Mobile Suit Gundam Fan Fiction / Gundam Wing Fan Fiction / Gundam SEED Fan Fiction ❯ Mobile Suit Gundam GGeneration: Dreams ❯ Chapter 8: Lost and Found ( Chapter 8 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Chapter 8: Lost and Found
Syuu Untensu snored lightly as he catnapped in the cockpit of the Wing Gundam. The previous battle against Oz took a lot of his energy and left him fatigued. Though he was a sleep, his mind was alert. He heard everything, from the odd beep in his cockpit to the voices outside in the underground hanger. The training he received from Professor B conditioned him to survive in any and all possible situations during his mission and the ability to sleep while retaining conscious thought was one of the first things he learned. The training was hard but he started young, making the transition from a normal human being to a true soldier much easier.
The sound of a person's shoes tapping along the steel catwalk that the Wing Gundam was secured against echoed around Syuu's mind. He had singled out that particular sound from the background noise and estimated that whoever it is was coming to find him. Sure enough the footsteps stopped in front of the Wing Gundam's cockpit door.
“Hey! Is Syuu Untensu in there?” A man's voice shouted from outside over the sound of machinery and voices of the mechanics (or mech-men as the pilots would give affectionately to the people who maintains their Mobile Suits). Syuu didn't answer.
“Hey, I know you're in there. I've looked around the whole base and this is the only place I haven't looked.” The voice shouted again. Syuu felt annoyed and tried to ignore him. “Listen you've got to come out of there sometime. You haven't left your Mobile Suit since we bought in here. Look I know you're in there, so stop trying to ignore me. Alright, I'm opening the door.”
A continuous tone meant that the cockpit hatch was about to be opened from the outside. That function would normally be used in an emergency when the hatch mechanism was malfunctioning, but that didn't stop the guy from using it.
Joshua Dean Revere, known to his friends as just Josh, didn't like the three new Mobile Suits that were standing in the Karaba's underground hanger. Nor did he like the fact that the three pilots were almost eight years younger than he was. Compared to Kalyn and Aislin, he was already ancient.
The hangar was the only place that he liked about the underground base. It was the only section that was kept, for the most part, cleaner than the rest of the base. Even if the entire hangar smelt like a decomposing possum thanks to all of the oil and fumes from the mobile suits and other machinery, he still preferred it. Though the hangar was only half full, it held over 15 mobile suits, most of them Maganac units from the Middle Eastern Alliance, and still had enough space to fit in a small cruiser. A haze of morning mist fell through the cracks in the large doors in the roof of the hangar. It never ceased to amaze Josh how the entire hangar floor could be lifted up all the way to ground level.
The seals on Wing Gundam's cockpit hatch hissed and unlocked themselves. The outer panel opened upwards while the inner protective panel swung downwards, making a little platform with the catwalk. Josh took a step backwards trying to peer inside the cockpit but a black blur sped out of it and shoved a gun under his chin.
Josh stumbled while trying to back away from the teenager but his back pushed against the catwalk railing; it was a long way down if he tried to jump. Syuu was wearing a black leather jacket with a pair of dark blue jeans, just like someone would of his age.
“H-hey, easy…” Beads of sweat began to form on Josh's forehead. He had been in similar situations before but there was something about the guy's murderous stare that made him nervous, “Y-you're Syuu, r-right? D-do you mind that our mech-men have a-a look at you're suit's damaged w-wing vernier?” He gripped the catwalk railing tightly, his mind wishing that someone would save him before he got his brains blown out of the other side of his skull.
“I don't like people who touch my Gundam.” Syuu replied.
“OK….” He didn't want to antagonise the teenager further.
“And I really don't like people who disturb me when I'm sleeping.” Syuu said. Josh felt Syuu push the gun harder under his chin.
“Heh, that was a joke, right?” Josh gulped, hard. He had never imagined that he might die in a situation like this.
“I wouldn't put it pass him.” A voice came out of the red and white Gundam. The cockpit hatch hissed and opened and a tall teenager with short and spiked blond hair stepped out. As if nothing was out of the usual, he began to do some morning stretches.
“O-oi, you're Parith, right? Can you tell your friend to put his gun away?” Josh pleaded.
“Nope.” The tone of indifference in Parith's voice nearly made Josh cry, “Look, even I'm not brave enough to stop him if he's like this. I might not have known him for long but I'm not going out of my way to get on his bad side. But if you're lucky enough, maybe his gun won't be loaded.” Parith smiled and proceeded to stretch his arms and legs.
Josh looked back at Syuu, “You're not really gonna shoot me, right?”
“You could always test that theory.” A third voice, this time it came out of the black Gundam standing on the other side of the Wing Gundam. Like on Parith's Heavyarms Gundam, the cockpit hatch opened and teenager dressed as a priest with sleek black hair climbed out.
“I couldn't really blame him,” Strass, the pilot of the Deathscythe Gundam yawned, “I never like to be woke so rudely, especially at three am in the morning.”
“OI! JOSH! BRING THE THREE PILOTS DOWN HERE! AISLIN WANTS TO MEET THEM!”
The voice boomed and echoed in the hangar bay. All three teenagers turned to look at the voice. Through the mist, they managed to make out the outline of a man standing by the illuminated doorway to the hangar.
“Heh, my colleague is calling me,” Josh smiled nervously and pushed the gun aside gently, making sure that Syuu's finger didn't accidentally slip and pull the trigger. Syuu lowered the gun and slotted it into the holster around his waist.
Josh sighed loudly since he was now not in any danger. He composed himself, neatening up his collar and checking the little tuff of hair held in a pig-tail at the back of his head was still there, he finally introduced himself.
“My name is Joshua Dean Revere.” He extends a hand out as a gesture of friendship only to see the three of them climbing down the steps of the catwalk. “Oi, I where are you going?!”
“We're going to see this Aislin person.” Strass replied as he buttoned up his pries outfit.
“But I wasn't done talking…” Josh sulked and followed them down.
The three pilots, Syuu, Parith and Strass stood in line facing a girl who was the same age, if not younger, than them. She wore her long red hair loose and let it flow gracefully down her slender figure. Though she looked fragile, there was something about the way in which she paced around the three of them gave her an air of authority. The problem was that Syuu, Parith nor Strass knew who she was. The thought of her being the Karaba base leader's daughter has crossed Strass' mind but Syuu and Parith had a hunch.
They were standing in a large briefing room. The walls of the room were made from uneven rock, implying that it was probably excavated in a hurry and without much consideration for ergonomic or aesthetic considerations. It was well lit by two hanging lights from the ceiling but other than that, the entire place seemed very badly made. There were wires everywhere, on the floor, along the walls and ceilings; no one seemed to mind the pungent odour that seemed to be emanating from a small room just outside.
“Look missy, we're here to meet with your leader. So if you'd run along and get your daddy…” Strass paused for a moment as he remembered that a person called Aislin wanted to meet them, “Ah, your mommy for us.”
He didn't see the glint of anger flash through the girl's eyes but he did feel her knee digging viciously into his groin. He winced and collapsed onto the floor.
“Baka.” Syuu whispered. Josh, who was standing by the door to the briefing room, giggled. It was basically payback for not helping him earlier.
“Serves you right.” The girl finally said. Strass was in a foetal position on the floor, hoping that the blow did not make him sterile, “From your clothes, I'm guessing that you're the one who piloted the black Gundam. That should teach you never to rush into a trap again.”
The word `Gundam' caught Syuu and Parith's attention. Though many people knew the name Gundam, since the name was the famous mobile suit piloted by the Federation ace during the Zeon War, but very few knew what the Gundam looked like. Even though their mobile suits bore no similarities in technology to the original Gundam mobile suit, their suit's head and torso designs were based upon the original. So if she knew what a Gundam was then…
“And you two,” The girl turned her attention to Syuu and Parith, “What the hell are you doing in Europe anyway? Shouldn't you guys be in Orb getting ready for Operation Meteor?”
“The mission's been cancelled.” Syuu answered sharply.
“The scientists who designed the Gundams decided that the mobile suits should not be used for such a despicable plan; and quite frankly even I don't agree with what my father is planning.” Parith added.
The girl suddenly took an interest in Parith. She hopped over Strass' body and looked intently at Parith. The fact that she was almost one and a half foot shorter than him made her look like she was staring at something from a zoo.
“So you're Parith…” A smile formed on her face, “…well, let me introduce myself. My name is Aislin Blair, leader of the Karaba's European Division.”
“Oh now she tells us…” Strass moaned on the floor.
Upon hearing the name, something within Syuu clicked. The name Blair ran bells throughout his mind and he realised that she might be his relative.
“Do you know Professor Nonne Blair?”
“Eh?” Aislin turned her head towards Syuu, who was standing stock straight, “He's my grandfather. You must be Syuu aren't you?”
“Yes, sir!” He replied loudly and clearly as if talking to a superior officer in the military. If she was his granddaughter then the entire situation here would change for Syuu.
“There's no need for you to call me sir. I'm a year younger than you.”
“Fine.” Syuu's training was completely military and he had never really felt comfortable without calling his superiors `sir' but since she was the professor's granddaughter, he might as well get used to it. He watched as Aislin beckon to Parith and pointed to the door. Parith slipped his hands into his pockets and followed her out of the room.
“Is Strass OK?” Josh asked, pointing at his body. Syuu walked over to Strass and tapped his back with his shoe.
“Are you gonna get up?”
As if on cue Strass' jumped up off the ground as if nothing has happened.
“Damn, girl. I'll never be able to get all this dust off of this.” Strass said. He dusted himself down and rearranged his collar, “How the hell does a girl her age manage to become the leader of the European division?”
“Well,” Josh tilted back on the wooden chair and put both hands behind his head, “She has an IQ of 187, a mathematical and strategic genius, a pro at piloting mobile suits and a pretty good sniper…”
“Is she a Coordinator?” Strass whispered to Syuu as Josh continued the list of all the things that Aislin could do.
“…and she can do all that without having any of her genes being manipulated. Guess her father and grandfather's abilities are rubbing off on her!” Josh laughed to himself and promptly stopped when he realised both Syuu and Strass was looking at him as if he were a madman. He grabbed a seat at the front of the room and sat down.
“You guys might as well stay here. We're gonna have a mission briefing in a few minutes.” Josh's eyes shifted to Syuu.
Usually Josh could tell by looking at someone whether they are a Natural, people being born without any genetic modifications at birth, or a Coordinator, people who did, but with Syuu there was something different. There was no doubt in his mind that Syuu was a Natural. However the speed at which he managed to shoot out of the cockpit and pin him to the catwalk railings was unreal, almost like someone who had their genes manipulated just for speed.
Josh had never felt uneasy around Coordinators since he grew up in a neighbourhood filled with Coordinators. But there was something disturbing about the thought about someone being created just for the purpose of fighting. Even though Syuu obviously was a Natural, it was from him that he understood why the mass lynching of Coordinator population in the former United States of America in CY 085 occurred.
The general population was scared that they wouldn't be able to compete with the more advanced Coordinators or that they were now lower on the food chain. Either way the Natural population struck and killed men, women and even children. The Titan and Oz governments finally decided to relocate the Coordinator population to outer space for their own protection and away from the things that would threaten the livelihoods of the Naturals living on Earth.
“Josh,” Strass said as he sat down, “Was that guy who shouted at us a Coordinator?”
“What? You prejudice?” Josh retorted angrily.
“No. His vision was excellent, if not incredible. I could barely make out his shape let alone manage to tell who it was from where we were standing.”
“Heh, that's Tim alright.” Josh said and put his feet up onto the table in front of him, “He's not a Coordinator. He used to work for the Titans as a fighter pilot. An epic guy with brilliant eyesight; he survived through the Zeon War and World War III. The most capable pilot on the base, but now that you three are here I guess that means that we'll be out of the job soon.”
“Don't bet on it.” Strass said back jokingly.
“STOP HOLDING ME BACK! I'M GOING TO TEAR THAT WOMAN'S HEAD OFF!”
Mason Graves struggled against Mark Schnieder and Marigbo Olwatomi. They were trying to hold him back from entering a room behind a pair of huge oak doors. Both of them, however, sympathised with Mason. They were fed false information for their last mission; his Excellency Riken's train was duplicated so that half of the troops assigned were decoys going to Lisbon while the others were escorting the real train to Warsaw.
Kathryn White and Major James Harris stood by the large Georgian style windows trying not to get involved.
The large doors creaked open. A man who wore a marine blue uniform stood in the entrance. Mason suddenly recoiled backwards at the sight of the man, which pushed him, Marigbo and Mark backwards and onto the floor. The three of them scrambled up and saluted, as did James and Kathryn.
“Ah, the Quest Team,” The man said with an aristocratic tone, “Welcome to Warsaw.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, your Excellency!” All five of them replied loudly.
“Please, there's no need for such formalities.” Riken Holm, the leader of the Oz military, said with a smile, “I should be grateful to you for the success of Operation Juggle.” He walked over to Mason who seemed to be suppressing his urge to pounce on the woman who followed him out, Silvia Tyme.
“I understand how you must feel about being kept in the dark about Juggle, but please understand that Miss Tyme was simply following my orders, nothing more. So if you wish to blame anyone, please, blame me.”
Riken watched the anger fade away from Mason's face. He knew that most soldiers who were under his command viewed him as a minor deity. His every command and order would be followed to the letter.
“Yes, sir. I apologise for my behaviour.” It took Mason a lot of strength to apologise, usually his pride would never have allowed him to do so.
“No, I think it should be me who should be apologising.” Riken said. He glanced around the corridor at each member of the Quest Team. They reminded him of his time with the Quest Team during the later years of World War III, “It was my decision to keep the finer details of Operation Juggle classified because it was imperative for the success of another operation, Operation Darling.”
James Harris coughed loudly and choked on his spittle when he heard the words `Operation Darling'. He knew that the Romefeller Foundation wanted to expand their influence further around the Earth but he had no idea that they were willing to go that far. Riken looked around at James, slightly amused at the sight of his old friend struggling to regain his composure.
“I see you know of what Romefeller is planning.” The smile on his face disappeared, “Then I expect you to brief your team mates later, James. But the reason I called you here is to give you your assignment. I want the Quest Team to be the escorts for our guests for the Southampton Conference.”
The dusty briefing room that was previously empty was now filled with groups of Karaba soldiers and officers. Syuu, Strass and Parith sat at the back of the room with a group of men of Arab decent and a girl with dark blue hair. From what Syuu heard, the girl's name was Kalyn and they belonged with a squad called the Maganac Corp. Syuu stared coldly at the people in the room. He was trained to carry out missions alone and without any backup. He accepted the fact that he had to work with the other Gundam pilots, but being here with large group of possible teammates made him uneasy.
“ALRIGHT EVERYONE! QUIET DOWN!” Josh shouted above the din of voices, “LET'S GET THIS BRIEFING STARTED!”
The room quietened and soon only the scraping sound of chair legs along the rocky floor could be heard.
“I know that this is short notice but our operatives in the Oz base at Munich just told us that the base is getting a surprise visit from General Brachev, or better known as the Butcher of Minsk.” A collective murmur filled the briefing room when the name Butcher of Minsk was mentioned.
“Most of you here will probably have a grudge against that man and now we have an opportunity to remove him from the picture for good.” Suddenly, almost everyone in the room bursts into conversation. There was an air of excitement and anticipation as the chatter grew louder.
“Who's this General Brachev? I know he's an Oz General…” Strass leaned over to Parith so the Karaba members couldn't hear him.
“General Brachev is an Oz Prize General. He works for Oz but takes orders from the Romefeller Foundation rather than Riken Holm. The General was the one who planned and carried out the European Purge. It's natural for almost everyone in this room to hate him.” Parith said plainly.
“So I guess he was the one who rounded up all the opponents to the Oz government and had them all executed in Minsk?”
“That's him.” Strass and Parith turned their attention back to Josh who was trying to keep the room quiet so he could continue. The babble soon died down.
“Our operatives have also informed us that the best way to dispose the General is by taking him out with snipers.” He turns and switches on a view screen showing a topographic map of the area around Oz's Munich base.
“The area around the base is mainly flat plains, but there is one hill in grid D3 that would be high enough to obtain a clear view of the entire base. But there is a problem,” He pointed at an area covered with contour lines, “the hill is around 2.25 kilometres away from the base but our best high-calibre rifle is 2 kilometres. That means that whoever volunteers for the mission will probably have to use the flat-”
“I have a 2.5 kilometres high definition lens and a high calibre rifle with a range of 2.7 kilometres.” Syuu interrupted. Everyone in the room turned around and stared at him, amazed that a teenager would have such technology at his fingertips.
“I'm guessing you're volunteering?”
“Yes, but I'm going alone.” Syuu answered in his normal toneless voice.
“OK…” Josh didn't like Syuu's attitude, “You'd better not be promising more than you can deliver.”
“I won't.” Syuu stood up, ready to leave. At the moment Aislin, who was sitting at the front of the room, stood up.
“I'll go with him.”
“Aislin…” Josh spluttered. It wasn't like her to work with new people, hell; she had often refused to work with newcomers into the European Division. He wondered whether something was wrong.
“I don't trust the newbie by himself out there. Anyway for these kinds of missions two snipers are needed in case one of them is taken down, right?” She walks over to Syuu.
“Uh…” For the first time in his life, Syuu hesitated. He would have refused for anyone to join him on the mission, but when she looked at him, for an instant he felt Professor B's presence, she was his granddaughter after all.
“That wasn't a request, Syuu Untensu. It was an order.” She stared right into Syuu's eyes. It was then he noticed that she had the same eyes as Professor B.
“Yes, m'am!” Syuu stood to attention, which generated a few sniggers from the Karaba soldiers and pilots.
“OK then it's sorted, you two go.” Josh switched off the screen, “General Brachev is renowned for his promptness and rigid control over his timetable. He arrives at the base at 0800 hours. The reports say that there will be a short parade of the base's personnel at 0830 hours, which lasts exactly one hour and thirty minutes, and he will leave the base at 1010 hours. From what our operatives tells us, he will be standing at the main pavilion, flanked by the base commander and one of his senior aides. You should be able to single him out from the rest of the Oz trash by his red Oz Prize uniform. Once the General is down, our operatives say that they will set off incendiary devices near the base's ammunition and mobile suit stores as well as several guard positions ready so that you two can get away.” Josh looked at his watch.
“Its 0330 hours. It's a four-hour drive from here to the Munich base so you two better get going. Remember there will be no backup for you so try not to screw it up. That's basically the gist of it.” He picked up a pile of paper, “I've got weather forecasts, patrol timetables, terrain information, lunch time menus for the next two weeks, you want it I've got it. Right people back to work!”
The Karaba personnel began mingling out of the room and heading in different directions around the base. Syuu stayed behind to collect the information while Parith and Strass went back to their Gundams to begin repair work. Aislin stayed with Syuu and discussed their strategy in the briefing room before leaving. As Aislin left the room, she found that Kalyn, the girl with the Maganac soldiers waiting for her outside.
“So,” Kalyn began walking beside Aislin, “What do you think?”
“What do you mean?” Aislin said as she checked her immediate vicinity to make sure that no one was around, especially the three Gundam pilots.
“Oh you know what I mean.” Kalyn smiled cheekily.
“Well, I kinda think they're cute.” Aislin didn't know why she was bothering having this conversation.
“Really?” Kalyn squealed, “I like the tall one, whatshisname, Parith, right? Isn't he the son of Nord Industry's CEO? Wonder if he'll take me to Orb one day.”
“Hey, that's not fair, he's mine!” Aislin laughed and began walking again while looking at the maps that she got from Josh.
“What about the one who volunteered to go with you?”
Aislin fell quiet. She had wondered what her grandfather was doing when he left the family home to work in space. She remembered playing with him when she was three years-old; the thought about him lifting her onto his shoulders was impressive for a man over fifty but it made her worry about him. It has almost been fifteen years since he left and she hasn't seen him or heard from him since. Now Syuu comes down from space telling her that he was working for her grandfather gave her renewed hope of being able to see him again.
Though the guy was cute, his personality was cold, frozen even. Plus she hadn't heard him say anything, which wasn't related to the mission. Maybe if he was friendlier but then again, why did she volunteer to go on a mission with him? It definitely was out of character for her to go with someone she barely knew. It could be because she felt that if she got close to him she would be able to get close to her grandfather. But was she trying to do that? Aislin's mind began to overload with questions.
“He's OK.” She replied without much enthusiasm and tried to put those things at the back of her mind. She brushed several strands of her glowing red hair out of her face and pushed them behind her ear.
“Well, then what about that priest guy, Strass?”
“Him? Not in this lifetime.”
Strass suddenly felt a chill up his spine. He took his head out a panel on the Deathscythe Gundam' leg and looked around the hangar bay and saw nothing out of the usual.
Why do I suddenly feel alienated…?
Syuu and Aislin's jeep sped down the rather empty highway towards Munich. Since the Karaba base was nestled deep within the Alps in the still neutral state of Switzerland it made travelling around Europe very quick and easy. It made sense to have a base right under your enemy's nose while making sure that they wouldn't dare enter a neutral country to hunt them down. The Karaba made sure that misinformation was spread throughout Europe that their base is somewhere in the eastern bloc countries. Syuu really marvelled at how well the Karaba have managed to survive and still carry out missions with such efficiency.
It was five thirty am in the morning and the sun was rising in the distance, giving the entire highway an orange glow. The stars above them were still there but they were quickly fading as sunlight replaced them.
“Wow, never knew that these lenses existed.” She was all giddy from seeing the amazing piece of technology, “I thought the max distance for a manufactured lens was only 2 kilometres because of the sniper rifle's range?”
“It is. The lens your holding was specially designed me and Professor B-” Syuu suddenly remembered that only he called the Professor like that. Everyone else called him Professor Blair, “I mean Professor Blair. For Operation Meteor could have required some high ranking officers to be eliminated so we made the lens and the ultra-calibre rifle.”
Aislin stared at the lens. It was something that her grandfather made. As she held it, she remembered the wooden doll that her grandfather carved for her from some firewood when she was three. It was a going away present from him and she treasured it. Then when the Oz soldiers came the doll was turned to ashes when they burned the entire village down. She carefully placed the lens down on the jeep's dashboard and felt the warmth of the sun take over from the cold wind blowing through her hair.
“About Operation Meteor…”
“Operation Meteor has been unofficially cancelled.” Syuu responded quickly as if he was waiting for her to ask, “The three scientists who created the Gundams for the mission decided that the mobile suits needed to a different role in the war. Operation Meteor would have meant possible recurrence of another conflict like the Zeon War. Professor Blair said that even though my new mission might still cause this conflict to end badly, but at least there was still a chance of it ending in a good way, whereas Operation Meteor would mean…”
Aislin understood what Syuu was saying. If the AEUG went ahead with Operation Meteor, it would mean a massive shift in the balance of power on Earth and in space. Cars were beginning to speed past on the other side of the highway.
“What time is it?” Syuu asked.
“Almost 0700.” She yawned. Suddenly the jeep surged forwards as Syuu slammed his foot down on the accelerator. Aislin was pulled into the seat as the wind and G-force pressed her down.
Two hours to go…hope granddaddy trained you well.
General Brachev wasn't someone you would perceive to be a General. He was short, overweight and had thinning hair, plus when he wore the red Oz Prize high-ranking officer's uniform it made him look like a human-sized shrimp. But these things never bothered him, not before and especially not now. Thoughts about Operation Darling occupied his mind.
He had wondered why the Romefeller Foundation gave Riken Holm the responsibility of seeing the operation through rather than giving him the assignment. Sure he was heavy handed when it came to subtle schemes but things would get done if he were in command. If the Romefeller Foundation handed to him the assignment a week ago the operation would have been a complete success by now. He would have done it in a way that many people would not approve, but it was his job to get these things done at any cost.
His polished black limousine stopped at the main gates of the Munich base and the head of a guard peered into the window and waved them through. He didn't like troops who lazed around so by paying them a visit every now and then ensured that they were kept on their toes.
He watched from the tinted windows of the limousine the new Oz soldiers doing their daily exercises while mechanics worked on the Leo and Aries mobile suits stationed at the base. It always filled his heart with pride to see the Oz military standing tall, above the rebels trying to undermine their new civilisation. Being one of the original four Generals of Oz, Brachev felt it was his personal responsibility to ensure that the new Oz military remains strong and become respected and feared throughout the Earth-Moon system. And that time was nearing.
A shiver went up his spine as he thought about just how powerful he was. He was in command of several divisions of regular Oz troops and also in command of several more of the Romefeller Foundation's private army, Oz Prize. A man with his strategic intellect and skills of foresight he could easily take down a force twice the size that he commanded.
Then he remembered the label `Butcher of Minsk'. He didn't like people who gave arbitrary names to individuals, especially him. What he did in Minsk was a blessing to the Oz state.
The men, women and children he ordered to be executed were insurgents or insurgents to be. They posed a risk to all those who lived wished to live in peace. He had often thought whether he was rationalising mass murder but he realised that it wasn't murder he was trying to rationalise, he was trying to rationalise killing vermin. No ordinary person would question whether or not to kill pests.
He didn't like the so-called `Karaba' and `AEUG'. They were nothing compared to him and his troops. But like all vermin, if one survives you can be sure that there will be more. More accurately, they aren't vermin. They're weeds. And the only way to get rid of weeds is to pull out the root. But with Riken at the helm of the regular Oz military, the day that the root is dug up would be the day that the devil has to scrape ice off his windshield.
He didn't like Riken or that Quest Team that served under him. In his opinion, no mobile suit team should be given that much autonomy. Especially that Major James Harris, always going off and acting on his own without orders. If it were up to Brachev, he would have had Harris flogged and hanged for insubordination and inability to follow orders. He didn't like people who were too independent.
The limousine stopped outside the base command centre and a MP Officer dressed in ceremonial uniform stepped forwards and opened his door. Brachev stepped out and found that the man was almost a foot taller than him. He didn't like people who were too tall.
Aislin had always hated the smell of exhaust fumes. Be it from her mobile suit or that of a car, she disliked the stinging feeling that in her nose and always tried to avoid it. But she was stuck on an open-top jeep in the middle of a traffic-jam on the German highway. The smell of carbon compounds assaulted her senses. She glanced at her watch: 0913. They weren't going to make it in time with all this traffic.
“Aislin, how fast can you run?”
“Wha-?” She said, confused.
“I said, how fast can you run?” Syuu asked again. She realised what he wanted to do.
“I'm OK at long distance running, but the base is still 6 kilometres away, I don't think we're-”
“Never hesitate. Even in the face of adversity act without the fear or your own doubts will consume you.” Syuu picked up his telescopic lens that Aislin placed on the dashboard, “It doesn't matter if the mission fails. As long as we try and worry about hind-sight later, there is always a chance of success.”
Aislin was surprised that a person such as Syuu would sprout such deep and meaningful phrases. She watched him reach to the back of the jeep and swung the two sniper rifle carrier cases over his shoulder. He climbed out of the jeep amid strange looks from the drivers of the other cars and extended a hand to Aislin. She wondered whether she could run 6 kilometres in less than forty minutes.
Aislin looked into Syuu's eyes and thought about his words. She has to try. General Brachev needs to be taken down. He was the one who ordered her family to be executed. If she wanted revenge she would need to be strong.
She grabbed hand and was yanked out of the car. The two of them began sprinting down the highway with various disgruntled drivers shouting at them to move their jeep.
General Brachev watched the Oz troops move through the barrack's dusty square. Their black uniforms with embroidered golden patterns on their collars and their Oz style military caps. He was proud of the men here, but he would never be as proud of them as he is of his Oz Prize troops. The Oz Prize and the Oz military are work for the Oz government but the difference between them is that the Oz military is under the command of Riken and the Commons parliament. Oz Prize, on the other hand, takes orders from him, four other Generals and the Parliament of the Lords, otherwise known as the Romefeller Foundation.
He leaned over to his senior aide and whispered something. The aide promptly laughed. The officers around him gave him undignified looks but said nothing. In reality, Oz Prize troops often look down on regular Oz troops and over the years tension has been building up between the two militaries. Fights were common between the senior officers, trying to gain greater budget spending for their men while the lower down soldiers would often have fistfights. If the ZAFT conflict did not begin, the two militaries may have fallen apart.
“There's the hill!” Aislin panted as she and Syuu sprinted towards it. Syuu pulled on the strap for the sniper rifles he was carrying and took out his sleek, black rifle. Still running, Syuu reached into the top pocket of his jacket, pulled out several elongated bullets and inserted them into the rifle. He ran past a small forest of thick oak trees that were covered in leaves, before reaching the top of the mound.
Without looking back to where Aislin was, he dived onto the ground and took aim. He adjusted the sniper rifle lens so that it zoomed into the base. He could almost hear the sound of the Oz soldier's footsteps as they paraded around the base's central square. A bead of sweat trickled down his forehead as he tried desperately to find General Brachev. He heard the sound of footsteps behind him, thinking that Aislin just caught up with him, he continued his search.
Moving the gun by millimetres, Syuu scanned the entire base and then zooming in further by twisting the lens. Finally he found the small pavilion where the General would be seated. He would have zoomed in further but something hard poked into the back of his head.
“Drop your weapon, scum.” A man behind Syuu said.
Syuu lowered the rifle and got up slowly. His hand reached for the pistol in the holster around his waist.
“I'll take that.” Another man said. This soldier, dressed in the standard Oz uniform, sidestepped around Syuu when he got up. He removed the gun from the Syuu's holster and tossed it aside. Syuu put both of his hands up and looked around; Aislin was nowhere to be seen. The man who threw his pistol aside took his sniper rifle and threw it over to where the pistol was.
“Where's your friend? We saw two of you running up the hill.” The Oz soldier with the sergeant insignia on his soldiers asked Syuu. Syuu observed that the soldier's face muscles were twitching slightly, a sure sign of nervousness. He would have to use this to his advantage. He was still troubled by Aislin's disappearance, he was sure that she was right behind him. Maybe she had seen the two soldiers and taken off to hide, but it wasn't something that she would do, or at least it wasn't something that he thought she would do. Suddenly, the oak trees that Syuu passed earlier began to rustle and a flock of starlings flew out of its leaves. The other Oz soldier, who only had a private insignia, flinched and pointed his automatic rifle towards the small oak forest.
“Go check it out.” The sergeant ordered the private. At first the private ran up to the trees but then stopped. He peered into the trees and entered cautiously.
The Oz private walked slowly and carefully past the large trunks of the trees, making sure that every step he makes wouldn't be his last. The leaves above him blocked out most of the sunlight but the occasional ray managed to permeate through the spaces between them, creating pillars of light all around him. It was rare, now, to see something like this because of the expansion of cities and devastation of the Zeon War and World War III. It made the soldier feel at peace.
A sudden rustling startled him. The fear made him jump. He spun around and pointed his rifle in the direction that the sound came from. Nothing.
The Oz private was young and inexperienced so the whole ordeal of having to find an enemy who could ambush him at any moment scared the hell out of him. He wanted to run away but his legs rooted him to the spot. His mind was trying to find a way out but the pride of wearing the Oz told him to stay.
His mind was so preoccupied that he didn't even notice Aislin lower herself from an oak branch behind him. She crept silently up to him with her hunting knife in hand. As soon as she was close enough, in one swift motion Aislin put her free hand around the soldier's mouth, pulled his head back and cut deeply into his throat the knife. The Oz private didn't stand a chance and fell to the ground, his blood pooled below him.
“Mayfin, do you read, over?” The Oz sergeant called into his radio. It had already been five minutes since the Oz private entered into the oak forest and the sergeant was getting worried. All he got back was static.
Syuu, on the other hand, was becoming agitated as he just stood there with his hands placed on his head. He had a quick glimpse at his watch before the Oz soldiers came and he knew he only had 10 minutes left before the General leaves the pavilion, now he only had five. He tried to find the right moment to jump the Oz sergeant, but the man hadn't taken his eyes off him, even for a split second.
The sergeant finally gave up.
“What am I supposed to do with you?” He asked with a large smirk that gave Syuu the creeps. The sergeant began moving away from him while checking that his rifle was loaded, “Well, I guess this is goodbye.” He pointed his rifle at Syuu and aimed at his head.
A single gunshot rang through the air.
Syuu opened his eyes to see the sergeant firing randomly into the oak forest. There was a large patch of blood on his back but the man still managed to hold his rifle and retaliate. Syuu seized the opportunity and dashed towards his guns. The Oz soldier spun suddenly and saw what Syuu was doing. His finger squeezed the trigger but Syuu had already picked up his sniper rifle. He leapt backwards and fired.
The bullet coursed through the sergeant's head and came out the other side. The man crumpled to the ground.
Without worrying about how that soldier was shot in the back, Syuu turned his attention back to his mission, General Brachev. He took another bullet out of his jacket's breast pocket and reloaded his rifle. Taking the position at the top of the hill again, Syuu began his search again for the General.
He twisted the telescopic lens and found the pavilion where his target would be standing. From the viewfinder, he could see the parade was about to end as most of the soldiers were standing in the centre of the base's square, probably listening to the General's speech or something.
He scanned through the black uniforms of the base commanders and officers until he finally found the distinctive red Oz Prize General's uniform. He zoomed in further until he finally saw the General Brachev's balding head. Lining up the sights inside the lens, he fired.
The shot missed. The bullet hit an officer who stood next to Brachev in the shoulder. Syuu cursed loudly. Without taking his eye away from the viewfinder, he used his instincts to reload his rifle.
The pavilion was in chaos, with officers diving about. General Brachev, who didn't seem to know what was going on, stood stock-still. Syuu was amazed that the Brachev still haven't moved in the three seconds it took for him to reload.
This time Syuu calculated the wind factor according to the position of the officer he hit with his first shot. He adjusted his sights and pulled the trigger. This time the bullet hit home. The highly accelerated bullet plunged into the General's skull, which exploded like a giant melon. As if on cue, explosions ripped throughout the base. The barracks and ammunition dumps were gone in an instant while the mobile suit hangar was engulfed in flames. The Oz soldiers began to scatter around the base like frightened ants, either trying to extinguish the burning buildings or to douse the flames on their comrades.
Relieved, Syuu sighed loudly and placed the sniper rifle on the ground. With all the commotion within the base, it'll be a while before any of the Oz personnel in the Munich base can send anything after him or Aislin. Then he realised that he still didn't have a clue where she was. He scanned the immediate area saw Aislin limping out of the forest, holding her left leg.
“Guess the party started without me…!” Aislin shouted as she hobbled into the clearing. As she got closer to Syuu, he realised that her left trouser leg was stained with blood.
Syuu ran over to Aislin and helped her sit on a large rock. Without saying anything, he reached into his jacket and brought out a pocketknife and a packet of white powder. Aislin winced as he tore her trouser leg off with the knife to reveal a large patch of blood around a hole where a bullet had entered her flesh. Syuu used the trouser leg that he just tore off to wipe the wound clean. He tore the pack of white powder open with his teeth and poured it on the wound.
“What is that stuff?” Aislin asked, holding back the urge to scream out in pain.
“A morphine and antiseptic compound, something your grandfather developed.” Syuu replied, “You might want to take these.” He handed Aislin two blue pills.”
“Pain suppressors. I'm gonna have to remove the bullet before we go anywhere.” Syuu held up the pocketknife, waiting for her.
Seeing that she really didn't have a choice, Aislin popped the pills into her mouth and gulped them down. Almost immediately, numbness spread throughout her body. She felt like she was floating until a sudden sharp pain in her leg woke her. She looked down at her leg. A white bandage tightly bound the wound, the pain she just felt had disappeared.
“Come on, I'll carry you.” Syuu's voice sounded distant, “The pills should wear off in an hour.” They were the last things that Aislin heard before falling asleep.
Granddaddy, I wanted to see you so much. After mom and dad died I tried to look for you. That's why I joined the Karaba.
They took me in as one of their own. But after all these years, I have still yet to see you. I feel so lonely. I don't want to be alone.
Granddaddy. I'm alone.
I'm so alone.
Aislin drowsily opened her eyes; the sounds of cars passing by filled the air. As she slowly woke, she found that she was lying on the ground with Syuu sitting next to her. The effects of the pills had mostly worn off. She shot up off the ground but a piercing pain in her leg forced her back down.
“You really shouldn't do that.” Syuu said without looking at her.
Aislin looked around and saw that they were besides the highway where they had left the jeep. The problem was the jeep was nowhere to be seen.
“Where's the jeep?” She asked, sitting up slowly this time.
“I saw a tow truck and a police vehicle take it away as we got here. Looks like we'll have to walk back.”
Aislin swore. It's just her luck, first being shot and now she has to walk back home. She turned to Syuu and saw the same expressionless face.
“If we have to walk then I guess we'd better get going.” She tried to stand up but the pain in her leg to too much. She crumpled to the ground again.
Syuu sighed. He walked over to Aislin and sat down with his back towards her. As he sat down, a piece of paper fell out of a pocket. He didn't seem to notice it falling out or Aislin catching it before it fell to the ground.
“Grab on, I'll carry you.”
Aislin was slightly unsettled by the fact that a guy who seemed so distant before but now was this kind young man. Syuu cocked his head backwards, “I'd suggest you get on. It's going to be a long walk. I'd rather get back sooner rather than later.”
With help from Syuu she clambered onto his back and put her arms around his neck. She let out a small gasp when he grabbed both of her legs and lifted her off the ground. It has been a long time since someone has carried her like that.
Even though the tree trunks were thick, there was enough room for them to walk through and follow the highway without being noticed by drivers passing by. Syuu quickly navigated his way around the trees, every now and again he would have to slow down to avoid tripping over roots that have come above the ground.
Aislin leaned her head on his shoulders, still slightly dizzy from pills, and felt Syuu's heart beat. She was about to say something to Syuu about the piece of paper but curiosity got the best of her. She brought her hand with the paper towards her while her other arm made sure that she wouldn't fall off.
It was a photograph. The image showed a group of men and women in an assortment of different clothing. Most of them were in different coloured mech-men jumpsuits but two stood out from the rest. One of them was Syuu; wearing exactly the same thing he is wearing now except the jacket looked newer and shinier. The other was an old man standing directly behind Syuu. He had long grey hair and wore a pair of goggles. He was taller than Syuu and his white lab coat almost shone in contrast to Syuu's black jacket. Aislin didn't know exactly who the old man was until she noticed his smile.
“Granddaddy, you've changed so much…”
It was a clear night, not a single cloud in the sky. The twinkling stars and the full moon illuminated the open field where Aislin and Syuu were. She sat by a large oak tree while Syuu lied on his back next to her. Both of them were gazing up at the heavens.
“Never thought that the stars could look so different from Earth.” Syuu mumbled to himself.
His voice brought Aislin back down to Earth. Whenever she looked up at the stars their beauty would often engross her. It was then that she remembered that she still had the photograph that fell out of Syuu's pocket.
“Umm…” She held the photograph over Syuu's face, “This fell out of your jacket. I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier.”
Sitting up, Syuu took the photograph and used the light from the moon to see the people that were in it. “You know which one of them is your grandfather?” Aislin nodded. She watched him as he used a cloth from his jacket to clean off their fingerprints from the photo.
She saw him smile.
Even though she had only known him for a day, it was the first time she had seen him show any sign of human emotion. A sensation of happiness washed over her. She didn't know why she was suddenly felt happy but the feeling disappeared as soon as Syuu put the photograph back into his jacket. It was strange to suddenly feel an emotion, but it made her feel good.
“I err…want to thank you. For carrying me this far.” She knew Syuu must be exhausted from carrying her most of the afternoon and supporting her as she began to walk again.
“It's OK.” Syuu answered, without any kind of emotion, “You get some sleep. I'll keep an eye out for anything suspicious.”
“Thanks.” She looked back up at the millions of stars above them and slowly closed her eyes.
“How's the leg?”
Kayln walked up to Aislin who was leaning against the wall, looking up at the three AEUG Gundams. The hangar bay was unusually quiet since there were no missions planned that required the use of mobile suits but a few mech-men were loitering around the Gundams, marvelling at their form and design.
Aislin tapped her foot on the ground, “It's fine.”
“I still can't believe that Syuu guy carried you all the way back from Munich. That guy really is something. Maybe the guy's got a crush on you.” Kayln teased. “It took you guys over a day to get back…so what did you do during the night?”
“NOTHING!” Aislin yelled back, embarrassed, “We stayed in a field. I slept while he kept watch.”
“Oh? Then why are you blushing?”
Aislin wanted to argue but decided against it. After all, Kayln would throw anything she says back at her, so there's no point in trying.
“So I'm guessing Syuu's off limits and Parith's up for grabs?” Kayln teased again. Aislin glanced at the blue haired girl, wondering whether she was being serious or not.
“I don't know.”
Silenced followed as both girls tried to digest what each other was saying. The mech-men by the Wing Gundam were arguing loudly about the wing thrusters and how fast the mobile suit would go.
Kayln tilted her head backwards so that it leaned against the wall, “What about that Strass guy?”
“Guess you're right.”
Sitting down to lunch in the canteen, Strass felt a tingle travel up his spine.
What the hell? Why do I get the feeling I've been left out of something again?
Silvia Tyme's high heels clicked every time she made a step along the marble floor of Warsaw mansion. She disliked wearing high-heeled shoes but they were the only pair that went with her brown Oz Prize uniform. She clutched a bunch of documents in her hand; it seemed to her that every time that she was with Riken Holm she would be holding some kind of document.
She opened a pair of glass doors that led into to a beautiful blooming garden. Sitting at a small table was Riken Holm, savouring a cup of tea. She carefully stepped around some dendrobium orchids that were hanging lazily off a branch and walked up behind him. Before she could speak, he held up his gloved hand.
“I always find drinking green tea in the afternoon relaxing. Don't you Miss Tyme?” He said as he took a sip from the delicate teacup.
Silvia's held the documents up to her chest, “I wouldn't know, your Excellency. I rarely drink tea.”
Riken stood up. The gold embroidery and other decorations on his blue uniform shone in the April sun. “You really should. It can free the soul and mind from the stresses of reality. Would you like to join me?” He beckoned to the seat at the other end of the short table.
Silvia was shocked at the sudden request but she kept her usual expression and sat down opposite of Riken. He poured some tea into an empty teacup.
“I suppose this visit is about the late General Brachev?” Riken stood up and walked over to Silvia with the teacup, which caused Silvia to shoot up from her seat. He handed her the tea and watch her take a sip before sitting back down.
“Good, isn't it?”
Silvia answered with just a nervous smile. She sat down slowly and placed the delicate teacup down onto the table.
“Your Excellency, the Romefeller Foundation is extremely disappointed in you about incident at Munich.” She tried to hide the fact that the tea made her feel all fuzzy inside, “Lord Alexis does not want any more mistakes, especially during Operation Darling.”
“I understand. Tell Lord Alexis that all will be fine during Operation Darling.” Riken closed his eyes, “How is the investigation coming along with General Brachev's assassination?”
Silvia took a sheet of paper out of the bundle of documents that she was carrying and handed it to Riken, “The investigations team found the bodies of a Private Mayfin and Sergeant Jimm on a hill around two kilometres from the Munich base. They also found several bullet casings by their bodies that are not Oz issue, those are being analysed now. From the preliminary analysis, they are from-”
“Miss Tyme,” Riken interrupted. He stared intently at her, “If I asked you to betray Oz Prize and Romefeller Foundation, what would you do?”
Silvia was speechless. She had never expected Riken to ever ask her such a question.
“It's fine.” Riken took another sip of tea, “I'll leave you to think about it. You may leave if you do not feel comfortable. We can continue this another day.”
Silvia picked up the documents from the table and stood up. She saluted and quickly left the garden.
“I'm sorry I asked you that question, Silvia, but you will eventually have to make that choice.” Riken looked up at the sparrows that were courting each other above the garden. How he envied their ability to be so carefree.
“I can just hope that those boys can act and perform the way that I want them to.”