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MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 13 - United
Written by: John Nigel
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MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel

Episode 13 – United


Space

The Pirates’ black ship cautiously moved towards a drifting and disabled gray and black ReZEL as the mobile weapon initially sent an international emergency signal, signifying an “in distress” status. The group’s leader, Astis Arno intently watched from an observation deck on the ship’s bow. They were maneuvering the ship to receive the ReZEL via its forward mobile suit catapult hatch. Astis’ heart raced as he thought, It’s the Shadow Blitz, all right. There’s no mistaking it. The insignia… the decals…

“Careful now! Bring the Jolly Roger forward!! Steady… steady… There!”

“Restraining arms locked.”

“Astis, we’ve successfully retrieved the target.”

He replied through the communicator on his right ear. “Okay, assemble a security detail. Hoist it on bay 3. I will personally deal with this.”

Astis skimmed through the hall leading to the ship’s mobile suit bay. The weightlessness of space did not do anything to keep things from weighing heavily on his mind. He suddenly was transported back in the days when he was still a young Royal Zeon mobile suit ace pilot battling against his equally famous rival on a gray and black ReZEL mass production type.

* * * F L A S H B A C K S T A R T S* * *

“ARGH!!” Astis shrieked as his Zudah smashed against a building. Behind him, the ReZEL charged in, armed with a beam saber.

“As expected from Earth Militaire’s ace, but… YOU CAN’T DEFEAT ME WITH YOUR CRAPPY TACTICS!!!”

The Zudah’s thrusters roared to life and the mobile suit moved to safety, barely escaping the saber’s energy almost getting the left arm. Astis brought his unit behind the ReZEL and reached for the heavy machine gun. “My turn!!”

Over the commlink, the ReZEL pilot shouted, “Bring it on, Zeon soldier!”

Dadadadadadadadadada!!!

Sparks blazed as the solid projectiles hit the ReZEL, metal against metal. The attack managed to inflict damage on the suit. Instinctively, the enemy pilot shielded the cockpit portion using the arms. Meanwhile, Astis brought forth the heat axe and flung it towards the enemy unit. Suddenly, the ReZEL made its move; it dashed forward, oblivious to the heat axe cart-wheeling toward it. The axe hit the ReZEL’s head unit and decapitated it. With its main cameras gone, the pilot ejected the cockpit hatch without hesitation, and rammed against the Zudah. It then made a wide sweep with the beam saber, successfully cutting off the Zudah’s whole left arm. Astis cringed with the impact, as the ReZEL suddenly held the Zudah tightly.

“You might be might last kill, but no matter!! This battle has been decided!” said the ReZEL pilot over the commlink.

Astis tried to move the Zudah and brushed the mobile suit away but to no avail. He blasted the thrusters off but the ReZEL’s weight somehow weighed it down.

“Let me go, you freak!!!” Astis shouted in panic. As he tried to push it away, the maneuver brought both units falling down on the ground. The enemy pilot was smashed against his control consoles, breaking his helmet’s glass. Meanwhile, Astis was restrained better by the seatbelts and remained secured, though the impact jagged his head, causing him to feel dizzy.

“…I-I won’t let you escape anymore!! If the likes of y-you disappear, p-peace will certainly be a-attained… And the deaths of my family will be avenged!!!”

Astis zoomed his optics onto the other pilot. He saw his face, albeit drenched in his own blood. The other pilot typed something on his console keyboard. Suddenly, red lights blinked inside the cockpit.

“TAKE THIS!!! SHADOW BLITZ SPECIAL!! Self-destruct sequence initiated!!!” The pilot brought his suit’s right manipulator and held Zudah’s cockpit hatch tightly closed. Astis pulled a lever that would instantly catapult his seat out from the cockpit to safety, but nothing worked. His system controls gave out a warning, “EJECTION FAILURE! GEAR JAM DETECTED! EJECTION FAILURE! GEAR JAM DETECTED!”

Astis felt his heartbeat stop.

* * * F L A S H B A C K E N D S * * *

Astis came back into reality as his crew was preparing to manually open the ReZEL Shadow Blitz Custom’s cockpit hatch. He warned, “Careful now. The pilot might shoot whoever comes into view. Nevertheless, I only authorize ‘shoot to disable’, understand?”

“Yes, Astis!”

The equalizing of cockpit and ship pressure caused a shrill hissing sound, as the hatch swung upward. Cautiously, the Pirates took a look inside the cockpit but they were surprised when a man somersaulted into midair and completed the move with a firm landing near Astis. Grabbing a knife from his right boot strap, he held Astis tightly and disabling him by thrusting the knife against his neck.

“Nobody move!! Throw away your weapons if you want this man to remain alive!!”

Calmly, Astis remained still as his men looked on with shock and surprise. He said, “It seems that your skills have not rusted, Ricardo Ismail, ace pilot of now defunct Earth Militaire.”

The man was more surprised to hear what Astis said. Tightening his grip even more, he demanded, “Who are you?! How do you know my identity?! Are you in cahoots with the Federation?!”

Astis took the opportunity while Ismail was partially distracted. He simultaneously landed a foot stomp on Ismail’s right foot while pushing up the elbow holding the knife with a rising tap. Breaking free, Astis rolled forward, reaching for his own knife. Meanwhile, Ricardo threw his weapon against the other man. Astis was hit on his left shoulder, while his knife made its mark deep onto Ricardo’s right thigh. Both men fell on the floor.

* * * * *

Space, other side of the moon

“Captain, the shot was stopped short at point foxtrot 8, 5!! Radars show an unknown mobile suit managed to neutralize the full energy extent of the Heaven’s Fist!!”

Litzner Edge demanded, “WHAT?!? A mobile suit capable of stopping a beam of that size and power magnitude?! Is it from the Royal Zeon?!”

“We cannot confirm it at the moment, sir!”

Another report came in. “Captain! Enemy mobile suits are detected approaching the colony’s rear. Count, indistinguishable due to battle debris and dispersed Minovsky particle interference!”

Edge cursed loudly. In desperation he said, “Assemble squads immediately! Command half of our forces to meet them!! Aft bombard turrets, fire at will! Use ADS indiscriminately!! Heaven’s Fist must not fall into their hands!!”

“But sir, the empire’s space fleet is still not yet subdued!”

“I don’t care; just do what I tell you, moron!!!”

Jughos were immediately deployed to address the threat. Taking formation, they met Royal Zeon’s Frontal Squadron head on with fierce firepower. Both sides tried their best to suppress each other but the battle was favoring the Earth Federation.

Not far behind, a black mobile suit known among Royal Zeon ranks as Stealth Unicorn was on standby. “So, let’s up the ante, shall we?” Lord Claude Ashram, the Unicorn’s pilot said. He also was a member of Royal Zeon empire’s High Council.

He brought his unit forward and established a dedicated commlink to his comrades. “Start the 6DP Initiative, under my authorization! Brave battle warriors of Royal Zeon, lend me your strength!!!”

“As you wish, my lord!!” the pilots unanimously answered.

The Stealth Unicorn went ahead of the others and stopped in position. Its body armors started to extend and open at certain points, exposing the psycoframe transmitters and receptors which were glowing off a golden yellow brilliance. The Frontal Squadron’s mobile suits’ head units also opened at the rear and out came the psycommu brainwave receptors. The pilots then remained transfixed in their cockpit seats, eyes glowing off the distinct red halo. Inside the Unicorn, Ashram’s seat reclined slightly backward as a psycoframe module descended from above and emitted a greenish hologram display.

“Synchronize!” Ashram commanded as his eyes glowed off a blue halo. On his monitor display were the mobile suit units which were in contact with the psycommu. One by one, the Frontal Squadron successfully synchronized with Ashram’s psychic control, giving him full influence over the pilots and using them effectively at his disposal. All in all twelve ZAKU Nightmares and two DOMs were under his command.

Ashram wickedly grinned and said, “It is an insult for me to be met on by only amateurs to destroy. Let me show you what I can do!”

In a rapid succession, the ZAKU Nightmares and DOMs went forward for an offensive maneuver. The sudden change of tactics gave them easy victory over the Jugho squads as Ashram flawlessly controlled every Frontal Squadron unit at his disposal. In less than twenty minutes, he successfully subdued the enemy and destroyed the bombard turrets as well as the active denial system points protecting the rear portion of the colony weapon without incurring any casualty on their side.

* * * * *

“ABOVE US!!!” Drake Howling shouted as he warned the rest of his comrades about the Keradjur’s position. The Gundams broke away into safety as beams from the Keradjur’s variable speed beam rifle rained all over the place.

“Nouveau! I need a fastball special, NOW!!!” It was Keith Newman, who piloted the Gundam Alex, addressing to his close associate in NEU.

Nouveau Gardien immediately replied, “I’m on it!” He immediately transformed the NOU Zeta Gundam into waverider mode. Using the wings of light propulsion, the Zeta sped up, passing by Gundam Alex, which held tightly onto the waverider’s vertical fin. As the Alex was catapulted to an incredible speed, Newman hoisted the heat pincer and used it like a lance. It was an added weapon from his damaged mobile suit, the DOM Giga Zange.

Charging toward the Keradjur, the Gundam ignited its boosters for an added force.

“Take this, Crimson Striker!!”

Keradjur took its shield up and tried to deflect the pincer stab. The force of the impact was so great that it knocked back the red mobile suit and temporarily caused it to spin out of control. NOU Zeta zipped past the Alex, which was trying to stabilize itself using its AMBAC system. Transforming into mobile suit mode, it brought forth its ultimate beam rifles and sent a rapid barrage.

BAM! BAM! BAM!

Onboard the Keradjur, Magnus Alexandersson waited until the system automatically corrected the mobile suit’s bearings. His radars registered the incoming volley.

“You need to do better than that,” he emotionlessly said. Keradjur took its rifle and successfully counter-shot the beams from the NOU Zeta.

Newman called, “Gardien, you’re going in too deep!! Watch out!”

Without warning Keradjur sped forward towards the Zeta, armed with two beam sabers. As the Gundam closed in, it also took its beam saber, intending to parry the counterattack. But Magnus tipped the left control stick to hard right while letting out a sudden jolt from the left side thrusters, bringing the Keradjur to an instant pivot away from the Zeta’s saber reach. Instead, the Gundam’s rear was wide open for a free attack.

“Gotcha!”

Keradjur firmly landed its two feet on Zeta’s back and gave it a solid kick, sending it lunging forward, out of control.

“GAAAKKK!” Gardien screamed, while the Zeta smashed hard against an asteroid chunk.

“KISAMA!!” Keith furiously shouted, sending the Alex forward. He opened wide the pincer with the claws generating heat powered by the optional cluster-type energy capacitors that was equipped on his unit. The pincer menacingly extended forward to catch the red mobile suit into its crushing grip.

Using the beam sabers, Keradjur stopped the pincer short by combining the output from the hilts, which were held side-by-side. The size of the beam was big enough to offset the energy pressure from the pincer, repelling it. It caused the two mobile suits into a standoff. Both pilots tried their best to overpower each other, evident by the straining of both suits.

Pretty soon, Keradjur managed to bring the tip of the beam sabers near the chest portion of the Alex. Newman thought, One strong shove and I’ll be fried!!

Over the commlink, Magnus started the conversation. “It’s a pity that our reunion is coming to a close, Professor!”

“Yeah, with your defeat, Crimson Striker!!!”

At a distance, Howling yelled via the commlink. “Sidhikoro, can you get a clean shot from here?! All you need is to distract him while I close in!”

“I’m on it!!” Diko Sidhikoro, the pilot of the golden Achilles Gundam, replied.

“Freed,” Drake said, turning to another comrade. “Follow my lead!”

Rauwolf and Hero Gundam went forward to aid the Gundam Alex. Meanwhile, Amber La Flaga brought the Valkyrie Gust alongside Achilles. She was selecting through the weapon options that they can utilize to successfully hit their target.

“Mr. Diko, diagnostics and compatibility scans show that Gust’s particle cannon, Caliburn, can combine with your Raytheon beam sniper rifle. It enables Achilles Gundam to snipe from great distances with increased energy levels without diminishing the stability and control!”

“Well then, let’s do it, Amber-dono!”

Amber brought the mobile armor to hover above the Gundam. The particle cannon hoisted at its underbelly extended forward while securing clamps released their grip. Achilles took its sniper rifle and started the combine procedure. The Caliburn’s rear portion automatically opened to accommodate the Raytheon’s barrel. Achilles shoved the weapon in and combined them successfully.

“There’s a whole new snipe monitor display but the effective range has dramatically increased. This is a challenge, but EAGLE EYE ALWAYS GETS HIS TARGET!!!”

“Ganbatte, Mr. Diko! Valkyrie Gust clearing off, on standby!”

Turning to the HARO unit, Diko said, “Erika, tag the target!”

“Target acquired!”

“Eagle Eye, Achilles Gundam. Shooting the enemy down!!!”

As he pulled the trigger, a big yellow beam shot combined with a blue beam helix streaked through the area.

* * * * *

Newman was eyeing the information feed provided by the Valkyrie Gust. He smiled and mocked the Crimson Striker while in a standoff.

“Do you think that the battle will be won by just what you do?! You may be strong but I have the upper hand!”

He released Alex’s grip from the lock and launched several grenades. In turn, Keradjur fired its Vulcan guns, hitting every one of them. The area was soon engulfed in smoke.

“Now, his field of vision is blocked!”

Suddenly, the beam shot from Achilles came in, hitting right on target.

BOOOOOM!!!

“Did we get him?!” Amber anxiously asked.

Newman replied in dismay, “NO WAY!! Look!”

A thick beam barrier covered the Keradjur from the intense heat, sparing it from instant disintegration.

“A force field?!?” Sidhikoro exclaimed.

“No!” Amber retorted. “I recognize that kind of defense system! It’s an advanced version of a cyclonic layered beam shield that my father…” She was not able to finish her statement.

“But it won’t work against physical attacks!! TAKE THIS!!!” Freed angrily shouted.

Hero Gundam catapulted itself for a swift sweeping strike using its huge Guardian Sword. Closing in, Freed maneuvered the Gundam into a forward lurch.

“Your deed is futile!” the Crimson Striker spoke through the commlink. He initiated a chain of system command that integrated a powerful electromagnetic field in addition to its beam barrier array, stopping the Guardian Sword in its tracks. Arming the VSBR ready, Magnus temporarily disabled the protective beam layer and fired against Hero Gundam at point blank.

“Die!”

Oh, no!! Freed thought in shock as he saw the red mobile suit taking aim. Luckily, by instinct, he reached for a button that deployed the shield bits in front of the Gundam and formed an anti-beam blanket.

PSHOOOM!!

The beam energy was deflected by the shield and dispersed all around. Quickly Keradjur rammed against the Gundam using its shield, tackling it down. Magnus then released several funnel missiles against the Hero, but prior to hitting it, Freed used the Guardian Sword’s blade to shield his unit from the incoming missiles.

Below them, Howling was preparing for a strike. Over Rauwolf’s right shoulder, the Agni Drux Cinque particle ultra launcher was hoisted. He adjusted the scopes and zoomed in the camera. Muttering to himself, he said, “Now let’s see if you have any weakness.”

He pulled the trigger and opened fire. PSHOOOOOM!!!!

A red and blue beam array zipped toward the target. Right upon hitting, the beam barrier sprung up. Rauwolf reached for its multimode rifle, Mycroft, which was pre-loaded with solid projectiles as well as capable of being a beam-based standard weapon. Switching contact with its energy bank, Howling sent off a barrage. Keradjur in turn veered away and deflected the beam pulses using its beam saber and shield.

“Achilles, Hero! Try to suppress it with firepower!”

“Got it, Drake!” Freed enthusiastically replied.

“Eagle Eye, in position!”

“NOW!!”

From two different directions, Achilles and Hero fired upon the Keradjur. Rauwolf joined in the torrent, hoping to take it down successfully. As expected, the red mobile suit’s oscillating beam barriers layered over each other were strong enough to protect itself even from the combined firepower of the three mobile suits.

“What a strong barrier! There’s only one logical explanation for that,” said Amber.

“It has a separate power plant for its defense systems,” observed Diko. “It’s a solid, fortress-like mobile suit!”

“Heads up, here comes the retaliation!” Freed warned.

True enough, Keradjur reached for its VSBR and prepared to fire at them. Disabling its barrier, Keradjur aimed upon the three mobile suits, maximizing the fastest beam acceleration possible. They scrambled for cover since the beam surged faster than most conventional beam weapons. Keradjur can manually control the particle impellers of the VSBR’s compression chamber. The shots crazily reached their targets earlier than anticipated. Hero Gundam sustained slight damage after losing six components of its shield bits.

The Valkyrie Gust barely held up its H-Field against the shot but the force knocked it back, crashing against Achilles. Rauwolf hurried towards Gundam Alex, and using its particle disruptor module mounted on its left shoulder, released a gas that breaks the particle alignment in an energy beam by reversing the polarity of the particles, thus reducing the effectiveness of beam attacks. However, blanketing themselves with the special kind of gas did little because the Crimson Striker up-scaled the particle concentration. Both mobile suits were engulfed in an enormous explosion, but emerged sustaining slight damage.

Newman turned the commlink on and said, “Did you see what I saw, old man?”

“Oh, yes, I did, Professor,” Howling replied. “Our window of opportunity has opened at last!”

“We gotta move right now!”

Alex started to move in and launched the pincer from it mounting, lunging at Keradjur. The claws somehow managed to clamp onto the red mobile suit's right arm. While Magnus was taken aback by surprise, Achilles launched its grappling anchor and successfully gripped the other arm. Valkyrie Gust moved into position while in mid-salvo of its missiles. Keradjur returned fire with the Vulcan guns and was able to destroy every missile.

"Targeting Sango Yasha," Amber muttered as she took aim at the immobilized Keradjur with the twin-barreled hyper beam rifle mounted on the Gust's fuselage.

"Converge your strongest beam attacks on my signal!!" Drake shouted.

Rauwolf and Hero Gundam positioned themselves and aimed at Keradjur using the Agni Drux and Beam Cannon respectively.

"G-Adrenaline Level 2, activated! Let's do this!!" Freed called.

"FIRE!!!"

It was anticipated that the unified attack would somehow get the red mobile suit. Inside the cockpit, the Crimson Striker calmly thought over his options for breaking free. He pushed the manipulator controls that made Keradjur grab the cables of that which restrained it. Tugging them fiercely aided by the arm thrusters, Keradjur sent Achilles and Alex ramming against each other. It immediately sprung up its layered beam shields that easily negated the three shots. Finally, the energy for the shots was spent up.

“Here it comes…” Newman excitedly said.

“Our window of opportunity,” Howling gasped. “Make sure it counts.”

The five mobile weapons were gathered near each other in one place, obviously recharging.

Fools! Magnus thought. Giving me an opportunity to take them all down easily!

Keradjur took aim against them using the VSBR. Magnus increased the power level enough to obliterate his enemies in a single continuous sweep.

“Particle compression to maximum; impeller anomaly, nominal,” Magnus murmured. Then he pulled the trigger.

* * * * *

“Break away!!!” Sidhikoro shouted.

Before moving Alex to safety, Newman barked, “Gardien, NOW!! Get him, you lunatic angel!”

Since Keradjur was about to shot, it temporarily disabled its beam barrier for a very brief duration, the only time when it was vulnerable. Newman noticed the pattern and he sent a ‘text only’ message to Gardien, whose unit was slammed earlier against an asteroid chunk. While the battle plodded on, Gardien purposefully stayed in the downlow, waiting for an opportunity to strike.

Seeing the chance opening before him, Gardien positioned the NOU Zeta against the asteroid for added leverage. The two ultimate beam rifles were combined together and immediately aimed at Keradjur. Removing his mask, he peered into the cockpit scope. When he successfully acquired the target, he muttered, “Lock on, confirmed!”

This gave the warning to his allies to stay away from the line of fire. Remembering Newman’s words, he said, “Lunatic Angel, NOU Zeta Gundam. I’ll take you down!!”

Bright red beam energy flashed like lightning in contrast to the darkness of space. It made its mark on the target, hitting the Keradjur at its binder.

BOOOOM!!!!

Magnus winced at the unanticipated attack, while Keradjur was knocked back by the impact. Several minor explosions took place thereafter. He quickly made a system scan and saw the extent of damage. For some reason, the attack caused the power reactor that fed energy to the cyclonic layered beam shields and the weapons to be offline. He immediately made a system diagnostics and quickly worked to connect all its beam weapons to the other power reactor via an emergency energy conduit.

Meanwhile the group closed in onto Keradjur. Achilles released its Grand Slam sword and hurled it toward Hero Gundam.

“Freed, take it!”

“Gladly!”

With Hero’s G-Adrenaline still operational, Freed made use of the two physical swords. Closing in, Hero Gundam made a huge sweeping attack.

“Beam Omnislash Barrage!!!”

Crescent-shaped beams were hurled toward the Keradjur. In response, Magnus opened up the mega machine cannons mounted on his unit’s upper torso. Blasting away, he managed to counter the attacks except one, which effectively cut off the right foot. With the Gundam drawing closer, Keradjur brought forth its shield. In spite of the intense force, the red mobile suit was able to sweep away the Guardian Sword. The impact caused Hero Gundam lose its grip and held on instead to the other sword.

“I’m not done yet!! I’ll cut you into two!” Hero Gundam lifted the Grand Slam to a make a strong downward strike.

Keradjur let go of its shield at the same time. While priming another weapon at his disposal, Magnus said, “That’s the spirit, newb!!”

What happened next surprised everyone. Drake’s mouth gaped open. Keith zoomed in his optical cameras to see the sight. “What the –?!”

Amber exclaimed in surprise, “That’s impossible!!!”

Diko’s eyes narrowed. “As expected of Royal Zeon’s top ace, the Crimson Striker…”

* * * * *

Magnus’ eyes glowed off a blue halo. Over the commlink, he was heard saying, “You have the talent, but I have the experience! BLADE GRASP!!!!”

Right when and where it counted, Keradjur landed both palms on either side of the Grand Slam sword. Magnus then applied the greatest pressure that his suit’s hydraulic systems could ever produce, and effectively stopped the sword strike. The timing was very perfect that even Freed did not move an inch due to sheer surprise. Magnus immediately opened the chamber cover of Keradjur’s mega particle gun, which was on its abdomen. He fired away, spraying beam pulses over the Gundam and causing the pilot to be dazed and confused.

BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!

Successive explosions followed with portions of the Gundam’s armor peeling off bit by bit.

“ARGH!” Freed shouted. While he knew that his unit can sustain such damage, prolonged bombardment may penetrate the cockpit at close range. He reversed the thrusters and veered away to safety fast.

Achilles moved in toward the Gust. “Miss Amber! Release the Gust’s booster packs, NOW!”

Without moment’s hesitation, Amber jettisoned the optional boosters attached on her mobile armor, of which was remotely joined onto Achilles’ tactical binder through laser connection. Electricity sparked as the boosters found themselves onto the binder’s hard points.

Arming itself with the beam rifle, the golden Gundam started to move very swiftly forward with the Gust following behind. In a perfect synchronization, both pilots staged a strenuous attack. Keradjur was still recharging its weapons system; it began to zip away of harm’s reach. However, some shots made their marks.

A natural and Newtype tandem… very efficient, but –!! Magnus thought.

Since Keradjur had to balance its power usage, Magnus lowered down the VSBR output. While using the mega particle gun, he aimed the rifle at the precise moment when Achilles was dodging the beam spray.

“THERE!!!”

Magnus pulled the trigger and managed to hit the golden Gundam on its torso. However, Achilles’ armor was coated with special beam-reflecting coating that returned the beam. Magnus saw through this; immediately he utilized the beam magnum stored in the Keradjur’s shield. Just in the nick of time, Keradjur was able to shoot back at the reflected beam. However, the particle reaction during the collision resulted to a huge explosion point blank at Keradjur. Portions of the mobile suit were singed.

BOOOM!

Over the commlink, Magnus shouted, “It will take more than that to destroy me!!”

Without warning, Keradjur blasted off forward while reaching for its beam tomahawks. Hurling one ahead, Magnus sent a spinning tomahawk at Achilles, which quickly dodged. However the weapon gone ballistic went directly toward the Valkyrie Gust that was trailing behind.

“Amber-dono!!!” Diko screamed in horror. His thoughts betrayed him as he remembered a horrible memory during his 77th Strike Team days. Just like Erika!! Just like THAT moment!! NOOOOO!!


Amber knew immediately that the deployment of H-Field will not effectively stop the tomahawk. She then reached for the thruster stick and pulled hard, bringing the Gust to a vertical movement. Conversely, the tomahawk hit the missile bay at the mobile armor’s underside. She had a split second to discard the section to prevent a chain of explosion. But the missile bay detonated right then and there; the shockwave sent the Valkyrie spinning out of control.

BOOOOM!!!!

Achilles moved toward the Grand Slam sword which was floating freely along. Grabbing it, the golden Gundam went in with tremendous speed, while thrusting the enormous sword forward. Quickly as a wink, Keradjur released its remaining funnel missiles and backed off quickly, forcing Achilles to draw back the sword and used it to shield itself.

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!!

Newman called, “Nouveau, I need a second fastball special, quick!!”

NOU Zeta reverted to waverider mode and activated the wings of light, flinging itself forward. Gundam Alex reached for the Zeta’s rear fin. Right before Keradjur, Alex shoved the pincer, with the claws gaping wide open. By instinct, Magnus protected the torso where the cockpit was located. Instead, the pincer caught an arm. Keith applied energy to it, and shouted, “IKKE!!”

The pincer cut off the left arm. “Now, you’ll have a significant handicap, Crimson Striker!”

“You can keep that, if it makes you happy, ‘Professor’!!” Magnus ranted in return, while firing the mega machine cannons and the mega particle gun simultaneously. Alex drew the huge pincer and covered itself with it while turning away. Gardien could not move in due to the wide range of fire. Instead, he made use of the beam saber. Quickly NOU Zeta transformed into mobile suit mode

“BEAM CONFUSE!!!” Gardien exclaimed.

NOU Zeta flung the saber spinning while shooting at it with its ultimate beam rifles, sending off beam splash all over the Keradjur’s perimeter. It managed to hit the red mobile suit, forcing Magnus to keep away at a safe distance.

These guys know what they’re doing.

While the action was taking place, Rauwolf positioned itself below the Keradjur, inside the latter’s blind spot. Howling thought, I must get to destroy you, or else earth will…

He started the targeting protocol. On his monitor display were the words “Tiberian Spammer Tag”, a target-tagging system devised by NEU’s Tiberian Team. It automatically configured the simultaneous use of Rauwolf’s offensive weapons: Agni ultra launcher, Mycroft rifle, Watson beam sub-machine gun, and the Gatling cannons.

Seeing that the target-tagging was complete, Drake pulled the trigger. Multiple shots were made, converging at a single target: Keradjur. Adrenaline surged all over Magnus’ body, but right that moment, the VSBR had completely been recharged. His eyes then glowed blue.

Keradjur hoisted the shield and protected itself while taking aim at the Rauwolf. Magnus intended to use up all the stored energy with that one particular shot. He then brought the particle impeller to the maximum, in order to cause a rapid disintegration of the target.

He saw the Rauwolf within the strike zone. You’ll never survive, you fool. DIE!!!

The VSBR’s tremendous beam surged at once toward the Rauwolf, so fast that all Drake could do was to stare blankly at it coming his way. Squinting from the bright flash, he smiled and muttered, “So this is how my life ends… Darlene, gomenasai; I failed to find our daughter… Please wait for me on the other side…”

Suddenly, an unknown object was detected soaring toward the space region. Broadcasted over the commlink was a female voice that said, “Aletheia System, activate! Mjollnir, Gungnir! Go forth!!!”

A Newtype flash came upon Magnus. By instinct, he searched around in his panoramic monitor. “A mental pressure?!? From whom?!”

Without warning, a wide positron beam blast streaked right before the Rauwolf. With the beam so close, portions of Rauwolf’s armor coating started to ablate. Drake was alerted by a synthesized voice warning.

“Heat flux approaching maximum tolerated level!!”

The positron shot prevented the VSBR’s beam to connect and hit the Rauwolf. The female voice contacted Drake.

“HEY YOU!! You in the old white mobile suit!! Get yourself out of here, or you’ll become the enemy’s fodder!! Now, MOVE IT!!!”

Howling thought, But who –?! Could it be…HER?!?

Everyone spoke through the RED ARROW’s dedicated commlink frequency.

“She came at last,” Nouveau said in relief.

“Yeah, finally!” Keith joyfully replied, grinning.

Diko butted in. “Who?”

On their radar, a friendly IFF code was immediately recognized. It was Freed who distinguished the newcomer. “It’s the red Gundam!! I recognize that unit back when there was an assault by the Empire against my home colony in Eidon. So that means the pilot is HER! Right! It’s Zyann Nigel!”

Amber only managed to mutter in disbelief. “Zyann? Zyann Nigel? My long-lost niece!!”

The IFF code automatically changed into the mobile suit’s call sign, Astraeus Blaze. It then made a swift fly-by along its allies. Zyann’s voice crackled over the commlink, “Mind if I join you?!”

Keith replied, “If I find out that you’ve been purposefully delaying your arrival to make an impressive entrance, I’d personally kill you!! Hahahaha!!”

Drake could not believe his ears. He kept on voicing the name inaudibly. Zyann… Zyann, my daughter!!

* * * * *

After a brief reunion, the red Gundam immediately engaged the red mobile suit, commanding the positron cannon and twin-barreled rifle remote weapons at will. Shooting in an omni-directional manner, Zyann was beginning to overpower the partially damaged and ability-reduced Keradjur.

Magnus tried his best to keep clear from the attacks, adjusting himself to the pilot’s fighting style. Muttering to himself, he said, “So this is the red Gundam that everyone was clamoring about. Its remote weapons seem to have individual power sources! Computer, gather all combat data from this point and integrate into Keradjur’s database!”

By this time, Keradjur was taking hits one after another. “TSK!! If only the auxiliary power source wasn’t cut off!!! I could have taken over those remote weapons using the bit slaver system!” Magnus slammed his fist in annoyance. “Some other time, Gundam. Well, time for one desperate move!”

Keradjur moved away, luring the red Gundam into a cat-and-dog chase while letting off shots. Meanwhile, Keith went forward and followed the two. Giving off a warning, he said, “Careful now, Zyann! I am sure that this pilot still has few tricks up his sleeve!”

“Roger that, ‘Professor’!”

“You know how I hate it when you call me that!!”

As Astraeus took off, Zyann recalled the remote weapons. “Mjollnir, Gungnir, come forth!!” When the two weapons returned to their mounts, their thrusters were altogether integrated to the mobile suit’s thruster system.

“Zyann Nigel, Astraeus Blaze. IKKEMASU!!!”

However, there was a subtle change of battle behavior. Regardless of her efforts, Zyann could not close in enough to make a decisive attack.

She commented, “Its response from when its camera is facing you is terrifyingly fast! Not only that, the pilot’s control of the thrusters is also magnificent, despite the damage sustained! In short, whoever is piloting that thing, he is controlling the unit at will!! Sugoi!”

Keith grimly replied, “As far as I know, he is the most powerful pilot out there, piloting a formidable unit.”

“Wouldn’t it be a problem is something happened and there isn’t anyone who could defeat that thing?” Gardien quipped.

Zyann rammed the thruster pedals, “Then I’ll do the job for you!!”

“Wait, Zyann!! You can’t –!”

“Stop her!” Diko butted in. “She’s too reckless!!”

* * * * *

Magnus glanced at the power reserve. “I think that would warrant my exit. Well then, red Gundam, our meeting has just been cut off!!”

He made a saluting gesture before giving a voice command to the computer. “Jettison the damaged binder module!”

I must get at her in time!!!


A huge portion of Keradjur’s binder ejected away.

This can’t be happening!! I won’t allow it!!!


Magnus then aimed the beam magnum and sent a single shot at the module.

NO ONE HURTS MY DAUGHTER!!!


Keith stared at his radar display in disbelief then exclaimed, “What a foolish move!! Drake, you idiotic old man!!!!” On his monitor, the Minovsky particle count abruptly spiked into critical level.

What followed was an enormous explosion caused by the sudden release of the stored particle energy in the power reactor.

BOOOOOOMMMM!!!!!

Astraeus Blaze was engulfed in the raging inferno. But prior to that, Rauwolf moved in and released all the amassed gas from its particle disruptor module. Positioning itself to shield Astraeus from harm’s way, the old white mobile suit received the full force of the explosion. The shockwave and extreme heat produced was so high that metal components of the Rauwolf buckled and snapped; its armor ablated all over and began to chip away piece by piece. Inside the cockpit, the 360o panoramic monitor blacked out as chunks of Luna titanium pierced through the cockpit. A single debris punctured Drake’s abdomen, of which the injury made him vomit blood inside his helmet. He shuddered due to the intense pain. All over him were crackling electricity because malfunction and overloading simultaneously took place.

Drake painfully reached for two switches which he depressed continuously, forcing a deactivation sequence for the fusion reactor to prevent a subsequent nuclear explosion.

Zyann angrily called via the commlink. “You idiot!! That was reckless!! You didn’t have to resort to such heroic deed; my suit can more than survive such explosion! BAKA YAROU!!”

“N-nonetheless, I am happy t-that you’re fine…”

“You didn’t have to go to great heights to save me! I don’t need anyone to give up his life to protect me!!”

“Zyann, that’s enough! You don’t know who saved you!”

“It’s okay Keith… I-it’s a father’s d-duty to… ARGH! To p-protect his d-daughter! I am h-happy to fina… *cough, cough* finally see you once again…”

The commlink was severed suddenly, followed by the rise and fall of static noise over RED ARROW’s network.

“Damn, you, old man!!!” Keith punched his console in frustration, eyes welled in tears.

Protect his daughter! The words kept ringing in Zyann’s ears. The man inside this mobile suit is my…father?!?!?!

What followed shocked everybody. Rauwolf exploded.

* * * * *

Royal Zeon Iberia Base

In spite of the Earth Federation forces razing the empire’s base in Iberia, Operation Newton was so far successful. But still, Royal Zeon was preparing what was left of the base’s forces to send them to space. Other Zeon forces over the world mobilized to prevent the Federation sending their reinforcements to space, since the battle for seizure of the Federation’s orbital bombardment weapon, the Heaven’s Fist, was still underway.

In a makeshift pre-flight room, twenty-eight mobile suit pilots volunteered to be sent into space as reinforcements. Up to the moment, the battle continued on; the Empire needed to secure their ranks to prevent subsequent attacks from possible Federation reinforcements. The pilots received information and battle status report as well as their mission briefing. Among those who volunteered were Frontal Squadron’s “Crimson Shadow”, Ensign Aya Creuset, Royal Zeon High Command Elite Corps’ “Grim Reaper”, Ensign Chitz Justaway, and 6DP Special Action Force’s “Silver Fang”, Special Operative Richard Testarossa. They were making the last minute routine check to make sure that their respective mobile suits were combat-worthy.

Prior to loading of the mobile suits, on of the Zeon technicians who looked over the maintenance check result frowned. Calling Justaway’s attention, he said, “I’m afraid we have some load of problem with the Zypher, sir.”

“What? What is it?” Chitz inquired.

“We ran a thorough system check online for the Zypher Gundam but the hydraulic systems for the leg actuators are not receiving sufficient pressure. This will eventually result to a lag in response. We are trying our best to trace the problem source but we may not be able to do it in time.”

Another one added, “The thermal and rear visual radars aren’t sending and receiving any telemetry as well.”

“Is that so?” Chitz said, disappointed.

At that point, General Tigo Trueno entered the room and overheard the conversation. Everyone saluted.

“What seems to be the problem, Ensign?” the general asked.

“A major malfunction, sir. It must have been caused by the simultaneous explosion shock of the GM Mustangs that I destroyed during the skirmish earlier.”

“Compounding the situation, our facilities have been destroyed. I cannot guarantee the Zypher’s effectiveness in combat, general. There’s no choice but to transport the Gundam with the rest of our units to Hawaii Base,” said the technician.

Trueno rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Let’s see what we can do. I just received information the supply ships from our Luna Base will be sent out to replenish our forces. We can request a mobile suit from them.”

Without delay Justaway joined the general in the communications center to contact Luna Base.

“Laser communication contact, established. You may proceed, General.”

After expressing the need, the request was granted. The Iberia shuttle will rendezvous with the supply ships in space where the mobile suit would be ready for sortie. Based on the demands of space combat, Justaway opted for a customized Jagd Doga to be prepared with some particular specifications. Since Justaway at the moment was unable to control psycommu weapons, he requested that the funnels on the left shoulder be unequipped. Furthermore, he decided not to arm it with the standard mega particle cannon but instead he had it installed with a beam barrier generator.

“Please mount a mega particle sub-machine gun on the left forearm, and a type-JAC launcher loaded with pulsed energy rounds,” Chitz asked.

Then came the reply. “We also have an experimental beam nanigata that is modified in such a way that the beam generator can pivot at its axis for resiliency in combat applications. In short, Ensign, you may use it like a beam scythe.”

“Good,” Justaway said, grinning. “Fits me, actually.”

“Of course, since you are now known as the Grim Reaper. Ganbatte in your mission, Ensign Justaway.” With that, the line from Luna Base was severed.

“Hmmmmm,” Trueno pondered. “You’re the few of the combat pilots who would rely on an old technology. But nevertheless, a good choice in my opinion.”

“Thank you, general. It’s just that some people find my fighting style unconventional, but it works for me.”

All arrangements were made, including the pulsed energy projectiles that emit a laser pulse which, upon contact with the target, ablates over the surface and creates a small amount of exploding plasma over the covered area. This produces a pressure wave that stuns and knocks the target back. This technique would be effective against heavily-armored mobile suits, since the pressure wave can directly affect the pilot.

Pretty soon, it was almost time for their launch. The pilots went to the three shuttles where they were assigned to board. Justaway made his way toward the shuttle’s cabin, where Testarossa and Creuset were talking in a corner. Gesturing an acknowledging nod, he sat near the window opposite to them.

Earlier, Richard completed the routine made for his mobile suit, Axiom. His suit was lightly armored, yet its agility was greatly increased, thanks to the unique thruster system integrated into the unit’s main body frame. What made Axiom special was its Havoc Drive that put premium to the agility of the mobile suit even more, making it an effective close-quarter combat unit.

He was surprised and mad when he saw Creuset’s GINN High Mobility Custom being refitted with a space thruster pack and a Sturm booster assembly at the ankles. It was then loaded onto a mobile suit rack beside his Axiom. It only meant one thing: Aya would be fighting as well.

Back in the cabin, Richard fussed over Aya’s injuries and her intended participation in the battle. “Listen, Aya, when I said to you to come with me into space, I didn’t mean that you have to come with me and fight. In your situation, you’re obviously…”

Aya smiled and hushed him. “Gracias, for your concern, Richard, but you know me. It would be painful for me not being able to do something. Besides, it would be futile to make me change my mind at this point.” She winked at him.

With a more serious tone, she added, “If you are willing to protect me, I would also protect you all the way.”

Concern was etched all over his face. Richard protested, “But Aya, those renegades will be there. And there’s that unknown mobile suit of which we don’t have any information of. The battle will be very intense.”

“Are you forgetting that I am called the Crimson Shadow for nothing?!” Aya laughed. But at the mention of the word “crimson”, Richard was obviously hurt and looked away.

With a deep sigh, he said, “Is it because of HIM?”

Aya pitied him. “No, no, it’s not that, Richard. I want to be realistic with my dealings in life. And…” She hesitated. Richard turned to her, waiting for her to continue.

“And what?”

“About your question to me… I want to find the answer in space.”

“In space?” Richard echoed.

She nodded. With a determined look in her eye, she said, “You have no choice but to fight side by side with me.”

“Out there, you can’t be safe with me, Aya. You know that.”

She rested a hand on his. Pleadingly, Aya implored, “I don’t wanna be safe, Richard! I just…”

A momentary silence.

Aya looked at him in the eye and tenderly went on, “I just wanna be with you… Richard, I don’t wanna be alone. For once, I WANT TO BE MORE THAN JUST A SHADOW…” Tears stared to flow freely down her cheeks.

Finally, Richard understood her feelings. He slowly leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. She murmured, “Selfish, am I not?”

Richard just answered simply, “You’re just being yourself…”

Unknown to them, Justaway heard everything. Chitz glanced over his shoulder and muttered to himself, “A lover pilot, huh?”

He vented out a sigh and shook his head. “Bad omen, bro.”

* * * * *

Lord Ashram received encrypted information fed by the AWACS ZAKU concerning the battle engagement between Keradjur and the RED ARROW mobile suit units. Hmmm, it seems that I was wrong about Magnus, after all.

Seeing that by now they successfully suppressed the Federation’s defense line, they went on and aided the attack force led by Commander Phobos Bartram to fully rout the remaining enemy units.

Ashram released the Frontal Squad from the 6DP Initiative. Meanwhile, he was checking the overall outlay of the battlefield.

The renegades are kept at bay. But where does this great pressure come from? This sensation from someone…powerful…?

He quickly glanced towards where the Tri Qan[T] was, fending off the Jughos that were engaging it. His eyes opened wide in realization. Could this pilot be a Type-A Newtype?! But how…we successfully wiped out every other Type-As before, back when Royal Zeon finally found out Celestial Being’s base… unless one of them survived!!

He sent a quantum brainwave surge to test the source of mental pressure. He heard the pilot speaking audibly in his mind.

…no hope if this goes on! They go down the spiral of self-destruction! I must pacify them from their lust of fighting and death!! I must…!!

Ashram said to himself, “He has become a threat to deculture! Humanity must see the horror of death and fighting to value peace! There is no other way…!”

Flicking the commlink on, he gave a mission order to all Royal Zeon units in the battlefield.

“Attention all assets! This is Lord Claude Ashram. Pursue and subdue all remaining enemies then rendezvous with the Crimson Striker at rally point alpha 6. He will lead a boarding party to commence infiltration and forceful takeover of the Heaven’s Fist. Frontal Squadron, Commander Bartram, Lieutenant Asuka, and Ensign Frost, you will join me and engage the unknown mobile suit in this region. For now, we don’t know its intentions yet, but it poses a threat to us. Target designation, Bogey One! IKUSO!!!”

Manifest Destiny’s pilot, Lucien Asuka, asked out of hesitancy. “Pardon me, my lord, but whoever pilots this unknown Gundam-type mobile suit, he is helping us rout the enemy forces. We should at least know who he is and his intentions to –!”

Ashram harshly reprimanded him. “You dare to disobey a direct order, soldier?!”

“N-no, my lord,” was the reply, Asuka taken aback.

“Dissenters in combat will be personally shot down by me! Understand?!?”

“Yes, my lord!”

The Royal Zeon forces started to move into two directions. The first group went to secure the perimeter around the Heaven’s Fist, where the Federation forces’ last line of defense was thinning in numbers.

The second group went toward the region where the Tri Qan[T] was trying to fend off the attacking Jugho forces without killing the pilot but only disabling the mobile suits to take part in combat. As soon as the Zeon squads came near, the surviving Federation units started to draw back.

Ashram thought, Destroying them without killing? That’s a contradiction! Well, let’s see what your resolve and opinion are, pilot!

He barked an order, “DOM units, Amadasuka brothers! I authorize the use of ‘BLOODY MARY’! The rest, provide cover for the Twin Scythes of Death!”

“Affirmative, my lord,” Shiro Amadasuka promptly replied. Each of the two DOM units was carrying a pair of missiles codenamed “BLOODY MARYs”, armed with high-output neutron warheads. The intense radiation force produced causes the human body’s temperature to instantly rise to absurd levels, vaporizing the water inside the body in a matter of seconds. Organs swell and explode in an intermittent manner, thus giving the idea of its namesake.

While the ZAKU Nightmares were providing cover, the DOMs released the missiles. “BLOODY MARYs launched! All allies; keep clear!” Shinn Amadasuka called. Each missile was directed to a strategic area where they were remotely detonated to cover a wide area of effective range. Four explosions took place; every human being within range died in a horrible and barbaric manner.

Tri Qan[T]’s pilot witnessed all these and he started to move toward the Frontal Squad. Screaming over the communication frequency, the pilot emotionally protested, “NOOO! They are no longer fighting! You must not kill them! They have no more intention to go against you!”

There was a momentary standoff. The Frontal Squad was subsequently joined by Fear Gundam, Manifest Destiny, and Valkyrie Cyclone.

Stealth Unicorn vanished from view as Ashram activated the stealth cloaking system. After doing so, he imposed a brainwave pressure on the pilot. Seeing no effect, he started to read the pilot’s mind. His eyes glowed blue. What followed was a phenomenon possible only to strong Newtypes. Ashram saw a vision where he was floating freely in a nether zone. At a distance he saw another human being floating as well.

[…Why do you desire fighting so much?!]

He was surprised when the other pilot communicated with him through quantum brainwaves. Both brainwaves interlocked and interacted. Ashram projected a thought.

[Who are you?! Why do you interfere with us?!]

[I know your deeds… I see the darkness that resides in the deepest pits of your soul… You are hungry for chaos… You are the source of it all... the source of malice, corruption, hate… You are the one that DISTORTS human existence!!! Therefore, I will not just pacify you; I must kill you…!!!]

A Newtype flash came upon Ashram as he came back to reality from sub-consciousness. He then ordered, “All units, target Bogey One! Fire at will!!!”

He personally drew first blood as initially, Ashram was already targeting Stealth Unicorn’s beam magnum at the Tri Qan[T] even under stealth mode. Massive blue-violet beam energy surged toward ‘Bogey One’.

The pilot, Harvyn Hue, saw that his mobile suit’s Quantum Munimento Armor system was still in effect for a few seconds so he did not budge from where he was. The energy dissipated aside. Everyone else was firing at Tri Qan[T], but still the same effect happened.

Phobos Bartram remarked, “What kind of sorcery is this?!”

Ashram replied without losing his cool, “Keep firing. There’s a limit to its invulnerability. I sensed it within his thoughts.”

“Roger, my lord!”

Fear Gundam started to move forward with Manifest Destiny trailing behind. Both pilots started to attack at close range. Meanwhile, Hue saw the system countdown. The system will automatically shut off in a moment. GN FIELD!!!

Tri Qan[T] suddenly moved aside while releasing six remote bits from its shoulder frame. The bits converged into a single area where they formed a colossal sword which glowed off shades of blue and green.

GN Buster Sword IV, complete!

Tri Qan[T] grasped the hilt with both hands and approached the opposing units. A skirmish took place and in no time at all, TriQnt overpowered the Frontal Squad but he spared the lives of the pilots.

Manifest moved sideward, priming the Callidus II, a GN Ion Cannon integrated into the mobile suit’s chest assembly. While Tri Qan[T] went toward the Fear, Asuka pulled the trigger.

The shot unexpectedly managed to singe and scorch the mobile suit at its right leg, though the GN field had been immediately put up. Hue hurried to pivot the mobile suit away from the ion cannon’s path.

What was that shot?! Why did it penetrate my GN Field with almost no difficulty?!

Upon seeing that Manifest Destiny’s shot went through, Ashram smiled. “It seems that our basic beam-based weapons don’t work against him, except Manifest Destiny’s! Listen up! Change the frequency of your barriers and beams to imitate the behavior of Bogey One’s beam structure. That way, even a simple beam rifle will hit right through it! Even when he is using the advanced GN technology, we are using the same particle medium!! Asuka, transmit your GN weaponry specs!”

Quickly, the remaining Royal Zeon units made an on-site recalibration of weapons and armaments. Finally when they fired their weapons, they were surprised that the shots went through Tri Qan[T]’s GN field.

“Yosh! Fire at will!! Synchronize attacks!!”

Hue was the most surprised to see that in a very short moment, the Zeon units saw through his technology. At this momentary distraction, Fear released its large fangs while moving backward and shooting off the four cannon funnels. “Let’s see how well you do in a multi-vector attack!” Bartram shouted.

“Phobos Strike Special!!!”

The large fangs moved in a sporadic manner, making it hard to shoot down. From where the fangs struck, the cannon funnels also concentrated their shots. The attack made it difficult to retaliate since a close-quarter strike is instantly followed by a medium- to long-ranged blast. For the moment, Tri Qan[T] was eluding the attack but Bartram made the weapons move faster. Pretty soon, the fangs were knocking Tri Qan[T]’s armor. Hue dismantled the GN Buster Sword IV and formed smaller dual GN blades that were more useful in CQC. Hue fended off the large fangs while dodging the shots. He also employed this time the GN shields to protect himself from the shots.

As the one-on-one combat carried on, little by little Tri Qan[T] was coming into closer contact with Fear Gundam.

Now, you are within my reach… This is where I excel!!!

Thrusters quickly roared to life, catapulting Tri Qan[T] towards Fear. Hue performed quadruple swift strikes with the GN blades, so fast that it could not be seen by naked eye. Fear’s shield was destroyed into bits and pieces, leaving the Gundam open for a succeeding strike. Bartram winced as he anticipated the inevitable. Tri Qan[T] heaved the GN blades, which dismantled to form the GN Buster Sword IV. It pointed the weapon forward in a very forceful shove. The tip was a meter away from the Fear’s torso when a layered array of green hexagonal energy barriers sprung up, preventing the sword to impale the Gundam.

Bartram managed to mumble in relief, “Aegis du Ciel…”

Behind his unit was the Valkyrie Cyclone, piloted by Adrian Frost. The mobile armor was charging up an orb-shaped beam energy that formed before it. As it reached critical level, Frost released the energy towards Tri Qan[T], who by instinct brought forth the shields. The energy orb pushed Tri Qan[T] away like a battering ram. Meanwhile, Cyclone’s Aurora beam launcher was primed and fired instantly at the orb. The difference in polarity of the two energies was the catalyst that triggered a rapid and powerful dissipation of energy wave. The force was so great that even the Fear Gundam was thrown aback.

Bartram shrieked amid the shudder of his suit, “GAAAAHHHHH!!!”

“WAHHHH!!!” Hue cried. However, he utilized a sudden and quick quantization to instantly escape the ominous explosion. Ashram, who was witnessing the act, was utterly surprised.

“He quantized?!”

Seconds later, Tri Qan[T] appeared right before Fear Gundam, equipped with the dual GN blades. The two weapons were poised for a cross-shaped single strike. Bartram immediately fired the microwave cannon on its torso but Hue directed his unit to safety by hovering over the enemy.

“Above me?!”

When Bartram repositioned his Gundam, Tri Qan[T] was not in the direction he thought it would be. Instead the other mobile suit was directly behind it. Had it not for the large fangs that Bartram quickly deployed, Fear Gundam could have been cut into two. Reaching for its beam sabers, Fear rushed toward the Tri Qan[T], which performed an upward glide followed by a descending rush. Tri Qan[T]’s color turned bright magenta.

“STARFALL SLASH!!”

Fear’s right shoulder together with the whole arm assembly was dismembered. Its remote weapons instantly were deployed to provide cover, but Tri Qan[T] was moving faster than normal. Displayed on Tri Qan[T]’s system monitor were the words Trans-Am Multiplex, which allowed the pilot to activate and deactivate Trans-Am Multiplex at any time. However, Trans-Am Multiplex utilizes large amounts of energy. At the next approach, the GN Sword Bits dismantled as they made their way through Fear’s structure, perforating it in the process. But Hue deliberately avoided the cockpit portion. Without moment’s hesitation, Bartram ejected himself from the mobile suit, cursing under his breath for losing.

Fear Gundam exploded thereafter.

“Commander!” Lucien called.

“Proceed with the mission, soldier!” Ashram ordered. For the time being, he was gathering information about Bogey One’s overall capabilities, so that he would have thought of a strategy or two to effectively take down, or possibly capture the Tri Qan[T].

Manifest Destiny instantaneously rushed forward, deploying its twenty prism drones. The drones were spread throughout the battle area while Asuka positioned his unit at one end. Checking his systems, he was keenly paying attention at the energy being spent. As Tri Qan[T] came into the drone field, Manifest’s palms were glowing. Raising both hands, Manifest shot the Asia palm cannons at the prism drones, which reflected the beam flow all over the place. Ricocheting along, the shots were virtually impossible to predict as the rapid shots targeted the other mobile suit while being trapped inside the drone web. Tri Qan[T] incurred hits after hits. Hue brought his unit outside the drones’ range to keep clear from the blitzkrieg. However, Manifest was already preparing for another strike.

Lucien made contact with Frost, “Frost, I’m opening Manifest Gate! Prepare to strike!!”

The reply was prompt. “I’m on it!!”

Valkyrie Cyclone readied itself and hovered behind the Gundam. “Cyclone in position! Ready when you are!”

“Okay! Manifest Gate, deploy!!!”

The prism drones positioned themselves into two circular arrays, one layered over the other. Asuka mentally controlled the gate and arranged it right before the mobile armor. This technique however, was different from the previous use of the Manifest Gate, which was arrayed into a convex-shaped beam barrier, capable of deflecting even a battleship’s main weapon. The drones were arranged to produce a mirror-like effect. The gate would cause a magnification effect to beam shots made that went through it, amplifying the beam by reflecting and spreading it along the path. And that was what they planned to attain.

Finally, Frost said, “Charging complete. Einherjar set to full energy discharge!! Pray that your drones can handle the full force!”

“Do it!!”

A highly concentrated beam surge came out from the mobile armor’s weapon. The beam made its way through the Manifest Gate. On board the Manifest, Asuka monitored the particle concentration count.

The outer ring of the Manifest Gate increased in diameter up to a hundred meters. A very large beam shot gushed out of it, sending a very powerful beam shot towards the Tri Qan[T]. Hue was directly in its path where he had little to do. Reaching for the GN Buster Sword IV, Tri Qan[T] powered it up in a flash and tried to counter the huge shot.

“Quantum Sword!!! IKKE!!!”

The mobile suit shot a rushing beam similar to the extent and size of the Manifest Gate’s yield. The whole region was engulfed in a succession of explosions as two huge amounts of energy reacted against each other, causing a rapid chain detonation. The Cyclone had to protect itself using its Aegis du Ciel.

After the enormous explosion, every single space debris in the area disintegrated. All that was visible was the Manifest Gate ring, sparks of electricity running to and fro. Asuka did not waste any time; he withdrew the prism drones from deployment and moved toward the zone where Tri Qan[T] was last detected. Valkyrie Cyclone withdrew as well, since it had spent up most of its stored energy.

The area was hazy; Asuka could hardly navigate within the region because due to interference caused by the blast, he had to heavily rely on the visual cameras. There were instances when he was startled about movements he thought he sensed. Cautiously the Manifest moved along. A seemingly metal wreckage caught Asuka’s attention as it moved lazily alongside until all of the sudden Tri Qan[T] emerged from behind it. A sickening punch landed at Manifest’s head unit, momentarily disturbing the monitors display. Tri Qan[T] continued the blows in succession.

Get yourself together, idiot!

Tri Qan[T] yanked the Manifest by the leg and slammed it against a wreckage. However, Asuka somehow had regained control. After the slam, Manifest grabbed Tri Qan[T]’s leg and triggered the palm cannons.

BAM!

Tri Qan[T]'s ankle was sheared off. Manifest rammed its shoulder against the other unit, sending it tumbling backward. While the enemy was out of control, Asuka hurled the beam boomerangs against it. It then grabbed its Claimh Solais GN Swords and closed in for a strike.

Tri Qan[T] on the other hand assembled the GN Sword Bits and parried the boomerangs safely away from it. Since Hue had no time to counter, he activated the Trans-Am Multiplex for the third time, even though his stored energy was not yet full. The two swords collided with the huge sword, GN technology against GN technology. The impact dissipated green particles around the two mobile suits.

* * * * *

Asuka blankly stared at a vision before him. He seemed to see a person with a pasty countenance before him.

[Why am I here? What is this place?]

[You are here because you love to kill…]

[That’s not true! I am not a murderer!]

[Then why have you come? You came because you desire to fight! You are part of those people who don’t realize that this was has become a habit, a collusion on a grand scale!]

Coming back from sub-consciousness, Asuka swiftly fired the ion cannon, but Tri Qan[T] was faster at the moment. It whizzed away speedily, leaving an after-image illusion of which Asuka often mistook. Finally, one speedy approach, Tri Qan[T] rammed Manifest against a solid asteroid mass, then threatening the GN Buster Sword IV to skewer it.

[Who are you?! Why don’t you kill me now?!]

[If I do, then I will be like you!]

[I must fight! I must fight for a world without war!]

[You are fighting for the wrong reason, you’re fighting the wrong war!!]

Hue’s words seemed to knock some sense into Asuka’s thoughts, adding to his dilemma about Royal Zeon’s ways of attaining peace. He was struggling to accept the true nature of Operation Newton, where he reasoned that there was a warped motive somewhere.

[Join me!]

Suddenly a streak of beam energy struck Tri Qan[T], breaking its GN shield. The mobile suit was knocked over. The Stealth Unicorn!

Ashram communicated them using quantum brainwaves.

[You cannot be tolerated to exist! You are a hindrance to deculture! A shameful impediment for humanity’s development!]

[You incessantly use people for your own personal gain!]

Unicorn unleashed a series of blinding volleys from its rifle. The shots were too accurate even from a considerable distance. Hue was forced to keep away. Ashram continued to contest.

[Sometimes, using people especially the helpless is necessary! Stop your nonsense preaching! Killing in everyday life is a crime, but in the battlefield, you become a hero if you can achieve the highest kill!]

[Haven’t you any concern for the millions who will suffer if you are allowed to go on with your plans?! For this, I put myself on the line!]

Tri Qan[T] guided the six GN Sword Bits which spewed off short beam pulses. Unicorn simply vanished from view and relocated.


[I will counter the bloodshed that you represent!]

[Hypocrite! What you’ve been doing is the same thing!! To protect humanity, some humans must be given up; to ensure the future, some freedoms must be surrendered!!]

At this, Hue was extremely irritated. “You wage wars and toxify earth and space as a result. You pursue imaginative means of self-destruction! If this goes on, you will not survive on your own! You must be saved from yourselves!!!”

Using brainwaves, Hue pinpointed the Stealth Unicorn from its hiding. He sent the GN Sword Bits to a region where the enemy was. Appearing from nowhere was the Unicorn, its frame splitting up at certain sections and exposing its psycoframe receptors which were glowing off a golden yellow shade. The sword bits stopped in their tracks all of the sudden. Hue sensed that he was losing control of the bits.

“W-what’s happening?! Why don’t you respond?!”

Ashram bellowed with pride, “Deus Ex Machina, taking effect! Now see the difference in our power!!!”

He imitated the assembly of the sword bits. Piece by piece, Ashram constructed the GN Buster Sword IV. Unicorn took hold of the weapon, and, upon wielding, moved closer fast toward theTri Qan[T].

In horror, Hue retreated backwards but Ashram brought his unit closer for a strike. Before the weapon connected, Hue released another six sword bits and constructed a second GN Buster Sword IV. The swords collided in a sickening, forceful brunt.

“Ah, a spare weapon! That was brilliant but IT WILL DO YOU NO GOOD!!!”

"Tsk! I won't use the Quasar System on you! Enough deaths has been caused already!!"

The Unicorn was on the aggressive offense. All Tri Qan[T] managed to do was to defend itself.

Ashram shouted, “All of your attacks are pulled straight from standard battle procedures! In an actual battle, you need to make unexpected attacks in order to win! Looks like you're still a rookie. I honestly have no idea how you managed to survive back there and actually come to this point face to face with me in one piece!!”


Hue was waiting for the recharge cycle to be completed. For the moment, Hue kept up with the offense by getting clear from the strikes.


“Your reflexes are good, but that won’t be enough! Relying on what you see is your fatal weakness!!!”


Amid the fury strikes by the Unicorn, Ashram flung the Minovsky-GN particle complex enhanced blade toward the Tri Qan[T]. However, Hue warded off the ballistic weapon using the sword.


Ashram became aggravated by Hue keeping up with him. Why don’t you die, scum?!


“What a slippery guy you are! In that case, take this!!”


Ashram used a special ability to emanate “faulty” brainwaves. This caused Hue to see countless illusions of Ashram’s mobile suit attacking at the same time. The illusion was almost perfect, which was able to fool the Newtype’s spatial sense and electronic sensors and systems that utilize brainwaves. Hue ended up striking illusion after illusion, whereas the real Unicorn was slowly trailing behind it. Finally Unicorn landed a solid kick behind Tri Qan[T] that sent it to crashing against a huge debris.


With the illusion before him, Hue was on the verge of panic. Concentrate! There is only one unit out there! All you have to do is to find the real one!!! But how?!


Then an idea struck him. He dismantled the sword and brought the sword bits together. After that, he fired a beam shot by combining the bits. The energy streaked toward the Unicorn but went right through. It was, after all, an illusion as well.


Ashram ranted, “You shot the wrong one! HAHAHA!!”


Hue replied, “I did, but the next one’s gonna connect!!!”


The second volley hit the left-most Unicorn, which was the real one. The whole left arm was dismembered and burst into oblivion. The mobile suit reeled backward due to the unanticipated shot.


“But how –?!”


“Since there’s only one true enemy, the one that casts a shadow is the real one!!!” Hue pursposefully made an initial shot to determine which Unicorn casts a silhouette.


Another shot came through, right into the torso and the head. Unicorn’s face was partially destroyed. BLAM!


Ashram brought the Unicorn closer to Tri Qan[T] using the GN Buster Sword IV. But by the time the two swords collided, the Complexio Arx System of Tri Qan[T] managed to take back the GN Sword Bits, freeing it from his control. Hue was elated by this and rushed at the Unicorn, Tri Qan[T] held onto its shoulders and rammed it against a sunken battleship. The force of collision jarred Ashram, causing him to be giddy. His mobile suit slumped against the object.

Ashram saw Fear Gundam's remote weapons floating by. then he thought of an idea.

Tri Qan[T] was about to perform a skewer blow when Unicorn suddenly straightened up. Two large fangs suddenly struck Tri Qan[T] from behind, impaling it. Hue then brought his suit staggering in reverse. But some systems were not responding due to the damage.


“T-the Deus Ex Machina?!”


Stealth Unicorn brought forth its sniper cannon and took aim at the malfunctioning mobile suit. Setting the energy level to the maximum.

"Argh!! The damage... I need to reroute the L.V.T system! I can't yet warp the next shot until it is finished!"

Ashram ranted, “I think I got you this time! You won't be able to warp my beam shot, this fight has been decided… IN THE FORM OF YOUR DEFEAT!!!” He unhesitatingly pulled the trigger.

As the concentrated beam energy approached the Tri Qan[T] , some remote weapons formed a spherical array and glowed off. Manifest Destiny positioned itself between the Tri Qan[T] and the Unicorn.


“MANIFEST GATE!!!”


Ashram was stunned. “Wha –?! The Manifest Gate?! Damn you, Asuka!!!”


The stream of energy dissipated along the edges of the protective barrier, preventing the destruction of Tri Qan[T].

The L.V.T system rerouting is completed. Relieved, Hue asked surprisingly, “W-why are you d-doing this?! Why are you saving me?”


“Shut up!! You’re ruining my concentration!!” came the reply.


Ashram controlled the rest of the large fangs and started to move them toward the Manifest. Asuka could not move his mobile suit at this stage. Hue saw the necessity for him to repay the favor.


[Join me, Asuka!]


[Huh?!]


“LUX VELOCIUS, engage!!!” Tri Qan[T] took hold of Manifest Destiny. The particles engulfed them and vanishes thereafter. What was left in the vicinity was the Stealth Unicorn powering down.


Ashram slammed his fists in displeasure. “DAMN!!! DAMN YOU, ASUKA!!!!”


* * * * *

Aboard Jolly Roger

Inside an infirmary, the two rivals were talking. Each was bandaged due to the injury they inflicted upon each other. But they are far from fighting; they had a long talk about the time past and the current crisis that the world and humanity were facing.

“In the end, we fought for the same goal, but for different reasons.” Astis stood up from the chair and nursed his wound.

Ismail shook his head and said, “I didn’t imagine that we would agree on one thing. We were mere poker chips played upon by the Federation and the Empire.”

“I couldn’t agree more. And you almost got me back then with that Shadow Blitz Special of yours! Hahahaha!”

“Hey, would you mind telling me how did you survive that?!” Ricardo said, grinning.

Astis laughed and replied, “Saint Patrick Colasaur, my friend! Pure luck!”

They had a good laugh at the old times, when the topic switched to the current event. “At the moment, the boys are monitoring the movements and battle going on at the vicinity. We are on combat speed as of the moment, to aid a certain group fighting off the tyranny of the Empire that desires to use the barbarism of the Feddies. They might be fighting a losing battle, but one must not give up until everything falls down, right?”

“Friends of yours?”

Astis shrugged. “You can say that, but… Someone has to stand in between, don’t you think?”

Ismail knotted his brow. “Are you asking me to join you?”

Astis eyed him in return without battling an eyelash, “That is, if you are man enough.”

Silence.

Finally, Ismail spoke up. “I need a mobile suit.”

“Can you say, today is Christmas?” Astis shot back, smiling.

The two went out of the room and, using the lift grip, they proceeded to the mobile suit bay. There before them were mobile suits, of which one of them was covered with tarpaulin, except the head portion.

“That’s a ZAKU unit, right?”

Astis shook his head. “That’s a ZAKU head all right, but it’s not. That’s my personal suit.” Printed on the tarp were the words ‘Crossbone ZAKU’.

Astis led the other man to the edge of the bay. There stored on the rack was a gray mobile suit. Ricardo gaped and said, “Delta Plus!”

He went ahead and checked the unit. After doing so, he turned to the other man. “I guess this ends our rivalry, my friend.”

Astis chuckled. He said, “No. We’ll see who shoots down enemies the most.” Then he turned away.

The other man called, “I would like to ask a favor.”

“What is it?”

“I need a self-destruct sequencer and an ejection seat.”

Astis gave a thumbs-up sign.

* * * * *

READ Episode 13 Epilogue - The Easiest Thing To Fake


Is Drake Howling really dead? What awaits Testarossa, Creuset, and Justaway in space? What will happen between the old-time rivals, Arno and Ismail? Where could Asuka and Hue have gone to? Will Ashram’s deculture bring itself to a fulfillment or a failed closure? Find out in the MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY INTERQUEL Episode 14 – ALLIANCE. You wouldn’t want to miss it.

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