February 13, 2007
At the base, Jess is surprised to discover that Barry was living in South America. Barry explains that he wanted to isolate himself in the Amazon for training, but perhaps he can't escape from battles. Edward asks Barry if he'll help South America's fight, and Barry points out that he and Edward were enemies in the last. He thinks this might be the path his fists have led him to, so he agrees to help. Jane thinks things will go well now that she and Barry have joined with Edward, but Kaite walks in and says it won't go so smoothly. He says this time it will be tougher because Rena is the opponent and her skills are said to be higher than most Coordinators. Kaite also thinks that the people are too dependent on Edward and will lose everything if he's defeated, but Edward thinks South America will go on fine without him. Edward says fighting the Alliance alone is pointless, but he believes that as long as he fights he can inspire others to fight as well. Barry says he decided to join the fight because of Jess' reports on Edward's battles. Jess vows to continue recording the battles and spread Edward's will. Later, Rena finally appears, and Jess is surprised that she's using a Sword Calamity too. Rena asks Edward to surrender because too many civilians will die. She says the Alliance isn't focusing on just him anymore and has invaded the continent. Jess interferes and tells Edward that it's not like him to just give up. Rena pulls out her swords and attacks Edward. As the battle continues, Jess and Kaite watch it inside Out Frame. Kaite says that Rena is more skilled with swords and is toying with Edward, leaving her signature moves for the end. Rena fires her "Scylla" cannon, but Edward dodges the brunt of the blast and breaks one of her swords while slashing at her suit. Edward runs over to the cockpit of Rena's Sword Calamity, and she tells him she understands now why Jane was attracted to him. However, she points out that they're on a battlefield and shoots Edward with a pistol. Elsewhere, Logos leader Lord Djibril discusses the Nairobi peace conference with another man. As part of the peace treaty, Orb and South America will be restored to their pre-war sovereignty. The upside is that ZAFT will have no territory on Earth. In South America, Jess rushes to find help with Rena and Edward loaded into the back home. Unfortunately, he's stopped by the Alliance's invasion force. Jess says he's a journalist transporting the wounded, and one of the Sword Dagger pilots recognizes Out Frame from earlier reports. The Sword Dagger pilot draws his anti-ship sword, and Jess pulls out the Out Frame's beam sabers/signs.
From the back home, Kaite tells Jess he can't win, but Jess says he can't let everyone die. With 8's help, Jess smashes into the Sword Dagger and hits it with the beam sign. He's then knocked down and fires his grappling wires at the attacking Sword Dagger Ls. The Sword Dagger pilot gets on foot and starts shooting at Out Frame, so Jess runs away. 8 points out that he's heading in the opposite reaction, and Jess says he doesn't want to fight again. He then tells 8 to change course and head for ZAFT's demilitarized zone. Bernadette agrees to help Edward and Rena, but only on humanitarian grounds. She then tells Jess that the peace treaty is about to be approved, meaning that South America will be independent again. Jess says that Edward's fight is now pointless, but Bernadette counters that independence is independence. Kaite doesn't think it will work because the Alliance will try to suppress the South American forces before the treaty becomes valid. Bernadette reports on the Nairobi conference and hands things over to Jess. Jess reports that Edward has been wounded, and that the Alliance is abusing its power and wants to conquer South America. Jess tells everyone who is fighting that Edward is still with them. On the battlefield, Barry fights off the enemy with a Dagger while Jane fights underwater with her Forbidden Blue. Suddenly, ZAFT deploys mobile suits to the battlefield, including Courtney's ZAKU. CGUE DEEP Arms pilot Shiho Hahnenfuss orders an Alliance aircraft carrier to surrender. Elsewhere, Barry jumps out of his Dagger just before it is destroyed and kicks a Dagger L in the head, breaking its camera. An attacking Dagger is then shot up by Gai's Blue Frame Second L. Gai announces that he and Elijah have been hired to protect the villages. The Dagger L pilots attack anyway, and Gai and Elijah fight them off. At his mansion, Matias thinks about how new forces will move the world now that the peace treaty has been signed. The Alliance pulls out of South America. ZAFT returns Rena to the Alliance, but Edward is still regarded as a traitor and is missing. Jess asks Kaite if he did the right thing, and Kaite says that from the standard of a normal reporter, Jess failed. But Kaite thinks the report was fantastic and feels that his job has meaning now. Elsewhere, Edward wakes up on a PLANT and is surprised to find that he's being treated by Dr. Mikhail Coast, a former pilot. Back on Earth, Jess and Kaite are shocked to find a girl sleeping inside the back home's bathtub. The girl, Setona Winters, starts to cook for Jess and Kaite. Kaite asks Setona what she was doing inside the back home, and she says he woke up there. Setona asks to stay with them, and Jess lets her live inside the back home. Later, Setona vanishes will getting groceries in town and doesn't return for a week. One week later, she disappears yet again.
In September, C.E. 73, Bernadette meets with PLANT Supreme Council Chairman Gilbert Durandal at the Armory One PLANT. Durandal tells her that weapons during peacetime can be a display of power that avoids conflict. He tells her that her job of informing the people is important, and she promises not to disappoint him. Durandal looks at Bernadette's recommendation of Jess for a press invitation, and she explains that she wants him to experience the rebirth of ZAFT. Later, the press shuttle carrying Jess, Kaite and Out Frame arrives at Armory One. Bernadette greets Jess and is surprised that he brought Kaite along. She notes that Jess is there as a treaty supervisor from the Junk Guild, and he says it gives him free reign to see what he wants. Bernadette drives them to the military base, and when Jess attempts to photograph the New Millennium series ZAKU Warrior, she tells him photography isn't permitted. She tells Jess he'll have a chance to see ZAFT's newest models, which are being referred to as weapons for the sake of peace. Bernadette introduces Jess to the three test pilots of ZAFT's Second Stage mobile suits: Courtney, Riika Sheder and Mare Strode. Jess is surprised that Riika has glasses, and she's actually blind, but the glasses allow her to see. Jess introduces himself to Mare, but Mare grumbles about Durandal letting a Natural cover them. Overhead, Shinn Asuka flies by in the Core Splendor and other components of the Impulse Gundam. Jess is shocked when the Core Splendor, Leg Flyer, Chest Flyer and Force Silhouette dock to form the Force Impulse Gundam.
Inside Out Frame, Jess films tests of Shinn's Impulse Gundam using the Blast and Sword Silhouette packs. Jess is amazed by how different the Impulse Gundam is, and Riika tells him that it's the future of ZAFT. Courtney explains that a skilled pilot can turn around a battle, so the Impulse Gundam is designed to adapt to different situations. Kaite thinks that's unrealistic, but Courtney says that the Impulse Gundam and the battleship Minerva could be the ideal weapon system. Riika explains that the Chaos Gundam, Gaia Gundam and Abyss Gundam were originally designed to have Core Splendor-style cockpits, but the plan was scrapped. Now, their purpose is to provide support for the Impulse Gundam. Kaite remains unconvinced and believes that the Impulse Gundam components are just a workaround for the Junius Treaty's limit on mobile suits. Jess asks where Mare went, and Courtney tells him that Mare is a loner. Riika adds that Mare hates Naturals, especially his foe Jane from the previous war. She says he's also upset because they're just test pilots, whereas Shinn is the official pilot of the Impulse Gundam. Courtney thinks that's better because Mare's underwater experience matches well with the Abyss Gundam. In space, Jess films the four Gundams taking part in test exercises. Kaite stands by near Jess in his GINN Assault Type, and Bernadette warns them to stop the chit chat. Later, Jess films Shinn perform separation and docking tests inside an asteroid belt. After a flash of light, Jess has 8 search the area and moves in close to investigate an asteroid. Jess reaches the asteroid, and a positron cannon suddenly fires. Jess narrowly avoids, and Shinn performs a quick separation. Mare blames Jess for causing trouble, and Kaite tells him it was obviously a pre-planned trap. Kaite searches for Jess, who is now trapped inside the asteroid. Jess searches for a way out and finds a damaged Launcher Dagger. Kaite tries to avoid the asteroids, and Shinn blasts a clear path for him. Kaite finds the asteroid, and Jess blasts his way out with the "Agni" cannon. Jess finds it strange that his mobile suit is ZAFT-made but can use Alliance weapons. Riika asks Courtney about Out Frame, and he concludes that it must be "number 12," which was developed at GENESIS Alpha to research the Alliance's Strike Gundam.
At a mansion on Earth, a woman named Matis looks at the file of informant Kenaf Luchini and wonders what to do about the spy at Armory One. In space, Jess films Shinn performing tests on the Sword Impulse Gundams. When the tests end, Bernadette tells everyone to return to the ship. Jess spots a press ship flying away at high speed, and Bernadette realizes it's a spy. Jess wonders if it's really a spy, and Kaite says that the classified information on the ZAFT suits will fetch a high price. Jess chases after the ship, even though Kaite tells him he can't catch up. Elsewhere, the ship waits in space until an N Dagger N de-cloaks nearby. The N Dagger N fires a piercer lock into the ship to forcibly retrieve the data. Once the data is copied, the N Dagger N destroys the ship and cloaks itself with Mirage Colloid particles. When the ZAFT suits arrive, the ship debris is written off as an accidental collision. Riika wonders if the ship was attacked, but Courtney explains that even if a mobile suit was using Mirage Colloid, the heat from its thrusters would give it away. Mare says it proves that Naturals can't be trusted, but Jess thinks something else is happening. He thinks the truth of the incident is nearby.
The second volume of DESTINY ASTRAY concludes the South America story arc and jumps forward two years to just before the beginning of the DESTINY TV series. Here, we get to see Shinn testing the Impulse Gundam, as well as the three test pilots of the other Gundams. There are some problems, as Mare hates Naturals and clashes with Jess at every opportunity. It's also surprising that Riika is blind, given that Coordinators are supposedly more advanced. There's also a bit of discussion about Out Frame's mysterious origins. There are mysteries afoot, and they serve as the prelude to the attack on Armory One in episode 1 of DESTINY.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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