When Ion goes out for a walk one morning in the city, his escort gets attacked, and he’s captured by an oddly dressed trio. Luke’s group doesn’t find out about this right away, and in the meantime, they plan their trip to Akzeriuth. Since there are Oracle Knights ships watching the seas that ready to interfere, Jade proposes launching a decoy ship while the actual group goes by land to the city of Chesedonia before going by sea. Van decides that he’ll accompany the decoy to make it more convincing, and although Luke isn’t happy with this, he has no choice but to go along with it. Shortly after Van departs, Anise informs the group that Ion has gone missing. The group suspects the Six God-Generals, but they can’t give chase because they can’t risk revealing that they’re not on the decoy ship. Instead, they decide to make their way out of the city via a path through an old factory.
Waiting for them down there is Natalia with her bow, and she convinces Luke to let her join the group after blackmailing him with what she overheard him talking about with Van. The two pinky-swear on the agreement that she doesn’t tell anyone about it if he takes her along and if he remembers their promise after he heads to Daath. Natalia then proves her worth by using her bow to take down a pair of giant insects that were lurking in the shadows. As the group proceeds through the factory, Luke makes it clear that he’s the one in charge and that everyone should follow him. Watching Luke interact with the others, Natalia is reminded of her past with him and how he wouldn’t pinky swear with her. After Luke had returned from being kidnapped, she had visited him, but he was initially scared of her and didn’t remember their engagement. Nevertheless, Natalia stuck with him and he eventually went back to calling her by her name. Even now, she remains determined to bring back the old Luke and to make sure that their promise is fulfilled.
A little further down the tunnel, the group gets attacked by another giant insect, and this time Tear has to save Natalia from being jumped on. Luke, Jade, and Guy combine their attacks to take it down, and afterward, Jade explains to Guy the fusion arte that allows him to call forth his spear. Natalia also thanks Tear for saving her and apologizes to everyone for the trouble she’s caused. The group then finds the exit back outside, and they just happen to emerge near the spot that the Oracle Knight’s landship is parked. When Luke sees that Ion is being led into the ship by Asch, he gets a bad feeling and rushes forward with sword drawn. He ends up coming face to face with Asch, and Luke is shocked at what he sees: Asch has the same face as him. Asch, however, pushes Luke away and then leaves with Sync and Ion on the ship.
The shock of all this makes Luke feel sick, but the bigger problem is that their decoy plan has failed now that their enemies have seen them here. Since Luke had insisted on leading, Jade makes him take responsibility over their next action: pursue Ion by land or return to the capital and go by sea. Luke chooses to go after Ion, so the group makes their way to the desert. It is during this journey that Luke has another painful headache, and this time, he gets a vision of Asch. Asch informs him that Ion is going to the Zao Ruins, and he challenges Luke to come. Luke thus leads the group towards those ruins.
Well, despite the big reveal this week of Asch’s face to show that it’s exactly like Luke’s face, I still think it was stupid to black it out all this time and yet show it repeatedly in the OP. They should have just modified the OP for these first six episodes so there would be at least some surprise left (to the Sunrise staff’s credit, they did make Asch’s hair look more like Luke’s in that scene). The bigger question though is what Asch having the same face as Luke actually means. Are they twins or brothers or clones or what? Asch is able to telepathically communicate with Luke, so there must be some connection instead of all this being a big coincidence. Speaking of twins and clones, I also noticed that Sync and Ion had similar heights and hair colors. Might they be related as well?
Story-telling-wise, one of the pluses of this episode was the fact that there wasn’t much jumping around from location to location as there has been in previous episodes since they spent most of the time inside the factory. Having said that though, the group did magically somehow get from here to the desert instantly near the end, so the problem wasn’t completely gone. I doubt the series will ever totally shake off that RPG journey feel that it has, and while I don’t mind the things like the battles which are pretty obviously boss fights from the game, the lack of transitions from location to location will probably continue to irk me at least a little. Fortunately, I’m enjoying the series and am curious to see what happens now that we know Asch has a connection to Luke.