22. Protect the Visitor?

Akito has taken his Aestivalis out on patrol, but if he thought that getting off the ship would give him some peace and quiet, he soon finds himself sadly mistaken. Erina is still pestering him about helping her, which naturally means that Yurika has to leap to his defence, and soon the rest of the pilots join in the conversation. And, thanks to all the distractions, Akito manages to crash into a Jovian shuttle.

Retrieving the shuttle, the crew discover that it contains one occupant- Yukina Shiratori. Inez explains that the unstable boson jump made by her ship may have caused some trauma, and indeed, on waking up, Yukina doesn’t seem to remember who she is. Although Inez plays along, she doesn’t seem 100% convinced- and indeed, Yukina is merely pretending to be an amnesiac to disguise her true purpose. She plans to assassinate the woman who she believes has corrupted her brother- Minato Haruka.

Back on board his own ship, Tsukumo is worried about Yukina, but there is no need for alarm. Yukina is doing just fine- she has slipped out of the infirmary and is exaggeratedly tiptoeing through the corridors of the Nadesico, searching for Minato. Meanwhile, Akito has acquired a shadow of his own- Erina. Having finished his report on the shuttle pick-up, Akito returns to his quarters, only to find Erina waiting for him.

Erina is still looking for Akito’s help, and can’t understand why he isn’t committed to fighting in every way he can to defeat the Jovians. Akito refuses to be swayed by Erina’s arguments, and attempts to ignore her. In frustration, Erina remarks that Akito is as stubborn as his father. Turning back to her, Akito demands to hear what she knows about his family, but Erina says nothing, and runs out.

Tiptoeing into the galley, Yukina takes a break for a quick snack, only to hear someone call her name. Thinking she has been discovered, Yukina freezes, but it is a false alarm. Seiya, Howmei and the maintenance crew are in the mess hall, and happened to be discussing their new visitor. After hearing them call her ‘cute’ and complain about the war, Yukina begins to warm to the ‘savage Earthlings’, but convinces herself that their humanity is just a front they’ve adopted to trick her.

Yukina finally tracks Minato down to the heated bath, and better yet, Megumi is just leaving, so she will be in there alone. Whilst Minato undresses, Yukina sneaks in and hides underwater, only to find herself waiting there for longer than expected when Minato has to go back into the locker room for her shampoo. When Minato is finally ready to get into the bath, Yukina rises up to attack- and promptly passes out from the heat and lack of air.

Revived by Minato, Yukina slips and admits that she is Tsukumo’s brother, just as Minato suspected. Yukina accuses Minato of seducing Tsukumo into becoming a spy- but Minato denies this, after all, to do that she would have been a lot more intimate with him. As Minato explains, the fact that Yukina cares about her brother enough to come over to the Nadesico proves that he must be a special person- so why shouldn’t Minato herself care about him too? Hearing her words, Yukina seems to finally accept Minato and Tsukumo’s relationship; looks like the assassination mission is off (especially as Minato already found the intended murder weapon).

As the Nadesico sets off on its way back to Earth, Yukina uses a Jovian leap communicator to send a live video communication to Tsukumo. After greeting her brother, Yukina hands over to Minato, who finds herself laughing along with Tsukumo at his corny puns.

The rest of the crew are unimpressed, but seeing Tsukumo and Minato’s feelings helps Yurika come to a decision. For her own protection, Yukina should stay aboard the Nadesico, whilst the crew do all they can to get peace negotiations underway. Hearing this, Tsukumo tries to ask Minato if she will marry him when the war is over, but his proposal is cut short when the Nadesico goes to alert status- they are surrounded.

The approaching ships are Earth vessels, under the command of Yurika’s father, but Admiral Misumaru hasn’t come over just to catch up with his daughter- HQ has ordered him to take custody of Yukina. Refusing to comply, Yurika asks Ruri to fire a warning shot with the gravity blast cannon, but even as Ruri inputs the command, the ship powers down- Akatsuki has just removed the ship’s master key.

Aside from the captain, the only person authorised to remove the master key is the chairman of Nergal- which just happens to be Akatsuki’s true identity. Most of the crew seem unsurprised by this revelation; after all, it’s hard to keep your identity secret if you don’t even update your webpage. Akatsuki informs them that he will be taking command of the Nadesico, and anyone who doesn’t like that can leave.

Bringing an armed boarding party, Admiral Misumaru comes over to talk to Yurika, but Yukina is nowhere to be seen. Akito is hiding with her elsewhere on the ship, but their hiding place is compromised when Erina shows up. Erina offers to strike a deal with Akito, claiming that not only can she help him, but that she has information about his parents.

Meanwhile, Admiral Misumaru, Yurika, Prospector and Goat are taken to see Akatsuki. Admiral Misumaru remarks how like his father Akatsuki has become. Years ago, Akatsuki’s father and the Tenkawas discovered the truth about the chulip crystals and the Jovian P.T. factory- and, only a few days later, the Tenkawas were ‘accidentally’ killed.

Deciding that the whole crew needs to hear the truth, Prospector touches a small Ruri-shaped badge on his waistcoat- a badge that also functions as a transmitter. As the crew listens in, Prospector ‘reminds’ Akatsuki of what happened back then- Nergal wanted to maintain control of the chulip crystals and boson jump technology found on Mars, and when Professor Tenkawa planned to publicise their research, he and his wife were eliminated as part of a plan to keep the technology secret, and thus firmly in Nergal’s hands.

Believing their conversation to be private, Akatsuki doesn’t deny Prospector’s conclusions. What’s more, Akatsuki seems to be as full of dirty tricks as his father. With Earth gearing up for an offensive against the Jovians, peace talks could lower morale and fighting spirit- which means peace emissary Yukina must be eliminated.

These words are the cue for the listening crew to act. As Goat and Prospector turn on their UEAF guards, Akito grabs Yukina and runs for it. Even Admiral Misumaru gets in on the act by knocking out Akatsuki with a frying pan when the chairman tries to intervene.

Erina tries to convince Akito to stay, but despite her tearful pleas, he knows he cannot. Running through the ship, Akito tries to find an escape route- only to be blocked off by armed UEAF forces. Fortunately, Ryoko, Izumi and Hikaru are on hand to return fire, and thanks to their help, Akito and Yukina make it to Akito’s Aestivalis. Swearing to protect Yukina no matter what, Akito takes off, and soon after, the rest of the crew jump ship as well. But what will happen to them now?

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