Tempest has resumed his duties after being defeated in the last chapter, but Adler is not impressed with his failure to stop the Hagane. He has also been ordered to return to DC headquarters on Aidoneus, as Adler quickly informs him. These orders came straight from Bian, so there's very little room for discussion. Still, Tempest insists he must defend their base on Wake Island, because the Hagane is advancing towards it. Since he has been ordered to return, however, Tenzan will take his place as the present commanding officer. An unspoken "are you kidding me" is visible in Tempest's expression, and Adler once again insists these are orders. No sooner has this been said, or Tenzan loudly makes his appearance, declaring far and wide that he's the CO around here from now on, as well as rubbing in the fact that Tempest has to get going to see Bian. Tenzan says he'll handle the Hagane, but Tempest has his doubts.
TEMPEST: That's going to be difficult for a kid who can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality.
TENZAN: Ha! That's funny coming from an old man who's obsessed with revenge.
That's gotta hurt. Tempest just thinks Tenzan had best shut his moronic mouth right about now, and Tenzan brushes it off with the usual "just joking" excuse. He tells Tempest to take it easy, which just makes me think Tenzan's head is in fact bloated enough to look like a yukkuri
. Actually, he's probably the kind of guy who'd crack jokes at funerals, given the opportunity. Now that they've gotten their impolite greetings out of the way, they focus on how they're gonna deal with the Hagane, though we don't get to hear the details of it.
The Hagane, meanwhile, has entered Micronesia and is approaching Wake Island. The crew knows this is a DC base, but they can't avoid it because they need to resupply. Also, the DC's defense lines strongly depend on this base, and if they conquer it they won't have to worry about enemy attacks until they reach the Marshall Islands. This does mean a frontal attack, but the DC's defenses are weakened because they're still fighting in North Africa. On top of that, this is the fastest way to get to Aidoneus, so it's their best option.
The problem is that the island is full of long-range anti-ship cannons, so the Hagane won't be able to approach it. The solution, as usual, is to send in the jets and PTs to take out the cannons, after which the Hagane can approach. This sounds like a suicidal plan, but Ingram reassures the crew that many of their mechs are too fast for the cannons to properly target them. Well, that's reassuring. Still leaves the problems of enemy AMs, fighters and anti-air missiles, but Giado supposes they'll just have to take those down, one way or another — and it's true, some danger is inevitable on missions such as these. Which is just as well, otherwise there wouldn't be much of a game.
GARNET: Wouldn't it be safer for the PTs to just walk underwater?
GIADO: Hey! Don't steal my thunder, woman!
Everyone is ordered to get ready, and the PTs and jets are launched according to plan. The pilots survey the situation, and Garnet is surprised at how many cannons there actually are, which promptly results in another godawful pun.
GARNET: There're so many cannons, I cannon't believe it!
This actually results in a written eyeroll from Giado completely with stupefied portrait, as expected given his usual role as Garnet's foil. The others just ignore it and focus on how exactly they're gonna take out the cannons. At the same time, the DC forces under Tenzan's command are planning their defense. A soldier suggests intercepting them with AMs, but Tenzan orders their sub to stay still because he wants to make things more exciting. Of course, this does not make a lick of sense, but Tenzan will try to maintain dramatic tension even if it kills him
. The soldier tries to object to Tenzan's fun-based tactics, but Tenzan just tells him to do as he's ordered.
The map is a single heavily-defended island this time
, so I shouldn't get too close just yet. Still, it's safe to move my units forward and take out the outer cannons. No problem for my speedsters such as Latooni and Ryusei (when his Wildraubtier is in jet mode), as the hit rate of these things frequently drops to 0% if I use Focus. Even if one of my slower units gets hit, the cannons don't do enough damage to kill them right away. Still, I'd like to avoid having to repair anything whenever possible. So, everyone towards the base, using Focus/Sense where applicable, as well as Accel because this water really slows down my non-flying units. Giado still doesn't have any significant spirit commands yet, so I just let him use Spirit twice to crank up the damage he can deal.
Unfortunately, none of my units are within attack range yet, so the first turn passes uneventfully. On the second turn, Aya and Rai notice the enemy isn't using all of its firepower despite the fact that this would make strategic sense, making Rai wonder whether this is a trap. Lo and behold, it is. Tenzan orders the previously-mentioned sub to attack, and as it appears it promptly launches a bunch of missiles at the now-undefended Hagane. Tenzan thinks he's got them now, but Daitetsu is undeterred and orders all units to keep attacking the cannons — the Hagane will take care of the missiles. Not something Tenzan expected, but he's pleased with their spirit nonetheless.
This map contains nothing but mooks with low stats, so this is actually pretty easy. This is compounded by the fact that all the enemies have a habit of targeting Ryusei, even though they have zero chance of hitting him. He, on the other hand, can almost instantly reduce them to rubble. On turn 3, most of them are already half-dead and I let my weaker units (such as the jets) pick them off for experience. I can ignore the missile for now, since it isn't particularly fast to begin with, and even if it was I could destroy it in three shots or so. At the end of the turn, the enemy has almost run out of moving units as I mercilessly cut my way through them, and the biggest obstacle remaining is the group of cannons.
Suddenly, Rio reports that something is rapidly moving towards their position. They're not sure what it is that's moving so fast, and Daitetsu initially wonders if it's an Aerogater unit. Before Rio can even give a proper reply, the mysterious unit has already arrived.
[BGM change: Neppu! Shippu! Cybuster!
Yes, it's Masaki and his super robot, the Cybuster. Most of the characters present are stunned by the sudden appearance of this stranger and his mech, though Rai recognizes it from the Antarctica incident. Before anyone can ask what's going on here, Cybuster cleaves its way through the air in a blatant display of cutscene powers, instantly obliterating all remains cannons with its Cyflash attack
. Ryusei is rightfully surprised at the movement speed portrayed, claiming it's faster than a jet. Hell, it moved all the way across the map in a single turn. If that's representative of anything, this thing probably creates sonic booms at cruising speed.
Now that he has taken out the cannons, Masaki promptly bids the crew adieu and goes to check out the inside of the base, telling them to finish up the job. They're barely able to comprehend what just happened, but Ingram redirects their attention on the now practically defenseless base. There are barely any mooks left, and I let my weaker units clean them up. The rest of the units now make a mad dash for the sub that remains, hopefully ensuring I'll be able to get my Battle Mastery by finishing this up in time. I take out the missile on the way there, and within two turns the sub goes down. Since the DC still uses the same subs as before, they still have the amusing limitation that they can't attack units that are 1 square removed from them. Not that these things are all that tough yet, but it's a fun tactic that'll serve us well eventually.
On the 5th turn, the sub goes down and I get my BM. Should've kept in mind that a lot of my beam weapons wouldn't work with all this water, but in the end it worked out well enough. Masaki is now trying to apprehend Tenzan and ask him where Shu is, but isn't getting any answers. Tenzan's just angry that Masaki messed up his whole "game plan" with his arrival
, and predictably Masaki doesn't care. Not that Tenzan has any idea where Shu is; his best guess would be Aidoneus Island. At this point, Tenzan decides this base isn't worth his life, and high-tails it out of there while telling his troops to pray for better luck
. Really, Crunch would be a more suitable Captain than this guy.
Now that the battle is definitely over, Tetsuya finally gets around to asking Masaki who he is. He introduces himself to the rest of the cast, and Tetsuya then asks about his mech. They've got no records on a PT that looks like that, so they're curious where it came from.
MASAKI: That's right. This ain't no Personal Trooper. This is the Elemental Lord of the Wind — the Cybuster.
He has barely finished this sentence before he notices his mech is losing power. Kuro guesses it's because that Cyflash used up too much prana
, which seems like a pretty odd energy source for a robot. Then again, this whole thing runs on magic so I shouldn't ask too many questions.
Fast-forward a bit to the bridge of the Hagane, where the mech they just brought in is being discussed. Tetsuya now recognizes it as well, since a recon unit had previously encountered it. The base is still in good shape, and the remaining forces are willing to surrender. This is a strange state of affairs to the Hagane crew, since they would have expected them to fight to the end. To Daitetsu, this just means the DC aren't as invincible as previously assumed, and that the EFA might actually stand a chance of winning this war.
In the sickbay, Kusuha is bandaging those who were injured during this battle, which at least includes Aya and Ryusei. Ryusei claims it's just a scratch, but Kusuha bandages it nonetheless. Can't be too careful, you know. While she's busy, Aya shifts the topic to their new arrival. Masaki is still unconscious, and they wonder about his origins. They deduce that he's probably from Earth since he has a Japanese-sounding name and pilots a non-Aerogater mech, which leaves very few other options. At least his unconsciousness confirms my guess that he crashed just now.
Kuro and Shiro have been sleeping nearby, but are now starting to wake up, and are wondering where they are. The other characters present are now getting a bit scared because they're hearing voices coming from somewhere, though fortunately they quickly notice it's the cats who are speaking. Not that this makes things any less strange, especially since these are cats are speaking perfect English. Ryusei wonders if they are robots, which is an idea even the cats consider ridiculous.
SHIRO: Oh, right...I forgot. Cats here can't talk. Meow.
KURO: Well, it's too late to stop talking now.
Masaki now wakes up as well, and wonders where he is. Upon hearing that he's in an EFA battleship's sickbay, he quickly takes his leave. Wow, didn't know the medical services there were that bad. The crew members present ask him where he's going, but don't seem to apprehend him in any way, they just stand there and wonder. Knowing Masaki, he's probably going nowhere in particular.
In the briefing room, Daitetsu, Tetsuya and Irm are discussing the things they found in the base they conquered. Some AM weapons, at least, so they'll be outfitting their PTs with those. More importantly, they found evidence of communication with the Far East Brigade, using AAA-grade codes. Only commanders have those codes, so that narrows it down to Laker, Sakae or Hans. Irm suspects this may be related to the fact that the enemy knew about his secret cargo when he was transporting the Wildraubtier. On top of this, the DC recruited Tenzan, a Burning PT champion, even though only the EFA should have access to player data for that game. This is not exactly sound logic, but I'll let it slide. Anyway, the general conclusion is that there might be a spy in the Far East Brigade, given these incidents.
Masaki suddenly barges into this official meeting, and bluntly asks if Daitetsu, being the captain of the ship, knows where Bian is. He considers Bian his best lead to finding Shu, whom he chased "all the way here to Earth". I thought they were both from Earth, so I must've missed something. At least, I consider La Gias to be terrestrial since it's stated to be beneath the earth. Anyway, Daitetsu does know Shu, since he was the one that destroyed their ship, though the question remains how Masaki knows him. Before this can be answered, Ingram interrupts them with a proposal. They need all the firepower they can get, and they have a common goal since Shu will certainly be wherever Bian is.
Masaki would like to tell them where to stick it, but he knows he can't take on the DC forces on his own. The deal is quickly concluded, and Masaki is welcomed to the crew, along with his pair of talking cats. That one still weirds people out, but they'll get used to it. Irm is still unsure whether they can trust this guy, but Ingram figures they can use its firepower and collect data on it this way.
I got a whole bunch of equipment (Jam Grenade, Assault Blade, Apogee Motor, Servo Motor and Beam Coat) and Cybuster is now a playable unit. I dump my current money into upgrading its mobility and energy capacity, since I'll be using it as one of my frontline units. No other pilots can be assigned for it, since story-wise it will only accept Masaki as its pilot
. That Energy Taker will also serve me well, especially on later bosses with lots of EN. It's certainly faster than manually draining them. Those motors will also serve nicely to further crank up Cybuster's speed, putting Masaki on par with Latooni.