Full Metal Pain

So I’ve spent a couple of days reading a very bad Engrishy translation of the last few FMP novels, and I have to say that this has become another “I hate my characters” type of story by the author. While the first few novels and the anime series had plenty of laughs, there’s not much to be found funny here. (I can think of only two exceptions…”Testicle Princess” being one of them!) I’m sure some of you have already read it, but here goes anyway. Below the fold are MAJOR spoilers, so if you haven’t, venture there at your own risk.

This stuff is not going behind a tag, which doesn’t work on RSS anyway, so it’s your last chance to stop, right now.

I don’t have time for a blow by blow, but Kalinin turns coat, Amalgam destroys Mythril, and only the Tuatha de Danan and a few others escape. Essentially, Tessa is all that’s left of the military leadership, aside from some scattered odds and sods that try to reform, with little hope. There are battles in Tokyo and San Francisco; the Arbalest is destroyed and Souske is assumed killed. Kaname is captured by Leonard Testarossa and spends the next three novels being hauled around by him.

Souske survived of course, picked up by some French Intelligence types. Amalgam tries to kill him again, and one of the agents goes rogue with Souske, helping him recuperate and get back into shape. He and the rogue group manage to locate Kaname in southern Mexico, and launch a shoestring attack with an old AS. Just as they do so, the American Army looks as if it is about to attack also, then backs off — but a third force attacks, which turn out to be Kurz Webber and Melissa Mao; the Tuatha de Danan has also tracked Kaname here. They come within a hair of reaching her, but are prevented by the arrival of a fourth force composed of three “normal” Lambda driver AS and 3 of the goliath models like Souske destroyed in Tokyo during TSR — these attack both sides, being from a rival faction of Amalgam. The tables are turned when a next-gen ARX-9(?) is delivered to the battlefield, controlled by Al, salvaged from the Arbalest — this is the work of the agent Wraith and the orange-haired girl from the opening sequence of the first series, who has been working on the Arbalest series for Mythril in secret.

Although they trash both forces, Leonard escapes with Kaname (not before she shoots him) and both gets a message off to Souske, confessing her love (and he, likewise!), plus leaves a technical disk behind with instructions on how to build a Lambda canceler. She has determined that Amalgam has the advantage, because they’re willing to dope up their pilots, even though it eventually makes them crazy, whereas Souske is the only Mythril pilot who can summon the focused mindset necessary to initiate/control one.

Wraith, and another agent of Mythril, Lemon, manage to find key information in a Moscow archive, but Lemon is captured and Wraith injured as they try to get away. Tessa uses their information to launch a deep penetration raid into Russia with just her, Souske, and Kurz Webber and some helicopter backup. Kurz earns the death flag by sleeping with Mao.

At the same time, Leonard is headed to the same location, an abandoned Soviet city where a secret experiment created the Whispered and altered the world they live in. All along, Leonard and Tessa have been searching for this location, with divergent goals — Tessa intends to destroy it; Leonard intends to use it to unmake the world and restore it to its normal, non-Whispered state.

Aside: in 1979, a Soviet experiment to tap the collective unconsciousness or some such backfired, resulting in everyone in the city going mad and killing each other. For three minutes, the apparatus broadcast a signal that travels forward and backward in time, potentially linking the Whisperer with anyone anywhere in the world born during those three minutes. The girl at the center of the apparatus also died… sort of. Time and the mind are both distorted, and non-Whispered can’t even approach it without being driven insane; Whispered also suffer confusion. According to Leonard, the girl at the center is Kaname herself, and he seeks to build another such device to cancel out the first — which is why Amalgam and he especially have been after her. For various reasons, not every one of the people born during those three minutes manifest the Whispering; there are said to be only 10 in the whole world that have been discovered. Kaname would have given Mythril at least 3 of them.*

Tessa does not realize this (edit: Kaname’s connection; she’s aware of the history otherwise). In the confusion of the battle, as both sides close on the underground (of course!) lab, everyone ends up separated. Kaname and Tessa meet, and when Tessa lets Kaname accompany her to blow up the device and break the temporal link bringing information from the future, Kaname is possessed by the Whisperer/alt-self. In the temporal confusion, she thinks she has killed Tessa and Souske, then joins Leonard willingly. Kurz Webber is mortally wounded in a sniper contest vs. his old mentor, but in return, kills him, allowing Souske and Tessa to escape.

Score, as of end of the last published novel: Webber dead, Kalinin defected, Tessa cracking up from guilt and stress, Mao leaning heavily on Souske and lying to herself that she and Webber just had a meaningless fling, Leonard in control of Amalgam, and Kaname possessed by a stone cold alt-version of herself that has become a co-leader of at least Leonard’s corner of Amalgam.


*Interestingly, my old theory about psychic powers and the need for humaniform fighting mecha to enable them turns out to be true here. You can’t put a Lambda driver on a tank, which is actually acknowledged as a superior fighting vehicle to a mecha. It’s too different for a human to visualize and utilize a Lambda driver on one.

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