Right side: Nina Nelson (Topness Mark 1 pilot) looks out over Vimana station’s simulator bay (in which everyone has died), tense with memories of the past.
Left side, chapter title: First Topness
One year earlier, a rainy day in London. Nina has just learned about the top secret NerfThis plan. (Interpreted by the manga author as “NerfDis.”)
Right side: An official informs Nina that the whale-shaped Mark 01 is based on her own customized ship in the global video game Star Sailor, and the UN Space Forces are trying to build a space fleet that can fight Seireness.
Left side: She is shocked to hear that the UN believes Seireness will strike again. “Their second coming wasn’t stopped by the collapse of Deus. Humanity will be destroyed.” He explains that the Star Sailor game’s purpose is to find the best space battleship pilots on Earth, who can qualify for Topness. He says she has a 99.5% probability of successfully activating the Mark 1.
Right side: “Of course, we’ll respect your wishes. It is inevitable that this will be a very dangerous mission. But we want you to help save humanity.”
Left side: Later, Nina enters her game and talks to her dream whale. “What should I do? I’m scared…but…”
Right side: “…I want to protect him.” She speaks of the boy who previously played the game with her, whose identity she doesn’t know.
Left side: At a later date, Nina has come to Vimana in Jupiter orbit. She greets Topness manager Abby Yan, who thanks her for enlisting.
Right side: Nina wants to meet the other members, but Abbey says she is the first. “Our situation is that we don’t know when Seireness will attack. The NerfThis plan doesn’t allow a moment of grace. But it’s good to have you as the first fit. The Mark 01 is the cornerstone of data analysis to produce a tactical fleet. That’s why construction is being rushed…until we accept another Topness we will assume every possibility in simulation.”
Left side: The assembled crew is shown secret footage of a monstrous Seireness, shot from the Deus in the first invasion. They hear the voices of those on the spot:
“Everyone evacuate to the descent ship!”
“But deputy chief, there are still the space-time crystals…!?”
“Do you want to die, you idiot? Let go of such things and run away!!”
Abbey takes the podium to give her explanation. “This is the enemy Seireness we have to fight against. Seireness use wormholes to jump across long distances in space. They seem to have come to our solar system.”
Right side: Abbey says the Seireness use wormholes to jump long distances faster than light, a technology Earth can only dream of. Nina asks why such an advanced civilization would come so far to attack Earth, but the answer is unknown.
Left side: Alexei eyes Carlos as Abbey lays out the mission. “The weapons currently possessed by the UN Space Forces and the space fleet equipped with them cannot deliver an effective blow to Seireness. Only attacks by NerfThis weapons using the inexhaustible energy created by the connection between the space-time crystals and Topness…the NerfThis fleet is the only way humanity can oppose Seireness.”
An officer asks why they are entrusting their fate to children.
Right side: “The defense forces recognize the issue of imposing dangerous missions on underage children. We are currently advancing the generalization of space-time crystal connection technology. If we succeed in that generalization, by all means, you’ll be the one on the front lines.”
As talk continues, Nina realizes that Topness is the last and only line of defense.
In the background, someone asks if there are plans to mass produce space-time crystals.
“The original space-time crystals disappeared with Deus. There is currently no high-energy particle accelerator facility capable of replicating them. The space-time crystals currently in human possession are the only eight copies that could be recovered. The NerfThis plan can only go up to Mark 8.”
Left side: We jump forward to a time when Nina is single-handedly running combat simulations with her controlling the entire Topness fleet. She’s not doing well.
Right side: Mark 6 goes down in flames against the simulated Seireness.
Left side: Abbey tries to console Nina, who says that the Mark 6 has been destroyed 49 times. Abbey says it’s the most powerful ship they have, so it’s naturally the enemy’s first target. Nina protests that it’s a death trap for whoever will end up as its pilot.
Right side: Abbey acknowledges this sickening truth, but says there is no other solution. Nina should deal with it as an adult. Nina fumes that she will never become an adult. “All I have to be is the leader of Topness!! I will protect Topness!!” A voice calls out to her…
Left side: …and we are pulled back into the present as Marina yells to get Nina’s attention. She and Aisha want to know why she’s ignoring them and why she was making such an angry face. Nina tries to laugh it off.
Right side: Marina is suspicious of Nina’s evasion. Aisha suddenly remembers seeing Nina sitting alone with Yu on a previous occasion and wonders if that’s the reason for Nina to be preoccupied.
Left side: Nina blasts them with denial, only making Marina more suspicious. “I thought you were starting to look at Yu a little differently.” “You’re talking nonsense!”
Right side: Yu suddenly appears. “What’s nonsense?” Marina compliments him on his timing. Nina is stunned until Aisha steps in and asks about getting a meal. She talks with Yu about chawanmushi (savory egg custard) and they talk about whether it’s best to eat it first or last.
Left side: With the topic now shifted to dinner, Yu leads them away. Aisha scolds Marina for going over the line. “Aw, I was just having some fun…” and we find a Mifune android preparing their order.
Right side: The Topness pilots gather for a rare peaceful meal together.
Left side: Nina gazes at Yu, lost in thought about how he miraculously turned out to be the boy she gamed with so many years ago. He’d promised then that they would search the seas and catch a dream whale together. Now, in a way, they have. Her musings are roused when Yu suddenly shouts at Linne Aegis…
Right side: …who has rudely scarfed his custard, saying he was letting it go to waste. He yells that he was saving it for last, like you’re supposed to. This ignites a spat about calorie consumption.
Left side: Linne chides Yu that he would be cuter if he got a little thinner, which only makes him madder. Someone else says they should just get married already. Marina is delighted.
Right side: Laine asks Nina if she’d like to go play table tennis, but she has to attend a briefing with Abbey. After al, she’s the leader of Topness.
Left side: Later, Nina stares at her dream whale in the old fishing game.
“Am I here?” she asks.