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Posted by John Nigel 23:46, May 17, 2012 (UTC)


Space

The RED ARROW finally reached the region where its mobile suits were engaged in a combat earlier. Keith Newman was barking orders to his men. “Where is the retrieval team?!? Time is a luxury that we don’t have right now!! Prepare the medical team and have them assembled at the mobile suit bay, quick!”

Alex Mk. II was holding what remained of Rauwolf. The only thing left intact was the chest assembly, but at a first glance, one would think the inevitable. Keith hurried outside the cockpit and tried to pry open the hatch of the other cockpit but it was stuck shut. He called Drake Howling’s name countless times but no answer came. Going back to Alex, he disconnected some cables and hoses, and attached them to the other mobile suit. “Don’t you dare die on me, old man!”

He pumped the air supply into the cockpit and contacted the RED ARROW. “Is it online now?”

“Establishing connection… We got it, Keith!!”

Keith replied, “Do the protocol scan. Rauwolf is designed with biometric startup system. It should also monitor the pilot’s status.”

“Checking the pilot’s status! Pulse, blood pressure, body temperature are all dangerously below normal! The hormone levels are abnormal as well! There’s an indication of possible critical injury!”

“It could be an effect of blood loss!”

“Keith, more bad news. Rauwolf has gone beyond its frame stress limit! If ever Howling survived that onslaught, he would have sustained irreversible injuries…”

“Will you stop updating me with bad news?!” Keith angrily protested.

Alex cautiously brought the Rauwolf remains inside the ship. Even before the pressure was stabilized, Keith went out of his cockpit and skimmed through weightlessness toward the perforated chunk of Luna titanium.

“Hurry, guys! The priority is to open the hatch!!”

“But Keith, the protocol is to –!”

“That doesn’t matter! Just forcefully detach everything!!”

One by one, the mobile suits arrived. Achilles retrieved the Valkyrie Gust, which was drifting slowly around. Diko Sidhikoro saw that Amber La Flaga was safe. She passed out due to the impact, but overall, the mobile armor sustained no major damage.

NOU Zeta went to where Hero Gundam was. The latter experienced colossal system malfunction. Even the thruster systems were offline. Apart from that, Hero Gundam was all right. On the mobile suit bay, Nouveau Gardien said, “You owe me one, dude.”

“Thanks, lunatic angel. But how is he?” Freed Melendrez worriedly asked.

Astraeus Blaze came in and landed. Zyann Nigel came out of the cockpit, while technicians started to do the maintenance and repair to the units. She saw what remained of the Rauwolf. Charred, scratched, dented… and bloodied.

She was informed that Drake Howling was borderline when they retrieved him out from the cockpit that imprisoned him. The medical personnel were doing their best to perform first aid to save the old man’s life.

She peered inside the operating room through a glass window. Amid the medical team and buried under the apparatuses was a man struggling to stay alive. For some unknown reason, Zyann’s eyes started to well up with tears. Inside the room was Keith, observing the operation.

As he went out later, he saw Zyann standing in an observation window, wiping her eyes. “Are you all right?”

Zyann smiled and replied, “Yes, I am. Don’t worry... I can manage.”

“You know, the easiest thing to fake is a smile.”

Zyann started to cry. “It’s just that… he abandoned me! All these years! He wasn’t there for me!”

“I am partially responsible for that. I have known before that he is your father, when NEU allied itself with ORACLE. At first, I didn’t have an inkling of who he was until he was fervently asking whether I knew your whereabouts. I was hesitant because revealing you would also reveal your powers and your unit unnecessarily. It’s a bad call. I’m sorry.”

Zyann shook her head. “You don’t need to say that! It was he who is at fault here! What kind of a father is he, who left me under the care of anyone else?! And now he puts himself in harm’s way just to save me?! I don’t need that kind of pity! I was fine without him, how much more right now?!”

A woman’s voice angrily interjected, “Then why are you putting up a childish tantrum and crying right now?”

It was Amber. Behind her were the others. Keith tried to stop her but she protested with a raised palm.

“Why are you crying if this old man who is fighting for his life right now doesn’t mean a thing to you?!”

Zyann flared up and shot back, “And how dare you butt into some people’s private affairs?! You don’t know me!”

“You’re right, brat. I hardly know you apart from being a selfish and full-of-herself kind of brat. But that man is your father! You have no right to say that to him, when he just saved your life!!”

“Bah! No one asked him! He brought this upon himself. Well, if he dies, which I really hope so, he brought his own demise upon himself!”

With those words, everyone could not believe their ears. Sidhikoro clenched his fists in sheer anger. Gardien shook his head in disbelief. Melendrez glared at the young woman for having said those statements.

Newman eyed La Flaga intently. The older woman put up a stern countenance. Finally she sent a palm to slap the younger one. Zyann, however, was aware of her intentions and caught her hand in mid-air. What she did not anticipate was the other palm approaching seemingly out of nowhere. Zyann flinched, bracing herself for the pain from the slap.

But it did not come. Instead, Amber stopped herself.

Coldly, she said, “You don’t know him. Try to get your facts straight before you judge your father, because I am sure that’s what you lack. If there’s anyone directly responsible for all this, it’s you; you were arrogant in the battlefield and recklessly went in without thinking. Now, if you continue that attitude of yours, I wouldn’t be surprised if others will eventually leave you.”

Amber started to walk away when Keith said, “That was excessive, Amber; you should –!”

“Shut up, Keith! You know you are not off the hook either,” she replied unsympathetically.

Amber glanced back and remarked, “If you think that none of what I just said matters, then you’re wrong. Darlene La Flaga, your mother, is my cousin. That makes you, bratty girl, my niece.”

Grabbing a lift grip, she hurried away from the group, her eyes welling with tears.

Suddenly, over the intercom, a voice called, “Keith, please hurry to the medical facility, stat!!”

Keith hurried to a communication terminal. “Why?! What is it?”

“He’s approaching the flat line border! We’re losing him!!”

Everyone started to hurry down the hall, leaving Zyann alone thinking. She had many things to straighten up, as crises both from within and without continued to escalate.

You’re right, Keith. The easiest thing to fake is a smile. The RED ARROW kept a low profile until they could regroup and think about what to do.



0044 Lost Century. The flames of war is far from being doused.

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