The boy looked at Alyssa, bemused. She took a step backwards, ashamed by her impulsiveness. Yet his eyes sparkled, as though he smiled at her soul. He reached out with one hand and tucked her hair behind an ear. Alyssa blushed involuntarily. Then he shoved her backwards and walked off. Alyssa fell, but she never hit the ground. She was falling faster and faster. Then she woke up with a start.
This dream again.
Him again. She shook her head to push him out of her mind. The doorbell rang. Alyssa flicked on the intercoms. Alex appeared on the screen. "M'Lady, are you alright? I wasn't able to get through the intercoms so I thought to come here personally."
She saw the missed call on the screen. She was tired so she took a nap, but she felt even more tired than she was before she went to bed. "My apologies, I was sleeping and missed the calls. What's the matter?"
Alex would only interrupt her sleep if it was something urgent. He could take care of most issues that came up. He said, "Forgive my intrusion, M'Lady. We have reports that the salvagers went to Von Braun City. I have set course for the Moon. Our contacts will have the salvagers by the time we arrive."
She nodded and waited. He had more serious issues to present to her. "There's another set of intelligence report that you need to look at, M'Lady. I have sent the files to you. They are of utmost priority."
"I will look at them. Meet me at strategy room in an hour." Alyssa dismissed her assistant and proceeded to freshen herself. Then she sat down at her desk, poured herself some tea, and begun going through the reports Alex had forwarded her.
The black screen blinked to life and begun an insistent beep. Alyssa Arano looked up from the book she had buried her head in for the past few hours. She left orders not to be disturbed. Reading to orchestral music provided a brief respite that the piercing ringtone shattered. Alyssa briefly contemplated if she should allow the incoming call to interrupt her rest.
Recent events were exhausting. The loss of her leader and childhood companion affected not just her work but also shook her personally. The Zeon leadership was quick to shove her into the vacuum created by the death of Haman Karn. Alyssa had been groomed for this all her life, yet she never felt ready, not even now. Yet she had to be strong for Neo Zeon to succeed in reclaiming their birthright. They prepared for this for years. The hardships suffered by her people would soon be over once they moved back to Side 3.
The incessant beep broke through her thoughts. Alyssa sighed and closed the book in front of her. She brushed her hair out of her face and checked her appearance vaguely through the reflection of the console screen. Satisfied, she pressed the answer button. The face of her assistant appeared on the screen. He did not appear pleased to be tasked with relaying the message to her, she knew at first glance. Alyssa knew Lieutenant Alexander Mori well enough to sense his discomfort even through the screen. She wondered what bothered him so much, he usually kept a better composure. Alex saluted at the sight of the Zeon Regent. “M’Lady, we have reports that a salvage team scoured the wreckage zone before our recovery team arrived. I’m ashamed—“
“It happens.” Alex did not have to mention Haman’s name. He understood her pain, and she thanked him silently for that. “I trust you’ve dispatched a team to track down the salvagers.”
“Yes, M’Lady. Reports indicate that they are heading for the Moon.” Alyssa expected no less from her assistant. “I will look into this myself, Alex.”
“But, M’Lady—“ Alyssa cut off his protest with a raised hand. He knew she would take over the search personally. That explained his reluctance to make the call. It meant he understood her reasons too, as much as he disliked it. “You know I have to do this, Alex. The fleet will continue on course as planned. The delegation must reach Side 3. Patch the Vice Admiral through.”
“Yes, M’Lady.” There was a brief pause before Vice Admiral Darius Solomon appeared on the screen in a second video link beside Alexander. The Lieutenant saluted his superior while the Vice Admiral saluted the Regent. “Good evening, Lady Alyssa.”
“Vice Admiral,” Alyssa nodded in acknowledgement. “Alex, please.”
Her assistant proceeded to fill Solomon in on the intelligence report. The middle-aged veteran listened quietly. When Alexander finished, Solomon finally spoke, “Do you wish to take matters into your own hands, Lady Alyssa?”
“I leave the Doyenne in your command, Darius. I will leave at once on the Repentance. If all goes well, we will rendezvous with the fleet at Side 3.”
“I’m against this, Alyssa. I should have been firm with Lady Haman and stopped her from going out into combat against enemy ace pilots. With all due respect, it’s too soon to let the new Regent to be off chasing after a rabbit trail.” Solomon was a father-like figure for both Haman and Alyssa. He was a close and old friend of Maharaja Karn, Haman’s father and Alyssa’s guardian.
Alyssa pursed her lip in annoyance. She expected resistance and understood their reasons, but she was going regardless of their opinions and feelings. They stopped her from joining the recovery team and the search parties after the battle. There was no stopping her this time. “The Repentance can handle whatever surprises we encounter. I’ll also be bringing the Black Tri Stars along as escorts. Don’t worry, Darius. You can help me by bringing the delegates to Side 3 and protect Princess Mineva.”
Solomon sighed and said, “You and Haman are too alike. There is not stopping you once your mind is made up. There’s so much of Maharaja in the two of you. I promised him I would take care of you both. I have failed him once and I don’t want to fail him again.”
“I’m not going up against enemy ace pilots in a battle. We are intercepting a group of civilian salvagers. We will outgun them.” Alyssa noticed Solomon’s expression softening slightly. She recognised that look since young when he finally gave in to their pestering him for candy. “Besides, Haman would have done the same for me if our roles were reversed.”
Neo Zeon used ranks from the Zeon Space Attack Force and Zeon Earth Attack Force.
Neo Zeon Space Force
Lieutenant Junior Grade
Master Chief Petty Officer
Chief Petty Officer
Petty Officer First Class
Petty Officer Second Class
Petty Officer Third Class
Neo Zeon Ground Force
Private First Class