Curriculum 04 (Partner)
Wonderful summary written by Dawn!
Our five Repairer Candidates have assembled after their finals. Their Instructor tells them that it's time for them to transfer control -- from now on, Azuma is the Instructor they'll be answering to. Then she realizes that Kizna is once again missing, run off to talk to her Pro-Ing. She's voicing her insecurities to it, wondering what he'll make of her ears, whether they'll get along... Ikhny, who has been sent to bring her back, encourages her by reminding her that they're all nervous about meeting their counterparts.
Shortly thereafter, the Candidates enter the Cueval antechamber, to find the girls are there waiting for them. They get very nervous (apparently they hadn't realized that there were girls on GOA) but the pairs meet off well overall -- except for Hiead, who won't even introduce himself to Ikhny and doesn't want to hear her introduction either, and Zero, who is much too excited about Cueval to bother with getting to know his partner. Kizna forces him to stand still for her scan, but when she bends over, the bill of the hat she's using to cover her ears jabs him in the face, and he yanks it off. Everyone stares at her cat ears for a split second before Kizna smacks Zero, screams that she hates him, and takes off running. Zero is ordered to follow her and bring her back, or else he won't be allowed to participate in the practice. Immediately afterwards, Roose gets removed from the practice as well; his Repairer, Wrecka, reports that he's too overweight to be involved. This leaves only Hiead, Yamagi, and Clay to enter the simulation.
Kizna has retreated to an isolated room, where she's realized that she's acted stupidly. She knows that it's her fault for overreacting, but she can't undo it now, and everything has just gone all wrong... Zero races in and attempts to drag her off. When she resists he jams the cap back on her head and tells her frankly that he doesn't care what her ears look like: he's determined to be a Pilot and he needs her to help him. Then, without waiting for approval, he hauls her over his shoulder and runs like hell to make the time limit. Unfortunately, when they arrive, the doors won't open, because the Cueval is in operation...
Hiead is first in Cueval; Ikhny sets everything up and the Cueval engages. Hiead has a brief vision while he first begins the simulation, seeing a hooded figure standing across from him, pointing a gun at him... and he realizes, alarmed, that it's himself. Ikhny calls out to him, reminding him to concentrate, and the vision disappears. Hiead regains self-control and begins the task. Clay watches, analyzing everything and commenting on the sagacity of using a simulation to get the Candidates used to real-time battle without danger of getting hurt. His Repairer, Saki, adds that there's no danger if the Repairer is good enough. The Candidate's mind will still feel the pain because of the realism of the simulation, so it's the Repairer's job to cut the lines that are feeding pain before the pain gets serious.
Hiead kills his Victim without a problem. Azuma gives him full points for the exercise and moves on to Clay, who gets into the Cueval, flips out, and lasts all of four seconds before getting murdered horribly by his simulated opponents while Saki can only stand there and gape. Azuma yells at him for a minute, then allows Saki to take him to the medical station; as they leave the room, though, Zero takes the opportunity to race in and insist on going next. Azuma approaches Kizna and slaps her, hard. Kizna accepts it without comment and apologizes for her earlier behavior, but before they can move on gracefully, Zero demands the same treatment. Since he and Kizna are going to be partners, one of them shouldn't get punished without the other. Azuma agrees cheerfully, but instead of the flat of his hand, he delivers a fist straight into the side of Zero's face. Kizna pulls Zero off the floor, and he finally gets around to introducing himself, warning her not to run away again. Kizna promises, as long as he does the same -- he has to become a Pilot. And, of course, Zero will swear to that.
On GIS, Agui Keimeia has been under repairs this whole episode, and Phil has said that it's a miracle Rio made it back alive. Rioroute doesn't appear to feel the same way; he's sulking when Gareas finds him and asks after him. Rio shows us a thoughtful side, commenting about how the Victim are getting stronger, and the more the Pilots fight them the less human they become, replaced by atomics and EX worn out. It won't be long, he can't help but think, before they can no longer go on...