The Divine Crusaders are making very good progress in conquering the world, and soldiers everywhere are defecting to their side. The chapter opens with a few mooks at the Far East Brigade base being worried about all the bases that have already been captured and thinking of defecting. They quickly conclude, however, that they won't get much of a chance to do so at this point given the DC's willingness to level bases with MAPWs. Not that this was a likely scenario, but you should've planned for that possibility beforehand, folks.
Meanwhile, Ryusei is worrying about various people and wondering how they're doing, given that he hasn't seen anyone outside the army in quite a while now. His mother and Kusuha disappeared somewhere around chapter 2, so I suppose it's reasonable to wonder about them. Aside from this, he continues to ruminate about what happened at Sasebo, once again reinforcing his desire to protect people. This inner monologue quickly ends as someone calls his name. The man looking for him introduces himself as Robert Hajime Ohmiya
, one of the SRX engineers. Because this is a bit of a long name, he is generally referred to as Rob. He's heard Ryusei is a big mecha fan, and Rob asks him if he wants to take a peek at his test model.
Of course, Ryusei vehemently agrees and they soon find themselves deep underground where he is introduced to his future mech: the R-Series Real PT Type 1, which Rob immediately abbreviates to R-1 because the former is a pain to say every time. Ryusei's a bit disappointed that it looks like a real, but Rob assures him it'll fight like a super. Itís unlikely these terms have suddenly become commonplace in military hardware development, Robís just as much of a mecha nerd as Ryusei is. Both of them geek out a bit over how cool giant robots are, and Ryusei promises R-1 that he'll give it a cooler name than that someday. I hadn't noticed before, but sometimes Rob kinda reminds me of Otacon
. Not by much, but still.
Rai is not too happy with the way things have been going so far, and he's asking Ingram to temporarily remove Ryusei from the SRX team. Ryusei's got a dire lack of experience for someone being deployed in live combat situations, and needs more training. Which is true, of course, but Ingram says the SRX team won't be changed under any circumstance. Rai's got plenty of questions, asking why someone like Ryusei is on the SRX team in the first place, especially when compared to Rai to Aya. He guesses it's because Ryusei has some special power that the other two don't have, but Ingram refuses to give any further answers. Special power it is, then.
The familiar sound of an alarm interrupts any further quibbling over the SRX team's layout, as a possible submarine has been detected in the Kanmon Sound, heading towards the Seto Island Sea and thus towards them. Laker thinks this makes no sense, as an invasion by air would have been more effective in this case. So we're faced with two possibilities here: either the DC generals are idiots, or this is a red herring. Use of sea mines to seal off the Kanmon Strait is not an option, as that would hinder their own naval operations as well. Hans, meanwhile, secretly thinks such a situation would be to his advantage. Really, could you possibly be a more obvious traitor, Hans? Aside from that, there's the possibility that the sub might be carrying some of the DC's Armored Modules — basically their version of PTs — and so the PTs and jets are sent to intercept the sub and its potential cargo.
Our characters arrive on the scene, totaling eight units this time: the SRX team, Kai's squad (Kai, Garnet, Giado, Latooni) and Irm. Kai reiterates that their mission is to halt the sub without sinking it or letting it pass through the Kanmon Strait. Ryusei, clueless as ever, asks why not, and gets an earful from Giado about how these subs have nuclear reactors. Garnet joins in the fun of mocking Ryuseiís intelligence, leading to some back-and-forth banter until Kai tells them all to shut up, since they're on a mission. Also, he reminds us not to use beam weapons on water units, and to equip the Supply/Repair modules we got last chapter. All right, I'll have Aya equip them.
Here's where I'm put in control, and once again it's a map with a lot of water
. Fortunately I have plenty of flying units as well, so it's just the walking mechs that get bogged down. One of the enemy's victory conditions on this map, passing through the Kanmon Strait, is achieved when the subs (the two non-flying enemy units) reach the northeastern corner of the map. Given the speed at which these things move, it's not like we're really short on time. While my jets take out some of the enemy jets, most of it is done by the Gespensts. They're much more likely to get hit, but then again they can survive more than two hits. Besides, they've got enough armor that some of the enemy attacks have their damage reduced to practically nothing. I use Focus where possible; Garnet and Giado don't have much in the way of useful skills yet, so I can safely let Giado waste his SP on his will-boosting Spirit ability. Doesn't do that much, but the bit of extra damage is always useful. In hindsight, at this point I couldíve used Garnetís Bless and Cheer abilities to boost my teammates money and experience gains for kills, respectively. Oh well.
After a few moments of punching through these mooks like they're made of paper while the subs try to make a break for it, an enemy reinforcement squad of Lions appears. Once again, led by our current recurring boss, Tenzan. Latooni personally considers this enough evidence that the sub is an AM carrier, and Tenzan decides he's waited around long enough by now. He is the first to move, but something catches his eye: he recognizes Ryusei by the way his mech moves; or at least, he knows Ryusei is that one newbie he fought earlier. Make that doubly surprised as Ryusei actually manages to dodge his attacks. They finally get the introductions over with as they had failed to recognize each other before, and now they at least know each other's names. Which is enough, apparently, as both of them are reasonably well known in the pro gaming world.
This mere contest of who is a bigger nerd is not enough for Tenzan, though, and he challenges Ryusei to a decisive match on the spot since they didn't get to fight at the tournament. In a wonderfully ironic twist, Ryusei can't believe Tenzan is treating combat like a game, resulting in a speech
from Tenzan regarding his motivations. For Ryusei, however, this has gradually become a serious life-and-death situation, but Tenzan is even willing to consider that as part of the game: it's a game where the loser dies. Seeing Tenzan as some sort of evil funhouse mirror version of himself by now, Ryusei also sees what his goal is: to stop nutcases like him from killing any more people. Tenzan, meanwhile, gets even more fired up at the thought of having a rival. Once again, characters getting other characters' roles wrong, but what can you do when you're this delusional.
He goes down just as quickly as last time, and his Lion-piloting henchmen don't prove to be much of a challenge either. I can pretty much blow whatever SP I had left on this battle, and it's over within a turn. The Lion's railgun kinda hurts if a unit gets hit, but nothing I can't get around with a bit of planning and the occasional patching-up by Aya. I only get to see Latooni's and Irm's dialogues this time before he goes down: in Latooni's case, there's Tenzan's surprise at seeing a kid piloting a jet, and Irm just wants to kick his ass for attacking his carrier a few missions ago. For my quick victory, the loot consists of an Apogee Motor and another Battle Mastery. Apogee Motor's basically a small mobility/movement range boost a unit can equip. There are also skills to be had as units gain levels: during this mission, Ryusei has gained Strike and Rai has gained Sense.
With all the mechs out of the way, the submarines prove to be zero challenge, as they often cannot even attack. Furthermore, I can completely stop their movement by surrounding them with four units, which is the useful Drone Jam
trick I described in the first chapter. Since they can't move on land, pinning them between your units and the shoreline is also an option in this case. These subs serve as my team's collective punching bag for a while, and eventually the health of the subs drops low enough that they are considered defeated. Hooray for us, the day is saved — not so fast, Ingram is calling us to return to base again. Another sub has been spotted; it turns out this one was, in fact, a red herring. At this rate, soon these people will be known as the teams that get sent on pointless missions.
We fast forward a bit, and find ourselves back at the base. Mishima City has been bombed by the DC, for unknown reasons. Ingram speculates that the reason behind the DC's aforementioned war crime extravaganza is to send a message: they can attack any target anywhere now, civilian or military. Half of Japan is within MAPW firing range now, and they're still advancing. In the meantime Ryusei's pondering why Tenzan joined the DC, as he has seemingly developed a healthy habit of being pensive all the time.
Garnet comes along to talk with him for a bit, and he turns his attention to her after being momentarily distracted by her offscreen cleavage
. She's mostly there to moan about how unfair it is that someone like him gets to pilot a PT straight away by playing a video game, while she still isnít allowed to pilot one despite her hard work to become a PT pilot. Immediately apologizes to Ryusei for this as well, of course. In the end, she supposes she should've played that game as well to improve her chances, but Ryusei just thinks it's screwed up that someone would make a video game to find people so they can kill people more effectively. She thinks he does like fighting Tenzan, but to him the battles were necessary for one thing: if he hadn't fought him then and there, he'd be just like him
. And thus he restates what he is fighting for:
RYUSEI: I gotta protect people from...from guys like him who don't care about human lives...!
The commanders are worrying that they won't be able to beat the DC's air and sea forces, and it turns out the submarine they captured is actually a stealth ship created using EOT, so the Divine Crusaders are technologically superior as well. What does count in the EFA's favor is that their tactical formations are far more organized and efficient than the DC's, and they still have one of the state-of-the-art Noah-class carriers, of which the Shirogane was one. Which is probably why the DC has chosen the Izu base as its next target, where the carrier is stored.
Intermission time. I equipped Latooni with the Apogee Motor I got, and Irm is now permanently a playable character. I haven't spent any of the money I've gotten for missions yet; generally, I tend to wait until pilots get their best units
, otherwise it'd be a load of wasted money. It can take more than half the game before they get these units, but in the end it's worth it.