For some time now, I’ve been wondering if the opening action scene in episode 1 was taken from somewhere in the novels. Yesterday morning, I found its origin in chapter 3 of book 9.
The day before Lawry arrives on Earth, Aoi finds the key to a post-office box that was used to contact her back in the bad old days when she was a secret agent. She goes to the post office intending to just drop it off, but before she has a chance to say anything, the employee has gone off to retrieve her box. Inside, she finds a variety of messages related to her former career, none of which matter to her at all, and one foreign letter, in English (yes, this is how it’s printed in the book…):
Do you remember me?
I am "Burning rose".
Woman into whom life changes thanks to you.
…wish to express our gratitude to you by us.…
I want to meet one of these days if it is good.
Let's meet by you in the Yogi park on February xx day if this letter is read.
It returns if not coming…………
The date? Tomorrow. In flashbacks, Aoi remembers a certain night mission, from a time before she met Kio. It’s basically the same battle at sea against smugglers, up to the point where she’s disposed of the crew and is alone in the cargo hold. In the anime, she heads up to the bridge and confronts the last survivor, and the scene ends when he blows up the ship to kill them both.
In this version, while down in the hold, she’s attacked by a powerful pyrokinetic, Burning Rose, a former CIA agent turned mercenary. There’s no contraband in the crates; the whole thing was a setup to take her out, and Rose has the upper hand. It’s a deathmatch, both of them armored from head to toe and heavily armed, and in the end, Aoi seems to be the only survivor, pulled out of the sea by her support ship. Yeah, the ship still blew up, but it was more of a side-effect of their fight than a deliberate act.
Aoi remembers the soulless fighting machine she was back then, and wonders if she’s still strong enough to take on an enemy from her past. She hides her concern from her assistoroids, afraid more of what Rose’s powers could do to them than for herself, and cheerfully gives them permission to spend the day with Lawry. She carefully checks out the rendezvous point in advance, then prepares her weapons and heads out.
It’s a very public place, and she’s not sure what the trap will be, but when she gets there, all she finds is a lovely young American woman sitting on a bench, casually reading a book for newlyweds. Scanning the area for threats and not finding them, Aoi calls out, “Where are you, Burning Rose?”. The young woman on the bench stands up in surprise and asks, “Are you Calamity Momiji?”. (yup, the kanji 悪縁紅葉 (“Evil-Destiny Momiji”) is given the furigana reading カラミティ・モミジ)
Rose is honestly thrilled to see Aoi, and embraces her so quickly that she forgets about her weapons. Rose is so happy that she’s practically babbling as she talks about trying to find a good way to reach Aoi to thank her. Why? Because after her half-dead body washed up onto a nearby island and she was nursed back to health by the Intern who found her, she discovered that her powers were gone.
She could be a normal woman, escaping the lonely and dangerous life of an esper. She feels like she’s been born again, and hopes that Aoi’s new life is going well, too. And then she runs off to greet her husband (a certain Intern), leaving a bemused Aoi waving as the happy newlyweds walk away.