Mobile Suit Gundam Fan Fiction / Gundam Wing Fan Fiction / Gundam SEED Fan Fiction ❯ Mobile Suit Gundam GGeneration: Dreams ❯ Chapter 5: Prelude ( Chapter 5 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Chapter 5: Prelude
Mark Schneider and Marigbo Olwatomi walked silently down the halls of Oz Madrid Central Command. Both of them had been badly shaken by what happened on St. Helena, but it was Mark who took most of the blame when they reported in at Cape Town.
Marigbo silently felt sorry for his superior after the incident since there was nothing that both of them could have done to stop the attack. Their Leos were like dolls compared to the monstrous mobile suit that had attacked them. How the hell did a terrorist group get their hands on such advanced technology? Those questions melted into Marigbo's subconscious when they reached a large door. Two men dressed in Oz foot soldier uniforms saluted to them and swung open the oak doors.
The sight of dozens of Oz pilots awaited the two of them. Large monitors lined the walls of the room while several men dressed in high-ranking officer uniforms paced backwards and forwards checking up on the operators who worked at their stations. The room was dark but the monitors provided sufficient illumination for everyone inside to see and walk around. There was a low hum of chatter from the waiting Oz pilots and the operators but there was an anxious mood within the room.
Mark and Marigbo edged into the crowded room and made their way to the wall furthest away from the platform. While Mark just shut his eyes and retreated into his own little world, Marigbo was peering around the room, looking for anyone he knew. His vision fell upon three pilots. All of them wearing the same type of uniform as everyone else, except they were coloured red and black, not just the usual dark green. Marigbo stared at the group for a while before realising that he was looking directly at Major James Harris (or just The Major) and his squad: Lieutenant Mason Graves and Lieutenant Kathryn White. The three of them were the top aces of Oz, why they were here was beyond Marigbo. Suddenly a voice behind Marigbo boomed across the room. He had no idea how loud Mark's voice could be.
“YO! MAJOR! GRAVES! WHITE! OVER HERE!” Mark's voice echoed throughout the entire room, turning every head towards him. Marigbo shook his head as he, again, was caught in one of Mark's embarrassing episodes, yet Mark seemed blissfully unaware of what others were doing or cared about what they thought of his actions.
The group of three turned towards Mark. Marigbo thought they'd just ignore him and pretend not to know who he was. But instead, Kathryn White made what seemed like a squealing noise and sprinted across the room. Her light brown trailed behind her as she ran. It shone brilliantly even in the darkened room. The crowd barely had time to part as she ploughed through the group of people and jumped on Mark, nearly toppling him over. Mark grabbed her by the waist and threw her up like a child before they kissed each other passionately, unaware of the looks given to them by the entire room and the whistling by some of the pilots.
James Harris and Mason Graves walked across the room unhindered by other pilots thanks to the wake Kathryn made behind her when she dashed to Mark. When they moved closer, Marigbo noticed that Mason had a scar running down the right side of his face. He knew that Mark was part of the ace team before he was promoted, but he never thought of meeting them here today.
Mark and Kathryn, finally separated, brushed their uniforms down. James stuck out his hand to Marigbo. Marigbo stood there for a few seconds in shock that The Major would actually shake his hand. He grabbed it before The Major could retract his hand.
“I suppose you're Junior Grade Lieutenant Marigbo Olwatomi?” James asked. Marigbo felt that his voice was firm and commanding, quite suitable for the man.
Before they could continue their short conversation, the entire room fell silent as a tall young woman walked into the room. Marigbo could make out that she wore a brown Oz officer's uniform. From the way that she wore her hair he knew that it was Silvia Tyme, secretary and top adviser to his Excellency Riken Holm.
The pilots in the room watched as she walked past them as if they didn't exist. This was normal behaviour for Silvia since she usually looked down upon the common soldier and pilots. This was because she only answered to no one but Riken Holm. Marigbo and all of the other pilots' eyes followed her as she climbed the staircase onto the control platform and then strolled straight out of the door at the top, leaving the room full of confused officers.
After a few seconds after the strange departure, the noise level of the room rose back to what it was. Marigbo turned back to James Harris and looked him directly in the eye, trying to figure out what goes on in that head of his.
“So Marigbo,” James continued over the din of voices behind him, “You ready to become part of the Quest Squadron?”
Marigbo almost tumbled over. The Quest Squadron was Oz's elite team. They were the best of the best, the crème de la crème. That was why the squad included James Harris, Mason Graves, Kathryn White and, before his promotion, Mark Schneider. How would a lowly junior officer be accepted into the crack team of pilots?
“Are you alright?” James asked.
“Yes, sir, Major, sir.” Marigbo stuttered a reply.
“There's no need for formalities in the Quest Squadron, Marigbo. We're on first name basis.”
“Right. Yes, sir, I mean James.” Marigbo stumbled over his words again.
His mind was racing with questions about his inadequacy and inexperience, but somehow he had made it to the team that every Oz pilot aspires to be on. He looked over the shoulder at Mark, who was having a conversation with Mason and Kathryn. They were probably enjoying themselves because every now and then Kathryn gave out a cute giggle.
“Um, James, why was I…um…you know…err…” He tried to get the words out of his mouth but for some reason found his internal vocabulary dictionary to be wiped clean.
“Why were you chosen?” James completed the sentence for him.
“Yeah. I mean you all have customised Leos. Mark has the Leo N, Lieutenant Graves…”
“First name basis.” James reminded him.
“Right. Mason pilots the Leo S, Kathryn uses the Leo R and you, sir, have the Tallgeese. So why do you need me? An inexperienced pilot in a Leo Cannon?”
James thought about this for a moment, looking out into nothingness while folding his arms and put a hand under his chin. To Marigbo, he looked strikingly like Sherlock Holmes. After a few seconds, James looked directly back at Marigbo.
“I dunno. For comic relief, I think.” James couldn't keep a straight face when he saw the shocked look from Marigbo.
“I'm only joking with you!” James patted Marigbo on the back, “No. We seriously need you and Mark. You and Mark were the only pilots who made it off St. Helena, and from what Mark tells me, you have talent.”
Marigbo winced slightly as James slammed his hands again on his back.
The room quietened again as the door to the side of the raised platform opened. Silvia Tyme walked back into the room, this time carrying a large binder and a glass of water. The pilots stared at her in absolute silence as she flipped through the pages of the large binder and then looked up at the people below. Silvia Tyme was technically a civilian, as she had no rank, but she was well versed in military procedures and protocol. Since she worked so closely with Riken Holm, as his secretary, she technically had a rank of Colonel or a Brigadier General.
“Well, I suppose I'd better not keep you waiting.” She said as she removed a small laser pointer from her jacket's breast pocket and switched it on. A small, yet visible, dot appeared on one of the blank screens above where Marigbo and the rest of the Quest Squadron were standing. Suddenly, a giant image of the map of Europe appeared on it. There were sounds of feet shuffling as pilots moved away from the back wall to get a better view.
“As you may or may not know,” Silvia continued. Her voice was sharp and clear, “His Excellency Holm will be travelling from his mansion in Paris to Lisbon, ahead of the Oz-Titan-EUF Conference in Southampton. He will be meeting with the Romefeller Foundation Representatives in Lisbon to discuss the agenda for this year's conference.”
“Because of unforeseen circumstances, his Excellency will not be travelling by plane to Lisbon, instead he will be travelling by train.” The map suddenly zoomed in to France, Spain and Portugal. The dot from Silvia's laser pointer began moving along a line on the map. “This line is the rail route which the train will be moving on. The train will cover around 2000km from Paris to Lisbon and will take around a maximum of 3 days to complete the journey. Our job is to ensure that his Excellency's train is protected from any attack.” A low murmur of voices rose from below Silvia. Though Marigbo was the furthest away from the platform, he noticed that she looked rather annoyed as the soldiers began chatting.
“The plan,” She carried on without waiting for silence, “is to line the rail track with mobile suits. There will be a Leo stationed on the track every 10 km while three Aires will provide air cover. The Aires will have a 3-hour shift rotation while the Leos have a 6-hour shift rotation. In addition to this, several pilots will be stationed on the train itself with his Excellency to ensure that if anything were to go wrong, there's going to be backups.”
The screen flickered slightly and then the image changed to a mobile suit. It didn't take long for Marigbo to realise that the mobile suit was similar to the one that attacked him and Mark and killed two of his squad mates.
Silvia took a sip of water before she carried on with her briefing.
“You have probably heard that a few days before, the island of St. Helena was attacked by three mobile suits. They were sent down to Earth by a colonial terrorist group, the AEUG. We expect that those units will catch wind of this operation and ambush his Excellency. Therefore, we must be prepared to deal with them.”
“On the screen is all the data we gathered about these three suits. From what we can tell, they are made of a lunar titanium and polygundanium alloy, which would explain how they were able to enter the atmosphere and be almost invulnerable to projectile weapons. And I believe that currently…” She smiled and narrowed her eyes at the Quest Squadron standing by the screen, “…only the members of the Quest Squadron and a few others have survived an encounter with these suits.”
The entire room cast their eyes onto the group. Marigbo, who was not accustom to the attention, lowered his head while his face turned a shade of pink. However the other members of the squad just looked normal, except Mark who gave the pilots a small wave.
“As you have encountered these suits, would the Quest Squadron like to add anything to what I've said?” Marigbo felt that there was a mocking tone in Silvia's voice when she asked the question. Was she insinuating that the he and Mark deserted their friends when the Gundam attacked? His face turned from pink to red as anger swelled up inside of him. He wanted to say something, but James held him back. James turned to look at Mark, Mason and Kathryn before answering.
“Thank you Miss Tyme.” Marigbo noticed that James' voice suddenly changed from the laid back and friendly tone to something much more serious and much more fitting for something of his rank.
“These MS are like nothing that we have faced before. They are agile and powerful. The one I fought,” The screen suddenly changed to the Wing Gundam, “Ah, yes, that one there. This suit had a Variable Geometric Configuration that allowed it to transform into a bird-like fighter that supported atmospheric flight and aerial combat capabilities. Those giant wings allow it to maintain flight in mobile suit mode. The unit is also armed with an extremely powerful beam rifle and extra care should be taken when approaching for close quarter combat for the pilot is an expert swordsman.”
“Thank you for your analysis, Major Harris.” Silvia interrupted before he could go on any further, “The next two units you see are the MS which attacked St. Helena. The only two pilots to survive the attack are Captain Mark Schneider and Lieutenant Marigbo Olwatomi. I would ask them to give a report, but I'd rather not let them relive their dreadful encounter.”
Marigbo felt rage swell up in his chest. He wanted to charge right onto the platform and beat that woman to a pulp. Marigbo wasn't the only one filled with anger when he saw that Mark's fists were tightly clenched, but his face showed no sign of how he felt inside.
“The two units you see here are totally opposites of each other.” Silvia went on, “The MS on the right, codenamed Unit 02, is almost purely built for stealth and close combat. Armed with a beam scythe and clocking jammers like the Mirage Colloid developed by the Titans. It would be advised that this one is taken down by heavy artillery or carpet-bombing. The MS on the left, or Unit 03, is almost purely long-range combat. Its body seems to store missiles and Gatling guns, like the belt-fed one on its right arm. But once it uses up its ammunition, then long-range combat would be advised."
"She probably wants to send wave after wave of soldiers into that thing to waste ammo..." Marigbo heard Mark mumble to Mason and Kathryn.
"And finally the Winged Gundam, or Unit 01, is versatile on all terrains, but long range assaults is advisable. Alright, I believe that about covers it. Here are your assignments and duty shifts, please pass them around. The operation will be codenamed `Juggle'. The train will leave Paris in two days. All personnel who will be stationed on the train will leave tomorrow morning.” Silvia concluded her presentation and distributed many large piles of paper from her overflowing binder to the pilots below.
Marigbo was seething with hate and contempt for Silvia. The Quest Squadron stood in silence as the pilots around them all tried to see what they have been assigned and where they were stationed. James, over the racket in the room, leaned over to Marigbo.
“Don't mind her, mate. She's always had it in for us. She's just…how should I describe it? Jealous, no that would be too harsh...”
“What?” Marigbo replied in confusion.
“Well, apart from the top brass, only two types of people report directly to his Excellency. One would be his secretaries, Miss Silvia Tyme there, and the other would be us, the Quest Squadron.” James said as he flipped through one of the multiple piles of assignments was finally passed to the back of the room.
“So are you saying that we're her rivals?” Everything made sense, now, to Marigbo.
“Yeah, you could say that…Mason, Mark, Kath! Get over here! I have our assignments!”
The group of five huddled together just like all the other teams while the team leader gave out the jobs.
James re-read the paper before say anything.
“Looks like we're being placed on the train with his Excellency. Mark, Kath: its pretty much given that you two are gonna want to be on the same team, yes?”
Mark and Kathryn were engaged in another kiss when James asked the question.
“You can give each other mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when we get back to the barracks. But kids, try and not to suck off each other's faces now, hm? Right, your Leos will be stored in carriages 12 and 13, while Mason, Marigbo and mine will be in carriages 4, 5 and 6…”
Mark interrupted James before he could continue.
“Wait, Marigbo's only novice compared to us, nothing personal mate.” Mark gave a nod to Marigbo. Those words didn't go down too well with him, but it was the truth, “I know what he can do, so it might be best for me to stay on your team James and provide him with some guidance.”
Marigbo saw Kathryn pout in protest, but Mark just kissed her on the forehead and whispered something in her ear that made her grin widely.
“Fine.” James jotted something down on the paper, “We leave tomorrow at eleven hundred hours with our suits. Everything will be sorted once we reach Paris. OK, that's it.” He pulled over one of the female computer operators who just happened to walk past, handed over the piece and told her to pass it on to someone that Marigbo had never heard of. He then swung back to the group.
“So who's up for poker?”
Strass Bernard yawned again at the controls of the plane. The large MS carrier's engines hum made it even more difficult for him to concentrate. For someone who's so lively and carefree, it was difficult to work with two of the quietest and boring people who had ever lived. The cargo plane held all three Gundams that were on St. Helena and they were now travelling to Portugal to kill the leader of Oz, Riken Holm.
Strass ran his hand through his dyed jet-black hair and yawned again. As he tilted back his head on to the pilot seat's headrest, his eyes fell upon his co-pilot.
The guy was no older than Strass, probably around 17ish. His face, or what you can actually see under that amount of over-hanging hair, was expressionless. Strass thought if he could get that guy to smile, or at least get some chitchat going they would get alone fine.
There was another pilot with working on his Gundam in the cargo hold. Strass noticed that the guy hasn't said a word to them except `Thanks' and `My name is Syuu Utensil' ever since he woke up. Syuu was about the same age as him but the guy behaved like a veteran soldier whose only aim is to complete his mission. That could be the reason why Syuu haven't said a word to him and Parith, or maybe the fact that he was poking the guy with a stick to see he was alive was the reason but Strass didn't want to think about it.
“So, you're really Parith Nord?” Strass asked for the third time trying to make small talk.
“Yes.” Parith answered.
“I thought your family ran Nord Industries and created MS, not pilot them?” Strass was probing slightly deeper than the last three attempts (which all ended after Parith said `Yes') seeing if he could pry some information about this guy he's going to be working with.
“The Heavyarms needs to be tested in real combat scenarios before it is set for future mass production.” Though the answer was straightforward and didn't really answer Strass' question, but he did noticed that Parith's voice was soft and not as broken as most people of his age. He continued his little interrogation.
“So if you're here then why are Nord Industries still creating weapons for the Titans?”
“I'm not sure. That's something that my father decides. Our deals with the AEUG and Karaba are top secret. Most people think that the MS that we send out here is for a Middle Eastern Alliance contract. But I've been on the colonies with the AEUG for the past few months so my information will be out-of-date.”
“Cool. But why did they send you?” Strass was trying to make the conversation last as long as possible since there was another 4 hours before they land.
“My Heavyarms is a prototype unit that has been in the works for a couple of years. My father isn't going to let some stranger take something that he worked so hard on. Plus, it's easier for me to pass back test data to Nord Industries.”
“Say, Parith, you got a girlfriend?” Strass asked slyly, deciding to move onto something more light-hearted.
“No, and before you ask, I don't plan on getting one soon or need you to introduce me to one.”
“Fine.” Strass just realised Parith read him like a book and he only knew him for less than a week, “God, am I really that predictable?”
`Yes' was the answer and both pilots fell silent again.
The cockpit door opened revealing the other pilot, Syuu, who was covered in grease.
“How long before we reach our destination?” He asked bluntly.
“Four hours.” Strass answered. The door shut with a clunk while the teenager returned to his repairs.
Strass sighed loudly. Another four hours with these two. Sheesh.
It was a normal afternoon for Patrol Beta 2. Two Leos trudged side by side through a valley. Their job was to patrol the rail track at site 238 while keeping a look out for anything suspicious, but once the train passed, the two of them would be relieved of duty.
“Hey, Pierre, did you see that?”
“Non. What did you see?”
“I thought I saw something, something black.”
“You must be tired, Roger. Just another `our before the train gets `ere.”
“Right. OK. WHA-”
The Leo was sliced in half before it could react. The other Leo swung around but it was hit with a hail of bullets. Both pilots were killed before they knew what was going on.
“Nice gun.” Strass whistled at the range of the Heavyarm's gatling gun.
“Thanks.” Parith answered the compliment, “Our friend should be back with an report of where the trains is about…now.”
“The train should be here in 42 minutes and 12 seconds.” Syuu's voice came through the laser channel.
The Wing Gundam, in its Bird Mode, circled around the two Gundams before transforming and landing besides Strass' Deathscythe Gundam.
“We should get ready for the ambush.” Syuu ordered and began moving the Wing Gundam up the steep hill.
“Who died and made you king?” Strass sounded annoyed. He didn't like to be ordered around.
“Because my unit and I are tactically superior to you and your unit. If during battle a leader is given a weak unit and taken down, the entire squad will fall with him. Plus, my unit has aerial capabilities, which will be much better for accessing battle situations and giving orders. But if you want to take charge and let the mission fail, then please, by all means take command.”
Strass tried to find fault in Syuu's reasoning but couldn't find any. He mimicked Syuu silently (`My unit has aerial capabilities…') and followed the Wing and Heavyarms up the hill.
Unseen to the three of them a girl, dressed in what seemed like an assortment of camouflaging clothes, was watching them. She moved her dark blue hair behind her ears as the wind blew it in front of the binoculars, blocking her view.
“What the hell are they doing here?”
Mason Graves was alone in the cockpit of his Leo-S. Though he can't see it, the red paint of the mobile suit gave the darkened confines of the train carriage a pink tinge. A clunk now and then told Mason that the train was still moving and not under attack.
The Leos on board the train have been set to silent running mode and strict communications silence until there was an attack. So he's been sat in the cockpit for over 12 hours, getting out now and then to have a snack or when nature called. The train had already completed the first day of the journey and well into the second day. There was a stop during the journey, but none of the pilots were allowed out of their carriages. Mason was a patient man, but a two-day journey with only one stop for refuelling made him slightly agitated.
He began jiggling his leg up and down, an old habit. He wondered what Kathryn White was doing in the next carriage, probably just as bored as he is.
“Should have brought a book or something…you as bored as I am?” Mason mumbled to his mobile suit. It wasn't something a pilot would do with his MS, but Mason was quite attracted to it. The Leo has been with him since he started out as a raw cadet fresh from the academy. Since he was a car mechanic and gave custom jobs to customers before he joined Oz, customising his own Leo was easy.
Maybe it was vain of him to customise it and give it a red paintjob, but his superiors liked it. Coupled with expert piloting skills, he was transferred to the Quest Squad as a full Lieutenant and as field mechanic.
Wonder what James, Mark and the newbie, Marigbo is doing in their carriages at the back?
Mason tapped his fingers on the controls of the Leo and began to sing an old Japanese song to himself.
“Ima koso tachiagare, sadame no senshi yo. Inazuma no tsurugi de, teki wo kechirase.”
“Yasuragi wo yume miru, hagane no yuusha yo. Mamoru beki mirai to ai wo shinjite.”
He waited for the clunk, but it never came.
Riken Holm took a sip of tea. The journey has been, thus far, uneventful. Being a former soldier and pilot, he still longed for the time when he was out on the front lines. Memories like those, one would have to cherish forever.
The countryside seemed to melt and become blurred as the train hurtles past. Every so often a large green leg of a Leo would speed past his window. He sighed and picked up a sugar cube. Riken stared at the compressed block of sugar, mesmerised at the perfection of it. He dropped it carefully into the delicate teacup and stirred it around, watching it melt into nothingness.
He thought that the sugar cube was like life. One minute, there is order, cohesion, and solidarity between all the separate sugar grains; and yet, when dropped into water, they all fall apart and disappear. Just like humans. One minute we are united and then, when disaster occurs, we fall apart we try and save ourselves. And in doing so, we inexplicably end our own existence.
“We are such selfish beings…” Riken muttered at the teacup, thinking out loud.
“Pardon me, your Excellency?” A young girl, dressed in a maid's uniform, asked. She would have fallen asleep if Riken hadn't spoke.
“Oh? No, don't worry.” Riken realised that he said something, “Why don't you take a rest? Standing there for several hours just looking after me must be a boring job.”
“Not at all, your Excellency.” The maid thought she was in trouble, “It is a pleasure serving you, sir. I promise to be more alert.”
“Don't worry, you're not in trouble. Go on take a break. Go, I won't tell anyone.” Riken shooed the maid off. It was as much for her getting a rest as it was for him getting some privacy. He took another sip of the cooled tea and looked out of the window at the blurred world rushing past.
After what seemed like ten minutes, Riken felt that he was being forced forwards out of his chair. The train was slowing down.
Riken picked up the telephone receiver on the table and was instantly connected to the train driver.
“Why are we slowing down?”
A man with a very horse Scottish voice answered,
“Just some debris on the track, your Excellency. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes to clear it.”
“I see. Please, take your time. There is no hurry.” Riken put down the receiver and took another sip of tea.
“The train's stopped.”
Parith looked through the binoculars again from the open cockpit of his kneeling Heavyarms Gundam. Syuu extended his arm and Parith threw the binoculars to him.
“Hmm…” Syuu's mind carefully assessed every inch of the train down below in the valley. Its position, its carriages, the crosswinds, the landscape etcetera; hoping that it'll give him and his new comrades some advantage against possible surprises.
“Look, they've got Leos stored in the rear compartments.” Syuu pointed out as the rear four carriages of the 20-carriage train opened up and revealing three dull green Leo mobile suits.
“Well, well, well,” Strass mused, “Aires, ten o'clock doing sweeps of the surrounding area. Lets just hope the Hyper Jammers and the camouflage can hide us well enough, otherwise Parith's orange and red suit's gonna stand out like a sore thumb.” Yet again, Strass' ramblings went unnoticed by the other two pilots. They were talking as if Strass wasn't there.
“Hey! Are you even listening to me?”
“No.” Syuu replied, “I can see Riken's personalised carriage, but there's something odd about its shape. It seems different somehow.”
“Does it matter? Can't you just blast it with your rifle?”
“No, I need to confirm that Riken is on that carriage. He has a personal locator beckon, which shows his location. The frequency of its signal changes everyday and I know what frequency signal it is set to today. But Wing's computer isn't picking it up.”
Parith joined in the conversation, “If we don't have the signal, how can we be sure that Riken's on the train.”
“So if you can keep your mouth shut for more than 5 minutes, Goth boy, I might be able to see if I can locate it.” Syuu finished with a scathing tone.
By this point, Strass' patience with Parith and Syuu ran out. When that happens, his brain switches itself off and lets his butt take over. It is never good when that happens.
“Locator, my arse.” Strass suddenly sounded very British since his late father was a middle-class Englishman who migrated to the colonies. He climbed back into the cockpit of the Gundam Deathscythe and the hatch shut behind him.
The Deathscythe was already making its way down the valley when Syuu and Parith clambered back into their suits. Syuu swore loudly as he should have taken into account Strass' impulsiveness. This miscalculation can completely ruin the ambush. But now, there was no choice except to follow Strass' lead and charge down the valley.
It didn't take long for the Oz pilots to realise that there was an ambush as a barrage of missiles from the Heavyarms instantly destroyed one of the Leos. When the three remaining Leos rushed forwards, ten more compartments on the train opened revealing a Leo in each. As they stood up, the scene of the Deathscythe slicing apart a Leo awaited them.
In the skies above, Syuu's Wing Gundam was conducting aerial combat with the Aries and their carriers.
Soon, the sounds of explosions filled the valley and the blue skies above.
Mason wondered why the train stopped as he tapped his laser radio to see if he can hear some comm. traffic, even though there was communications silence. There was none.
As anxiety began to settle in, the sound of a loud explosion outside rattled his Leo and the entire carriage. It was close. Not sure what to do, he decided to break communication silence and opened a laser comm. channel to Kathryn in the next carriage.
“Hey, Kath, any idea what's going on outside?”
Kathryn White's voice came through loud and clear in his headphones, “No idea. Maybe we should move out.”
“As much as I want to, we haven't got orders to do so.”
“When did you get so textbook? Aaaahhh!” Kathryn let out a small scream as the sound of another explosion rocked the train; this one was even closer than the last.
Just as Mason was about to move out without orders, the sound of another woman came through his headphones: Sylvia Tyme.
“All Leos in Locomotive One, prepare to move out! The carriage should be open within 10 seconds. The Leos already out should provide you with cover.”
About damn time. Mason thought angrily.
The roof of the carriage carrying Mason's Leo slowly split in two and opened, showing the bright daylight and a clear blue sky that was scared with dark smoke from destroyed Aires.
Standing up, the Leo-S's red paint job made it stand out from the rest of the green Leos. The gold plating on parts of its body reflected the sunlight, which shone majestically. When the Leo-S was totally upright, it was facing a bright blue and gold Leo, the Leo-R. It was much more sleeker than his Leo and the standard Leo, with a much more feminine touch to it. Along its back was a large piece of armour that was similar to hair on a human, that and the high-heeled feet of the Leo completed Kathryn's idea of a perfect Leo.
Grabbing the beam sabre and a specially made beam rifle stored in the train carriage, both suits rushed into the chaotic battle of Leo verses Gundam.
Something was amiss.
When all the Leos stepped out of their carriages, Mason looked around to survey the battlefield situation. As he turned the Leo-S around on its waist, he saw something that shocked and confused him. He was standing in the carriage that his Excellency Riken Holm was supposed to be in.
What the hell! Where is his Excellency? What was my Leo being stored in his carriage for? Where's the rest of the team? Those Leos are Temple Squad's!
His questions all faded as a wall of missile and bullets from the attackers flew towards him, making him jump out clear of the train.
When Kathryn cleared the train, she joined in the barrage of bullets and beams against the black Gundam, the Deathscythe. Remembering to jump away from her original position every time she fired her rifle, her Leo sped across the grassy ground in the valley, dodging fire from the enemy and her panicking comrades.
She hadn't noticed that the carriage with his Excellency Holm was a decoy.
The hail of bullets and beams did not seem to stop the black gothic Gundam as it still tore through the frontline of Leos defending the train with ease. When the Deathscythe destroyed its fourth Leo, it came face to face with the Leo-R. Surprised that the Gundam could move so quickly, Kathryn fired her rifle directly at the Gundam's chest and then did an aerobatic back flip away from it and firing the rifle again at the Deathscythe's previous position when she landed. The Gundam was gone.
“What the f-!” Kathryn dropped her rifle and ignited her beam sabre, just in time, to block a deadly slash from the Deathscythe's beam scythe. The beams collided with such tremendous force that it pushed both mobile suits away from each other. While Kathryn righted her Leo-R Aires reinforcements, ones that managed to get away from the Wing Gundam, began laying down a barrage of bullets on the Deathscythe, forcing it away from the Leo squads.
Though Mason was still dazed from the fact that HQ deliberately misled all the pilots from the start of the mission, he decides to keep on fighting. That way, he'll be pissed enough to kill whoever's idea this was. Seeing Kathryn was having fun with the black Gundam, Mason thought he'd join in the party by boosting into the air towards the orange Gundam that was spamming bullets at him. Believing that the suit was without long-range capabilities, Mason ignited his beam sabre and hacked directly at the Gundam. But to his surprise, the Gundam parried it with a small hidden Swiss Army knife in its right arm.
“Syuu, Strass, Riken is not on the train. I repeat Riken is not on the train!” Parith shouted as he pushed away from the red Leo. How could he be so foolish into thinking that Riken wouldn't have foreseen this? What should he do now? Enemy reinforcements are coming from the air in the form of more Leos, what the hell are they going to do now?
In the skies, three bright flashes of yellow meant that Syuu had expended his buster rifle's ammo and now going hand-to-hand with the remaining Aires.
Firing the Gatling gun, Parith finished another Leo, which promptly exploded. The drone from the gun suddenly died out and replaced with a clicking noise.
Dammit, no more ammo.
Jumping backwards towards Strass' Deathscythe, Parith's Heavyarms deployed its entire arsenal of missiles at the Leos, destroying two and covering the entire area with dust and smoke. Both Gundams backed into each other, waiting for the smoke to clear. Syuu's Wing Gundam soon joined them as it descended from the skies with its wing damaged again and spewing out black smoke that swirled into the dust. He had finished off the Aires that originally protected the train, but it seemed that more was on the way.
Oz was sending in armies of suits against them. The only way to defeat a superior enemy is with superior numbers.
Amber coloured squares could be seen shining through the clearing debris. The three pilots were trapped. Backed up against the tall slope of the valley and facing dozens of Leos with new Aires reinforcements circling then like vultures. The red Leo-S and the blue Leo-R standing out in all that green.
Strass, who had been shouting insults at the attacking him fell silent and muttered only one thing:
Deep within the steep hills of the valley and unseen to Oz or the Gundam pilots, a small plateau and a cave remained hidden under large quantities of mesh and camouflage. Outside were a dozen figures, dressed in green, observed the battle below in the belly of the valley. The group comprised mainly of men, but two small female figures were amongst them. One of the men peered through a pair of binoculars before handing it to the slightly tanned one of the two girls.
“You were right, Kalyn. Those are the MS from the AEUG.”
“Heh, told ya so.” She said smugly and put the binoculars to her eyes, “Aislin, what do you think we should do?”
The other girl was staring fixatedly at the raging battle above her, her eyes dashed around in its socket trying to keep up with the winged mobile suit. Finally, when the last Aires exploded into a million pieces, the winged suit swooped down into the valley floor. Though it was just a millisecond, Aislin saw the suit's shape and colour and whispered,
“Aislin? Hey, sleepy head! Wake up!”
Aislin was jotted from her thoughts by Kalyn and shot her a very dirty look.
“Take it easy.” Kalyn backed up slightly, “Those suits are surrounded. Think we should go help?”
Aislin thought about this for a moment. She never did like the AEUG. Even though they were allies against the Earth governments, the AEUG always saw them as superior to the Karaba. Just because the AEUG has most of the funding and better equipment doesn't mean that they should treat the Karaba like second-rate soldiers.
“No. Leave them. Didn't you say that the black one charged in there? If they got themselves into this mess then they should get themselves out.” Aislin said coldly and stood up, ready to leave.
As he stood up, the other men also picked themselves off the floor and began making their way to the cave, leaving only Kalyn and another man, who wore a green flack jacket and with his blonde hair tied in a piggy tail.
“Miss Blair...” He called after her.
“What is it now, Josh?” She answered, impatiently.
“Isn't the winged MS one of your grandfather's designs?”
Aislin didn't want to admit it, but she knew Joshua better than anyone, and he is usually right.
“What about it?”
“Shouldn't it be in Japan?” He replied while still watching the cornered Gundams. It seemed that the battle has momentarily stopped.
“Well, if its supposed to be there, then why is it here?”
“Don't you get it? Something is wrong. These three suits aren't supposed to be here!” Joshua began sounding agitated.
“So you mean they're on a different mission?”
“Exactly. Unless we hear it from the pilots themselves, we'll never know why they came here.”
Aislin sighed. She knew where this conversation was going.
“OK, OK. You win.” Aislin turned to her troops, “Alright Karaba and Maganacs, we need to get those suits out of here. Tim, get to your Zeta on the other side of the hill and take care of any Aires. Josh, I want long-range support fire from up here while the Maganacs and I will take care of the Leos. Understood?”
There was an unilateral “YES, M'AM” and the pilots all ran to their suits hidden in the cave.
Mason smiled when he saw the three Gundams surrounded by Leos. From what he had heard, these suits were almost invincible; but from what he experienced today he was slightly disappointed.
The three Gundams stood back-to-back, with their melee weapons drawn, like trapped rats bearing their teeth. It would have been simple for the Leos to destroy them, but the Oz pilots inside them wanted to savour this moment before striking the final blow.
Mason felt that the other Leos were waiting for his orders, decided to see if the pilots would surrender. It would be a shame to kill such talented people and destroy those suits. He opened an International Communications Channel to the three Gundams.
“This is Lieutenant Mason Graves of the Oz mobile company, Quest. You are surrounded. I am giving you a chance to surrender your suits. If you do so, I shall see to it that you are given a fair trial at Oz Headquarters.” Mason had never before felt more confident. It was a win-win situation. Either the pilots surrender and he captures three of the most advanced Mobile Suits ever made; or the pilots continue fighting, which will lead to their eventual destruction.
A voice answered back to him on the same frequency. It sounded like a young teenager's voice.
”We will not surrender.”
“Surrender would not be an option.” Came another voice.
“Yeah! We'll beat you all the way back to your mamas! You all smell!” Came another voice.
“OK…” Mason wasn't really expecting the last comment, “Then you leave us no choice. All squads at-” A large explosion behind Mason flung his red Leo forwards into two green Leos, which resulted in a large pile-up.
“MAGANAC AND KARABA SUITS AT SIX O'CL-AAAAGGGGHH!” An Aires pilot shouted through the communications link before a beam from a fast red Zeta Plus A1 pierced his cockpit.
In Oz Headquarters, stationed at Madrid, Sylvia Tyme and several generals stood round a large table with a virtual map of the entire valley showing the battle between the Gundams and Oz forces.
Three red dots darted around the map while dozens of green dots were moving around clumsily and disappeared as their signals were lost. Soon the dots stopped moving and the three red dots were surrounded by the green dots.
“Looks like our forces are victorious.” A bearded Oz general gloated. The gold embroidery on his uniform glistened thanks to the light from the map.
“What are those?” Another general pointed to the map as a dozen yellow dots appeared out of nowhere.
Sylvia Tyme turned to the operator who was sitting on a platform above the map.
“Those are Karaba and Maganac suits, sir.” Was the reply.
“No matter, we can still win." One of the general suggested.
“Yes, we still outnumber them three to one.” Another countered, “What do you suggest we do, Miss Tyme?”
“Retreat.” She replied dryly.
“WHY! We can't retreat now, we still outnumber them! We CAN win!” A general in a green uniform slammed his hands down onto the table.
“No.” Sylvia said coolly, trying not to display too much emotion in front of the fools in front of her, “His excellency Holm has given me orders to pull back out forces if the Karaba appear. Is that a good enough reason for you, General?”
The general relaxed his posture, realising that Sylvia had outflanked him. Giving in to the inevitable, he ordered the retreat with a grim look on his face.
The red Zeta Plus A1 ploughed through another Aires that wasn't watching its back. Tim was an Ace fighter pilot back during his time in the Titans. He would have stayed with them if it weren't for the atrocity at Jenius. Though it was his first time handling the new Zeta sent to the Karaba by Nord Industries, he handled it like a pro.
On the plateau, a red Guncannon Magna continuously fired shells into the group of Leos, being careful not to hit the Gundams or the Maganacs. Its pilot, Joshua Dean Revere, was having difficulty aiming the cannons. He preferred his old white G-Cannon to this red atrocity from Nord Industries. Fumbling around with the controls, he fired off another round down into the valley, hoping he didn't hit any wrong targets. In the telescopic targeting scanner, a glint of blue amongst the brown Maganacs showed the Hyaku Shiki charging into the chaotic battle.
She's too impulsive…maybe its rubbing off on us.
In the confines of the confusion, Maganacs, Leos, Gundams and the Hyaku Shiki was fighting hand to hand. Though Oz outnumbered the Karaba and the Gundams three to one, but the Karaba was putting up one hell of a fight.
Whilst Aislin rushed past the grunt Leos trying to find the Oz Commander Type Leos, her heart grinned when she saw the Maganacs suits, especially Kayln's, pummel several green Leos with their modified hands and leaving nothing except a mangled mass of metal. Seeing that the closest commander type Leo was a blue one to her left fighting with the black Gundam, Aislin boosted her blue mobile suit into the air.
Drawing the Hyaku's beam sabre as it descended, Aislin hoped to cleave the Leo in half before its pilot knew what was going on. She should have known better.
The glare from the gold paint on her suit caught the attention of the blue Leo's pilot. Dodging right, Aislin's Hyaku Shiki not only missed her target, but the momentum caused her to crash right into the black Gundam, leaving the two in a crumpled mess.
“F!” Aislin yelled out from her cockpit. The limbs of her Hyaku were tangled with the limbs of the black Gundam, paralysing both suits. The blue Leo, however, picked up a dropped beam rifle and pointed directly at the Hyaku's cockpit. Aislin could hear a female voice in her headset; it was the pilot of the blue Leo.
“When you reach hell, tell the Devil that Kathryn White sent you to him.”
A single sweat drop trickled down Aislin's face. Staring down into the barrel of the beam rifle made her remember her father and mother. She was only fifteen when Oz began its eradication of potential political adversaries in Europe. Her father was the most senior member of the Karaba Resistance cell in Romania, coordinating missions with other Karaba members for a free East Europe. Aislin remembered listening to her father plan attacks on Oz bases with men almost every week. The Karaba poured their hearts and souls into freeing those countries they didn't care about themselves. Aislin was proud of her father, she was proud to be his daughter.
Then, one night, the soldiers came to her house. Someone had given Oz a list of Karaba members; someone had betrayed the entire Romanian resistance cell. Aislin was lucky as she was in the next room when the shooting began. She could hear the sound of machine guns mowing down both her parents. She barely managed to escape out of the window before the soldiers kicked the door down.
She ran and ran, remembering her father's words:
If the soldiers come for us, Aislin, run. Don't look back. If you can make it to the tavern, you will find people who will help you.
That was the last thing that her father said to her and it was those words that saved her life. And now, she was about to be shot.
Dad, mum, I'm coming…
She thought as she prepared for the beam rifle to fire.
A huge cannon smashed into the side of the blue Leo with Josh's G-Cannon Magna tackling it to the ground, bringing up a tremendous dust cloud. It all happened so fast Aislin didn't have a clue what was going on.
Kathryn struggled to get the Leo-R back onto its feet. She felt that she was mugged. She was about to make the kill, but fate snatched it out of her hands.
Cursing under her breath, she realised that she had lost the beam rifle and there was no way she was going to be able to find it in the dust cloud.
A familiar female voice began speaking in her headphones. It was Silvia Tyme.
“ALL UNITS RETREAT TO POINT 298. I REPEAT, ALL UNITS RETREAT TO POINT 298.”
“What!” Kathryn yelled into her headset.
“Come on, Kath, let's go.” Mason's voice crackled through Kathryn's headphones, “There's no point arguing with the lady.”
The Karaba and Gundam pilots watched while the hordes of Leos and Aires took off towards the south of the valley. Leaving them confused and relieved.
The red G-Cannon Magna walked up to the Deathscythe Gundam and Hyaku Shiki, which were still tangled together.
“What are you going to do without me?” Josh's smiling face appeared on a monitor inside Aislin's cockpit.
Aislin turned a bright shade of pink when she heard those words.
“Oh, shut up, Josh. Are you gonna help me or what?”
Two bright blue lights left trails of bright vapour behind them in the darkness around them as they spun and dashed through space. One white and one blue, the two soldier like mobile suits twisted and turned around set waypoints at a tremendous speed. The two units were identical apart from their paintjob.
Suddenly, two dark blue space type Leos appeared in their path. Both suits drew their beam sabres and sliced the Leos in two as they sped past, turning both Leos into bright yellow balls of flames. The arm movement was so fast; it seemed that the two suit just flew past the Leos. Stopping at the final waypoint, steam poured out of the vents in the chest and face of the units.
The pilot in the white unit panted heavily. His body trying to recover from the G-forces the mobile suit inflicted onto it.
“Hey, Richard, you OK?” The pilot of the blue unit asked.
“Yeah, I'm OK Vincent.” Richard replied.
“These Geminass units are really something.”
“Yeah.” Richard answered, still trying to catch his breath.
Out of the darkness, a huge fortress moved closer to the two units. The giant beam cannon on its face were the most powerful in the Earth-Moon System. Barge, as it was called, was the home to the Oz Space Forces.
“This is Barge to Vincent de la Norrio and Richard de la Bretonne, please report back to hanger bay 02 with Geminass units 01 and 02 for refuelling and analysis. Barge out.” A female communications officer ordered.
Both units' booster activated and blasted towards the gigantic fortress.