After Neviim appeared at the end of the last chapter, the Hiryu Custom was dispatched to investigate the incident, finally allowing it to make another appearance on this story route. Its new captain, Lefina Enfield
, orders her bridge operator Eun Hyojin
to start the search for the spy craft that got shot down, but this doesn't really go anywhere before reports of incoming enemies from Neviim start coming in. Quicker than usual, I'll give them that.
It's just a bunch of Spiders, but apparently this is the first time Lefina's actually seen them herself. Fortunately, this green captain has Sean as her XO, who has far more field experience and explains all this to her. Regardless, she doesn't hesitate for a moment in deciding her course of action, and readies the ship to counter the incoming attack.
LEFINA: Deploy Gigan and Katina's unit! All hands, rig for battle! But, wait for my order to attack!
The units she mentioned are now deployed, introducing four new characters: the Octopus Squad (Katina Tarask
, Russel Bergman
, Tasuku Shinguji
) and Radha Bairaban
from Mao Industries. Also, as awesome as it sounds, they're not deploying a giant monster
; instead, it refers to the mech Tasuku's piloting, the Giganscudo. Finally getting to put this thing to good use after its non-appearance in chapter 1, and it's certainly no pushover.
Katina's the rather trigger-happy leader of their squad, and the first conversation she has with her teammates does a good job of establishing her character. Tasuku's fine with doing some fighting, but he admits he's kinda envious of Katina's ace-custom paint job
on her mech. Her solution? Paint the Giganscudo with Tasuku's blood. Katina decides to rush in against her orders
, and Russel objects. Her response? Use Russel's blood as additional paint. I think you get the picture.
I wonder how she ever made it to lieutenant.
Radha insists they should gather data on the enemy first, since that's what they're there for anyway, and the others agree they shouldn't just jump into this without knowing what they're getting themselves into. Neither are any other teams there to support them, but Katina just sees that as all the more reason why they should be the ones to attack since no one else will. Now Radha just thinks Katina's just way too high-strung and needs to relax, which makes the other repulse at the prospect of yoga. Well, I think her character's just about established now.
Of course, Katina's not gonna listen to a word of this and charges straight ahead towards the enemies, leaving the others to run after her. Not much that Lefina can do to stop her right now, and she just hopes they won't all get themselves killed. According to Sean, it's always that way, which doesn't bode well for future encounters.
Empty space, with a few weak Aerogaters. Feels just like chapter 1 again.
The main difficulty on this map is that Katina is an NPC who charges straight at the nearest enemy without trying to defend herself, and the rest of the team mostly sees to it that she survives. Which is easier said than done: Katina punches hard, but her armor's good as cardboard, and won't survive more than a few hits.
Fortunately the others are more resilient: the Giganscudo is famous for its armor, and Russel gets to use Guard really cheap. So, all in all, shouldn't be too difficult as long as you can get enemies to target those two. Radha doesn't move too fast, but her Schutzwald's Twinbeam Cannon has more than enough range to compensate for that. The Hiryu, unfortunately, is unable to move during this chapter. Probably would've made it too easy.
So, Tasuku and Russel forward, have them beat up the enemies a bit and try to draw attention away from Katina. Fortunately, everyone targets Russel, and he mercilessly counterattacks most of their hitpoints away. Katina survives by the skin of her teeth after two hits and a miss, and I have Lefina heal her, since it's not like the Hiryu needs the SP for anything else this chapter. One turn later, most of the enemies have been killed and the remaining few are easily picked off.
The second wave now arrives, which is basically more of the same. Pick off the enemies as quickly as possible before Katina throws herself into the fray, which requires me to spread my available troops in multiple directions to fend them all off. After this wave has also been dealt with, a third one spawns — this time of stronger units. The team can see they won't last much longer like this, but of course Katina is bone-headed enough to keep going as long as she can fight, even going against Lefina's orders to retreat. Christ, it's a miracle this woman hasn't been court-martialed yet with an attitude like that. They are interrupted as a flash suddenly occurs that makes Radha and Tasuku feel strange, followed moments later by gravity tremors.
[BGM Change: Dark Prison]
Cue collective bowel-voiding as Shu and his Granzon make their reappearance, fully recovered from the damage he was dealt during the fight against Bian Zoldark. Katina assumes they should attack him because he's still with the DC, but Shu denies having anything to do with them anymore. Of course, nobody has a reason to believe anything he says, given the circumstances.
KATINA: Do you think I'm stupid? Can't you invent a better lie? Why not say you want revenge for Bian or Maier...?
SHU: Is THIS what I can expect from the inhabitants of Earth? Incidentally...I was asked by those two to save you.
Either those two must have been close to clairvoyant, or Shu can speak to ghosts. Anyway, he's on our side for once, even though Sean deduces Shu's actual goal here is to observe Neviim. It's a good thing the EFA employs such skilled gambit-spotters, or this would've been a whole team of suckers. Basically, Shu's trying to find out where the aliens came from, while helping us destroy them. Fine with me, as long as it takes the load off our shoulders, I guess. One more surprise awaits us, though.
[BGM Change: Neppu! Shippu! Cybuster!]
If Shu appears, Masaki is never far behind, and they do their usual shtick where Masaki wants revenge, Shu shrugs him off, and so on. Luckily, Lefina butts in, making it clear to him that fighting the aliens and protecting the Earth is more important right now than his personal feud. After a lot of convincing, he finally agrees to let Shu fight the aliens, even if it's mostly because Kuro and Shiro point out that La Gias could be next if Earth falls. Where is this place, anyway?
Back to the game, now with Masaki as a playable character and Shu as an NPC ally. Frankly, the rest of the map is dead easy now as long as Katina remains out of combat. Even if there's a large group of enemies, a single Cyflash can obliterate most of them and the rest of the squad can finish off the heavily-damaged enemies. And so, I earn my Battle Mastery while still remaining significantly below the required number of turns. Since there are no enemies left for the moment, Lefina decides this is as good a time as any to once again order a retreat. All PTs return to the ship, and the Hiryu gets the hell out of there.
SHU: I'm done here. The chosen ones can take care of the rest.
Masaki with this message, and the claim that it's useless to chase him since he's not gonna make a move anytime soon...which just makes Masaki wonder even more what Shu is up to.
Since he has to concede there's no use in trying to track him down right now, Masaki decides to take up the Hiryu's offer to join the crew, thus returning him to the roster of playable characters.
In the Hiryu's hangar, Katina threatens her underlings with lashings for not following her orders, even though (as Russel points out) she didn't follow orders either. This hypocrisy is seemingly lost on her, or maybe she just doesn't care as repercussions for her are notably absent. Mostly she just sticks by her point that since the other teams aren't present, they have
to be the ones who fight the aliens rather than running away.
TASUKU: OK, OK...what happened to her after Lt. Kyosuke and his team left?
Well, I guess it's a mild reassurance that's not supposed to be her normal behavior, but still...not a very good first impression. Also, Masaki needs not worry that he'll be fighting with a different crew now: the Hiryu is soon ordered by Norman Slay to retreat and meet up with the Hagane, so we'll soon have both ships at our disposal. Likewise, the Hagane is ordered to go meet up with the Hiryu, and Daitetsu is told of what happened during this mission. He only seems slightly surprised that they would assign someone like Lefina
to be captain, though he's told she's a natural leader, which I guess is more important than experience.
The SRX lab reports that the R-Gun assembly is complete, although the power output was reduced and it's unable to connect to the SRX like it's supposed to. This is apparently because Ingram decided that its Metal Destroyer attack had to be usable without relying on the T-Link System, and the end result is worse performance. Oh well, at least it's something. Work on the Huckebein Mk. 2 almost runs into delays because Bullet isn't around to calibrate it, which is because he's in the Type 2 with Kusuha, according to Irm. Well, Irm will have to do the adjustment work then, since he apparently has no problem with leaving them alone.
Excellen and Garnet are just hanging around discussing their shipping business as usual
, and I assume they're talking about the aforementioned Bullet/Kusuha thing here. It's mostly about how much they should just let things happen and to what extent they should promote the relationship between the two, which leads me to think they're gonna make it happen either way. Wonder who else they've got plans for. Ryusei and Giado just stand there, wondering what the girls are talking about, before Ryusei notes he hasn't seen Aya around, and wonders where she could be. Hopefully we'll get to hear it next time.
As mentioned, I got Cybuster back, and all the characters from this chapter are now playable. Not investing much in them though, except for Giganscudo, which gets a full armor upgrade with my available money. I also got the R-Gun, a Repair Module and a Supply Module; I equip Radha with the two modules to make her my healer/supplier for now, and don't really have much use for the R-Gun as it is. It's a shame Katina and Radha didn't have their respective themes
yet in this game, or I might use them more in combat. Maybe.