Phase 1-6: Battle

Eastern Mountain Range, Connect-02 World;

It had been 5 minutes since all hell broke loose. The Blood Rose and The Silver Contrail had sent out their vanguards forth, and where both clashed against each other in the thick forest midway between both teams' forward bases. Led by Rose I, the Blood Rose's vanguards found themselves pinned by the enemy heavy fire and is unable to move.

Midori had her hands full just dodging and returning fire to the enemy vanguard when Hiruma called her over a secure line, telling her that his unit had been ambushed by the enemy and is stuck in a difficult position.

Midori bit her lips. The enemy predicted her moves completely, and now both her vanguard and flank is unable to advance. Things look bleak, and it did not help that her AC had been overheating from the enemy's napalm bombardment on her position.

Beside her, Kira fought on bravely with the other members of the vanguard by his side. His energy round EO fired continually from behind covers, but to no effect. He is awfully quiet though ever since the war began.

"Sakuraba-kun! How is the base defense holding up?" Midori shouted, but is met by static. "Damn it!" Her AC stood up, firing her twin lasers, only to be met by a whole battalion of armored vehicles firing at her. She let a few rounds of the tanks' cannons hit her as she aligned her sights for her missile attack, her AC rocking violently with every hit she took. Her AC was not built for such extreme damage absorption.

"Eat this!" She shouted, letting loose her missile barrage. She quickly ducked back into cover soon after and took a moment to smile as her indicators signaled 'HIT' on her missile attack. She had only had a second to relish her victory when suddenly a pitch black AC dropped in from the sky in front of her.

"Hello." Came the voice from the open channel. A KARASAWA rifle barrel. A flash of light.

Hiruma had never seen anyone pilot an AC like Kaede did. Their unit had been ambushed by the enemy while mobilizing towards a rocky part of the canyon where the enemy hid behind large rocks and in caves, deactivated, while waiting for them to pass. A force of about 6 ACs.

Without Kaede, they would have been wiped out. Her Enchantress AC flitted on the barren battlefield like a butterfly, masterfully managing her energy while dodging multiple enemy attacks is a feat that Hiruma had only seen matched by Haru a while back.

The enemy forces had been thinned to a mere 3 ACs, with one totaled by Kaede's single effort. Hiruma's Tropic Quake stepped forward, firing his shoulder mounted CR-WB82R02 rockets one of the surviving Silver AC, a quad with multiple energy weapons that was sniping at his unit from behind some rock formation.

The unguided warheads slammed hard into the AC, while some missed and hit the canyon walls. A small quake ensued as some rubble broke off from the cliff above and came crashing down. Dust and dirt were thrown up into the air by the impact.

"KAEDE-CHAN!" Hiruma shouted. The rest of his team escaped the avalanche safely, except for Kaede whom disappeared momentarily from his radar. He felt as if his heartbeat stopped for a second before hearing the familiar roar of an AC's booster.

"Hiruma-sempai! That was too close!" Hiruma could almost hear her pouting. "Don't do that again! You don't want to lose your best pilot do you?"

"The enemy had retreated, we've pushed them back." Maki reported. "What a shame, we're still in great shape for a second go!"

"Let's not get too happy, Maki." Hiruma reminded his fellow IXth member. "There might still be enemy in the vicinity."

"Oh come on… What's the worse…" Her words were cut short when a sapphire lance of light pierced through her AC, Sunlight Magic's, head unit. The main camera and communication center of the AC glowed for a split second before exploding.

"Maki!" Kaede screamed while Hiruma scanned the sky. There, on a cliff quite far over the horizon, a poorly camouflaged gold and white lightweight biped stood proudly, its FENRIR sniper rifle held aloft in challenge.

"You bastard!" Hiruma kicked his Overboost into high gear, sending his AC flying at top speed towards the enemy AC. Beside him, Shinji quietly followed with his own Overboost. Even without saying anything, Kaede could sense the cold fury within the silent pilot's action.

The unknown AC fired its FENRIR again, striking the Tropic Quake in its leg even while it is moving. The shift in momentum from the attack deterred the mech. Hiruma however, refused to give in. He held up his shoulder rockets again and let loose, multiple dumb fire warheads heading directly for the enemy AC.

The unknown took into the air, where Shinji's CrossBlade had been waiting. Without a word, Shinji hailed the unknown with his PIXIE2 machinegun. In a show of near impossible grace, the unknown dodged the first volley.

"Get him up close, Shinji! He doesn't have any close up weapons!" Hiruma ordered through the Team Comm. The unknown had cannon-like weapon on its shoulder, which Hiruma is sure would pointless unless the AC could land and kneel to use the weapon. Landing is something Hiruma would never let the enemy do, as he let loose his newly purchase KINNARA micro missiles at the unknown.

The unknown pilot is highly skilled though, dodging Hiruma's missile as well as another machinegun volley from Shinji.

"Tch… Sit still, you little greasy monkey." Hiruma hissed as he took aim again. Shinji hissed into the comm-link as well, clearly frustrated. The unknown had no chance to counterattack however, as Shinji kept a good job staying up in the unknown's face.

"Enough of this." A communication signal came from the open channel. Before anyone could reply, the unknown did the impossible. It deployed its back cannon, a linear cannon apparently and buffeted Shinji's CrossBlade with five rapid shot at point-blank range.

The swift assault damaged the CrossBlade's core critically. The main booster cut itself off momentarily, causing the purple and white AC to fall out of the sky and crash into a cliff-face before falling into a ravine below.

"Shinji! Respond! Shinji!" Hiruma shouted into his communicator, but there was no response. He was distracted while doing this that he did not realize when the unknown had closed the gap between them. He now looked directly into the barrel of the unknown's linear cannon, a moment before a bright flash blinded him and knocked his AC down into the dirt.

"Hiruma-sempai!" Kaede's voice was like music to Hiruma's eyes as his visor regained vision of the battlefield. He had feared he would lose all visual due to the attack. Luckily his EYE-4 head unit's armor did its job perfectly and protected the delicate electronics.

The unknown is currently engaging the unknown, the loud pinging of the linear rounds against her left arm shield deafening. There was a data feed coming in from Kaede's Enchantress, it was the data on the Unknown. Hiruma's eyes widened as he read it.

"Hiruma-sempai! Please support!" Kaede begged. She is clearly overwhelmed by the unknown's speed and overall mobility. "Hiruma-sempai!"

"An… Raven?" Hiruma stuttered. He was still stunned by the unbelievable information he was just shown. "Rank 7, Rai-Oh? OP-INTENSIFY?"

Hiruma was jolted awake as by the Enchantress crashing down in front of his Tropic Quake, under fire from the Rai-Oh's (lit: Thunder King) CR-WB03LGL2 Crest model linear cannon barrage. "Get a grip, Ruka!" Shinji's voice came over the intercom. His middleweight CrossBlade climbed up from the ravine it fell through earlier, it had lost its left arm but still functional. "Raven or whatever. We still have the number advantage." Shinji spoke calmly. "We can take him if we work together."

"Don't count me out just yet, Cap'n!" Maki cheered, her damaged Sunlight Magic lining up behind Shinji's AC. "Took me a while but I finally figured out that auxiliary communication control that Shinji thought me earlier!"

Hiruma was silent for a moment while he readjusted his gear to get into a more comfortable position. He smirked, smiled and then let out his trademark excitable laughter. "Rose IXth is not gonna go down eh? Shinji! Kaede! Let's show this stuck up bitch who's boss!"

As if accepting the challenge, the Rai-Oh charged forward, its laser blade in full effect. Team IXth scattered, the CrossBlade turning to fire its PIXIE2 machinegun. The Rai-Oh took to the skies, the machinegun rounds hitting the dirt beneath its feet. It turned its FENRIR energy sniper rifle towards the CrossBlade, but a missile lock made it change its mind. The Rai-Oh barely got out the KINNARA volley from the Tropic Quake, two of the missiles striking its left leg.

The Enchantress entered the fray, its PIXIE3 machinegun scoring hits on the Rai-Oh whom returned fire with its high velocity LGL2 linear cannon. Five full shots hit the Enchantress squarely in her core, shooting it down.

"Kaede-chan!" Maki's Sunlight Magic moved up to support the Enchantress as it tries to regain its footing with Hiruma's Tropic Quake providing cover fire with his grenade launcher and rockets.

"I'm okay, Maki-chan." Kaede said, getting back on her feet. Shinji went up to face the Rai-Oh again. This time the CrossBlade engaged its SYAKATSURA micro missiles and fired from long range together with his FUNI extensions. Four missiles flew in a wide area chasing the white AC, only to be easily avoided by the Raven's acrobatic maneuvers.

Aggravated, Shinji pushed his CrossBlade forward, laser blade at the ready. The Rai-Oh met this challenge head-on, his own ELF3 high heat laser blade lancing forward. The green and orange blades met, sparks flying between the two ACs. Unluckily for Shinji, the Rai-Oh had the higher ground and the CrossBlade is having trouble keeping airborne with the Rai-Oh's superior boosters pushing it down.

In a desperate move to avoid being forced down, Shinji powered down his thrusters and blade at the same time while at the same time angling his AC to allow the Rai-Oh to pass him. His plan was to have the Rai-Oh be pulled down by both the gravity and his own boosters thrust and crash. His plans were in vain however as the Rai-Oh had also powered down his boosters and rather boosted back up. The Rai-Oh chained his move with another full magazine volley of LGL2 linear rounds; the five high speed rounds impacting upon the CrossBlade, crashing it into the ground.

The Rai-Oh was not given breathing room however as both Sunlight Magic and Enchantress flew up to face him. Maki opened fire with her CR-WR98L laser rifle, violet beams narrowly dodged by the Rai-Oh. The Rai-Oh countered with its FENRIR, the purple lances hitting the Sunlight Magic , though the energy shot carried not momentum, the heat melted down a significant amount of armor on the pink and blue AC.

The Enchantress went up for another blade duel, its CR-WL79LB2's green beam blade narrowly missing the Rai-Oh's white armor. The Rai-Oh countered with more linear rounds, but missed completely as the Enchantress killed its boosters to lose altitude quickly. The Rai-Oh took a full burst of PIXIE3 machinegun fire in retaliation, which it is unable to avoid in time.

This moment of vulnerability is used by Hiruma to unleash a full bear of KINNARA micro missiles, which is joined by Maki's EMPUSA and RM4 missile combo. The combination attack lit up the sky with a massive fireball. From the inferno a single large debris emerged, where from it a flaming figure of an AC flew out of.

The Rai-Oh was burnt and badly damaged, the white armor now black with soot and heated metal. It could not retain altitude for long due to the heat, and soon after emerging from the flames it crashed down a burning wreck. A moment later, another explosion ensued and surely, that was the end of the Rank 7 Raven, Rai-Oh.

Midori is breathing heavily now. Her White Blade is the only AC on her team left standing, with Haruka's Monstro and Yuki's Lioness now in ruins behind her. Kira's Abrams is now supporting the black AC which Midori was sure was the same one that Haru had defeated a while back on their joint mission.

"Kira-kun! What is the meaning of this?" She begged again. Her AC's head unit is at 25% functionality and she is losing visual on her main camera. Through the static and communication jamming, she could not hear Kira's answer but sure enough she could understand the spite in his voice.

"Is this all?" The pilot of the black AC's voice could be heard. "Not good enough." The black AC had its KARASAWA trained on the White Blade's core, ready to pull the trigger. Midori could only close her eyes as the she waited for the end of the battle. The end of team Blood Rose.

There was no flash of blue light as Midori had expected, but instead a loud clang was heard as high speed bullets but the black AC, driving it away from the White Blade. Midori could hear Kira cursing, his twin grenade cannons roaring as it fired away at the newcomer to the battle.

When Midori finally opened her eyes again, there stood a blue and gold middleweight AC in front of her , shielding her from the black AC and the Abrams. Her IFF could not recognize the new AC however.

"Haru…-kun?" She asked.

"Stand back." It was surely Haru's voice. However there's a strange aura about him, even through the virtual space the massive power of his focus could be felt.

A strange notification tab opened on Midori's visor.

"The…. Conquista?" She questioned. Then, an unknown computerized voice filled the open channel.


To be continued…