3. A Goodbye That Came Too Soon

To keep the Jovians out, seven lines of defence surround the Earth, with the outermost one, the Big Barrier, consisting of nuclear fusion powered satellites. But what keeps things out can also keep them in, and if the Nadesico is to reach Mars, it will have to make its own way through these defensive lines.

The UN isn’t too happy about this, especially when Yurika calls the assembly to say that if they don’t drop the Big Barrier for the Nadesico, then they’ll have to shoot down some of the defensive satellites. In response, the UN decides to do all it can to sink the Nadesico. Fighter planes from the fifth and sixth defensive lines are already on the job; however, the Jovians have taken advantage of this disruption to launch an attack. Clearly, it’s time to send in the missiles from the next defensive lines.

Designed to repel gravity blasts, the Nadesico’s shields are much less effective against physical weapons. Gai isn’t interested in shooting down mere missiles, but promises that he will leap into action after they pass the third defensive line. And this time, Akito isn’t to upstage him, or Gai won’t show him the last season of Gekigangar.

The Nadesico is now beyond the range of most ground based fighters, but it still has to weather the missile attacks until the phase transition (PT) engine can be engaged at a higher altitude. Before that, the ship must pass through both the third and second defensive lines; in principle this should be no problem, but the weakening shields would seem to indicate otherwise.

Whilst Yurika pays a visit to Akito, only to find him engrossed in a moving episode of Gekigangar 3, Seiya checks up on Munetake and the other officers captured last episode. On the surface, they appear to be safely confined, but Munetake knows that escaping the cell will be easy; as soon as the fighting breaks out, he plans to leave in the confusion.

As part of the next defensive line, a squadron of nine Delphinium fighters are sent out to intercept the Nadesico. Their leader is none other than Jun Aoi, who has just received nano-machine treatment in order to become a pilot. Jun loves both the Earth and Yurika, and he can’t bear to see the latter betraying the former.

With Akito still crying over the Gekigangar episode where Joe dies, it is left to Gai to intercept the Delphinium fighters in his Aestivalis. Launching into the attack, Gai asks Uribatake to drop off the “Space Gengar heavy armaments module”, better know as the B-module. Uribatake eventually complies, but Gai’s great plan to swap into the new module fails when the Delphiniums destroy it- and pretty soon after that, Gai finds himself completely surrounded. It’s time to get Akito on the job.

As Akito launches, Jun sends a message to the Nadesico- he wants Yurika to turn back. Yurika refuses- her place is on the Nadesico, and a jealous Jun realises it is because Akito is there. Spurred on by anger and envy, Jun orders his squadron to destroy Gai’s Aestivalis.

Arriving on the scene, Akito pushes Gai out of the way just in time to save him, and tries to reason with Jun. Jun has no intention of his self-declared nemesis, however, and asks for a one-on-one duel instead. If he loses, the Delphiniums will withdraw- a deal which Prospector calculates to be most cost-effective. There’s only one problem- Akito doesn’t want to fight Jun.

Whilst Jun launches his attack on the unwilling Akito, Gai keeps the other Delphiniums at bay so that they can have their “man to man” duel. Meanwhile, the Nadesico continues to gain altitude, eventually entering the missile range of the second defensive line.

Driven by both his feelings for Yurika and his duty to Earth, Jun keeps up the attack. Akito and Gai maintain their defence, until both their Aestivalis’ suddenly run out of fuel. The Nadesico has moved out of energy transfer range, and is itself in trouble- missiles from the second defensive line have targeted the ship and are approaching from three directions.

Seeing his beloved Yurika in danger, Jun moves to block the missiles with his own fighter- a poignant (and pointless) self-sacrifice that is prevented by Akito and Gai. With the Nadesico having caught up to them, their Aestivalis regain power just in time to get Jun back on board as the Nadesico finally reaches the right altitude for PT engine burn.

With the PT engines online, the Nadesico surges past the missiles and heads on to the Big Barrier. Despite using half of the Earth’s power stations to power its satellites, Earth is unable to stop the Nadesico from punching through the Big Barrier, and out into space.

Whilst Akito gets back to watching Gekigangar, Gai decides to celebrate the battle by putting a Gekigangar sticker on his Aestivalis for each fighter he took care of. Unfortunately, in a tragic case of bad timing, he chooses to go down to the docking bay just as Munetake and his gang are making their escape; and when Gai spots the escapees and calls out, Munetake decides not take any chances, and shoots him…