16. Always Sunny in the Soul

Arriving late at the office, Chief Oosugi has the unhappy task of giving some bad news to his workers. PR Division 2 has been dissolved, and control of Dai-Guard is to be handed over to a new department- the Dai-Guard Enterprise Unit.

Naturally, no one is happy to hear this, but when their complaints are interrupted by a quake alert, Akagi, Ibuki and Aoyama leave the discussion to head down to Dai-Guard. When they reach the hangar, however, an unpleasant surprise is waiting for them- Saeki, Nishijima and three new pilots. Makise, Matsutouya and Tsuge are army-trained pilots, who will be taking the place of Akagi, Aoyama and Ibuki.

Akagi and the others try to protest, but Nishijima silences them- considering how expensive their use of Dai-Guard has been, they should consider themselves lucky to still have any kind of job with the company. Unable to argue with their boss, there is nothing for the trio to do but return to the office, just as the Heterodyne alert is cancelled.

Shirota doesn’t seem pleased about the new division either, even though Saeki assures him that he will be assigned to anti-Heterodyne research. To Saeki’s amazement, Shirota wants to talk to Nishijima and persuade him to change his mind. This Shirota seems a far cry from the one Saeki studied under and strove to emulate- didn’t the old Shirota say that the army needed as much power as possible in order to effectively protect the people? Rather than replying, Shirota merely leaves- how can he ever make Saeki come to the same realisations that he has?

Back at the office, the PR Division 2 team have just received their new assignments. Their new jobs sound rather dull after the excitement of Dai-Guard, but for the most part, the team are accepting of their new roles- all, that is, except Ooyama. She doesn’t want to be put on the sidelines, and seeing the others go along without a fight is more than she can take.

After work, Akagi and Ooyama take the same train home, and Ooyama confides that she is thinking about quitting. Ever since the Heterodyne showed up, working in PR Division 2 has been more than a simple desk job- and thanks to the added importance and responsibility of her role, Ooyama has started to take pride in her work. But it all seems so meaningless now- as far as the company is concerned, the effort they all put into their jobs is worthless compared to the all-important bottom line.

Later that evening, Ooyama calls her mother to talk about her plans to quit. As she muses over her options, a familiar light appears in the sky- a dimensional quake. From out of the clouds, a tall conical spinning top appears- the next Heterodyne.

Seeing the Heterodyne report on the news, Akagi realises that the creature has appeared near Ooyama’s home, but when he calls her house, there is no reply. Rushing out of the café where he was eating, Akagi decides to go and check on his colleague.

Saeki and the new pilots have already deployed Dai-Guard, and for the moment, it looks as if everything is going by the book. The Heterodyne is stationary, making its fractal knot a perfect target for the Knot Punisher. Meanwhile, Akagi finally locates Ooyama- she and her neighbours have evacuated to a safe spot, and now Ooyama is trying to help a little boy, Teru, locate his mother.

Back on the field of battle, the new pilots aren’t faring so well. The Heterodyne has started to rotate, throwing off friction-generated lightning. The pilots are immediately at a loss- this situation never came up in simulations. And with this new complication, it becomes clear that Ooyama, Akagi and the other evacuees are going to have to withdraw again to a new place of safety.

Realising that they need to stop the rotation, Saeki orders Makise and the others to swap the Knot Punisher for Dai-Guard’s regular arms, so that they can grab hold of the Heterodyne. As this move was not covered in the simulator, the pilots can only proceed slowly, and do not have chance to get the parts exchanged before the Heterodyne smashes right into them.

The conflict blocks off Ooyama’s route to the elementary school where they were supposed to wait, and as her training kicks in, she orders everyone to follow her to a new safe location. Initially, the people with her are unwilling to co-operate, that is, until Akagi explains that they are form 21st Century Security. After recognising him as Dai-Guard’s main pilot, they agree to follow Ooyama and Akagi to safety.

Ibuki and Aoyama don’t want to be left out of the fight either- watching the battle on the news, both of them feel compelled to call Shirota and offer suggestions. After listening to what they have to say, Shirota relays a plan to Saeki- Dai-Guard should attack with the Knot Punisher whilst the Heterodyne is spinning. With Domeki’s guidance, they should be able to get the timing just right to hit the fractal knot as it spins round to the front.

Makise and the others aren’t happy with attempting a move that they have never practised before, but agree to it anyway. When Domeki gives the word, Dai-Guard attempts to grab the rotating Heterodyne, only to lose its grip and fall over. As Akagi and Ooyama watch from afar, the pilots manage to get back up again, and this time Matsutouya gets a lock on the target. Firing the Knot Punisher, the pilots manage to get it right on target, and the fractal knot is shattered. The defeated Heterodyne is vaporised in a billow of red smoke.

With the emergency over, Ooyama and Akagi manage to get Teru back to his mother. But even as Teru and his mother leave, others arrive- Tanigawa, Irie and Nakahara. Soon after, they are joined by Ishizuka, Ijyuuin and Taguchi, followed by Yokazawa, Aoyama, Ibuki, and even Chief Oosugi, who “just happened” to be out walking his dog.

The whole team is together again, and in short order, they are doing what they do best- looking after the evacuees. Sitting alone with Akagi, Ooyama decides to confide in him just why she chose to work with Dai-Guard. Although she usually claims to have forgotten her reasons, Ooyama in fact remembers very well; back in the war, her home town was destroyed with a single bomb- and even though all that happened long before she was born, the connection she has with her birthplace makes it important to her. All the effort that Ooyama puts into helping Dai-Guard save the world and prevent similar tragedies is for the people who died back then; small wonder then, that she hated the idea of being reassigned so much, but just like the others, she may have no choice but to accept it…

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