I'm finally working ahead! Yay! I really enjoy working on this one. It's up there with I am Darkness and Fire. Pretty soon the story may start jumping around from space to earth to space and back to earth again. The game didn't seem to care much about geography. Hopefully I can make it all believable.
"What do you mean I'm ineligible?!" Ken demanded. His shoulder was almost fully healed and he was expecting to be able to start piloting his mobile suit again. But the doctor wanted him to wait a few more days. Even worse, the 1st MS Unit was asked to help test the new "V Project" mobile suits. And apparently Ken would be left out.
"Rotate your arm," Marcan ordered. Ken flinched. He was still sore from when his GM G slammed into the ocean. "I thought so."
"Don't worry about it," Holdarin told Ken, slapping his sore shoulder, "It's not like we'll be doing any fighting. Just tests."
"Just focus on healing for now," Ashley offered.
"I have," Ken snarled to himself as he stormed out.
Ashley took a step after him, but Nicolas stopped her. "Just leave him alone for now," he told her quietly.
"As for the rest of you," Marcan continued, not missing a beat, "Nicolas and Holdarin will be operating the Guntank."
Ashley leaned toward Nicolas as Holdarin celebrated getting to use the Guntank. "Good luck," she whispered apologetically. He smiled back, knowing exactly what she meant.
"Stevens, you'll be operating the Guncannon. The Guntank goes first. Let's get going people."
The group left the room and headed for the hanger. The Guntank was launched, Nicolas in the cockpit in the chest, Holdarin in the gunner's seat in the head. Nicolas's job was to move the mobile suit, and Holdarin was to operate the weapons. First was the Guntank's live fire test. The pair did well, despite their seeming incompatibility. The two could easily coordinate the movements with the firing of the weapons. They even managed to sight in the machine cannons on the Guntank's hands. It was during the practical testing that the problems started.
After the live fire tests were completed, the ammunition was swapped for the sims used in training and the Guntank was pitted against captured Zakus. Nicolas and Holdarin could coordinate just fine when they weren't being shot at, but in a real combat situation, they didn't fair nearly as well. It was simply difficult for two people to control one mobile suit. They only managed to pass because the Guntank was allowed to take a few hits due to its tough armor. Obviously there was work to be done to make the Guntank single seat…
Pat and the Guncannon were next on the roster. The Guncannon looked starkly different from the Guntank. It was humanoid like the GM G, but bright red and stockier. The Guncannon carried two weapons; two short shoulder-mounted 240mm cannons, and a "beam rifle". The beam rifle was a fair sized carbine that fired a solid beam of Mega-Particle energy at a target that could cut through solid steel like paper. It was the same technology that went into the GM G's beam saber, but with an effective range of almost 3 kilometers! Pat insisted on testing out the maneuverability of the Guncannon during the live fire tests. He jumped and dashed around as he fired at the simple targets. The crew in the control room thought he looked foolish dodging nothing.
There wasn't much expected from the practical test. The Guncannon was single seat and more maneuverable than the Guntank, but it had many of the same problems. Slow and unresponsive, difficulty moving the mobile suit and operate the weaponry at the same time, incomplete cockpit and control systems. Simply put, there was a reason the Guncannon was still in the testing phase. Fortunately, the Guncannon also had strong armor, so the testing was wetted to that. Pat could take up to four hits before the test would be considered a failure.
The test started with a Zaku II at long range. It was easy prey for the Guncannon's 240mm cannons. Even at their maximum range and loaded with sims the impact warped the target Zaku's armor and knocked it on its back. Another Zaku charged from the opposite direction, also at long range. It was easy to give it the same treatment. Now the real test began. Two Zaku IIs dropped down from the gravity neutral zone. The Guncannon was among some derelict buildings Pat chose because they made good cover. The Zakus tried to surround Pat, but they didn't coordinate well. One popped out a little sooner than the other. Pat's beam rifle shut it down before it even got off a shot. The other did fire, but missed. The Guncannon had leaped onto a nearby building and shot down the attacker from there.
"So that's why he was jumping around before," Tommy noted. He was sitting in the cockpit of his GM G, ready to repel any sudden Zeon attack. "He was getting used to how the Guncannon moves." He looked over at the GM G next to him that held Ashley. Not that you could tell. Not a peep had been heard from her GM G once it got into position. "He's a true professional, wouldn't you say?" Nothing. "Ever the conversationalist," Tommy sighed.
The fight continued. Any Zaku at range was blasted with the 240mm cannon. A few got close by dropping down from the gravity neutral zone, but the beam rifle was more than enough to deal with them. All but one of the Zakus were felled. The last appeared at the very edge of the battlefield. Pat lined up his cannons for another easy kill. He fired, but the Zaku II sidestepped. Almost happy that one of them figured it out, Pat took sharp aim. He got off three more shots, all misses, before the Zaku took cover on the other side of one of the buildings he was hiding behind. The Zaku darted around the building and knocked the beam rifle out of the Guncannon's hands. Pat tried to kick the Zaku, but it boosted behind another building. The Zaku darted quickly around the building and slammed its heat hawk into the Guncannon's back. It took cover a third time and tried to do it again, but Pat had anticipated that.
The Guncannon was too slow to keep up with the Zaku in close range, so Pat guessed where he would be two moves ahead. When the Zaku popped its head out the third time, it was met with a point blank shot from the 240mm cannons, knocking it briskly to the ground. Jaws dropped when the pilot of the Zaku let out a pained gasp. Everyone recognized Ken's voice.
He popped the paint-splattered hatch and poked his head out. "Guess I do need more rest…" he groaned, rubbing his sore shoulder.
Started ahead, done ahead! Wohoo! The twist ending was a little bit of a twist for me too. I didn't come up with that until a paragraph before that whole incident started. Ironically, that kind of fits my gameplay experience somewhat. The last Zaku in that Guncannon test mission is always the hardest. And incidentally, I tend to take him out with the cannon more times than not.
I really like how this turned out. Ken gets to look like a total badass and we get a little more character development for Pat. A lot of big paragraphs in this chapter. I know I'm being a broken record here, but does this work? What are this chapter's shortcomings? How can I fix these issues? Am I overplaying Ken's shoulder injury? Don't be nice! Give me something to work with please!