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MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 5 - Clash
Written by: John Nigel
Suggested soundtrack for reading:

“NOVEMBER RAIN” by Guns N’ Roses

MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel: Episode 5

Clash


LC 0041, November 30

Earth Federation territory

Northwestern Europe

5:40 AM. It was yet for breaking dawn, the sun had not shown its radiance yet. The mist of the fog had not lifted yet, and everyone in the town of Apsalia was yet to rise from their peaceful sleep. Little did they know that the serenity would be disrupted and destruction imminent.

Knight’s pad was in the outskirts of Apsalia, about 25 miles from the town and it was situated on a hill. He just got up from the bed and opened a door that led to an elevated terrace. He prepared for himself a cup of mocha latte with a dash of vodka to his taste. Deeply inhaling the cool breeze, he exhaled and exclaimed, “Now, this is what you call life!” Sipping slowly, Knight enjoyed the view overlooking the plains and the sea; his thoughts ran through the rigors of his life as a whole. He meditated, closing his eyes and thought, Shall I settle down or not? Ha! NOT!

When he opened his eyes, he saw an enormous silhouette against the dawning sky. Before the sun’s initial rays, he squinted and saw something that horrified him, sending a tingling surge to his spine. The Empire’s logo?!? It’s a Royal Zeon ship! What is it doing in a Federation territory?!

Knight dropped the mug that he was holding and ran inside. Changing into a white shirt and denims, he slipped on a pair of Adidas sneakers and set outside the house.

* * * * *

Not far from the Royal Zeon cruiser was the Magna Carta, an Earth Federation battle cruiser. It was hovering in flight despite its size, using the Minovsky Craft System. On its bow were two three-barreled turrets while on its underbelly was the retractable main weapon, Stratocaster Mk. II, a particle impeller cannon. It has the same properties of a conventional cannon, but it also does additional damage of impelling energy particles against the target further increasing the generated heat.

* * * * *

Aboard the Royal Zeon cruiser Solstice was Lord Clay Mardha, together with the delegation from the recent meeting with Anaheim Electronics. Mardha went to the bridge after he was notified concerning the volatile situation. Everyone on the bridge was on a heightened alert.

He said, “What is the meaning of this, Captain Leads?”

The captain promptly replied, “A Federation ship is before us, Lord Mardha. It seems that with the disorientation due to the recent hurricane that we encountered, while encircling and avoiding it, we unknowingly breached their territory and –!”

“WHAT?! Are they engaging us into combat?”

“There is no information yet from the Earth Federation, my lord. Currently, we are trying to establish contact with them, but to no avail.” Turning to the communications officer, the captain inquired, “Any word from them, Nails?”

“Nothing sir! It’s so impossible that they can’t pick up our signal at this close range.”

“Hrgh! These bastards!” Leads turned to Mardha, “You better prepare for disembarkation, sir. At this rate, we cannot avoid engagement. It seems that they are preparing for their attack position.”

“But we are a diplomatic envoy! We have not violated any provision from the Peacecraft treaty! They can’t – They can’t do this to us!!” Lord Mardha exclaimed.

A communications personnel reported, “Captain, we’ve received a transmission from the Royal Zeon ship.”

“Patch them through!”

The transmission conveyed a warning from the ship.

“Warning! This is the Magna Carta. You are currently entering an Earth Federation territory. You are hereby directed to change course immediately. Failure to do so will result to catastrophic consequences. Warning! This is the Magna Carta. You are currently entering an Earth Federation territory. You are hereby directed to change course immediately. Failure to do so will result to catastrophic consequences.” The same message was repeated all over again.

Captain Leads smashed a fist angrily against his console. “DAMN!! It’s pre-recorded! I got a hunch that they don’t have any intention to communicate with us!”

* * * * *

At the helm of Magna Carta was Admiral Carlos Zeiss, one of the Earth Federation’s brilliant rosters of admirals. He excelled in strategy but he was also ruthless. His exploits for the Federation went back in pre-Lost Century era. Earlier, he received an order from headquarters to intercept a Royal Zeon ship nearing their territory. According to the order, if worse comes to worst, he had to sink it. But there was only one sure thing in his mind; sink the enemy vessel.

He sat on his command seat, with all the personnel awaiting his directive. He calmly announced into the public address system of the ship.

“This is the Sandman speaking. All hands, prepare for a skirmish. Power Overwhelming operation authorized. We will sink that ship by hook or by crook!”

Zeiss then snapped his fingers, signaling Liam Rhodes, his second in command to issue specific orders.

Rhodes spoke into the commlink, “Condition red! Condition red! Close off all hatches. Prepare for anti-ship and anti-mobile suit battle. Alert! Power Overwhelming authorization. I repeat, Power Overwhelming authorization! Battle stations. All pilots are requested to stand by their units.”

Alarms blared all over the halls of the Magna Carta, its personnel moving here and there, preparing for battle. Its twin catapult on its upper deck immediately opened and extended its platform to prepare for mobile suit launch.

Jugho units, please standby for launch!”

* * * * *

Ensign Adrian Zowih Frost woke from sudden jerk of the Solstice. He felt that it was rapidly changing course. Unaware of what was happening, he hurriedly went to the lounge area where he met Richard Testarossa, already donned in a black and red pilot suit.

“Hey, Testarossa! What’s going on? What is this commotion all about?”

“We’ll be entering a battle soon. And to think that our first line of defense is but a single mobile suit! Nevertheless, I am preparing to sortie now,” Testarossa answered, obviously hurrying to the ramp deck.

“A battle?! Against whom? Wait!!” Frost shouted, but the hatch door already slid shut.

Frost ran toward the hangar but upon arriving there, he realized that there was no other mobile suit available. All that was aboard was the transport aircraft used by Lord Mardha.

* * * * *

At the Solstice bridge, the radio crackled, “Axiom, all prepped up. Awaiting orders for launch.”

Lord Mardha turned to Captain Leads and said, “May I speak to Testarossa?”

“Sure, my lord.” A radio microphone was handed to him.

“Do your best, Operative Testarossa. We are obviously at a disadvantage, but I rely on who you really are. Do you understand?”

“Affirmative sir!”

RZ-02A Gundam Axiom, you are cleared for launch.”

“Roger that! Richard Testarossa, Gundam Axiom. Let’s do this!”

* * * * *

Admiral Zeiss barked, “Initiate Power Overwhelming Phase I!”

One control personnel reported, “Preparation complete, admiral!”

Zeiss stood from his seat, emphatically gesturing his commands. “All engines maximum! Lock position! Transfer all generated power to the Stratocaster! Phase II starts as soon as Phase I is complete. Upon my command, people!”

Everyone held their breath.

“We have locked on target, admiral.”

Aiming at the enemy ship with his finger like a gun, Zeiss screamed, “FIRE!!!”

* * * * *

A radar officer wailed, “Captain, we’ve got a lockdown with their main weapon!!!”

“WHAT?!?” Captain Leads cried. “Steer 30o to starboard! Release anti-beam charges! Evade!”

“There’s no time!!!”

“NOOOOOO!!!”

A shrill sound was heard, followed by a resounding blast. BREEEEEE! TAGOOM!

The Solstice banked right but it was too late. The Stratocaster’s beam was right on target.

“All hands, brace for a direct hit!”

At a split second, Gundam Axiom whizzed in front of the Solstice. It released its Trikeros M shield, which was propelled by its own micro-thrusters, and met the shot head on. The mobile suit also released anti-beam grenade canisters that were preset to discharge its particles to avert the incoming beam shot. The shield was starting to melt, regardless of its coating.

Inside the cockpit, lights of all sorts blinked. “The weapon’s power output is off the charts! Heat flux is at its limits! The shield won’t make it but –!” Testarossa grimly said.

Due to the composition of the shield combined with the initially released anti-beam canisters and grenades, the particle beam from the Stratocaster was deflected all around the Solstice’s perimeter. It scattered onto the land and sea and caused a massive explosion and destruction.

KABLAM!

Although the Trikeros shield exploded eventually, it was able to absorb much of the beam. As it exploded, the Axiom launched forward and grabbed the undamaged “Angel’s Cleaver” sheathed behind the shield.

Lord Mardha stood up from the floor from which he was flinching. Trembling at the experience of brushing elbows with death, he angrily demanded, “W-What is going on?! Performing such actions without declaration?! Are they insane?!”

Apparently, the suspense was not finished yet. The ship’s radar suddenly went off. “Captain! Incoming missiles, count, 30!!”

Captain Leads commanded, “Intercept! Bombard them with all we’ve got!!”

The Solstice’s forefront cannons were coordinated to fire one after another with only a fraction of a second difference between shots. One beam after another wiped out the groups of laser-guided missiles that surrounded Solstice, blowing them into dust.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

“Continue firing, and set all crosshairs against the Magna Carta! We must live through this!!”

* * * * *

Scarlet red beams from the Solstice’s cannons blasted against the Magna Carta.

BZZZT! BZZZT! BZZZT! BZZZT!

However, the volley did lesser damage, due to the fact that Solstice was a small cruiser compared to the heavily armored Magna Carta.

“Hey, hey! They're actually using our ship for target practice! How can they beat me with weak crap like that?!” Zeiss mocked. “Is the captain a rookie, or just an idiot? Sending out a single unit to take on us? Let’s see how you take this!”

Giving strategy instructions, Zeiss barked, “Full speed ahead! Artillery hands, load Manasseh and Ephraim with fragmentation shells! Prepare for synchronized barrage. Upon my command, FIRE!!!”

The cannon turrets spit out shells that exploded before hitting the target, sending incalculable number of shrapnel against the Solstice.

Aboard the Solstice, Leads shouted, “CIWS gunnery, stop them all!!”

Dadadadadadadadadada!

* * * * *

Testarossa furiously exclaimed, “Like I would just let you!”

Axiom used the Angel’s Cleaver to shield itself from the incoming fragments, while firing its fire-linked Vulcan guns. Unluckily, there were too many shrapnel to intercept. Loads of fragments hit the ship’s fuselage. Explosions were everywhere. The Solstice lurched forward.

After the jarring explosions, Captain Leads demanded, “Damage report!”

“Sir, the outermost armor plates have been penetrated to the third layer! Our fore cannons have been hit!”

“Fire has started in holds 3, 7, and 8!”

“Port engine is stalling and is currently on fire, Captain! We’re losing stability!”

“Cut the power from the engine and jettison it! Compensate for altitude control using the side thrusters. Re-channel the middle engine’s power supply to main conduit! Connect the starboard engine to all thrusters, NOW!”

Testarossa was horrified of what he saw in the monitor. The Solstice was in a real bad shape but somehow it managed to stay aloft. Traces of black smoke were trailing from it. “Kisama! Why do you do such things?!”

Captain Leads told a communications officer, “Recall the Gundam. We will retreat from this region!”

Upon hearing the order, Testarossa argued, “But what will it solve, even if we retreat? At our circumstances, we can’t make it!”

“But we don’t have enough functioning weapons!”

“Axiom is more than enough for you, Captain, believe me.”

Turning to an officer, Leads inquired, “Any news from the Atlantic Command center? Our reinforcements should be here by now!”

“They just sent a communiqué a while ago that the Phobos and Deimos Squadron are hurrying on their way, but –!”

Testarossa said, “Captain, we need to buy us some time until the reinforcements arrive! For now, we must do our best.”

“I understand. Well then, Operative Testarossa, I leave the offense to you! Navigation! Change course to 10o east!”

“Aye, Captain!”

The Solstice fired its main thrusters. The ship's body was suddenly accelerating, emitting a ball of light behind it.



* * * * *

Admiral Zeiss issued an order, “Start Phase II! Launch all Jugho units! Right and left flanks, corner the enemy ship! Midpoint group, subdue the lone ranger!”

The right and left flanks were composed of three Jugho units each. The midpoint group was comprised of four units. The Jugho was the newest mass production mobile suit of the Earth Federation that excelled by far better than the GM IIIs.

The middle group approached the Axiom cautiously. Keeping a safe distance but within firing range, they blasted their beam carbines against the Gundam.

Being lightweight and equipped with multi-thruster system, the Axiom nimbly evaded the web of shots fired against it. The Axiom moved its arms into an open gesture of inviting them to attack. “Come on, cowards! Fight already!”

Two Jughos moved closer, weapons firing away, changing the carbine’s configuration to a much faster burst shot mode. Soon, the other two units joined in the barrage that almost managed to land a clear hit on the Gundam. All four units approached simultaneously.

Suddenly a reddish halo-like ring appeared on Testarossa’s pupils. His countenance turned gloomy, his voice became low-pitched. “Whew! That shot was but a hair’s breadth away! But just as I calculated, YOU CAN’T HIT ME WITH THAT TACTIC!!!!”

The Axiom reached for its “Shinra” rifle from the mounting at its back skirt. “Energy capacitor online. Now, take this!” Testaross let out three successive shots around the perimeter of the arriving enemy units.

The blasts from the rifle emitted a powerful repulsive force that knocked back the first two units, flinging them out of control. While the enemies were immobilized, the Axiom threw the Angel’s Cleaver and sent it spinning towards the nearest Jugho unit, impaling its torso. Crackles of electricity started all over the unit.

Meanwhile, the Axiom lunged forward and grasped the sword’s hilt. Using the downed Jugho as a springboard, the Gundam rested its legs on it and charged forward to the next enemy unit. After pulling off the sword, the impaled Jugho burst into flames. Axiom then shoved the sword into the second unit and lacerated away its lower trunk. Another explosion took place.

The remaining two moved away from the Axiom and lined themselves on both sides of the Gundam. The first Jugho unit continued to fire its carbine against it even though it was not hitting it. The other unit took its beam saber and positioned its shield for a synchronized range and close-quarter attack. In retaliation, the Axiom’s twin rocket stingers on its arms were released and rushed toward the Jughos, clamping tight to them. One stinger caught its target’s leg while the other sunk its claws into the chest of the second Jugho. Somehow, the two Federation suits tried to break free and blasted their rockets to pull away.

One pilot said through the commlink, “Head to the other way, and go full power! We’ll rip this damned mobile suit apart!”

“Roger that!”

The Axiom’s arms were stretched in two opposite directions. Inside the cockpit, alarms tripped off, warning Testarossa of hydraulic strain and mechanical failure.

“Trying to take me apart huh?” scorned Testarossa, utterly disgusted with the attempt to immobilize his mobile suit. He eyed a capacitor charging indicator blinking red and waited. When it turned green, Testarossa screamed.

“ELECTRIFY!!!”

The wire cables that connected to the stingers sent high electric currents into the grappled Jughos. Minor explosions took place inside the mobile suits, indicating electronic systems failure. One unit started to plummet into the ground below.

“My thrusters are all fluctuating! Massive function failure! HELP!!!”

The other pilot screamed, “System rebooting?!? M-My monitors are out!”

With the cables attached to the enemy units, Testarossa can hear their transmission. He smiled wickedly and grimly said, “COME HERE!!!”

He flicked a switch that reeled in the cables very rapidly, dragging the Jughos toward the Axiom. The stingers let loose their solid clamp and, using the Cleaver, Axiom chopped the incoming out of control mobile suits. An ear-splitting sound of scraping metal was followed by two subsequent explosions.

SHINGK! SHINGK! BAM! BAM!

“Newbs!” Testarossa muttered. After a short while, he started to hyperventilate and coughed, like waking up from a bad dream.

“W-What happened here?! The Solstice!”

* * * * *

The right and left flanks continued their attacks on the Solstice. Its starboard engine had been completely scraped off, leaving the vessel with only half its propulsion force. It was struggling to keep aloft. In addition, part of the living area had been destroyed, and several casualties had been reported.

Upon hearing the news, Testarossa was astounded. “Why, you?!” His countenance reverted back to his earlier unbridled and raging disposition.

The Axiom’s propulsion system roared into life, and it sped towards the left group. The Jugho units immediately withdrew into a safe distance, but the last unit was doomed, as it was caught by a zipping stinger. Dragging the unit towards itself, Axiom fired several shots from the repulsive rifle against it, severing layers of armor from it. When it was right in front of the Gundam, the vulcans sent off a stream of shots that perforated the poor, damaged Jugho that eventually exploded into a ball of flame.

"HRG! So persistent, these damned Feds!"

* * * * *

On board the Solstice, Frost saw all the mobile suit action in a monitor installed on the hangar’s wall. He thought, Testarossa, what are you???

* * * * *

Zeiss couldn’t believe his eyes that half of his mobile suits were already wiped out.

“Curses! You think that’s all there is to it, Gundam?!?”

He saw the Royal Zeon cruiser moving toward the land into the mountainside.

“Enemy ship changing course, Admiral.”

“Hmmmmm. Trying to take advantage of the variable terrain huh?”

A personnel informed Zeiss, “Admiral, we intercepted a transmission from the enemy ship that reinforcements are due to arrive in account for them!”

“Oh really? Well then, there’s no time to delay.” Turning to his second in command, Zeiss instructed, “Contact Apeldoorne Control!”

Rhodes hesitated, “Wait, what?! Admiral, are you serious?”

Zeiss flared up and answered, “Of course I am serious! Let me show these aliens my determination to wipe the scum from the surface of the earth!”

“But let us call our remaining units back! Issue a warning to the –!”

“You dare say that?! You dare oppose me?! I am in command here, soldier, and do as I say!” Zeiss screamed. “The moment that our soldiers launched, they are all ready to face certain death!”

Rhodes remained silent.

“The remaining Jughos will continue the operation as planned. They will draw the enemy ship’s attention. In that way, they will definitely not escape!”

After a short moment, a personnel reported, “Apeldoorne online, Admiral.”

“Very well, link us through.”

The personnel responded with a “thumbs up” sign.

“Apeldoorne, this is Sandman. Confirmation code Oscar, November, 5, 6, 0, 0, Bravo. Authorization override.”

There was a moment of silence for a few seconds until Apeldoorne Control responded, “Code ON5600B authenticated. Authorization override, control transferred to Sandman. Have a nice day, Admiral Carl Zeiss.”

After the confirmation, Zeiss grinned. Rising from his seat, he gave his orders. “Calibrate the orbital bombardment weapon, HEAVEN’S FIST! Input coordinates four niner Charlie, seven two Delta. Target, Royal Zeon ship! Magna Carta will abscond this area. Full reverse!”

The main monitor displayed a map overlay of their present area. Two dots were displayed, one red and the other yellow. The computer processed the coordinates then a square-and-circle crosshair locked on the yellow dot, which represented the Solstice.

“Calibration finished, admiral.”

“Relay satellite signal. Primary artillery bank, contact. Regulate output to maximum. Disengage safety lock!” Zeiss paused for a moment, as all other personnel on the bridge gazed on him. This is history in the making!

A liaison officer handed to him a remote switch.

* * * * *

One of the remaining Jugho pilots said, “Look! Magna Carta is changing its course! Are we giving up already?”

“What?! Did you see a retreat flare?”

“Neither signal nor order has been issued. What is the meaning of this?!”

* * * * *

Frost was still in the Solstice’s hangar bay when his communicator bleeped. Frost reached for it and answered, “This is Ensign Frost.”

“Ensign Frost, this is the communications officer. A relayed transmission will be patched directly from Lord Heimlich from Iberia Base.”

He's here on earth? Frost thought.

“I will take it, thank you.”

When the transmission was connected, Frost said, “Ensign Adrian Zow –!”

He was cut short by Lord Piotr Heimlich’s urgent voice. “Frost, get out of the ship right now!! The Feddies’ orbital weapon has locked on to you!!! You have no time to lose!! MOVE!!!”

Upon hearing this, Frost was stunned. He felt that is was as if time passed like a movie in slow motion. Suddenly, instincts of survival took over his body.

The aircraft! That’s it!!

With an adrenaline rush, Frost bound over the platform rail. He boarded the transport aircraft and started the engine. With everyone in their respective battle stations, he had not time to warn all of them.

I must get out of here! Hurry, idiot! There's no time to lose!!!

With no time to position the aircraft onto the linear catapult, Frost increased the power output. The jet stream blasted pieces of equipment all around. A mechanic saw him and shouted, “Hey, you!! You can’t take that!”

Frost, however, did not hear him, and the aircraft went airborne.

* * * * *

Testarossa was darting towards the nearest Jugho when his radar tripped a warning. It indicated an increasing temperature above the atmosphere. It was then followed by another alert notification of an ultra-high energy source building up right above him.

He immediately knew what it meant. His eyes shone with the reddish halo again.

He rattled into a keyboard a code that instantly activated the Axiom’s Havoc Drive. Its palladium reactor let out a sudden increasing hum that indicated an exponential increase in its power output and reaction time. The Axiom zipped away, leaving an after image of it. It dived into the water and disappeared.

* * * * *

LC 0041, November 30. 7:41 AM Greenwich Mean Time. The brightness of the day became utter darkness compared to the humongous radiant beam that seemingly fell from the sky. The HEAVEN’S FIST sent a beam blast that sent a series of shockwaves followed by an explosion like no other. The shockwaves were later followed by a heat wave, incinerating everything in its path. Dust, vapor, and flames were all around, completely disintegrating a large area of 20-mile radius. One third of Apsalia was instantly wiped out into oblivion.

The orb-like explosion somehow caught up with the small transport aircraft as it tried to speed away. Soon, it was engulfed in an infernal smoke.

The Solstice did not have any time to react to what was imminent. It disintegrated as it was right in the middle of the powerful beam shot. Lord Clay Mardha was killed, as the rest on board.

Aboard the Magna Carta, everyone was standing silent, hands raised into a salute in honor of the downed Royal Zeon cruiser.

Zeiss sat down, grinning.

* * * * *

The Axiom continued to speed away in the deep waters up to the level where Axiom could withstand the pressure. Testarossa repeatedly slammed his fists in frustration, angrily brooded on the outcome of the battle.

“DAMN! DAMN! DAMN YOU, FEDERATION!!!!”

* * * * *

“WAAAAHHH! ARGH!!”

Upon the surge of the initial shockwave, Knight was thrown many meters away into the ground. Immediately he covered his eyes and ears for protection. The glass windows of his pad were shattered; some trees and terrain were smashed down.

Moments later, he groggily got up, stunned and disoriented from the intense explosion that followed seconds soon after. He felt something dripping onto his palm.

Blood! Am I injured?

He noticed that the blood came from his nose, which was caused by the extreme pressure from the blast. He tried to stop the bleeding by pinching his nose and he started to run toward the house.

Out of the sudden, a resounding impact was heard outside Knight’s gate. He turned and saw a vehicle that collided against the metal fence. Seeing a lady trying to get out of the side door, knight rushed to her instead.

“Are you all right, miss?!”

The lady blinked her eyes and saw Knight’s face. She muttered, “My friend is…still in the –!” Unexpectedly, she slumped forward and became unconscious. Knight was just in time to reach out and catch her.

Her face…

Knight saw a small patch on the lady’s jacket. La Flaga Institute? That’s on Capricornus, a lunar colony.

The driver door opened and a man came out dizzily, seemingly unhurt but shocked. Knight called out to him and said, “Dude, are you all right? Can you manage to stand?”

“Y-Yes, I think I can,” the man replied.

“Your friend here seems to be hurt,’ Knight said, carrying the lady in his arms. The man rushed toward her. “Oh, no! Amber-sama! Please say something!”

“We better get inside and we’ll try to call for help.”

* * * * *

Inside the house, Knight was unable to make a call.

No signal? Maybe it’s due to radio wave interference from the blast.

He gave the man water to drink. They also placed the lady on a couch, and draped over her a silken blanket.

An hour later, Amber Leigh La Flaga came about.

“Amber-sama! Are you all right? Do you feel any pain?”

“I’m fine now, Lue. Sorry to have worried you so much.”

Lue pointed to Knight, who was leaning against a wall and was placing an ice pack on his forehead. “This kind man helped us,” he said.

“Arigato gozaimasu, kind sir, for your assistance,” Amber said. She looked around the house and commented, “I am so sorry that your home is ravaged by that blast.”

Knight smiled and said, “Oh, that’s acceptable. I may need a refurbishing around here anyway. I am just relieved that you’re fine now.”

Lue cut in, “But what was that intense light anyway? The impact was so immense that our van rolled over four times. It’s a relief that Amber-sama and I were wearing seatbelts.”

Knight’s face grew grim. “For all I know, someone’s got a lot of explaining to do. I am not sure about what type of energy it was, or the extent of the destruction, but I am pretty sure that the shot was made from outer space, most likely from a free-floating source.”

“You mean, an orbital weapon?!? But who would…?”

“Highly plausible, I should say. Probably you have heard of the countless conspiracy theories during the recent years, especially the one about the interstellar fleet bound for the planet Jupiter that seemingly vanished without probable cause, right? Purportedly there were nine deep space-fitted Vesalius-class vessels in that fleet,” Knight answered. “A sweep of an energy beam with that kind of caliber can easily accomplish that.”

Lue turned to Amber and said, “We need to hurry, Amber-sama. By this time, Dre must be awfully worried about us by now. We must immediately transfer the Moeb–!”

“I THINK HE’S RIGHT!” Amber interrupted. “We really need to get on our way now. Thank you for your help, Mr.–?”

“I go by the name Knight. And while we’re at it, I think you’d still need my help, since your vehicle is totaled.”

Lue looked at Amber in the eye and gave a questioning look. Amber declined the offer. “No, no! We’ll be fine, really. We can manage to be on our own –!”

“Nonsense. After what happened to you both, I don’t think you’re in any shape to travel on your own. Besides, the blast will cause disarray and confusion; I know that the Federation Army will set up blockades and check points along the main roads. This is an unfavorable and chaotic situation for you, who are obviously not from these parts, right? And I do insist to help. I hate to send you off in your circumstance.”

Amber’s heart pounded upon hearing those words. She thought, How did he find out that we’re foreigners? Is this nation a Federation territory?

“Very well.”

* * * * *

Knight got his car out from the garage; Lue and Amber stepped inside at the rear passenger seat. They went on their way towards the next town from Apsalia. They saw the extent of the destruction caused by the Heaven’s Fist. They came through several Earth Federation blockades and check points just as Knight said, but because he showed a pass, they were able to go through without a hitch.

After traveling for hours, they came to a place where the forest stretched up to the edge of the highway. Here, Amber asked Knight to stop the car. “This is our stop, Mr. Knight. We’ll get off here.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

Knight slowed down the car until they came to a complete stop. “Do you live here? This is pretty much secluded for a place to stay.”

Lue reached out for his gun holstered at his back, but Amber motioned his to stop. They got out and went straight to the forest edging. Amber stopped and looked back, saying, “Thank you once again. I just hope that I can return the favor a thousand-fold someday.”

That smile! She’s so…

Knight waved back at her. “Don’t mention it. I guess I’ll be on my way, then. Ciao!” With that, Knight backed the car and sped away. He glanced at the rearview mirror and he happened to see a man with crutches emerging from the forest.

Who’s that man? Are they spies? From the empire, maybe…I better check them out.

After the car disappeared along a curbed road, Knight parked it close to the ditch, got out and retraced his way.

* * * * *

The man in crutches exclaimed, “What if he finds us out? One look at him and I get the creeps. That man is not an ordinary man, I tell you!” He raised a fist against Lue.

“Relax, Dre! You look like you are about to explode a vein or something. And put that fist away from my face if you know what’s good for you!”

Amber interjected, “I think Jante’s right, Lue. We can’t take any chances. A lot of risks have been plaguing us recently. We don’t have any way of knowing who we are dealing with, and we haven’t found any clue about this Keith Newman character. So let’s hurry along and stop this bickering.”

The trio hurried into a clearing at the middle of the forest, where among the greenery was a huge object covered with a camouflage tarpaulin. Lue untied two ropes that held two corners of the tarpaulin in place.

Dre was not planning to drop the subject. “You were careless, Lue, you jerk! I wouldn’t be surprised if an army would be all over us soon enough. This Knight might just be a symphatizer or worse, a snitch of either the Empire or the Feddies!”

“Then you could have stayed at Promised Land and did not come with us, you sissy!” Lue sneered.

“If anything happens to us, it’s your entire fault!”

“Why, you?!” BOG! A solid straight punch hit Dre squarely in the face, toppling him over. Lue immediately jumped on him, and the two started in a locked brawl.

“ARGH! MY LEG!!!”

“CRYBABY!!!”

“Stop this, at once!!” Amber shouted in frustration, trying to keep them apart. At her voice, the two of them let go of each other. “What good do you think will it benefit us to fight among ourselves?”

When the two men calmed down, Amber said, “Lue, you better warm it up. We’ll leave without delay. Dre, please check the portable radar disruptor if its batteries are fully charged. Time is of the essence, guys. Let’s get to wor–!”

They were interrupted by a voice. “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!?”

The three of them froze in their places. They saw Knight standing at the edge of the clearing, his eyes staring at the huge covered object.

Amber calmly said, “Mr. Knight, whatever you think this is, please hear us out first.” She signaled at Lue and Dre, who cautiously reached onto their holstered pistols behind their backs.

Knight stepped forward and he took his desert eagle out, and pointed the barrel at Amber. “Who exactly are you?! And what is that thing you are concealing?!”

A green laser dot could be seen on Amber’s left chest. Upon instinct, she raised her hands in surrender. Instead of following suit, Lue and Dre drew their guns and pointed it at Knight.

“Amber-sama! Come here and hide behind me!” Lue cried out.

CLICK!

Knight cocked his handgun. “I can’t allow that at this point, can I?

Suddenly, a strong breeze blew around the area, causing the tarpaulin to flap away, uncovering the hidden object underneath it. What Knight saw sent a surge of authentic surprise all over him. Right then and there was the mysterious mobile armor glistening against the afternoon sun.

“K-Kore wa... This is… the Moebius Adelphe!!”

Knight turned to Amber and demanded, “Are you the pilot of this mobile armor?! Answer me!!”

"ANSWER ME!!"

* * * * *

LC 0041, November 30

11:22 PM. Two blinking lights coming from two ZAKU Nightmares hovering among the mountainous terrain contrasted the darkness of the night and the eeriness of the mountainside that earlier witnessed the massive destruction caused by humanity’s technology advancement.

“Anything, Faqadh?”

“Nothing, not much a movement, Lobsenz. We might as well retrace our way and give up the search. It’s hopeless at this rate. Besides the Gundam unit has been retrieved in the Atlantic. What makes this person important anyway?”

“You can’t question the directive from Lord Heimlich, you know. Commander Rick was only following orders.”

A blinking light registered on Faqadh’s radar. “WAIT! I picked up a signal, but it’s faint! Had I not lowered my altitude, I wouldn’t have got it on my detection system!”

“Scan the area, amplify the signal received. I’ll join you immediately.”

Faqadh answered, “Done! Comparing IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) signal and –! It’s an SOS signal from the mountains five miles from our location.”

“Mark it!”

“It’s one of ours! Better relay this to Commander Diaz, Lobsenz.”

Lobsenz opened an encoded transmission line. “Nightmare Recon to RD! Nightmare Recon to RD! This is the Magnifying Glass. We have contact with the ‘Kite’. I confirm, we have found the “Kite’!”

“Nightmare Recon, this is Rick Diaz. Retrieval team is currently launching and will be on their way shortly. For the meantime, secure the target and provide a two-mile perimeter around the area.”

“Roger that, sir!”

* * * * *

How will the events head out now? What will the effect be on the overall conflict between the Empire and the Federation, now that the Earth Federation drew first blood and used their orbital bombardment weapon, HEAVEN’S FIST? What will happen between Amber and Knight? Did Adrian Zowih Frost survive the explosion? Find out in the MS GUNDAM: THE LOST CENTURY Interquel Episode 6 – IRONY. You would not want to miss it!

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