The Let's Play Archive

Super Robot Wars Z2: Destruction

by Caphi

Part 71: Imprisoned Mind

Finally, Crowe can choose to head to Area 11, where all kinds of shit's going down. Traia again teases him about playing hero, and Crowe cagily claims he wants to, at minimum, avoid being the bad guy. Unfortunately, of all the choices he had, Area 11 is the least likely to go well on that particular front.

Also, 1,500,000 G.

And now that we're on Area 11, I can finally drop the spoiler alert: at the beginning of this route split, if you've put any money into upgrading the Lancelot Air Cavalry, it's refunded.

In fact, Suzaku's departure is surprisingly... friendly might be too strong a word, but let's say cordial. He doesn't like how Zero does things, he wants to return to the defense of his Lady, and Zero intends to respect his wishes. They have, after all, fought together as fellow GOONZ, be it however short a time.

Before he goes, Suzaku urges Zero to disband the Black Knights and help Euphemia guide the Japanese her way. What, into the jaws of the Britannian Union? Suzaku has faith that that way is the way to peace with least effort - and least bloodshed. Zero doesn't trust them, and insists he'll change the world his own way. Zero and Suzaku swear they won't disclose anything they learned during their stint as GOONZmates, but they're disappointed. Each really thought they could get through to the other.

Now, as Lloyd says, they're right back to being enemies. And Suzaku will have to contend with the rest of his former GOONZ allies, not just Zero. Quattre (the whole gang's here, it seems) admits it may not be what Suzaku wants to hear from them, but "be safe." Suzaku smiles and thanks him.

Lloyd offers Crowe a testing position with Britannia, and naturally, Crowe's first question is "how much?" We should know Crowe better by now, though, than to assume he's serious - he'll do what he thinks is best, and he advises Suzaku to do the same, as does Suzaku's former teacher Todo.

All that's left is Karen. Suzaku promises he won't tell anyone at school, let alone try to capture her there, but she spits that she doesn't need his mercy, and she wasn't planning on going back there anyway, secret or not. "We're enemies now. You'd better get moving," she growls. Even now, Suzaku doesn't want to have to fight Karen, or anyone in GOONZ, and it's on that note that he and his handlers depart.

Lelouche has little time to regret letting Suzaku go. He has to turn his attention to Area 11, where Euphemia has been busy with her little revolution - and with seeming success too. Brittania has been quiet in the area, outside of the ongoing skirmishes in the Ghetto.

And on that note, Diethard has troubling news - news he had to deliver to Zero personally, away from the ears of even the resistance. He suspects a leak in the rebellion; the enforcers seem to know of the Black Knights' movements before they happen.

Roger and Dorothy aren't on Britannia's blacklist just yet, so they're out on the town - Tokyo, to be precise. Dorothy asks Roger why he agreed to help Zero, going so far as to make a job out of it. Surely it's not because he liked the name, "Black Knights"?

Roger says it reminds him of his own past. "These people live out their lives under the rule of an empire. They've forgotten their past, and merely live to survive to the next day. That doesn't remind you of Paradigm City, the city without memories?"

Dorothy thinks he's full of crap, and that he's projecting.

Even so, Roger's signed a contract with Zero and he has no intention of pulling out now - though he insists he's a Negotiator, not a mercenary. In the meantime, he intends to enjoy Area 11, as well as soak in as much of the local atmosphere as he can. He has to know more about the place to do his job.

Unfortunately, someone seems to have "overheard" him talking about the Black Knights. Don't worry, though, Mao says he's really interested in not Roger, but Dorothy - "a beautiful empty mind, like a doll."

Roger demands he lay off, and Mao is extremely impressed at his thoughts: "Twelve theories as to who I could be immediately. Oh, and eighteen separate conversation openers to try to get an answer to that out of me! Aaand finally... you don't know it yourself yet, but you've got a huge, nasty fate in store for you."

He's looked straight into Roger's deepest Memories! The Paradigm kind, not the regular kind. Mao gloats that he must be a Negotiator's worst nightmare, but again, he doesn't care about Roger.

And Mao swoops away, leaving Roger in the kind of shock he only gets once in a blue moon.

Lelouche pops into school to say hi to his old friends, Suzaku included. Once again, he left suddenly without letting anyone know, but at least he managed to hurry back in time for the school fair, right? It's all the student council can do to prepare, so it's an awfully good thing they won't be missing Lelouche, Suzaku, and Karen (one of her sick episodes, of course).

Not just them, either. Relena, Saji, and Louise were at a party that was attacked by terrorists, and while Relena is here to tell the tale, she also informs Lelouche that Louise was hurt in the attack. She's gone to Spain to heal, and Saji's gone with her - oh, you know this. Now, so does Lelouche.

And Shirley comes to put them ("um, Lelouche, right?") to work. Rivalz did say they need manpower on hand, especially with Chairwoman Millay held up entertaining some Count - and from what Shirley's heard on the grapevine, it's a blind date for an engagement opportunity. Despite that, Nina's entertaining him too, since he's some kind of scientist - her own domain. Rivalz can't seem to process the chief getting engaged, but Shirley drags him away to do some work already anyway.

Shirley's treatment of Lelouche leaves a bad taste in his mouth; he patches up his cover story with Suzaku by claiming he went abroad before he could make up with her. More worrying about the matter is that whoever she shot - someone who knows his real identity - has not come forward or been identified. Add that to the potential spy in the Black Knights' ranks, and this is becoming a serious problem very quickly - which is why, having returned to Area 11 for a while, Lelouche is doing recon personally.

In the meantime, Lelouche would much like to have Suzaku over for dinner, for old times' sake. Nunnally will be there, and --

It's Mao! He has some things he'd like to clear up with Lelouche, so if Lulu could call this number back in a private location. Oh, don't hang up - it's going to be about his sister.

Lelouche bolts, but that's okay - Duo, Crowe, and Heero are passing through, as bodyguards to "Kallen" and to check out the big event for themselves (though Karen seems to have been dragged against her will).

This is actually fine with Suzaku, who has a few questions for them: "Why are you helping Zero? Do you think he's doing the right thing?"

Okay, so Duo's fielding the first question: because toppling Brittannia is part of his own objective to liberate the colonies. Area 11 is, of course, a core strategic resource, so liberating it will make it easier to strike at the other Brittannian territories. It's simply a matter of mutual benefit.

And Duo's answer to the second question: in a word, nope. The thing about war, though, is that neither side is in the right, and Brittannia certainly isn't, so it doesn't really matter. Crowe agrees with that answer, and adds that since all else is equal, he chooses the one that happens to align more with what he believes he has to do, like he and Todo told Suzaku. Besides, for as long as Suzaku was a GOONZ, he and Zero had the same idea of right, anyway. "That said, I'm the one fighting to pay off a debt, so don't listen to my idea of right and wrong."

Suzaku actually did listen, and he appreciates the sage advice. For right now, though, what he needs is for Karen to go help the student council with their preparations. "Why can't you do it?" she snaps.

"I have to go. A friend needs me."

And while it's a beautiful gesture, Heero decides to tail him. People aren't that dramatic for no reason.

Meanwhile, Duo and Crowe try to get Karen to help her friends despite her protests - "They're not my friends! They're Brittannians!"

While Crowe is chiding her, Shirley and Relena come to claim her. Obviously they can't have her doing any actual setup, but they need her to MC the show. It's supposed to be Nunnally's job, but for some reason, they can't seem to find her anywhere. Shirley promises her a pizza after the fair, and finally, Karen smiles and relents. Duo gives Relena Heero's regards and lets her know he's around here somewhere.

You know, though, I think she was happy.
For someone who claims to hate women, you sure can read 'em.
Maybe I just don't think of Karen as a woman.
Well, it's good to know you don't just hate everybody.
Well, you and I are kindred spirits, that's all. Birds of a jinxed feather.
Sure. Anyway, want me to go grab a pizza?
If you're buying.
Come on, you've got seniority here...

Lelouche has found a nice quiet place to call Mao back - of course, Mao knew he would, with his sister involved. Mao even lets her say a few words to him - though of course, she can't tell Lelouche any details of where she is, being blind and all that.

Mao assures Lelouche, however, that this isn't about C. C. - which Lelouche never said, meaning Mao read his mind and is probably somewhere on school grounds. What Mao has in mind is a game. Lelouch has five hours exactly to find him and Nunnally. Oh, and there's no point calling the Enforcers; he's already got them working for him. With his powers, it was easy to fool them into thinking he was from above. Lelouche deduces that the "spy" in the Black Knights is also Mao's mind-reading - and as it turns out, that ability also makes Mao an absolutely brilliant tactician just by reading the rebels.

Just to rub it in, Mao tells Lelouche his mistake - commanding those Enforcers to shoot instead of kill. This sort of thing is how Lelouche let his sister get kidnapped under his nose. Now Mao intends to take everything Lelouche has from him, starting with ordering the Enforcers to burn Shinjuku to the ground.

"Save your baby sister or your soldiers? You've got five hours. I'd think it over."

Lelouche knows if he abandons the Black Knights, they have no chance, but if he loses Nunnally, the Knights are worthless to him.

Luckily, Suzaku heard the thing about Nunnally. Lelouche tells him that it's some asshole who knows his identity (as a Britannian prince) and will spill it if they make a wrong move, which is why he can't call the police, and Suzaku agrees to help. All Lelouche has on the guy, though, is that he's somewhere on campus. That, and the sound of flowing water - that puts the kidnapper in the basement, in the campus water pumping system...

So Heero followed Suzaku, and Relena followed Heero, and Suzaku asks Heero for help. Heero doesn't see why, but when Relena asks him to help them, Nunnally being her friend to, he agrees. Lelouche is pretty sure he can do something with Heero and Suzaku at his disposal, and the three split up to search...

Chapter 34: Imprisoned Mind
(Area 11 route)

In the midst of the Enforcers is a familiar pink Brutish Dog.

Well, Lelouche lied about going to look for Nunnally - he's leaving Suzaku and Heero to it while he deals with the Ghetto situation. He claims to the Knights and co. that this is to smoke out their spy, but as usual, can't give details. Heero has apparently sent a report that he's staying behind to "aid with evacuation," and Zero orders Quattre to send back a message to put all his focus on that. This seems out of character for both Zero and Heero, but we've got a fight to worry about first.

Mao didn't expect Lelouche to prioritize the Black Knights, for that matter, but quickly reads that Lelouche has trusted allies on the case. "Well then, I'll just pick off your pawns one by one. Even a veteran's as harmless as a baby if you know what they're going to do before they do it."

C. C. wants to know why he didn't tell her; Lelouche says he wanted to keep it between him and Mao, lest Mao do something crazy - even kill Nunnally. C. C. accepts that, but "if there's anything I can do, just ask."

Iskui still wonders if Mao's really a secret agent from command, but Boro points out he knew Enforcer secrets - and, as the rebels did before, points out that even if he's not, he's a damn good commander. They remind Proto One to make absolutely sure to capture Chirico.

GOONZ has seen the Brutish Dog, of course, and Chirico's free to engage it on his terms. As part of that "smoke out the traitor" thing, Zero lets us know that he will not be commanding us on the field. We'll survive this without his help... right?

This being a Geass stage, there are two complications in play. First, as he implied, Zero cannot use his Tactical Commands.

And second, to simulate Mao's tactical cheating, every enemy is boosted by a constant Focus effect, increasing their hit and dodge rates by 30%.

It's only a three turn clock, so we're going to lean heavily on Strike...

Have I ever mentioned the Search function on the menu? You can find everyone with a given Spirit or Skill - in this case, Zero, Duo, Trowa, Roger, and Karen have Strike, and it costs 20 SP for all of them. Four more units are equipped with Sense at the same price.

The thing is, ordinarily, the enemy ATs would be hardly a threat and Focus would be enough to get a solid lock on them. Now Focus is necessary for some units just to have an even chance to hit them.

To be fair to our terrorGOONZ, it's a testament to either their badassness or Mao's tactical incompetence that his literally psychic-powered advice is only equivalent to a dose of old-fashioned heroic willpower.

Are you sure, Roger? Fighting with the Black Knights means you'll be marked as a rebel.
In war, there is no good and evil. I have no desire to label myself a freedom fighter for a lost Japan.
But even less do I want to support Brittannia, an empire of institutional segregation!
As usual, you're oversimplifying the truth, aren't you?
Call it what you like, but I intend to see this through until I've convinced myself.
And you're coming with me, Dorothy!

And, well, once you've got Strike on, they're really just Scopedogs.

So after one full round, we still have all these Enforcers to deal with. Time to start picking them off.

The Enforcers are going down, but the GOONZ can tell it's an uphill battle. Dorothy quips that they're acting like they can read our minds, and Roger realizes what's up.

Meanwhile, Zero gets a call from Relena saying Heero and Suzaku found Nunnally. He heads for the academy to pick her up, leaving us to keep up the fight and C. C. in charge of the Gawain. Everyone (except Karen) wonders if he's abandoned us...

Lelouche finds Nunnally in the school's water pump, but Heero points out what's above her - bombs attached to tripwires. Mao calls in over a speaker system to warn him not to take too long, or we're all toast.

Suzaku assures Nunnally that they can disarm the bombs. "When Lelouche and I work together, there's nothing we can't do." Still, it's a puzzle - the lines trip if they're disturbed or if Nunnally is moved, so their only option is to try to cut the connection to the bomb triggers. Heero would do it, but the chamber isn't stable enough. Suzaku is absolutely certain he can do it. Heero asks why he's taking that risk on himself. Suzaku says it's for Lelouche, his dear friend.

Heero accepts the explanation and offers to help, but tells Relena to get clear in case it explodes. Relena refuses, but for a perfectly sensible reason - if the kidnapper is watching them, he may assume she's going to get help if she leaves. Anyway, she believes in Suzaku. "And you, Heero."

Lelouche can't figure out why Heero is helping him, but that's okay - neither can Heero. But Heero says Lelouche has his own job to do while he and Suzaku deal with things here: tracing the transmission coming from that camera watching the pump chamber.

And that path leads right back here, where Mao's prepared a game of chess for Lelouche, since they didn't get a chance to play at Narita. By the chessboard is a scale which is connected to the trigger and disarm switch of those bombs hanging over Nunnally's head. As they take pieces, they'll place them on both sides of the scale; if it tips in Mao's favor, the bomb explodes, whereas if Lelouche gets enough weight on his, it disarms. "It's set up if you win, you save your sister," explains Mao, completely misunderstanding the rules of chess. Even so, Lelouche has no choice but to play if he wants a chance at saving Nunnally.

Meanwhile, we're still getting our shit kicked on the surface. Zero left us with orders to hold the fort, and that's really all we can do without him...

He's certainly having his own issues, though, with the score 5-0 Mao's favor. Lelouche's weakness suit's Mao perfectly: he can't stop thinking, analyzing, and predicting. As Mao gloats, he takes another piece. Just two more and boom.

Lelouche grunts, and Mao laughs with glee - Lelouche just tried thinking of seven things at once to lead Mao on the wrong scent. But if Mao focuses on Lelouche, he can tell which one is the real thought. And of course, Lelouche can't stall him, since he can just blow up the bombs whenever he wants.

Finally, Lelouche gulps that he's lost and begs for mercy. Mao exults that he finally got to hear Lelouche say it, and not just say it, but think it from the bottom of his heart.

But it's not going to help. Check!

And that's it for poor Nunnally; Lelouche can't bear to look as Mao checks his camera...

Only to find the bombs didn't go off!

Suzaku roars into the room with a spinkick to the face as Lelouche gapes. He must have moved in while Mao was focused on Lelouche, but how did he know?

Suzaku explains that Lelouche and Heero explained exactly how to cut the strings, and he just took care of the timing. Lelouche doesn't remember this, and Suzaku, confused, says Lelouche told him to charge in when he heard Lelouche scream, which Lelouche also doesn't remember.

And then, finishes Suzaku, Lelouche asked to see a mirror.


Mao figures it out at the same time Lelouche did - he put a Geass on himself to forget what he told Suzaku. Mao lost because he assumed that he had perfect information because he could read Lelouche's mind. Mao asks what he would have done if Suzaku had failed. Lelouche's reply is that his plan was to have faith in Suzaku.

Suzaku grabs Mao, and Mao, struggling, screams, "Let go, you father-killer!" Wretched, he screams out Suzaku's sin - seven years ago, in the war, Genbu Kururugi preached nonviolent resistance, and Suzaku killed him so the war would end. How many lies he must have told afterwards, to have kept it hidden all this time! Suzaku sputters in protest, and Mao, still mad, asks him what the hell he's still trying to prove. "You want to help people? Like hell! You want to put yourself at ease! That's why you want to die! That's why you keep trying to throw your life away!!"

And Suzaku is under Geass to live.

Suzaku lets go of Mao in his despair, and as he stands in shock, Mao flees. Lelouche swears to hunt him down...

Both Heero and Zero make it to the battlefield. Zero reports that he has dealt with the leak situation and will return to giving orders.

Mao swears to get Zero now, if not at chess, but now Zero thinks we have a chance.

And we just might - the Enforcers' Focus has been disabled for good.

(That man, Lelouche Lamperouge... is absolutely not just a student.)
(The ingenuity and decisiveness of the instructions he gave me... could it be him?)

(Mao, I'll show you. I'll show you battle isn't so simple that you can win with a Geass alone!)

You can, of course, win with enormous guns.

The GOONZ morale is back.

What's going on? Why can't I win!
(Heh heh... ha ha ha ha... Isn't that obvious, Mao?)
(Unlike in chess, we don't have time to think over our moves. Battle takes place in real time.)
(And you're a rank amateur at battlefield tactics.)
(Every time you read one of my strategies, I can simply change to another one.)
(Even if you could keep up with those, you still wouldn't be able to keep control of the battlefield.)
B-but... that...
(Heh heh... I don't need a mind-reading Geass to know precisely what's in your mind.)
(Anger, hatred... humiliation.)
(It doesn't matter what Geass you have. You can't defeat me.)
(Besides, I fight beside champions. Even if you were as good a tactician as me, my men won't lose to your Enforcer dogs.)
All units, we charge! With me!
Yes, sir, Zero!

Moving on, Crowe learned Assail in another route, right? He does again.

With Zero's victory over Mao, we've turned this whole thing around in just one player phase. Not a bad deal.

Enforcers are going down quickly, but not as quickly as would be nice...

And we still have the Phantom Lady.

Who is actually a non-shitty pilot.

Of course, they both dodge. Real fighting, everybody!

We now have seven Enforcers and Proto One, but thirteen units to knock them out with.

Eleven units; it's not like Ohgi and Tamaki are going to do any good.

Okay, eight. I accidentally left all the Wings behind.

This makes five for five; this is kind of pushing it.

Oh yeah, Karen can have two turns. We'll put her to work on the Phantom Lady.

I don't care what galaxy you're from. If you're working for Britannia, we're enemies!
It's red versus red - let's see who's better!

(That thing reacts faster than a human ever could.)
(What's piloting that machine? Is it even a human?)

Whew. The last blow can't go to anyone but Chirico.

(If you've been ordered to fight me, I'll set you free by shooting you down.)

Proto One was rocking yet another new Gigilium Chip. Chirico loots it, for what it's worth.

She dashes away from the battle, and Chirico goes after her. We are just going to have to deal with his absence.

Poor last little AT. I could let you die on your turn, but I wonder if we can do better with three weak units that don't even have Focus and a spoon of luck.

A huge, heaping scoop of luck.

Well, a victory is a victory. According to Vanilla, Chirico's managed to catch that AT, too. Without her or their informant, the Enforcers should get much less aggressive.

Zero has some words for Mao...

Damn you... damn you, Lelouche!
I... I'm not done yet! I'll destroy you and claim C. C. for...
C. C.! You came back to me!

But C. C. just raises a gun at his head.

C. C.?!
I loved you, Mao...
Y-you can't do this! You wouldn't do this, C. C.!
Go ahead and hold my place... in the World of C.

There's a gunshot, and that's the real, true end of Mao.

Farewell, Mao...

C. C....
I put him out of his misery personally.
I see.
The only single thing I have left is to move forward. Just like you.
(Suzaku, I know your past now. And I learned that I took away the only desire you have left with my Geass.)
(I'm sorry... all I can do is silently apologize...)
(But Suzaku, I still need you. For Nunnally...)

To no one's surprise, the Enforcers have just learned that Mao wasn't an agent at all. Between that and losing Proto One, this is going to make them look incredibly bad if news gets back upstairs. It looks like that Chirico must have captured her; as they thought, he must be an agent of the army that created her. They have to find Proto One as quickly as possible, take her back, and end Chirico before their superiors are any the wiser; it's all or nothing, and they're sending every Enforcer they've got!