Curriculum 07 (Land Battle)
Wonderful summary written by Dawn!
Clay starts the episode by whining about his pair, but the older boy interrupts his complaints with the comment that Erts is reading their intentions. Aracd adds that although he may "look pathetic", Erts is actually closest of all the Seniors to becoming an actual Pilot. Erts addresses Zero similarly from their half of the battlefield, warning him that Aracd is planning to strike at Zero first, not Erts. The battle begins and sure enough, Aracd charges straight for Zero...
Simultaneously, in a real battle, Gareas manages to pull Eeva Leena out of the direct line of fire while still mostly intact as Teela takes the blow to save him; he summons the Altege gun while she activates her EX. Eeva Leena and Tellia Kallisto set up a trap for the Victim, Garu acting as bait while Yu comes in behind him to deliver the actual strike. While it reels from the attack, Teela makes the final blow...
As Aracd and Zero come together in a contest of sheer strength, grappling, arm-locked. Neither can get out of the situation without opening himself to attack, but Aracd's Repairer Kyoko tells him that Zero's Pro-Ing is slowly losing balance on the uneven ground, and Aracd makes a sweep, kicking the Pro-Ing's legs out from under it. Zero starts to topple helplessly, but suddenly Erts is behind him, propping him up and warning him to move quicker. Zero thanks him and decides to do just that, making attacks of his own on Aracd. But he's moving slowly, and Kizna realizes that his reactions are too fast for the limited Pro-Ing to keep up with him. She tries to raise the settings, but Azuma instructs her to lower them again right away -- the pilot must adjust himself to the vessel, the vessel must not be adjusted to him. And sure enough, even as he speaks, Zero is becoming used to the delays in reaction time, his movements speeding up as he throws punches at Aracd and blocks the return blows with planning ahead and instinctive self-adjustment.
Clay finds this all quite fascinating, of course, narrating excitedly from the sidelines while carefully avoiding all danger himself. Azuma orders him to stop hiding and fight already, but the Instructor gets called away before he can force any results. (Erts corners Clay peaceably shortly thereafter, and insists that Clay use him for -- essentially -- target practice, because he promises not to fight back.) Azuma has been summoned to a meeting with one of the GOA higher-ups, who asks him to confirm that the five new Candidates have high EX values. Azuma backs up that statement but adds that one in particular is almost guaranteed to be a Pilot: Zero, he is absolutely certain, will make Pilot, even if Azuma has to force him into the correct mold personally. The official approves and tells him to keep training the Top and the new Candidates, because they suspect that soon a position will become vacant among the Pilots...
On GIS, Ernest punches Gareas. (!!!) During the battle of earlier, Ernest felt Garu's emotions very intensely, his impatience and his frustration and something else... Ernest is worried about him, distraught as he recalls Garu's behavior during the battle as being reckless and uncaring, almost as if-- He leaves the sentence unfinished, stalking off. Gareas has said nothing this whole time, but now he addresses the absent Ernest, saying that he already knows all that, but during the battle he found that he could no longer hear Eeva Leena's voice, and even now he can't stop shivering in reaction. As this happens, Teela stands in the maintenance bay before Garu's damaged Ingrid and raises her hands, saying that she shouldn't be afraid. Teela promises to protect her, that they've always been together and always will be no matter what else.
Tune encounters Ernest a bit later and tells him hesitantly that somebody needs to stop Gareas before he does something that can't be undone. Ernest agrees with her, which she assumes to mean that since he doesn't need her advice it isn't called for and she's being a nuisance. Ernest denies it, but concern overpowers her insecurity as she notices the bruises on his knuckles. She takes his hand, as if to heal the injury with sheer force of will, and says quietly that he should do something, because Gareas is the person most important to him.
Aracd is not happy, because Zero keeps driving him back and he can't get around him, but Zero is just some rookie. Erts is his real opponent, and his rating will drop if he spends so much time taking care of an Entry-Level Candidate. Zero ignores this, relentlessly pressing the Senior back. Above them, Erts is still waiting for Clay to take some motion. Clay is nearly panicking in spite of Erts' reassurances, and edges slowly backwards... forgetting that he's at the edge of a cliff. He tumbles over the edge, much to everyone's dismay, and falls down to the level of the combatants below him, who jump apart as he crashes into the ground. Zero is momentarily stunned by this apparent self-destruction, giving Aracd the chance to leap over Clay's unmoving Pro-Ing and attack him, driving him back rapidly and then finally shoving him out-field. His elation is quickly shattered as Erts comes up behind him and yanks a cord from the back of his Pro-Ing, disabling it.
Kyoko rails at Aracd for his pathetic defeat while Rome calmly reports the end of the battle -- but Kizna insists that Zero may be out-field, but he's not out of commission. The battle isn't over yet. She tries to coach Zero through it as he falls into what seems like nothingness, reminding him that there is no up and down, so if he'll just put on the boosters and get himself out of there... but Zero can't hear her. He's distracted -- having a vision of a much younger Kizna, with dark hair and normal ears falling, and then hitting the ground with a sickening thud, and blood trickling from her ears... He screams and although Kizna tries to remind him that she's here and safe she isn't getting through, and Azuma isn't willing to wait. He orders Rome to cut Zero's simulation. Rome and Kizna want to wait, but he repeats the order. Reluctantly, she reaches for the control...And suddenly Clay has an EX reaction. Zero's consciousness returns and he triggers the boosters. Within seconds he's landed back on the field itself, settling before a vaguely proud Erts. Rome realizes in alarm that she's accidentally pressed her hand down on the panel to cut off Zero's simulation but for some reason it isn't working, then looks back at Azuma -- who looks vaguely sheepish, his own hand on the panel lock, so that her command didn't go through. Clay pushes up his glasses, wondering what he just saw... whatever it is, it was apparently "Very interesting..."
Later on, Kizna is helping Zero get over his space sickness again. Kizna asks if he really saw her, and Zero secretly wants to know too. After a moment of silence, Kizna tells him that she wanted to be a Pilot at first, not a Repairer, but women can't be Pilots because they can't have EX. That's why she admires Teela so much, because not only is she a woman Pilot but she's the best Pilot. Kizna tells Zero that he has to become a Pilot, to carry on her dream for her.
Cut to Teela, silhouetted before Zion. She wonders if she will be recognized, when she finally returns... wonders if, after all the changes she's been through, he will recognize her... that Rei.