Athrun escorts Lacus to the shuttle taking her to the ship that will return her to the PLANTs. Lacus says that it's too bad that they have to separate so soon after seeing each other again. She thanks Rau for everything he's done for her during her stay, and asks if the Vesalius will be back in time for the memorial services. He says that he can't be sure, and Lacus asks him not to forget the war's victims. After she leaves, Rau speaks to Athrun, asking him if he heard about what happened to Yzak. When Athrun says yes, Rau reminds him that it was the Strike that did it, and asks him whether he'd rather shoot the Strike down or be shot down by it.
The Archangel rendezvous with the 8th Fleet, commanded by Admiral Halberton, the biggest supporter of the program that produced the Archangel and the G-Weapons. The civilians are to be transferred to Halberton's flagship, the Menelaos, in order to board a shuttle that will take them to Earth. Kuzzey wonders what's going to happen to them, but Miri explains that they'll be going too, because they're still civilians even though they've been acting as crew. Natarle wants to know what Murrue plans to do with Kira; Murrue insists that they have no authority to make him stay if he doesn't want to.
In the hanger, Kira is helping repair the damaged Mobius Zero, complaining that he doesn't see the point in rushing since they've already hooked up with the fleet. Mu says he doesn't feel secure when his ship is damaged, and Murdoch says that all of the 8th Fleet's pilots are rookies, so they'll need Mu to sortie if anything happens. Kira asks if they're going to leave the Strike as it is, with his modifications intact. Mu admits that he hadn't thought about it, but decides that it's better to leave it, since returning it to its original state would lower its performance. Murrue arrives, wanting to talk to Kira privately. She thanks him for his help, saying that she knows she put a lot of pressure on him, but that the entire crew is grateful to him. She wishes him luck for his return to Earth.
Admiral Halberton and his subordinate, Captain Hoffman, arrive on the Archangel. Halberton greets the senior staff and lets them know how glad he is that they managed to escape Heliopolis. When he notices the Heliopolis students, he goes to greet them as well, letting them know that all of their families are safe. He thanks them for their service, and says that he'd like to talk to them at greater length later.
The Vesalius has returned to the area, joined by the Gamow and another ship, the Ziegler. Rau realizes that the Archangel must be heading for Earth, rather than the moon as he originally though. Ades confirms that their target seems to be Alaska, and reminds Rau of their forces: five mobile suits (including the Aegis) on the Vesalius, six GINNs on the Ziegler, and the Buster and Blitz from the Gamow. Rau muses that their opponent is the infamous Admiral Halberton, and decides that he should destroy them.
On the Archangel, Halberton and Hoffman discuss the situation with Murrue, Natarle, and Mu. Hoffman says he can hardly believe that ZAFT would destroy Heliopolis over a single warship and one mobile suit. Halberton says that the fact that the Archangel's crew managed to protect the Archangel and the Strike counts as a significant victory, but Hoffman points out that Alaska doesn't seem to agree. Halberton dismisses that, saying that they don't know anything about the reality of space combat anyway. The subject turns to Kira. Murrue explains that Kira fought in the Strike only to protect his friends, and was greatly distressed by having to fight against his fellow Coordinators, so she believes they should repay him by allowing him to leave. Natarle speaks up, however, saying that she agrees with Hoffman that Kira shouldn't be allowed to leave. Halberton points out that ZAFT has already captured four of the G-Weapons, so it's hardly secret anymore. Natarle points out that his abilities as a pilot are also excellent, and would be a great asset to the military. Though he has no interest in joining, Natarle mentions that his parents are on Earth following Heliopolis' collapse, and they could be used as leverage. Halberton interrupts her, angry at the suggestion. However, he says that the Archangel will be required to land at Alaska with its existing personnel roster, since its replacement crew were lost in the destruction of the advance fleet.
Natarle and Hoffman give the Heliopolis students discharge papers, explaining that since it's illegal for civilians to enter combat, it's being recorded that they volunteered for the military duty on the day they boarded the Archangel. Kira isn't there, so Natarle gives a second set of papers to Tolle to deliver to him later. Hoffman reminds them that as part of the military, they're required to keep any military secrets they were exposed to, even after they've been discharged. Flay interrupts, saying that she wants to volunteer to join the Earth Alliance forces.
Kira is in the hanger, looking over the Strike and remembering when he first piloted it. Halberton interrupts him by marveling at the abilities of Coordinators. He says that he originally envisioned the G-Weapons simply as counters to ZAFT's mobile suits, but with Coordinator pilots they become superweapons. He thanks Kira for his efforts in protecting the Archangel and the Strike, saying that all he wants is a quick end to the war. Before turning to leave, he says that he hopes Kira lives to see the dawn of a better era. Kira stops him, asking what will happen to the Archangel and its crew. Halberton says that it will be heading to Alaska, and after that return to the battlefield. However, he knows what's bothering Kira, and points out that although Kira's abilities are certainly attractive to the military, war is not so simple that Kira could guarantee that they'd win the war. Kira says that if he has the power to make a difference, he should put it to good use. Halberton says that that's only true if he has the will to see it through to the end.
Natarle asks Flay if she understands what she's saying when she says she wants to volunteer. Flay says that even though they personally might be safe now, that doesn't mean that the war has ended or that peace has returned. She says that since her father worked to end the war until he was killed, she wants to try to help end the war herself, even if that means fighting, even if her efforts won't amount to much. The rest of the Heliopolis students consider her words, looking thoughtfully at their discharge papers. Sai rips his papers up, saying that he agrees with Flay, and that it wouldn't be right for him to leave her here anyway. Tolle tears his up as well, pointing out that the Archangel is shorthanded, and he'd feel responsible if it got shot down later. Miri tears hers, saying she's staying if Tolle is, and Kuzzey does as well, saying he can't leave if everyone else is staying.
In the hanger, Kira watches as the Archangels refugees line up to board a shuttle. The little girl seen earlier notices him, and approaches Kira to give him an origami flower and thank him for protecting everyone.
The ZAFT force prepares to attack. A soldier tries to restrain Yzak, but he throws the man off, yelling that he's going out as well. Half of his face, including his right eye, is covered by bandages. He boards the Duel, telling himself that his newly upgraded equipment, the Assault Shroud, will let him get back at the Strike for humiliating him.
The Heliopolis students show up in the hanger to give Kira his discharge papers as he waits to board the refugee shuttle. They explain that they're staying, but insist that he should go. Battle stations sound as they push him toward the shuttle, telling him to stay safe as they leave to man their battle stations. Kira hesitates, watching them go, looking at his discharge papers in one hand and the origami flower in the other. He remembers Mu telling him that if he has the power to make a difference, he should put it to use. Crumpling up the papers, he tells the shuttle to leave without him.
Tropes used in this episode:
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Kira's discharge papers call him a second lieutenant. This actually makes him equal rank with Natarle; the equivalent naval rank is ensign.
- It's Personal: Yzak certainly feels that way about it now!
- Mecha Expansion Pack: The Duel's shiny-new Assault Shroud, which provides an overall upgrade to the unit, increasing mobility, armor and firepower.
- Nominal Importance: The little refugee girl, who we've seen before, finally gets a name. Her mother calls her Elle when she runs off to talk to Kira.
- Properly Paranoid: Mu, in reference to keeping the Mobius Zero repaired for combat.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Admiral Halberton turns out to be one.