Curriculum 06 (Pro Ing)
Wonderful summary written by Dawn!
The Top five Candidates are facing off each other... four against one. The late-80 series Candidates watch in stunned amazement as that single Candidate almost effortlessly trounces all four of his opponents, Zero gushing about how amazing he is, too busy gaping to listen to Azuma's attempt at an explanation. (Clay and Yamagi at least pretend.) The match ends while Zero's not looking, but Azuma doesn't feel like explaining anymore...
Azuma tells them about the upcoming match, which is the Top five partnered with them so that they can get used to fighting and see experienced fighters. But Erts is passing by in the background, and Clay asks after him, and Azuma indulges them by explaining him a bit -- Erts Virny Cocteau is only fourteen years old and already the Top Candidate in the Academy, with what is said to be demonic ability in battle. Zero is quick to claim Erts as his partner in the practice tomorrow. Yamagi is complaining about it later as they head to lunch, saying that he wanted to match with Erts too. Zero visibly resists gloating, then notices that Yamagi got a haircut. (Or a headcut, as he initially implies.)
Then everyone gets distracted as a new person comes up behind them, a stick-thin boy who looks vaguely familiar. He greets them all, smiling, but they have no idea who he is. He's somewhat disappointed, urges them to remember, and slowly they realize that this boy is Roose Sawamura, their very overweight fifth. They gape, Clay demanding to know how many pounds he's lost while Zero and Yamagi feel his muscles, as if expecting to find the missing fat hidden away someplace. Roose protests the treatment and tells them only that Wrecka-chan said that it would be "their little secret" how he'd dieted. (Cue flashback of a gently giggling Wrecka as she suddenly loses it and develops the anime evil villainess laugh) He's blushing furiously as he says this, and the other boys get almost offended.
After they bully the "secret" out of him, they drag him to the dining hall and attempt to force-feed him. "We'll help you rebound", they say, while Clay gets all evil scientist on them. Kizna and Ikhny come along and break up the welcoming committee, and Zero trails along in their wake. He hesitantly asks Kizna if she also does the "secret". When Kizna has no idea what he's talking about, he whispers in her ear for a moment, and then asks her about it again. Kizna turns bright red and starts smacking him around, telling him he's disgusting for even asking about something like that.
Zero's too excited to sleep that night. Tomorrow is their first real Pro-Ing practice, with the Seniors -- he's keeping Clay and Hiead up with his tossing and turning and random exclamations of happiness. He finally calms himself down, thinking about his mother and how he needs to become a Pilot quickly so that their colony can get more energy. He falls asleep to dream about his past, racing up to his mother as a child and crying that the other kids at school wouldn't call him "Rei", they kept calling him "Zero", saying that "Rei" sounded funny. His mother hugs him, telling him that Rei is his very own name, given to him by his father... but she has nothing to give him, and she's sorry... She vanishes before his eyes, and he cries out, but behind him the door is slowly creaking closed and he turns around only to see it slam shut and Zero rockets awake, drenched in sweat. Clay complains again, and Zero agrees to go back to sleep apologetically. But he can't, sitting awake and staring at the ceiling and wondering what's happening to him...
The return eyecatch is accompanied by the sound of an alarm clock going off, and getting hurled into the wall and broken. The next thing you know, Zero and Clay are racing down the hallways, frantic about being late for their first Pro-Ing practice. Yamagi is waiting for them on the upper level, and while they're on the elevator Zero asks them if they've ever forgotten their mothers' faces before. Clay theorizes that Zero's learned a lot of stuff since coming to GOA, so it's only natural that his tiny little brain has reached capacity and some of his former memories are being shoved out the other way, but Yamagi thinks he's stupid for trying to remember at all -- he's already forgotten about that bitch.
They make it to the practice seconds before Azuma calls them to order. Azuma gives them a "pep talk", while Zero gripes about that bastard Hiead not waking them up if he was awake enough to leave on time. He's distracted mid-rant by a voice behind him. His partner has arrived. Everyone else salutes hurriedly, in obvious awe, but Zero kind of fidgets for a minute before trying to shake hands. Erts draws away a bit and demurs that he doesn't really... The other Seniors arrive and mock Zero for his incompetence. Erts doesn't touch people, and what's wrong with Zero, anyway? You're supposed to salute a Senior. Erts' peers are already pissing Zero off, but Clay and Yamagi keep him from doing anything stupid as the pairs get reported and Azuma sends them off to go play.
While the Repairers and Candidates prepare their Pro-Ings, Zero enthuses about Erts' amazing fighting in the battle he saw yesterday. Erts once again demurs, insisting that he's not really strong at all -- he's actually afraid of battle. This catches Zero's attention, who asks about it further, but the battlefield is being set for his match: he and Erts will be fighting against the Clay/Aracd pair. The simulation forms around them in a desolated serengeti-type setting, and Erts takes a moment to reassure Zero that he doesn't need to worry about his null-grav sickness because this battle is on the ground. Zero does a double take. How does Erts know about his null-grav sickness? Erts shares how, revealing that he's come into contact with Zero before, when Zero was in what was probably Cueval practice, and his powerful emotions reached out and forced Erts' attention. Erts adds that Zero has forgotten about his fears by looking only ahead, and he can't help but admire Zero for it. Zero still wants to know how Erts could feel his emotions without there even being physical contact. Erts says that this is his EX -- Kizna, in the Repairer booth, looks over at Erts' Repairer Rome, who confirms that Erts is a telepathist -- and it is a gift that he shares with his brother, Ernest Cuore, Pilot of Luhma Klein...
Meanwhile, in a real battle, said brother is crying out that Gareas is moving too soon, the Victim already knows what he's doing. But Garu charges in heedlessly and realizes suddenly that he can no longer hear Eeva Leena's voice. The Victim catches him in an enormous blast, and Ernest screams his name frantically--
Zero is thinking of his home. He asks Erts why he's afraid of battle. Erts can only say that by hurting others, he hurts himself as well. Zero understands the sentiment, even sympathizes with it... but he knows that he can't just stand there and let life pass him by. The battle is about to begin.