Mobile Battalion Gundam Wars
Synopsis: A handful of heroes and villains from throughout the Dark History are abducted by a mysterious seemingly omnipotent being called the Beyonder. Placed on a simulacrum of Earth, they are divided into seemingly arbitrary teams and ordered to fight a war that seems completely meaningless to the bewildered pilots trapped within the Beyonder's grasp.
Chapter Synopsis: Five pilots, strangers to each other, meet each other in a strange corridor. After many misunderstandings, they set out to try and figure out where they are, and who has put them there.
The multi-media Gundam franchise is an original creation of Yoshiyuki Tomino, Yasuhiro Imagawa, and many other creators. It is the intellectual property of Sunrise and Bandai, who reserve all rights to these original characters. This story is fan-created and is not authorized or endorsed by Sunrise, Bandai, or their subsidiaries. Sunrise and Bandai retain all rights to the characters and machines that appear within this story.
The Beyonder was created by Jim Shooter and is the intellectual property of Marvel Comics. His appearance in this fan-created story is not authorized or endorsed by Marvel Comics. This being said, the Beyonder has been adapted somewhat from his original appearances in Secret Wars in order to make him feel like a more integral part of the Gundam universe. These adaptations are non-canonical and may be wholly attributed to this fan-work's author.
Special thanks to friends, family, lovers, and everyone else who helped make this story possible. Brief annotations that may be of interest to readers and die-hard Gundam fans follow this chapter of the story.
The Beyonder had little concept of time. He was a quantum being, for whom probability, possibility, and actuality were effectively the same. To his immortal eyes, the Dark History and its sprawling, cyclical wars happened in a searing flash. From his conception, he was absorbed in it. Yet as his momentary dream of stellar conflict wound to a close, the Beyonder found himself in a curious position.
Somehow the universe had gone from the multiplicity of beings that existed at the beginning of time, to only himself. He felt stars dying within him; he felt sub-atomic particles sing within the elemental structures they formed. The vastness of the universe was as nothing to the Beyonder's mind-- truly, it was inseparable from the Beyonder's mind. There were no other sentient thoughts within its emptiness. No more battles, no more lost causes or surging hopes. Emptiness, filled only with himself.
The Beyonder did not understand how this possibility had made itself manifest, why the roaring cacophony of the Dark History had slimmed itself into his expansive solitude. He hated it. He yearned for symphony of other minds breathing and dying around his. It seemed like a brief memory now. Perhaps he could re-create the dream of glory that he was born in.
The Beyonder's memory was the full extent of the Dark History, everything that ever was or could have been. It was as tangible and real as his own cosmic being. To reach into it, crystallize it, and give it form within the stifling emptiness of the Present was nothing. All great things could be easily understood by reducing them to their simplest components.
The Beyonder would understand the Dark History by breaking it down into what seemed its most essential component: combat. He needed only aggressors, protectors, ships to bear them and exceptional men to lead them. Inspiration guided him to selections that seemed, of all the possibilities open to him, most right and perfect.
Christina MacKenzie had found that only a few hours of systems testing in the NT-1 Alex was enough to leave her eyes sore and her head throbbing. She constantly recommended throttling the combat computer's output, and was constantly reminded that the NT-1's designated pilot would be able to handle it. To Christina, who had never given the paranormal rumors of Newtypes even a moment's serious thought, it seemed a perfectly ridiculous waste of money. Still, orders were orders, so she reported for her weekly dose of headaches and frustration regularly.
Her head hurt right now, but it was not the internal throb of a feedback overload. It was a splitting pain from the back of her head, like piloting without a helmet on. Christina abruptly realized that her eyes were closed, and her head was resting against some flat surface. She could feel the familiar weave of her standard-issue Federation uniform rubbing against her skin. That seemed odd; hadn't she been in a normal suit for her systems test, just a second ago?
Christina opened her eyes to try and reconcile her sensory feedback with her idea of where she should be at the moment. Shock washed over her body as she realized she was most definitely not where she was before. She was in some sort of long, sterile hallway; a metal hallway, all grays and whites, perhaps two meters wide and three meters high. Lights ran along the ceiling, filling the hallway with a bleary fluorescent glow. Like the lighting on a military ship. The hallway certainly had the cramped, boxy quality that Federation starships usually had.
"Nnn... Sochie, what..."
Christina started, body jerking stiffly to let her face the unfamiliar and unexpected voice. She saw someone deeply at odds with the sterile military surroundings. He was a teenager, perhaps even an adolescent, with dark skin like an African and shoulder-length hair that was straight and white as a grandfather's. His clothing was simple and rough, perhaps even homespun, complete with folksy suspenders to hold up his green trousers. He looked like a farmer, complete with a certain rustic simplicity in his face.
The young man rubbed the back of his head, wincing at the pain, then took a good look at his surroundings. Then his eyes met Christina's. She could see terror begin to cross his face; the terror of the unknown and unexpected.
"It's all right," Christina said. She raised herself to her knees and extended her hands toward him: empty, palms up. Harmless.
"Wh-who..." the young man stammered.
Christina suspected he was younger than she had initially thought. There was a lingering boyishness in his movements. "My name is Christina. What's yours?"
"Loran." He kept staring at her-- no, at her uniform. Maybe he didn't like soldiers?
"Don't worry. I won't hurt you. Can you tell me where we are right now?" The sweetness she forced into her voice seemed to have the desired calming effect upon Loran.
"No. I... I don't know what this place is..."
"We can find out together. Come on, Loran." Christina stood, then extended a hand to help her new friend up.
"Okay," Loran smiled a little, his suspicion easing.
"I don't guess you two would mind a third?"
The new voice seemed to come from behind Christina, and she whirled to face the speaker. Loran's soft gasp indicated that, somehow, he too had failed to notice the man in the hallway with them.
"Don't panic, don't panic, I'm as lost as you two..." The new man was also dark-skinned, though not quite so dark as Loran. His wavy hair and the fine rime of stubble about his chin suggested a Latin origin to Christina's mind. He seemed old, definitely a good ten years older than herself at the least. He was wearing some sort of military uniform, though Christina could not quite place the colors. It seemed more like a Federation variant than a Zeon one, but that wasn't comforting in this strange environment. He wore a bomber jacket over his clothing, an icon shaped much like South America emblazoned over his heart.
The newcomer gave Christina a wide and apologetic smile. "I don't guess I drank too much and followed you home last night, huh?"
"No such luck," Christina said. She could tell he was trying to be ingratiating, but she hardly felt charmed.
Loran stepped forward a bit, his slender frame letting him edge just in front of Christina. "What's your name, sir?" he asked.
"Call me Ed, kid," he replied. "You know what's going on?"
"No. I don't think any of us do. This is obviously some kind of kidnapping," said a fourth voice.
Somehow it came from behind Ed, but she hadn't seen anyone round the corner at the hallway's end and approach. A second glance revealed a man slumped against the wall behind Ed. Christina's heart caught in her throat as she watched him rise to his feet.
He was tall and broad-shouldered without seeming like an unflatteringly large or muscular man. No, his build was fit and lean, his posture straight and unyielding. His face was positively photogenic, with icy blue eyes and immaculate blond hair. He carried himself with quiet pride, and presented the very model of Teutonic perfection. His red officer's uniform, emblazoned with theatrical gold and black, only enhanced his dramatic good looks. He was not just Zeon; he could have stepped out of their recruitment poster.
Loran shrank from the Zeke's piercing gaze, flattening against the wall. Ed seemed confused.
Christina felt terror coil into the pit of her stomach. Her hands flew toward her duty sidearm. The Zeke pulled a gun from the smart black holster attached to his belt just as fast.
Ed futilely tried to throw himself against one wall and out of the line of fire. "What the hell--!" he shouted.
"Zeon!" was all Christina could manage. It was a warning and an accusation.
"Can it, Feddie." The immaculate Zeke's brusque tone shattered the illusion of otherworldly perfection about him. "Too many civilians for a firefight. Shall we find out what's going on instead?"
"How do I know..." Christina began, trying to put steel in her voice. "... how do I know you aren't responsible!"
"I could ask the same thing. The circumstance leads me to think otherwise," the Zeke replied. "But if it makes you feel better, I'll swear upon the Lady Kycilia's honor that I am not responsible for this, and that I will not hurt any of you."
Christina was not much convinced by an oath sworn on a Zabi's honor.
Still, the Zeke lowered and holstered his pistol, even though Christina still had a bead drawn on him. His eyes met hers without fear. "Major Johnny Ridden, Zeon Mobile Assault Forces."
"Zeon?" Ed asked. The syllables sounded stiff and unnatural in his voice, as if saying them for the first time.
"What's Zeon?" Loran asked. His sincerity was jarring.
Christina lowered her gun, bewildered. Major Ridden seemed as startled by Ed and Loran's responses.
"Ow, my head..." said another voice. It cut heedlessly through the awkward silence. This man had somehow appeared behind Christina. Like all the others, he rose from the ground, apparently stiff and in pain. He had a strange, wild look to him, brown hair barely held back by thick headband. He wore a vest that seemed like a workman's, matched with baggy, worn pants stained with grease.
"Okay, what's going on? Professor?" He paused as he realized that the others were staring at him, and he began to feel the tension in the room. "... okay, this is so not the ReHOME..." His eyes darted toward Ed, as if seizing on something recognizable. "... hey, Alliance? What's going on? I'm not in trouble, right?"
Ed laughed. "Not from me, I'm just glad to hear someone talking sense. I'm Alliance, but I'm with the South Americans. What are you, mercenary? Civilian?"
The man seemed pleased enough to utterly ignore Christina and the others. "No, Junk Guild! Name's Lowe, Lowe Gear... what's going on? I mean, if this isn't an Alliance ship..."
Christina felt a wave of despair wash over her, as Ed and Lowe had a conversation that seemed, to her, to consist of nothing but gibberish.
"I don't even know what the Alliance is." Loran seemed even more disturbed than Christina was feeling. "You can't be Militas or Diana Counter... I don't know what any of this is! This is all wrong, I shouldn't be here..."
"I'm beginning to think none of us should," Major Ridden said.
"You two act like soldiers," Ed began, helpfully, "but there's no army called Zeon, and... well, I don't even know what army you're with, MacKenzie."
"Lieutenant MacKenzie," she sighed, holstering her gun for now. "And I'm with the Earth Federation." She saw Ed and Lowe exchange a curious glance at that, but couldn't begin to think of what it actually meant.
"Federation? Like... O.M.N.I., right?" Ed asked. Christina simply shook her head no.
"I'm no soldier," Lowe continued. "And neither is the kid there, either, right?"
Loran shifted uncomfortably in place. "Not exactly. I haven't heard of anything you've talked about, though. I've never been in a place like this."
"You're from Earth, aren't you?" Major Ridden asked.
There was, again, something furtive about Loran's response. Christina had the feeling his answers were mere half-truths. "Well, yes..."
"That's probably it. Being in a warship would have to seem disorienting to an Earthnoid civilian," Major Ridden said. "But there's no mistake, this is a warship."
"A warship?" Ed sputtered. "Come on, just look at this thing's insides! Who'd take this into a fight?"
"Yeah, it's gotta be some kind of antique," Lowe agreed. His eyes got misty. "Man, I've never seen anything like this before..."
"Still, we can agree it's a ship, can't we?" Christina said. "So that means we just need to find the bridge to find out where we are. Once we know that much, I'm sure we'll find out there's a rational explanation for what's happened to us."
"Okay, but only if you guys tell me who the heck you are," Lowe said. Despite his good-natured grin, Christina's heart sank. She had a sudden nightmare of strangers arriving until the hallway was clogged full, each demanding her name and staring with goggle-eyed incomprehension when she mentions the idea of the Earth Federation.
Ed seemed more content to repeat himself, since Lowe at least seemed to be from the same general sort of "place". "Edward Harrelson. Call me Ed."
Lowe did a sudden double take, which meshed poorly with his attempt to begin walking at the same time. "... serious? Ed the Ripper?"
"Hey! You've heard of me!" Ed laughed. "Don't let the name scare you, though, I'm not so bad as all that anymore."
As Ed and Lowe talked, Loran began conspicuously trying to get away from them and back to Christina's side. Major Ridden seemed utterly unperturbed by Ed's rather macabre nickname. Christina, for her part, suspected it was merely an ace nickname, one that happened to be infamous in whatever place Ed was originally from. Loran seemed legitimately bothered, but if he was indeed a civilian, then it probably sounded like a gang name to him.
Major Ridden slowly pulled into the lead of the impromptu formation, with Lowe and Ed in the center, and Christina and Loran at the rear. She was a bit annoyed with herself after a few paces, as it occurred to her that she had no idea where Johnny was going, or why she hadn't demanded to know, or why it was so easy to follow him around when he was the enemy.
She nearly bumped into Lowe's back as their column came to a sudden stop. She opened her mouth in protest, but then saw Johnny gesturing toward the rest of the column for silence. Ed was wary; Lowe and Loran seemed to be trying not to breathe. Christina's eyes spotted what had probably caused Major Ridden to bring the column to a halt up ahead, where the hallway came to a T-shaped intersection.
One of the shadows curved, in that fashion that was unique to the human silhouette. Someone was lying in wait for them behind the corner. There was no telling how long he or she had been there. Major Ridden drew his sidearm and approached the unknown, slowly, silently.
Christina suddenly felt a perverse sense of relief; somehow she felt safer knowing that Johnny was handling the situation. She would probably be angry with herself over it later.
The silhouette's outline did not change. Whoever was lying in wait for them didn't realize how close Major Ridden was drawing to his position. There wasn't even a sign of a weapon being drawn. In a swift, decisive motion, Johnny rounded the corner with his gun out and pointed. "Freeze!" he shouted.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Christina MacKenzie is the protagonist of the beautiful Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket OAV.
Loran Cehack is the protagonist of Turn-A Gundam. It's not one of my favorite Gundam series, to be honest, but was too perfect a character not to use.
Ed "The Ripper" Harrelson is one of the Gundam SEED MSV aces. Obviously, his appearance in this story takes place after Kira Yamato has convinced him to become a benevolent defender of South America.
Lowe Gear is from fairly early in the Gundam SEED ASTRAY sidestory manga, and so hasn't met Ed yet. Still, it seemed the Ripper's reputation should precede him.
Major Johnny Ridden, of course, is the original MSV ace pilot. His physical appearance and personality change a bit as he moves from his original manga to his various video game appearances, so I decided to use a composite here that best suited my purposes in the story.