Part 66: The Gunpoint of Evil
Saji's made it all the way to Madrid just to be with Louise. Aww! He figures school's a moot point with all the fuss Euphemia's kicking up in Area 11 (more on that later). Besides, he's finally bought those couples' rings he was delivering pizzas for! He hands them over to Louise, and she loves them, really she does, but... she's lost her left hand.
Louse tells him to return to Area 11. He doesn't want to leave her alone. But while she's really glad he came, she knows he has to stay in school if he's going to go up to space. She doesn't want his future ruined on her account. Saji's dream coming true is her dream - she wants him to go and follow it, for her.
Once again in Paris, Kinue and Isabelle are sharing notes. Kinue, at least, has realized that the Gundams that attacked the party are a separate faction from the ones affiliated with GOONZ, and she wants to know who's behind it all. It's probably the easiest way to get to the bottom of Celestial Being itself.
Isabelle agrees. GOONZ' Gundams are changing course in response to the world changing around them. If the other three Gundams are sticking to the original plan, following them should be a more direct path to Celestial Being itself. And Kinue has a lead on them from the Britannian soldiers who fought them. She can't say what over this line, but she thinks the name it points to is a good place to start looking.
Isabelle warns her not to get herself into trouble because she's mad at them for hurting her brother. But, Kinue tells herself at least, no risk, no reward. And it's going to be risky all right, because the name she got from that Britannian pilot was Laguna Harvey, head of the Linear Train project and one of Axion's fiercest financial rivals. But she's determined to use the might of the pen in the name of everyone whose lost something to the Gundams - including her brother's love.
Alejandro's giving Ali his orders, and while Ali has nothing against them, he's pretty impressed that Alejandro can just drop Laguna Harvey. Alejandro coolly responds that Harvey was useful for a time, but he has no place in the ruling class of the new world order. Ali can't argue with that - he took Plus Alpha but couldn't keep a handle on its R-Daigun. It's not like Ali cares about Alejandro's decisions, anyway, as long as he gets to sink his teeth into something bloody. And that's just what Alejandro needs out of him.
One more thing Ali has to bring up, though - there's some woman, a reporter, sniffing around Mr. Harvey. Alejandro leaves her to Ali's judgment, knowing full well what that's going to be.
Ribbons, like Ali, questions the wisdom of getting rid of Laguna Harvey, who, after all, is providing heavy financial backing. Alejandro's judged that the Imperium is stirring the pot much more vigorously than he could ever have imagined. They're advancing to the third phase, and to make that a success, they'll need to jettison any dead weight.
The third phase... leaking plans for an artificial solar furnace to the nations of the world, enabling humanity to band together to wage war against their common enemies. With Alejandro Corner at the helm, naturally. Not Schneizel, nor Treize - they were useful, but temporary allies. The same goes for the Frontier, whose cooperation was brokered through a certain woman. Ribbons comments that he wouldn't have taken her for a talent agent. But of course, Alejandro's greatest and dearest asset is the one who made that possible, Ribbons himself.
"Come," says Alejandro, standing. "We must obtain the key to the final phase of our plan."
"Allow me to guide you," smiles Ribbons.
So they go to take Veda, the quantum computer at the nerve center of Celestial Being, and with it, the whole world.
Tieria discovers some data in Veda's databanks that's been accessed, data locked at security level 7, and more worrying, the system won't allow him to access it.
Meanwhile, Ian explains that the Throne's are mostly built on the same technology as our Gundams, but their GN Drives are slightly different. They use the same solar furnace cores, but theirs, unlike ours, aren't protected by a TD blanket, which limits their operating time. Their furnaces, in short, are inferior - an imitation of the real thing. As if that weren't enough, the GN particles produced by the imitations are basically toxic. Their weapons can cause serious, permanent damage, even cellular degeneration, and they're also spraying those particles all over the place. It's very much as if they're literally spreading death and destruction wherever they go.
It's pretty obvious that someone's stolen Celestial Being's technology and tried to make their own as best they can - and the only known copies of the solar furnace's specs are stored in Veda. And even then, it takes a long time to forge one. Sumeragi realizes that if Veda has been compromised, we'll have to try to carry out the mission without its help.
Crowe tries to join the GOONZmeet, but the Meisters inform him that this is just a Celestial Being meet. Then Crowe makes them an offer they can't refuse - he'll tell them exactly where the Trinities are. See, the Brasta is a Damon hunting machine, and after Crowe let MD escape, he had Traia supply him with tracer beacons. One of those is blinking away on the Thrones as of their appearance last week, and it's still live.
Sumeragi asks Crowe how much he wants. But for once, as much as he appreciates her getting to the point, this one's on the house. Every single person in the room does a double take. Crowe can't really fault them, but he wants something else: to be right by Celestial Being to have a crack at them when the showdown happens. And that's on behalf of the S. M. S. and Team D, as well. They all want to see the Trinities taken down.
Lockon asks if Crowe's still trying to make up for something. Crowe just shrugs and blows it off.
Sumeragi thanks Crowe and asks for a bit of time. The Trinities are, after all, Celestial Being, and not to be challenged to open war lightly.
Setsuna stalks out to cool his head. It can't be easy for him to cope with having to fight other Gundams. He's not sure what to make of the Trinities...
He returns to his lodgings in Area 11 to find Saji, who remembers Setsuna helping with the rescue effort at the party. He explains Louise's trouble. Setsuna asks why she doesn't just get regenerative therapy (which exists, because it's the future!), but Saji explains that something's wrong with the cells around the wound and they won't heal.
Setsuna knows exactly what that means, but it's not over for Saji. He gets a call telling him that his sister's been killed. All he knows is that she's been investigating Celestial Being, and after the party, she thought she knew who was behind it... she must have been killed for what she knew about Celestial Being!
What the hell... weren't Gundams supposed to fight people who start wars?
What are Gundams good for?
They are not Gundam!
Chapter 35: The Gunpoint of Evil
(Celestial Being route)
The Trinities are basically sitting around bitching about how they don't have any assignments so they have to sit around. Now the Daigun's off somewhere. Hey, wouldn't it be nice if their orders were to chase down and destroy the Daigun?
Oh thank god, Setsuna is here to put a stop to this idiocy.
He opens fire. The Trinities protest that they're on his side, but Setsuna just shouts that they aren't Gundam!
Johan orders the Trinities to return fire, but Tieria joins Setsuna, and so does Lockon, who's come to make sure the other two don't do anything stupid. Well, too stupid.
Johan, the Trinity that doesn't have a head full of bricks, asks if Sumeragi approved this mess. Lockon quotes her orders at him: avoid conflict if you can, but make your own judgment if necessary.
Well, we've judged! We only have to take out one of the Gundam Thrones.
And of the three, only Johan's Throne Ein is equipped with loot to steal - a useful range-extending High-Spec Radar.
I don't like this mech battle at fifty paces. Celestial Being camps out past charge range. We'll let the Thrones come to us.
Like that. En guarde, Gundam Throne Ein!
We have judged you as aberrations in Aeolia Schhenberg's plan.
So we will eliminate you. You are not Celestial Being!
Celestial Being is supposed to eliminate arms, even if you're being thickheaded about it. I'm not going to tell you to stop.
But you hurt innocent bystanders. That's a line, and you crossed it!
You are not Gundam! Your actions spread war!
Celestial Being destroys all who spread war!
Setsuna gets the kill, the item, and his second turn. He and Tieria are both surprised that they're working so well together.
Johan and Nena start to join up their big gun. Tieria moves to stop them, and Michel plays guard.
Tieria purges his armor, and all three Thrones are immobilized. He reveals Nadleeh's secret ability: it has a special experimental code, given only to him, that can control any machine under the guidance of Veda! He pronounces the Trinities unworthy of the title of Meister, and raises his hand to execute them.
Suddenly, the lock is opened and the Thrones are free. What does this have to do with the missing data from Veda? Johan orders his siblings to retreat. Of course, both whine, but he says that any more battle between Gundams would impede the Plan. As for us, we surely have higher priorities than the likes of them. "Isn't that right, Lockon Stratos? Or should I say Neil Dylandy?"
Tieria realizes what's at access level 7: data on the Gundam Meisters. Johan goes on to tell Lockon that one of the people he became a Gundam Meister to get revenge on is very close to him. In the revolution of Kurzistan, in which Lockon's parents were killed by guerillas, there was a rebel soldier named Solan Ibrahim. Nowadays, he goes by the codename of Setsuna F. Seiei.
Lockon is stunned, and Setsuna has no words. The Trinities take the opportunity to make their escape. Lockon demands to know if what Johan said was true, but there are more enemies incoming.
Damn it. Setsuna recognizes the motion of the custom Enact immediately, and Ali has his eye on Exia. Lockon is willing to put aside the topic for now, but he wants an answer as soon as they're out of trouble. And if Setsuna tries to escape, he'll shoot him down himself.
So we have to fight off Ali's forces, but the challenge is to destroy the man himself, and he flees at 10,000 HP. And obviously, I want the kill to go to Setsuna himself.
One more thing. Remember the MA Ali was using back in the worst chapter, the Agrissa, with the paralyzing plasma field? He's got a few of those with him.
Setsuna opens up the fight.
And in a turn, the rest of GOONZ arrives. Of course, every main character wants a piece of Sachez.
Dammit, Lockon! You were supposed to let me know when you were gonna take out the Trinities!
To be fair, they were going to do it 3 on 3. That's why even I stayed back.
Man, you're paying me for this.
Are you listening?
Sorry. I'm really not in the mood today.
But we have PMCs to deal with. Sumeragi orders GOONZ to deal with them as quickly as possible and then get out of dodge.
Yes, ma'am. It takes just about two turns for GOONZ to blast their way across this little island through seventeen mixed Enacts, Helions, and a couple of Agrissa, during which Sachez, despite being very anxious to enjoy himself, doesn't move from his cozy little nest.
That very turn, he finally does, and it's about time, really.
I don't like this, though.
It's been a while, Kurzisi kid! You gotten any better?
Why do you fight? For a god?
Hah! You trying to reminisce? What a stubborn asshole!
Live a little! Fight and have a blast!
So now we can finally kill Sachez. I have a feeling I'll have to start montaging it halfway through so he doesn't die early - or worse, flee.
Whoa, never mind, that is way not enough boss HP. I'll probably have to just montage the whole thing.
Sorry, but I'm better at close combat! Let's do that instead!
Shut up, warmonger. I'm not in the mood to play games today.
Aw, don't be like that! Aren't you with that Kurzisi kid?
Kurzis... does he know something about Setsuna's past?
Guess what? I taught him all about murder! And I think I'll give him another lesson!
Cutting it close?
Transforming back and forth, swerving left and right! That's a fun mech you've got!
You're hungry to go against my Orguss' speed? What kind of sick bastard are you?
Oh, you flatterer! You're right, I'm hungry like a wolf!
A wolf, huh? Usually I hunt womens' hearts, but just this once, I'll hunt you instead!
Is he... trying to play with us?
You got me! The battlefield is my playground!
How... how arrogant!
Well, aren't you a gentle soul. It's most fun to kill guys like you last!
There we go! I like the cut of those wild, freestyle moves!
I don't need you to like it, you battle-crazy freak!
Hey, not bad! You read me like a book!
If it wasn't obvious, I really hate guys like you!
You're pretty good, kid! You might actually be a fun fight!
I've... seen someone like him before.
Anyone who enjoys battle is a threat. If we let this man go, there will be terrible consequences!
He doesn't have a pattern! I can't predict his moves!
Step it up, kid! Battle demands you cut loose and give it your all!
You're not gonna threaten me with polite little techniques!
He's fighting like it's a game!
I'll never let anyone like that beat me, no matter who or where!
So I get to go up against a ZEUTH Gundam this time? This should be a blast!
Is he... enjoying the battle?
You got a problem? If you love something, you'll get better at it... that's my secret!
I've... never wanted to fight. I just realized that I have to fight to protect what I love!
I fight to make sure people like you don't get their way!
So this is a ZEUTH super robot! I'm gonna have a lot of fun with you!
He's... very strong!
Whoa! Looks like he can handle Gravion with just that mobile suit!
If he had a powerful machine... maybe a Gundam, we wouldn't have a chance...
This guy really stinks!
I've been fighting wars for a long time, drinking the warm blood of my enemies!
So I guess I've got the smell of blood and death on me!
Nope! That smell isn't on you, it's just you!
A born villain stinks worse than a sewer!
Hey, Dancouga! Today, you're gonna be the losing side of the war!
Watch out, Aoi! He's fighting wildly, just on instinct!
Like a wild animal! That's perfect!
We'll meet this crazy hungry beast like an aggressive, vicious beast and see who gets to eat who!
Aw, isn't that sweet! This pilot's just a bright-eyed little greenhorn!
He's following the VF-25's maneuvers in a mobile suit!
Let me give you a tip, little birdie - top speed isn't what wins you dogfights!
Man... he's even worse than a Damon!
Hey, I don't just charge around blindly like they do. I stop and smell the blood.
That doesn't help your case. The battlefield is not a playground.
I don't make a habit of judging people, but you're a real piece of trash.
Now, to actually finish him,
Setsuna and Lockon are going to cooperate if it kills them.
The pair loot a Quentian Sensor, a high-grade Accuracy part.
Sweep up the remaining couple units. The Ptolemaios crew suspects that PMC didn't come for us, we were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. More pressing...
Lockon wants Setsuna to come with him for a long talk, and Setsuna offers no resistance. Depending on how it shakes out, Lockon may have to exact his revenge, or maybe just say goodbye to Celestial Being. Feldt wails, but Sumeragi gives them leave to handle the situation on their own terms. Lockon asks Tieria and Allelujah to accompany them.
Setsuna doesn't deny that he was a child soldier of the Kurzisi resistance, and Lockon begins to remind us how and why his family was killed in a suicide bombing. It began with the great solar revolution, when the world began to attempt to throw off the burden of fossil fuels. The majority of the benefit went to the largest and richest countries, and remainder - such as the Middle East - were at their mercy. Charlatans and the greedy began to incite rebellion in the name of God, and the Solar Energy War began. Neither side is less at fault than the other - both the crusaders from the chosen lands and the powerful who tried to remake the world in their image were equally arrogant and stupid. Lockon knows the war isn't the work of God or his people, nor even the solar energy project, and certainly not Setsuna, who was just a child being abused by the KPSA, forced into a war he never signed up for. But that won't bring his family back.
That's the world Lockon wants to fix as a Meister, and he's fully aware that he's a terrorist with the rest of them, that he's just causing more destruction. But that's a sacrifice he's willing to make because he believes it's necessary to fix the world, and once the world has changed, and not before, he'll accept whatever judgment he deserves.
Suddenly, before Tieria or Allelujah can react, Lockon pulls his gun on Setsuna. He really wants to shoot him down.
Setsuna says he used to believe in God, was made to believe in God, and also knew there is no God. And the same goes for the man who was the KPSA's leader... Ali al-Sachez. That's why Setsuna showed his face in Azadistan, to see Ali again. To ask him where his God was. And if Ali had no God, Setsuna would know...
Setsuna, just answer me one thing! What do you want with Exia?
To end war.
If I shoot you, you can't do that.
Fine, if you do it for me. Change this twisted world.
But if I live, I will fight.
Not in the name of Solan Ibrahim, but Setsuna F. Seiei, Gundam Meister of Celestial Being.
With your Gundam?
Yes. I am Gundam.
Heh. You're too stupid to shoot. You're way too into your Gundam.
That is the kindest thing you could say to me.
Heh... ha ha ha... hahahahaha!
Heh... heh heh... hahahaha!
...perhaps this is to be human.
Crowe's been tailing them, but he's quick to explain that he's only doing it on Sumeragi's orders, and all he heard was that laughter. He asks Lockon to let him in on the joke, but Lockon, in true Celestial Being style, just says it's a secret.
The rest are pretty relieved when they hear the Meisters made up. They could all have sworn Lockon was seriously going to shoot Setsuna dead. They kind of wish they knew what went down back there, but as a team, there's something between the Meisters they wouldn't understand even if they'd heard it.
But just between Crowe and Lockon, Crowe totally heard the whole thing. It's what he gets, anyway, since he knows Lockon's looked into his background as well. Firebug is another military group with roots in a lot of dark places, and Crowe wonders if Lockon will pull his gone on him, too.
...Nah. Too stupid.
Thank you. That is the least kind thing you could say to me.
I never did like your sense of humor.
Graham and Darryl are visiting Howard's grave. Darryl somberly tells Graham that Howard was grateful to him for the chance to fly a Flag side by side with Graham. Graham promises Howard's grave that he'll push the Flag to its full potential and use it to defeat the Gundam!
Billy Katagiri is behind him, and what's more, he's come with news. Celestial Being's technology's being leaked to the big three. No one knows who or why, but one thing is obvious: the world has gained the power to combat the Gundams.