8. The Sky of Desire with a Swirling Battle Flame

At CRI, Najica and Lila are undergoing their scheduled physical exams (including a measurements session to make sure all those mission-specific outfits fit properly). When the tests are over, Rena and Shinobu assure Najica that she is in perfect health, but they aren’t so sure about Lila- Gento can’t release the results because they have been classified top secret.

Nonetheless, it is soon time for the two agents to receive their next mission. The International Weapons Fair is to be held in a week’s time, and it is believed that the black market weapons dealer Rasse Pewnt will send his Humaritt Toni to steal one of the exhibits. Najica’s job will be avert the theft and recover Toni, but the mission comes with a slight problem- CRI does not know what Toni looks like, nor which weapon she has been ordered to steal.

As the fair opens, CRI are pleased to see that security is tight, although Gento, Rena and Shinbou are sure that Toni will not make a move on the opening day, when the show is restricted to exhibitors, military buyers, and the press. It is more likely that she will strike once the show has been opened to the public, and with that in mind, an extra precaution has been taken. All of the fighter planes on display have been wired with explosives that can be remotely detonated if someone tries to steal them.

All of the exhibitors are proudly showing off their planes, but none more so than Katsuragi Industries. Katsuragi’s teenaged daughter, Azusa, is determined to make an appealing show for the press and garner free publicity for Katsuragi’s latest plane, the Oboro stealth fighter. Her attempts to play to the cameras are foiled, however, when she realises that no one is watching. The media are all crowding around quite a different exhibit- not because the plane is anything special, but because Najica and Lila are working there as campaign girls.

With even her father captivated by Najica’s good looks, Azusa decides to go over and investigate. Stopping off at Najica’s exhibit, she tries to recapture the press’ attention by asserting the superiority of ‘her’ Oboro, but when Najica and Lila refuse to rise to her baiting, she storms off back to her own exhibit.

Later, Najica finally manages to find time to catch a break, and as she sits in the CRI employees’ room with Gento, she voices her concerns. Not only is working as a campaign girl too high profile for Najica to do anything, but having to react to Toni’s actions instead of preventing them makes her uneasy. Gento, for his part, merely tells Najica to relax- Toni is unlikely to do anything until the public opening.

Little does Gento realise that Toni is already in place to make her move, having taken a job at the fair’s refreshment area. Having just received orders from Pewnt to steal the Oboro, Toni initiates her move, taking down the Katsuragi guards as she heads for the plane and Azusa. As Toni knocks Azusa unconscious, Lila chases after her and launches an attack. Toni easily blocks her, and when Lila is sent flying, Najica arrives on the scene. Najica quickly stops to check on her partner, but even as Lila confirms that she is fine, Toni quickly climbs aboard the Oboro, taking Azusa with her as a hostage. Taking off in the plane, the Humaritt heads out to sea.

Unable to detonate the Oboro because of Toni’s hostage, Najica and Lila are forced to resort to chasing after her in their own exhibit- a restored fighter plane. Not wanting to alert Toni by using the plane’s sensors, Najica has Lila use her Humaritt vision to track them, but it soon becomes clear that their old plane is too slow to catch up with the Oboro. In short order, Toni is out of range.

Having successfully made off with the Oboro, Toni lands on Pewnt’s aircraft carrier, where her master congratulates her on a job well done. After his men disarm the explosives aboard the Oboro, Pewnt orders them to throw the now useless Azusa overboard, but before they can comply, another plane is spotted- Najica and Lila have finally caught up.

When Najica easily dodges the aircraft carrier’s missiles and destroys their turrets, Toni takes off again in the Oboro and engages the two CRI agents. Even in close combat, the Oboro is faster and more manoeuvrable than Najica’s plane, and she soon realises that she will have to jettison any extra payload in order to gain speed. As the rockets and missiles are just empty warheads for exhibition purposes only, Najica has Lila release the clamps on the four rockets, but to her annoyance, only three are released. However, when she tells Lila to think of anything else they can discard, Lila chooses to eject herself.

Whilst the dogfight between Toni and Najica continues, Lila parachutes down the aircraft carrier, rifle in hand. As Pewnt’s men begin firing, Lila takes them down, even hitting Pewnt himself in the leg. Seeing their boss hurt, Pewnt’s men redouble their efforts to get Lila, even firing a rocket launcher at her. Fortunately, Lila manages to dodge, and as an unexpected benefit, the explosion from the rocket hit distracts Toni from her fight with Najica, giving the CRI agent opportunity the chance to get on her tail and shoot down the Oboro.

As the Oboro explodes, Najica continues forward through the debris, inadvertently catching an undamaged Toni on the cockpit windshield. A furious Pewnt orders Toni to kill Najica, and the Humaritt immediately moves to comply, punching her way through the windshield. As the hole widens, Najica puts the plane into a sharp climb, dislodging Toni from the cockpit. Flying backwards, Toni quickly activates a wrist grapple, attaching herself to the plane.

Still on the aircraft carrier, Lila quickly targets the grapple rope as Najica’s plane passes, and with her usual accuracy she manages to hit it with a single bullet. As the rope breaks, Toni plunges to the deck of the carrier. Whilst Lila further disables Pewnt by shooting him in the shoulder, Toni manages to get back on her feet, a rocket launcher in her hands. As Najica circles around, Toni fires a rocket, but fortunately the CRI agent is able to shoot it down using her plane’s machine guns. In response, Najica fires one of the empty missile warheads at Toni, who tries to catch it and stop it with her Humaritt strength. Although she struggles with it for a short while, eventually the missile’s momentum proves to be too much for her, and the Humaritt is knocked unconscious as she is sent flying backwards.

With the action over, Gento soon arrives on the scene to pick up Toni and confirm her Humaritt serial number- Triple W. Still lying on the deck of the carrier, Azusa finally revives, only to discover that her precious Oboro has been shot down by the very plane that stole all of her publicity. Surprisingly enough, however, Azusa does not seem to be angry- in fact, she seems to be a little awestruck by the beautiful Najica.

With their assignment complete, Najica and Lila can finally go home and relax, but before too long, another mission request comes in. Having taken quite the shine to Najica, Azusa Katsuragi wants the agent to become her bodyguard and personal trainer. For once, however, Majima tells Najica that she can choose whether or not to take on this mission, and Najica decides against it- she already has her hands full with Lila…

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