18. Run Towards Tomorrow

Ever since the Dai-Guard Enterprise Division was created, things haven’t been going well for 21st Century Security. Thanks to the basic incompetence of the new pilots, their stock, defence contracts and public image have dropped to an all time low. Unlike the board of directors, however, President Nishijima doesn’t seem worried. He has gotten rid of Ookouchi, Shirota and PR Division 2, and that is all that matters.

No matter what Nishijima thinks, the Dai-Guard pilots know that their jobs are on the line if they don’t shape up. And they are going to have shape up fast- a new Heterodyne has appeared in the Nakano district. Shaped like two long-necked vases joined base-to-base, the Heterodyne appears to be reasonably inactive- a sitting target for some easy brownie points.

Naturally, things aren’t going to be that simple. As the former members of PR Division 2 watch the battle on TV from their new workplaces, Dai-Guard slowly advances on the Heterodyne, Knot Punisher at the ready. Even as they go to fire, however, the Heterodyne begins sinking into the ground. Missing completely, the knot Punisher instead manages to smash right through an office block instead.

Twenty-four hours later, and the Heterodyne is finally relocated, this time in Mitaka. A weary and dishevelled looking Saeki sends Dai-Guard out into battle once again, this time with the Net Gun equipped. Unfortunately, thanks to the pilots’ lack of teamwork, the Heterodyne manages to evade the net as it sinks underground once again.

Thanks to its continuing failures, Dai-Guard has earned the name of “loser robot”, and the former PR Division 2 members can take no more. From their separate locations, they start making their way back to Tokyo- even Akagi, who decides to brave the blizzards to hike all the way down from the Mount Fuji observatory. Somehow, he manages to survive, but by the time he reaches the bottom, he looks no better than a zombie. Fortunately, he manages to stumble across a young couple sitting together in a car, and after their initial fright, they take him to a hospital.

As the members of PR Division 2 make their way back to Tokyo, the Heterodyne appears again, this time in Kokubunji, the next stop on the Central Line after Nakano and Mitaka. Even as they approach the hospital, Domeki sends everyone an e-mail. They are to meet with her at the Shinjuku Interchange.

Meanwhile, a totally exhausted Saeki warns Makise and the others that this is their last chance- if they screw up again, the Dai-Guard Enterprise Division will be dissolved, and they will be fired. This time around, however, they will have an advantage- a new weapon is being shipped out to them. Domeki and Sumida are delivering the weapon, and on the way, they just happen to pick up Akagi, now recovered from his Mount Fuji escapade.

Arriving with the new weapon, Domeki explains that what she has brought is a new operating system, complete with a brain wave control system that allows orders to be sent directly to the pilots’ brains. When Domeki adds that this will double Dai-Guard’s manoeuvrability, Saeki is delighted- maybe they can finally beat the Heterodyne.

Back at 21st Century, the board concludes that the company is in trouble. The Heterodyne’s latest appearance means that they will have to pay damages to eight more clients, something they can ill-afford when new clients have been so hard to come by. As Nishijima agonises over this, the board tells him not to worry- they have voted to dismiss him. And, in a supreme twist of irony, his replacement is to be none other than Ookouchi himself.

Dai-Guard’s pilots have been outfitted with the new control system, which system to consist of head-covering storm trooper style helmets with glowing red eyes. Thus outfitted, the “cyber-pilots” flawlessly launch Dai-Guard, and stride towards the Heterodyne. Their timing right on target, they reach out with the Knot Punisher, and this time they manage to grab the Heterodyne before it has a chance to get away.

As Saeki praises the new brainwave system, Shirota arrives on the scene, amused to discover that his former student hasn’t caught onto the truth yet. The helmets have nothing to do with brainwave control; they were just disguises to hide the fact that the three people piloting Dai-Guard aren’t Makise, Matsutouya and Tsuge, but Akagi, Ibuki and Aoyama. The other three pilots are still on site, having been tricked and tied up by the rest of PR Division 2.

Sumida and Domeki weren’t lying about the new operating system, however- programmed from Dai-Guard’s combat data, it gives the robot additional manoeuvrability, but it will only work correctly for the original three pilots. As if to demonstrate their suitability for the job, Akagi and the others fire the Knot Punisher, smashing the fractal know and vaporising the Heterodyne into a shower of smoke and sparkles.

The day is saved, but Aoyama can’t help worrying what Nishijima will do to them once he finds out about their unauthorised take-over of Dai-Guard. Fortunately, Chief Oosugi has just arrived to update them on the situation. Not only has Nishijima been replaced by Ookouchi, but PR Division 2 has been reinstated; Akagi, Ibuki and Aoyama resume their roles as Dai-Guard’s pilots, and the whole team will be together again, including Shirota. It looks like things are finally back to normal, or at least, as normal as they ever get…