|MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 4 - Gust|
|Written by:||John Nigel|
|Suggested soundtrack for reading:||
“SORRY” by Netral
MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 4
LC 0041, January 01
Outskirts of Apsalia
“Sheesh!” complained Knight as he hurriedly dressed. Getting out from the shower, he tripped along the rug because he was dripping wet. BLAG!
Ten minutes later, Knight was putting his leather coat on. He hurriedly ran into the garage and said, “Fenrir, start up!” Upon the voice command, his König FF511 bike started up immediately. Donning the helmet, he muttered, “This will be a long day. Why does it have to be on a New Year’s Day?”
Black Wing Division Building
Mobile Weapons Research and Development Department
Knight arrived late at the conference room of his division in Anaheim Electronics. He had no time to log in to the personnel computer system as this meeting was of the highest importance. Outside the building, he saw a Royal Zeon transport in the tarmac. Nadia, his personal secretary, met him midway.
“You’re late, Mr. Knight. Your superiors will be devouring your hide for this,” Nadia said as she handed over the black coat and a pink tie to Knight.
Knight grimaced, “Don’t we have any other color aside from pink? And what’s all this commotion about, anyway?”
Nadia lowered her voice, “The representative of the empire’s High Command scheduled a special meeting with our very own lofty entities here. It seems that they want a deal.”
Knight’s eyebrow raised in intrigue. “Oh, really? I better get going now, Nadia. See you later. Ciao!”
By the time Knight entered the conference hall, the top brass of AE together with the Royal Zeon’s entourage were all gathered in a darkened room. A man with no eye pupil and wearing a Zeon uniform was watching him in a corner.
Hmmmm… This must be a pre-emptive measure, this sly chap over here. Not taking any chances, I presume. Pretty strange eye, you got there, pal, Knight thought. He smiled to the soldier, who did not reply in any gesture.
Everyone in the room was silent, intently watching a video provided by the Royal Zeon. It was a footage from a mobile suit’s visual camera recording of a battle engagement. An unknown mobile armor armed with four barrel-like remote weapons engaging Zeon’s ZAKU Nightmare unit.
The empire’s representative spoke, “This took place four days ago, on December 28. The coordinates were blue alpha 4, yellow delta 6. Other than this video footage, we have no information whatsoever about this mobile weapon.”
On the video, one ZAKU pilot could be heard dispatching a commlink conversation.
“…it’s accelerating, nearing the +5 G mark! +6 Gs! +6.8 Gs! WHOA!!!” The pilot shouted in surprise as the mobile armor zipped past it, causing temporary radio interference.
“ ……bzzzt!....It’s not… bzzzt! ….-nnot establish…. bzzzt! It’s beyond our visual range, commander! At this rate, it will be impossible to find it!”
“You will not set pursuit, Ensign Faqadh! Our priority is rescue and retrieval of Ensign Aziel. I will have the Deimos squad prepare for sortie; a search and destroy mission. Its range cannot be too far away, as it will be low on power by now. Calculate its approximate trajectory and determine its multiple possible destinations. We cannot call this mission a failure just yet!!!”
“Sir, yes sir!”
The video ended and the lights were restored, illumining the room. There were whispers among the AE personnel. The empire’s representative, Lord Clay Mardha, spoke, “Our intelligence gathered classified information that the designation of this mobile armor is Moebius Adelphe. You see, it is necessary to take action to pre-emptively deal with situations like this. Order must be maintained so that no neutral civilians will take arms and drag the conflict further. All I desire is to end this meaningless war and put to an end to all sufferings caused by the countless battles fought. Therefore, we urge you… No, we plead to you to work hand in hand with us.”
The soldier who stood in the corner approached the representative and whispered something to him. Lord Mardha turned his eyes onto Knight, who was talking to one AE executive. “Are you sure, Ensign Frost?”
Ensign Frost nodded.
Turning to the AE leaders, Lord Mardha rose from his seat and asked, “Hopefully you will consider our proposal for the betterment of humanity’s welfare, both in earth and space.”
An AE executive approached Lord Mardha and extended his right hand. “We look forward to a fruitful relation between the Empire and Anaheim. We wish you success and prosperity. Good luck, Lord Mardha.”
After some formalities and exchange of proper gestures, the empire’s entourage left the room. But before Ensign Frost exited the room, his cold gaze met Knight’s. Knight responded with silly smile and a wave, mouthing the word, Ciao! Then the sliding door closed behind them.
Betterment of humanity’s welfare, huh? Knight silently thought.
After the meet-up with the Royal Zeon delegation, the AE executives held a meeting together with the head of the Black Wing Division. Knight seated himself beside his superior, Derf Dorough, a stocky man in his 50’s who headed the AE Black Wing Division. Dorough gave Knight a sharp look and motioned him aside. In a harsh whisper he said, “Damn you, Aeolus! Acting without my orders! It was too soon to execute Alfonse, dammit!”
Knight smirked and said, “What did I do? Besides, eventually the bigwigs will put Persia Base into the list. In that case, we might as well do it fast, right?”
Dorough clasped his fists, “If not for you being the formerly known as White Night, I would have—“
He stopped in mid-sentence, as Knight grabbed his collar and whispered low, “I’d think twice before I divulge what I know, if I were you, Taisa.” Having said that, he let go of the commander and added, “You can thank me later for a job well done, don’t you think?”
An AE executive spoke, “What was that all about, Knight?”
Knight promptly answered, “Just some rough playing, sir, and nothing serious. Hehehehe!”
Both of them became quiet for a while. Knight spoke up and said, “Pardon me, Taisa. I didn’t –“
“Cut the chatter, idiot. The meeting’s gonna start.”
The meeting started with the deliberation among the top brass of AE about the deal with the Royal Zeon.
“Currently, we are finishing the arms deal with the Sovereign Nation of Davao. As we speak, the delivery is on-going for their mobile weapons.”
“Hmmmm, it seems that Davao is serious about its neutrality. But as this war will progress, it would be a little time before they will concede to either the Empire or the Feddies.”
“There’s no big deal in that, actually, because as long as there is war, weapons are a necessity. On my opinion, peace attained apart from war is cheap peace.”
“I agree on that. And as of now, we are the leading arms manufacturer, with Morgenroate trailing behind.”
They continued to babble on until Knight, seating at the sidelines, sniggered. This caught the top brass’ attention.
“What’s so funny, Knight? If you don’t mind, share it with us, then!”
Dorough gave Knight a warning stare. “Watch your mouth, Aeolus. I have enough of your fancy stuff. Whatever you do, don’t get them infuriated.”
Knight spoke up, “Oh, it’s nothing, sir. I’m just wondering why we are entering into a weapons deal with the Empire, especially at a time like this? When a war between the Feds is heightened and will eventually escalate?”
“And what’s wrong with that?” demanded one executive. “We are a weapons development company, that’s why! And they wanted a contract with us. Obviously from the footage, a mobile armor that surpassed the capabilities of their own mobile suit is a threat to them. And we will give them that!”
Knight crossed his arms. “Even when we are currently the main weapons manufacturer for the Federation, huh?”
“Damn you, Knight!” Dorough objected.
One top executive slapped his palm onto the conference table. “Enough of this!!” At this, everyone calmed down. With a gruff voice, he turned to Knight, “Knight, no one wants your smart-aleck antics here. The company signed you up for your actual purpose. You are but a cog turning for the whole system, understand? Let us handle our jobs to decide for the bigger picture that we can see, of which you don’t have any prerogative whatsoever.”
The gods of war, Knight contemplated.
“Director Derf Dorough, I anticipate your division’s full support on this one. Are we all clear here or do I have to make myself clearer?”
Dorough cleared his throat. “We’re good, sir.”
As the people dispersed from the room, Dorough commented, “You just can’t handle your tongue, can you?”
Knight grimaced at him. As Director Dorough left, Sidhikoro entered. Giving Knight a high five, he congratulated him, “Good work, dude. You pissed them off big time.”
“That’s our job, Eagle Eye. That’s our job…” Knight answered, patting Sidhikoro on the back.
LC 0041, November 17
Knight arrived in the Research and Development building, late as usual. It had been more than ten month after the Black Wing Division commenced the development of a prototype mobile armor for the Royal Zeon Empire. Initially it was designated as a prototype multi-environmental attack mobile fighter, able to operate in and out of the atmosphere. Judging from the isolated tests in the factory, the mobile armor was going as planned so far. Though some adjustments and changes were made, everything went on without a glitch. For that, Dorough was very pleased.
Knight entered the premises and hurried to the test platform. Dorough was already there, supervising the adjustments.
“Good morning, Taisa! I am here—!”
He was cut short by Doroughs interjection. “And you’re late as usual. Better change into something suitable. We’ll be doing tests today.”
Knight went into his office and greeted his secretary. “Hello there, Nadia. It’s a lovely day today, don’t you think?”
“Good morning, sir, Mr. Knight. Today’s the big day huh?”
Knight looked through a window overlooking the development station. He saw their division’s effort, initially painted blue, white, and black. All that’s left was for the weapons department to develop the appropriate range of armaments suitable for its use.
With pride in his eyes, Knight grinned, “Man! She’s a real beauty…”
Nadia replied, “It is, sir.”
“No,” disagreed Knight. “I meant you.” He rested a hand on hers.
“M-Mr. Knight, sir,” Nadia protested softly. “I told you, I am already married…” Her voice trailed off.
“So?” countered Knight, leaning over. He was about to kiss her when someone entered the room. It was a technician reporting the mobile armor’s preparation.
Great timing, man! Am I lucky or what? Grrrrrr…. Knight complained.
“We’re all set for its maiden flight, sir!”
“Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.”
When Knight turned to Nadia, she was already gone. “Cool,” he muttered.
“Y-you can’t be serious, sir! Company policy forbids you to do it!” said Tomino, the head mechanic of the Black Wing Division. Knight had already donned a pilot suit, and he took one helmet from the rack.
“Screw the policy. I’ll be the one to do this. There’s no one else who knows the prize fighter better other than me,” Knight insisted. “Besides, I can pilot as good as any of our test pilots here.”
A friendly younger mechanic interjected, “Probably way better, even.”
Knight pointed at him and said, “You’re the man!”
“But sir, we still don’t know its tendencies and imperfections—!”
“Imperfections, you say? That’s why I have to pilot this one. At least, no one else has to die, right? “
“But your safety is our concern, sir, and we just cannot—!” one test pilot replied.
“I believe in the aptitude of our division, guys, and you all should as well. If I am not confident to at least ride on one, what’s the whole point of this division? This chat is over, people! Man you designations ASAP!”” Knight shouted at the middle of the hangar. At this, everyone inside cheered and clapped their hands.
Dorough face-palmed and turned to the protesting head mechanic. “Tomino, you can’t win. Let him have his way.”
Sidhikoro, who was attending at a terminal, called out, “Anata wa baka!” Everyone laughed in return.
“Linear catapult engaged. Increasing voltage level to 800 kV. Transferring launch controls to mobile armor with designation XMAF-1102.”
Knight confirmed the transfer. “I have control.”
One control technician interrupted, “Sir, we don’t have a call sign for this one yet. What do you suggest?”
Dorough commented on the commlink, “Why not name it Starscream?”
“What a hackneyed idea, you got there, commander!” Eagle Eye teased.
“I want the enemy to see this mobile armor like a screaming valkyrie coming right at them and instill dread and fear into their hearts,” Knight responded. “Let’s call it Valkyrie Gust.”
The control technician typed into the main computer and said, “Aye sir! Changing designation to XMAF-1102vg, mobile armor call sign, Valkyrie Gust. You are clear for take-off!”
Knight straightened in the cockpit. “XMAF-1102vg Valkyrie Gust. Knight, soaring to the skies!”
At the flick of the controls, the linear catapult accelerated the Valkyrie to an atmospheric speed of 450 kph. Upon airborne, its massive single main Vernier thruster and twin GN hyper thrusters picked up the velocity. With the front wings swept back, the mobile armor skyrocketed through the open sky.
“The diection controls are extremely delicate, but there’s nothing I can’t handle!” Knight radioed back to the base.
“Roger that, Knight!” Sidhikoro replied, inputting data to the computer.
Knight made some maneuvers that bordered between what is advanced and what is actually dangerous. Dorough couldn’t help but comment, “Don’t overdo it, Knight.”
“Relax people! This is so much fun, way better than anything else that Black Wing has ever designed,” Knight called back.
Minutes later, Knight had wandered from the BWD base’s radar range without knowing of it. He did not let a navigator join him aboard. “Oh, shoot! I didn’t realize that I’m lost! Now, where am I supposed to be?” he muttered.
The mobile armor continued to digress around the deserted area. The onboard computer was not calibrated with the terrain map of the area. Knight grumbled, “Maybe it was such a bad thing to start all this alone.”
On his monitor screen overhead, a display notified him of an unknown object closing in at an unimaginable speed.
“Hmmmm… I don’t remember any Zeon or Feddie activity around these parts. Could it be Earth Militaire or some renegade group? No data match in the database, but considering the heat signature, it’s likely an aircraft,” Knight thought. “What’s an aircraft doing here? I’ll give it a greeting, then.” Adjusting the thruster output, the Valkyrie sped up, meeting the unknown aircraft halfway.
At the distance of 9 miles, Knight’s alarm system went off.
“Crap! Why is it firing at me now?” Knight nudged the control stick to the left, sending the Valkyrie to bank left just in time to avoid a blue and pink energy blast. He immediately analyzed the nature of the blast as the computer registered the flight data.
“That was a proton beam!!!” He immediately turned the emergency commlink line on. “This is Agent Aeolus calling to Hive Base, Agent Aeolus calling to Hive Base. Identification number WK45SCI1. Hive Base can you read me over!” But all that greeted him was static noise.
“Great! Now, I’m way out of range from Hive. What now?” Knight exclaimed. He exhaled slowly and said, “Calm down. You were once called White Knight for nothing.”
As the aircraft was within visual range, Knight saw that it was a mobile armor. Without warning, the two mobile armors zipped past each other. Knight was surprised to see that the mobile armor from the Royal Zeon footage was the same unit as this one. As it flew past, he noticed the label “Adelphe” on the nose cone.
He looked back and saw the mobile armor turning hard to the right. He realized, “It’s gonna engage me into combat! Hmmmm… Let’s see if I still have the edge.”
Knight sped up to escape from the Moebius. He pushed a button the slipped out a keyboard in front of him. He rewrote the algorithms and all other necessary controls, which in reality would make maneuvering even harder. Behind him, the Moebius caught up and fired its cannons against the Valkyrie. At this rate, it was virtually impossible to dodge the attacks. Just in the nick of time, Knight activated the H.A.R.O. Field that protected the Valkyrie from the beam-based weaponry of the other mobile armor.
He shouted in elation, “HA! Just a hairline margin! All right, my luck’s still intact, so here I come!”
The pilot of the Moebius was taken by surprise when the proton bombardment was deflected. What the –! That was an authentic H-Field!! But how –! It’s equipped with an identical defense system as the Moebius?!
Meanwhile, Knight scanned the radio frequency and tried to contact the pilot using the international emergency code. Still there was no answer. While being under barrage, he did not know that the Moebius’ railgun was directed at him.
“Let’s see if your defense perimeter can withstand solid projectiles!” said the Moebius pilot. “Take this, Zeon scum!!!”
The railgun’s barrel lit brightly as it sent a projectile onto its target.
Seconds later, the shell hit the Valkyrie’s port side GN thrusters but it turned out to be a minor damage, thanks to the combined Gundarium alloy and Macross technology cladding that comprised Valkyrie’s armor.
“It shook off the attack?! The railgun’s not loaded with armor-piercing rounds?!” the Moebius pilot wondered angrily.
Knight, on the other hand, mused over, “Probably the voltage of the railgun wasn’t high enough to cause substantial damage. Nevertheless, the pilot is surely a skilled one, probably a Newt –!” He was cut short because the mobile armor moved closer into the Valkyrie’s rear, obviously trying to get a point blank shot.
“Behind me!” Upon realizing the Moebius’ intention, Knight released flares that splattered into the mobile armor, distracting the pilot momentarily.
“What the – ! Like it will work on me!” the Moebius pilot shouted.
Knight took his chance. He isolated the power feed from the main power grid that sent the Valkyrie into a dead drop, spiraling downwards. Upon reaching a predetermined altitude, Knight released all power available to maximum output and darted to the opposite direction.
“You’re not getting away!”
Unsurprisingly, the Moebius followed suit. Its barrels turned to the opposite direction and changed course. It did not take long until the mobile armor was pursuing the Valkyrie’s tail. Knight eyed the acceleration display and was amazed that considering its obvious weight and aerodynamic design, the Moebius was catching up with him even nearly thrice the speed of sound.
He murmured, “Even the conventional aerodynamics wouldn’t agree, it still can fly, capable of supersonic cruise as well. I applaud the brain behind the Moebius’ development.” He looked through the canopy and was utterly surprised to see that the Moebius was by now flying side-by-side with the Valkyrie. What?! It caught up on me pretty easily?!
At last the radio zeroed in to the right frequency. Immediately, Knight began a commlink.
“This is Knight from Anaheim Electronics. I repeat, this is Knight from a neutral company, Anaheim Electronics. Pilot of the unknown mobile armor, please acknowledge. Why are you aggressively hostile to me? Please acknowledge!”
There was no response for a while, so Knight repeated his statement. At last the pilot replied, “Gomenasai! There seemed to be a little confusion here. I’ve mistaken you for a Royal Zeon recon aircraft!”
With that response, the Moebius rapidly slowed down and went the other way.
Knight brought the Valkyrie into a sub-sonic cruising speed. He let out a sigh of relief, but was still dumbfounded. He kept mumbling, “…a woman? The pilot is a woman?”
LC 0041 November 18
Black Wing Division Building
Knight reported the results of the maiden flight of the Valkyrie Gust to some AE top brass along with the Royal Zeon’s weapons department delegation from Iberia Base, though he kept mum with his experience against the mysterious Moebius Adelphe. Lord Clay Mardha was present, but Knight realized that the white-eyed Zeon soldier who eyed him sharply in a previous meeting was absent.
After Knight’s report, an AE executive discussed, “This mobile armor with designation XMAF-1102vg or most notably known as Valkyrie Gust obviously has the upper hand in comparison with the thrust to weight ratio compared to this Moebius unit. Though it doesn’t bleed energy below 400 knots, I think that the Moebius on the other hand, apparently has a problem with its unusual design. In atmospheric flight, it won’t do a negative G-pushover.”
Knight, who was seated in the sidelines interjected, “But I happened to see that this so-called Moebius do a 4 G-negative dive.” Everyone in the room went into a hushed whisper.
“What?!” demanded a Royal Zeon officer. “What sort of bull is this? And who are you?!”
“I am Knight, part of the design and development team of the Black Wing Division, with the record of manufacturing Zypher, NOU Zeta, Stealth Unicorn, Axiom, and other units for you. I also happened to be the test pilot for the Valkyrie Gust.”
An AE officer cursed, “You idiot! Didn’t you know that – !”
“Silence!” Lord Clay Mardha shouted. Turning to Knight, he said, “Make yourself clear, young man. How did you know?”
“Because I was there, sir.”
Dorough scowled, “Aeolus…”
“You mean, you were in a 4 G-negative dive with the Moebius?” Mardha inquired further.
“Actually it was 4.8 G-negative, sir. The flight data is all yours.” He gamely tossed a flash drive that has the flight data of his encounter with the Moebius Adelphe.
Lord Mardha turned to the AE executives and spoke, “Then we request the original copy of the flight data including the actual specifications of the Valkyrie Gust. We will expect the completion in two months’ time. Until then, we all desire for the success of this partnership for true peace.”
Derf Dorough met with the Black Wing Division team in a secret location.
Tomino was looking over the flight data on Abacus’ laptop. He said, “It’s just as what Knight said. The graph drop confirms the ability of THAT mobile armor. I guess I will highly consider all these in the future design.”
Abacus typed into the laptop and replied, “And what’s more interesting is that the Moebius is designed for space combat, but it can fly in the atmosphere using its boosters and thrusters. I am curious about its schematics. If I can just hack into its onboard computer next time, it will be a jackpot for us.”
“How exactly did you do it, Knight? I mean, Valkyrie is at par with the Moebius, right?” Xihei asked, turning to Knight.
Knight downed a beer mug. “Wrong, 'Killer'. You mean, Moebius is at par with the Valkyrie. I can’t explain it, but it seems that Black Wing has done a great job with the Valkyrie this time. But what I am contemplating is that some people with enough technology and knowledge were able to fabricate a very powerful mobile weapon. Who knows what’s out there? I am sure there are lots of unrestricted manufactures.”
Sidhikoro put in, “We can only guess. But tell them, Knight, about what worries you even more.”
Nadia’s eyebrows were raised in curiosity. “Knight and worry do not mingle in the same statement, Eagle Eye. But let’s hear it anyway.”
“Eagle Eye is right. What worries me even more is that the Moebius Adelphe’s pilot was a woman. I know, guys, because we talked over the commlink.”
“A woman?” Nadia marveled. “I feel jealous immediately.”
Metzer snapped a pair of chopsticks apart and ate a bowl of yakisoba. “Nadia is indeed both jealous and envious because she’s married! Hahahaha!”
Raijin joined in, “It's her fault, you know. She’s born later than Knight was!” He flinched sideward as a flying spoon almost struck his head. Nadia was flustered.
“WHOA! Easy, girl, easy,” Raijin said.
“You shouldn’t, sweetheart,” Knight teasingly replied to her.
Dorough grunted, “Let’s go back to the topic, team. We need to find out who is behind the manufacture of it and capture this Moebius Adelphe. This is being true to our primary objective, people. Loose mobile weapons cannot be allowed to proliferate, as it will drag the whole war confusion all the more.”
Knight smirked, “You mean, as it will be unprofitable in the long run.”
Sidhikoro rolled his eyes and muttered, “Right. The gods of war…”
“Why are we exactly making deals with Royal Zeon and the Earth Federation?” Knight questioned. “I can’t put a finger on any of a proper reason for it.”
Dorough looked at Knight in the eye and replied, "Have you ever considered that our aim was the defeat of both forces? Don't we want change in the whole of humanity? So why is is that we, the the Black Wing Division, willing to manufacture for these people, while they sabotage themselves as we make deals with them? Weaponry can change governments, far greater than votes, laws or any form of procedure.”
“So we get rich by giving the poorest people on earth and space the means to continue killing each other?” Knight reasoned.
Dorough sharply turned to him, “We sell to people a means to defend themselves, Aeolus! And this requires an entity like us, the Black Wing with rare ingenuity to do the job. We do what we do because we have to do it, not because we can, but for a reason. I anticipate that all of us do not forget the reason why we exist in the first place. Are we clear on that?”
Sidhikoro gave a faint nod.
Nadia raised her brows in agreement.
Tomino flashed a smile.
Xihei replied, “Yes.”
Metzer and Raijin gave a mocking salute. Abacus was too busy with the laptop to bother an answer.
Dorough turned to Knight and asked, “How about you, White Knight?”
Knight glared at him but replied, “Yes, Sir Dorough.”
The group dispersed from the place into the darkness of the night. What will happen in the next episodes? Find out in MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Episode 5 - CLASH