12. Those Unforgettable Days

The UEAF are attempting another assault on the Jovians, and once again, the Nadesico is called upon to take its place at the front of the formation. With the Jovians going all out, the Nadesico responds in kind, sending out all five Aestivalis pilots to attack.

Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that all is not well on the battlefield. Akatsuki fires a barrage of missiles at the enemy, only to watch as the guidance systems aim the missiles not at the Jovians, but at the UEAF fleet. The other pilots are having the same problem- for some reason, both Jovian and Earth forces are being targeted as enemies.

The obvious solution would seem to be to stop firing, but with the Jovians so close, the pilots daren’t let up on the attack, no matter how disastrous it might be. The only thing that can be done is to just keep going and get the battle over with as quickly as possible. It’s just unfortunate that there are no more pilots to send out- or are there? Having acquire a nano-machine implant before the mission to Mars, Jun decides to go out and help, only to get smashed against the side of the Nadesico by the very first enemy he engages.

Fortunately for the Nadesico, the Jovians break off quickly, perhaps thinking that the attack on friendly forces is some kind of clever double bluff. As far as the Nadesico goes, the only crewmember to be injured is Jun, who suffers severe whiplash and finds himself unable to talk. Forced to resort to baseball hand signals, he is carried away to sickbay, bemoaning the fact that he won’t be getting any dialogue for a while.

The other pilots came through unscathed, although between them they did manage to shoot down over a hundred allied ships and a refuelling depot. Prospector cannot help but despair at the cost of the damages- although at least the lack of fatalities means there won’t be any wrongful death lawsuits.

Naturally, Munetake is the first one to demand an explanation as to what happened. Despite Inez’s suggestion that fatigue might be to blame, both the pilots and the maintenance crew categorically state that it wasn’t their fault. In fact, the UEAF is inclined to agree- they think that the problem may be with the Nadesico’s defence computer, and they have sent a team of investigators over to check it out. Unfortunately, the computer is still regarding all UEAF ships as enemies, and shoots down the investigators’ ship before it can board the Nadesico. It is only Ruri’s intervention through her nano-machine link that prevents the computer from destroying their escape pod as well.

Having finally made it aboard, the investigators explain what must have happened. The defence computer, which Ruri insists is called Omoikane, still retains the memory of when the Nadesico had to defy the UEAF to get past the Big Barrier. Now that the Nadesico is working for the UEAF, the computer’s feelings of resentment at this “hostile takeover” are causing its aggressive behaviour. To the investigators’ minds, there can be only one solution- a complete rewrite of the memory banks.

Munetake and Akatsuki are in agreement with this plan, but Ruri takes quite the opposite view. Not only is the defence computer a unique individual, but stored within its memory banks is all the unanalysed data from the Nadesico’s journey to Mars. Ruri argues that knowledge and memories are too precious to be discarded, but Munetake and the investigators are adamant- Omoikane must be overwritten.

The overwrite commences, with a whole team of white-coated, laptop wielding computer specialists heading down to the control room to begin the process- much to the delight of Munetake. For the rest of the crew, however, there is little to do, and Akito plans to use the time to practise his cooking. These plans soon fall by the wayside, however, when Yurika, Ruri and Seiya talk him into assisting them on a special mission that only he can help with.

Having taken the others down to his model kit-filled room, Seiya hacks into the main computer and brings up a maintenance program. With Ruri’s help, they log Akito into the program using his nano-machine implant, along with a virtual reality helmet. Now in the computer system, Akito is represented by an Akito-Aestivalis, with a Ruri avatar sitting on his shoulder as a guide.

Akito starts off in the databanks, which are graphically represented to him as a library. Unfortunately, the military installation program is already active, and appears as a military ship, erasing all the books from the shelves. Akito wants to take it out, but Ruri explains that first they must pay a visit to the root of the problem- Omoikane’s self-consciousness.

Beyond the library, Omoikane’s consciousness is represented by a large tree. Ruri explains that their task is to prune the tree, cutting back on the memories that are currently provoking the computer’s aggressive outbursts, but keeping Omoikane’s core intact. In time, the tree will regrow and the memories will return, but Omoikane will have been given the time it needs to mature, to learn how to pretend to be a good computer whilst keeping true to its own heart.

Moved by Ruri’s words, Akito sets about cutting back the branches of the overgrown memories, only to meet up with opposition. Unable to appreciate that Akito is doing this for its own good, Omoikane activates a self-preservation program that appears in the form of Gekigangar III- an avatar of what the ship perceives as good. This is why Ruri needed Akito- only his knowledge of Gekigangar will enable them to defeat the self-preservation program.

Initially convinced that Gekigangar is unbeatable, Akito is unwilling to fight the avatar, until Ruri persuades him that his superior knowledge of Gekigangar should give him the edge. Hearing this, Akito realises that he can use the virtual world to his advantage, and creates his own Gekigangar III, with himself as one of the pilots.

Now Akito and the avatar are evenly matched, but it is not quite enough. Akito needs something more to break the stalemate, and he finally comes up with it; after episode 28, Gekigangar became Gekigangar V, and there was even a special unused sequence in which it transformed into Dragongangar. Using the knowledge of the anime and manga that Gai gave him, Akito transforms his Gekigangar first into Gekigangar V, and then into the mighty Dragongangar. Launching a Dragon Blast attack, he defeats the ship’s avatar and returns to Akito-Aestivalis form. Now all that remains is to take out the military’s installation program.

With Seiya keeping the investigators fooled with false readouts, Akito is free to launch a series of virtual missiles that take out the military program, preventing any more data from being erased. As far as the military are concerned, however, the computer has been overwritten, and Munetake is delighted to have a new and obedient system to help him win the war. Unknown to him, deep within the computer’s core, Omoikane still exists, and as the Nadesico heads off to its next destination, it sends Ruri a message- “Those unforgettable days, for them I live.”

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