Part 81: A Song of Victory for Tomorrow
Crowe decides to go after the beastmen. As long as they're wrecking the place, the planet's in no place to gather its forces against the Imperium. "Beating the Imperium gets us peace, paying off my debt gets me freedom," muses Crowe. "I'm going to need both of those."
Crowe also submitted a report on his Sphere; Traia thinks she can definitely use the data to dig deeper into the secrets of the VX. Crowe asks her to try to find out how the rich moron got his hands on it too.
This time, Esther sounds in Crowe's tab with a complete drumroll; how she managed to fit a whole drum set in Traia's office beats Crowe.
Does it bother you?
Tell me if it bothers you! I'm just some clown, right?
Esther bangs out an angry, but sick, drum solo.
Hey, cool it! You don't have to beat out your feelings with those drums!
I'm grateful, okay? I appreciate all your performances from the bottom of my heart!
Really? I'll put on an even better one next time!
Just... don't do anything crazy.
Okay! Then let's see our numbers!
Esther sounds her drumroll again, and the gong. I gotta wonder how crowded that office is.
Well, you earned 400,000 G, so that leaves you 1,100,000 G in the red.
All right! Almost halfway! Definitely worth fighting all those crazy bastards!
Good job, Crowe!
Hey, I owe it to great support from you two.
You definitely earned it. Keep it up.
The world turning itself upside down wouldn't stop me.
That's what I like about you, Crowe!
Thanks, Esther. I'm glad I've got a beauty and a cutie at my back.
What's the matter?
D-did you just call me a cutie?
(Whoops, that was the wrong thing to say...)
Write it down, Crowe's this close to home.
The Great Axion's floating over Africa, and Carlos sums thing up for us with barely-contained glee. The Invaders are quiet, but the beastmen are far from, there's something mysterious up on the moon, and oh yeah, the emperor of Gishin is on his way to Earth. "I'm on the edge of my seat!" Shioni just glowers silently. Anyway, it's about time for Carlos to wipe another section of land off the map - three countries' worth of eastern Africa. But that's actually too small for Shioni. If the Imperium can't knock down the three superpowers, they haven't changed the world one bit as far as she's concerned.
Carlos gets serious for a moment and says she liked her better when she challenged the superpowers with her own strength. "Let me give you some advice, as this operation's sponsor. You're from a little country, so I won't stop you from trying to destroy the world. But if you'd rather keep your seat, use your head a little more. We're going to get crushed by the UNF at this rate, and we can't fight back against the whole world. Not unless Gaioh decides to do his thing."
Carlos knows that Treize Kushrinada is cool, collected, and moving all his pieces into position one by one. The Imperium can't afford to be rash.
Shioni threatens to stick him with treason. Carlos is quite aware that with both Gaioh and Ime out, no one can stop her, but he doesn't seem to be scared. Oh well. No matter what happens to them, Gaioh can turn it around in a second. Carlos is content to just wait and watch. Ime's got a thing going in Japan...
This is Karen's first time in regular-Japan's Tokyo, and she's never seen this many Japanese living happily. Sara remembers the Exodus' jaw going just as slack as Karen's when they first got to Yapan. For all the Black Knights, this Japan is the model of what they're fighting for. And they deserve the rest - after the break here in Japan, we're headed straight to the Dark Continent for a showdown. The 21st Century girls are taking her out shopping; to Ibuki's disgruntlement, a horde of GOONZ-ettes descend on her, as well, declaring she needs a makeover.
This is really demonstrative of Japan's place in the Imperium-wracked world. Situated between Area 11 and the body of countries that is the HRL, it's protected from the Imperium's destruction; with its only threat, Dr. Hell, mysteriously quiet, it's a place of relaxation for the whole world. Its only real remaining issue is the Hetereodynes, and those are more of freak weather conditions than actual threats.
Speaking of the Imperium, Banjou's responsible for keeping tabs. They seem to be focused on Africa right now, which is understandable with the three superpowers pooling their resources into the UNF. That's just fine with Crowe; while they're fooling around, it's GOONZ' chance to mop up the beastmen so they can focus on the Imperium when that time finally comes. Though Banjou is still curious about what Ime Liard, in particular, wants. He has a Sphere; is that why he's after Crowe, who has a Sphere of his own?
Yokozawa runs up to report a Heterodyne - one even bigger than the one that enveloped Shinjuku! Sickly, the GOONZ realize that the huge thing that's been in the sky this whole time was no cloud. And it's coming at us...
They hurry back to the Great Gurren. Shirota says the Heterodyne has stopped moving physically for now, but it's still causing spacial distortions around it that are warping the fabric of reality across 23 separate wards. It's sapping the life out of our fair Tokyo!
And that's not all, pipes up Domeki. At the rate the Heterodyne is expanding, the effect will cover all of Japan within seven days and the entire planet within a month. And with the Heterodyne's size, conventional weapons are worse than useless against its regenerative properties. The only possible option is to break the thing's original Fractal Knot.
Well, we know where the Knot is, and we know how to break it: with Dai-Guard's Knot Punisher. The tricky part will be getting there; we don't know what kind of defenses the Heterodyne has or even what the conditions are on or in it. But that's not going to stop Akagi or his team; Shirota smiles and gives them the job, and we know all of GOONZ is going to be right behind them, seeing them safely to the core.
But first, Ookouchi, CEO of 21st Century Security, has a word for us. Or rather, he has something to ask of us. Twelve years ago, Ookouchi was the man in command of the counterstrike team when the first Heterodyne attacked twelve years ago, and ordered the deployment of OE weaponry. The mistake, the lives lost there, still haunt him to this day. If Dai-Guard fails up there, the military will almost certainly deploy their OE weapons; just like before, the result would destroy the Heterodyne and Tokyo along with it.
Zero is the only one who says they would have to to protect the whole world, but that's not good enough for Akagi to justify taking many lives and ruining many more. Even if all the citizens evacuated, they'd be without homes, without jobs. Zero agrees with that, and so does Ookouchi. That's why he wants us to make sure the mistakes of twelve years ago are not repeated. "I believe your passion to protect peoples' livelihoods is powerful enough to rival the strongest weapons of humanity."
Chapter 42: A Song of Victory for Tomorrow
(Dark Continent route)
GOONZ touches down on the Heterodyne; it's enormous and miles above the ground. Kokubougar is standing by on the surface in case they're needed down there. So up here, Akagi's taking point.
Kappei questions the need to bring all of GOONZ to follow him into the breach, but we don't want something like Insectos R to happen again - you know, where Ime summoned a Heterodyne using his power to break the dimensional wall. Crowe wonders if he's responsible for this one being here as well.
Ime says that's quite out of his power to open a fault in the dimensions of this size. What is within his power, though, is opening a small crack that steadily feeds energy to a particular point in local space. For instance, into a Heterodyne to help it grow to an unbelievable size.
Crowe asks if his Sphere is really that important, and Ime is delighted to discover he has begun to grasp the extent of the power he wields. He may as well explain why he's hunting another Sphere holder - to gather all twelve "keys" (so yes, there are twelve Spheres and twelve Zodiac signs). That explains why Asakim hunts Sphere holders as well - he must have one of his own. So he's trying to get his hands on the twelve Spheres. To what end?
Ime simply chuckles and praise's Crowe's reaction - the wavering of his scales. He'll be back for Crowe's soul when his power is fully realized.
In the meantime, there's his army - including Marguerite Pisteil. Ime reminds her that it's a chance to regain her honor. "And you said you won't allow me to take advantage of your brother's death? Then strike Crowe Brust down and put it behind you."
The Heterodyne is continuing to expand - Ime says this'll be more fun with a time limit. If we're too late, he reminds us, the military will deploy their OE weapon. "GOONZ. You have pained us long enough. This is a good opportunity to get rid of half of you... the remaining half will be more than sufficient to lead Crowe Brust astray!"
Shirota says the military has made their decision - in six minutes, they'll fire that OE weapon unless something changes here. Or to put it another way, if Dai-Guard doesn't break that Heterodyne's core within six minutes, Tokyo will be destroyed!
We're here to stop that from happening!
We're counting on you guys!
We'll break through the Damons' line and make a run for the Fractal Knot!
There's the original...
We just have to get over there and hit it with the Knot Punisher in six minutes, right?
We'll handle all those Damons!
It's on you, Akagi! You have to save Tokyo!
Here we go, Ibuki, Aoyama!
Show 'em what we office workers can rise to, Akagi!
Yes, show me how far you can go. Best of luck, Marguerite.
(Marguerite... are you sure?)
Aoyama, give me full power! Ibuki, track the target!
Here we go! We're going to defend Tokyo!
So what do we have, again? Within six turns, break the Heterodyne's Knot - but for our purposes, do it in five turns, and take down all the Damons and Pearlnail first.
With Chain Actions, breaking through their line isn't too hard, especially since the first wave is ordinary Damons.
Unfortunately, there's something going on in the Fractal Knot.
And it looks like some sort of alien, black version of Dai-Guard! It's grown out of the Heterodyne's core itself - meaning we have to take it down to hit the core. Or as Akagi puts it, "it's the final boss!"
Luckily, Domeki has finished Dai-Guard's new weapon just in time - the "Great Knot Punisher"!
"Okay, let's do this! It's on, Black Dai-Guard!"
So let me alter what I said before - within five turns, after defeating all the Damons and Pearlnail, defeat, um, Black Dai-Guard.
It's been so long since we've fought plain old Damons, I forgot that they don't have any post-move attacks.
And oh shit Dinodamons. Sorry, Karen! Thanks for getting that trigger off for me!
Mazinger, obviously, does much better.
It dodged my--
Goddammit. I hate Dinodamons.
Before we go any further with this one, Crowe can talk to Marguerite this chapter. If she gets to fight him, Crowe says he would really rather not while she's clearly conflicted, so I see no need to make him.
Marguerite! We need to talk!
How dare you address me so!
What are you to Ime? What are you following him for?
I thought you were a knight! You know, honorable and proud!
What are you doing taking orders from a liar?
It's not your business...
Then tell me what happened to Chene!
How do you... know my brother's...
If you hate me for killing your brother, you are absolutely my business!
Tell me! You came from another universe, so when would I have even met your brother?
You tell me or I can't fight you!
Marguerite. Why are you so reluctant to give yourself up?
Ime... I don't know what's going on here, but I can tell it's not clean.
The burden of conquest is on the conquered. I shall call someone who actually realizes that.
Did you summon me, My Lord Ime?
Marguerite is no longer useful. Cheval, I leave her duties to you.
With pride, my lord!
I will strike down your foes in place of that worthless she-dog!
So you brought out your lapdog?
Indeed! I am a dog! A loyal hooooooooound!
A faithful servant of my lords Ime and Gaioh! The hunting dog of the Imperium - Cheval Repteil!
(Where was my French, dammit?)
And with your total and utter defeat, I will wipe clean this stain on the Archsabre's honor on Marguerite's behaaaaalf!
Sure. I don't have to hold back against you.
If you're a born-again soldier of the Imperium, I won't leave enough of you left to wipe.
But seriously, come on.
And there's another one, you say?
Oh, and before I forget - you'll see the Great Knot Punisher before the end of the chapter, but it only has one shot and there's no way I'm not using it on Black Dai-Guard. Other than that, it's another upgrade in Dai-Guard's series of Knot-smashing weapons.
Where was I?
The Dinodamon at least rewards us for our trouble. It drops a DM Unit, a useful tool for any mobile robot and many robots in general - a +10 bump to both targeting and mobility.
At three Photon Beams a turn, Mazinger gets drained quickly.
But seriously fuck this, I'm going to burn one of Simon's precious Valors. (He's bleeding PP. I should fill him up on SP Up.)
No, it's okay. It's only turn 2. He'll die on the counter. I've got enough firepower left to deal with Emeraldan and Black Dai-Guard. I don't have to get mad just because the thing one-shotted Karen.
The Damons seem to be going for Dai-Guard. That kind of bites. They've got Guard on from Ibuki, though.
Yep, there goes another one.
KITTAN YOU AMAZING BASTARD
Cheval plods across the plain that is the Heterodyne surface.
Okay so now this fucker is down (he doesn't drop anything by the way), we just have to worry about two Rhinodamons, Cheval, the Heterodyne, and a mass of Damons laying about behind who are hard to get to attack. I'm pretty sure that's why they used the Damon Classic here, actually; Bulldamons are too aggressive.
So hey, Crowe gets Valor!
It's turn 3 already, let's start this party.
Okay. Wow. Emeraldan is way less threatening than I thought it'd be. Never mind.
So anyway, with two whole turns left, we've got a team mopping up the Damons and a team ready to break through that Black Dai-Guard so the Great Knot Punisher can take down the core. Nothing else is happening this chapter, so it should be a piece of cake, depending on how powerful Black is.
And depending on whether all those Damons continue ignoring my defensive team to go for Dai-Guard. I'll probably have to take part of a turn just knocking them out. Most of them are wounded, if they would just attack
At least the Bulldamons and Rhinodamons aren't jerks.
This will not be as fun for Cheval as he remembers from our last encounter.
Crowe Brust, know that I will not be as pathetic an opponent as Marguerite!
I have no idea what's going on between you and Marguerite, but let me stop you right there.
What Marguerite's fighting is in her own head. If you can't see that, I'm not taking this from you!
We can't let that fake beat us or we'd never live it down! We've gotta win!
I know, but he's really strong!
It's the core of this gigantic Heterodyne. It's got massive amounts of energy going through it.
But we've got something he'll never have!
It's Akagi, right? You know he's going to say teamwork or passion or something.
Took the words right out of my mouth, Aoyama.
Are you serious?
Of course I'm serious! That's how we've made it this far, isn't it?
...you know, you're right.
Guess we'll just have to do it again.
There we go. All together now...
Come on, Black Dai-Guard! You're gonna get a taste of the real thing!
Unfortunately, that taste isn't coming yet. Dai-Guard's out of range.
Anyway, all the normal Damons are down.
I was going to do a thing for Cheval but the only thing he has going for him as a miniboss is some stupid level of Prevail, so meh.
He does drop a DM Armor, though, which is neat.
Forgive me, Lord Ime... have mercy on your pathetic dog...
Next time... when next we meet, I will not fail you! Please, forgive meeee!
That just leaves the Heterodyne and a couple of stray Damons.
In fact, I don't think there's much point starting an assault on the Heterodyne with the couple of allies I have left. It can definitely be taken down in one turn, and it regenerates 18000 HP when its turn starts anyway.
And I guess Dai-Guard takes another hit.
I brought Watta for shits, and he's straggling as usual (this is kind of my fault, I put in on DAMon duty).
Even if we beat up the Gishin, the beastmen, and the Imperium, the Heterodyne'll just keep coming like storms...
So Takeo General Co. has to do as good as 21st Century Security!
Okay! Trider's getting into the Heterodyne-killing business!
Now that's over with, we can get back to work.
That was fast. Time for the finish?
Ime does not like this turn of events. He mumbles something about having to "try something new" and leaves.
What is it, Aoyama?
Just something I just realized. You're kind of like this monkey we used to have in school.
Wow, I was just thinking that! He's exactly like the chimpanzee they had at my dad's college!
Come on, he's clearly a Japanese monkey with that face.
Hee hee. I think that's the face he made.
My dad's face when he saw the Heterodyne in person.
But uh oh, the Heterodyne's crumbling from under us!
As always, this is expressed in Super Robot Wars through the medium of explosions.
Oh, and don't worry about the Guren. It's on Roger. I did mention his Negotation skill cancels repair costs, right?
Yeah, these things are happening. Don't get used to the PP, but I really like Banjou.
But PR Division 2 is back to filling out forms - the falling pieces of the Heterodyne did a number on Tokyo. Akagi's pretty down that the people are blaming Dai-Guard, but Ibuki and Aoyama are there to remind him that heroics is not about the recognition. Besides, the whole incident has put off our trip to the Dark Continent to tomorrow, so while they're in here making reports, Karen has a chance to take that shopping trip she wanted. Probably wanted. But are the beastmen going to appreciate new outfits?
Ohsugi and Shirota both wish for the day when Dai-Guard can return to being a giant tin mascot - the day it's no longer needed to fight.
Crowe's here - not to join 21st Century, but as part of Takeo, who sniped him first ("I'd really rather work for Kinoshita so I can kick back and relax"). They say the operation yesterday was a collaboration between 21st and Takeo, so they're here to help with the damage reports - Crowe included. But not including Watta; seems Crowe's in his place. "So you pulled the short straw and had to do his work?" jabs Aoyama. "Don't be rude," says Crowe. "Watta's the one paying out all the time; this is a little bonus from me."
Very generous. I'm pretty sure Watta counts as a small business owner. But Kinoshita gives Crowe the bad news - Takeo General Co. has never actually paid out any bonuses. Short straw indeed. But it may not be so bad - CEO Ookouchi is paying, from his own pocket, for one last shindig before GOONZ leaves. Just as soon as they're finished with the paperwork, of course.
Ime's run out of patience with Marguerite. "Are you going to... offer me to the King of Destruction?" she asks.
"Don't flatter yourself, girl. You're not worth taking yet."
Gaioh's back, and he's got a hot dog, from a food stand he passed through in Area 11 on his way back from Japan. He liked it so much he brought enough for everyone.
He's in a good mood; Ime asks why. Well, there's the hot dog, and he also found another clue. His memories aren't quite back yet, but they're getting there. In the meantime, he barks at Shioni to make for the south - towards the Dark Continent. "There's someone down there who sounds like he knows what I am."
We'll actually be at the Dark Continent next time around.