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MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 12 - Hopeless
Written by: John Nigel
Suggested BGM:
  • “HERO” by Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott
  • “TIME FOR MIRACLES” by Adam Lambert

MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel

Episode 12 – Hopeless


Iberia

Dust, debris, black smoke, burning ships and mobile suits debris were the hints left of the recent attack concerted by the Earth Federation directly at the Royal Zeon’s base. The extent of the damage sustained was unbelievable, as the attack crew from the Federation composed only of ten Jughos and five GM IV Mustangs, led by a gray and black ReZEL unit. It was to prevent the Royal Zeon to send additional reinforcements to space, where the empire’s Operation Newton (the destruction of the Federation’s orbital bombardment weapon) was underway. The assault worked, however; out of the supposed thirty-five battle transport ships that were meant to launch into space, they managed to send only nine. Conversely, Royal Zeon managed to subdue the attack, thanks to the initiative of the empire’s elite.

Since the base’s main building was utterly destroyed, General Tigo Trueno was in a makeshift situation room inside a mobile suit hangar, together with other high-ranking Royal Zeon officers who survived the onslaught against their base.

“General, at 1239 hours, we had the situation under satisfactory control. We are currently deploying our able and ready soldiers to search and rescue. I’m afraid that we sustained heavy losses. Nine ships were launched, including Lord Claude Ashram’s cruiser.”

“Sir, this just came in! Our space fleet is suffering losses as well! The information we received from the fleet states that for some unclear reasons, almost a third of their own force had been wiped out in just a little more than an hour.”

Trueno rubbed his chin. “What’s the current status of our reinforcements?”

“They are currently en route to the Federation’s colony weapon, but due to the delay, their ETA will be 45 minutes.”

The general grimly replied, “They might not make it in time. We are in a tight situation right now.”

The door slid open as two soldiers came in and saluted. “Permission to join the ranks, sir!” the man with a silver hair said.

“Granted,” Trueno remarked. Turning to the other officers, he said, “Gentlemen, these are Special Operative Richard Testarossa of the 6DP Special Action Forces and Ensign Chitz Justaway of the High Command Elite Corps.”

The men were gestured to stand before the other officers. Trueno faced them and said, “Royal Zeon Empire has suffered a great, severe blow today, not only here but also in space. The war seems to be escalating to new heights, and peace is becoming more and more elusive. Nevertheless, the Empire recognizes your heroism, bravery, and zeal in combat duty. Your efforts are hereby acknowledged and to each of you we grant your honorary epithets, recognizing your unselfish contribution for the furtherance of Royal Zeon’s ideals. Testarossa, henceforth you are given the title, “Silver Fang”. You are a ravenous wolf, unwilling to back off from the enemy. Justaway, granted to you is the title “Grim Reaper”. Your prowess in the battlefield is like reaping the souls of the enemy. For Ensign Frost, who did very well in subduing the Federation’s commander unit, he is bestowed upon with the title “Bloodseeker”. So ordered, with my authorization!”

Both men saluted, “Sir!!”

One personnel butted in with a battle advisory. “Valkyrie Cyclone has rendezvous with our forces, General!”

Trueno acknowledged the report. Turning to the two men, he said, “You must hurry up into space and join our comrades. The odds may currently be against us but I believe in you. Show these Feddie bastards who you are and what you’re made of! IKUSO!”

As the men got out of the room, Richard introduced himself, extending his right hand. “Richard Testarossa.”

The other man took the handshake. “Chitz Justaway.”

“I saw the battle report. You single-handedly destroyed the new mass produced variant of the GM-types, the units with those heavy artillery beam weapon.”

“Thank you. Those were the GM IVs codenamed, Mustang. I overheard them via their commlink transmission.”

“But I believe we’ll see more of it. I have a gut feeling that this battle in space will determine the future of humanity,” Richard sighed. As they went to the next building, they saw a female soldier tended by the medics. As they came towards her, Richard turned to Justaway, “I will continue to fight. I have reasons to fight.”

He went ahead and checked on her. Introducing her to Chitz, he said, “This is Ensign Aya Creuset of the Frontal Squadron, currently assigned to the 6DP squad. She is better known as the Crimson Shadow. This is Chitz Justaway.”

Aya gave a weak smile and acknowledged the Zypher pilot. Richard looked at her with concern and asked, “How are you feeling now, Aya?”

She touched the bandage on her head and left forearm. “These are nothing, really. I survived more injuries than these before. But thanks for your concern. That ReZEL was unpredictable… a worthy opponent. But I am fine.” She brought up a cheerful smile. However, Richard could see her eyes.

“You could have died. That was a reckless thing to do, Aya.”

“Perdón, Richard. I did not intend to worry you… it’s just that… I have to protect everyone, protect the Crimson Stri –! I want to protect everyone… I’m fine.”

Richard said, “You’re not too good at lying, don’t you know that? Your eyes say it all...”

Suddenly, she broke into tears and sat back on the chair. Richard inwardly felt angry at himself. She could have died, you idiot!! Where was I when she needed my protection?!

He kneeled in front of her and hugged her tight. “Don’t worry, Aya. I will protect you. Come with me to space. You will no longer need to fear… I will be with you.”

Aya whispered softly, “Richard…”

* * * * *

Puerto Rico

Exarch is no more, Keith!!” someone exclaimed in despair as the burning ship lurched forward and exploded in midair, its hull disintegrating. Chunks of burning debris fell into the sea.

Keith Newman, NEU’s leader, shouted into the intercom, “Hold the order for launch! We must fend off these bastards first, or we’ll sink into the bottom of the sea instead of going up into space!”

“But our mobile suits are all secured in the ships’ bays! Taking them out will take time. By then, it will be too late!”

The remaining ships were all lined up for launch from the single linear catapult; Nightfall at the front followed by ORACLE’s Dharma, and NEU’s third ship, Utopia. Explosions were heard from outside, causing tremors all over the place. Chunks of ceiling cement and dirt fell all over them, including over the people who were running up and about because of terror. Huge debris dropped onto Dharma’s hull.

Newman angrily grumbled, “They’re trying to bury us alive, huh?”

A NEU personnel in charge of the base’s command gave out a report via the intercom. “Keith, our anti-mobile suit turrets were destroyed! They are apparently employing a long-ranged, high-output weapon beyond our scopes and weapons range!”

Without warning, missiles from outside managed to go through the base’s narrow catapult opening. The area was suddenly incinerated, facilities destroyed in the process.

“SECURITY BREACH! SECURITY BREACH! All personnel are advised for immediate evacuation!”

“The linear ramp!! At this rate, it would be impossible for us to launch!!”

Keith’s eyes narrowed in frustration. “Base control, I give the authorization for self-destruct! Give time for our crew and their families to safely evacuate to the secret underwater facilities. We will leave as soon as we can figure this out!”

Suddenly, a Jugho came into view through the opening, with its beam carbine locked and loaded. It took aim at the Nightfall’s bridge, and sprayed a rapid fire.

DADADADADADADADA!!!!!!!

“Everybody down!!” Newman shouted. All of the bridge crew ducked into something that might provide cover. He immediately pressed a red button at his console that brought the protective plates down, shielding the vulnerable bridge.

“Whew, that was close!” exclaimed the CIC personnel.

“Don’t rejoice yet! Those shields were designed for atmospheric entry and not from beam weapons!”

Outside, two more Jughos joined the barrage of beam blasts, followed by a faster cadence of explosions. The shields were taking serious damages and started to glow red. “Crap! It won’t hold up!!”

* * * * *

Aboard Dharma, Diko Sidhikoro had just started up his Gundam. A mobile suit deck mechanic saw the unit powering up. He immediately jumped onto a platform and hoisted himself onto the cockpit hatch. Banging the hatch, he shouted, “Oy, what are you doing?!?! Your unit has been tightly secured onto the frame!! It’s dangerous to –!”

“Just open the catapult hatch and leave everything to me!!” Sidhikoro called back through his unit’s PA system. On his control monitor, Drake Howling opened a video call.

“Diko, what in the blazes are you trying to do?!”

“I’m gonna take a shot at them Feddies!”

“Are you out of your mind?! Just stay put and wait this out!”

“Are we waiting for a miracle to happen? Then let me make a miracle for you! Trust me, Drake… It’s now or never! Keith and the others will have no chance if…”

Howling hesitated for a moment. Finally he commanded, “Deck control, open the hatch!”

Achilles reached for its beam sniper rifle identical to its original main weapon manufactured by Raytheon Industries. Due to its recent battle against Royal Zeon’s Axiom, the weapon was destroyed. NEU’s weapons department helped Diko to redesign and manufacture a more improved version of the rifle. Notable specifications were the increased maximum output capacity and longer range.

“Deck Control, bring up Achilles’ hoist to the left!” The Gundam was hoisted on the last mobile suit frame rack, with the Hero Gundam and Rauwolf before it, making the shot very difficult to take.

Sidhikoro closed his eyes. No hesitation here… our lives will be snuffed out if I won’t do something… Erika… Erika, please guide me…

As soon as he opened his eyes, the golden HARO unit flapped its side covers and began twisting at its terminal.

“Targets acquired! Targets acquired! Identification complete. Three mass produced strategic combat mobile suits codenamed Jugho!”

“Thank you, Erika. You’re efficient to work with,” he praised.

“Sniper rifle powering up. Connecting to main energy banks. Barrel coolants circulated. Targets locked!!”

“Acknowledged, Erika! Disengage auto-target. Set marginal error to plus minus zero. I will take them all!!”

Targeting equipment folded out into place on either of Sidhikoro’s head and displayed a holographic targeting system before him. “Eagle Eye, Achilles Gundam. Sniping at the targets!!”

He clicked the trigger three times.

* * * * *

Three massive explosions occurred just outside Nightfall’s bridge followed by metallic clanking noise. “What happened?!”

“The Jugho units were taken down, Keith! Thank goodness!”

Keith sighed in relief. “Who did it?”

“The golden Gundam.”

The monitor suddenly lit up. Drake was anxious to check on them. “Are you all right?!”

“Thanks for the assistance! But we have to change our plans. Prepare for a forced launch. We can’t wait for them to get bored and go away. They aren’t planning in stopping the barrage anytime soon!”

Drake replied in surprise, “you mean, like, breaking through their blockade?!? That’s suicide!”

“Or do you wish to make this base as your grave? We have no more time to argue, old man! Nightfall will take the lead. We will use the ship’s main particle cannon to make a bigger hole in the catapult opening so that the ships can hover out and speed up in midair. Since the rail is destroyed, we will be relying on our ship controllers to safely get us out of here. We have nothing to lose but our lives.”

Howling smiled and replied, “A most reckless move but certainly, we’d be all out of hope if we don’t do something fast. All right, ‘Professor’! Start the countdown!”

“Don’t call me ‘Professor!’” Newman protested. He switched the transmission on. “This is Newman! The remaining ships will do an emergency launch without the rail assistance! All hands, to stations! Set a ten-second delay interval for each ship to launch. Change all booster configurations to auto-deployment! We will try to bring the ships to a specific altitude, and then our boosters will catapult us to atmospheric exit velocity at 120,000 feet! I won’t accept this hopeless case, so neither should you all! IKUSO!”

By the time their new launch plan was prepared, the base was already breached. GM IIIs have entered the main passage followed by a number of Jughos equipped with projectile bazookas. The demolition was underway. Nightfall's cannon was set into firing position, its barrel’s particle compressors rotating for a power charge.

“The heat would be so intense! Advise our comrades to get away!”

“Channel all power conduits to the main cannon! As soon as we get a clearing, launch immediately! How’s the self-destruct sequence going?”

“Five-minute countdown, Keith!”

“Yosh! Dharma, Utopia, this is it! I wish you well!”

There was a loud, high-pitched shrill sound that reverberated through the base’s cavity. It indicated the cannon powering up. A sudden blinding flash followed, where outside, the cannon’s beam output path pierced through the thick terrain and flowed into the open. It managed to hit three Jughos that were unwittingly positioned directly before the shot path.

The Federation’s entry teams noticed the loud explosion inside the base. They saw that at the far end of the base, the ships were obviously preparing to take off. The entry team commander barked, “Attack those ships! Don’t let them get away! Report this to the commander at once!”

Outside, the veteran leader of the Federation’s Southern Giants exclaimed, “They’re retaliating!! All units, heads up! Regroup and take down their ships!”

Seconds after the explosion, tremors and loud rumbling sounds were heard. Without warning, three ships launched in a perfect clockwork precision and all lined up. As the ship exited the base, it detonated and self-destructed, killing the Federation's entry teams.

KABLAM!!!

All the Jugho units that were in the vicinity moved alongside the ships, converging their shots on the Nightfall. The explosions caused the ship to go off course. The ship’s side pods opened up and sent sprays of missiles all over them. Others were trying to shoot down the other two ships.

“Persistent bastards!” Keith griped angrily. Then his communicator went on. “Instead of grumbling, let me out then!”

It was Nouveau Gardien. At first Keith wavered. Finnaly he replied, “Okay, my friend. We place our lives into your hands!”

Nightfall’s rear catapult deck opened, followed by a ballistic object launching off, almost hitting Dharma’s bow, which was right behind the first ship. Mudd Blake, Dharma’s navigator, shouted, “What in the world was that?!?”

“It’s a waverider, there’s no mistaking it!” Talbot Carm, Dharma’s first mate, replied.

Howling thought, That man is too reckless! Now he’s gonna be left behind!

The waverider corkscrewed in midair and made a hard turn to the right, immediately engaging the pursuing Jughos. As soon as the waverider fended off the enemy mobile suits, they retaliated and ganged up against it. Only a handful of Jughos kept the pursuit with the airborne ships.

Blau Binder commanded, “All stern gunners, support the waverider! Provide cover and clearance!” Trailing behind the waverider were streams of solid projectiles shooting at the enemy units.

With beam carbines blasting off, the Jughos joined their lines of fire all around the waverider. It nimbly eluded the incoming attacks in the concerted gunfire. However, the enemies started to launch high energy grenades at the area.

BAM! BAM! BAM!!

The Federation commander gave out an order through the commlink, “Heads up, don’t close in on the target! Spread barrage slightly above its projected course! I don’t care if you aim, just spread it out as much as you can, and force it to transform!”

“Aye, Commander!”

Gardien saw through the tactic change. Trying to force me to mobile suit combat huh?! Then I won’t disappoint you! He pressed a button that inversely pivoted the hip assembly of his unit, followed by the torso and arms unfolding into place. Upon completing its transformation, the mobile suit reached for its ultimate beam rifles stored on its two side binders. Vector thrusters brought it to a complete mobile suit hover while aiming its rifles on its enemies.

“Nouveau Gardien, NOU Zeta Gundam. Shooting down the enemies!!!”

The Gundam vented off power from its boosters and blasted off toward the nearest Jugho. Apparently surprised, the Jugho pilot did not anticipate the Zeta’s movement. By the time he reacted, the Gundam was already right in front of his own unit. He saw the rifle’s barrel displayed on his monitor. There was no time for him to shout in terror and protest as everything went on fast. A concentrated beam energy pierced through the cockpit, melting away steel and alloy armor. Seconds later, the burning Jugho plummeted and exploded before hitting the sea.

KABLAM!!!

One Jugho closed in and started to charge against the NOU Zeta, protecting itself using the assault shield. On its right manipuilator was abeam saber, spewing off energy. However, Gardien, being an experienced pilot, saw it coming. “Reckless imprudence resulting to your very own death!!!”

The other ultimate rifle immediately aimed against the incoming mobile suit. On the power output selector at the right control stick, Gardien increased the energy discharge to break through the shield’s bulk armor plating. He pulled the trigger without hesitation.

BOOOM!!

The shot went through, causing the mobile suit to disintegrate into a burning chunk of metal. The Southern Giants commander ordered a change of tactics, “All units, don’t take it on, one on one! Overpower it with your numbers! We’ll have a better chance at winning if we do that! Follow my lead!” His unit simultaneously released the grenades on its hip skirt armor. Others switched their carbines into rapid fire, only stopping momentarily as some units closed in by ramming against it using the assault shield. Gardien, being encumbered by the random attacks, was taking some direct hits.

Aboard Dharma’s bridge, the ORACLE crew watched the lone mobile suit engaging the Federation units. Freed Melendrez grumbled, “That idiot! He doesn’t stand a chance by taking them all by himself! Drake, let me sortie! That Zeta’s not going to survive the onslaught!”

“I can’t permit you to do that, Freed! Don’t underestimate our allies. Besides, if you launch now, your Gundam can’t possibly keep up with Dharma once our atmospheric exit boosters blast off!”

Helpless and angry, Freed hurried out of the bridge. Drake turned to his helmsman and asked, “Talbot, how much time do we have?”

“We only have a little over twenty minutes, boss. By the time we reach the blastoff line, the boosters will go into auto-ignition and there’s no way we can stop it.”

“TSK!”

* * * * *

Red lights flashed on Gardien’s control console. His unit was coated with anti-beam coating so he had little to worry about the beam attacks until he noticed that it was starting to ablate. He immediately brought forth five pointed weapons from their racks and booted a system up that initiated the transmission of quantum brainwaves. Miles away, inside the Rauwolf’s cockpit, the onboard computer automatically flashed a notification on the screen. It read, “Psycommu system detected.”

Gardien’s cockpit seat slightly reclined backward; a holographic overlay of the area was displayed before him. He then shouted, “Feather funnels, go forth!!”

The Zeta’s side binders extended out slightly, and then five remote weapons zipped off. The funnels were directly controlled by Gardien’s thoughts and caused them to move rapidly in an unsystematic motion, pursuing the attacking Jughos and retaliating by ramming against them, piercing through their armor. One by one, the Jughos were taken down but the NOU Zeta was beginning to wander away from the ships.

“Nouveau, don’t get strung out chasing them needlessly!” Newman called through the commlink. “We need to stick together, or you might not get on board in time!”

“Don’t worry, man! I’ll give sufficient airspace for you!”

“NO! Just repel their attacks!”

However, Gardien continued his pursuit until his radar picked up five suspicious groups of in-flight units. Quickly, he cross-referenced their heat signatures from the thermal radars to the information on the database.

“Oh shoot!” he exclaimed, in horror as he saw in the database that there were five GM IV Mustangs, each paired with a Jugho unit equipped with a huge energy condenser pack on its back. They’re gonna take the ships down in no time!!

“Keith, you must hurry away! To your five o’clock are those new mass produced ultra-high output mobile suits! Change your course now!” But all that he received from the commlink was static. He realized that he was already out of range from the ships.

* * * * *

By and by Utopia detected the incoming threat. “Keith, something’s up! Five bogeys on our tail! We need to shake them off somehow!”

“WHAT?!” Keith demanded. On their radar, the five groups started to spread. “Contact Nouveau to chase them off!”

“He’s out of range!”

Keith angrily thumped his fist on the console. That’s why I was hesitant to send him out, he’s just too cocky and… That idiot!!

Dharma picked it up as well. Drake commented grimly, “These scums are determined to kill us.”

Amber worriedly asked, “Is all hope lost?”

He replied, “If we have given up hope, then all is lost.”

* * * * *

Gardien successfully fended off the Jughos as the remaining units started to back off and stay away from its range. Others started to turn back. I must hurry!! he thought. He saw that the nearest Mustang was already in a firing position while pursuing the rear ship, Utopia. A power conduit had been extended and connected to the Jugho’s energy condensers. The Mustang hoisted its gigacannon and started to power up. Gardien eyed his power reserve and realized that he already consumed almost half of his energy bank. He realized his situation: in order to save their ships, he must somehow take the enemies quickly but they were widely dispersed. He could do it by either combining his ultimate beam rifles for a high-output shot from long range or he could quickly close in to them by activating NOU Zeta’s “Wings of Light” propulsion. But the hitch was that his unit might not have the sufficient power left to chase the ships prior to atmospheric exit.

“ARGH! I won’t accept this hopeless situation!!!”

* * * * *

“This is Unit 3. I’ve got a crosshair lock on the rear ship!”

“This is unit 2; the rear ship has just entered in-range! Awaiting orders!”

Their commander barked, “Units 1, 4, and 5, move further and take care of the other two ships!! Units 2 and 3, fire at will!!”

Both of them shouted in unison, “Yes, sir!!!”

Two wide particle beams met up on one target, which was NEU’s Utopia; it exploded almost instantly, sending a massive shockwave behind Dharma. The force was so strong that the ORACLE ship was veered off course.

Talbot screamed, “What the hell was that?!?”

Someone replied amid the confusion, “Utopia’s been hit! Dharma’s losing altitude!! We’re having difficulty in keeping it aloft!!”

Drake winced from the force. “It’s the shockwave!! Engineering, increase the power outflow!!”

“Drake, the propulsion system’s not responding!!”

Suddenly the ship started to awkwardly dip on its starboard side and its bow started to go down, threatening to dive steeply. Drake gave out a command, “Shut off all port stabilizers temporarily!! Hack into the gyroscopes’ center of gravity and transfer to hard left! That way, the autosystems will have a forced compensation for balancing!”

Newman was left speechless when he saw all that’s left of Utopia burning over the sea. He muttered angrily, “I will get your revenge…”

* * * * *

Gardien was mad at himself for hesitating even for a moment. He pushed the thruster controls forward and pushed a black button that activated the Zeta’s wings of light. The Gundam instantaneously covered the distance from the nearest Mustang in a short period of time. Employing beam sabers, Zeta hacked and slashed both the Mustang and the Jugho in no time.

“Commander, Unit 3 is down!”

“What?! It’s the waverider!! Unit 2, hit it!!”

Gardien saw that another Mustang was aiming at him. “As if I will just let you!!!”

NOU Zeta fused its ultimate beam rifles and shot the enemy’s weapon at a far distance and closed in to it. With the wings of light dispersed horizontally, Zeta sliced off Unit 2 and successfully destroyed it.

The commander shouted, “Dammit, that Gundam!! All remaining units, move farther beyond its range!! Focus your attacks on the two ships! IKUSO!”

* * * * *

The nearest Mustang and Jugho was 14 miles away from the Zeta. Gardien chose to spend his suit’s energy to immediately close the gap between them. Please let me make it on time! The feather funnels were deployed and went ahead, destroying the enemy by impaling it. The remote weapons continued until both suits were destroyed. On his radar, he detected on of the two remaining units closing in on the ships, which were twenty-three miles away. Blood drained from his face as he realized the impending doom. NOU Zeta whizzed forward in chase.

“Oh, no!! It’s too late!!”

* * * * *

[BGM play here: “HERO” by Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott]

Both the NEU’s Nightfall and ORACLE’s Dharma were forced to change course and started to swerve away from each other to escape the Mustang unit, which chose to hound the first ship. It managed to position itself right before the Nightfall. Acting quickly, the Jugho took the Mustang’s power conduit and attached to itself as the gigacannon aimed point blank.

“Bring up the shields!!” Newman screamed.

“The system’s still booting up due to some minor malfunction!! There’ll be a seven-second delay before maximum dispersal! At this rate –!” The statement was not finished as they saw the enemy firing away. Everybody on the Nightfall held their breath and waited for the inevitable. Almost immediately, an unidentified assault container swiftly zipped ahead of the seemingly doomed ship and positioned itself before the Federation units. The aircraft hovered to a complete stop and dispersed a huge spherical particle shield.

The commlink started to broadcast. “Shifting the concentration level control to manual! Transferring all power to the H-Field generator! Change the particle alignment to frontal priority! Hold the Showstopper still, and compensate for the knockback force!! Everyone, hold on!!”

“Consider it done, Knight!!!”

“Valkyrie Gust, show us what you got!!”

The inevitable particle beam was deflected by the H-Field. It held on pretty well against the continuous stream of energy. “The charts are predicting a nominal discrepancy of the improved system, Knight. You can go ahead with the reversal of polarity!”

“Yosh!” Knight said. As soon as the polarity of the H-Field was reversed, it siphoned the energy onto itself, causing the energy reserve of the Mustang to be depleted at once. The excess energy all around the barrier started to dissipate.

“Success!! Now, release the experimental missile!!!”

From the assault container’s bow, a single missile pod launched a projectile towards the Mustang. Knight grinned malevolently and said his signature statement, “CIAO, suckers!”

The missle did no hit the enemy but prematurely exploded, causing a magnetic storm within the perimeter. The explosion core released a high electricity discharge that flowed onto the Mustang as well as the support mobile suit. The power upsurge fried the systems that resulted to spontaneous explosion. The enemies plummeted below.

On the Nightfall bridge, a commlink forced through, though full of static because of the interference of the magnetic storm. By and by, they got a clear signal.

“…the Black Wing renegades!!.....bzzt….please respond….bzzt…..is Knight of the Black Wing renegades. NEU ship, please respond!”

Keith immediately retorted, “This is the ‘Professor’ speaking! If I’d known later that you delayed your reinforcement just to make a grand entrance, I’ll gonna personally kill you!!!” He chuckled after that.

“I take it as an expression of gratitude, nevertheless,” Knight replied.

A transmission from Dharma came through. It was Amber.

“Tell me that it’s you… tell me that it’s really you, Knight!!” she tearfully called.

Knight disabled the interference shroud that cloaked the Black Wing’s assault container from radar detection. On both ships’ registry showed two IFF codes, one belonging to the container codenamed Showstopper and the other revealing the Valkyrie Gust.

“Satisfied, Mi Amour?”

Emotions of relief surged upon the groups of both ships. Amber was crying and laughing at the same time. “I thought…I thought… I’d never see you again… There are many things that I must say to you… you idiot!! You made me worry so much!”

“Sorry, Amber…I won’t die yet until I deliver to you the Valkyrie Gust.”

Sidhikoro butted in via the commlink extension from his mobile suit. “Hey, bro! Good to see you rising from the grave. I see that you are hard to kill, you know that?”

Knight smiled and replied, “Hey, bro. Thanks for taking care of Amber… yeah, me and the guys are fine…”

One by one, the Black Wing greeted; Raijin Oleg, Metzer Cruze, and Tomino Lexxis. “I am glad you’re all right,” Diko said. “But where are the others?”

Knight related how Derf Dorough, Black Wing Division’s head , together with Nadia McTaggart betrayed them. It was also relayed that Xihei Chan and Abacus, of both were known as ‘Satsugaisha’ and ‘V1ru5’ were killed when a Jugho nuclear reactor exploded during the skirmish on the Isle of Man.

“I’m gonna deal with that later…but for now, we are glad to know that you’re alive.”

Newman introduced Knight to Howling. Drake asked, “How did you come to know the ‘Professor’? I’m just curious, ‘tis all.”

Newman interjected, “There are some things that must remain unsaid, old man. Meanwhile, let us hurry into space. Prepare for docking seque –!”

He was interrupted when their radar detected an activity below them. On board Dharma, Blau urgently reported, “Heat sources detected below the Dharma, Drake! Count, two! Recognition tag initiated… A MUSTANG AND A JUGHO!!!!”

“The fifth unit!!!!”

Horror gripped their hearts. Blau exclaimed, “We forgot that there were five of them!!! DAMMIT, we’ve been so reckless!!”

“Talbot, Blake! Turn hard to starboard and ascend sharply, pitch 30o!! All hands, brace for gravity shift!!” Dharma turned skyward, attempting to outmaneuver the shot.

Keith asked his crew, “Where’s the NOU Zeta?!?”

“Currently speeding toward the enemy! But it will be too late!!!”

HOPELESS!!! Keith inwardly thought, losing hope. He opened a commlink to Knight. “Knight, please have the Gust disperse its particle barrier!! Protect the Dharma at all costs!!”

But Lexxis interjected, “Gust is still at recharge status! Its energy was almost depleted when it protected the Nightfall!!”

(“TIME FOR MIRACLES” BGM)

Without any second thoughts, Knight declared, “Listen up, guys. We will launch the Gust and automatically send it to rendezvous with Dharma. Instruct your waverider pilot to make a beeline directly to its mother ship! Showstopper will perform a kamikaze attack against the Feddie suits! Tinker, open the hatch!!”

His declaration was met with protests, voiced both by NEU and ORACLE. Amber pleaded with Knight, “Don’t be hasty to have yourself killed, you idiot!! There must be some other way!!” She started to cry again.

With a tender voice, Knight replied, “Mi Amour, you and I know that unless something is done, Dharma will be hit… Thank you for your concern, but there’s no other way…”

The assault container made a sudden downward hairpin turn and twisted towards the enemy below.

“Please, Knight… please, please… don’t do this to me! I don’t want to see you dying before my eyes!”

“We know that we can’t stop what’s coming… we never could, but I must do this, trust me. Let me prove for once that even a ‘god of war’ can PROTECT THE ONE HE LOVES!!”

“NOOOO!!!!!”

* * * * *

Newman contacted Howling, “We’re almost at the blast-off line old man. You better get ready!”

Howling broadcasted throughout the ship. “All hands, to your secure stations! We will exit the atmosphere in a moment!”

Into the commlink, he said, “All of you won’t be forgotten…”

Before the monitor screen, Knight gave out a wink and a sly smile. “Well, this isn’t goodbye, John! So ciao for now!” Then the monitor blacked out.

On board the Nightfall, Newman heard Knight’s statement and thought, Who was he addressing to as John?! Unless… Could it be that… ?!?

* * * * *

“Release the Gust in ten clicks!” Knight instructed.

The Showstopper’s rear hatch opened and the mobile armor was released. Upon launch, it remotely powered up and traced its way back toward the Dharma.

An “audio only” commlink came through. “The Gust is yours, Amber. Trust me, I’ll see you again.”

The telephoto camera showed the Showstopper’s last moments. Upon seeing the aircraft, the Mustang started firing against it. Being lightly armored, it still held up from the incoming attacks, though it started to fall apart. It rammed against the mobile suit with such force that the impact caused the Mustang’s nuclear reactor to overload and detonate.

KABOOOOOOOOOMMMM!!!!!

A blinding flash was seen, followed by a loud rumbling noise. A mushroom cloud was seen ascending over the area, a telltale sign of the nuclear blast. Everyone was silent, overcame with shock and disbelief. Amber stared blankly at the screen, with tears falling down her face. Seeing her sorrow, Drake told Blake to turn the monitor off.

“The mobile armor has caught up with us. It is anchoring itself on the forward ramp… the Valkyrie’s secured, Drake.”

Drake nodded. He then touched Amber’s shoulder. “Amber.”

She looked at the screen.

“Amber, you’ve taken on the flame of his soul. He passed on the Gust and entrusted it to you. From here on, your life is no longer yours now.”

She started to cry again.

Sidhikoro established a direct commlink to the bridge. “Amber-dono, cry if you must but lift your head high. Embrace the memories and move forward…. For your sake and for his. Show to everyone that he didn’t die in vain.”

* * * * *

All of the sudden, the ships automatically ignited the attached boosters and started to speed up. But then another problem came up.

Drake asked Keith, “Will NOU Zeta be able to perform atmospheric exit all by itself?”

“Yes but it has to use its wings of light.”

Gardien at last contacted both ships. “This is the NOU Zeta! I tried my best to keep us with you but my suit’s energy is almost depleted. I might not be able to catch up now that –!”

“YOU IDIOT!!! You and that attitude of yours, easily giving up and lose hope!!!” Another transmission sprung up.

Gardien was surprised when Freed’s image showed up on the monitor. “You stupid reckless brat!! I can perform atmospheric exit without your help!! You go and worry about something else –!”

“By then, you’ll miss the action in space! I’ve been looking forward to fight alongside with you, great people! Our efforts must be combined if we are to successfully destroy the Heaven’s Fist so… shut up and let us help you!!!”

Even as Dharma started to accelerate gradually, the rear hatch opened with Hero Gundam preparing to launch. “What are you doing?! You’re endangering your ship by what you’re about to do! Your suit doesn’t have enough thrust to –!” Gardien protested.

“JUST SHUT UP!!! Not even Howling can stop me now!”

Pretty soon, Achilles Gundam, though still hoisted on its movable rack, released its grappling anchor of which Hero Gundam picked up. Clamping it tight on the left shoulder, the Gundam jettisoned itself from the ship like a bungee jumper. By the time the grapple cable was spent up, there was still a significant distance between them.

“Transform to waverider mode now! You’d get less drag resistance in that! This is the end of my line, you have to meet halfway! I will hold your waverider while Diko-senpai reels us in!!”

The NOU Zeta started to transform and slowly closed the gap, inch by inch. However, Achilles was starting to strain against the drag.

Diko opened a line. “Whatever you daring ladies are planning to do, do it now or Achilles is gonna lose a whole arm!!” On his monitor, the system marked the critical pressure points of Achilles’ structural configuration with red blinking lights. Freed positioned the Hero into a flying position, its arms outstretched. The waverider went on but its thrust still was not enough. Gardien eyed the indicator and saw that there was 3% power left. With one desperate attempt, he activated the wings of light. The additional thrust gave the much needed boost but it completely depleted the reserved energy until its power plant could replenish itself. The Zeta started to fall away due to lack of thrust.

“NOW, FREED!!!”

A mild shock was felt aboard the Zeta as the Hero Gundam held onto it firmly at its stabilizer wings. Freed called Diko, “NOW, SENPAI!!!”

Achilles started to reel in the grappling anchor but with much difficulty and resistance. Freed brought his Gundam’s back leg thrusters to full power in order that the strain on Achilles’ grapple motors be lessened. It was an ordeal that made everyone held their breath until both units were safely on board Dharma. By the time they succeeded, all gave a shout of triumphant joy.

* * * * *

Space

A black ship was doing a solo cruise in the darkness of space. On the bridge were people talking, including a man in his thrities. He said, “Don’t get too cocky out there okay? We need to survive, so no one’s gonna hurry to his grave, you hear?”

Many of them nodded in agreement. Another one added, “To tell the truth, the thought of Royal Zeon wanting to take over Heaven’s Fist terrifies me… a lot! As a former Zeon soldier, I know that there’s more to it than just meeting the Feddies head on.”

“Do you think they’re gonna destroy it or use it for their own as a deterrent?”

The man chuckled and said, “We can’t be sure. But in no case can we afford to be passive at this time.”

“What’s the significance of Operation Newton anyway? It’s a stupid name for an operation like naming it after Isaac Newton, who thought up the law of grav –!”

The man suddenly interjected, his voice hinted urgency, “OH, CRAP!!! Everyone, we must hurry!!”

“Wh-what?! Wait a while, what did I say?!”

“ZEON PLANS TO DROP HEAVEN’S FIST ONTO EARTH!!! They definitely won’t use it as a deterrent; they plan to finish this war at the cost of all on earth!!”

At this statement, everyone straightened up, tensed and worried. The man went to a computer terminal and pored over the intelligence data that they acquired. “The Heaven’s fist is powered by 10 clusters of nuclear reactors! Judging from a mental calculation, it will cause a 300 to 400 million kiloton explosion… Earth will be utterly destroyed!!!”

“What shall we do, Astis?”

“This ship will go full speed. All hands prepare for level one battle alert!”

To the man at his left, Astis said, “Prepare my Crossbone ZAKU for deployment.”

The black ship started to gain momentum. On its bow were lights that formed skull and crossbones. Further into their trajectory, they came upon an SOS signal sent through the international emergency frequency. Cautiously, the Pirates traced the signal source to see whether it is a legitimate emergency or a trap. Suddenly their radar picked up something.

“Arno, our radars detected a mobile weapon free floating in space, and judging its orientation based from the feed, it’s immobile.”

“Hmmmm,” Astis replied. “Check the Minovsky concentration in the area.”

“It is minimal.”

“Okay, let’s check it out.”

As they got nearer, it became unmistakable that it was a ReZEL unit. Astis urged for a camera zoom to check on it. He was utterly surprised to see a gray and black ReZEL with a distinct insignia that belonged to an Earth Militaire ace that he fought against in his early years of service in Royal Zeon.

“It…it can’t be… HIM!!! The Militaire’s Shadow Blitz ace!!” His heartbeat raced.

* * * * *

A blue and white mobile armor sped up through the space area towards the orbital path of the moon where the skirmish between the Earth Federation and Royal Zeon was worsening.

Frost, we need your help! HURRY!

Ensign Frost was contacted by Lord Piotr Heimlich via a unique ability of newtypes, including those who were genetically enhanced under the 6th Day protocol of the empire. The empire’s High Command member was onboard the Royal Zeon space fleet flagship, Punishment, which was not faring well in combat. The Federation’s defense system and retaliation measure layout were working, as the Empire was taking significant loses in numbers and morale.

Commander Phobos Bartram hurried onto his mobile suit known as Fear Gundam. Aboard another ship, 2nd Lt. Lucien Asuka was also readying his unit, the Manifest Destiny Gundam. Currently, the Royal zeon mass produced ZAKU Nightmares were diminishing in number.

“Phobos Bartram, Fear Gundam. Launching!”

“Lucien Asuka, Manifest. Ikkemasu!”

The two mobile suits came together and were later joined by other ZAKU units deployed from surviving ships. “Has out reinforcements arrived yet?!” Bartram contacted the flagship.

“The earth forces are currently in sector 5 en route to our position. We just received a status report from Lord Claude Ashram that prior to their launch they were attacked by the Federation. The battle ended up with our Iberia base being razed. Somehow our comrades managed to send their surviving forces to space, albeit a decrease in numbers.”

HRG! Now, our chance of victory is slim!! Bartram thought. “We can’t wait for them to just join us and take all the credit for themselves! Everyone, follow my lead; we’ll make a clear pathway for our ships to close in!”

Fear Gundam blasted off first, followed by Manifest and the ZAKUs. As they got deeper into the enemy territory, the group separated into two, each led by a Gundam. Displayed before their radars were thousands of dots.

Asuka warned, “We’re nearing their minefield perimeter. All eyes, open, don’t let one of them get you! Understand?!”

The two groups each took a different path. The space mines finally detected their activity and lit up a red light, indicating armed status. Then without warning, the mines moved fast and homed in to the approaching mobile suits and caused a pandemonium.

“WHAT THE –?! They’re not stationary mines?!?”

“All units, break formation and shoot them down!!!”

All at once the Empire’s mobile suits scattered all over the area. The only problem was that some units recklessly strayed too deep into the enemy space, causing more mines to activate.

“I’ve got a hoard on my tail!!! HELP! HELP!! HE –!!”

BOOM!

“You’re getting in too deep!!! FALL BACK!!!”

Five more ZAKUs were destroyed in succession. Some of the pilots who were more experienced managed to survive until a new kind of mines went in. These were mines that explode prior to contact, that sent solid projectiles to scatter over the area. Pretty soon, some of the remaining ZAKU units were taken down as well.

Asuka started a command protocol in his unit. Manifest deployed its ion cannon and set it to spread rapid mode. He also increased the output since the beam was widely dissipated. He shot three times, destroying the mines and successfully opened a clearance. Moving forward, he sped in to engage the Federation ships lurking ahead. Suddenly, he took a direct hit followed by four more hits.

“WHAT WAS THAT?!?!” He checked his radar once more but found nothing. “Just as I thought! Heads up guys! We’ve got sleeper mines all around!! Tricky Feddie scumbags!!” He activated the beam shields on each of Manifest’s forearms to stop the mines.

Meanwhile the federation’s ships had already positioned themselves and prepared to open fire against the Royal Zeon ships that were slowly coming nearer. Seeing the outlay of all ships in combat, almost simultaneously, both factions fired their ships’ main cannons and released swarms of destructive missiles against each other. The space was lit up with successive explosions. As the federation mobile suits advanced, the mines were temporarily deactivated. However the federation ships kept releasing blocks of mine dispensers that replenished the deployment in the vicinity.

ZAKUs fought against Jughos at an evenly matched battle. Both factions showed their prowess in space combat as streaks of beam energy was exchanged as well as a plethora of other weapons at both factions’ disposal.

Over the commlink, Bartram shouted, “The mines are deactivated! Hurry up and break through their defense lines!!” His eyes lit up with a red halo. Fear Gundam moved forward, releasing the four cannon funnels, each engaging enemies on its own. A Federation MS commander saw it coming and started to engage it into a close quarter combat. His Jugho Commander Type positioned its assault shield horizontally, with vector thrusters emerging from the shield frame. The Jugho then stepped on the shield, and using it as a flight module, it charged in against the Gundam head on. Without warning, the shield went forward, firing its beam cannons integrated into it. It collided with the Fear, which did not anticipate the attack. He saw the Jugho coming in equipped with dual beam sabers, about to strike. Fear reached for its beam saber and met the other unit with a sickening impact.

BZZT! BZZT! The Jugho managed to lock the Fear’s saber and twisted it away and capping it off with a thruster assisted kick on the Fear’s torso.

“That doesn’t hurt, you fool!!” Bartram mocked, springing up Fear’s large fangs at his disposal. He directed them against the commander unit, who released the sabers and brought forth a heavy sword and skillfully parried the remote weapons away. The cannon funnels joined in the attack, nimbly shooting at the Jugho in a multi-vector attack. However, the Federation pilot was a step ahead of Bartram’s attacks.

“Is that the best that you can do, Zeon commander?! Then take this!!!”

Unknowingly, the Jugho’s assault shield had been targeting the Fear while Bartram was engrossed in attacking the Jugho. The integrated beam cannons shot a concentrated energy with the Gundam in the line of fire.

With no time to evade, Bartram used the microwave cannon on the Gundam’s chest and fired. He diffused the particle alignment to negate the shot. The Jugho commander took his chance and closed in for a kill.

“You sneaky vermin!!” Bartram angrily shouted. He opened a hatch located at his unit’s rear, and released four mechanical spider-like drones that instantly attached themselves onto the Jugho. Upon making their marks, the drones initiated the puppet control system, enabling Bartram to take over the captured unit’s overall systems and control it at will.

“WARNING: Operating systems malfunction!”

“What’s happening?! Why doesn’t my unit respond?!?”

Bartram smiled wickedly and declared over the commlink. “It’s an early good night to you, Federation commander!”

The four fangs plunged and pierced the immobilized Jugho. Minor explosions took place inside and outside the mobile suit as its systems started to fail one by one. Bartram took control of the assault shield and powered it up right before the Jugho, together with the cannon funnels. “Say good night now!”

The fangs went through, followed by the assault shield and cannon funnels firing simultaneously at point blank.

BOOOM!!!

* * * * *

“Commander !! Are you all right?!” Asuka called as he saw an enormous explosion that took place where he thought Bartram was.

“I’m okay! Go and defend our ships from enemy fire!”

“Yes, commander!”

Manifest Destiny hurried to the forefront of their ships which were suppressing fire from the Federation warships and battle cruisers. The Magna Carta moved forward and positioned itself right before the Punishment. Unfolding into place was its main weapon.

Lt. Asuka, provide cover for the Punishment!!!

I’m on it, Lord Heimlich!!

Asuka tried to go in to the enemy ranks but he was prevented by heavy fire. Instead he positioned the Manifest in front of the flagship, which changed vector. The Gundam released twenty bits from its rear binders that went through the area until it formed a circular array before the Gundam. The bits started to glow off an oscillating color wave of red, violet, and blue.

In a blink of an eye, the Magna Carta’s weapon flashed and fired fiercely. Asuka, with his eyes glowing off a red halo, shouted, “Prism drones activated! All friendly units, clear the area! Prepare for ricocheting beam energy!”

ZAKUs started to draw away.

“MANIFEST GATE, DEPLOY!!!!”

As the enemy fire surged in, Asuka gave a mental command, Invert polarity, form a convex beam barrier array!!!

With all his might, he shouted, “FORCE! BALANCE! PUSH!!!!!” He controlled the Manifest Gate that acted like a huge round shield. As the energy collided with the gate, the shot was deflected over all the area. In his cockpit, Asuka felt the strain as the psycommu receptors started to take effect on him through the phenomenon called brainwave feedback.

M-must go through… Can’t let them all die!!!!

Finally, the battle cruiser powered down as its energy banks were all spent up. Breathing heavily Asuka started to feel lethargic and dizzy. He recalled the prism drones and started to recharge.

One federation field commander barked out a command, “Mustang Squad, destroy that Gundam while we can!! It’s currently charging so it won’t be able to fight effectively for a while!!!”

Three Mustang units brought forth their gigacannons and fired at the Manifest. Asuka, however, did not flinch because he already sensed a newtype coming to his aid. The enemy shot was stopped short as a green hexagonal barriers sprung up, followed by an offensive move; a particle energy orb came straight back at them, hitting one Mustang.

A red and white mobile armor zipped past and relayed a message via the commlink. “This is Ensign Frost, Valkyrie Cyclone, providing assistance and cover!!”

Fear Gundam immediately closed in and released the puppet control drones, hijacking the other two Mustangs, of which Bartram used to fire against the Federation ships.

* * * * *

Heaven’s Fist control hub facility

Damn these persistent Zeon scums!!! Captain Litzner Edge cursed. This is taking too long! I must make the necessary action!

He requested an image display of the combat area with the IFF code indicated. As he analyzed the data input, he observed that their numbers had declined, somehow being overpowered by the Zeon forces even though they were outnumbered. On his monitor, he saw how the Fear, Manifest, and Valkyrie Cyclone taking down their own units one by one.

It’s because of those three powerful units!! If I am to win this war, they must be defeated first!

Edge called Senior Officer Nazzir Moin and instructed, “Authorize the reactivation of the field mines!”

The officer could not believe his ears. “You… you can’t be serious, captain!! Our forces are still there!”

“I don’t care!! Give out an emergency retreat order if you insist! Now that the enemies are deep into our territory, we’ll bake them real good!”

Horrified but amazed, Moin thought, He really is a brilliant tactician! Turning to a CIC personnel, he said, “Send out the retreat notification to all units. Commence reactivation of the field mines!”

“Ready, sir!”

“Authorized!”

“Field mines activated in 3… 2…”

* * * * *

Frost noticed that the Jughos started to draw back toward the Federation ships, of which he immediately understood. Since there was no more time to retreat, he contacted Bartram and Asuka using brainwaves.

Spring up your shields!!! They’re gonna activate the mines!

He brought the Cyclone into a full stop, since the mines were all around them. While they were in combat, the mines were inconspicuously dispersed for this tactic. Suddenly the lights on the mines turned red from green. A whole bunch of mines instantly drew toward the mobile armor. Clicking a trigger, Frost brought Cyclone’s missile pods to massive salvo while bringing up Aegis du Ciel to provide substantial cover.

Meanwhile, Asuka sent forth the prism drones and activated it to defensive mode and beam spammed against the approaching mines. Fear Gundam’s large fangs and buster cannon funnels were also busy shooting down their targets. However, some ZAKUs did not fare well, as many were destroyed, including five ships.

Asuka cursed, “KISAMA!!!”

* * * * *

Officer Svetlana Kurdovkova was alarmed by the information relay on her workstation. “Captain Edge, we’ve picked up various ID signals from what we believe to be warships and mobile suits!”

“From where?!”

“Earth, sir!”

“WHAT?!?! How come it didn’t register in the radar earlier?!”

“Judging from their approximate trajectory, they purposefully used the other side of the moon and overtook us in this sector.”

“Count?”

“Nine ships and an indistinguishable number of mobile suits. There’s too much debris to make and accurate count!”

Edge gnashed his teeth in frustration and anger. “They’re gonna attack en masse! But fools rush in where angels even fear to tread!!”

Turning to Officer Desmond Mendoza, Edge said, “Notify me upon completion of the recharge cycle. We’ll destroy the empire’s space fleet in one massive sweep! Immediately change vector and we’ll target Asgard at this distance! Their seat of power must be taken down at all costs!!!”

“Aye, sir!”

“Kurdovkova, regroup half of our deployed units and prepare an absolute defense line at point 9, 5, 17! We’ll meet this reinforcement head on!”

“Affirmative, sir!”

Edge sat down and contemplated, Why do I get the feeling that we’re about to lose this battle?!

* * * * *

Not far from Edge’s location, Lord Claude Ashram silently meditated, Because you have been used, you’re but a puppet! He straightened up and said, “All mobile suit units, deploy! All ships, spread out so that we won’t be an easy target! Frontal Squadron, we’re approaching drop-off point in ten seconds. Prepare to sortie!”

“Crimson Striker, Keradjur. Let’s move out!!”

“Deathscythes, DOMs. Launching!!!”

They were followed by the rest of the squad launching out in ZAKU Nightmares. Last off, a dark colored mobile suit with a single fin on its forehead moved onto the catapult ramp.

“Stealth Unicorn on deck! Launch controls transferred to Lord Claude Ashram. Ready when you are, my lord,” notified the catapult controller.

“I have control! Harbinger of Death, Stealth Unicorn. Wiping them all out!!!”

The squadron followed a different course from its ships; an arched trajectory that would eventually lead them towards the colony weapon’s rear end where it was anticipated that there would be a lesser defense and security detail. Little did they know that the squadron was en route to coincidentally intercept the NEU and ORACLE who were on their way to space.

* * * * *

Nightfall and Dharma coasted at a very high speed towards the Heaven’s Fist’s location.

“Cut away the boosters! Activate the reverse ballistic lift, full power for braking!” Talbot sternly said.

Everyone was securely strapped on their seats, donned in normal suits. All pilots were already on standby status inside their respective mobile units. The personnel on the bridge were preparing for rapid deceleration procedure. Their seats turned 180o to shift the pressure during the sudden change of G-forces.

“Reverse thrusters! Full power!”

Almost at the same time the two ships maneuvered for deceleration. Everyone groaned against the forces. As the ships decelerated, flaps were extended to stabilize themselves into a more manageable cruising velocity.

“First deceleration sequence complete. Entering second deceleration!”

As they got slower, both ships started to move toward each other. “This is Nightfall bridge notifying Dharma. Hardpoints opened. All systems ready!”

“Rogar that, Nightfall. Dharma, all set. Synchronizing velocity now. Prepare to merge in 3… 2… 1!”

Nightfall dipped to its port side while Dharma went toward the starboard side. Blinking infrared lights directed sensors on both ships as slowly but surely, they moved closer. Both the ships’ underbellies converged as large shafts connected to each other’s hardpoints. There was a slight thud followed by whirring motors and a shrill whistle sounds that indicated the success of the ships being combined. Sections of both ships folded away into place while stabilizer fins emerged from slots, forming a single large battle cruiser. Both ship’s main cannon barrels were by now positioned side-by-side, with the fore catapults shifted to both sides.

“Commencing dual systems compatibility diagnostics, no anomaly detected! Synergizing power cores’ output, complete. Control transfers confirmed! Navigation controls have been transferred to Dharma while weapons and defense system controls are channeled to Nightfall . Please confirm and input the control lock codes.”

Dharma bridge confirming control transfers. Let’s pump this party up!!”

“Changing IFF code signal and call sign to Red Arrow!”

Inside the Gust, Amber remarked, “I never knew that both ships can ‘gattai’.”

Keith responded via the commlink from Alex Mk. II. Dharma and Nightfall were Earth Militaire’s ships designed for tactical and strategic use in combat. As you can see the ships combined for a better ability in combat applications. Somehow, the development was scrapped due to high costs, prior to the disbanding of the agency because Earth Militaire was integrated into the Earth Federation’s armed forces. There were two pairs of prototype units manufactured. Nightfall is a second unit intended to gattai with Exarch while Dharma is a first unit paired with Utopia. Fortunately, both surviving ships are not the same ones.”

Soon the red Arrow extended its dual catapult ramps. Keith gave out a notification, “We’ll seize control of the orbital weapon and cause a detonation inside. Numbers might not be on our side but I believe in everyone’s capabilities! All units, launch in succession!”

Each mobile weapon started to line up. Nouveau remarked as he saw Hero Gundam prepped on the other ramp,” I never expected to see myself fight side by side with you.”

Freed replied, “Nor did I. But then, just get out of my way.”

“Retard!”

“Shut up!”

“Nouveau Gardien, NOU Zeta Gundam. Going out!!”

Freed Melendrez, Hero Gundam. Here I come!”

Sidhikoro was next. He was surprised when his turn to launch was abruptly stopped by Amber when she notified, “Mr. Diko, I went through the Gust’s systems profile. I’m not surprised that Knight redesigned it as a support unit for Achilles. Sending the schematics now.”

Diko smiled as the monitor showed algorithms and systems update, showing that some of Valkyrie Gust’s on board weapons and booster packs can detach and compatibly combine with Achilles’ striker pack hard points, including the H-Field generator. “Wow, that god of war did elaborately prepare something for us.”

He noticed that on the monitor, Amber was teary eyed. She said, “I don’t believe that THAT idiot is dead. Somehow I feel that he is much alive…”

Diko said nothing until he scanned Achilles’ onboard CIC. He noticed that the Valkyrie Gust was sending off a unique signal that was detectable only among the Black Wing units. Grinning widely, he thought, Son of a gun! You’re right, Amber-dono… You’ve got a god of war as a guardian angel!

He turned to the golden HARO before him and gave out a voice command, “Erika, authorize overall upgrade on security descriptors. Formulate an instant linkage with the mobile armor, Valkyrie Gust.”

“Upgrade complete.”

“Eagle Eye, Achilles Gundam on deck. Let’s roll out!!”

“Endymion Falcon, Valkyrie Gust. Soaring through the skies!!”

The leaders of NEU and ORACLE were next. They were ranting at each other’s mobile suits, which were old units but upgrades and heavily modified.

“Well, old man, this is it. We will see how well you’ll fare through. I’m not sure, though, which will last, you or your ancient mobile suit!”

“Let’s see if you can even keep up with me, newb! Drake Howling, Rauwolf. Let’s do this!!”

“Keith Newman, Alex Mk. II. Heading out!!”

* * * * *

The Frontal Squad was skimming through a debris- riddled sector, led by the elegant red mobile suit, Keradjur.

“Team, listen up! Until we reach the commence line, stay on the downlow. Stay sharp and act fast!”

“Yes, Crimson striker, sir!!”

Magnus went on, “Their trump card, this symbol of Earth Federation’s monstrosity, is now at our reach. We make it our priority to destroy it. We have no means of defending ourselves against a focused beam of that magnitude. But nevertheless, let us do what we do best!”

Lord Ashram added on, “You are the elite few who were chosen to be entrusted with the true cause and intention of Operation Newton. You might eventually die without knowing whether we succeeded or not, you might feel that you were used… And that’s what you are!! That’s what we ALL are: pawns for the ideals of Royal Zeon!! If I were to be a pawn so that Zeon will be one step nearer to the fulfillment of its goals, then I would gladly die for Zeon!!!”

The squad’s morale was soaring high by this declaration. However, Magnus was encumbered inwardly by the burden that he would be carrying. Twelve billion lives… Are Royal Zeon’s goals worth it? But I choose to believe in humanity. Humans are not hopeless!!! Royal Zeon will achieve its goals!!

He gave out a command, “AWACS ZAKUs, provide real-time recon. Frontal Squadron, activate the Comprehensive High Acceleration Response system!”

One by one, the ZAKUs and the DOMS zipped forward three times the speed, as the CHAR system was activated. Over the commlink, Ashram said, “Surely you can do it, Crimson Striker. Surely you are not afraid, are you?”

“My resolve as a Zeon soldier does not diminish in time, my lord.”

“Good. As soon as these pawns move in, I will control them via psycommu. You provide adequate cover for Stealth Unicorn.”

“Yes, my lord!”

Keradjur sped ahead of the Stealth Unicorn. Magnus declared, “Release weapons’ safety locks. Our ships have finally engaged the Federation forces. Their attention is now drawn to the two points of attack that our fleet has caused. We will do this quickly and make our move at the entry point as being outlaid in the battle plan. We will take over the Heaven’s Fist and drop it to earth. Do not falter!!!”

As they went deeper, Magnus was alerted by the AWACS reconnaissance feed. Mobile suits?!? And a huge ship!!

* * * * *

Keith contacted his allies. “We will designate ourselves into tactical and intentional groups. Achilles and Valkyrie Gust, Dreamcaster. You provide high ground and preemptive strikes. NOU Zeta and Hero Gundam, Dreamcatcher. Both of you will engage any potential enemy into close quarters and provide safe passage. Alex and Rauwolf are designated as Dreamweaver. Howling and I will penetrate deep into the enemy territory and destroy the Heaven’s Fist from within.”

“Are you all right, Freed? Hero Gundam seems to be slightly vibrating,” Diko asked.

“Just testing the movement controls, actually. The gyros in my head are really tumbled. Where are we anyway? More importantly, who decided that the war had to be so spread out like this?!”

“Just calm down, Freed. We’re almost at the designated ‘no commlink’ zone,” Drake put in.

“I’m fine. It’s just unsettling not being able to tell what the situation is.”

Gardien blurted out later, “Keep your eyes open, people. I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Yeah,” Freed agreed. “Is it just me? I can’t shake the feeling that we’re being watched. The enemy hasn’t spotted us yet, have they?”

The professor chuckled, “If the enemy contacts you, just give them small talk… and plenty of beam shots.”

Aboard the Rauwolf, Howling was engrossed with the psycommu radar that registered a newtype presence. He suddenly shrieked, “BREAK AWAY!!! NOW!!!”

The six mobile weapons instantly moved away as two enormous beam shots streaked by. It was then followed by missiles that moved erratically, behaving like the newtype-controlled remote weapons. The missiles were intelligently following the Red Arrow’s mobile suits.

“WOAH!!” Freed exclaimed as three missiles managed to close in to him. Luckily, he deployed the shield bits ahead of time and engulfed the missiles inside an orb-like force field. The missiles simultaneously exploded and the force generated was partially contained, but the shield bits were slightly damaged.

“CRAP! Some bits aren’t responding!! Who’s attacking us, anyway?!?!”

NOU Zeta changed to waverider mode and twisted all over its path to break off the pursuit but the missiles were not letting it go. Gardien tried a tricky maneuver by letting the missiles close in as much as possible and activated the wings of light while in mid-corkscrew, resulting to a huge rotating shield. It successfully got the missiles that caused a massive explosion.

“TSK! If this goes on, my power reserves will be drained in no time!”

Achilles landed on Valkyrie Gust’s mid-section as Amber activated the mobile armor’s H-Field. Sidhikoro warned, “Those are not advanced homing missiles!” He was trying to shoot down the missiles but they were able to dodge perfectly.

“Just as I suspected!” Howling deduced. “Those are pysommu based weapons integrated with a high energy warhead!!”

Newman then checked his computer information. “If that’s the case, then the Crimson Striker must be nearby! Drake, does your radar indicate the psycommu signal source?!”

Drake analyzed the input for a while and shouted, “ABOVE US!!!!”

* * * * *

Six against one isn’t so bad. Let’s see if you ragtag renegades can keep up with me!! Crimson Striker thought.

“VSBR ready.”

He smiled and pulled the trigger.

* * * * *

You will fire the Heaven’s Fist now, you fool! You will target Asgard, including the Punishment. You will kill Heimlich in the process as well… After that, I can go on with my plans… I will gain Royal Zeon’s seat of power, I will become Zeon!!! Then deculture will be realized! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

* * * * *

Captain Edge came back into consciousness after being transfixed for a moment. He grew edgy as he waited for the Heaven’s Fist to recharge.

Finally, Moin declared, “Charging cycle complete.”

“All right. Primary and secondary energy bank contact. Target coordinates alpha niner zero, charlie zero zero four. Release safety locks! We’ll destroy Asgard in one shot along their space fleet!!!!”

As the Heaven’s Fist completed its targeting, Edge shouted, “FIRE!!!!”

A wide beam from the Heaven’s Fist came forth, and hit a number of ships of the Royal Zeon space fleet including the Punishment. The beam continued in its path toward the colony Asgard. As it was about to hit, an enormous array of circular green barrier instantly appeared before its path, its diameter bigger than the beam itself. It shielded the colony from the impending disaster.

Behind the circular barrier was a mobile suit engulfed in green GN-Particles. Straining under the intense pressure, the pilot said with great difficulty, “Q-quantum-Munimento Armor ac-activated!!! Triple Drive system, e-engaged!!”

Before the pilot’s monitor was a countdown timer of six-minute and fourteen-second effectivity.

* * * * *

Who will finally gain control over the Heaven’s Fist? Who are the Pirates and what are their intentions? Is Knight really dead? And who is the pilot behind the mysterious mobile suit engulfed in green particles? Find out in the MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY INTERQUEL Episode 13 – UNITED. You wouldn’t want to miss it.

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