8. A Strange Day

3:07 am. It is a cold night, and Ibuki wants nothing more than to sleep until a reasonable hour, but it looks like that won’t be possible. A combat alert has been announced, which means Ibuki must brave the cold to go into work; unfortunately, having made the effort to get the office, she finds that no one else is there- what is going on?

8:35 am. Arriving at the office, Akagi is in a good mood and ready for a new day. Of course, he was woken up in the night by a combat alert, but unlike Ibuki, he got the message that it was cancelled. His good mood evaporates a little when Ooyama gives him a pile of envelopes to stick address labels onto, especially as all Aoyama has to do is go through some files and recommend PR helpers for their next event.

However, work is temporarily forgotten when Akagi spots Ibuki dozing at her desk. Still in his good mood, Akagi tries to wake Ibuki and get a reaction from her by re-enacting a Heterodyne battle (complete with cheesy sound effects). Ibuki does react eventually, but not with good humour- after telling Akagi to shut up, she storms out, warning everyone to leave her alone.

As the others tease Akagi for his tactless display, Aoyama receives a phone call, and immediately leaves the office to have a private conversation with the caller. Thinking that he must be talking to a girlfriend, Tanigawa and Irie decide to follow him, and they drag Nakahara with them.

With the office half-empty, Akagi decides to get down to work, only to be disturbed by Shirota, who wants yet another combat report rewritten. Akagi protests that he is too busy with his PR work- although he would have time to correct the report if Shirota did the address labels. With a little persuasion, Shirota is soon sticking labels like a pro, and Akagi decides to take the chance to slip out of the office.

Out in the corridor, Irie, Tanigawa and Nakahara try to eavesdrop on Aoyama’s phone conversation. When they hear him talking to someone about a visit to the doctor, Irie and Tanigawa are quick to jump to conclusions- clearly it is his girlfriend, with some ‘good news’ for Aoyama…

10:38 am. Akagi has come down to Dai-Guard’s hangar to look for Ibuki, but the only person he finds there is maintenance worker Sumida. Akagi explains about Ibuki’s outburst, and the ongoing bad mood she has been in lately. Sumida suggests that perhaps Ibuki is tense because the pressures of work don’t leave much time for a love life- but what neither man realises is that Ibuki herself is sitting in the cockpit, listening. Jumping out, Ibuki begins shouting at Akagi again, until the alarm distracts them- it is time to go on alert.

The Heterodyne alert looks like it might turn out to be a false alarm, but the pilots have to wait in Dai-Guard anyway. Akagi tries to apologise to Ibuki, but with every word he only seems to get in more trouble, and Ibuki begins snapping back at him. Fed up with the whole situation, Aoyama activates the com and broadcasts their argument to the entire team. Unaware that they are being listened to, Akagi and Ibuki continue to insult each other- until Shirota breaks in to tell them to shut up. Akagi is immediately embarrassed, but Ibuki merely lapses into an angry silence.

Finally, at 11:27, the combat alert is cancelled, and by 1:20 pm, Akagi is eating lunch with Shirota in the cafeteria. Shirota explains that Ibuki has spoken to him- wanting to know why the civilian pilots of Dai-Guard have to have such restrictions placed on their freedom and privacy. Shirota acknowledges that it isn’t really fair to expect civilians to live by the same kind of regulations that soldiers do, and suggests that Akagi and the others should quit Dai-Guard. Akagi disagrees- the four of them have begun to work well together, and they shouldn’t throw that away.

Outside, Ibuki is staring out over the bay in contemplation. Her thoughts are interrupted by yet another combat alert- and even though Domeki doesn’t seem to think the threat is too serious, the pilots are nevertheless once again expected to prepare for take-off. However, all is still not well with Dai-Guard’s pilots- Ibuki is refusing to talk to anyone, whilst Aoyama is on the phone once again. Although as it turns out, the woman he is worried about isn’t a girlfriend- it is his sick mother.

5:22 pm. Much to Ooyama’s annoyance, Aoyama has failed to complete his day’s work. Ooyama accuses him of selfishly wasting the day, and reminds him that she can’t do all the work herself- besides, she is only delegating work he should be able to handle. Aoyama promises to get the work done in the morning, and leaves. The rest of the team immediately start gossiping, but Ibuki tells them not to jump to conclusions- they don’t know for sure that Aoyama went to meet his girlfriend, so maybe he took the time off for another reason.

8:05 pm. Rushing back to the office with beer and food, Akagi finds Ibuki still there, catching up on all the work she didn’t get done during the day. Akagi apologises once again for riling her during the day, and hands her a beer as a peace offering. After a couple of cans, Ibuki seems to have calmed down a little, and explains that lately she has been upset and exhausted. For the first time, she explains to Akagi that Professor Momoi is only her stepfather- her real father was killed during the first Heterodyne attack twelve years ago. In fact, the whole reason she wanted to become one of Dai-Guard’s pilots was so that, if the Heterodyne did return, she could avenge his death. Ibuki explains that her stepfather wants her to quit; after all, the job does garner a lot of press attention, and as Akagi was saying earlier, doesn’t really leave time for a boyfriend. Akagi admits that he isn’t a real wonder on the dating scene either, but believes that the key is to keep your eyes and heart open.

As Akagi trails off embarrassedly, the two are interrupted by yet another combat alert. After laughing at his corny lines, Ibuki realises that the alert sounds serious- and not only have they been drinking, but Aoyama needs to be called back to the office straightaway.

Aoyama has driven to the hospital to pick up his mother, who has been to see the doctor. Despite Aoyama’s worries that she is working too hard, she insists that she is fine, and a lot tougher than Aoyama thinks. As his phone starts ringing, Aoyama seems to about to ignore the call, but his mother tells him to answer- he is needed at work, and mustn’t neglect his duties just for her. As his mother goes to take a cab home, Aoyama answers the call, and gets an update on the latest combat alert- a fitting end to such a strange day…