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[ P - Pre-Teen ]

GunDread SEED
Disclaimer: For those who don't know. I don't claim ownership of VanDread or Gundam SEED so there's no need for me to be in court debating that issue, right?
< >: Thoughts
Chapter 11
(I am really going to hate writing this chapter… Oh well, the things we do for the art.)
Kyo sighed once more as he balanced a couple of cartons of food in his arms, while following Dita through the food storage room. He didn't know why he agreed to act as the Dread pilot's pack mule for this little excursion, but when she came at him in his room making the request with the dreaded sad puppy dog eyes, he could do nothing else but agree. Just what was it about Dita that seemed to make him want her not to cry anyway? Either way he didn't have much in terms of choice.
“All I need now are some carrots." The redhead stated as she checked all the available cartons, she then smiled as she got hold of the carton she was looking for. Loading it on top of the other two that she had previously gotten and the ones Kyo was carrying, she then turned to make a beeline towards the exit. It was at that point that she caught sight of her best friend Paiway; the nurse had been hiding behind the shelf, no doubt spying on them the moment they came into the food storage area.
“What are you two doing here?" The young nurse asked suspiciously.
Dita became a bit flustered as she tried to explain just what she was doing inside the storage area, without giving out the real reason she was doing her little raid. “Uhh, well I'm just going to cook something for lunch today, that's all."
Paiway gave a look of disappointment, then perked up and asked. “By the way Dita, do you know what day it is today?"
Dita shrugged her shoulders while smiling. “Sure I do, it's Thursday."
“Anything else?" The eleven-year-old asked with hope in her voice.
“Uh…no, I can't think of anything else." She then turned to Kazuki. “Come on Mr. Alien!"
The former Yamato winced at that remark. Was it too much for her to call him by his real name? He could tolerate being called K by Gascogne and Grandmother Magno, but being called Mr. Alien all the time by Dita began to grate him a bit more. However he had promised to bare it until Dita did call him by his real name.
The two of them left the storage area, leaving behind a saddened girl.
The hanger bay…
“Are you really sure about this Parfet?" One of the maintenance crew asked as she watched her supervisor begin adding new components and circuits to the ATCISS.
“Yep. These new parts should help Liberty some added firepower." The spunky engineer replied with a smile. “I've always been thinking about placing in these upgrades for a long while now."
“But ma'am, we're talking about tinkering about with a system that we still have little to no knowledge about. We don't know how the Gundam emits the same Paeksis energies and how they affect Kyo's Mobile Suit."
“Not entirely." Parfait interjected as she closed the panel. “I've been analyzing our previous battles; I think that I have an idea as to how Freedom's normal and Overcharge attacks work. If what I've deciphered is right, then these new modifications should be able to enhance those beam attacks easily… that is, until I get to work on fixing the bugs."
“You WANT to make the ATCISS to use a stronger version of the Overcharge?! The Liberty is powerful enough as it is already!?"
“Well…" The chief engineer said as she began to explain. “You're right to say that the ATCISS is powerful and Kyo and Freedom are powerful on their own, even more so when Freedom merges with the enhanced Dreads. Then again, we just might encounter enemies that even they can't defeat by combining with them. So I wanted us to be given another available option."
“Yeah, but the modifications you have in mind will take at least several days to get installed."
“Well, we're not under attack now, are we?"
Parfet was right about making the necessary upgrades as soon as they all could, since they all were going to need them. Back at the Harvester home-planet, another project is now nearing its completion… to create new weapons.
“We have completed implanting all the Gundam's individual battle movements and techniques from our drones' recordings of the Mobile Suit in battle, directly into the Dominion Gundam's neural CPU `brain's' cortex. It'll be able to match up to all the Freedom's attacks and make the proper countermeasures, at an even faster rate." The tech declared as he and his colleagues worked on to finish their latest project. We've also downloaded all of the Gundam's known weaponry schematics and installed all the options, along with the GunDreads."
Another tech waved off the last bit on information concerning the enhanced Dreads. In addiction to their recorded battle footage from the drones, they had taken the time to monitor the enemy frequencies on their long-range sensors. “We've already completed our countermeasures for those fusion tactics. They're now undergoing their final testing stages. Actually, the easiest way to nullify the GunDreads is to make sure that their Gundam counterpart is kept from fusing with them. The main difficulty is, that even without combining with the Dreads, The Freedom and its pilot, are quite deadly on their own, especially with the beam cannons and the Overcharge attack."
The first tech nodded as he pointed to certain areas of their Gundam, while it was being tested in a nearby combat hanger. “Well, let's see how they each fare against… our own Overcharge attack."
At the Nirvana's Medical bay…
“It's just not fair!" Bart complained as he, and Duero were in discussion about their current situation onboard the Nirvana. “We've been onboard this ship for at least several months now and the others STILL don't give me any respect!" When the young medic didn't answer right away, the young navigator continued with his whining about his lack of prestige among the women. Back on Talark, he had been a man of some repute, (this was natural to him as he was the heir to the Garsus Foods Cooperation), but here onboard the Nirvana, the crew took little to no notice of him. Never mind the fact that he was the only person capable of maneuvering the whole ship. Without him the ship could do nothing but drift out endlessly into space. But did the women ever show him the tiniest bit of appreciation? No. The only man they seem to enjoy talking about was none other than…
“Mr. Alien, are those things too heavy?"
“Nope, I'll be okay." The Gundam pilot said as he moved onwards to follow the young Dread pilot to the kitchen, three cartons in his hands, which partly blocked his vision.
Kyo tried desperately to hold on, but by the time he stopped the boxes from moving he had lost track of where Dita was. Naturally, he moved too fast and that made him trip.
He however managed to reach outward and open the door next to him with one of his hands. But the momentum of his movements allowed the boxes to overwhelm his sense of balance.
Kyo shook his head clear of a few sensations when one box hit his head, once he was done; he looked about and found himself in a room filled with an impossible variety of clothes and costumes. Before he could even begin to familiarize himself as to where he was, he turned and found himself staring at someone…
That certain someone was Celtic Midori, and she was changing her clothes. She was staring back at him with wide eyes, she was cute. Her hair was green-blue and was cropped short and framed her heart shaped face perfectly. The worst thing for the former Earthling and Coordinator however was that he was looking at her while she was in her undergarments.
It didn't take long for the young woman in her undergarments to react to the situation…
“I didn't mean to…"
As Kyo landed face first on the floor, he began to wonder just where she hid that massive bat.
The Medical Bay…
“So what do you think I should do so that others will give me more respect anyhow?" Bart asked Duero.
The young physician thought it over thought about Bart's problem for a while, and then Duero decided that telling a story to define things was in order. “Once upon a time, there was a man with very short hair, and he wanted desperately to be in this one group. However, all the men that made the group had very long hair. The man decided that the best way for his to join that group was to have long hair as well. So he decided to buy himself a wig and asked to join. The others accepted him and he became part of their group. It didn't take long for the other men to learn that he was only wearing a wig and had really short hair but they accepted him as they all had become good friends. Do you get the point of this?"
Bart thought about it all for a few minutes, and then nodded as if he comprehended the story. (In reality he didn't get the underlying meaning.) “I got it!" The blonde navigator then headed for his quarters.
Meanwhile at the Bridge…
Ezra was rather busy at her post. However, her mind wasn't concerned for her duties, but on what name she was going to give soon to be born daughter. She had been compiling a good amount of suitable names for the little bundle of joy and wondered which name would be the best for the baby. The little robot Pyoro had insisted back during the Christmas season that the baby would be named Pyoro 2, but Ezra didn't like that name all that much. However she was just too kind-hearted to tell the Nirvana's mascot that she planned to choose a name and it wasn't going to be Pyoro 2.
As she was still deep in thought of her plans, the bridge doors opened. Everyone on the bridge turned to see who was the latest visitor… and were shocked at what they all saw.
At the Kitchen…
Kyo grumbled a bit as he nursed a large lump on his head.
Dita hummed a happy tone as she went to work preparing a special surprise for a certain someone. She had already assured Mr. Alien that what had happened was just a misunderstanding and told them not to worry all about it. She was certain that Celtic had forgotten all about what had happened.
Dita was mistaken…
“Oh, so you finally took that silly costume of yours off, have you?" Jura asked as Celtic came into the recreation hall, still in her underwear, and carrying the bear suit in her arms. Several others were there in the hall as well, including Pyoro.
Celtic was in a panic as she shook her head. “You don't understand! I only wore this suit because I didn't want a single part of my body touching those men! I didn't even want to breathe in the same air they do!"
“What's the big deal? They've been here for a long while, and they're not all that bad." Sara said as she still was resting.
“That's where you're wrong!" Celtic shot back. “I was busy changing clothes, when one of them landed in the room and saw me! It was Kyo!"
That announcement got the attention of several females as they began to develop second thoughts about having the men onboard.
Back at the Medical Bay…
“I can't believe that you did THAT." Duero said as he gazed at Bart. The navigator was decked in a yellow sundress, lipstick, makeup, high heels, and one long blond wig. He caused quite a commotion back at the bridge and it took Duero to restrain him.
“This is your entire fault Duero! You told me that story about having long hair would get the others to give me more respect!"
“That wasn't what I was getting at Bart. I merely wanted to imply that it takes time for relationships and that you have to EARN one's respect and acceptance. I didn't give you the idea to go out there and dress up like that."
The navigator face-faulted like a tree chopped down as he realized that he made a very grave and totally ludicrous mistake.
Back at the kitchen, Kyo noticed that Dita's eyes were welling up with moisture.
“Dita are you all right?"
“No, nothing's wrong. It's just these onions." Dita insisted as she wiped her eyes clear of the moisture. On the counter were some diced onions. Apparently chopping the onions had caused Dita to shed tears. However, the young man and the Dread pilot weren't aware that they were being watched.
A few minutes before…
Paiway had been feeling a bit left out, ever since Dita had been spending more time with Kyo, and less time with her. Before they had encountered the men, she and Dita had been the closest of friends and the young apprentice nurse had always been by her side. Today was supposed to be their special time together, since today was the anniversary that she and Dita had joined up with the pirates. Apparently, Dita had forgotten about it all. All she seemed to care about was her time with Kyo, her Mr. Alien.
She decided to go and look for her best friend, but as soon as she got to the galley, she saw something that made her temper boil. There was Dita, crying while she was facing Kyo! Before she even had time to think the reason for this, she whipped out her mini camcorder and recorded the whole scene, without even saying her trademarked phrase ' Pai Check!'
Just as Kyo and Dita noticed her, she quickly rushed out of the galley and down the hall.
They both looked at where Paiway had disappeared, and then Kyo addressed Dita. “What was that all about?"
“I don't know." The redhead replied as she went back to rubbing her eyes. “Wow, these onions are really strong!"
Kyo strode forward. “Here, let me help you out." He took the knife, and with such speed and flawless accuracy cut the onions, that there was no time for tears.
“Wow! That was so amazing Mr. Alien! Where did you learn to cook?"
“Oh, it's just some thing I learned while traveling and I have been cooking for a long time."
Back at the recreation hall…
“I'm telling you that we shouldn't allow those men to move around so freely!" Celtic said with a strong amount of resolution.
“Oh, what's the big deal about it?" Meia commented. She had spent her time listening to the other girls as the debate about the men began to heat up slowly. “So Kyo saw you in your underwear. I'm sure that he had not meant to do that. That's nothing to be so up tight about, Celtic."
“HOW would YOU feel if he saw YOU in you bra and panties?!" Celtic shot back in answer.
Meia's cheeks blushed up a bit as she had an image of herself in her underwear in front of Kyo. She shook her head clear of that thought and replied. “Still, you're blowing this small incident way out of proportion. I'm positive that…"
“Celtic's right!" Paiway exclaimed as she entered the hall. Everyone turned to her as she turned on a monitor and slipped in a video disk. “Men are vile! Look at this!" She said as she displayed what she had recorded earlier. “See? Kyo made Dita cry!"
The video elicited a number of gasps among the women, as those females who were still unsure of the men, immediately began to take sides.
“How horrible!"
“That's totally unforgivable!"
“You and Dita were the best of friends until that MAN showed up!"
“They all should be punished!"
Meia shook her head again as she then got up from her seat and tried her best to diffuse the situation before it got worse. Now wasn't the time for this sort of thing to happen, with the aliens soon to be stepping up their attacks. “Now hold on a moment here! Let's not go out and make conclusions here!"
“Men are nothing but scum!"
“We should have kept the lot of them locked up!"
“Why did we ever take them onboard in the first place?"
The Dread leader raised her hands up in and effort to quell the dissent among the crew and try to make some sense of what the video did not show. She knew for a fact that Kyo would never make Dita cry. “Settle down and think this over! This isn't going to get us anywhere fast!"
It was then that Barnette sensed this to be the perfect chance she had been waiting for. Her hostility against Kyo, along with the other men in general had never wavered since the journey had begun and now, to her, it was now time for payback for all those times, the Gundam pilot had showed her up. “You're right about that Meia. Arguing isn't going to get us anywhere."
Meia sighed in relief. “Well, I'm happy to know someone's listening to reason…"
“It's time to take action!"
Barnette then began to rally to women who were against the males. “Listen up, everyone! The men onboard this ship have not been under control for too long and I say that the time has come to put a stop to this!"
“YEAH!" several girls shouted in unison.
“Are we going to let the men do as they please?"
“I say that we throw all of them back into the brig where they really belong! This is a female ship and the men have no place on it, right?"
Meia developed a rather large sweatdrop. She wondered how all this grew out of control in such an instant. She wasn't the only one. Several members of Crusader Squadron, including their commanding officer Sara didn't agree with Barnette's plans. Mai was there also and ever since the Christmas party, she had begun to tolerate the presence of the males, especially Kyo. They all began to follow the group under Barnette to see just what would happen.
Back at the galley…
“Perfect! Paiway will be so happy when she tries this meal!" Dita said as she clasped her hands and looked down at her handiwork. With the help of Kyo, she had prepared a special anniversary meal for her best friend to celebrate her first year with the pirates.
“I bet she will be happy to have that for a surprise." Kyo commented, but immediately turned, when his combat tested danger senses were on high alert as the kitchen doors opened to reveal several members of the crew wearing full space suits and aiming blasters… at them. In the leading position of the group was Barnette, who was aiming an old style handgun.
“DON'T YOU MOVE!" She commanded.
“Uh… what are you getting at?" Kyo asked as he reflexively reached for a weapon, but realizing that he might try diplomacy to work things out.
“What's going on here?" Dita asked. She didn't like the looks the others were giving Mr. Alien.
“What's going on here, Dita, is that we're going to put all the men where they really belong… in the brig!"
“What the heck for? I haven't done anything wrong." Kyo said, totally confused as to why this was happening. Then a thought clicked into his mind. “Look, if it's about what happened before this morning, I can explain…"
“Don't you hand us any excuses, you pervert!" Barnette said while gesturing with her handgun. “All men are the enemy and they all should be in the brig being the enemy!!"
“Now hold it right there Barnette. I don't know just what's this all about and what's gotten the hold of all of you, but I can tell you all that I'm NOT the enemy here!" Kyo said with conviction.
“Save your excuses!" Another girl cried out. “We all saw how vile you men really are! You made Dita cry!"
“No he didn't!" Dita said as she pointed to the dish on the table. “I was cutting onions for the anniversary meal for Paiway, and the odors of the onions made me cry, not the good alien. In fact he helped me make this meal for Pai!"
Behind Barnette, Paiway gasped as she now realized that she made an impulsive and rash error. She suddenly had the urge to find the largest rock to hide under. However, Barnette wasn't going to back down on her stance and plans for payback.
“There's no point in protecting this scum, Dita! He's just a man, and all men are the enemy!" She then gestured to Kyo. “Now you can come quietly or…" She trailed off, letting the young man fill in the blanks.
The former Coordinator was silent for some time as he gazed at the angry women, with his gaze boring deep at both Barnette and Paiway. For the whole time… he had hoped that it might work out. This had been the longest time he had spent in one place at a time. The Nirvana felt like a place that he could call…home. No matter how hard life was here, he found it to be a good place to live… and to finally settle down. Now, he felt that the reasons to be here on the pirate vessel were gone… and now he was… truly homeless once again.
“I see that there's no way for me to try to talk some sense into any of you, is there now?" Kyo said in a deadly tone, as he went into a battle-stance, he then gently motioned for Dita to stand aside. The young man's entire demeanor then changed… gone was his normal friendly, calm, patient, and respectful look, he was now wearing his battle face, grim, deadly, enraged, and defiant. “However, if you really think that I'll go to the brig for a crime that I had never committed… then you're all sadly mistaken, Barnette, if you or any of your little lynch mob want me, then you'll have to come here and get me. I'm not going to go down that easily." Kyo said in a tone showing that he wasn't going to give either mercy or quarter, like a caged, hungry, and enraged wolf.
Barnette snorted as she motioned for the crowd to train their laser blasters at the Mobile Suit pilot. However, she then noticed that several of them weren't obeying her commands. She saw that the Vanguard squadron pilots and a few of the Register girls were actually frowning at her, not at Kyo.
“What's the matter with you all? Are you all afraid of one man? Go get him!"
One of the girls sheepishly replied, while she tried not to show her uneasiness at the dark gaze they were all receiving from the young man, " Well… it's not that we're totally afraid, Barnette. At least… not entirely. It's just that… well; Kyo's already done so much for all of us. I mean he saved Meia's life at least several times and he got us out of that really tight ambush back at that asteroid field, especially since he came up with the plan. Then, he cooked all those wonderful Christmas dishes for all of us…"
“He's helped out at the Register countless times." Mai added. “And Kyo, he did save my life before."
“He's… the commander of the Crusader Squadron." Sara stated. Several members of the Crusader Squadron nodded in agreement with their second in command. They all had grown to respect and trust their commander. He was a harsh taskmaster when it came to their training sessions, but he was fair, and he never placed any of them in danger and into any hardship that he himself couldn't handle. Not only that, they had to admit that, if it hadn't been for Kyo, they would have never become an elite part of the defense of the Nirvana.
Kyo felt himself smile at the loyalty being showed to him, even so, this made things more difficult and painful for him as he addressed those who still believed in him. “I appreciate your faith in me. But, from the looks of things, the majority seems to be totally bent on disposing of me, so it would be in the best interests of everyone involved, that I will leave the Nirvana with Freedom, permanently."
He then took one step forward, but Barnette then blocked his paths while pointing the muzzle of her handgun at Kyo's face.
“HOLD IT! You aren't going anywhere but to the brig!"
The other women who still were on Barnette's side aimed their blasters. But in a moment, Kyo blurred forward, he had already activated his SEED mode, turning into a berserker with improved abilities, before Barnette and the others under her command could even THINK of pulling the triggers. Their respective weapons vanished momentarily, and then reappeared in their hands, the barrels still pointing at Kyo. Kyo then held a narrow rectangular object in his right hand, while in his left hand, he held what appeared to be power packs. Kyo gave a deep and rather unfriendly smile. “None of your weapons aren't going to be of much help without bullets or power packs, now are they?"
Barnette's eyes widened as she checked her weapon and realized that the clip had been taken out and the round inside the chamber was also taken out. In the span of a heartbeat, Kyo had totally rendered her weapon useless.
The other women gasped as they also checked their laser blasters and found them without power cells, which were now in the hands of the one they wanted to put in the brig.
Using his thumb, Kyo began to eject all the bullets out of the clip. Holding out his other hand, he collected all fourteen rounds, then without making a sound, he casually tossed all of them into different directions. He then dismantled the clip rendering the item worthless, and without breaking his gaze; he tossed all the parts over his shoulder. It made a series pinging sound as it clattered on the floor.
He then tossed the power cells into the air and in the span of a second, he disassembled the power cells while they were still in mid fall. The cells landed down and broke into quarters as the young man had dismantled them into worthless parts.
That display unnerved several females and many of them began to reconsider about their joining with Barnette's side against the Gundam pilot.
“GET HIM!" Jura's best friend shouted.
Those who did follow Barnette rushed out at the Gundam pilot, hoping to overwhelm Kyo with sheer numbers. However, that was when he… retaliated.
Knowing that the women in front of him were simply misguided, he refrained from using his deadly skills in hand to hand combat, except his most passive techniques. The kitchen didn't offer much in terms of fighting room, so that meant that Kyo found himself limited to close quarters combat. That however suited him just fine, since the females couldn't use their rifles, as they were totally useless without power cells. Instead the women decided to fight with the rifles, using them as clubs and attempted to pummel him into submission. However, the Gundam pilot was totally adaptable to any situation he was in.
Ducking under a swing intended to hit his head, Kyo immediately retaliated and slammed and open palm strike with limited power into his attacker, knocking her back without causing any injuries. He sidestepped a stab at his midsection and instantly took the rifle out of the girl's hands; he tossed it and tripped three other women who hoped to tackle him. Kyo then did the same move he pulled on Rabat before on the girl, knocking her back and sent her flying back into the main group via shoulder toss, the group happened to be at the front door. Barnette and her followers went down and became a tangled heap.
Kyo headed for the exit, pausing only to give the Crusader Squadron's second in command his final instructions.
“I have deep faith for you Sara. You are responsible for the whole squadron now. I leave them in your hands."
“Yes Commander." Sara said with respect and with a nod, as she and the other pilots of the Vanguards stepped aside and gave him a clear path to his freedom and his Gundam. They had made no attempt to get in his way as he dashed through the halls. They made no move to stop them in any case. They all had improved in their martial art skills, but the Gundam pilot was their master instructor.
Barnette stood on her feet and glared angrily at Sara. “What were you doing?! You let him get away!"
Sara and those in her squadron and now under her command stood resolutely against the Dread pilot and those who sided with her. The warrior girl shook her head and spoke out defiantly. “You want Kyo so badly Barnette? Then get him yourself! We're not taking any part of this!"
Both girls glared darkly at each other, and it seemed that things were going to get even more dangerous and could lead to blows. Barnette was a tough fighter by her own right, but she was no match for Sara's hand-to-hand combat skills. Added to that fact was that the Elsman girl and the other members of the Crusader Squadron had received training from Kyo. The gun would have given her the advantage, if it was loaded, behind her the girls who had sided with her began to ready their weapons, which were now loaded with new power cells. They were now ready to fight against those who stood beside the men. On the other hand, the Crusader Squadron and several Register girls were also prepared for the imminent conflict.
Jura's best friend gritted her teeth in anger. That stupid male had turned female against female on the Nirvana. This was his entire fault, and she didn't want to hurt her fellow crewmembers. Barnette growled as she motioned to her subordinates to follow her in pursuit of Kyo.
As the others left, Dita stood in absolute shock and dismay. How had this all happened?
As the Crusader Squadron watched Barnette and those who followed her run around a corner, one girl came up to Sara and asked. “Aren't we going to stop them?"
The female pilot was unsure of what she should do now. Like Barnette, she had no desire to fight against her fellow crewmembers, but at the same time she had developed a deep respect for Kyo. In the end, she stood there as chaos began seeping it's way into the Nirvana's ranks.
At the bridge…
“What? There's a mutiny?" Magno exclaimed when she had received news from Dita.
BC's brows furrowed when she heard the news. Why did this thing happen now? The Nirvana was halfway back to Megele and Talark space and the last thing needed onboard was a breakdown in the ranks of the pilots. “What's caused all this Dita?"
Dita then gave the captain and the commander an abridged version of the events that triggered the whole mess. BC looked on, totally confused by what she and the captain heard. “They started a mutiny, all because of that?"
However, some of the bridge crew, namely Belvedere and Amarone who were monitoring the communications, began to take sides quickly.
“I always knew that men were nothing but trouble!"
“They all should be thrown back in the brig!"
“Who needs men anyway?"
“Oh my! Why are they all so angry with Kyo?" Ezra exclaimed.
“He didn't do anything wrong."
Magno developed a large sweatdrop as she watched the events unfold. Things were rapidly getting out of hand.
At the hanger…
Parfet was still busy working on the ATCISS when Kyo came barreling into the hanger. He immediately slammed the door controls, causing a massive slab of reinforced steel alloy came down, totally blocking off the hanger bay with the rest of the ship; the airlocks no doubt were now sealed so he made the choice to leave via hanger. He got his uniform, and helmet. He then moved towards Freedom's cockpit.
Kyo fumed while being in his Gundam's cockpit. He then lowered his control and pounded the console furiously with his fist, while his visor was not on..
“I can't believe they turned on me like that! All because of something I never intended on doing."
“What do you mean by that Kyo?" Parfet asked as she got hold of Kyo through the communications. “What's going on here?"
Kyo spoke with sad eyes. “You tell me. One minute ago, I was helping Dita make a special meal for Paiway. Then the next minute I'm being hunted for a crime I didn't even commit. I'm leaving…"
“Liberty will go with Kyo and Freedom." The Mobile Suit support unit said in audio as it detached itself from the various devices around it. It had developed a rudimentary intelligence network and personality template in it's main CPU drive, ever since it's exposure to Freedom and Kyo. The machine was loyal to Kyo.
“Hey wait a minute!" Parfet exclaimed. “I haven't finished with the modifications I planned yet!"
“Liberty, you heard your creator… you don't have to…" Kyo began to say.
“Liberty will go with Kyo and Freedom!!" the Paeksis enhanced combat unit spoke with insistent tones.
When there was a dull clanging noise at the sealed door, Kyo considered his current options, but trying to straighten things out was totally out of the question, he had already picked up the communications of released impulsive hatred on the ship, all directed at the men. In a few minutes, Barnette and her little posse would break through the door soon. Having both his Gundam and the ATCISS could help him deal with whatever was out there once he left and got out to space. Leaving the Nirvana had never been his plan before, but now, no matter how painful it seemed to him, to sever himself from his new-found life, there was nothing he could do. He looked at the machine and it's programming responses, and smiled at it's unbreakable loyalty.
“Are you sure about that Liberty? Once we all step through the gates, there won't be any going back for all of us."
“Liberty will go with Kyo and Freedom!" It answered.
Kyo took a breath of air, before finally nodding.
“All right. Liberty, launch and initiate docking mode with Freedom!”
The ATCISS as it powered up it's systems under the command of it's only suitable master and pilot. “Commands accepted!"
Kyo gave Parfet a farewell salute before activating Freedom. The Gundam and the ATCISS powered up and were now ready to leave the Nirvana… for what seemed forever.
“Captain the Freedom and the Liberty have all activated their launch protocols and are now leaving the hanger!"
Buzam and Magno had a really accurate idea as to who was in the Gundam and who could use the ATCISS unit. They immediately got into contact with Freedom.
“Kyo, where are you going?" Magno asked the young man.
Kyo's face appeared on the main monitor. “I'm sorry Grandmother, I know I made a deal with you and B and I gave my word. But I should have known that it would never last as long as we all hoped. For… a while… I hoped that things could really change… I really did, and maybe, just maybe, I could finally call the Nirvana home. I've always been wandering, fighting for to the right to live, helping others, but I've never been able to really find a place to call home. I hoped so badly that the Nirvana was the place… but I guess that I'm not wanted there, so… I guess that I'll have to say goodbye, Grandmother… no, Captain Magno Vivian, it has been an honor for me to have worked alongside you. Have a safe trip home to Megele."
“No! Wait…!"
However, the main monitor showed nothing more as the Gundam and the ATCISS unit combined into docking mode sped off like comets into the deep void of space.
Some time later…
Kyo sighed as he and mecha companions flew through the unending tapestry of stars as they all sped towards… nothing. He never realized just how lonely it was to travel space, until now. His previous journeys with Freedom were all covered in battles, constantly moving from place to place, and he never formed any relationships that were long term. But now…
Kyo began to miss everyone: Gascogne, Sara, Magno, BC, Meia, Mai, Jura… and Dita
He had gotten used to being around people again, but now, they were alone and friendless… just like when they went out into the universe to search for the past. Well, not entirely friendless, he had Freedom and Liberty for company. But no matter how welcome the Gundam and it's support unit were, the former Mobile Suit pilot have been accustomed with humans, now he found himself once more alone, homeless, and with no place left to go at all. The reasons he had for being in the Nirvana seemed broken and fragmented, just like his heart and soul.
Suddenly he broke out of the stupor he was in as he received warning signals from Freedom's long-range sensors, as something was heading straight for them.
Back at the Nirvana…
Magno shook her head in irritated despair. The mutiny was doing nothing more than totally cripple the entire ship. Without Bart, their navigational abilities were totally lost; the Nirvana could do nothing but maintain its automated course. That meant that any evasive maneuvers were now denied and that meant that the Nirvana was nothing more than a sitting duck to any attacks. They didn't even have the option of retreat, which Bart was good at.
Duero's arrest was worse as well, without the talented medic's skills in treating the injured, they then had no other alternative but to rely once more on the mediocre skills of Paiway, which many dreaded to return to. Though she was very talented, the young apprentice lacked in over-all knowledge and medical expertise of her male counterpart. Duero had proven himself as an excellent physician despite the fact that he knew little about female anatomy. Most important of all was his kind and caring attitude that was essential in treating and calming patients.
However, the pirates had suffered an even greater loss, their greatest tactical advantages against their nearly relentless enemy. Without Kyo, and his Gundam Freedom meant that they no longer had the GunDreads. It had already been proven to them that Dreads alone weren't enough on their own, they didn't have Liberty as support craft, not that it would have been any difference, since the Freedom was the only one capable of uniting with the Liberty to unleash it's inner potential, and likewise, Kyo was the only one who could use Freedom to it's ultimate level of power. Even with the Vanguard Squadron, Magno knew that they were still in a serious situation. Sara was an able commander and the girls of the Crusader Squadron were extremely talented, but they all operated more effectively when under the command of their leader and his Gundam. Furthermore, the rift that was formed between the Dread and Vanguard pilots caused a drop in morale. The Crusader Squadron still retained their loyalty to their male commander, which caused a great deal of tension with the pilots that followed Barnette, who was now having a rally against the men in the recreation room.
To add to the problem even more, there was some dissent in the Register. Kyo helped in the supply office and Gascogne's staff without pause during lulls in battles and his efforts was top-notch. However, those who admired the young man's efficiency were now at odds with those who were totally jealous of his skills.
Magno wondered just how the absence of one man could affect the lives of everyone on the ship. As soon as the question entered her mind, she knew the answer. Kyo was a one of a kind individual. In just a short span of time, he touched everyone's hearts, whether good or bad, and now he had been driven away. Hollow feelings ran in all of the Nirvana's crew and the old pirate leader began to wonder whether things couldn't get any worse.
At that point, Meia's face showed on the monitor. “Captain…"
“Yes, Meia? What is it?"
“Well… I'd like to request permission for a search and retrieval operation… for Kyo, Freedom and Liberty."
“What?" Both Buzam and Magno were a bit surprised by this turn of events.
“I'll go with Leader! We'll get Mr. Alien back!" Dita blubbered out as her face appeared on another screen.
“Meia, would you mind explaining why you'd want to risk an encounter with our enemies to do a search?" BC asked with a hint of curiosity.
“Well…" The Dread leader began. “Technically speaking… he is the second in command of the Nirvana's defense, isn't he? And… well, we can't form our GunDreads without Kyo and Freedom and…well, they are our most effective weapons against the Harvesters."
“I see. So it's from a tactical standpoint that you want to look for them, eh?" Magno said with a bit of a grin. She was actually quite aware that there was more to this than just the tactical stand-point.
“Well… that's part of the reason…"
Just then another vid-screen showed up, followed by others, and even more. Soon the entire airspace of the Nirvana's bridge were filled with calls.
“We have to find the commander!"
“We need him!"
“No we don't!"
“Aww you shut up! What would you know?"
“I can't believe he left us all like that!"
“We can still catch him if we launch now!"
“Barnette! This is all your fault!"
“I was hoping he would cook for us again!"
“What are we going to do without the commander?"
“We don't need men!"
“Men are useless!"
“We can't win without his help!"
“We can win!"
“He was going to teach us some new moves for training!"
The chatter droned on for several minutes, until Magno ordered BC to shut down all communications inside the ship. Just before everything became silent and all communications were turned off one voice was heard above all else.
Meanwhile… out in space…
Kyo directed his Gundam and the ATCISS to dodge the incoming barrage of laser and particle beams. He didn't know just why the fleet of new ships fired at him, but the moment he spotted the incoming beams of destructive power lancing towards him, he immediately put Freedom and Liberty into evasive maneuvers.
He took a tally of the attacking forces and determined that there were at least fifty or so medium class battle cruisers, but he could tell that they weren't part of the Harvester fleet as the design was more in the lines of human hands. That meant that they could be from another planet he had never visited before. He then got glimpses of dots of lights coming out from the ships, and no doubt in their minds were the ships' fighters. Just then a trio of beams managed to pass dangerously close to him and thankfully missed, but not without damaging Liberty, as the support unit were hit in one of the cannon arms, by the intense heat.
“All right! Now I'm pissed!" Kyo shouted.
He wasted no time and began powering up Freedom and Liberty's weapon systems…whoever these new guys were…he was going to make them regret ever picking a fight with him.
Suddenly the barrage ended as it had begun and immediately, Freedom received a communications call from the leading cruiser.
“Attention unidentified fighter."
“What the…" The Gundam pilot halted the weapon activation systems as he heard a human voice.
“We are the Melanos Anti Earth Defense Fleet. From what planet do you hail from?"
“What the heck are YOU getting at?! You ask me that question AFTER you give a twenty-one gun greeting card?!" Kyo said in total disbelieving anger. As if he didn't have ENOUGH issues to deal with!
“Tell me, do you serve the Harvesters?"
“Like HELL I do! I've been fighting those (censored) damned Harvesters for over several (censored) months now! And as to where I come from, I don't have a (censored) planet to call even a real home. The last place I was staying in gave me the ceremonial boot to the (censored), for something I never (censored) intended to do in the first (censored) place and it wasn't even my (censored) fault!" Kyo shouted as he unleashed his frustration.
“And for your goddamned information, I don't serve those (censored) Harvesters! I'd rather be dumped in (censored) and shot in the head before I help those (censored) inhuman (censored) bastards! If that's all you guys want to ask me so there's your (censored) answer!" Kyo fumed out.
“I'm tired, I'm (censored) hungry, and I'm now royally pissed off! So if you guys don't have any more (censored) pointless questions to ask me, why don't you and your fighters get their skinny little (censored) out here and in front of my Gundam right NOW! I'm ready to thrash anyone's (censored) if they're (censored) stupid enough to piss me off already for all the pointless stupidity I've been put through today!" Kyo finished as he went back to powering Liberty and Freedom's arsenals.
In the lead ship's command bridge, the commander addressed the officer who was operating the communications network console.
“So, do you think that he is from Earth?"
“I doubt that, Captain." The officer replied. “As far as I can tell, I've never known the Earth forces to SWEAR so much like that."
“I would like to apologize for our harsh actions today." The ship's captain said as Kyo was brought to the bridge. “We all thought you were part of the Harvesting fleet."
The Gundam pilot noted that on each console of the bridge, there were at least two operators, one man and one woman. He could also sense no hostility in the people around him. He then nodded to the captain. “I can speak for myself, it's all right. I've had my own share on encounters with those tenacious bastards. I don't blame you and your crew for being a little over zealous. Though next time captain, do some scanning as to who you're shooting at first, before you shoot."
“We thank all of you for your understanding. And I will keep your advice in mind my young friend." The human captain said with a slight smile. “We've been in deep battle with the Harvesters for a very long time now, and we've set up this defensive line to protect our home-world of Melanos. We've rather be dead in battle than to be harvested like ordinary crops!" He then brought up a holographic display of the places the Harvesters have attacked. “So far, we've been able to repel all attacks from them, but the other neighboring worlds have not been as lucky as we have been."
Kyo looked closely with narrowed eyes, as the pattern of attacks looked vaguely familiar to him. “I don't mean any disrespect to you and your valiant crew captain, but if you remain totally on the defensive, then this fleet is wasting it's time." He said with conviction.
“What do you mean by that?"
"It's been in my experience, that being totally on the defensive without fighting back against one's opponents makes one totally limited in terms of options. Eventually your enemies will wear down your lines and break through, and where would you be if that happens?"
“And what would you suggest we do?" The captain asked in interest.
"Well… in simple terms… take the fight to the enemy and take it right to his face, don't wait for him to come to you. A good, well placed attack will be your best chance for victory. From what I can see, the Harvesters have already established one strong foothold in this part of the galaxy and it will only be a matter of time before they overrun every human world there is available to them in this sector alone. I've been to several worlds that they've paid a courtesy call to and the picture isn't pretty. One planet was turned into a total dust ball, while one didn't even resist."
“I see."
“The worst end of this deal was that the second world known as Anpathos didn't even have the will to resist! They were ready to sacrifice their BACKBONES to those bastards without question! They sure showed that they had no need for their 'spines' anyway." Kyo said with disgust as he recalled Fanita and her people.
“We're not like those people. We are fighting to keep our organs, our lives, and our freedom!"
“I'm not saying that your convictions aren't well-placed Captain, your plans all mean well, but unless you take the battle away from your home-world and to the enemy, then you'll be doing nothing but delay the inevitable. You can't assume anything or even drop your guard for a moment. Those Harvesters are ruthless and will never stop for anything. You and your fleet should take them down… Or THEY will come and take you down… permanently." Kyo said with finality as he looked at every face in the command bridge.
A little bit later…
In one of the fighter hangers, Freedom and Liberty were on standby mode while the Liberty was being refueled and re-serviced. Milling around the area were at least several dozen male-female pairs or couples and the former Earthling felt that the coed atmosphere was a lot better and quite refreshing than the all-female environment he had been residing in for months. There was trust and cooperation in the air and in the people… he could literally feel that in the environment all around them, and it impressed him greatly. It was better than all the suspicion and hidden hostility back at the Nirvana…
The Gundam pilot's expressions softened as he recalled all the good times he had on the pirate vessel. Not everyone was hostile to him. People such as Gascogne, Magno, Meia, Jura, The Crusader Squadron, Sara, Mai, some of the Register girls and… Dita. They all had accepted him and treated him with fairness. It was almost like… he had a family once more. Kyo missed the training sessions with the Crusader Squadron and his long but helpful and relaxing work at the Register. There were the card-games with Gascogne. Oh yes, he lost a lot of hands to her, but he didn't mind being with the tough, but easy going head supplier of the pirates. He admitted he missed head butting and will crashing bouts with strong willed Meia. He missed Jura's still existing fame and recognition hungry antics and the times he was always being stalked by the curvaceous blonde pilot, though he wished that she didn't have to be so close to him too much. And though he wouldn't say it out loud…he missed Dita's cooking and even though he hated to admit it, he missed her antics on trying to interact with him more, and most of all, he missed being called Mr. Alien.
Hr sighed and shook his head at the memories. Those were the best memories he had before he set off to find anything about his forgotten past. Those days were now over and now came the time for him to move on with his life, though it would chafe him for not finishing his promise to help them get home. He was no longer welcomed on the Nirvana and that was that. Now it seemed that he found a new home with the people of Melanos. Kyo turned his head and spotted an approaching visitor. It was a young slender woman, who appeared to be around her late teens and early adulthood. She had short nut-brown hair and was smiling as she approached him. He noted her pleasant looking face and the smiled at her, as she held her hand out in greeting.
“Hello, my name's Seran and I want to welcome you to our ship brave traveler. May I ask what your name is?"
Kyo stood up and shook her hand. “Hi. My name's Kyo. It's nice to meet you Seran."
Seran nodded as she finished shaking his hand. “You're not like most men here that much I can tell. But I also feel that you can be of great help."
“Thanks Seran, by the way, what's your position here?"
“I'm one of the engineers here." She then gestured to the Gundam and the ATCISS." Don't you worry. We'll have all of your mecha fixed up in no time flat."
“Thank you." Kyo went over to his robotic comrades and gazed at them for a while. He retained his silence for several minutes that is until Seran called his attention.
“Hey, are you all right, you look so distant for some reason."
Kyo sighed. “I'm okay, just thinking about some things."
Seran smiled as she looked at Freedom and Liberty. “Those are some partners you have there. Their AI systems are very advanced along with their main systems. Their creator must feel great pride with them."
An image of the spunky Parfet entered the mind of Kyo as he wondered how she and the others were doing.
Speaking of whom, back at the Nirvana…
“I appreciate the food Parfet, but you do know that you'll get into trouble of your other comrades find out about this." Duero said as he rested inside the very same cell, where he, Bart, and Kyo were held prisoner before being incorporated into the crew all those moths ago. He then took the bento offered by the spunky engineer and started eating. Parfet had promised the guards that she would watch over them while they ate their lunch. She naturally had hidden a couple of bentos in her toolbox.
“Well, I think that it's totally horrible the way they have been treating all of you! And all of you have done so much, and you all had absolutely no fault in all this!" Parfet said in answer. “At the very least they should let you have decent food, instead of those awful nutrition pills again."
Duero smiled at the concern Parfet showed as the young Talark medic replied. “Well, I have spent all my life eating those pellets, so it doesn't bother me all that much. Although I have to admit that this form of food is… rather enjoyable." He chewed the food and swallowed before speaking. “I can see why Kyo enjoyed these foods so much."
Bart however snorted in disdain as he sat on one side of the cell, munching on a plate of Talark food pills, totally ignoring the bento offered to him by Parfet. “Better watch it, Duero; you'll never know if the food you're eating is laced with poison. You can never TRUST the women. Those meals she's given you may be the last meal you'll have in this world of the living."
That particular barb cut deep into the brown-haired girl like a laser bolt, and she felt as if he had shot her heart in point blank range. The doctor felt her pain. Contrary to other's perceptions, Duero wasn't the cold and unresponsive unless asked or aloof person he seems to be. He was human and felt pain like everyone else and like others he also felt the need to shed tears as well. Seeing Parfet's pain from Bart's insensitive remark made him feel as if the spark in her had been taken out completely.
“Please, don't mind my comrade's rudeness." Duero said as he gave his blonde comrade a bit of a glare before he turned to face her. “However in light and honesty of the whole situation, can you blame him for being bitter? I myself feel a bit… perturbed by this mess we're all in."
Parfet nodded as she wiped away and quickly hid her tears. “You all have every right to be angry right now for what happened. I just… can't believe that my comrades did this to you! It's as if they've conveniently forgotten all the things we've been through together all the while! And they've conveniently forgotten the importance of you all on this ship! We can't move the ship anywhere else without Bart."
“Hah! You all should have thought of that first before throwing us all into the brig!" Bart said with disdain.
Parfet winced but kept on. “You saved Meia's life before Duero, and you tended to all of us who were badly injured during those battles, without ever resting or pausing. I don't think that we've ever have doctors as talented as you. I know Paiway's doing her best, but she's not as experienced in medicine like you. There are those who were injured in the last battles are getting worse, cause you aren't around to treat them. They were all recovering well… but now…"
Duero shook his head sadly as he knew the situation. “I'm sorry, Parfet. I'd like to help Paiway and help her out. As a doctor, it's my duty to heal others, but I can't do much from in here. If the captain could somehow get us all out of here, then perhaps…"
The head engineer shook her head in sad agreement. “I'm so sorry Duero, but the situation isn't as simple as that. Right now the captain's hands are tied up and so is Buzam's. The crew have split into two groups and tension is mounting up quickly. Barnette is rallying those who are against you men to her side."
“What of the other group Parfet?"
“The Crusader Squadron and some of the Register girls still believe in you, Bart, and most of all… to Kyo. If the Captain or the Commander take either side, then the results could be an even bigger mutiny."
“So there's nothing that can be done now?"
“Right now, all we can do at this point is to hope."
“What about you Parfet? Whose side are you own?"
The girls' cheeks became tinged with pink as she looked at Duero's face. It seemed to her as if that one eyed gaze of his was looking at her very soul. She gulped a bit and managed to get her mouth to work. “I'm… I mean, that the engineering staff and I are kind of neutral on this matter. You see, we don't want of involve ourselves in these politics. Our only concern is to keep the ship running in good order, not participate in a mutiny and take sides."
“You mistake the question. I wasn't asking on what side your teams in Engineering are on. I'm asking YOU on whose side are YOU on?"
Parfet then uncharacteristically twiddled her index fingers before responding in a quiet voice. “I think… you already know which side I am on." She then pointed to the bento box in Duero's hands.
Duero smirked a bit as he noted her nervousness and continued to eat.
“I can't seem to fathom just how all of this happened." Duero said as soon as he finished his meal and watched Parfet walk away.
Bart grumbled as he finished his own meal of pellets, and then tossed the ray to the side in disgust. “This is all Kyo's fault! The women got mad at him and he left us here to take the blame!"
The physician shook his head without turning to face his comrade. “From what I could gather, they didn't have much in terms of choice. It's totally ironic though, that the person who brought us all together would the one to be driven out." Duero said.
“What are you two talking about?" The navigator asked with some irritation.
“It should be obvious Bart. Think about it, without Kyo and his help, we all would have never gotten this far." Duero said with seriousness.
“And it doesn't mean how close we are now to Talark and Megele. Look at what we all have accomplished now. Men and women working TOGETHER. Back on either Talark or Megele, such a thing or concept would have been considered heresy and unthinkable. But here in the Nirvana, it became a reality." Duero said.
“Hmpf! A lot of good that did us!" Bart scoffed.
“It did all of us good!" The Talark medic stated strongly. “And it was through Kyo that the way was shown to us all. When Kyo and Freedom first combined with a Dread, he showed the chance of it happening, he showed that working together was possible. He knew that in order to make it through and to survive this war we all, men and women alike had to work together as one, and he did so, without ever considering the drawbacks. With his formidable skills, knowledge and his Gundam, he had all the right to abandon us a long time ago, but he didn't. He chose to fight alongside us all, male and female. He showed that men and women could become allies, and not enemies. He never cared about anyone's gender. He treated everyone the same."
Duero nodded as he could see the comprehension dawning on Bart's face. He continued with all the thing Kyo had done for them. “And look at all we have accomplished, because of our cooperation. Time and time again, working with the women, we were able to defeat a force that we could never defeat by ourselves and they would have destroyed us all had we been working alone. And think on how efficient the ship has become, with all of us constantly working side by side with the women. Kyo, not only helped out in battle with Freedom, but also with the Register, and Gascogne herself told me that the Register has never been so efficient in it's duties had it not been for Kyo. He also taught the women how to pilot the Vanguards, making them an even more effective and elite unit than some of Talark's own elite squadrons. Look at me…I am a very good doctor, but I couldn't handle all the patients coming in had I not had Paiway working with me. Finally there's you. You may feel that you're being down-graded by others and not getting any respect you deserve, but Kyo knew for a fact that you hold a totally important position on the ship. The others may joke about you, but Kyo never did. He knew that you had great importance, because when you came right down to the point of it all, we all depend on you, to get all of us back home. All of this was possible… because of Kyo. Through better or worse, he believed in all of us, in our strength and kept the bond firm and strong. That very same bond that now is broken. We can't blame him for what happened, but now we must hope that he will come back."
Bart became introspective as he considered his comrade's words. Finally after a long period of silence, he said several words to no one in particular.
“Kyo… come back!"
Back on the Melanos Fleet…
“What the heck is this stuff?!" The former Coordinator exclaimed as he spat out the drink offered to him by Seran as they took a break from servicing Freedom and Liberty. The girl's life-mate or rather boyfriend joined them and held Seran.
“It's a special Vitamin C and nutrient drink." The girl replied as she drank her own, showing no discomfort with the taste. “It's good for your skin." Seran said as she finished her own drink.
< Pretty similar to Talark food pills, only in liquid form. > The Mobile Suit pilot thought.
“My skin?"
Seran's mate nodded in acknowledgement. “Yes. The Harvesters are interested in harvesting us for our skin."
“That figures." Kyo said in disgust as he turned his attention to his Gundam's cockpit and punched in a set of navigational maps that the immediately fed to a nearby, tactical table. The map he had downloaded from Freedom formed on the screen along with the maps he requested from the Melanos captain. Once that was over he immediately checked the map. Kyo began lighting up several points high-lighting a number of planets and began pointing them out one by one. “For every planet those Harvesters visited, they slaughter the inhabitants and take a specific body-part for themselves. They view us humans as nothing more than cattle. Right here, I encountered and explored a dead world where the people were harvested for their blood. The enemy was all too kind enough to leave a little farewell gift down there. Over here is Anpathos…" Kyo growled silently at the memory of Fanita and her people. "… where they wanted to harvest the spinal cords from the inhabitants, and people considered them Munya, or God. Now Talark and Megele are targeted as well. From whatever data we recovered from Rabat (after I took the time thrashing him), the Harvesters are interested in harvesting the reproductive organs from the men and women."
“You said WE encountered them." Seran interrupted. “Were you with someone else?"
“Yeah… for a while at least." Kyo said as he shook his head sadly. “But in any case, this map is what your captain showed me in the bridge." The Gundam punched in more coordinates on the table's controls and indicated each one. “Your planet of Melanos, where the Harvesters are after your skins. On this planet they took the livers. This one they took the spleens. One this next one they took the heart, and on the next one, the lungs…" Kyo stopped and stared intently at the map as something familiar came into his mind.
“What's wrong?" Seran's life-mate asked.
“Something about this whole thing looks all too familiar." Kyo said as he began thinking back on something since he had seen something like this before, then swore as he recalled the time when Parfet had decoded the information module that Rabat had with him. He immediately tapped into Freedom and checked all the log files and star charts from Rabat's data module. During the time when Parfet was upgrading and maintaining his Gundam, the Freedom was hooked up to the ship's main system, and was always in the procedure of updating it's OS database.
Kyo got the files and then compared the navigational charts of Rabat's trade routes that he downloaded and then tried to match the chart with the one he already have using the Melanos maps, and when the Gundam pilot looked at the chart, he gave a loud growl of anger as he saw that both maps were completely identical. Even more so as he double-checked all the coordinates and time-dates into the same map and saw no mismatches.
“What is wrong Kyo? You spoke of this one named Rabat, just who is he?" Seran asked.
Kyo growled even more at the mere mention of that name as he answered. “I've met this scumbag a few months ago. Rabat happens to be an interstellar mercenary, con artist and trader. But right now I think that the more appropriate term for him is TRAITOR!"
Both Seran and her life-mate were confused at this, but decided to find out as they followed the Gundam pilot as he exited the hanger and made his way to the bridge.
“I…I can't believe it." The captain said as he gazed at the evidence being projected in front of him and the crew, along with everyone else on the other ships who were watching. “I've heard of this Rabat and I knew that he's both a cheat and a scoundrel. He had cheated several of our colonies with his lying tactics, but for him to do this… I can't believe that he'd sell out the entire human race!"
“Then you'd better believe it, sir." Kyo said. “I've cross-referenced the dates and coordinates on that information cube he had with him and the times in which planet was attacked by the Harvesters. They match within the days, or even the hours after he left those worlds. Every planet he paid a courtesy call to, the Harvesters came in and those worlds were destroyed and gutted. There are way too many connections for this to be considered mere coincidence."
He then looked at all the data and maps, and sighed angrily “I've always been rather curious as to how that rat had been able to travel the whole universe without getting into a single battle with the Harvesters, and now I know why. He's nothing but a stinking rat… a RAT BASTARD and a TRAITOR! He's been working for the damn monsters all this time!" Kyo said with venom in his voice.
“I still can't believe that this…this…person, could just sell the entire human race to those monsters."
“It all makes perfect sense when you look at it. He lands on a planet or colony, sells his junk, cheats honest and good people out of their hard-earned money, and then relays all the information to the Harvesters about the planet's defenses, standing forces and what organs are usable. I've already seen the bastard's handiwork on a planet where he sold a defective nutrient supplement synthesizer to a colony. Ever heard of the planet Veruis?" Jin asked.
“Veruis? I'm… sorry to say this… but that planet no longer… exists." The captain said solemnly.
“WHAT?!" Kyo shouted in shock and disbelief.
“It's all true. Our most distant outposts have been tracking the progress of our enemies… and our ally Veruis was obliterated… at least nine months ago."
“That can't be! I left that planet nine months ago and that colony was fine after I brought them enough food supplies and other essential materials to get back on their feet!" He said, shock thick in his voice.
“How long ago did Rabat leave Veruis when you got there, and when did you leave the planet?"
“I got there a day after he cheated those people with that defective nutrient supplement synthesizer, and I left two days later after providing them with enough supplies to get back on their feet." Kyo answered, as he felt the rising fear of what had happened.
The Melanos captain became silent as he matched the dates, and then nodded. “That makes it about right. The Harvest Fleet came in a few days later and stripped every man, woman, and child of their pituitary and adrenaline glands. Veruis is now nothing more than an interstellar graveyard."
Kyo felt as if he was struck by meteors in the gut. All those innocent people… all of them…dead. His efforts of alleviate their suffering and anguish were in vain! All because of Rabat! The Gundam pilot's eyes glinted as looks of pure rage and the desire to destroy came in as he had an image of the con man in his minds. That bastard was going to pay dearly! He swore that when he got his hands on that reject's throat, he was going to send him straight to HELL!
At that very same moment, alarms went off as the ship's long range sensors had picked up something large, heading directly for the Melanos Defense Fleet. Kyo looked at the main monitor and what he saw made him gasp in shock and his blood to chill for a moment.
They're here.
Several hours later…
“I don't know… Barnette's really going to blow a gasket when we get back to the ship, Sara. I'm not even sure the Captain or the Commander would approve of us disobeying orders."
The pilot snorted in disdain as she and her Vanguard group flashed through space. “Do you think that I care what Barnette thinks? And as I recall the captain and the Commander DIDN'T give us the order not to go in the first place, so I'm not breaking any orders in this case, now am I? I didn't recall asking you all to join me either. Get back to the Nirvana. That's MY order."
The girls in the Crusader Squadron all shook their heads and responded.
“You can forget that."
“Everyone knows why you're out here."
“Yeah, and we know that it's a lot better if there are more of us to help in the search."
“We'll all have a better chance of finding them this way, and also we'll be able to cover each other's backs just in case the enemy decides to show up."
“We all think that it was a BIG mistake to drive him away."
“That's right! The Angel Squadron looks after their own!"
“Let's go and find the Commander!"
Sara felt herself overwhelmed by her subordinates' determination to find their leader. She sighed while shaking her head and smiled. “All right. Just so you all know, what we're about to do might just send us all into the brig once we're all back at the Nirvana, but it'll be worth it, if we can bring Kyo home… where he belongs!"
“RIGHT!" The others said with conviction.
However, just as they were about to break into a search pattern, three more individuals showed up to suddenly join the squadron. The three Paeksis-enhanced Dreads came alongside the Vanguards
Meia's Dread fly just beside Sara's Vanguard as the pilot hailed her comrade.
“Just what do you think you're doing all the way out here Sara?" Meia asked the Vanguard second in command. “Your squadron wasn't given the authority to launch!"
“Oh really?" Kyo's right hand of the Vanguard Squadron retorted. “And exactly WHAT are YOU doing all the way out here Meia? Since I were to recall, the Captain and the Commander never gave you the order to be deployed either."
Meia became a bit flustered as she tried to explain herself. “Uh…well, I thought that it would be best to patrol the area… in case the enemy shows up."
Sara didn't believe that for a second. “Yeah, sure you were. Come on just admit it Meia. You're out here for the same reason we are. We all want Kyo back."
“YAAAAYYYYY! Let's go out and find Mr. Alien!" Dita called out happily.
“Dita!" Meia scolded the young redhead.
“Well, I guess there's no point in trying to hide it, Meia. They found us out." Jura replied nonchalantly.
“I guessed as much." Sara then addressed Meia and Jura. “I don't need to ask Dita for her reason to be out here, since that's too obvious. So I'll ask the two of you, what are you're reasons for wanting them back on the Nirvana?"
“Simple." Jura replied. “I can't become elegant in combat without Kyo and Freedom, now can I?"
“What about Barnette?"
“I love Barnette to bits, but I can't agree with her on this particular matter. Once I get back, we'll have a long chat together. Kyo is too… interesting to let go of so easily." Jura replied. She was also thinking about the kiss he had given her back at Anpathos.
“What about you Meia? Why do you want them back?" The Vanguard pilot asked the Dread Squadron Leader.
The aqua-haired girl sighed a bit. Why bother denying it anyhow? “Kyo and Freedom are our best chances of beating the Harvesters. They are our best tactical advantages and… Kyo's a good… friend."
Sara and her group considered the three Dread pilots, and then all agreed to allow them to help search for the Gundam and it's pilot. The Dreads and the Vanguards sped off into the endless void. A few minutes later, one of the Vanguard pilots gave a whoop of joy as she picked up two faint locator signals, which belonged to Freedom and Liberty. The females began converging on the coordinates.
Rabat gave a whistle as he saw the massive wreckage of more than at least three dozen starships littering the sector of space he was currently in. He activated his ship's scanners and began checking all the wreckage, hoping to find anything worth salvaging. However, he knew that he may not find much, since the Harvester fleet were quite thorough and usually left little behind once they attacked. Then his scanners picked at least two present but faint distress signals, His simian partner Utan gave several hoots and grunts and pointed to two large masses that were floating nearby.
Rabat's eyes widened as he recognized the objects once they came into view. They were battered and charred in many areas, but he still recognized them. They were Freedom and it's support unit Liberty. They were severely damaged, part of Freedom's body armor was melted right off despite the P. P. S Armor system, revealing it's servos near the arm and part of it's leg armor was charred. Several poles punctured the left arm, and one of the collapsible rail-guns was broken. Liberty suffered a lot as well, part of it's beam cannon arsenal was broken, One of the beam cannon/sabers was busted and several areas were badly dented and pitted. They looked like they had been sent through at least a dozen meteor showers.
Rabat began to wonder just how did the mechas wind up all the way out here, with all the wreckage and far away from their mothership, the Nirvana, then he glanced down at the sensors. They were picking up a faint life-reading. There was someone inside of the Gundam's cockpit! And judging from the readouts, the person was barely conscious. Utan's owner gave an evil smile as he had a hunch on just who was in the cockpit. If he was right, then his chance for payback had arrived! He had just recovered from the beatings he had received from Kyo, during his last visit from the Nirvana, and during his healing; all he ever thought about was to finally finish the snot-nosed punk!
Since the Gundam and the ATCISS unit were badly damaged for him to salvage anyway, Rabat decided that they weren't worth his time and aimed his ship's cannons at the damaged mechas, with Freedom being the first on his list. Though Utan made several distraught noises, as if telling him to reconsider what he was about to do, Rabat naturally paid no attention to her. This what he had been waiting for all this time! However, just before he could get a lock on Freedom, his sensors gave out an alarm as some new signatures were heading towards him.
The Crusader Squadron and the three Dreads appeared on the scene following the distress signals from Freedom and Liberty. They immediately converged on Rabat's ship and the stricken Mobile Suit and support unit. With their weapons trained on him, Meia got into contact with the trader.
“Back off Rabat! If you even try to escape or open fire on Freedom, then we'll atomize you before you can even scream!" Meia didn't need to look closely, to know that Rabat's weapons were trained on the Gundam. The thought of that trader shooting Kyo while he was helpless, made the Dread leader angry.
Rabat however, put on his most honest smile and replied in his most sincere voice. “What are you talking about? I was just on my way to get you guys after I found Kyo in trouble. I was just about to rescue him when you all showed up and…"
“Spare us your garbage talk Rabat!" Sara said as she motioned for her teams to place towlines to Freedom and Liberty. “You're coming with us! The second you try anything stupid, we'll atomize you!"
Rabat saw that he had no other choice and growled a bit at the lost opportunity. He then nodded in agreement as he directed his ship to head towards the waiting Nirvana.
Inside the cockpit of the recharging Gundam, all was silent as a bloody and badly injured figure lay on the seat. Kyo had suffered several injuries from their latest engagement with the Harvesters, and were dropping in and out of consciousness. Currently his body's enhanced metabolism was healing the injuries, but considering the enormity of the beatings he received, the healing took longer than before. The life-support systems in his Gundam were still able to keep them alive though power was not in good supply, and there were sparks all over the cockpits, as they were now being brought back to the Nirvana… the place the pilot of the Gundam once called…home.
To be continued…
Author's notes:
This has been a long and hard chapter to write. I had been busy with some new projects that I decided to place this chapter on hold, so I can work with new ideas, concerning fusions of Vandread and some other anime shows and some other ideas, and also my own original mixes. On the next chapter, there will be another encounter with Rabat and Kyo, and this time he is going to release and reveal his SEED ability and give this TRAITOR a good thrashing. Kyo's encounter with the Harvester forces against the Melanos Fleet will also be described in the next chapter. The GunDread series is taking a whole new twist, namely with…oh, that would be telling! I'll wrap this up in a nice little package soon, so hold on to your hats!