In a thrilling opening sequence, Nordlicht is parachuted en masse from the Nachzehrer’s hold as Lt. Col. Wenzel distracts the Legion. We hear a yelp and the last we see of the aircraft it is taking heavy fire. But Wenzel’s job was to get her troops in position to take out Morpho, and she did that job.
…That is, until it’s revealed that the damaged “Morpho” in the middle of town isn’t the Morpho, but a decoy. Rather than repaired, the active core was transferred to a spare Morpho still out of range of Shin & Co. As a result, they’re left as sitting ducks as the Real Morpho, the core of which is Kiri’s mad murderous head, fires its main railgun into the town.
All of the allied observers are wiped out, but Nordlicht manage to survive the blast. Back at the command center, the generals, who aren’t yet aware Shin and the others lived, recommend they fall back and regroup now that Nordlicht failed. Ernst says to do so would be amoral and cowardly. He adds that the people of Giad elected him to uphold a higher set of ideals, which means not abandoning the soldiers they sent in to save them.
While Ernst has Shin & Co’s back, there’s obviously something else going on with him. As Shin races to Morpho’s position, Kiri spots the headless reaper emblem and identifies Shin as a surviving member of the Nouzen Clan. Kiri wants nothing more than to destroy everything and everyone Shin knows and cares about, but his Legion superior “No-Face” orders him to stand down. When he won’t, the railgun is remotely deactivated.
It seems the Legion brass doesn’t want Shin dead…and part of me also suspects that “No-Face” is really Ernst Zimmerman. Why he’d send his nation and all other surviving nations to the brink like he is may be explained by his desire to uphold ideals humanity has abandoned. Meanwhile, on his way back to his designated district, Kiri spots a red flag and is reminded of the robe of the young Empress he once protected.
Nordlicht regroups at an abandoned forward base, remaining deep in Legion territory and preparing to pierce even deeper to finish Morpho off. Shin’s briefing is interrupted by weird sounds emanating from one of Fido’s cargo containers. Turns out Frederica stowed away to serve as the unit’s “hostage”, ensuring they upheld their duty to come back alive.
Raiden agrees to take her back to safety, and tells Frederica that there was no reason to put herself in danger; they don’t want to die and are planning not to. But as Shin told his superior during the briefing, retreating now to die tomorrow is pointless. Morpho is on the run, and pissed off by its pragmatic boss to boot. The only way everyone goes home—or even has a home—is to finish what they’ve started.