15. We Are All Alive

Returning to the office after the New Year holiday, PR Division 2 are surprised to learn that Ookouchi has been dismissed as company president. Director Nishijima has taken his place, and is quick to justify his actions by making a speech about Ookouchi’s abuse of power regarding his unilateral decisions about launching Dai-Guard. And to win over anyone who might feel sympathy for the former president, he makes sure to tell everyone that it was Ookouchi who gave the order to launch an OE bomb against the Heterodyne twelve years ago.

In closing, Nishijima promises to bring changes to the company, and indeed, the first of those changes has already arrived. Shirota has been assigned a new tactical aide- a bright young army officer named Saeki, who was one of his students back in London. Saeki seems pleasant enough on the surface, but there is more going on here than meets the eye- as evidenced by the private plans he seems to be drawing up for Nishijima.

Whatever the case, it looks like Saeki is going to have the chance to take charge sooner than anticipated when Nishijima requests that Shirota accompanies him to a meeting with the army. Saeki expects to spend the time on combat alert, but instead, his job is to attend the Fire Department’s New Year parade, together with Dai-Guard and the rest of PR Division 2. To Saeki, this is just a waste of time, but Shirota believes otherwise; such events help promote a good image and strengthen ties with Japanese citizens- and besides, it is company policy to attend.

But even though Shirota has learnt to be more flexible, Saeki is just as rigid as his mentor was before he joined the Dai-Guard team. On Nishijima’s orders (and without Shirota’s knowledge) Saeki has encrypted Dai-Guard’s computer with a security password.

The pilots are naturally upset about this, but Saeki shrugs off any responsibility- as a loyal army officer, he cannot disobey any order from his superiors. And to add insult to injury, he tells Akagi and the others that Nishijima has agreed to give the army more control over Dai-Guard’s operations. Not only will the army take care of maintenance, but the tactical advisor will be in command of all operations- which are to be strictly limited to Heterodyne engagements, not promotional events.

Worse still, these new arrangements are about to be put to the test straightaway, thanks to the appearance of a new Heterodyne. Shaped like a frayed, open-ended vertical tube, the Heterodyne emits electromagnetic waves intense enough to make approaching it or even scanning it virtually impossible. The only thing well-shielded enough to take it on is Dai-Guard, but as they do not know the location of the original fractal knot, Saeki won’t even let the robot take off.

Unwilling to do nothing, Akagi and the others head over to Dai-Guard on the pretext of needing a “bathroom break”. Well aware of what they are planning, a smug Saeki tells them it will be impossible to make an unauthorised take-off- getting past the encryption software will be impossible.

Sumida agrees that hot-wiring Dai-Guard won’t be possible, but fortunately Domeki is on the phone, and she believes otherwise. Meanwhile, Saeki is receiving an earful from Shirota, who has called to ask why Dai-Guard hasn’t taken off yet. Shirota has already come up with a plan to let Dai-Guard go in find the fractal knot by using vibration land mines to tip the Heterodyne over, but Saeki feels it is too risky. He cannot understand why Shirota would suggest such an approach- can this be the same Shirota who taught him to be cautious, and always consider the probabilities?

Realising that Saeki cannot manage this on his own, Shirota decides that he needs to forget about the meeting with the army and head back to the site. Nishijima isn’t happy about this, but Kamimura tells Shirota to go ahead- she can handle apologies for the missed meeting later.

Thanks to Domeki’s hacking prowess, Dai-Guard is soon activated, and shortly after, both Shirota and the Knot Punisher arrive- everything is finally ready to battle the Heterodyne. Shirota quickly outlines the plan- by shelling the Heterodyne, the army will coerce it into moving into a section filled with vibration mines. Once activated, the mines will liquefy the topsoil, causing the Heterodyne to tip over. Dai-Guard will then go inside and relay the data to HQ, so that Domeki can identify the fractal knot for them. There is, of course, an additional complication- Dai-Guard’s shields can only withstand the electromagnetic bombardment within the Heterodyne for three minutes. If the pilots take any longer, they will be fried.

The plan may seem reckless to Saeki, but Shirota is sure that it is the only way to have a good chance of success; sometimes, you just have to follow your instincts. On Shirota’s orders, the Heterodyne is duly lured to the planned site, and the mines are activated. As the creature tips over, Dai-Guard trudges closer to get a look inside, only to get pulled inside the Heterodyne by the tentacles at its ‘frayed’ open end.

The interior of the Heterodyne closes, trapping Dai-Guard inside with less than three minutes left before the shields go down. Fortunately, visual data is still being relayed to Domeki, who quickly sets about locating the original fractal knot in amongst all the copies. Finally, with thirty seconds remaining, she locates it, and the data is relayed back to Dai-Guard.

Targeting the Knot Punisher at the fractal knot, Akagi attempts to activate it, only to discover that Dai-Guard’s arm is still caught in the Heterodyne’s tentacles. With less than ten seconds left, he manages to free it, whilst Domeki re-acquires the original fractal knot. As Ibuki counts down the last few seconds, Akagi fires the Knot Punisher, shattering the fractal knot. At the last possible second, the Heterodyne finally dissolves.

The day may have been saved once again, but always, there are just some people who can’t be pleased. Nishijima is unimpressed with the reckless and undisciplined attitude of PR Division 2, and is more than happy to receive a special report prepared by Saeki. The report details the creation of a proposed new Dai-Guard Enterprise Division, complete with the names of robot pilots trained by the army. It looks like the team are about to be rewarded for their hard work- by getting fired.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *