In Pursuit of Love

Chapter 2: Inspection Tour

"Mr. Stryker, the inspection team from the UEN is here."

Stryker nodded. "Show them in. Who came?"

"Minister Relena Darlian and her bodyguard, Lieutenant Heero Yuy, Senator Sylvia Noventa, and Commander Sally Po and her assistant Lieutenant Chang Wufei."

Stryker sighed. "The people with the most reason to dislike mobile suits."

The officer walked off to show the team in. They were currently in a remote island in the Pacific, at a construction and test site for the new mobile suit. The massive hanger currently held eight Leos, four Virgos, and four Aries. There was no point in actually hiding them so Stryker didn't even try. A few moments later Victoria came in with the team. Stryker turned to greet them.

"Minister Darlian. It is a pleasure to see you again."

Relena took his hand and the two shook.

"And Senator Noventa. I had not thought you were involved with anything defense related."

"This is more of an internal affairs matter," Sylvia replied.

"Is it? Well, I guess that doesn't really concern me. And of course Commander Po. Please come this way."

The group walked past the Gundams to another part of the installation. As they went, Relena made a few comments.

"I had thought all the Virgos and other such mobile dolls had been destroyed," she said.

"My company was able to purchase these for research purposes," said Stryker, "The purchases were approved by the government. Actually, they asked me for help during the Barton Coup, though I wasn't able to act fast enough to help."

"I'm surprised you don't have Snakes," Sylvia commented.

"Hardly. While their design is impressive, they didn't have any real technology that my corporation was interested in. Ah, here we are."

Stryker slid his clearance card through the reader and the elevator doors opened. They then went underground and stopped a minute or so later. When they got out, they were in a massive well-lit chamber.

"There it is," said Stryker, "The prototype."

The mobile suit in question was at least fifty feet tall, as large as a Gundam. Most of its outer plating and armor were still unattached and a lot of its internal structure was visible.

"What are you making its frame out of?" Sally asked.

"Gundanium alloy," Stryker answered, "I know, it seems a waste to use the material just for structure, but we have our reasons."

"With gundanium alloy for structure it would be almost impossible to blast off an appendage or sever it in any way," Heero noted, "The only thing that would work would be something as powerful as Zero Wing's Buster Rifle."

"And there aren't any remaining that are that powerful," Relena added, "So this Gundam is almost impossible to destroy."

"Of course," said Stryker, "We wanted to build the ultimate mobile suit."

The team exchanged looks. So far, Stryker had not made any mention that in reality this thing was a Gundam. He kept calling it a mobile suit.

"When do you expect to finish it?" Sally asked.

"In less than a year providing there are no issues with its wings," Stryker answered.

"Wings?" That peeked Relena's curiosity again.

"Yes. Inspired by Wing Zero's wings actually. The setup on that Gundam was interesting but could have used a little work. The primary issue was that without a flight mode, maneuverability wasn't as good as it could have been."

"You seem to know a lot about Gundams," Wufei noted.

"Of course. The Gundams utilized some very interesting technology that my scientists had to recreate. We also studied the Zero system and the mobile doll system."

"What?"

This came from all of the women on the inspection team while Heero and Wufei had dangerous looks in their eyes.

"Primarily to see what they did. Both are surprisingly similar. The Zero system gathered tactical data and sent it to the pilot while the mobile doll was like an advanced AI that processed data and adapted to it. Both have its flaws, but there is potential."

"What do you mean?" Relena demanded.

"The data processing technology," Stryker answered coolly, "There are no computers in the world that can calculate something that fast. If we can adapt the technology for commercial use, the investment would be justified."

"How would you know a commercial version of the Zero system would be safe?" Relena asked.

"The Zero system? I would never release that to the public. I'm referring to the data processing technology. It calculates faster than any current computer and all you have to do is program it accordingly. Besides, it displays the information, it doesn't feed them into the pilot's brain."

That sounded a little better, but what other use had Stryker come up for with the Zero system and the mobile dolls? There was always that question. And how had he gotten hold of the Zero system in the first place was questionable.

"Can you tell me why you're building a mobile suit?" Relena asked.

"I've already justified construction with the Defense Committee and it would be a waste of time trying to convince any of you," said Stryker, "You wouldn't believe me anyways."

"Are you always so straightforward?" Relena asked.

"Yes. There's no point in dodging an issue so I get right to it. That's how I managed to build up Stryker Corporation to the scale it is now."

From the looks of the internal structure, this mobile suit would be impressive indeed. Instead of wires running all over, there were lines that ran down the mobile suit. They were shining and the entire thing looked like a circuit board.

"Interesting," said Wufei, "Everything is controlled using circuits instead of wires."

"Less stuff you have to go through," said Stryker, "Besides, there are several layers and the cooling system is the board itself so we have fewer problems with overheating."

"It is a very interesting design," said Sally, "What military aspects does it have?"

"An advanced particle cannon," Stryker answered without hesitation.

"What!" Relena screamed, surprised at the fact that there was such a weapon and that Stryker would admit it.

"I'm assuming the Committee agreed to that as well," said Sylvia.

"But of course. They have copies of the basic designs."

"And how much do those basic designs tell you about the mobile suit?" Relena asked.

"Primary weapon, secondary weapons, power supply, the basics," Stryker answered, "Is there anything else you wanted to see?"

"Tell us more about this buster rifle," Heero suddenly said.

"It's based on the weapon that Wing Zero had though the cannon is far more powerful. The primary difference is that the buster rifle is just a massive energy cannon. Mine uses microwaves as well to enhance its power. That's why the wings are so important. They're a means of gathering and storing energy as well as providing flight. But then again, that isn't their only use."

"What else are the wings for?" Sylvia asked, "and why haven't we seen them?"

"Because the wing is still undergoing construction," said Stryker, "Its parts are incredibly complicated so we're manufacturing them at a different location."

"And where would this location be?" Wufei asked.

"Nevada."

"There are rumors that you are also storing old mobile suits there," said Relena, "What do you have to say?"

"There are two more Virgos and six more Leos there," Stryker answered, "No others though."

"You certainly got your hands on a lot of mobile suits," Sylvia commented.

"Not enough to start a war, if that's what you're worried about."

"But with the Gundam you will," Heero stated.

"If that was my objective, yes. Is there anything else you wanted to see?" Stryker asked.

"We'd like to see the designs behind this Gundam," said Relena.

"You'll have to go through the Defense Committee or the Preventers first," said Stryker, "They are the ones that are officially involved and the project is classified."

"If we were not cleared we would not be here," Sylvia pointed out.

"True, but there are certain parts of the project that you are probably not cleared for and there are security considerations of course."

"Perhaps," said Relena, "Very well. There is nothing else that we need to see right now."

Stryker nodded. "Victoria, please escort our guests out."

As they were walked out, the group considered their options.

"What do we do now?" Sylvia asked.

"Get access to the blueprints," Relena stated, "Lady Une will cooperate."

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"What's the difficulty?" Relena asked Lady Une.

"It has to do with the fact that Stryker has a lot of influence in the Senate," Une replied, "and through them, he's made it so that it would be nearly impossible for me to get you the designs. I'm sorry but I can't help you."

"What is he hiding that he's so afraid of?" Relena wondered aloud.

"Believe me, you aren't the only one asking that question," said Une, "Intelligence also is trying to figure out what he's doing but they're not having much luck."

"Have you seen the designs?" Heero asked.

"Yes, and that's why I'm trying to get clearance for Heero to take a look at them. There's something I'm worried about."

"The particle cannon?" Relena suggested.

"That and the wings."

"What's so important about the wings?" Relena asked.

"I'm sorry but that's still classified. I'll try to get it so the two of you can see the plans but I don't know if I can."

"Just do what you can and thanks for the help."

"Of course."

Relena and Heero left the office.

"Stryker is going through a lot of trouble to keep as much of the project under wraps as possible," said Relena, "Is there a way to find out?"

"There is."

"What? How? Oh, no you don't. I am not going to risk sending you on some operation. Besides, you work for me now and I have to take responsibility if you get caught."

"Don't worry. I won't get caught."

"Heero, you've already risked your life enough. We can get the facts without having to break into his headquarters."

"I was thinking more of Nevada," said Heero, "I'll be doing it anyways."

Relena sighed. "Alright. What do you need?"

"A car, a rifle, data disks, and Duo."

"That's it?" said Relena, "Well, I can pull that off at the very least. I'll call him now."

Relena picked up her phone and dialed Duo. When he picked up the phone you could hear something crashing in the background.

"Duo here. What's ouch! Hilde! Stop that please! I'm on the phone! What's up?"

"Hello Duo. It's Relena. Heero requested that you join him for a little trip."

"To where?" Duo said, just a little too enthusiastically.

"To Nevada," said Relena, "You up to it?"

"Sure, as long as I get paid. Still have to pay the bill you know."

"That won't be a problem. Heero will meet you at the spaceport and he'll brief you there."

"Okay. Should I bring anything?"

"Black clothes."

"No problem. Tell Heero I'll see him there. Ouch! Hilde!"

"I wonder why they're fighting," said Relena.

"Hilde wants him to cut his braid," Heero answered unexpectedly, "Duo wants to keep it."

"Really? I hadn't known that. Are you going now?"

"Yes. The sooner the better."

At the government building Heero got off and took another official car to the spaceport. Relena used one of her black accounts to purchase tickets for him and also arrange for transportation once he got to Nevada. Though she disliked using violence, she hoped that it could be avoided on this operation.

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"Hey Heero! How's it going? What was so important that you dragged me away from getting my hair chopped?"

"Let's go," said Heero, "We have work to do."

"What? No greeting? What is so important anyways?"

"We're going to where Stryker is building part of the new Gundam."

Duo grew serious. "So it is a Gundam. Damn, I wished the rumors were false. So how are we going about this?"

"Subtle."

"Which means don't blow anything up. Okay, what's the objective?" Duo asked.

"A copy of the Gundam's schematics for starters. Then we have to figure out why the wings are so important."

"Okay. Kinda reminds me of slipping onto that colony to keep it from crashing into Earth. That reminds me. The colonial governments are still acting like they are completely separate from the UEN. Does that strike you as odd?"

"Only slightly," said Heero, "The colonies still cherish their independence."

"Hmm. I guess it's a good thing the UEN government doesn't have a real military."

"The Preventers are a military force, no matter what the government says about them. They have soldiers stationed in all of the colonies to prevent any terrorism."

"As far as I know they're having a harder time dealing with terrorists on Earth. I don't even remember any series terrorist incidents in the colonies."

"And we want to keep it that way. Let's go."

The two boarded their shuttle and it blasted off for Earth. The flight was uneventful and the landing was without incident. Diplomatic immunity helped get both through the spaceport as Heero still carried a gun with him.

"Next time you have a gun tell me, okay?"

"Sure."

There was a car waiting for them and took them to a hotel. They got off and after checking in started getting ready for the operation.

Duo yawned. "How come we don't get paid vacations?"

"You're not a government employee," Heero answered.

"Sure feels like I'm one. I hop around the globe, I break into places for a minister, heck, I'm getting paid by the government. If that doesn't make me a public servant what does?"

"You also have to be involved in politics," said Heero, "There's too much of that anyways."

"True, true. So," Duo began with a grin, "How are we going to get into that base?"

"With subtlety," Heero answered, his expression never changing.

"Hmm. We don't do that very well. Let's go anyways."

The two loaded up on the equipment they would need and drove out into the desert. They hid the car under a camo blanket and walked the rest of the way to their destination.

"What do we know about this place?" Duo asked.

"Standard security and maybe mobile suits," Heero answered.

"Hmm. Nothing we can't handle unless they deploy mobile suits in other words."

The two were soon in sight of the base. Dozens of armed guards could be seen and the open desert would make it hard to sneak up. However, that had never been a problem before. Heero took off and Duo was right behind him. They got to the base without being seen and Heero then jumped the fence.

"Showoff," Duo commented.

He then copied Heero's feat and landed next to him. They ran to the main hanger and used a grappling hook to climb up to one of the windows. There was still light inside and they could see techs working on what looked to be large wings.

"Well, we found it," said Duo, "What next?"

"We get what we come for."

Duo cracked a smile and climbed down from the window. Heero was right behind him and they sneaked around the hanger. A few scientists were working at a computer terminal so they were stuck.

"There's another one over there," Duo pointed.

Heero nodded and the two snuck over. He accessed the computer and cracked through the security code. It wasn't too long before he found the complete designs behind the new Gundam. He quickly downloaded it onto the disks he brought. They had just finished when suddenly a tech appeared.

"What the, hey, you aren't supposed to here! Guards!"

"Busted," Duo muttered.

Heero leapt out of the chair and kicked the scientist, knocking him unconscious. Duo grabbed the disks and they made a break for it. Several soldiers appeared and opened fire. Heero shot back while Duo jumped onto a jeep and hotwired it.

"Let's go," he shouted.

Heero jumped on and they tore out of there. Suddenly out of no where Comanches appeared and opened fire. Duo dodged and swerved side to side. Heero opened fire on the helicopter but it was useless. He then noticed the bazooka in the jeeps back. He got it and took aim. The Comanche pilot apparently hadn't noticed the threat and came in closer. Heero locked on and let it fly. The missile streaked up and smashed into the helicopter, exploding and bringing it down.

The other two Comanches saw this and backed off slightly. They then opened fire with missiles.

"Jump," Heero shouted.

Both pilots leapt off the car as the heat seekers found their mark. The jeep exploded and crashed into some rocks. Heero had another missile ready and took aim. He fired again and dropped the bazooka. It was useless now. The second missile also found its mark and brought down its target. The other Comanche opened fire with its machinegun. Then for some reason it turned and returned to base.

"Wonder why it just left," Duo said as he picked himself up.

Heero pulled the camo off of their car and hopped into the driver's seat.

"Let's go," he said.

Duo jumped in and pulled out the disks.

"We're set," he said with a smile. "Now are you so reluctant to work with me?"

"Does it matter?"

The two drove off and took the next flight available back to the colonies. Next they would need to analyze what exactly they had gotten.

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"You actually did it," said Lady Une, "Well, I shouldn't be surprised."

"Did you ever doubt them?" Relena asked.

"No, but I'm still surprised you managed to get it."

"Here are the schematics for the wings," Heero said.

Lady Une leaned forward and took a closer look.

"Just what I thought. When I was still in OZ, there was talk about developing a particle weapon that used microwave energy to destroy things. It was never considered practical because of the energy requirements and the simple fact that we never were able to modify a laser beam to match the frequency of the microwave."

"So the project was scrapped?" said Relena.

"Yes, but the research was still there," said Une, "If I remember correctly, Stryker Corporation actually operated the Corsica Mobile Suit Factory. Yes, they were heavily involved in military technology and did a lot of business with the Alliance and OZ. Stryker was also the youngest member in the Romefellar Foundation."

"So there is good reason to suspect his motives," said Relena, "I'm not surprised he gained access to the research. Do you think he made a breakthrough?"

"According to this he did," Une explained, "There are cells under the outer wing plating that store microwave energy. I'd have to see the designs of the particle cannon to see if he fixed the problem with the tuning frequency but he probably did. But according to these the wings do more than store and focus energy.

"Anyways, what I'm most worried about are the cells that he's using to build the outer armoring of the wing. They're made of the same material the rest of the armor is and thus makes them incredibly difficult to damage. However, there is a layering under each cell that I think will be used to create a shield of some sort, just like the ones the Virgos had."

"The ultimate Gundam," Heero stated, "He's close to finishing it."

"Is there any way to counteract the advantages of this Gundam?" Relena asked.

"I don't know. A lot of this technology is purely theoretical. Heero, show me the layout of the Gundam."

Heero typed in a few commands and it appeared.

"What's that?"

Heero accessed the files and brought it up.

"AI Neural Interface," he read, "Designed to allow the pilot to interface directly with the command and control AI system to allow better maneuverability and reaction time."

"Is that anything like the Zero system?" Relena asked.

"Yes," said Heero, "It also supplies tactical data to the pilot, but there's a buffer. Some sort of advanced AI system that sorts through the data and keeps it from overloading the pilot."

"I don't know if it's enough," said Une, "The Zero system is far too dangerous."

"Then something must be done about this," said Relena, "I can't take this to the Committee, but I'm pretty sure you can."

"I can, but they're fully behind Stryker," Une said, "They won't listen to what I have to say. Besides, we still don't have a motive for this."

"A motive might not be important," said Relena, "This Gundam is perhaps the most powerful mobile suit ever built. I doubt all of the old Gundams put together could match it."

"They can't," Heero stated confidently, "The weapons system on this Gundam is far too advanced. As far as I can tell there are no bullet weapons or missiles. However, he does have a powerful regular laser attached to his right arm and some kind of advanced beam saber."

"What powers that thing?" Relena asked.

"A prototype bio-fusion reaction," said Heero, "I've never heard of it."

"It has something to do with a genetically engineered species of single- celled organisms that naturally undergo nuclear fusion and produce energy. Very advanced, though also extremely stable," Une explained, "There's also the issue of where exactly the main cannon is."

"It is latched onto the back and positions itself on the shoulder when the cannon is activated," Heero answered, bringing up some diagrams. "The thing also has a shield."

The shield appeared. It looked like a large circle sandwiched in between two very long ovals.

"The shield can open up and fires a powerful blast of energy," Heero continued, "The laser system provides a blast that is continuous."

The shield opened up the long way and showed a long blue slit.

"What other toys does this Gundam have?" Relena asked.

"The beam saber is also quite incredible," said Une, "It also has a less powerful buster rifle for taking out groups of enemy troops. The primary particle cannon is better suited to take down entire colonies."

"What!" Relena exclaimed, "That's horrible!"

"I know, but as all of this is testing new technology, Stryker is getting away with it. Heero, is there anything else noteworthy?"

"Besides the fact that the Gundam will be completed in three weeks, no."

"What!" both women shouted.

"He said it would take another year!" said Une.

"He must have lied," said Relena, "Can you take this to the Committee?"

"Probably not, but I'm going to start mobilizing. We might not have any mobile suits but we can still field a force if we must."

"What about the Tallgeese?" Relena asked.

"Your brother took that with him to Mars," said Une, "Do we have any other mobile suits we could use?"

Relena shook her head. "There are none."

"Then we might have trouble."

End of Chapter 2

Some of the ideas for the weapon system came from Gundam X. And at the moment I'm not too concerned with what they wear. Later on I'll put more detail into the clothes they wear.

Z98