|MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 3 - Reentry|
|Written by:||John Nigel|
|Suggested soundtrack for reading:||
“LOST IN SPACE” by The Lighthouse Family
MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 3
LC 0040, October 07
Abandoned industrial colony
“Wh-what’s wrong with me?! Why can’t I see anything?! Is there something wrong with my eyes?” Amber La Flaga cried.
“Please somebody secure the patient! We can’t continue with this procedure if she moves. Sedate her, stat!”
“I’m on it, Dr. Gensai, preparing the IV drip for a sedative shot. Doing it now!” a nurse said.
Few seconds later, the sedative took its effect on Amber, who eventually passed out. Raba Lue was cringing as he saw her being attended to by a medical team that operated her eyes. He was relating the whole incident two days ago to William Gates XV, a close friend of Amber’s father.
“Is that so?” Gates inquired.
“Yes, sir. Probably a damage in the circuitry caused the G-Dampener to fail horribly, resulting to Amber-sama’s injury. I was tending Dre who was injured as well, but I did see the onboard computer clocking the Moebius’ space G-limits to 6.8,” Lue replied.
He continued, “We hurriedly returned to the Institute on Capricornus but Royal Zeon’s Lunar fleet already deployed a blockade around the area. We had no choice but to ask of you for help, since you are Director Jonathan’s close friend. Our last contact at the Institute was the warning message sent by a personnel about the arrest of the director so we decided to stay away from the lunar colony. It seemed that the incident we had earlier was relayed to the fleet’s command. Most likely, the empire already had its eyes on the Institute, as there have already been arrests made in some colonies, even on earth.”
“Jonathan?! Good grief! First it was John Nigel. Now, Jonathan?” Gates exclaimed. Then an afterthought occurred to him. It won’t be long until the Empire finds out about the Astraeus. I must inform Zyann about this as soon as possible. But how? Maybe…
Lue was in tears. “I am grateful to you, Sir Gates, for this invaluable help that you extended to us, especially to Amber-sama.”
“No worries. But Miss La Flaga needs proper treatment as soon as possible. Our facilities here in Promised Land are limited and all we can do for now is to innovate something. Her eyes need medical attention and be subjected to cellular regeneration procedure.”
“But the Empire is all over the space by now. Everywhere we go, I’m pretty sure Zeon will catch up on us,” Lue exclaimed.
“You’re right on that Lue. We ourselves are in the same boat as you are. But you’ll be safe here, at least for the meantime. Later, we’ll see what we can do,” Gates said.
Royal Zeon Empire capital colony
In a Royal Zeon Colony Base lobby, a Zeon soldier was sitting among others. Ensign Adrian Zowih Frost was listening intently to a speech given by Royal Zeon Supreme Emperor Dreigo Zabi over the broadcast television.
“…in these trying times, our resolve should be much clearer than ever before. The Earth Federation’s self-proclaimed authority which is kept under the ruse of terrorism prevention is in reality oppression and persecution to us who choose to live peacefully in space to let the earth restore itself. Their minds are held down by the earth’s gravity, close to understanding others like ourselves. Not only that but they continue to deplete, destroy, and desecrate the earth. Are we letting them do as they please?
I, the supreme emperor, truly abhor wars, having to pull the trigger against another human. But for our ideals as Royal Zeon to flourish and to reach the debased minds of those held down by gravity, sometimes using people especially the helpless comes necessary.
To some, this might seem oppression in itself. Am I contradicting myself here? But hear me out, people of Royal Zeon! I do not want to resort in taking up arms but the earth people think that they can go on living the way they do even when outer space, the place where we live in peace becomes a desert with the entire fighting taking place.
Rally yourselves to me, no, to the ideals that our forefathers handed down to us, to the ideals that we believed in ever since man took up into space! Shall we allow the Earth Federation to subjugate us as minorities? I implore you, citizens of Royal Zeon, let us join our lives together and liberate ourselves once more from the earth tyrants! Sieg, Royal Zeon!!!”
Everyone else in the lobby joined in the cadence that rang through the building. “Sieg, Royal Zeon!!!”
Frost gritted his fist and thought; I’ll definitely do everything to bring true peace, so that the likes of me will never have to be used for…
A voice behind him interrupted his deep thoughts. “You seem so eager to do your part, soldier.”
Frost turned around and saw a man in a captain’s uniform. Upon distinguishing the officer’s special insignia, Frost straightened up and gave out a Royal Zeon salute.
“Ensign Adrian Zowih Frost of the Testament Special Division acknowledging the Crimson Striker’s presence, sir!”
Captain Magnus Alexandersson returned the salute promptly. “There’s no need for that, Ensign. Testament Special Division. You’ve shown your commitment already to the Empire as you gave yourself to the Sixth Day Protocol program. I commend you for your priceless contribution.”
Frost contemplated, I did not volunteer. I was forced. Instead he remained silent.
Captain Magnus continued, “I heard that you are one of the close-in personnel for Lord Clay Mardha and the rest of our delegation to meet up with Anaheim Electronics on earth. Will it be your first time to go to the planet?”
“No, sir. I was born in Zeeland.”
“Ah, Zeeland. Delectable mountains, a very serene place, ideally for peaceful living. Sadly the war took its toll on it. Such a pity that many nations were invaded by the Federation,” the Crimson Striker said. “Well then, I hope for the success of your mission, Ensign Frost.”
“Sir!” Frost barked.
A lady soldier approached the men. “Captain, everything is ready as we speak. Our carrier is on the docking bay. We will depart in fifteen minutes.”
“I see. Oh and by the way, this is Ensign Frost of the Testament Special Division.”
The lady extended her hand and said, “Ensign Aya Creuset of the Frontal Squadron. I’m pleased to meet your acquaintance.”
Frost received the gesture and beamed, “No, the pleasure’s all mine, to finally meet the Crimson Shadow herself, one of the top aces among our ranks, and a lady at that. Your exploits inspire me a lot, together with the headship of Captain Alexandersson.”
Creuset’s face turned red. “I’m sure you’re good yourself, Ensign Frost.”
Turning to the captain, she said, “Here is the data for our operation.” She handed over to the captain a gadget that projected a hologram of a map. “The intelligence sector intercepted an encrypted communications signal that was traced in Europe, most notably the land of Scandinavia. It was relayed into Pakistan in the Middle East. They are pretty sure that the Federation and the earth Militaire’s activity will be unfolded there concerning the rumors of the Gundam-type mobile suit development.”
The captain mulled over and said, “In that case, there is no need to delay. It is in our best interest to strike the source first. Assemble our units. We will launch operation to Scandinavia first. Whatever result we’ll get there will determine whether we will strike Pakistan next. Please inform the team that we will be utilizing the Sazabi units in this operation.”
As Creuset left, the captain further instructed, “Do not forget to coordinate with the Phobos and Deimos squad to assist us in Scandinavia.”
Turning to Frost, he said, “I guess we’ll be on our way, Ensign Frost.”
“Sir!” Frost acknowledged, as he admired the Crimson Striker’s smooth disposition.
Amber was positioned on a high chair, her face covered with an apparatus. She was undergoing ophthalmological scanning with her eyes which were damaged in an earlier hostile engagement against Royal Zeon’s Phobos and Deimos Squad.
Dre entered the room in crutches. Behind him was Lue, bringing in some food for Amber.
“Amber-sama! How do you feel now?” Dre asked.
“I’ll be fine, Jante. How’s your leg?”
Dre stroked his injured leg. “It’s cemented solid for now to let the hairline fracture on my thigh bone patch itself up.”
Amber’s eyes were dilated wide by the apparatus and a pair of computer-embedded optical lenses was placed on her pupils to enable her to see clearly.
“The procedure is done, thankfully!” Dr. Gensai craned his head behind a computer monitor. “Miss La Flaga, I have calibrated the lens to give you temporary vision, but do not rely on it too much. You need an advanced medical treatment to fully restore your sight. However, this must be done as soon as possible. Any delay will result to an irreversible damage.”
Amber frowned and said, “But still, thank you Dr. Gensai.” She sat back on her bed in the recovery room as three nurses wheeled the apparatus out.
“Jonathan and I were college buddies, so you don’t have to hesitate. It’s a satisfaction to help.”
Lue sat beside Amber and said, “I have bad news, Amber-sama. A recent broadcast from the Royal Zeon earlier would seem to prove that they are conducting a sweeping operation in space to find us out. It won’t be long until they’d be snapping at our heels.”
“Is there any information where they keep my father?”
“Apparently, he is kept prisoner in the capital colony, Asgard, but we are not so sure about that,” came the reply from Dre.
By and by, Gates entered the room, bringing more news. “Miss La Flaga, it brings me joy to see that you are up and about. But I am afraid that you have to think twice before you return to Capricornus. Royal Zeon is staging a crackdown on every lead that they gather concerning illegal manufacture of mobile weapons. Just this morning, a contact from residential colony Eidon reported that they were visited as well.”
“Oh, great! Now we’re fugitives!” Amber groaned. Turning to her two buddies, she apologized, “I’m so sorry guys, for having dragged you into this and putting you now in jeopardy.”
“We’re all in this together, Amber-sama,” Dre cheered her up.
“We did this in our own volition. We were not forced by the Director, but instead, we wanted Jonathan-sama to fulfill his dream,” Lue added.
Gates smiled, “I truly admire Jonathan’s apprentices. I truly hope that you will be able to weather through this mess.”
A mechanic entered the room and said, “Pardon me, Sir Gates, but we need the assistance of Mr. Lue and Mr. Dre in the repairs and custom modification of the Moebius Adelphe.”
“We’ll go with you now,” Lue said. “Excuse us for a while, Sir Gates, Amber-sama.”
The three went out of the room and headed to the repair bay.
As the door slid behind them, Gates turned to Amber, “Miss La Flaga, I need to show you something that has to do with you in many ways than you think.”
Amber was silent, heart pounding.
Frost gripped the handle that traveled along the halls of the base. He was dragging along his equipment, preparing to board the Solstice, a cruiser that would bring Royal Zeon’s delegation to earth. In the docking bay, there was no simulated gravity. Frost snapped a switch on his forearm that unfolded the retro rockets on his normal suit. He hovered onto the port entry hatch but suddenly, his rockets fluctuated and gave an abrupt unwanted thrust, jolting him forward in an opposite direction.
A grappling cable with a magnetic suction on the tip fastened onto his back and reeled him back to the entry door. As Frost neared the door, a hand extended to him and he grabbed tightly.
As he gained his balance, he faced a young Zeon soldier who helped him.
“Thank you, mate. Something must have gone wrong with the rockets, “Frost said. “Ensign Adrian Zowih Frost of the Testament Special Division.”
The other soldier smiled, “Operative Richard Testarossa, previously of the Royal Zeon Space Force, recently reassigned to the support team for the delegation to earth.”
They shook hands. Frost commented, “Ah, you’d be babysitting as well as I am, huh?”
“It isn’t so bad, you know,” Testarossa chuckled. “I really don’t desire to see action, but unless it cannot be helped, I’d do my best. Oh and by the way, nice meeting you.”
Looking outside the shuttle door, Frost noticed a mobile suit unit being loaded into the rear cargo hold. “Is that your unit?” he asked.
Testarossa looked at it with pride. “Yeah, that’s Axiom, a Gundam-type mobile suit. It’s a scarce commodity among our ranks, actually because normally, we do not use such type of mobile suit. You know, I prefer close quarter combat because I am not too fascinated by beam spamming and all. The real battle is getting near to your opponent that you’d smell his breath of fear, and right there and then, destroy him piece by piece.”
Frost was amazed at the good-naturedness of the young soldier. But there is something that he cannot lay a finger on concerning his new friend’s true identity. What secrets does this Testarossa guy keep?
“Oh, really?” Frost said. “As of now, I am assigned to a ZAKU Nightmare but Lord Heimlich had a proposition with Lord Mardha. They told me that I’d be assigned to a mobile armor unit depending on how this deal with Anaheim turns out. Currently, our eyes are still searching for that mysterious mobile armor.”
Richard nodded and said, “Yeah, I heard the news."
The two men went inside the cruiser cabin as the PA system announced, “This is Captain Wilkes Leads speaking. Solstice will be departing in ten minutes so I advise all passengers and personnel to be in your designated areas.”
Frost and Testarossa sat opposite to each other, separated by the aisle.
“How did you come to be in the service?” Ricahrd asked. “I mean, you’re from the Testament, right? But I have heard rumors about your division…” He hesitated.
Frost shrugged, “Long story, my friend. Nevertheless, whatever was done to me can no longer be undone.” He was calmly speaking but Richard saw the fiery anger in Frost’s eyes.
“Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude.”
“That’s all right. It’s who I am right now, a result of man’s blasphemy trying to be God. I don’t know but I feel that I have lost my humanity. I am more of a living weapon, whose sole purpose is fighting…to destroy life…”
Richard remained silent. He thought, You just don’t know what I have been through, my friend.
Frost went on. “My dad was killed just because people say I’m a Newtype, and they felt that by being so, I am anybody’s property. But isn’t it ironic? I abhorred who I am, yet here am I, serving unquestioningly that which has destroyed my very life.”
“So, does it have any side effects to you?” Richard inquired.
“Other than occasional headache, there is none,” Frost answered. “All I focus now is to do what I am supposed to do, at least to honor my dad. Yeah, it may be a peculiar way to honor him, but I don’t know what I can do other than fight and kill.”
Testarossa sighed and said, “I’m not a psychiatrist or anything, but you should take a better and firmer hold of yourself, and do not lose to the raging frenzy within you. You desire for power because your family and loved ones were killed, and you cried for power. But now that you have taken hold of this power, you will now make others cry. Through your power, others will die. Don’t forget that truth.”
Frost looked at Testarossa in the eye and smiled. He said, “Obviously I am older than you but you seem to have more life experiences than I do. Enough of this because here comes the one whom we’ll babysit.”
Glancing over his shoulder, Testarossa saw Lord Clay Mardha and other dignitaries come in. He laughed and whispered, “You idiot!”
Circuit breakers snapped on, illuminating an enormous hangar. Accumulated dust on the floor would tell that this had not been disturbed for many years. Gates placed his palm on the identity scanner then a synthesized female voice announced.
“Scanning complete. Identification confirmed. Have a nice day, Dr. William Gates XV.”
Amber stepped inside and saw a red mobile suit in a tangle of hoses and restraining mechanical arms.
“T-This is…this is a mobile suit!” Amber whispered emphatically.
Gates pushed a button that extended a bridge to the chest portion of the mobile suit. He moved on the hangar catwalk with Amber following behind him.
She went ahead of him and touched the foot of the mobile suit. It felt cold and dusty, yet she felt the potential power of the Astraeus.
Gates continued, “It was tested years ago by a mercenary named Frost. We found valuable space debris in an area where there was intense battle many years ago, way before Lost Century started. We salvaged more than what we ever hoped for, including a mysterious technology of an unknown source. While in the academy, your father and I were able to refine the I-field, hence the H.A.R.O. Field, which I notice is also installed on your mobile armor. This,” Gates said, tapping the Astraeus’ leg armor, “has the same defensive equipment, too.”
Amber turned to him. “You don’t use this unit, do you?”
Gates shook his head. “No, this unit is a legacy. It is entrusted to me for the meantime.”
“Legacy, you say. To whom?”
Gates moved toward Amber and said, “This is the raison d'être why we have this talk, Miss La Flaga. The late John Nigel, who technically owned this mobile suit, had a wife who died when she gave birth to their daughter. His wife is Darlene.”
Amber was becoming more puzzled. “I don’t see where this leads to, Doctor.”
“Darlene’s maiden name is La Flaga.”
With that statement, Amber was genuinely astonished. “La Flaga?!? H-How…?”
“She was Jonathan’s niece, a daughter of his half-brother. John and Darlene were a family to me,” Gates said. “But it seems that fate was not on their side, as both of them died early…”
There was silence for a moment. Amber pondered, I didn’t know that I have a cousin who…
A thought came to her. “Wait a minute. You said that Darlene died while giving birth to a child. What happened to the child now?”
“Darlene gave birth to a daughter in LC 0025. Her name is Zyann. I lost contact with her during these past eight years. I cannot extensively search for her, as my mobility is limited because of the Empire. And I want you to… No, I implore you to find her, as she will eventually be targeted by the Empire.”
“This is – This is so bizarre, Dr. Gates. I – I don’t think that –!”
“Miss La Flaga, please listen further. Zyann is a Type B – emergence Newtype. By and by, the earth Federation will also target and capture her. That is why you have to help her, your blood relative.”
Amber allowed everything she heard to sink in. She asked, “Where was her last known location?”
“She was in a boarding school on earth, because Nigel feared that the Empire will take her forcefully. Now, news came to me that the Federation is doing the same thing as of the moment.”
Gates took a picture from his coat pocket and handed it to Amber. “This is a picture of her, the only one in my possession. She was eight years old when this picture was taken. I’m sorry that it would be of little help.”
Amber looked at the picture of a little girl with hazel blue eyes and a sparkling smile. She then felt the responsibility for her kin. Turning to Gates, she said, “I must then hasten to earth and find her. I am a family to her.”
Gates beamed and said, “That is a relief to me, Miss La Flaga. Do not worry about your trek to earth. We can assist you on that. After your mobile armor is repaired, you and your friends can use one of our cargo ships and head to the planet.”
He grasped Amber’s hand firmly and said, “I am old, and I know that my time is limited. When you find Zyann, please bring her here to safety so that she may receive her father’s legacy. With my life, I am truly grateful to you. But in many ways than you’ll ever know, you have so much in common with your niece. Anyhow, please be careful Miss La Flaga.”
“Thank you, Dr. Gates. When can we leave?”
Looking at his wristwatch, Gates said, “Considering the overall preparation, you can leave tonight at midnight.”
The restraining mechanical arms release the Royal Zeon’s cruiser Solstice. The doors of the docking bay opened wide and laser lights flashed to guide the Beyonder in its exit from the Asgard colony.
Minutes later the rocket boosters roared into life and blasted towards earth.
Meanwhile, at the Promised Land, the maintenance crew just loaded the Moebius Adelphe into the cargo hold of a small ship named “Icarus”. Inside the control bridge, Lue sat on the main pilot seat. Amber seated herself beside him while Dre strapped himself tight onto a separate jumpseat.
The radio crackled, “Icarus, this is Gates. God speed, Miss La Flaga. Thank you for your help in carrying my burden. Just a reminder, though. This ship will automatically release ablative gel coating upon reaching the ionosphere. But please take note of the exact timing to release the ballute system. Too soon will destroy it; too late, would be catastrophic, as it needs proper pressure to inflate.”
Amber radioed back, “Thanks again, Doctor. I will do what I must do, so rest assured.”
Gates continued, “If you ever need help, find Keith Newman on earth. If anyone can help you there, he’s the right person. He’s a young professor who has a spiderweb of contacts, influences, and such. Surely, he will be able to provide assistance.”
Lue turned to Amber and said, “What ‘burden’ is he talking about, Amber-sama?”
She in turn dismissed the inquiry. “It’s nothing, actually. Right now, we need to concentrate on landing safely to earth. Have you done this before, Raba?”
Lue sheepishly grinned, “Only in simulations, to be honest…”
“Oh, great!” Dre teased. “Now, I can experience how re-entry burn-up feels like.”
Speaking to the radio, Amber said, “Control, we are ready and waiting for clearance.”
“Roger that.” With alarms blaring, the docking port opened. “You are good to go, Icarus. You may launch now.”
“Copy that, control. Icarus, launching!” Lue called in.
Goodbye, Miss La Flaga. I put my hope on you, Gates whispered.
As the Icarus exited the colony, the three verniers spewed flames and it cruised towards the earth.
Amber rechecked the information flashed on her monitor. “According to schematics, afterburn will be depleted in five minutes, giving us enough momentum to reach earth orbit. Trajectory to earth, manually inputted. Auto-positioning for reentry angle determined. Estimated landing location, desert of Antarctica. All the rest, I leave to you, Raba.”
As the ship neared the earth, Amber was mesmerized by the blue planet’s beauty. She thought, Poor planet…victimized by its very own…
Her thoughts wandered along many things until she noticed a bright streak of light likened to a meteorite burning during an atmospheric entry not far from them.
She sighed, “If that is a shooting star, then I wish that everything will turn out fine.”
Little did she know that the streak of light that she mistook for a shooting star was actually the Solstice carrying the delegation to meet Anaheim Electronics on earth.
Aboard the Solstice, Frost nudged Testarossa but the latter was sound asleep. This idiot sleeps like frozen oil!
He peered outside the window and saw a bright orange glow. It’s a shuttle reentering the atmosphere! I wonder, where did it originate?
His eyes were fixed on the other ship. All of the sudden he felt an unexpected surge of eerie feelings. Why do I get this…this inexplicable feeling?! W-Where does this p-pressure come f-from?! I – I hate this reaction!!
“Ablative gel released as predetermined,” Lue conveyed.
“The entry corridor is too small! Check the overshoot and undershoot angles, lest we bounce back into space and drift away. Mind the ballistic lift for braking later!” Amber said, referring to the reentry manual displayed on her monitor.
Lue checked the altimeter and reported, “Will hit mesosphere in 5, 4, 3, 2, contact! Violent shaking all over the ship.” The backlighting in the cabin turned red.
“How’s the Adelphe?” Amber asked.
“It’s strapped on tight, Amber-sama. Don’t worry,” Dre said.
Amber was so tensed. Heat flux, nominal. Cabin temperature, slightly hotter than normal. Oxygen levels, moderate. Am I missing anything?
Dre said, “You should relax, Amber-sama. We can pull this off, you’ll see.”
Two ships entering the atmosphere, with two lives on board whose paths will intertwine ultimately. What will happen next? Find out in the MG GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel Episode 4 – Gust.