Mobile Suit Gundam/Kido Senshi Gundam: Peacekeepers
Chapter 21: Detour
Somewhere in Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
Emma and Mark called for a taxi to take them to the Serevis City Lunar Train Station from Mao Heavy Industries Headquarters. As the two Mithril SRT operators left, they were followed by the 4x4 SUV.
Mark took a glance over his shouler a while ago and noted the vehicle that's been following them.
The taxi driver advised them that they'll have to take a detour due to upcoming construction at some of the roads leading to the station. They needed to go use one of the nearby bridges and circle around a few blocks to get there.
"Something wrong?" Emma asked Mark when she saw him sending out a SMS message from his Android-based smartphone.
"Just a precaution." Mark replied, not looking at her since he was busy sending the message.
The taxi was making the approach to the bridge, seeing some sedans in what seems to be a traffic jam.
"Sorry folks." The driver said, looking at the traffic. "We're stuck here."
He pointed to the various construction vehicles on the bridge. Some of the construction workers were directing traffic, wearing orange hard hats and yellow safety vests.
Around three to four workers were present.
"No need to worry. My companion and I are used to this." Emma replied.
Mark looked over his shoulder again to see that the SUV was still there.
What was strange, however, was that it was parked just near the bridge. Later on, a 48-foot shipping container mounted on a semi-trailer truck was seen driving from an adjacent street.
It was driving up the street on the bridge after it made a right turn. It was like a normal semi-trailer truck.
Except for one thing.
Mark noted that some of the workers were talking to each other and were pointing out the taxi they were in.
"Emma..." Mark whispered.
"Yeah. I noticed." Emma also noted that the workers were keeping an eye on their vehicle.
"How's your combat skills?"
"I'd say not bad. Just took a refresher course a few days ago."
"Could come in handy."
A few minutes after the workers were directing the traffic to get the cars through, they dropped their stop signs and rushed to their parked pickup trucks to take loaded assault rifles.
"Get down!" Mark shouted when the workers opened fire on the taxi. Since he and Emma had to duck down to avoid being hit, they didn't see the semi-trailer truck parked diagonally. He didn't see the taxi driver bail out and escape from the gunfire.
This effectively blocked the bridge from pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
"Dammit..." The ex-child soldier was very, very upset about what's happening right now. "We're caught in an ambush."
"How did they find us?" Emma was worried that Mithril had a security lapse that led to the ambush.
"We won't know unless we talk to the gunmen. That's if they stop shooting at us."
"Can you see where they're shooting us from?"
"I can't. They're conducting suppressive fire."
The workers opened fire on the taxi with their AK-12 assault rifles, outfitted with red dot scopes and iron sights as backup, although some of the sedans nearby were also hit with gunfire. They warned the civilians inside to get the hell away from the area and that they were not going to be targeted.
The armed men slowly moved towards the abandoned taxi. Two men from the truck dismounted and approached the taxi from the rear, armed with the same Russian-made assault rifles.
The two men saw the hand signals that they're needed to check the taxi first while they stand back. They nodded and slowly advanced.
It was when they made contact with the taxi that things changed for them.
Mark leaped out after he kicked the the right passenger door open, which knocked the gunman a few feet backwards. He quickly drew out his sidearm, a Myanma-made clone of the Glock 17 pistol known as the MA5 MK II.
He fired it twice, sending the gunman off the bridge.
"Shit...!" The other gunman met his fate when Mark turned around instantly and fired twice at his chest.
"Emma! Grab the AK on the ground!"
Emma grabbed the AK-12 that conveniently fell down near her side after she quickly opened the left passenger door.
I can use this.
The ex-Titans officer opened the door of a nearby sedan and used it as temporary cover while she opened fire with the AK-12. The two workers were instantly killed by the three-round bursts. The other two took cover.
Mark got prone and fired the AK-12 via single shot mode while he focused his aim via red dot scope, hitting the other two men at their legs.
Emma had just taken the time to take a break and process what the hell happened when she saw Mark use his pistol to execute the four workers who tried to ambush them. He shot each man twice just to make sure and pilfered them for any IDs or ammo.
He's... ruthless. I remember the others telling me about him. And Kira, Sai and Kuzzey. I thought that was just some exaggerations the Titans did just to make them look scary to the ZAFT and Zeon remnant forces.
Turns out... the urban legend regarding Project COSMOS was true. Just how low did the Titans go to...
A few weeks ago after succesful raid on Titans unit near Side 2's Colony 25
Darza, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, Space
Emma had some free time in Freiceadan after the Argama was able to ambush the Titans task force sent to the outskirts of Side 2. The other personnel, Quattro and Kamille included, were busy conducting maintenance checks on the mobile suits. Emma already did hers earlier.
During her free time, she was invited by some of the ladies working in Freiceadan for a get-together at Darza in order to unwind from work.
Emma agreed to join. She had met with some of the ladies who worked in combat, intelligence, engineering and maintenance roles after she defected from the Titans. but she had litle interaction from those who worked in the base's medical field.
Emma was greeted by Sayla, one of the base's many nurses. She was formally accepted in Mithril, one of the few ladies who welcomed her into the organization in a non-combat capacity. The ex-Titans officer also found out that she also knew of the case of the ex-COSMOS child soldiers who were accepted in Mithril.
After all, they also welcomed Emma's presence.
"Hi, Sayla. Did you wait long?"
The blonde nurse shook her head. "No. I just got here. Have a seat. I heard the others are coming in a bit."
"Thanks." Emma took a seat next to her.
"So how's things so far after your defection?"
"It's not that bad. The boys were very helpful."
Sayla smirked. "I'm sure they were." She knew of the effect Emma had on the men's morale after Blex, Kowen and the other high-ranking Mithril officers welcomed her into the ranks as a commisioned officer.
Almost all of the enlisted (and some officers like Henken) wanted to show Emma around. Help her get used to the facility. And even help her with training in small arms, unarmed combat and mobile suit training with the mobile weapons Mithril uses in service.
Emma frowned when she heard Sayla. "I'm guessing that they haven't seen a pretty face before."
"Well, they got me. And Nina and Lucette and Linda Vashti... But I'm glad that's died down."
Emma nodded in agreement.
"There's one more thing I have to raise." Emma spoke to Sayla after a waiter served them cold water.
Sayla raised an eyebrow. "What about?"
"I'm not sure how to explain this..." Emma drummed her green gloved fingers on the round table. "It's with the guys who're in the Hiryu Kai."
"You mean Mark with Kira and the other two teenagers?"
Sayla was known in the organization to be their nurse when their COSMOS brainwashing wore down. She also helped them cope with the aftermath of being free from Titans control.
"I'm worried about him. Especially with issues from being brainwashed for a long time." Emma explained.
Sayla nodded, sharing the same sentiment. "I noticed that too."
"I remember it from that op in Green Noa I, a few months after I joined Mithril. Back when he rescued the civilians, especially Fa's mom and dad, Mark seemed to take it very personally with the Titans."
Sayla wondered what had happened in Green Noa I. Mark didn't talk a lot about it to anyone else aside from personnel who were active in the hostage rescue op, except that he was angry at the Titans for taking civilians prisoners under the pretext of anti-terrorist measures.
"I saw him in the monitor of my Rick Dias when he started to threaten some of the wounded Titans soldiers. Seems like he was interrogating them or something..."
"Do you mean..."
Emma sadly nodded. "He just shot them anyway. As if he didn't care."
"I'm guessing that means he wants revenge for him being so messed up. Mark reminds me of someone I know."
The ex-Titans officer wondered who the nurse was talking about.
"There's this guy who lived in the Texas Colony. He left his sister alone and secretly went back to Side 3 to enlist with the Zeon before the war started."
"Are you talking about Casval Rem Deikun, aka Char Aznable?"
Sayla nodded. "Yeah. He wanted to take down the Zabis from being the scenes for what happened to his parents."
"I see what you mean. His anger is like Kamille after his mother was killed during the attempted negotiations."
"I'm really worried about him." Sayla was a bit frustrated. "His recklessness sometimes. He reminds me of Char."
"Malice builds up slowly. You start lying to yourself. Then you resent the people around you and finally, you just switch off the whole world." The way Sayla explained what could happen to Mark seemed to be frightening to her. "It's a slow process. Just like you never see the hour hand of a clock moving. It sneaks up on you."
"I know I tried my best to get him to open up when Mithril recruited him, but maybe you can help him too."
Emma reflected on what she and Sayla spoke about a while ago.
"I'll do my part. I'm not sure if I can... you know, make Mark not focus on his quest for revenge."
Emma and Sayla were greeted by Nina, Lucette, Mora and Kay. Linda came a few seconds later with her daughter Mileina.
The ladies took their time to say grace for the stress-free day before they ate dinner.
Bridge, somewhere in Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
Emma checked the mag of the AK-12 she seized, seeing that there's still a lot of ammo.
"You okay?" Mark called for her after he returned with a few AK-12 and Glock-based pistol mags (and a Glock 17, of course) and a radio extender with an earpiece.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"These guys are contractors." He handed Emma the Glock 17. "Looks like Raven Sword."
"I've heard of them. They're notorious when it comes to being contracted in joint peacekeeping opeations." Emma took the Glock 17 and did a brass check before she kept it and took four pistol mags.
"They are." Mark took the other four pistol mags and handed the radio to Emma. "And if they're here, it means that someone really wants us dead."
Emma took the radio. "But who?"
Mark checked his smartphone and saw that there was no signal and the message he sent out failed. "Dammit. I've got no signal."
Emma went to check on her smartphone as well. "Same."
"This means they're on to us. We need to move."
Mark motioned to Emma that they need to make a run to the other end of the bridge before they could be ambushed further.
"The only thing I can hear is Raven Sword comms." Emma told Mark as they ran.
"Good." Mark was pleased to hear it. "We can use it to ambush the contractors before they can get to us."
Commander's Office, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, Space
Kowen read the after action report prepared by Quattro a few days after they returned from ambushing a Titans task force sent to Side 2 thanks to a mole inside the task force. According to said report, the Titans Test Team had skilled pilots that were a match for the Argama's SRT team.
"What the heck were the Titans doing?" Kowen mused after he read the report. "Are they trying to repeat Bunch 30 all over again?"
The African-American Mithril officer didn't like where his train of thought was going.
"Or are they trying to do a false flag attack just to give justification?"
Perhaps it was time to consider immediate measures to stop the Titans ASAP...
Titans Commander's Office, Gate of Zedan, Lagrange 3, Space
Bask was on the phone on a secured line, getting updates on what's happening in Serevis City. He didn't want to use the official Titans line for fear that Mithril or a hostile group could try to eavesdrop or intercept the conversation.
"The ambush failed?" Bask was not surprised that the ambush attempted by Raven Sword failed, mostly due to Mark's quick reflexes and years of experiences conducting such operations back in COSMOS.
"I'm sorry, Commander." C was on the line. "It seems that the target was able to turn the tables against the Raven Sword contractors. I heard that some of the contractors recruited have Titans background."
"It's fine." The officer sighed. He didn't want to commit the Titans right now unless he or the Admiral deems it necessary.
Not that Bask had told him about it in the first place.
"We're going to regroup and try to ambush them again." The hired merc told Bask. "But they've armed themselves. There's no telling if they can break out."
"Well... support from the Titans is going to be limited. I can't afford to send any mobile suits to assist, but I could perhaps try to get the word around and frame it as an anti-terrorist op just in case."
"It's appreciated, sir. It could help."
"All right. I'll have to end the call. Someone may try to listen in."
Bask made another call for the Titans soldier who called it in to go with the Titans team heading to Serevis City to verify Emma's presence in case she's shot and killed.
Side Street, somewhere in Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
Mark and Emma got off the bridge and ducked to the nearest side street to avoid being seen by any RS contractors. They were lucky that civilians were not present, being told by public bulletins by the Servis Police Department (SSPD) that they have to get off the streets due to an incident that's threatening public safety.
"Looks like we're the only ones around." Mark said when he checked on the AK-12 to see if he has enough ammo on the mag.
"I'm sure the Titans are pulling the strings to get SSPD to back off." Emma listened in on the RS frequency for anything suspicious or unusual.
"If only I can contact HQ right about now." Mark sighed when he tried to use his radio again, only to be greeted by static. Yep, we're still being jammed. Wonder if Sonraí has a map with a quick escape route?
Emma peeked from the corner to see if it was safe. Meanwhile, Mark was looking for the issued map given to him by intelligence on his smartphone.
"I got a map of the downtown area with the bridge." Mark said when he opened the smartphone's map app.
When Emma was right next to him, he used two finger to zoom in the map a bit so that he can show her their current location. It was a good thing that the city map was already downloaded for offline use as a precautionary use in case the user can't use the internet.
"So we're here..." Emma pointed to the part of the map that showed the intersection of the bridge with the side street.
"Yeah. So where can we go from here and whether the alternate extraction point is in the vicinity..." Mark studied the map to look if the side streets can be used to escape and as an another path to get away from the main street.
"We can probably use the side streets we're in until we can get some breathing room." Emma suggested.
"Right. I'll have to consult the emergency map of the city again, but I last remember that somewhere in the area is one of the alternate extraction points." Mark agreed with Emma's idea. "We need to look for a familiar landmark."
Emma listened in on RS comms again since she was hearing activity. "I think we need to move."
"I'm hearing news that someone's been dispatched to assist RS contractors in the field. A Mister C. Based on what I'm hearing."
"Mister C, huh?"
"I'm assuming that you're aware of him."
"Yeah. Mysterious guy. Heard he's a contractor who always wears a trenchcoat and a fedora. Always wear a pair of shades. I have no idea if he's with RS or another PMC."
Mark crouched and looked down the street away from the bridge to see if the path is clear. "We should be clear for now. We gotta go..."
Aires to Serevis High-Speed Lunar Train, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
In one of the express train cars of the Aires to Serevis High-Speed Lunar Train, around six Titans commandos were present in civilian clothes. They were ordered to do so by the Titans' Aires branch in order to avoid bringing attention to them as orders were brought from the top in a covert anti-terrorist op.
According to the orders, one of their own was already in the city due to unofficial business when RS initiated the ambush. Said person was waiting for them with a minivan provided with weapons and combat gear brought in under disguise of company items being delivered to Mao Heavy Industries.
As the train PA system announced that the train is making their approach to their final stop and end the line at Serevis City, their smartphones received an encrypted SMS message. When the commandos werre able to open thier messages using their personal ID numbers, they were shown Titans-era photos of Mark and Emma with the message that the two are now wanted terrorists.
It also said that they're deemed dangerous and they're to be found either dead or alive.
"Now arriving at Serevis City. I repeat, now arriving at Serevis City. This is the last stop for the Aires to Serevis High-Speed Lunar Train express. Thank you..."
"Let's go." A brown-haired woman in her late 30s said when she stood up from her seat. "We got a job to do."
"Yes, ma'am!" Three women and two men stood up and followed her out of the car after the train made its stop.
Outside, they were met by the same Southeast Asian man who IDed Emma next to a black van. He introduced himself as Petty Officer Michael Cruz. He told the team that he's their driver for the op.
Somewhere in Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
Mr. C was inside the SUV used by the two RS contractors after they left the MHI building to follow Emma and Mark's taxi from a distance. But when the gunfight started on the bridge, he told the driver to find another way to get to the other side of the city before they can lose the target.
"Anybody got a weapon I can use?" The fedora-wearing contractor asked.
"Yeah, we got some stuff in the trunk." The RS contractor in the front passenger seat replied. "Anything in mind?"
"No. Not really. I can handle anything."
"Good to hear. We'll work something out when we do our detour."
Mr. C received an incoming message on his smartphone from an unregistered mobile number.
Do they want an update?
The mercenary wondered what was urgent that the unknown sender needed to send him a message. He opened the message to see what the sender wanted to say.
Has the problem been dealt with?
The shades-wearing man had a gut feeling who sent the message with an anonymous number.
He had to send an immediate reply. And got another one too.
The Titans contacted the company somehow. I'm on a job with Raven Sword.
I'm aware of RS. A PMC linked to the Titans. Pitiful. Let me know when you're able to have a free schedule.
"What else can go wrong?" Mr. C murmured when the driver said that he should be driving to the other side of Serevis City soon since there's another bridge that's not locked down.
Mobile Weapons Hangar, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, Space
Everyone present in the hangar was working to get some newly arrived mobile weapons brought inside ASAP. Some directed the trucks carrying the mobile suits while others prepped machinery that would be used to help in inspecting it. Others were on standby on conduct an inspection on the spot.
Among those present to inspect and perhaps check on the new arrivals is ex-Anaheim Electronics/Morgenroete mobile weapon engineer Lucette Audevie. She was told to assess the incoming mobile weapons for herself. From what she was told by the other engineers, at least one of them was meant for Mark after the Hiryu Kai destroyed his Shalldol Custom back in Azadistan.
"Feels like forever since I last saw Mark in a mobile weapon." Lucette mused, remembering the last time was seeing him testing some on behalf of Morgenroete, MHI and a few other mobile weapon manufacturers when Mithril was being restructed.
The brown-haired woman to see Mileina and Linda Vashti arrive at the hangar.
"Mileina. Linda." Lucette greeted the mother and daughter. "What brings you two here?"
"We were around the area when we heard gossip that some new mobile weapons are comig in Freiceadan." Mileina replied with a smile on her face.
"I heard that it could be for Mark and the other boys who happen to be due to change their mobile suits." Linda spoke to Lucette. "It's a shame that they're busy on the Moon. It would be important for them to check things out at least."
"Well if it was," Lucette greeted Mileina with a hug, the latter being super friendly to her and the other people involved with the Albion crew when they were assigned to Freiceadan. "then I wouldn't know."
"That makes sense."
"Are you going to look at them, Lucette?" Mileina asked the engineer.
"We'll see after the mobile weapons are unloaded from the trucks, Mileina."
"I couldn't help but notice that you seem eager to take on the task to evaluate the incoming mobile weapons." Linda spoke to Lucette on the side as Mileina excused herself to speak to the mechanics.
"Haven't done something like this ever since the incident at La Vie en Rose when I was still with Anaheim."
This got Mileina interested and curious. "Oh. Did something happen between the two of you?"
Somewhere in La Vie en Rose, Space
Lucette finished another meeting with Crena Hacsel, director of Anaheim Electronics' La Vie en Rose space station. It serves as a mobile orbital manufacturing plant, repair center and testing facility for AE-made mobile weapons.
The systems engineer assigned to the development of the RX-78GP03D Gundam "Dendrobium Orchis" tried to persuade her superior to allow OMNI mobile suit pilot Kou Uraki work with her and her team to test the Dendrobium in the field before it can handed to OMNI forces.
She got pissed off. A lot. And that part was from Hacsel's objections due to the presence of OMNI Space Forces' 401st Security Company under the command of Nakoha Nakato before and after they boarded the Albion. And his orders include restrictions of personnel movement in and out of the station.
This also includes access to the Dendrobium. Nakato has also restricted access to OMNI personnel from Intelligence on orders from their superiors, even though he's not from said bureau. Lieutnant Junior Grade Tanya Chermoshankskaya, recently working alongside the Albion crew, was reportedly not pleased by his orders.
Never mind the news going around that the Albion had detained someone who used to be from the Principality of Zeon's mobile suit forces.
"Something needs to be done. Nakato's stalling everything and he's giving everyone at the station a hard time." Lucette murmured her problems ever since the OMNI officer came in the picture.
The engineer was fortunate that Nakato has given her, Nina, Kou and his CO security clearance just to enter and leave the station.
Lucette caught sight of two privately employed AE guards making the rounds. They were dressed in brown combat shirt/pants, gray plate carriers and baseball caps with black boots.
Normally, they wouldn't wear plate carriers unless there's an urgent sitaution. And in this case, the La Vie en Rose being commanded by OMNI is such a situation.
Which meant that AE security forces were now under 401st SC command. As such, they were only allowed to be armed with collapsible batons, pepper spray and flexicuffs. They're only given pistols if they deem it "necessary".
"Good to see a familiar face." One of the guards greeted Lucette.
"Oh hello, Mr. Gilbertson."
The blond man in his 40s nodded. "Just Gilbert. Anywayy.. Don't mind me. I'm showing the new transferee the way about the station since he got moved here a few weeks ago from Earth."
"I remember seeing him at another part of the station..."
"My predecessor, before he left, was responsible for assigning him to the docks on armed duty. Probably why you don't see him much." He then turned to face the other guard. "Don't just stand there. Introduce yourself to the lady."
"Yes, sir." The other guard looked at Lucette and extended his left arm. "Name's Marc. Marc Chiu. Probably the first time we met, but I got assigned to the docks and the other places nearby at La Vie en Rose. By the way, my first name's spelled with a C, not a K."
Mobile Weapons Hangar, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, Space
Lucette mused on the first time she met him. "I thought that he looked quite young for a guard stationed back there during the Delaz incident. Now that I think about it."
Linda couldn't help, but giggle. "I wouldn't blame you for that..."
"Anyway, he seemed normal for a contracted guard when we first me. Although things started when the colony was about to be dropped to Earth..."
Somewhere in La Vie en Rose, Space
Lucette overheard some of the AE personnel that someone was breaking out of 401st SC custody.
"I heard that some ruckus is happening outside the station. That Nakato guy's scrambling his guys to take control."
"Do we know who they're trying to detain?"
"Rumors suggest he used to be with the Principality before he settled down as a civvie."
"Unit 3 needs to get mobilized." Lucette said softly, walking past a few AE employees down a corridor. An annoucement was made through the PA system for all AE personnel to be careful and pay attention to orders from 401st SC soldiers just in case there's a need to hunker down somewhere or evacuate La Vie en Rose.
She decided to head to the La Vie en Rose's quarters as they placed Kou and his CO there with Nina.
And if she remembered right, there's suppose to be some sentries posted.
Lucette saw Gilbert and Marc taking up positions in the quarters area after they took down the two sentries with chokeholds. While the sentries were being dragged from the corridor, Marc was quick on the draw and aimed a seized pistol at her direction.
This nearly scared the shit out of Lucette until Gilbert told him to cool it since Lucette's a civilian.
"Hold it." Gilbert told Marc. "She's not the enemy."
"Shit..." Mac cursed. "Sorry, sir."
"What's going on?" Lucette was shocked to see two AE guards take out well-armed OMNI soldiers like they trained in special forces tactics.
"Long story short, Marc and I are working for someone else who doesn't want to see La Vie en Rose under hostile control." Gilbert explained the situation while Marc dragged one of the unconscious OMNI soldiers into a vacant room after his arms and legs were tied up with flexicuffs.
"Is this related to Unit 3?"
"My employers prefer that the Albion has control of Unit 3. The Dendrobium Stamen and the Orchis if we're to stop the Delaz Fleet."
"I'm getting the other guy, sir. No one else in this part. But I'm picking up chatter with regards to the Delaz Fleet. Seems like they're responsible for the mess outside the station."
"Nice work, Marc. Now we need to get to the Unit... And hopefully we get out before the station's taken out."
Gilbert looked at Lucette. "We'll take you to safety. This area may come under attack..."
"No." Lucette shook her head. "I'll help you guys get to Unit 3."
"Are you sure?" Marc looked at her with concern written all over his face. "We don't want to pressure you..."
"It's fine, really. In fact, I'll show you guys where it is."
"Thank you. It means a lot. Better radio the others and let them know about the other engineer, Paula Guilish, before we proceed with Operation Jackdrop."
Mobile Weapons Hangar, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, Space
"That's quite the interesting meeting." Linda couldn't help, but know that Lucette's first encounter almost had her killed by mistake.
"I know, right?" Lucette was a bit upset, walking down that part of memory lane before she puffed her cheeks. "I'll need a word with him that he can't introduce himself by aiming a weapon at someone. Even then, some of the girls in Freiceadan were a bit flabbergasted that Mark would make himself known to a lady like that..."
"Hey ladies." Mora came in the hangar, giving a high five to Mileina on the way.
"Hey yourself, Mora." Linda waved at her.
"Did you girls see Nina?"
"No. I saw her at a meeting a while ago with Paula. Is something up?"
"Not really. I thought that she'd spend some time with Kou at the cafeteria."
"I guess we'll let her know if Kou's free?" Lucette shrugged her shoulders.
"That sounds fine, Lucette. Thanks." Mora went towards the parked trucks and requested to speak to the drivers who brought the new mobile weapons in the hangar.
Side Street, somewhere in Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
Emma and Mark used the side streets to avoid being detected. They checked the city's map from the bridge that was near MHI headquarters.
From the emergency map issued to them, they needed to get to the nearby bus terminal to be picked up. To do that, they need to send out a code that's for emergency purpose.
As in to inform Freiceadan that they're okay. By now, they should have received word that they didn't make it to the city's Lunar Train Station.
"I'm getting an incoming transmision." Mark spoke to Emma whne he listened on the radio he seized from the RS contractor.
"It seems that a Titans team is already here." Emma agreed, but she doesn't know if they're in Serevis to coordinate their efforts or simply just here to kill them to get things over with.
"No one's around either... I'm really worried."
"I'll try to make contact with Freiceadan."
Command Center, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, somewhere in space
Berserk was in the command center when he received word that they lost contact with Emma and Mark after their meeting with Ring Mao.
"Status update?" The ex-OMNI special forces officer raised the question after he entered.
"Our analysts have picked up some form of jamming near the central part of Serevis City." A Mithril analyst turned his chair around to speak to him. "We heard word that a hostile group has engaged them before comms were cut off."
"Who are they?"
"We're digging through everything as best as we can. Nothing yet so far, except some social media feeds suggesting an idea that they could be contractors when the attack on the bridge took place."
"What about Kira and the others?"
"They've completed their mission. Should we extract them?"
"How long until they leave?"
"Around a minute or so. Transport's already arranged for the pickup."
"Fine. Keep me posted. Unless they're far from Serevis, there's no time for them to make a detour."
"Colonel! We're getting something! It's from the emergency channel..."
"Thi... is... from Arg.. please respond! I repeat, thi.. is... Óg...ch 30..."
"Sir! It's Lieutenant Sheen! She's able to get through."
"Patch her in and get her location!"
A few blocks near bus terminal, Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
The SUV was directed to park at a few blocks away from one of the nearby bus terminals after they used another bridge to get to the other side.
Mr. C had gotten out of the SUV and was provided a plate carrier vest and a AR-15-based carbine chambered to fire 5.56x45 NATO ammo with a suppressor when a RS contractor got near him and whispered that they got six persons walking towards their direction.
A black van was seen parked on the side.
"I'm Captain Elma Garrett!" The brown-haired woman introduced herself after her team showed their Titans IDs and badges since they were in civilian clothes. "We've been told to cooperate alongside Raven Sword."
"Looks like your CO has spread the word, captain." Mr. C greeted her, his hands in the pockets of his trenchcoat after he finished wearing the plate carrier and placed the sling of his carbine on his right shoulder.
"I'm told that you're Mr. C from Desperado." The captain greeted him in turn. "A pleasure. We got word that RS was subcontracted to hunt a Titans defector after one of own called it in."
"So what's happening? The Titans taking control?"
"Yes, but only for the purposes of painting this in the context of an anti-terrorist operation. We'll let you contractors tag along."
"Fine. But only because I was called in at the last minute a few hours ago."
The two RS contractors got their own plate carriers and carbines ready while Mr. C continued to hammer our details with Captain Garrett on how to approach the bus terminal and stake it out.
Cruz was on the scene, helping the other Titans soldiers get familiar with the city.
Side Street, somewhere in Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
"I got through, but there was some static." Emma told Mark, who gave a thumbs up.
"Are we expecting backup?"
"No. Kira and the others left Von Braun as we speak. But we're provided an alternate escape route based on the map we have."
"I expected as much. If I recall, the guys were given a different assignment. So what then?"
"We need to take cover somewhere and wait for the pursuers to give up."
"Hmmm... I don't know. Those contractors are still looking for us. I overhead RS comms that they've met with a six-man Titans team. But they didn't bring any mobile suits."
"We have an advantage at least."
"Yeah, as long as we keep moving for now. The bus terminal's a bad idea, so we need to use the side streets until we can loose them."
"Okay. I think we're clear for now."
"Man... I just wish there's a cardboard box we can use."
Emma just looked at him, wondering what he was going to do with a cardboard box in case he stumbles onto one.
Command Center, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, somewhere in space
"Do we have anyone out there who can be deployed on short notice?"
Berserk was really antsy on the situation. With Emma and Mark going to be cut off with parts of Serevis deserted due to a city-wide alert that there's an anti-terrorist operation being conducted after a gunfight broke out at the main bridge.
"We're still checking on who's available to provide support withy any ships near lunar airspace." The analyst replied as he got in touch with several Mithril ships that were dispatched for patrol and prior operational arrangements. "It'll probably take a while."
"Óglach 6 wants us to see if there was anything in the city that gave her presence away even though she hasn't set foot on the moon months after her defection."
"All right. Get on it."
"Yes, sir." The analyst tasked some of the operator androids to do a check on anything in the city. Social media, surveillance cameras, radio chatter. Anything that can help.
This is the part which I hate.
"Colonel! I've got two ships who happen to be near Serevis City!"
"Looks like... we got the Radish and the Zwickbau around the city's airspace."
"I recall that the Delphi was finishing up a meeting with the Junk Guild on their agenda when they first left. See if we can contact them. They may pass the Moon. If not, try the Albion. "
"We'll likely need more than two ships just in case. The Titans or True Federal could take advantage of the lockdown."
"Sir... And one more thing."
"I'm in touch with Major Bekkener..."
"He seems to be... very enthusiastic about helping the Lieutenant get extracted from Serevis."
"Okay... Just tell him to be patient and be on standby." What the hell's up with that guy?
"The Operators said they got a lead on what could have alerted the Titans to their presence."
"They want us to see some surveillance cameras feed outside the city's Lunar Train Station."
Some City Block, somewhere in Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
The two Mithril SRT operators took advantage of the deserted streets with the sounds of emergency sirens in the air to open use the streets. They jogged as best they could, using the parked vehicles next to the sidewalk as temporary cover while they crossed from one street to another.
This oughta be easy. As long as no one's pursuing us.
Mark took the lead since his AK-12 was fully loaded with the safety on for good measure. As hardened as he is from his days as an abducted child soldier, he remembers those days when his fellow (brainwashed) child soldiers tend to accidentally set their weapons off at a bad time when things were about to get good for them.
He placed his right hand down and moved it back and forth.
Emma followed. She crouched beside a parked pickup.
It seems that it was going to go well.
Until Mark turned around to cover for Emma and saw a couple of persons who aren't suppose to be around the area.
And they also don't happen to be police, emergency services or regular OMNI soldiers. Nor are they civilians who happen to be in the area and document what was going on with their video cameras or smartphones.
"Get down, Emma."
Mark crouched behind a sedan's engine block and fired the AK-12 at an armed hostile who was about to open fire.
"TITANS!" You're under arrest!"
"Dammit..." He fired a few times at the hostile who had just drawn out his pistol. He saw the armed female go down after being shot in the chest twice with one shot to the neck. "Looks like Titans."
Emma helped out and fired her AK-12 at a few armed hostiles who had just drawn their pistols. They were forced to duck.
"Emma, cover me." Mark went prone and caught sight of the two carbine-armed RS contractors.
They engaged the armed contractors, forcing them to kneel next to a parked vehicle. Mark, however, took the opportunity to shoot them at their legs from underneath the sedan.
The two RS contractors went down, clutching their legs. This allowed Mark to shoot them again until they were motionless.
Emma had shot two more Titans soldiers, both of them in the chest. She noted that it was two men.
Mr. C came running with the other three Titans soldiers, including Garrett. He laid down suppressive fire to provide the Titans some breathing space.
Mark ceased firing since his position was under fire. He and Emma reloaded their assault rifles before they ran down the street, using the vehicles as cover.
"Did you get a headcount?" Mark asked Emma.
"I count some guy wearing a fedora and three more Titans soldiers in civilian clothes."
"So four more tangos to go. We'll have to lose them or kill them before we evacuate to the spaceport."
Command Center, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, somewhere in space
"Make sure Emma and Mark are able to get the photo of the suspicious guy outside the station after they arrived in Serevis City."
While the analyst was getting in touch with them, Berserk was being called by an operator whose getting in contact with the Radish.
"Let me guess, this is coming in from Major Bekkener?"
"Yes, sir. Shall I put him through?"
"May as well. That man needs to chill out and relax."
"Understood. Patching it now."
A few minutes later, Berserk saw the bearded man's face on the monitor. He was seated inside the Radish's bridge via command chair.
He had the look of worry and frustration.
"You worried about Lieutenant Sheen?" Berserk just threw the question at him.
"Y-yeah!" Henken shouted in defense. Berserk simply rolled his eyes, as if to say 'I knew it'. "Only because she's proven herself to be a reliable Mithril operative!"
Berserk was one of the few Mithril officers who saw that Emma's presence in the organization served as a morale booster.
A little too well. This was similar to the Sayla situation. Even Mark, Kira, Sai and Kuzzey were not immune to their beauty, which led to some rumor he heard in his spec ops days that COSMOS child soldiers were specifically brainwashed to avoid falling for the opposite sex among other things aside from having special forces-type training... for some reason that he can't comprehend.
That was another thing that he couldn't understand. Not that he wanted to know anyway,
"We're still getting the details on what's happening in Serevis City. Since you're near the city's airspace with the Zwickbau, I'll decide if one of both ships will be deployed."
"For now Major, be on standby. You're no good to Lieutenant Sheen nor Sergeant Liu if something happens to the Radish."
Another operator spoke to Berserk. "Sir, we're hailing the Delphi."
"Let me know if they're able to tell us where they are."
Some City Block, somewhere in Serevis City, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
Emma and Mark sprinted down the deserted city blocks away from the central area/main bridge after using the side streets again to lose their tail.
"Did we lose them?" Emma asked after she and Mark ducked to the nearest alley to break potential contact.
Shit... Mark peeked from the corner and saw Mr. C and the three Titans soldiers looking around the empty block. "They caught up. But I don't think they saw us."
Mark went to check his smartphone, which has some signal, to see an incoming SMS from an unlisted number. "Hang on," He opened the SMS message and saw the profile photo of Petty Officer Cruz taken from his Titans enlistment form. "we got an update. Said that he was spotted outside the city's Lunar Train Station after we left"
Emma was shown the his Cruz when Mark handed her his smartphone. "I think I've seen him when I was in the Titans. Likely from the time back when these prospective recruits were being put through their paces."
"I'm of the option that we need to kill off the remaining Titans soldiers pursuing us."
Emma felt hesitant to support his answer. But given that the Titans would go all out to accomplish their objectives, it would be risky to leave any Titans soldiers alive to potentially go after them.
"While I usually don't agree with this, the situation leaves us no choice."
"I think it's best we get of them. We can't risk leading them back to the rest of Mithril." Mark shouldered his AK-12 slowly and aimed the assault rifle at Cruz's head.
She stayed back while he carefully aimed the red dot by looking at the scope's lens. When it was approximately aligned a bit off to the center to the left, Mark squeezed off a single shot.
Cruz fell from the 5.45 Russian bullet that went through his head.
"Take cover!" Mr. C shouted. He tossed a smoke grenade he took from the plate carrier pouch of one of the slain RS contractors and tossed it at their direction.
Emma provided support for Mark when she scoped the two Titans soldiers with her AK-12. She placed her weapon at semi-auto before she opened fire.
"Agck!" Garrett was shot at the chest, collapsing backwards. When a male black-haired Titans soldier tried to fire at her while the other male Titans soldier tried to drag the wounded Garrett to safety, Emma opened fire on the Titans soldier shooting at her.
"Gwa!" The Titans soldier went down, falling down on his knees first before he collapsed onto the sidewalk, face first.
"Run!" Mark shouted to Emma to run down the alley. Mark briefly stayed behind to empty his AK-12 at Mr. C's direction, switching the rate of fire from single shot to full auto, until he ran out of ammo. Okay... I lost count of how many mags Emma and I used. But better be safe than sorry. "We need to get to our destination and ditch these guns while we're at it."
"Shit, shit, shit!" Mr. C was frustrated that he can't get a good shot since he and the other two Titans soldiers are forced to duck. He tried to fire his carbine by putting it over his head on top of the mini-SUV's engine block he's using as cover and firing it on full auto. The AK-12 temporarily stopped firing, but continued to do so.
The gunfire's getting lower. Is the gunman running out of ammo?
While waiting to listen for the gunfire to die down, Mr. C did a reload of his weapon. When the smoke cleared, he saw that his targets were gone.
Somewhere over Serevis City Airspace, Moon, Lagrange 2, Space
The two Irish-class ships were basically loitering over Serevis City Airspace at the Moon when they arrived. They've mentioned to the Serevis City government of their affiliation to its officials.
The lunar city is one of the few lunar cities, pro-Mithril or neutral, that are willing to covertly assist them. They also allow them to dock and enter their cities. The exceptions are Von Braun, Epsilon and Anaheim, as these cities like to play all sides. Aires was the only known city to be wholly sympathetic to the Titans with known suspicions that some of its residents have overt sympathies to Blue Cosmos/anti-Newtype/anti-Coordinator philosophies.
"This is the Radish to Zwichbau. How are things on your end?" Henken made contact with Bernardo Ferre, the semi-alcoholic captain of the Zwichbau, after he received word from Freiceadan that Emma and Mark were able to break contact from the Titans and a mysterious person who was pursuing them.
"Great. Looks quiet for now after those two got away." Bernardo stared at the empty San Miguel beer bottle on the cup holder on the command chair's armrest.
"You're not drinking while on shift, are you?" The bearded man inquired when he saw the empty beer bottle from his screen at the Radish's bridge.
"Nah." Bernardo waved his concerns. "Already had my swig before I came here an hour ago. I'm still sober."
"Captain!" Corporal Callman called for Henken's attention. "Another update came in."
"Let's hear it, Corporal." Henken was anxious to hear if Emma was able to make it to the spaceport. Mark... not so much since he's highly experienced (If one were to press him).
"We got live footage from the Serevis City spaceport. We're keeping an eye on them."
"Send it to the Zwichbau too."
Both crews from the Radish and the Zwichbau were watching live surveillance camera feeds of Emma and Mark lining up to enter a section of the spaceport gate allocated for them to enter the private shuttle after they purchased tickets to enter the station and presented them to the spaceport employees.
"Looks like they're doing good." Bernardo was relieved to see that they're on their way out. "As mentioned in the emergency briefing from the colonel, we'll let them go on board the Zwichbau once they leave the city's airspace."
Henken was relieved to see Emma safe. "Sounds good to me. I'm a bit anxious after I heard they were in a gunfight with the Titans."
"Don't you mean, you were anxious to hear that Ms. Emma was involved in the gunfight?" Bernardo asked Henken, throwing in a smirk.
Henken was now trying to defend himself. "O-of course not! I have confidence that Mark's a good guy to protect her in Serevis City as her bodyguard when she met Ring Mao at MHI HQ."
"Update from the shuttle." Corporal First Class Joseph Koldratt called for Bernado's attention. "Looks like they'll be arriving here at the very least two hours tops."
"For now, it's best if we stay around until the shuttle docks." Bernado was glad to hear that the extraction went through without any further complications at the spaceport.
"Yeah, yeah..." Henken waved his right hand lazily. "We'll be on standby too."
Conference Room, Mithril Freiceadan Base, Lagrange 4, Space
Kowen and Blex were present in Freiceadan's conference room when the base was informed on a conference with the General Council.
It's been two months since Kira and the boys extracted out of Heliopolis. And now in early March, Mithril debuted. Blex mused on his thoughts. So what comes next?
Everyone from the GC was present, except Takeda since he was away on a business meeting, the collapsible holographic projectors on all the chairs were activated to project their figures.
"Gentlemen," Lord Mallory was the first to speak. "I trust that things on the moon went well?"
"Operation Transfer Out was a success." Blex spoke to the asembled council first. "We've been able to secure Ms. Kauwin from the moon. We think that the Invisible Knights were working with one of her ex-Principality colleagues to get her back to Axis."
"I trust that she's being debriefed?"
"We're done now. But we're still talking to her in a safehouse to see if she wants to resume work with Anaheim Electronics or another company."
"Good to hear." Brigadier General Clark spoke next. "And what of Lieutenant Sheen and Sergeant Liu?"
"They're safe and sound. As we speak, the Zwichbau has extracted them and they should be back soon to Freiceadan. The Radish was on standby to provide support just in case."
"Next on the agenda..." Colonel Marchand was the next person to talk. "is there a change in the status of Sergeants Hibiki, Argyle and Buskirk after what happened in Heliopolis?"
Kowen replied to the colonel's concerns. "Nothing so far that requires drastic changes. As far as we know, the officers on board the Archangel, the Titans personnel and Secretary of State Allster all believe that they're taking time off since their classes were suspended after the colony was destroyed."
"So does it mean that they'll resume their classes while there's not much work with their positions at the Hiryu Kai?"
"That's a yes for the meantime."
"All right. Thank you General Kowen."
"We'll let them continue with the infiltration to avoid any suspicions. We have another mission that they need to take care of."
"I believe Mr. Rem is next to speak. He wants to raise technical issues for Mithril to address." Lord Mallory faced Elliot.
"Thank you Lord Mallory." Elliot nodded after he was acknowledged. "Regarding the standardization of our forces," He was seen looking over some documents. "I'm pleased to announce that plans to construct the new ships for our space forces based on the Birmingham-class types are progressing, although revision are being made since the original plans did not have any provision for mobile weapon launch catapults or hangars. I'll have more details as we go along, but our designers and engineers have suggested that the revisions will potentially result in a different look than from the original plans."
"It seems that OMNI failed to put the lack of mobile weapon hangars or catapults into account after mobile suits became the norm when the Zeon and ZAFT first fielded them."
"That much is true, I'm afraid. Some of the designers and engineers share your sentiment."
"Are there any other issues with the standarization of mobile suits for the SRT?" Major General Chua was next to ask the ex-Zeon officer/engineer.
"Tests are still ongoing. So far, we've eliminated the Shaldoll and we're phasing out the Nemos and Adele Mk-IIs that some of the SRT teams have used a few years ago. We're planning on replacing the Rick Diases, but some of the SRT and PRT operators have shown strong objections to the decision, so we decided to junk that option." Elliot browsed through his papers once again. "I'll show what models we're considering for frontline and specialist use as of today."
The council, alongside Kowen and Blex, were looking at 3D models of various mobile suits. Elliot was on hand to explain the models presented.
"To start things off, we have the Nemo High Maneuver, basically a Nemo outfitted with the Hyaku Shiki's BR-M-87 Beam Rifle and backpack-mounted wing binders or the AMBAC."
Everyone stared at the 3D model of the green mobile suit, already moving around thanks to AMBAC and firing the beam rifle at a rapid pace.
"So far, this one's done by us after we studied the original AE plans made for the Nemo and Hyaku Shiki. But since AE executives are willing to work with anyone who can afford their prices, we're putting production at one of our covert factories to ensure its security."
The next mobile suit models shown were obviously different from the Nemo. Three of the mobile suits being presented have one thing in common. It's mostly from the frame.
"The next models I'm showing you are courtesy of Mao Heavy Industries' Personal Trooper lineup."
Elliot started to explain about the models.
"The first one is the RPT-010 Huckebein Mark II M. This one is based on several Huckebein prototypes that have been tested with various engines, including the rumored Black Hole engine. Chairwoman Mao has not officially disclosed the reason why the BH engine was discontinued after a couple of field tests. Otherwise, they're equipped with MHI's patented Tesla Fusion Reactor."
Kowen, Blex and the council were wondering if the discontinued engine had something to do with the decision to not use it was due to something bad.
"The other three models you see here is from the PTX-014 R-Blade. The models consist of the R-Blade, the R-Eins and the R-Schneide. They're currently being tested on the moon and in various facilities for the past few months by our SRT and PRT operators."
"Anything different with those models?" Blex asked Elliot for details on the R-Blade line.
"The R-Blade is the basic model. As for the R-Eins and R-Schneide, the former is equipped with chaff grenades, a Split Beam Cannon mounted via backpack and a Graviton rifle. For the latter, it's meant to be equipped with a Tesla Drive and Twin Beam Cannons to give it some limited flight capabilities. If things go well, then we can issue the Tesla Drive to the other R units in the future."
"Sounds good." Lord Mallory replied after hearing Elliot's briefing. "Is there anything else we need to raise?"
"One more thing I think we need to talk about." Kowen said before he corrected himself. "Correction, make that two."
"We're listening." Chua was all ears. So are the other officers in the council.
"Excuse me, gentlemen." Lord Mallory excused himself. "My presence is needed elsewhere."
The aristocrat's holographic projection was deactivated before Kowen would continue with the briefing.
"The first area of concern I want to raise is with the Archangel. Since the ship arrived at Alaska, OMNI's starting efforts to recruit qualifed personnel, including pilots to fill its ranks."
Kowen read through a folder he brought with him. "For now, we've been able to identify suitable pilots being recruited for the ship's mobile suit forces. Intelligence has indicated that Jean Carry, Rena Imelia and Jane Houston are being assigned aside from Mu La Flaga."
"Is Intelligence keeping an eye on them?"
"Yes. We should be getting another report. Especially on when they'll sortie."
"What's the other issue that we need to discuss?" Marchand threw the next question.
"Well..." Kowen began. "We'd like to suggest plans later on for a raid on a significant target."
"A raid?" Clark wondered what kind of raid he was talking about.
"Yes. One of the significant targets we're looking at is Alaska..."
Chapter 21 END
PS - So first chapter since 2015. Been hella busy. Finding jobs while working as a NGO volunteer, then COVID-19 came, which meant I can't go to Singapore to do my Masters and I'm updating my other fics here and in AO3. Also, I'm testing my writing skills in doing a SRW story and my old desktop borked and I got a new one, which was delayed 'cause of COVID-19. On the side, I'm trying to find a full-time job, remote or not, where I'm paid until I can go to Singapore and start my Masters and hopefully get to choose a resonable scholarship/side gig as a paid research assistant deal. Otherwise, doing remote work with a risk management company as unpaid internship, which kinda made my Asian folks confused.
And I forgot to follow up on that scene where Quattro and company ambushed a Titans unit head to Side 2 to do... gas things. So yeah, I did a blurb on that. I almost forgot about them. My bad.
For the name "Nakohha Nakato", I'm spelling his first name as "Nakoha".
I'm fleashing out more of Mark in his Mithril career, as seen from Sayla, Emma and Lucette's perspective.
Anywho... I hope you guys enjoyed the chapter and all. Let me know in the reviews how it is, including any criticim to improve on it in the future if and when I'm able to publish another chapter. It's been a while since I wrote a Gundam chapter, so let me know if I missed something or made a mistake somewhere.
I think at some point, I'll have to give out some info on the code names used by the Argama (and maybe any significant ships) with Mithril.