~ UC 0078 ~ Musai Cruiser Sahaquiel ~

Thalia awoke at 0600 ship time and lad in bed for another ten minutes while thinking about the events that occurred three days ago. The team had performed very well for only their third actual sortie in the Zaku II's. The company commander had given them the honor of being designated MS Team 01. The team had been transferred from the space fortress onto one of the ships yesterday. The Musai they were now stationed on was one of the newer models which sacrificed additional hanger space for a re-entry vehicle.

Unfortunately, the ship's hangers only had space for three mobile suits. That meant maintenance of the team's five mobile suits was going to be an absolute pain. Two machines have to be stowed away on the re-entry vehicle's cargo holds and then manually transferred to the main hanger when they needed maintenance. It also meant that only three of their machines had the benefit of a launch catapult during combat operations.

Ludd had informed the team that Thalia and Riley were to be stationed on the Komusai before the start of combat until further notice since Thalia's machine was unlikely to charge into close combat and Riley was to act as the team's rear-guard and help protect the ship.

A hand lightly shook her shoulder, "Thalia, wake up or Ludd is gonna have your ass for being late." Thalia turned her head and saw that it was Riley. The older woman had a bemused smile on her lips.

"I'm up! I'm up!" Thalia weakly protested as she opened the sleeping bag hooked up to the wall and floated out of her sleep alcove. The women's rest area on the ship had its walls lined with the small rest alcoves, allowing the crew to sleep without floating around and suffocating on their own carbon dioxide.

The Musai had a crew of just fewer than one hundred people working three shifts. Thalia's team was, officially, to remain on stand-by at all times since they were the only mobile suit unit on the ship. That meant they spent most of their time in the simulators or working on their machines with the engineers. It also meant they had a lot of free time on their hands while the ship made its journey from A Baoa Qu to the Zeon forward space fortress at the newly hollowed out asteroid of Solomon.

From what Thalia had heard around the ship, Solomon was supposed to be Zeon's forward base when the war with the Federation finally breaks out. The base could be easily supplied from the neutral colonies of Side 6 and was practically right on the doorsteps of Federation Space Command at Side 1. The trip was to take about a week, which meant the team had some more time to get accustomed to their machines.

The ship was traveling as part of a massive flotilla of warships and transports as they redeployed from A Baoa Qu to Solomon. Thalia's head seemed to buzz with a sense of both anxiety and excitement. She knew she was not the only one on the ship eagerly anticipating the first shots of the war. The night before, the off-duty crew and Thalia's team had meet up on the ship's rec-room to listen to Supreme Commander Gihren's address. They had cheered when Gihren once again condemned the vile acts of terrorism by Earthnoid spies. Thalia's face had contorted into an angry snare as Prince Gihren called on the loyal citizens of the Quintzem colony to fight back against their traitorous brethren and promised swift and righteous retribution to the traitors who had stormed the government building.

Thalia could not believe how low those traitorous dogs, who dared to sully the name of all Spacenoids, could sink. She knew that some weak-minded people would be unhappy over the harsh living conditions in Zeon. Spacenoids had always led harsh lives as they struggled to survive in space after being banished by the Earth Elite. But Zeon had showed the entire Earth Sphere that the colonies were not weak, that they were a sturdy and industrious people who did not need the Federation.

However, for these traitors to openly attack their brethren and attempt to defect back to their old slavers was just unthinkable to Thalia. How foolish could they be? Did they honestly think the Earthnoid would welcome them back with open arms and mountains of supplies?

Thalia banished the dark thoughts of last night from her mind and followed Riley into the locker room. As the duo entered the rotating gravity deck, she gracefully twisted herself around with the ease of one who had lived in space her entire life and touched down onto the slopped deck. Thalia walked to her locker and took out her towel before she stepped into one of the shower tubes in the back. After putting her clothing into one of the laundry bags, she activated the shower and braced herself as what felt like a wave of water slammed into her and tossed her around like the ship was spinning out of control. As suddenly as it started, the water was sucked out of the chamber and Thalia dried herself with the towel before wrapping it around her body and exiting the chamber.

She returned to her locker and picked out a set of fresh clothing. The dark green and gold uniform of the Zeon Space Attack Force never failed to draw out a feeling of pride no matter how many times she wore it. Their current situation reminded Thalia of the stories she listened to during her childhood about the oppressed villagers taking up arms and driving off the evil king.

After she finished putting on her clothing and pulling her shoulder-length light-blonde hair into a short ponytail, Thalia waited at the door to the mess hall for Riley to finish and, soon enough, her friend appeared and waved at her.

"So Selena, what do you think about the news from home?" Thalia asked, as the two of them grabbed their food from the wall dispenser and took a seat at one of the empty tables. "I heard the Federation's supplying those rebels with weapons and money. They must be getting desperate if they're willing to support a rebellion in Side 3 itself."

Riley looked thoughtful for a moment before replying, "It's probably true, each side is trying to gain as big an advantage as possible before the fighting starts. If the Federation can incite a civil war in Side 3, well….let's just say that it won't be pretty for us."

Thalia scowled at that, "It's a damn dirty tactic is what it is, they'd waste their money trying to get scum to fight for them. Only those stupid Feddies can think that Prince Gihren will let their plot succeed. I bet he's got a plan to put an end to that rebellion already."

Riley gave her a strange smile before changing the subject, "So have you heard the rumors? They say that Prince Dozle is going to be personally overseeing the Solomon Task Force."

That instantly brightened Thalia's mood as a wide smile split her face. "That's grand news! My mother says Prince Dozle is an exceptional officer and that we'll be in good hands under his command."

Riley went silent, so Thalia returned her attention to her food. It was surprisingly good, but she remembered her mother telling her that a space deployment always started with good food but it will get worse and worse as all the fresh vegetables and meats run out until they were served nothing about stale biscuits and flavored gunk.

As the silence dragged on, Thalia tried to start another conversation to lift the awkward mood. "Selena, have you always lived at Side 3?"

"No, I used to be from Side 2 but my family moved to Zum City after Zeon Deikun formed the Republic."

"Oh? How does it compare? I lived in Side 3 my entire life. My mother said that the Federation would probably arrest me if not outright kill me if they found out I entered their territory. I hear the open colonies are rather beautiful."

Talking about her old home seemed to peak Riley's interest because she proceeded to beam brightly at Thalia before launching into an excited ramble about her childhood memories of Island Iffish, the colony she was born in.

However, before she could finish the story, the ship's alarm drowned out her words before an announcement came over the ship inter-com. "Ensign Lisara and Petty Officer Riley to the hangar. Lisara and Riley to the hanger. Immediately."

The two women exchanged confused looks for a second before they both jumped up and run for the exit. Thalia wondered what this was about. The team was not expected to assemble for the day until 0070 which was still twenty minutes away. However, as the two got closer to the hanger, another alarm sounded.

"Attention, all crew to your stations, repeat, all crew to your stations."

Something big was happening. Thalia doubled her pace and checked behind her to see Riley doing the same. The two left the gravity deck and entered the hangar. Thalia was in such in rush that she nearly bumped into Evans.

"Hey Evans, do you know what's going on? Where's the Lieutenant? "

Evans turned to look at her with a grim expression on his face and Thalia felt something anxiety grip her heart.

"He's on the bridge, in a briefing with the senior officers. The flagship just received new orders. A small formation, this ship included, is to detour to Side 3 and put down the rebellion. They say that Federation black ops teams have swarmed over the colonial guards stationed there and taken control of the entire colony."

"So our mission is to go in and rescue the hostages, right?" Richards asked as he entered the room.

"That's right, our ship, along with two more Musai cruisers, is to assault the colony and secure the vital government installations." The team saluted as Ludd entered the hangar. "A special response team is already on station at the colony, they'll be responsible for capturing the Federation spies while we provide the muscle."

Thalia felt a mixture of fear and excitement rise in her body. This was going to be her first real battle. She wanted to distinguish herself. How well she performed during this mission could set the pace for the rest of her career. This was one of the first real battles where Zeon was employing their new Mobile weapons. They were making history with this battle and military engineers will be taking their mission apart to determine the effectiveness of the machines.

"Everyone, suit up and do a checkup on your machines one more time. We'll be entering Quintzem space in around two hours. Dismissed"

The team immediately broke up. Thalia turned toward the hangar changing room and quickly slipped out of her uniform before putting on her pilot's suit. She left the hangar with Riley and the duo descended into the Komusai's storage bay.

Thalia quickly scanned her machine for any external problems before floating into the cockpit and powering up the fusion reactor. She performed a diagnostic scan of the machine and grinned when everything returned as green. After checking that fuel and ammunition had been replenished since their last exercise, Thalia leaned back into her chair to grab a quick nap before the battle.

~ UC 0078 ~ Musai Cruiser Sahaquiel ~ Space Colony Quintzem ~

The task force held position near the primary space gate of the colony. Thalia could tell heavy fighting had already taken place because she see could see wreckage of at least three other Musai cruisers floating around the colony. The massive habitat itself was had suffered some damage as well. Thalia counted at least three hull-breaches that had yet to be sealed.

Their small fleet had been surprised to see the so-called 'special response team'. It consisted of a mighty crimson Gwazine battleship and another two Musai cruisers. According to Ludd, the fleet had arrived from Zum City and had been blockading the colony since the start of the rebellion. The plot seemed to reach all the way to the top of the colony's government because colonial defense forces had opened fire on them as soon as the fleet was detected. Which explained the wreckage; the traitors had been no match for the mighty Gwazine.

The team had assembled in the ship's briefing room along with the ship's captain and other senior officers. The captain activated the laser-communications system and a familiar face appeared on the main screen.

The assembled soldiers all snapped to attention and Thalia smiled. "Admiral Lisara, ma'am, how can we be of service?" Captain Torus asked.

Her mother returned Thalia's smile before turning her attention back to the ship's commanding officer and her face turned somber. "Captain Torus, as you probably already know, I'm here on direct orders from Commander Gihren himself. The Federation has finally overstepped its bounds and today we will expose their atrocities to the entire human race. I need your men to board the colony and assist my forces in capturing the Federation spies who orchestrated and equipped this uprising."

"Yes Ma'am, I understand, with your leave Admiral, I'll go make preparation for the operation."

"You're all dismissed, good luck. Captain, I want your task force to patrol this sector. If any rebels escape, I'll notify you."

As the room's occuptants saluted and started to file out of the room. Thalia's mother hesitated before speaking, "Ensign Lisara, a word if you will. Captain, some privacy?"

Captain Torus hesitated for a split second before snapping a crisp salute, "Of course, Ma'am, I understand." The rest of the team left the conference room and Thalia smiled as Riley gave her a reassuring nod.

Thalia returned her attention to her mother and was about to speak when she was cut off, "Thalia, I don't have much time, but I just want to tell you something. This will be your first real battle. Now, remember, this is extremely important. I want you to stay as far back from the main lines as possible. Provide long range support against fortified enemy positions if you have to. Just watch out for rocket attacks."

Thalia gave her mother a reassuring smile, "Don't worry mother, I'll be careful." She turned her smile into a wide grin, "besides, I wasn't planning on charging into melee and using my rifle like a club anyway."

The joke worked in lightening the mood and her mother smiled before growing sober again. "Just remember one thing Thalia, this is very important. Do no, I repeat, do not, under any circumstances, unseal your pilot's suit. Better yet, keep your Zaku sealed at all times and avoid any enemy fire that can cause a hull-breach."

Thalia's confusion must have shown on her face because her mother gave her a thin but reassuring smile. "It's probably nothing, but just remember what I said, my dear. Know that I love you and good luck."

"I love you too, mother, I hope to see you again for New Year."

The Admiral smiled sadly, "We'll see dear, stay safe."

~ UC 0078 ~ Space Colony Quintzem ~

Thalia's Zaku II slowly drifted toward the colony. The team had spent the last half hour working to calibrate the Zaku's for operation under gravity in preparation for the fight inside the colony. This was Thalia's first time piloting the Zaku II under gravity. She had trained in mobile suit operations under gravity during her time at the academy, but the course had only lasted two weeks and she struggled to remember what the instructor had taught her.

A mobile suit was a lot like a tank, it might be a god of death and destruction but anyone brave or foolish enough to actually engage it on foot with the correct weapons and the element of surprise had a pretty good chance of succeeding. A mobile suit was most vulnerable at its knee joints and back thrusters. A heavy-weapons team with a wire-guided missile launcher hiding in a good position can easily take out a mobile suit if they knew what they were doing.

Another danger Thalia had to be careful for was sappers. The Zaku II she piloted was not equipped with anti-personal airburst bombs. If an enemy were to just run up to her while she had her machine locked down for better weapons stability, she would most likely not even notice as he rigged her machine to blow.

Thalia shook off her paranoid fears and returned her attention to the operation. The team was to enter the colony through one of the external docking bays while the two other mobile suit teams entered through the primary space gate. Her mother's fleet had deployed two additional teams to cover all avenues of escape and a Komusai carrying a Zeon Special Forces team. The main objective was for the mobile suits to cut a path to the colony government center and allow the Special Forces team to capture the rebel leadership.

As the team floated closer and closer to the front of the colony, below the massive space gate, Thalia saw the other teams enter the colony. Ludd's Zaku II Commander entered the military override code into the maintenance hatch and the door slid open. The team fired their maneuvering thrusters and slowly entered the airlock. As they landed on the colony, the team magnetized their machines to the steel bulkhead.

As the airlock began to pressurize, Ludd's voice broke the silence. "Alright team, one last systems check before we proceed. This will be our first combat operation. I expect you all to perform up to expectation. For Zeon!"

"For Zeon!" The team responded as the inner airlock finally opened and the team moved forward with Richards taking point and Riley bringing up the rear. Soon, the team arrived on the other side of the colony wall and opened the door into the colony.

The inside of Quintzem was a beautiful sight. Crystal clear lakes and river crisscrossed the landscape. Sunlight shone into the colony through numerous glass panels opening into space and highlighted the well-maintained grass and trees. Suburban homes dotted the landscape and further into the colony, Thalia could see the large building complexes of downtown Quintzem. Clouds hang in the center of the mega structure and Thalia say hints of a blue sky above her. Directly above the team's position was the space port. The metallic end of the colony was disguised as a mountain.

However, the idyllic picture was marred by numerous signs of war. Thalia spotted at least a dozen fires raging through the down-town area of the colony and she saw numerous destroyed houses in the residential district. Their target was the city hall in the heart of down-town Quintzem.

"Alright team, the main force will break through the space gate and draw their attention. The plan is for us the hit the rebels as they redeploy to the stop the other team. Be careful and remember to aim carefully. There are still civilians living here and a stray shot could decompress the colony."

With that, the team followed Ludd as he jumped slowly out of the hatch and down the mountain. Thalia followed the rest of the team down and instantly felt gravity take over her machine and she grimaced as her safety restraints dug painfully into her chest. She fired her maneuvering thrusters to keep her Zaku upright and occasionally fired the main rockets to slow her descent.

Eventually the team landed and Thalia let out the breath she did not know she was holding with a sigh of relief. She put her Zaku into a steady slid down the slope of the hill and remained crouching as the team assembled on flat ground.

The voice of the second team's commander sounded in Thalia's helmet. "Attention MS Team 01, the main force has encountered light resistance at the space gate. I advise you proceed to the main objective and we'll follow behind you."

Ludd immediately responded, "Roger that, you heard him people. Spread out and advance into the city. Watch the windows."

As the team entered downtown Quintzem, the team was met with almost no resistance. Their only contact with the enemy was a Federation issued jeep armed with a machine gun that opened fire and then turned to flee immediately upon seeing the massive war machines. Richards had taken it out with a single shot from his machine gun.

"Ludd to Admiral Lisara, we've sighted Federation equipment."

Her mother responded after a few seconds, "understood, it's just as we anticipated. Proceed with your mission."

As they advanced further down the streets of Quintzem City, Thalia was rather unnerved by how empty the colony felt. She had grown up in Zum City and the colony was packed with people. Massive towers dotted the landscape and only a few well-preserved, and expensive, locations had any semblances of nature. "Where is everyone?"

"They must have ran for the shelters, which was probably a smart move." Evans remarked offhandedly

"But how did they know we were coming? There doesn't seem to be much damaged for the uprising to have been that bad." Riley asked.

"Probably just being cautious, hide in the shelters until we come to save them. Seems like a smart idea", laughed Richards, "and good for us, now we don't have to worry about hitting any civilians. Anyone still here must be a rebel or an idiot. Neither would be missed."

"Cut the chatter, this is still hostile territory, still alert", Ludd reprimanded, "according to the map, city hall should be just ahead, less than five kilometers. There should a massive plaza between us and building itself. Thalia, find a nice vantage point and tell me what you see. The buildings are blocking my vision."

"Roger", Thalia replied before activating her rocket and jumping onto a squat-looking three story building. The thing looked like a parking garage and the office building next to it offered good cover for her machine in case of enemy fire. It was as good a concealed firing position for a mobile suit in urban combat as she could ask for.

Moving her machine into a kneeling position and aiming her rifle over the roof of the office building, Thalia had a clear view of the colony's central plaza. The city hall was directly in front of her. It had a large statue of Zeon Zum Deikun in front of it. Parallel to City Hall were the colony courthouse and the colony defense headquarters. The buildings had seen better days, because most of the windows were shattered and the defense HQ had been hit by what looked like a high-explosive missile.

However, what caught her attention was what was protecting the buildings. A single Zaku I, armed with an MS Machine Gun.

"Sir, I got a possible rebel mobile suit, Zaku I, in front of City Hall. I'm not detecting an IFF coming from it. Orders?"

There was a slight pause before Ludd responded, "Hold your fire for now while we surround the building and wait for the Spec Ops team arrive, we don't want them to escape."

"Roger that, sir!" Thalia enthusiastically responded. This was it! Her first real contact with the enemy and the fool was sitting in the open, practically begging her to destroy it.

Thalia steadied her breathing and pulled the targeting computer out from next to her head rest. This shot would be easy compared to combat in space. Everything was standing still, she did not have to factor in the target's momentum and direction nor did she have to keep control of her own machine's flight. Thalia took aim at the machine's cockpit and waited.

After five minutes, Thalia began to grow restless. The machine was still in front of her and had barely moved, only bothering to occasionally turn its head around to scan the surroundings. It obliviously had not detected her yet, but every second she waited, she risked the chance that it will see her and sound the alarm. Fortunately, a few minutes later, Ludd voice sounded over in her helmet.

"Alright, Ensign, we're all in position .Take it out, but be careful you don't hit the reactor."

Thalia immediately pulled the trigger. The concussion of the rifle shattered every window in the office building. The Zaku I's mono-eye turned toward her position a split second before the round impacted with the machine's cockpit. The round punched right into the Zaku I and detonated immediately, blowing the machine clean in half at its waist.

The rebel's response was rather lackluster, Thalia thought, as only half a dozen figures appeared at the various windows of the building wielding nothing more than machine guns and rifles. The Special Forces team's armored half-track raced out from behind the courthouse and rammed a hole into the walls of the city hall, all the while completely ignoring the small arms fire. Thalia saw a squad of soldiers in sealed suits storm out of the rear hatch and rush into the building.

"Alright team, secure the area. Leave the rest to the foot soldiers." Ludd ordered.

Thalia sighed. There does not seem to be anymore targets that she could deal with. Her rifle was not designed to combat infantry and if she tried to take out individual enemies through the windows, she would most likely collapse the entire building.

After a dull twenty minutes of nothing happening, Thalia's sensors sounded as it detected people approaching her machine. Thalia's eyes widened in alarm as thoughts of sappers and rockets flashed back into her mind. However, as she turned her main camera to the sensor contact, she sighed in relief and chuckled at herself.

A small crowd of civilians had emerged from an nearby underground shelter and slowly edged forward to get a good view of Zeon's awe-inspiring new engine of war. Thalia smiled as she saw people snapping photos and a group of children jumping up and down. The sight was heartwarming and Thalia felt pride fill her chest. These rebels were an oblivious minority. The people of this colony were still loyal citizens of Zeon.

Against her better judgment and every sense of logic in her mind, Thalia turned her machine to face the crowd and manipulated her machine's left arm into a salute. After enjoying the crowd's attention for another minute, Thalia decided she had pushed military policy to the limit and activated her external speakers.

"Attention all civilians, this area isn't safe yet. There are still rebels in the area. Please, return to your shelter, this is for your own safety. Don't worry, though. The situation is completely under control. The military is here and we'll wipe out the rebels within the hour. Please stay in the shelter until we give the all-clear signal."

As the crowd, began to slowly disperse, Thalia returned her attention back to the plaza. With a sigh, she realized that absolutely nothing had changed. The enemy seemed to have been cleared from the upper levels because she did not see any more rebels through the windows and someone had time to raise a Zeon flag over the building.

Suddenly, a klaxon started blasting in her cockpit and red warning lights flashed across her console and main display. Thalia's face paled as she say the warning indicator and a split-second later, the voice of the Special Forces team leader confirmed her fears.

"Priority alert! Priority alert! All Zeon forces on Quintzem Colony, we have a confirmed release of G3 Nerve Agent. Repeat, confirmed release of G3 Nerve Agent. Seek shelter immediately. Seek shelter immediately!"

Ludd's voice immediately cut across the repeating warning, "All MS Team 01 members! Check your cockpit and suit seals immediately. Purge your cockpit air, then activate the emergency filters and air tanks."

Thalia checked her displays. Her machine was sealed against all forms of biological, chemical and radiation based weapons but if something had damaged her machine….

She reached up a shaking her to check her suit status display on her right wrist. The screen was normally used to check suit integrity and monitor thrust-pack fuel levels. Thalia sagged with relief as she saw that everything was clear. She let out a shaky breath that she realized she had been holding.

"Lisara here, everything seems to be secured." Thalia leaned back into her chair and sighed again. Her heart was still racing and she realized now that the initial adrenaline rush following the warning had passed, she felt every tired. She absent-mindedly flushed the air inside her Zaku's cockpit and pumped in new sterilized air filled with chemicals designed to naturalize chemical and biological weapons.

She had learned about the deadly nerve gas during her days at the Academy. It was supposed to be one of the deadliest weapons mankind had at its disposal. It had been designed to bypass standard air filters in order to inflict massive causality. The symptoms were immediate and absolutely horrifying. Victims start to hemorrhage from every opening after only a few seconds of exposure to the gas. Death was guaranteed. One small container was enough to wipe out a colony. Her mind shook with the ramifications of what had just occurred around here. Even a small canister of the gas was enough to kill everyone on Quintzem. The rebels must have released it in the face of capture. This small group of rebels had just killed over five hundred thousand people.

Suddenly, realization struck her. G3 gas was extremely difficult to manufacture and heavily guarded by both the Federation and Zeon forces. The terrorists had access to Federation equipment. Zeon Intelligence had stated this operation was led and funded by Federation black ops.

Thalia quivered with rage.

How dare they?

What makes them think they had the right to snuff out an entire colony of people? The Federation attempting to starve the Spacenoids to death had not been enough. So now the Earthnoids just planned to outright murder all of them.

"Sir! What are our orders?" Thalia demanded. She felt so helpless in this situation. No matter how powerful her machine was, no matter how accurately she aimed or how well she piloted, there was absolutely nothing she could do.

"Hold your position! Wait until we sort this out!" Ludd all but shouted into his com.

Thalia snarled as she turned off the alarm. Suddenly, something caught her attention and she froze. No, she thought, no no no…

People were starting to stumble out of the underground shelter like they were in a drunken stupor. They fell and bumped into each other constantly and many collapsed to the ground.

Thalia releashed a pain sob as her machine picked out the horrifying sound of their death cries. She saw men with blood pouring out of their mouth and eyes. She saw women hold their children in death grips as both spasmed and twisted into unnatural positions. Thalia reached out a shaking hand and turned off the cockpit speakers and main view screen.

What she did was completely against military regulations since she was still in a warzone. She would not be able to respond to any threats that emerge, but Thalia just could no longer bear the horrifying situation outside her sealed machine.

The Zaku II suddenly felt like a coffin and she was overcome with an intense sense of claustrophobia. The inside of her helmet felt like a furnace and she felt like she was suffocating. She knew it was almost suicidal to unseal her helmet but the feeling of being trapped inside the helmet was almost overwhelming. She shut her eyes and clutched the side of her head. Bile rose up her throat and she felt like she was about to vomit.

Suddenly, she heard soft cries of fear and screams of pain. She opened her eyes and saw that the speakers were still disabled. The helmet communicator link was currently closed and on lockdown as all channels was being used by emergency response teams. Then, realization struck. She was hearing it in her head. The cries grew louder and louder until it was all she could hear.

"Stop it! Please, just stop!" She screamed but to no avail. She was just imagining it, she told herself, and it was just trauma, it was not real. She kept telling herself that but the cries continued. Thalia fought to shut out the voices, afraid that she was going insane. Eventually, after what seemed like a lifetime, she managed to wrestle the voices out of her mind. The overwhelming sounds of fear and death slowly faded.

Eventually, her head cleared as her other senses returned. With a jerk of alarm, she realized her nose was bleeding freely. Panic threatened to overwhelm her as she pictured herself dying like the people outside. Fortunately, she had managed to regain some of her composure by then and she checked her suit display. Everything was clear. Forcing herself to claim down, Thalia told herself that it was just because of the stress, because if it was the gas, she would be dead or bleeding a lot more heavily.

As the screams slowly died down, Thalia could still feel an oppressive atmosphere weight down on her mind. The voices were no longer overwhelming, but they were still there. Fortunately, she had managed to calm herself down enough to be functional, so she reactivated the main screen and speakers.

Averting her eyes, she turned the screen toward the plaza and saw that a cloud of greenish gas had filled the streets of the colony.

"This is Admiral Lisara to all surviving Zeon military personnel. Abandon the colony, all forces are to return to your ships and await further orders." Thalia was about to obey, when a private communications request opened up on her secondary monitor.

Thalia shakily keyed her communicator, "Ensign Lisara here."

Her heart swelled with childish comfort at the voice that emerged from the speaker.

"Thalia! Thank god you're alright! Is your machine secure? If so, retreat to the main space gate for immediate withdrew."

"I understand mom," Thalia whispered, "I'm moving now."