A few days has passed since the last chapter. Ever since then, Dirk spent his time locked in a room, alone. What he is doing is anyone's guess. Daisy says he's trolling various internet forums, Beowulf says he's surfing various inappropriate websites and Ron... He doesn't say anything that makes sense.

Ace wants to get to know these people he's with now. He tries talking to them. Beowulf is quite snobby. As in, he doesn't want anything to do with Ace. It's probably the major differences between their fighting styles. Ace likes to go straight up without a tactic. Beowulf spends his time with calculations and so on. Which is ironic as Beowulf's Muramasa has nothing but blades as offense.

The other one is the mechanic, Ron. Ron is practically in his own world. A world full of repairing and maintaining NEXTs. Beyond that, he practically ignores everything.

And then there's Dirk who's locked up in the room. Even if he isn't, Ace would never try to approach him. Dirk likes to screw people over for one reason and one reason only. For fun. According to Ace, Dirk is a huge dick.

Finally, there's Daisy, the only woman in this nameless bunch of misfits. She's 9 years old. I repeat. 9 YEARS OLD. And don't make me get started on her NEXT, the Grave Maker. A tank-legged NEXT composed of parts with the highest AP and the highest defence. And loaded with energy weapons. Insanely high damage dealing energy weapons. AND IT'S PINK. Just like Beowulf, she doesn't want anything to do with Ace. Maybe he's just that hateable.

It's also questionable why they'd invite him to join. And on top of that, put him in the Ace Custom, which is under hunt by Terra Sphere and Hasta Caeli. It would be smarter to put him in it if it was an AC, but they put him in the NEXT version. It does give him a higher chance of survival, but the cost is crazy. But it would be a billion times smarter to put him in a different NEXT. The reason for that is because their group won't be held responsible for the massacre of Circ City. Even with a genius tactician on their side, this group is quite idiotic. They don't have a name by the way.

Their base is located underground, so it's pretty hard to locate. The lack of sunlight is troubling though. It's quite small, being able to only hold 5 NEXTs. It has all the necessities, but the real mystery to it is where the food comes from.


So it is the start of another afternoon. Ace had to share a room with Ron. Dirk and Beowulf share theirs and Daisy is alone. The possibility of Ron sleeping is near void. He's always up maintaining the NEXTs.

Ace grabs a packet of potato chips and logs on to one of the computers. The first thing on his mind was to check up on the current news. The main articles aren't much, just politics and stuff. But only one caught his eye. 'Madeline Hughs To Be Executed'.

Even though no image is provided and he never remembered Madeline's last name, Ace won't about to take the chance. The execution is going to be done at noon on that very day.

There is a basic rule in the group. If you want to take a mission, ask Dirk and see if he approves. Ace is VERY hesitant about this part. He knocks on the door. Dirk opened it, looking quite cynical.

"What?" he asks.

"There's a mission I want to-" Ace says.

"Your girlfriend's gonna get executed, yeah I know. Go ahead. And remember the rule of two." He said, slamming the door shut.

The rule of two basically means you have to go into missions with a partner. Ace goes to ask Daisy and Beowulf who are practically lounging around, doing nothing.

"Guys. Can one of you accompany m for a mission?" Ace asks.

"Where and why?" Daisy asks.

"The Terra Sphere base. My friend is gonna get executed and-" Ace says, but is interrupted.

"It's an obvious trap." Beowulf says boldly. "The fact that you know about an execution carried out by Terra Sphere means they purposely want to catch your attention. They handle those things in secrecy. But your friend'll get executed if you don't go."

"But if you do go..." Daisy, making a dramatic pause. "They'll sick their best pilots on you and send you straight to hell."

"Who is this friend of yours anyway?" Beowulf asks.

"Uh, my ex-operator." Ace, looking away.

"Your ex-girlfriend you mean." Daisy said with a teasing tone.

"If it's an operator, there's a 94.3% chance it's female." Beowulf, calculating in his head.

"Look, I don't care if it's a trap or what not!" Ace yells. "There's no way in hell I'm going to let my friend die! But I have to have one of you come with me."

Beowulf and Daisy started clapping. It seems they're impressed by Ace's three lines of speech. Daisy stands up and says,

"I'll come with you. You'd go anyway if I don't agree to come. And you WILL be screwed over. Love makes you stupid." Daisy says, still using the teasing tone.


The both of them got into their NEXTs. As it seems, they don't have much time before the execution. So the fastest mode of transportation would be... To attach the NEXTs to boosters with the force of a rocket.

As they wait for the boosters to be strapped on, Beowulf sends a communication signal to Daisy.

"Remember, if the going gets tough... Ditch him." Beowulf says boldly.

"Roger that." Daisy responds.

"Jackass." Ace whispers.

"What?" Beowulf asks.

"Nothing." Ace, smiling.

After the boosters are successfully strapped to the NEXTs, Ron gives a thumbs up sign signalling that they're good for take-off.

"I've always wanted to say this..." Ace says, licking his lip. "Ace on Ace Custom... LAUCHING!"

He starts the boosters and the Ace Custom takes off faster than sound. The amount of Gs he is experiencing is equal to being flattened by a steamroller. The pain he's experiencing is extreme... But needless to say, he's having a hell of a time, screaming in joy the whole way.

"What a weirdo." Daisy mumbles, before starting up her boosters.

Unlike Ace, Daisy is way more silent and keeps a straight face. Or it's probable that the heightened weight of the Grave Maker is slowing the boosters down.


Terra Sphere HQ

The execution is to be held in front of a crowd as a demonstration... But it's a trap. The HQ is guarded by 4 ACs. That's about all. 4 ACs should be able to take down a NEXT. And having backup MTs would be a waste of time because they'll get destroyed quickly before even doing much damage.

"Enemy NEXT approaching! Two of them!" an operator shouts.

"Don't worry." A commander says. "They'll be dead by dawn."

The commander is Ralph... Something. His last name was never known. He is tasked to handle the threat aka the Ace Custom ever since the massacre. He sucks at it. Badly. There were a lot of attempts to hunt the pilot, but the lack of info was a problem. And then there's the fact that the pilot is dead. This is the only shot he'll ever get.

The 4 pilots tasked for the mission are Skeith, Boa, Ice and Grane. Skeith's AC is equipped with shotguns and missiles, Boa's equipped with energy rifles and pulse cannons, Ice and his bazookas and finally, Grane with his grenade rifles and chainguns. It doesn't really matter because they're gonna get owned. Their basic task is to just guard the entrance to the base. Not so hard, really.

"This sucks." Grane, pouting.

"Shut up." Skeith says.

"The mission pays well, and it's quite easy. Just guard the entrance." Boa says.

"But isn't it odd that they'd hire four ACs for the job? One is already overkill." Ice speculates.

They were given the task with the information being only 'Guard The Entrance'. So they had no idea about the hell that was about to come. They received a voiced message from the operator.

"Two enemy NEXTs approaching." He says.

"Enemy what?" Grane, puzzled.

Disarming the boosters, Ace tries to fix his NEXTs position. The speed he was moving at is at least 2000 kilometers per hour. Grane saw the signal but it was too late by then.

"Super... Ace Custom! Kick!" Ace shouts.

Grane turns his entire AC to see the enemy... And got kicked. Hard. How hard? Hard enough for the foot of the Ace Custom to completely break through the cockpit and smash Grane.

After struggling for a few moments, Ace got his foot out of the cockpit. The other three are completely in utter shock as they see their own comrade die.

"Eat this!" Skeith shouts, firing his shotgun at Ace.

"NEVEEEEEER!" Ace shouts back, taking the shots as he boosts directly in front of Skeith's AC.

Ace starts up his beam sword. Skeith notices the streaking orange energy and jumps out of the way in hopes of dodging the slash.

"That's a pretty nice shotgun." Ace says. "I'll take it."

Ace leaps into the air and cuts off Skeith's arm, forcing him to release the shotgun. He then catches the shotgun and wields it on his left arm, together with his beam sword.

When gravity does its magic and pulls Ace down to the ground, he's surrounded by Boa and Ice, both pointing their weapons at Ace.

Ace sighs. He then snaps his finger. A large streak of blue light flashes across the screen of Ice's AC.

It's really a large energy blast from Daisy's Grave Maker. Ice's AC melts from the high temperature of the beam, killing him in the process.

"That was overkill..." Daisy says.

Boa got pissed off. She shot her energy rifles at Ace. Countering that, Ace places the shotgun he stole onto the core of Boa's AC.

Without bothering to give a one liner, Ace pulls the trigger. The ammunition of the shotgun penetrates the core and without a doubt pierces Boa.

The last one left is Skeith. He fires missiles at Ace, but the missile interception system manages to take the missiles down. Daisy aims her railgun at Skeith and fires a shot.

He sees the shot and jumps upward to dodge it.

"Psyche!" Ace shouts, firing his lineargun at Skeith.

The shot stuns Skeith's AC for a few seconds but you know, enough for Ace to take advantage.

He utilizes the Quick Boost to leap at an insane speed. He then positions his left arm properly for a stab.

"Crap!" Skeith shouts. "Move dammit!"

Ace stabs Skeith's AC from between the legs, through the cockpit and out the head. Basically, he impales Skeith's AC and most definitely fries Skeith like an omelette.

Daisy moves in rather slowly to the entrance. The tank legs are the slowest legs after all. Coupled with the heavy hard hitting weapons, and you have a NEXT that would die in high speed combat.

"That was awfully easy." Daisy says. "There's no way they'd set such a horrible trap. Maybe something else is waiting for us."

"Nyeh, we'll kick its ass." Ace, rubbing his nose.

"The four ACs positioned to guard have been taken out." An operator says.

"Don't worry. We still have our trump card." Ralph says.

They searched through the base. Oddly enough, there weren't much in defence. They saw ACs, but no one was piloting them. The MTs as usual, are controlled via AI. That's when they got outside to a large open area that looks like an arena.

"This is where they test out new ACs and stuff." Ace explains.

"I know." Daisy, not interested.

A large door opens. And from inside it, a blue NEXT comes out via Overboost and slams into the Ace Custom.

"What the hell is that?" Ace shouts.

"It's a NEXT... But it's not holding any weapons." Daisy responds.

"Wait a sec." Ace says. "I think I've heard of this blue NEXT. The Steel... Dawg?"

"Steel Dog?" Daisy, confused.

"No, Steel Dawg."

"I don't get it... Um, who's the pilot?"

"I forgot. I just heard about a development of a custom-made NEXT unlike any other."

"You don't know me?" The pilot, annoyed. "Wilson Michaels, the-"

"Oh crap!" Ace shouts, interrupting the pilot.

"What about it?" Daisy asks.

"Wilson Michaels is the leader of the Terra Sphere troop known as United States."

"...What?"

"And the reason is..." Wilson says. "I'M the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES!"

Daisy raises an eyebrow. She is confused to the fact that the world has many odd characters.

"Get ready Daisy, this one's gonna be tough battle." Ace says.

"No, it's a war." Daisy responds. "A war of two hams."

"It's do or die." Ace, gripping the controls tightly. "But I'm not going to-"

"Save that one-liner for some other day." Daisy, annoyed. "So, where is the execution going to be held at anyway?"

To be continued... When I feel like it