24. Something That Covers the Sky

Using the tried-and-tested Knot Punisher, Dai-Guard dispatches yet another Heterodyne, a star shaped creature that appeared in an old amusement park; these days, it seems that the routine never changes- Heterodynes appear, Akagi gets told to rewrite combat reports, and on top of the constant attacks, there is all of the usual PR work to get done as well. At least Yokozawa’s getting a break- he’s taking the afternoon off to celebrate his daughter’s “graduation” (not from university, just her class at elementary school). A proud father, Yokozawa will willingly talk about his daughter to anyone who shows even the slightest interest- as Saeki soon finds out.

Meanwhile, down in Tech Division, Domeki has been working hard as well, as Sumida discovers when he visits her the next day. She has drawn up blueprints for a new Knot Punisher (creatively titled the Knot Punisher II), a weapon that packs all the punch of the original Knot Punisher, but at only a fraction of the bulk. However, with the good news comes the bad- over the last month, each new quake has brought additional dimensional surges, almost as if they are building up to something even worse than all that has come before.

Sumida decides to relay the news of a potential disaster to the PR Division 2 team, and pretty soon, all kinds of crazy rumours are flying around. Shirota, however, has something more than rumour to tell Akagi- the army are finally almost done with their repairs to Kokubogar, and soon work will begin on a second Kokubogar as well. Shirota doesn’t think Akagi will be too happy that the army will soon be interfering more than ever, but Akagi is delighted. Three giant robots equals triple protection against the Heterodyne.

Soon, however, the prophesied disaster occurs, as a new Heterodyne appears. Shaped like a giant floating fortress of nested spiky umbrellas, it sits five thousand metres above Shinjuku- and does absolutely nothing. Even planes broadcasting electromagnetic waves cannot shift it and, even though the creature is inactive for now, Colonel Nishina decides that it would be better if Tokyo were evacuated.

Over the next week, the majority of the city is evacuated. PR Division 2 stays behind to remain on standby, and in the meantime they help to evacuate everyone else, including their own co-workers and family. Seeing the deserted town makes Ooyama wonder if they did the right thing in uprooting everyone from their homes, but Akagi is sure that is the best course of action. The Heterodyne will almost certainly become active sooner or later, so it is best to be prepared for that moment.

Unwilling to wait indefinitely until the Heterodyne does activate, an impatient Busujima suggests that the army attacks the creature straightaway, so that all the evacuees can return to their homes as soon as possible. Despite Nishina’s objections, Busujima’s plan to bombard the original fractal knot with missiles is approved.

Whilst Domeki gives an overly technical briefing on the Knot Punisher II, PR Division 2 receives a call from Busujima- he is about to commence the missile attack. Domeki warns him against doing anything until her analysis is complete- for all she knows, attacking the creature might very well trigger a dangerous response. Busujima is unwilling to wait, however, and orders a squadron of fighter jets to attack what they think is the original fractal knot.

The fighters score a direct hit, but far from destroying the Heterodyne, their attack has quite the opposite effect. Following the operation on her computer, Domeki realises that the results she is seeing can only make sense if the ‘floating fortress’ is only a part of the creature’s body, and not the whole thing.

Indeed, moments later, the Heterodyne begins to rapidly change and grow. Like giant roots, huge struts grow down from the Heterodyne, smashing through buildings to embed themselves in the ground. PR Division 2 can only watch in horror as the giant Heterodyne umbrella obscures the sky over Tokyo, with hundreds of criss-crossing roots connecting it to the ground. What can they possibly do against this, the greatest threat yet?

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