Full nameGabriel Choji Winter
“Ladies and gentlemen! From the Seed Cosplay Coalition, performing as Lacus Clyne it’s Meer!” The crowd erupted loudly as the girl bounced out in the middle of the stage. She waived her arms out in appreciation, tears forming around her eyes but she sucked in her breath and emotions and began to sing. Her voice started off shakily but soon gained her confidence. She shook her hips to the beat of the music and carried on with energy she never knew she possessed. The crowd adored her, for all intents and purposes she was convincing. Even without the use of character skins she bore a remarkable resemblance to the singers she emulated.
“She is pretty good…” the man said to himself as he kept his reticle aimed at the stage. She occasionally crossed the center of the target, not that it mattered. The beam he could fire would surely obliterate the stage in its’ entirety. The sniper kept his hands calmly clasped on the controls and floated around comfortably in his cockpit. The Elden Buster was high in orbit deployed in its’ sniper configuration. He had a camera attachment hooked onto the barrel of his rifle that increased the magnification to the point he could see details that high in orbit. He had tuned his radio to the live feed and could hear the concert in real time making him feel like he was almost there. As a Diver, he himself had an affiliation for Seed mecha, even the suit he was using was a testament to his own fandom. Still he had to see how this test would work out. It was going to be the peak of Zapp’s current technical capabilities, if a few people got hurt along the way then so be it.
“How are you doing down there kid?” He called out on his comlink to Gabriel. The boy took a moment before responding back in a hushed tone, “it’s going as planned. There are more mobile suits than we predicted.”
The Zapp agent chuckled, “oh yeah? Getting cold feet then?”
“Hardly” the boy responded callously, “I’m getting in position now, are you ready?”
The sniper shrugged and grabbed the fake rifle in his cockpit to adjust his angle. Of course the controls were dialed down to minimize even the smallest moment to a fraction. At this distance a centimeter could translate into hitting something hundreds of yards away if not farther. Like a surgeon he angle his crosshairs and smiled as he leveled on a target. “Ready kid. Got eyes on a Strike Freedom that would be nasty…”
“Roger that… 8 call out your target.”
There was a pause before the tinny voice responded. “I’ve locked onto a prime target as well, a Providence variant. That leaves a total of 7 omega types remaining that will need to be neutralized quickly.”
“Affirmative…” Gabriel responded. “Let’s get things started. Take the shot 8!”
The Zapp agent hugged his rifle tighter and waited to see the flash on his screen. He could hear the explosion on his radio, he could only imagine the panic. He squeezed the hair trigger and his rifle barked, the concussive force rippling through his cockpit even. “Damn that 1.8!” He howled in amusement as he moved his crosshairs to the next target. “Get a move on kid!”
Chaos erupted just as Meer was about to start her final song. A pink bolt soared out from the ocean to peg a Gundam in the head. Then the sky lit up in lightning? A blue bolt hitting another mobile suit asunder. Screams and yells flooded the festival as people scattered. Some choosing to immediately log off only to find their ability to do so being blocked somehow. Others with more sense and pride bolted for their mobile suits eager to retaliate.
One-two, one-two. The enemy fire flew into mobile suits seemingly at random. Making it even more obvious that it was an attack. And in those heartbeats the situation evolved drastically. Mobile suit’s eyes lit up in anger and slowly mobilized. The radio chatter flooded the public channel since most people came From different forces.
“Where’s the enemy!”
“ I got no visual!”
“Two different angles!”
“Yeah there’s a sniper in orbit!”
“Use the mass driver someone get up there!”
Slowly but surely the mob began to wisen up. But the time it took them to wisen up costed them dearly. “The sea!” One diver yelled out in a panic. “It’s the Exia variant!”
The dreaded Exia Variant, the white disrupter, the stories had circulated widely since the Seed Cosplay Coalition’s story, the first story in fact. And those stories and rumors had only circulated more since then. There were some who even claimed to see the same mobile suit slay Hashmal, claiming the elusive title Order of the Seven Stars. The one thing no one could agree on was why a diver would be so vindictive. It was clear now however that he had just picked a fight with the entire Gundam Seed fandom on GBN. As each pilot strapped into their mobile suit the mantra was universally echoed. “Today is the day the damned Exia will pay!”
Gabriel was exhausted, the Gundam Seed meet was tomorrow and he had done just about everything he could think to do to prepare. He still hadn’t gone through the trouble of buying a force nest yet so he had found another random location to decompress. He lay on a random beach, his mobile suit kneeling behind him in silent vigilance.
For the last week he had planned, trained, and worked on making his scheme have the best chance of success possible. He he had even made contact with the Zapp agent a couple more times for technical support, something the stranger was all too willing to help provide. The Zapp agent was peculiar, the man was talented, something Gabriel begrudgingly had to admit. Yet there was something about the man that Gabriel couldn’t shake off about him, something familiar. The man even seemed sympathetic to Gabriel’s plight even though he didn’t know why the guy would be. He had decided to focus more on figuring out the man’s identity after the Seed mission was over with.
There were more important things than mystery people in the world after all. Gabriel still felt consumed by rage by the news of Meer moving on. He had to get through to her, he had to make her see him? Since the break up he had felt so insecure, like it was his short comings, his timid ness that somehow contributed to her not liking him anymore. But since the break up, since he started fighting again, he felt different. “The old me couldn’t have gotten the Order of the Seven Stars…” he murmured to himself. His words were drowned out by the crashing waves, the water just beginning to tickle the bottom of his feet. Night had settled in and the high tide was growing in on his spot. “Tomorrow you’ll see me…” he vowed to the night air. “Tomorrow you’ll all see me!”
The first official Gundam Seed gathering was a spectacle that any Gundam fan was sure to enjoy. The official event was being held on the beaches of the official ORB Union force nest (ORB Union being a fan force composed of Divers and not NPDs). A stage dominated the festival with various vendors set up selling all sorts of Seed memorabilia. Select Seed mobile suits aligned the perimeter of the event with an official judging contest for both original suits and custom variations was to be held as well. All attendees could even obtain a limited edition Haro, something the administration had pitched in to supply.
Gabriel had arrived at the event on foot, he knew he couldn’t bring the Ardent Exia in, at least not yet. And had to stick to his plan. He grabbed a flyer with a schedule of events and tapped his finger over the “Lacus Concert” being performed by Meer. He had some time, plenty in fact, to do his reconnoitering. He blended into the crowds, opting to “cosplay” as a Phantom Pain soldier, wearing their black uniform, and no mask. He was him essentially, back before the beta, before his heart break. He weaved through the crowds towards the stage until he was right up against the entrance for backstage.
They were there, all of them. People he recognized from his days with Meer, her friends really. They were in lively talk with one another. He was dazed as he looked, shocked almost, because they all looked the same, they all looked like he had just seen them before the break up. His reverie was interrupted by a shrill voice, “Gabriel! Gabriel Winter is that you?” He cringed remembering the voice, it was the pilot of the Impulse, Stella. He turned to regard the blonde cosplayer and she smiled warmly at him, running over from the crowd beside him. Before he could say anything she embraced him. “Oh Gabe it is you! How have you been?”
There was a lump in his throat he couldn’t quite get past but he managed a smile at least and creaked out, “Stella!” She let him go noticing his discomfort and gave him an apologetic smile, “ah I see…” she said awkwardly, “Still wrapped up over her huh?” Moistness rimmed Gabriel’s eyes and he weakly smiled back, “This was a mistake…” he muttered and began to leave. “Are you here just because of her?” She asked, making Gabriel pause, he was but he was afraid to admit it. She continued, “You liked seed before she did, we all know that… you don’t have to give it up because of her.”
Gabriel did turn around at that remarked and his weak smile did grow a fraction more sincere, “I.. I know… in fact…” he began to mumble but found his nerve figuring there wasn’t any harm in telling, “I made a new Gunpla I entered in for the contest…”
Stella brightened up at the revelation, “Really? You did huh? Which one?” She seemed genuinely interested and he couldn’t help a chuckled “uh well.. it’s an Astray Variant…even though it may not seem like it on the outside…” He trailed off still wanting to leave and shrink back into the crowd. “We’ll see it then!” She promised, “all of us! Though I gotta say I didn’t take you as the type to stray away from the instructions! That’ll be really fun to see what you did Gabe!” He nodded in relief and smiled a little wider, “Thanks Stella, maybe I’ll catch you guys then?” He turned to leave again and did pause yet again. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry!” He called back, making the blonde woman freeze in confusion, “What for?” She responded. “For you getting caught in the crossfire so to speak… I know you guys are just trying to be friends with everyone, and it’s not cool for me to be… well me… about this whole thing… so I’m sorry to you and Shin…”
She crinkled her face in confusion and began to say something back but he left. Not thinking too hard about his words she eventually shrugged and returned to her friends. Gabriel scrunched his face in anger and clenched his fist as he got further and further away. He did know that she was just trying to be nice, but he could recognize pity when he saw it. The truth of the matter was they all flocked around her when the dust settled, he was the dead weight in the relationship. It would be her fault they remembered this day for the wrong reasons, hers and their own.
((After the events of Order of the Seven Stars))
Gabriel browsed the digital shops in GBN. In closely resembled what a real life mall used to look like. Each different vendor offering something slightly different. Some places were themed by series alone. Despite himself he found himself frozen outside the shop for Gundam Seed memorabilia. There was an NPD of Lacus in the display that made him do a double take.
“It’s not her…” he crooned to himself as he watched the mindless NPD go through a Lacus song. He shuttered out a breath of, was it relief? He cringed and decided to go into the store, heck he liked Gundam Seed long before she even watched it. There were shelves with tags you could press to preview the item, most of them bring costumes. A few shelves offered real world items or kits you could order for your gunpla. Naturally he was drawn to the more “useful” items, given the cosplay items reminded him too much of her. A lot of the offered items were quite cool, with some seemingly more helpful than others. He slowly got to the more expensive this when something did cause him to pause and look.
“Astray…” He muttered to himself and fingered through the tags on the shelf until he found what he was looking for exactly. “Quantum computer…” he mused as pressed the preview button. A small briefcase sized box appeared in his hands with a display that typed out.
Greetings I am 8
“Do you understand me? What’s your function in GBN?”
In the manga series I assisted the natural pilot Lowe Guele with the operation of the Astray Red Frame. I provided technical support as well as analytical information for any battles. I can offer the same level of support in GBN and your unit as well.
Gabriel grinned stupidly as he looked at the box and looked around. “Can I customize you and your settings? Are you able to audibly talk?”
“If that is what you desire? Then yes. I am a fully customizable unit and was painstakingly programmed. I am worth every credit if you can afford me.”
Gabriel blinked hard and was dumbfounded by the level of detail. He looked around almost as if he would be stealing something. He chuckled, “one last question 8, do you come with a carry strap?”
A few moments later Gabriel walked out of the store with a satchel looking device strapped on his shoulder. True the quantum computer was worth a small fortune but he didn’t see any downside to it. He hadn’t spent a credit since joining the Beta and has accrued a small fortune even before he obtained the Order of the Seven Stars. As he walked down the shopping center a few other divers gave him curious looks. He wasn’t any more bombastically dresses than the next squirrel girl but he seemed to be getting attention. He swore he heard one person even mumble “Seven Stars!”
He couldn’t help but grow a small grin. He wasn’t vain by nature, it just felt good to be getting recognition. His mood was soured when he received a message. It was marked as an unknown sender, marked simply as “We need to talk.” He opened up the message and saw that it had coordinates with a link that would take him instantly there. “8 can you have the Ardent Exia ready to go on my que? We’re going into an unpredictable situation I wanna be ready.”
“Will do sir!” The calm robotic voice responded. Gabriel nodded to himself and reached out to click the link. The world shimmered around him and he found himself in a dense forest. He was on a trail surrounded by ferns with a view of a large creek near by. All things considered it was a very tranquil location. The detail to nature was astounding if no breathtaking. He looked around in awe and nearly jumped when he saw a figure in a regular suit, in fact it was a diver dressed like a member of Celestial Being, they also had their visor tinted to hide their face. The site would probably be amusing to any bystander who could see them; two figures hiding their identities talking to each other.
“I told you to avoid attention, and what do you do? You go and beat one of the hardest challenges in the whole network… you’re really a piece of work kid!” The man shook their helmet side to side in disbelief.
“I don’t recall signing any contracts to work for you.” Gabriel responded coolly as he looked around nervously. “So what do want? Why me?”
The man clicked his tongue, “you know, you beating Hashmal should be evidence enough. We need talented divers such as yourself. You’re the one who elevated yourself past our own expectations. So in a way you have yourself to thank for that.”
“You still haven’t explained what it is you want me to do? Am I some debugger for your hacks is that it?” He bit his tongue shy of threatening to goto to the administration knowing where that road would go. The Zapp agent just shook his head again.
“You keep changing the parameters… so you tell me.” Gabriel paused in disbelief and glared hard at the man. For a long while no one said anything. He couldn’t tell for certain but he was almost sure the man was smirking at him. Gabriel clenched his fists in anger.
The man gave a infuriating chuckle then finally added, “I got a task in mind I think you’ll agree with… there’s a Gundam Seed meet up in a week. I want you to crash the party…”
Gabriel grimaced, “and why would I do that? That’s divers just wanting to have a good time! They-“
The man simply raised a gloved hand, “you’ll do it because she’ll be there…” That did make Gabriel flinch and shut up. Again he could sense the shooter smiling, “she’ll be there as a performer… along with her new boyfriend.”
Gabriel’s blood ran cold, how long had it been since they had broken up? A few weeks? Months already? How could she move on so fast they had been dating for over a year! He gripped his fists harder and glared menacingly at the mystery man. “And what kind of chaos do you want me to bring?” He didn’t care if he was using him in this instance, there wasn’t much left of him beyond his painful memories of her, of them. If this was excuse enough for him to lash out, he’d take it.
“I thought you might say that.”
Hunter scrunched his face as the Astaroth seemingly burrowed into the earth. His confusion was short lived as the Diver told him to essentially “Lure the enemy in and be ready.” All without Trans Am, he mused as he debated on what to do. He fired his thrusters to land on a roof of a building which offered him a temporary view of the great Hashmal as it lumbered just outside of the city. “I’ll see what I can do Astaroth….” hunter calmly responded.
He knew time was of the essence so he decided simply to act. He leveled his GN Pistol at the mobile armor and fired a shot off at the “bird’s” head. Sure enough the blast simply splattered off Hashmal’s nanofilament armor, but the result was favorable. Hashmal reared its’ head and sorta squawked as it turned it’s attention to Hunter. Unlike the Astaroth, Hunter didn’t have nanofilament. He fired his thrusters and took to the air, he took advantage of his GN drive to juke Exia in a pattern that would have been more difficult for traditional thrusters. Hashmal was entranced as it moved it’s beak towards him, following his movements, trying to lock on to him. It took a step his direction.
“Come on your dumb bird!” Hunter growled and he took another pot shot, daring the “angel” to return fire with its’ more significant weapon. “What’s the matter can’t lock on to me?”
He almost ate his words as the unholy screech ripped through the air along with the pink beam. He dived just in time but the blast seemed to trace after him for an uncomfortable length of time. He ducked down between buildings just as the blast shot out past him. He almost regretted the course. Plumas jumped up at the Exia like hungry dogs, bashing into his feet. He flipped out the GN blade and swiped down blindly at one that happened to cling onto his foot, armor shredding off along with the falling Pluma. At this rate I’ll be flying just a frame, he thought as he reversed course back into the newly created valley from Hashmal’s blast. He fired a shot at the beast as if saying, “hey over here!” The mobile armor took another step his way and he knew it was starting to work. “Now if only I can stay alive long enough for the Astaroth Diver to make his plan work!” He growled as he jerked to avoid more incoming fire. A little closer and I’ll have to worry about that nasty tail…
The way the oddly color Gundam dealt with the Plumas was impressive. Seeing the manner in which the stranger dealt with the drones made Gabriel feel self conscious. If I could just get out of this rut… the diver’s voice cut through his thoughts, “Ignore them. Get to the Hashmal.” But even as Gabriel saw the IBO variant lift off higher he knew that was a bad idea.
The Hashmal slowly stomped towards the city and by now was in the outskirts. Like bizarre mechanical dinosaur it turned to regard Dave along with another trio of flying Gundams. Its’ response was absolute, it opened its’ beak and shrilled our another angry screech. The pink beam reached out at some closer targets before sweeping its’ attack towards Dave.
Gabriel knew that IBO units were resistant to beams but the sheer power of the attack would be sure enough to dazzle. He growled and pushed his throttle to rush underneath his strange ally and began attacking the Plumas in the streets. Just as he was about to slash down one of the drones landed on top of his Exia pushing his unit into the ground. “Damnit!” He yelled, he should have seen that coming. The pluma reach in to bit the left metallic shoulder of his Gundam. His screen flashed a warning about damage. Another Pluma tackled into him pushing the Ardent Exia into the side of a building, completely stopping his charge. Dust and debris flew around wildly from the impact. Another warning on his display, Gabriel was seeing red.
Is this how this ends? One defeat? One utter humiliation and I’m reduced to a bumbling mess? Just then his thoughts flashed to Meer, to her breaking up with him in a GBN lobby with all their friends watching from the opposite end of lobby. A pluma bit into the chest armor, trying to tear the plating away. Just like how she ripped my heart out… “how she humiliated me…” he finished aloud. It was then his fingers relaxed, it wasn’t that the tension was gone exactly, he just felt… in control.
“Trans Am…” Hunter commanded, and he flared his output to shoot back into the sky just above the building lines. The Plumas shedded off of him taking scraps of armor but ultimately sparing him major damage. He just as carefully deactivated the Trans Am suspecting it could be handy later. His eyes darted around for the friendly Gundam. “Astaroth are you there?” He called out as he looked around calmly. “We can’t fly directly there…” he cautioned, his tone more confident now. Hunter studied the streets and wondered how they might lead them to the lumbering mobile armor.
Through the dust the a figure of absurd colors slowly took shape. Yellow and maroon slowly collated into an IBO variant, which Gabriel couldn’t recall at that moment. What he did see was the machine punching its’ way past plumas. Gabriel responded to the simple greeting with, “I’m glad I’m not alone!” As the two suits met up more plumas seemed to stream towards the duo. Gabriel slashed past unique machine to split the crown of one of the minion machines charging them. “Looks like we got a entire maze of these monsters between us and the mobile armor!” Gabriel noted as he fought the urge to pull out his beam pistol to fire ineffective shots. “Is your suit only effective at close ranges?” He asked blindly as the plumas slowed down in consistency, offering them a small reprieve.
Gabriel was still feeling flustered between his recent defeat and the sudden intensity of this challenge. At the moment he was playing much like his old self, and he hated it. He felt like he couldn’t get the upper hand, he was barely prepared, and there was perhaps a literal army between him and the desired goal. As his insecurities grew, the wave of plumas all together stopped, offering an eerie pause to the action. Still he looked around cautiously as he waited to hear from his new companion.
Order of the Seven Stars
Gjallarhorn is the savior that pulled the world out of the brink during the calamity wars. They fought and nearly exterminated the menace of mobile armors from known existence. Mobile armors were soulless death machines which brought humanity to its’ knees during the calamity wars. Hero’s who vanquished these mighty foes were rewarded the highest honor within Gjallarhorn, the Order of the Seven Stars. Do you have what takes to echo the achievements of these heroic titans?
Gabriel looked at the description with a scowl on his face. Ever since his meeting with the mystery sniper he had been in a bad mood. He didn’t feel like playing into their hands, on the other hand he was missing the rush of combat. He needed to do something legit, to feel validated again, to feel worthy of Ardent Exia.
While some missions could be described as hard or challenging, others were in a class of their own, downright suicidal even. Of course there was a rendition of this mission on the old GBN, but this new one, well he hadn’t heard good things about it. Supposedly no one had beaten the challenge yet. For Gabriel’s mood, It was right up his alley.
The diver selected the join button and he as put in a que to see if anyone else would be up for the task. As he waited, he checked over his armaments. True Exia was largely armed with beam weaponry, so he took the precaution to load up two extra GN blades the normal Exia would carry in 7 swords mode. It would make him more bulky but the trade off should be worth the risk.
He was so lost in his thoughts, that Gabriel almost didn’t realize the mission had started. “Crap.” He chided himself, “I didn’t even see who I’m teamed up with!” The scene before him was carnage incarnate. Ardent Exia stood in the abandoned streets of a huge city. Tall buildings cut up the terrain into grids, with gray skies threatening to rain at any moment. If it wasn’t for the radio chatter (which he was ignoring) the whole scene would have been eerily quiet. Unidentifiable mobile suit remains were scattered in the streets like body parts from a slasher film, with thick oil seeping from their limbs like blood.
A flash of lightning made Gabriel jerk in surprise but as he turned to look at the source his eyes grew in alarm. In the distance an area of mountains bordered the city, and on the rim of one of the mountains was the great beast Hashmal. The bird like mecha tilted its’s head up to screech out a roar, and despite its great distance the pink lightning of a beam blast, blindly glanced into the city. Buildings erupted into gray dust and tumbled down, creating a thick fog like smoke, hiding the terrifying beast from sight.
Gabriel gripped his controls tighter as uneasiness grew over him. “What did I sign up for…” he muttered to himself. Movement caused him to look to his side and see a friendly mobile suit. “Oh thank goodness!” He sighed as he turned his comm on to hail the friendly. Before he could even say hello a black dog like creature pounced into the mobile suit, followed by another, then another. The swarm of Plumas crashes into the mech drowning it with attacks. The friendly pilot screamed out in terror begging for help. Gabriel yelled out, though he didn’t know if it was from fear or rage, and charged in towards the pile. He slashed out with his GN sword to start bashing away the smaller drones. “Crap! We can’t be a man down already!” Even as he swiped his blade through the little mecha, he knew he was too late. He got a handful of them with his sword but more and more kept coming. “If I stay here they’ll over take me too…” he reluctantly fired his thrusters to take flight and hovered away from the plumas as they proceeded to tear their fresh kill apart, greedily “chewing” the limbs of the mech and draining its’ fluids.
One thing became clear to Gabriel as he retreated, “this isn’t going to be easy…” he darted between buildings looking for more allies. “Anyone out there? We lost an ally already!” He called out frantically. Fear was settling over him and he didn’t like the feeling.
The man’s voice was coarse, yet somehow melodic. The tone couldn’t help but rub Hunter the wrong way. His concerns grew exponentially as the man called him by his real name. He wanted to lash out, to curse and pout but the eerie calmness he was accustom to made him reply slowly, “Who are you?”
The cackling on the other end of the line did little to ease his fears as the two suits pushed away from each other. Both aimed a weapon at the other, Hunter’s GN pistol to the weird Buster’s gun launcher. “Talk…” he beckoned simply. The other man laughed all the more before calming down, “you could say I represent your benefactor…”
Hunter didn’t say anything as he tightened his grip on the controls. He gritted his teeth and stared hard at the black Buster. The wind from the storm buffeted them both with dust which soon turned into a stead sheet of rain. Drops of water dropped off their weapons and the sniper finally cleared his throat. “You see… it’s no coincidence that you’ve been dropping into people’s games. We’ve been using you to… practice some exploits we’ve uncovered in the code. Whether you want to or not, you are working for us, you have been since the moment you logged into the beta.”
The news didn’t come as a surprise, in fact Gabriel wasn’t so oblivious as to assume what he was doing was officially part of the game. Hearing to spoken so clearly however was alarming. “What does that mean then? Why are you trying to shoot me down?”
The sniper crackled as if the answer should be so obvious. “It’s simple!”the Buster fired a blue bolt at Exia’s GN pistol beating Hunter to the draw and destroying the GN sword in the process. “I need you to fall!” Hunter exploded into action ditching the broken weapon and charging with the beam saber in his off hand. He yelled out in defiance as he closed the distance. Before he could get close however the Trans am faded off. He talked to me to run my particles out! He realized just as he got within striking distance. The jolt of the machine was noticeable as he ran out of juice and his blade clashed with the blue beam saber. His power seemed to flicker in the cockpit as he brought his right hand to pressed against the enemy cockpit. He got as far as he could though and his beam saber cut off along with all his power. Luckily he didn’t feel it as the blue beam sliced through the Ardent Exia.
He soon rematerialized on the wet rocky ground right in front of the Buster. He looked up quizzically at the machine wondering what would happen now. The enemy pilot could be hear cackling over their PA system before finally addressing him. “Not bad kid! You see you were gaining too much attention! We needed to bring you score down so you remain under the radar. That’s not to say you’re doing anything bad. So don’t take this personally…”
Hunter glared up at the ebony colossus, “what now? Am I still your little pawn?” He spat the question out accusingly and looked around as the wind and rain buffeted him.
“I happen to think you’re a little more valuable than that… I’ll contact you in a couple of days kid…” the Buster flared it’s engines and began to hover away. “Keep all this under your hat… Gabriel… You work for Zapp now kid…Just remember… We know how to find you…” the man bellowed out as the Buster floated down the mountain and away. Hunter stood up to watch, perplexed by the turn of events and curious what it all meant. “Zapp?” He muttered, “the Gunpla aesthetics company?”
“What do you fight for kid?”
The eerie blue energy from the sniper rifle flared again along with its thunderous chorus. Grunting the man began to sprint away from the position. Caring little to see if his shot followed through, and more invested in repositioning to his final spot. “Things will get cozy if he gets any closer…” the shooter considered as he pressed his mobile suit’s back against a rock.
He grimaced as he studied his sensors, sure enough the kid dodged the last shot. The man’s instincts were certainly proving to be true about this mark so far. “Alright no more games…” he muttered as he disengaged his rifle’s configuration and alternated it’s position to have the blunt end of the weapon as the main cannon now. Of course his version of the Buster was heavily modified. Instead of the typical colors the phase shift on his machine was simply black. The glow that radiated from the eyes was blue along with the energy of his shots, which was in itself quite rare and intriguing. The Edlen Buster was equipped with mirage calloid as well as an N-Jammer Canceller and a nuclear reactor. So unlike, the stock version he was able to rain continuous fire and even hide for his initial assault. The added boosters also increases his mobility while offering him twin beam sabers for close encounters.
The reticle of his crosshairs changed to designate the difference in weapon being aimed. The gun launcher shotgun would be sufficient for the medium range the boy was beginning to enter into. The Exia variant slowed its pace to a cautious patrol as it entered a ravine on the side of the mountain that the sniper had been using. “Surely he knows it’s a trap…” the sniper muttered as he leveled the invisible shotgun to aim. He waited patiently as the range dwindled down to the desired distance, not too far that the target could slip away from effective range, and not too close as to easily find himself. That’s when the fool did something the sniper wasn’t expecting. “He’s turning away? What a disappointment kid…” the Exia presnted it’s back just as it began to flair its’ thrusters.
Hunter readied his hands over the control. He had a feeling that he wouldn’t make it out of this encounter cleanly but he felt compelled to try. Whoever was shooting at him was darn clever and kept quietly repositioning. And the inconsistency of the shots proved to be almost maddening. As he approached the ravine it became clear to him that it was a trap of some sort. “We won’t play your game…” he huffed as he turned the machine around, as he did so a wicked grin grew on his masked face. “Take the bait…” he muttered.
As if on cue a shot rang out and pelted the back of his suit, severely damaging his thruster pack. Hunter grunted but set his plan into motion, ejecting the GN Amplifier. The sacrificed piece fully exploded sending a cloud of GN particles everywhere. By now their hue was burning dark orange nearly burning red. The red intensified as Hunter immediately pushed the Ardent Exia into Trans Am. Everything blurred as made Exia drop nearly to the bottom of the ravine before turning and making the suit scramble up the steep edge of the cliffs. Between the GN drive and the feet of the Exia, he half flew, half hopped up the mountain towards the general direction where the last shot came from.
“Jigs up!” The man snapped as he tried to fire a second shot into the exploding GN Amplifier. The resulting cloud of particles flared his sensors and he almost didn’t notice Exia dropping like a stone. “Clever little…” he trailed off as he lowered the shotgun to try and get an angle. “You bastard!” He hissed as his barrel hit the lip of the rim overshooting his follow up shot, missing harmlessly above the Exia. “And giving away my location!” The man grumbled as he jumped away from the edge to hide more on the ground he was already on. He maybe had one more chance to get a lucky hit before his Mirage Calloid would be useless at hiding him. “Hmm let’s entertain the kid… he made it this far after all…” he touched a control shutting off the dispersal of his cloak and flared his engines up as he disconnected the rifle to duel wield the rifle and launcher.
The Exia erupted over the side of the ledge and immediately locked in on him to throw a beam boomerang at his black mobile suit. He hovered to the side, shooting down the attack with his left gun while raising his right to shoot a beam at the Exia. The shot missed as Exia tumbled back down straight at him, a beam saber swipping in horizontally for the Buster’s chest. The sniper obliged the attack by drawing his own beam saber from his back, a blue blade igniting to clash with the red one.
“I can’t recall the last time I had to use this!” The shooter howled over the comm, “you are worth the bounty they placed on you!” The pilot of the Exia grunted and replied by pulling out its signature GN blade to swipe down with it, a move that the Buster blocked with the hammer head end of it’s gun launcher acting more like a club, parrying the attack. “Don’t be hasty! Don’t you wanna know what’s going on? Gabriel….”
((Again, thanks to Frosty for the amazing work on the Edlen Buster!))
The world of GBN could easily be overlooked, though no easily discounted when one took the time to simple pause look around. Gabriel was having a moment of repose as he lay on a shallow hill overlooking a valley. In the greater distance there were clouds clashing with mountains in bouts of lighting. He was exhausted, he had just completed another “intervention” and was trying to gather himself before logging off. A screen floated in front of his lazy eyes as he held his hands behind his head.
The vista below him rolled into his memories as it intimately reminded him of the past. Back before he dated Meer he rolled with a bunch of mission programmers who specializes in making fan missions for GBN. There was a particular situation that he could vividly recall in his head with Zeon and Titans fighting in the hills. The crescendo of the mission was a duel with an enemy Gouf. Gabriel’s mind lingered on the fond memory as it soured his expression. Back then he was having fun with friends on GBN, what he was doing now?
The thought caused him to turn on his side in anguish as he felt the bitterness of his reality set in. Here he was doing the opposite of what he strived for in the past. Now he was invading other people’s missions, possibly ruining their experiences, and for what? Gabriel crinkled his nose and closed his eyes tightly. “If I can’t be happy why should they be?” He muttered to himself. He slowly relaxed his eyes open, “if they want to emulate combat so badly then they should be ready for anything.” He squinted ahead past the screen which seemed to float directly in front of his eyes.
Gabriel has been having resounding success with the “intervention” missions and he didn’t question how he kept getting the prompt to do, them despite their shady origination. Although he had gotten his share of lickings, Gabriel’s proportion of damage was very much in his favor and even worth bragging. It even seemed that he was starting to get some renown as a talented player, a deed he never even got close to before. His fingers touched the mask gracing his digital persona and he smirked. He had to admit that he liked the feeling of being respected.
A message popped up on the persistent display and Gabriel frowned as he saw it was a message from the same party that had been giving him the missions. The topic simply read as “Warning Bounty” and he didn’t hesitate as he opened up the text.
“A word of caution, our agents have been contacted and paid to place a bounty on your mobile suit. We are forced to oblige the details of our contract. Players will be able to engage you at any time…. Be careful.”
His display erroneously fizzled out of existence as he read the last words and he looked around in sudden alarm. A flicker from the storm on the horizon made him squint and on sheer instincts he yelled out loud, “Exia!” He crossed his arms in front of him in a reflexive nature just as Ardent Exia formed a barrier around him. The Armor of the Exia illuminated in brilliance just as one of the “lightning bolts” burnt into the hill he was just standing at.
“Clever kid…” the man crowed as he licked his lips and moved the aiming apparatus once more. The digital cockpit was completely custom, woven to appear more like the cockpit of the Dynames than the simple glowing aura most regular players were used to. Still it had its moments when it would flicker as ethereal but the use of Dyname’s aiming rifle was par none, especially for a person was was used to firing real weapons. “1 degree…” he whispered as he squeezed the trigger again. His rifle barked out again, the mirage calloid engulfing his mobile suit pulsing out of a existence before attempting to conceal him again.
Much to his dismay the Exia variant had a shield up for this round which shattered just as it absorbed the shot. “Crap he already has an idea where I am, better reposition…” the man released the fake rifle before grabbing the controls and pushing his suit back into its feet. The mirage calloid shimmered around him as he moved but persistently did its job. He didn’t fire his thrusters but rather made his black suit run along a ridge on the mountains edge. There was a path just wide enough that he could get a good kilometer or two from his previous position. Although he suspected Ardent Exia would make a much larger gain in that timeframe he was confident that his extreme distance would forgive his repositioning.
Most marks didn’t last past the first shot, fewer still survived a second. Maybe his colleagues were right about this “Hunter” fellow. The man chuckled as he found his next position, he had it set up ready for him already and it was as simple as parking his mobile suit in the designated area. “No this one is already tons of fun! If he does as well as I suspect, he’ll be most useful…”
The scruffy man was already pulling down the fake rifle to rest his cheek on the buttpad. Unlike a human a mobile suit didn’t have a pesky thing to deal with such as a human heartbeat. The long weapon was collaborated with the two weapons conjoined in sniper configuration still. Of course all of its features were still hidden under the veil of mirage calloid, nearly making him completely invisible, especially when not even moving. The crosshairs of the display placed the charging Exia at the very bottom of his scope still, signifying the extreme distance he was trying to shoot from. “That’s it, come to daddy!” The man mused as he leveled for another shot.