It’s clear Shaddiq isn’t taking no for an answer when he asks Miorine to sell Gund-Arm to him, but he still “graciously” offers sweeteners in the deal: Miorine will remain president, Earth House will remain on the team, and Suletta will get to protect Aerial.
When Miorine asks Shaddiq if he’s the one who caused this situation by having the rules changed, and he can’t deny it, negotiations break down. Miorine decides to challenge Shaddiq to a duel. Specifically, a team battle between his elite (and all-girls) Grassley House, and Earth House led by Suletta in Aerial.
Shaddiq will get Gund-Arm if he wins, and will back off if he loses. Mine also makes sure that the battle will be streamed both school- and system-wide to advertise Gund-Arm’s prowess. That said, they face an uphill battle. The Grassley Girls are no joke and have top-of-the-line equipment; Earth House’s only real pilots are Suletta and Chuchu, and Aerial’s their only mobile suit worth a damn.
Nika continues to meet with Shaddiq in secret, but seems to be growing tired of it. She’s gotta be informing him due to blackmail, right? While trying to find support pilots, Suletta bumps into Guel, who seems half-interested were it not for his father forbidding him from dueling. He seems to immediately regret not helping her.
Shaddiq visits Mine’s garden one more time to try to get her to reconsider, but the bottom line is that she doesn’t trust him not to use her as a shiny ornament just like her father and the rest of the Benerit Group. The sad part is, Shaddiq actually seems to care for Mine, but has just just dug this hole for himself. When he runs into Suletta he urges her to talk some sense into her bride, but Suletta ain’t having it: she believes in Miorine.
While Shaddiq’s Grassley wingmen feature very different personalities (there’s a stern, all-business Sabina, the Bubbly Maisie, the nervous and apologetic Ireesha, the balletic Henao, and the gregarious Renee Costa. They’re all beloved by the school, and they’re all uniformly cocky.
I’ve learned not to bet against Suletta, especially when she’s backed by the plucky and resourceful Earth House and Miorine at the reins of the battle. Still, I got vicarious butterflies in my stomach, as I suspected her support pilots were not going to last long.
Sure enough, the battle starts off with Shaddiq targeting not Suletta but ChuChu, her strongest support, in the rearguard, keeping her busy enough that she can’t provide any cover fire with her rifle. The Grassley Girls cut through the other four Earth House suits like a hot knife through butter.
Now that all of Shaddiq’s pilots can focus on Suletta, they surround her and activate “Antidote”, and old but still very effective Anti Gund-Arm tech that serves the same purpose as an EMP: Aerial is suddenly inactive and grounded. Grassley pilots then start taking potshots at her.
He’s also convinced now that Suletta can’t be Miorine’s bride. She’s too sweet, to innocent, and above all, too honest. His desperate, hardscrabble orphan origin has led him to believe that in order to stand atop everyone else, you’re going to have to know how to lie, and lie well.
Suletta is contrite towards Aerial, lamenting that she’s relied on her for so much. But these words seem to wake Aerial back up, and while we don’t hear Aerial speak, Suletta has a dialogue with her, and they decide that they’re going to pull this battle out of the gutter together.
As Miorine watches, validated in her trust in her groom, Suletta cuts through the Grassley Girls just like they cut through her support pilots, flashing heretofore unseen Gundam tactics and delivering a hearty and welcome helping of comeuppance to the arrogant chicks.
In the ensuing 5-on-1 melee, Shaddiq does manage to take out Aerial’s left leg, leaving Suletta immobile and her all-important antenna vulnerable. Shaddiq swoops in for the “killing” blow, only for a sniper beam to blast his mobile suit’s head to smithereens.
Miorine, who knew Shaddiq wouldn’t trust his subordinates to finish the job, knew he’d go for the win himself, and was ready for him. In the end, Suletta and her crown jewel Gundam were a shiny decoy, and Shaddiq was caught completely off guard. Suletta hops out of her cockpit and repeats the slogan from GUND-ARM’s promotional video.
Shaddiq may have tried to play dirty with the rules, but it bit him in the ass, as he and Grassley lost fair-and-square to a seemingly hapless underdog in a very public and widely-viewed battle. He accepts the results and honors Mine’s stake: he signs a memorandum that forbids him from interfering any further in GUND-ARM.
He even seems to regret having taken the tack he did. In hindsight, he wonders if she would have accepted his hand in marriage if he’d dueled for it back at the start. But for Miorine, it’s too little, too late. She’s fine staying in control of the company she built, and fine with her kind, sweet, and lionhearted groom.
That seems to be the end of Shaddiq as a threat for now, but Elan’s scheming and Mika’s apparent betrayal still looms, as does whatever new path Guel’s dad has in store for him. Will the next time he and Suletta meet be on the battlefield? Will there ever be a time when everyone just leaves GUND-ARM the ef alone and let them get to work? I hope so…