5. Can’t Run Facing the Setting Sun

A general from the Anzen-Hoshou army has come to talk with President Ooguchi of 21st Century Security. Having civilians in control of the only line of defence against the Heterodyne makes them uneasy- they want Dai-Guard returned to their control immediately. Ooguchi refuses- not only do the regulations specify that Dai-Guard is to remain in civilian hands, but the army do not even have anyone trained to take over as the main pilot. Dai-Guard is safe with 21st Century Security for now, but even with old friends in the army, Ooguchi worries that it may only be a matter of time before that all changes.

Meanwhile, Akagi, Ibuki and Aoyama have been assigned to carry out the Christmas photo shoot, which means Akagi and Aoyama get to dress up as a bird and a reindeer whilst Ibuki takes photos of them in various different locations. All camera work is off, however, when the trio see the army general enter Shirota’s office; Akagi decides to listen in, and all three end up crouching outside the door.

The general wants Shirota to support his efforts to get Dai-Guard returned to the army, but despite acknowledging that Dai-Guard’s current pilots are a little too reckless and unskilled for his tastes, Shirota seems unwilling to help. As things stand, taking Dai-Guard away would just make the army look bad- they first need a reason to take action. Leaving, the general orders Shirota to find such a reason as soon as possible.

Even though it means admitting to eavesdropping, Akagi goes into Shirota’s office and demands an explanation for what he just heard. Shirota tries to deal with Akagi calmly, but soon becomes short-tempered, whilst Akagi gets so angry that he almost comes to blows with his tactical advisor. Fortunately, Ibuki and Aoyama are on hand to drag him away before that can happen.

Back at the office, Akagi feels only frustration at being stopped form having it out with Shirota. Ooyama tries to cheer him up by reminding him that at least he has a chance to get out of the office and make a difference, but it isn’t enough- and things only take a turn for the worse when Shirota comes down to the office to ask Akagi to rewrite his last combat report.

Aside from strictly work-related communications, Shirota seems unwilling to associate with PR Division 2 on a more social level; at lunch, Ooyama complains that it seems impossible to please him, and Akagi is more than willing to join in with the complaints- until he realises that Shirota is standing right behind him. Shirota hasn’t come to eat with the other employees; he is only there to tell Akagi that his rewrite of the combat report still isn’t adequate- he will need to go over it yet again.

Meanwhile, out on the road, a lorry driver brakes suddenly as the ground cracks open and a giant inverted pyramid rises up from underneath him – it is the next Heterodyne.

Whilst the army commences firing at the Heterodyne, Dai-Guard is temporarily grounded. They can’t leave until they get permission from all the directors, one of whom is out on the company golf course. Akagi is desperate to get out there and prove himself to Shirota, but the others are more willing to let the army take care of things. What does it matter who defeats the Heterodyne as long as innocent lives are saved?

Matters take on a greater urgency, however, when the projected course of the Heterodyne is calculated- it is heading straight for a nearby nuclear power station. Hearing this, President Ookuchi gives the order himself- Dai-Guard is to take off straightaway. Shirota, however, will remain behind, although he will still be able to dispense tactical advice via the video com link.

As the army have already discovered, the Heterodyne can block most attacks with an electrical force field; however, Shirota believes that a head on attack with a vibration land mine will be Dai-Guard’s best bet. However, as they prepare to go, the team receives a transmission- the lorry driver stuck on top of the Heterodyne is still alive.

As far as Shirota is concerned, their plans should not change because of this- they cannot risk letting the Heterodyne reach the power plant just to save one man. Akagi refuses to accept this, and resolves to save the lorry driver anyway. Running up to the Heterodyne, Dai-Guard grabs the creature, and launches upwards. Climbing over the top rim of the Heterodyne, the robot retrieves the lorry cab, only to get hit by a whip-like tentacle that suddenly snakes out from the Heterodyne.

With Aoyama giving them full power, Dai-Guard jumps back down to the ground and puts down the lorry cab. Turning back to the Heterodyne, Dai-Guard is struck once again by the tentacle, which then wraps around the robot, discharging massive amounts of electricity. Dai-Guard’s connections being to fry, and when the tentacle lets go, the robot drops to the ground, badly damaged.

With its main generator now stalled, Dai-Guard is unable to go after the Heterodyne, which continues on course to the power plant. Analysing data from his office, Shirota realises that the Heterodyne are attracted by power sources. Calling the army, he asks them to get the power plant shut down, whilst he arranges for radar-emitting planes to lure it in the opposite direction. Despite the difficulty and inconvenience of shutting down the plant, the army have no choice but to agree, and Shirota’s latest plan is put into action.

Contacting Akagi, Shirota tells him to direct all the power into Dai-Guard’s arm, which will need to be extended vertically in order to drive the mine into the Heterodyne as it passes overhead. Fortunately, Aoyama reports that there is enough power left for this action, so, as the Heterodyne moves over Dai-Guard, Akagi punches the arm straight up, pushing the mine inside its body. As the mine goes off, the Heterodyne explodes.

Dai-Guard has saved the day once again, but the battle has left Akagi in a thoughtful mood. It was Shirota’s authority in the army that got the plant shut down and sent the planes out to attract the Heterodyne. Without him, the battle would have been lost.

Meanwhile, in the Tech Division, a young genius looks at her computers and wonders if they were just lucky this time. Whatever the case, she resolves to “speed things up”, whatever that means…

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