In Ad Stella 122, Suletta Mercury reads through a checklist on school regulations and her uniform as her ship travels to the Asticassia School of Technology. On approach to the school, she looks at an external camera and spots a lone person outside in a space suit. She calls the bridge in a panic about the person needing a rescue. The bridge begins to deploy in a rescue team, but Suletta decides to launch on her own in the Aerial to perform the rescue. The transport ship’s crew reluctantly allows her to launch. Miorine Rembran floats through space and gives negative hand signals when Suletta approaches and pulls her into the cockpit. Miorine bangs her helmet against Suletta’s and blames her for ruining her escape. Miorine demands that Suletta take responsibility for what she’s done. Later, Suletta enters the school and is amazed by everything she sees, including students piloting Demi Trainer mobile suits. Suletta walks out to the Tactical Testing Sector and is approached by Nika Nanaura, a second-year Mechanics student. Suletta stumbles to introduce herself due to her nervousness, and two other girls come over to ask Suletta about Mercury and her major. Suletta answers that her major is Piloting, and the girls call her one of the elite. Suletta explains that her mother told her to come to the school, and when they teasingly ask if her mother told her to wear such an old-fashioned hairband, Suletta enthusiastically answers yes. Suletta sees Miorine walk by and nervously says she’ll take responsibility and help with an escape. Two other students, Felsi Rollo and Petra Itta, tease Miorine about wanting to run away to Earth. An alert sounds to indicate the start of a duel on the battleground between Guel Jeturk in his custom Dilanza and Parker Eastcott in a Kappell-Kuu. Guel immediately pushes Parker out of the gate and dodges his beam rifle shots. Shaddiq Zenelli apologizes for interrupting drills and states that this is an official duel approved by the Dueling Committee. Guel keeps attacking Parker and pushes his suit toward the crowd. Suletta is frozen in shock, and Miorine pulls her out of the way before the Kappell-Kuu crashes into them. Guel gets out of his cockpit and boasts to Miorine that both she and her family’s company will be his soon. Lauda Neill tells Guel to get out of there because class is still in session, and Guel explains that he had to fight because Parker laughed at him about having a runaway bride. Miorine walks away, and Guel laughs that he wants her to watch Parker apologize like a groveling worm.
Miorine returns to her hydroponics garden and is followed by Suletta, who thanks her for saving her life. Suletta starts to mention Guel, and Miorine cuts her off by saying she didn’t agree to any of that. She explains that important matters at the school are settled through duels. Suletta asks why Miorine would marry Guel, and Miorine explains it was decided by her father, Delling. At a space colony, the Benerit Group holds a meeting and Delling announces that the top performing companies in the last period were Jeturk Heavy Machinery, Peil Technologies and Grassley Defense Systems. He notes that the Parneo Company has recorded a loss for three consecutive periods and is being suspended from accessing the group’s finances. The company’s president protests that this will result in them going bankrupt, and Delling acknowledges that this is the point. Sarius Zenelli notes that the data suggests a possibility the company will recover, but Delling counters that they already had their chance and he cares only about results. Delling leaves the meeting and is informed by Rajan Zahi that two agents have been assigned to watch Miorine. Despite having Miorine tell her to leave, Suletta asks her about a tomato that she’s holding. Miorine asks if they don’t have this on Mercury, and Suletta answers that all they have is tomato flavoring. Suletta’s stomach grumbles, so Miorine gives her the tomato. Suletta is amazed by its taste, and Miorine mentions that this type is special because her mother created that breed. Suletta mentions that it’s the same for her because her mother sent her to this school to help make Mercury a more prosperous planet. Miorine comments about Suletta’s mother still being alive, and Suletta nervously apologizes. Miorine asks for Suletta’s notebook and offers to install the school map app so she can find her way. Guel then shows up and accuses Miorine of pretending that she’s on Earth with her garden. Guel announces that he wants Miorine to live at Jeturk House so there’s no more escape attempts, as per her father’s rules. Miorine accuses Guel of being a lapdog, so he starts trashing her garden. Suletta tells Lauda they should get help, but he scoffs and tells her to stop Guel herself. Guel declares that he’s going to teach Miorine some discipline, and Suletta slaps him on his butt and nervously asks if his mother ever taught him manners. Guel asks Suletta if she knows who he is and boasts about being the heir to one of the three branches of the Benerit Group, the head of the Dueling Committee and the reigning Holder in the school’s duels. Suletta counters that what’s wrong is wrong and demands that he apologize to Miorine. Guel asks Suletta if she wants to settle this with a duel, and Suletta agrees. Guel is amused by the prospect and warns Suletta that she’ll have to leave the school if she loses. Guel suits up and launches in his Dilanza. Elsewhere, Vim Jeturk decides that if he kills Delling now, Guel’s engagement will be secured. He believes that he needs to act now before the results of the school’s silly duels are nullified. Vim’s underling then sets the detonator on Delling’s shuttle to go off 10 minutes after launch. Guel reaches the Tactical Testing Sector, and Shaddiq asks Elan Ceres if he’s going to watch the duel, but Elan isn’t interested. Lauda asks Guel why he accepted a duel from a country bumpkin, and he answers that as the future ace of Dominicus, he’ll make it a quick duel. The Aerial reaches the battlefield, and Shaddiq announces that whoever cuts off their opponent’s blade antenna first is the winner. Everyone is shocked to see Miorine on the monitor from the cockpit, and Suletta realizes that Miorine must’ve hacked her notebook to gain access to the Aerial. Miorine declares that she’s tired of having people make decisions for her, and Guel tells Shaddiq that he accepts Miorine as a new opponent. Miorine pulls out the beam rifle and fires, but is knocked back by the recoil. Vim counts down two minutes until the bomb goes off and kills Delling. Guel easily knocks Miorine down, and Suletta uses Nika’s scooter to rush to the battlefield and enter the Aerial’s cockpit. Suletta tells Miorine to fight in her own suit and says she and the Aerial were raised together like family. Suletta vows that she’ll fulfill her responsibility and won’t lose to the likes of Guel. An enraged Guel tells Shaddiq to switch the opponent to Suletta. Suletta quotes her mother as saying that if you run, you gain one, but if you move forward, you gain two. Miorine doesn’t understand, and Suletta explains that in running away you gain one by not losing, but by moving forward you gain experience and pride, plus trust. Suletta deploys the bit staves and forms them into a shield to block Guel’s beam rifle. She then uses the bit staves offensively to blast the arms and legs off his Dilanza. Elan, now paying attention to the fight, recognizes the GUND-ARM system. Suletta pulls out her beam saber and severs the Dilanza’s antenna, ending the duel. Vim is informed that Guel just lost a duel, so even if Delling dies now, Guel is no longer engaged to Miorine. Miorine taps a button on a notebook that changes the color of Suletta’s pilot suit, indicating that she’s now the Holder – and Miorine’s fiancé. Suletta notes that she’s a woman, and Miorine comments that Mercury must be a conservative place because this sort of thing is common here.
The first episode of the series proper picks up at least a decade after the events of the prologue episode. The power of Delling and other heads of mobile suit companies seems to have continued to grow, although there is definitely distrust if Vim was willing to assassinate Delling to further his ambitions. We’re reintroduced to Suletta as a teenager, and she seems quite different from when we saw her as young Ericht – this version of her seems much more sheltered and nervous when interacting with people. She mentions her mother, but at this point we don’t know what they went through between the events of the prologue and now. In broad strokes, the events of this episode, including a girl transferring to an elite school where duels are used to determine outcomes like marriage engagements, gives me serious vibes from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Suletta has definitely made a name for herself now by defeating a big jerk like Guel, but the interesting thing will be seeing how she deals with this situation and how it will affect her relationship with Miorine. In one episode, Miorine has gone from annoyance at Suletta’s ruining her escape to awe over her piloting ability. Will they be allies against the military-industrial complex that has so much power over the world? Only time will tell. Overall, it’s a good start to the series, but a little clunky due to the exposition needed to establish this new universe – even with the benefit of having had a prologue episode. Despite that clunkiness, I’m eager to see what this new Gundam world has to offer.