23. A Place We Call Home

With most of the Nadesico crew having mutinied and left the ship, the Nadesico isn’t in the best shape. It will take three days to repair the ship, and potentially another ten days to train the replacement crew. Still, to Goat’s annoyance, Akatsuki no longer seems too bothered about the Nadesico, not when Nergal’s brand new warship is almost finished.

The former crew of the Nadesico are now living reasonably normal lives back on Earth. Akito, Jun and Yurika are working at the restaurant Akito was fired from before he first joined the crew; whilst Yurika impresses everyone with her superior waitressing abilities, Akito helps out with the cooking- and poor Jun is relegated to washing dishes!

With Yurika, Akito and Jun hard at work, Minato stays home with Yukina and plays ‘housewife’ for them. Living on a planet is a new experience for Yukina, and Minato introduces her to the simple joy of being outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Realising that Earth people can be nice too, Yukina begins to wonder if living with Minato might not be so bad after all.

At Nergal HQ, Akatsuki reluctantly reviews Erina’s report on the Nadesico situation. Nergal’s field agents have tracked down most of the former crew- with the exception of Ruri, Ryoko, Hikaru and Izumi. The rest have either gone back to their old jobs, asked for reinstatement on the Nadesico, or remain in limbo under Nergal’s watchful eye. Everything seems quiet for now, but should that change, Akatsuki has no qualms about ‘neutralising’ any former crew member who decides to stir up trouble. Listening in as he supervises the Howmei girls working in the Nergal library, Prospector realises things must be bad if Akatsuki can order eliminations so casually.

Megumi is one of the people to have gone back to her old job- she is voicing the evil Rambutan on Magical Princess Natural Lychee. Despite the praise she receives for the role, however, Megumi feels uneasy- the “Jovan war” plot on Natural Lychee seems too close to the real-life Jovian war. Over coffee, she expresses her uneasiness to fellow seiyuu Mari, and reveals that she is actually considering leaving the show. An undercover Nergal agent, Mari tells Megumi to stay and just go with the flow. She even goes to the length of calling in Erina, who tries to strike a deal with Megumi. Nergal will ensure that her acting career is successful, but only if she sticks with playing Rambutan and stays quiet about the Jovians and the Nadesico.

Unwilling to listen to any more, Megumi runs out of the café, barely noticing the two Nergal agents trailing her. Finally, Megumi is stopped by a robotic boy, who calls her name and asks to speak with her. Offering to clear the interference, the robot launches missiles at the Nergal agents, enabling Megumi to make a getaway with the robot’s controller- Seiya.

Seiya explains that all the former crewmembers have been put under surveillance, except for those few Nergal haven’t tracked down. Ryoko, Hikaru and Izumi- three of the four missing crewmembers- are actually hiding out in the woods with their Aestivalis’. Unfortunately, with the Nadesico computer having apparently been reprogrammed, they, along with Seiya, Megumi and everyone else, can no longer use their Nadesico communicators to get in touch with the rest of the crew. It may be that they are all doomed to this life of isolation, surveillance and enforced silence for the foreseeable future.

Back at the restaurant, Akito presents a dish he has prepared for his boss to sample. Tasting it, the boss is impressed and realises that Akito has finally stopped running from himself, and started growing up. And he has obviously had the help of a master chef along the way.

The chef in question, Ms Howmei, is still on board the Nadesico, as is Inez Fressange. Howmei tells Inez that she couldn’t leave while there was still work to do- including a certain ‘kitten’ that needed looking after. The kitten is question is in fact Ruri, who has been hiding out in the Nadesico’s refrigerator dressed as a cat (for warmth, obviously). Ruri has been busy teaching Omoikane to fool Nergal into thinking it has been reprogrammed, but now, she finally has the chance to send a message to all of the Nadesico’s former crewmembers. A long time ago, Admiral Fukube told them the Nadesico was their ship, and as such, it is time for them to take it back.

Prospector and the Howmei Girls are the first to return to the Nadesico dock, although when the old ‘ramen cart’ trick fails to get them past the guards, they have to fall back on brute force. In preparation for the crew’s return, Ruri and Omoikane lock the Nergal crew out of the ship, whilst out in the woods, Ryoko, Hikaru and Izumi take to the sky in their Aestivalis’. Meanwhile, Akito and the others leave the restaurant, whilst Megumi tries to decide whether she really wants to go back.

Akatsuki isn’t too worried about the attempt to retake the Nadesico- after all, how can they launch without the master key, which is securely in Nergal’s hands? However, the dissatisfied Goat is not the Nergal yes man Akatsuki presumed- he has already taken the master key and gone back to the Nadesico.

Driving back to the Nadesico, Akito and the others meet up with Ryoko- not to mention six approaching enemy choppers. Ryoko offers to get Yurika back to the Nadesico as fast as possible, and takes her onboard whilst the others drive on, with Akito’s Aestivalis covering from the back of the truck. However, whilst the Aestivalis pilots are unwilling to hurt anyone by shooting down the choppers, the helicopter squadron has no such compunctions, and starts laying down fire.

As they head for the Nadesico at top speed, Yurika looks at the land below, and fantasises about how it would be if she and Akito started a restaurant there. It is a pleasant dream, but Yurika knows that it isn’t enough anymore; the Nadesico has come to mean a lot to them, and the quiet life on Earth clearly no longer suits the adventurous crew- especially not when they still have unfinished business to take care of.

Dodging the enemy helicopters, Ryoko, Yurika, Hikaru and Izumi finally make it back to the Nadesico, where Goat hands over the master key. As Yurika inserts the key and the ship powers up, Megumi scrambles to her post- she wasn’t about to be the odd one out by staying behind. With the bridge crew in place, the Nadesico sets about picking up the rest of its crew, starting with Akito, Jun, Minato and Yukina- just in time to rescue them from the relentless choppers.

There are other crewmembers that need retrieving too, including Seiya. Seiya’s wife isn’t surprised to learn that he will be running off again, but to her surprise, this time, he promises to come back.

With everyone back on board, it is time for the Nadesico to leave the Earth, although there is still the problem of the Big Barrier- it isn’t likely that the UEAF will want to help out by deactivating it. Fortunately, Prospector has learned the cancel code for the automated defences, and with Ruri’s help, he hacks into the system to prevent them from activating.

Out in space, the Nadesico plots its next course; they will go to Jupiter and make contact with Tsukumo. But back on Earth, Nergal is already plotting its next move; Akatsuki and Erina are going to send their new ship after the Nadesico, and they have an unexpected ally for this mission- Inez Fressange.

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