Prince of Darkness

Three years ago, Yurika Misumaru and Akito Tenkawa both served together on the Nadesico; now, all that remains of them both is a memorial at the Misumaru family gravesite. Yet the apparent deaths of these two main characters is far from an end to the Nadesico’s story. In fact, it may only be the beginning.

Members of a mysterious group have just launched an attack on the Shirahame colony- the fourth colony to be targeted and destroyed in this way. Moving in to search for survivors, Captain Jun Aoi and his crew pick up what looks like a giant robot, making a boson jump. What could this mean?

As far as the admiralty is concerned, what it means is that Jun made a mistake- neither Earth nor the Jovians currently possesses the capability to build a boson jumping mecha. Admiral Munetake (father of Sadaaki Munetake) isn’t about to leave this matter entirely to the Accident Investigations Committee, however; he has dispatched the battleship Nadesico B to investigate the appearance of the mecha and the reason behind the destruction of the colonies.

With the survivors of the original Nadesico crew having moved onto other things, the Nadesico B’s only familiar face is its captain- a young Lieutenant Commander Ruri Hoshino. The new crew includes Jovian pilot and pathological womaniser Saburota Takasugi, and the quiet yet easily stressed Hari Makibi. As per their orders, they pass through a system of jump gate chulips to arrive at the space station Amaterasu. Amaterasu is the home of the Hisago Plan- a project in which space stations containing chulips are used to provide almost instantaneous travel through space. All of the destroyed colonies belonged to the Hisago Plan, so this is a logical place to begin an investigation.

The admiral in charge of Amaterasu doesn’t take kindly to the implication that the destruction of the Shirahame colony and the bose particle abnormalities detected there might indicate a problem with the Hisago Plan. With Ruri able to use the regulations to force an inspection, he has little choice but to agree, however, although as payback he makes her inspection take the form of the guided tour given to schoolchildren.

Ruri duly goes on the tour, but more to provide a distraction than anything else- her crew will be carrying out the real inspection. Despite Hari’s misgivings, he hacks into the Amaterasu computer, only to discover something odd. Not only are there parts of the Amaterasu station that aren’t listed on the official map, but there seems to be a hidden, secondary computer system as well. Just as Hari loads data on unsanctioned boson jump experiments, however, something in the secondary computer is triggered. On the Nadesico and Amaterasu, computer windows start popping up, all with a single word repeated over and over- “Otika”.

With the secondary system taking over, Amaterasu’s defences go down, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Still on the station, Ruri requests a status report from Hari, and as he explains his findings, something clicks in Ruri’s mind- the reverse of “Otika” is nothing other than “Akito”. This isn’t just random noise, and that means that it is more than likely someone will be along to take advantage of Amaterasu’s vulnerability.

Indeed, even as Ruri returns to the Nadesico, a mysterious black Aestivalis appears out of nowhere. Authorising the use of firepower within the colony, the admiral sends out Ryoko and her Dark Fang Aestivalis Squadron to take it down. Meanwhile, the Nadesico handles the colony evacuation- which provides Ruri the perfect opportunity to hack into the Amaterasu system one more time.

As the invading Aestivalis is pushed back, another vessel appears- a boson jumping warship. Commanded by a mysterious yellow-eyed girl named Lapis, the warship begins a full-on attack. Most of Amaterasu’s forces are distracted, but Ryoko is smart enough not to take her eyes off the black Aestivalis. Like Ruri, she wants to discover what the enemy’s true objective is.

Ryoko and her team chase after the black Aestivalis, a task only made harder by the admiral’s tendency to order all of his units to fire indiscriminately in the general direction of the enemy. As Ryoko and the admiral accuse each other of getting in the way, the black Aestivalis opens one of the gates into the station- Gate 13. As far as the admiral is concerned, there is no Gate 13, but his crew know better. Led by Lt Colonel Shinjyuu, the real people running Amaterasu are not the Unified Forces of Earth and Jupiter, but a terrorist group known as the Martian Successors.

The black Aestivalis has entered Gate 13, pursued by Ryoko, who soon runs into some automated traps. With Ruri to guide her, she catches up with the black Aestivalis, and sends out a communications tether. Now Ruri can communicate directly with the Aestivalis- and she wants to know who the pilot is. The pilot does not reveal his identity, but as he and Lapis unlock the door to whatever is stored inside this hidden section of Amaterasu, a curiously familiar voice tells them they can stay and watch.

Flying into the opened area, Ryoko cannot believe what she is seeing- it is the unit they took from the Martian ruins three years ago. The ruin has extended in size and shape, but the original cube is still at the centre, and there is no mistaking it. But even as she and Ruri wonder what it could be doing here, they receive a general transmission- from former Jovian Vice Admiral Kusakabe. Kusakabe is now in charge of the Martian Successors- and they are taking control of the ruin and the Hisago Plan. As Ryoko and the black Aestivalis come under attack, Kusakabe reveals their first order of business- the destruction of Amaterasu.

Coming under attack from the Martian Successors, Ryoko does not fare too well, and ends up pinned to the floor. As she frees herself, the black Aestivalis pilot tells her to run, but she is unwilling to leave. Staying with the mysterious pilot, she watches as a Martian Successor boson jumps in and begins taunting him. As the Martian Successor asks if the pilot has come to die in front of ‘his woman’, the cube in the centre of the ruins begins to unfurl like a flower, revealing at its centre a human figure fused into it- Yurika Misumaru. And if that really is Yurika, then there can be no doubt as to the identity of the Aestivalis pilot- it must be Akito. They are both still alive.

After a meeting to discuss the situation, the UESF admiralty plans their next move. Admiral Misumaru tells Ruri, Hari and Saburota that they will be taking command of the newest Nadesico (the Nadesico C) on a top secret mission to recover the ruin. No regular enlisted crew can be used for this mission, but Misumaru has something better. Mr Prospector will be helping them recruit, or rather re-recruit a crew- everyone who served on the original Nadesico.

First up, Ruri, Hari and Subarota go to visit Hikaru, who is now a manga-ka. Hikaru readily agrees to rejoin the crew, but with the deadline for her latest work imminent, it would help immensely if Ruri and the others would give her a hand before they go. With no choice but to agree, they get to work on finishing the artwork, cooking, and fielding phone calls from Hikaru’s impatient editor.

Meanwhile, Prospector has an easier time tracking down Izumi. Now the hostess of her own bar, Izumi puts on her own performances as well, strumming the guitar and singing. All Prospector has to do is enjoy a few drinks until he can talk to her at closing time.

Past memories wash over Ruri, her time on the Nadesico, Yurika and Akito’s apparent death in a shuttle crash, followed shortly by the report that Inez is also missing, presumed dead. And then more recent memories, now turning bizarre and surreal, until Ruri awakens with a jolt; it was just a dream- in reality she fell asleep whilst drawing for Hikaru.

Eating watermelon together, Admiral Misumaru, Munetake, Genpachiro Akiyama (formerly of the Jovian fleet) and Jun discuss the rise of the Martian Successors, who have now taken over the Martian polar site and made it their base. The meeting is interrupted by a called from Yukina- having come home to find that Minato has left on unspecified business, Yukina suspects that Jun might know what is going on. Yukina tries to wheedle the information out of him, but only succeeds in embarrassing poor Jun in front of the admirals.

The next day, and crew recruiting is still going strong. Unfortunately, Uribatake does not appear to be available, and seeing that his wife now has a new baby, Ruri decides not to press the issue. Moving on, they take a break at Howmei’s Everyday Tranquillity restaurant. Crossing Seiya off the list, Hari bitterly remarks that that makes twenty former crewmembers who won’t be participating, and wonders why they need the old crew at all- the three of them should be enough. No one seems to be paying much attention to Hari’s complaints, and in the end, he runs out in frustration.

Ruri is sure that Hari will be okay, but Howmei isn’t so sure. Intellectually he may be able to accept that they need the old crew, but it is more than likely that he feels jealous of Ruri’s old friends and their reputations.

Right now, however, Hari is feeling more stupid than jealous. Too embarrassed to go back to the restaurant, he wanders through the streets, and manages to walk right into Minato’s cleavage. After apologising, he offers to help Minato find the place she is looking for- until he learns that she wants to go to Howmei’s restaurant. Telling her that he can’t go back, Hari bursts out crying.

Taking Hari to a park bench so that he can calm down, Minato reveals that she recognises him from the way Ruri described him in her letters. Hari’s spirits are lifted to learn that Ruri praises him in her letters, describing him as a bright and well-behaved younger brother. And, like any good older sister, Ruri has come to track him down- it is time for them to go back.

Whilst Minato shares a drink with Howmei, Ruri, Saburota and Hari take the train back home. Suddenly, as another train rushes past in the opposite direction, Ruri catches a glimpse of a masked man with a yellow-eyed girl- Akito. Not only is he alive, but now he is here on Earth.

Out in space, the Sakuya colony is the latest to come under attack. Initially holding their own, it looks as if the United Earth forces will win this battle, until Martian Successor reinforcements boson jump in and turn the tide. The Martian Successors are using Yurika to orchestrate accurate boson jumps- and they have been controlling her mind using shoujo manga.

That evening, Ruri invites Hari to her quarters to share a milk drink and detail a special mission. Hari will be boson jumping to Nergal’s lunar factory, where he will carry out the final check procedure of the Nadesico C. Meanwhile, Prospector and Goat watch as Hikaru undergoes some catch-up pilot training with Ryoko- by playing an arcade fighting game. Ryoko is the career soldier, and Hikaru may still be at only 60% of her old skill level, but Hikaru’s Natural Lychee character beats Ryoko’s Gekigangar III in every match. And with the arrival of Izumi, the old trio is complete once more.

In an attempt to explain how they are controlling Yurika, the Martian Successor scientists show the Ururun manga to Kusakabe and the others, only to get their superiors addicted to the comic strip. Finally, the scientists get a chance to explain- they can use the romantic imagery of the manga to manipulate Yurika’s dreams. Believing she is on a date, Yurika perceives the people asking to be boson jumped as Akito wanting to go somewhere. In response, Yurika sends them there with almost pinpoint accuracy, all the while thinking that she is transporting Akito.

The next morning, Saburota sees Hari off on his boson jump to the moon, a little disappointed that Hari’s night in the captain’s quarters amounted to nothing more intimate than holding hands. Suited up, Hari is surrounded by chulip crystals, and a navigator comes out to send him to his destination. Although Hari doesn’t know it, the navigator is a Class A boson jumper better known to the old crew as Inez Fressange.

Elsewhere, Minato and Ruri have gone to visit Yurika and Akito’s memorial- it is the second anniversary of their ‘death’. A masked Akito is also there, and the three stand together for a short while before Ruri begins talking. Now that she thinks about it, she realises that there were many more Class A boson jumpers (those who can accurately jump on their own) who went missing- like Akito and Yurika, they must have been abducted by the Martian Successors. Ruri understands that Akito doesn’t want to talk about the things they did to him, but still wants to know why he didn’t let her know that she was still alive. Akito replies that it wasn’t necessary, an answer that is not good enough for Minato. As Minato berates him, Akito raises his gun- not to aim at her, but at the group of Martian Successors that have tracked him down.

Akito fires at the Martian Successors, but his shots are easily deflected by their personal shields. It looks like they might be cornered, until another familiar face shows up. It is Genichiro Tsukiomi, and he has brought a whole squadron of men from Nergal with him, including Goat. The Martian Successors attempt to attack, but Genichiro’s command of Jovian martial arts easily repels them. Surrounded, the Martian Successors have no choice but to boson jump away. The precision of their boson jump indicates that Yurika is fully under their control- and that means Akito has work to do. He must leave, but first, he has a gift for Ruri…

A shuttle is prepared to take the returning Nadesico crew to the Nadesico C, and after a send-off speech by Akatsuki, they take off. Sitting next to Minato, Ruri looks at the gift Akito gave her- his special recipe for ramen. Akito no longer has any use for it- the experiments the Martian Successors did on him messed with his brain, destroying his sense of taste and causing his face to permanently glow the way a boson jumper does. The old Akito is gone forever.

As Prospector and Howmei wave the shuttle off from the sidelines, more of the old crew arrive- Megumi and the Howmei Girls. Howmei wonders why they have shown up too late to catch the shuttle, but Prospector explains that they have a different mission.

Back on the shuttle, Minato is not happy to learn that Yukina has come along, and is playing stewardess along with the unfortunate Jun. Goat explains that having Yukina here is actually the safest thing- her connection to Tsukumo might have made her a target for the Martian Successors.

Having left the Earth’s atmosphere, the shuttle meets up with an escort fleet, there to see them to rest of the way. It looks like even that won’t be enough, however, as the Martian Successors boson jump several squadrons of giant robots to intercept them. Each Martian Successor pilot has orders to go directly for the shuttle; with little chance of defeating them, the only choice is to run for it. Taking the helm, Minato pushes ahead at full speed, hoping to break through the enemy.

The shuttle makes it through enemy lines, but even as the escort fleet plans to follow, more enemies appear. As Minato tries her best to outrun them, another ship boson jumps ahead of the shuttle. This new ship looks like trouble, but fortunately, it is not the enemy- it is Hari and the Nadesico C, ahead of schedule thanks to the last minute efforts of none other than Seiya Uribatake, and boson jumped to meet the shuttle with the help of another old crewmember- Inez Fressange. The Nadesico C’s gravity blast cannon is powerful enough to take out the pursuing enemies, forcing them to flee or be destroyed.

Whilst the Martian Successors use Yurika to boson jump troops to the Earth’s General Assembly Building, Inez presents a special edition of “Get to Know the Nadesico” for the newly arrived crew. As Inez begins her explanation of the enemy’s goals and motivations, Ruri has a question. As far as everyone here is concerned, Inez is missing, presumed dead- so why is she here, alive and well?

Akatsuki decides that it is his prerogative to explain this one, via remote transmission. Following Akito and Yurika’s abduction, it was decided that it was safest for Inez to be listed dead- even though unfortunately that meant her survival had to be kept secret from her friends as well. But that’s all Akatsuki has time for- the enemy has reached the General Assembly Hall, which means it is time for him to act.

The Martian Successors intended to take Earth’s General Assembly hostage, but what they find in the Assembly Hall is far from what they expected. Megumi and the Howmei girls are on stage, with musical accompaniment from Prospector, Munetake, Howmei, Misumaru, Genpachiro- not to mention special guest Akatsuki (whose entrance is spoiled a bit when he bangs his head and gets a nosebleed).

Angered, the Martian Successors fire at Akatsuki, but their shots are deflected by his personal distortion field. Changing tactics, they try attacking with their robots, but Akatsuki fights fire with fire- Genichiro boson jumps in and takes out all the enemy robots. His forces have neutralised most of the Martian Successors outside as well- those few remaining have little choice but to surrender.

Elsewhere, Akito and Lapis meeting with Erina for refuelling and an update on the situation; Ruri will soon be joining with the Omoikane system on the Nadesico C- a combination that is virtually invincible. Hearing this, Akito knows that it is time for him to go. Just as he did in the past, he must leave Erina behind once again.

Genichiro has convinced most of the Martian Successors on Earth to surrender (many of them were his former crewmates, after all), and now the Nadesico C is launching its final attack on theirs Mars headquarters. Hacking into their systems whilst Hari handles the Nadesico computer, Ruri is able to take control of all the computer systems on Mars, leaving the Martian Successors helpless as she shuts them down. Sending a transmission, she tells Kusakabe that he is under arrest. Hearing this, the other Martian Successors want to fight to the end, but Kusakabe knows it is over. He will go quietly as long as his subordinates will be well taken care of.

The trouble isn’t quite over yet- the Martian Successors who having been chasing Akito are still free, and they soon boson jump into the area. Ruri is not worried- this is a job for Akito. Sure enough, Akito’s warship arrives on schedule, and he emerges in his black Aestivalis to challenge Hokushin, the leader of this group.

Whilst Akito charges into combat, Ruri makes contact with Lapis. Identifying herself, Lapis explains that she was born in a Nergal laboratory, and now acts as Akito’s eyes and ears. In a seven-against-one battle, however, she can’t give him the edge, so Ryoko, Hikaru, Izumi and Saburota step in to take some off the pressure off him. They will take on the subordinates whilst Akito goes one-on-one with Hokushin.

Facing off against each other, Akito and Hokushin power toward each other, each punching into the other’s Aestivalis. Akito’s black Aestivalis armour is shattered, but within the frame of his old pink Aestivalis remains intact. Hokushin is not so lucky- both his Aestivalis and his body are crushed. Standing over Hokushin’s collapsed robot, fluid drips from the eye of Akito’s pink Aestivalis, almost as if it was crying…

Finally retrieving the ruin, Ruri and the crew reawaken Yurika, who fortunately doesn’t seem too affected by her two year ordeal. Outside, the Aestivalis pilots watch as Akito takes off in his warship. Ruri tells Yurika and the others that Akito will be back- and if he isn’t, then she’ll just go and get him. After all, isn’t he important to all of them?