Full nameNathaniel Barondel
((Thanks everyone for your help with the dialogue!))
> So many didn’t come back. It was surreal to Jonathan, one moment he was getting bullied by the other members of his team, the next most of them were gone. “Just gone…” he murmured to himself. His contemplation was interrupted as Baskerville and Renato excited the briefing room. It took the youngster a moment to realize who it was who even went past him before he shot up from the bench he was sitting on to give chase. He didn’t run but walked swiftly to try and catch up to the men. He paused when he nearly stumbled into the two talking comfortably with the other. He debated walking away and maybe approaching the Commander later but then decided against the notion.
> Jonathan cleared his voice, “Excuse me, Commander Baskerville?” As he asked he snapped into a crisp salute, something that seemed almost out of place from his short stature and cherubic face, a contrast to his green uniform. “My name is Jonathan M. Locke, I was piloting the GINN that captured the Astray last mission.” He blurted out uncomfortably as he tried to get his nerves about him.
-Renato and Lowell stopped as they were approached by a blonde soldier Lowell did not recognize. "I'll catch up to you, Renato," he said, waving his lieutenant off. He turned back to the soldier and nodded. "So, you were the one in that mystery GINN," he sighed and rubbed the back of his head. "You guys really messed up my plans but..." was Locke's capturing of the Blue Frame enough to make up for the chaos that had ensued because of his arrival with the rest of the Zala team? It had gotten them out the jam in that conference room but at the same time, Lowell had lost three good men. That wasn't Locke's fault though, really. He was likely just following orders. "What can I do for you?"
> Locke gulped having not thought this plan entirely through evidently. With much of the Zala team MIA or destroyed there wasn’t many options for him or Dearka at the moment. “I … umm… well…” He began as he eased his salute down, “I was wanting to ask you about getting a transfer… to your unit…” he looked around nervously making sure Dearka wasn’t around before returning his gaze to the older man.
- Lowell was genuinely surprised at Locke's request. After having lost so many good men, this guy was willing and eager to join what the Wolf commander was sure some soldiers were already calling a cursed squadron. “You want to be a wolf?” he said, incredulous. But the more he thought about it, the more he knew he couldn’t very well turn Locke down. First and foremost, there were holes in the unit that needed filling, like it or not. Second, Locke had already demonstrated he was a good pilot, if maybe a bit reckless. He had, after all, single-handedly disabled one of the Astrays and came away with half of it to boot. Lowell, who had been rubbing his chin thoughtfully, brought it away from his face and smiled. “I don't see why not. From what I've seen, you’re a solid pilot, Locke. I think you' be a good fit, but I should warn you, integrating might not be easy. The Wolves are a tight group and we lost a lot of good men and women today, members of our pack, so to speak. If you think you can tough out being the new guy, you've got a spot"
> Despite himself Locke scoffed at the commanders warning about fitting in. “With all do respect sir at least you guys are green coats. The La Cruset guys were just about blaming me for for the death of the person I replaced….” His voice trailed away as he tried to his the contempt in his tone. He shook his head and let a grin cross his fair features. His tone shifted to somewhat more formal once again, “I understand sir and I appreciate your willingness to take me in. I won’t let you down!” He promised eagerly.
- Lowell looked at Locke seriously for a moment. The Le Creuset team…if they weren't already as good as disbanded, he'd reckon they might become a problem. The Wolf commander had no personal reason to distrust Rau Le Creuset, but something about the man didn’t sit well with him. Perhaps it was the mask. Lowell came back to the conversation at hand and nodded at Locke once more “Glad to hear it, Locke. I'll be in touch with Commander Le Creuset about your transfer. I’m sure he won't have any objections,”
And if he does, well…
Lowell has a few strings he could pull. Le Creuset and him were technically the same rank, but Lowell refused to wear the white garb of a commander. That had endeared him to some of the more rank and file men in ZAFT, but it had also rubbed some of his fellow officers the wrong way. He just had to make sure this request went to the right people.
“Alright, dismissed. Wolf Squadron is meeting at 0500 tomorrow, so go get some rest,”
And with that, Lowell saluted, turned, and made his way back to his quarters for some rest of his own.
>Jonathan saluted back and snapped to walk away. A grin was etched on his face as he felt this would be a good thing not just for him but for his career. He decided then that he should contact his superior to give them an update on this development.
Lowell struck him as one of the more capable ZAFT commanders and a force to be reckon with. While the raid may have been bloody it was still a powerful message to send to the tiny country of Orb. It was also obvious that Lowell was willing to take daring risks during this turbulent time. “Just the kind of man I wanna serve with.” He mused under his breath. As he exited the building to head back to the barracks he saw a few technicians milling about. One of the mechanics jabbed a finger his way, and Jonathan cocked his head but decided to keep walking not wanting to talk to a stranger. As he walked by it became evident what the gesture was about.
“Yeah that’s him.”
“Wow! You said he butchered that suit!”
“Shredded! All with a GINN sword too!”
“Ha! Bet he taught those naturals a thing or two!”
“The Butcher of Onogoro”
The last phrase did give the youthful coordinator pause. He looked behind him at the techies talking and exchanged a wave and thumbs up with the group. Shaking his head he walked on and repeated to himself. “Butcher or Onogoro huh? I suppose having a reputation like that isn’t a bad thing to have at all?”
> Nathaniel caught sight of Kali a few corridors away from the med bay. He was bandaged up pretty good with a giant patch across his left eye. He had cleaned up already, though he still looked ragged.
Catching sight of Kali had Nathaniel wincing at first. In many respects Kali was less qualified than Geneva was and yet here she stood. War was truly unforgiving. “Private…” he called out softly, finding his voice caught up in his throat. Gulping down some saliva he asked louder, “Kali! How are you doing?” His voice trailed away as he looked around uncomfortably.
-Kali’s steps slowed and she turned to face the voice that called out to her. Her heart raced, she felt a lump in her throat, “Lieutenant.” She managed to to say.
She approached him clasping her hands in front of her. She felt the soft skin on the back of her hands and they held on to to each other. Her eyes brimmed with tears, “I’m glad you’re alright.” She said softly, “I wish I could have done more. Maybe then Geneva…” her words left her as she lowered her eyes. It was bittersweet to say the name out loud. She looked at him directly, “I am ok.” She answered realizing she hadn’t answered his question. She felt light headed as if she wasn’t there, she was in shock but surprisingly present.
>Nathaniel reached up to try and comfort to girl and paused, his hands trembling. His thoughts careened back to when he saw Geneva in the cockpit of blue frame, back when they were trying to get out of that hellhole that was Heliopolis. He hesitated back then to comfort his teammate then too. He opted to run away, almost suicidally. Clenching his fist he fully extended his hand and place it firmly on Kali’s shoulder now.
His voice calmly called out, “You did good soldier. Tic for tat… we got some high value targets for sure. Your shot being a hell of an example.” He gulped and nodded more so for himself, “we gotta keep moving forward… do you understand?”
- Her eyes raised to meet his as he rested his hand on her shoulder. She felt a wave of calmness and comfort wash over her. She offered a small smile of gratitude which faded into a determination she didn’t ever imagine herself having. His words moved her when he said they had to keep moving forward. She wasn’t sure what it meant for her, she nodded, “Of course, Lieutenant.” She affirmed, “Have you heard anything about Roane?” She asked turning to look towards the med bay.
Nathaniel winced at the mention of Roane. It was a topic he was hoping to avoid. Inhaling sharply he replied, “Roane’s alive… given the circumstances that’s… well that’s a good thing.” He let go of her shoulder as he looked around uncomfortably. “Look… it’s not your fault… none of it is… as your commanding officer it’s all my responsibility.”
- She looked back to the Lieutenant. She was relieved to know he was alive, “We did what we could.” She said, “It couldn’t have been helped.” She felt as if she were saying it to affirm herself more than the Lieutenant, “We are in this together.” She said with resolve. A serene looked crossed her face, “That’s how we will survive.”
> “We’ll have to do more than that private!” He quipped as he flashed a smile. “If our country is going to live we have to be better…” he lamented and his tone shifted as he spoke. Shaking his head he added, “The roster is going to be slim this next bout. Me and Kieran are going to be relying on you big time! How comfortable do you feel in purple frame?”
-She beamed as he smiled and she nodded in agreement. She noted as his tone shift and she took a moment to think about his question, “There is still much to learn about the purple frame and being in the field Lieutenant. I know there isn’t a lot of time but I will do my best.”
> Nathaniel grinned back and nodded at her honest self assessment. “Keep up the simulations then. We’ll have a briefing soon with our next assignment. I need you focused on training. The captain will understand. Any questions?”
- “Yes, Lieutenant.” She said with a nod. She wondered how the briefing would go. It seemed one moment to the next for them. She felt old parts of herself falling away as if she were becoming someone new, “No questions sir. I’m going to go to the med bag in the meantime.” She said remembering Roane.
> Nathaniel offered a salute and nodded. “Very good private.” As he walked away he silently wondered if Kali’s success had been a fluke or if she was the real deal. The next mission was going to decide real fast which was true.
> It was some time before Nathaniel visited Kieran in the Med bay. He wasn’t proud of his delayed visit, in truth he was scared to see what sort of damage his own shortcomings could have caused. As he approached the Green Frame pilot a wave of relief did wash over him however. Kieran appeared to have all his limbs and even seemed alert as he approached. “Private?” he asked gently as he walked up.
For as long as he had served with Kieran he felt like he still knew so little about the man. Nathaniel bit his lip as he studied the solider before him and nodded his head absently. In light of Geneva’s demise he was determined to get to know Kieran better. “I heard you got one of the G weapons…” he offered as he stood next to the bed.
-"Ah" he went to stand up at attention but he seemed to wobble back down, holding his stomach a little "ah..." he looked away, almost in shame. He looked back at his commanding officer trying to look like he still was perfectly fine "Yes sir.. I did"
> “At ease.” Nathaniel offered as he put his hands out. He smiled at Keiran’s dedication, “you did a hell of a thing out there!” He praised, “you kept a level head despite the situation…” he went quiet as he thought about he himself didn’t keep his cool in the last battle. Instead he looked at Kieran. “How are you feeling?”
- "Thank you sir, though.. it didnt really feel as though i was fully in control during those fights" He said, he seemed a little uncomfortable, like something was going through his mind.. though he snapped out of it to answer the next question "Im.. fine, i suppose.. im still thinking about everything"
> Nathaniel nodded his agreement and gave a helpless chuckle. “Yeah… yeah me too! Thinking that is…” He looked around to see some others in the med bay, most notably Roane. Returning his gaze to Kieran, Nathaniel asked point blank, “can you still fight?” The tone in which he asked made it clear that there would be plenty of that in the near future.
- "Yes sir" He said, almost.. immediately, he seemed to have more of a fire in his eye when he said so as well "I have to, after everything that happened.. theres no way im backing down now"
> Despite himself, Nathaniel looked at the bed Kieran was confined to but nodded, “Good… good…” he looked around conspiratorially and leaned in, “There’s something big being cooked up… there’s some actionable intelligence we’ve accumulated…” He paused to point a finger up skyward to accent his point. “Look… We’re down in man power… I’m glad you’re up for a fight. But I need to know if you can be reliable though… what do you mean you didn’t feel like you’re fully in control in that last fight?” He gulped as he studied the pilot, “is it because of Geneva?”
-"It was.. scary" He said, closing his eyes "I suppose i was angrier than i was.. level headed? It was different from usual, ive lost people before but when i saw Geneva go down.. it was much more.., concentrated i guess"
> Nathaniel crinkled his face in confusion but didn’t say anything. He instead simply nodded, “Well… focus can be a good thing in battle.” It was the best he could offer. Back when he was fighting Lowell, Nathaniel was seeing more red and it didn’t sound anything like what Kieran was explaining. “You’re a first generation coordinator right Kieran?” Nathaniel asked out of the blue.
-"Yes sir" He said, nodding and then looking up at him
> Nathaniel smiled, “Nice! Did you know I am too?” He raised an eyebrow as he asked then added. “What’s your take on the war? Do you buy into the whole ‘coordinators are the next human stage’ Rhetoric?”
- "Hmm.." he shook his head "No, to be completely honest, I don't think there's any.. *next* stage for humans, just.. different people"
> “Can’t say I disagree with that notion Kieran.” Nathaniel nodded. Looking around one last time the lieutenant looked at the motionless Roane the returned his gaze to Kieran. “Get better soon Private… we’ll need to get back to it sooner than later. I’ll have a briefing tin a couple of days, I hope you’ll be there.” He offered a lazy salute the turned to leave.
- "Understood, sir" he said, sighing once he was back in "Private" he laid back and stared at the ceiling, Kieran was.. deep in thought, though.. after awhile, his body couldn't keep up and.. he fell asleep
A few days had passed since the battle of Moegenrate. Things had been chaotic if not relatively peaceful. Relative being the key word.
Nathaniel stood at the foot of Delphine’s bed, half naked. Bandages adorned the top half of body and he moved wearily to put on his shirt and uniform top. He was already healing up pretty good. The aching would sure to stop in another day or two, it helped that he was already in great shape. One wound, a scar running across his left eye still seemed to hurt no matter what though.
Sighing as he put on the uniform top, he looked back down at the captain who remained buried under the sheets. There was something special about her, he couldn’t deny that. It was that same something that drove him to have sleepless nights in more ways than one.
Tightening up his collar he cleared his throat, causing the beautiful woman to stir. She looked up at him groggily and cocked her head as Nathaniel simply glared down at her. “This is it.” He stated flatly, “No more… this is it… I can’t settle anymore, not for anything in life…”
She sat up, an expression of confusion and bewilderment etched on her fair features. Before she could reply he continued, “You have to decide, which one gets to have you all to himself. I’ll give you that much. But I got to…” he paused as he looked around past her, “I got to value myself more than this…. More than this… impulsive passion.” Looking down Nathaniel locked stares with Delphine. “I care for you… but not enough to stop caring for myself…”
He offered a curt nod before walking out the door. Delphine remained on her bed, stunned by Nathaniel’s sudden insistence of ending their affair. Ever since he got back from the mission, he seemed different. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but it was like some sort of weight had been taken off his shoulders, “or is it guilt that he’s feeling… for Geneva?” she pondered out loud as she hesitantly moved to go get ready.
She had to wonder, would this new behavior effect Nathaniel’s ability to lead Chromatic team? To pilot? If that wasn’t enough, she now had to decide if she valued her stale marriage more than this passionate affair she had struck up with the pilot. “I need some coffee…” she muttered.
It was hard to frame Nathaniel’s emotions at that moment. Part of him was glad to be given such a daring assignment, it after all fed into his background as a spook. The other half of him was terrified at bringing his diminished team along for a potential suicide run. Then of course there was the matter of blood. Blood spilt by his comrades that needed to be paid for in kind.
He snapped out of his stare as he blinked the thoughts out of his head. He stood now in front of what was left of chromatic team, himself, Kali, and Kieran; inside the briefing room of the Archangel. “I’m sorry to call everyone together again so soon…” He stated blankly and he gulped hard as he looked at both his subordinates. “However this mission comes from the top with the utmost importance.” Clearing his throat he pulled up his clicker and projected a slide with a picture of one of the many ZAFT plants.
“This is Aprilius one, the head of the beast for the entire ZAFT government. Needless to say it is one of the most heavily defended locations in the colonies. We also have reason to believe that it houses a secret dock with new weapons that are being developed by ZAFT. A reliable intelligence source recently sent us these pictures.”
Nathaniel clicked for another slide and the image of a familiar looking face appeared.
He paused for effect as he himself still couldn’t quite believe the imagery of a Gundam head. “It’s obvious that they are taking the technology that we’ve developed with the Alliance and are… expanding on it. The real question is how?”
He clicked for another slide and the live feed of a shuttle on the mass driver came to view. “Here’s the rub… We are being deployed to find out what these weapons are exactly. We will be going into space on this customized shuttle. What we need to determine… is what to bring with us exactly? There’s limited space on this shuttle. I don’t know what good mobile suits will do for us on this mission but we have to weigh out the options. Gold frame was heavily damaged in our last battle so I decided not to bring it along on this mission.” Nathaniel opened up his hands and motioned for his subordinates to chime in. “This is a high risk mission. I’m not going to make any decisions lightly I welcome any and all feedback on how we want to address this mission. What are your thoughts?”
Nicol’s eyes went wide as his shot hit the Red Frame rather decisively, “I got him!” He hooted out triumphantly. As he erroneously looked around to see if anyone noticed his shot as an emerald flashed traded with his own and it was too late.
Purple Frame’s shot was accurate enough as it pierced into the cockpit of the Blitz. The resulting explosion was somehow more brilliant as the Mirage Colloid shimmered out of existence and the eruption of debris appeared out of seemingly no where. Scraps of the machine thudded around the battlefield in a chaotic pattern.
Athrun was confused by a number of things happening at once. First was the GINN in front of him suddenly decided to retreat, he wasn’t expecting his suggestion to be acted on so suddenly. Part of him thought that this Wolf commander was too blood thirsty to oblige his observation. The second thing to steal his attention was the sudden disappearance of not one but two friendly IFF readings on his radar. “Son of a-“ his complaint was short lived as a third surprise came in the form of the deadly attack coming from Green Frame.
With the Wolf member so callously retreating he wasn’t ready for the inbound threat. Despite whatever talent Athrun held, it wasn’t enough to repel the beam and his screens soon blacked out as his cockpit shook violently. Acrid smoke filled the compartment and Athrun was only spared by his enclosed helmet. He did feel a lurching motion as his machine fell, and a violent jerk against his restraints as the Aegis crashed into the waters below.
“Ma’am, the enemy forces are retreating!” The radar officer offered to Captain Hawthorne. Despite herself she let out a shaky breath in relief and looked around frantically before calling out, “I need someone to go down there and verify the status of Nath- of Gold frame and Red frame!” Luckily for her, her crew knew what she wanted and began the process to deploy their rescues and recovery teams.
Delphine gripped the edge of her chair tightly hoping against odds that her team didn’t just get wiped out in this crucial battle. Her thoughts were interrupted when one of her officers called out, “Ma’am I have the Strike requesting landing permissions. It… its’ carrying the remains of another G weapon, the Duel I think!”
This news snapped Delphine from her reverie and she nodded, “um. Yes sure… give them access to the hangar bay.” She looked around quizzically then, “What do you mean it has the Duel?”
Rondo Mina didn’t disembark from the Strike as she unceremoniously dumped the largely intact body of the Duel Gundam into the hangar bay of the Archangel. Besides a large burn hole through the cockpit area the suit appeared unscathed. She merely offered the advice, “Do with it what you will.” Before leaving the ship. She scoffed as she studied the battlefield. Things certainly seemed bad, but they could also be a lot worse. “At least the legged ship is still afloat, and we didn’t outright loose all the Astrays. Maybe we can put this insurrection to bed to focus on the bigger problems at hand”
The hatch on Gold Frame shot off as the explosive bolts popped in quick succession. Groaning, Nathaniel stumbled to the exit of his severely damaged mobile suit. He paused by the exit to look at the retreating lights from various enemy engines. Blood flowed freely down the left side of his face from a shrapnel wound. The warm sensation hardly stung him as tears flowed from his good eye, “Genie…” he muttered as he broke down and slumped in the hatchway.
One by one the flare of the enemy Guuls faded away and he could only shake his head in disgust. If he had been a better leader she wouldn’t have died, if he had been a better pilot. No, instead his own recklessness got the blue frame pilot killed, and for what? Nathaniel reached over with his right hand to grip his aching left elbow and gripped his limb hard in frustration, “All for what? Lowell!” He clenched his face tight as he let his emotions get the better of him.
It was well into the night by the time his mobile suit was recovered. Nathaniel was nearly overwhelmed when he saw the mangled mess of Red Frame in the hangar awaiting his arrival. Despite his own injuries he went running over to the machine, frustrated to see it vacant. His concern was short lived as he was informed that Roane was taken to the infirmary.
He was so disoriented from the happenings that Nathaniel simply wandered into the hallways of the Archangel. His original intention was to go see Roane and see if the pilot was even alive, but something had him gravitating towards the bridge. Blood was starting to soak the left side of his flight suit but he didn’t care, the pain merely reminding him of his existence in that terrible moment. He was nearly to the bridge when he saw her, looking nearly as disheveled as himself, standing in the opposite end of the hallway.
Delphine had tears in her eyes and her shock was complete when she saw Nathaniel looking almost like an apportion at the opposite end of the hallway. She began to shake her head apologetically as he limped towards her, words seeming to fail her beyond, “I’m sorry.”
Still Nathaniel didn’t say anything as he went up to her, then without warning he took her with his free arm and brought her in for a kiss, desperate for any sensation beyond pain in that moment, desperate for a chance to feel something in contrast to their pitiful reality. She didn’t object as he held her and both remained embraced for a long moment.
His warm blood alarmed her forcing them to break their moment and she gasped, “you need to-“ the look he gave her silenced her and she looked around nervously, “C’mon, let me at least clean you up.” She offered as she took his hand and lead them both to her cabin.
He didn’t object, wanting nothing more than her tenderness in that moment. Still, there was something churning away in the back of his head. A reckless thought that grew to consume his mind even as he lay back staring at the ceiling of her cabin later that morning. What will it take to get revenge? What do I need to do, to kill Lowell…
Bullets ate greedily into the minimal armor that Gold Frame had to offer. Nathaniel roared out in defiance and raised his left hand up to try and vainly block some of the bullets with just the mobile suit’s hand. Even as he absorbed the damage he was firing his rifle recklessly trying to approach Lowell. Pink bolts lanced out from Nathaniel’s rifle to only shoot out wide from the GINN. Closer! He willed desperately as he flared his thrusters to get closer to his ZAFT counterpart, closer!
Even as he fought with Lowell Nathaniel could still hear the radio chatter from his teammates. He could hear Kieran about to engage dangerous foes without him. They were all in trouble without him to help, with Lowell out there to stoke the flames, Nathaniel thought coldly.
The left arm began to shatter from the bullets colliding with the limb and it was the outstretched hand which ultimately diverted bullets from directly hitting his cockpit. Still Gold Frame buckled from the assault and sparks began to fizzle out of the wounds. Closer! Nathaniel prayed hopefully as he barely got within striking distance of his foe. Another shot from his rifle reached out to try and glance the GINN and appeared to miss wide, only this time the pink bolt stayed attuned to the tip of the rifle as it turned into a beam blade. “Mean this!” Nathaniel cried out as he swung the rifle to hit Lowell, its’ beam saber reaching for a swipe. Before he could see what happened a loud thud reverberated through his cockpit and shattered one of his screens sending shrapnel and glass into his exposed face. Nathaniel cried out in sheer pain, both physical and emotional.
“We’re loosing thrust! Engine’s been hit!”
Even as the words were announced the bridge of the ship began to tilt causing everyone to grasp their seats tightly. “Take us to the ocean, emergency water landing!” Hawthorne cried out as she gripped her chair. Despite the situation her gaze didn’t leave the viewport, her thoughts and hopes were all out there with the Astray team. Nathaniel… Don’t kill yourself over that girl! She prayed silently. She had never been particularly close to Geneva, maybe it was because she always considered the younger girl a threat. That’s not it say she didn’t deserve to die out there like she had. Hawthorne certainly didn’t want to see Nathaniel throw away his life by being reckless for another girl.
“This will be easy!” Dearka scoffed as him and Yzak finished off the remaining M1s. Their attention naturally turned to the legged ship and he leveled his reticle to hover over the ship. He gripped his controls delicately as he lined up the shot, his rifles configured in their extended sniper mode. Squeezing the trigger the barrel lit up in a brilliant muzzle flash, however the result was not what the red coat was hoping for. The tip of his barrel was sliced off from the giant butcher sword the Strike possessed. “What the -!” Dearka cried out as he leapt backwards to avoid another sword stroke.
“Is that the Strike?” Yzak rhetorically asked as he came in closer to challenge the newcomer. The Duel pulled out one of its beam sabers to cautiously guard the Buster. The Duel flinched to move in for a swipe but as if reading Yzak’s intention the PA system from the Strike activated loudly, “If you value your lives thieves you’ll retreat at once…. I’m no push over…” The Strike brought its’ sword to bare and aimed the tip at the Duel. “You trespass on Orb Sovereignty, you will leave at once. The only reason I didn’t outright kill you already is because you killed those traitors for me…”
The woman’s tone was confident if not calm. It was enough to cause Yzak to hesitate, something the brash pilot wasn’t known for. “Why you…” Yzak grumbled, “Just who the hell do you think you are!” He roared as he dashed in to attack the Strike Gundam.
Athrun winced as the green enemy dodged his attack and moved to put the GINN between the two of them. He didn’t know who the pilot of the GINN was and doubted that he could coordinate any counter effectively with the stranger. The Aegis shifted back to its’ humanoid form and landed back on its’ Guul. He leveled his rifle at the enemy and took a few pot shots as he hailed Wolf leader blindly, “Baskerville! If you’re reading me, what’s the plan? This seems to be more than just a recon mission!” His tone was accusatory and although he was more than ready for the fight he wasn’t ready to wage war on an entire nation. Athrun knew better than to try and argue with the fellow leader in the middle of a fight but he had to know what was propelling this fight.
Could he actually do it? Nicol breathed heavily in anticipation and stress as he moved the Blitz away from the damage he did to the legged ship. As he landed in perfect camouflage he spied a pair of experimental machines seeming to be struggling with something. “If one of them is immobilized…” he reasoned to himself, the Blitz cautiously began to approach the duo. “Maybe I could stop them before they hurt any more wolves…”
The green haired pilot reached up to pull his targeting computer down and took shaky breathes as he tried to lock on to the two machines. The red one seemed to be more immobile so he shifted his aim to the purple machine. “Just like the simulations…” Nicol reasoned as he slowly tighten his grip on the controls. Despite himself something about the situation didn’t feel right, could he murder these two pilots in cold blood like this? “If I don’t… they’ll kill more ZAFT pilots…” he stated out loud to reassure himself. His fingers began to tighten as he aimed his beam rifle, smoke and flames still riddled the battlefield and wafted accords obscuring his aim, the heat shifting the target he was trying to hit.
A loud explosion from the Archangel boomed nearby and the jolt startled him to pulling the trigger before he was ready. The pink beam lanced out dangerously towards Kali in the Purple frame, the initial shot aimed for the head of the Astray, though likely skewed by Nicol’s startled shot. The Mirage Colloid shimmered around his suit as he fired, momentarily making him visible for just a moment.
“Ma’am! Blue Frame! Her signal is gone!”
Hawthorne’s scowl of frustration froze into an expression of shock. “S-say that again!” She stammered, but shook as she asked. The comm officer looked back to lock eyes with the captain and grimly shook her head and repeated, “Ma’am Blue Frame’s signal dropped off the map. I can’t raise Halston!”
Slamming her fist into the chair, Delphine held back any tears, she couldn’t appear weak to her own crew. “Noted…” She stated rather coldly, a contrast to the outrage she was keeping in check. “We have to repeal the enemy before we can do anything…” she added somberly. “We need to take out the enemy.” She corrected. “I want all the weapons to focus on one GINN at a time, we won’t accomplish anything by keeping our weapons spread wide. Let’s make these bastards pay! Focus fire on the nearest unit and concentrate fire!”
Nathaniel gasped as he felt the G’s accelerate opposite of what he was about to do. He was startled to have Gold Frame lurch backwards towards land, his descent cushioned by a couple of buildings. Rubble and dust exploded from his less than graceful landing. It took him a moment to collect himself and stand up, the flight back automatically popping off his machine from catastrophic damage. He scrambled around and was relieved to see his beam rifle not far, and he picked the weapon back up.
“What is this? Pity?” Nathaniel huffed as he brought Gold Frame around to regard his “savior”. For a long moment he glared at the GINN as it triumphantly regarded himself. Smoke swirled around from the various fires and destruction. He leveled his rifle at Lowell and breathed heavily, deciding if it was time for round two.
A beeping stole his concentration and a voice from the Archangel hailed him, “Gold Leader! Nathaniel!” There was a pause which caused Nathaniel to frown, “message from the Captain… signal lost from Blue Frame.”
He couldn’t breath. Quick gasps of air shook the senses back to him. Reaching up Nathaniel peeled off his helmet and violently threw it across his small cockpit. “No….” he muttered before gasping, “Genie… she can’t be….”
Reaching back down he gripped the controls of Gold Frame more tightly. “What’s one more?” He asked stoically, the cross hairs on his screen lining up with the GINN. “What’s one more…” he crowed as the system told him he had a lock. “What’s one more body Lowell?!” He cried out as he fired a shot at the ZAFT Officer. Immediately after taking his shot he sprinted towards the building the GINN was standing on top of, Nathaniel was determined to end the fight with blood.
By now there was only a handful of M1s left and they were spread thin. The survivors were so rattled by the appearance of ZAFT GINNS that they began to withdraw back to the factory, tightening their formation of defense. The notion of rebellion seemed meek when compare to the potential might of ZAFT and the M1s began to limit their targets to the foreigners instead of their countrymen.
They didn’t stand a chance.
“Easy targets!” Dearka laughed out loud as he aimed his sniper rifle at one of the huddled M1s by the factory gate. His shot lanced out to pierce the torso of one of the mass production models and cause the fellow M1s to scatter like scared ants.
“Now it’s my turn!” Yzak cried out as he brought his own rifle up to bare against one of the M1s, repeating his teammates success with a different enemy. “Locke won’t be the only one finding glory!” The brash coordinator howled as he jumped off his Guul to slice at one of the startled M1s. The two redcoats made quick work of the novice rebel pilots.
“Nicol are you on target?” Athrun asked cautiously as he flew past the two bloodthirsty teammates towards the legged ship. As if to answer his question a line of flames spouted out from one of the Archangel’s engines, with no apparent cause. Mirage Calloid, mused Athrun as he flew closer to the ship. His attention was divided as he spotted a green and white mobile suit take down more of the Wolves. “Can’t have that…”
The Aegis leapt off its’ Guul and transformed into its claw like mobile armor mode to fire a shot from its’ main cannon towards Green Frame. As he fired the shot he hailed Lowell, “Baskerville! This is the Zala Team! We are in theater and ready to assist! My team is already engaging the enemy!”
On a distant hill Mina stood on the open hatch of her Strike Gundam and watched the exchange of lights between her forces and their enemies. She cradled her helmet in one hand and glared at the scene while occasionally checking the monitor in the cockpit. She had her unit parked at a power substation and was recharging her batteries. There was still plenty to do and she didn’t want to recklessly charge in with minimal power.
“Soon they’ll all know what my war machine is capable of doing!” She cackled as she surveyed the battle.
Nathaniel’s frown grew considerably as he got closer to what appeared to be GINNs. Then like a bolt of lightning he felt a familiar sensation. “No! Could it really be him?” He was so engrossed in the alien sensation that he didn’t realize that 76mm rounds were flying towards him until they splattered against his raised shield, eating chunks off the shield and creating a cloud of smoke.
Even the attacks felt different, as if they were muddled with a fierce emotion. Despite that, the bullets still hit hard. The impact was sudden and harsh, sending gold frame reeling backwards in a dive towards the ocean, the shield exploded and trailing around the machine with smoke. Nathaniel cried out in real terror as he fought with the controls, trying to recover. “Lowell! Lowell Baskerville is that really you!?” he cried out in frustration. If he couldn’t get control of the machine before he hit the water then he would be out of the fight, his engines would flood, and he would have a devil of a time getting out of the drink.
One thing was abundantly clear to the ailing coordinator, if Lowell was here, then it wasn’t a good thing.
Hawthorne gasped as she saw Nathaniel’s Gold Frame take a fierce hit and fall backwards. “No!” she cried out loud. Growling she barked out with emotion tracing her words, “Lohengrin target that GINN and fire!” Even as the weapons slowly positioned to take fire her mind was racing, what if Nathaniel was hurt? What if he got killed?
“Kali!” she called out rather suddenly, “I need you to suit up! These odds are too great for us to keep all our machines in the hangar.” She stole her gaze from the viewport to look at the timid girl. Her gaze softened, “I know you can do it Private.” She added calmly as she tried to encourage the girl to do her best. A flash from the window stole her attention as the Lohengrin fired twin blasts at the single GINN belonging to Lowell Baskerville.
Jonathan flew point as his GINN rode its’ Guul like a hoverboard. The G weapons trailed behind the young coordinator in a formation. “Sir!” he called out on the comm channel to Athrun, “I see shots being fired up a head, it looks like Wolf Squadron could be engaged in a fight!”
Locke gripped the controls of his unit all the tighter in anticipation of what was to come. “A real fight… not some tussle with pirates…” he murmured to himself. Athrun’s voice cut back through the radio, “All units prepare to engage and support Wolf Squadron!” The chorus of affirmatives responded back with Jonathan echoing his agreement.
Pushing his throttle to full Locke suddenly announced, “I’ll move ahead and engage the enemy, you guys will probably work better not worrying about my machine getting in the way.” There was a pause from Athrun before he finally agreed, “Alright Jonathan but don’t get cocky out there. We don’t need any heroics.”
Jonathan grinned, “You don’t have to tell me. Locke heading ahead!” Taking advantage of his lead he soon caught up to the battle, he saw Wolf squadron engaging with the massive ship the Archangel and one unit taking out one of the prototype Astrays. His eyes darted around when he spotted new units that weren’t part of the briefing, “Those must be mass produced models… lets see how they do against me?”
He flew in fast past the Archangel and spotted a tussle between Astrays, “What a mess!” He spat out as he jumped off his Guul to dive in towards a few of the mass-produced models. With his sword in his right hand and his rifle in his left he came in hard, landing and impaling an unlucky M1 right from the start.
“What a bunch of amateurs!” he called out menacingly as he raised his rifle to shoot at another M1. Indeed, the mass-produced models seemed completely startled by this turn of events and it was Locke’s intervention that seemed to deteriorate any sense of formation the insurrectionist has left. Flame and smoke whirled around his GINN, illuminating it in the growing darkness. His single red eye shot around before locking in on the two uniquely colored prototypes. “And I suppose you think you’re special because you’re different?” As he asked, he raised his rifle to shoot at the blue colored Astray.
Crewmen ran down the corridors of the Archangel like well oiled machine. It was easy for the greenhorn crew to get curious about seeing the battle outside, naturally one such crewman snuck to one of the hatches with a window and tried to peek out the small window to see the action. To his absolute horror he spied a redhaired girl clinging on to the railing outside the ship.
Lunging for a communication station he picked up the receiver and cried out, “I need a security team here at hatch 7! There’s a girl on the hull!” A few agonizing moments later the Crewman along with a pair of burly guards opened the hatch. Wind buffeted the men immediately, but the crewman yelled out, “Hey! Over here! Hurry get inside!” He looked around frantically past the girl, as if fearing a GINN would pop up and shoot them all.
The world went weightless, and for a few heartbeats everything seemed to float in timeless void. Then Yuna’s heart sank as he felt the violent sting of glass embedding into his face. He cried out in terror and reached up to grasp at his features. He could feel his hear thumping in a panic, but after a moment he realized that it wasn’t his heart but the melodic laughter from the Mobile Suit that had been pursing him and his father.
“Fools! You and your idiot son Sieran!” Each syllable was highlighted with maniacal laughter from that wicked woman pilot. The car then erupted as a wall of metal cut through the limo and as the wall retracted Yuna could see the stoic face of the Strike peering down at himself. It was in that moment Yuna realize that he was out of luck, that there would be no escaping this divine judgement.
“You thought you could fool an entire country with your sweet lies? Your absolute denial of what was really happening around you didn’t you? This is the judgment that truly belongs to you Sieran!” To accent her point the Strike raised up its’ gargantuan sword and hoisted it ready. “Now die!”
Sieran’s terror was complete as the weapon came crashing down to clash with his insignificant body of flesh and blood.
Nathaniel glared as Lowell replied back to his answer. Then it hit him, a moment of absolutely clarity, of sincerity perhaps. This was the first time this strange man had been telling him the truth. It was in that truth that Nathaniel felt like he was experiencing the vastness of the universe, the very sentiment sent a chill down his spine.
What is this feeling?
Whatever it was he had no doubt now that the man in front of him was his enemy. He couldn’t just attack him could he? Was he that kind of man?
For a long while he simply stared at the man, studying him as if this was some sort of elaborate trick. How was it that he knew in that moment that the man in front of him was a ZAFT soldier? Realizing that he was doing nothing Nathaniel finally forced a smile on his face and offered his hand. “You may very well be right Lowell… About Orb having to make decisions… We’ll just have to see what fate has in store for us huh?” He waited for the other man to take his hand in a shake then added, “Take care will ya?”
Walking away didn’t make Nathaniel feel any better. This whole evening left him feeling unsatisfied, incomplete really. He didn’t have the girl, he didn’t even have the answers about his future. As he got in his car, he looked at his hand that he shook Lowell’s with and flexed it. “I better get ready… for everything…”
Nathaniel almost didn’t hear the warning about additional bogeys as another volley slammed into his raised shield. He hissed a curse under his breath as he tried to assess the situation. Being able to fly so far had given him a tremendous advantage but it also made him more liable for these type of situations.
Chromatic team had hit into the enemy ranks pretty hard. What little experience and training advantage they had was proving to be a great asset. “I’ve got no choice then…” Nathaniel muttered as he dived Gold Frame in towards the scattering M1’s. At this point the enemy was confused whether to focus on him or the bulk of the forces from Chromatic team. His sudden dive caused greater confusion as he easily dodged the carefully aimed ranged shots that were meant for him.
Gold frame swept in close to the traitorous enemies, beam saber extending from the beam rifle to scythe into one M1 after another. The speed of his own attack startled Nathaniel who wasn’t expecting to be so aggressive, but didn’t object as he cut down three units to varying degrees of success. As he finished his strafe he veered back behind his team.
“Geneva! Lead the assault! I’m on the unknown forces! Keiran I need you to back me up if these bogeys get over land! ” He hardly waited for a response as he pushed his throttle to dive back towards the approaching Archangel. Maybe this will impress her this time around?
Hawthorne grimaced as she saw a brilliant explosion just ahead of the ship as some sort of airplane was shot down. It didn’t matter at that moment as it wasn’t her ship that fired on them. Lucky for any survivors they were still on sovereign ground so any search and rescue would be conducted domestically. She also happened to have bigger problems to worry about as she focused on the unknown pings on the radar behind them all.
“Helmsman veer around! Bring us about 180!” She looked around as her crew did as she ordered and began steering the ship sharply, the tilt making everyone shift in their seats to fight gravity. “Weapons!” She barked, to which another crewman responded. Hawthorne continued, “Ready all weapons to repel possible unknown enemy forces. We cannot let our mobile suits to get surrounded!”
She nodded grimly at the viewport and squinted, thinking she could make out the enemies in the dying light. By this point the orange haze in the sky had completely died away and night was beginning to take firm hold of the land.
Delphine nearly jumped out of her seat as Gold Frame flew past the bridge towards their new bearing. “Just what the hell does he think he’s doing?” Delphine asked out loud despite herself. As if reading her mind, Nathaniel’s voice boomed over the radio speakers. “I’m providing support Archangel! I’ll get out ahead and determine the nature of the potential threat! Barondel Out!”
The Captain looked around nervously as she considered Nathaniel’s safety. She almost felt like he was getting increasingly bold ever since the Heliopolis mission. Why was he trying to play the hero so badly? Did becoming a mobile suit pilot get to his head that much?
Growling she ordered, “Full speed ahead! Remember to keep all hatches sealed since we may be heading over water!”
Yuna kept looking around nervously as the countryside yielded to the well groom estate of the Sieran family. He couldn’t help himself as he glanced from bodyguard to bodyguard sitting next to himself and his father.
Sensing his son’s discomfort Lord Sieran stiffened up, “Yuna calm down. Do you honestly think I wasn’t prepared for something like this?”
Yuna blushed some as he felt foolish suddenly, “Of course father! You’re right.” He slumped down in his seat more and let out a sigh. As soon as he began to relax he of course shot straight back up in his seat. “Are those mobile suits?!”
The elder Sieran chuckled as he gazed out the car window to the two towering mobile suits in question. “Those aren’t just mobile suits my boy. Those are Earth Alliance suits. I think they’re called Daggers…”
Yuna was awestruck, “Wha-? How did you get the Alliance to deploy those here? They must be brand new?”
Lord Sieran maintained his look of superiority as he considered how to answer his progeny. After a moment he calmly replied, “I of course struck a deal with the Alliance. No matter what happened today I would be elected ruler of Orb. And in return I supplied the latest operating system to our dear friends in the Alliance. They wouldn’t-“ his words trailed away as he gawked out his window along with his son. “What in the blazes!”
“The fools! What shameless arrogance! To think that they could possibly dare to be me, or my brother’s superior!” Rondo Mina Sahaku mused as she gripped the controls of her new toy. She came in fast, quicker than the clumsy natural pilot of the Dagger could have predicted. A large sword drove into the spine and cockpit of the Alliance mobile suit, instantly paralyzing and deactivating the machine. The other Dagger caught on to the danger and fired its’ beam rifle at the strange enemy.
“Such a fool!” Mina laughed as she rushed the Dagger. Up came her sword and she cleanly cleaved the rifle in two, making the weapon explode and the Dagger stumble back. “Go ahead draw your sword!” she hissed with glee as she leveled the tip of her own sword to the Dagger’s neck.
The Alliance pilot could sense the impending doom and hesitated, but eventually reached back for the beam saber on it’s back. The right arm of the dagger went flying out free of the body. The left hand came to defend with its’ shield but Mina knocked the defense aside easily and thrust her weapon into the belly of the Dagger, killing that pilot as well.
Laughing she turned on her PA system, “Where are you Sieran? Afraid to meet you end?”
“Those have to be the bastards that murdered Miguel! I just know it!”
Everyone frowned at Yzak’s remark, even the video image of Rau seemed dour at the white haired pilot’s remarks. “I see…” The commander commented as he rubbed his chin. Rau was still in space, having matters to attend to, but he was still giving orders to the team. “And does everyone else feel the same way?”
Dearka, and even Athrun, and Nicol nodded their heads to various tempos of agreement. Jonathan sat in the corner with his arms cross, taking in the mood, and seeing what the redcoats decided.
“Very well, In that case I will give you all permission to sortie out and provide backup for Wolf Squadron. However…” he paused as if just remembering something important, “You will need a commander for the mission… I will appoint Athrun to be your leader while stationed on Earth.”
Again everyone nodded, with Athrun looking almost stunned by the impromptu promotion.
“Good Hunting Everyone! I expect you all to return safely from this operation! La Cruset out!” The video call terminated on the monitor they had set up in a briefing room. Everyone rumbled for a moment with Yzak cutting through the noise, “so we’re the Zala team now is that it?”
Athrun snapped back, “Cut it out Yzak! You heard our orders.” The black haired coordinator paused to studied everyone, including Jonathan then nodded. “We don’t have any time to loose. Everyone get to your machines and lets head out after Wolf Squadron!”
“Lieutenant Barondel! Gold Frame launching!” Nathaniel was pushed back into his seat violently as his mobile suit was shot down the catapult. It felt good knowing he had his team literally covering his back for this mission, he wasn’t thrilled about fighting the new mass production units. As Gold Frame was hurled in the air, Nathaniel reached down to activate the flight controls, jerking his seat once more as his mobile suit took flight.
“Alright Chromatic Team…” he paused for a moment and wondered if they should change their designation, not that this was the time to do it. Nathaniel continued, “since everyone else is on foot I’ll circle around and flank the facility. I’ll draw their fire from the east while you guys come in from the north. For some of you this may be your first mobile suit battle….Don’t overthink it. Work together and we can overcome any enemy.”
It was as close to a pep talk as he was willing to get. Nathaniel was still in a sour mood and he was anxious to teach the group of over zealous naturals a thing or two.
A few tense moments passed as he flew out wide, really getting a feel for the increased maneuverability of his machine. As he flew Nathaniel kept thinking of Delphine and their relationship. Truth was, he was feeling insecure, ever since they got back from Echo outpost. He knew she had to spend time with her husband and he worried that would sour his relationship with the captain. Then the notion of adultery crept in his head and it spun him further down in despair. He shook his head as he spotted Morgenroete and the perimeter of M1’s huddled around the facility. He knew that if he could see them, then they could surely see him. Raising his rifle, Nathaniel took a moment to aim a shot and fired.
A pink blast lanced out to strike one of the Astrays just across the chest. It really was an impressive shot as he managed to get the blast past the shield from the side and hit just the cockpit instantly killing the pilot and knocking the suit on its’ back.
Nathaniel knew he would only get one free attack. Practically all the rest of the M1’s turned to fire their own shots at him. Streaks of green energy reached out to try and hit his flying Astray. Nathaniel grunted as he moved to back away some and dodge as many of the shots as he could. He dodged most and absorbed others with his shield. “C’mon guys nows your chance…” he muttered hopefully. Coordinator or not, he wouldn’t last long against the enemy’s concentrated fire.
Unknown to Nathaniel, Captain Hawthorne was harboring similar thoughts about their relationship, but with different tones. To her there was an indescribable thrill she experienced when she finally gave in to her long hidden attraction to the Lieutenant. For years she had been feeling bogged down in her relationship with Frank, like he had been forcing her to consider retiring from the military and starting a family. While that notion wasn’t upsetting, she still felt like she had too much fight to give to simply resign; especially when she had been so close to getting her own command like she had with the Archangel. Nathaniel by contrast had always been there supporting her professional development, pushing her to succeed. To her both men seemed to represent two sides of her life, both which she cherished for different reasons. Was having an affair wrong? Yes, but to her it didn’t fee out of place at that time in her life, it simply made her feel more alive, more in tune with the present.
Her thoughts were accented by the flash of beam shots being scattered across the sky in front of her. Their brilliance only growing as the sun began to set in the west. Don’t die you fool. She prayed silently. Her gaze was stolen by one of her officers speaking up, “ma’am! Some ground forces are requesting permission to board the ship with wound-“
“Denied!” Hawthorne barked as she gazed at the particular ensign, “We’re in the middle of a battle and the last thing I need is a group of Sieran commandos getting aboard and pulling our own stunt on ourselves.” She explained more calmly then added, “All hands will keep the ship sealed until after this situation is resolved. Do I make myself clear?” Her entire staff stiffened at her order and a chorus of “Yes ma’am!” Echoed back to her. She shifted in her seat as she tried to focus on the fighting ahead of them. Perhaps she would be viewed coldly for her order but she was no fool, and the last humiliation she wanted was to loose her ship to her own countrymen, doing the same thing she did to obtain the ship in the first place. These were indeed troubling times, she mused as she saw the battle get closer and closer.
“You can’t do it kid! Just because you piloted it once doesn’t mean the machine is yours!”
Kira grunted as he ran past Erica, the chief engineer reaching out futility for the gifted prodigy. Kira ran through the halls just as Orb soldiers burst into building. Some of the Sieran Loyalist took shots at the teen as he dived for the hangar with the only G weapon in their possession. Even as Kira burst into the hangar something immediately felt off. He skidded to a stop and gaped in awe as he looked around in shock. The Strike was gone.
(This happens during when the Archangel is back near Orb but before Sieran's Coup)
Nathaniel’s car whipped along the curves of the road with ease. He had just gotten back to the base for some shore leave. Really it was just enough time to check up on his house and do a few errands before returning to base. The wind combed through his hair as he drove his sports convertible, music blasting loudly to compete with the booming wind.
Of course, he was a little upset, any normal person would go home to a family, or have a night out with their significant other. No, his “other” had to go home to her husband. He pumped the gears to go even faster at the bitter thought, “just what the hell have I gotten myself into…”
His worries were belittled by the presence of a broken-down car just up the road. Grimacing, Nathaniel shifted gears down and slowly parked the car just behind the smoking vehicle. Leaning out the side of his car he called out to the guy standing by the wreck, “having car trouble? Want a ride back into town?” He could have offered to look at the engine, but he didn’t feel like getting dirty at that time. The guy standing by the car looked more like a tourist, but something about the way he carried himself seemed familiar, Nathaniel just couldn’t put his finger on it.
As the guy walked up Nathaniel offered once again, “Hop in I’ll take you back to town if you want?”
Yuna maintained a smug expression as she talked. She didn’t strike as a devious type, at least not openly. It was also obvious that he couldn’t get much more information out of her than he did already. Taking in a deep breath he forced a smile, “very well then, I’m sorry about this mix up. You are free to leave.” He walked towards the door but paused and raised his finger in the air, “there is one thing I’d like to ask first though.”
He turned on his heel, “does the guild still accept freelance jobs?” Perhaps there was a way Yuna could still gain from this interaction still.
The team building exercise went off without a hitch. Soon they were all watching some anime together and even Nathaniel had to admit it was a pleasant distraction. During one of the breaks between shows he got up and motioned to Kali to come into the hallway to talk to him.
“So… Kali… I didn’t want to put you on the spot but what did you mean by participating? What did you have in mind exactly?” It was an honest question and Nathaniel held no accusation in his tone.
-Kali took a moment to think, “I figured perhaps a support role similar to how I helped you and the team on the field.” She resided sheepishly, “Plus I don’t have a lot of military experience, I think training would help.” She added
Nathaniel gave the girl a side eye glance, unsure of how sincere she was being. “Well for what’s it’s worth your quick thinking proved to be invaluable. Good instincts really!” He stroked his chin as he considered his words carefully. “Let me ask you. How did you feel loosing your home to that ZAFT attack?” The question was seemingly off topic but he needed to get a better feel for the girls truest intentions.
- She smiled with satisfaction and beamed with pride at the compliment. The emotions were short-lived when he ask how she felt losing her home. She rescued from the rubble of her apartment building luckily her parents were not in the same building, “I felt lost, scared.. in the rubble. I was rescued by field officers from the Archangel. I am grateful for my life. Mama and papa are safe as well. I feel indebted to you and the captain, I want to do what I can to help you as you did me.” She said earnestly.
He nodded patiently as he listened. “There’s a difference between owing a debt and being a soldier. I want to make sure you understand that.” He paused to weigh his own words, almost wondering if it was a talk he should be having with Roane instead. “There are no half measures on the battlefield… what I need to know from you is if I can rely on you with my life? And not just my life but everyone else’s in there?” He pointed a finger at the room they were standing outside of. He bit his lip to stop himself from getting worked up to much. He forced a smile, “if you can commit like that… then I’ll see about getting you transferred under my command.” His tone was edgy if not scary but that was war. He just didn’t want to drag whoever felt like it with him he had enough to deal with it as it was. On the same hand she held her weight without a mobile suit and that wasn’t anything to scoff at either. Nathaniel eyed Kali patiently.
- Kali thought for a moment and smiled softly, “I disagree Lieutenant. When I say indebted it is not as simple as paying a debt back. Perhaps I misspoke. I see what lengths you and your team have gone through, including the captain. It is that resolve that saved my life. That is what you instilled in me and it that same resolve I will use you save you and anyone else in the team. No matter the cost.” She said smiling her eyes teary, “Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.” She recited, “Publius Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian and politician.” She added, “Don’t you think the sentiment can go either way?”
A smile etched itself on Nathaniel’s face, Kali was certainly full of surprises. He wasn’t ready for a philosophical debate but he could appreciate her candor. “I suspect you’re willing to prove that very point?” He asked grinning. “I’ll talk to the captain shortly…. Private…” he offered a wink at the rank change and nodded to the door. “Enjoy the rest of the evening, I’m glad you’re on the team now!” His gratitude was sincere as he held the door for her.
- Kali couldn’t help but look at the Lieutenant in awe and joy, “I am.” She responded. Her smile broadened and pride lit up her face at the rank. She didn’t even have a rank when she started but now she felt like she found her place, “Yessir.” She said confidently, “Thank you.” She said softly.
Nathaniel paused outside the door but didn’t follow. Instead he smirked thinking it would be best if the team bonded without the “boss” for awhile and instead opted to going to Hawthorne's office to report and make his request.
A few moments later he was standing at attention inside the Captains Office which double as her quarters. “At ease” she commanded, and Nathaniel let his hands slide behind his back. He smirked as he vaguely recalled that they would call the pose “duck tails” or something equally absurd when he was in grade school.
“Ma’am?” He asked cautiously as Delphine rounded the desk, stomping towards Nathaniel and slapping him hard across the face. He nearly staggered to the floor but caught his footing and reached up to stroke his red cheek. “What the hell?” He hissed in confusion.
“Don’t ever pull that hero crap again do you hear me?” She stood close to him feeling her offending hand but keeping her arms lowered. There was a look in her eyes, rimmed with moistness.
“You know how it is Delphine…” Nathaniel scolded, “there’s no way in hell I’m letting my pilots bite the dust instead of me.” He glared at her for a long while but couldn’t bring himself to say anything else as he saw the emotions, she wasn’t willing to say. Slowly his hand dripped from his face to reach out and caress hers. They looked at each other for a long moment before he leaned in to kiss her.
He was tired of fighting, tired of giving his all for no recognition beyond a paycheck. Most of all he was tired of feeling lonely, and right now Delphine was eager enough to make him not feel so lowly. What matter at that moment, was the here and now. Nathaniel wasn’t going to concern himself with the details. He didn’t stop her when she began to paw at his uniform, pulling them both towards her bed.
The next few days the Archangel flew closer to the homeland, she was close enough for some shore leave which a few members took advantage of sporadically. She conveyed the results of the ambush and was directed to patrol the nation for any possible invasions. The assignment Chromatic team well; and they went to business, doing exactly as Nathaniel had promised. The team worked on drills and spent time addressing each person’s personal concern. Nothing was off the table as they went over everything from Mobile Suit maintenance, to firearm marksmanship. Nathaniel knew they had a long way until he would feel confident in their abilities, but maybe if they could function appropriately as a team everything else would fall into place.
Nathaniel didn’t want to train mindless drones, he wanted to mold a squad of elite soldiers. He paid particular interest to Purple Frame’s new pilot Kali. The notion right now was that she would function as a back up pilot, but with no alternative she was assigned the extra unit along with the newest operating system that Morgenroete had developed. News trickled in that manufacturing of mass produced Astrays was fully under way, and that the first batch would be rolling out within a matter of weeks if not days.
The politics back home didn’t settle down in the timeframe during the Archangel’s deployment. News soon spread of the attack on the Archangel and there was immense backlash against the Sieran family from their suspected ties. The crisis delayed the vote of the new chairman for a few more weeks, a move the other families saw as a desperate power grab from Lord Atha. Lord Sahaku on the other hand patiently played his hand, working the politics carefully. Everything changed on the morning of the election however.
“Gentlemen it is with a heavy heart that I conduct this order of business. All ballots will be cast anonymously in this box here…” Lord Atha announced as he patted the ballot box in the middle of the conference table. “since I am stepping down from office…” The words were carefully chosen although everyone in the room knew he was being outed, “I will officiate the voting and only cast a vote myself in the event of tie.”
The box was passed around with all the noble lords putting their votes into the box. Before long it was returned to Lord Atha who took several agonizing moments carefully making the tally. He closed his eyes and sighed out loud as he put the box away. “The new leader of our great country is Lord Sahaku.”
The young Lord offered a cat like smile at the announcement, and stood up holding his hands up in thanks. He moved to the head of the table much to the glare of Lord Sieran who seemed on the verge of yelling out in an outrage.
“My lords, thank you very much for your confidence. I promis-“
“This is an outrage! I demand a revote!”
Everyone gawked at Lord Sieran who now stood up from his seat, “There’s no way you all want to follow this fool to this country’s demise?” He looked around accusingly as he held a hand out towards the new chairman. No one spoke up and it was Lord Sieran who finally replied, “Lord Sieran…..we conducted our vote to the rule… pleas-“
“I will not!” Lord Sieran yelled out in anger. He looked one more time for support from anyone on the council, but he received none. Grunting out in rage he stormed out from the conference room. Almost immediately camera flashed dazzled the Lord who looked bewildered. It was at that moment he decided to act, calling out loudly to the media. “Please! I will address all your concerns as your newly appointed chairman in due time!” The media frenzy and confusion followed the Lord as he almost ran to his car where Yuna waited patiently for his father.
Lord Sahaku didn’t lash out as he caught some of the absurdities that Lord Sieran was spewing out. Instead, he quietly retreated to his office to handle the growing situation.
“Well father what happened?” Yuna asked impatiently as his father slammed the door behind him. “Activate the auxiliary units! Driver! Take us to my bunker immediately!” Yuna wasted no time in doing his father’s bidding and pulled out his phone to make several calls.
The commander of the first M1 Astray platoon cried out to his loyal men who ran into the Morgenroete factory on Onogoro island. Within minutes the entire facility was taken over by Lord Sieran loyalist who commandeered the newly constructed weapons. By the time the mobile suits began to march out of the factory there were at least a dozen suits ready to roll out with a dozen more nearly complete.
The simple act of Sieran commanding troops to take over key military assets cemented the reality of what was happening, Lord Sieran was attempting a Coup.
Hawthorne was sitting in the Captain’s chair when the call came in.
“Ma’am it’s a call from command, they want to talk to you.”
“Very well I’ll take it in my office.”
The comm officer shook her head in response, “they’re insisting to address you in front of the crew.”
Delphine gulped, that didn’t sound like a good thing, but she nodded, “alright put it through.”
The display on the bridge and throughout the ship lit up and Lord Sahaku appeared, “My brave soldiers of the Orb Union. I am recalling the Archangel this instant. I have been elected as the rightful ruler of our nation and we must act swiftly to put down a rebellion by Lord Sieran. Our intelligence now believes that it was Lord Sieran who attempted to have the Archangel captured in the battle at the training site. To make matters worse, he’s acted quickly in securing Morgenroete, and we believe he is activating the M1 Astrays to fight for his outrageous claims as leader.”
Despite herself Delphine put her hand up to her lips to hide the shock etched on her face. Her trance was interrupted by Lord Sahaku talking directly to her, “Captain, do you have the resolve to do your duty and take down these traitors?”
Hawthorne sat up straight in her chair, “Of course sir! I speak for my crew when I say that we will do what needs to be done to protect the homeland.” She put on a brave front to show her resolve not just to the chairman but to her entire crew.
Lord Sahaku nodded approvingly, “Good! I want your ship to proceed to Onogoro and recapture our facilities. It will be a set back, for each M1 you have to destroy, but if we don’t act quickly we might have Alliance troops landing on our shores rallying to Sieran. The Archangel will be the spearhead in this counterattack. Do our country proud!”
The transmission ended and Hawthorne looked around to gauge the reaction of all her crew on the bridge. Nodding she announced, “All hands to your battle stations! Make our course the Morgenroete factory! All mobile suit pilots prepare for combat! This is not a drill!”
Nathaniel didn’t have time to let shock settle in for him. Indeed, he let anger fuel his response as he got ready. He hated to learn that he had been betrayed by one of the Lords of his nation, they almost died at the hands of such a greedy politician. Zipping up his flight suit, Nathaniel paused as he held the helmet. He looked around to see his teammates trickling into the locker room too, all in various stages of getting ready.
He grimaced as he considered that this next mission could get bloody and pulled the helmet over his face and sealed the visor. A few moments later he was in the cockpit of Gold Frame. He went through the sequence to fire up the operating system and activate all the sensors. He nervously checked the status of the latest gadget to be added onto his mobile suit, a prototype flight back. In theory it would let him cover a lot of ground quickly.
One by one he saw the status icon of his team coming online. He hesitated before opening a comm channel with everyone. “I want a straight answer from everyone. If you want to sit this mission out, then tell me right now. There’s a good chance we’ll be fighting other Orb soldiers and if you can’t live with it then I need to know.” His tone reflected his serious nature, he was still worked up from the revelation, so he sounded angry even. “Just know that what we do, we do for all of Orb. We can’t have our National resources being controlled by illegitimate sources.”
Topics I Participated In
“So, this is Orb,” Lowell looked out across the sandy, sunlit beach as azures waves as crisp as crystal crashed against the shore, ticking his sandaled feet. He shaded his eyes against the sun. Even with sunglasses and shorts it was too bright, too hot. It was same thing he disliked about the desert when he was stationed there. The ZAFT pilot much preferred the climate-controlled PLANTs to actual atmosphere and all that came with it.
Behind him, some meters away, Renato Masters was sitting at an outdoor bar, shaded by the palm-frond thatching and sipping on a deep orange Mai Tai. He was watching Lowell as he trudged his way back up towards the bar and took a seat next to him. Renato had gone to the trouble of ordering him a similarly vibrant drink.
“It’s very…blue,” Lowell said, picking up the sweaty glass and observing the miniature novelty umbrella wedged between the ice within.
“It’s called a Blue Hawaiian,” Ren informed him, sipping his own drink. “Give it a try, you’ll like it. It’s fruity,”
“Wolf Squad really is lucky to have its own former mixologist on board,” Lowell said, sipping at the drink. It was indeed very fruity and very alcoholic. Lowell set it back down and looked out towards the ocean. He wasn’t fully sure why such a natural thing unnerved him—perhaps it was because it was so like space but yet completely alien, ironically. Boundless and vast. “Do you ever miss your place?”
“What, the bar?” Ren quirked a brow. “Sure, every day. But this is more important I think, don’t you? If we don’t fight here and now, there might not be a bar to miss, you know? Besides, it’s in good hand. My little sister is running the place until I get back and I swear she knows more about business than I do. She’ll probably have bought me out by the time this is all over and then I’ll have to find a new job or become a lifer or something,” Ren chuckled and took another drag of his Mai Tai. Lowell smiled softly and then turned his eyes back to his drink, contemplated it.
“There’s that look again,” Ren said, lightly pushing his commander’s shoulder. “You’re stressing yourself out again,”
“No, no,” Lowell smiled. “Just thinking about things back home that’s all,” a silent moment passed between the two as a warm, tropical wind blew through the cabana. Quietly, Lowell made a decision for himself. “Enjoy yourself, Ren. I’m going to head into town to do some looking around but I don’t think it’s a two person job,”
“Hey, you’re the boss, Lowell,” Ren grinned. “You say drink, I say how much,”
Lowell’s rent-a-car slowed to a crawl as he brought it to the side of the road, cursing his bad fortune. He knew he shouldn’t have cheaped out on the rental, but with the amount that Ren was likely to be drinking today, he didn’t want to run up too much of a charge on the unit funds. The smoke coming out from under the hood was dire, but after being in a mobile suit, no amount of minor vehicular disrepair could faze him. It did, however, greatly inconvenience him. His personal phone wasn’t exactly on an Earth plan. Lowell exhaled through pursed lips, his hands on his hips. Of course he broke down on a country road outside of the city. He could even see it in the distance, but he wasn’t exactly looking forward to walking several kilometers in sandals.
Lowell leaned up against the side of the car and folded his arms across his chest as he tried to think of a plan, when a plume of dust on the horizon caught his eye.
“Oh! Hey!” he cried out, waving his hands up over his head in hopes of flagging down this oncoming driver.
January 25th CE 71
Zaft forces have traced alliance activity to the seemingly neutral colony of Heliopolis. The coordinator task force takes it upon themselves to infiltrate and steal the new alliance mobile suits being rolled out for deployment. During the attack the Zaft team succeeds in procuring four of the five machines. One of the machines, the Strike by name, was commandeered by a young coordinator by the name of Kira Yamato.
As the strike fought off the attack from a lone GINN, other forces began to take advantage of the deteriorating situation…
Nathaniel hated being rushed, his fingers fumbled over the door code for the third time. “Settle down Hawthorne!” He chided before the woman behind him could quip about him forgetting the code. The Red haired woman bristled at the mind reading remark and shook her head in resignation. “this’ll do it…” Nathaniel cooed as he entered the correct code this time, confirmed by the click of the door unlocking.
The man dressed as an Alliance Lieutenant, snatched the handle of the door and twisted it, holding it fast so it wouldn’t lock again. Nathaniel studied his handgun before looking back at Delphine Hawthorne and the four other members of their commando team. The point man was less than thrilled about this next portion of this impromptu operation but it was for the betterment of their homeland so how could he disagree?
He made eye contact with Hawthorne as she scooted to the opposite edge of the sealed door. Nathaniel quietly mouthed a countdown to “three”, which the woman mimicked with her free hand for their teammates to see.
On the third count he swung open the door violently and followed Hawthorne as she ducked into the corridor, gun raised for any threats. One by one the six man team entered the ship and sealed the hatch behind themselves. As the team pushed themselves through the eerily vacant ship their hopes grew that they could actually pull off this crazy stunt. Their hopes soon met reality as they came to the entrance to the bridge. The team paused by the doo, Nathaniel took the moment to give everyone a stern glance. His team had worked together for many years and could practically read his mind when he gave that particular look, “follow my lead.”
The team of operators soon entered the bridge of the Archangel where they met the skeleton crew of Earth Alliance officers. A black haired woman looked at him with both surprise and relief, “Lieutenant! What’s goin on out there? Have we received orders?”
Nathaniel cleared his throat as his team moved around the bridge, taking up strategic positions but not putting away their weapons. “We have…” he paused to consider his words, “we’re taking the ship out, I need you to initiate the launch sequence.
The stern looking woman nodded grimly and barked out, “you heard the man lets launch the Archangel!” As she said this the other two crewmen began working their controls at their stations. The woman came closer and asked in a lower voice, “so does this mean ZAFT is attacking?”
Nathaniel nodded, “they are, we need to deploy the Archangel into the colony and protect the civilians before any more damage can be done! Can I count on you…” his voice trailed off as he hinted to wanting her name. “Badgirulel, Natarle!” She responded eagerly. She seemed on edge, that much was certain, so Nathaniel did his best to hide his growing smile as he looked her.
Soon the ship left the dry dock and began floating free. Subtle head nods from Nathaniel’s team soon told him that it was time. “I’m sorry to do this Natarle but I’m taking control of this ship. Everyone step away from their stations, and put their hands up. I promise you, that none of you will be hurt.” As he spoke he leveled his gun at the Earth Alliance Officer, she sputtered, “what?”
Nathaniel shrugged sheepishly, “I’m taking this ship in the name of the Orb Union Ensign. I don’t have time to discuss the details right now. All you have to do is surrender so that I can save as many Orb citizens as possible.”
Natarle along with all the other crewmen looked confused and angry, but no one put up a fight as the six man Orb team kept their weapons aimed at everyone. They made short work, cuffing and escorting the crew to a confined area as four people stayed behind on the bridge.
“See no bloodshed Hawthorne!” Nathaniel pipped as they went about double checking all the systems on the ship. The red haired woman scowled at him, “it would have been quicker to shoot them all…” she muttered and again Nathaniel gave a sheepish grin and nodded, “go ahead and take the Command chair, you studied more of this battleship stuff than I ever did.”
His remark did brighten the woman’s mood some, “you mean I’ll be captain?” She raised an eyebrow and Nathaniel shrugged as he looked out the viewport, “Semantics don’t matter right now Delphine, we just need to move quickly.”
The reminder replaced the woman’s stern look and she nodded, “very well, lets make course to the alternative manufacturing site. Assault cannons… fire!” In response the Archanel unleashed a volley from its’ two main cannons to destroy the gate keeping it contained. The massive ship erupted out of the flaming debris of the gate to fly into the synthetic skies of the ailing colony. The commando team remained dumbfounded as they studied the damage to their home territory. Nathaniel was about to say something when the fight between the Strike and a CGUE came to everyone’s attention. “What is that?” He asked aloud as the studied the peculiar mobile fighting the ZAFT unit. He was stunned as a brilliant beam lanced out from the mobile suit to try and hit the CGUE. It dawned in Nathaniel that the mobile suit was one of the GAT series, “that idiot!” He yelled out as the overpowered weapon not only glanced the CGUE but tore a hole into the ground of the colony. “The CGUE is retreating!” Someone called out, much to the relief of everyone on the bridge. Hawthorne spoke up then, “lets match speed and land?” Nathaniel nodded, “yeah, lets see if we can capture the Strike with the same trick. Maybe if we take control of all the Alliance assets ZAFT will cease hostilities…” it was as much a prayer as question as he moved for the door. “Ships in your hands Hawthorne!”
As Nathaniel approached the Strike with one of his other men he saw a woman, and a man with a group of teens. A mobile armor which had been fighting, asked for permission to land, which they gave to help keep up the charade. “Whose piloting the Strike?” Nathaniel called out as they got closer.
The woman turned to look at him and scrunched her face in confusion, “I don’t believe we’ve met? I’m Lieutenant Ramius…”
“Are you the pilot Lieutenant?” Nathaniel didn’t hide his contempt as he studied the out of uniform officer, “no” she responded cautiously, as she did a brown haired teen came down the pulley of the Strike’s cockpit. Suddenly it made sense how the machine could move when the OS was supposedly incomplete. “A coordinator?” Nathaniel mused, which caused the woman to stiffen some, along with the teens. A smile grew on Nathaniel’s face, “boy are you a Heliopolis citizen?” Kira tilted his head as he regarded the mysterious Earth Alliance officer. “I am…” he answered tentatively. “Ah then you’ve done your homeland a great service!”
Nathaniel leveled his weapon at Ramius as his teammate did the same to Mu. “Lieutenant, this ship is under Orb control, you will be confined with the rest of the Alliance officers we’ve arrested. The two alliance officers looked baffled at this turn of events. “We have precious little time to rectify your mistakes so please cooperate and we might all make it out of this alive.”
The jeep bumped precariously as it wound through the abandoned streets of Heliopolis. One battle and one hole in the colony left the place looking quite ragged. Nathaniel adjusted his regular suit as he eyed the road. Nathaniel’s team was stretched thin as it was so he only had two other people with him, both dressed in their own regular suits. He hated leaving the ship like this but knew that he had to. By all accounts ZAFT had secured four other GAT series suits, plus they still had an unknown supply of other mobile suits to boot. “This may be our only chance to level the playing field.” He mused as he entered. The correct code for this security gate the first time. They parked the jeep outside of a nondescript factory and made headway for the interior of the building.
They soon found themselves in a dimly lit hangar of sorts with three massive shadows standing next to catwalks. “Hit the emergency lights! We need to hurry!” Even as he made the order he was climbing a ladder to approach the first machine. The lights turned on just as he approached the chest of a black, white, and gold mobile suit. “Astray…” he solemnly addressed. Nathaniel looked to see his two comrades approached the red and blue machines as well. “If we hurry we can snag all the spare parts move it!” Nathaniel moved for the cockpit and popped the hatch. He went inside the brand new mobile suit and went about adjusting straps and booting up the OS. It wasn’t ideal but he had to adjust the operations system much the same as the ZAFT forces had done earlier. In a few moments the Coordinator had his suit moving. “It just might be an even fight now!” He announced. “This is Nathaniel Barondel, Astray launching!”