21. The Meadows We Once Ran Across

T-20 minutes. The Aestivalis pilots are being sent on a mission inside the Nadesico; they must ride bicycles through the high voltage corridors leading to the Y-Unit, and retake the unit itself within twenty minutes. As the pilots set off, something seems a little odd- Akito is uncharacteristically assertive, whilst Akatsuki seems less brash than usual. As for what is exactly is going on, well, in a disjointed way, we are about to find out…

T-35 mins. In the hangar bay, Izumi is doing an exorcism; apparently she has just seen a ghost.

T-8 mins. It looks like Izumi isn’t the only one seeing ghosts- Akatsuki has just been confronted with a vision of his dead brother.

T-??: Memory Mah-jongg. Outside of these disjointed events, the Aestivalis pilots, Ruri, Yurika and Inez are playing Mah-jongg, but each of the tiles contains one of their memories, such as Yurika and Akito’s first bike ride back when they were children on Mars.

T-54 mins. The Nadesico is involved in an engagement in lunar orbit. Jovian officer Genichiro Tsukiomi has set his sights on destroying the Nadesico, and sends out two Daimajin robots to attack. The robots boson jump right past the waiting Aestivalis’ and start assaulting the Nadesico’s distortion field. Returning, the Aestivalis’ launch a counterattack, and successfully take down the Daimajin.

In response, Genichiro’s ship begins advancing on the Nadesico, and it won’t be long before they are close enough to use their boson cannon. The Nadesico can try to evade them, but then they won’t be in position to fire their own cannon. Akito tells Yurika not to worry- they can stop the Jovians.

T-80 mins. At a crew briefing, Goat explains that Earths 2nd fleet is launching an offensive on the dark side of the moon. The Nadesico’s mission is to lure the Jovian boson cannon-equipped ships away and destroy them using their newest weapon- the phase transition cannon. Powered by the Y-Unit, the P.T. cannon warps space itself, and, if deployed successfully, could be the key factor in helping Earth retake the moon. But in order for that to happen, the Nadesico must be in position in less than eighty minutes.

In the meantime, Erina has something else she wants to try- an artificial boson jump test. She wants Akito to take part, and surprisingly, Akatsuki asks if he can be part of the test as well.

T-45 mins. It is time for the jump test. Out in space, Akito’s Aestivalis is surrounded by chulip crystals, and, at Erina’s urging, Akito manages to boson jump to the Jovian ship, where he destroys their boson cannon before it can fire at the Nadesico. Genichiro wants to retaliate, but Tsukumo orders him to retreat.

T-??: Memory Mah-jongg. Akito has been acting differently lately, and Inez explains that his boson jumping has unlocked a repressed portion of his personality that dreams of being a hero like Gai. Inez and Jun reckon that Akito has become a real hero, but Akito disagrees; doing something flashy doesn’t make you a hero- being willing to sacrifice yourself for others does.

T-30 mins. The connection with the Y-Unit has stopped responding, and, with all the corridors leading to it either blocked by high voltage discharges or zero gravity. Without the Y-Unit, the P.T. cannon cannot fire, so Goat suggests sending a team in. Unfortunately, the pilots aren’t doing very well either- they claim to be seeing ghosts.

T-34 mins. Ryoko, Hikaru, Izumi, Yurika, Jun and Ruri have begun seeing apparitions. Are there ghosts onboard the Nadesico?

T-18 mins. Akito, Izumi and Akatsuki are cycling down to the Y-Unit (the rubber tyres on their bicycles insulate them from the high voltage). Whilst Akito takes on the role of bold and assertive leader, Akatsuki is acting more like a little kid, and Izumi just seems interested in sex. Something has definitely messed with their personalities.

T-15 mins. Whatever is altering personalities has affected the other team on its way to the Y-Unit- Ryoko, Hikaru and Jun. Ryoko is hesitant and nervous, Hikaru is indecisive, and Jun has become a gun toting maniac.

T-40 minutes. Tsukumo tries to convince the commander of the Jovian fleet that they could open negotiations with the Earthlings. With the Jovian phase transition plant on the verge of breaking down, they need a swift conclusion to the war. Tsukumo has a plan to negotiate peace, and the commander agrees to let him try it.

Satisfied, Tsukumo returns to his quarters to watch some Gekigangar, only to be interrupted by Genichiro, shortly followed by Tsukumo’s younger sister Yukina. Genichiro is angry about being ordered to retreat, whilst Yukina is more concerned about Tsukumo’s plans for a peace treaty. Tsukumo claims that he is just thinking of attaining peace, but Yukina knows there is more to it than it. Ripping Tsukumo’s Gekigangar poster off the wall, she reveals a hidden photo of his secret crush- Minato.

T-?? minutes. Inez explains that the memory mah-jongg players’ minds and memories have somehow become linked together, whilst repressed facets of their personalities have taken over their bodies on board the ship.

T-10 minutes. The repressed personalities in Akito’s team have almost made it to the Y-Unit.

T-43 minutes. Following the success of Akito’s boson jump, Akatsuki wants to give it a try. Against Erina’s advice, he tries to initiate a jump, despite the fact that is obviously painful for him. Much to Akatsuki’s annoyance, Erina deactivates the chulip crystals, aborting the jump. Looking down at his ripped and melted pilot suit, Akatsuki is depressed to realise that boson jumping is beyond his capabilities.

Back in memory mah-jongg, Inez explains how Akatsuki’s personality has been shaped by his past. Akatsuki’s older brother was meant to be the heir to the family business, but when he died, that responsibility was shifted to an unwilling Akatsuki.

T-8 minutes. Akito, Izumi and Akatsuki have almost made it to the Y-Unit, only to be stopped by the ghosts of people important to them- Gai, Akatsuki’s brother, and one of Izumi’s dead fiancés. Watching from memory mah-jongg, Ruri explains that the visions aren’t really ghosts. Created from memories, they represent parts of the pilots’ own minds that are holding them back. For Izumi and Akatsuki, this is a representation of their fear of being parted from loved one, whilst for Akito, it is a more direct fear of death itself.

T-3 minutes. Akito tries to deny his fears, but the vision of Gai won’t let him. Instead of coming up with reasons for everything, Akito should just accept that sometimes you just have to go ahead and do something without worrying about making sense of it first. Recalling that this is just the way he and Yurika felt when they went on their first bike ride, Akito finally understands.

T-2 minutes. The Jovian fleet is assembling behind the moon, and the Nadesico is on approach. If the Y-Unit isn’t back online within the next two minutes, it’s all over.

T-1 minute. Akito has finally made it to the Y-Unit, which has been compromised by a Jovian crab machine. Spotting the intruder, Akito grabs his gun, and fires at it.

Zero Hour. The P.T. cannon is back online, and on Yurika’s order, Ruri targets the enemy fleet and fires. As space warps under the effects of the cannon, the Jovian fleet is vaporised.

T+15 minutes. Everyone is back to normal now, and that means that is time for Inez to give an explanation. The nano-machine devices injected into the Nadesico pilots create a memory storage area near the brain, and when the Jovian hacker crab tapped into the Nadesico’s computer, it also hacked into the pilot’s brains via these memory storage areas, linking them together via the crew’s communicators. Unfortunately, Inez still can’t explain what the hacker crab was looking for, or why Inez and Yurika were included in the link when they have never had nano-machine treatment.

Meanwhile, on board the Jovian flagship, Tsukumo is surprised to learn that his suggestions have led to a peace emissary being dispatched to the next- and that emissary is none other than his little sister Yukina. Unfortunately, however, Yukina seems less interested in peace than in getting back at Minato for corrupting her brother.

Back on board the Nadesico, Akito tells Erina that he doesn’t want to participate in her boson jump experiments. Part of being a hero is knowing what to fight for, and Erina’s games just aren’t worth it when there are more important things to protect.

T+?? minutes. One last move in the game of memory mah-jongg. Inez seems surprised when Akito finds a tile that has a picture of Ai on it, but everyone is soon distracted when Yurika shows them a memory that she and Akito both share- their first bike ride together. Hey, wasn’t that tile played already?