The Retriever starts as a story where Reinhard would have to prove he could command the Hässliche Entlein. The episode begins with hand-to-hand combat practice, in which Reinhard’s side in command of the ship comes out on top, barely. After that, Reinhard is summoned to take on a secret mission to track down Helksheimer, who had fled to Phezzan with a new piece of military equipment. After accepting, he fully embraces the challenge of trying to get to Phezzan through Alliance space without calling for assistance.
The episode begins with a combat exercise on board the Hässliche Entlein. Kircheis, in charge of the attacking side in the exercise, was having little difficulty getting though the fellow crewmen who were trying to stop him. His team made it to the ships bridge where Reinhard and Wahlen waited with the rest of the bridge crew. With just Wahlen and himself left against 7 led by Kircheis, it looked grim for Reinhard. However, he managed to defeat the 6 men who surrounded him, while distracting Kircheis for just long enough for Wahlen to land a hit on him.
After the exercise, in which Wahlen came away thoroughly impressed by Reinhard and Kircheis, the narrator provided a summary of the events between the stories in this Gaiden series. After the 5th Battle of Iserlohn, Reinhard had earned a promotion to Commander and given command of the Hässliche Entlein. Unfortunately, Kircheis did not get a promotion himself and could not serve as Vice-Captain on the ship, which was a role that was filled by Wahlen. As Security Chief on the ship, Kircheis could at least serve as a bodyguard.
On the ship’s return to Iserlohn, Reinhard is called into a meeting by Lennenkampt, who appeals to Reinhard’s need for action before asking him if he would be willing to undertake a secret mission. After Reinhard signs an oath not to reveal the mission, Lennenkampt calls in Arbentraut who informs Reinhard of what the mission would entail. The mission would involved Helksheimer, who had fled to Phezzan with his family while carrying an important military secret. Due to Adrian Rubinsky exerting greater autonomy after having recently taken control of Phezzan, access to the planet through the Imperial side of the corridor was politically risky. As a result, Reinhard would have to go through Alliance territory to get to Phezzan. Reinhard is also informed that Helksheimer also had his own private force to protect him as well. Before accepting the mission, Reinhard asks what the secret is, and is told that it is a directional Zephyr Particle generator. If the Alliance got a hold of it, the Empire’s technological advantage would disappear. After mulling the decision for a few seconds, Reinhard accepts the mission. Lennenkampt tells him that the mission wouldn’t appear in his records, but it would count toward personnel evaluation. Arbentraut wraps up the briefing by informing Reinhard that Bendling would be accompanying him on this mission, with Reinhard instantly believing he is just a watchdog.
After Reinhard leaves, Arbentraut privately questions Reinhard’s abilities to Lennenkampt, who was under the impression that he was the one who appointed Reinhard in the first place. Arbentraut then revealed that the appointment was an order he had received from above and he did not ask who gave the order.
Bendling then introduces himself to Reinhard as an Inspector, but tries to minimize his role to Reinhard. However, Reinhard makes it clear that he demands accurate and unfiltered information from him as well as agreement not to interfere in battle plans before he would let Bendling on the ship, which he reluctantly agrees to.
The next day, the Hässliche Entlein was taken out on what was publicly a training mission. Kircheis, at this point was the only one aware of what was going to happen. As they neared the end of the corridor, Reinhard revealed what their mission was. Wahlen voiced valid concerns about the Alliance presence at the exit of the corridor, but the lack of detail in Reinhard’s plan concerned the other officers as well. They still had little choice but to obey their orders, though. The escape out of the corridor would prove to be a way to gain the loyalty of the ship’s crew by demonstrating his abilities.
The ship exited the corridor and they prepared for battle. Reinhard ordered the radar and sensor beacons to scan the widest areas which would draw the Alliance patrols onto them. Reinhard ordered the main cannon to be fired when in range, before they would quickly turn around and go back into the corridor. When that happened, they were chased by Alliance ships, when Reinhard told the rest of the crew that their plan involved chasing the Alliance ships into their own security patrol. As they neared the Imperial patrols, Reinhard ordered the ship to turn around again, and they broke out of the skirmish. He ordered a signal to be sent on an Alliance frequency, then had the radar and sensors shut off. Bendling questioned using Imperial patrols as decoys, but Reinhard says that he wanted to force them to help him and it was not as though this would be an unfamiliar situation for the patrols.
As the battle grew larger and larger, the Alliance patrols were spread thin which allowed the Hässliche Entlein to break through and enter Alliance territory easily.
Thoughts: This arc seems quite promising for once. Space battles and hand-to-hand combat liven things up for the first time in weeks and it couldn’t come quickly enough. I am still quite curious about Bendling’s role. He wasn’t supposed to question tactics, but he did so anyway without punishment. Will we also learn who was behind Reinhard’s appointment to this mission?