|MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 14 - United|
The reinforcements from Royal Zeon Iberia Base on earth that was led by Richard Testarossa, Chitz Justaway, and Aya Creuset rendezvoused with the supply ships from the empire’s Luna Base, the nearest strategic base of the empire that could replenish its forces currently taking on the Earth Federation’s defense forces protecting the orbital bombardment weapon, Heaven’s Fist. The war in space was fed by the unsettled differences between the Federation and the Empire ever since the War of Pride that marked the commencing of Lost Century era.
The battle turned unfavorable for the Federation, since they were unable to destroy the two-fold attack orchestrated by the Royal Zeon forces, with Lord Claude Ashram in the lead. Operation: Newton had been successful so far and the empire’s elite were on the process of preparing a boarding party to take over the colony weapon, after successfully fending off the Federation’s space forces as well as the renegade group RED ARROW, composed of an alliance by NEU and ORACLE, including the mysterious Gundam-type mobile suit that appeared in the space region.
“This is Royal Zeon carrier, Atlas, IFF code RZ 4 5 7 niner, Rear Admiral Rastani Soci speaking. Requesting initiation of weaponry transfer as authorized by General Tigo Trueno.”
“Acknowledging Atlas IFF. This is Commodore Zhuge Ling of the Brittmoore, Luna Base supply fleet. We also are exultant to accompany you en route to the battle region.”
“Atlas expressing its gratitude to –!”
The conversation was cut short when a wide beam shot was fired against them, hitting one of the supply ships, of which was sunk eventually.
“What in the blazes was that?!?” Soci demanded.
“Stradtholme sunk, Admiral!” a CIC personnel replied.
“Admiral, escort vessel Asahi to the starboard side is dead at the wheel!! At this rate, it will crash into us!”
“Evasive maneuvers! 20o to port, engage reverse thrusters!! Condition Red! Close off all hatches!” the admiral barked.
Immediately a warning reverberated all over the Atlas. “Condition Red issued! Condition Red issued!”
“Sir, a mobile suit group is emerging from the other side of the moon, count, 15! Thermal scanners reveal five Mustang units, and ten Jughos. Must be from their space forces!”
The admiral cursed. “How come they managed to sneak right under our noses without being detected?!?”
“Minovsky concentration has been spiking in this region, sir. Our radar scopes are –!”
“Enough of the excuse!!! Level 3 battle stations!! Prepare for anti-mobile suit combat! Tell the Brittmoore and the rest of the fleet to move away from the line of fire and hide behind us! Cannon turrets, fire in succession! Reset firing delay to 0.5 seconds!”
A weapons system control officer reacted, “But Admiral, our cannons’ barrels wouldn’t hold the pressure of that magnitude! We’d lose our weapons in no tim –!”
“If we can’t hit them, then there’s no hope for us! Atlas is a carrier, not a battle cruiser! We might not be able to survive. Fire the jamming rounds and release the beam charges, stat!”
Some of the ZAKU escort mobile suits started to gather up and proceeded to meet the enemies half-way, but the Mustangs kept on firing from a considerable distance while keeping away from the cannon turret’s range. It was not long till the ZAKUs were destroyed one by one.
Admiral Soci ordered, “Send the rest of our mobile suits!”
The bridge’s monitor screen instantly lit up. “Special Operative Richard Testarossa here. Please recant that order. We will take care of the enemy units, Admiral. Axiom is ready to sortie, as well as the GINN. We have to deliver the reinforcements to the main battle.”
“Admiral Soci, this is Ensign Justaway. Please have the Brittmoore launch the Jagd Doga to the coordinates that I am sending you now. We will protect the fleet no matter what.”
The officer showed a sign of relief. “All right, open the aft hatch! Contact Commodore Ling and send to him the coordinates! Atlas, defensive maneuvers! Full speed, pitch 10o hard to port! Load Hydra missiles! Upon my command, salvo all. FIRE!!!!”
The carrier made a sharp turn as it released the missiles. The Federation units easily destroyed the projectiles, causing a dispersal of smoke in the area. Suddenly from the haze zipped a mobile suit and dashed toward the nearest Mustang. Immediately the Jugho support units moved forward to meet the Gundam. The first unit grabbed its beam saber while the other one fired its beam carbine in a rapid succession.
Axiom continued to dash forward, minding the beam pulses. Being equipped with multi-thrusters integrated all over its structure, the Gundam evaded every single shot. Zipping its way along the attacks, it succeeded in closing in to the enemy. Axiom hoisted the Trikeros shield and rammed itself against the Jugho, shoving the beam saber aside. Reaching for its own saber from the shield, Axiom made a quick slash and cut off the mobile suit in half. Speedily, it then kicked the upper half towards the second Jugho. While the remains exploded, the force knocked the second unit backwards. Above it, Axiom performed a swan dive and skewered the beam saber onto the Jugho’s head.
Richard was then alerted by an incoming attack. The Mustang unit fired its massive gigacannon while setting its barrel configuration to spread fire. Numerous beam energy flashed along the area, engulfing Axiom into its deadly line of fire. Richard released the anti-beam grenades that dispersed a dense blanket of smoke, causing the beam attack’s effectiveness to drop.
Suddenly, amid the haze, a rocket-propelled stinger with its claws wide open whizzed and made its mark onto the Mustang’s chest segment, clenching forcefully. Almost immediately, numerous spikes drilled onto the mobile suit’s armor plates.
Inside the Axiom, Testarossa gave a voice command. “ELECTRIFY!!!!”
At that moment, an energy bank diverted a massive stream of electricity along the stinger cables, discharging randomly along any conductive material near the stinger spikes that pierced the enemy mobile suit’s armor. The current upsurge created a chain reaction that fried the Mustang’s circuitry all over its framework, rendering the Federation unit out of commission. Axiom yanked at the stinger while meeting the doomed Mustang with a swift slice from the beam saber.
BZZZZZT!! BZZZZZT!! KABOOOOOOM!
Meanwhile Aya Creuset closed in on the next group of Federation mobile suits not far away from his position.
* * * * *
“Scramble!! Don’t let any of them get near us!!” ordered the Federation team leader.
The remaining four groups moved away from the area, but Creuset continued to charge in onto the nearest group. With her GINN fitted with the High Mobility Custom specifications plus additional Stürm boosters mounted on the shoulders, calves, and side skirt armor, she managed to catch up with the lagging trio. With the machine guns spewing off solid bullets, the GINN caused a Jugho to be separated from its unit.
“Easy kill!” Aya said, ramming the Stürm control pedal hard. Instead of a physical sword, her GINN was outfitted with a normal beam saber. It lunged forward and made a quick swerve to the right followed by a swift pivotal movement. She was now behind the Jugho.
“Where’s that –?! Behind me!!!” the Jugho pilot shouted, terrified.
The GINN made a diagonal rising gash at the Federation unit’s binder. Seconds later, explosion followed.
Aya saw the Jugho’s assault shield drifting away as the unit exploded. She then reached for it and turned to the direction of the rest. Her quick thinking of using the shield saved her the trouble of dodging the long-ranged attack from the Mustang’s gigacannon. By the time she was near the unit, the Mustang released its missiles. Aya did not flinch an inch. Instead, the GINN tried to hide behind the shield which was starting to disintegrate from the successive attacks. Within the simultaneous detonation of the missiles, the GINN also reached for its grenade canisters on its high mobility binder racks. Both units exchanged fire.
BOOOM! KABLAM!!! BOOOM! KABLAM!!!
Instantly Aya reversed the thrusters and made a sudden stop right before the Mustang. A quick tug of the left control stick caused the left arm to shove the shield toward the gigacannon hoisted on the Mustang’s shoulders, throwing it away. The GINN let go of the shield and the beam saber. Reaching forward, it grabbed the chest armor assembly. Aya landed both the feet onto the lower torso for leverage and heaved hard. She succeeded in stripping off the armor exposing the cockpit underneath. The Federation pilot was taken aback by the unconventional attack.
The GINN launched a communication wire that latched onto the other mobile suit. Over the commlink, Creuset called, “If you know what’s good for you, Feddie pilot, you will emerge from that hellhole of yours with your hands behind your head. And don’t try to do anything stupid or you’d be dead meat before you accomplish anything!!”
The pilot was enraged. She’s a woman?!? My Mustang is hijacked by a mere woman?!?
He came out of the uncovered hatch, shoved his handgun away. Aya thought, Was he thinking, trying to shoot me with that gun?
“Move away!” she ordered. Unknown to her, the second Jugho unit was closing in behind her by means of inertial coasting. With the thrusters off, her radar did not alert her of the heat signature. Since Minovsky particles had been widely dispersed, the pilots had to rely heavily on visual means. Holding a beam saber hilt, the Jugho poised for a swift strike.
As the pilot moved sideward, something caught Aya’s eye. It was a glinting pair of green lights reflected on the pilot’s helmet visor. Lights behind me?!? Those are visual cameras!!
Almost immediately after her realization, Richard screamed over the commlink. “AYA!!!! BEHIND YOU!!!!”
The Jugho was merely 7 meters from the GINN away when a solid object vaulted towards it. The object impaled the mobile suit at its side. But prior to that, the GINN’s beam saber had already skewered it. Upon realizing the danger, Aya aimed to grab the beam saber. Holding the hilt inversely, the GINN shoved it at the rear and effectively drove the weapon through the control cockpit.
The explosion engulfed the area including the Federation pilot. Axiom sped towards the GINN. “Are you all right Aya?!”
“I’m all right, Richard. I swear, I will not be a burden. After all, I am the Crimson Shadow.”
Richard saw that the GINN was still holding the Mustang. He whistled when he saw the armor plate being ripped apart. “What are you planning to do with this?”
Aya opened her hatch and came out. She dashed toward the Mustang’s cockpit and entered inside. “Look beyond, 150 clicks. Justaway’s gonna need some assistance.” She sat on the control seat, checked the operating systems and tried some controls. “Since the interference is unusually high, we cannot contact him from here.”
The Mustang powered up and reached for the gigacannon, which was floating nearby.
“No wonder the Feddies were easy to defeat. Their controls are not ergonomically designed,” Aya observed. “Let’s see what we can do.” With the Mustang powered up, Aya aimed the gigacannon towards the second battle where their ally was taking on nine enemy units at once.
Richard offered, “I understand. I will hurry and assist him at once.”
* * * * *
Chitz Justaway caught up with the three enemy units as it scrambled earlier. He was still adjusting to the new feeling of seated inside a mobile suit that he was not accustomed of. The Jagd Doga was a unit designed for the enhanced Newtypes from the 6th Day Protocol program of the Empire. The selection was to designate a unit to those who successfully emerged at least as a type – B level. Justaway was categorized as a newtype but had not awakened to his powers yet. That is why earlier, he specifically had the funnel dispenser removed. On its place were an auxiliary energy bank and an I-field generator. On its left forearm was a twin-barreled mega particle sub-machine gun, mounted permanently. It was designed that the gun barrels will turn backward when the Jadg Doga was equipped with melee weapons. In addition to that, Justaway had a beam nanigata stored on the back, which was handheld in use. On its side skirts and shoulders were six high output verniers, which made the unit a perfect choice to match Justaway’s combat data.
The three remaining groups intended to intercept the Zeon ships at their trajectory. With their plan foiled, the leader ordered, “If we want to be successful in this mission, we have to take that Zeon unit down. All Jugho units will engage the enemy. Mustang squad, get ahead as fast as you can and ambush the fleet!! Ganbatte, everyone!”
Meanwhile, Justaway was thinking on how to take on the nine mobile suits. He said, “One against nine ain’t so bad… with me being the ‘Grim Reaper’!!!!”
The verniers oscillated on their mountings, enabling the Jagd Doga to thrust forward in almost any position. Reaching for the nanigata, it twirled the beam weapon and created a rotating beam in front of it. By adjusting the output, Chitz had made a perimeter around it, secured by the spinning length of the beam energy.
At the first contact, the Jugho hoisted its assault shield in defense. Sparks flew all around the two mobile suits. The Doga reached forward and pummeled its clenched fist against the sturdy shield. The Jugho in return tried to tackle the other unit. One quick pulse from the verniers positioned the Doga overhead. The particle sub-machine gun barrels faced forward and sent a quick shot on the Jugho’s head. The Doga hurled over and followed it up with a full-length swipe from the beam nanigata which cut the enemy in half. Before it exploded, Justaway was already on the move for the second kill.
A Jugho with a distinct decal, three chevrons, three arcs, and a five-pointed star in between, went forward. The rest of the remaining units kept close, but obviously followed a battle formation. The decaled Jugho stopped in its tracks and extended its beam saber, pointing it against the Jagd Doga.
“Hmmmm, daring me to attack huh?! If I will run after the Mustangs, you will try and stop me, wouldn’t you? Let’s get over this now!!” Justaway sent his unit forward, with the other four coming in to meet it, beam carbines blazing. Four different streams of beam pulses went around the Doga from all directions. Their plan was to obstruct the Zeon mobile suit and overwhelm it with their concerted gunfire. It worked, for Justaway strained to keep clear from the shots.
There was a huge difference from the G-forces felt between the Jagd Doga and the Zypher, since the former was designed for space combat. This new experience greatly affected Justaway, who was still adjusting himself on controlling the suit.
“HRG!!” he strained from the tossing and tumbling. Occasionally, he took hits as the Jughos were doing a good job in keeping him at bay.
The team leader was cautiously calculating Justaway’s movements and at a predetermined coordinates, he simultaneously fired his unit’s beam carbine and the shield’s cannon. “Gotcha!!!”
There was a loud explosion followed by a haze buildup. “You got him, sir!”
Other cheered and said, “Another kill etched on your sleeve, sir!”
The leader smiled. He had killed the enemy.
Or so he thought. For almost no delay, a huge red energy arc from a staff emerged from the smoke. A swift gash went to the nearest Jugho, striking it on its torso with the tip of the curved beam. As if on signal, the others moved clear away from the perimeter.
“It’s still operational!!!”
Justaway smirked, “You think you can kill me? No can do, fools, for I am the ‘Grim Reaper’!!”
The Doga was hit on one of its shield pads mounted on each of the shoulder armor. It launched forward toward the next target, holding the nanigata. One noteworthy of the beam nanigata was that the beam generator could pivot at its axis, allowing it to be configured as a pole weapon or a beam scythe, depending on the necessity of combat applications.
“Grenade barrage!!” the leader barked. Immediately, the Jughos released grenades that discharged jagged pieces of Gundarium material, sprayed onto the Doga’s direction.
Justaway grabbed the manipulator controls that spun the nanigata rapidly while extending the gushing beam. Sparks flew as the fragments were rapidly burned by the spinning barrier. With a quick burst of speed, the Federation units were at the Doga’s reach. It then dashed towards the nearest Jugho and gave a far-reaching thrust from the nanigata. On the receiving end, the Jugho shielded itself using the sturdy assault shield.
Suddenly the Doga somersaulted and went in at a slanting angle, still thrusting the weapon. Another Jugho came in, armed with a beam saber. With a full sideward crescent swing, the Doga cut the incoming Jugho’s arm off while extending its left arm and shot the other one on its upper torso, clear of the shield’s guard. Another kick sent the maimed Jugho stumbling backwards, open for another swiping attack from the staff weapon.
The squad leader was getting angry by the moment. “Unit 4, close in as much as possible!!”
A Jugho hoisted its shield and took a beam saber from its rack. It recklessly went for an offensive strike of which Justaway already anticipated. He did not expect what came afterward. As he parried the beam saber sideways, both mobile suits slammed against each other. Suddenly Justaway saw a bright spark right behind the Jugho. It then froze over, immobile and seemed to be disengaged. Then from the front torso out came a beam energy, surging towards the Jagd Doga’s cockpit section. A beam saber?!?!
“What the hell?!?!” Chitz crazily thought, yanking the forward thruster controls, keeping clear from the weapon’s tip. All of the sudden, the impaled Jugho moved forward and rammed against the Doga for the second time. This time, a beam carbine’s barrel came out from the hole left by the saber, shooting off beam rounds. Instinctively, Justaway brought his suit to evasive maneuvers.
“Insane!!! He killed his comrade to get me?!?!” Justaway exclaimed, obviously not anticipating the move.
The Jugho behind kicked the damaged unit toward the Zeon unit. With a charged shot, the leader caused the Jugho to explode.
While Justaway was disoriented and confused, the leader moved in for an easy attack. “Time to die!!!!”
Before the attack was completed, a beam shot from a distance surged in and hit the leader’s unit. The energy was spread that the beam engulfed the Jugho completely. Seconds later, spontaneous combustion from the sheer heat discharged from the gigacannon took place, which spelled the death of the squadron leader.
Justaway came to his bearings and thought, Who took the shot?! His commlink crackled in the interference but he was able to pick up a transmission.
“Justaway, are you all right?!” It was Testarossa.
“A bit shaken, but I am fine! My suit’s functional as well,” Chitz transmitted. “Was it you?”
“No, it was Creuset. She hijacked a Mustang unit and it seems that she just saved your butt, big time!”
Hijacked?!? Chitz smiled. “I’ll have to thank her, then!”
The last remaining Jugho knew better. It turned to its heels and started to retreat, but Testarossa was already on it, with Axiom hurrying forward. The first stinger caught one of the legs and stopped it from escaping. The second stinger was released but was swung like a chain hammer, with its three claws extended outward. As the weapon connected to the prey, the claws pierced through the chest armor, battering the pilot inside. This maneuver was repeated and it did not take long for the mobile suit to explode.
The three mobile suits were just in time to chase away the Mustang units that were positioning to ambush the supply fleet. Since their mission was clearly a failure, they turned and retreated.
“Good job, soldiers!” Admiral Soci praised, as the Jagd Doga, Axiom, and GINN made a beeline towards the Atlas.
“Just doing a soldier’s duty, Admiral,” Creuset modestly responded.
“We request for immediate resupply and systems check as we come in. We still have a fight ahead of us.” It was Testarossa.
* * * * *
Not far away from the supply ships’ location was a black ship which was following a parallel trajectory en route to the Heaven’s Fist.
Astis Arno seated himself at the helm. “Supply ships. This means that Royal Zeon will succeed in taking over the colony weapon. This is not good.”
Standing beside him was his former rival, Ricardo Ismail. “Not good at all. If your hunch is correct, what will Royal Zeon do next?”
Arno remained silent for a while. “To drop the colony weapon onto earth would cause a huge detonation and a perpetual winter. But even THAT would not ensure that the Federation would be annihilated. They must be planning something more, something devastating and will wipe out the Federation from the face of the earth.”
Ismail skipped a beat and said, “You mentioned something about the Heaven’s Fist’s structural schematics earlier. It was assembled from how many sections?”
“With enough vector thrusters and nuclear pulse emitters to propel them individually?”
“Right.” Arno’s eyes widened at what the other man was driving into.
“Son of a gun,” Ismail said, shaking his head. “Being a former Earth Militaire soldier, I know better. My guess would be the Empire will target the Earth Federation’s six strategic installations. The seat of their power in North America. The main military base in West Africa. The research facilities in Switzerland and Sri Lanka. The mobile suit factories in Petrovakia. The mass driver in –!”
He was cut short by Arno who barked a command. “Jolly Roger to maximum thrust!! All hands on level one battle stations. We have no time to lose! Normal suits ordered! Zudah Scallywags, on standby. Prepare the Cossbone ZAKU and the Delta 2!”
As they sped off toward the mobile suit bay, he turned to his friend and said, “Zeon is making an insane move with the lives of billions at stake. A great amount of destruction is anticipated at the point of impact and its vicinity.”
Ismail crossed his arms. “Then we must hurry.”
Aboard RED ARROW
Every mobile suit pilot gathered around Drake Howling’s lifeless body. Amber La Flaga was crying tearfully, so as Diko Sidhikoro shedding some tears. He knew well the pain of losing a comrade in a battle, but this situation was more difficult. It was a death of his leader, even if Howling was a temporary one.
Nouveau Gardien remained silent. Even Freed Melendrez, who could almost comment in any situation, had not said a single word. Keith Newman was still grasping the old man’s hand, as if coaxing him to come back to life. Everyone was lost for words. The only sound they heard was the flat line beep of the apparatus monitoring his vital signs.
Earlier, the doctor summoned Newman, as the dying man went to a cardiac arrest. It was after the medical team removed a large shrapnel dislodged into his abdomen. Howling’s mobile suit, the Rauwolf, used itself as a shield to protect the Astraeus. As his unit disintegrated from the enormous amounts of output from the Keradjur’s variable speed buster rifle, Howling was mortally injured. He had lost so much blood and that some of his vital organs were damaged by the injury.
The rest of the ORACLE came running into the medical facility. Blau Binder, Talbot Carm, and Mudd Blake shouted their leader’s name. “Drake!!”
Newman started to step outside the room when Binder angrily faced him and grabbed his collar. “YOU!!! Why did you allow this to happen?!? You are the one to blame!!!” A hurrying fist came, menacingly aimed at Keith’s cheek. It was stopped short by Gardien’s palm, gripping the fist.
Everyone was in frenzy when every ORACLE personnel tried to attack the NEU crew. Fists flew everywhere in a heated brawl. Diko jumped ahead to prevent Freed from stabbing Nouveau, who was punching Blau down. Keith had a fist fight against the other two.
Amber shouted on top of her voice. “STOP THIS AT ONCE!!!!”
It seemed to them that a woman’s angry voice was all they needed to calm themselves.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves?! We have a fallen comrade, and yet you take out your frustrations on each other!! If you still have the strength to fight, then let me remind you that the enemy is in THAT direction, and not here!!”
Ashamed, the men let go of their outbursts and calmed down. When they gained their composure, one by one, they left until all that remained was Amber, Keith, and Diko.
“He was a good man,” Keith said.
“Understated, I should say,” Diko replied.
An angry fist thumped hard on the metal wall. “I called him at that instant… but what was he thinking?!? If only ALEX was well-equipped… I could have… I could have at least shoved him from his demise on that moment!!”
Amber finally said, “I’m sorry for trying to put the blame on you, Keith. It was just that all along, Drake was my cousin’s husband… at least I could have given attention to our affinity. If only…”
Diko placed a hand on both of them. “We cannot accomplish anything even if we spend time in irreversible regrets and pointless blaming on ourselves and each other.”
Both of them looked at him. Eagle Eye went on, “For now, we still have to do something about that colony weapon. I know for sure that Drake’s death will have a heavy effect on us but we have a goal that even Drake wants us to achieve. If there would be anger and rage driven by regret on our part, let us direct that towards our known enemies. We owe him much at this point that –!”
“I will help you.”
The three turned toward the door. It was Zyann Nigel. Teary-eyed and continually sobbing, she stood by the door, overtaken with emotions. She was unfortunate to finally meet her father and lost him forever at the same time.
“I will help you destroy that colony, but…..may I grieve for my dad?”
Amber was driven by compassion and sympathy. She ran toward her and embraced the young lady. “Of course, of course, my dear!”
* * * * *
A SWAC ZAKU (Space early Warning And Control) threaded along some random space debris floating around. It was aiming for sufficient cover since mere twenty-one kilometers away was the RED ARROW. The ZAKU pilot moved along the area, searching for a closer proximity.
Suddenly, a large beam shot raced toward the area, disintegrating space debris into dust in mere seconds. The ZAKU immediately moved to a different area. The pilot thought, I’ve been found out!!
A second volley came. This time the shot destroyed the asteroid chunk of which the ZAKU was hiding behind it. Immediately the ZAKU slipped into a sunken cruiser’s fuselage.
“Crap!! That’s no shot from their ship! That’s from a mobile suit!!”
He dared not move an inch for a moment until he deemed it safe to do so. Suddenly his radars went awry as the ship debris started to collapse. A condensed energy shot streaked right beside his ZAKU. Immediately he went out into the open.
This is dangerous!!
Another shot came. This time, it was much thinner but faster. A blue beam helix flowed alongside the yellow beam shot, hitting the ZAKU’s head including the large disc behind it, which functioned as its detection antenna. Two shots raced later, hitting both the ZAKU’s legs.
ARGH!!! A s-sniper shot?!?
Turning around, the ZAKU sans the legs zipped away to safety. It was faster than a regular ZAKU Nightmare since it had a complex booster pack on its back.
Heh! At least I can do a quick getaway! I’m sure that whatever it is, it cannot –!!
He was stopped short by the zipping light to his left. It was so fast that he felt fear creeping all over him when he eyed his instrument panel.
W-what kind of mobile suit it this?!? So f-fast!!
He continued running a straight line, hoping to outrun his pursuer. Suddenly the blazing light made a sharp turn toward him.
N-no, please don’t kill me!!
He saw not a mobile suit but an aircraft-like machine.
I don’t wanna die!!!
Spewing from the aircraft’s rear was a brilliant light in the form of wings.
The light passed through the ZAKU’s torso. It was then followed by the mobile suit’s explosion into oblivion.
On RED ARROW’s bridge, Keith was awaiting reports. One by one, they came.
“Hero Gundam, mission phase 1 complete. But I should have pulled off the finishing move!!”
“Achilles, mission phase 2, complete. Quit whining, Freed. All is well that ends well.”
“NOU Zeta, mission phase 3, complete. Enemy SWAC ZAKU unit, successfully destroyed.” Turning to Freed’s line, Nouveau replied, “Your Gundam cannot possibly overtake that ZAKU, since you’re too slow compared to me.”
“Sometimes, I want to do a Beam Omnislash to this yatsu!!” Freed angrily shot back.
“Enough!!” Diko called. “RED ARROW, we’re returning to base.”
Keith massaged his temples a bit and touched his communicator latched on his right ear. “Okay. RTB.”
Forming An Alliance
Keith, Amber, Diko, Nouveau, and Freed gathered in the situation room to assess the condition and to come up with the next plan.
“Now, I know that you and I are grieving for Drake, but that will have to be set aside. Unless we do something to the Heaven’s Fist, everything that we’ve been fighting for up to this point will all be in vain,” Newman said. They surrounded a conference table that functioned as the monitor.
“As we all know, the Royal Zeon gained the upper hand in this battle. What we were hoping for did not happen, so the question is, how can we take it over? We are obviously undermanned – ” Keith choked for a moment.
Suddenly an alert sounded. The room’s monitor lit to life as a bridge personnel appeared.
“What now?” Freed asked impatiently.
A bridge personnel ignored him but turned to Newman, “Keith, look at this. Our radars do not pick anything as does our visuals, but the marker drones that we left have detected several massive movements in their vicinity and it appears that whatever it is, it’s trailing us.”
“Has the enemy found us?” Amber worriedly asked.
Gardien replied, “Hardly, because we’ve monitored every single movement in the colony’s perimeter. Whoever this is, must be someone else. Whether a friend or foe, we don’t know.”
* * * * *
Astis Arno said to his crew, “Disable the cloaking system! Establish a laser communication to them.”
The Jolly Roger came into visual range and started to slowly coaster toward the RED ARROW. Keith ordered immediately, “RED ARROW, prepare for anti-ship combat. All pilots, prepare to sortie! We –!”
Suddenly a forced video transmission came through. Almost simultaneously was that the black ship released a white flare, signaling them of “no hostile intention”.
“This is Astis Arno of the Pirates, leader of the Jolly Roger. Renegade ship, please respond!”
Everybody froze in their seats. “What will we do, Keith?” someone asked.
“Turn the ship around. Have the dual hyper mega beam cannons prepped for immediate deployment when signaled to do so. CIC, open a commlink.”
When the linkup was established, the CIC personnel gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign.
“This is Keith Newman of the RED ARROW. We identify ourselves as an ally neither of the Empire nor the Federation. Having said that, our intentions can already be deduced. Who are you and what are your intentions? Identify your combat affiliation and objective. Please be advised that the ship’s dual cannons are deployable in mere seconds and will be aimed at you, should you try to do something funny.”
The other man replied, “Fair enough, as our microwave buster cannons are as well pointed at you. But now we know your intentions, I think we can civilly disengage our armaments and talk about what is much more urgent than looking at each other down the barrel of the gun.”
Keith turned to some who were still with him. Diko shrugged and said, “If they intend to shoot us down, they could have done it earlier.”
“Okay, Mr. Arno, we have a deal.”
After some preliminaries, a boarding party from the Pirates came aboard the RED ARROW; Arno, Ismail, some of Arno’s close associates who function as his bodyguards. In the main hall, Keith met them, joined by Amber, Nouveau, Diko, and Freed. The two men came forward and exchanged hands.
“We, the Pirates, function similarly with your faction, though we might have different ideals and goals. But for now, I believe that we have the same intent concerning that colony weapon.”
Keith gave out a subtle grin. Gesturing the Pirates to follow him to a strategy room, he said, “I think so, too. For now, we are trying to think about something, a plan that will work. The magnanimity of the situation indicates that we need all the help we can get. The problem is what to do.”
The door hissed open while the group entered the room. Astis asked for permission to use a computer terminal.
“We already have a hunch as to what Royal Zeon would do.” The display on the monitor showed an extensive illustration of several possible options that the Empire would engage. Everyone from RED ARROW was stunned to see the level of gathered intelligence being shown to them.
Freed let out a whistle and muttered, “Mind-boggling…”
Of which Diko replied, “Even Black Wing can’t do as much without money involved.”
“Ugh! The gods of war…” Gardien said, somewhat indignant.
Keith finally said, “How did you get information as creepy as this? From the looks of it, this is a level 8 classified information.”
Astis simply replied, “The Pirates is a group disillusioned soldiers, men and women of both the Federation and the Empire. We have seen the vanity of these two forces going head-to-head against each other, which countless lives snuffed out with more coming. And all of these for what? For the preservation of Mother Earth? For the goals of Royal Zeon? All these two factions do is racing on who’s going to the top, with the entire humanity as their collateral damage.”
His last sentence hinted an enraged tone.
“I guess all of us are, because we also fight,” Amber said. “I mean, it is not bad to think for the betterment of humanity and we should fight for the reasons we think is right. But to fight at the expense of the ones you are fighting for, then you miss the whole point.”
Finally, a man behind the Pirates spoke. He wore a different uniform from the rest, setting him apart. He said, “That is why we need to form an alliance to fight off this menacing force, because if we don’t…”
Amber asked, “Who are you?”
It was Diko who put in, “That’s the renowned Ricardo Ismail of the now-defunct Earth Militaire’s 19th tactical mobile suit corps.” With those words, Ricardo looked at him.
“We once crossed paths before. Actually we fought in a battlefield years ago. You might recall ‘White Ark’.”
Ricardo’s eyes hinted recall. “I remember you. From the 77th Strike Team. You’re that edgy pilot of that yellow Gundam. Yeah, we’ve crossed paths…”
Both men shook hands. “It’s golden, not yellow.” The other man chuckled.
To answer Amber’s bewilderment, Diko turned to her and said, “We were on different sides and we fought with our lives and our beliefs entrusted to our mobile suits. But that was long time ago.”
“Wow. What a sight, to see your former enemy alive. That means you two suck at fighting,” Freed taunted, laughing. The two men glared at him.
“Men, this is no laughing matter,” Keith said. “We are glad to have you among our ranks, Shadow Blitz.” Ricardo was taken aback slightly with this declaration.
“Well, we also have our way of gathering intel,” Newman said apologetically.
The group proceeded into the planned major offensive against the colony. Everyone was assigned with strategic and tactical roles as there were many outcomes anticipated in the battle. At times, they were discussing or arguing until at last they came up with an agreed plan.
“Whew, what an elaborate plan.” Astis gently massaged his forehead.
Freed said, “Do you think this will work?”
“Only if you don’t screw up. Besides, the battlefield will be too much for a shounen like you.” It was Gardien, who walked away.
* * * * *
After the Pirates disembarked the RED ARROW and returned to Jolly Roger, Keith searched for Zyann, whom he had not seen for a while. He checked the ship and finally, the computer indicated that she was in the mobile suit hangar.
He found her inside the badly damaged remains of Rauwolf. She was clutching Drake Howling’s helmet. Its insides were smeared with blood, the protective glass smashed. On its left side was the decal “Basura, Inc.”. What struck her was the underside of the foam inside the helmet where the name “Nigel” was printed.
No doubt that HE was my father!
She reached for a button on the side console. Since the mobile suit had auxiliary batteries, some equipment still worked. A five-inch monitor to the pilot’s side lit up and played a short video log of the pilot’s recent sortie. She saw her father, with long gray locks seated onto the pilot seat. After the restraining belts were in place, he looked into the cockpit camera.
“July 13 LC 0045. I’m getting all jittery with this sortie but we need to do this. This is not for heroism but to protect the ones you love…” Drake stopped momentarily. “I won’t die until I find my daughter. Zyann…”
She was overwhelmed with emotions.
“…daddy’s coming for you. Just you wait…”
She could not longer compose herself, so she cried hard.
“Zyann, what are you doing all alone here?”
“Trying to find something about my father, I guess. It’s unfair that when we finally found each other, we are eternally separated.”
Keith sighed and thought, I’m sorry, Zyann. I did not expect the old geezer to die…
“Zyann, not all things in life are fair. Others came into existence with fate not on their side. But they fight. They do not give up, they do not accept their lot in life like there’s nothing that they can do about it. Come, I want to show you something.”
He extended his hand to her. She took it and went out of the cockpit.
To their right was the MS rack for Rauwolf. Its weapons were winched on either side. It was the “Iron Curtain” attack shield. The other one was the special rifle.
“In a few moments, RED ARROW will launch an offensive against the Royal Zeon. We will be aided by our newly found allies. The battle will be intense, unlike any other battles that I made you participate with before. But Drake, no, John believes in our aim, our goal… In spite of what happened, I know that it’s John’s goal as well.”
The two floated in mid-air and went to a platform where a computer started up. Keith continued, “I have already done my homework and saw the compatibility of Astraeus Blaze with Rauwolf’s armaments.”
Her eyebrows knitted in curiosity.
“That’s no surprise, actually, since Astraeus and Rauwolf were developed by the same company: John Nigel’s salvaging company.”
Zyann looked at Keith. He answered, “Yes, little girl. I ask you to help us in the battle.”
It took a rather long time for her to decide. “All right, ojii-san. For my father’s sake…”
Taking Over The Heaven’s Fist
[Cue to “Breaking All Illusion” BGM]
It was two hours after the Empire’s forces had mostly destroyed the Federation units; they had regrouped and positioned their remaining ships into a pre-attack formation in the direction of quadrant four from Heaven’s Fist’s point of view. The initial attack earlier supervised by Lord Piotr Heimlich was considered a success in the phase one of Operation: NEWTON. Since Punishment was sunk earlier due to the firing of the colony laser, Lord Claude Ashram, the Crimson Striker, Scythes of Death, and the Frontal Squadron had boarded the Zeon super carrier Atlas, which had just arrived together with supply ships from the Empire’s Luna base to replenish the surviving units with ammunition and fuel.
Mobile suit repairs and maintenance procedures started immediately. Keradjur sustained damages, as well as the others from the battle against the RED ARROW. Immediately the repair crew hastened their efforts in preparation for the next attack. Some engineers were poring over a spare Minovsky fusion reactor, making all sorts of adjustments and modifications to equip it onto the Crimson Striker unit.
By then, Atlas had a distinct marking which could be detected among Zeon radars, meaning that the super carrier had become the Empire forces’ flagship. Also arriving into the battlefield were the Crimson Shadow, Zeon’s Silver Fang, and Grim Reaper, who at the moment were assigned under Commodore Zhuge Ling of the Brittmoore.
The first phase lasted six hours, which resulted to roughly 81% of the Federation’s space forces being wiped out. The Empire also suffered heavy losses as their Iberia base was razed, affecting much of the reinforcements sent into space. Nevertheless, the turn of the tide was shifted in favor for Royal Zeon, with many of them wondering how it happened, since they were obviously beaten in numbers by three to one. Most of them were saying that it was a miracle. But Lord Ashram only smiled, amused by their opinions.
After the pleasantries, phase two of the operation went underway. A communications network among the ships was established to make remote conferencing possible. They used cables in the connection to avoid radio wave detection from the enemy.
“The Heaven’s Fist is almost at our reach! Noble soldiers of Royal Zeon, never falter! Uphold your pride as Zeon. Every move and action we make is a step closer to our beloved Empire’s ideals, so we will show these earthnoids that we will not be silenced, no we won’t! We have held back but this time, we unbridle ourselves to give in to our full might! Because in this war, the one who is right is the victor!!!” Ashram emotionally spoke to their forces.
Behind him, Magnus silently thought of his dissent, How dare you speak about Royal Zeon’s ideals!!
Ashram began to cover the battle plan in detail. “At 0600 hours, the selected units of the Frontal Squadron will approach Heaven’s Fist from its rear while the rest of our forces will close in to the effective firing range of our cruisers’ cannons while keeping away from the laser cannon’s compression chamber. Following the third wave of cruiser fire, the mobile suit squadron will launch in sequence to occupy the colony’s perimeter. Crimson Striker will lead the entry team/attack squad inside and destroy any resistance put up by the Federation, though I doubt if there will even be one. He will then head to the control hub at point G8 and takes all controls from there, disabling all external defense systems. All units will await real-time orders!”
Magnus then took his cue. “For this entry mission, the Amadasuka twins will accompany me, as well as Ensigns North and Seven. Everyone else in the squadron will be the lead attack units in addition to providing perimeter for our cruisers to fire at point blank.”
“Sir, intelligence reports reveal that there are civilians inside the Federation colony. Will our attack be discerning to –!” Seven asked Magnus.
Ashram emotionlessly interjected, “Oh, do tell me please, soldier, how you can determine whether a person is a civilian or a Feddie soldier in this situation.”
His sarcasm made Magnus clench his fist. This is an outrage!
* * * * *
In the Atlas’ holding bay were four prototype mobile armors, the Dyaus Varous, a necessary catalyst for the capture of Heaven’s Fist. It was essentially an empty shell, in which a mobile suit would be connected and where the most skilled pilot would take control. Each mobile armor was capable of transporting five units. The Dyaus was a stepping stone to another, slightly smaller mobile armor that Zeon was developing, and these prototypes were a bonus.
The Keradjur completed its resupplying and subsequent repair, and slowly it was lifted into the mobile suit cavity of the Dyaus Varous. Several plugs jacked in firmly to Keradjur’s entry systems, and control over the mobile armor was transferred to the mobile suit. The Keradjur’s program synced with that of the mobile armor, and soon enough the process was complete, and a shield closed over the Keradjur. The four ZAKU Nightmares were attached in a circular fashion towards the rear bays of the Varous. The same procedure was completed with the other three Varous units.
Over the commlink, Magnus briefed his team once more, despite having complete faith in their abilities. There will be no loose ends on this mission.
“In 4 minutes, we will be venturing into the dragon’s lair, and I want you to listen up. The Dyaus pilots; Shinn, Shiro, North, Seven, stay sharp. After the first wave of cannon fire, our units will stray away from the Atlas on this course. We travel beneath the subsequent waves of beam shots and separate here, then Dyaus 1 and 2 will travel along the Colony’s A-0 and A-a block, while Dyaus 3 and 4 will head for the A-1 and A-r block. Eliminate all obstacles. We cannot fail this mission, understood?!”
* * * * *
0600 hours came at last. As the Royal Zeon forces advanced toward the colony weapon, tension on the bridge was thick and noxious. The stakes were rising exponentially, and Royal Zeon’s cruiser forces have been reduced from 113 strong to a mere 52 surviving ships. Both sides had incurred great loses, and the Zeon soldiers aboard the Atlas all had more to lose.
Perhaps the only person indifferent to this atmosphere was Lord Ashram himself, and he simply gazed out the plexiglass windows of the Atlas, awaiting 0600 hours, the events during which held one of the final pieces to his grand puzzle. His eyes narrowed and he let out a sly smile. The hour approaches.
The commencement to the attack on Heaven’s Fist had begun. Following the arrival of 0600 hours was the countless of streaks of blinding beams that streaked through the dark void relentlessly. The darkness of the universe was suddenly torn apart by a flash of lighting. Space mines that stood in the way of the Zeon forces were obliterated, and without hesitation the Federation forces returned fire. Satellite guided missiles propelled through the vacuum in retaliation, and most were destroyed by the second volley of cannon fire of the Zeon ships. Ashram gave the order to advance to the point of designation. Cautiously the cruisers inched forward, steadily and surely, constantly defending themselves from bombardment from Heaven’s Fist’s defenses and also the fierce counter attacks of the Federation’s remaining ships.The various surviving vessels of Royal Zeon opened fire with their main cannons. The attacks were coordinated to fire one after another with only a fraction of a second difference between shots. At first, there was a spontaneous explosion in the colony’s perimeter. The space mines in the area were cleared in no time.
One beam after another wiped out the groups of satellite-guided missiles that launched from Heaven’s Fist, blowing them to space dust. After the ships’ main cannon fired its third volley of shots, their linear catapult system began to sequentially launch mobile suits into battle. They were met, however, by what was left of the Federation’s mobile suit squadrons. The remaining Mustangs were gathered near the colony and attached their gigacannons directly to its power network. With enormous amounts of energy at their disposal, it was an added firepower on the Federation. In their deployment, the ships could no longer come nearer as they would be met with a stringent shot from one of the gigacannons. The ZAKUs’ mobility enabled the mobile suit units to close in, but was met with defiance from the Jughos. The colony’s defense armaments including the Active Denial System (which discharges microwave pulses) worked overtime in keeping the invasion at bay.
The satellite-guided missiles that had managed to evade the cruiser fire started their engines and moved towards the fleet. Two Zeon ships were subsequently sunk. Both sides continued to fire away, inflicting damage against each other.
Ashram, growing impatient as their forces were thinning by the minute, contacted Crimson Striker, “What’s the status of the boarding party?”
“We are nearing the port access. This won’t take long, my lord.”
* * * * *
Forty minutes into the desperate struggle, two Zeon ships had been lost, with only one Federation vessel successfully destroyed. The rest cowered in the shadow of the massive colony. Mobile suit teams from both factions started to sortie as cruiser fire thinned, and the ZAKU Nightmares clashed ferociously with Mustangs and Jughos. Engrossed with the frontal assault, the Federation failed to notice the black silhouettes slip across the Federation’s defense line. Magnus was now fast approaching his target.
For a mobile armor as big as the Dyaus Varous to go undetected for several miles past the battle fields was already a huge feat and a bonus, but as it crossed the third defense line, its luck ran out, and the Frontal Squadron now faced heavy assail from Mustang units. As Magnus swiftly maneuvered the Dyaus away from beams of the Giga Cannons, he marveled at the Dyaus’ sheer firepower and mobility. He gave off quick bursts of beam shots that sank into the Mustangs, of which detonated within seconds of impact, all the while dodging space debris and beam streaks. The rest of the Dyaus units were doing a little less well; units 2 and 4 had suffered extensive damage to the rear boosters and to the fuselage. Lucky clean hits from the Giga Cannons they were.
Teams that stood in the mobile armors’ paths were decimated, and by 0709 they had docked successfully in Heaven’s Fist. They alighted the Dyauses and proceeded inside, fully armed to the teeth, mentally prepared to take over no matter the stakes.
The Red Siren
The action grew intense by the moment, but Heaven’s Fist seemed impregnable due to the battle’s close proximity to the colony. A special kind of gas had been released that significantly reduced the effectiveness of the cruisers’ beam-based main weapons. Since the defensive weapons of the colony were connected directly to its power supply, the Federation could fire faster and more powerful than what the Zeon ships could yield. This situation became crucial since Royal Zeon units would eventually be defeated if the battle would be dragged further.
Suddenly, one ZAKU broke formation and fearlessly charged towards the enemy lines, where the battle was most intense. Despite being a grunt mobile suit, it was moving almost perfectly, like an acrobat, doing flips and turns in evading the enemy fire. Pretty soon, it caught the attention of some Jugho squads of three units, which immediately went in pursuit of it.
The pilot thought, You may think that I’m your easy prey, but when cornered, preys become feral…
The ZAKU turned around to face its pursuers. The pilot shrieked, “…but this time, the prey becomes the predator!!!!!”
The foremost Jugho became the object of the ZAKU’s wrath as a beam tomahawk spun toward it and lodged deep into the chest. Prior to its explosion, the ZAKU grabbed the beam carbine held by the downed unit and armed itself with it. Landing its feet on the Jugho’s backside, it used the mobile suit as a springboard platform towards the incoming unit.
With the use of its boosters, the ZAKU landed a firm stomp on the second Jugho’s head and somersaulted over while pulling the carbine’s trigger once. The shot hit its back, rendering it out of commission. It then turned around and launched its missiles while simultaneously firing the Vulcan guns at them. The missiles exploded in the area, temporarily blocking the other Jugho’s peripheral view of the combat. Meanwhile, the unit dived beneath the infernal globe and positioned itself inversely beneath the others.
“Eat this!!!” the pilot menacingly looking at the targets with the crosshairs locked into one.
The carbine was then configured to fire in a rapid succession. However, the pilot was unaware of the recoil force generated when the weapon was set in its current mode, as the ZAKU held onto it with just one manipulator. By the time the carbine was fired, the ZAKU waved it around crazily.
“What the –?!?” the pilot exclaimed out of sheer surprise.
The shots went all around the place; the Jughos started to scramble out of harm’s way. But in one freak coincidence, a single shot managed to hit a Jugho from below, piercing through its armor where it was thinly outlaid and penetrated the fuel tanks.
The pilot finally got the hang of the beam carbine; the ZAKU reached for the side handle with its left manipulator. Easily it took down another unit, riddling its frame with beam holes.
Out of ammo?!
With the carbine’s energy capacitor depleted, the ZAKU reached for its own rifle and threw the empty weapon away. For a moment, they exchanged fire.
“You pests! Scoot aside for a bit and let us through!!”
A spray of beam descended upon the ZAKU from above. Immediately, the pilot nudged the control stick to the left with a little amount of push on the thruster pedal, keeping the unit away from harm with the beams zipping merely a few feet away.
The pilot mocked, “Your scopes are off!! Do better!”
One irked Jugho with a slight difference in colors hurried toward the ZAKU. It was a squadron commander coming in riding its assault shield like a surfer. The shield’s cannons spurt a continuous beam flow while the Jugho fired several power shots from the carbine.
The commander cried via the commlink, “Don’t think highly of yourself because I will show you that you are nothing!!!”
Right before they collided, the Jugho took the shield and hoisted it upright to ram itself against the ZAKU, hoping to knock it away spinning out of control. However, the ZAKU flipped backwards, kicking the shield off.
“What the –?!?” the commander uttered in disbelief.
Immediately, the ZAKUs thrusters roared to life, catapulting itself toward the Jugho. It rammed itself onto the enemy’s torso using the huge curved spike on its shoulder armor. The spike went right through the Federation unit’s armor, ultimately into the cockpit area. What was left of the commander was somewhat pulpy and gross.
Finally the other Zeon units arrived, driving off the enemy. There was a break of formation along the Federation lines caused by the ZAKU, of which the Empire forces tried to capitalize.
Ashram was very well-pleased with the turn of the tides, as he observed the battle from a distance. I have respect to those who prove themselves in the light of Zeon’s ideals!
He established a communication linkup with the forward commandeering units. “All units, proceed to the broken formation!! We’ll take our chance there! Don’t break the siege position! IKUSO!”
To the carrier, Ashram inquired, “Admiral Soci, give me the data of that ZAKU pilot who made an opening.”
It took a few minutes for the information to be relayed in the battlefield. Finally on Claude’s monitor, the pilot’s data information was displayed. He was utterly surprised to read the pilot’s name: 2nd Lt. Sheila Lou Asuka. He read further that Sheila Lou had a brother in the service.
This is unexpected but a diamond find! Hmmmm, I can think of endless possibilities about this, starting off with getting back with that traitor, Lucien Asuka!
He then relayed back, “As soon as the battle is finished, have THIS pilot report to me personally.”
“Granted, my lord”
Five lights moved in darkness towards the rear opening of the Heaven’s Fist.
“Entry team, scramble. Switch field of view to omni-directional sweep. Watch yourself; we’re heading into hostile territory.”
As if not to disappoint Magnus’ words, numerous movements were suddenly detected.
The entry team was met with retaliation brought by several mobile suits, including the cannon turrets guarding the rear. Magnus gave the order, “Bogeys at eleven o’clock! North, Seven! Don’t stray away! Don’t let any of their beams lay a finger on you! Scythes of Death, make an opening!”
Finally, the twin’s mobile suits started to slow down, as their power reserves were almost depleted. Shiro then gave a notification, “Recharge cycle starting. First mission item complete, Captain Alexandersson, sir!”
Keradjur caught up with them together with the ZAKUs. Magnus looked back at the onslaught wreaked by the twins. He felt sorry for the pilots, but was relieved as many of the Jughos were not utterly destroyed. Some were sliced into two, but most of the cockpits remained intact.
“Good work, team! We’ll go in as plann –!”
A volley came and streaked along their location, hitting Seven’s ZAKU unit. It spun crazily as the impelled beam hit its shield, destroying it completely. Luckily, the mobile suit was safe.
“Seven!!” Magnus shieked, as North’s ZAKU went after the downed unit. “Provide cover for him, North!”
“I’m on it!”
Who’s firing?! Crimson Striker eyed his view sharply. He saw some beam turret platforms zeroing on them. Mentally taking note of every turret in his view, Magnus then pulled a trigger. A Newtype flash descended upon him as he immediately shouted, “Funnel missiles!”
Keeping his mind focused on the determined targets, Magnus controlled the missiles while making them dodge the anti-missile shots. Finally the remote weapons took down their marks.
BOOOM!! BOOOM!! BOOOM!! BOOOM!!
With the retaliation taken care of, the Zeon entry team came to a closed docking entrance. Another layer of heavily-clad steel covered the opening. Keradjur went forward and raised the variable speed buster rifle. With one shot, the barricade was blown away.
“Frontal Squad, in position!”
“Okay,” Crimson Striker responded. “We will proceed as the rally points indicated. Frontal Squadron, finger on the trigger! Ikke!”
The ZAKUs immediately entered the access, which traced deep into the colony’s internal shafts. The mobile suits followed a maze that finally exited into the huge cavity of the structure. The area inside the colony served as the compression chamber for the Heaven’s Fist. But they were greeted with eerie silence.
“This doesn’t feel right…” Shiro worriedly commented.
Shinn replied, “It’s too silent inside in here… I wonder if the Feddies have already abandoned this facility.”
“But they’re still putting up a fight outside, and for the sake of our comrades slowly massacred by the minute, we need to hurry!” Magnus barked. “Shiro, Shinn! Follow my lead!”
Keradjur landed onto the platform below followed by the ZAKUs. In kneeling position, the mobile suits opened their hatches, their pilots floating in zero gravity. Since Heaven’s Fist was in combat, the colony stopped spinning at its axis, hence the absence of gravity. Magnus, Shiro, and Shinn were each armed with an assault rifle. Retrograde thrusters unfolded behind them and propelled the trio toward the sliding gate.
Magnus said, “North, Seven, provide a perimeter should anyone engage. Got it?”
As the battle raged on outside, the Frontal Squadron were venturing deeper into the labyrinth that is the Heaven’s Fist main complex. Aided with intricate maps and clear instructions that were displayed on their helmet screens, they advanced hastily, aware that they cannot take much longer.
Finally, Federation soldiers exchanged fire with the entry team. Countless bullet casings drifted through the zero gravity environment, and the pristine condition of the interior compound was tarnished by bodies, blood and charred dents.
The three entered the gate. Inside, there was a momentary hiss while the pressure equalized with the vacuum. After removing their helmets, they skimmed along the halls, with the twins shooting down everyone whom they met along the way. Magnus was bothered with what was happening. This is not war, this is bloodbath.. Damn that Ashram, making us perform butchery!!
Shinn checked a small positioning tracker on his wrist and said, “The control hub is up ahead.”
From this point on, they communicated with hand signals. Shiro and Magnus positioned themselves on each side of the hub opening as Shinn kneeled and strafed, rifle cocked. His twin placed a small contraption that made an electronic interference on the lock. Seconds later, the red light that signified lock status turned into green.
With a small nod from Shinn, Shiro opened the door. What followed was pandemonium.
Hundreds of bullets zipped toward the opening, ricocheting all around as they hit solid metal. Shinn could have been shot to death, had it not for Magnus who gave him a kick which sent him out of the line of fire. He bumped against the wall and lay on the floor. The three took cover.
“Suddenly my life flashed before my eyes…” Shinn muttered, obviously dazed. Shiro knelt beside him and worriedly asked, “Shinn, are you okay?!”
His brother shoved him aside. “I’m fine, alright!!” Incensed by the attack, he grabbed a flash grenade from his belt and threw it inside.
Tink, tink! BAM!
The trio cautiously head back to the door. What happened next was absolutely unexpected.
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
Magnus’ eyes grew wide. Confused, he said, “What was that?!?”
He made a gesture to Shiro, of which the other person understood. Holding his rifle firmly, he slightly peered at the door to check what was happening. In his disbelief, he stood up and pointed his weapon on the man left standing amidst the dead bodies. Magnus immediately followed after giving orders to Shinn to guard the door.
“Throw away your gun and put your hands behind your head, NOW!!” Shiro shouted in warning. Magnus also aimed his rifle toward the man. Splayed on the floor were the Federation soldiers including the control hub personnel, lifeless, each with a bullet hole on their heads. From the looks of it, the man standing shot them all to death.
“I’m warning you, if you won’t comply –!!”
“Hurry with your mission!” the man said, urgency reflected in the tone of his voice. “There’s no time to lose.” He then pushed several buttons, which disabled all defense systems of the colony.
The computer’s synthesized voice sounded. “Weapons and armaments, deactivated.”
Magnus warily approached the man. From his uniform’s insignia and decorated colors, Magnus deduced that he’s a Federation captain. But what astonished him most was when he saw the man’s eyes glinting red. The distinct red halo was glowing bright in contrast to the room’s lighting.
It… i-it can’t be!! This man is an enhanced Newtype!!! How could an enhanced be among the Federation’s top officers?!? Could it be that…someone is using him?!
“Who are you?!” Magnus demanded. Upon hearing the captain, Shiro replied, “Are you referring –!”
A raised index finger silenced him, as the Federation officer whispered before Magnus, far from Shiro’s hearing.
“In this world, Magnus, some sacrifices are to be made. I am prepared to do what is necessary to reach our goal. How about you? How far would you go?” The officer then smiled in a wicked manner and started to laugh.
A thought struck Magnus. COULD IT BE HIM?!?!?
With the engineers and soldiers silenced, Magnus took over and inserted a device into the computer jack. Red windows and icons materialized along the screens with a klaxon sounding briefly before it ended as abruptly as it had begun. They were inside the system.
Magnus readied himself to give the computer the command. Is it worth it? With slight hesitation, he deftly manipulated the controls relayed the order into the microphone. “Proceed with protocol number Z9-000 and A2-1159.”
From there, the hub lights turned to red. The computer took a second to process this, and its synthetised voice replied, “Protocols accepted. Colony defenses deactivated. Colony purge sequence will commence. Estimated preparation time for complete purge; three hours, seventeen minutes. Please evacuate Heaven’s Fist immediately.”
The last statement was cycled on the PA system repeatedly. They had done it, but for Magnus a strange sense of unease occupied him. Do you really believe it is worthit all, Magnus?! he thought.
This was followed by an ever-increasing tremor all over the colony. The monitor then lit up with the schematic diagram of the colony’s position. From the display, it was clear that the colony was starting to move. The officer proceeded in explaining the schematics.
The Federation captain said, “Heaven’s Fist will purge its six main structural sections. The five sections composing the cylindrical structure will one by one detach and start to move in their preset trajectories. The sixth section made up of the central shaft and the rear section will ram earth with the nuclear reactor clusters. We will hit the Federation’s installments and successfully defeat them in one blow.”
After hearing all this, chill crept up Magnus’ spine, the same feeling that he experienced when Surabaya was destroyed completely. Billions of people’s lives will be snuffed in one shot!
Overcome with his conscience, he hurried to the console and tried to override the system and stop the protocol. Suddenly, the officer’s gun nudged his right temple.
“DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH A SINGLE BUTTON, MAGNUS!!”
“Captain!” It was Shinn, who just entered the control hub since no resistance came. The twins raised their rifles.
Whispering, the Federation officer angrily said, “You will not humiliate me, Magnus! You will not!!”
The red glint of the man’s eyes turned brighter. It was followed with a sudden headache surge that Magnus felt. His body felt cold and numb suddenly.
“ACKKK!!!” Magnus shrieked in pain. Wh-what’s this?!? This is definitely a b-brainwave feedback! But w-who’s pressure it t-this?!?
As Magnus succumbed on the floor, Shinn, the trigger-happy one, pulled a shot.
One bullet took the Federation officer’s life, with a bullet embedded into his skull. He fell on the floor. Almost immediately, Magnus felt relieved. He hurriedly stood, realizing the danger when the purging sequence starts.
“Let’s get out of here! It’s no longer safe inside! Hurry!”
The trio scrambled towards the exit.
“Who was that?! Was he one of our spies?” Shiro inquired.
Magnus dismissed him by saying, “I don’t know.” But there’s someone who knows, definitely!
He turned to Shiro and said, “Inform Lord Ashram of our success.” Moments later he disappeared from the room, apparently to check on the mobile suits.
* * * * *
“My lord, the Frontal Squadron has reported in. The defense weapons of the colony have been deactivated!” Admiral Soci reported. “Our forces are routing the remaining units. We have won this battle!”
Indeed, the battle outlay revealed that red dots in the combat area were decreasing in numbers.
“I have given order to begin sweeping the beam turrets and their weapons platform, my lord.”
Ashram replied, “Okay. Have our forces regroup, start with the search and rescue operation for any survivors. Have all the commanders account for their teams. Tally all names and find out who’s missing. We will relocate ourselves to point 06-971-a003. Meanwhile, summon the Crimson Striker and the Frontal Squad aboard the Atlas. Order Commodore Ling that Brittmoore and the Mandate will trail the remaining Federation forces. Have the Crimson Shadow, White Fang, and Grim Reaper come on board. The rest, do resupply operations for all vessels and mobile suits immediately. You’ve all done well.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“And, Admiral,” he added, “Have Ensign Adrian Frost and Lt. Sheila Lou Asuka report as well.”
Reversal Of The Tides Of War
It was 0836 when all the requested pilots assembled inside Ashram’s private office. The room was beautifully adorned with intricate golden insignias of Zeon, and then on a wall directly behind Ashram’s desk was Ashram’s very own symbol, adorned instead in sharp, glossy grey tones. The rest of the room was covered in red black and white drapes and décor, and indeed it was befitting of a man such as Ashram who at present lay seated behind his desk.
There was an awkward moment when Magnus crossed paths with Aya Creuset and Richard Testarossa. Obviously, Aya was excited to see the Crimson Striker, to Richard’s jealousy.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Captain,” Aya said. “I look forward to fight alongside you in the battlefield.”
Magnus eyed Richard for a moment before replying, “The pleasure is not mine, Aya. Why have you come? And you, Richard, I thought I’ve told you to keep her away from participating battles!”
“Captain, with all due respect, I’ve –!”
Magnus looked sternly at the other man. “Can’t you fulfill what you promised to me?!” He manhandled the young officer.
Richard returned a shove. “Don’t dare lay a hand on me, sir!”
“Is that a threat?! Because I don’t like being threatened!”
The young officer whispered in gritted teeth. “I wouldn’t dare threaten you, Captain Alexandersson, but if you push me to my limits…”
“What is this?!” Aya demanded. “What have you two been talking about?”
The two men remained silent for a while. Magnus finally offered, “Aya, it’s not –!”
“You think that you men can just decide everything for me?! Do you look at me as something that you can just toy around as you please?!”
“Aya, no we don’t, okay?” Richard protested. He tried to hold her, but she shoved it aside.
“I don’t want to hear anything from you anymore.” She moved away from them and stood between Shiro and Shinn.
Out of hearing, Chitz muttered, “Like I’ve said… lover pilots are bad omen.”
The exchange of words caught everybody else’s attention. Amused, Ashram shook his head and cleared his throat. Those present stood in attention and awaited his orders, and Ashram studied their faces; their gazes.
After a brief moment, he said, demeanor indifferent, “Do you know why I have brought you here?”
“I assume, that I am able to trust that you are reliable soldiers..no, guardians, of Royal Zeon?”
“That is good.” Ashram’s eyes narrowed and he grinned, interlocking his fingers, angling his back slightly and putting to rest his elbows upon his table.
“I think that all of you are ready for a job, one of the utmost importances. You will lead the charge in the next and upcoming battle to forever crush the Federation.”
“I thank you for all your concerted efforts in the success of Operation: NEWTON. You might be wondering why you are all gathered when our operation was a success. But I reveal to you the true aim of Operation: NEWTON. We will not use the Heaven’s Fist as a deterrent against the Federation, but we will let them taste their own medicine. The true goal of Operation: NEWTON is to divide the colony into six megasections and drop them onto Earth Federation’s crucial installments. That way, we cripple the beast, and take absolute victory easily!”
Some of them gave shouts of victory except Magnus, Chitz, Aya, and Richard. The younger officers’ eyes widened and they looked at each other with some apprehension, then they directed their gaze back at Ashram. Then it seemed to hit the trio at once. “My god… You’re going to use Heaven’s Fist,” gasped Chitz, his face taking an expression of marvel and also disgust.
Justaway commented, “Do you mean that all along, we have been aiming for…this colony drop?!”
Shinn Amadasuka shot back, “Why the sudden surprise? Isn’t it obvious that our goal is supremacy?”
Richard remained expressionless, eyes steeled, and Aya folded her arms and looked to the floor, lost deep in thought. Justaway clenched his teeth and balled his fists, clearly frustrated.
“But at the expense of the people?! That would be ridiculous…no, that’s entirely insane! The Federation works in barbarism to put their yoke onto the nations, and we fought to believe that Royal Zeon will end this outrageous superiority. But we are no better, at this rate!” Chitz said, enraged.
“Shut up, Justaway!” It was Shinn. However, Chitz ignored him.
“And you will fully bear all consequences?”
“What is it to me? Or rather, what is it to you?” Ashram looked at him in the eye.
“Why, you, arrogant imbecile?!” Shinn cursed at Chitz’s straightforwardness. A rushing fist went toward Chitz, of which he dodged from. Before a scuffle could start, Shiro and Richard restrained the two.
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” the Crimson Striker shouted.
The two men composed themselves, straightening their uniforms. Chitz was about to open his mouth to speak, but he was unable to muster any words. It was impossible to argue with Ashram; a man who was infamous for stopping at nothing to attain his goal. But then again, he had already said so much out of line. He reserved the rest of his thoughts, he eased himself and stepped back.
“I apologize. That was improper of me.” Silently, Chitz angrily thought, As soon as I will sortie, I will do everything to prevent this act of carnage!!!
“Apology accepted.” Ashram replied in a tone that gave the impression that the latter incident had never occurred, and he proceeded to carry on with his briefing. It is said that no one could read Ashram, however at that very moment, if one was attentive enough, one would notice a look of absolute fury that sparked ever so briefly in his eyes. The ‘Grim Reaper’ had another thing coming. Ashram gave a subtle brainwave thought to Frost, too faint for any other Newtype to feel.
[I will need you to do something later, Frost.]
[I understand, my lord.]
Later, as they pored over the plan, Ashram turned to an auxiliary battle strategist, “What’s the status of that renegade group?”
“In the heat of the battle, we’ve lost contact of them. Most likely, our SWAC ZAKU was found out and was destroyed, my lord.”
He then turned to the group. “This is the reason why you all are called, so listen carefully.”
The purging of the colony was explained in detail and assignments were given to them. They are to provide defensive actions should the renegades try to destroy the falling colony. The first section was assigned to the Crimson Striker, while the second one was given to Testarossa with Creuset as the support unit, to her indignation. The third section was to be taken care of by Justaway, supported by Frost. The fourth section would be supervised by Ashram himself, at the praise of the group. He will be assisted by a yet unknown lady pilot who was among them in the room.
Ashram presented her before the group. “This before you is 2nd Lt. Sheila Lou Asuka. She is responsible for the collapse of the Federation’s last line of defense which brought us the upper hand in the outside battle.”
He motioned her to come forward.
“Sheila Lou Asuka, I hereby confer to you the epithet, Red Siren. May you untiringly prove your worth for Royal Zeon!”
Everyone applauded except Magnus. Ashram laid his right hand on her head. Quick as a wink, Asuka’s eyes blinked red once. She was now under Ashram’s command at will. KISAMA!! You are using people as your tool!!!
Turning to an aide, Lord Ashram said, “Contact Brittmoore and inform Commodore Ling to refit Lt. Asuka’s ZAKU unit with the Full Armor specs. She will go to battle with me.”
The assigning went on. The fifth and sixth section will be guarded by the Frontal Squadron. Everyone then received their technical data stored in individual information module which they would integrate into their mobile suit’s operating system.
“The time has almost come. Brave soldiers of Royal Zeon, let us show our might before the whole humanity!!” Ashram expressively declared.
After everyone exited the room, he then sat on a chair and bowed his head. Finally! Finally!
* * * * *
Before they left the Atlas, Richard stopped Justaway briefly and asked, “That was a bad move, bro. You should’ve kept those thoughts to yourself.”
To this Justaway objected indignantly. “So you’re telling me that you can accept this sort of atrocity?”
What followed was a pregnant pause, and Richard eased his grip on Justaway’s shoulder and looked at his face for a moment, before turning and giving him a final shred of advice. “Be careful later in the battle fields.”
And with that, the White Fang vanished into the corridors of the ship, disappearing among the bustling crew members. “I think you need that luck more than I do, Richard,” Chitz mumbled.
* * * * *
Back aboard Heaven’s Fist, Magnus recalled his squadron back to the holding bay. He was to relay the new standing orders from the top.
“I’m being dispatched to aid with the drop of Section 1. You guys will be dispatched to Section 5. There will be no backup, as apparently the top brass are confident that you’ll be able to pull the drop off. We leave in 10 minutes! The Dyaus Units will be returned to the Atlas. Prep your mobile suits men; the fragmentation happens in 17 minutes. Stay sharp and don’t let me down!”
“Sir!” they acknowledged, and immediately they scuffled away, running off to perform the duties they had. The twin remained for awhile.
“Bossman, are you good for this?” Shinn asked, raising an eyebrow, bemused.
“You forget who I am.” Magnus mused, and he beckoned Shiro to join them.
“No, just a reminder. Don’t let yourselves down, Sergeants.”
It took Shiro and Shinn a brief while to comprehend what Magnus had just said, and when they did they smiled and hi-fived, ecstatic. “SARGEANT?!? Yahoo!!”
Magnus smiled at their merriment, and he added, “Seriously, you guys got DOM Schnitters and you couldn’t figure out? I expected more from you two.”
“We’ll do our best, bossman!” Shinn announced, and he saluted Magnus, who returned the gesture. “What he means is that we’ll get you a drink when you get back.” Shiro said, ruffling his twin brother’s hair.
“I look forward to it. Now get busy.”
Perhaps years back, he would possess the same energy as those twins had. However on this day, the stakes were ever so higher, and the price was all the more dear. What he was about to do was challenging his morality; however he shoved all his feelings aside for now and just wanted this over with. He had an ominous feeling that hung persistently over him, one of intense familiarity. It’s HIM... It’s got to be.
Defending The Earth
RED ARROW and Jolly Roger cruised side by side as all mobile suit pilots were already strapped on inside their units.
Keith opened a group commlink connection and said, “Our forces are limited! But nevertheless, take them on with the preparedness of one taking on a thousand! Let us do what we can, do what we must, to ensure that humanity will survive from this genocide.”
Astis replied, “Lead on!”
“Laser jamming would be so intense, including the Minovsky interference, so expect that we can only depend on our eyes and instincts,” Diko put in, his experience in combat put into use.
“Make sure your ‘Devastators’ count! We can’t afford a single bomb to go into waste!”
“Roger that!” Everyone replied in unison.
“All units, prepare for sortie!” Keith commanded. “Godspeed!”
First Colony Fragment
Keith Newman checked all his monitors and the container that Gundam ALEX was grasping. It contained ten Devastator remote bombs that would yield an extreme detonation payload. He gave a glance toward the RED ARROW. Why do I get this feeling that this is the last… NO! I will definitely live through this!
His thoughts wandered on his concerns. On display was an approximate trajectory calculated by the computer feed from the Pirates. By rough estimate, this section will drop on the eastern seaboard of La Islas Filipinas! The assessment is that the detonation of a single section will be close to 50 to 60 million kilotons! Not to mention the tsunami afterwards!! I must succeed in destroying this fragment!!!
He made a diagram scan based on the section’s structure and determined the crucial points where the bombs should be planted. Try as he might, he continued to think about Drake Howling, who died in the earlier battle. I’m sorry old man, had I known earlier…
His contemplation was cut short when during his routine scan he detected a heat signature even if it was a faint one. What was that? Could it be a mobile suit?
ALEX came to a full stop, keeping itself hidden among the smaller debris floating along the humongous structure hurtling toward earth.
Without warning, a red mobile suit emerged from crevasse along the colony’s outer structure. The Keradjur!!!
ALEX released the container and sped forward. The other unit went away, following an arched path. Unknown to Newman, Keradjur released several of its loads of funnel missiles without activating it. ALEX continued to tail the red mobile suit until it came clearer to view. Keradjur had installed an auxiliary power reactor but it was carrying two buster rifles. Even though it sustained major damage from the earlier combat, Keradjur, from Newman’s optical assessment, was still battle-worthy, with the severed parts replaced. With his ALEX lacking ranged weapon for the moment, Keith scoured along the debris floating alongside the moving section until he saw a beam carbine.
Just my luck! Let’s see who runs out of luck first, Crimson Striker!!!
On board the other suit, Magnus Alexandersson had already detected the approach of a very familiar mobile suit. He muttered to himself, “Trying to save the world, huh? It seems that we have the same intention, ‘Professor’. Try as I might, I cannot accept such atrocity to be executed in the pretext of Royal Zeon’s ideals… To kill billions of people…No, this is NOT Zeon’s ideals, this is Ashram’s lunacy!”
Meanwhile, ALEX skimmed through space cautiously, trying to close in as much as possible. As the Gundam slipped around the colony section, the red mobile suit was nowhere to be found.
“DAMN! I lost him!”
He was startled when his radar warned of an incoming object behind him. “Behind me?!?” With no hesitation, Keith fired the carbine. To his dismay, it was but a heavily damaged Jugho floating along. Several other Jughos came toward him.
“This is insane…UNLESS –!!”
A beam energy hit the Jughos, bringing them into a spontaneous explosion.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Keith pulled back away from the explosions when his scopes registered of a fast-approaching object detected. “It’s him!”
True enough, Keradjur came in fast, hoisting the variable speed buster rifle and fired high-energy shots. Each time a shot passed through the Gundam, it registered a tremendous heat flux on the radar. “Crap! At this rate, he’ll bake me good!!”
Newman tried his best in evading the incoming shots. And he was utterly surprised that at that point, his opponent had not successfully landed a clear hit on him. Could it be that it’s not him piloting that suit?!
Behind him, the shots that missed hit the first mega-section instead. “What an immense firepower! Can I handle this plight?” He rammed the thruster pedals and dashed toward the attacking mobile suit. Firing the beam carbine, he managed to land hits but they were easily dissipated but the cyclonic layered beam shield. Keith sent the heat pincer forward in a range that made it normally impossible to dodge. But Keradjur was already positioned behind him and gave a solid kick.
“ARGH!” Keith shouted. Surprising speed! Moreover, I don’t see any opening! Just like before!!!
Suddenly, his radars went off crazily as twenty bogeys were detected. “Those types of missiles again?!?”
Keith drove the ALEX forward like he never did before. Behind him, the funnel missiles were raging after his unit. No matter how he swerved sharply to either left or right, the missiles were still trailing behind.
“I must find a hiding place along the colony’s structure!” Keith directed the Gundam toward the colony’s surface.
On board Keradjur, Magnus muttered, “That’s the idea. Run for your life, ‘Professor’.”
ALEX sped along the outer structure while the missiles gathered together and suddenly dropped against the colony. The combined destructive power destroyed a significant portion of the section.
“That was close! If one could have gotten me, I’d be –!!” He was cut short when he saw an influx of temperature on his monitor. A beam shot?!?
The VSBR shot almost got him this time. It hit another section of the colony, further fragmenting it to smaller chunks.
Keith was frustrated with the difference in their mobile suits. He opened a commlink line and said, “Stop this! Why don’t you understand that there’s no future in just killing people?!”
“Shut up and fight! Let me see your desire to save the world!!”
It’s him, all right! But why doesn’t he deliver the killing blow?!
“KISAMA! Why are you fighting me now? Is it because you are afraid of me?!” Keith irately demanded. “Don’t you have any conscience that what you are trying to protect will kill people?!”
I am trying to protect lives, but in my own way, ‘Professor’. For a while, Magnus said nothing. He was torn in between his duty as a good soldier and his duty as a human being. But he had already decided.
“Afraid of you?! That has nothing to do with it! I’m having so much fun, I can’t help it but toy with you! Hahahahaha!!” the Crimson Striker ridiculed. Keradjur suddenly sprinted forward and caught ALEX on its shoulders. Its thrusters gave out a full power roar and rammed the Gundam against the colony’s surface.
“Get back up to your feet and fight, ‘Professor’!”
Keith felt giddiness from the impact. He saw circular red objects floating freely. Blood!
He felt his body numb all over, not minding that his face was covered with blood. It seemed that from the impact, his helmet slammed sideways and the smashed glass caused a deep cut on his cheek and head. He took a glance at his monitor and saw several actuators malfunctioning.
But before he was able to regain his composure, the red mobile suit was again fast approaching him. He pushed his controllers that rolled the Gundam away, mere meters from Keradjur’s mighty stomp. Finally, the VSBR’s barrel was aimed at the ALEX’s head.
“No matter what you do, Crimson Striker, I am not susceptible to your intimidation!!!”
Magnus just grunted and sneered, “That’s the spirit. Let’s see how fast you can dodge this point blank shot!”
Keith felt as if time just went into slow motion. Without putting much thought, he brought the ALEX to grab the VSBR’s barrel as it took a shot and shoved it upward.
ALEX’s head was turned to space dust immediately, but the headless mobile suit continued to yank the weapon away from the Keradjur. Grabbing a beam saber, it took an upward swipe with the weapon and successfully slashed off the right arm. Keradjur instantly moved sideways and faced the other unit.
Keith pulled out a keyboard and rewrote the visual algorithms. He finally managed to restore his vision despite the destruction of the main cameras.
“You can take what you can, ‘Professor’,” Magnus said. “Besides, that rifle is almost out of energy.” Keradjur reached for its second VSBR with its left arm.
“Quit hexing me!!” Keith sent a shot from the VSBR. “Hit, dammit, hit!!” Still, Keradjur was way too fast.
Magnus gave a successive shot all over the area, ensuing to a simultaneous blowing up of that section of the colony. By and by, the repeated shot took its toll as a very huge portion started to break away.
Keith was engulfed in the middle of the blast. As the portion broke apart, ALEX slipped away with the rest of the debris. Finally, the mobile suit powered down.
Rest easy, ‘Professor’, that this section will not fall on earth! Magnus then released the rest of its funnel missiles while the Keradjur aimed the VSBR to the portion where it was breaking apart. A Newtype flash came upon him, as the missiles came together and hit the same exact spot, furthering the damage.
“VSBR power raised to 8.4 megawatts. Release safety locks. Complete energy discharge, set to wide-range.” Finally, a massive beam wave rushed toward the colony and delivered the needed destructive power to destroy the remaining portion. The colony ring was now broken. Pieces of it were starting to fall apart where close to half of the mass broke away into another direction. But still, the other half was on its way to earth.
“DAMN!” Magnus groused, not expecting the situation. “The force should have sent the two portions sideward!!”
He thought of Keradjur’s auxiliary reactor, This ought to do the rest of the job.
Keradjur jettisoned the reactor and held onto it. Magnus intended to place the reactor into the middle portion of the other half of the section still in collision to earth and detonate it there. Suddenly a beam shot hit it, causing the reactor to overload and explode. The whole area was engulfed in a rumbling ball of flames.
Keradjur immediately backed off, its thrusters roaring fiercely.
“THAT IDIOT!!!”Magnus irately exclaimed. He turned Keradjur’s head and saw the ALEX clutching the VSBR. Into the buster rifle’s rear chamber, a power cable was set up which led back to the energy capacitor cluster attached to ALEX’s back.
He opened up a commlink and said, “I admire your ingenuity and resolve to remain alive, ‘Professor’, but still, you’re an idiot!! What have you done?!?”
“Shut up and fight!!”
Keith was fixated into defeating the Keradjur that he failed to see that all the while, Magnus was helping destroy the colony section piece by piece.
“I see! But I will bring this to an end soon!”
Keradjur sped forward, wielding dual beam sabers as ALEX waited still. Keith had already tinkered with the capacitor’s discharge system and caused it to overload. All it needed was a catalyst, an ignition. As the Keradjur neared, Keith released the whole assembly including the VSBR for an added punch. ALEX activated its heat pincer and hammered it on the capacitor. The sudden release of Minovsky particles was further agitated by the pincer’s energy emitted which completed the instant detonation. It was an attack entailing a fiery turbulence.
ALEX was whacked away by the sheer force of the blast, with sections of its armor coming loose. “Call it old-school, old-fashioned, but whatever works!!” Keith said, in reference to his tactics during their battle in a desert in Pakistan years ago.
He scanned the area but Keradjur was no longer detected in his scopes.
“Goodbye, Crimson Striker…”
I did it, old man… I have avenged you…
Keith turned his unit toward where he first left the container. Immediately, he used what fuel his ALEX still have to propel himself and catch up with the remaining section.
ALEX released the Devastator remote bombs and planted them onto strategic portions of the huge colony debris. “At least I can minimize the damage through this,” Keith muttered. Suddenly his radar turned red. A shot?!? He is still alive?!?
Keradjur blasted the VSBR, pinning down the mobile suit. The force of the shot caused the other mobile suit to move toward the limit where the gravity pull would eventually heave it downward.
Trying to ram me to hell, huh?! Then, YOU’RE COMING WITH ME, CRIMSON STRIKER!
In retaliation, ALEX shot the pincer away and clamped onto the Keradjur’s left leg. Four thagomizers pierced through the armor from either claw, making a solid clamp. Keith jerked the control stick that made ALEX yank Keradjur into the gravity well. Both mobile suits started to fall. Red lights lit inside both of the cockpits with all sorts of alerts and warnings given out.
Keith thought, If only I can slow down his orbital velocity, just enough for gravity to kick in!
Suddenly, an invisible force dragged the two mobile suits toward earth, though faint at first but it picked up by the second.
The gravity well!! Magnus opened the line, “Let me go, you Gundam!” Keradjur gave several thruster pulses but to no avail.
“I wouldn’t let you escape anymore! If you disappear, peace will certainly be attained!”
“You, fool!!! Your action is useless! You should have concentrated on getting to safety!!” Magnus cried. Keradjur reached for a beam saber and cut off the section of its leg where the pincer shut tightly. Magnus turned the thrusters to full power, enabling Keradjur to maintain a complete hover despite the rapid increase of the atmospheric pull from the gravity well. ALEX, on the other hand, was not equipped with adequate thruster assembly. It struggled against the drawing force.
As Keradjur turned the other way, Keith voiced his mocking reply.
“Not so fast, Crimson Striker! My death would be incomplete without yours!!” Newman reached for the control key on the console activating the remote bombs that he discharged earlier. A massive succession of explosions occurred right behind Keradjur.
BOOOOM!!! BOOOOM!!! BOOOOM!!! BOOOOM!!!
The colony section was engulfed in a series of huge amounts of detonation, followed by its disintegration. The burning debris all around them turned red hot as they entered the atmosphere. The smaller ones burned themselves up. However there were many portions too huge to be destroyed, and the explosion propelled them further, pausing a threat to the two mobile suits.
The explosive force sent a shockwave to the mobile suit that pushed it even further downward. Briefly, Magnus lost vector control, as Keradjur spun violently. Due to the momentum, it lost its grip of the shield. The colony debris started to fragment and most of them started to fall upon the red mobile suit.
Surprised, Magnus said, “What the –?!”
A warning was given, “Warning! Gravitational force critical!” Magnus eyed the radar chart. At this rate, Keradjur would not have the sufficient impetus to reach beyond the point of no return!
Another warning sounded off, “DANGER! Enormous object in collision line! DANGER! Enormous object in collision line!”
Magnus instinctively kept Keradjur upright, his heart racing. Sections of Keradjur’s armor were ablating due to the prolonged exposure to heat. Chunks of molten metal began to strip away. He turned the mobile suit around and gave strong thruster pulses to slow his descent. But before him were the fragments racing in collision with the Keradjur.
ALEX on the other hand continued to skim down until it came to an outer structural cladding from the colony hurtling towards earth. That might be my only chance! Keith thought. ALEX gave a firm grip to a metal frame and hid behind the section. But seconds later, the whole portion fell apart.
Successive fragments from the colony breakup started to pile behind the Keradjur until one by one, they hit against the mobile suit, dragging it along into atmospheric entry. Every splinter from the huge debris started to burn up. Below the Keradjur, ALEX glowed into bright red. Inside the cockpit, Newman sighed and tried to communicate with his comrades within range, but the interference was so intense that all he heard was static noise.
He then proceeded in checking his scopes and instruments but to no avail. “The computer can’t even make a thermogravimetric analysis?!?”
He contemplated with his imminent ordeal, “Temperatures spiking to critical level… Sooner or later, ALEX will melt from the outside in… Clicking the self-destruct button would be the easiest way… or open the hatch…”
His commlink suddenly crackled, “…coming for you!!! Don’t be a coward by choosing the easiest way!!!”
Newman suddenly scanned his monitor albeit fluctuating. “Who’s that?!?!”
Amid the static noise, he heard, “On my signal, you must – BZZZT… will try to tug you to safet – BZZT… the pincer – BZZT… on you now!!!!!”
Keith could not make anything out of the commlink but at the mention of the pincer, he suddenly understood. Although he could not see anything, he was willing to survive. Here goes! At this rate, I will definitely try anything!!!
ALEX shot its pincer away as an unknown mobile suit equipped with optional boosters on its legs and shoulders zipped past it a few times until it finally caught the pincer’s claw. It then started to pull ALEX toward itself.
With the contact, the two mobile suits could establish communication. “I will shoot off your mobile suit’s arms and legs, all right? So don’t try to move an inch or I might hit the cockpit!”
“W-why are you doing this?! Who are you and why are you saving me?!” Keith asked.
“Shut up, you’re ruining my concentration! We have to survive this plight that we are in right now!! Now, brace yourself!” was the reply.
Keith realized, It has to be….you!!
The mobile suit reached for a rather long beam rifle from its back and aimed for the targets. With four shots, the arms and legs were severed from the torso. Inside, Keith winced as he felt the shuddering of the whole frame being hit.
“I will hold on to your suit, so sit back and enjoy the rest of your flight!”
The mobile suit ditched its attached boosters and started to freefall backwards. With some minor vector adjustments, the pilot achieved the desired position, while holding ALEX’s torso tightly.
“Vector lock! Disengage auto-balancing, and set on manual!” the pilot said, giving out voice commands while he was busy making some controls. Turning the commlink on, he said, “Let’s hope this works!”
“What are you hoping will work?!” Keith demanded impatiently, his voice hinting his increasing doubts concerning this stranger.
“This one!! BALLUTE, DEPLOY!!!”
A section from the unknown mobile suit’s rear unfolded, from which an umbrella-like balloon inflated. The material used in ballutes was coated with a substance akin to anti-beam coating used in mobile suits. The sudden resistance during reentry triggered a strong tremor.
Keith thought, If there is a god, I wouldn’t mind asking for –!!
The voice then echoed inside his cockpit. “The ballute might explode any minute now, since the combined mass of our mobile suits will be too much for it to support. By the time it happens, the distance may perhaps still be a long drop, so you must open your hatch and jump out at 20,000 feet. I will try to grab you in mid-air! There is no other way, so don’t voice out any argument or I will change my mind!”
Good god! Keith thought in disbelief.
Second Colony Fragment
Ricardo Ismail hurdled the railing at the upper deck. Floating in free space, he skimmed toward the Delta-2’s torso. He laid a hand on its chest armor while the hatch hissed open. Once again, I failed to die… another battle, another war. Mundane, really…
He entered the cockpit and strapped himself onto the seat while attaching several monitoring probes into his normal suit. Gripping the control sticks firmly, he let out a sigh. “Ashram, you’ll never get away from me this time.
Pretty soon, his unit was hoisted onto the Jolly Roger’s catapult ramp. On the other side was Astis’ Crossbone ZAKU. He opened up a commlink and said, “Thanks for the loaner of this mobile suit, Arno, though I might not be able to return it to you in one piece.”
“Don’t say grim words like that…”
Ismail just chuckled. “I have come into terms with reality that whenver I launch, it might be my last.”
Contacting the catapult control, he said, “Shadow Blitz, Delta-2. Launching!!!”
The mobile suit sped along the ramp, aided by the launch system. As soon as it left the ship, it turned to its waverider mode and accelerated on.
Astis could not help but worry. Ricardo, you must live on…
* * * * *
En route to the second colony section, the GINN and Axiom were trailing a predetermined course.
“Aya, please, you don’t have to go out and sortie…”
“Just let me be Richard, please. I know that you care for my safety but if you are undermining my ability, then…”
The GINN moved ahead and entered the second mega-section’s ring and went into position. Both of them were assigned to thwart any plan to destroy that section.
She shed some tears, obviously hurt by the two men who meant something to her. Not that they were controlling her, but she was angry because both men had not come to understand her feelings, only what they felt about her. For Aya, that was the most painful of all.
Axiom suddenly detected a fast-approaching object towards their position. It’s the enemy!
“Aya, heads up! Enemy unit fast approaching! Judging from its heat signature, it’s a mobile armor, possibly the same one as that of Frost’s unit.”
Up ahead of them was a ballistic object which released several missiles directed to them. It made a flyby and proceeded into the other end of the colony’s ring.
Richard saw that it was not what he expected earlier. “A waverider?!?” One thing that he saw was on its left wing was a skull-and-crossbones decal. Pirates?!? How could the Pirates be involved with the renegades?! Unless they formed an alliance and…
He was cut short in his thoughts as the GINN’s Sturm boosters roared to life and went on in pursuit.
The GINN sped on to intercept the incoming enemy, launching several grenades to force it to turn to the right. But the enemy unit continued on its path, threatening to ram against Aya. In turn, the GINN armed itself with the beam rifle and gave out a rapid succession of shots. Ricardo put up the I-field and continued to rush in.
Richard felt cold sweat when he realized that the Delta-2 intended to ram the GINN, with the shield’s pointed tip directed forward.
Axiom sprinted along, its multi-thruster systems in full work. I must reach her in time!!
Right before Delta-2 could hit the GINN, Axiom reached for Aya’s unit by the shoulders and gave a sudden twist, tugging it away from the enemy’s path. He did not expect that it will attack soon, but it did. As soon as the Delta-2 passed by, it transformed in mid-maneuver and armed itself with its beam rifle.
Axiom extended its left arm and shielded the GINN using its Trikeros M shield. The beam energy dissipated along the edges.Richard observed, “He flies by the seat of his pants, totally unpredictable!”
Contacting Aya, he said, “Stay back, Aya! This yatsu is top notch.”
The GINN suddenly hurried forward and sent a solid punch to the Delta-2’s torso, sending it backward. Axiom joined in the fight and fired darts at the enemy, hitting the left shoulder and an upper leg. Richard then equipped his mobile suit with dual beam sabers and dived toward the Pirate unit.
Ricardo smiled and muttered, “Too slow!!!!”
The Delta-2 turned into a waverider and sped forward, passing by Axiom.
“CRAP!!! He’s onto Aya!!!” Richard exclaimed in horror.
The waverider extended its shield’s tip forward while firing the vulgan guns operable in its current configuration. The GINN started to veer backward.
“You’ll die in a moment, Zeon bastard!!” Ricardo shouted.
Aya did not see it coming but by the time she realized that her unit was about to be struck, there was no time to react. But suddenly, Delta-2 stopped in its tracks mere meters away from the GINN.
Ricardo cursed and uttered, “WHAT?!?”
Behind him, the Axiom had launched its rocket stingers and caught the Delta-2 by its rear. Getting leverage against a huge cruiser debris, Axiom tugged the waverider away from the GINN.
“You leave Aya alone, you bastard!!!!”
Ricardo heard the voice in his commlink. He then turned off his unit’s thrusters, allowing himself to be pulled violently toward the Axiom, which reached for its Shinra sword, all prepared to deliver a swift strike.
Simultaneously, Ricardo pushed the thruster pedals and pulled a lever that manually turned the waverider into a mobile suit. It then reached for its beam sabers and put them together, forming a beam scissor. The weapons collided against each other.
* * * * *
“Richard, get out of the way!”
“You’re in the line of fire!!”
A potent beam energy surged toward the two mobile suits which were locked in a sword duel. Axiom released a grenade charge from its skirt armor and detonated it point blank.
The momentary explosion dazed Ricardo, which made him oblivious of the incoming attack. Instinctively, he brought the Delta-2’s shield close to its torso.
Had it not for my shield’s anti-beam coating, I could have been done for!!! Ricardo thought. Failing to die again, huh?!
* * * * *
Richard told Aya, “Turn a round about and distract him!”
Meanwhile, Aya screamed via the commlink, “Stop your fight now!”
“I’m fighting for my principle!”
“But your principle will lead you directly to your death!”
Ricardo was irate. “What’s the point of reasoning out with your enemy?! At least try to damage my unit, you unskilled soldier!!!”
“The name Crimson Shadow is not for a show!!” She directed the GINN forward.
“Let’s find out!!!!”
“You impudent scum!!”
As the Delta-2 went in to meet the GINN halfway, Aya continued to move along a certain path that would position her unit at the Delta-2’s blind spot – its underside. She sent a beam barrage and managed to score some hits.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
What Aya did not expect was that the Delta-2 discarded several objects into the area.
“Your reflexes are good but that ain’t enough! Relying on what you see is your fatal weakness!! Shadow Blitz Special, Stardust Memory!!!!”
Ismail aimed Delta-2’s rifle against the released objects, which were energy capacitors. They all released a destructive energy in a nanosecond, engulfing the GINN inside the flaming turbulence.
“AAAYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!” Richard screamed in terror. He hurried into the flaming field and retrieved the GINN out of harm’s way.
“AYA!!! ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?!?”
He sighed in relief as Aya responded affirmatively. Richard was immensely incensed. Axiom turned around and rushed toward the Delta-2, which was partially knocked back by the explosion. It rammed it shield against the partially disabled mobile suit.
“I see. Your tactics is to show movements that completely contradict expectations. But in a mobile suit fight, you should use your head more!!” Richard had released one stinger earlier. He then activated it and successfully caught Delta-2’s shoulder. “If you use only your instincts and reflexes, you are limited!”
“Quit taunting and just fight!” Ismail crossly replied.
Richard pulled a trigger and screamed, “ELECTRIFY!!!!!”
A high energy surge flowed along the stinger’s cable. Ricardo was shocked and stunned.
Now’s our chance!!!
Using a different commlink frequency, Richard sent a “text only” message to Aya. “Turn around and flank him. We’ll do a simultaneous bi-directional attack!”
Axiom took its replusor rifle and sent several shots to divert Ismail’s attention to it. While keeping a safe distance, the GINN positioned itself in a direction where Aya thought would be the Delta-2’s blind spot. When Richard saw that Aya was in position, he brought the Axiom forward, wielding a beam saber.
Delta-2 reached for its own beam saber and parried the attack, struggling against the force brought by the other mobile suit. Meanwhile, Aya saw this opportunity and sped forward as well, equipping her GINN with its beam saber as well. Aided by the Sturm boosters, the GINN heaved the weapon and executed a swift strike from the left direction.
“Take this, yatsu!!!”
Even so, Ricardo somehow sensed a tingling sensation of peril. Instinctively, he reached for the control stick. The Delta-2 did a quick punt with the Axiom’s left manipulator which held the saber, causing the latter to release the weapon.
“What?!” Richard uttered in surprise.
The Delta-2 reached for the weapon using its left manipulator. On the other hand, Axiom took its Shinra physical sword and simultaneously attacked the enemy unit as the GINN came in.
“As if I would just let you do as you please!!!!” Ricardo screamed.
Brandishing the two melee weapons, the Delta-2 defended itself from the two mobile suits and stopped their attacks from opposite directions all at once. It immediately sent a sideward stomp towards the Axiom’s chest area, bashing it backward.
Rotating to the right, the Delta-2 brought itself directly to the GINN’s right and grabbed its head and right arm. While holding it in place, Ricardo directed the vulcan guns and sprayed solid projectiles onto the mobile suit at point blank.
BRATATATATATATATATATAT!!!!! PTINK! PTINK! PTINK! PTINK!
Axiom lanced the Shinra sword and cut off the Delta-2’s left arm, which eventually exploded.
But THAT explosion was eclipsed by a larger and forceful detonation that sent a shockwave to the area where they fought.
The enormous explosion from a distance caught the attention of the fighting pilots in the area. Aya gave out a sudden outburst, “MAGNUS!!!!” She flicked the Sturm boosters control and started to move toward the Keradjur.
“Aya, don’t!! That’s too reckless!!!” Richard screamed. Momentarily, he was dazed, oblivious to Delta-2’s incoming attack. Using the beam rifles, Ismail sent a powerful blast against the Axiom, successfully hitting it on the rear torso.
“GAAAKKKKK!!!” Richard cried, the impact slamming him to the side.
Meanwhile the GINN sped off towards the first colony section. Aya thought, Oh, Magnus, Magnus… You must not die!! You can’t die!!
Axiom was left to engage the Delta-2. Transforming into waverider mode, the Pirate unit rushed toward the Gundam, its mega beam rifle, which was mounted on its nose firing away.
Over the commlink, Ismail shouted, “Now, this battle is between you and me!!”
Richard reached for the button that completely released all of Axiom’s grenades toward the pursuing unit. As the waverider changed its course, Axiom took the repulsor rifle and fired at the anticipated path, forcing Ismail to revert back to mobile suit mode. The Delta-2 then grabbed its shield and protected itself from the knockback force generated by the repulsive energy. Testarossa continued firing until the energy capacitor was depleted.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Ismail pulled back to keep away from the maelstrom. By the time he was able to gain stability, Axiom was nowhere in sight.
“Wow,” Ricardo mumbled in awe. “They abandoned their posts… I guess there’s always something new to see everyday.”
The Delta-2 entered the second section’s maintenance duct that followed a grid of passage along the section’s understructure. After determining the crucial points that would permit the section to disintegrate into smaller portions after detonation, Ismail planted the Devastator bombs and went out. Immediately it kept a safe distance from the colony.
The second section seemed to lazily float along but in reality its velocity was increasing by the minute as it came nearer and nearer to earth’s gravity pull. While speeding along, the Delta-2 set off the bombs simultaneously. For a moment, the section seemed to be unaffected but it started to implode at first, then after a blinding flash of explosion, the second section fell apart into smaller pieces.
Ismail checked his computer’s information. “The debris will mostly burn up. Hope that this works. If not, Ashram’s gonna –! ARGH!!! ACKKKKK!”
He cradled his helmet as his head suddenly ached. A tingling sense flooded all over his body that he started to feel numb. “What is happening?!? Why do I feel this headache??”
He thought he heard a voice from somewhere. “What was that?!? Why do I feel this sensation…? It seems to lure me toward…THERE!”
As if in a trance, Ismail continuously eyed toward a certain section of the Heaven’s Fist. He turned the Delta-2 around and sped towards the fourth colony section.
It was the section where Zyann Nigel was currently fighting Claude Ashram.
Meanwhile the falling second section was not sufficiently destroyed as a much larger debris continued to move toward earth. Ismail hastily left without checking the status of the object. The section accelerated a bit as the huge mass was attracted by the gravitational pull; the smaller fragments started to burn up under the intense heat but the main object seemed to remain intact. Within the atmosphere, the reddish-orange glowing object was visible in the naked eye, even when it was broad daylight.
Finally, the second section came to Kármán Line, the 100-kilometer mark. Due to its rather low velocity, it was not burning up sufficiently through aerodynamic heating, retaining much of its mass.
Suddenly, farther below the atmosphere, beyond the observation of a naked eye, twelve bit-like pointed objects appeared out of nowhere. As soon as they appeared, they formed a greenish-blue ring-like array, slightly increasing in diameter. The green-blue light continued to wave inside the ring.
Lux Velocius! Engage!
What are you doing?! You are endangering yourself in overexertion!
There’s no choice! Humanity must be aided as they still engorge with hatred and – !!
But you are one step away from overloading!! If THAT is the case, the aging process – !!
That’s not the case right now! I know you see things like I do but you must let go of your hesitation!
But you can’t possibly destroy it in your Gundam’s condition!
That is why you’re here! IKKE!!
Out from the ring came Manifest Destiny Gundam, hurrying forward and positioned itself right before the second section’s raging path, engulfed in a cloud of green sparkling particles of light. The pilot, Lucien Asuka, hesitated for a moment.
“What about you?”
[I will be fine. Power reserves are quickly depleted by the teleport gate… I can’t keep it open for long. Do what you have to do for the moment. Just keep in mind that your choices today will reshape the future of humankind. You cannot escape it, now that you realized yourself the distortion…and what feeds it.]
“Where are you going?”
[Not important… Join me, if you want. For now, be humanity’s savior. In the harsh times we live in right now, where humanity is reduced to only take advantage of others, a hero like you is a reassuring sight. This means that there’s hope for humanity after all.]
From their positions in the ring, the twelve pointed bits went forward slightly before turning around and entering the slowly closing Lux Velocius gate one by one. Finally, they disappeared into thin air.
Manifest Destiny immediately brought its thrusters into life, keeping the Gundam upright and stable. Asuka knew too well that being inside earth’s atmosphere, any shot that his unit will perform will cause massive recoil compared if the shot was made in space. Luckily, Manifest’s energy bank contained adequate power.
“System check: release all safety locks!” he said, giving a command prompt.
“Locks released.” It was the computer.
Gripping the control sticks as if someone else was trying to take them away, Lucien then performed a chain of system commands. “Eternal Wings of Light!!”
Out from the mobile suit’s rear assembly came a mixture of violet and blue light that formed into a pair of radiant wings, rushing out from the thruster vents.
“Manifest Gate, deploy!!”
Twenty remote objects immediately were released from the suit’s rear rack. They propelled forward right before Manifest, dividing themselves into three groups; each started forming the convex-shaped circular arrangement in an inverted triangle fashion. Meanwhile, Manifest’s chest assembly started to light up, though faintly at first while raising both of its manipulators. The mechanical fingers extended outward, revealing the barrel of the palm cannons which also began to power up. The three Manifest Gate rings then positioned themselves right before the palms and the chest, locking into place.
Lucien watched his systems doing the automatic controls, following every voice command and any adjustment that he was putting in. Finally, the computer notified him, “Callidus II, online. Asia palm cannons, online. Transferring power linkup to main energy conduits.”
“Yosh! Lucien Asuka, Manifest Destin – !”
He was interrupted by the sudden warning from the computer.
“ALERT! Aberration detected on Manifest Gate! Warning, beam axial convergence fluctuating!”
The focus is off?! Asuka worriedly thought. At this degree, I can’t wait for it to correct itself!!
He then grabbed the manipulator controls and manually moved the palms to coincide with the proper target. Asuka gritted his teeth in frustration as a tiny movement wholly affects the overall targeting procedure.
Finally, he got a lock-on. He saw that the power available was 67%
“Discharge 65% of the whole power reserve!” The system responded with the go signal.
“FINALLY!!! Lucien Asuka, Manifest Destiny. Destroying the targets!!!”
The lights inside the cockpit turned off, leaving the three-dimensional targeting display before him. The hulk of the second section was outlined with red lines, while the Manifest Gate crosshair was in green.
“FORCE! BALANCE! PUSH! HAAAASSSHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!”
Out from Manifest’s palms and chest came three steady flows of beam energy emitted in a concentrated manner. As the beams entered and passed through their Manifest Gate arrays, they bent and were reflected, further increasing the output.
The gates started to rotate while the beams passed through, with the shots twisting ahead. This technique added to the destructive potential of each beam flow. The three shots raced toward the second section, piercing through matter, regardless whether it was metal or concrete. The devastating force was so great that the huge fragment instantaneously heat up and exploded in mid-air.
The raging inferno sent ever-growing balls of fire in all directions, including toward the Manifest Destiny. With its energy depleted almost completely, Lucien knew that he had no time to escape into safety. His eyes fixed on the monitor display of the waving flames coming down on his mobile suit.
He closed his eyes and imagined a familiar memory of a woman.
Then everything went black.
Third Colony Fragment
“Valkyrie Gust, on deck.”
“Roger that, VGust. Increasing linear catapult voltage to 800 volts. Launch control transferred to you, Endymion Falcon.”
“I have control. Amber La Flaga, Valkyrie Gust. Launching!”
The blue and white mobile armor raced along the catapult, hurrying ahead of the RED ARROW. The golden mobile suit was hoisted next onto the deck, its sliding platform moving into position. Diko Sidhikoro checked and re-checked his gauges and switches while giving certain commands to his HARO unit.
“I’ll leave the movement controls to you, Erika,” he told the AI. “I just feel that this is going to be a very intense combat.”
“We will win! We will win!”
“Of course we will,” the pilot said.
By and by he was good to go. “Voltage increased to 1050 volts. Launch control transferred to Eagle Eye.”
“I have control. Eagle Eye, Achilles Gundam. Let’s do this!”
Achilles was catapulted immediately to combat speed and hurried toward the first rally point.
“Mr. Diko, reaching the second rally point now. We will converge with the third megasection at rally point C.”
“Got it, Amber-dono. Sticking to the plan. I will provide cover as VGust will proceed into the inner ring and salvo all the Devastator missiles.”
Soon, the two caught up with the colony section. “It’s so huge, that I doubt if the missiles will be enough.”
“That is why we have brought extra e-caps along. Let’s pray that we can pull this off.”
“Yosh. VGust, getting in position.”
The mobile armor went inside the ring and flew along its inner circumference, scanning for possible structural targets that would ensure the collapse of the huge section. After completing a run, Amber opened the silos of the Gust’s missile bay.
“Targets acquired. Devastator missiles, complete salvo.”
Numerous missiles launched in succession, each following a trajectory for its predetermined targets. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, volleys of beam shots and solid projectiles were widely distributed in the area, hitting most of the missiles. Several missiles hit the colony but the damage inflicted was not enough.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
“Amber-dono!” Diko shouted in concern as he saw flashes of light in the area where the Gust was deployed.
“I’m all right! Don’t give out your location!” was the reply. “Switching the commlink off!”
Just as I thought! Zeon wouldn’t let these sections go unguarded. Amber then brought the thrusters into life and roared away. Suddenly from the dark side of the colony section, missiles were launched and quickly caught the Gust’s trail.
Heat seekers?! She flicked the decoy flare dispenser switch. Out from the Gust’s rear came out spherical modules that emitted beam energy. The missiles immediately zeroed in to them instead.
* * * * *
“Milliardo Flight systems, engage,” Adrian Frost said, giving out a command via the neuro-link control strategy, unique only to his mobile armor, the Valkyrie Cyclone. Five sensor rods from his seat connected along the special points on his normal suit and established a biological linkup with him. The rods found themselves inside the electro-neural points along his spine. That way, Frost can control the VCyclone minus the hand-eye coordination: he was controlling the mobile armor at will.
The huge boosters on VCyclone’s rear extended their wings as each booster pod partially opened itself in half, exposing the enormous twin verniers inside. Out from the shadow casted by the third section, the red and white mobile armor accelerated to a break-neck speed.
“Aegis du Ciel, battering ram array!”
Meters away from the Cyclone’s nose cone, a hexagonal energy array started to form.
* * * * *
Amber was momentarily distracted with the appearance of the Cyclone. What the –?! It’s the mobile armor from before!!
There was almost no time for her to dodge the attack. Nevertheless, Amber twisted the controls. VGust jerked out of harm’s way immediately, but VCyclone performed a sudden upward loop followed by a steep dive above the other unit.
“Let’s see how your defense shields would hold up!” Frost clicked two triggers. The Einherjar beam cannons spurted a continuous energy flow but in the midst of the rays, a solid projectile was also shot from its underside gun.
Amber put up the H-Field just in time to dispel the beam shots but the projectile easily slipped through, making a mark on the upper fuselage.
“Ha! Yappari! Your unit is inferior to mine, even if they look identical!” Frost joyously said.
“ACCKKK!!” Amber shrieked. After recovering from the shock caused by the shot, she brought the VGust to an upward position and fired the Caliburn particle cannon in retaliation. Immediately, VCyclone pivoted at its axis by oscillating the side verniers to a reversed angle. While the Caliburn shot passed through, a long array of green hexagons protected the VCyclone from the heat flux.
“Is that all you got?!” Frost jeered. Aurora beam launcher, set to rapid spray!
VCyclone dashed forward head on. “BEAM SCATTER!!!”
Numerous beam pulses rained down on the VGust. “Sango Yasha! Turret mode!” In turn, the hyper beam rifle mounted on Amber’s mobile armor turned and blasted pulses of energy. As the shots merged, the area was lit up in a sea of explosions.
Frost cautiously stopped his unit amidst the confusion of the blasts. Where are you?!? Unexpectedly, out from the explosion came the VGust, machine guns blazing away. Frost pulled back hard to the right while shielding himself with the Aegis du Ciel. His barrier was different from that of Amber’s since the H-Field can only negate beam-based attacks.
VGust continued the barrage as Amber held pursuit, successively firing the beam weapons. The Zeon unit sped up to make a getaway but the pursuer followed suit. The two mobile armors were then engaged in a fierce exchange of fire. It was an intense dogfight in space.
Frost opened a commlink line and screamed, “A pathetic force that serves no master!”
Amber shouted in return, “A weak man that relies on others!!”
“Your abilities and powers are all spent for nothing!!”
“You think that Newtypes should look down on the people who are not? That’s collusion on a grand scale! I know that what I’m saying is even more difficult than winning this war, but Newtypes, regardless whether artificial or genuine, must have to fight for a world without war!!!” Amber released a blinding volley.
VCyclone fearlessly headed on, ignoring the shots as they were dispersed by its hexagonal barriers. “You should have used your talent for the betterment of the world!”
“And join Royal Zeon?! This is my only way of life! Fight to protect those who are oppressed by Zeon!” The missile pods were opened and released several projectiles.
VCyclone fired its missiles as well. “Then you will be going against your father!”
The declaration stopped Amber short. It did not immediately sink in.
“What?!?” Amber shouted in disbelief.
Frost sneered. He sent a brainwave flow toward the other pilot.
[You heard me right, Amber La Flaga, pilot of Moebius Adelphe! Your father Jonathan La Flaga works for us!]
What’s this?! You’re inside my head!! Amber thought fearfully.
[This very unit that you are battling against is the work of your father! HAHAHAHA!!!]
* * * * *
From the shadows, Diko scanned the area, constantly keeping an eye on the combat situation. She’s gotten better by the moment. But I can’t jut sit back and do nothing.
Achilles Gundam took its Sentinel sniper beam rifle and hoisted it against a section of its hiding place. Eight sensors along the rifle’s barrel folded out.
“Power level set to 200%. Take over the mobility and evasion controls, Erika.”
“Taking over! Taking over!”
“Eagle Eye, sniping the target!” A yellow beam streaked towards the VCyclone from an incredible distance.
Frost was taken by surprise of the unanticipated attack. Instantaneously, he put up the barriers but the force of the shot was so strong that it knocked the mobile armor, causing it to spin out of control. Amber saw this as an opening and went in for a kill.
She activated the Sango Yasha and the Caliburn. “Berserker Arrow Shot!!!”
The combined shots merged into a bigger beam with a much more destructive force. Frost tried to elude the attack but still the mobile armor was unresponsive. His systems gave out an alert, “WARNING: Gyroscopes unstable!”
“You wench!” Frost angrily said.
The shot hit the VCyclone’s rear as it spun crazily, its missile bay destroyed. The explosion engulfed it in a globe of fire.
* * * * *
“Found you, sneaky vermin!” Chitz Justaway triumphantly said as he was also waiting for the second enemy unit to reveal itself. When Achilles took a sniper shot, it gave its location away. The Jagd Doga slipped undetected towards the area, and suddenly launched all rocket-propelled grenades in one complete salvo. These grenades were the high detonation yield types, designed for anti-warship use. In an instant, the area where the Gundam was hiding became an infernal spot where huge portions were blasted off into oblivion.
Amber picked up the explosion and diverted her attention to it. Mr. Diko! Another enemy?!
The VGust sped towards the Jagd Doga, its presence already detected. Amber fired the machine guns to drive it away.
Diko was surprised as he saw the VGust coming in. He was able to escape to safety before the explosion caused by the Jagd Doga, changing his location. He already brought up the Grand Slam sword to deliver a sly but swift attack on the Doga. But now, he had lost the chance, as Amber engaged the mobile suit.
She was lured in?! Diko opened the commlink, disregardling the possibility that the enemy pilot would pick up their signal. “Amber-dono, run!! He’s no ordinary opponent! Disengage!!”
However, the VGust continued the engagement. “Amber-dono, it’s not worth your life! Please withdraw!!!”
“I’m not gonna give up until I defeat this man! They held my father prisoner!!”
“There are times when the best attack is to stay alive, no matter what!”
Meanwhile the other unit prepared to face the mobile armor. Chitz thought, Was Frost taken out of commission?! I can’t detect him anywhere!
The Doga reached for its launcher, which was loaded with sixteen pulses energy rounds. These rounds were special types, since upon hitting the target, a single shot would ablate over the surface and create an amount of exploding plasma, causing pressure wave that not only damages the armor but stuns and knocks the target. The wave would also instigate a devastating effect on the pilot inside.
Hoisting its left arm equipped with particle sub-machine gun, the Jagd Doga returned fire, following it up with two rounds of pulsed energy but the mobile armor nimbly dodged away. The first one missed but the successive shot hit the VGust directly. Had it not for the H-Field, the mobile armor would have been destroyed in an instant. The plasma ablated along the barrier’s surface but it exploded eventually, sending a shockwave to the pilot. Amber was taken aback.
Chitz brought up the beam nanigata and shoved it forward. “DIE!!!”
Out of the blue, Achilles dashed toward the Zeon unit from the left and rammed it away. Chitz saw a silvery glint which was heaved toward his direction. Instinctively, he brought the nanigata forward and parried the sword. Despite the pummeling force of the Grand Slam, the Jagd Doga was able to stop it, aided by its retro-boosters.
“Did you believe that an attack of that caliber can defeat me?!?” Chitz angrily blurted out. “Don’t underestimate me!!” With a slight tug of the control stick, Chitz pulled and shoved back the nanigata, obviously aiming for the cockpit. Diko saw this immediately, and with the use of the flat side of the sword, he protected himself. Achilles then swung the sword outward, forcing Chitz to back off.
“You’re good! At this rate, I’m getting one step closer to the edge! But still, whatever you do, you cannot escape a sniper’s eye!”
Achilles returned the sword to its rack and reached for its HK-GUSP beam sidearm. Rapidly, it sent shots at the Doga, which set up its I-Field in defense. Using the other hand, Achilles grabbed its Armor Shredder combat knives and hurled it away. Chitz evaded them, knowing that his barrier cannot stop physical weapons. Its retro rockets burst quickly, sending it to somersault forward. Now it was right behind the Gundam.
Turning around, the Doga unleashed a fury swipes from the nanigata.
Achilles grabbed a beam saber hilt and averted the surging beam aside. The Jagd Doga then grabbed the shaft of the nanigata and turned it into a javelin. Flinging it away against the Gundam, Chitz shouted, “You’re an unconventional pilot, and you have no strategy!!!”
Diko felt his blood surge in dismay as the javelin lanced at his unit. The HARO unit pivoted the Gundam slightly to the left to avoid the ballistic weapon. However it did not anticipate what followed next. The Doga let the beam sub-machine gun blast off at the other unit, hitting it successfully at close range. By impulse, Diko brought the manipulators together and covered the chest area. Quick as a wink, Jagd Doga lunged forward and rammed its shoulder against the Gundam, sending it backward.
“This is what you call strategy!!” Chitz pulled the trigger that sent a pulsed energy round, hitting Achilles on its left leg. The plasma then covered the entire leg and disintegrated it in one blast.
Immediately, Chitz closed in to the Gundam, grabbing the nanigata flowing freely.
Diko shook his head from the blow. He said, “Let me teach you the difference between strategy and real-time tactics!!”
Achilles took its sniper rifle and chucked it toward the enemy unit. “Is this your idea of throwing everything you got?! Pathetic!!” Chitz seethed.
“Naïve!” Diko shouted back, arming his unit with its standard beam rifle. It emptied the energy capacitor in a single shot at the sniper rifle, causing it to explode right then and there.
Jagd Doga’s armor was riddled with holes. Chitz could not see anything in his monitors as the explosion left a thick trail of smoke around him. Where are you, Gundam?!
Meanwhile, Achilles slid below the explosion and stopped. Diko launched the grappling anchor which was assisted by the rockets . In the middle of the mayhem, the Doga was a sitting duck. And this was what Diko hoped for. The claws gaped wide open and finally caught the leg, clamping it tight. “You can’t escape now!!”
Achilles quickly reached for the Grand Slam sword from its rack. Taking the hilt with both hands, it hoisted the enormous weapon over its head and dashed forward while giving a tug with the anchor cable to drag the Zeon mobile suit toward it.
Justaway went in, the beam nanigata being shoved forward like a lance in a blink of an eye. Sidhikoro never saw it coming because the Jadg Doga took advantage of Achilles’ stance: the torso was unprotected.
Chitz grinned and shouted, “Wanna bet?! Lifestealer Strike!!!”
The Jagd Doga made a multiple heaving of the weapon, forcing Achilles to deflect the incoming attack using its sword. But at one point the sword’s blade slanted slightly, giving the Doga the break for a penetrating attack. The nanigata slid along the slanted angle, and with a quick nudge of the pole, Justaway succeeded in landing a clear hit.
The pole weapon pierced into Achilles’ lower torso, making a stabbing cut with the armor surrounding it glowing bright orange and started to melt in the sheer heat. The Gundam was stopped short in mid-offensive attack with bolts of electricity jumping over the place. Then it went limp as if powered down.
Diko was slammed like a ragged doll against the console. The glass of his helmet smashed into pieces from the impact. He then flicked a switch that opened a small porthole, sucking the fragments away via vacuum.
The nanigata went completely through Achilles, exiting at the lower part of the Striker Pack. Some thrusters were damaged beyond use. The HARO unit made a lot of ruckus as warning blared on. “WARNING! Integral structure components damaged! ALERT! Systems compromised!”
Over the commlink, Justaway shrieked, “I have no plans of escaping! Prepare to meet your Maker!!!”
He then turned a knob integrated in the weapon control stick that made the nanigata’s beam to expand into a curve-shaped energy behind the Gundam. A beam scythe?!?!
“There’s no need to struggle. In just a little while, you’ll die with no regrets.”
“Trust me, Zeon soldier, I won’t die here.” Sidhikoro flinched in pain and desperation, but he shouted in response, “I WILL NOT DIE HERE!!!”
He reached for the manipulator control. As if strengthened with a renewed fervor, Achilles straightened up, its green eyes lit dazzlingly. The left manipulator reached for the pole shaft with a firm grip, while the right one extended sideways, the Grand Slam being poised for a mighty full swing. Assisted by some thrusters, the Gundam suddenly dragged itself along the pole toward the Jagd Doga.
Justaway did not expect the move. He yanked his own controls to shield himself from the blade using the left manipulator arm. The strike made a cut on the beam sub-machine gun on its left forearm instead, of which he immediately jettisoned to avoid the imminent explosion.
The Doga let go of its melee weapon while its forward thrusters roared to life, causing the unit to move in reverse. Achilles then pushed the pole weapon right through its torso and darted toward the Doga. In turn, the Doga grasped its beam saber mounted on the right skirt armor. But before the Grand Slam could connect, the HARO unit suddenly gave out a warning. “WARNING! High energy surge detected!!”
“What the hell?!?!” Sidhikoro exclaimed.
A huge beam energy streaked between them. It was so spread that the space between the two mobile suits was engulfed. The shot was so close that the heat factor spiked in both of their thermal radars.
“That beam of THAT magnitude?! I’m at least a hundred yards away from the Gundam but –! Could it be –?!” Justaway scanned his radars. A green dot was the culprit. “FROST?!?”
Justaway cursed. “You creep!!! You could have hit me!! What are you trying to do, kill me?!?”
Through the commlink, the answer shot back, “That’s the idea…because I know that you are against this mission in the first place!!!”
“You are planning to fire on one of your own?!” Diko furiously demanded.
“For the sake of peace, one person’s life is but a small price to pay! Especially a traitor at that!!!”
The Jagd Doga withdrew from the Gundam and went toward the VCyclone. “Are you planning to kill me, Frost?!?”
Justaway looked over his monitor display. Not far from them was a familiar sight. Indeed, the red and white mobile armor, the Valkyrie Cyclone, took the shot. It then darted to another location while the second volley charge was in motion. Its target this time was the blue and white mobile armor.
Diko screamed, “Amber-dono!!!” Achilles left its battle engagement and rushed to VGust’s aid. But he was too late. A searing shot from the VCyclone had already hit its counterpart, creating a big hole at the mobile armor’s central fuselage. The imminent explosion about to happen was something that brought Diko back into a memory.
Just like that time when I first saved her! Amber-dono in her Moebius Adelphe! Am I unable to save her in the end?!? Just like how powerless I was in saving Erika?!
With a renewed vehemence, he said, “I have no one to go up against except myself!!! EAGLE EYE, YOU ARE MUCH BETTER THAN THIS!!!”
Prior to the explosion, Achilles brought all of its thrusters into life, expelling power from them as the systems would permit. It then took its Grand Slam sword and hurled it spinning forward, cutting off the cockpit section of the VGust. The cut was so quick yet merely a few feet away from Amber’s back. Immediately, Achilles grabbed the severed section and embraced it.
Speeding away to safety, Diko said, “You’re not going to die, Amer-dono, not today!”
* * * * *
“Answer me, Frost!! Are you planning to kill me?!”
“From the start, I knew that you’re a traitor! You belong to the likes of that turncoat, Asuka!”
“What about you?! You are a by-product of the blasphemy of Ashram’s idea of an empire who believed that he’s a god! Haven’t you got any concern for the thousands like you who were discarded for being incomplete, a defect?! For this, I put myself on the line!” Justaway shot back.
“Hypocrite! What you’ve been doing is the same thing!” Frost replied angrily. “You have killed many Feddie lives as well including this pathetic Gundam pilot!”
Chitz argued, “Many lives will be sacrificed! Where is honor in that?!”
To which Frost smugly said, “Honor is found in the end, not by the means!”
VCyclone then moved fast, corkscrewing in its path. Chitz then pulled at the control sticks to bring the Doga backwards. Somehow, his mobile suit was responding awkwardly due to the damaged it sustained from its match against the Achilles Gundam.
Actuators aren’t responding fast enough! I’d be done for!
Frost knew that from his unit’s movement and weapon use, he was using more energy than what his power reactor could produce. “TSK! Of all the time when energy has to be depleted!”
While thinking for a tactic he could utilize, he saw that the Jagd Doga was moving clumsily. Hmmmmm, I can do THAT!
The Doga continued to fire its weapons at the mobile armor but he could not get a clear shot. “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, FROST?!?!”
He smugly replied, “Crying for mercy now, aren’t we?!”
He directed the VCyclone to do a flyby. Unexpectedly, the Doga reached for its beam saber and made a wide slice.
Chitz managed to slice off VCyclone’s left wing. Immediately, Frost veered to the opposite side but said through the commlink, “Did you seriously think that THAT will work against me?!?”
Suddenly, Frost flipped the VCyclone in a quick maneuver, and sped forward to the Doga. He then gave a mental command, “Aegis du Ciel, battering lance array!”
The hexagonal barriers formed a long, green spike right before the VCyclone’s nose cone. Upon seeing this, Chitz rammed the thruster pedals to the max, but the sudden upsurge of fuel feed took its toll, since the Jagd Doga’s thruster systems had already been malfunctioning.
“CRAP!” Chitz panicked and groped for controls. “Move, you useless piece of metal!!!!”
The Doga was shuddering as its mechanical equipment was trying to work. On his monitor, Chitz saw that there was a hydraulic leak in several joints of his unit. By the moment, Frost’s mobile armor was nearing.
I-I can’t die here!!!
“Milliardo Flight System, engage!” With the booster pods in full deployment, VCyclone went ballistic.
Chitz became feral. “I CANNOT DIE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!”
Suddenly, Frost sensed something. What was that just now?! This yatsu couldn’t have…..awakened!!! Well, all the more reason to kill him!
The VCyclone pierced the Jadg Doga right through its torso, which then cut the mobile suit in half. It took several seconds later for the doomed unit to explode.
Apparently, the Valkyrie Cyclone sustained major damage from the collision as well. Many of its attachments were dislocated. One booster pod had to be jettisoned because it overloaded. Frost gasped as he became exhausted by the battle. His eyes turned red.
I have killed Justaway, as you have ordered, my lord.
[Now hurry and help the others, Bloodseeker!]
As you wish!
Frost was laughing. I did it!!! I finally proved my worth to Lord Ashram!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
But then his commlink crackled, “bzzzzt…. is unforgiveable!! This is war…bzzzt…and people get kill-bzzzzt….but there is no reason for….bzzzt…. to take your ally’s life!!!!!!”
“NANI?!?!” Frost instinctively looked above.
The last thing that Frost saw was that a golden object rushed from above toward him. A glint of a silver brilliance went down on his mobile armor which resulted to a forceful jolt. From there, Frost passed out, everything around him went black.
Fourth Colony Section
“Zyann Nigel, Astraes Blaze. Let’s do this!”
The red Gundam catapulted into the space area where the fourth mega-section of the colony weapon was coasting into collision with earth. Along with it was a container full of Devastator bombs intended to be planted at certain points of the colony to immediately tear it apart.
Astraeus slowed down a bit and entered into the colony’s ring. Suddenly out of nowhere, a beam shot streaked toward it. The Gundam swan-dived into an inverted loop to keep clear from the shot, but the container was hit.
The force sent a knocking shockwave to Astraeus, sending it back in a violent manner.
“WHAT THE –?!? Who was it?!” Zyann screamed. She scanned the area for any type of detection she could pick up. Finally, something came up.
“Database comparison for heat signature, check! A ZAKU Nightmare?! What in the world is that mobile suit carrying with a destructive shot it that magnitude?!”
She hurried toward the enemy unit. As the visuals came up, Zyann saw that this was no ordinary ZAKU for it was heavily clad with several boosters integrated into its equipment.
“A-a Full Armor ZAKU!”
* * * * *
Lucien Asuka had been monitoring a certain mobile suit from the Frontal Squadron, even before the skirmish and offensive delivered on the Earth Federation’s Heaven’s Fist begun. He was keeping a close eye on it from his radars as the battle continued to escalate with the threat of the shattered sections of the colony weapon quickly plummeting to earth. As the battle progressed, the empire’s Operation Newton was about to be realized. With the RZ forces protecting the integrity of the falling structures led by no other than Claude Ashram himself, who was also commanding the same Frontal Squadron where that certain mobile suit, a ZAKU Nightmare was deployed.
Returning to the battlefield after being taken to a safe place by Tri Qan[T] using its Lux Velocius teleport gate to escape from their imminent destruction from Ashram's hands, Lucien searched for the ZAKU Nightmare in the midst of the on-going battle. Ashram has already declared him a traitor to Royal Zeon thus forces from the Empire were given the ‘shoot to destroy’ order against the Manifest Destiny, to make him as an example to deter any succeeding attempt to defect. Being a Zeon unit, it was immediately reckoned as an enemy by both the Federation and RED ARROW, which automatically were hostile to him, making his search more difficult.
"Damn! It didn't cross my mind earlier, I could only hope that he hasn't done anything yet... but the amount of time I wasted... HRG!!” Lucien angrily muttered to himself. In the heat of the battle between the Stealth Unicorn and the Tri Qan[T], he completely forgot the pilot of this certain ZAKU Nightmare that he was searching for.
After experiencing several engagements with his former comrades, Lucien concluded that he was already branded as a deserter. After successfully destroying the second mega-section which had already entered the atmosphere, the Lux Velocius opened again, transporting him to safety, but this time in space. He saw the other mega-sections plagued with flashes of light and several massive explosions.
My God! That Ashram is completely gone insane!
Suddenly the sensors detected a much-familiar IFF code of a mobile suit and prompted Lucien of the ZAKU being close by. A minute later after heading to the code’s direction, he then spotted heat signatures nearby. “Finally, I found you! Wait for me…I am coming, Sheila!”
He widened the scope of his radars. "There it is."
Lucien quickly rushed forward as he noticed the mobile suit was heavily clad with additional armor and optional equipments, currently engaging a red mobile suit. Regardless of the difference in its appearance, he recognized the ZAKU bearing his sister’s markings and number.
“Hang on, sister, big brother is coming!”
* * * * *
Meanwhile inside the red mobile suit, the Astraeus, Zyann was having a hard time fighting back the ZAKU.
"This is no good, engaged up close and from a distance at the same time... All I can do is defend myself. This sucks!" she griped, struggling hard on the controls. “How does this person keep up with my unit, even if – ARGH!!!”
A beam shot threatened to hit the Astraeus’ chest area. Luckily, Zyann hoisted the Iron Curtain assault shield that she brought along just in time. This shield was an armament of MTG-01 Rauwolf, the mobile suit of her deceased father, John Nigel, more commonly known as Drake Howling. Nevertheless, the shot was so powerful that the impact jarred the red Gundam all over.
Zyann returned fire, deploying the Gungnir twin-barreled hyper beam rifle on its right hip. “As if I’d let you shoot me down…” But to her amazement, the ZAKU was completely clearing off from her line of fire. What sort of trickery is this?! How does he predict my moves?!
As she brought the Astraeus to a steep dive and a sudden turn around the enemy, the ZAKU shot its rifle to an area where the Gundam passed through. It landed a clear shot on it, blowing off the stabilizer fin on Astraeus’ HiMAT pack. Temporarily, the Gundam was stopped in its tracks.
* * * * *
Let’s give you some chance to prove yourself, Newtype pilot. Let’s see what drives you into rage… I can feel your power emanating from within you… Use it… Use it!!!
From the inside of his Stealth Unicorn, Claude Ashram observed the fighting. “I will unbridle my pawn for now, until that traitor comes. 6D Protocol disengage.”
Almost in an instant, the ZAKU paused in its movement. The pilot inside, Sheila Lou Asuka, felt like she just woke up from a dream. ARGH! My head aches! Where am I? I remember… Lord Ashram employed the 6DP on me. Now where’s my opponent?
She saw the red Gundam up ahead, trying to stabilize itself. “So, it is you whom I will kill today huh?!” The ZAKU reached for its beam saber and lunged toward the seemingly disabled Gundam.
Zyann’s radars turned on to alert the incoming threat. She used the shield to cover her unit, but as the impact connected, Astraeus then shifted the shield in its mounting. Out from its bottom tip spurted a very wide beam broadsword, which then was heaved in the ZAKU’s direction. Sheila saw this and pulled back, but the broadsword was longer than the conventional beam saber. The arch sliced off a significant portion of its chest cladding.
“Whoa, that’s sneaky!” Sheila commented, obviously startled. She picked up a hint that the Gundam was not yet finished. It turned the shield the other way around and from the opposite tip came out a plasma lance. The HiMAT boosters oscillated into a single direction and in unison came into life.
“Take this!!!” Zyann screamed, edgy to deliver a detrimental strike. At this point, the ZAKU was already backing up, giving it time to circumvent the thrusting weapon. Sheila rammed a control stick which sent a heaving ZAKU kick aided by the thrusters.
Midway, Astraeus used the right manipulator to clasp the inward stomp.
Pivoting the Astraeus to the left, Zyann threw the ZAKU to the opposite direction toward an asteroid chunk passing by. The impact was so great that huge portions of the debris broke off. For a moment, Sheila passed out.
Astraeus hoisted the Mjollnir positron cannon over its left shoulder and took the high output stance. “HiMAT thrusters, secure. Safety locks, release! Mjollnir, HASHAAAAA!!”
A sudden flash of light illuminated the area, as a positronic blast rushed toward the ZAKU.
“Manifest Gate, deploy!!! Protective barrier group!!!”
Right when the shot descended upon the easy target, twenty protective bits formed an umbrella-like barrier, sending of the shot harmlessly to the side.
Manifest Destiny hurried forward and stopped right before the ZAKU Nightmare, forcing Zyann to back away. “So this is its support unit!” Tensed, she reversed the thrusters and folded back the weapon into the pack.
Lucien let out several shots from the ion cannon to ward the Gundam off. He then opened his commlink to the ZAKU.
"We have to go, I'll explain everything later before Ashram---"
Lucien was horrified to what he saw. The psycommu receptors on the ZAKU's head were reengaged. A wave of horror rushed over him. T-this can’t be!! I can’t be too late!! DAMN!
He searched among the debris and checked his radars, even the IFF scanner. But the mobile suit that he was looking for was nowhere in sight, nor was it detected by his instruments.
Then a familiar voice spoke over the commlink. "Finally, I had almost thought that this was just a waste of time, but I guess the bait was just too irresistible, Lucien Asuka."
"Release the 6DP Initiative and fight me fairly!"
Ashram smugly chuckled. "Give me a reason first. Plus it's your fault. You could have prevented this whole scenario from happening if you had thought carefully before rebelling and protecting THAT person but instead, you took too much time hiding with that hypocrite."
Then a strong heat source shot from a distance.
Luckily Manifest Destiny was able to veer off from that beam fire, suffering only damage on its armor plating. The infliction registered a warning on his panel. “It barely grazed the Destiny, but still, it disintegrated?!”
Suddenly, his mobile suit was thrown off balance. “An attack from behind?!?”
The Full Armor ZAKU had rammed itself against the Manifest. “Sheila!!! Snap out of it!!!”
Not far from them, Astraeus was witnessing the event. Zyann tried to trace the trajectory of the shot to map out the source and made a mental note of the situation. This cannot be the reinforcement unit, since it did not continue to engage me into combat! But if this mobile suit is not who shot me earlier, from whom did that shot come from?!
She sensed an eerie presence.
[It is I, Newtype pilot! Be afraid!!]
Zyann felt a pressure from a distance. From there?! She turned her Gundam toward that direction. Two volleys of beam shots streaked along the area, intended to shoot down both Gundams. Immediately, Astraeus moved sideways, while the Manifest held on to the ZAKU and went around the shot. But suddenly, the ZAKU activated its beam saber and gave a swing at the Manifest, slicing off a section from its wings.
“Sheila?! What are you doing?! It’s me Lucien!!! Don’t let Ashram control you!”
“Shut up!” Sheila replied, her eyes glowing red. “You killed Lucien!!”
“Nanda to?! What the hell are you talking about?!”
“Just give up my brother’s mobile suit!!! I won’t let you defile that thing!!!!”
The Full Armor ZAKU continued in its frenzied attack against the Manifest Destiny, which all it can do best was to either dodge or deflect it. Lucien employed the bits into a shield.
* * * * *
This one’s certainly not its ally! From that time on, Zyann decided and quickly contacted the Manifest Destiny.
"Hey! You in the Gundam unit! Wanna team up and fight them together?!"
There was no response. Instead the Manifest Destiny suddenly rushed towards the location where the beam fire originated. It was at once followed by the ZAKU Nightmare, quickly trailing behind. Zyann deemed it best to follow suit. Without delay, Astraeus reached for the Rauwolf’s tactical hand-held weapon and zipped in pursuit while firing the Mycroft's solid piercing rounds. Meanwhile, Lucien was tracking the ZAKU behind him, continuously switching his view forward and back when suddenly the ZAKU turns around and engaged the Astraeus in combat.
* * * * *
"Ah yes, a one on one battle, let's do this head-on!" Zyann said, bringing out the dual beam sabers from the rack.
The ZAKU on the other hand, also wielded a beam saber and tomahawk. “I don’t recall you, red Gundam, but if you’re after my life, then I won’t hesitate TO TAKE YOURS FIRST!!!!”
The ZAKU hurried forward, sending off fury swipes. The Gundam resisted in return, fighting rigorously to overpower the Zeon unit. Using the dual sabers in a scissors fashion, Zyann managed to cut the tomahawk’s extended hilt, and followed it up with a lunging stab toward the ZAKU’s torso. The other unit swiveled in an instant, making the saber puncture the left shoulder instead. Sheila rushed to discard the whole arm assembly.
The severed arm exploded in seconds.
“Sheila!!!” Lucien shrieked as he detected the explosion that ensued. She’s no match with that Gundam! He brought the Manifest into a complete stop, and turned around.
Bad move, traitor! Ashram thought. Coming out from its stealth cloak effect, the Unicorn was right behind the Manifest. Lucien’s radars immediately set off.
“What the –?!” There was no time to react.
Stealth Unicorn fired a barrage from its beam vulcans which the Manifest Destiny received unluckily. Lucien quickly assembled the bits into a hand-held shield and expanded the barrier, blocking the blitzkrieg. Getting out of the vulcan’s range, Manifest returned fire with its ion cannon four times but the Stealth Unicorn was no longer there.
“Radars can’t detect him anywhere!” Lucien became discouraged. At this rate, Ashram’s gonna use my sister as he pleases!! Then I have no choice!
Lucien finally opens his commlink to Zyann. "Pilot of the red mobile suit, I'm gonna accept your proposal earlier but... I want you to know that the pilot of the ZAKU is my little sister, Sheila..."
"What?! But why is she attacking you?!"
“She's under Ashram's psycommu control. She's not herself! So please stop engaging her into combat!"
“Who’s Ashram?! Wait, you’re saying it’s THE Ashram piloting that other mobile suit?!”
“Yes. His unit is a Gundam-type, but it has a cloaking device that conceals it from visual and radar detection.”
“This is gonna be difficult, and we're already on a tough spot to begin with."
"Thanks for understanding, red Gundam pilot.”
"No sweat. Family comes first, right?" Suddenly, an eerie feeling came upon Zyann. Did I just say that? I should have known better when my father tried to protect me…
She was interrupted by a commlink feed. “Hey, Gundam!! Don’t slacken and hurry up!!”
“What’s your name?”
"Okay, Lucien, listen up. I'm gonna use an omni-directional disruption wave using my suit’s EMP. This will cripple your suit and theirs for a while, okay? Hopefully this will affect the cloaking device and the control of the Unicorn on the ZAKU as well.”
"Okay, use it."
* * * * *
Astraeus moved forward to where the last detection of heat from the Stealth Unicorn’s weapon was. It can’t be too far away, nor could that Ashram have known my suit’s ability! Here goes nothing!
Zyann gripped her controls tightly. “Aletheia System, activate! Blast Zero EMP, set out!!”
Upon activating the system, Zyann’s eyes turned cobalt blue, shimmering in contrast to the low lighting of the cockpit. Three booster pods were released from the HiMAT pack, and moved on their own. After the Astraeus spread the boosters around, Zyann activated the EMP shockwave.
“Astraeus BLAZE Weapon!!!!”
An electromagnetic shockwave pulsed over the area, affecting any technology within its radius. With its cloaking device rendered inoperative, the Stealth Unicorn came into view, several hundred meters ahead. Ashram was caught off-guard by this maneuver and reacted violently in frustration.
“CURSES!! Why, you, red Gundam, trying to foil my plans…” His cockpit quickly dimmed as all systems powered down. Nearby, the ZAKU went limp. But Zyann was the most surprised of all as the Manifest Destiny moved, visibly unaffected by the shockwave.
But how… Unless the BLAZE Weapon does not affect his power source!
Her thoughts were disturbed when she heard Lucien via the commlink.
"It's our chance! I'm gonna make sure you die, Ashram!!!" Oblivious that his unit was not affected by the disabling EMP, Lucien focused on killing his object of wrath.
His Gundam wasn’t even immobilized even for a moment!
“Sheila won’t be your toy!!!” Turning to Zyann, he screamed, “Prepare to fire your strongest weapon that your unit can muster!”
“W-what?! O-okay!” she replied, frantic and caught off-guard with the turn of events.
Manifest Destiny released its bits from the pack behind it, and formed a huge circular gate up front.
“Manifest Gate, deploy! Reflection array!!”
The circle slightly expanded. “Take a shot through it! This array will multiply your beam shot’s potency!”
“A prism effect?! All beam attacks will be amplified! Understood!” Astraeus moved into position and hoisted both the Mjollnir and Gungnir over each of its shoulders.
“Hey, Gundam pilot! You’re getting off position! Correct your vertical axis by 0.6 degrees!”
“Roger!” Zyann called back. She turned to her controls. “High particle latency, no anomaly. Manifest Gate parsing, commenced.”
Turning to Lucien, she said, “I’m ready!”
“Target acquired! Manifest Gate locked in position! Astraeus, DO IT!”
Zyann shrieked with all her might.
* * * * *
Ashram was trying his best to get his systems back online but to no avail. At the moment when he almost gave up all hope, his monitor lit up and he detected a spiking activity of highly-potent Minovsky particles building up in Unicorn’s reactor. Wh-what is this?!? Unicorn’s awakening?! Is this a stroke of luck, or…SOMETHING ELSE?!
Unicorn started to move, its eyes blazed green. From his cockpit, Ashram activated the 6DP Initiative and sent brainwave signals to the ZAKU, which powered down. Awake, o pawn!!
* * * * *
Lucien spotted the ZAKU drifting to the line of fire, and quickly re-angled the bits. Sheila?! Why is her ZAKU moving directly in – ARGH!!!!!
The psycommu feedback from the sudden action was felt by Lucien. It was a serious throbbing pain, like your head was about to explode.
Zyann heard Lucien’s screams, which she quickly obliged, as she could almost feel his pain. She intuitively lifted her finger from the trigger. "What happened?!"
“Ah... The ZAKU suddenly...” Lucien gasped, speaking hoarsely. “It moved *gasp*…will be hit...*gasp* I must go to here."
“Wait, you can’t –! It’s dangerous!”
Nevertheless, Manifest bolted toward the ZAKU.
“The Unicorn has activated its cloaking device!!” Zyann was cautiously monitoring the Unicorn’s position, prepared to lunge to any movement it might make. She was made to rely on the thermal scanners to detect the heat generated by a weapon.
In the meantime, Ashram was putting a plan into effect to fool the red Gundam. He knew the ins and outs of his unit, including its handful of weaknesses. The only way to detect it when it was hidden in its cloaking device was the heat generated by its weapons when it attacks. Even when it would be blocked by debris, as long as Astraeus was still facing at its direction, the heat would still be simply a tell-tale sign. Ashram powered up a beam saber and pierced it into solid debris. “That should do it.”
Zyann detected several heat sources, though faint. “He’s definitely in this region somehow…”
In reality, Ashram was already approaching the Manifest through inertial coasting. “Easy to fool…” he mockingly chuckled.
* * * * *
"It shouldn't be this easy. I hate waiting." As Zyann checked her instruments, she was shocked. “T-The Unicorn… IT’S GONE!!!!”
She contacted the other Gundam. “Lucien! Lucien! The Unicorn is gone!!! Lucien!!!” But no one heard her. The panel before Zyann registered Minovsky concentration in that region spiking up, almost hitting the highest detection level. What’s happening?!?
With the effects of the EMP subsided, Ashram quickly coughed up a plan. "What a very troublesome ability, but now it's my turn."
* * * * *
Manifest reached the ZAKU in no time, placing its manipulator on the unit’s chest. This enabled Lucien to contact his sister. He tried to convince her out of the control Ashram had put her into. Still under the fabricated memory placed by Ashram on Sheila, she was instead made to believe that the real Lucien was brutally killed by a Royal Zeon traitor who then stole the Manifest Destiny from him.
“SHEILA!! Can you hear me?! This is Lucien, your brother!!”
“LIAR!!! YOU KILLED MY BROTHER!!!”
“Sheila, what are you talking about?! Snap out of it! Open your hatch and see for yourself that it is really me!!”
“You are all the same!!! You use people as your tool, playing with emotions and memories to make fun of me!!”
“What is happening to you, Sheila?” he pleaded tearfully.
Lucien did as he could but the memory on her was all too real. Frustration and desperation distracts Lucien from what was to come next. A small yellow glow appeared right behind Destiny’s head, and then a silhouette of a mobile suit's head and shoulder appeared simultaneously with two streaks of golden yellow light flashed upward between Destiny’s arms. Stealth Unicorn unleashed a unique assembly on its left manipulator, which extended outward and formed a huge claw.
"Who the hel –!!" Lucien quickly veered off to the left but was stopped, slammed and clasped by the huge claw on its torso, clenching Manifest Destiny’s arms inside the lock. Metal creaked as the claw was slowly tightening its grip onto the Gundam.
"Damn you! Using my own sister against me!"
"You gave me enough time to set this up."
"I will kill you!!!"
"Hahahahahahaha! Impossible! I'm the one in position to easily take away your life... but since I have found a way to put a leash on you, I can still make good use of you."
"Kisama!" Manifest tried to jerk away but its movements were restrained.
* * * * *
Astraeus raced forward and closing in on Manifest Destiny, but Zyann was still dumbfounded on how she was tricked by Unicorn. On the other hand, Lucien saw the Astraeus in full thrust toward them and he opened an audio commlink.
"Stop Astraeus! Don't come any closer."
Detecting danger, Zyann quickly slammed the brakes and quickly assessed the situation. She then sent a brainwave flow outward, not minding whoever received it.
[Ashram, for someone who sees himself as the almighty Harbinger of Death, you’re not ashamed of using underhanded tactics, are you?]
[HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Am I being taunted by a little girl? Well, daddy’s no longer around to protect you!!!]
"Astraeus! Pull back, there's nothing you can do here! My sister and I will be fine, I promise."
"I'm sorry, it's my fault! I should have--"
Suddenly a bright glow appeared right above them. It was a circular blue-green arrangement forming up. Lucien gasped, The Lux Velocius gate?!?
Nanda –?! Another unit?! Could it be…that unknown enemy from before?!! Ashram detected it and quickly gave a voice command. “Parse the protocol this enemy is using to cloak itself!”
Giving out a brainwave signal, Ashram jeered, [Returning for another round?]
Out from the gate, Tri Qan[T] zipped forward with its GN Sword V in hand, aiming for the claws and the exposed arm behind the right side of the Destiny. Evidence from the previous battle was still seen on it, but nevertheless, it was moving decently, though struggling from the damage it sustained. Anticipating for successive attacks, Ashram released his hold on Lucien’s unit and charges up the claw for a counter. But Tri Qan[T] disassembled the GN Sword and formed them into firing bits to deter the Unicorn in mid-assault. It grabbed the Manifest with two manipulators along its wing binder, then as quickly as it could, it zipped back up towards the Lux Velocius gate.
“Harvyn!! What are you doing?!? Let me go, you idiot!!” Lucien angrily called. “My sister is –!!”
[You’ll certainly be dead if I didn’t do something!]
Lucien saw the ZAKU nearing them. “SHEILA!!!”
What he saw next was something he did not expect. Manifest Destiny’s arms suddenly appeared but when they grab hold of the ZAKU, the arms became translucent and disappeared. The speed of the event muffled Lucien's voice as he repeatedly cried out for Sheila. And then they were swallowed by the light.
A thought crossed Ashram. "T-that’s not a cloaking ability!! Is that... TELEPORTATION...?!?"
Immediately, Ashram sent a brainwave surge to Lucien. [If you really want to save your sister from me, then you have to do something! Leave THAT hypocrite in the dark.]
Upon sensing the surge, Lucien glimpsed back to where the Unicorn was. “Ashram…”
The two mobile suits disappeared from that region. Finally, the ZAKU approached the Unicorn and opened its cockpit. Sheila then went out into the open.
Somehow, Sheila regained fragments of memory of what just transpired in the battle area. She glanced to where the Manifest Destiny disappeared with that unknown Gundam. She muttered, "I will avenge you, Onii-san."
Meanwhile, the Stealth Unicorn disengaged its claws and glided towards Sheila. Sending a direct link to Sheila’s communicator in her helmet, Ashram said, "We'll get them next time, Red Siren. Good work!"
"Of course, we will, Lord Ashram."
"But by that time, we'll be prepared for them."
She furiously thought, Most especially you.
But unknown to her, Ashram had already read her thoughts. You amuse me, traitor’s sister… Let’s see how you will do it…
The female soldier gave a salute facing the Unicorn. "Sieg! Royal Zeon!”
Ashram did not forget about the enemy still in the vicinity. The Astraeus remained ready to attack but holding herself back, Zyann was in a dilemma as to what to do. Ashram sent an audio message to the red Gundam.
"I am sure he has convinced you to not harm his sister, and by now you probably have some ideas as to what I am capable of. So I suggest you spare your life and hers, and leave."
Zyann remained silent.
"Little girl! Pathetic, just like your father! Do you want to know who killed him?! It was not the Keradjur who fired… IT WAS YOU!!!! Your shameless pride robbed you your father!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!”
Tears welled in Zyann’s eyes. Pretty soon, droplets were floating inside Astraeus’ cockpit.
“Whimsical sympathy or poor judgment due to anger puts lives in danger, including yours! That was exactly what your father did! And what good did it bring? NOTHING!! So turn your heels and go away!” Ashram mockingly said. But he did not intend to just let the red Gundam go. He started the charging cycle of the Unicorn’s beam sniper gun.
Zyann controlled her emotions as she moved the Astraeus away. As she looked back, she zoomed in and saw Sheila climbing to the hands of the Unicorn.
"I will save you,” Zyann said, turning the Astraeus back. “I will not allow Ashram to take control of your life.”
She mulled over what she could possibly do. Seeing the Mjollnir and Gungnir still hoisted on Astraeus’ shoulders, she realized that they were still ‘weapons hot’. Over the commlink she declared, “Sheila, you don’t belong to anyone else. YOU ARE YOUR OWN PERSON!!!”
Two brilliant lights started to glimmer at first and, in an ever-increasing radiance, finally flooded onward, rushing toward the Unicorn.
“SUPERNOVA ASSAULT!!!! HASHAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!”
Ashram was utterly surprised by the shot. Upon impulse, he covered Sheila inside the Unicorn’s palms and turned around to protect her from the unavoidable attack.
The blast disintegrated the Stealth Unicorn’s right arm and the two legs at once. However, its momentary pivot kept the torso away from the line of fire.
“Stealth Cloak, activate!!!”
The Unicorn vanished into thin air.
* * * * *
Astraeus moved to catch up with the fourth mega-section, which was still complete. At that point, it was impossible to destroy it, even if Zyann would initiate Astraeus’ self-destruct sequence.
Betraying thoughts came over her. A life may have been saved because of you, Zyann, but lives will also be lost because of you!!!
She could not stop herself from grieving, as she helplessly watched the huge section nearing earth.
“Father… I’m so sorry….. Sorry….”
A bleep on her panel caught Zyann’s attention. Immediately, she scanned the area using the radars and found out a mobile suit approaching in her region. One IFF code registered.
Fifth Colony Section
Fragmentation of a colony happens in three parts; the detachment, segregation and purge. The first two happens internally, where the link pillars and joint structures are automatically disjointed, and then the connecting tunnels between the major sections are sanctioned off by steel doors. The final process, the purge, is much more violent, and it involves the use of controlled charges and rocket boosters that have been integrated throughout the colony’s structure.
The time for the ‘purge’ had come. With all Royal Zeon personnel cleared of the colony, the charges were detonated and blinding flashes of light could be seen snaking along the mechanical creases that lay embedded across the colony walls. A split second later a circular shockwave was dispelled through space, as the colony sections inched slowly away from one another thus.
Taking this as a cue, the remaining Federation forces launched their assault. The tranquility that held for that brief moment was shattered as explosions ripped through the very fabric of space. Despite this fierce front the Federation forces did not manage to deter the colony repositioning phase very much at all, and soon the individual cylinders hung precariously over the Earth’s atmosphere, its proportionately small boosters working at full power to move the huge mass of metal.
Originally, Astis F.Arno had only intended to oversee Operation Newton, however the abrupt and catastrophic shift of events had caught him off guard and had changed his mind. He needed, though rather unwillingly, to partake in the fighting. After making plans with a newly formed alliance with the NEU and ORACLE, he jumped into the cockpit of his mobile suit, and he scanned the monitors. “Good, all systems were green. Crossbone ZAKU, heading out!”
* * * * *
The DOM Schnitters, with their remarkable statistics and incredible synchronization between their pilots, proved a menacing threat to Federation forces lingering in the area. They moved in perfect unison, moving adjacent to each other, with one Shinn’s DOM doing all the hands-down dirty work, and Shiro finishing it off. Since the Crimson Striker was assigned to supervise the first section, the leadership was handed to them.
A Jugho rushed in on Shinn, taking him slightly off guard, and it drew a beam saber and aimed straight for the cockpit. Shinn grunted and spun away from the Jugho, dodging the strike a fraction of a second before it hit, and in retaliation, he unsheathed both beam tomahawks and flung both at the unit. They cartwheeled straight through the Jugho’s upper and lower torso. Shinn retrieved both tomahawks, and he was joined by Shiro, who had instead equipped the DOM with a Mega Beam rifle, a weapon more suited to his abilities. “Teams 1, 2 and 3 report in.” Shiro commanded, and each team gave him their situation. Team 1 and 2 had handled things on their end well, but team 3 had disturbing news.
“Sir, sensors indicate a 'friendly' coming in from point 09-113A, code R139-Z00. It’s a Gen-2 mobile suit, a ZAKU IV. What would you make of that?”
Both twins were at a loss for words. The IV was the standard model before the introduction of the Nightmares, and none of them were active at present, all recycled or for use at training facilities.
Grimly, Shiro said, “Keep your eyes peeled for it. It’s trouble.”
The ensign confirmed the order in the affirmative, but just as the connection closed static exploded into the headphones, and to this Shinn slapped both hands to the sides of his helmet, shaking his head. The ring resounded in his ears. Shiro cringed. He wasted no time in warning his men.
“Attention all units, we have a bogey, masked as a friendly. I’m sending its IFF code over now, watch out for it! It took out Raol and possibly Aaron, so regroup at point 10-9-33E. And I mean NOW!” He commanded subsequently, angry at this.
“Some bastard’s piggybacking our frequency.” Shinn cursed, resetting his sensors to filter out the impersonator.
“We have to be careful. Raol and Aaron were by no means slackers.”
* * * * *
NOU Zeta had finished its refueling routine and all repairs on board the RED ARROW. Saying that it was good as new was however pushing it. Via the commlink, Keith Newman briefed Gardien over their roles. “I need you and Freed over at Section 5. I need to settle an old score with that yatsu at Section 1. I’ll relay the others’ program to you in a while, so stay posted, got it?”
“Roger that,” Nouveau replied. “NOU Zeta, Nouveau Gardien, heading out!”
* * * * *
Astis F. Arno was having a tougher time than he expected from the two Nightmare units. They were agile and swift, dodging his beam shots without too much difficulty. The pilots were impressive. Blocking out their signal was the right move. They came at him relentlessly, juggling between close combat to ranged battle expertly. The two managed to corner the Crossbone ZAKU against a good chunk of space debris, and thinking that was it, they drew their beam tomahawks and brought them down at the rogue unit.
What came next they could never have foreseen, and at the moment before contact the ZAKU angled itself ever so slightly and shot out both hands, catching the two blades. The pilots of the Nightmare units were aghast, and in one swift motion the ZAKU flung the tomahawks away and drew its twin Murasame blasters. Astis tugged twice at the trigger, and the Nightmare units were rendered to scrap.
He checked back on the colony sector’s status. Only a few thousand meters away from the Lagrange point now.
He was desperately running short of time. The extensions that fit snuggly on his mobile suit’s back folded outwards, and after some brief charging of the Minovsky Drive a blue light flared from its vents, and the ZAKU was catapulted forwards with herculean force.
* * * * *
As Shinn and Shiro plowed through the onslaught of thinning Federation forces their monitors alerted them of a new threat: two fast approaching suits. Sensor recognition revealed them to be Gundams. They steeled themselves and looked on at the two advancing silhouettes apprehensively, realizing at the same time that they’d encountered one before.
“Finally, a challenge,” Shiro smirked, a single bead of sweat sliding across his forehead.
* * * * *
The cylindrical colony sector was inching closer to orbit bit by bit, and it cast a gargantuan, ominous shadow over the earth, citing impending doom for anybody in the impact vicinity.
Freed had joined Nouveau shortly after departure, and they sped towards the falling colony, fully aware of the stakes. They were silent for the most part, and although not fond of one another, their actions seemed completely compatible, and they made their way through opposition without batting an eyelash.
Now, however, stood in between them two new units. Registered onto their computers were two DOMs of some sort, colored primarily in a dark purple, with hues of jet black and also a white skull that sat above its mono-eye. To Freed, it was a familiar sight, and he frowned. I have no time for this.
Shiro contacted his twin brother, “We will do THAT thing this time, alright?! Don’t tail off!”
“Let’s do it!”
Immediately the two enemy mobile suits advanced an ever increasing speed. Moving in a rectilinear fashion, they lined up together with Shiro’s unit up in front, springing up its oscillating beam sprayer mounted on its chest while hoisting its manipulators up, exposing its tri-barreled beam cannons. Behind it was the second unit armed with solid projectile bazookas on either shoulder. Trailing behind them were blue flashes from the thrusters as the DOM Schnitters went for an offensive strike.
In the cockpits of the DOMs both brothers shouted in unison.
“JET STREAM ATTACK!!! BICENTENNIAL FLASH!!!”
The beam spray spread throughout the area. The DOMs had an extremely good start, leaving no room for either Freed or Nouveau to respond. The mobile suits clashed violently against each other and were tangled in battle. Instinctively, shields were set up, but were almost immediately jarred away by the bazookas, knocking them back. With the entry of the remainder of the Frontal Squadron, Freed was cut off from Nouveau, who was left to his own defenses against the Nightmare units. It was absolute pandemonium.
BOOOM! BOOOM! BOOOM!
The DOMs relied on hit and run tactics, keeping close to each other at all times, and Freed had never expected bulky units such as those would ever possess such fearsome pace. They circled him and fired furiously, with each unit following up the other’s attacks, and he saw that the two pilots had improved from before. The beam spamming was doing his mobile suit no benefit, and he had to rid himself of the two mobile suits fast. They returned to their previous configuration; one suit in front of the other, and they rushed in with the same routine.
“I see your trickery!” Freed shouted, unsheathing the Guardian Sword. As the DOMs came in on him he gave it a wide swing which both DOMs dodged effortlessly. Letting go of the Sword, the Gundam spun around, flew backwards and raised its Mega Hyper Cannon, letting loose a barrage of powerful albeit short bursts. Shinn and Shiro were both caught briefly off guard, and they struggled to avoid the pulses of energy that came flying to their direction. For the most part they were successful, and both units sustained minimal damage throughout their frames.
However, before Shinn could regain his composure he felt a familiar jolt pound against his head, and as he looked up the Gundam appeared right before his mobile suit, and it charged inwards with that humongous mother of a sword in hand, aiming directly to crush the cockpit.
Out of nowhere flew a beam tomahawk, and it collided against the sword’s grip. The Gundam spun off course violently from the impact, and the sword slipped from its hands. Shiro’s DOM came into view, and hurriedly it brought the Gundam into a full nelson, struggling from the pressure.
“Shinn! Now! Crush the cockpit!” Shiro shouted, pushing against the throttles as hard as he could to keep the Gundam in check.
Shinn unsheathed his beam tomahawk and headed straight for the kill, letting out a battle cry. At that moment a jolt sparked across Shinn’s entire body, and he pulled the DOM to a halt and used the vernier thrusters to bring him in the opposite direction.
Not a second too soon something zoomed past Shinn’s monitor screens. It was moving so fast, it appeared only as a blur, and all that trailed behind it were blue flames.
“What the-?” Shinn gasped, heart beat skyrocketing. The thing in question came to a brusque stop, and it pivoted around to face the two DOMs.
“That signal from just now…it must be that.” Shiro grunted, struggling with the controls.
* * * * *
“My suit doesn’t have the firepower to destroy the falling section…seems that I need to get rid of these Zeeks first!” Astis concluded, and he activated both Brand Markers and charging in.
Meanwhile, Nouveau was lucky, just seconds earlier, something had flown straight through the Nightmares’ defensive perimeter, and now that they were dispersed, there was a chance for him to end the battle quick, though he suspected that it was not as easy as he had expected. He changed his unit to waverider mode and sped away from the Nightmares, and when he was distant enough he changed back and let loose his feather funnels.
“Target Nightmare units 05, 01, and 03! Go!” Upon receiving its commands the funnels sped off in unison, and they struck at with the Nightmares, shadowing their every movement and spraying a plethora of beam shots towards the ZAKU units. That would at least hold them.
The remaining two units had grouped together, and they had seemingly worked out a clear strategy as one charged forward at the NOU Zeta, brandishing dual beam tomahawks.
“So you wanna dance?! Let’s tango!” Nouveau said, unsheathing both beam sabers right in the nick of time. The ZAKU came in fast, striking down with both tomahawks toward the waist section of Nouveau’s suit. This he successfully blocked, and to his surprise the ZAKU began to apply more pressure towards its weapons, then using vernier thrusters, it pivoted around so that the NOU Zeta’s back now faced the other Nightmare, which remained on standby quite a distance away.
“I see your strategy,” he smirked, “but you underestimate the Zeta!”
He activated the beam machine gun that lay hidden snuggly at its wrists, and without mercy he pulled the trigger. At the last moment the Nightmare pulled away, and the bright flashing stream of plasma tore away the left arm of the Nightmare ZAKU, also searing away strips of armor from its chest.
The Zeta was also taken aback as it was shoved violently forwards as a blast from the other ZAKU’s beam rifle hit it squarely on the upper back of its torso. Saved by the I-field, Nouveau quickly pivoted the Gundam back in the two ZAKU’s direction. Proceeding to draw both ultimate beam rifles, he aimed briefly and fired.
* * * * *
Sergeant Shinn and Shiro were an impressive duo, and against the Crossbone ZAKU and the Hero Gundam they held on exceptionally well, if only they were barely coping.
“You, pirate pilot!” Freed shouted over a newly established communications link, and in reply Astis said, with some irritation, “What?!”
“We’re running out of time!”
“You don’t say, goddamnit!”
Calculations made by Astis’ computer indicated a mere nine-minute time frame before the fifth section breaks through the earth’s atmosphere.
From the way the DOMs moved now he could tell that they were getting overwrought, high strung. The Gundam pilots were not excluded; in fact they seemed to be getting increasingly desperate.
“What’s your Gundam’s spec?” Astis asked.
Freed replied, voice shaky, “With G-Adrenaline level 4 activated, I can take down the colony, but the time my weapon would take too long to charge! I need the Zeta’s help! We have to simultaneously shoot at it!”
“Then tell the pilot! It’s now or never!”
* * * * *
Nouveau’s shot had missed. Right before impact, the Nightmare unit had released a burst of thrust from several thrusters located around its torso, and the beam shot had barely clipped its chest armor. Sparks bounded from the deep burns that resulted from the close shave.
The Nightmares that he had intended to hold off with the feather funnels were returning, and they too sustained rather extensive damage, but not extensive enough however to get them to back down.
He could not believe it himself, but he had just been backed into a corner. Blood ran hot and fast in his veins.
Suddenly, his commlink came to life.
“Nouveau!” It was Freed.
Nouveau looked at the timer on his console.
“We’ll hold these freaks off. Just go!”
The other guy hesitated. At once he understood his plan, and he said nothing. Nouveau just changed his mobile suit to waverider mode.
* * * * *
Disabling all limiters and ramming down on the pedal and throttles, the Zeta ripped forth at breakneck speed. It slammed into an incoming ZAKU Nightmare and tore straight across it, losing one wing, but the sheer speed kept it on course. The G-forces heaved against Nouveau’s body, and he eyed the monitor carefully, making sure that it would not surpass his bodily limit. Come on..!
Meanwhile, Shinn and Shiro, after seeing the enemy mobile armor soaring by looked on for moments with some amazement, but they focused back on their goal and withdrew away from the Gundams. They had avoided death several times already, and both of them came to the unanimous conclusion that those two enemy pilots were more than worthy of the two mobile suits. But now their priorities had shifted.
“Disable the limiters; go for command CA000! CHAR Mode-on!”
The DOMs’ mono-eyes flared incandescent, and Shinn and Shiro charged forward behind the waverider’s trail, attempting to catch up to it and destroy it. They gave the command also for the Frontal Team to hold off the other two Gundams. The twins needed to make this happen; otherwise they would not feel fit for the promotions they just received.
“I’m going to back up the Zeta! Hurry up, and shoot this thing up!!!” Astis roared, and without further ado he activated his unit’s Wings of Light and gave chase, leaving Freed to his own defenses.
The ZAKUs rushed in on Freed fast, but he would give these bastards opportunity no longer. Risking it, he gave the on-board computer the command: “G-Adrenaline activate!”
* * * * *
The Zeta was at its limit. The propellant stores ran dry, and swiftly Nouveau reverted the Zeta back to its mobile suit configuration. He stood at perfect firing distance away from the epicenter of the colony section, and from this distance he could faintly make out the outlines of bodies, floating gently in the corridors of the complex. The construction work was obviously rushed, and there were many sectors that on the surface resembled scrap heaps.
Nouveau drew both his ultimate beam rifles and slapped them together. He activated his unit’s brake vents and set them to maximum discharge, otherwise the mobile suit will be unable to withstand the recoil. It was his last possible shot, considering the kind of power the drained Zeta had left in it.
But Shinn and Shiro refused to let it happen. From out of nowhere the DOM Schnitters appeared, and the first unit concussed violently against NOU Zeta. It brought the already weakened unit into a vice grip, and with CHAR mode enabled it applied staggering pressure to its limbs. The other unit demolished the free floating rifle and went on to pulverize the Gundam’s cockpit, wielding in its grip a beam tomahawk on full power. Shiro, with a battle cry, brought his unit forth and the tomahawk down.
It was then where Astis managed to intervene, and in a dangerous move, he smashed his unit against the DOM, knowing full well that at such a speed the impact could kill him and the enemy pilot. They cartwheeled forcefully out of control as the two suits wrestled with each other, metal against metal, and naturally the awesome impact catapulted them away from the drop site. Astis tried with increasing dread to push away from the DOM’s grasp, but now the DOM changed tactics and was instead holding onto the Crossbone ZAKU rigidly.
Red lights flared in Nouveau’s cockpit as the hydraulics in the shoulders that held the arms in place gave way, and just like that they were ripped out, with the torso falling limply forwards and down. Hydraulic fluid seeped outwards and immediately froze, and depressurization in several compartments of the mobile suit caused multiple temporary system failures that rendered the Zeta immobile. Nouveau shook in his cockpit, apprehensive. For the first time, in a long time he felt truly afraid.
* * * * *
The G-Adrenaline system pushed Freed to his absolute limit. His Gundam now was able to move with incredible swiftness in short bursts, but any prolonged movement threatened to knock Freed out of consciousness. The ZAKUs were finding it increasingly difficult to keep up, and in their wretched states they were barely surviving.
“Time to finish this!” Hero Gundam retrieved the Guardian Sword and slotted the beam saber inside. The mechanical creases that ran along the weapon shone a bright green, and the Gundam raised the sword perpendicular to its body. In one swift fluid motion he angled it and brought it downwards, making a large swipe to the side. “Flash Omnislash!”
But Freed was surprised that there was no shot from the NOU Zeta. His attack to the colony section managed to destroy a fourth of its mass, but the rest of the section continued in its tracks.
* * * * *
The DOM, seeing how the Zeta Gundam was unresponsive, drew back and positioned itself carefully, then it shot out its leg and flung itself forwards, slamming the foot squarely into the Zeta’s hip. It rocked forwards and drifted speedily in the direction of the colony wreckage. Triumphantly, Shinn looked on at the sight, and with spite saturated in his words, he shouted, “And that’s from Zeon…. WITH LOVE!!!” The section’s front portion was now consumed in a burning inferno of flames that smoldered incandescently. Slowly but surely it descended, like a messenger from hell itself, and earthwards it fell. If anyone looked hard enough they would notice a tiny spark that was visible for seconds, shining brightly in between the disintegrating fragments, trailing just behind the colony. Then that tiny spark was forever extinguished; lost to the fiery hell that it was engulfed within. The Crossbone ZAKU managed to worm away from the DOM’s suddenly weakened grasp. Using its Wings of Light, it fled, disappearing from sight instantaneously.
* * * * *
For Freed, while he did not eliminate all enemy mobile suits, was now truly spent and dejected. The opposing forces withdrew with the success of the drop, and they did so hastily, leaving Freed alone in the void of the universe. As he witnessed the drop unfold before his eyes he felt a thousand razors penetrate his heart. He buried his face in his hands and cursed, for there was nothing else he could do now. They had failed, lost. Unsure of his next course of action Freed simply sat in the cockpit, silent and grim. What have I done?!?
Sixth Colony Section
The largest section of the Heaven’s Fist included the central shaft as well as the rear portion where the nuclear clusters were situated. Based on the analysis of the Pirates, this section posed the greatest threat, since it was the largest of the six mega-sections of the colony. Compounding to that was the possible high detonation yield if the reactors simultaneously go off upon collision.
The RED ARROW and Jolly Roger moved in combat speed to intercept the sixth section. It was fast approaching into earth’s trajectory since it was programmed the colony’s plasma thrusters to ram the section ahead, as per order of Lord Claude Ashram.
“Check the velocity, change of acceleration, and trajectory of the sixth section! Inform me everything, even if it’s a small anomaly!” said Talbot Carm, the first mate of Dharma.
“Nightfall bridge, this is Dharma. The section will be in firing range soon. We will start inertial coasting after ten second of full thrust. Then we will re-channel all power feed to you. Do you copy?”
“Affirmative, Dharma! We will switch to ‘weapons hot’ after the procedure.”
“RED ARROW, this is Jolly Roger. Please be advised that we only got one shot to hit the colony shaft at point blank. After that is the planned process that Nightfall and Dharma will immediately separate after firing. We are proceeding to rally point gamma.”
“We are right behind you.”
* * * * *
Not far away, Claude Ashram who was inside the Stealth Unicorn smiled, his eyes glowing blue.
“I see. A desperate attempt by the helpless resistance…BUT YOU CANNOT STOP DECULTURE!!!! Let the curtains fall in your defeat!!!”
* * * * *
Inside the colony’s control hub, a lifeless body started to move on its own. Even though earlier, this Earth Federation officer was shot on the head that resulted to his death, his cold and limp body became animated. Had there been someone alive to witness it, one would think that he was certainly a zombie. Struggling to stand, it walked toward the main control console, his eyes glowing off a red halo. This meant that the corpse was under someone else’s control.
Upon reaching the panel, the dead man gripped a level connected to five switches and gave a downward yank. Then the body went flaccid and dropped onto the floor. Seconds passed when nothing seemed to happen. Suddenly a synthesized voice declared, “Plasma thrusters activated to maximum power! Plasma thrusters activated to maximum power!”
* * * * *
Inside the Unicorn, Ashram let out a menacing grin, yet he was gasping from the intense mental effort.
“Fools… Trying to defy a god…”
* * * * *
“Talbot!! The colony shaft has sped up! This was never anticipated, even in the simulation –!!”
“Its thrusters suddenly came to life for no reason!”
“That’s impossible! Someone must have been left inside the control hub to activate it!”
Talbot cursed. “We’ve been had! Zeon is one step ahead of us!” Gaining composure, he then barked, “Contact Nightfall bridge.”
The reply came promptly. “What’s happening Dharma?”
“This has been unanticipated. The colony shaft has started to accelerate! At this rate…”
“Has the Jolly Roger been advised?”
“Yes. They are already in position but their firepower alone will not destroy the shaft.”
There was silence. Then someone said, “Can we contact Keith?”
“We have been out of communication with all our mobile suits since their sortie. Minovsky dispersion is too dense, most likely scattered by the Empire.”
Jolly Roger came into contact with RED ARROW. “RED ARROW! Can you make a shot with your main weapon in your current position?”
“Negative! There will be a twenty-second delay before the hyper mega beam cannons can be shot, since we just redirected our energy conduits back to the thrusters! All in all we can be in firing position in almost a minute, but by that time, the colony shaft –!”
“…will have passed by!”
There was a shroud of helplessness that appeared to descend on the renegades. With their plight, the morale had dropped. Suddenly Blau Binder blurted out what he was calculating ever since the sixth section sped off.
“Guys, I am transmitting a radical plan that might work. It may not stop the colony shaft’s movement but I…” He hesitated for a moment. “I think this might be our only chance.”
His plan outline was displayed on the main monitors of the three bridges. Upon seeing it, everyone was surprised. Many burst in outrage and disagreement.
Talbot was angry himself. “A RADICAL plan? Baka yarou!! It’s suicide!!”
Binder challenged him, “You and I know deep inside that this is the ONLY WAY we can stop the Empire’s attempt to kill millions, possibly billions of people, Talbot! If only Drake was here, he would –!”
Upon mentioning their deceased leader, everybody became silent.
Mudd Blake put in, “I think Howling would not hesitate. He didn’t, when he saved his daughter…”
After a while everyone on Dharma bridge conceded. Talbot then contacted the others, “Dharma has decided to perform a kamikaze attack. We will ram RED ARROW against the colony shaft. We will issue an abandon ship order to all personnel, including Nightfall’s. I certainly hope you people from NEU understand what we have decided upon ourselves. We, however, do not force you to go out with us. You may clear from the ship should you wish to do so. Jolly Roger, please retrieve all survivors after the plan is executed.”
There was a rather prolonged silence. Finally, the commlink went off, “What do you want us to do?”
Binder replied, “After evacuation, RED ARROW will coast alongside the colony shaft and will perform a sudden axial pivot, let’s hope and pray that the ship will hold itself up from the immense strain. Then we will ram into the foreshaft and push the section away from the projected collision path. Jolly Roger must fire its main weapon at RED ARROW, if our ship’s thrusters won’t be enough to drive it away. I am depending that the explosion force will add to the –!”
“Are you out of your mind?!?”
“It’s your call if you won’t. All we ask is that let us save people’s lives in exchange for our own. Dharma, over and out!”
Kamikaze: RED ARROW's Defining Momet
There were eight escape pods all in all that was deployed. After the last pod was jettisoned, RED ARROW increased its speed and darted along the colony shaft until it was in position. Compared to the hulk of the section, the ship was small, but they knew that they had no choice.
“Dharma, let us join you in this endeavor. We won’t want you to take all the glory yourselves!” It was some of the workforce from Nightfall, who had decided to help out.
The Dharma personnel were surprised but happy enough to know that they were united. Their alliance had so far defied odds too lofty to hurdle. Inside their hearts, they knew that they could do this.
Talbot commanded, “Normal suits enforced. Vector thrusters, set to maximum! Port boosters, activate on my signal! Everyone, strap yourselves on to something solid.”
“RED ARROW, we pray for your mission’s success!”
“Ten four, Jolly Roger.”
“Yosh! RED ARROW, turnpoint maneuver in three… two… one… INITIATE!!!”
The ship’s side thrusters roared to life as it attempted to pivot in mid-coasting. The strain was so strong that everything not secured in place slammed and was thrown all over the place. Everyone cringed at the movement, while rumblings and shudder were felt all over the ship. The distinct metal against metal sound reverberated along the place. Finally, they have achieved instant bearing alteration.
Talbot cried, “ALL RIGHT!! There’s no time to lose!! Thrusters to maximum output! Adjust pitch to 10o! RED ARROW, BATTERING RAM ATTACK!!!!”
“Rock and roll!!!!”
The ship suddenly catapulted itself forward, with its bow striking the colony shaft. It entered deep into the frame and lodged itself into it. The impact jarred the whole ship and damaged the bow heavily. The bridge was a sight; equipment was scattered everywhere. Pieces of metal and glass hurtled forward. Everyone was slammed onto what was before them. Some had passed out, some were seriously injured with blood gushing from their helmets, probably dead by now.
Binder himself was injured but he still groped for some controls at his console. “Engineering, r-release the t-thruster safety sys-system!!”
He turned to Talbot, who was crouching on the floor, as his seat was thrown forward by the impact force. Talbot whispered in pain, “Do it!”
“If only we could alter the flight pattern just a bit…”
Binder pressed the button that added 200% power to the thrusters. The rechanneling of energy caused some equipment to turn off. The light fluctuated and died down. The ship spewed off a lot of burned energy from its huge verniers.
The colony shaft had seemed to change direction, but the force exerted by RED ARROW was not enough to alter its course. The plasma thrusters were too much for the ship to counteract upon.
* * * * *
On board Jolly Roger, the bridge was in a frenzied pandemonium. “What’s the status of the shaft?!” demanded Rojo Cnidus, Astis Arno’s first mate, and was in command of the Pirates’ ship.
“The change in direction is 0.7o every ten seconds, but that wouldn’t be enough! RED ARROW’s thrust isn’t radically changing its direction! They are few minutes away from the earth’s gravity pull!”
In frustration, Cnidus slammed his fists on the console. “And the rescue operation?”
“The Zudahs are approaching the last known location of RED ARROW’s escape pods.”
The first mate replied, “Okay! Provide for cover until we can extract them all.”
“Cnidus! First and second sections have entered into earth’s atmosphere! Newman successfully destroyed the first section, while a huge fragment from the second one is still hurtling toward earth –! WAIT!!!”
“What is it?!?”
“Detection systems pick up a huge energy release below the earth’s atmosphere!”
Cnidus, obviously uninterested with the other situation simultaneously going on, dismissed the report. “Probably the Earth Federation! That is not our concern!”
Turning to the armament controller, the first mate urgently demanded, “How’s the charging cycle for the microwave cannon?”
The Jolly Roger navigator was taken aback. “Y-you can’t be serious!!!”
He shot back, “We know very well what we need to do. Everyone, bear with me, but this has come to the worst. I will take full responsibility in behalf of my actions, and for the record, no blame will be put on Astis.”
After a little more than a minute, the armament controller gave a notice, “Microwave mega cannon, full charged.”
Cnidus grunted. “Transfer targeting controls to my console.”
Before them was the main monitor with the optical cameras aimed at the RED ARROW. Its thrusters were starting to give way, encumbered by the intense pressure. Some sections of the shaft, however, had fragmented away as well.
“Cnidus, the shaft is almost at the gravity pull range! We don’t have much time!”
The target crosshair was adjusted on to the renegade ship. It took a moment to achieve a lock on, since the laser targeting system had to maintain a constant focus on the target. Finally, the advisory came, “Target acquired!”
Cnidus’ hand hovered over the trigger control. He paused and closed his eyes. RED ARROW, you won’t be forgotten!! It’s a pleasure to know people like you!
He pressed the button.
* * * * *
The cannon barrel lit up, particles starting to gather around the bore. The microwave energy surge was so great, the light blinding. A huge, agitated shot streaked towards the wedged ship. The shot hit directly the rear engines, which resulted to a massive chain reaction of explosions. The big bang took place, disintegrating the ship in an instant.
Cnidus closed his eyes and whispered, “It is finished.”
* * * * *
The huge shaft lurched and shuddered all over as it approached earth. But before the gravity could pull it toward earth, the explosion of the RED ARROW pushed it away, sending it to a curving trajectory. The torsion force caused by the massive explosion bent the shaft, finally collapsed on itself, with its main frame smashing against the rear section. There was also structural caving in, crumbling the nuclear reactors inside. At last, the sixth section was engulfed in a simultaneous nuclear flash. A very enormous globe of bright yellow light engulfed the whole of the sixth section.
The Jolly Roger started to change course as the colony shaft was gone in the fiery blaze. The nuclear flash went past them but the Pirate ship had deployed its force field to protect itself. The mission was a success. On the bridge, everyone was supposed to break into shouts of victory and triumph but no one dared speak a word. Some were even shedding off tears. Cnidus himself wiped off his welling eyes.
Finally he emotionlessly said, “Find the relay signal from the escape pods. Hurry and we have to assist our allies.”
The Pirate ship turned around and searched for the survivors.
The Harbinger Of Death:
Inside Atlas’ bridge command, Admiral Soci barked an order, “"Quickly retrieve Lord Ashram! Send the remaining mobile suits we have!"
Beside the remains of a sunken Royal Zeon cruiser, a wrecked mobile suit treaded close to it. Only its head, torso and left arm remained but the Stealth Unicorn was still functioning.
"Damn! I was so close! I shouldn't have underestimated those reneg--"
He was cut short, when sensors spotted an incoming mobile suit to his left side. A visual feed quickly flashed on the screen.
"A Delta 2?! It must be one of them frigging renegades... I admire your persistence but it will not even gonna add a scratch to the Unicorn."
Inside the Delta 2’s cockpit, its pilot started to aim the beam rifle. Ashram then heard a man’s voice screaming angrily over the commlink.
"This is the day that I have most awaited for!! I will not let you live another day, I'm gonna make you atone for those who died today! Die!!! Kisama!!!”
PSHOOOM! PSHOOOM! PSHOOOM!
As the beam shots made it close to the mark, they were quickly deflected away by the Unicorn’s still functioning barrier. Then the Unicorn picked up a squad of mobile suits in front of him.
ZAKU Nightmares! Ashram exultantly said, "Oh, I guess this is where the chase ends."
"Damn it!" Ismail cursed, as he spotted the incoming enemy units.
Ismail sent his Delta 2 to maximum speed with the intent to ram the Unicorn. His thoughts were quickly picked up by Ashram.
“I sense desperation in the air... Hahahaha!!! All units, fire at will! Destroy the Delta 2!!”
The ZAKUs drew into an offensive formation, arming their beam rifles. On the receiving line, the Delta 2 showed no signs of changing its bearing. Ismail then reverted to waverider mode and slammed hard on the thruster pedals. Delta 2 became ballistic in no time.
Even when the reinforcements formed a line of defense, Ismail continued to press on. Amid the thick spray of beam shots, Delta 2 corkscrewed, heaved, rolled, and lunged in all sorts of manner in pursuit of the escaping Stealth Unicorn. Due to the effectiveness of the attack formation, the ZAKus managed to land subsequent hits on the waverider but nevertheless Ismail did not mind getting hit. There was only one thing that was important to him that was worth risking his life: revenge on the Harbinger of Death.
“My lord! Delta 2 is trailing you!! He managed to –!” called the ZAKU team leader.
“Then continue the attack, idiots!!”
“B-but you’re in the line of fi –!”
“I DON’T CARE, JUST FIRE!!!!!” Ashram irritatedly shouted. You don’t know when to stop, you fool! In that case…
The Delta 2 charged behind the Unicorn cutting their distance quickly, when Ashram sent a brainwave surge directly into Ricardo's head causing his vision of the Unicorn to disappear. Ismail flicked his switches on his radar.
“I-impossible!!! How could he just disappear into thin air?!” He slammed an angry fist hard on the console in desperation. Adjusting his scopes, he tried to search the Unicorn, but being under the brainwave illusion, he did not recognize that all along, it was right before him.
“A soldier who became incompatible with the present, continually living among the ghosts of war, unable to accept change! You are nothing except a soldier who lived a meaningless past!” Ashram ranted via the commlink.
“If you say that the past war was meaningless, then my life has no meaning!!” Ismail exasperatingly shouted back, hands gripping tighter and tighter onto the control sticks.
“You’re way out of your league!!!” Then another wave of psyco energy shoved into his mind that made him think that the Delta 2 was moving slowly away.
"Not again! Newtypes..." Even without him seeing the Unicorn, Ismail knew it was getting away as he felt the Delta 2’s movement starting to grow slower. In frustration and inevitable defeat, he furiously thought, Each and every time!!! Each and every time, Ashram gets away!!! I will not accept defeat this time!!! I WILL NOT!!!!!”
Aloud, Ricardo screamed with all his might, even when he was under Ashram’s illusion, "No! You can't escape me!! I am your –!!!"
Ahead, Ashram started to sense a strong pressure building up. "What is this, this lingering… gnawing pressure?!? Who could it be? It can't possibly be –?!"
He quickly glanced to the pressure’s direction that he sensed earlier, only to realize that it came from the Delta 2. T-that’s impossible!!! He awakened…as a true Newtype?!?!
Unknown to everyone else, Ricardo's eyes glowed blue and in his burst of anger and all his frustration, he unconsciously sent a pair of ethereal arms towards the Unicorn and grabbed Ashram's head from behind. Suddenly, everything around Ashram became dark. He found himself in the same place where he encountered Harvyn Hue before. This place!! How could he have managed to do all this?!?
[I am your Harbinger of Death, Ashram!!!]
In the darkness, Ashram saw the waving elongated arms that held onto his head. Frightfully, he shrieked, “Get out of my mind!!! Damn you!! Get out!!!!”
[I am your Harbinger of Death, Ashram!!!]
"Arrgh! ...Such power from just an awakened Newtype! Wrraah!!!"
Ashram felt his mind being invaded in a painful manner. It was like seeing your nightmare plaguing your thoughts with everything that you fear the most, while little by little, you lose your sense of reality. This was known as the Mindscar Phenomenon, taking place among Newtypes who had experienced prolonged brainwave stress, especially when the strain was imposed by another powerful Newtype.
I will not be thrashed by the likes of you!!!!! Ashram used his power to counter Ismail’s pressure wave. With his eyes glowing off a blue hue, he concentrated on pushing away the Delta 2. Suddenly an ethereal form of Ricardo appears from the Delta 2 to strengthen the hold on Ashram even as the waverider was being sent further back.
[..your Harbinger of Death, Ashram! I am your Harbinger of Death, Ashram! I am...]
"Let go of me you desperate swine!!!" Ashram sent a second brainwave surge, gathering the will and energy that he could muster.
By that time the ZAKUs had caught up with the two mobile suits. Since Delta 2 was rendered immobile, it was like sitting duck before its enemies, who attacked it as if they were in a target practice. Shot after shot perforated the pitiful waverider, until minor explosions took place afterward.
Then the voice stopped and Ashram saw a peculiar vision before him. It happened while the brainwave manifestation of Ricardo was severed when the Delta 2 was by then too far away. The waverider then simultaneously went spiraling into collision towards the hull of a wrecked warship nearby where it exploded.
Seconds later, the squad of Royal Zeon mobile suits caught up with Ashram and retrieved the Stealth Unicorn to safety, where Atlas was coming to pick them up. Inside the mobile suit bay, the Unicorn was hoisted as crews of medical and mechanical teams were waiting. They had to manually open the cockpit hatch due to the damage it endured. As they opened the cockpit they saw a grinning Ashram. He was then greeted by the ship’s admiral.
"My Lord, it's good to see you again." There was no reply.
"As long as you lead the Royal Zeon forces, our--"
Admiral Soci quickly leaned closer to Ashram, and found out that he wasn't grinning, the illusion of the lights around the cockpit make it look so but the Unicorn pilot was simply staring obliviously in the air.
The peculiar vision that Ashram saw was himself being pulled away, seeing the back of the Unicorn as it was transported forward by the Zeon suits. What was that vision…that image? Is this reality? Am I real? Am I dead? Why do I…
“MAGNUS!!!” Aya screamed.
Richard was trailing behind the GINN. “Aya, you are currently in low space orbit!! If you don’t maintain the specified velocity, you’ll get pulled by the gravity in a blink of an eye so be careful.”
But those warnings fell on deaf ears.
Inside Axiom, the on-board computer informed Richard, “Approaching geo-synchronous orbit!”
Behind the GINN, Axiom trailed as fast as it could to stop the Crimson Shadow’s unit from her intention. Fearlessly, the GINN followed a trail that zipped through all directions to avoid the burning debris all around them. Its armor was also starting to glow red.
“Magnus, can you hear me?!?” Aya exclaimed into the Frontal Squad dedicated frequency, but she was greeted by static noise. She saw movements down below. Is that HIM?
“It’s that ALEX Gundam! But the other mobile suit… it’s the…” What she saw instead was a Royal Zeon unit shooting off the Gundam’s arms and legs. It then held on to ALEX’s remains and dropped further, with its ballute deployed.
I must find him!! He must not die!
“WARNING: overall temperature critical! Life support systems, compromised!”
Aya then switched on her normal suit’s life support system. She was deeply worried.
“Where are you, Magnus?!”
At last, the GINN’s radar picked up Keradjur’s location, which was underneath a huge section. It seemed that the section crashed against the red mobile suit. There would also appear to be a mechanical problem with Magnus’ unit as it was limp and immobile, flapping clumsily. A thought occurred to her. No, no!! He could not have died!!! NOOOO!!!
With the help of the Sturm boosters, the GINN caught up with the section’s velocity. As it neared the mobile suit, it was apparent that the Keradjur was pinned down by another section. “I’m coming, Magnus!”
Aya fired upon the other section using the beam rifle. It worked, for suddenly, the Keradjur was released and spun out control from the section. The GINN immediately followed it and caught it into its hold.
“Crimson Striker!! Are you all right?!”
“W-who is it?!”
“It’s me, Ensign Creuset!”
“What?!? What are you doing here?!”
“Trying to save you!!”
“You idiot!!! You just placed yourself in danger! Aya, you don’t need to go into great lengths just for me!”
“I don’t know what you are talking about, Captain!”
Aya then employed the Sturm boosters to slow down their descent. Immediately, she felt a strong shuddering of her unit. “ALERT: propel systems overworked!”
“DAMN YOU, GINN!!!! CAN’T YOU DO A LITTLE MORE!!!” Aya griped in frustration.
Keradjur was in a sad shape. Its arms and legs had already melted since the armor in those areas was not as bulky as in the torso, which the latter was designed to give adequate protection for the pilot. Finally, several Sturm motors exploded, which the GINN had to purge. With the lack of counter-thrust, both mobile suits started to accelerate in their descent.
“There’s nothing we can do at this point, Aya. But with your life to be wasted like this…!!” Magnus could not bear the agony of his conscience.
“I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now with you…”
“Aya…” A tear came from his eyes.
Suddenly a huge section came menacingly toward the two units. Since most of Keradjur’s controls have already shut down, only Aya was able to detect it.
“Magnus, a large piece of debris is about to collide with us. Brace for the impa –!”
She then heard a sudden transmission.
“I WON’T ALLOW IT!!! HAVOC DRIVE, ENGAGE!!! Forced system overclock, initiate!! ”
The system amplified the palladium reactor’s power to exponential levels. Axiom’s multi-thrusters also roared into life. Before the collision could happen, Richard directed his mobile suit to push away the wreckage. The Axiom shook violently as the mass of the object was too much. Finally, it succeeded but some sections of the mobile suit were giving way.
“Are you all right, Aya?!?
“Richard, are you crazy?!” Aya cried.
“This is what I do!!” Richard replied.
As Magnus heard Aya speaking to Richard, he became furious. Impulsive youths!!
“You easily throw life away! You must live on, Richard! For Aya’s sake, and yours!”
“AYA NEEDS YOU MORE THAN I NEED HER!”
You’re doing this…for me?? Even when I was about to choose Magnus over you….?!?
Without any hint of hesitation, Axiom pushed the remains of the GINN and Keradjur away from the falling debris. At first there was nothing happening as they had already fallen deep into the upper atmosphere, but Richard nevertheless continued to feed power to all of Axiom’s thrusters. But the stress and strain on the mobile suit was too much. Its structural integrity gave in, with its legs starting to collapse on their own.
“I can do this!!” Richard unswervingly declared, with Magnus and Aya helplessly waiting. Seeing the last of the huge chunks ahead of them, Richard contacted Aya.
“Aya, my unit’s starting to break up but I’m going to attempt us to swing sideways from this situation. Do you still have controls of your GINN’s manipulators?”
“Y-yes, I guess so.”
“Then have them hang on to Axiom tightly!”
[Cue to “I Hate This Song” BGM]
After doing so, Richard allowed their combined mass to gain momentum downward at first. Finally when the huge chunk was in range, he fired a rocket stinger onto it, which found a solid grip. Axiom them restarted its remaining boosters, since many have already overloaded and used the momentum to catapult them into the opposite direction.
The G-forces of the maneuver were so great, that even Magnus winced. Aya was overwhelmed that she lost control of the GINN’s grip of the Axiom. At the moment when they swung into the opposite direction, Axiom was forced to the other way, spinning out of control. Finally, they were clear from the countless debris falling around them.
There was no reply, as the Axiom started its way back to the GINN And Keradjur. It then held on to the GINN, making itself as a shield while the adiabatic compression due to reentry started to flux rapidly.
“Using your body as a shield?! Richard, idiota!!” Aya cried.
“I-I told you t-that I’d protect you, d-didn’t I?” Richard replied.
“Richard!!” Aya cried. “Don’t you die on me!!!”
“N-no, I t-think I’m clocking o-out,” Richard painfully stammered.
* * * * *
Inside the cockpit, Richard’s body could no longer take the enormous amounts of G-forces from the uncontrolled momentum. Time came that Axiom dissolved due to the high temperature. Richard felt the immense heat building up behind him. One by one, his vital signs started to retire. It was a horrifying experience to feel your internal organs cease to function but prior to his passing out, he managed to whisper into the commlink, “Aya… A-aishiteru..”
Axiom lit up into bright red. At last, it detonated in mid-atmosphere.
Aya said nothing. Richard’s last words kept gnawing inside her.
* * * * *
The GINN and the Keradjur continued falling in the atmosphere. Aya continued to cry uncontrollably and called for Richard’s name.
Their mobile suits finally fell into the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily, the GINN’s emergency floating system still worked, which deployed the inflatable balloons upon hitting water. Magnus had to swim out from his cockpit since his mobile suit was all too damaged. Finally, he resurfaced. From there, he saw the GINN’s remains. He was amazed that they managed to survive at the expense of Testarossa’s life. He also activated an emergency transponder which sent a distress signal.
In the afternoon overcast sky, lights streaked in descent. He saw the rest of the mega-sections that were not destroyed starting their atmospheric descent. But he was no longer thinking of the Operation Newton, or whether Ashram succeeded or not. His thoughts went beyond those things, which for him at that moment, were of no importance. He started to cry, but he cried like a man does in mourning for another man. After all, Richard did fulfill his promise to him as a man.
“Thank you for this life you helped to prolong, Silver Fang…” the Crimson Striker said. “May we find inspiration through our grief. Rest in peace, Richard."
What will the fate of humanity be? Find out in the MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY INTERQUEL Season One Finale. You wouldn’t want to miss it.
This is a rather long episode, the longest episode so far from the currently running fan fiction. It took five months to complete this, but not without difficulty. Luckily, the following people have bashed their heads with mine to come up with a thick plot. Thanks to you, guys!!!
Thanks to Keith Newman, for the Fifth Colony Section and writing up certain sections in the story as well as the contribution to the plot.
Thanks to Chitz Justaway for the outlining of the Fall of the Colony, which helped largely in categorizing the simultaneous events going on.
Above all, thanks to the group ... It is worthwhile!
Dedicated to Aya Creuset ... Hoping to see you in Facebook again, Aya-dono!
John Nigel 01:24, August 22, 2012 (UTC)