Curriculum 08 (Doom)
Wonderful summary written by Dawn!
This episode begins with Tune. She has something very important to say: she's in love with Ernest. She hasn't said anything, however, because Ernest's heart belongs only to one person -- Gareas -- and she doesn't want to get in the way of that. But she's finally summoned up the nerve as a swarm of minor Victim approach GOA, and she interrupts his analysis of the swarm (they need to strike the leader, because with it gone the whole swarm will dissolve in confusion) with a nervous comment that when he returns from the battle, she has something to tell him. He accepts calmly.
Azuma is kicking Zero out of the Pro-Ing arena. He's been screaming advice incessantly at Roose and Yamagi, who are doing badly enough on their own. Zero protests that even if he didn't say anything, his soul would want to scream, he just can't help it! So Azuma tells his soul, and the rest of him, to go scream in the training hall where he won't disturb anybody. Zero criticizes him loudly for his surliness as Azuma retreats, but then Erts leaves the room as well, volunteering to go and practice with Zero. Zero glows, complimenting him for being such a nice guy and clapping his hands on Erts' shoulders. Erts looks a bit nervous, reminding Zero that he is the senior here; Zero finds that very amusing and drags his senior off in a headlock to go practice. Clay follows along behind them in case it proves to be interesting.
At the training hall, Zero and Erts both get suited up for their fencing match. Erts observes neutrally that Zero doesn't seem to be afraid of him even though he knows what Erts' EX is, that he's a telepathist. Zero assures him that he has no need to be afraid, because he only thinks of becoming a Pilot. The two of them square off, but before attacking Zero muses aloud that no wonder Erts didn't want to shake hands with him at first -- he didn't want to force a reading. Erts denies this, reminding Zero that he is a Senior; Clay comments dryly from the stands that a Senior gets saluted, not his hand shaken.
In the battle, the swarm has switched path and the Top is hiding. Gareas thinks he sees it and heads out to catch it, but Ernest follows him into the midst of the swarm despite his lack of decent shielding. Ernest insists that he won't leave until Garu does, so -- reluctantly -- Garu retreats. But when he looks back, Ernest hasn't followed him. They finally spot Luhma Klein clinging to the back to the Victims' leader, armor breaking down from the contact, ordering them to use him to target the Top...
There is utter stillness in the training hall as Kizna and Saki join Clay. He reports to them that Erts and Zero have spent the last fifteen minutes staring at each other without moving. Zero is trying to outthink Erts, figuring that he'll go this way, but then Erts knows that he's planning to go that way, so he'll feint there instead, but now Erts knows that he's going to do that... Finally he just loses patience with himself and attacks totally at random. Erts is smiling as he parries Zero's thrusts, and Zero gets irrationally offended, assuming that Erts must think he's stupid for not having a plan; on the contrary, Erts assures him, he's actually thrilled that Zero isn't thinking ahead, because it means that Erts has no advantage because of his EX. It's just a plain all-out fight. Although this revitalizes Zero somewhat, Erts wins almost immediately afterward, knocking away the older boy's rapier. But Zero refuses to concede defeat, flipping backwards and even tapping some of his EX as he snatches up his rapier again, but while Clay is triumphant, Rome (who appeared from nowhere) says serenely that Erts-san will make up for it. Sure enough, Zero has barely collected his weapon again before Erts lunges and freezes above him, the tip of his rapier nearly at Zero's throat. Zero laughs and concedes the victory, but suddenly becomes concerned as Erts begins shaking violently. He didn't freeze as a conscious decision -- Erts drops his rapier, clutching at his heart, and sags to the ground, nearly passing out. Zero hovers uneasily (now, of all times, choosing to respect Erts' desire not to be touched) while the others race to see what's wrong. Erts is still nearly paralyzed as he thinks to himself that something broke.
Moments ago, somewhere -- something broke.
Ernest is reeling back and forth as explosions rock Luhma Klein, crying out. Garu and the others fight to get through to him, only to find that the Victim Top has seized the Ingrid in its jaws, gnawing on it like a dog on a bone. They stare at the sight in horror for a long moment, and then Garu screams and goes wild. Teela uses her EX and everything else stops as she races across the battlefield and kills the Victim with one blow, but even after time starts up again Garu refuses to calm down, shooting everywhere uncontrollably with the Altege until Teela uses her EX once more to disconnect the twin rifles. They have to take Luhma Klein back to GIS immediately, they'll retreat for now...
Tune runs frantically to the station, only to find everyone else already there waiting for her. She reports, in tears, that the Pilot has died, and she gives priority to fixing the Ingrid. Teela acknowledges this calmly and states that she'll place the request for a new Pilot immediately. Tune should begin repairs immediately. Everyone is shocked by her callousness, but she reminds them that the Victim won't wait for them -- this needs to be fixed as soon as possible. After she leaves, Garu throws himself to the ground and starts crying, ranting about how it should've been him, it was his fault... The others watch him sadly, saying nothing.
Roose and Yamagi get pulled from Cueval, exhausted and battered. Hiead and Force are up next against Zero and Erts. Force instructs Hiead to leave Erts to him, but Hiead counters that he'll do whatever the mission orders say. Force riles at this but before he can take any objection Azuma gets a call. He orders the practice cancelled and storms from the room; Azuma has been told to report the promotion.
The motley crew is hanging around talking in a side-room from the training hall, Erts resting on a chair while Clay rambles on about EX. Azuma enters and informs Erts that he has been promoted to Pilot. Zero thinks that this is terribly cool until Erts asks for confirmation that his brother is dead, at which point it becomes no-longer-really-very-cool-at-all; when Azuma adds that he has only fifteen minutes to pack, Zero protests that it isn't nearly enough time, and gets ordered to help him. Zero is closing Erts' suitcase, asking the other boy if he's afraid. Erts responds that he doesn't really feel much of anything at the moment, but it's as though his brother is with him now, and he doesn't think that he'll be afraid of fighting anymore. The suitcase clicks closed and the scene changes to the departure ceremony; Erts paces down the honor aisle, says goodbye to his Repairer Rome -- Tune will be his new Repairer, because his brother would've wanted him to keep her on -- and continues on his way. When he comes to Zero he stops and calls him out of the line. Zero salutes awkwardly, but now Erts wants to shake hands: while they're touching, Zero promises him mentally that if he'll wait, Zero will follow him and become a Pilot as soon as he can. Erts thanks him in the same way, and they part with Azuma wishing Erts good luck. Kizna feels that she recognizes Zero's profile as he stares after Erts, determined and confident...
Tune is alone with the coffin, looking inward at Ernest's still form. She asks him if he was so afraid to lose Gareas that he'd rather die, then regrets bitterly that she was unable to tell him how she felt about him. She kisses him briefly, and then the scene changes to the formal funeral. The crew of GIS lines up and pays him honor as they launch the coffin into space, and Erts watches from the window of his shuttle...
Teela tells Luhma Klein not to cry, because this isn't the end for her. There'll be others...