Al rides on the back of Garcia’s truck but is thrown into some bushes when the truck makes a hard turn. He runs to the police station and points to the bruises he received to falsely claim that he was the victim of a hit-and-run. All rides with two officers and positively identifies the truck, now parked outside a warehouse. Steiner answers the door for the police, and Bernie is nervous when he spots Al. The officer asks about the truck, which Steiner confirms belongs to him. The officer walks into the warehouse and asks Al to identify who hit him. Steiner objects and says this must be a mistake, but the officer tells him to keep quiet. Al then pins the blame on Garcia, who the officer then questions about the route he took. Garcia’s answer matches what Al said, but Garcia insists that Al must be lying. They officer thinks they’re being suspicious and wants to see what’s in the shipping containers. Al sees Misha holding a gun behind his back and suddenly starts crying and calling Bernie his big brother. Bernie goes along with the act and pretends to be surprised at how big Al is. Al apologizes for lying and explains that he hasn’t seen his brother for four years since their parents divorced, but then he saw him in the truck and wanted to find him. The officer asks if this is true, and Bernie answers that it is and chastises Al for lying to the police. After the officer leaves, Bernie yells at Al for involving the police, and Al explains that he wanted to know where Bernie was. Al wants to join their group, but Bernie tells him that they’re not playing games. Garcia asks Steiner what they’re going to do about Al, and Al tells Steiner that he’s always wanted to be a soldier. Steiner agrees on two conditions: that Al keep their presence a secret, and that he explains more about the video he shot in the spaceport. Al shows Steiner on a diagram where the container was and where it was most likely taken. He asks what was in the container, and Steiner answers that their mission is to find that out. Al wants to help, but Steiner tells him he’s done enough and gives him a special forces patch. Bernie is tasked with driving Al home, and Garcia thinks they should’ve killed Al or kept him captive. Steiner asks if he wants to deal with a kidnapping investigation, and Misha notes that at least this busy work will keep Bernie occupied. Bernie tells Al that dying in space is the worst way to go and that he’s seen more of his friends die than he can count. Al asks Bernie if he’s ever killed anyone, and Bernie lies that he was just one kill away from becoming an ace when he got shot down. Al tries to sneak into his house, but Michiko hears and tells him that he should let her know where he’s going. She also mentions receiving a letter from school requesting to discuss his grades and asks if he did poorly on his exams. Outside, Bernie eavesdrops via the hidden microphone in the special forces patch. Later, Michiko leaves for a women’s association meeting and tells Al to do his homework. Al works on math problems and stops when he hears Chris screaming outside about a burglar. He runs to his window and sees Bernie knocked out on the ground and Chris standing above him wielding a bat. Al tells Chris that Bernie is his big brother, not a burglar.
Bernie is taken inside Chris’ house, and her mother apologizes for the misunderstanding and offers him a cup of coffee. She says that she had no idea Al had an older brother, and Bernie lies that they have different mothers and that his father got divorced young because people objected to the marriage. Chris’ mother asks if Michiko knows about Bernie, and Al explains that it’s a secret, which is why Bernie was sneaking over. Chris apologizes for hitting Bernie, but he tells her not to worry about it. Her father jokes that she’s a hothead, which is probably why she joined the EFF. Al is shocked and asks if she’s a soldier, but she answers that her job is just data collection. Al catches Bernie off guard by boasting that he’s a real soldier, but Bernie quickly recovers by explaining that he was discharged and is now in the reserves. Chris’ mother asks if he works in the colony, and he answers that he does mechanical stuff in a factory. When Bernie and Al leave, he tells Al that you can’t judge people from how they look. He then picks up Al up and places him on his shoulders to pretend they’re flying. The next morning, Al runs through town and runs into Telcott and Chay, but blows them off to go to the warehouse. Al is amazed to see the Kampfer come together into a complete mobile suit. Al asks Steiner if they’re going to fight the EFF, and he answers that this is just for when they leave the colony. Al asks if they’re just going to run away without fighting, and Steiner explains that it’s another thing if the EFF attacks them. Al thinks that Bernie should be the pilot since he only needs one more kill to be an ace, but Steiner responds that he’s selected Misha. Bernie grumbles silently as Garcia and Misha laugh and tease him about nearly being an “ace.” Elsewhere, Chris scores two kills in a combat simulator in the Gundam NT-1 Alex but is then shot down by a Rick Dom. An engineer asks Chris what she thinks of the Gundam Alex and its panoramic monitor and magnetic coating. She asks if someone can really handle a suit this sensitive, and the engineer answers that it depends on the pilot. She asks if he thinks she’s not good enough, and he clarifies that the Gundam Alex is built specifically for a Newtype pilot on the White Base. At the warehouse, the Cyclops team completes the Kampfer and brings the suit to operational status. Al watches a building with binoculars, and Bernie tells him he’s not going to find the secret EFF base. Al asks why the base would need to be hidden, and Bernie explains that it’s because a security treaty between the Federation and Side 6 isn’t in effect yet, so there are limits to what the EFF can do. Al wonders if Steiner will change his mind about Bernie piloting the Kampfer if they find the EFF base, but Bernie says he isn’t worried and will get his chance to be an ace some other time. Al uses his binoculars to look at the building again and recognizes the security guard as the same man he ran into near the container at the spaceport. Bernie doesn’t think that one guy signifies it’s the EFF base, so Al suggests getting a closer look via the Colony Corporation’s service tunnels. Bernie uses a device to hack a door lock, and the two travel through the tunnels until reaching a dead end with multiple reinforced doors. Bernie realizes that this is the only block with new shutters, so there’s something hidden behind the doors. He tells Al not to feel down because Steiner will be happy with this intel. Al runs off and grabs a normal suit, and the two suit up and head out into space. Bernie tells Al that this is dangerous, and when Al scoffs at the danger, Bernie holds him over the railing and facing open space. Bernie uses his normal suit’s thrusters to reach an airlock on the other side of the block and carries a cable for Al to use as a safety line. Al wanders off after removing his normal suit and crawls through a ventilation shaft that’s too tight for Bernie to fit in. Al emerges from a floor grate and spots an EFF soldier. He then stands on a crate and boosts himself up to see through a narrow slit in the wall, which gives him a full look at the Gundam Alex. He then takes multiple pictures with his camera as two soldiers come around the corner.
The series reaches its halfway point with separate storylines beginning to converge. Al gets more deeply involved with Bernie, who basically has been tasked with babysitting and spying on him. Seeing Bernie boast about almost being an ace demonstrates that even though he’s older than Al, he’s still an immature kid himself and in way over his head as a soldier. This is definitely demonstrated when Bernie lets Al convince him to do a space walk to try and infiltrate the EFF base. Bernie also meets Chris in person and finds out she’s in the EFF. While her claim of doing data collection is definitely true, it’s obviously not the whole story since she’s test piloting the Gundam Alex, a high performance suit designed specially for Amuro Ray. While Al manages to get some pictures of the Gundam Alex, he’s also put himself at high risk of being caught by EFF soldiers.
Original Review: June 2, 2000