Mobile Battalion Gundam Wars

Chapter Synopsis: Johnny selects a new machine, Al must make a big decision, and Heero almost gets his way.

The multimedia 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.

-X-X-X-

"How about this one?" Johnny Ridden paused on the catwalk, just before a mono-eyed machine not a Zaku, though it seemed comfortingly reminiscent of one. Even the green drab put Johnny in mind of home, for all that it was gingerbreaded with golden details.

"That one? That's... huh, that's familiar, but..." Kincaid flicked through screens on his tablet, until he found the data page associated with the unknown Mobile Suit's hangar number. "Oh! AMS-129, the Geara Zulu. Wow, a Sleeves machine! These are super-rare! I never thought I'd see one in person."

Johnny glanced back at him. It was the first sign of excitement Kincaid had shown during their long perusal of Anaheim's hangar for mass-produced Mobile Suits that were, as far as anyone could tell, of Universal Century vintage. "Sleeves?" Johnny asked.

"Yeah. Look at the arm markings. This is a 'Royal Guards' machine, so it's really blinged out, but all the third wave Neo-Zeon machines had 'em. The Feddies back then called the movement 'the Sleeves' based on that." Kincaid leaned over the catwalk's railing and pointed down, at the parts of the machine that lay far beneath them.

"A third wave of Neo-Zeon, Mister Nau?" Johnny asked. "That would postdate Captain Ray's war, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah. Although... I dunno, not many people like to call what went down in UC 0096 a war. It wasn't all that big, even compared to the Second Neo-Zeo War. They called it the 'Laplace Conflict' in school."

Johnny folded his arms behind his back, gazing up at the Zulu's mono-eye contemplatively. "So these 'Sleeves' of yours weren't real Zeon remnants?"

"Oh, no, these guys were totally Zeon. They were mostly old guys left over from the One Year War and their kids and grandkids. There weren't many of 'em, but they were true believers. I think the textbook called them the 'Last Gasp of Zeon'."

"Zeon's philosophy has always embraced the ideal of pride in one's appearance. But to decorate to this level... it seems rather baroque."

"Well..." Kincaid paused, trying to remember school lessons that had laid dormant in his brain for over a decade. "... appearance was a big part of their gimmick. If I remember right, the Sleeves were the Zeon leftovers that remained after Char Aznable disappeared, during the Axis Shock. Their leader was a guy who called himself Full Frontal..."

"Who called himself what?" Johnny looked at Kincaid in open disbelief.

"You know, like 'full frontal assault'? I thought the goof... er, the flamboyant names were a big Zeon thing."

"'Full Frontal' goes far beyond flamboyant," Johnny said. "How did a man calling himself that come to command anything, let alone Zeon's remnants?"

"Well, people thought he was Char. He wore the mask and everything... you know, people still don't know who he really was, even in my time. Some people think he was the real deal, but there's a lot of people who say he was an impostor. The theory I like is the 'clone theory', 'cause there's evidence Zeon had a viable human cloning operation that stretched back to-"

"- that's enough, Mister Nau." Johnny's voice was sharp with agitation, and it was clear that his disapproval had escalated into disgust.

Kincaid fell silent, wondering if he should apologize for saying too much again. He had thought Johnny might be happy to know just how long Zeon had lasted, but something about the Sleeves had clearly just pissed him off. An awkward silence settled between the two men. Kincaid tried to bear it, since Johnny was obviously thinking.

"I believe I am certified to use this machine's cockpit type?" Johnny asked.

"Linear seat? Yeah, your simulator scores are solid. You should still probably do some live tests and training exercises before taking it down to Earth, though..."

"I believe this machine will be sufficient to my needs," Johnny said. "I want it loaded to heaviest capacity for operations in gravity, and I will personally examine its optional armaments to see if any are appropriate to our mission."

"No problem-"

"... and I want it repainted in my ace colors."

"Repainted?!" Kincaid sounded pained at the mere thought. "But the detailing..."

"The detailing is hideous and excessive. Your 'Sleeves' were not people who used Mobile Suits, they were people who thought having Mobile Suits made them strong," Johnny said.

"Come on! Is what a Mobile Suit looks like really such a big deal?"

"Says the man piloting a robot pirate."

Kincaid flushed a little. "Look, that's all my Captain's orders..."

"Look, Mister Nau..." Johnny visibly struggled to think of exactly how to explain his tremendous distaste. "Tell me exactly what these 'Sleeves' of yours accomplished."

Kincaid stammered. "Well, I mean... it's a matter of perspective. The Laplace Conflict was pretty complicated..."

Johnny nodded. "Exactly. They accomplished nothing."

"Wait, no, I didn't say that..."

"Your history has entirely forgotten them, save for their vanity. Men who fight to satisfy their pride alone are not fit to be called Zeon." Johnny's voice rose as he spoke. "We fought the One Year War to change the world. And Mister Nau, I intend to use this Mobile Suit to change this world."

"... wow," Kincaid said. "Are you saying that you think the Sleeves were losers?"

"It seems clear to me that, in the eyes of history... well, at the very least, the Sleeves were not victors. I will not have their markings on my machine. There is potential in this Mobile Suit... but it will be realized in true Zeon colors, not this decadence."

"Well... well, okay," Kincaid began typing the orders into his tablet. "You're going to make all the MS buffs on Anaheim's staff cry, but it'll get done."

"That is all that matters, Mister Nau. Your 'MS buffs' would do well to remember that."

-X-X-X-

In another one of Anaheim's great lunar hangars, Allelujah Haptism strode across the metal floor, magnetic boots clicking. Kyrios was before him, restored and reloaded, with an access panel on its foot open. A riot of cables ran from it to a laptop, atop a cheap, fragile-looking desk. Kira Yamato had clearly been at his makeshift workstation for several hours.

That much, Al expected. He slowed as he saw the man in the overalls who stood behind Kira. It was not Amuro's familiar silhouette at all. Instead, it was unmistakably Doctor Bidan, who stood taller and slimmer, expression quietly supercilious. Al couldn't even begin to imagine what the doctor was doing in the hangar, and his pace subconsciously slowed.

The doctor glanced up at him, pre-emptive annoyance in his eyes. "Yeah, it's me. Get over here, we've been waiting for you."

"Doctor?" Al asked. "I don't..."

Kira stopped typing before he straightened up in his chair. "Oh, Amuro's wrapped up finishing things with Shining Gundam, so Kamille's overseeing some stuff for him."

"You mean I'm picking up the slack while Amuro wastes time catering to a violent sociopath's paranoid delusions." Kamille's tone was, as usual, casually scathing.

"Well... that's fine, but..." Al wasn't sure how to voice his objection. It seemed absurd to have the prickly doctor overseeing anything where his presence wasn't strictly necessary.

Kamille seemed to have imagined Al's train of thought. "I knew a thing or two about engineering once. Can we talk about your Gundam's stupid computer systems now?"

Kira frowned at him. He seemed not to take any of the Doctor's caustic remarks seriously at all. "It's a bit unusual, but I wouldn't exactly say it's stupid..."

Kamille derisively stabbed at his tablet's surface. "Come on, it's a Mobile Suit built around a dumb terminal. The only way this thing could be dumber is if it had knee-mounted beam sabers."

"Wait, dumb terminal?" Al asked. "Is this about Veda?"

"Oh, is that what it's called?" Kira immediately brightened. "I couldn't tell... I mean, I could tell Kyrios was trying to talk to a remote computer of some kind, I just couldn't tell what..."

He moved quickly to peer at what was on the laptop screen. "... wait, is Veda here? In this world?" Allelujah's voice rose in alarm.

Kamille took a few steps back, so Al could get a good solid glance of what Kira had been up to for the past day. "Nope. The Beyonder's just spoofing it."

"Spoofing it?! With what?" Al leaned over Kira's shoulder, so he could start reading what was going on in Kira's terminal window.

"That's what I think I've figured out... I think it's similar to the automation programs in the Izumo and Granshirio," Kira's fingers began to fly across the keyboard again. Allelujah could just barely keep up with the flood of text as it surged down the terminal window. "The Beyonder's created a massive quantum computer that your Gundam's OS can't distinguish from Veda."

"And, anybody smart enough could do that, which is why using a Mobile Suit as a dumb terminal is pretty stupid," Kamille added.

Al flicked a glance back at him, already growing irritated. "That's not likely. No faction on Earth has the resources necessary to duplicate Veda."

Kamille rolled his eyes. "Yeah, and they say nothing can sink the Titanic."

Kira quickly spoke up, to break up the brewing argument. "- anyway, whenever your computer wants to do something, it looks like it contacts the substitute, and it looks like the substitute is rigged to always give it permission."

"Right, because the point of the experiment to give us enough rope to hang ourselves with," Al nodded. "So why exactly did I need to know this? Dealing with Veda is... well, Celestial Being has other specialists that handle that."

"Well, it's this," Kira pointed to a particular word on the screen. "There's something called a 'Trans-Am System' loaded in Kyrios. Right now it's deactivated, and it looks like it won't activate until it gets Veda's permission. I don't know exactly what Veda's activation condition would be, but since the Beyonder's substitute is a quantum computer, it's not really that difficult for me to mess with..."

"So you're saying you could activate it?" Al asked.

"Well, yeah. If you want. I just don't know if that's a good idea or not? It looks like Trans-Am just raises some tolerance settings on machine's power systems. The higher output would probably make Kyrios a lot faster, but I don't know how much harder it'd be to control..."

"Or if your bosses shut off the Trans-Am setting because it makes Gundams explode," Kamille added.

Al crossed his arms and began to study the floor plating, rather unhappily. "As I said, I'm not one of Celestial Being's specialists on the matter."

"Yeah, that's a 'no,' as far as I'm concerned," Kamille said.

"Well... not necessarily. I dunno, I'm not convinced this system is dangerous," Kira said. "See, I think the setting might be global? So it's shut off in the Veda server by default, because once it goes live then it activates in every machine that talks to Veda."

"So if we shut it on for Kyrios, we shut it on for everything else from Al's timeline?" Kamille asked. "I'm still not seeing how this is a good idea."

"Well... I don't know, is that a lot of machines, Al?" Kira asked.

"... hmm. I think I see the issue now. No, I don't think it's a lot of machines. I think it would only apply to Celestial Being's Gundams. There's only a handful of us Gundam Meisters, and anyone loyal to Celestial Being would side against Devil Gundam."

"So if we turn it on and any of your buddies show up, they get to share the power-up?" Kamille asked.

"Oh! Oh, that would explain everything, wouldn't it?" Kira grinned. "So... if that's a 'yes', Al, I'll get to it. It won't take that long."

Al frowned. Making these sorts of decisions off the battlefield wasn't really part of his marching orders as a Gundam Meister. Kira and Kamille didn't realize it, but they were essentially asking him to engage in amateur tactical forecasting. Al was far from comfortable with the idea. Strictly speaking, he should probably refuse to permit any usurpation of Veda's authority over Kyrios.

And yet... destroying something like Devil Gundam was absolutely consistent with Celestial Being's mission. The Gundams of his world were weapons designed to break weapons. What would be the point of giving up resources that could be used to complete that mission more efficiently? There simply couldn't be one, at least not in the Beyonder's composite Earth.

"That's a yes," Al finally said. "Whatever it is, we'll probably need it. Can I help?"

"Oh... I appreciate it, but not really. Computer stuff is, you know, pretty solitary..." Kira had already switched over to another terminal window, and his fingers begun typing with all the speed the hardware could withstand.

"Feel free to babysit him if you want. Now that you've made the call, I'm done here," Kamille said. He finished typing something on his tablet's software keyboard, then tucked the machine under one arm. "Time's running out and we've got a lot of projects coming down to the wire."

Al nodded. If nothing else, remaining where Kamille wasn't seemed like a fine idea.

-X-X-X-

"What do you mean, you're leaving?!" Rondo rose from her seat, a cold rage beginning to twist her expression.

Heero was unmoved. He looked her in the eye, voice unflinching and even. "The MS here are insufficient. I must leave."

Gato said nothing. The tightness of his jaw and severe set of his brows made it clear that, on this matter, he sided with Rondo.

"Insufficient! Hangars full of Mobile Suits from all over the universe, and not even one is good enough for you?!" Rondo's mockery would've withered a pilot made of weaker stuff. "That's absurd! Lieutenant, your tablet."

Gato quietly handed it over to her. The silence was heavy and overbearing as Rondo sifted through the catalog of MS Heero had recognized. "Am I truly to believe that all of these machines are impotent trash?! What's wrong with this one? Variable geometry is perfect for operations in atmosphere."

She thrust the tablet toward Heero's face. He glanced at it, politely, then back up at her. "The Taurus is insufficient."

"Then what on Earth would be sufficient for you, Heero Yuy?"

"Zero."

"- Zero?"

"A Mobile Suit from Mister Yuy's era," Gato spoke up. He couldn't imagine Heero offering a proper explanation to her. "It is a high-spec machine, comparable to the Epyon."

"That is inaccurate," Heero said. "Zero is superior to Epyon."

Gato hadn't heard that stated in such blunt terms, and the thought was a little difficult for him to imagine. Some sort of super-machine like the Turn-A?

Rondo's thoughts were clearly along the same lines, and the thought of another super-machine in the Izumo's ranks clearly intrigued her. The anger left her face, her shoulders relaxing. "Superior? And you have reason to believe it is here?"

"I do not," Heero said. "I have a theory."

"A theory?! You want to abandon us to Devil Gundam because of your theory?!"

"I do not think I will abandon you. If I make it clear to the Beyonder that I will not participate in the war game until I have Zero, then I believe the Beyonder will provide it," Heero said. "I believe this is principle under which the Beyonder provided Devil Gundam to Haman Karn."

Rondo lowered herself back into her chair, clearly intrigued by Heero's proposition. "... and if she simply stopped participating, the results of the Beyonder's little test would be invalid. And the same would be true if you simply stopped..."

"I cannot contact the Beyonder psychically, as Haman Karn did. But if the Beyonder is truly omniscient, then I simply need to make what I want obvious in other ways."

"You're asking the rest of us to shoulder a significant amount of risk in the name of testing your theory, Mister Yuy," Gato said. Something about the idea of using Haman's tactics rankled in him. Lately he'd found his thoughts going to dark places when he contemplated the difference between the woman he'd met here, and the Haman Karn the Delaz Fleet had quietly worshiped in his era.

"The rewards justify the risk. Zero could defeat the Devil Gundam with a single shot," Heero said.

"So it possesses a weapon equal to the Satellite Cannon?" Rondo asked.

"Yes." There was no hesitation in Heero's voice.

Rondo sat back in her chair, gazing up at the ceiling. It was obvious she was calculating the cost of letting Heero have his way, and weighing that against the potentially enormous payoff. "I can't believe it, Mister Yuy, but I think you've actually convinced me. You're not like the other boys aboard this ship at all. "

"No, I am not," Heero agreed.

"I suppose we should let the others know you're going..."

"No." Heero's voice rose a little.

"You expect me to let you sneak out?" Rondo said.

"If I may, Lady Rondo," Gato said. "I think Mister Yuy's request is reasonable. The others will take it badly, and dealing with emotional outbursts would only waste time. The sooner Mister Yuy can begin searching for his 'Zero,' the sooner he can redeploy. If the Beyonder decides to humor him, anyway."

Heero nodded. "Yes. Thank you, Lieutenant."

Rondo grinned, a sly smile that spread mischief into her eyes. "Why, there's some teenage boy in there after all. You don't want to have to say goodbye to your little friends, do you?"

The flat line of Heero's mouth turned ever-so-slightly downward, but he did not voice disagreement.

"I could conduct Mister Yuy out in secret, Lady Rondo. He could leave tonight, in fact. We're so close to departure, the others won't have time to dwell on it once they notice he's gone."

"Are you sure you could make it out without being noticed, Lieutenant?" Rondo asked.

Gato nodded, his eyes growing steely. "Positive, Lady Rondo. I have considerable experience with covert operations."

She simply nodded. "Then I leave it in your capable hands. Notify me when you've returned. Discreetly, of course. You are dismissed."

Gato saluted sharply to her, by way of thanks. Heero did the same, his gesture not less crisp and precise, if perhaps mechanical. With that, both men withdraw swiftly from the room, and into the snarl of hallways that constituted Anaheim's office facilities.

"Thank you." Heero voice was soft, and there was a certain awkwardness in it.

"Do not thank a man for doing his job," Gato replied. "But if you wish to show your gratitude, you could do me a favor before you leave."

Gato glanced at Heero, to see if the young man was receptive to the idea. Heero simply nodded at him to continue.

"I recall you using a powerful self-destruct mechanism to destroy the Epyon. Could you construct such a mechanism, if necessary?"

"Yes. The system's easy to jury-rig."

"Could you fit such a system into my Marasai, before you depart?"

Heero slowed, almost to a stop. He seemed to have difficulty figuring out exactly what to say. Gato held up one hand, driving Heero back into familiar silence.

"I understand the severity of our situation as well as you do, Mister Yuy. Defeating the Devil Gundam is a do-or-die operation. I cannot afford to hold back or hesitate any more, and a true fighting man of Zeon is prepared to lay down his life for his cause," Gato said. "If you will not assist me, I will jury-rig a system myself. I will understand if you wish to keep your hands clean. But thus far, you have conducted yourself as a man above such empty nicety."

The two had stopped walking, as they had reached a stretch of hallway where no windows or doors were nearby. Heero's brows furrowed, and his gaze shifted to one side. Speaking seemed to pain him. "I'll do it. Swear you won't throw your life away."

"I have walked the razor's edge this long, Heero Yuy. I do not intend to fall now."

Heero nodded, and resumed walking down the hallway. His stride was much faster now, as if he was eager to have this night behind him.

-X-X-X-

TO BE CONTINUED...

-X-X-X-

As of this writing, Unicorn Gundam has only five episodes complete and I'm basically just guessing on what its impact later in the timeline must be. This is why I usually don't write about incomplete projects. In this case, though, the Geara Zulu was really too perfect for Johnny to upgrade into for me to ignore it.

I'm not sure if the way the Celestial Being Gundams work with regard to Veda in 00 technically fits the definition of a dumb terminal, but it seemed close enough to be worth exploring from that perspective. And, of course, laying some groundwork for things to come...

-X-X-X-

Lots of Two-Mix for this chapter. I find it's useful for crawling into Heero's mindset, as illogical as that might seem.

-X-X-X-

- ACTIVE PILOTS / ASSIGNED UNITS

- IZUMO White Faction

Johnny Ridden / AMS-129 Geara Zulu (Royal Guards, Johnny Ridden Custom)

Anavel Gato / RMS-108 Marasai (Zeon Colors)

Shin Asuka / ZGMF-X42S Destiny

Rondo Mina Sahaku (Commander) / MBF-P01 Astray Gold Frame Amatu Rondo Mina Custom

Amuro Ray / SYSTEM (Turn-A)-99 Turn-A Gundam

Domon Kasshu / GF13-017NJ Shining Gundam

Shiro Amada / RX-79(G) Gundam Ez-8 Kai

Garrod Ran / GX-9900 Gundam X

Stellar Loussier / ZGMF-X88S Gaia

Kira Yamato / ZGMF-X10A Freedom

Allelujah Haptism / GN-003 Kyrios (undergoing repairs)

Kamille Bidan / MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam

Kincaid Nau / XM-X1 Crossbone Gundam X-1

Selene McGriff & Sven Cal Bayang / GSX-401FW Stargazer

Heero Yuy / ?

- KIA / DESTROYED

Lowe Gear / Astray Red Frame

Quattro Bageena / nu Gundam

Ed "The Ripper" Harrelson / Sword Calamity

Witz Sou / Airmaster Burst

Christina Mackenzie / Gundam NT-1 Alex

Loran Cehack

Garma Zabi

White Base

Dogos Gear

- DEVIL GUNDAM Black Faction

Michelo Chariot / Devil Neros Gundam

Haman Karn / Devil Qubeley

Rau Le Creuset / Devil GuAIZ

Alejandro Corner / Devil Alvatore

Kyoji Kasshu / Devil Gundam

- KIA / DESTROYED

Cima Garahau / Gerbera Tetra

Paptimus Scirocco / Messala

Shagia Frost / Virsago

Olba Frost / Ashtaron

Clotho Buer / Raider

Treize Khushrenada / Tallgeese II

Flay Allster

Epyon