Status Quo

"Yes - uh, hello Paul. I'm here at the Guangzhou Primary Facility of the Hemisphere Federation, where the Federation has just unveiled their newest mobile suit intended to be fully mass-produced in the future. It is called the KHMS-dash-88 Prime. This is the product of a joint effort between the two contractors Koenig and Helsinki Laboratories, both familiar with military production services in the past. The model is widely expected to replace the KHMS-dash-76, which has been in active deployment for twenty years. With me here is Yoki Domino, one of the project leads on the Prime. Hello, Yoki. Thank you for being here!"

The camera panned out from the reporter's face to include both her and Yoki.

"Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure."

"Now, Yoki, could you tell us what went behind producing the Prime? How was the experience of coordinating with another contractor?"

"Well, Dianne, as you have heard, it required the cooperation of…"

Johan Yang did not place all of his attention towards the television, instead poring over a puzzle within the latest Asia Times. He had not even bothered tabbing over to the main page to read the headlines, instead switching over directly to the last tab of riddles and puzzles to solve.

Besides, why should he care about the news during wartime? It was always the same. Always the victories, the losses (softened up sometimes), and the continuing statistics. Most news agencies decided to crowd out the standard peacetime news in favor of war correspondence. This disheartened many. After all, there was still a typhoon season to worry about, raging across Asia right now. It would help the public considerably if the news agency reported what countries or cities were affected, and how many casualties there were.

But no, Johan thought grimly, we're all still warmongers.

The public still ate up all the stories of the ongoing war, even if they were aware that it was indirect government propaganda. It reassured the masses to know that the HF had up-and-coming power to win the fight. It had lasted for six months already. Too long, by anyone's standards.

Johan stood up from the couch he was lounging around on, set down the tablet, and walked to the large window in his apartment. The typhoon was moving over Singapore now. He could barely make out a thing through the blanket of water that cascaded down outside on the glass. Normally, the window would offer a pleasant vista of the Port of Singapore, although the main naval traffic these days were small private yachts instead of large cargo ships. The tiny island was now double the size it had been originally, now 55 square kilometers. That left plenty of room for a larger airport for importing and a busy spaceport, both constructed in the early 1st century.

Johan had wanted to go down and buy organic groceries for himself and his relatives who were due to visit in two days. He frowned in annoyance as he would have to settle with the genetically engineered produce everyone bought normally in the underground complexes, as the farmers from Malaysia he usually visited to buy from would not be outside in this type of weather.

On top of that, he still had not set up the guest rooms in his apartment for his visiting relatives. Five people were coming, two married couples and his sister. His apartment was more than capable enough to house this many people comfortably. He had bought such a large apartment with the high income garnered from directing aircraft and spacecraft within Southeast Asia's airspace.

Johan muttered a quiet expletive as he ran a hand through his hair and moved towards the front door, grabbing his shoulder bag on the way.

Today is going to be a long day, he thought with much chagrin.

The television was still on as the door noiselessly slid shut behind him. "…a successor to the legendary Gundams of the past centuries…"

Haydn Prietrov sat in silence as he gazed down through the floor window towards the mother planet. From his home's perspective within the giant cylindrical space colony of Londenion, one could see the dark side of Earth. Just breaking over the edge of the planet, the Sun lit up the upper atmosphere, giving it an intense cerulean glow. Whenever the colony's revolution and the Earth's position were just right, Haydn would watch the sunrise. He had to quickly shield his eyes, however, as to not be blinded by the rays of light. With a gesture of his right hand the windows were opacified, leaving Haydn to now stare at a solid floor. Not for long.

The floor window was a 3 meter in diameter round piece of glass that was slightly curved out to protrude a few centimeters into space, resembling a giant contact lens. Haydn sat right at the lip of the glass, giving him a comfortable position to look at it. With another gesture, the now-opacified glass lit up into a computer interface screen. Many tiles on the screen held customized outlets of information. There was the schedule of weather cycles, regulation of in-house environment, daily deals on electronics products, and the System News.

He didn't exactly care about the weather: it was always 'pleasantly sunny with scattered clouds' during the spring cycles. His house environment was set at a constant 26° Celsius and 5% humidity. He didn't expect to want to buy anything. The news, however, he was interested in.

He pointed two fingers on one hand at the System News tile to select it then opened all of his fingers outward to expand the tile, filling up the screen with headlines. He slowly waved his right hand up to scroll the list down.

'Daryl Stellar Mining reports fiscal year of gain following tragic Asteroid 3 incident'

'ET Tech Mars plans to produce first space fighter without Minovsky interference'

'Metal mass within Charon dismissed by Council as non-standard moon core, "We have dismissed that claim."'

'SALUD pushes IDEA back towards Mexico, now has 60% of S. America'

The last headline perked his interest the most. A very firm wave of the hand opened up the article. Haydn scanned the words, noting the cover picture of some of the SALUD forces proudly marching in their jungle camouflage mobile suits. It spoke of how SALUD had used fighter jets, widely considered useless due to Minovsky particle interference, in tandem with their mobile suits to bring down the defensive line of the HF.

The colonies had no affair in the issues of Earth. Each was treated as a sovereign nation of space following the collapse of the Zanscare Empire, with international laws the same as on Earth. However, the current war between the South American Liberation Unified Defenders and the Hemisphere Federation was pushing to completely change the status quo.

If SALUD manages to retake the entirety of South America, if they claim complete independence from the HF… Haydn thought with a laugh, that'll be the biggest humiliation ever. And a complete shift in Earth politics.

The HF was comprised of most of the nations of Asia, Europe, and Africa, and all of North America and Australia. Almost every nation of South America had broken away and formed SALUD in protest of the reforms the HF were applying to the land. The fight was vicious. It had been simple to use the mobile suits the HF had stationed in South America to fight back.

Most of the European and Asian nations had little to no fighting strength. The nations of Africa were still aiding the rest of the third-world countries in reformation. That left few countries of the HF against an entire continent of nations eager to fight back and retake what was theirs.

Controlling 60% of South America was a feat compared to the 15% only three months ago. It was surprising how the supposedly larger force was losing. It seemed that a blend of guerrilla warfare and hit-and-run bombing was working well for the SALUD.

Haydn was instantly reminded of a quote from someplace unknown and realized how clichéd it was.

War never changes.

He slapped himself on the face.

Dianne Park half-lazily sunk into the chair of her dressing room on her news channel's mobile trailer. She was sweating from head to toe, the product of South China's 39° Celsius weather coupled with 85% humidity. She was glad her network allowed for casual dress on air. She couldn't imagine wearing a stupid suit with a stupid long skirt in this heat.

Her mind went back to the interview with Yoki Domino, just moments before. He looked perfectly at ease in the weather with his dark grey lab smock. Slightly jealous of the locals and their ability to withstand the conditions, she allowed her eyes to close for a while.

One of her cameramen and longtime friend poked his head through the door. "Hey Dianne, where do you want to head for dinner? Ryu and I saw this high rated place on the net that's downtown, but Francis' has this other place he wants to bring us." he said. With a pout, he added, "Again. "The others don't really care. Your choice?"

Dianne jolted awake and smiled. "Well, it is Francis' hometown. I think it'd be nice to let him be the guide on his turf, Jeff."

"Alright, I'll go tell the others. I think we'll be moving out soon." Jeff said. He closed the door silently behind him.

She glanced at the mirror. Her eyes slightly perked up at how much the weather had done to her. The humidity had frizzed her short auburn hair so that it was puffier than usual. She stopped and laughed aloud, remembering how large one of her crewmember's afros had gotten. The humidity, however, also worked wonders on everyone's skin during the week stationed here. Virtually all skin blemishes were sweated out of their face.

Dianne enjoyed covering the war effort in Asia. Although the Prime was developed in Europe and was only being showcased in Guangzhou because of the area's clear skies, various Asian countries were the leaders in electronics research and development for the HF. Technology fascinated Dianne, whether it is to improve civilian life or increase combat efficiency. The job was perfect.

When her network assigned her to the Prime's debut demonstration, she lit up with excitement.

To see the so-called successor to the Gundam-type? Who would want to miss that?

The word Gundam itself survived years. It had always been a Gundam that changed the course of history. Of course, the pilots themselves were just as important, but the legacy of machines now stood as a testament to the will of humanity. It proved that age didn't matter, and that one man (or teen) could change millions.

The floor beneath Dianne rumbled, shaking her from her thoughts. The trailer must be moving.

Her stomach rumbled at the thought of food, but who knew what Francis' had in store for them? She didn't want to eat crocodile again.

Simon Valdez stood firmly in the path of his son, Cameron.

Cameron, in turn, glared at his father with an intense anger.

"Father." Cameron simply said. It was one word, but many emotions were carried on it towards the man standing in front of him. Simon said nothing, and continued to prevent Cameron from passing through the doorway. "We've already talked about this at great length, and you still don't understand! This is our future, our way to freedom! Don't you want it too? You were happy before those people came and took over. Not anymore, it seems!"

Simon waited a while before he spoke with his gravely voice that was of age. "I was happy before because I had you, Cameron." Simon said quietly. There was both a pain and a fire in his eyes when he looked at his son. "I was happy because you were happy with your world. You were young. You didn't care about any of the world's problems, and we were both content with life."

Cameron's face momentarily faltered to one of shock, but it quickly returned to the glare. He said with more force, "That was the past, father. I'm older now, and I realize that fighting is the only way to save our culture and our heritage. Do those things not matter to you?"

"Culture? That will be preserved in the people, and it will be their decision alone whether or not to hold on to it or not. Tradition? Have I not told you how meaningless tradition is if it holds no function?"

"But the Hemisphere Federation is brainwashing us! They're forcing our heritage out!"

"Only if you allow yourself to be brainwashed so easily. The fact the people are so willing to give in is greater evidence still that they are eager to give up culture and tradition for change."

"B-But!" Cameron stuttered. He looked frustrated.

"We've had this discussion plenty of times, Cameron. As you said. But it seems that every time, you forget it completely and instead turn back to your ideals, rash and illogical. Have you forgotten everything you've learned in school? War never solves anything. The supposed peace that follows war is a placeholder for forced submission of the loser. I don't give a damn who wins this war; the only thing I care about is the world afterward."

Cameron said nothing, but advanced towards the door. To his surprise, his father moved out of the way. "Are you- are you accepting this? Will you let me go?"

"It is not my choice anymore, it seems. I still wish in all the world that you do not go. But I realize that it is not my place to stop you. Go; go on if that is what your mind tells you."

Cameron stood there motionless for a while, but then slowly made his way past his father. He went down the steps, continued on to the sidewalk, but stopped and turned to look up at his father. Both were locked in a stare for a good minute or so. Neither changed expression. Cameron no longer looked angry. His father no longer looked said, but finally said, "Don't die."

Without a word, Cameron turned again to enter his car and drove off into the silent night.

Simon was left alone on the doorstep, praying to God.