieria's indignation. Zero, like Crowe, has no proof but is absolutely certain Ime is not to be trusted. Jeffrey, as a captain, doesn't make a habit of trusting strangers bearing gifts.
At the same time, they agree that they have to follow up on his tip. Not because they believe it, but because it may be a clue as to what he's playing at. And if he happened to be telling the truth, we'll just squash the WLF and come out heroes. We can't lose. Or if we can lose, we were hosed anyway. The point is, we don't really have anything to lose by advancing.
So to summarize, no one believes a thing Ime Liard says, but we're still on our way to Limonesia.
As a last bit of housekeeping, what happened to the psychic? Takeru is holed up in his room because he "wants to be alone." Crowe decides not to waste time visiting him. Takeru will come around, and besides, Crowe's got enough to worry about just watching his own back. Zero comments, "Everyone in GOONZ could say that."
At an unknown location in Limonesia itself, Ime is letting Shioni know he's baited GOONZ to Limonesia. Now all she needs to do is keep the U. N. joint forces out. As long as they're drawing GOONZ to the country, he would like them to neutralize the increasingly troublesome WLF for him. She complains that they'll destroy Limonesia in the process, but he assures her (quite correctly) that we're trying to look good and will take the utmost care not to harm any civilians. It's about to be all over, and Limonesia will be saved. Just trust him, he says. The whole world will change tomorrow, and all her troubles will vanish. The gate to the dimensions will open, and a vast power will come out... all under her control.