8. The Luke Warm “Cold Equation”

The United Earth forces are engaging the Jovians in the fourth battle for the Moon when, to their surprise, a chulip activates and the Nadesico emerges. Aboard the Nadesico, nearly everyone is asleep, whilst Yurika, Akito and Inez have somehow ended up in the recreation room, with Akito and Inez holding hands. Confused, disorientated, and waking up in the middle of an attack, Yurika immediately orders the gravity blast cannon fired…only to end up nearly taking out the Earth Fleet.

After apologising to the fleet, talk turns to just how Yurika and the others got down to the recreation room, what they were doing, and why Inez is still sleeping. With everyone arguing over Akito, it is up to Ruri to point out that, more importantly, the enemy is attacking.

Ryoko, Hikaru, Izumi and Akito head out in their Aestivalis’, but it soon becomes clear that the enemy is more powerful than they were expecting. The Jovian grasshoppers seem to have upgraded their defensive shields, and the pilots’ attacks aren’t as effective as usual. Worse still, Akito’s fear seems to have returned, leaving him paralysed and vulnerable. Pretty soon, he finds himself surrounded, with the other pilots unable to get to him straightaway.

Beset by memories of the past, Akito is frozen, and about to bear the brunt of an enemy attack- until a mysterious dark blue Aestivalis pushes him out of the way. The new pilot warns the others that things are about to get dangerous, and indeed, seconds later, a gravity blast from a multi-barrelled cannon vaporises twenty percent of the enemy in one shot.

The Nadesico’s saviour is none other than the Cosmos, its sister ship, which may seem a little odd considering that, as far as the crew is concerned, there is no sister ship. Having helped Akito back aboard, the new Aestivalis pilot introduces himself as Nagare Akatsuki, and explains that it has in fact been eight months since the Nadesico left Mars. Somehow, the passage through the chulip has messed around with time as well as space.

Whilst the Nadesico docks with the Cosmos, Inez and Prospector begin to explain what has been going on since they left Mars. Nergal and the United Earth forces have renewed their alliance, and begun building more battleships, allowing them to reclaim the surface of the moon. Now, the Nadesico will be reassigned to the United Earth Navy’s far Eastern command. Not everyone is happy about just forgetting about Mars, but the ever-practical Prospector reminds them that going back would probably be of no use anyway. And as Akatsuki remarks, anyone who doesn’t like the Nadesico’s new assignment can always leave.

With plenty on his mind as usual, Akito decides to indulge in a little escapism with an episode or two of Gekigangar. Unfortunately, even this relaxation is interrupted by the arrival of Akatsuki, who seems less than impressed with Akito’s love of anime. The two soon get into an argument, and decide to settle it one-on-one- with a game of zero-g basketball, that is.

Thanks to Akito’s problems with inertia, the game can’t even get started before Ryoko orders the two pilots to get back to their Aestivalis’ and launch for the next attack. Akito does little better in this battle, evading his enemy rather than pressing the attack. And pretty soon, this leads to trouble, as a tussle with a Grasshopper pushes him into the shadow of the moon, and out of range of the energy feed from the Nadesico.

Adrift in space, with limited power and oxygen, there seems to be no chance that Akito will be able to return to the Nadesico. Unwilling to give up, Megumi and Yurika take out standard fighters to find him.

Whilst Akito figures out that jettisoning his Aestivalis’ feet will give him some thrust in the right direction, Megumi and Yurika head out to him, only to get caught in an attack. His fear vanquished by the need to protect them, Akito rescues the two women, and takes them onboard the Aestivalis.

Unfortunately, having three people in one ship cuts the oxygen down considerably. There is only thirty minutes supply left, and at their current speed it will take two hours to get back to the Nadesico. Jettisoning a few more Aestivalis body parts and deploying the emergency solar sail will cut that down to forty minutes, but that is still too long. The only way to get there in time is for one of the girls to stay behind and get picked up later.

Yurika and Megumi both want to be the one left behind (after all, it proves Akito’s love for them if he’s willing to return for them), but Akito isn’t willing to do that- Gai would never leave anyone behind, and neither will he. Somehow, they’ll find another way to survive.

Thirty minutes later, and it looks like Akito’s power, and luck, have run out. They haven’t reached the Nadesico, and now their time is up- or is it? Taking an uncharacteristic risk, Jun has brought the Nadesico out to meet them- Yurika, Akito and Megumi are saved.

With rescue in sight, Akito realises that his place is aboard the Nadesico. Maybe he doesn’t like to fight, but like Gai would say, sometimes you have to do it to protect the things that are important to you. It may sound like something out of Gekigangar, but it is a good enough sentiment for Akito.

The crisis over, the Nadesico prepares to accept two new crewmembers. One of them is a face they thought they’d gotten rid of- Admiral Sadaaki Munetake, the new United Earth Forces Liaison. And the other is the Chairman’s secretary, Erina Won, who is taking on the role of co-helmswoman. But just why is Erina so interested in Akito? And just what is the prior connection she seems to share with Akatsuki?