Part 65: Memorial Debut
Crowe decides to chase the excitement of rolling with Celestial Being once again. Traia's worked out his new ledger, and a gong sounds to ring it in.
Hold on a sec. What was that?
I brought it in. I thought it'd make you feel a little better.
Don't look so glum, Crowe. Esther spent most of her signing bonus on this thing.
...I'm not one to judge how anyone else spends their money, but that seems sort of...
You're not glad?
I didn't say...
Then tell me! I can't tell, I'm just a classless hick girl!
That's not true! I'm happy! I'm bursting with energy!
I'll have that 1,989,990 G back before you can say ka-ching!
That's my Crowe!
Wh-what do you mean, "your"...
Anyway, Crowe's reports on the new Gishin bots and Dai-Gan-Zan came out to 489,990 G (!), leaving him an even 1.5 million G in the red.
It was actually 500,000, but we rounded so the remainder would be even.
Hey, wait! What about the other 10,010?
Oh, no! We're getting some mysterious radio interference!
Give me back my 10,010 G!
Saji wakes up in the hospital, to bad news from his sister: Louise has moved to Spain. Her parents were at that party too, and they didn't make it out, so she's gone home. Besides, in Spain, they have the better means to treat her wounds.
Saji angrily wonders where Celestial Being was when that party got attacked. What are Gundams good for?
Sumeragi gets her Ace Bonus, the last in the game, at long, long, last. It's a good one, though - it doubles the bonus her Command aura grants. Zero's is pretty much always going to be wider, but this ensures that hers is stronger.
We've been having a lot of trouble tracking the Trinities, but Sumeragi has an idea. Though we're always a step behind, she's seeing a pattern to their hits, a suggestion that someone's hand is behind them. So we have a chance to track them, but if this means there's a traitor in Celestial Being's midst...
It's Rome, and Ranka's down. She doesn't know where Alto is, and more importantly, she has no idea what she can do for him as he fights humanity's enemies. Eida divines that she's having trouble with love, which Ranka stammers is half-right, but cheer up, Ranka, that movie made you a world-famous star. In fact, Ranka's very first real live performance is coming up in a couple of days, and she has to rest and rebalance herself by then. "If I'm not having fun," explains Eida, "how do I make the audience have fun? That's an idol's job."
Despite that, Eida's having the same issues as Ranka - she's lovestruck and she can't let anyone know! But she's got a date with the man, and here he...
Oh, Johnny. Try asking Aoi how to properly deal with stalkers. He cagily explains that he's doing some nonspecific business for the U. N., along with one of their pilots. As for why he's brought Alto with him, it was Eida's idea to set it up. Oh, but she's been looking into Ranka, as she said, and planned this ever since she found out who Ranka liked, and that Johnny and Alto knew each other. Alto is in no mood for a double date, but that's okay - Johnny and Eida leave them to it.
Welp. Ranka apologizes over and over again, but Alto doesn't see what for. By the way, he got to see Bird-Human - her acting needs work, but her expression was lovely. And now she's debuting with the movie's theme, isn't she? Actually, Ranka starts to say she's starting with another song, but...
Oh man. This is Yasaburo Saotome, Alto's brother, who Alto doesn't seem that happy to see. He's still with the kabuki clan that Alto fled after falling out with their father. He compliments Alto on his moves in the movie, stunt work or otherwise, and mentions Alto's career as a pilot.
Alto says it's his decision, and Yasaburo suddenly turns serious and calls him a liar. There's a reason he brought up the movie - he could tell that Alto isn't done with theater. He's playing a role even now - the role of a boy who went off to pilot to spite his dad. But Alto has "the blood of an actor, like a curse," and Yasaburo, in whose veins it runs weaker, can't stand to see him waste his talent.
Smirking again, Yasaburo adds that Master Ranzo, their dad, isn't looking great lately. Alto should probably visit him sometime soon, yeah? He walks off, leaving Alto to fume.
Then Michel calls to let Alto know that he's been requested as a bodyguard. Alto snaps that Touga or Shinn could do it, but Michel rightly suspects he'll change his tune when he learns who the client is - Sheryl Nome herself.
Alto wants to know why the hell she called him out specifically. Sheryl says she was just thinking might cheer up if he got a nice peaceful fly. He can deny it, but she knows he's not over what happened at the party - and she wants to remind him that the same thing would happen to other people if he died... "you don't want to make Ranka sad, do you?"
Sheryl, however, has faith that her charm will see him through, and it does make Alto feel better. Just then, Sheryl winces in pain, but it passes and she insists it was nothing. If anything, it means she expects him to take good care of her for the upcoming U. N. concert.
The concert is also the news of the day for the Frontier. It's being held at a base which, like the S. M. S., broke off from the Frontier to join in the World Fair, and belongs to the Marines 33rd, a Zentraedi regiment. Klan knows them, too. Where she and her team joined the humans at the beginning of Interstellar War I, the 33rd was among those who held out and were taken in after the conflict. The two extremes have been at odds since, and she can't speak much for them as soldiers, either, going so far as to call them a shame on the Zentraedi. What are they doing helping the Earth's government? And why did Earth accept? Cathy says she'll do some digging, since she's curious too - and there's still the matter of what appeared to be Fold technology in the Limonesia quake.
While they're here, though, Cathy asks if Ozma's seen the movie yet? Ozma flips out and yells that he refuses to see it ever.
Statler and Waldorf here figure he just really, really doesn't want to see that kiss. Sirius and Witz know exactly how he feels, while Pierre sees a chance to go for Cathy while Ozma's mind is full of his sister. Speaking of Ozma and Cathy, Luca points out that despite being suspiciously close, they don't date or spend time together or anything. Crowe suspects they were separated at birth, but Kei immediately grasps the real answer: they're former lovers.
And what about Alto, who has his pick of Sheryl or Ranka? It seems like Sheryl actually engages him, though, and she's got him right now, in fact.
By the way, the Frontier is approaching the base...
where Alto's already arrived and met up with Major Ogatai, commanding officer of the 33rd. He's hoping that Sheryl's arrival will settle his troops down. Their Zentran blood is boiling with the Imperium on the march, and they're anxious to get an earful of Protoculture.
When Sheryl steps out, they're all excited, except this asshole. And when Sheryl's headache attack strikes again, he smugly declares that she's refusing to to perform for Zentran. Ogatai tries to explain, but Temzin's already rallied the troops, and the mad Zentran take Alto and Sheryl as prisoners.
They're demanding ships from the Frontier fleet. It's obvious this coup was planned, and it's almost like they had insider information to set it up - but we don't have the luxury of worrying about that. The important thing right now is saving Alto, Sheryl, and the techs. But now that the Zentran are mobilized, the base is virtually impregnable.
Ranka enters with what she thinks is a way in. Ozma doesn't like it, but he's the one that taught her to live without regrets, and she knows she's going to regret it if she can't go to Alto. She has to at least try.
Alto is pretty mad at Sheryl for pushing herself, and Sheryl gasps out that she has no excuse, except that all she has is to sing, the way Alto has to fly.
Oh yeah, Alto remembers that he has to fly. He leaves Sheryl to Grace's care...
Chapter 34: Memorial Debut
(Celestial Being route)
Ogatai asks if Temjin thinks he can really strike out into space alone? That's a stupid idea! Temjin agrees, but there happens to be a lovely little home where they can slake their "Zentran thirst" right here. The Zentraedi ruled the universe before the Miclones came, and they can do it again! All the other Zentran are behind him.
And by the way, "the Producer," who arranged this for him, has just let him know that a rat has escaped the trap.
But Alto makes it to his Messiah just in time. Temjin welcomes the chase and sends his men to hunt him down.
Alto's willing to play along - he's going to protect the stage crew, especially Sheryl!
I'm not gonna die here! I haven't flown my fill yet!
Not looking great...
Alto manages to survive the turn.
He learns Assail on the next one...
And quickly fights off Temjin's guard.
Unfortunately, it was just the guard, and now Temjin himself has come to make it more interesting with the entire rest of the 33rd. "Maybe you wanna sing me a song?" he smirks. "That might actually stop us."
Suddenly, Michel's VF flies in, and...
Hold me to the edge of the galaxy!
Michel drops Ranka, and she starts singing her new song, Interstellar Flight.
The Zentran are moved by the sudden appearance of music (and unexpected front-row seats to Ranka Lee's debut), and Alto by Ranka putting herself on the front lines.
And GOONZ is here to save the day, too!
Half the 33rd lay down their weapons. The Frontier crew is almost surprised that worked, and Sumeragi is actually surprised. Is Ranka the second coming of Minmei? Ozma finds himself forced to accept that Ranka is actually growing up. On the flip side, Ranka's song is lighting a fire in GOONZ' pilots.
Of course, Temjin isn't about to give up, and he whips his elites back into shape. Like his predecessor, he has absolutely no qualms about shooting anyone who dares turn their back on him, friend or foe, and they know it.
Michel's job is to hold position and defend Ranka.
The Zentraedi formation moves in.
Hey, this isn't a bad tune!
Hey, you big bullies! There's a lot more to life than war! Try it sometime!
You're standing witness to the birth of a star and all you can think about is shooting guys?
You don't think that's lame? You don't get to hear a performance like this every day!
Kind of a girly song, but I dunno, just listening's getting me pumped!
All right! Hold me to the edge of the galaxy! Winkle!
I really like this song.
Wow, it's hard to get that out of you.
Yeah... but this song is making me happy.
Battle Touga is actually smiling...
Yeah, this is some song...
Hey, Zentraedi combat data. That'll go for a solid price.
Though actually, I might get more for footage of Ranka's live debut.
A great power, great enough to change the world...
Perhaps this song, too, is Gundam...
How can you fight with this music around you?
You really want to fight that much? Fine, I'm happy to oblige!
This is Ranka's song...
Ranka... you've found your own path...
Then I'll protect you! I'll take on anyone who tries to stop you from singing!
By the way, we have to take down Temjin to progress...
(And Setsuna got Spirit.)
Give up! You've already lost!
Shut up, shut up, shut up! You can't give me orders!
Culture! Music! Screw it! Zentraedi live to fight! It's in our blood!
The blood of an actor, like a curse... he can't escape his lineage either.
That's what we were made for! We can't live any other way!
Blood of an actor? I don't have to let that control me!
Back to the "action."
I understand if it was the first time the Zentraedi encountered culture, but they can still be moved by this song after living with humans this long...
Is there something supernatural about her song?
No... that's not the point, is it?
And we get to see Aoi go wild.
(This song... is making me feel strange...)
(I know what this is... it feels like when I called out from the Vicinity mine to my friends on the moon.)
(I can feel my heart reaching out... it feels... it feels wonderful!)
Not bad... kinda sugary, but it works for me!
We don't get shows like this that often... so let's dance!
This is nice. I wish everyone were here to hear it.
(Lacus... this is just how I felt when you sang at Orb...)
(Someday, I hope you sing a song of peace again...)
Alto finishes him for an ISC unit. Temjin croaks that the universe isn't big enough for two races, then explodes, unejected.
Then Alto goes to chew out Ranka for doing something stupid, but she brightly says she wanted to make sure we heard her song. Especially Alto.
So why don't you think about why she'd do that?
Well, you're always there to save me...
Well, you saved me this time. Thanks a lot, Ranka.
That was a fantastic show, Ranka.
Sheryl! Are you feeling okay?
You think I could sleep through a song like that?
Grace is disappointed that it didn't go according to script, but oh well.
Suddenly, fire rains down on the field, taking out all the Zentran!
Oh, those bastards.
Sumeragi shouts that the Zentran had surrendered, but you know, they don't care. In fact, they were warned of this coup by their new friend, the Producer. They were getting sick of being bossed around by Celestial Being higher-ups anyway, especially when we appear to answer to nobody.
Nena moves in on Ranka, who's been annoying her particularly badly...
But the Daigun takes the hit!
Is that pilot...
But we have more incomings from above!
Well, crap. It's Tifa's first encounter with the Vajra, and something about them pings on her Newtype senses. They're all as one? The Trinities piss off, Nena cursing at the Daigun, who leaves as well. It's just us left to handle the Vajra, and this time they're even stronger than the last.
Ozma orders Alto and Michel to defend Ranka and Sheryl. VFs are equipped with a copilot seat, and each of them can hold one girl, so Alto gets first pick. He chooses Sheryl, four to four (I get to cast the tiebreaker!), and Michel picks up Ranka.
So it's open season on Vajra at the end of turn 4 out of 6, and Crowe learns Assail.
The Vajra are not only tough enough to weather all but the strongest hits, they're smart enough to target the toothless Ptolemaios.
Take it easy, Sheryl! Close your eyes if you're scared!
Honestly, just who do you think I am?
If you have time to worry about me, go hunt down all those creatures!
Yes'm! That's just what I want to hear from Sheryl Nome, Galactic Fairy!
Anyway, we are overpowered, so...
Here are some videos of my favorite super robots...
And here's the Spirit rundown. (Bobby gets Luck, Runa gets Fury.)
And GOONZ is victorious by the end of turn 5.
It's not theoretically surprising that the Vajra can Fold into atmosphere, but we've only encountered them in space so far - what changed?
Grace is very happy. Her plans have just received a pleasantly surprising surge now that the Little Queen has the ants dancing to her tune. "Let me show my gratitude by granting you your wish. The whole world will hear your song."
The battle is over, but Sheryl is still miffed at the interruption to her show. But Alto turns her attention to the clear, shining sky. Does she remember at the shoot when she reminded him how he loved flying? That's what gave him the courage to fly in her defense now. It doesn't matter if today's stage was a bust - just pick yourself up and take off again.
The Vajra are attacking the surface now; just another problem on the long list of space monster plagues contributing to the chaos in the world. But the flip side of that is that as GOONZ, it's in our power and our duty to protect the world from all of them - says Alto, uncharacteristically. Speaking of Alto, has he picked a girl yet? He can't just have two world-famous singers on his arms forever. Alto tactlessly insists he's "picking" neither. Sheryl basically just follows him around, and Ranka is too busy dealing with her brother to have any attention for him.
Okay, wow. (But Michel and Mizuki can see he's still putting up an act.)
And then Luca bursts in, yelling that we really need to see this video on the internet...
Okay, important questions: who took this video, and why did they upload it? Whatever's going on, Ranka's name just went superviral, and worldwide - her true debut, in a way.
Despite Ranka wandering into danger on her day off, her manager, too, is enjoying the tidal wave of free publicity - and she did it to save her friends, which is very noble of her. But then, she's just given up all her chance to rest. With that video, she's got publicity requests pushing down the door. She'd really better cheer up by tomorrow. That's when the real work starts.
But now that she's sure Alto prefers Sheryl, how can she? Can she even sing in this state?
A strange little creature snuggles up to her, as if to try to comfort her. And despite everything weighing on her mind, it does cheer her up a little, and she starts telling it the whole story.
Having favored Sheryl, Alto gets us one of her CDs. Personally, I think it's a better piece of equipment - SP regen rather than accelerated PP gain from Ranka's. Of course, the CD isn't the whole secret. Not to have caused hype for nothing, but the payoff comes much later - though you do have to do this chapter to have the chance.
And that's it. Next chapter, we've finally got our showdown with the Trinities!