None of the various characters and units are mine.
Outside a high school in Japan, 15 January, C.E. 70
"I'm sorry. I can no longer stop them. We are the ones who should have to leave. This world is rightfully yours. Please...forgive me..."
Toya Shiun pushed the memory of the dream into the back of his mind, focusing on the mundane task of locking his bike in place. A lanky, redheaded youth of sixteen, he was known about school as a friendly if occasionally distant sort, well-liked by his classmates but with few real friends.
A smile crossed his face at the sight of one of those few friends. "Morning, Kaname," he said. "How's it going?"
"The usual," Kaname Chidori said, tossing her blue hair over one shoulder. "...Hey, Toya, you okay?" she asked, peering closely at him. "You're looking kinda pale."
He shrugged. "Been having weird dreams lately. That kind of thing always messes up my sleep. I'll be fine."
"Okay- what the hell!?" Kaname yelped, hurriedly dodging to one side. "Dammit, watch where you're going!"
Toya shook his head. Koji Kabuto, as usual, driving his motorcycle like an absolute maniac. A superb biker, Koji had an unfortunate habit of treating speed limits as suggestions, as well as a penchant for stunts. Toya didn't know him very well, just that he was a robot pilot for the Photon Power Labs.
"Crazy Kabuto again," Toya muttered. "Idiot almost ran me off the road yesterday. How the hell does that guy pilot giant robots without getting himself killed?"
"Dimwits like him get lucky," Kaname opined. "What I want to know is why Sayaka puts up with him." Sayaka Yumi was another Photon Labs member, almost always seen with Koji. "One of these days he's gonna get them both killed."
"Bet he takes a hundred Jovian Lizards with him," Toya grunted. "C'mon, we're gonna be late for class."
Toya's mind wandered as they walked. That dream, whatever it had been, was still bothering him. Something about that girl nagged at his mind, almost as if he'd seen her before... He shook his head in frustration. It was going to drive him mad, and he had enough problems as it was. Being a teenager with no living family weighed heavily on him; Toya looked forward to reaching his majority and leaving that damned foster system for good. Only two more years.
"Forget the dream," he muttered, too softly for even Kaname to hear. "That's all it was."
Little did he know that in the space of a single heartbeat he would be drawn into a conflict beyond his imagination.
"Lord Templar, are you sure about this?" one of the squires asked. "We risk revealing ourselves prematurely, and there are Jovian unmanned weapons approaching."
The leader shook his head. "We can't allow that unit to escape," he said. "Lord Al-Van won't be able to assist; he's too busy trying to bring the traitor in." He pressed his lips together in a grim line. "The Converted was once his master; I don't think he'll hesitate, but I can't be sure. In any case, we have our mission."
"Understood, my lord."
"Did you hear the news? They're saying the Jovians have wiped out the Martian colonies!"
"Yeah, but that's not all. I've heard the Reclaimers have been raising a ruckus again; word is that tsunami last week was caused by Orphan."
Toya tuned it out. It was always bad news; the Jovian Lizards were invading, the Reclaimers were on the move, tensions with the PLANTs were worsening, Doctor Hell and his Mechabeast army were raising, well, hell. Nothing good happened anymore, or so it seemed.
"Crazy, ain't it? Hey, mind if I sit here?"
Toya looked up. "Sure, go ahead." He personally thought Duo Maxwell was a bit nuts, but nowhere near Crazy Kabuto's league.
"Thanks." Duo set his tray opposite Toya's. "It's all about who's trying to kill us, come down to it, and how those UEFA jerks aren't doing a thing to stop it. They're too fixated on the PLANTs right now."
"Figures," Toya said, disgusted. "Y'know, I had a pen pal in the PLANTs a year or two ago. Can't remember his name; he was a musician of some sort."
Duo nodded sympathetically. "And you're hoping he'll be okay. Don't start panicking yet, Toya. A lot can happen, y'know."
"I know." Toya took a bite of his lunch. "I'll be okay as long as I can get through class today."
Duo looked like he was about to agree, but Toya never knew. In the space of a heartbeat, everything changed. A harsh klaxon blared, jolting everyone in the cafeteria to their feet in an instant.
"What the hell!?" Toya snapped. "An air raid!?"
"Dammit, this is bad!" Duo was already halfway to the door.
Cursing, Toya followed him. From the brief glance he'd gotten out the nearest window, some Jovian Lizards had come calling; those machines looked like the stuff he'd seen on TV, at least. Big, buglike, and utterly merciless, the Jovians' weapons made no distinction between soldier and civilian, slaughtering anyone in their path.
And now they're here, Toya thought grimly. Dammit, what the hell is with the UEFA!? They're so worried about the PLANTs, who haven't attacked us, yet the Jovians are right here, and the UEFA isn't doing a damn thing!
At least they weren't totally helpless, he reflected a moment later. For once Crazy Kabuto was being helpful; Toya recognized Mazinger Z from news footage he'd seen. The Legendary Steel Fortress, as some called it, looked faintly ridiculous, but there was no denying its power.
You can admire it when you see the news reports about this attack! Toya scolded himself. Now find a shelter, bonehead! Fortunately for his sanity, he spotted the entrance to one just a few meters ahead. Just a little more, he thought, picking up speed.
He never made it. A colossal humanoid shape slammed into the ground between Toya and his destination, knocking him off his feet with the concussion. Cursing, he picked himself up, feeling slightly dazed. "What...what the hell?"
"Dammit! We lost control again!" a female voice said.
Toya stared. The voice, if he wasn't mistaken, was coming from inside the mysterious mech. "What the hell?" he repeated.
"Lord Ja-Mu, that unit-"
"I know," Ja-Mu replied. He sighed. "We've got no choice. Fall back."
The other's jaw dropped. "But, Lord Templar-"
"We don't have permission to reveal ourselves," Ja-Mu interrupted, "and my unit is a prototype; we can't afford to lose it."
"Yes, my lord."
"All right, Jovian Losers! Mazinger Z will take you on!"
Koji Kabuto was arguably the most hot-blooded individual in Japan, but he knew how to fight. Experienced at fighting Doctor Hell's Mechabeasts, he made short work of the unmanned Batta units the Jovians routinely deployed.
"Not so fast!" he snarled, seeing one of the Battas moving toward the school. "Rocket Punch!" Even as Mazinger's fists shot out, smashing the Batta, another tried to bushwhack him. "I don't think so! Breast Fire!" Emitters mounted in Mazinger's chest glowed, reducing the Jovian weapon to slag.
Why the hell are the Jovians here of all places!? he wondered irritably. It's a damned school, not some kind of army base! Shaking his head, he reached out with Mazinger's hands, crushing another Batta, just as yet another took a missile hit and vanished.
"Sayaka?" he called, knowing at had to be her Aphrodite. Aside from the mysterious unit that had crashed into the school, the only other robot nearby -that he knew of, at least- was Boss's ridiculous Boss Borot, which, unless that idiot Boss had managed to modify it, didn't have missiles.
"I'm here," was the reply. "Koji, what about that other one?"
"I don't know, but it isn't moving," Koji said. "Leave it for now; we've got Lizards to scrap!"
"Roger." Sayaka didn't sound happy about it, but she had enough combat experience to know what their priorities should be.
"Where'd that thing come from!?" Toya wondered. "And who's in it?"
He didn't expect an answer, but he got one anyway. Apparently hearing him, a dark-haired girl in a dark green jumpsuit of some kind stuck her head out of what he presumed was the machine's cockpit. "Sorry about that," she said. "We were having trouble controlling it, and..."
"Yeah, I can see that," Toya said, grimacing. "You almost killed me there!"
"We're very sorry," the girl said. "It was- Tenia?" she cut herself off.
A redhead in a red-orange outfit similar to the first's had appeared behind her. "We're trying to get moving again, and- hey, shouldn't you be looking for a shelter?" she said, eying Toya curiously.
"That's kinda what I was trying to do when you dropped in on me," Toya said, irritated. "I'm not crazy enough to stick around for something like this!" He started to turn.
"Wait! Look at these readings!"
Toya paused. Now what? A third girl, this one blonde, dressed in a blue jumpsuit, was chattering with the others, something about "Cytron control linkage," whatever the hell that was. Even more puzzling, she kept gesturing first at what looked like an instrument panel, then at Toya himself, as if they were somehow connected. Which was even crazier than the situation he was in.
"You're right, Melua," the brunette said, "those readings are incredible."
"Mind explaining what's going on?" Toya said finally, torn between curiosity, irritation, and full-blown terror.
She seemed to shake herself. "Sorry. Please, join us in the Bellzelute."
Of all the responses he'd expected to hear, this wasn't one of them. "What!?" Toya said, taking a step back. "Are you insane!?"
"Please," the girl said, sounding desperate. "We need your help to get it out of here!"
Toya shook his head, wondering why he was even sticking around to argue. The sane move would've been looking for the nearest shelter. Kaname should be safe by now. "Look, I'm sorry, but I can't help you. Dammit, I can't even drive a car! I'm not like Crazy Kabuto and his friends; if you need help moving that thing, ask one of them!" He jerked his head to Mazinger Z, still pounding Battas into unrecognizable piles of junk.
"I'm sorry, but we can't," the brunette said.
"Yeah, if it isn't you, this thing just flat-out won't work," the redhead agreed.
Toya forced himself to calm down. Hyperventilating wouldn't help. "Look, I'm sorry, but-"
"Don't tell me you're scared!" The redhead gave him a mocking smile. "Scaaaardy-cat!"
"Yeah, of course I'm scared!" Toya said. "Downright terrified, in fact! Look, I wish I could help, but-"
This time it was an explosion that cut him off, as Mazinger's Breast Fire attack struck a little too close for comfort. Dammit, this is insane!
"Please," the brunette, apparently the leader, said again. "We don't have much time."
Toya realized abruptly that he was out of options. At this point, he had a simple choice, climb into that cockpit, or get blown to pieces by the battle outside. Cursing under his breath, he levered himself inside; the girls promptly made room for him in what he supposed to be the pilot seat.
"Just remember, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing," he said, taking in the unfamiliar controls.
"You'll be all right," the brunette said. "Tenia, help him; Melua and I will wait on the ground and help any survivors."
Toya took a deep breath. Here goes nothing. He touched what he was pretty sure was the main board, and flinched as something seemed to spark in his mind. What the hell...? "Your name is...Festenia?" How do I know that?
"That's right!" This time the redhead's smile was completely friendly. "I'm Festenia Muse. Just call me Tenia. That's Katia Gringnard and Melua Melna Meia." The smile turned sharklike. "Now let's take 'em!"
"Yeah, whatever- whoa!" Toya yelped as the machine -the Bellzelute- surged forward, then skidded to a stop. "Damn!"
Tenia was gripping her own controls. "Here they come, Toya!"
No kidding! A Jovian Batta was charging them at top speed. "Dammit, guess I don't have a choice!" He quickly delved into the knowledge whatever that system was had given him. "Shot Launcher, fire!"
A neophyte though he was at combat, Toya knew power when he saw it. Bellzelute drew a pair of oversized pistols from its hip section, leveled them at the Batta, and snapped off four shots in rapid succession. All struck home, blowing the Jovian mech into fragments.
"That's the way!" Tenia said, patting him on the back. "With you and me and Bellzelute, there's no way we can lose!"
"Not to Jovian unmanned mechs, anyway," Toya conceded, breathing heavily.
Their radio crackled. "Hey, whoever you are, thanks for the assist!" a familiar voice said.
"Don't thank me yet, Kabuto," Toya said. "I still don't know what the hell I'm doing."
"Shiun?" the other said after a moment. "Hell with it; we'll talk later. Just got a call from the Labs; we've got Mechabeasts incoming. Think you can handle it?"
Toya groaned. "Do I have a choice? Don't answer that." He sighed, bracing himself. "Okay, Tenia, now we've got Doctor Hell's mechanical monstrosities to deal with. I'm no combat pilot, but I watch the news, and Mechabeasts are a whole lot nastier than Jovian Lizards."
"Eh, we'll be fine!" Tenia grinned. "You've got a real knack for this kinda thing, Toya. Those Mechabeasts will never know what hit them!"
"Thanks...I think." Grimacing, Toya focused on the next threat. At least eight Mechabeasts, every bit as stupid and ugly looking as he'd seen on TV. If he wasn't so terrified, he'd have enjoyed scrapping those freaks.
Okay, let's try something else. Toya rapidly scanned his system loadout, looking for something with a bit more range. Come on, come on... Perfect! "Tenia, O Rifle B! Let 'em have it!"
It was everything he could have hoped for. An argent lance of blue light speared the Mechabeast dead center, practically melting its core. It staggered drunkenly for a moment, then exploded.
"Rust Tornado!" Mazinger Z had closed with another one. "I dunno what you've got there, Shiun, but it sure packs a punch!"
Toya, not trusting his voice, didn't reply. This is beyond crazy. Dammit, why me? "How," he gasped, "many...more?"
"Still four or five left," Tenia said. "C'mon, Toya, you can do it! Just keep calm and focus!"
"Right...right..." Toya's hands were shaking. She's right. Calm down, or you're dead! "Okay, let's try... Hell with it, I'm sick of this! That big one, Tenia, let's try out O Rifle A."
She grinned. "I like your style, Toya! Coming right up!"
O Rifle A was probably the most spectacular thing he'd seen in those insane few minutes since lunch. Bellzelute's main weapon generated what looked like a green crystalline arrow. When released, it didn't strike a single Mechabeast; it struck one, two, three in a neat row.
Despite his terror, Toya couldn't help gaping.
"See?" Tenia said. "We've gotta protect this machine! With what it can do, there's no way we can let the bad guys have it!"
Toya was given a brief moment to reflect on how cliche that sounded, then the Mechabeasts were on him again, and he had to concentrate on survival. I am so damned sick of this! He shot up another Mechabeast, and turned to face the last one.
The last one was in the act of sliding apart.
"What the!?" Toya looked around wildly. "Wha...what just happened!?"
"Toya, look!" Tenia said, pointing.
A black shape had resolved behind the wrecked Mechabeast. One of the most evil-looking machines Toya had ever seen, it carried what looked like a beam scythe, with a shield mounted on its left arm. It was the head, however, that gave away what it was.
"That...that's a Gundam!" Toya gasped.
"Gundam?" Tenia repeated.
He looked at her oddly. "You been living under a rock? Gundams are a special kind of mobile suit; some independents from the colonies use them. They're not ZAFT, though; the PLANT Supreme Council doesn't trust them."
"We don't trust ZAFT, either," the Gundam pilot said. "Okay, yeah, Clyne's a good guy, but nobody in their right mind gets anywhere near Zala."
Toya froze. No way. It can't be...scratch that, it sure as hell can. He's crazy enough. "Duo, just what the hell are you doing?"
"Fighting the good fight," Duo said cheerfully. "Me and my Gundam Deathscythe got your back there."
"Thanks, I think." Now that the fight was definitely over, the adrenaline was ebbing from Toya's veins, leaving him shaking. Though he'd been terrified the entire time, it was only just sinking in just how close he had come to dying.
One shot. One shot was all it would have taken to kill him. He could have been vaporized in an instant, never knowing what hit him. Just like that.
"Hey, Kabuto, what do you want to do now?" Duo was asking. "Toya's lookin' kinda shell-shocked there."
"Sayaka and I will take him to the Labs," Koji said. "It'll be the safest place for him; I don't think he'd want to meet the Earth Forces right now. You coming?"
"Yeah, sure, got nothing better to do." Deathscythe moved next to the Bellzelute. "If I stay close enough the hyper jammers should cover his machine, too. Just enough to confuse those army goons."
Toya was too tired and shaken to object. Koji was right, he didn't want to deal with the UEFA, especially now. All he wanted, really, was a little peace to settle his nerves. He did, at least, retain enough presence of mind to stop and pick up Katia and Melua, who were waiting below.
"You did great!" Tenia said, giving him another enthusiastic pat. "You just got into it, and BOOM. And- hey, what's that thing?"
Toya forced himself to look. A rotund mech -and was that a cape?- was making its way toward what was left of the battle zone. "I dunno, never seen it before."
A tinny trumpeting sound came over the comm. "Attention, all schoolgirls! The Ally of Justice, Boss Borot, is here to save the day!"
"You gotta be kidding me." Toya covered his face with one hand. "That's Boss, one of Crazy Kabuto's pals. Big guy with the I.Q. of a wombat. How he can pilot a robot... On second thought, I don't want to know. I really don't want to know."
Photon Power Labs
Toya had never been to the Labs, though he'd heard about them on TV often enough. Most of what he saw didn't really register; he was too exhausted, too rattled from the day's battle. It was all he could do just to answer Professor Yumi's questions.
"I see," the professor said. "You don't know anything beyond that."
Katia shook her head. "We don't sorry. All any of us saw was that institute we were kept in, and the hangar when that man got us out. We're as much in the dark as you are."
Yumi nodded. "And what of you, Toya?"
"Me?" Some heat sparked in him. "I just want to go home. All this stuff is way over my head."
The girls stared at him in shock and dismay. "Huh?" Tenia said. "But, Toya, what about..."
"I'm sorry," Toya said, and meant it, "but I've done everything I can. You should be safe here. I don't know what's going on, but the Labs people can take better care of you than I can."
"But..." Melua was actually in tears.
Koji glared at him. "Damn, Shiun, I didn't think you were this heartless! What about them, huh?"
"Shut up, Kabuto," Toya snapped, control fraying. "I didn't ask for this, okay? I'm not some hotshot robot pilot like you and your buddies. I'm just a high school student who had a mech practically land on his head. This doesn't have a damn thing to do with me."
Professor Yumi cleared his throat. "I'm afraid it won't be that easy." He sighed when Toya glared at him. "The UEFA is already asking questions about the incident. If you just leave, they will undoubtedly take you in for questioning."
"Why me?" Toya demanded. "I don't have anything to do with the army."
"Because of the Bellzelute," Yumi said patiently. "Whether you like it or not, you did pilot that machine, and the military is going to want to know everything you know about it."
Koji laid a hand on his shoulder, a hint of sympathy showing through his own anger. "No way around it, Shiun," he said. "It's here, or the UEFA." He looked at the professor. "But is here any safer?"
"No, but there is another way." Yumi ruffled through some papers. "The Nergal Corporation contacted us recently, asking if we would be willing to contribute machines and personnel to an expedition to Mars. You and Sayaka could escort Toya and the girls."
Mazinger's pilot nodded slowly. "Yeah, that'd work. The UEFA doesn't give a damn what happens on Mars right now, so we should be in the clear for a while." He looked at Toya. "You up for it, Shiun?"
"Do I have a choice?" Toya retorted. "If I have to pick between Nergal and the military, I'll take Nergal, thanks. It's not like I've got anywhere else to go right now. Dammit."
"Count me in, too," Duo said. "Be nice to get away from Earth for a while."
"It's settled, then," Yumi said. "Koji and Sayaka will take you to Nergal's dock on the Moon. From there, you should be free of the UEFA for some time."
"Got it, Professor," Koji said. "You ready, Shiun?"
Toya sighed. "Ready as I'll ever be."
"So did the army buy it?"
Yumi sighed. "Reluctantly, but yes. The girls and that mysterious unit 'escaped' and have not been seen since. We have no further knowledge of this matter." He waved a hand. "You have news, Tetsuya?"
"Yeah. Some UEFA units got mauled up in space," Tetsuya Tsurugi said. "Word is all communication suddenly cut off, and they were slaughtered."
"Very strange," the professor mused. "For them to just stop like that... We'll have to investigate, very carefully. In the meantime, Tetsuya, with Koji and Sayaka on their way to space, I'm afraid you and Jun will have to take up the slack here."
Tetsuya shrugged. "No problem. Great Mazinger can handle anything Doctor Hell throws at us."
Yumi nodded. This was only the beginning, he knew. Something about those girls, their mech, and that boy they'd met, something nagged at him. No matter. Whatever happened, happened; he would just have to trust Koji for now, and hope for the best.
Photon Power Labs shuttle, en route to the Moon
Despite the insane events of the day, the silence was relatively amicable. Koji and Sayaka sat together near the front, with Toya and the girls directly across from them. Duo joined them shortly after they broke orbit, complaining about the hassle involved in securing four radically different mobile weapons.
Toya, predictably, was brooding. Just that morning he'd been an ordinary high school student whose greatest worry was dealing with the fostering system. Now, mere hours later, he was a mech pilot against his will, heading for the Moon and from there to Mars. Not exactly how he'd planned to spend his day.
He didn't have anything against the girls, to be sure. In fact, he rather liked them, and certainly sympathized with their plight. The problem was he just didn't see what he could do. Toya Shiun wasn't a soldier, or a Photon Power Labs type, or a Gundam pilot. He was just a guy, who didn't have the slightest idea what was going to happen next.
"You ever been to the Moon before?"
Toya looked up. Truth be told, he got long with Duo well enough. "Once, when I was six," he said. "I don't remember it very well." He shrugged. "So, how long have you been a Gundam pilot?"
"About six months," Duo said. "No point in hiding it now: I was sent from the colonies to fight the Earth Forces. I'm actually from L2, out past the Moon. Anyway, since things have been getting worse and worse between Earth and the colonies -not just the PLANTs, though I hear somebody from there sent a Gundam- they dropped me in to do something about it. Ever heard of OZ?"
Toya shook his head. "Doesn't ring a bell."
"They're some super-secret group inside the UEFA," Duo explained. "We don't know what they're after, but we don't think they're friendly to the colonies."
"So why'd you stop fighting them?" Toya asked pointedly. "There've only been a few Gundam attacks in the last couple months."
Duo grimaced. "'Cause of the Jovian Lizards and Doctor Hell's gang," he said grimly. "This ain't the time for humans to be fighting each other. Dunno what the Reclaimers are thinking."
"Who does?" Toya said with a snort. "They're holed up at the bottom of the ocean." He looked out the window, sighing. "I'm not sure what I'm thinking," he said more quietly.
"Toya," Katia said quietly. "Look, we're all grateful that you're coming with us. I don't know if it helps any, but it's true."
Toya wasn't sure what to think of that, either.
"Hey, Toya," Duo said. "Look, I know you hate it, and I can't really blame you. Just think of it as an adventure, eh? You're goin' all the way to Mars, and the UEFA can't do a thing about it."
"Easy for you to say," Toya said softly, his bitterness returning with a vengeance. "You volunteered for this insanity." He shook his head. "I'm completely out of my depth here, Duo."
The Gundam pilot smiled. "Hey, at least you're not alone, buddy. Kabuto and Yumi will help out, me too. And don't forget you've got those three."
"He's right," Tenia piped up. "We're with ya, Toya!"
Toya managed a smile. Hellish though the situation was, he really did like those girls. Weird. "Thanks," he got out, before turning back to the window. It was, he thought, going to be a very long trip.
How right he was.
Author's Note: My first entry into Super Robot Wars. Rest assured, I am not abandoning my other major projects; I just needed something to excite me in order to get back in the habit, and this was it. I can't make any promises on updates, as my current situation is rather fluid.
For those unfamiliar with Super Robot Wars Judgment, Toya may come across as something of a jerk, but I can promise he gets better. I ask only that you be patient.
The series featured in this fic will be those in Judgment itself, with the addition of Gundam Wing. Those with the greatest story role are as follows: first Gundam SEED (my favorite Gundam show), Space Knight Tekkaman Blade, Blue Comet SPT Layzner, and Brain Powerd. This is not to say the others won't get their moment in the sun, these are just the most important ones.
A note on SEED: Kira and Cagalli will not be related in this version. I am on record as viewing that plot twist as a mistake; thus there will be no Kira/Lacus or Athrun/Cagalli. Please bear that in mind.
That should be it. Until next time.