|“||You--must be a traitor.||”|
–Barbara, laying down stark, unmistakable terms to Nana
The fight itself came after a very dramatic moment for both Nana and Barbara, which would set the stage for their confrontation.
For Nana, it was a series of unfortunate misunderstandings that convinced her nobody wanted her and that she was just a burden for the people she now considered her family. This self-recrimination culminated in the confrontation with the deranged Kurama, who, in his insanity, callously dismissed Nana as merely a test subject while choosing to cling to the corpse of Cynthia, one of Mariko's clones killed by Lucy. In her despair at feeling her world seemingly crumble apart before her, she began hearing the voice that once drove Lucy into the path of murderous misanthropy, and that she had heard once before.
For Barbara, it was the release of the mind-control device Nousou had implanted in her. After the disastrous battle against Lucy, Barbara and Nousou, along with the Agent, were the only survivors of the assault team sent to capture the Diclonius queen. In a moment of remorse over his past actions as part of the Diclonius Research Institute, he freed Barbara from his control, partly expecting her to still recognize him as a paternal figure. Instead, Barbara took his life, making it clear that, unlike what he may have wanted to believe, she hated him for his treatment of her.
From the beginning, we see the stark contrast between these two combatants: Nana, who refuses to give up on humanity despite being subjected to terrible events by Human hands, and Barbara, whose first instinct upon awakening from Nousou's control was to reject humanity and kill them according to the DNA Voice's will. Where Nana refused the voice and sought to live with Humans, Barbara followed its urges to chase down the "traitor" who choose humanity over her species.
Barbara lost no time in making her intentions clear, flatly referring to Nana as a traitor and demanding why she hadn't heeded the demands of the voice. Further ravings, however, were interrupted by Kurama. Driven insane by grief, he mistook Barbara for a reborn Mariko, jumping to greet her with joy. The clone, however, only shoved him away, prompting Nana to react aggressively. The fight was on.
Barbara, showing her evident lack of fighting experience, made a critical mistake expected of rookie fighters: She arrogantly assumed she had the upper hand because her vectors were longer and ostensibly more powerful than Nana's. However, while Barbara's vectors were indeed longer and more powerful, Nana still had two critical advantages: superior speed and greater experience.
Nana had always been the "jobber" of the series, making good showings here and there only to get soundly defeated by vastly superior or more vicious enemies. This time, however, was the one instance where Nana was in control for the entirety of the fight. She encircled Barbara, using both her greater speed and agility to land powerful strikes on the Mariko clone (including what would become a signature of Okamoto's in later works: a powerful kick to the face/head). Aided by the experience of fighting the likes of Lucy and Mariko, Nana dominated, and Barbara was unable to land a single blow for the vast majority of the match.
The arrogance Barbara displayed was now evident on Nana's face as she held the upper hand, acting much like she had done so during her fight against Mariko, chastising Barbara and saying she had to be "punished." Barbara's reply to her taunts echoed a maxim made by one of the Caped Crusader's most recent incarnations: "If you're losing, cheat." Seeing she had no ways of personally touching Nana, the far more vicious clone turned her vectors on Kurama, effectively taking him hostage.
Now cornered, Nana could only plead the clone of her "sister" to spare Kurama, crying out that he was also her father, a notion Barbara disgustedly dismissed. Barbara flatly stated that she was born in a test tube and grown artificially, with no attachments to any human beings, nor any desire to form them. Nana could only stand by as Barbara turned the tables on her, tossing her around like a ragdoll.
As she saw her death a certainty, Nana could only echo the plea made by the late Mariko to her: to take care of their father. Once again, Barbara dismissed and mocked Nana's words, stating the full intent to kill both of them. Defeated, Nana simply surrendered and accepted her seemingly inevitable fate, adding that, if she were to reincarnate, she'd want to be Kurama's biological daughter, too.
The final blow, however, never came. A single gunshot echoed in the forest, a single bullet to the head, ending Barbara's life.
Stunned, Nana looked up, finding that Kurama had shot the clone dead, and was now standing over her corpse, with him confusedly wondering why had she not dodged the bullet when she had so clearly seen it, and he was hardly alone in this. But at the end of this pain and confusion over whether Barbara, at last, felt something for a distant father, Nana found joy in Kurama's final emergence from his grief and insanity.
After a heartfelt reunion, Kurama buried Barbara next to Cynthia, musing to himself how he always knew he would eventually have to kill Mariko himself, even if it was just a clone of her that he finished off, perhaps in some way a scheme of Chief Kakuzawa's by extension. He gives his adoptive daughter a pep talk about the meaning of atonement, and not repeating past mistakes. Not paying much attention to his musings, Nana instead asked if she and Kurama would be living together from now on, to which Kurama simply replies that time is not yet, for he has unfinished business. There's the matter of someone who still has yet to atone for her sins. But for doing so, he needed Nana to be by his side, an offer she eagerly accepted, even suggesting an ally of sorts in this quest.
This battle was both Nana's crowning achievement and the event that allowed Kurama to return to his senses. It also helped cement the intense bond both characters share, exposing their (most definitely familiar, but implicitly ambiguous) love for one another, and their willingness to die or kill to protect the other.
It is also the climax for both their character arcs, coming full circle. Nana evolves from the innocent girl blindly devoted to her Papa to a more sophisticated young woman, taking the decision to stay with Kurama out of genuine love. For Kurama, it marks the end of his journey as he finally lets go of the haunting events regarding Mariko, and fully accepts Nana as part of his family (again, whether he sees her as a daughter or something else, is ultimately left ambiguous).
The two will need each other as the multiple agendas at play in the series finally collide.
|“||It's fate. That eventually, I would have to kill Mariko with my own hands. This is something the Director would think of.||”|
–Kurama, understanding that all struggles in the series fall under the corrupt shadow of the Chief