Mobile Suit Gundam Fan Fiction / Gundam Wing Fan Fiction / Gundam SEED Fan Fiction ❯ Mobile Suit Gundam GGeneration: Dreams ❯ Chapter 13: Symphony ( Chapter 13 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Chapter 13: Symphony
Come on… Marcus' mind edged him on to knock on the door. A small name patch on it read Major General Thomson while the rest of the door was covered in a coating to imitate oak. The naval super-carrier Ikari was one of the largest ships on the Earth's oceans. It glided with the waves making the roughest seas seem like ripples in a pond. Marcus hovered his hand just in front of the door, as if waiting for some kind of heavenly sign to allow him to rap his knuckles on it.
Finally working up the courage, he pushed his hand forward but at that moment the door swung open and Marcus was faced with General Thomson himself.
“Oh, goodness!” Thomson said, recoiling in surprise, “Lieutenant Kolin. Marcus, please come in!”
The room was almost identical to that of Thomson's Cape Canaveral office except the huge window behind the desk was covered with a blind.
The sixty-year-old man ushered him into the room and offered a drink. Marcus refused politely. Thomson picked up his pipe from his desk and sunk into his overly large sofa-like chair in the corner of the room. He motioned to Marcus to take a seat opposite him.
“The EUF have agreed to let us keep the GAT Strike. I personally don't know why they are giving us permission since we were the ones who developed it. But I guess that's not the reason that you are here, is it?” Thomson lit his pipe as he eyed the young man in from of him who was obviously uncomfortable despite almost sinking into the sofa when he sat down.
Marcus tried not to look the General in the eye because the only reason he came to see him was to complain. He felt ashamed to do this after everything the General has done for him but he felt this was something he cannot allow to slide.
Swallowing hard, Marcus found the strength to speak, “Why did you assign me out of the Strike, sir?”
The old man smiled and puffed on his pipe. A grey trail of vapour floated gently towards the ceiling.
“Because you are an unknown variable.”
“Excuse me, sir?”
Thomson took the pipe out of his mouth and used it to point at Marcus, “I don't know why you are having difficulty understanding. Being a Coordinator in control of our last remaining GAT-Project mobile suit was something that Central Command felt extremely uncomfortable with. With the Strike's Lightning Pack being a crucial component in this operation, you should understand why command had to reassign you back to a Gaplant. I wouldn't complain too much since they're assigning your squad to the new TR-5 Hrairoo versions.”
Knowing full well that at this point any argument will be futile since the General brought up Central Command, but Marcus thought he might as well try.
“But surely I've proven my loyalty and skills during my time in space, sir.”
“I'm sure you have,” Thomson smiled, “But remember that this the Central Command we're talking about. No one there is as open minded as I am. To them you are a Coordinator who might defect at any minute. If you were in their position, wouldn't you do the same? Anyway, what's wrong with the Gaplant? It's one of our most advanced aerial units. I thought you liked the monster?”
The Gaplant was basically a huge flying monster to counter the aerial units that ZAFT had. Armed with two beam cannons it was more than a match for them. The TR-5 version was a more advanced model with higher performance in space, land and air. But for some strange reason, after seeing the Strike Gundam and other GAT project units made Marcus feel that all the broken pieces that were within him were coming together.
“It's not that, sir.” Marcus sat up straight to stop him from sinking into the chair any further, “I don't feel that Major Anderson is capable of bringing out the full potential of the Strike.”
At this point General Thomson's facial expressions changed from that of a relaxed old man to one of a hardened soldier, “So do you think you can compare yourself to someone who has fought through the One Year War and World War Three? That man has over fifteen years experience in the military. He piloted one of the first mobile suits to come out of production, accounted for over ninety kills throughout his career, have experience of piloting fifteen different machines and lead many teams during that time. Do you think you can compare up to him? I see where I'm going to have to take this. Lieutenant Kolin!”
Marcus literally jumped out of his chair and stood to attention, “YES, SIR!”
“You are a Lieutenant in the Titan military. You are drilled to obey the orders of your superiors, not to question them. Major Anderson has been assigned to the Strike Gundam and you to Gaplant TR-5 Unit 3, is that understood?”
Marcus saluted and shouted another `Yes, Sir'.
“Dismissed!” Thomson turned and sat back down behind his desk and began doing paperwork, refusing to make eye contact with the startled young man before him.
As soon as Marcus left the room, Thomson dropped his pen and leaned back in the huge chair nailed to the floor. He removed his cap and wiped the droplets of perspiration from his brow with his handkerchief. He stood up and opened the blinds on the windows behind him. Staring out into the azure ocean, Thomson heaved a sigh.
“You're too much like your mother. I would like to help you, Marcus, but my hands are tied.”
Standing outside the office, Marcus' fingernails dug into his palm as he tried to calm his anger. He had no right to argue with the General like that. It was unlike him to ever question an order but giving up the Strike was something that he did not want to do. It felt like giving up a piece of his soul.
“Yo.” The casual voice directly beside Marcus scared the hell out of him. It was just Tano, with Orphen slightly further down the hallway.
“What do you two want?” Marcus had half a mind to give Tano a good beating for that, but calmed himself before he did anything rash.
Draping his arm around Marcus, Tano pulled the slightly taller young man towards Orphen, “Let's go get lunch. I'm hungry. You're buying.”
Smiling lecherously, Tano whispered into his ear, “Because all Coordinators sicken me.” And pushed him into Orphen, “You got to spend some time with that beautiful girl. Wish I got some lone time with her. I'd have shown her a better time than you. Bet you never touched her once, did you?”
“She's seventeen and underage!” Marcus shrugged off the first comment, believing he misheard.
“A loli!” Tano shouted swinging his arm around Marcus' shoulder again, “Well, not quite, but still, perfect! Be a tight fit, but I think I can loosen her up. Right, Orphen?”
Orphen remained silent but nodded in reply. Marcus always thought that Orphen and Tano were complete opposites. He had no clue what past the two of them must have shared but it must have been something close, like childhood friends.
Orphen nor Tano have ever told him that the two of them were enhanced humans with no memory of their own history before the augmentation operation. If Marcus had asked, they would have said the information was classified. That in itself isn't a lie as both Tano and Orphen have been told that their memories were sealed and classified to prevent information leaks, but in truth, those memories were lost as soon as they were placed down on the operating table.
“This is Timra One to Home. Timra One to Home, please respond.”
“Thi - ome Tim - Repe - mission.”
The ZAFT pilot fingers ran over the communications control panel, trying to get a better signal. There was only one thing that can jam communications this badly, Minovsky Particles.The only time someone would broadcast at this density and radii was when there is going to be an attack.
“This is Timra One to Home. Please respond Home.”
No answer. The pilot's Long Range Reconnaissance Type GINN skimmed along the ocean's surface about 10km away from Perth. He unloaded the sniper rifle from the back of the GINN and lined up its sights towards the horizon. There have been reports that the Titan 2nd Naval Fleet had left Port Louis in the Indian Ocean and met up with the 8th and 32nd Mobile Divisions on the 5th Naval Fleet which was also heading towards Australia.
The three of the four Vosgulov-Class submarines that were assigned to the Indian Ocean area were sunk in the space of less than a week and the final one was ordered back to Perth. With the Tehran Agreement in place to remove the spy satellite network around the planet, which was in the past used to direct nuclear missiles, it made it impossible to track the Titan Fleet.
Scanning the horizon, the pilot held his breath wishing that he would find nothing unusual. He was right, just waves and a migrating flock of birds. Flipping through the frequencies again, he tried to contact Perth base again but only got back static.
“There's gotta be something out there…”
The last thing the pilot saw was a blinding flash of light travelling directly at him. The beam pierced the sniper rifle's barrel and vaporised the top half of the pilot's body before he even knew what was going on. The GINN fell backwards and began to tumble across the ocean, flinging its parts everywhere before exploding.
“You missed the engine.” A female voice berated.
“I got the SOB, didn't I?” A male pilot responded sulkily.
“Two laps around Perth Base after the operation.”
“Alright, alright.” The man eyed the bulky sapphire unit as it pushed away from his cobalt blue mobile suit. He couldn't help but whistle at its unassisted flight abilities, but all things considered, he loved his beam smartgun a lot more.
“This baby's all loaded and ready to go.” A mechanic climbed over to the cockpit hatch of the white Gaplant, “You sure you'll be OK with this thing? I heard it could be quite rough at sub-sonic speeds.”
“I'll be fine. It's not something you should concerned yourself with.” Marcus replied without looking over the computer control panel. His mind still dwelled upon the Strike.
“Alright. It's not like I care about the pilot.” The mechanic muttered under his breath. Annoyed at the young man's rudeness, he left to check up on the two other Gaplants.
Rubbing his bloodshot eyes, Marcus tried to put the Strike out of his mind by rewriting the basic preferences and controls for the Gaplant TR-5 to suit him. However something in his mind continuously nagged him to at least go have a last look before the start of Operation Viola. Sitting there idly, he tried to think of scenarios in which he can get back into the cockpit of the Strike. Out of the hundreds his mind processed, only one seemed plausible: Major Anderson had to be critically injured or killed.
“Odds of that happening are practically nonexistent.” He murmured.
Pushing back the flat-screen monitor, he jumped out of the dark cockpit and slid down the metallic walkway.
To Marcus, the Lightning Strike Pack looked odd when compared with Aile Strike Pack. First was the extra chest extension, with what seemed like an added cockpit on the already protruding chest armour; then it was the large shoulders that looked as if it made manoeuvring difficult; and finally it was the huge electromagnetic cannon standing beside the mobile suit. Marcus only saw the cannon in its separate configuration, but when integrated, the thing was huge.
“Hey, kid! What are you doing in this hangar section?”
Marcus turns around to see a heavily bearded man dressed in the Titan pilot suit march towards him. As he got closer, Marcus noticed the pips on his neck denoting the rank of Major.
“Lieutenant Junior Grade Marcus Kolin!” He saluted.
Major Anderson waved off the salute, “At ease. I don't like people who's piloted good mobile suits and survived treat at me as a superior officer.”
The seemingly astute man had a good look at Marcus' thin frame and shook his head. He walked over to the Strike's leg and patted the machine, “She is a beauty, don't you agree?”
Rubbing his brown bushy beard, Anderson made his way back to Marcus and patted him on the shoulder so hard that it he felt weak at the knees.
“Good strength.” Anderson commented and then threw a punch at Marcus.
He fell to the floor with his head spinning. Anderson offered him a hand and Marcus took it.
“Guess your parents didn't give you high agility.” He laughed and dusted Marcus down, “I'm sorry, but I had to see what kind of a lad you are.”
“No problems, sir.”
Folding his arms, Anderson stared back at the Strike Gundam in awe of the machine's beauty and simple frame.
“You came back to bid farewell to a friend, yes?”
Marcus looked down and stared at the floor without replying.
“If I go down,” Anderson poked his tongue out and licked his chaffed lips, “I want you to come back and take over this machine. Is that understood?”
“Excuse me, sir?” Marcus looked up again in shock. Anderson was looking back at him with a grin on his face, “But why, sir?”
“Dunno.” Anderson ran his hands through his beard again and picking out what seemed to be a small clump of facial hair, “Partly because I don't care that you're a Coordinator. I've seen the reports on your performance and personally I expected you to be beefier than this.”
With the pain in the cheek becoming a sort of numbness, Marcus smiled.
“You see, all the pics in the documentation show that you have this serious problem about smiling. It's good to see a kid your age smile. Loosen up!” Anderson patted Marcus on the shoulder, “I'll take good care of the Strike. I promise.”
“Alright, I'll make a final conformation of the plan.” It was rare to see Tano's stern side, but since he had to become a temporary team leader, Marcus found that the lewd man could become serious once in a while. Marcus carried on doing the final checks on the Gaplant while listening to Tano's voice on the video comm. channel on the viewscreen.
“Our target is the Kwinana Port.” A map appeared where Tano used to be and an arrow showed their flight path, “We're team three. After the firing of the EM cannon and initial missile barrage, we will be charging in with Teams four and six. Teams two, eight and nine will focus on the Rottnest Island defences while Teams one, five and seven take out the missile batteries on Garden Island. Teams ten to sixteen will be taking on the task of fleet defence and general reinforcements. Each team, apart from ours, consists of four mobile suits and a team will retreat if it loses two members.”
The sound of paper over the comm. meant that Tano didn't memorise the mission brief, something that he was supposed to do the night before.
“Our team with teams four and six will charge straight into the Kwinana Port area while the other teams distract the enemy defences at Rottnest and Garden, yes. Once there, we are to proceed to point three-five, team four to points two-nine and team six to eight-three. Our orders are to eliminate all resistance be it mobile suits, mobile vehicles or infantry and destroy the main hangar area and control tower. After our main objective is complete, we will be joined by another squad already in Perth.”
“That it?” Orphen asked, his voice still as unemotional as ever.
Tano's face reappeared on the monitor. He rustled through the pages, “That's it. Alright, the operation starts in one hour when Perth enters the range of the EM Cannon.”
Something in Marcus' stomach felt uneasy about this. This was only his second major operation since the Bloody Valentine incident and would seem daunting to any seventeen-year-old. A tweeting behind his seat made him jump. Reaching back, he rustled around the wires only to find his mechanical bird, Torri, had managed to tangle itself into the vast amount of cables. No wonder he hasn't seen it around the ship for the past few days.
At least I'll have Ryan here with me.
The monitors and control panels lit up the cockpit of the Strike Gundam like a Christmas tree, which delighted Major Anderson to no end. Even though he was a seasoned veteran, his mind remained that of a teenager in a metaphorical sense. A womaniser, lover of shiny things and holds deep respect for anyone willing to make a fool out of a superior officer, just as long as it wasn't him. Because of that he was the most respected and loved officer of the whole Titan military.
“ATL sequencer connections complete.” He reported to the control room while the grey Strike Gundam knelt on the flight deck of the Ikari with wires protruding from its back, “Hausen capacitors charged. BUS report that all software systems are functioning. KP links joined and flowing. I think we're ready to go, General Thomson.”
From the main bridge, Thomson lowered his binoculars and gazed at the tiny buildings on the horizon. From this distance, the ZAFT base must have noticed the Titan fleet and dispatched mobile suits to intercept them. If he doesn't give the order now to fire, he might not have another chance to do so. Picking up his headset, General Thomson ordered the comm. officer to patch him through to the Strike.
“Major, you have a go for the operation.”
“Thank you, sir!” Anderson switched off the comm. system to concentrate, “Alright, let's do this.”
The Strike Gundam's grey shading gradually faded and was replaced by the standard white, red and blue colour scheme. Reaching for the electromagnetic cannon, the Strike walked forwards towards the end of the flight deck. Anderson held his breath as each footstep made his insides shudder.
Wow, this baby handles so well.
Choosing the target, the Strike raised the cannon to its chest and pointed it towards Perth. At this point, there were a few dots appearing in the skies above the distant city; ZAFT were launching their mobile suits.
“OK, just a few more adjustments…” He watched the small targeting sensor line up slowly with his minute manual adjustments, “Right, that's it.”
Locking the final pieces of controls, he reopened the comm. channel to the control room.
“This is Strike One, fire one!”
A burst of energy sprouted forth from the small barrel of the electromagnetic cannon. The energy blast was visible to the human eye as a huge burst of what seemed like bolts of electricity.
“This is Anderson, power output nominal. Strafing to sector B.”
Pushing his right hand control, the Strike Gundam slowly pivoted around while maintaining the blast.
“Alright, this is cool.” Anderson smiled, “Can't wait to test this further. Wait, what? Control, I'm reading a spike in the energy output. Can you confirm?”
After a moments pause, a voice screamed back, “MAJOR! SHUT DOWN THE CANNON! NOW! THAT'S AN ORDER!”
Without pausing to reflect what he had been asked to do, Anderson cut all power to the cannon, but it was already too late. A huge blast of electromagnetic energy pulsed through the cables connecting the ship to the Strike. The electricity inside the cockpit struck the major at full force.
All the lights inside the cockpit dimmed and the smell of charred human flesh hung in the air.
Leaping over several pieces of fallen equipment from the electrical overload. Upon hearing about the accident, Marcus instinctively leapt out of his Gaplant and sprinted towards the secondary MS bay of the Ikari.
Turning the corner, he found the floor was littered with debris and brown blobs. He picked one piece up with his gloved hand and felt the sponginess of the substance but dropped it to the floor immediately when he realised he was looking at human flesh.
The door to the secondary MS hangar bay opened to reveal a scene of utter chaos and cacophony of noise. It looked like someone gave a group of hooligans a crate of spray paint and told them to have fun. Black streaks ran across the walls, floor and ceiling while the generator used to power the electromagnetic cannon for the continuous blast was melted and smouldering on the far side of the hangar. Thankfully the Strike Gundam, which has already been switched from the Lightning pack to the Aile pack, sat with its legs straight out and without a scratch on it.
Running over to the grey machine, Marcus notices a splattering of vomit on the Gundam's crotch area. Ignoring it, he clambered up the side of the Gundam and tumbled into the cockpit. Upon entry, he promptly scrambled out and vomited onto the Gundam's crotch. The stench of burning was still inside the cockpit. To him, it smelt like overcooked meat but it only took him a second to remember that Major Anderson was the last person to be in there.
“Aw, come on!” A mechanic at the Gundam's side shouted, “Get it together, man! You're launching with the rest of the teams. They're prepping the missiles for launch in T-Minus 30. Here, I got some air fresheners for you.”
He tossed up a can marked `Febreeze: Spring Fresh' up to Marcus. Upon catching it, he emptied the entire can into the cockpit, but it only made it slightly more bearable. Suddenly, the entire hangar shook. A loud whooshing sound could be heard from the opening in the ceiling above Marcus.
“Damn, they're launching the missiles!”
Trying desperately to ignore the smell, Marcus dived back into the cockpit and buckled himself in. He slammed his helmet back on and contacted the Ikari's control tower.
“This is Lieutenant Kolin in the Aile Strike Gundam. Do I have a go for launch?”
On the bridge of the Ikari, the commanding officers gathered around the 3D display of the theatre of operations.
“We can't let that Coordinator in that machine! Just because Anderson's dead doesn't mean we don't have better candidates!” A Colonel shouted above the din.
“Why not?” Thomson protested, “He's the most experienced pilot we have for the Strike.”
“We can't have that thing defecting over to the enemy side with our most advanced machine.” An Admiral argued.
“We don't know what he's going to do out there. He's a loose cannon as far as I'm concerned.”
“It's an order from Central Command. Their orders are absolute!”
“He's only seventeen. How do we expect a child to go fighting out there? I bet he'll run back home to his mummy.”
Thomson smashed his fist into the 3D display table, “ENOUGH!” The entire bridge went silent.
“I don't even know why I'm having this argument here. I outrank you all! Lieutenant Kolin will be the replacement for Major Anderson!”
“Sir.” One of the bridge operators said timidly, intimidated by the old man's outburst.
“What?” Thomson snapped at the ensign.
“Lieutenant Kolin is requesting permission to launch. Your orders, General Thomson?”
Hobbling over to the operator, General Thomson took the operator's headset.
“Marcus, you have permission to launch the Aile Strike Gundam. Your mission orders remain the same.” He swung his head back and saw the other commanding officers shaking their heads. Shaking his own head in disgust he brought the microphone up to his face again, “And God speed.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Picking himself up off the floor, General Bertrand surveyed the damage to the main coordination room. Generally things didn't look so bad but there were several control consoles that were fizzing and a small fire in the back of the room, which an officer was putting out with a fire extinguisher.
“What's our combat status?” He asked to no one in particular.
“Reports coming in of heavy damage to the port area due to missile strikes. The electromagnetic blast earlier took out most equipment on the surface.” An officer sitting just below a huge topographic display of the Perth city answered, “Underground equipment report to be ninety percent functioning. Our combat ability has been reduced by forty percent but that is limited to the naval area. Mobile suit companies report that thirty-six of the eighty mobile suits in the base, on the ships and the submarine Yugo are either destroyed during the initial firing or had their systems fried. Mobile vehicles are 50 active. We have yet to receive word on the island defences on Garden and Rottnest.”
Dusting off his cap, General Bertrand was faced with dilemma. Either to continue fighting with at this reduced capacity and hope that their Coordinator abilities win out, but then face another possible barrage of electromagnetic blast. Or retreat and thus give the Titans a foothold in Australia, something ZAFT had worked so hard to get rid of.
“General, we can't win this fight. The Titan Second Fleet had been visually sited and are launching mobile suits.” A Colonel beside him placed his hand on his shoulder, “Rough count suggest over seventy with around fifty moving towards us with hovercrafts. I know this will be hard for you but we can save the most lives if we begin evacuation procedures now.”
Bertrand bit his lip. He should have anticipated this scenario when he heard that the Vosgulov submarines in the Indian Oceans had been sunk.
“Sir! Onslow and Northampton bases are also being attacked. It's the Titan forth and fifth fleets!”
Bertrand's eyes widened as he realised the scope of battle.
They don't want just a foothold, they're going out for an all out invasion!
Swallowing his pride, he picked up the PA receiver, “This General Bertrand to all personnel. Begin evacuation procedures. All personnel follow code C. This is not a drill. All personnel evacuate the base. Follow code C.”
Putting down the receiver, the dishevelled man turned to his staff, “Make sure that our remaining mobile suits cover our escape. Make sure that all essential documentation are destroyed before moving to the escape route to Southern Cross city. If the people on Garden and Rottnest Islands can't evacuate in time, tell them to surrender.”
The staff saluted and hurriedly began the systematic purge of the computer systems.
“They're doing what?!” Jack Murphy's purple GINN High Manoeuvre Type kicked a Barzam off its Base Jabber aided flight system and watched it fall to the ground before firing dashing down and filling the Barzam's chest with its heavy sword mounted on an assault rifle.
Hearing a clunk behind him, Jack turned the rifle to shooting mode and pointed it at his assailant's head. It turned out to be another concrete grey GINN.
“Sir,” The GINN put its hand onto Jack's MS, “We're to cover the evacuation of the base. If anyone is unable to get out they are to go to the shelters and surrender.”
“Alright.” Jack examined the immediate area. Small craters were littered everywhere on the main harbour had been wiped out. The ZAFT warships were either sunk or abandoned while the Yugo, the last of the Vosgulov subs, had its hull blown open by three direct hits. Escape by sea was now impossible.
“Make a line at hangar three, four and five. I want as many mobile suits and armoured vehicles to provide constant barrage of fire so they can't land boats or mobile suits. And - Get down!”
Jack's GINN plunged forwards, pushing the other GINN to the ground just in time to avoid a beam. Uprighting himself, Jack looked up at the sky only to see the silhouette of a bird like mobile suit with two wing like shields mounted on its arms.
“Relay my idea to the Captain. He'll agree with me. Now get going before things get ugly.”
“But, sir!” The pilot protested but Jack raised his GINN's arm in the `talk to the hand' fashion and the other GINN boosted farther inland.
Gaplant. No, new model Gaplant. Probably the same people who attacked Jenius Seven. Looks like a good chance for me to get even.
With Perth's civilians evacuated to shelters, Jack's GINN skid along the road backwards, leading the Gaplant into the depths of the concrete and glass jungle.
“I see it. Sending you the target data.” In the distance was the Perth main base. Marcus, Tano and Orphen had to move around the Swan River residential block to avoid heavy anti-air shelling from Garden Island. Leaving Orphen behind to deal with resistance at Swan River, Marcus and Tano continued on with their mission to take out targets in the base.
Set on maximum magnification, the blurred image of men in jeeps and mobile suits starting up sent a chill down Marcus' spine. Can he really do this? Can he really pull the trigger and end the lives of fellow Coordinators, people just like Ryan? He shook his head hard and rationalised his position. They killed his parents, the only people to have loved him. For that he wiped out 250,000, what's another 50 or so? He was trained to do this.
“Tano, you take control section one and I'll take two.”
Tano's Gaplant's monoeye slid around to look at the Strike Gundam and glowed in acknowledgement.
Taking a deep breath Marcus edged his finger towards the trigger for the beam rifle. In the magnified image, two DINN mobile suits stood up and began shooting at the incoming Strike. Drawing a bead on the nearest one, Marcus pulled a clean shot into its abdomen. The resulting explosion caused shrapnel to fly in all directions. One piece blasted into the other DINN's monoeye. Its pilot, obviously an inexperienced rookie, began shooting wildly. Marcus drew the beam sabre from the Strike's backpack and landed the Strike not far away from the panicking DINN, the particle fountain generated by the hilt formed a pointed cylinder of pink light.
The ZAFT pilot must heard the clunk of metal on concrete, pointed his rifle and continued to fire barrages of bullets at the Strike. Unknown to him, every one of his bullets just bounced off the phase-shift armour, not even slowing down the Strike. Clenching his teeth, Marcus thrust the beam sabre into the cockpit. The DINN's rifle continued to fire despite its pilot was turned into ash. It fell to its knees and smoke belched forth from the engine module on its back.
Looking around, Marcus saw his target: the main control tower for the coordination of mobile suit teams. Putting the beam sabre back into the backpack, Marcus took out his beam rifle and took aim. A sudden explosion on the Strike's torso knocked it sideways into a building. Frustrated, Marcus quickly found the annoyance. Three ZAFT soldiers armed with bazookas.
Standing up, he boosted the Strike up into the air and landed straight back down on the soldiers. Two managed to escape, but the third was too slow and found himself crushed under the Strike's right foot. Forgetting about how the men on the ground were like Ryan, Marcus started up the Strike's head mounted Igelstellung cannons and fired at one of the men. He immediately disappeared under a hail of dust and debris. Turning the head, the bullets eventually reached the other fleeing soldier. A bullet struck him in the back and he exploded in a flurry of blood and internal organs.
Bringing his attention back to his intended target, the Strike took aim again. On a smaller window on his viewscreen, Marcus saw the ZAFT officers trying desperately to get through the small door leading to stairs down to the bottom of the tower. Instead of aiming for the top, he fired a beam into base of the tower. The beam melted through the concrete like a hot knife on butter and the tower crumbled.
“Oh SHIT!” Tano's voice yelled over the radio.
Marcus glanced around and saw Tano's Gaplant and a Barzam from team four darting towards him.
“What is it?”
“That.” Tano's Gaplant pointed behind him. A small swarm of DINNs, GINNs and a few CGUEs were heading towards them at full speed.
Jack's GINN had managed to get hold of Orphen's Gaplant and refused to let go. Continuously pushing his controls back and forth, the High Mobility GINN pummelled Orphen's shoulder mounted beam cannon on its right arm repeatedly, rendering it completely useless. The two mobile suits zoomed above the Perth City and Swan River like bees.
“Give it up, Titan, you don't stand a chance.” Jack shouted. Skin-talk was when two mobile suits are in physical contact and sound waves can travel between the vibrations of the metal. Pilots in normal suits often do this by touching their helmets together when their radios are broken or jammed by Minovsky particles. So without knowing the enemy's comm. frequency, Jack still knew the pilot heard him.
Orphen, who was concentrating on other things, didn't hear Jack's comment. Deciding on a plan quickly, he suddenly accelerated upwards, stopped and plummeted down towards the river.
Believing that the pilot of the blue and white Gaplant was a madman and knowing that GINN's can't operate at full capacity underwater, Jack pushed off and boosted towards dry land.
Seeing that his hitchhiker had gone, Orphen transformed the Gaplant into mobile armour mode and reversed the downward thrust, stopping only two meters from the water. Spinning around on the spot, Orphen pulled off a shot towards the GINN with the remaining beam cannon. Jack avoided the shot with ease as it took a bite out of the office block he had landed on.
“Oh, this is going to be interesting.” Jack licked his lips and fired a volley at the mobile armour before jumping into the city again.
He's using the city as cover again. Orphen's mind moaned. That's how the GINN managed to get onto his Gaplants back in the first place. While searching the city for the ZAFT mobile suit, Orphen had forgotten the first rule of urban combat: never go in without some form of backup. The enemy will always invariably knew the terrain better than you do and have set traps for you. The GINN had leapt from the top of a building and landed squarely on the Gaplant, the force of the crash nearly snapped Orphen seatbelts.
Orphen flew over the city, peering down at each street looking for the GINN. A volley of bullets flew up from behind him and struck his engines. In a plume of smoke, the Gaplant went down into the city, transforming into mobile suit mode before landing. Orphen scanned the unfamiliar landscape with caution. Jack's GINN had downed him in an area filled with skyscrapers, making it impossible to see over the high raised buildings with his 25 meter mobile suit.
A large drone of ZAFT engines passed overhead towards the Kwinana Port. Thanking god that he wasn't in the air when they came but at the same time, he worried about Tano and Marcus.
Those two can handle themselves. Now for this SOB.
As he passed a building with reflective windows a flash of purple caught his eye. Diving the Gaplant down to the ground he managed to avoid a hail of bullets from Jack's GINN. The shells slammed into the windows and smashed them into millions of pieces that fell on the Gaplant like snow. Spinning the Gaplant around before it hit the ground, Tano fired a shot from his beam rifle in the general direction of the GINN. It missed and burned its way through several buildings before dissipating.
Where the hell is he?
Instinctively, he drew the beam sabre as the Gaplant stood up and swung it around just in time to lock it with the High Mobility GINN's heavy sword mounted on the assault rifle. Orphen boosted his mobile suit back into a tower block and used it to push himself towards the GINN at full speed. Jack, on the other hand, stood firm and fired a volley of bullets at the oncoming Gaplant before sliding to the right and slashing upwards.
Orphen's left beam rifle and shoulder engine sparked with electricity before exploding, sending the damaged mobile suit into the side of a building. Struggling with the controls, Orphen realised that the entire right arm and engine was wedged inside the building, making it impossible to move. Firing the thrusters to maximum only succeeded to melt the concrete and increase the strength of the hold. He watched as the purple GINN walk closer, its assault rifle's heavy sword glinted in the afternoon sun.
Jack smiled as he approached the once imposing Gaplant. He still can't believe how easy it was to take the thing down but now it was time to end the fight and rejoin the retreating forces.
He raised the sword, ready to slice into the cockpit of his enemy. He had never wanted to kill as a profession since he was once a teacher of physics on Maius 3 but ever since he lost his girlfriend, an agricultural expert, on Jenius 7 he had been hell bent on revenge. He had seen intelligence images of the attackers on Jenius 7 before and etched the shape of his nemesis into his mind forever. Now he has a chance to end one of the attacker's lives and this was something that he was not going to pass up.
Standing over the Gaplant, Jack raised the assault rifle above the GINN's head, ready to strike.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Jack snapped his head around to the beeping sound and jumped the GINN backwards. A sudden blast of beam energy drew a line on the road between him and the Gaplant. Responding to a second type of beeping, he boosted his GINN into the air and avoided another beam aimed at where he was.
“Tsk!” Jack regretted not finishing things earlier as he retreated behind the cover of the tall buildings and ran off towards the edges of the city, hoping to rejoin the evacuees. But he knew he would have this chance again.
Good things come to those who wait.
Yanking the trapped arm free, Orphen breathed a sigh of relief. He had never been so exhausted in his entire life. As the Gaplant struggled to stand up, for the last time for that day he hoped, an unknown mobile suit type landed directly in front of him. He raised his remaining beam sabre with the right arm and used the left as to shield the Gaplant's body. The new mobile suit was cobalt blue with a much more rounded and circular design to the Gaplant. It was at least 5 meters shorter than the Gaplant itself while armed with an long beam cannon and what looked like an extra sensor panel mounted on the unit's left shoulder. It's head was designed with the German World War II helmet design, similar to other Titan and Zeon designs, while its glowing green monoeye slid between the three pronged visor.
“Yo,” The pilot said to Orphen through the comm. “It's cool man. I'm on your side. I think you should thank me for driving away that crazy dude.”
Orphen ignored his words.
“Calm down, mate! I'm on your side.” The man said again, “I'm Lieutenant Second Class Paul Fabriga. Titan Ninth Independent Mobile Squad, Ghost Team. Please tell me you're not so green that you have never heard of the Ghost Team. What do you think of this Xeku? Some piece of equipment, eh?”
Standing back to back, the Strike Gundam, Tano's Gaplant TR-5 and a Barzam from the forth squad aimed at the twelve ZAFT mobile suits surrounding them on the ground and in the sky above. They were like wolves waiting to strike and vultures waiting to finish off any scraps. The Gaplant and Barzam had emptied their ranged weapons and were down to using beam sabres while Strike's beam rifle was knocked out of its hand by a stray missile. Marcus glanced at the energy meter, it was critically low and any more hits would mean the Phase Shift Armour would shut down.
“Any ideas?” The Barzam's pilot asked. His voice was shaking.
The best option, it seemed, was to self destruct and take out as many of the enemy suits as they can but he couldn't see Tano or the other pilot going through this. All other plans would result in their deaths anyway.
There was a loud clunk and Marcus saw the Gaplant's hand on the Strike's shoulder.
“I have a plan,” Tano seemed to be whispering so Marcus had to strain his ears to hear him, “I'll kick the Barzam towards the GINNs. You then take out what's on the ground and I'll take out the ones in the sky.”
Marcus wanted to palm his face, “Look, if we are to sacrifice the Barzam, which we are not, it wouldn't make any difference. We'll be long dead before we can do anything else.”
He heard Tano heave a sigh. Even though Tano was the leader of the team, he trusted Marcus to make the correct analysis during battles.
But this was a hopeless situation. Team four only had this Barzam left and team six was preoccupied elsewhere meaning there was no chance of reinforcements.
Maybe it's time for me to die and pay for my sins…
There were several loud booms above the group. As the three looked up, the lavender DINNs that were circling above them seemed to have all exploded into balls of fire. Marcus, seeing that the ground mobile suits were also looking up, took the opportunity to charge the nearest GINN, slicing it in half horizontally with its beam sabre. Tano and the other Barzam follow Marcus' example and charged the other five GINNs, flinging dust and dirt into the air and coving the entire area. Once the dust settled, only the Titan mobile suits remained standing.
“Lieutenant Junior Grade Kolin, Hagane and Timpe,” A female voice said over the comm. “You all need to work on your teamwork skills.”
The three of them looked around for the voice and saw a mobile suit hanging in the sky with its arms folded. It looked huge compared than the three of theirs, its sapphire armour, huge shoulder engines and a shield behind its head made it look more like a small mobile armour rather than a mobile suit. A small flash of a gold `V' on its forehead made Marcus realise this was a Gundam design. Not GAT-Project, but a Gundam design nonetheless. The mobile suit registry on their internal computers simply read “HAZEL”.
Using its shoulder boosters to descend slowly, the mobile suit landed on the destroyed body of a GINN, crushing the head and cockpit area with its massive weight.
“Captain Alice Kline. Ninth Independent Mobile Squad. I believe that both Tano and Marcus will be joining me. Lieutenant Timpe, you may return to base. There's a pickup at point Zero-three.”
The Barzam saluted and stomped away towards the harbour area.
The Gundam eyed the Strike and the Gaplant before turning around, “I'll be your new commanding officer from now. Follow me you two.”
Stepping into a caved in section of an underground roadway, Marcus gripped his submachine gun tightly. He knew that there was no risk as the group of marine had already secured the prisoners ahead of them but he still felt uneasy. Maybe it was coming from this Captain Kline. She had a fine figure for a woman in her thirties but the harsh expression she constantly has on her face hid any sign of kindness that might reside within her heart.
Walking around the corner, Marcus woke up from his fascination with his new squad leader. A large group of ZAFT soldiers and officers were huddled together with their backs to a wall. At first glance, it looked like someone had painted road markings on the concrete, but a severed arm protruding from underneath the wall made him cringe.
The whole cavern was silent apart from the sound of a child faint sobbing. Marcus followed Captain Klein as she walked up to the group of Coordinators and ordered the Titan marines to bring her the child. After a small struggle, the men brought back a girl no older than seven-years-old. Her clothes were dirty and ripped while her blond hair stained with blood. The female officer holding the girl begged as the marines took her away.
“Please, you have nothing against her! Please be merciful to her! She's a Natural! She's not part of this war! I found her as a war orphan, she's not a Coordinator!”
Klein knelt down and brushed her auburn hair out from her eyes. As she gazed at the small girl Marcus saw the harsh expression disappear from her face and was replaced with a motherly smile.
“It's alright.” She said to the girl, wiping some dust and grim from the girl's pretty face, “You don't have to be afraid anymore.”
She gazed back into the Captain's eyes and stopped crying, “I want to go back to my mummy.”
Klein wrapped her arms around the girl and pressed her into her bosom before turning her around to face the ZAFT personnel. She leaned over the girl's shoulder and whispered, “Don't worry, you will be joining your mum soon. You won't have to suffer living with a Coordinator family anymore.”
With that, she took the girl's head and twisted. There was a chilling snapping noise and she fell to the floor. The female officer screamed as the other ZAFT personnel held her back.
Turning around to the Titan marines and pilots, she ordered, “Shoot them.”
The sound of gunfire echoed around the cave as Captain Klein looked down on Marcus. He was in shock and haven't fired a single shot. She pressed down on his shoulder firmly.
“I expect you to empty at least two clips, Coordinator. I will be waiting outside.” She said and walked on.
“So the Titans have a foothold in Australia.” Major Dena Nadist pondered to herself as she read the latest reports of the battle.
Kings, you have no idea do you? She thought, smirking. She knew she couldn't be smug that all the cogs have been put together since she still needs one thing to start the machine. But still, she could not believe how perfectly things have gone.
The bell on her door sounded.
She wiped the smile from her face before saying, “Enter.”
The door slid open and Ryan, in the ZAFT Special Forces red uniform, stepped in. He saluted and stood to attention.
“I hope your R and R haven't dulled your body or mind.” Dena gave him her usual condescending smile that Ryan knew too well. He didn't react.
“Well,” She said leaning over to pick up a piece of paper from her desk, “I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that you have been reassigned.”
Ryan showed no reaction, but Dena knew he was shaken up inside.
“Lieutenants Hidasaki, Hajima and Oria are being transferred to Australia to push back the Titan advancement. But the good news is that you are being assigned back to the PLANTs. You'll be taking the Aegis with you.”
At this point, Ryan couldn't hold back any more.
“WHY?!” He slammed both hands down on Dena's desk, “Is this because I spent a night with the enemy on an island? My Aegis can help them take back Australia!”
“I don't particularly care for your opinion, Lieutenant Steigen.” Dena answered ignoring the insubordination, “You leave tonight.”
She tossed the piece of paper towards him. The document was signed `William Steigen”, Ryan's father. A reassignment order would usually be signed by the commanding officer but not by the highest ranked General of the ZAFT military.
Snatching the orders up, Ryan saluted and left.
Vivian and Ryan's lips met inside their room that evening. Their clothes were all packed into separate bags sitting in the corner while the two of them gazed at each other silently, memorising what the other looked like. They kissed again but this time Ryan pushed her away.
“What's wrong?” Vivian saw Ryan put his face into his hands, “Is it Marcus again?”
Ryan smiled at how well that he and Vivian now knows each other, “There's something that I've not told you about him. And if I don't tell you now, I'm not sure whether I'll be able to tell anyone in the future.”
“Do you remember that I told you about how he had to go on the run after our agents found his family despite them going into hiding on another colony? Only my grandma and my father know the truth.”
Vivian put her arms around him. Her warmth gave him the courage to carry on.
“I looked up to my father as if he was a god back then. His work meant that he rarely visited me, and during the times he did visit, he was always cold towards my grandma and me. But I still revered him. Only grandma and I knew where Marcus and his family were hiding when they tried to escape ZAFT. When my father asked me where they were, I just told him everything.”
“All because of my selfishness, I made Marcus into what he is today. God, why did I do that back then? I'm the cause of all of Marcus' pain and misery today.” He sobbed. Vivian pulled him towards her and placed her head on top of his, holding him close as he cried.
“It's alright. We can't change what we did. I'm sure that guy wouldn't blame you.”
Taking a deep breath, Ryan wiped the tears from his face, “Maybe.”
He wanted to remain in her arms forever.
In reality the heavy swords should be pretty much useless against a beam sabre since particle vs. metal usually results in melted metal. But for the sake of this fanfic, let's assume that heavy swords are beam coated or something since it makes for better reading. Sorry to all you readers who demand technological accuracy.