The third episode of The Retriever features yet more tactics and intrigue as the Hässliche Entlein tries to make its way back to Iserlohn. Reinhard has to deal with the job of dealing with a couple of close calls with Alliance patrols. Kircheis, on the other hand, has the task of trying to get the access code from Margareta as well as playing an important role in the fighting. With the Alliance now sure of what they are dealing with, the journey back to Iserlohn gets that much harder.
The episode begins with a tactics meeting on the Hässliche Entlein on New Year’s Day as they ships were attached to a comet. Wahlen suggested that with the issues getting the Zephyr Particle machine to work they should just destroy it. Bendling immediately objected since all of the test data was also on the device. Reinhard said since Helksheimer was dead, it would be best if they could bring something back. He then asked if there was some way to get the access code and Bendling said that the daughter knew.
Kircheis was asked about the daughter and he remembered her refusal to help because they were her father’s enemies. Even after Kircheis tried to argue that they had no direct involvement in his death, Margareta refused to cooperate. Bendling told Reinhard that since she was 10 they could not torture or use drugs on her to get the access code. Reinhard was surprised that Bendling would even think like that.
The officers were then called back to the bridge with Bendling and Kircheis returning to the other vessel. An enemy patrol was approaching their location, so they broke off from the comet. However, one Alliance ship continued to follow. Kircheis was asked to prepare something on the other ship and would need a little bit of time to do so. The Alliance ship then ordered them to stop, but Reinhard ignored them until Kircheis gave the signal. Reinhard ordered the ships to slow and they lured the Alliance ship into range. Kircheis then gave the order to use the machine to start dispursing zephyr particles. They accelerated away, and when the Alliance ship tried to fire on them from within the particle cloud it blew up.
After Reinhard ordered a quick withdrawal, he talked briefly with Wahlen who had asked how they would use the machine. Reinhard was hopeful they could get the access code so they could use the device directionally.
To that end, Kircheis once again spent some time with Margareta. He took her to the capsule where her father remained frozen. She commented on the fact that the others who died had followed her father to the very end. Kircheis asked about her mother only to find out that she had been poisoned by someone a month earlier, which had ultimately made them decide to defect. Kircheis glanced over at the capsule which Margareta had used and then walked up to her with the teddy bear that was inside. Kircheis said they wouldn’t take the bear which her parents had given her, but she asked about the money that her father had also taken with them. Bendling answered that he was only there for the machine, but she said that assets were usually plundered by those assigned to the mission as a reward. Bendling said that seemed to happen a lot, but that was only done by those without shame. Kircheis said they weren’t pirates and that their captain detested the actions of those who plundered. She accepted the bear back from Kircheis and said that the two of them didn’t seem like bad people.
As the ships retraced the route back to Iserlohn, they encountered another patrol. Reinhard ordered them back into an asteroid field where he hoped he could take shelter and take the patrol out with zephyr particles. Reinhard had the particles released and because the Alliance wanted the machine too, they could not fire on them. Reinhard then had a message sent to the Alliance patrol that the area was filled with zephyr particles to ensure they weren’t fired on. One of the Alliance ships pulled away from the others and began to ram the Hässliche Entlein to separate them from the transport. They collided back and forth in the asteroid field then Kircheis ordered the particles to stop being emitted. Reinhard then took the opportunity to ram the Alliance ship into an asteroid from underneath before quickly withdrawing. The Alliance ship exploded and the cloud of fire took out the other Alliance ships.
Wahlen was impressed by Kircheis, but with their route blocked he wondered what they should do. Reinhard asked if they could make contact with their military source of Phezzan. They received a new route from the source, but it was incomplete and would require them to resupply. They had no chance to confirm the details before communication was cut off again. Kircheis then arrived on the bridge with something he wanted to consult with Reinhard on.
Kircheis revealed some suspicious circumstances behind the information on the device, and he thought that Bendling might be under orders to retrieve that information himself. Kircheis told Reinhard that Bendling seemed shaken by Margareta’s story before revealing his own concerns about the girl, that she would become a target for assassination if she returned to the Empire and she would not be adopted by distant relatives because of it. Kircheis proposed making a deal with her, which Reinhard was skeptical of due to her age. When Kircheis reminded him of the age he was when he made his resolution he got the point and asked what deal they would do. Kircheis proposed giving her the transport ship and her father’s assets in exchange for the device and the access code. Reinhard was still skeptical of whether she would be safe after the deal was done or if she would provide the code. Kircheis said he would take full responsibility for the latter. Reinhard would need time to think about it.
The ships plotted a new route to avoid potential ambushes, so they would be safe for the time being. However, it would not change the fact that they would have to go back through the Iserlohn Corridor. This route would surely be blocked in anticipation of their attempt to return.
Thoughts: Yet another surprisingly good episode from this story arc. There was enough in this episode to remember why the original OVAs were so excellent. I did however have a bit of a problem with the zephyr particle explosions looking like cheap CG. Just one more episode of this arc remaining and wondering how they will manage to break through the blockade.