Welcome back, everybody! As you can probably see, I'm trying to follow a new schedule in order to update this story, as well as my Pokemon stories, as quickly as possible, while balancing my everyday duties. I really hope this means faster updates for this story, whom I have grown really fond of and for which I have many ideas in mind... but let's not get ahead of ourselves, and let's see what the situation is, okay?

Last time, we left the Nadesico, along with Fiona and the Daitarn 3 crew, escaping from a battle with a dangerous Meganoid army and entering a Tulip, making a leap of faith that will hopefully bring them back to Earth. And they've managed to take with them Dr. Inez Fressange, the single greatest expert in the Boson Jump field, and a sizeable group of survivors from the raids of both the Jovian Lizards and the Meganoid Empire. However, with the discovery of a human pilot in a Jovian Gekigan-type robot, there will surely be some unforeseen developments, which the higher-ups at Nergal have not failed to predict. The Chairman of Nergal, Nagare Akatsuki, seems to already have a backup plan for this sort of emergencies...

But for now, we aren't following Fiona and the rest of the Nadesico crew. Rather, we are heading to Earth, in the exact same time period, to see what happened to Fiona's friends, Lahge and Mitsuko, who have been thrown through the exact same dimensional gate but have ended up in a very different part of the world... what has happened to them? Have they had the same good luck as Fiona, or did they end up in the wrong hands? Things will be revealed shortly... and along with them will also come the first appearences of a few well-loved (and not so well-loved) characters from several mecha anime! Therefore, keep your seat belts fastened, because we won't have to wait too long to get some more action!

With that said, enjoy the chapter... and if you want, leave me a review after that!

Happy reading!


Chapter 23 - Captured

Everything had been black for Lahge Montoya, ever since the Nadesico-C had run into that mysterious, unbeatable foe on the blasted frozen lands of Mars. The last thing he remembered was seeing the Nadesico-C and its crew being slaughtered, and the vista in front of him becoming more and more nightmarish as the creature called Duminass began warping the landscape around him… and after that, all he could make out was the deafening roar of the Nadesico-C's engines going up in a gigantic fireball, and the screams all around him…

The thought occurred to him that he had lost track of the passage of time. Just how long had it been since he had lost consciousness? It could have been mere minutes, hours, days, or even months, as far as he knew… and what of Fiona, and Mitsuko? Were they still alive? What had happened to them? The young scientist painfully tried to shake himself back to reality, but his whole body felt sluggish, and he settled for slowly opening his eyes, slowly reaccustomizing himself to the light…

Good. So he was still able to see, and to perceive. That was a start, for once…

"Hmph. About time you woke up as well." An harsh male voice greeted him as soon as he began regaining consciousness. "You were starting to tick me off with those heavy sleeper habits of yours."

"Huh? What? What the..." Lahge murmured, before being roughly grabbed and forced to stand up by a pair of large, strong hands belonging to a scary-looking man of color wearing a beige sleeveless military uniform that bore golden trimmings on its neck, closely resembling the golden eagle symbol adopted by the old Pricipality of Zeon! The man had short, slightly curly black hair and a short, matching goatee, and was also wearing a pair of arm-guards with brown fingerless gloves, and a short, rather worn-out cape on his shoulders, other than a pair of beige jeans and a pair of dark brown boots... and from his first moments of knowing him, Lahge already got the idea that this man was a tough one to deal with!

"You've been unconscious for a few hours, you know! Just be thankful we need you alive, or I wouldn't have wasted my time keeping a watch on a waste like you!" the man roughly threatened him. "Now, join your little friend in the other room, and get to work!"

"Hey, hold on a second!" Lahge tried to protest and get free, bu the man was too strong for him and all but dragged the young researcher to a nearby room, where Lahge was thrown in like so much garbage, almost ending up face down on the floor had it not been for a familiar red-haired figure that caught him just in time!

"Lahge! Thank God you're okay... are you hurt?" Mitsuko's worried voice came to the still-dazed young man, who adjusted his looking-glasses and raised his glance at her.

"Oh... it's you, Mitsuko..." he murmured groggily. "What... what's going on here? Where are we? And... where's Fiona, by the way?"

Mitsuko was about to answer, or at least make an attempt to answer... but the large man of color who had dragged Lahge to the room clapped his hands, ordering them to focus their attention on him. "Enough of this! You were not brought here for idle chatter! And let's lay down the rules, just for a start!" he almost bellowed. "My name is Rakan Dakaran, and I'm an officer of the Neo Zeon army. That's Sergeant Rakan Dakaran to you! Not that you'll ever need to address me, of course... since from now on, you'll be doing nothing but repairs to that piece of scrap metal we found along with you!"

Lahge frowned as he heard the last part of Rakan's sentence. So, after Duminass' attack, they had ended up somewhere along with the Excellence? And if so... where was Fiona now?

"He's talking about the Excellence's Cosmo Driver frame..." Mitsuko clarified. "It seems that it was brought along with us during all that commition... these guys were unable to find either Fiona or the Excellence Striker!"

"I said no chatter!" Rakan immediately called them out. "It is obvious that you two know more about that strange machine that we found along with you... therefore, your duty from now on will be to repair it and make it into a functional war machine for us of Neo Zeon."

Lahge blinked at the mention of Neo Zeon - he was convinced that Amuro Ray, Kira Yamato and the others from terminal had managed to stop Axis from plummeting on Earth, and that after such a defeat, Neo Zeon would have made itself scarce. And yet, there he was in what looked like a Neo Zeon base that was still active and working! The whole thing didn't make much sense to him...

"We have brought your machine to the hangars. Get working on it and make it operational as soon as possible!" Rakan ordered, cutting Lahge's reflections short. "And before you even think of escaping, know that this base is surrounded by armed guards, and our Mobile Suits woud catch up to you in a second. Know where you are... and play your cards right. And maybe you'll have a chance of telling about all of this to your sons and daughters."

With that, the dark-skinned brute turned and marched away, letting the door slide shut behind him, and leaving Lahge and Mitsuko alone in the room. The female researcher gently pulled her colleague by the arm, in order to encourage him to go with her. "We need to obey that guy's orders for now..." she suggested. "At least until we can get a better deal... and know that we aren't alone in this. These guys already have some prisoners with them..."

"Hold... hold on a second, Mitsuko." Lahge said, adjusting his glasses as he regained his self-control. "Just what is going on here? Why are we in a Neo Zeon base, and where have the Excellence and Fiona gone?"

Mitsuko sighed. Time to let the cat out of the bag... "Well, Lahge... just for starters, do you know what year is this?" she asked.

"Huh? Why, this is Space Century 141, why do you ask me that?" Lahge asked, starting to fear that his friend had lost a few marbles for some reason... He actually began feeling fear when Mitsuko shook her head and corrected him.

"Sorry, Lahge... this is actually Space Century 138." Mitsuko answered. "The Excellence's Time Particle Engine going haywire after Duminass' attack has somehow thrown us three in the past, back when the war between Earth and the Jovian Lizards was still going... and when Char's Neo Zeon had yet to rise!"

Lahge felt the color drain from his face. "Wh... what? How... how was that possible?" he stammered breathlessly, struggling to regain his bearings. "This... this was not predicted at all! According to what we know about Time Particles and the like... it shouldn't be possible for them to cause the flow of time to invert so easily! That would take... an enormous amount of energy being channeled directly into the Time Shift Engine!" he said, then appeared to think about it and added something. "And... by the way, since we've really gone back in time... you mean that the Neo Zeon movement we've been captured by... is the first Neo Zeon uprising?"

"Yeah, that one... the one led by a woman named Haman Kahn." she answered. "It appears they're looking for capable soldiers with which to create a powerful army in their bid to control the Earth Sphere... but going back to your first question, yes, it shouldn't be possible, according to our calculations... but bear in mind that even the attack on the moon base shouldn't have been possible by our estimations! Somehow, that creature called Duminass managed to circumvent all our firewalls and attack our systems... there is something about that guy that defies any explanation we might come up with, and somehow, it can do things we deem impossible."

"It also wants the Time Shift Engine for some reason... and it was speaking of mistakes..." Lahge said, as the two of them approached the hangars and entered, finding the immobile Cosmodriver frame lying in front of them, held by heavy steel constraints. There were several dents on the sides of the purple machine, obviously signs of the beating it had taken during the dimensional travel, but for the most part, it seemed to be doing alright. There were a few more Mobile Suits in the hangar, which the two engineers recognized as models belonging to the first Neo Zeon uprising... howeer, there were also a few ZAFT and Titans suits among those and they wondered what was up with that...

"Guess we'll have to wait for the answers to come..." Lahge said with a resigned sigh. "For now, if we want to stay alive, we'll need to make ourselves useful, so... let's get to work, shall we?"

Mitsuko blinked as she saw her friend walking towards the immobile Cosmodriver frame. "Er... Lahge, you are aware that, even if we were to upgrade the Excellence Cosmodriver and make it so these guys could pilot it... there would still be no way they'll let us go? The Neo Zeon found what they believe to be a powerful weapon, and the only two people who know enough about it to be able to work on it... and they sure aren't going to miss this opportunity."

"I am aware of that..." Lahge answered, barely raising his voice above what was necessary. "But even so, we need to think of surviving for now, and of how to get ourselves out of trouble as soon as we can distract these guys long enough. For now... we really don't have much of a choice, do we?"

Seeing that Mitsuko was still rather unconvinced, Lahge went on. "Furthermore... these guys do not know the Excellence well enough to understand what we're doing with it." he explained. "With this, we can buy some time... make them think we are doing some important and very delicate operations that will require time. This way, we will be able to throw them off, at least for a while... and we might be able to gather some informations about Fiona's fate too!"

"Well... what you're saying is true, in fact..." Mitsuko answered, seeing her friend's point. "But... what's going to happen when we can't use that as an excuse anymore? We're going to be in trouble when that happens!"

"Let's cross our bridges when we get to them, Mitsuko..." Lahge said with a small sigh. "For now, this is the best we can do, under the circumstances."


Meanwhile, in another part of the Neo Zeon base, another prisoner was at the moment sitting in his own cell, sullenly thinking about what had happened in the latest days. Amuro Ray, former Earth Federation ace pilot who had earned himself the moniker of "White Devil" after piloting the RX-78 Gundam in the One Year War, was now nothing more than a prisoner of the successors to the same tyrannical regime he had helped overthrow, and needless to say, he was not happy at all about his situation.

Sure, not that his living conditions were much to write home about, previously... after the One Year War, the White Base ace had been placed under house arrest because of the Earth Federation's mistrust of Newtypes, and while he did enjoy life in a luxurious mansion that had been paid by his abundant war pension, he was pretty much a prisoner in his own home, and even his servants were actually government agents that had been assigned to keep track of his movement every hour of the day. Life had carried on like that for seven long years, until the Gryps Conflict against the Titans, where his good friend Frau Bow and several members of the AEUG had managed to speak with him and re-ignite his fighting spirit, earning themselves a stalward ally in their struggle... at least, until the ace pilot had mysteriously disappeared just before the deciding battle.

And now, there he was, sitting in a narrow cell and waiting for whatever his captors were going to do with him...

His extremely keen Newtype senses picked up someone about to approach him, and the curly-haired young man, wo had turned 23 no more than a couple months before, raised his glance to see who was it... and, just as he expected, he saw Rakan Dakaran slowly walking towards him, a look of grim satisfaction painted across his threatening face. Amuro stood in silence as the scary man of color approached his cell and glared back at him...

"Well? What's with the evil eye you're givin' me, Amuro Ray?" Rakan grunted in annoyance, once again receiving no comeback from the younger man. "You should be happy to know that the two people we've captured are alive and well, and they've already started working on that strange machine we found along with them. We've earned ourselves a nice new weapon!"

"And you really think those people will be happy to work for you, Rakan?" Amuro answered, still glaring daggers at the taller man.

The smile disappeared from the Neo Zeon officer's face. "Those people won't work for me, as a matter of fact." he answered. "They will work for Lady Haman, Lord Dekim and our alllies from both ZAFT and Giganos. And this is something you'll have to deal with as well, Amuro Ray. You should have seen with your own eyes how the Earth Union is weak and corrupt. They allow people like Blue Cosmos to do whatever they want, and they are still ineffective in stopping the attacks from all those alien factions that are now threatening the Earth! Last time I heard of them, their forces have suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Brahmins... do we need any more proof to say that this whole system must be taken down and replaced with a new one?"

"So you're going to exchange a tyranny with another one?" Amuro fired back. "Because that's exactly what it sounds like. Sure, you might pretend that you care about the current state of affairs, and I can even believe that your Lady Haman does, in fact, have some motives beyond mere lust for power... but I still cannot accept that you're trying to take over the Earth Sphere for your so-called new order to work."

"Hmph." Rakan snorted nastily. "You can say whatever you want, words will have no effect on Lady Haman's resolve. As soon as that new machine is operative, we will desert this base and depart to Hokkaido, where we'll rendez-vous with the rest of the troops. You'd better be ready for that, I'm not going to put up with slacking or underperforming. I hope that's clear enough."

Amuro said nothing as he kept staring at Rakan impassively... and after a few seconds, the large ma of color turned away and began walking out of the room, leaving a silent Amuro behind to wallow in silent anger. Rakan entered a corridor and followed it for a while, before approaching another automatic door and getting close to it, stepping into the room beyond as soon as the entrance slid open.

The atmosphere he was greeted with was not exactly what one would call warm - the new room he had stepped into looked like some sort of war room, with several monitors lit up on a terminal in the farthest part of it, and a table placed in the middle of it, around which several other men and women bearing the Neo Zeon uniform could be seen... and indeed, it would have been a surprise to see several of them seated there, patiently waiting for an high-ranking Neo Zeon officer to come.

"Very well... I can see that everyone is here." Rakan said, glaring at the gathered officers. "That's good, I like it when people are on time. Looks like you are getting the hang of it."

With an uncaring shrug, a tall young man in his mid-twenties, with blond hair done in an Elvis-like hairdo, and a cocky expression upon his handsome face, stood up and saluted, as did the others who were with him. It was obvious that he wanted to be everywhere else but there, at that particular moment.

"We kind of need to, since we're pretty much all stranded here with you guys..." he murmured in a low voice, earning himself a small nudge of warning from his closest comrade, a beautiful girl around his same age with long, straight emerald green hair and full ruby lips.

"Jerid, please..." she whispered to him, which caused the blond man to clear his throat and stand up to attention. Rakan gave both of them a meaningful glare in order to warn them against lack of discipline, then began explaining the current situation.

"At the moment, the two prisoners we have taken in have begun working on the unidentified machine. I have made sure that they are kept under constant observation, and they do not have contact with Amuro Ray." the Neo Zeon officer began. "I cannot give an estimate about how long it will take for them to complete their assignment, though, so I want you to be warned - we have received word that the remaining Karaba forces might have discovered this base, and while their relatively small numbers should cause no concern to us, we did hear that they are counting on the aid of several research laboratiories and independent factions. We must be ready for an attack at any moment."

There was a nasty-sounding chuckle as a third man, a scary looking blond man about a few years older than Jerid, with unruly blond hair, a slight tan and beady black eyes, spoke up for the first time. "Hehehee... sounds like those wimps from Karaba are starting to get uppity, aren't they?" he sneered. "Well, I'm sure not going to mind if they show their faces here. I was just itching for a chance to blow off some steam!"

The fourth member of the group, a pretty pink-haired girl of no more than 16, with a pair of short pigtails at the sides of her head, and bright green eyes, frowned and backed away slightly in disgust from the man who had just spoken, while Jerid let out a tired sigh. "Whatever you say, Yazan... I sure wish Kamille was among them! I have a score to settle with that little punk, and I can't wait for my chance!"

Yazan Gable, one of the most feared men among the Titans, laughed mockingly at that. "Oh, looks like our little prince Jerid here still had a little pain in his ass from all the kicking Kamille has given him!" he sneered. "You really sure you can take him? You haven't had the most stellar record, if I recall correctly!"

"Enough of your squabbling!" Rakan exclaimed, slamming his hand on the table and ending the discussion before the two could come to blows. "Remember that we still haven't completed our main objective for our stay on Earth! We may have captured Amuro Ray and gotten ahold of Four Murasame as well, but Kamille Bidan is still lost to us, and we cannot afford to let him get away! Therefore, I need all of you to be prepared."

"Yeah, yeah..." Yazan said in an uncaring tone. "As long as my Hambrabi is in good condition, you can bet that nobody will give me trouble!"

"We are all ready and willing to obey your orders, Sergeant Mayor Rakan Dakaran..." the pink-haired teenager said, keeping a cold, distant tone of voice. It was clear that she, too, would have rather been anywhere but there, taking orders from a man she did not respect.

Rakan nodded at her. "That's good. Up until now, your piloting skills have not disappointed us, Petty Officer Sarah Zabiarov. See to it that you live up to your reputation. Of course, the same thing goes for you as well! Stay on alert, and be ready to intervene should an alarm be raised. You are dismissed for now."

One could almost feel the relief coming from the officers as they were allowed to go. They saluted again, and all went on their way, eager to get out of that room as soon as they could - all but Yazan, who simply smirked uncaringly and went on his way towards the hangars, probably to check his own Mobile Suit. The pink-haired girl named Sarah Zabiarov followed him, but went a different way as soon as she could, repulsed by the blood-crazed Titan officer... while Jerid and the emerald-haired woman went the opposite direction and into a log corridor, with the blond young man finally able to express his frustration over the latest developments.

"Dammit... this is the pits!" Jerid muttered fiercely. "If only we weren't here because of orders from above and a sick twist of fate, we would have been back in the Earth Union's ranks now, not being plan of some Newtype bitch's hare-brained plan!"

The emerald haired woman, Jerid's teammate and lover Mouar Pharaoh, was known as the rational half of the couple, and she was always ready to rein Jerid in whenever his impulsiveness threatened to overcome his common sense... but she had to admit that she couldn't exactly blame him for being so angry. Life had taken a turn for the bizzarre the moment the Titans had been defeated at the end of the Gryps Conflict, and the deaths of both Supreme Commander Jamitov Hymem and Captain Bask Om had thrown the whole organization in disarray... it truly was ironic that now, only a few months after that conflict had ended, they were there, fighting alongside one of the factions they had long opposed.

"As they say, war makes some strange bedfellows at times..." Mouar answered. "But let me ask you a question, Jerid... if you are that dissatisfied with how things are going, you can always call it quits and be on your way. Why haven't you done that yet?"

"One day, I will be the one to rebuild the Titans!" the blond jet-jockey pilot readily answered. "I will make them come back to life stronger than ever, and I'll be the one running the show as well! I'm definitely not going to be a grunt for the rest of my life... and for that to succeed, not only do I need to defeat that Kamille punk once and for all, but I also need to go along with whatever idiotic plan the higher-ups have cooked up! Which means aiding Neo Zeon, if that's what it takes!" He stopped for a moment, possibly realizing that he had been more forceful than he probably intended, then looked away slightly and went on in a softer voice. "What about you, then? You don't have to risk your neck for me, and you know that. So, I guess I can turn your own question back on you: why haven't you called it quits yet?"

Mouar smiled gently as she put her hand on Jerid's shoulder. "Why, Jerid, I thought you knew me better than that!" she answered. "I told you, I'm going to help you wherever you're going, and whatever you decide to do. If I wanted to bail out, I'd have already done so, but then I wouldn't be much of a devoted girlfriend, would I?"

The blond man blushed slightly at that, and gently placed his hand over Mouar's, looking at her straight in the eyes. "Thank you, Mouar. That really means a lot to me." he answered, before the two inched closer and kissed each other on the lips, getting away, even for just a moment, from the messed-up reality they had been forced to live in for a while now.

They both separated after a few moments, and looked at each other for a while before getting back to their everyday chores. "Fine, then... I suppose we can take a few moments to check our Mobile Suits and make sure we're ready for a sortie." Jerid proposed. Mouar nodded in assent, before the two went their separate ways and returned to their barracks...


Sarah Zabiarov let out a small sigh of relief as she sat at her desk, in the barracks that had been reserved for her, and after making sure there was nothing suspicious in the proximities, she opened up a small laptop that was placed on the table right in front of her, activating it and waiting for the screen to light up. As soon as the small computer was operational, the pink-haired Newtype opened up what seemed to be a communication line, patiently but also anxiously waiting for it to start.

She didn't have to wait for long. The screen came to life a few seconds later, and a window appeared upon it, showing the face of the man Sarah answered to - a fellow of striking, mysterious looks, with an almost magnetic aura hovering around himself. He was dressed in a customized white uniform that looked like the one worn by high-ranking Titans officers, and his shoulder-long purple hair was held in place by a black circlet jus above his forehead. Cold, piercing, almost hypnotic blue eyes looked almost too fitting in a serene, handsome face that made him look even younger than his twenty-six years of age, and the black and golden trimmings his uniform was decorated with did nothing but contribute to giving him a charming, almost glorious appearence. However, there was something threatening and devious about him - the telltale glint of cunning and treachery in his eyes was, to anyone who knew who they were dealing with, a dead giveaway to his manipulative ways.

However, Sarah did not seem to mind in the least. Hoping the blush on her face wasn't too evident, she sat up and saluted formally. "Petty Officer Sarah Zabiarov... reporting in for duty, Lord Paptimus." she said, her voice trembling a little from emotion. "I... have opened this channel to you in order to inform you about the latest developments."

Paptimus Scirocco, one of the most brilliant minds in the Gryps War, smiled thinly as he motioned for his loyal subordinate to sit down, which the girl did without any hesitation. "At ease, Sarah." he answered, his voice still suave and alluring even when it was scrambled by the comm channel. "So, it seems you have some important news to tell me. Very well, I am listening."

Sarah cleared her voice. "Well... it was unexpected, to say the least, but our outpost in central Japan has gotten ahold of a mysterious mobile weapon. It does look like a Mobile Suit, but it has no cockpit or any other obvious piloting device, which leads us to think that it might simply be a weapon system that has been developed for use on a pre-existing model. We have captured a couple of techs who should be able to tell us more about this mysterious weapon, which they have codenamed Excellence. As of now, Sgt. Rakan Dakaran has placed them to work at making the Excellence operative for our use. However, we have no idea how much time that will take."

Scirocco nodded, intrigued by the news. "I see. That might be an unexpected opportunity for us." he calmly stated. "As of now, we need all the possible advantages we can find, before we make our move. And this... Excellence you speak of might be a very precious discovery. Do you also happen to know where this strange weapon comes from, or who manufactured it?"

"Sadly, this is unknown as well." Sarah answered, slightly bowing her head. "We will look into it as soon as we can, in any event."

"I understand." the Man From Jupiter, as Scirocco was also known as, answered. "Well, that is fine for now. I will personally look into this and try to get to know more about this new weapon. More to the point, I heard that our other outposts on Earth are well on their way to get Four Murasame under control, and you already have Amuro Ray in your custody."

"That is correct, Lord Paptimus." the pink-haired Newtype answered. "At the moment, we are trying to locate Kamille Bidan as well, and we should be able to do so in short notice."

Sarah did perceive a slight budge in Scirocco's stoic expression, but it lasted all of one second before he was back to normal. "This is satisfying then. I will keep in touch in order to assess the situation, but for now, I have other pressing matters to attend to. I dare say there is some... dissent in the rank of both Giganos and Neo Zeon, and ZAFT itself isn't as united as they would have us believe."

"I... see, Lord Paptimus." Sarah hesitatingly answered. She didn't really know what was going on with their supposed allies, but she knew for a fact that her superior had things under control. "In that case... I suppose I have nothing more to report."

Scirocco nodded. "Nevertheless, I am satisfied for now." he stated, still wearing that thin, tracherous smile of his. "You have done remarkably until now, Sarah. Keep up the good work."

With that, Scirocco's image flickered and disappeared from Sarah's screen, ending the conversation. Nodding to herself, the young Newtype turned the laptop off and closed it, before reordering her things and sitting down. She thought she might as well take a short break, at least until she was required once again...

If there was one thing she had to agree with her teammate Jerid on, it was the fact that things had gotten pretty weird after the end of the Gryps Wars... but that was not going to deter her from doing her duty. After all, she knew Lord Paptimus still had things under control, and that patience would finally pay off. It was just a matter of waiting for the right time...


"Hmm, I see..." Lahge commented as he looked at several diagrams on the computer the Neo Zeon soldiers had left for him to work on. "So, as of now, Neo Zeon are allied with the Lunar Empire of Giganos and with ZAFT, huh? That sounds rather weird of them... after all, if I recall correctly, Neo Zeon was always about Newtype superiority, wasn't it?"

"Well, to be correct, Neo Zeon employs several Oldtypes as well in their ranks." Mitsuko explained as she looked up some mechanical designs. "So, it's not all that improbable for them to be allied with people who are mostly Oldtypes. And that Rakan guy didn't exactly strike me as Newtype material, if you catch my meaning... it's just that they don't allow for their prejudices to get in the way of a potentially advantageous alliance."

"Yeah, I see your point." Lahge answered. "So... in other words, now we've been dropped on Earth just before Dekim Barton did his coup, and the Earth Sphere is still being ruled by the Earth Union, am I right? With all the invaders coming from other planets and such..."

"Yep, that's pretty much it." was Mitsuko's answered. The girl sighed and cast her eyes downwards, obviously thinking that disaster could strike anytime now. From what she knew, Dekim's takeover of the Earth Sphere hadn't exactly been a glorious day for humanity. She and her friends had been locked up in the Lunar base for a long time, but they did hear rumours about Coordinator purges, violent takeovers, rigged trials and summary executions of political adversaries... it was a large part of the reason why the future she and her friends had come from had gone into the gutter. However, just as pressing was the worry about what had happened to Fiona... she was fairly sure her friend had been sent to the same time period they were in now, but they had no clue as to where exactly she was and what her conditions were. She could only hope things would turn out for the best for her as well.

Lahge rubbed his forehead. "You know, there is another thing that worries me about this whole mess." he stated, causing Mitsuko to blink in confusion.

"Another thing?" she asked meekly. "And what's that?"

"Well, that Duminass thing, as you just said, was certainly no normal creature..." Lahge stated. "And we already know that it is after the Time Shift Engine, for reasons that still elude us. My fear is that he somehow managed to travel back in time as well, meaning that we might still have to contend with it... and considering how well it went last time, well... suffice to say, I'm not exactly happy at the idea!"

"Hmm..." Mitsuko thought out loud. "I'm not sure about it... if that thing could actually travel through time, why would it need the Time Shift Engine? I find it... rather contradicting, unless there is something about Time Shift technology we don't know ourselves..."

Lahge sighed, understanding that this was not the right time to think of such a problem. "I know, I know... it's just that I'm a little on edge, with all that's happened recently..."

"We all do... I still feel very awkward at the idea that we have travelled three years back in time!" Mitsuko stated, as she went back to work. "But I'm afraid these problems will have to wait for later... for when, or rather if, we manage to get out of this..."

Lahge nodded grimly, feeling the eyes of several Neo Zeon guards all affixed upon him...


Just a few minutes later, on board the gigantic private battleship Gandor, a few preparatives were being made...

"We have reached the proximities of the Neo Zeon base. We are just out of their radars' range at the moment." a middle-aged man in an elegant blue suit, with greying hair, looking glasses and a stern expression on his face said as he looked at the screens on his console. On one side, there was a rough electronic map showing the surroundings, while on the other, a list of names was scrolling down. "Are all the pilots ready?"

"Affirmative, Dr. Hazuki." one of the bridge crew answered. "Pilot Fujiwara and the rest of the Jyu Senki Tai have given us their confirmation, as have Pilot Kabuto, Pilot Yumi, Pilot Kobayashi and Pilot Mass."

"That's good. Please open a channel to all of them. I have yet to give them the final instructions for this operation." Dr. Hazuki answered as he leaned back in his chair. Soon enough, several windows popped up in front of him, each one showing the face of one of the large battleship's operative pilots - namely, the famed Jyu Senki Tai, better known as Cyber Beast Force, composed of the hot-blooded Shinobu Fujiwara, the fiery redheaded Sara Yuuki, the stoic martial artist Ryo Shiba and the young, spunky-lookin Masato Shikibu. Along with them were a few familiar faces: Kouji Kabuto, the young pilot of Maznger Z, and his teammate Sayaka Yumi, pilot of the Aphrodite A; as well as a young boy, not much older than 15 by the looks of him, with messy brown hair, a rather rotund figure and a few freckles sprayed on his face... and a beautiful young woman with straight, shoulder-long blond hair and piercing blue eyes. he latter two were wearing what semed to be the AEUG's custom piloting suit, and already wore their helmets, showing that they were ready to depart at a moment's notice.

"Attention to all pilots. We have reached the proximities of the Neo Zeon base we were sent to storm." Dr. Hazuki told the pilots. All of them nodded, paying attention to what their commander had to say. "We wil now deploy to break in and liberate Amuro Ray and other hostages that might possibly have been brought there. However, we cannot launch a straight-up assault. We need to split in two teams, and take the enemy on two sides."

Shinbu Fujiwara, an handsome and hot-headed young man with rather long dark blue hair, wearing a brown coat over a red shirt, white trousers and black shoes, sighed impatiently as he tapped his finger on his console. "Hmph... alright, we will do that. I still say it would be faster and easier to just barge through and overtake the base, though." he commented, finding it rather hard to reign in his fighting spirit.

"Yeah, great way to get us killed, Shinobu." Sara Yuuki answered sarcastically. The only woman in the Cyber Beast Force, Sara was a striking beauty with long red hair decorated by a tuft of pinkish white on her forehead, and she was wearing black trousers and shoes along with a coat similar to Shinobu's. "Next time I want to end the mission as a complete disaster, I'm going to ask for your advice."

Shinobu shot her a nasty glare. "Nobody asked you, Sara!" he growled at her, to which Sara simply hmmphed and turned her had away... much to young Masato's embarassment! The chestnut-haired young boy, the heir to a wealthy family tat had fallen out with his father after discovering some of his more shady dealings, rubbed the back of his head and chuckled sheepishly as he listened to his two comrades' quarrel.

"Here they go again, bickering like an old married couple..." he stated with a slight smirk.

Ryo Shiba, the oldest and most experienced pilot of the team at 28 years of age, cleared his voice in order to gain Shinobu and Sara's attention. Ryo was quite an imposing figure, dressed very much like Shinobu, Sara and Masato, and yet looking a lot taller and stronger than them, and he had a blue headband tied around his forehead like a martial artist's band. "When you're done with your lttle spats, you two, you might want to listen to Professor Hazuki." he calmly yet firmly admonished his less disciplined teammates. "We haven't brought along the Photon power Lab pilos and reinforcements from Karaba because it was going to be an easy rescue, you know that."

"Yeah, yeah... this is like the hundredth time you've told me that, Ryo." Shinobu muttered darkly. It was no secret that Shinobu and Ryo weren't always on the best of terms, and Shinobu's bullheaded approach to any kind of challenge was rather grating to the calm, professional Ryo. Still, on the battlefield, one would have been hard pressed to find better teammates, and that was one of the reasons why the Cyber Beast Force was a group to be reckoned with.

"So, we're ready, professor Hazuki!" Kouji said from Mazinger Z's cockpit, sporting one of his trademark grins, as he used to do whenever he felt he was going into a battle that would be easily won. "Just tell us what's the plan, and we'll be glad to follow your instructions!"

"Fine." Hazuki commented. "Kouji, you will deploy first, and will go for a direct attack at the Neo Zeon base. Sayaka, you and your Aphrodite A will have to support Kouji from behind, with Shinobu attacking from above with the Eagle Fighter."

"Will do." Sayaka and Shinobu answered at the same time.

"Sara, Masato, Ryo, Katz and Sayla will move on the sides of the base and attack when the enemy's defenses have been throw in disarray." Hazuki went on. "However, take care: we have very good reason to suspect that Neo Zeon keeps their prisoners close to what will become the combat zone. Take care to keep destruction of premises to a minimum in order not to needlessly endanger their lives. Private Kobayashi, that goes mainly for you. Do not let the enemy get to you - limit yourself to docking with Private Mass' Gundam Mk-2."

"Okay, sir... I'll remember that!" Katz Kobayashi, former member of the Argama crew and pilot of the supporting machine known as G-Defenser, answered somewhat sheepishly. Everyone was well aware of how reckless the young pilot could be, especially when it came to a certain Titan pilot...

In the cockpit of a Gundam Mk-2 standing in the Gandor's hangar, Sayla Mass frowned as she prepared herself for what was to come. How ironic, that she'd end up once again at the commands of a Mobile Suit so many years after the One Year War, and to rescue one of her own crewmates in the White Base, no less. She briefly wondered what her brother would have thought about the whole Neo Zeon business - and, for that matter, where he was in the first place. However, she knew this was neither the time nor the place to get distracted - she and her crewmates were up against some of the best Neo Zeon could offer, and any faltering would have been fatal. "Just try to stay close to me, Katz, and dock with me as soon as I request it." she instructed Katz. "In any event, don't stray too far away. You know your G-Defenser would not be able to hold its own against the newer Neo Zeon models."

"The operation will begin soon." Hazuki warned. "All pilots, please take your positions and get ready to enter the battlefield..."


A few moments later...

A sudden explosion surprised Lahge and Mitsuko as they were working at the Excellence-C pack, causing both young researchers to jump about a foot in the air and suddenly turn in the direction the blast had come from... and see a couple of Neo Zeon Mobile Suit rise from the hangars and advance towards that very same direction! Soon after, more Mobile Suits followed, as the deafening noise of battle grew louder and louder... and there was a roar of engines as a strange fighter plane, looking like a huge mechanical eagle, swept down upon the base, firing a hail of bullets from a pair of wing-mounted machine guns! It then turned away, executing a spectacular midair maneuver and getting away from the enemy's counterattack... while a pair of yellow beams of energy struck another Mobile Suit, blowing off its right arm at the shoulder!

"Ah! What... What's going on here?" Mitsuko exclaimed, almost dropping the laptop she was holding and stepping back in an attempt to find shelter. Just then, several more Mobile Suits took arms, and a penetrating sound of alarm resonated throughout the base, a telltale sign that something serious was going down!

"I... I have no idea..." Lahge answered. "But it seems somebody is not happy with Neo Zeon being here!"


In his cell, Amuro Ray raised his head as his Newtype sensed picked up two familiar presences. "Huh? What's this? Sayla... and Katz... and there are more!"


"Rocket Punch!" Mazinger Z's right fist flew at an approaching Dreissen, striking it in the chest and causing the Mobile Suit to fall over, electrical spark spraying out of the cracks made in its armor. Some distance behind him, Sayaka was hanging back, trying to draw some fire to herself and to withstand the attack as well as she could.

"Feh, these guys are pansies! I wonder when they will send out the big guns!" Kouji said, observing with some satisfaction as Shinobu's Eagle Fighter spun around, dodging enemy fire and returning a machine gun volley of its own. Sayaka grit her teeth as she guarded against some bullets fired by another Dreissen, which made a few dents on the Aphrodite A's alloy, luckily failing to inflict real damage.

"Hey, don't get cocky, Kouji! They might do that earlier than you think!" Sayaka warned him. "I just hope Sayla and the others will be in position when that happens..."

"The Land Cougar, the Big Moth and the Land Liger should be getting in position as we speak." Shinobu answered, nimbly getting his Eagle Fighter away from a stout yellow Mobile Suit with missile launchers on its sides - a Zussa, if memory served him. "Meanwhile, we'll take down as many of these chumps as possible!"

"Now that's what I like to hear!" Kouji answered. "Bring it on, Neo Zeon suckers! I can take you all!"

Mazinger Z and the Eagle Fighter resumed their assault in earnest, forcing back the Neo Zeon defenders...


"Sara, this is Sayla. We have gotten in position, and await for the signal." Sayla Mass said to the redheaded member of the Cyber Beast Force, as the two teams positioned themselves on the sides of the Neo Zeon base, where they could easily watch the battle taking place.

"Acknowledge, Sayla. Masato, Ryo and I are already in position as well. Just wait for professor Hazuki to give us the order, and we'll descend upon the enemy." Sara answered. Her Land Cougar was crouching low among a group of trees, from which she had a good visual of the battle, and Masato's Land Liger, along with Ryo's elephant-like Big Moth were in position as well.

She just hoped that fool Shinobu wouldn't get shot down before everything was ready...



Author's Note: And so, the Dancougar team enters the fray, as well as the "ever-beloved" Katz and the much more beloved Sayla Mass! Yeah, I know, it's a bit of a surprise, but rest assured it will be explained later on! And as you can see, there are quite a few former Titans around, along with everybody's favourite lavender-haired manipulator, Paptimus Scirocco! What devious plans does he have in mind, this time? And how will the batle with the Neo Zeon forces go? Stay tuned, for the next chapter won't be long in coming! See ya!