April 27, 2005
Kenaf meets with a woman named Hannah, whose fiance Domio was killed while testing an experimental ZAFT weapon in a GINN. Hannah says that she didn't want Domio to join ZAFT, and she wishes to mourn his loss in peace. Kenaf offers to do anything he can to help. After leaving, Kenaf meets up with Elisa and she asks him what game he's playing at. Kenaf explains he made sure that Domio's GINN would fall into Lowe's hands in the hopes of prompting Hannah into action. He wants to see how Lowe reacts to someone who isn't clearly an enemy. At a ZAFT dock, Lowe, Liam and Kisato sign over Domio's GINN back into ZAFT's possession. Hannah appears and asks Lowe to destroy the GINN because it killed Domio. She doesn't want ZAFT to repair it and use it to kill more people and cause further heartbreak. Lowe tells her there's nothing he can do because the GINN belongs to ZAFT again. A ZAFT soldier tells Hannah not to interfere because they plan on retrieving the test data from the GINN's cockpit. He threatens to arrest her if she doesn't leave, and she tells him he'll regret his actions. Aboard the HOME, Kisato says she feels sorry for Hannah. Lowe notes that the cockpit hatch was melted shut and that it would take ZAFT awhile to break it open and get the data. Nearby, Hannah sets off a bomb in the hangar bay, which was provided to her by Elisa. Against everyone's wishes, Lowe heads out in the Red Frame to retrieve the data. Although only two GINNs were destroyed in the initial blast, Hannah plans to destroy Domio's GINN with the remaining explosives. Lowe finds Domio's GINN and quickly breaks the cockpit open. He rips the hard drive out of the cockpit, and Hannah points a gun at him when he gets out. She threatens to shoot him if he doesn't drop the hard drive. When several fuel tanks catch on fire, ZAFT issues an evacuation alert. Hannah says that ZAFT will use that data to make more weapons, and Lowe thinks that's a possibility. However, he saved the hard drive because Domio died for a cause he believed in, and the data could prevent ZAFT from making the same mistake. He tells her that ultimately it's people who pull the trigger, and she should accept the salvation of the drive for Domio's sake. Hannah drops the gun as the area around them explodes. Lowe grabs her and safely returns to the HOME with Red Frame.
As thanks for saving the test data, ZAFT grants the HOME crew temporary passports to enter the PLANTs. Lowe, Kisato and Liam stop at a streetside restaurant to eat the famous jungle hot pot. The Professor calls Lowe and informs him that they've been given a new contract for repair work on Earth. Lowe's interest is piqued because he grew up in space and has never been to Earth. A strange old man named Mond approaches Lowe and asks Lowe to take him to see the winged whale, aka Evidence 01. He explains that he's a member of the Friends of George Glenn Society, which worships George Glenn as a hero. Kisato asks him if they're anything like Blue Cosmos, and Mond insists they aren't terrorists. He says that George came across an angel and received the approval of the gods. He believes that all Coordinators aside from George are frauds, which is why he wants a Natural like Lowe to take him to see Evidence 01. Lowe is interested and agrees to take Mond to see it. While the Professor stays at the dock to repair Red Frame, Lowe and the others head for the PLANT Aprilius One in the HOME. Mond cries at the sight of Evidence 01 and profusely thanks Lowe for bringing him to see it. Just then, a Blue Cosmos terrorist pulls out a machine gun and shoots at Evidence 01. Mond gets in the line of fire to protect the artifact and is shot. With his last breaths, Mond thanks Lowe for not judging him and allowing him to protect the winged angel. He gives Lowe a box called the GG unit and claims that it has all of George's knowledge. ZAFT soldiers arrest the terrorist, who tells Lowe that a ship will be attacking the PLANT. In anger, Lowe punches the terrorist in the face. A Blue Cosmos fleet comprised of a Drake class ship and 12 Moebius mobile armors begins its attack on Aprilius One. Lowe launches in the Red Frame and attacks them before ZAFT can arrive. The fleet is disabled, and ZAFT revokes everyone's passports for engaging in unauthorized combat within PLANT airspace. Lowe decides that he wants to go to Earth to see what the Naturals there are like.
In the HOME's mobile suit hangar, Lowe tests out a new ability in the Red Frame by creating orbs of energy from the hand plugs that supply power to weapons. Lowe believes that if he works on it he can use the orbs of energy to blind or attack opponents, but Liam doesn't believe the Red Frame was built to handle that kind of power. Elsewhere, Kenaf realizes that a dangerous person whom he is tracking will cross paths with the HOME. He decides to help them out because he can't stand the thought of someone else killing them before he does. The HOME docks next to a one kilometer long colony fragment, and the Professor explains that if they don't recover the fragment it will fall into Earth's atmosphere without burning up. She also says that as soon as they finish this job they have to go down to Earth because the Junk Guild wants them down there. As he works with the Red Frame, Lowe senses that something is wrong and asks Liam and Kisato to retun to the ship. Lowe investigates the area and is attacked by the one-armed Gold Frame piloted by Rondo Ghina Sahaku. With no beam rifle and little energy left, Lowe uses his Gerbera Straight to fight back. The Professor sends Lowe a beam rifle, but Rondo moves in for a close attack, so Lowe responds by expeling energy from his hand, which destroys Gold Frame's head. The Professor then uses HOME's manipulator arms to knock Rondo away. Although his unit was damaged, Rondo accomplished his mission by making sure that the colony fragment would fall on ZAFT's Gibraltar base. As Lowe begins atmospheric re-entry, the Professor lands the HOME on the colony fragment and uses its thrusters to maneuver towards Lowe. The Gibraltar base attempts to fire missiles at the fragment, but Kenaf hacks their system and locks up their computers. The fragment continues its descent towards Gibraltar, and Lowe heads out in the Red Frame to destroy the colony's control switch and ignite the last thrusters. The colony fragment barely avoids crashing into Gibraltar, and the HOME is damaged beyond repair.
Lowe and the others search for a new mothership, and their search leads them to the land battleship Lesseps, which was heavily damaged in battle with the Archangel. Kisato wonders if they're allowed to take the Lesseps, and Liam explains that ZAFT relinquished their rights to it because they deemed the ship unrepairable. The Professor explains to Kisato that the Lesseps belonged to Andrew "Desert Tiger" Waltfeld, and that it destroyed several local towns while fighting guerilla forces and the alliance. Lowe, Liam and Kisato work on repairing the ship, and Kisato tells Lowe that someone is on the ship. Lowe explores the interior and finds former first officer Martin DaCosta hiding in a secret room. DaCosta pulls out a gun and asks who they are, and Lowe explains they're from the Junk Guild. The Professor asks DaCosta why he stayed with the ship, and he tells her that he needs to bring something on the ship back to ZAFT, but he can't do it without moving the ship. Aside from the repairs, the area is surrounded by the Desert Dawn guerillas and Blue Cosmos. DaCosta says that the war keeps creating new enemies each day, and he hopes the information on the Lesseps can help bring an end to the war. Lowe thinks that DaCosta is an interesting guy and decides to help him. DaCosta asks if he can help with the repairs because he knows about the ship's construction. Elsewhere, several Blue Cosmos operatives watch the Lesseps and decide to attack when they spot DaCosta. As the repairs continue, the Blue Cosmos commander hails them over the radio and threatens to attack them with missiles. He gives them the opportunity to commit suicide so they die with dignity, and DaCosta calls back and offers to surrender himself. He says he is Blue Cosmos' target, and he doesn't want Lowe and the others to get involved. Lowe tells DaCosta he doesn't have to do that and launches in the Red Frame. The Blue Cosmos terrorists fire their large capacity missiles, and DaCosta asks the Professor to start the engines. The ship's scale system sends vibrations through the sand, and Lowe uses these vibrations to lift up a colony wall fragment as a shield. After the missiles hit the wall, the Blue Cosmos terrorists retreat. Lowe and the others drop DaCosta off near the Gibraltar base, and DaCosta tells Lowe that meeting him confirms his belief that the war is a mistake. Lowe believes that if he can be friends with someone like DaCosta that the war will eventually end.
Later, the Gibraltar base attacks the Lesseps, and when DaCosta asks what the reason is, he is told that ZAFT received a tip that Blue Cosmos is using the Lesseps now. In the desert, Lowe is attacked from the air by DINNs and on the ground by GINN OCHER Types. Kisato doesn't understand why ZAFT is attacking if the ship is registered to the Junk Guild, and the Professor believes they've fallen into a trap. Lowe has no desire to fight, but he uses his Gerbera Straight to cut the hands off the attacking GINN OCHER. The abundance of sand causes Lowe to lose his footing, and more GINN OCHERs approach with ZuOOTs for backup. From nearby, the Blue Cosmos commander watches the battle and sees that ZAFT responded to the fake intelligence report he created. He created this trap to get revenge on Lowe, but at the same time he hopes all the attacking ZAFT forces are destroyed too. Lowe comes under heavy fire from the GINN OCHERs and ZuOOTs, but he plans to fight until he's out of energy. At the Gibraltar base, DaCosta meets with Rau Le Creuset and asks for his help. He explains that ZAFT is attacking the Lesseps under the false impression that it belongs to Blue Cosmos. In the battlefield, Lowe is overwhelmed by BuCUEs until the arrival of the BuCUE Waltfeld Custom Type. The custom BuCUE attacks the others, and the pilot tells Lowe to jump on his back. Lowe jumps on the back of the custom BuCUE and drives away the remainings BuCUEs and DINNs. The Professor uses a Kimera to locate and disperse the Blue Cosmos terrorists. After the battle, the pilots of the custom BuCUE are revealed to be Serpent Tail's Elijah Kiel and Loretta Adja. Elijah explains that they were at Gibraltar for another job when DaCosta asked for their help. Lowe is happy to hear that because he knew DaCosta was an honorable man.
The second volume of ASTRAY R propels the story forward and fills in some gaps from the main ASTRAY series. Kenaf shows up again to play games with Lowe, but his ploy this time in manipulating Hannah is quite devious. Luckily, Lowe escaped his trap and ended up suceeding. The story also covers Rondo's attack on the HOME and what happened immediately afterwards, along with the story of how the crew got the Lesseps. The GG unit also appears, which sets up the appearance of holographic George. Martin DaCosta from the SEED anime makes a cameo, and his experience with Lowe leads him to believe that the war is a mistake and must be brought to the end. Perhaps this is what leads him to join the Clyne Faction later on in the series. Although the anime shows a Blue Cosmos terrorist attack on Andy Waltfeld, here we see two attacks that show more advanced military coordination. Given that Blue Cosmos pulls the strings of the Alliance in the shadows, it's no surprise that their front line terrorists are well equipped. Lowe and friends will still be on Earth for awhile, so the Blue Cosmos may yet cause them more trouble.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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