23. Hydra

Drawn from their relaxation by Nene’s cry, the Knight Sabers and their allies run to the Mobile Pit, only to be confronted with a terrible sight. Galatea has penetrated Macky’s mind, forging a link that will destroy his memories and replace them with her own. Everything that makes Macky a person in his own right will be lost.

Determined to slow the process, Priss shatters the tendrils now linking Macky with the mobile pit’s computer. The link is severed, but Macky, or whatever remains of him, is left unconscious. For the Knight Sabers, it is the final straw. All four women are agreed- Galatea must be called to account for what she has done.

Whilst Nigel and Henderson take care of Macky in the mobile pit, Leon agrees to escort the refugees from the park to safety- although after that nothing is going to stop him coming back for Priss. Before he leaves, he and Priss share a quick kiss. Although Priss seems more receptive to him this time, he still earns a kick for suggesting they “finish it later”.

With their goodbyes said and preparations made, the Knight Sabers are ready for their hardest- and maybe their final- mission. Activating their thrusters, they set off for Genom Tower. For some reason, the tower appears to be surrounded by a strange yellow fog, and the Knight Sabers soon discover why- it is the first of Galatea’s defences.

Flying towards the tower, both Priss and Sylia find themselves repelled by a mysterious wall that seemingly springs up out of nowhere. Watching them, Nene realises that the fog itself is made up of millions of tiny nano-boomers, which take on the shape of an impenetrable barrier faster than any human can react. And yet, to proceed, they will need to find a way through it.

The only thing that might be fat enough to punch a hole through the boomer wall are Linna’s cutters (the energy whips on her hardsuit). The others will have to launch Linna at the wall as if she were a battering ram- a dangerous manoeuvre that could kill Linna if she impacts at the wrong angle. Despite the risks, Linna is willing to give it a go, and Priss and Nene dutifully launch her into the wall…

Instead of cutting right through it, Linna’s cutters become embedded in the wall, leaving her trapped. Desperate to free their comrade, Priss and Sylia launch their own attacks, only to get stuck themselves. And with Nene’s energy bolts having no effect on the boomer wall, it looks as if there may be no way out.

Fortunately for the Knight Sabers, help is about to arrive from an unexpected source. Back at the mobile pit, a barely conscious Macky manages to reach out to Nene with a mental link. Most of his memories are gone, but a few fragments still remain. He explains to Nene that there is still a residual link between him and Galatea; if he uses the last of his power, he will be able to distract her for long enough to allow the Knight Sabers to get free of the wall and enter the tower.

Nene has no desire to see Macky sacrifice himself in this way, but his mind is made up. Even if he does nothing, in a few more hours all of his memories and personality will be lost. Resolved to make his death count for something, Macky uses the last of his power to create a stream of energy that feeds back to Galatea, momentarily confusing and distracting her.

The Knight Sabers free themselves, but a devastated Sylia seem frozen and unable to continue. Despite sharing her grief, Nene realises that they must take advantage of what Macky has done before it is too late, and leads the other Knight Sabers into the tower.

Entering the tower, the Knight Sabers are greeted with the remains of Mason. Priss is all for putting him out of his misery, but the others stop her. Killing boomers is one thing, but Mason was a human being once- and there is no need to stoop to murder. Leaving Mason’s body behind, the Knight Sabers carry on upwards- to the higher reaches of the tower where huge plasma coils create a force that opposes gravity- and where Galatea awaits their arrival.

Watching the approach of her adversaries, Galatea sends down her own welcoming party- the mysterious jellyfish like creatures that usually float around her. These creatures also have Galatea’s abilities; any boomer they touch will go rogue- including the hardsuits. But how can the Knight Sabers hope to defeat an enemy they can’t even touch?

This time it is Priss who comes up with a plan, although even she admits that it isn’t one of her better ones. Running through the tower are huge plasma conduits; after asking Nene to cut off the flow in one of the conduits, she grasps it, and breaks through the conduit even as it tries to fuse with her suit. Redirecting the open end towards the “jellyfish”, Priss asks Nene restarts the flow. The ignited plasma blasts out of the pipe, incinerating all of the creatures.

Whilst Linna and Nene wonder at Priss’ bravery (and stupidity), Sylia carries on up to Galatea, determined to force a showdown with her sister. Finally standing face to face, each outlines their own agenda. Galatea offers to erase her pain and loneliness by absorbing Sylia into the collective consciousness she has made, but Sylia has no interest in anything other than destroying the monster her father created. Lunging forward, she stabs her sword into Galatea’s body- only to listen in horror as Macky’s voice issues from Galatea’s lips.

Watching from below, the other Knight Sabers realise that it must be a trick, but Sylia is frozen by the sound of her brother’s voice. He has become a part of Galatea now- and Sylia can join him. Unable to resist, Sylia is powerless to do anything as the wound she inflicted on Galatea heals, and her energy starts spreading back through Sylia’s hardsuit.

Unable to reach Sylia in time, Nene takes action in the only way she can; firing an energy bolt, she severs the physical link between Sylia and Galatea. As a distraught Sylia falls to the floor, Priss knocks Galatea’s body away.

But Galatea has no further need of her physical body; sending out tendrils to the far walls, she begins transferring her consciousness into the tower itself. The Knight Sabers can only watch in horror as the top of the tower reshapes itself into the head and upper body of a giant Galatea, before tearing away from its moorings and rising into space…