Day of the Unicorn and the Angels
Several kilometers from Industrial 7 space
The Garencieres was a simple freighter that loosely resembled the legendary Zanzibar-class carriers of the One Year War. Despite lacking any significant weapons, the Garencieres was fast and capable of atmospheric reentry. In addition, its excellent, veteran mobile suit pilots made up for the ship's overall vulnerability.
One of these pilots was Marida Cruz, a beautiful, red haired, blue-eyed woman; she usually had a sad, stoic expression. Despite this, she would occasionally express a little emotion during battle, such as annoyance or pain; even so, she tried her best to keep them in check.
Marida was in her mobile suit's cockpit, readying herself for an imminent Federal attack; a Clop-class cruiser had trailed them, and has started shooting its mega particle cannons at the Garencieres, lightly damaging one of its wings. However, the Garencieres was faster than its pursuer.
The Clop-class, however, wasn't the concern; Marida, using her NZ-666 Kshatriya's sensors, picked up at least three signals. Mobile suits. 'A speedy Jegan, I see,' Marida thought.
"Marida," said a voice from the radio, it was her "Master", Suberoa Zimmerman, "Ignore the cruiser. Just focus on the immediate threat. As soon as you finish with them, return to the ship."
"Yes, Master." said Marida, finalizing all pre-launch procedures.
"Don't call me Master." said Zimmerman in an annoyed tone.
The Kshatriya was then launched; this mobile suit possessed four wing binders which heavily increased its AMBAC performance; in addition, these binders could be used in a "cocoon shield" fashion, which made it impervious to most projectile weapons, and to some extent, made it resistant to beam weapons as well. These binders also housed at least 24 "funnels", some beam sabers and a sub-arm in each of them. In addition, is also mounted several mega particle cannons in its body and binders.
Marida accelerated towards the enemy mobile suits. Being above her, the Federal pilots tried to execute a pincer move against her. "You're not going anywhere." said Marida, who then launched her funnels. These small weapons exited the Kshatriya's binders in a flashing speed, and headed towards the enemy. Marida used her mobile suit's targeting system to pin point the funnels' targets, and then closed her eyes. Being a Cyber-Newtype, Marida had all the abilities a natural Newtype would have; therefore, using these funnels was a piece of cake for her. She opened her eyes in dramatic fashion, and the multi-directional, all-range attack from her funnels began, ripping the Jegans apart. Some tried using their beam rifles, machine guns and even their head Vulcans against these little weapons, but Marida cut them down in fascinating and elegant fashion. One particular Federal suit, a state-of-the-art Stark Jegan, was able to avoid getting hit by these beams. 'Annoying little thing,' thought Marida. The Stark Jegan fired its shoulder missile launchers, but Marida dodged them with ease. The Stark Jegan then fired its bazooka with scattering shots. Marida used her binders' thrusters to dodge this attack. Realizing the uselessness of long range attacks, the Stark Jegan's pilot decided to eject the missile launchers and draw out his beam saber. Marida did the same.
Now, any other pilot in her position might have simply closed in on the Stark Jegan and used the mega particle cannons to finish this pest off; however, Marida disliked using these weapons. Whether by pride or simple preferences, Marida instead preferred to either overwhelm her opponents with her funnels or go to Close-Quarters-Combat with her beam sabers. Which is exactly what she did against this annoying Feddie; drawing her beam saber, she accelerated towards the Stark Jegan, matching its speed, and clashed with it. Energy was released from the clash of their beam sabers. After briefly turning away from each other, they once again fenced off. However, this sword fight had annoyed Marida by now, and so she simply deployed her funnels to disarm the Stark Jegan, which she promptly cut in half.
That thought came from the Federal pilot; Marida, being a Cyber-Newtype, would occasionally feel or hear the thoughts of those recently deceased.
Marida withdrew her funnels and beam saber, and headed towards the Garencieres. Taking her helmet off, she looked towards the ship. "I'm glad you're back, Marida." said Zimmerman, "Now let's get this done with now."
"Of course, Master." said Marida.
"I told you not to call me Master." said Zimmerman, once again in an annoyed tone.
As she approached the Garencieres, Marida noticed a stream of light in the distance. At first she thought it was some kind of ship or mobile suit, but she then realized this wasn't any kind of conventional propulsion. She tried using the Kshatriya's sensors to focus, but by the time she tried looking at it again, it had disappeared. With a look of slight confusion, Marida clicked on her radio. "Sir, did your sensors pick anything in the vicinity?" she asked.
"Nothing at all." retorted Zimmerman, "Why?"
Marida tried to look for this object, but it was nowhere in sight. She shrugged it off. 'Must be some optical illusion or something…,' she thought to herself. "Nothing, sir." she then said, "Nothing of importance."
So she returned to the Garencieres, not knowing that someone was watching her; nearby, the GN-002 Gundam Dynames of Celestial Being, piloted by Lockon Stratos, floated by as its sensors focused on the battle.
"My, my." said Lockon to himself (and to an extent, to the Haro that was docked on his main computer), "That Sleeve pilot sure has the moves."
"What will you do, Lockon?" asked Haro.
"Well, since this is supposed to be a simple recon mission, I suppose there is nothing to do but to tell Miss Noriega that her predictions were correct, as usual." he said. And with that, the Dynames turned and accelerated.
Banagher Links, a student at Anaheim, was in the usual mobile suit practices at the colony's External Block; using a TOLRO-800 mobile worker, Banagher's current task was to clean debris so that it wouldn't interfere in the colony's overall performance as a "Living Space". He finished doing so, when his watch alarm beeped, it was History Class time.
At the classroom, their teacher, Bancroft, began speaking of the Zeon-Federal conflicts.
"The One Year War, which occurred seventeen years ago, was one of the most catastrophic conflicts in human history." he said, "Started by the self-proclaimed aristocratic Zabi Family; the One Year War resulted in the deaths of more than half of the human population."
"When the Zabi family proclaimed the Principality of Zeon, the Earth Federation began a Rearmament Plan to counter the super-militarization observed in the newly-created nation of Zeon. This militarism gave way to the One Year War, which ultimately ended in the defeat of Zeon at the climactic Battle of A Baoa Qu. In the ensuing decades, several factions claiming to fight for the legacy of Zeon have emerged and attempted yet failed to resurrect the Zeon Ideal. In 0083, the Delaz Fleet dropped a colony on North America, in an attempt to revive the "Zeon Spirit" in their homeland, Side 3. This failed, however, and instead brought the creation of the Titans Task Force, which was founded by Jamitov Hymem and a select group of Earthnoid-supremacist fanatics. After their controversial move at the protests in the 30 Bunch, a rag-tag group of One Year War-veterans created the Anti-Earth Union Group. This organization fought the Titans for several years, and their efforts culminated at the Battle of Gryps II, when they destroyed the entire Titans Fleet. However, by this time, the remnants of the old Principality that had taken refuge at the Asteroid Belt returned, and declaring themselves as the Neo-Zeon, began the First Neo-Zeon War.
"Their attempts at bullying the Federation failed, and with the AEUG recuperating from their heavy losses at Gryps, the Neo-Zeon were forced to retreat to their main base, Axis. By this time, a schism occurred between those loyal to the Neo-Zeon leader, Haman Karn, and those loyal to a contender, Glemy Toto, who claimed to be a genetically-engineered descendant of one of the Zabis, Gihren Zabi. This schism became the AEUG and Federation's opportunity to strike, and the First Neo-Zeon movement failed.
"Four years later, Char Aznable, who had been presumed dead, declared the creation of his own Neo-Zeon movement. After crashing Luna V into the Earth, he tricked the Federal Government and nearly caused a nuclear winter by crashing the asteroid Axis into Earth. However, his plans were foiled by the Londo Bell task force.
Of course, no one was paying attention at Bancroft's long lecture. Banagher was looking at nowhere (as usual), while holding a Haro in his arms; Micott Barscht was gazing at him; Takuya Irei was more interested in his mobile suit illustrations; and their many other classmates were simply whispering with each other about pointless things.
Bancroft was clearly pissed at this lack of attention, striking the desk with the pointer. "Students!" he called as he struck the desk, this made everyone to quickly "repay" attention at him. "Don't think that History won't get you a job!" said Bancroft, "Even the most mundane worker must know what a college graduate would learn to actually get a job at Anaheim!"
Suddenly, a door behind the class opened, and an Anaheim technician came in.
"Teacher!" he said, "The shuttle has malfunctioned!"
Bancroft frowned; this was the third time it happened. And it was all because the cheap higher ups of the company wouldn't give them a newer model. Even the students started to complain.
Eventually, Banagher and his classmates were dismissed. Passing by a mobile suit museum, Takuya noticed an old, One Year War-era Zaku. He got all hyped up for this, but most of his classmates just ignored him, even Banagher, who was considered an MS-Enthusiast, just looked blankly (as usual) towards the horizon. Micott, of course, would always try to get Banagher's attention when this happened.
As Takuya protests his classmates' lack of interest in the museum's contents, Banagher held Haro and looked at the Zaku. "Sometimes, it looks like you're looking deep into the distance sometimes." said Micott.
Banagher turned towards her and smiled, "Do I?" he asked.
"Yeah," answered Micott, "like back in Bancroft's class."
Banagher smiled, and turned towards a large window nearby, "It's not that I'm looking 'somewhere'." he said, "It's more like I'm thinking about where I am."
"Don't you mean your father?" she asked.
"No. Where I am." he answered.
"Oh, sorry." Micott said a little embarrassed.
"I sometimes feel like I haven't done anything in the first place." Banagher said.
"Oh, don't worry." said Micott, "I sometimes feel exactly the same. You feel like if you had some greater purpose in life, don't you?"
"Yeah, maybe…" he trailed off. He then suddenly noticed a small flash in the distance. Micott kept talking, but he didn't pay attention at what she was saying, as he saw two more flashes in the distance. Banagher tried to distinguish it, and he felt he could actually see it up close, a white mobile suit with a large "horn" object in its forehead. Suddenly, he started seeing an image of an old painting, with a Unicorn, a lady and a lion, along with several people he wasn't able to recognize.
By the time the vision finished, however, the flashes stopped as well.
"Hey, are you listening to me?" said Micott, annoyed. Banagher just turned towards her, but didn't say anything, and once again tried to find what he thought was a mobile suit.
'Was that a mobile suit?' he thought. Micott just looked at him, annoyed and feeling a little embarrassed.
Outside Industrial 7
Banagher was not hallucinating, what he had seen was a mobile suit manufactured by the Vist Foundation and Anaheim Electronics. It was pure white, and had a horn in its forehead. Its propellers released a blue streak, and it was incredibly fast. This mobile suit was capable of making high speed maneuvers with enormous precision.
Inside the cockpit, two men, a pilot and another one standing beside him, were keeping record of the mobile suit's performance. "Go faster." said Cardeas Vist, the man standing beside the pilot. The pilot was panting; even with his pilot suit, he could still feel the Gs affecting him. The pilot, however, could not worry of such things, his duties came first. And so he pressed the pedal with his right foot, and the mobile suit went straight into a debris zone nearby. The pilot's endurance was reaching its limits. However, Cardeas couldn't even care less, he pointed towards a particular zone that was heavily filled with debris. "Ram this into that collection of debris." said Cardeas.
The mobile suit started to get closer, it would soon collide with said debris, which could cause the destruction of the mobile suit. The pilot turned towards Cardeas, but before he could say anything, Cardeas simply said "Not yet."
The pilot's eyes widened, but he had no choice, and he kept on with his trajectory. "Mr. Chairman!" cried the pilot in desperation.
Cardeas simply looked on. "Breakdown 060." he calmly said, and the pilot quickly veered the mobile suit away from the debris. The mobile suit dodged the debris zone with exact precision, as not even a small piece scratched it. The pilot sighed in relief. "Excellent work." said Cardeas.
The pilot turned towards him, smiling in relief and joy. "Thanks, sir." he said.
"I meant the unit." Cardeas said coldly, "But thank you."
The mobile suit's AI informed them of their results, the final phase was clear; the psyco-frame's g-force was in expected parameters, and the pilot's life signs were stable.
"Let's go back, Gael." said Cardeas. One the screen, a bald man appeared; it was Gael.
"I'm terribly sorry, sir." he said, "It appears that Anaheim College's training facility wasn't completely vacant."
"But we checked their curriculum." said Cardeas.
"Their shuttle broke down at the last minute." retorted Gael.
"It still doesn't matter." said Cardeas, "If anyone saw this, they would say it looked like a mirage."
And so the mobile suit designated RX-0, began its return course to Industrial 7.
Near Industrial 7 space
Celestial Being's Ptolemaios mothership slowly cruised around Industrial 7 space. The overall commander of Celestial Being, Sumeragi Lee Noriega, had some sips from her alcohol bottle as she entered the ship's bridge. Operating the ship was; Christina Sierra at the communications panel, Feldt Grace as a tactical coordinator, and Lasse Aeon and Lichtendahl Tsery at the helm. Christina noticed Sumergi drinking, and gasped. "Miss Sumeragi!" she said, "I don't think it is appropriate to drink in the eve of an operation!"
"Oh, don't worry, Chris." said Sumeragi, "It's just to get some pressure off."
She sat in her chair as Lasse gave his report. "Ptolemy will arrive at the designated point in two hours." he said.
"The Zeon ship has entered Industrial 7." said Christina, "Several Londo Bell ships have also been sighted; one Nahel Argama-class mobile suit carrier and two Salamis Kai-class cruisers."
"Just like Veda predicted." said Sumeragi, "Once the Federals and the Zeon begin combat, the Virtue and the Kyrios will begin their intervention at the exterior of the colony. Exia and Dynames will enter the colony and retrieve the Key of Laplace."
"Wait a second." said Lasse, "Weren't we supposed to get the 'Box'?"
"According to Veda, the Vist Foundation will give the Zeon the 'Key of Laplace'." said Sumeragi, "It didn't explain any details. It just said that the 'Key' was the most important component."
"Oh great." said Lasse, "So what does this key look like? Is it just your conventional one, or is some kind of hardware?"
"It didn't specify." Sumeragi retorted.
"Great." said Lasse.
"I know it sucks we don't have that much information on the Vists." said Sumeragi, "But remember they are older than Aeolia Schenberg himself. Their secrets must be very well guarded."
"We also detected a high-speed unit nearby," said Christina, "but we were unable to properly identify before it disappeared."
"Most likely one of the Londo Bell scouts." said Sumeragi, "Full Frontal just couldn't have possibly come all the way here to personally make this transaction. Besides, Veda didn't mention any new Federal or Zeon units in its predictions. We just have to stick to the plan."
The Ptolemy continued its cruise around Industrial 7.
Industrial 7, Rear Block
Gael and Cardeas were in a large control room with hundreds of employees working hard in their computers. "I just contacted my informant at Luna II." said Gael, "Our Sleeve friends crossed paths with one of Londo Bell's Clop-class cruisers."
"Then our information is leaking." said Cardeas as he climbed at the highest stand in the room, "Was there a battle?"
"Yes." said Gael, "Londo Bell tells me that they lost their target and at least three or four mobile suits."
"I contacted Londenion, but their commander, Bright Noa, was very stubborn."
"Damn that man." said Cardeas, "Contact their supplementary units. We could figure out how their fleet moves from them."
With that, Cardeas grabbed a microphone.
"Everyone listen carefully, we have now completed operation testing of the RX-0. We will now delete the testing O.S., seal the NT-D and activate the La+ Program." he said.
The employees then began applauding at the success of their mission.
After this, Cardeas went to his office. Alone and in peace (for now), Cardeas began checking some files in his laptop, and opened a particular file; the Student Profile of Banagher Links. Looking at the picture intently, Cardeas remembered a conversation he had that very day with his father, Syam Vist; born prior to the Universal Century, Syam had been one of the terrorists who killed the first Prime Minister of the Earth Federation, Ricardo Marcenas. During this incident, Syam had managed to obtain an object that could destroy the Earth Federation. This object was commonly known as the "Box of Laplace".
Being the subject of underground conspiracy theories, the Laplace Box was rumored to be what gave the Vist Foundation so much power during the Universal Century. By this time, however, Syam had decided to give the Box to the Sleeves. During said conversation, Syam had asked Cardeas if he could ever forgive him. Cardeas retorted that this event could bring the End of the World, and so he was the only one that could do so. And so Cardeas sat there, waiting for the meeting with the Sleeves.
The Garencieres arrived at Industrial 7's Docking Area. Before it actually entered the Area, a Geara Zulu managed to sneak away and position itself near one of the space gates.
At the ship's bridge, Marida arrives at the bridge. "What do you think this "Laplace Box" is?" says Flaste, the Garencieres' copilot.
"If it really exists, then we will reclaim It." said Suberoa, smiling at Marida, "If it's a trap, then we'll break through it."
As the ship slowly docked into the colony, a small hatch near one of the wings opened, and a pretty, sixteen-year-old blonde haired, green-eyed girl in a spacesuit emerged from it. Using her own body to impulse herself to the closest entrance, the girl reached her destination. Once she did, she checked no one had noticed her, took a deep breath, and opened another hatch, entering another area of the colony, the service tunnels. She headed to the restrooms. In there, she took off her spacesuit and made herself look "appropriate", brushing her hair down with her fingers. Once she was done, she checked her watch, she was on time.
Her name was Mineva Lao Zabi, daughter of the infamous Dozle Zabi. She had been taken to Axis, where she was seen as a symbol for the rebirth of Zeon. However, she was eventually used as a simple figurehead by Haman Karn, so as to justify the war against the Federation and her own rule of the Neo-Zeon. After the War, however, she decided to disappear, pretending to be a fake when the AEUG/Federal officers came to arrest her and then wandering the Earth Sphere for many years, hiding and escaping the many attempts on her life, as many Earthnoid Supremacists saw her as a symbol of "spacenoid disobedience" and the daughter of one of the most notorious war criminals in history.
As she exited the restroom, she used a hand-rail to head outside to the colony. As she avoided security cameras and the gaze of workers, she finally found a corridor to the "Living Space" of the colony. Using the hand-rail, she was doing quite well; below her, the lights of the "city" were flaring. As she was in the Zero-G Zone, she was safe.
At first, getting distracted by the city lights, she failed to see a large kart approaching her until it was almost upon her. She got scared, and she accidentally let go of the rail, the one thing that was keeping her from plummeting into the city. She started to fall down, and attempted to secure a hold on a pressure lever; however, it broke due to her weight (and poor manufacturing), and she plummeted into the city…
Banagher was drinking some juice when he suddenly felt something strange. He turned around to see his friends talking to each other, floating due to the zero-g environment they were in. "Damn I feel space-sick!" said Takuya, "And to think we're finally visiting the Snail!"
"I told you not to get overexcited and eat so much pizza." said someone.
Banagher looked around, as if trying to make out what the hell he was feeling; it was some kind of urge. He felt someone was in danger. And so he found it, something happened in the Zero-G Zone axis. His sight focused on said area, and he then realized it, someone was falling down. Banagher then started took off in a rush, and Micott, having observed him for a while, noticed his strange behavior. "Banagher, where are you going to?" she said.
"Banagher, toilet?" asked Haro.
Banagher ignored these two, and headed towards the mobile suit hangar. "That's dangerous!" he told himself.
He reached the hangar and found only one "Toroachi" mobile worker operational. To make it even worse, it was only at 30% fuel capacity. He jumped into this one and turned it on, closing its dome-hatch. The workers present noticed him. "What the hell are you doing, boy?" one of them asked startled.
"I'm just gonna borrow it." said Banagher.
"You can't!" said the worker. Banagher launched it outside. Due to the presence of gravity (as he was outside the Zero-G Zone), the Toroachi was hard to maneuver. Even so, Banagher was capable of maintaining himself on flight. Besides, mobile suit flight in colonies was reportedly much easier than on Earth.
He headed towards the exterior of the colony's axis, and soon saw what he was looking for, a girl was falling down. As he reached a safe distance, he opened the Toroachi's cockpit hatch, and held out his hand. The girl looked at him, and then reached for Banagher's hand, managing to hold it long enough for him to pull her into the mobile worker's cockpit. As soon as he did, he closed the hatch. Suddenly, an alarm beeped, the mobile worker's fuel was depleted. The Toroachi was now running on its battery, which would last for less than a minute at best. Mineva (the girl) looked at Banagher, but he simply said "I'll think of something."
He used what was left of the battery to make a hard crash-landing near his schoolyard.
The Toroachi literally dug a trench as its legs made friction with the soft ground. Finally, it abruptly stopped. Banagher and Mineva were shaken, and the Toroachi's air bag was deployed. They both lost consciousness temporarily as the bag retreated. Haro started talking to Banagher, asking how he was. Banagher woke up, and saw they had made it. He looked at Mineva and smiled, glad that she was safe. He opened the Toroachi's hatch and started to climb out, when suddenly Mineva grabbed him by his foot and caused him to fall down. She then twisted his arm behind his back and held him down with her knee.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"What are you doing?" he asked in return.
"Banagher, are you okay?" asked the Haro, "Banagher!" Mineva looks at the Haro and then turns to Banagher.
"Are you a resident of this colony?" she asked. Banagher nodded, and Mineva let him go. She then started exploring the Toroachi, "I have something urgent to attend to." she said, "Could you please take me to the entrance of the Colony Builder?"
Banagher stood up, "To the Snail?" he asked.
Mineva looked at the mobile worker's controls, "Does this still work?" she asked. "It's out of fuel and the battery's dead." said Banagher.
Mineva turned, seemingly desperate, "I don't have much time! Please!" she said. Banagher was surprised by this. "There's someone I must talk to no matter what." she said, "If I don't something irreversible will occur! It's not too late to stop it, so please!"
Banagher was still confused, "To stop what?" he asked.
"War" said Mineva in a fearful tone. Banagher then remembered Bancroft's lectures and the mobile suit museum. He noticed Mineva's tone, unlike his teachers and friends, the way she mentioned the word "war" was of dread; of fear. One could tell she wasn't kidding around. Mineva suddenly felt weird, and without saying anything else, started to run away, hoping to find a better way to get to the Colony Builder.
"Wait!" said Banagher. Mineva turned. Banagher walked towards her, "You won't get there by yourself." he said.
They got into a linear train, which would take them near their intended destination. Banagher knew that some of his classmates might be on it as well, as their visit to the Snail was scheduled for today in a few hours. Banagher had Haro in his arms and looked at Mineva. She was looking away, as if thinking by herself. "Who is the person you want to talk to?" asked Banagher. Mineva simply ignored him. Banagher noticed her unwillingness to answer, and changed the subject, "'The Snail'…" he said, "That's what everyone calls the Colony Builder around here. But it's just a plant. I also heard rumors that a mansion of the Vist Foundation is located beyond it."
This last comment caught Mineva's attention. She turned to Banagher, curious. "You know about it?" she asked.
"Well, I haven't seen it with my own eyes," he said, "but the chairman of our school is an important figure of the Foundation."
The train stopped at a station, and the doors all opened. "May I have your attention, please." said the driver by the radio, "Authorities have issued a safety alert. The train will stop temporarily at this station. Once safety has been confirmed, we will resume normal operations."
Banagher noticed some policemen talking with the driver. Mineva and Banagher looked at each other, and he placed his hand on her shoulder. "Let's go," he said. Mineva nodded. They exited the train and proceeded on foot.
At the Toroachi's crash site, police and paramedics combed the area. They were surrounded by onlookers. A black car stopped by. In it, there were two of Zimmerman's bridge personnel, and Marida in the front seat. She was talking with Suberoa via cell phone. She was wearing a black, long coat and a black winter hat. "So you reckon that she was piloting the TOLRO-800?" asked Suberoa.
"I'm afraid so." Marida answered, "The pilot appears to have abandoned the crash site."
"Nothing but trouble will happen if the Federation catches wind of this." he said, "We'll plan out steps according to what the Foundation does."
Marida then remembered how it happened, during docking; Gilboa had mentioned that one of the hatches was open. When she checked, she realized someone had exited the ship without permission. Marida then checked the security tapes, and realized that Mineva Zabi, who was supposed to be in Palau, had stowed aboard and escaped them. She apologized to Zimmerman, who told her that as captain of this ship, he was the one truly responsible.
Marida then returned to the present. "The place she wants to go to is predictable" said Suberoa by the radio, "Seize her before she gets to Cardeas Vist. Keep it low." Marida nodded. They subsequently left the scene.
Banagher and Mineva were in a lift that took them to the Colony Builder. They had previously eaten some hot dogs, and Mineva was cleaning her mouth with delicacy. As they reached their destination, she realized, to her despair, that Marida and two crewmembers of the Garencieres were waiting for her. "Marida!" she exclaimed.
Marida noticed Banagher, but then ignored him. She turned to the Princess, "Please return to us." she said, "If you understand your own position-"
"I'm here because I understand that perfectly!" Mineva interrupted.
Marida expressed shock at this, but then looked at Mineva seriously, "Please don't do anything pointless." she said.
"Judging of how we are now, we cannot make good use of the Box of Laplace." Mineva said. As this was happening, Banagher was typing commands in a small panel in Haro. "Regardless the kind of item it may be, it'll be only used by Full Frontal to spark another pointless conflict. You should understand that very well."
"No, I don't." said Marida, "I only know that I must obey orders."
"No." retorted Mineva, "The power that has been bestowed upon you should not be used-"
She was interrupted as Marida's companions climbed into the lift. Marida followed suit. "Pardon our discourtesy, Your Highness." Marida said. As this happened, Banagher had Haro roll towards Marida and the Sleeves.
Banagher then pressed the lift's button to descend. Haro rolled towards the two male Sleeves, who had previously failed to notice it. "Danger! Danger!" it said. The two Sleeves looked at it. They recoiled when it said that, not knowing what kind of device it might be. The lift started to elevate, and Banagher grabbed Mineva's hand. Marida noticed how Banagher interacted with Mineva, and then realized his plan. But it was too late, as the Haro opened its "ears" and emitted a high pitch sound. The Sleeves thought it was a bomb and covered themselves with their arms. And then Banagher made a run for Haro and tossed it above them. The Sleeves kept track of it, as Banagher and Mineva ran away and managed to reach their intended level in time.
The lift continued descending, and the two male Sleeves tried to jump and reach Banagher, but he kicked both while catching Haro. Marida caught both Sleeves with ease, and then used the bigger one to jump towards the level that Banagher and Mineva had jumped to. Her jump was graceful, elegant and impressive. Mineva saw her and knew that she could easily reach them, as she was a Cyber-Newtype, an artificially enhanced human.
"Hurry!" shouted Mineva. Banagher looked back and saw how Marida reached their level and started running at near-superhuman speed towards them. Marida's hat came off, revealing her long, red hair. Banagher and Mineva made a run to another lift that was ascending. They managed to reach it; Marida, however, reached them and pulled Mineva by her coat. Banagher tried to bring Marida down by kicking her in the leg, but she simply kicked back, trying to hit his head. Banagher miraculously dodged this and managed to grab Marida's coat, he then pulled her and threw her into the level below them. Marida once again made a graceful landing, unharmed.
Banagher was now on his knees, panting due to the effort. Mineva looked at him, somewhat confused by the fact that a stranger had protected her so thoroughly.
Marida looked towards their lift, and then started walking back. On her way to her comrades, she snapped some workers she had incapacitated before, and then just walked away.
Finally at the Colony Builder, Banagher and Mineva could rest for a while, and sat down in a small bench nearby. Mineva was going to ask Banagher why he was helping so eagerly, but he interrupted her, "My name." he said, "I'm sorry, but I haven't introduced properly to you."
"Banagher." she said, "That thing was calling you like that before." They both looked at Haro, who then said "Banagher, good luck! Banagher!"
Banagher turned to Mineva, "Yes, that's right. My name is Banagher Links." he said, "And yours?"
Mineva looked away, and then said, "Audrey, Audrey Burne."
"Audrey, huh?" he said, and he then grabbed Haro, "This is Haro. Do you know about it? It's a replica of the pet robot created by the Federation's ace pilot of the One Year War. You don't remember?"
"I grew up in the countryside." Mineva said.
"Where is that?" asked Banagher.
"Well, I should say I'm a rootless person. It's like I was born that way." Mineva seemed a little down when saying this.
"Then we're alike." said Banagher. Mineva was surprised by this and looked at Banagher.
Nearby, Setsuna was in his Exia, hiding in the colony's axis. He was on standby, as the mission would begin in twenty minutes. He looked at the colony's interior; he was amazed that such wonders could also bring so much death and conflict.
His HUD beeped, it was Sumeragi. He opened a channel, and her face appeared in a small window in the screen. "Setsuna, just as we had predicted, Londo Bell has sent three ships to surround the colony." said Sumeragi, "There are also some Sleeve forces nearby, but they aren't the primary threat here."
Setsuna kept looking at the colony, he saw several teenagers nearby. "What's wrong?" asked Sumeragi.
"If we succeed in this mission, what will happen next?" asked Setsuna in somber tone. Sumeragi stared at him.
"To be honest, not even our superiors know." Sumeragi admitted, "But rumors do say that the Box is capable of destroying the Federation."
"Is that our intent?" asked Setsuna.
Sumeragi remained silent, not even she knew what they would do with it. To be honest, she might as well have it destroyed, as it didn't contribute in any way to their founder's plan. But Veda had given them a specific mission, to recover the Key of Laplace.
"Either way, it depends." said Sumeragi, "If it causes further conflict, we will have to destroy it; if it helps in the plan's overall accomplishment, we will use it. All we have to do now is wait for the meeting between the Sleeves and the Vist Foundation to finish and see how exactly this 'Key' is."
"Roger that." said Setsuna.
"Amazing!" Marco exclaimed as he saw the Colony Builder's machines work, "This looks much better than in those videos and simulations they show us at school."
Takuya looked at the Builder with his binoculars, and noticed that Micott seemed somewhat down. He patted her in the shoulder, "Don't worry." he said, "I'm sure Banagher wasn't caught. We shouldn't be talking about it, though."
"Why?" she asked. "It's gonna suck if he gets expelled." he answered, "He has no place to live in."
Micott started to look at the Colony Builder again with her binoculars. She noticed two people walking alongside each other in the distance, and so she focused the lenses to see who it was. To her shock, it was Banagher, with a blonde haired girl. "Who the hell is that girl?" she suddenly asked, clearly annoyed.
Banagher and Audrey walked together towards their destination, the end of the Colony Builder. Banagher was intrigued about who were those people that had chased them earlier, and was also somewhat suspicious about Audrey. "Who were those people chasing you?" he asked.
"They're friends." she said, "I sneaked out."
"Are you an activist?" he then asked, "Like, from a rebel group? Or like some spacenoid independence supporters or something?"
"You could say that…" she answered, "But I'd say that you are oversimplifying things."
"You said you want to stop a war, right?" he then asked as they reached the end of the Builder. At this point, they had to take another lift, which would finally take them to their intended level, the Vist Mansion. He noticed how Audrey looked at everything so interested; how amazed she was. "As more ground blocks are built, the colony's outer walls grow." he started to explain.
She looked upwards, noticing how far they were from the ground levels. "Amazing!" she said, "The world is expanding."
As she looked upwards, Banagher couldn't help but to look at her with some kind of…warmth. He thought she looked pretty the way she admired the colony.
Beyond the Colony Builder lie the grounds of the Vist Foundation. Composed of a mansion and various secret "underground" levels, it was an ideal place to keep numerous things from unwanted people, like the Federation. One of these levels held a huge hangar, which in turn housed the RX-0 Unicorn. With its final tuning and launch preparations already in process, Cardeas knew now that it was only a matter of time before the Sleeves came to retrieve it. As he looked at the Unicorn, Gael approached him from behind, carrying a holographic panel. "Your Excellency, this was taken from the surveillance camera at Lift Two." Gael said as he gave the panel to Cardeas. Cardeas grabbed the panel and became shocked by the fact that the Princess of Zeon herself had come to Industrial 7.
"Why is she…" he trailed off.
"We still don't know." said Gael, "Early this morning; I received reports of an intrusion in the service route to the Micro Sun. I wouldn't have thought that…"
"Any contact from the Sleeves yet?" Cardeas asked, interrupting him.
Cardeas kept looking at the footage. "Is she acting alone?" he wondered out loud.
"This may badly affect the Box entrustment." Gael commented, "It might put you in greater risk when you meet with the Sleeves later."
Cardeas then noted something; a young man was besides Audrey. Cardeas searched for more footage and was shocked to see Banagher. "Who…who is this young man?" he asked.
"They seem to be working together." Gael replied, "He looks too young to be a bodyguard."
Cardeas kept staring at Banagher, still shocked by this.
And so they finally arrived, a huge, green terrace with an enormous mansion in the end of the ring-shaped structure, the Vist grounds were quite beautiful. Banagher was a little shocked when he arrived here, the place seemed familiar. "That's it." noted Audrey, "Let's go."
They then approached the mansion. They arrived at the huge, wooden doors, which had a lion head-shaped door knocker respectively. Banagher knocked the door with one of them twice, but there was no answer. "Is no one home?" wondered Audrey. However, Banagher opened the door, which had been apparently left unlocked. Banagher barged into the residence. Audrey blushed at this, as per her education, this was inappropriate. She quickly followed him. "Excuse me…is anyone here?" she asked in an apologetic tone. Banagher continued into the house, opening each door that he found, until he soon found himself in a room with a piano and a huge wall tapestry. Audrey quickly followed him, embarrassed. "Banagher!" she called, "You don't just barge into someone's house like that!"
Her concerns, however, were cut short, as she noticed the tapestries. She noticed they all had a Unicorn in each one. Banagher was looking at one in particular, which had a small banner on it. "To my only desire…" he started reading. Audrey became surprised by this, "You can read Latin?" she asked him. Banagher regained his senses, and started turning around, confused. "What the hell is wrong with me?" he wondered, "It's like I know this place…It's like I've seen this before."
"Do you like it?" a voice asked behind them. As they turned around, they saw Cardeas Vist himself coming into the room, "The Lady and the Unicorn. A set of tapestries made in former France during the Middle Ages. These are not replicas. Before the One Year War, my antecessor went through a lot of effort to locate these."
He then made a slight bow towards Audrey, "I'm the head of this House, Cardeas Vist."
Audrey returned the slight bow, "I sincerely apologize for intruding into your residence like this." she said, "My name is…"
"I already know who you are." Cardeas interrupted her, "There's no need for you to introduce yourself."
"Then I'll refrain from doing so." she replied, "As long as you understand where I am coming from."
She made a slight pause, so as to take some breath, "I'm here to request that you reconsider your decision. The decision of handing the Box of Laplace to us."
Cardeas turned towards Banagher, "You may leave." he told him coldly.
Banagher became confused by this, but Cardeas ignored him, "It's dangerous that we are meeting like this." he then continued.
"Zimmerman is a cautious man." Audrey said, "He will not create any unnecessary ruckus."
"So protecting you is unnecessary, you say?" Cardeas asked.
"Why?" Audrey asked in return, "It is said that the Box of Laplace is the reason why the Vist Foundation has been so prosperous for so long. So why are you entrusting it to us?"
Cardeas then noted Banagher had not left, and became somewhat annoyed by his presence. "Excuse me." he told Audrey, and turned towards Banagher, "I said you may leave." he then said, this time in a more menacing tone.
Banagher became somewhat annoyed himself, "She's being hunted!" he replied, "I can't just leave her alone."
Do you know by whom? Do you know the reason, the why?" Cardeas asked him in return, "You come here with her without a reason, without a why."
"No, I didn't." said Banagher, "But those people are scary!"
"Scary?" wondered Cardeas.
"That's how I sense it." replied Banagher.
"You sound like if you're trying to be a Newtype." said Cardeas.
Banagher started to get fed up by this, "That's what she said!"
"You are sacrificing your future." Cardeas then said coldly, "And that isn't the reason that your father put you in Anaheim." Banagher was taken aback by the last commentary.
"How do you…"
"I'm the chairman." Cardeas interrupted, "I know my students very well and I can expel them for being disobedient."
There was a brief moment of silence. Audrey knew that things might not turn out well; she knew that the Sleeves and the Federation would be willing to destroy everything to just get their hands on the Box. She didn't want any innocents involved.
"Banagher, you may leave." she said, breaking the silence, "I appreciate your help until now, but I can handle the rest by myself."
"Audrey, I'll help!" Banagher said, "You're here to prevent a war, right? And he has the power to achieve that, right? When you mentioned war, it was different from how my friends or teachers do. It actually meant something…" He made a pause, looking at Audrey in the eye this time, "I felt fear…" he said, "Your tone…your expression…They all transmitted fear and dread to me. That's why… That's why I…!"
"Banagher…" she muttered.
"When I saw you falling from the sky, my heart throbbed." he said, "Everything meshed back into place, and I felt like I knew where I belonged for the first time. I don't care who you are! Just say you need me!"
Audrey changed her kind look to one of coldness, and directly stared at Banagher in the eye, "I do not need you." she said, in an equally cold tone. Banagher became upset by this, and moved back towards the wall. "You should better forget about me" she then added, equally cold.
Afterwards, Banagher was taken by a bodyguard outside. Banagher looked back towards the mansion, one more time, thinking about Audrey.
At the same time, Audrey looked at his departure from one of the dorms in the Mansion. Cardeas entered the room with some tea, "You made the right choice." he said as he left the tea in a table, "I've changed the meeting location with your comrades. You will see them when the time is right."
Audrey looked towards him, with a clearly upset expression, "Won't you at least consider?" she asked.
"I understand your concerns." he answered, "Full Frontal, the man who has been baptized by the masses and media as the 'Second Coming of Char'."
"Then why?" she asked, in an obviously desperate tone.
"Even if they obtain the Key, they cannot open the Box without the person of the right attributes." he said, trying to reassure her.
"A key?" she asked, somewhat confused.
"That is the type of mechanism, anyway." he said, "It's a restive horse, as you will see."
Banagher was taken by a lift back to the main structure of the Colony Builder. In the distance, he could see his friends waving their arms at him.
Elsewhere, the Sleeves' black automobile was parked near a playground. Since they had failed to get the Princess, Marida and her comrades had no choice but to leave. She called Zimmerman, telling him about their failure. "You're done." he said, "I want you all to return to the ship."
Marida was a little taken aback by this. "The Foundation contacted me." he said, "They want to change the location from the Central Port to the Colony Builder."
"What did he say about her?" Marida asked quickly.
"His mind never faltered." Zimmerman replied, "I don't know what he's thinking, but we'll also have to wear our poker faces. You come back and prepare for the worst case scenario."
In the outer walls of the colony, in a particular spot where there were many good hiding places such as indentations and service tubes, the lone Geara Zulu of the Garencieres was on standby, in case anything unexpected came up. The pilot was listening to the local radio, which was broadcasting some old rock-pop. Relaxed at first, his right sensors suddenly malfunctioned, and the music suddenly turned into static.
"What the hell?" he wondered, looking around, "Interference?"
He looked around and saw that in the distance, at least two D-50C Loto mobile suits came out of their dummy asteroids and approached the colony…
Suberoa and his men had taken an elevator to the Vist Mansion. As they finally arrived at their destination, they were greeted by Cardeas and Gael. "What an honor to have the Head himself to welcome us." Suberoa said.
"I am about to entrust the fate of the Foundation to someone else." said Cardeas, "I cannot let anyone but myself do this."
He then moved out of their way, allowing them to come in.
The Geara Zulu pilot was struggling with his sensors, as soon as the Lotos appeared; both the visual and radar sensors were practically dead, they all read as "NO SIGNAL". The pilot punched his monitor, "Cheap piece of shit!" he shouted. However, the only other sensors still working bleeped, as he turned to check what it was, he became terrified; there were ReZELs, Jegans, Stark Jegans, Lotos and even GM III units all around him. "Londo Bell?" he said, "Where the hell did they come from?"
At the Garencieres' hangar, Marida was about to mount her mobile suit, when she sensed something weird. She then realized it, there were enemies nearby.
Suberoa was a little surprised, "A key?" he asked Cardeas, "You'll just give us the key and not the Box?"
"Is that not enough, Captain?" Cardeas asked.
"No, but rather, I don't understand" Suberoa replied, "We don't even know what this box actually is. The Box of Laplace is rumored to be able to overthrow the Federation as soon as its contents are released, and it is also known that it is precisely because of this that the Foundation has tightly kept it in the dark. A public corporation that transfers antiques and historic artifacts to space museums is only PR. It's true purpose-"
"Your superiors recognized the value of the Box." Cardeas said, interrupting Zimmerman, "That is why they sent a capable man like you here."
"Well, it's not like we're in the best position right now." said Suberoa, "We cannot just stand to bite bait before us. If said bait were poisoned, our superiors would be deeply disappointed."
"Do you believe in Newtypes, Captain?" Cardeas then abruptly asked.
"I have felt a type of power that can only be explained as such in the battlefield." answered Suberoa.
"Power…" Cardeas muttered, "Only those who've experienced it could have said it."
He stood up from his chair, "Those from Mankind that escaped to space gained a new ability to cope with its vastness and became capable of communicating with each other without misunderstandings. The Newtype theory of Zeon Deikun was of absolute conviction and infinite possibilities, a display of true power."
The Geara Zulu pilot was nervous, a ReZEL was right above him. While its back was turned from him, the pilot was sure they would spot him. He was sweating, trying to not move at all. He looked towards one of the camera feeds and saw another ReZEL, which apparently turned its head towards him. The pilot then panicked. "Goddamn it!" he exclaimed, and he literally blasted his Zulu towards the ReZEL, drawing his machine gun, and started firing at it in full auto. Screaming in a combination of rage and terror, the pilot got to point-blank range and fired his rifle at the ReZEL in full auto. The bullets did damage the ReZEL, but they were still not enough to destroy it. The pilot then resorted to his grenade launcher, which finished the job, but at the cost of the element of secrecy for the Sleeves. The pilot quickly started to rush towards the space gate. "Garencieres! We got company!" he started calling by the radio, "Londo Bell's surrounded the colony!"
The pilot continued his way towards the space gate, while two more ReZELs began pursuit by transforming into waverider mode.
"Ever since the Federation won the One Year War, they've feared this invisible power. The power that indicts the privileged class on Earth. It is a power that undermines their ideals of democracy, capitalism and right to govern. The power that speaks to you to awaken into a spacenoid and leave said ideals to the past." continued Cardeas. Suberoa was listening attentively, and even his men were closely following Cardeas.
The Geara Zulu pilot soon found himself in reach of one of the ReZELs, which shot his mobile suit's leg off with its beam rifle. The impact caused bone-jarring shaking, which caused his airbag to deploy to save him from any damage. However, he was not going to surrender, and instead he accelerated, intending to join up with Marida and begin extraction of the Garencieres' personnel in the colony. However, another ReZEL appeared, this time right in his path, accelerating towards him. The pilot started firing his machine rifle again, hitting the ReZEL, but only causing superficial damage. The ReZEL then dodged his shots, trying to get a good aim at the Geara Zulu's cockpit.
"The power that may overthrow the rule of the Federation that has lasted for almost one-hundred years. The Federation has wasted almost twenty years fighting that invisible power."
The pilot reloaded his rifle, and resumed fire. He saw the ReZEL directly, with rage, "The space…belongs to us, spacenoids!" he then exclaimed. The ReZEL transformed and drew out its beam saber. The Zeon pilot kept firing at it, but the ReZEL dodged each burst and finally got close enough to cut off the left arm of the Geara Zulu. Having lost his rifle, the Zeon pilot then made a war cry and drew his heat tomahawk. He then proceeded to chase the ReZEL. The same ReZEL, however, was too fast, and it turned around and slashed the Zulu, this time in the torso. While not destroying it, it managed to cut off the main links that communicated the limbs with the cockpit. The Zeon pilot vomited blood due to the G forces. And like bullies, the ReZELs then began to slash the Zulu, one at a time, doing it as if they were trying to give it a slow death. But the Zeon pilot's resolve was, however, not undone, and he made one last charge. "All Hail Neo-Zeon!" he cried. He knew there was no point at doing this; he knew he would be killed instantly by the Londo Bell pilots. However, he had to let the rest of his comrades know that they were set up, even if it meant by letting his own mobile suit explode.
And then, a miracle occurred, as the two ReZELs aimed their rifles at the Zeon, a large, long, thick and bright light suddenly surrounded them. The ReZEL pilots, unaware of another enemy force, were caught in the light, and were vaporized.
The Zeon pilot was dumbfounded, as were the other Londo Bell pilots. "What the…?" was the Zeon pilot "Was that Marida…?"
He then saw it, a bulky, white-and-black armored mobile suit, unlike he has never seen before. It held what appeared to be two large double-barreled guns in its shoulders and a large mega-launcher in its arms. From its back, it emitted what to the Zeon pilot seemed to be heavenly light. "What is that beautiful thing?" he said, completely crazy with joy. This mobile suit, the GN-005 Virtue, was a heavy artillery assault unit. Piloted by Tieria Erde, it was powerful enough to destroy a Ra Cailum class by itself. Tieria, a beautiful young man, looked at the colony.
"Virtue, Tieria Erde, continuing intervention." he said. He saw the Geara Zulu, but as it was damaged, he ignored it. Besides, Veda had been clear, the Sleeves were the least of their concerns in this particular mission.
Marida felt somewhat warm, she felt the pilot's joy due to his saving. She had never felt this before, other than when she met a nice man in Palau two years ago. Immediately after that, she felt an explosion. Gilboa hailed her. "What was that? An explosion?" Gilboa asked her.
"Gilboa, have you made contact with the Captain?" she asked.
"I've lost the connection!" he said, "The Minovsky Particles are getting denser and denser! And there also seems to be some kind of outside interference…"
"Are they going to attack inside the colony?" asked Marida; despite her usually stoic appearance, she was not without any humanity; she genuinely cared about the spacenoids. She cared, and she felt the pain of their deaths in every battle.
"It seems they surrounded the colony!" Gilboa said, "I also lost contact with out unit outside! We'll spring through the colony if we have to! We'll find the captain and get out!"
"Roger." she said.
Suberoa and his men continued to listen to Cardeas. "On one hand, they built official research facilities, but these were just research labs for mad scientists to scientifically increase their latencies as weapons."
This reminded Suberoa of Marida, and he frowned.
"The Gryps Conflict, and the two Neo-Zeon Wars…The rise of the military clique, caused by extreme repression, led to the exhaustion of the Federation…And yet they still endure. They have the greatest ally that has assured them victory in the very end. Do you know what this ally is?"
"Time?" asked Suberoa back.
Marida launched five of her funnels and used them to destroy a Jegan outside. More Londo Bell units began entering the colony, and Marida began to open herself openings towards the interior of the colony to intercept them.
Inside the colony, the Dynames was hidden near the axis. Lockon was drinking some water, when his Haro, which was docked in his unit's computer, started to open its ears. "Lockon, enemies approaching! Enemies approaching!" it said.
Lockon chuckled, "Ah, so here they come!" he said, "I'll take down the first ones while Setsuna destroys the rest."
As he prepared his manual targeting module, he noticed the Kshatriya. "Oh look, it's our Sleeve friend." Lockon said, and so he hailed Setsuna. "Setsuna! The Quad-Wing is out there, so be careful! It is armed with funnels!"
"Roger." answered Setsuna, "I'll fend it off and eliminate the Federation forces."
Setsuna started hovering towards the main service entrance, where the Kshatriya was waiting for the Londo Bell units to mow them down. "That Quad-Wing…" he said. His sensors then picked something, several mobile suits were literally coming out of the floor, apparently, they used their beam sabers to cut their way in. These mobile suits, Lotos, transformed into tank mode and began heading towards the colony builder. "Lockon, several tank-type mobile suits are heading towards the Builder!" said Setsuna, "I'm moving to engage."
"The public that only sought for results grew tired of Newtypes that only showed potential. The term Newtype then eventually became synonymous with 'ace pilot', something completely opposed to Deikun's theory of 'those who understand each other perfectly'."
Setsuna fired his GN Rifle, destroying one of the Lotos. The ECOAS captain in the lead Loto, Daguza Mackle, was shocked. "What the..?" he exclaimed, "Where did that fire come from?"
"Above us, sir!" said Conroy, his gunner, "It's an unknown!"
"The Quad-Wing?" asked Daguza.
"No, it's…I've never seen this kind of mobile suit…it looks like a Gundam!"
"A Gundam?" Daguza exclaimed, "Is it the Vist's unit?"
"No, sir!" Conroy said, "This one is completely different! I've never seen one like it!"
Daguza came out of his cockpit and saw it, the GN-001 Exia. Indeed, it looked like a Gundam, but its armor looked completely different; its head was shaped unlike anything he had seen before; and a light was emanating from its back.
Setsuna saw Daguza, and aimed his GN Rifle at him. Daguza quickly fired a blind shot with his bazooka and pulled Conroy out of the Loto. Setsuna covered himself with his GN Shield and proceeded to destroy the Loto.
Marida detected the explosions, and realized, to her despair, that enemy mobile suits were infiltrating the colony from somewhere else. She turned around and saw it, the GN-002 Dynames. She clenched her teeth; it looked like one…like a Gundam. The mysterious mobile suit began to move out, and then fired its GN Sniper Rifle at her position. She moved to dodge the shot, only to realize it wasn't intended for her, it was intended for the first ReZEL that was entering the colony. The Dynames began to move again and sniped four more Londo Bell mobile suits.
"Dynames, Lockon Stratos, sniping targets!" Lockon said. He sniped two more Jegans, and the Londo Bell mobile suit force began to spread, only to be intercepted by Marida's funnels, which cut them down with ease.
"The Box of Laplace contains the power to alter the future." Cardeas continued, "No, I should say 'the power to retrieve the future that we were supposed to have.' However, not anyone can use it. If it's used in the wrong way, it can literally destroy humanity."
"And so you are handing the key to us to test us out?" asked Suberoa. Cardeas nodded, "If you're merely narrow-minded ideologists with only a single idea in mind, the Box won't display its contents to thee."
"What do you mean by 'narrow-minded'" Suberoa then asked.
"Reviving Zeon." replied Cardeas.
As soon as he said this, they felt a massive shake.
In her room, Audrey looked outside by the window, with a sad expression.
In the colony's interior, the Kshatriya finished off the last of the Londo Bell mobile suits with the help of the Dynames. Lockon chuckled to himself. "Who would have thought that the Zeon would be so helpful." he said.
"He got more kills than you!" Haro then teased, "He got more kills than you!"
However, unexpectedly, his sensors detected more units; at least ten more Londo Bell mobile suits were coming in. "Damn these bastards! They are persistent!" he exclaimed, and then began sniping them.
Marida also detected them and redeployed her funnels, managing to partially destroy a Jegan; however, its wreckage fell on a populated area, killing many. Marida felt that horrible feeling again. Another Jegan was taken out, but its wreckage fell on civilians. This time, she felt as if she herself was being slowly cut by a razor. She started sweating. "I'll…" she muttered, "I'll…I'll take you all out!"
"Londo Bell is here." said Gael after making a phone call, "They surrounded the colony. In addition, the fighting has spread to the interior of the colony."
"So, I take it we have been set up?" asked Suberoa, drawing Zeon pistol and pointing it at Cardeas.
Gael moved in front of Cardeas to cover him. "I'd say you have been followed, but it's a pointless argument overall." Cardeas said.
"Please give her back to us." Suberoa demanded.
"I had that very intention since the beginning." Cardeas replied, "She is staying in one of the rooms in the mansion."
Another explosion rocked them. Suberoa and Cardeas looked at each other.
"Trust between people is so hard to obtain." Suberoa then said, "This is unfortunate, sir."
"I feel the same, Captain." replied Cardeas.
Setsuna destroyed two more Jegans as he wondered where the Sleeves carrying the Box would be. He then saw three ReZELs fighting the Kshatriya. He accelerated towards the battle.
Despite being powerful, Marida's suit was unfit for true atmospheric combat, even in colonies. Its binders made it heavy and difficult to maneuver properly. The funnels were also particularly troublesome, as she had to constantly withdraw them to recharge them as they needed too much energy to actually remain in flight.
A ReZEL that had crashed into a building was firing its rifle at Marida. Another one behind her drew its beam saber and charged at her. It tried to slash her, but Marida evaded the hit. "Get off my tail!" she shouted, "Damn it!" She countered with her own beam saber, and they both clashed, while the fallen ReZEL continued to fire its beam rifle at her. Another ReZEL charged at her, but she skillfully deployed one of her sub-arms and stopped it, while graciously cutting the other troublesome ReZEL in half. However, all of these maneuvers were too difficult, even for her. "So heavy!" she exclaimed as she turned to deal with the camping ReZEL in the ground. The ReZEL kept firing, but she difficultly evaded every shot. She then called upon her funnels and directed towards the ReZEL. "This'll shut you up!" she said, and fired then in unison. The ReZEL had been eliminated, but with a price, its Minovsky reactor went critical. Realizing in horror what she had caused, she quickly withdrew her funnels and tried to fly as far from the blast as possible. The explosion vaporized a portion of the city and many civilians. Marida recoiled from the deaths, and seemed to bleed from her nose.
Setsuna and Lockon watched this in horror. "This has gone too far…" said Lockon, "Setsuna! Can you hear me? Hold that Quad-Wing off! I'll keep searching for the people with the Box, but you have to prevent another explosion like that from happening."
"Roger!" said Setsuna, and he charged at the Kshatriya.
As she caught some breath, she detected the Exia charging at her. She drew her beam saber and began an all-out aggressive against it. Setsuna deployed his GN Blade and blocked her attacks. Marida started screaming in what appeared to be rage, and deployed her funnels against Exia. Setsuna pushed her away and evaded most shots, with a few hitting his GN Shield and his GN Armor absorbing a few other shots. Despite this, Setsuna knew that against beam weapons his armor could only endure a few hits.
Far away in the Snail, Banagher and his classmates looked at all of this in horror. "There is a hole in the colony…" Marco muttered. "That's where our school is…" exclaimed another student.
"War." Takuya then said abruptly, "War has broken out."
"Really, Takuya?" Marco then said, "Do you really have to point out the obvious?"
Banagher thought of what Audrey told him. And he realized what he had to do.
"Move it!" he suddenly exclaimed, "Move to shelters now!"
They all then nodded, clearly shaken by what they had seen, and began running towards the nearest shelter. 'Is this the war that you mentioned, Audrey?' Banagher thought.
Two Lotos came out of the ground, and were positioned nearby. They opened some hatches in their sides and ECOAS commandos started to pour out. Armed with excellent assault rifles and well protected, these masked goons gunned down the Vist bodyguards outside. Their leader proceeded to kick the beautiful wooden door down, and a bloodbath ensued as maids, butlers, bodyguards and Anaheim employees in the Mansion were mowed down mercilessly by the Federation soldiers. As they checked one certain bedroom, they failed to realize that the Princess of Zeon herself was running away in the distance.
Audrey kept running, afraid for her life, and kept running towards the lift she and Banagher had used to reach the Mansion in the first place.
Cardeas and Gael were alone in the office, as the Sleeves had already left the building. Gael had brought some firearms for himself and Cardeas; Gael picked a submachine gun while Cardeas simply grabbed a small pocket pistol for himself. "An ECOAS team is currently exploring the mansion and will be here any moment now." said Gael, "In addition, I was able to pick up some reports from the Londo Bell forces outside of some unknown enemy attacking them. Whether this could buy us time or not…"
"A hundred year-old alliance broken so easily in just a few moments." mused Cardeas, "The Federation plans to take everything with this chance. Then again, it was us who tried to break it first."
He then looked at Gael to the eye, "Gael, we cannot allow the Federation to get the unit!"
As they exited the room, the Vist Foundation's logo in Cardeas' office cracked…
The Nahel Argama, this ship had served the AEUG in the last period of the First Neo-Zeon War. Deemed to be a perfect warship, it was re-commissioned after the Second Neo-Zeon War and issued to Londo Bell. Refitted with newer weapons and more mobile suit storage space, the Nahel Argama continued to be a fearsome ship. However, the captain, Otto Midas, was distressed, two of their squadrons had been wiped out by an unknown enemy with tremendous firepower. In addition, the forces sent to the interior were being wiped out by more unknowns and some new Sleeves unit. "We'll force the Sleeves' ship out!" he said, "Prepare to fire mega particle cannon one! Aim it at the main space gate! As soon as we fire, launch the Romeo Squadron. And report any unknowns you see!"
He waited until the ship was in firing position. The mega particle cannon turret was then turned towards the colony. Otto snapped his fingers, and the beams were then shot, hitting the space gate.
At the Garencieres, the crew was desperate to leave, but the Captain had not returned yet. Gilboa was checking for any news on the battle. Suddenly, their Geara Zulu was returning. Gilboa saw the damage, and hailed the pilot. "Are you alright?" he asked, "Are you injured?"
He instead heard laughter. Gilboa was confused by this. "Hey, what happened?" he asked. The pilot continued his joyful laughter. A small window appeared, revealing the pilot, laughing with tears. "What's wrong?" Gilboa asked.
"It was God…" said the pilot, "God sent me these angels to protect me…I'm alive! Yes I'm alive!"
"Angels?" wondered Gilboa.
"Yes!" the pilot exclaimed, "Angels with wings of light! They are ripping the Feddies apart as we speak!"
Riddhe Marcenas, pilot of one of the Nahel Argama's ReZELs, was waiting for his turn to launch. He put his gloves on and placed his hands on the controls as his commander, Norm, launched. Once Norm launched, his turn came up. The linear catapult accelerated him while his boosters allowed him to gain speed and launch in a more fashionable way.
At the bridge, Mihiro Oiwakken, one of the communications officers, gasps. "Captain, another unknown is approaching us!" she said. Otto's eyes widened. "Where is it?" he asked. "It's coming at us from the rear." she said, "It's a different one…"
"What?" he exclaimed "There are two of these things?"
One would correct him and say that there were actually four. However, with all the chaos, they barely knew of the presence of the Dynames and Exia, who were in the interior of the colony. That and the fact that the GN-003 Kyrios, which was currently in waverider mode, was equipped with a GN Drive, like its three other sister units. Allelujah Haptism, the pilot, sighed.
"Nahel Argama class spotted." he said, "Commencing neutralization. Dear goodness, Sumeragi's predictions are always so accurate…"
"Launch more units!" said Otto, "That thing's gonna kill us!"
Two GM III units were launched, and accelerated towards the Kyrios. They started firing their machine guns at it, but Allelujah, despite being in Waverider mode, evaded every single shot. Once he did that, he used his beam submachine gun to disable the GM IIIs. As soon as he finished this, the Nahel Argama's mega particle cannons started firing at him, but again he dodged these shots.
"I hate it when bullies torment those that are weaker…" said Allelujah. Immediately afterwards, he fired his beam submachine gun at the mega particle cannons, destroying them. Some CIWS machine guns were also fired at him, but he ignored them.
"Neutralization of Londo Bell ship accomplished," he said, "Moving now to assist Virtue in the neutralization of remaining Londo Bell units outside the colony."
At an elevator leading to the surface, Suberoa and his men armed themselves with submachine guns, expecting Federation commandos in their way. As he loaded his weapon, he felt somewhat worried for Marida.
Marida was still clashing with the Exia, when suddenly two more Jegans appeared.
Setsuna backed off as she used one of her binders to push it away. She then cut the Jegan down. She felt more pain, and recoiled again. The other Jegan fired its beam rifle at her, and she blocked these shots with her binders. By now at the edge of pure rage, she went berserker, and using her funnels, she destroyed the remaining Jegan, destroying it in a way that literally nothing was left of it.
Setsuna suddenly felt weird in his head. "What is this...?" he asked to himself, trying to figure out what it was. He then charges at the Kshatriya.
Marida, fully berserker now, starts using her funnels in a gracious and deadly form. Setsuna avoids the first shots, but Marida manages to hit him several times, scratching his armor. Setsuna withdraws his GN Blade and begins firing his GN Rifle, destroying one of the funnels. Marida screams in rage again, and directs a full scale attack against the Exia. Setsuna blocks some of the shots with his GN Shield, but it gets scratched.
"At this rate…" he says to himself. He deploys flares to blind her for a moment. Marida feels a burning sensation in her eyes, which forces her to pause for a moment. After regaining sight, she sees the Exia flying away.
"Funnels!" she calls out, intending to redirect them towards the Exia, however, three ReZELs enter the colony, and start firing at her. Already on a state of uncontrollable rage, she turns her funnels towards the ReZELs.
Setsuna hovers away as he sees the Dynames; it is sniping the last remaining Jegan. "Lockon!" Setsuna called, "More Londo Bell ReZELs are coming in!"
"I'll shoot them down!" said Lockon, and he aims at the other end of the colony.
Riddhe draws his beam saber and engages Marida in close-quarters combat. Marida pushes him away and tries using her funnels against him. She tries to hit his cockpit with one of her binders, but he barely manages to evade this, firing his Vulcans in the process. Another member of the Romeo squadron tries to attack Marida with his beam saber, but he is suddenly shot from afar. Riddhe turns around, surprised by this.
"Where the hell did that come from?" he said.
Marida also saw this and turned as well, and spotted the same green mobile suit from before. Somehow this gradually calmed her down, and her expression returned to the same old, stoic one. Having regained composure, she drew her beam saber out and cut Riddhe's ReZEL's right arm off.
"Damn!" shouted Riddhe as he started to use his Vulcans. Marida gave one last battle cry and cut off the left arm of Riddhe's mobile suit. He starts to retreat, and Marida, calm once more, flies away toward the Colony Builder, with her funnels closely behind her.
Suberoa and his men were running through the corridor, albeit with difficulty, due to the Zero-G environment they were in. One of the men was unexpectedly shot down, and Suberoa and the rest quickly took cover behind some pillars. Flaste peeked out and saw that it was a force of ECOAS Commandos. Suberoa and Flaste started to return fire, as they had no intention of dying here.
At the same time, Cardeas and Gael were also sprinting towards the hangar. "Damn ECOAS is killing everyone they find!" said Gael, "I fear that the main module has been captured."
"Then we'll have to launch it ourselves." said Cardeas, "The data on the tests is most likely deleted by now. All we have to do is-"
He is interrupted by gunfire directed at him; the shots barely grace his coat. Gael pushes him aside and begins suppressive fire at the ECOAS commandos, killing two in spectacular fashion.
"Your Excellency, go ahead!" Gael said, "You must get to the Unicorn at once!"
"Thank you, Gael." Cardeas said, "Come back alive!"
As the elevator's doors opened, one of Suberoa's men received a headshot as soon as he exited. Suberoa and his men quickly took cover, and Suberoa quickly realized that there were at least eight ECOAS commandos, in a phalanx formation behind their tactical shields. The commandos started to fire their automatic weapons and pistols at the elevator; luckily, no one else in Suberoa's side was hit. However, they were pinned down, and had nowhere else to go. It would be a long fight…
At the Colony Builder, Banagher and the rest of his class were desperately attempting to get the doors of one of the shelters open. Apparently, no one was willing to open them, and so the class had to wait in a long, thick line. Banagher, Takuya and Micott had no choice but to get to the control panel and try to open it manually. One of the students started to knock the large metal door. "Hey, open up!" the student said, "There are people stuck out here!" Many other students started to join in, massing towards the door and hitting it with their fists, palms and even some of the stuff they were carrying.
"Damn it!" Banagher then exclaimed, frustrated over the fact that he was unsuccessful in opening the shelter.
"By now, the other shelters might be closed as well!" said Takuya.
And then Banagher felt something, dread. He turned around and saw the Kshatriya heading towards them. And then, an explosion, a ReZEL used its beam rifle, attempting to shoot down the Kshatriya. However, it instead hit a wall right next Banagher's class. The explosion sent him and his two friends a few meters away from the control panel.
They remained down for a moment, waiting for things to get clear. Banagher then stood up and looked towards the shelter's door, a huge fissure, caused by beam weaponry, had been cut through the door and the entire floor in front of it. And to Banagher's horror, where his classmates had once stood, there was now only smoke.
"The others…" he said, "They're…"
His two other friends were catatonic at this view; Micott started walking towards the site, her eyes widened in horror. "Esther, Marco…" she muttered, "Dennis…Tom…Everyone… Where'd everyone go?"
She started running towards the fissure, but Takuya went after her and managed to stop her, grabbing her by the shoulders. "Micott!" he said. He hugged her as she started sobbing. All Banagher could do was look at the situation, in despair. He was pale, and couldn't move. He felt powerless, he felt useless, like he had throughout his entire life. He felt he had not done enough to prevent this, that the deaths of his classmates were his entire fault. And then he remembered Audrey, she was most likely alone in the Vist Mansion, possibly in danger. He saw his best friend, Micott, crying in despair and Takuya trying to comfort her. He was tired…tired of not being able to do anything, of not being able to prevent all of this. He clenched his fists, wiped off his tears, and placed his hand on Takuya's shoulder.
"Takuya, take care of Micott." Banagher said.
Takuya was surprised by this, "What are you going to do?" he asked.
"There is someone who is all alone and her life is in danger." Banagher said, "I have to go help her." He then handed Haro over to Takuya, who took it, still confused over what Banagher had just said. "Get to the other side of the Snail through the hole that was just opened." Banagher then said, "If you're able to, go to the center and wait for the rescue team to arrive."
And with that, Banagher pushed himself towards a lift that was nearby. Micott started calling to him, desperate, begging him not to leave her side; however, he ignored them, frustrated, and yet determined to save Audrey.
By now, Cardeas had escaped the firefights. He was in an elevator that headed down towards the Unicorn's hangar. He looked to the Anaheim Electronics logo imprinted in the elevator's panel, and punched it. "I can't believe we have been occupied by Londo Bell…" he muttered, "Does the Federation intend to just bulldoze the remaining legal issues?"
He then thought for a while, 'No, this seems internal…Someone tipped them off…but who?'
The elevator reached its destination, and the doors opened. Cardeas backed off, three men, one with an ECOAS suit and two in Anaheim Electronics normal suits were suddenly right in front of them. The ECOAS soldier and Anaheim employee were both with their rifles aimed directly at Cardeas. Their visors concealed their identities, as they were polarized. The ECOAS soldier and Anaheim employee approached Cardeas, grabbing him from both arms. The third man then pushed a small button in his helmet's right side, revealing himself.
"Alberto?" exclaimed Cardeas. Alberto was simply unresponsive, with a slight smirk in his face.
Marida wiped off the blood in her lower lip as she continued to search for the Princess in the Snail. She then sensed something, and saw the unknown mobile suits below her. She noticed the light that they emanated from their backs. 'It looks like stars,' she thought.
Setsuna saw the Kshatriya. "Damn it." he said, and then hailed Lockon, "Lockon! That Quad-Wing is right above us!"
"That pilot is persistent!" Lockon said, "At this rate, we'll never find this 'Key'!"
Lockon aimed his GN Sniper Rifle at the Kshatriya, but Marida used her binders to block the first two shots. Lockon fired another, and this time he managed to push the Kshatriya down. With its binders enclosing it completely, the Kshatriya fell to the ground and literally rolled through the floor, destroying some warehouses and gas containers nearby, causing numerous explosions.
And then out of nowhere, a Loto appeared, and started firing its missiles at the Dynames.
"Damn it!" exclaimed Lockon, "ECOAS suits!"
He then drew his GN Pistols and fired at the Loto; however, the pilot used its back thrusters and evaded most of the shots. The Loto's pilot then fired more missiles and a light machine gun in its shoulder, but Lockon's Gundam absorbed much of the impact. Even so, being hit wasn't the preference for the Gundam Meisters.
"Haro, direct all energy to weapons!" Lockon commanded, and soon his GN Pistols' barrels glowed more than usual. Lockon then began rapid-firing them, and this time he managed to hit the Loto several times, tearing it to shreds. Another Loto then appeared, and started firing its missiles at the Dynames. "Damn Feddies!" Lockon exclaimed, "They're so persistent!"
The ECOAS soldier handed over Cardeas' pocket pistol to Alberto, who promptly caught it. The Anaheim employee kept his rifle aimed at Cardeas. "I haven't seen you in quite a while, sir." Alberto then said, in a somewhat mocking tone.
"Did Martha put you up to this?" Cardeas then asked, suspecting the ones responsible for all this mess. Alberto simply smirked at this question, but remained unresponsive. Cardeas then looked at Alberto directly, "You may think that you are using the military," he then said, "but the one really being used…"
Unexpectedly, he grabbed the ECOAS soldier's head and snapped his neck in an instant. The Anaheim employee started shooting his assault rifle, but Cardeas used the ECOAS soldier's body as a shield. He then proceeded to grab the ECOAS rifle and shot an automatic fire burst at the Anaheim employee, killing him instantly. As soon as he did this, he put his weapon down and turned to Alberto.
"Listen to me Alberto," he said as he turned towards him, "You-"
And he then suddenly felt a bullet piercing his torso, Alberto, his own son, had shot him. Alberto looked at Cardeas directly, "You're a traitor."
"I have…no reason to listen to you…" Cardeas said, putting his hand over his wound.
"Laplace's Box is mine." Alberto then said, and he then promptly left, leaving the gun floating by. Cardeas fell to the ground, the injury was fatal. He knew there was no way to survive. His hopes now lied with Gael…
On another level, Banagher was pushing himself through the corridors, trying to reach the Mansion, when he suddenly found himself in the crossfire of a gunfight between ECOAS and the Sleeves. He quickly took cover as the Sleeves mowed down two more ECOAS soldiers. 'It's happening here too…' he thought.
The firefight was over as soon as it began; the Sleeves had mopped the floor with the ECOAS commandos, but at the cost of two of their men. As Suberoa and Flaste pushed themselves forward, they spotted Banagher. Flaste pointed his rifle at him, but Suberoa stopped him from shooting.
"Forget about the kid." Suberoa said, and he then shot a full burst at the elevator's controls. Having used the last of his ammunition, he discarded the rifle and left it floating by. He drew his Luger-type pistol and joined up with Flaste.
"Have you contacted Marida?" he asked Flaste as they left off. Banagher sighed in relief and continued on his way.
Marida had managed to regain flight, but as soon as she did, the Loto that was engaging the Dynames had now directed its attention to her. It fired several missiles at her, which she blocked with binders. While not technically allies, the Meisters and Marida had one common enemy right now, the Federation. And so ignoring the Dynames, she deployed her funnels and directed towards them towards the Loto. The pilot tried to use his bazooka to fire a blind shot at her, but her funnels were too quick, and they vaporized him and cut his mobile suit in several pieces, which were sent flying all over the place once the mobile suit's frame exploded. That was when Marida then felt the Princess' presence below her.
Nearby, Audrey was using a handrail to get herself to the space gate. She saw the battle and noticed the unknown mobile suits. 'They look like…' she started thinking, but her thoughts were interrupted by Haro, who suddenly started rolling towards her, calling her name repeatedly. Audrey was surprised by its appearance and grabbed it. "Haro!" she then heard a voice calling further away, and she saw a boy and a girl using a handrail and heading towards her. She at first thought it was Banagher, but she then realized it was someone completely different.
Takuya and Micott saw Haro with Audrey, and Takuya thought she was a civilian. "Hey you!" he called out, "Get out of here! It's dangerous!"
Micott then saw Audrey and recognized her as the girl that was with Banagher at the Snail. "It's you!" she said.
Takuya turned towards her, surprised, "You know her?" he asked her, but then Micott quickly shook her head.
Audrey held Haro in her arms when they suddenly heard an explosion, a Loto had exploded nearby and its wreckage was falling over them. Takuya grabbed Micott and covered her with his arms. Audrey covered herself and Haro as well, thinking her death was now inevitable. However, the unexpected happened, the Exia, one of the unknowns, got in the way and used its GN Shield to push the Loto's wreckage aside. Its head then turned at the teenagers. Micott, Takuya and Audrey all looked at it with a mixed expression of relief and shock. "What…what is it?" Micott asked.
"It looks like some kind of…Gundam." said Takuya, "But its head design is so…different."
The Exia then propelled itself and clashed with the Kshatriya in beam saber combat. Marida used her mega particle cannons to push the Exia away, and tried to use her funnels; however, Setsuna again dodged most of her attacks.
"You damn annoying thing!" she shouted, and felt that she would start losing control of herself again. However, she managed to restrain from losing it again, and simply withdrew her funnels and focused on close combat.
"Setsuna, you take care of that Quad-Wing!" Lockon said, "I'll keep looking for the Key!"
The Dynames went further into the Builder as the duel between Setsuna and Marida dragged on.
As Audrey, Takuya and Micott watched the battle, a heavily damaged ReZEL approached them. Takuya waved his arms at it. The pilot, Riddhe Marcenas, noticed them and closed towards them. When he was close enough, he opened his cockpit hatch. Takuya placed his hands around his mouth, "Hey! Pilot!" he called out, "We need your help! We've been caught in the battle! Please, help us!"
Riddhe nodded at this and then noticed Audrey. 'She looks familiar,' he thought.
Setsuna's battle with Marida had by now reached the lower levels of the Colony Builder. They continued to duel, with each blow, each slash and each attack seeming almost eternal to them both. Setsuna withdrew his GN Blade and started firing his GN Rifle, but Marida used one of her binders to block his shots. Setsuna then drew one of his GN Sabers and charged at Marida. She started suppressive fire with her funnels, forcing him to stop his charge towards her and block them with his shield and evade them, giving her time to charge at her enemy. Setsuna then used his GN Rifle to shoot down two funnels, and then charged towards her. Their blades clashed and released huge amounts of energy.
Banagher suddenly found himself floating in a dark hallway, with small debris floating around him. Large pipes covered the floor and ceiling. Banagher was trembling, he feared for the worst. "Audrey…" he muttered. Suddenly, some lights in the ceiling turned on, and using them as a guide, he pushed himself forward.
He soon found himself in a huge hangar, with only one light on, which was directly on a white mobile suit. It was unlike anything he had seen before, it seemed to have been built by blocks, and its head had a large "horn". He noticed the cockpit hatch open.
'Maybe the pilot could help,' he thought. He then used his legs to push himself upwards towards the cockpit's level. As he used the mobile suit's hatch to hold himself, he found Cardeas inside, seemingly applying some maintenance to it. He gasped.
Cardeas heard him, and thinking it was Gael, he turned around; however, to his surprise, it was Banagher. "It's you…" he said. They both looked at each other, equally surprised.
"Where is Audrey?" Banagher then suddenly asked.
Cardeas returned to his work, smirking. "I'm sure she's alive." he replied, "She has literally faced death throughout her entire life."
Banagher was shocked by this statement, "You left her alone in the mansion?" he asked, outraged, "Were you planning to save yourself with this mobile suit?"
Cardeas' expression then turned to one of calmness, "Even if I did, I wouldn't last long…" he then said.
Banagher became even more irritated, and punched the hatch's walls, "What the hell is wrong with you?" he said, "You talked to me from high above the clouds, and yet you couldn't do a single thing! Audrey went to talk to you in order to prevent a war…Didn't you have the power to do that? They all had plans for tomorrow, and even next week…That wasn't…That isn't how people are supposed to die! At least my mother's death was more dignified…"
Cardeas caught this statement, and realized it was time, "Humans are different from animals…"he said, "We are supposed to care for the lives of others. But we adults have allowed too much innocent blood to be spilled. And that's not all; we ate up the Earth and began to seek an outlet in space."
He then moved towards the linear seat, using it to rest his injured body, "Now it is time that we humans regulate ourselves and regain our dignity, in order to live up to the hope that was placed upon us one-hundred years ago."
And then Banagher realized something he had heard a long time ago, and said "He holds endless possibilities, and displays his kindness and strength to the rest of the world."
He placed his right hand on his right eye, and Cardeas looked at him, with a slight smile. "Only mankind has God." Cardeas then said, and he stretched his hand towards Banagher, "A 'God' by the name of 'possibility'. A power that allows us to go above and beyond."
Banagher took Cardeas hand, and Cardeas continued, "Do you have confidence that the feelings you've followed here will not falter?"
Banagher was a little surprised at this, and Cardeas looked at him directly in the eye, "What she shoulders is not light." he said, "To walk alongside her; you must be prepared to shoulder the entire world. So, do you still wish to go?"
Banagher thought about this, and thought about Audrey. "Neither do I have confidence nor am I prepared." he stated, "I just want her to need me."
Cardeas smiled at this, and moved aside from the linear seat, "Then take this."
He then pulled Banagher and placed his hand on a small panel in front of the linear seat. The panel seemed to analyze Banagher's fingerprints, and bleeped. It then withdrew, and Cardeas helped Banagher get seated as several control panels appeared along with manual controls. "As of this moment, this unit will only listen to you." Cardeas then said, "So long as the Unicorn thinks you're suited, it will display its incomparable powers to you. And the path to the Box of Laplace will open for you."
A holographic HUD surrounded Banagher, with several holographic controls displayed as well. "Box of Laplace?" asked Banagher. Several explosions suddenly rocked the hangar outside the cockpit.
"The chain that has restrained the House of Vist for one-hundred years." Cardeas answered, "But if it's used appropriately, a ray of hope will shine upon this Universal Century."
Cardeas then felt more pain, his time was coming. "Anna…" he muttered, and Banagher knew he was referring to his mother. Cardeas moved closer towards Banagher, "She took you away from me because she didn't want you to be chained." he said as he placed his bloodied hand in Banagher's cheek, "Anna and you must hate me to the very bones. But go! Do not fear. Believe in the possibilities that lie within you. So long as you try your best, the path will reveal itself to you."
Banagher touched Cardeas hand, and a tear ran from his eye, "That's selfish of you to say now…" Banagher said.
Cardeas looked at him in the eye, with a sorrowful expression, "I hope you can forgive me." he then said. He then slowly pushed himself away from Banagher, without separating his view from him. "I wanted to talk to you for much…much longer…" he then said as he slowly got away from Banagher. He then slowly exited the cockpit, still looking at Banagher.
'Banagher…,' he then thought, 'my dream has come true, Anna.'
And then, another explosion rocked the hangar, and he was engulfed in flames. The Unicorn's hatch immediately closed as this happened. "Father!" Banagher called as this happened. Banagher was completely shocked by this revelation. He sat there for a moment, and remembered the last time he saw the Vist Mansion when he was a child.
The Unicorn's panoramic view deactivated. Banagher laid there for a moment, thinking about all that had happened. Several tears came out of his eyes, floating due to the zero-g environment. As this happened, the panoramic screen showed the same tapestry Banagher had seen at the mansion, the Lady and the Unicorn. 'To my only desire…' he thought, 'the beast of possibilities. The symbol of hope. Dad…Mother, I am sorry, but I am… heading out!'
And with that thought, he grabbed the manual controls, and the panoramic view reactivated. The Unicorn's sensors activated; its restraints broke down. He then thought about Audrey.
Audrey, Takuya and Micott were breathing pure oxygen in the space launch Riddhe had retrieved from them. Audrey heard Banagher's voice, calling out to her.
Marida slashed at the Exia, and Setsuna dodged her attack. She then felt the Princess, and stopped her attack on the Exia. Setsuna was somewhat surprised. "What the...?" he said. He then accelerated towards the Kshatriya, but Marida accelerated her own unit. Suddenly, both of their sensors picked up something behind the large curtain of smoke. And then they saw it, a white mobile suit with a large horn in its head. Marida recoiled at the sight of it, sensing something negative from it. Setsuna readied his GN Blade when he saw it. "A new Federation model?" he asked himself.
Marida started to feel intense fear. "Funnel!" she called, directing her funnels towards the white mobile suit. The funnels fired their beams at the white mobile suit, but it simply came out of the smokescreen, evading her shots. Setsuna charged at it, slashing with his GN Blade; however, the horned mobile suit blocked his blow with its right hand and pushed it towards the Kshatriya.
Marida tried to deploy her beam saber, but the white mobile suit pushed the Exia at her, and started then pushing both towards the exterior of the colony. Both Marida and Setsuna were completely caught off guard, and their units were unable to move due to being on top of each other.
Banagher, inside the white mobile suit, accelerated.
"Get out!" he shouted, "Get out of here, both of you!"
He intentionally crashed both against several pillars, intending to get them through a shaft; Marida used her funnels to destroy this hatch so that they wouldn't crash against it.
As they got through it, they reached the exterior, and the three units quickly separated. They then turned to face each other. Marida felt threatened. "Take it down!" she said, and her funnels accelerated towards the white one.
Banagher's eyes widened in fear, but then suddenly, a small screen appeared, with the letters "NT-D". The linear seat then changed its configuration, with several things grabbing his head, arms and legs and practically immobilizing him. The white mobile suit's external frame then began to glow, and its plates started to separate, revealing glowing components underneath. As Marida fired her funnels, an I-Field blocked her shots. The components inside the white mobile suit gave a reddish glow, and Marida's eyes widened in fear. In its back, two beam sabers appeared. The white one's head started to change as well; it was a sight Marida's mind had feared for her entire life.
The white one's horn was split in two, and its "face" became one of a Gundam. It was unmistakable; the "V-Fins" on its forehead, its faceplate and its sensors all indicated that it was a Gundam.
Everyone in the battlefield looked in awe, the crew of the Nahel Argama could not believe it; Setsuna was dumbfounded, "A Gundam…" he muttered; Tieria and Allelujah looked at the new Gundam, confused as to what it meant; as he exited the colony, Lockon saw the white Gundam, and his eyes widened in shock; Riddhe could not believe his eyes; and Audrey looked at it, and ominously felt somewhat threatened. "Gundam…" she muttered.
The Unicorn Gundam had appeared; the Key of Laplace. It charged towards the Kshatriya as it drew out a beam saber, its body still glowing. Two funnels tried to shoot it, but the Unicorn's beam saber cut them down and pushed the Kshatriya. Marida managed to push it back and get it off her, and proceeded to accelerate away from it; however, the Gundam matched its speed and attacked her again, cutting a binder away. Marida tried to use two more funnels, but the Unicorn cut them down again.
"That thing is built with psycoframe throughout the body?" she asked herself, shocked.
Setsuna looked at the Unicorn, "That is no Gundam." he muttered, and charged at it, drawing his two beam sabers and sparring with the Unicorn.
"There's no doubt about it." said one of the Nahel Argama's bridge personnel, "The unidentified single-horned suit transformed into a Gundam!"
"A Gundam?" exclaimed Otto, in surprise.
Marida became nervous and started to sweat. "Gundam…" she muttered, "Gundam…Gundam…is the enemy!"
And so she drew her beam saber and clashed with the Unicorn. Their fight was then interrupted when the Exia slashed at both of them with its beam sabers. The Unicorn slashed back at it, but Setsuna blocked the blow with his GN Shield; however, it was heavily damaged. The Unicorn then pushed the Exia away and cut one of the Kshatriya's binders. Marida was going berserk again, but she suddenly felt the presence of Suberoa. She quickly turned away and saw Gilboa's Geara Zulu, carrying the captain in its hand; he was waving at her to pull back. She was suddenly caught off guard, however, when the Unicorn appeared out of nowhere and tried to attack her cockpit directly; she managed to deploy her magnetic field in time, blocking his blow. Setsuna moved in and sparred with the Unicorn with his GN Blade. Marida used this opportunity and left towards the colony. Setsuna kept attacking the Unicorn, trying to hit it with his GN Blade; however, it kept dodging his attacks. Suddenly, a GN beam hit its back, it was the Dynames.
"Setsuna, we're pulling back!" he said, "That thing's too powerful!"
The Unicorn then found itself under more GN beam fire; the Kyrios and the Virtue were firing their respective weapons at it. "Let's go!" said Lockon, and with that the Meisters retreated towards the Ptolemy.
As they retreated, the Unicorn returned to its original mode, the white, single-horned mobile suit. In its cockpit, Banagher laid in the linear seat, passed out.
A Federation ReZEL approached it slowly, piloted by Commander Norm. "Attention unidentified machine, reply if you can hear me!" said Norm, "Please identify your affiliation and combat objective!"
At the Garencieres, Suberoa and Marida were meeting with Full Frontal and Angelo Sauper via video conference. Angelo, Frontal's most loyal soldier, had always seen the crew of the Garencieres (particularly Marida) as second-class soldiers. He despised them and always sought some way to make them look bad to the Commander. "A wretched fiasco, Suberoa Zimmerman." he said, in a mocking tone, "You were neither able to obtain the Box or retrieve the Princess." he said, "In addition, you were defeated by new never-before-seen mobile suits."
"None of these developments could have been foreseen." replied Suberoa, "For now we have no choice but to hear from the Princess. As for those new mobile suits…"
"Meaning you want us to sit around and do nothing?" exclaimed Angelo, angry at Suberoa.
"Lieutenant Angelo." Frontal then said. Full Frontal moved into the screen; blonde, white, tall and with a mask, the Second Coming of Char himself was now speaking to Suberoa.
"I hear that the enemies that drove off Marida were Gundams." he said, "And from what you've reported, only one seemed to be fighting for the Federation, and the rest trashed most of the Londo Bell forces in the area. That is intriguing. I might just need to go out there myself. Have the Garencieres track the movements of the Londo Bell forces, and keep an eye on the new units when they appear."
"Yes, sir." said Suberoa, "I will rectify this fiasco, even if it costs me my life."
At the Ptolemy, Sumeragi was shocked by the Unicorn's appearance. "Veda's predictions never said anything about a Gundam…" she said, "This is a mess, we were unable to find the Key, and instead we encounter a monster like that."
"Indeed it is a monster." said Lockon, "That Quad-Wing could be considered one of the most powerful mobile suits ever and yet that Gundam destroyed many of its funnels and binders."
"Then we must destroy it." said Tieria, "We cannot let a unit like that running around. It will surely prove to be a problem in our interventions."
"Isn't it strange that Veda never said anything of a new Gundam in the Federation Forces?" said Lockon, "I'm sure it wouldn't have missed something as important as that."
"What if that Gundam is the Key?" Setsuna then said. Everyone turned towards him.
"That Gundam being the Key?" retorted Lockon, "How could that be possible?"
"Well, of course!" Sumeragi then exclaimed, "The Vists needed some way to keep the real Key secure! Don't you see? They needed something to protect it. They couldn't just keep it somewhere in Industrial 7. This also confirms our suspicions, that the Key is some sort of system; perhaps that Gundam's OS itself is the Key!"
"Now that you mention it, it is quite logical." said Tieria, "After all, our Trial System is in the Virtue. It was placed there to protect the integrity of Veda."
"Then, we will have to capture that Gundam?" asked Lockon.
"If it is as we suspect, we will have to." said Sumeragi, "Right now, we can only wait to see what the Nahel Argama will do next. In the meantime, prepare yourselves for imminent combat."
The Meisters were then dismissed. As Setsuna headed to his dorm room, Lockon called him. Setsuna stopped, and Lockon reached him. "Setsuna, do not let your emotions get in the way of your performance in battle." said Lockon, "Remember that the Federation has rolled out dozens of Gundams of their own in the last two decades, so in a way, it is not strange for it to have appeared."
Setsuna held his same, stoic appearance. "I felt something from that Gundam." he then said.
Lockon arched his eyebrow, "What do you mean?"
"I sensed something negative." Setsuna replied, "As if it were seeking to completely annihilate the pilot of that Quad-Wing."
Lockon chuckled to himself, "My friend, you are starting to sound like a Newtype."
And with that, Lockon left. Setsuna kept thinking to himself. 'Only Celestial Being holds the true Gundams.' he thought, 'The Federation has always used theirs for injustice.'
The Lady and the Unicorn, a tapestry created in the Middle Ages in former France. The meaning of its content is still unclear, however, it has inspired many works in many fields, ranging from art to science. Banagher was dreaming about it, seeing himself as a child, playing the piano. He was sitting in some kind of chair, and his right eye was covered with some kind of device. As he played it, he felt several, minuscule electric shocks in his covered eye. He tried to keep playing, but eventually, the pain of the shocks drove him to the edge, and he slammed his hands on the piano's board. He then felt like sleeping, and a pair of soft hands grabbed his face and removed the device from his left eye. He saw her, his mother. Behind her was the tapestry, with the shadow of his father. He then passed out…
In the wreckage of what had been a Stanford torus colony, Riddhe's squadron cruised by. His commander was right in front of him, leading the way. Riddhe was attentively cautious with his surroundings, when he suddenly heard his radio beep.
"Riddhe, I want you to know you were lucky." the voice of Commander Norm said, "Surviving doesn't mean you're a coward. Any more than dying means you were brave. The only thing that separates the two is luck."
"Yes, Commander Norm." replied Riddhe. His monitor then bleeped, their target was in range. They had detected an incoming vessel, and Otto ordered them to inspect what it was.
"Attention, approaching vessel, you are ordered to halt immediately." said Norm by the radio, "This is the Nahel Argama of the Earth Federation Space Forces, Londo Bell. Your vessel has crossed our defensive perimeter."
Riddhe zoomed his sensors to the vessel and saw it was an old Salamis-class. "Damn terrorists!" he exclaimed.
"Wait!" Norm then said. They then saw it, the Salamis-class had its bridge completely cut off; in addition, its weapons and external hull were in terrible shape; however, its engines seemed to still be functioning.
When Otto was informed of this, he was surprised. "It's trash?" he asked.
"It appears to be a wrecked Salamis class." Norm said by the radio, "Its reserve power supply is still alive. It seems the thermal sensors misidentified it."
Everyone in the bridge was relieved, no combat for now. They all removed their normal suits' helmets and sighed. Otto put his cap back on, "Cancel the alert. Return to your stations. And recall the mobile suits."
Liam Borrinea, a Commander in the Nahel Argama, looked at Otto, "Are you sure?" she asked.
"Is there a problem?" asked Otto.
"It was just misidentified debris?" interrupted Daguza's voice by the radio.
"Yep." replied Otto, "We're lucky it wasn't an enemy out there."
"Enemies will appear, though." said Daguza, "And it it's those new units the ones that appear, we will be in a lot of trouble. Especially if they are also after the Box and think we recovered it. And if that Zeon Quad-Wing is still kicking…"
"Then there is no time to await for reinforcements." said Otto.
"Exactly." Daguza said.
Daguza was at the hangar bay of the Nahel Argama, with Conroy and an Anaheim technician. The technician had been trying to hack the security systems of the Unicorn to force it open, however, it was taking too much time. "Have you gotten open yet?" asked Daguza. The technician became nervous, "Well…" he said, "I didn't expect the system to be so resistant to outside interference."
"Meaning that you weren't told anything outside of your specific department?" asked Daguza.
"Yes." the technician answered.
This entire conversation was being heard by the bridge of the Nahel Argama. All of them, even Mihiro, was listening intently.
"Once the UC Project was placed under the Vist Foundation's jurisdiction," the technician continued, "the entire picture was never…"
And then came in Alberto Vist, the obese member of the Vist family. As he entered the bridge, he noticed what the technician was talking about and panicked. "Hey!" he said, "Enough chatter! Shut your mouth!"
One of the bridge's crew pressed a button, "This line is closed."
Alberto turned and headed towards the hangar, mad.
Meanwhile, Daguza leaned towards the technician and touched his shoulder, "What's the UC Project?"
The technician simply looked at him, but Daguza wasn't giving up. "ECOAS can't investigate this by ourselves." he then said, "If we did, then our guest from Anaheim would meddle in it as if he were the top brass."
The technician nodded, and opened several files in his portable computer, "The UC Project is a top secret program, part of the EFSF Reorganization Plan. This Unicorn is its flagship. The entire body uses psycoframe technology, which supplements the psycommu, transmitting the pilot's psycho-waves directly to the drive system."
"Which means that the pilot can control it by thought?" Daguza asked, and the technician nodded, "But the pilot's body can't really handle that, right?"
The technician turned to Daguza, "No." he answered, "But the NT-D is supposed to have a time limit of only five minutes once activated."
"This 'NT-D' is…" started asking Daguza, but then he heard an annoying, familiar voice, Alberto.
"Daguza!" Alberto shouted, struggling with the zero-g environment, "I told you that I should be present when you're interrogating rescued staff!" However, his inability to properly handle himself in this particular environment caused him to drift away.
Daguza clicked his radio, "Captain Otto," he said, "It would be wise to leave this sector with a single ship for now. Chances are the recovered Gundam has something to do with Laplace's Box! Please set a course for Luna II as soon as possible."
"That may be possible, but…" Otto trailed off.
"I agree, Captain!" meddled Alberto, "But we shouldn't go to Luna II. We should head to our Anaheim Electronics headquarters at Von Braun in the Moon."
Riddhe used a handrail, heading towards his dorm. He then heard Mihiro talking with someone. "Wait here for now." she said to someone in a room.
The same young woman who he rescued earlier came out, "You still don't know who was piloting that Gundam?" she asked.
"We don't." said Mihiro, "Apparently the cockpit hatch hasn't been opened yet."
Riddhe approached them, and called out to Audrey, "It's you!" He let go of the handrail and got close to them, "Are you alright?" he asked Audrey, who smiled at him. He smiled back, "I'm the pilot who rescued you guys." he said, "My name's Riddhe Marcenas."
"I am Audrey Burne." she then said.
"Want to check it out?" he then asked, "That Gundam."
Mihiro was a little taken aback by this, "Ensign Riddhe!" she said.
"We'll be alright, Ensign Mihiro." he retorted, "I know of a secret spot where we can sneak a look."
"That's not what I meant!" Mihiro then replied, "If you're going, I'm going."
"What?" Riddhe said, a little uncomfortable, "If it hadn't been for that Gundam, we would've been annihilated by the Zeon and the unknown types. I want to know who was piloting it too."
Despite what the Londo Bell people thought, the Ptolemy might as well had been directly behind the Nahel Argama, its GN Particles shielded it from any common detection systems, and was therefore able to travel anywhere it wanted, as long as it wasn't visually spotted. Sumeragi was studying the route of the Nahel Argama, and along with Veda, they traced the most possible route, the Moon. "So Anaheim is indeed involved in all of this." Sumeragi said, "Just like Veda predicted…"
Tieria came in, "What's our next mission?"
"Well, we still have at least two hours before the broadcast of Aeolia's message is executed." said Sumeragi, "Veda and I figured the Nahel Argama will be heading to Von Braun on the Moon."
"Well, it was, in some ways, obvious." Tieria then said, "After all, Luna II is one the other side of the Earth. If Anaheim is really trying to cover things up, they'll be willing to take the most obvious route."
"The only problem is that the Sleeves might intercept them as well." Sumeragi said, "And if that Quad-Wing is still combat effective…"
"We will destroy any enemies that get in our way." Tieria abruptly said, "We are Gundam Meisters."
Sumeragi then got a call, it was Christina. She answered, "Christina, what is it?"
"Miss Sumeragi, the Nahel Argama is firing its weapons at a Salamis class wreckage!"
Sumeragi frowned, "With this, the Sleeves will surely come." she said. She stood from her seat and headed out along with Tieria. "Tell Lockon to ready the rest of the Meisters, we are going to be engaged very soon." she said. Tieria promptly left as Sumeragi approached the bridge.
The Garencieres was quite afar from the Nahel Argama, however, Suberoa had accurately predicted that they would head towards Von Braun. Indeed, their only problem, until now, was actually detecting the ship, then again, their problems disappeared when an explosion was seen in the wreckage of a Stanford torus colony.
"Got it." said Gilboa, "Enemy's position confirmed."
"Transmit the coordinates to the Rewloola." Suberoa said, and then turned to Marida, who was standing beside him, "Then let's wait and see what they do."
At the Nahel Argama's hangar, Audrey, Riddhe, Mihiro, Takuya and Micott looked at the Gundam from a balcony. "That's a Gundam?" asked Micott.
Takuya was confused, "That's what they say, but it looks completely different." he said, "The other units, on the other hand, look much more like Gundams than this one."
Riddhe had been paying attention to Audrey for a while now, and decided to use this as his opportunity, "I feel like I've seen you somewhere before." he said.
Audrey became afraid; if they knew who she really was…
Riddhe started thinking (or rather, acting as if he were thinking…), and then said "I know!"
Audrey turned to him, ready to face the inevitable, when he suddenly said something that relieved Audrey from much stress, "Natsume Swanson, the actress! Do people tell you that you look like her?"
Mihiro frowned at this comment, this was ridiculous, Riddhe was obviously hitting on Audrey, but in a very clichéd, and somewhat disturbing way; he was 23; she was 16…but apparently, he didn't mind.
"I don't know much of the entertainment world, so…" she said. Riddhe was a little disappointed, and frowned a little. "I see…"
"Hey, Mr. Ensign!" Takuya then called. Everyone turned to where the Gundam was, and they saw that they had finally managed to open the hatch.
Down by the Unicorn, Daguza, Alberto, Conroy and the technician were all awaiting for the hatch to open completely. As it did, they all gasped in unison as they saw who had been piloting it, a 16-year old boy.
Micott gave muffled gasp, and Takuya was dumbfounded by this. "He doesn't look like a pilot!" said Riddhe.
"Really, Mr. Obvious?" retorted Mihiro, annoyed at his obvious attempts to impress Audrey. Daguza and Conroy carried Banagher out of the cockpit and took him to the medical bay.
Banagher found himself in a bed and a respirator in his mouth. He heard Haro's distinctive voice, calling his name. He then saw that Micott and Takuya were besides him, smiling. Micott was particularly happy at being with Banagher again.
"Banagher, are you okay?" asked Takuya. Banagher explored his surroundings and noticed Audrey in the medical bay's entrance.
"Audrey…" he muttered. Micott noticed this and turned towards her. Audrey just stared at him with a somewhat cold expression.
Dr. Hasan, the chief medic in the ship, entered. "Banagher, can you hear me?" he said, and he then placed his hands in Banagher's palms, "If you can hear me, squeeze my hands, okay?"
Mihiro quickly went to the nearest phone and contacted the Bridge, "The pilot has regained consciousness." she reported. As soon as she said that, Daguza and Conroy came in, with serious expressions. Everyone backed away from Banagher.
"I'd like to ask some questions to him" said Daguza, "The rest of you leave, now."
"Yes sir, but…" Mihiro tried to reply.
"At least let me finish giving him his treatment." interrupted Hasan, "He still has no idea where he is."
As Daguza heard this, he noticed Audrey. 'She looks familiar…' he thought.
"You understand he is injured, don't you?" then said Micott.
"What I understand is that this boy hijacked a military mobile suit and interfered in combat." he said, "It is a violation severe enough to warrant capital punishment, even at his age."
"Capital punishment…" said Takuya, scared at the mention of such.
"He saved us, didn't he?" said Mihiro.
"But with a stolen machine." replied Daguza.
The Rewloola was in range to intercept the Nahel Argama. Angelo was quite enthusiastic, he would finally prove himself to the captain. "We are ready to launch." he said, and then turned to the captain of the ship, "Sit here and observe, Captain." He then started to leave, intending to reach the hangar.
"This has got to be related with the Box of Laplace, right?" said the Captain, "If this secret is so important that they even sent ECOAS to recover it…"
"There's a limit to how much the Federation can mobilize in secrecy." said Angelo, "Right now, the pompous fools are most likely in arguing about how to handle this. Talks between everyone responsible who doesn't want to take responsibility…that's democracy for you."
"I hope you're right." said the Captain.
"There's no sign of reinforcements, right?" said Angelo, "I assure you."
"And what about these new units the Garencieres encountered at Industrial 7?" asked the captain, "They managed to beat Marida…"
"Marida is a weak woman who does not deserve to be a Zeon pilot. The fact that these unknowns beat her is more proof that she is just another Cyber-Newtype." Angelo said in a mocking tone, "You just see, Captain; the Commander will easily take them down if they decide to interfere."
The Captain waited until he left, and rolled his eyes, Angelo was unbearable both as a person and a soldier.
Angelo, in his pilot suit, was saluted by two of his fellow Royal Guards. He saluted them back, "The Commander will be going out today." he said, "There won't be any work for us."
They turned around, and saw the MSN-06S Sinanju, the personal mobile suit of Full Frontal. As usual, it was painted red. Its resemblance to the Sazabi was uncanny; however, it lacked the funnel weapons of its predecessor. Even so, Frontal was still able to manage himself against multiple opponents by himself in this downgraded version of the Sazabi.
"Can't say I'm convinced by that story." said Daguza after listening to what Banagher had to say, "You say Cardeas Vist just handed that thing over to a random boy like you?"
Banagher didn't say anything; he just stared at the two ECOAS soldiers.
"And did he say anything else?" asked Daguza.
"Like I said, he told me to take the mobile suit and use it to protect everyone." Banagher answered, "That's all."
Daguza and Conroy turned away, and started heading outside the medical bay. "Would you believe me if I told you he was my father?" he then whispered. Daguza and Conroy, however, heard him and turned to him, surprised. Suddenly they felt a rocking explosion.
At the bridge, the crew, caught off guard, was sent drifting across the bridge. Liam managed to grab herself by her chair, and started barking orders, "Turnabout, full speed!" she said, "Prepare to launch mobile suits!"
Mihiro, who had been the only one that managed to remain at her post, saw what was coming, four unknown units. "Captain!" she said, "Four unknowns are approaching the ship at high speed! They also seem to be jamming our communications equipment"
"What the hell?" he exclaimed, "Could it be..?"
Indeed, it was, the four new units; Exia, Dynames, Kyrios and Virtue, were all heading towards the Nahel Argama.
"Give me a damage report!" he said, "Quick!"
"Sir, it wasn't the unknowns who fired at us!" Mihiro then said.
"What?" Otto then asked, "How can that be?"
"It was missiles, sir." said Mihiro, "They're coming from the Moon's direction!"
To make matters worse for the Nahel Argama, the Rewloola had begun to fire its missiles at the Londo Bell ship.
At the Ptolemy, Christina saw the missile fire, while not hitting the Nahel Argama, it still hit the remains of the colony right next to it.
"Miss Sumeragi!" said Christina, "As you predicted, the Rewloola is commencing its attack on the Londo Bell ship!"
"Tell the Meisters that it is a go!" said Sumeragi, "Prepare for ship-to-ship combat and get the GN Missile launchers ready!"
At the Nahel Argama's bridge, Liam realized they had been set up, the Salamis class had been bait. Alberto's voice came in through the radio, "This is because it took you too long to make a decision!"
Otto got fed up by him, and ordered to cut the transmission.
"Intense heat sources approaching at high speed from the Moon." said Mihiro, "They're coming in from directly above! It's four of them!"
"Missiles?" asked Otto.
"Not likely." answered Mihiro, "Their movement is…I'd say mobile suits, but…one of them is going through the debris."
Indeed, the Sinanju was, like any other unit used by the Red Comet, "three times faster". Its AMBAC performance was also quite superb, which overall helped in it dodging the countless debris in the area. In fact, one could say he was toying with said debris, as his moves were elaborate and elegant.
"The lead unit is approaching...at three times the speed of the others!" Mihiro then reported.
"Miss Sumeragi!" shouted Christina, "A Sleeve unit is quickly approaching at the Nahel Argama. Its speed is…"
"Three times faster, I assume." completed Sumeragi, "It's as Veda predicted, the Red Comet himself has come…Tell the Meisters of the approach of this unit! Even if he isn't in a GN mobile suit, the Red Comet is… deadly, to say the least."
The Sinanju speeded towards the Nahel Argama, using its rear boosters to go at incredible speeds. "Let's see…" Frontal then said, "Let's test the performance of your new Gundam."
He then noticed something in his visual sensors, he zoomed in, and saw four mobile suits unlike anything he had never seen before. "Are these the units that fought Lieutenant Marida off?" he wondered, "Well, then, we'll take a bite from them as well."
Banagher sensed something, a presence. He felt danger, and so he quickly got out of his bed. 'Are these the same guys that attacked the colony?' Banagher wondered. (Apparently, he didn't have his facts right…it was Londo Bell who attacked first, after all…)
As this happened, Daguza and Conroy traveled through the ship, intending to head towards the bridge, when they bumped into Audrey. She graciously evaded hitting them. "Hey, you!" Daguza said, "Where do you think you are going? Put on a normal suit and head to a safe room, now!"
As he turned away, he then noticed something on Audrey's face, the eyes. 'It's her!' He thought.
"It seems that the Red Comet himself has come to the battlefield this time, Lockon." said Sumeragi via radio, "You will have to be extra cautious when trying to capture the Gundam."
"Understood." he said, and then he cut off the transmission, "Alright, guys, you heard Miss Sumeragi. It seems the big bad is here! I'll try to cover you guys while you deal with the rest."
"Roger." the other Meisters then said in unison, and they spread out.
As this happened, the Nahel Argama's CIWS weapons tried to shoot the Sinanju down; however, these little anti-air weapons were no match for the Red Comet. Frontal lowered his beam rifle's output, and aimed only at said CIWS turrets, refraining from damaging the ship any further. As he prepared to fire his missiles, he suddenly sensed something, a beam shot, directed at him. He quickly dodged it, and saw that one of the new units, the Dynames, was firing at him. "I see…" he said, "So you are Gundams, eh?" And so he fired his beam rifle.
Lockon dodged Frontal's shot and fired again; however, the Red Comet evaded his shot. "What the...?" Lockon said, "He dodged it twice!"
At the same time, Tieria fired his GN Bazooka at him; Frontal again dodged the GN beam shots. Unexpectedly, the Exia charged at him and tried to hit him with its GN Blade. Frontal, slightly surprised, easily evaded the blow and drew his own beam saber, dueling Setsuna. "So the Gundams have returned to haunt me, it seems." said Frontal, and then smirked, "But such as bulky blade won't get me that easily."
He then managed to break off from Setsuna and gave him his signature kick at the cockpit, shaking Setsuna a bit. Setsuna changed to his GN Rifle and started firing, but Frontal again evaded all of his shots. "He's fast!" Setsuna said. Allelujah came in, and started firing his GN submachine gun at the Sinanju in rapid-fire mode; however, Frontal evaded the shots and then took cover. As Allelujah prepared to transform the Kyrios, he suddenly felt a strong headache, it was the familiar sense of quantum brainwave interference. "Damn it…" he started saying, "At a time like this…"
He then turned around. Tieria fired his GN Bazooka and Cannons in unison, but only managed to destroy some debris. "These pilots are too reliant on their Gundams." said Frontal, "They are of no interest right now."
And so as if nothing, he continued to dodge the shots fired by Setsuna, Lockon and Tieria, all the while he eliminated the rest of the Nahel Argama's CIWS defenses.
Banagher finished getting dressed up and exited his room, when Riddhe passed by him. He then spotted a little watch floating by. He grabbed it and called at Riddhe, "Hey, you! Pilot!"
Riddhe turned around and saw Banagher waving his watch at him. Riddhe smiled, "Thanks!" He then headed towards Banagher, who then handed over his little watch. "You're awake, I see." Riddhe said, "Thanks, this little thing might save my life. This is my good luck charm. You stay here and rest up. There's nothing for you to do right now. We'll protect our own ship by ourselves this time!"
As he left, his expression was one of annoyance, 'A kid like that in control of a Gundam…' he thought.
Banagher looked on as Riddhe was leaving, when he heard Audrey's familiar voice calling him from behind. She approached him, and pushed him into his room. "Banagher, listen to me…" she said, "That machine is registered to your biometric data which means it can't operate without you."
"That's what I was told, but…how do you know that?" he said.
She looked at him directly in the eye, "Escape with me."
Outside, Frontal managed to destroy the main mega particle cannon of the Nahel Argama.
Setsuna drew one of his GN Sabers and charged at the Sinanju. Trying to cut the Sinanju's beam rifle, Setsuna slashed with his beam saber at it, but Frontal simply evaded his attack and then responded again with his own beam saber. Lockon tried to take advantage of this to shoot the Sinanju down, but somehow Frontal anticipated this move and instead kicked the Exia again, managing to evade Lockon's sniping shot. "Damn it!" exclaimed Lockon, "This guy is nothing but trouble!"
As all of this happened, Conroy and Daguza were at the main computer terminals of the Nahel Argama. Conroy was browsing the Federation's military network, researching the members of the Principality of Zeon's elite. "As long as they think we have the Box," Daguza said, "they'll try to neutralize our ship without hitting the engines. As for those unknowns…"
"I still find it hard to believe that there are mobile suits like that." Conroy said. He finally found what he was looking for, and gasped.
Daguza narrowed his eyes, "This ship is carrying something almost as important to them as the Box."
Audrey turned to her sides, checking if anyone was around. "If we go now, we can get away," she said, "We can go back to Industrial 7. You sneak into a cargo ship, get to another Side, and go into hiding. And I'll figure out some way to dispose of that machine."
"Audrey…" Banagher muttered.
"If we don't," said Audrey in a grim tone, "That thing is just too dangerous. I can't let anyone get their hands on it."
Banagher then suddenly grabbed Audrey's shoulders, "Wait a minute…"
"I'll explain it to you later!" she interrupted him.
"If you won't tell me anything, how can you expect me to agree with you?" he said, "Don't try to sway me by talking like that. It's not fair."
He then looked on, with a somewhat melancholic expression, but then he looked into Audrey's eyes, "What do you want to do?" he then asked, "Don't tell me what you should do. Tell me what you want. Tell me what you truly want to do. And then I…"
Audrey seemed to think about this, but Banagher's door suddenly opened, and Daguza and Conroy came in, in full ECOAS suits. Conroy pushed Banagher aside while Daguza grabbed Audrey by one of her arms. "You know why I'm here?" Daguza then said, looking directly at Audrey. She looked at him coldly, and followed Daguza as he escorted her to the bridge. Banagher tried to get to her, but Conroy blocked his path.
"Catapult hatches one through four open!" reported Mihiro, "Mobile suit corps, get into launching positions!"
A ReZEL was positioned in each of the catapult launchers. Riddhe saw the unknowns, and remembered that they had killed many of his comrades. He then noticed he was being hailed by one of his comrades, Homare. "Are you getting scared, little man?" Homare asked.
"Nah," responded Riddhe, "but I heard a squeak in your voice just now, Lieutenant Homare."
Homare chuckled at this, "There you go, trying to start something."
The four ReZELs then launched in consecutive order, with Commander Norm taking lead.
Tieria saw the ReZELs launching. "Virtue, Tieria Erde, eliminating waverider-type Londo Bell weapons." he declared, and he fired his Bazooka and Cannons in unison. Despite being a large burst, the three Londo Bell pilots managed to barely evade this attack.
"What the hell is up with this firepower?" exclaimed Homare.
"It's the same bastard that killed our comrades back in Industrial 7!" shouted Riddhe, and he charged at the Virtue, firing his beam rifle at it.
"GN Field!" declared Tieria, and the Virtue was suddenly covered with GN Particles, blocking the beam rifle shots of Riddhe's ReZEL.
"What the hell?" said Riddhe, "Some kind of I-Field?"
As this happened, the fourth ReZEL was immediately shot down by Frontal, who was also dueling Setsuna at the time. The ReZEL's explosion caused extensive damage on the Nahel Argama's port side catapult.
As Mihiro reported this to the captain, Alberto came in, suited up. "Get out of here and go to the Moon right now!" he said. Otto frowned at his presence.
"Mr. Alberto," said Liam, "it's dangerous for you to be here!"
Alberto ignored her and pointed at Frontal's mobile suit, "That's the Sinanju!" he said, "The Red Comet! There's no way you can defeat it!"
Otto became somewhat afraid at this, but managed to refrain from expressing such fear.
"Two years ago, our experimental mobile suit MSN-06S was stolen by the Neo-Zeon while it was being transferred from Granada to Von Braun. We sent two Clop class cruisers to retrieve it, but instead they were wiped out in less than three minutes! The main culprit was Full Frontal, what many call the 'Second Coming of Char Aznable' the Red Comet."
As if hearing Alberto's comments, Frontal managed to push Setsuna off yet again and proceeded to use his beam rifle to literally cut off one of the launch catapults. As its explosion rocked the Nahel Argama, Liam turned to Otto. "I've heard similar rumors." she said, "'The Ghost of Char', who destroyed two Federation Forces ships with one mobile suit." Another explosion shook the bridge of the Nahel Argama.
"But Char went missing at the end of the Second Neo-Zeon War." Otto replied.
"Anyway, we can't expect to beat him with conventional mobile suits!" said Alberto, and he then headed towards Mihiro and handed over a small diskette with the Anaheim logo, "The Unicorn was made using data collected with the Sinanju. We've got to get out of here now!"
"If we run away, we'll be open for an attack from behind!" said Otto, "Transfer this data to each block of the ship! To the mobile suits as well! Tell them to use it to shoot that thing down!"
Alberto turned to Otto, enraged, "You're an idiot without a clue!"
"And you're the last person I want to hear from it!"
Suddenly, Daguza and Conroy came in with Audrey. Daguza was wielding his handgun.
Setsuna continued to try to get Full Frontal, but the ReZELs that had just launched were hampering his efforts to shoot the Sinanju down. Suddenly, the Kyrios came in, shooting its beam rifle at the ReZELs. "Setsuna, keep the Red One off!" Allelujah said, "We must wait for the Unicorn to come out!"
"Roger that!" replied Setsuna, and he continued to pursue Frontal.
Meanwhile, Riddhe drew his beam saber and tried to cut the Virtue down, but Tieria drew his own GN saber and blocked Riddhe's blow. "Damn you!" Riddhe said, "You killed all of my comrades back in Industrial 7!" He then started to fire his Vulcans at the Virtue's head, but its armor absorbed the impacts.
Tieria just looked at the ReZEL. "Pathetic." he said, and he drew another beam saber, cutting Riddhe's beam rifle. Riddhe backed off, and Tieria fired his GN Cannons at him.
Meanwhile, Norm and Homare were still trying to shoot Frontal and Setsuna down; however, Frontal evaded their shots while Setsuna blocked them with his GN Shield, returning fire with his GN Rifle. Homare then saw the Dynames resuming fire, and realized too late where it was heading.
"Galom, below you!" he said; however, the Dynames GN beam pierced right through the Galom's Stark Jegan's cockpit, destroying it.
"Who the hell are these guys?" exclaimed Norm.
Not too far away, the Royal Guard, composed of customized Geara Zulus, was on standby. These custom Zulus, with elegant ornaments and colors, were armed with a "Bruno Gun". Leading them was a purple one, which was Angelo's personal unit. Angelo looked at the distant battlefield with a look that could only be described as one of 'love'. Sergi, one of Guards, hailed him, "Lieutenant Angelo." he said, "There are multiple enemies. We should at least provide some cover."
Angelo simply smirked at this, "No, we need only to standby, Ensign Sergi." he replied, "We'd only get in the Commander's way."
"But sir!" Sergi then said, "Some of those are the new units! We should help him!"
"As you can see, Ensign Sergi," replied Angelo, "He is capable of handling himself because he is a perfect pilot. These unknowns are just a bunch of weaklings."
The three-way battle continued, as Norm and Homare continued to fire their beam rifles at both Frontal and the Meisters. Riddhe transformed into waverider mode and started chasing the Kyrios. As he transformed to cut the Gundam down, Allelujah made a spin and dodged Riddhe's blast; he then managed to get behind Riddhe and destroy both of his ReZEL's legs. At the same time, Frontal destroyed one of the ReZELs' legs. The ReZEL backed off from its pursuit of Frontal, while Setsuna started firing his GN Rifle once more. Lockon started focusing on the remaining Londo Bell Jegans, shooting them down.
Riddhe saw this and frowned, "At this rate, we'll all be…"
And then suddenly, Daguza's voice came out of the radio, even the Meisters and the Ptolemy heard it, as it was in an open channel, "Attention, all attacking units from Neo-Zeon, do you read me?" Daguza said, "Cease fire immediately. We are holding Mineva Zabi captive aboard this ship."
Riddhe gasped at this, and his eyes widened in surprise.
"I repeat, we are holding the Zabi heir, Mineva Lao Zabi, captive aboard this ship." Daguza continued, "If you do not cease your attacks immediately, we cannot guarantee your safety."
Everyone was shocked to see who it was, the girl that had called herself 'Audrey Burne' was actually the Princess of Zeon.
"We are prepared to begin negotiations," said Daguza, "and await your wise response."
Even the Meisters had stopped fighting, as they very well knew who she was. Lockon was pissed, "Damn ECOAS!" he said, "Using civilians as hostages!"
Frontal and Setsuna stopped their battle, and Frontal checked the video feed sent by Daguza. He then saw her, the unmistakable hair, the green eyes and facial structure, it was indeed Mineva Lao Zabi.
"I have verified the image." he said, "I am Commander Full Frontal of Neo Zeon. Let's hear your demands."
At the Nahel Argama's bridge, everyone suddenly felt a sense of dread that they had not felt in their entire lives, Full Frontal's voice was exactly like that of Char Aznable. Otto's eyes widened, realizing that the rumors were true.
"This is Commander Daguza Mackle of the Earth Federation Space Force Special Operations Group, ECOAS." Daguza then replied, "We're requesting you cease all attacks immediately and withdraw from this area. If you do, we will guarantee the safety of Mineva Zabi."
"So we can't have her back?" said Frontal.
"It's negotiable," replied Daguza, "but only after our ship has reached a safe location."
"Then you're not holding her captive," said Frontal, "but rather hostage. Besides, we have no real proof that this is the Princess."
"Rather timid, for a man called the Second Coming of the Red Comet." replied Daguza.
"From your narrow point of view, we're merely terrorists." said Full Frontal, "Any group unrecognized as military and unprotected by international law must be cautious."
"We have the highest regard for human rights." said Daguza.
"That's quite a statement coming from those who send Special Forces into civilian colonies." replied Full Frontal, "Furthermore; you are using hostages as shields."
Daguza was a little taken aback by this, he was obviously aware of what they were doing, but the way Full Frontal said it was…
"Now it's our turn to make some demands." Full Frontal then said, "I request to hand over the materials you collected from Industrial 7 and all data pertaining the Box of Laplace."
Everyone in the bridge gasped, it was an impossible demand. No one wanted to see the Federation be overthrown, especially not the members of ECOAS and Anaheim Electronics. However, Daguza had to seriously consider the offer, the lives of everyone in the ship were at stake.
"In exchange?" he asked in a very grim tone.
"We'll guarantee safe passage." responded Full Frontal in a reassuring tone, "Unless, of course, you object to that agreement."
"I have no objections," replied Daguza, "but I am simply unable to comply. We don't have anything related to the Laplace's Box."
"Didn't you recover a Gundam type mobile suit?" Frontal then asked.
"That is property of the Earth Federation Space Forces." responded Daguza, "It has nothing to do with the Box."
"If you can't accept our demands," said Frontal, "we'll be forced to destroy your vessel."
Everyone gasped in fear, but Daguza and Conroy remained firm, they were unable to show any fear towards the enemy.
"You would ignore the life of our captive?" Daguza then asked.
"We can't conduct negotiations on an uncertain factor." Full Frontal then said, "So I'll give you three minutes. I hope you'll have come to a wise decision."
As soon as he said this, however, the Dynames and Kyrios began shooting at Frontal.
"As if we'll let you!" shouted Lockon. Frontal quickly dodged his shots, but was taken a little surprised by this; however, as usual he remained relatively calm. Drawing his beam rifle, he fired at the Dynames.
Lockon managed to block his shot with one of his small shoulder shields, but this small window allowed Frontal to draw his beam saber and charge at the Dynames; however, a huge GN beam got in his way, and the heat undid some of the red painting in the frontal side of the Sinanju. To make matters worse for Frontal, Setsuna appeared behind him and tried to cut him with his GN Blade; however, Frontal quickly turned around and blocked his blow with his shield. He then tried to hit the Exia with his beam saber, but Setsuna blocked his blow with his blade.
Lockon then aimed his GN Sniper Rifle at Frontal. However, Frontal had already anticipated this and instead ejected his two boosters, detonating them and blinding Lockon's line of sight. Frontal then pushed Setsuna away and flew towards the Virtue. Tieria saw him and fired his GN Cannons, but Frontal dodged his shots and withdrew his beam saber; he then drew his beam rifle and tried to destroy Tieria's GN Cannons, but Tieria quickly deployed his GN Field and blocked his shots in the nick of time.
Allelujah then tried to close in on him, but he suddenly started to feel a headache, much worse than the previous one. He started crying in pain, hearing an all-too familiar voice in his head, 'Let me get this guy,' it said, 'You'll only get killed if you don't let me take over.'
However, Allelujah shook his head, "I won't let you take over again!" he said, and turned around to the Ptolemy.
"Allelujah!" called Lockon, "What the hell are you doing? The operation isn't over yet!"
However, Allelujah flew off, without saying a word.
Frontal, on the other hand, smiled. "It seems the pilot of the waverider type is mentally damaged." he said, "I would guess he was in one of the Newtype Labs."
He then flew to the thickest area of debris, turning his engines off and hiding as the Meisters tried to find him.
The crew of the Nahel Argama watched this with awe. Daguza however, was only slightly affected.
"Frontal is bluffing." he then said, "He wouldn't forsake the guiding star of the Zeon remnants."
Mineva then turned to him, "I don't know about that…" she said. Everyone turned towards her, confused. She then gave a slightly devious smile, "If full Frontal is really Char Aznable," she then started saying, "he'd be the son of Zeon Deikun. There's no reason an enemy of the Zabi family would care about their descendants." Everyone stared at her, thinking that she was either insane or simply disregarded her own life.
Daguza looked at her, "The way you say it makes me believe you're the real Mineva Zabi." he then said, drawing his gun and putting it directly in Mineva's right side of her head. She turned her eyes towards to Daguza's small radio, and noticed it was still on, as she had expected. Daguza, however, continued staring at her, with his finger ready on the trigger, "And I'm certain a good number of those Sleeve soldiers believe in the Zabi family." he then said.
"If you truly believe that," she said, "then continue with these useless negotiations. But the soldiers of Zeon don't play as nicely as you do. If you were a Zeon soldier, you'd be figuring out how to dispose of anything related to the Laplace's Box."
Alberto's eyes then widened, "She's right!" he exclaimed, "We should destroy the Unicorn's electronic systems while we have the chance." He then approached Daguza, "That thing is the key, isn't it?" he said, "It's not the actual Box, so if we destroy it, the safety of the Box will-"
However, Conroy suddenly grabbed him from behind and covered his mouth. He then signaled Daguza at his radio, and saw that the comm link was still open. Mineva turned towards Daguza, with a defying look, "Show me the pride of a Federation soldier," she then said, "Commander Daguza Mackle. If you have the nerve, then destroy the Key and kill me as well. Losing the key and me will undoubtedly deal a blow to Neo Zeon. Otherwise, you can keep doing nothing and let them take everything from you. There is no time to delay."
Daguza just stared at her, and prepared to pull the trigger…
"Audrey!" then a voice called. Everyone turned to the bridge's entrance, and saw Banagher there. "You can't talk like that." he said, approaching Audrey, "You're backing everyone into a corner, including yourself." She looked at him surprised, and Banagher tried to grab Mineva's hand, but she backed it off.
She then looked at him with a serious expression, "I am Mineva Zabi." she then said.
"You're Audrey!" he replied, "Whether it's your real name or not, to me you're still Audrey Burne!" Daguza then got in his way, "Enough! This is no time for children arguing."
"'Children?'" Banagher then asked, "What about Audrey?"
"She's a Neo Zeon dignitary." he replied.
"But if I'm just a kid, Audrey is too!" Banagher then said, "And now you're holding this kid hostage! Is that how adults behave?"
This last comment silenced the bridge, everyone felt ashamed of themselves. The Federation was supposed to be righteous, noble, but so far, ECOAS had shown a different side, one that had not been seen since the days of the Titans, oppressive, a complete disregard for life, and destructive.
"Time's up." Frontal's voice then said, "Let's hear your answer."
Again, silence, no one knew what to do. Otto tried to say something, to buy some more time, but he just couldn't come up with anything.
As this happened, Lockon heard Frontal's transmission. He opened a channel to the Ptolemy. "Feldt, get me the red mobile suit's location ASAP!" he said.
"Roger." replied Feldt, "Using sonogram to determine the location of the MSN-06S Sinanju." Feldt started scanning the area with the Ptolemy's sonogram, which was quite similar to those used by submarines.
As this happened, the silence in the Nahel Argama's bridge continued, no one knew what to do. Banagher turned his head, as if trying to see if anyone would say anything.
"Understood." Full Frontal's voice said, "Now we'll destroy your vessel."
As soon as he said this, the entire bridge crew started working on their controls.
"Here it comes!" shouted Otto, "Anti-air defenses, ready! Mobile suits, prepare to intercept!"
"And what about the unknowns?" asked Liam.
"They seem to be more occupied attacking Char than us." Otto said, "If they interfere, attack them!"
Banagher looked to the floor, with a frustrated expression, 'It's only a box,' he thought. And he then got fed up with all of this, and turned to Daguza and Alberto, "Why don't you hand it over to them?" he then asked, "We don't even know what it is. Why do so many people have to die for it?"
Daguza looked at him directly, "So would you take responsibility?", he asked.
Banagher looked at him, and refrained from answering.
"They say that whatever is in Laplace's Box," said Daguza, "could overthrow the Federation. If you give that to Neo Zeon, and even more lives are lost, then how do you intend to apologize to the dead and their families?"
Banagher was again more frustrated, he knew how difficult the situation was. He gulped, trying to think what to do now.
Daguza handed over his radio to Conroy, "Continue.", he then said.
Conroy caught the radio and clicked it, "Cease fire immediately!" he then said, "Otherwise we will execute Mineva Zabi. This is not an empty threat. Cease your attacks at once!"
The ship shook as a beam hit another mega particle cannon of the ship.
Lockon saw the blast, but was unable to locate the origin of the beam.
"Damn!" he exclaimed, "Where is he?" Feldt suddenly appeared in his screen.
"We have found the Sinanju." said Feldt, "It is currently moving behind one of the former residential sectors of the colony forty-five degrees to above you."
"Thanks, Feldt." replied Lockon, "Well, let's see if we can hit Mr. Char now, Haro."
"Good luck! Good luck!" Haro said. Lockon then spotted something in the distance, there were at least eight Geara Zulus far away, immobile. Lockon zoomed in, and saw they were just there, as if observing. "Why aren't those moving..?" he wondered as he headed to where Frontal was supposed to be.
At the bridge, Banagher became more and more frustrated. He placed his palm on his cheek, thinking of what he could do. And then he came up with something.
"If we take down that red mobile suit," he said, "then you won't need Audrey as a hostage, right? I'll do it!"
And with that, he headed towards the bridge's exit. Daguza, Alberto and Audrey looked as he left, perhaps he was their best chance.
Riddhe fired his linear rifle at Frontal, but he was then interrupted when the Virtue arrived and fired at him. He then started firing the linear rifle at the Virtue, but the Gundam's GN Armor absorbed the impacts. Riddhe turned towards the Virtue, enraged.
"Withdraw!" he said, "Get out! If it weren't for you we wouldn't be…"
Suddenly, Frontal kicked Riddhe from behind, and was about to stab him with his beam saber when the Dynames fired its GN Sniper Rifle at Frontal, who evaded the shot again. Riddhe turned around and started firing his beam cannon at Frontal, "Trying to play hostage games with a bunch of terrorists!"
His constant babbling distracted him from Frontal's maneuvers; he dodged every single shot of his and drew his beam rifle, aiming it directly at Riddhe's cockpit. Riddhe panicked and tried to move out of firing range, but his unit's lack of legs impeded optimal AMBAC mobility. Just then, in the nick of time, Norm began firing his own beam rifle at Frontal, who blocked the shots with his shield. Norm then drew his own beam saber and charged towards Full Frontal, who did likewise. They both clashed in beam saber combat, as their saber released energy from the impact.
Norm hailed Riddhe, "Ensign Riddhe!" he said, "Get a grip!" This distracted Norm from Frontal's attack, who cut off Norm's right arm and then proceeded to slash off the ReZEL's head and wing binders off. Following that, Frontal then impaled the ReZEL directly in its chest. The ReZEL exploded as a result, and the only thing left of it was one of the wing binders that had been cut off. Riddhe could only look as despair as his beloved commander, who had helped him become a member of Londo Bell, die.
With a smirk, Frontal then proceeded directly to Riddhe's ReZEL. By now, Riddhe had become enraged. "You bastard!" he said, and he drew his beam saber and charged at Frontal. However, he suddenly sensed something familiar, and quickly turned to his left; Frontal did the same. Frontal then accelerated backwards, and Riddhe became confused. He zoomed his sensors to the Nahel Argama, and saw the Unicorn being launched by one of the catapults.
As Mihiro reported this, Alberto seemed to come back from somewhere. Daguza noted this and quickly punched him. "You bastard!" he said, "How dare you?"
"It was a necessary evil!" said Alberto, "The Unicorn's performance is rock solid. Even a novice pilot with no experience and no training can buy us enough time to get us out of here. I doubt that even those new units can beat it!" Daguza punched him again.
"You're practically giving away the Box!" Daguza exclaimed.
"But that's only the key!" replied Alberto, "If the key is open, the Box will never open and the Federation's interests will be protected!"
Daguza narrowed his eyes and looked at Alberto directly.
Alberto smirked, "He'll fight for us and won't quit until the Unicorn is destroyed." he said, and then pushed Daguza way. He then approached one of the communication computer panels. He pressed a button, hailing the Unicorn, "You can hear me, can't you, Banagher?" he said, "You already know how to initiate the system, don't you?"
Audrey got closer to the monitors and looked at the Unicorn. 'Banagher, don't do this!' she thought.
Meanwhile, Banagher prepared the mobile suit controls as he heard Alberto explain the features of the Gundam, "That pilot suit has a system that pharmacologically reduces the strain on the body from G resistance." said Alberto, "Once the NT-D is activated, it'll work automatically."
"NT-D?" asked Banagher.
"That's the mode in which the Unicorn's limiter is disengaged." replied Alberto, "You've handled it before. You'll be fine."
Banagher finished preparing the controls, and grabbed the levers, "Preparations for launch complete!" he said. He then closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and reopened his eyes, "Detaching!" he then exclaimed.
The Unicorn was then launched, and as soon as it left the catapult, a long range GN beam burst hit the launch catapult, destroying it. Banagher turned to see if the ship had not been hurt, and was relieved. However, he then saw the Virtue, and so, with his Beam Magnum in hand, he aimed at the unknown Gundam. He fired one shot, whose recoil pushed the Unicorn back considerably. Tieria saw this and quickly dodged it. "What the hell?" he exclaimed. However, Banagher had done what he intended; to fend the unknowns away. His sensors then detected the Sinanju, far away. He fired another Beam Magnum round, hitting an asteroid near Full Frontal. The Sinanju was pushed a little, but it wasn't hit; the asteroid, however, was completely pulverized. "Amazing…" said Banagher.
"What the hell is up with that Gundam's firepower?" exclaimed Lockon, who then started firing at Frontal, taking advantage of his enemy's exposure. He fired his GN Sniper Rifle twice, but again failed to hit the Sinanju; it was just too fast. "At this rate, I might as well stop being the one snipes beyond the stratosphere!" he exclaimed, firing another shot.
Banagher fired yet another round, which was dodged by Frontal with ease. Banagher fired two more times, and the shot reached the Royal Guard's position; Sergi's mobile suit was grazed by it, but it was still destroyed. Angelo got shocked by this. "It only grazed him…" he said. As this happened, Frontal continued to dodge every shot fired by Banagher, who was by now using his second E-Cap magazine.
Banagher began to pursue, and Angelo saw this. "Commander!" he shouted, and aimed his Bruno Gun at the Unicorn. He fired three times, but the Unicorn dodged all of his shots. Angelo's expression became one of utter disappointment, "I can't believe it." he said, "I've ruined the Commander's perfect battlefield!"
He then looked at the Unicorn, with his eyes filled with rage, "You made me shoot!"
He then tried to fire another round, but his Bruno gun was unexpectedly destroyed, the Exia had spotted them and fired its GN Rifle twice. Angelo and the Guard dodged Setsuna's shots, and so Setsuna deployed his GN Blade and cut down one of the Royal Guards.
At the same time, Banagher continued his pursuit of Frontal. He was panting, but he continued to focus. "Gotta keep calm." he told himself. And then, he had another vision of the tapestry; of himself in the piano. He shrugged this off as some kind of combat fatigue and placed the next E-Cap magazine on the Beam Magnum, accelerating as he did. He searched for the Sinanju, and spotted, again, far away. He fired the Beam Magnum continuously, but failed to hit him at all. Suddenly, he lost the Sinanju's signal. As he again tried to search it, his sensors picked up a high-speed heat source directed at him, and barely managed to dodge Frontal's beam rifle shot. Some of the Royal Guards joined in, firing their Bruno Guns and machine guns at him.
Banagher ignored them and continued to direct his fire at Frontal, who simply dodged each shot with ease and elegance.
"As usual," he said, "it doesn't matter how powerful they are, if they can't hit me!"
He then drew his beam saber, and accelerated towards the Unicorn. Banagher started to panic, screaming in terror as the Red Comet approached him in high speeds. Unexpectedly, the Unicorn's thrusters activated on their own, and Frontal barely missed his slash as the Unicorn moved above him, far away. Banagher looked at the linear seat, "You moved for me?" he said, but he was interrupted by the Dynames, which fired its rifle at the Unicorn. The GN Beam reached the Unicorn, but Banagher quickly deployed his shield, which blocked the beam with an I-Field. Frontal was surprised by this feature. "I-Field, eh?" he said.
The Unicorn then clipped the last E-Cap magazine into the Beam Magnum and started firing at the Sinanju, which once again dodged every single shot. In the last shot, Frontal ejected his remaining boosters, and dodged the shots, however, the boosters were hit, exploding.
Banagher's eyes widened in surprised, "I did it?", he wondered.
However, his hopes for success were dashed when the Sinanju appeared right beside him, and it kicked the Unicorn directly in the cockpit. The kick pushed the Unicorn back towards a nearby asteroid, and the impact caused Banagher to bleed through the nose. Frontal then drew his beam saber yet again, and in a fencing position, charged at the Unicorn, intending to impale it directly in the cockpit.
'Audrey,' Banagher then thought, and his cockpit started to glow. The linear seat changed its configuration, and the monitors started to glow a crimson color. The Unicorn started to morph, with its armor revealing the psycoframe beneath it, its head changing, its horn becoming a V-Fin, and two beam sabers emerging from its back, the Unicorn Gundam had changed from modes. It then quickly evaded Frontal's attack, whose beam saber instead struck the asteroid. Frontal turned around and saw the Unicorn go at incredible speeds. Frontal moved from the asteroid and began searching for it. After a few moments, he saw it coming straight at him. Both units matched each other's speed, and the Unicorn began firing its head Vulcans. Frontal dodged the shots.
However, instead of running away, he instead turned around, pushed himself by using an asteroid, and charged at full speed against the Unicorn, clashing with it with his beam saber. "So," said Frontal, "it seems the Gundams will not leave me alone at all."
"Withdraw now!" shouted Banagher, "If you don't withdraw from here, then Audrey will…" They then separated, and Frontal moved away.
At the same time, Setsuna finished cutting down the Royal Guard, forcing most of them to retreat. Angelo, enraged, charged at him, but Setsuna simply cut off its arms and kicked him away. He then saw the Unicorn engaging the Sinanju in the distance. "Target has been sighted." he said, "Proceeding with capture!"
And he accelerated towards the battle. Lockon continued to fend off Homare and some other Royal Guards that were left. "We leave what's left to you, Setsuna." he said, as he shot down another Royal Guard.
Setsuna went full speed against the Unicorn. Banagher saw him and fired the Vulcans at him, but Setsuna used his GN Shield and blocked the shots. Banagher then saw the Sinanju and fired his Beam Magnum's reserve shot, grazing it and destroying one of its legs. Suddenly, the Unicorn charged at the Sinanju at full speed, not realizing that the Kshatriya, still badly damaged deployed its funnels and blocked his path. Banagher gasped, evading the funnel shots. The Kshatriya charged at him and Banagher tried to block it with his shield, but Marida used one of her binders and pushed it away. She then grabbed the Unicorn by its arms.
Setsuna saw this, "That Quad-Wing again?" he exclaimed.
The Unicorn fired its Vulcans at her, but the bullets simply bounced off the Kshatriya's heavy armor. Marida proceeded then to punch at the Unicorn directly in the cockpit, and Banagher, already feeling agitated by the G strain, spit up blood. Setsuna tried to intervene, deploying his beam sabers and accelerating towards the battle, but Marida, anticipating this, used her funnels to block his path.
Riddhe tried to head towards the fight, but the Virtue fired its GN Cannons at him, forcing him to dodge. As Riddhe tried to effectively move, he then heard Banagher's voice on the radio, "Audrey, I'm sorry…"
Banagher, in his cockpit, passed out, and the NT-D was instantly deactivated.
Marida looked at it, "Why is that boy inside a Gundam?" she wondered.
"Much appreciated, Lieutenant Marida Cruz." Full Frontal then said through the radio.
Setsuna again tried to charge at her, but Marida deployed her funnels and blocked his path as she, Frontal and the remaining Royal Guards began retreating. Setsuna looked on, feeling as a failure.
Riddhe punched his panel in frustration. "Damn it!" he exclaimed.
The crew of the Nahel Argama looked in horror, and heard Banagher's voice, repeatedly saying, "I'm sorry, Audrey…"
Fed up with all of this, Mineva left the bridge in a cold manner, however, deep in her heart, she felt guilty over everything that had happened; she felt guilty over his capture, as she felt she had dragged Banagher into this conflict.
As the Unicorn was taken to the Rewloola, the cockpit's panoramic screen faded to black. Suddenly, huge amounts of data appeared, and three large characters appeared in the screen, La+…
Two hours later. Mineva was sitting in her room's bed as she was closely watched by a security camera. Riddhe came in, and the camera was turned off. Mineva turned and saw him enter. She looked at him with a cold expression.
He slowly approached her, with a disgusted expression in his face, "As a child, I remember seeing a Zabi family speech on TV…" he said, "Sieg Zeon, Sieg Zeon…It was a terrifying image. Thousands of people were shouting that in unison, incited by your uncle, Gihren Zabi."
Mineva kept staring at him, coldly. Riddhe's expression became more enraged, "I guess you, Neo Zeon, still do now." he said, "Sieg Zeon…GO AHEAD AND SAY IT NOW!"
Mineva wasn't intimidated, she just kept staring at him, to her, he was an overgrown, immature child. Riddhe was a little embarrassed and turned away, but he still held an expression of disgust, "Convince me that you're really the Princess of Zeon." he said, "Otherwise…Why did someone like Mineva Zabi slip aboard a Federation ship all by herself?"
He then turned towards her, in a somewhat scoffing tone; he said "Well, the professionals will find that out from you."
He then approached the room's exit, and looked at the door. "One thing you should remember, though," he said, "he was calling your name to the very end. 'Audrey', 'Audrey'."
Mineva looked away, "You don't understand a thing." she then said, causing Riddhe to turn back his head towards her, "And who could these 'professionals' be, I wonder…"
"We have official investigators." he quickly replied.
Mineva turned towards him, "Don't fool yourself." she said, "They'll never bring this to any judicial authorities. Nor will my presence be made public."
Riddhe arched his eyebrow, and Mineva continued, "Full Frontal stubbornly refused to accept that I am actually Mineva Lao Zabi. Why do you think that is?"
"That was just to negate our hostage tactics." he replied.
"Think about it and you'll see." she said, "How have I managed to avoid being captured for almost ten years? And how has Neo-Zeon once again been able to have bases around the Earth Sphere and build up its armaments?"
Riddhe's eyes widened, "You're saying there were backdoor dealings?" he asked.
"The incident in Industrial 7 will disappear from your new report; the unknowns' appearance will be refuted as some kind of urban legend; and it won't be easy for the families and friends of those who died to forgive it." she then said, "But we spacenoids have long been accustomed to these kinds of outrages. And the Federation has allowed us to exist as a scapegoat to their anger and frustration. At least, now…"
Riddhe's eyes widened even further, "Laplace's Box has upset the balance?" he asked.
"The Federation might be taking steps to resolve its relationship with Neo Zeon once and for all." she said, "That's why the Vist Foundation offered its precious Box."
Riddhe turned towards one of the holographic pictures of Mount Fuji in the room's walls.
"Sounds complicated." he said, "I am a pilot; I've always thought myself as being as such. I only followed my orders and completed missions. I knew there was corruption, but I believed that that the Federation had the ability to eventually correct itself. Except I was wrong, I was just trying not to see it; not to think about it; ever since I was with my family."
He turned towards Mineva, with a much more sympathetic expression, "Why have you acted alone?" he then asked. Mineva turned away, looking at the floor, "I too was born into a certain family." she said, "The family that shouldered the blame of the One Year War. I cannot consider myself separate from politics. And if the same mistakes are about to be repeated, I am obligated to prevent it, at the cost of my life."
Suddenly, a guard came in, with a shocked expression.
"Riddhe!" he said, "You better come look at this!"
Riddhe excused himself and followed the guard towards another room with a television set. They were seeing a broadcast of the unknowns' intervention at Industrial 7.
"What the hell?" one of the Federation soldiers exclaimed, "I thought no one was supposed to know about this!"
The anchorwoman appeared, "I repeat, four unknown mobile suits were spotted in Industrial 7," she said, "attacking both Federation and Neo Zeon forces that were engaged in combat. It is unknown which faction they represent. Federation officials have denied knowledge of the incident."
Riddhe then thought about what Audrey, had told him about the cover-up, and felt disappointed. The anchorwoman then appeared to receive a paper from someone. As she read it, she gasped. "Breaking news." she said, "We have just received a video from someone claiming to be responsible for these intervention. I must clarify now that this network is in no way responsible for any of its content."
Suddenly, the transmission changed, it now showed a bald man, with round glasses, with a cane in his hands, sitting in front of an open window which let the sunlight come in directly into the room. The man had a serious expression, and was looking directly at the camera. The man started to speak, "I would like to address this statement to every single human being born and raised in the Earth Sphere, we call ourselves simply Celestial Being. We are a private armed organization in possession of the original mobile weapons called Gundam."
Riddhe everyone in the room were shocked, the unknowns that had given them so much trouble were actually Gundams. They could not believe it, Gundams were supposed to be the symbol of the Earth Federation, but now someone else was using said symbol against it.
"The main objective of Celestial Being's activities is to completely eliminate acts of war from this world. We do not act for our own benefit or for personal gain. We have chosen to intervene for the greatest goal of all to rid ourselves of the scourge of war. As of this moment I make this declaration to all humanity. Territory, religion, energy… no matter what the reason or excuse, if there is an evident act of war being carried out, we will commence intervention with our force. Any country, organization or corporation that promotes war will also be a legitimate target for our intervention. We simply call ourselves Celestial Being. We are an armed organization that was established to eliminate all acts of war from this world. I repeat..."
Riddhe and the others were terrified and in some way confused. Riddhe then looked at the man in the transmission and closed his fist, "They are just terrorists!" he said, "They killed out comrades! We will face you, Celestial Being, even if it means our deaths!"
The bridge crew was shocked, watching the broadcast with a mixed sense of awe and fear. "What kind of joke are they?" Alberto then shouted, "Fighting war with war…ha!"
Otto looked at him, again uncomfortable with his presence. He then stared at the man, "Are they really serious…or do they have another objective?" he wondered.
Marida was having a panic attack, the mention of the word 'Gundam' was a trigger for this woman's mind. Suberoa tried to calm her down, hugging her. He looked at Gilboa, "Gliboa, take her to the medic!" he said. As Gilboa carried the panicked Marida, Suberoa and his crew watched the transmission. "So another faction has come into play?" he said, "These people…Celestial Being…they were after the Box as well?"
Full Frontal simply looked at the broadcast, with an expression of amusement. "Their contradiction will be their undoing…" he said, "They will bring chaos to the world, and I'm sure they will be quite efficient at it."
Angelo looked at the Commander with a confused expression, "But Commander, were those really Gundams?" he asked.
"I'm surprised no one recognized them as such." he said, "They reeked like such, overpowered, their head design and weaponry all reeked with 'Gundam'. It will now only be a matter of time before we meet again in combat…"
At the Ptolemy, the crew and the Meisters were watching the broadcast as well. "Hallelujah," the muttered Allelujah to himself, "as if the evils of the world are being exposed."
Tieria simply looked coldly at the transmission, "Celestial Being will now truly begin change the world." he said.
Besides them, Sumeragi, with a bottle of alcohol in her hand, looked grimly to the floor. "We are Celestial Being," she said, "the tools to be used to change the world." She then had another zip of alcohol.
Lockon turned to Setsuna, "So, Setsuna, the entire world will become our enemy with this." he said, "Do you know what that means?"
"Exactly." responded Setsuna, "We are Gundam Meisters of Celestial Being. Our mission, to change the world."
And with that, the Ptolemy moved forward, with its GN Particles leaving a short trail as it did. It was time for true change…
*So there goes the first chapter of my first true fanfic. I need to polish my writing skills, because I really don't feel satisfied with the ways I described the battles.
Sorry for the delay, holidays, college exams and depression were all factors. That and the fact that I had actually finished the first chapter, thought it sucked, deleted it, and decided to start from scratch. I hope this is what you expected. As the story progresses, it will get more and more original.
Ideas, tips, etc., are extremely welcome (as I usually suffer from Writer's Block), you can either PM them or simply put them in the reviews. They would be greatly appreciated.
Anyway, hope it was good. I update slowly because College Exams are in March and I'm studying hard, so if weeks pass and I don't update, do not despair; I will finish this story. As for the somewhat awkward writing…English is not my native language. I know how to speak it, but when it comes to describing stuff, I just suck at it. I hope that by doing these stories, I'll improve my writing.
I'm also starting to seriously considering in changing one of the main characters. Of course, it depends, but I'm seriously considering it. Maybe I'll post a poll and see how the idea is received.
Next Chapter, Sumeragi draws a Battle Plan to capture the Unicorn, which has been taken to Palau. Alberto forces the Londo Bell forces to prepare a hasty operation to recover the Unicorn. Banagher is taken by Gilboa Sant and Marida as a guest. Setsuna and Lockon infiltrate Palau. As the second intervention of Celestial Being approaches, individuals meet and discuss the nature of humanity…