Full nameRoane MacMaster
Roane accepted the shield from the Green Frame just in the nick of time, bringing it up to deflect a flurry of gunfire from one of the newly arrived GINNs.
“What are you even doing here?” Roane cried, sending another blast of his CIWS at the ZAFT suits, just enough to get them to dodge into cover and buy him some time. The Red Frame stepped back, shield still up, in search of a better position, when a third GINN arrived on the scene. Keiran and the Green Frame had already disengaged to assist the Lieutenant, leaving only him and Geneva alone with the three GINNS and whatever M1s that still remained on the scene. Roane moved to intercept the third GINN, only for him to be waylaid by the first two ZAFT suits popping out of their cover and raining bullets on him.
Roane locked up, the Red Frame unable to get itself out of the way of the suppressing fire the GINNs were laying down. He tried to make the mobile suit as small a target as possible, bringing it into a crouch behind the increasingly damaged shield. He was forced to sit there and watch as the unthinkable happened. The Blue Frame and the GINN engaged in combat and…and…
“No…” Roane’s voice quavered as he watched the lower half of the Blue Frame crash to the ground and the backpack erupt in a plume of flames. His eyes widened and he felt sick to his stomach.
Terror and anguish crashed together in the primal roar that rang out from Roane’s throat. His own fear of death melted away under the scouring heat of his anger and the pilot’s hands began to move on instinct alone. One of the GINNs harrying him popped out from behind a building to fire on him again, but the Red Frame’s hand twisted, changing its grip on the spear and hurling it like a javelin towards the ZAFT grunt. The pointed metal rod tore punched through the GINN’s armor like it was wet paper, causing the mono-eyed unit to stumble back before exploding. The Red Frame kept moving though, its free hand reaching for its beam saber. A fuschia whip of energy arced out from the handle as he swung it at the retreating headless GINN, but he was intercepted by the other remaining ZAFT suit which charged at him with sword drawn. Seeing it from the corner of his eye, Roane swung the shield up, deflecting the GINNs sword upwards and leaving the olive-coloured mobile suit wide-open.
With a full-bodied swing, the Red Frame brought the beam saber across the waist of the GINN, its pink beam searing through the grunt suit and causing it to explode as well. But when the Astray emerged from the billowing smoke, the headless unit—and the half of the Blue Frame still clinging to it—were gone.
Renato Masters observed the situation going on before him and scowled. Reinforcements had arrived it seemed. Lowell wouldn’t like that, but his attention was elsewhere, and so was Renato’s. The Green unit had begun to move, apparently on a trajectory to intercept Lowell and assist the Gold unit. It was Renato’s job to make sure that didn’t happen.
“Just as the chief expected,” Renato smirked to himself. “Faulkner, on me. Let’s make sure that the Jolly Green Giant interrupts Lowell’s little duel,”
Angling their Guuls towards the Green Frame, Renato and Faulkner began to fire upon the Green Frame. “Hey, hey, eyes on me, Big Green! What do you say that the three of us have a little tango of our own!”
Lowell grit his teeth as he watched the Gold Frame begin to plummet toward the ocean. Something about the whole situation seemed…wrong.
“Not like this,” he muttered to himself. He adjusted the heading of his Guul and launched it toward the Gold Frame. Maxing out his GINN’s thrusters, Lowell disengaged his mobile suit from its carrier and launched it as high into the sky as its wings would take it before cutting the thrusters. As he soared towards land, Lowell did his best to keep an eye on the Gold Frame as the Guul collided with it. If his plan had worked, the Astray would be pushed by the flight platform back towards Terra Firma.
Lowell flared his thrusters again as the GINN began its descent, slowing his fall just enough to prevent any serious damage to the legs. The ZAFT pilot sheathed the GINNs sword and rolled the mobile suit into cover behind a taller building.
What the hell am I doing? He’s the enemy…
His inexplicable act of mercy aside, without the Guul, he would have to get creative with his exfiltration. That was assuming that he hadn’t consigned himself to defeat by saving the Gold Frame from the ocean depths.
As he sat in wait for Barondel to recover, Lowell received a communication that made him raise a brow.
“Baskerville, this is Dunn at Carpentaria,”
“What is it Dunn?”
“HQ wants to let you know that Zala team is inbound to your location. One of their advanced guard should be there now—a Johnathan Locke, piloting a GINN unit,”
“Zala Team? What the hell are you talking about?”
“HQ has decided to mobilize the G-Weapons to assis-“
Lowell cut his radios and scowled.
What the hell are they thinking?
He clenched his teeth even harder. Things were about to get a whole lot more chaotic.
Keiran’s voice came in over the radio as Roane tried to pry his eyes away from the collapsed building beneath the M1, remind the Red Frame’s pilot of the evacuations that had already taken place.
“R-right! Thanks, Keiran,” Roane said, taking a deep breath before redoubling his focus. Geneva was calling for him now, in need of his assistance. The Red Frame adjusted its grip on the spear and scanned the surroundings for the enemy just as a flurry of beam fire fell upon them. “Tch!” the Red Frame was buffeted back by some the beams as they connected with its shield. Roane wrenched the controls to the side and his mobile suit slid along the ground until he was safely in cover behind a skyscraper. It didn’t take a scientist or mechanic to tell him that his shield was toast. Just looking down at it told Roane all he needed to know. Large swathes of the shield’s front side had been melted or punctured.
“Well, damn,” Roane muttered to himself, letting the shield fall to the ground and grabbing the spear with his now-free hand. “I’m coming Geneva!”
The 6 GINNs, all equipped with Guuls, had reached the edge of the battlefield, led by their commander’s distinctive silver-and-black mobile suit. It wasn’t the full squadron—6 pilots were left on standby at Carpentaria, but it would do for what was supposed to be a recon mission. Lowell, being the tip of the spear, scanned the battlefield ahead of him. The Wolf Squad’s leader had never seen the Astrays before, but it was easy enough to tell which ones were the Chromatic team in question.
Nice and colour-coded for us…
What was a bit more confusing were the mobile suits that looked just like them, rendered in an orange-black-and-white colour scheme. They had been told that Orb was undergoing some kind of coup, but no one had mentioned that the Union was mass-producing its own mobile suits.
“What would a supposedly neutral nation need with mass-produced suits?” based on their intel, the chromatic suits were being developed alongside the G-Weapons…but he figured they were also for the Earth Alliance, not for Orb’s personal use. Lowell had a bad feeling about all of this but he knew now wasn’t the time to get distracted.
Cody’s voice came over his comms. “Sir, I’ve got eyes on what looks to be a supply ship—it doesn’t have Orb designation, but it does seem to be carrying a full load,”
“Good eyes, Cody. Pursue that ship and disable it. If you can recover the cargo, all the better. Who knows what kind of secrets they might be—ah!”
Lowell felt a sudden twinge in his head and found his attention pulled towards something—someone—he couldn’t see with his eyes, but could…feel.
“Sorry,” Lowell shook his head. “Pursue the ship, Cody,”
“Roger that,” Cody’s GINN broke off from the rest of the squad, taking off after the supply ship trying to leave the battlefield.
Renato spoke next. “Sir, we’ve got two bogeys inbound. It looks like the Gold unit and the Green unit,”
“Right,” Lowell’s heart began to beat faster. “Renato, Faulkner, engage the Green unit. I’ll take the Gold one. Simmons and Araki, push deeper and pester the others where you can,”
A chorus of affirmatives came over the radio as the GINNs peeled off from the group, but Lowell’s attention was already focused on the incoming Gold unit.
It couldn’t be you, could it?
Roane rolled out of his cover and charged forward, full burst. As it approached the Blue Frame and its assailants, the Red Frame pulled back the spear and let it fly like a javelin. Roane cried with elation as the spear collided with one of the M1’s heads, ripping it off the body of the mobile suit.
“Come on!” the test pilot cried as his hands danced across the controls. The Red Frame leapt up into the air, tucked its leg and delivered a half-turn roundhouse kick to the beheaded M1, causing the torso to his the ground with a massive thud that kicked up a cloud of smoke. The Red Frame reached backwards and drew one of its beam sabers from the backpack unit, the pink blade glowing violently in the haze of concrete dust. Roane was about to bring the blade down on the disabled Astray when his sensors blared. The Red Frame wheeled around just in time to spot two missiles headed directly for it. Thinking fast, Roane kicked the CIWS guns into gear, the trail of bullets arcing upwards and connecting with the incoming rockets, exploding them prematurely.
“Where the hell did those came from?” Roane said, bewildered. His question was quickly answered as two ZAFT mobile suits atop of flight units came into view. “What are ZAFT units doing here? Geneva, Kali! Watch out!”
Lowell’s face hardened into a frown as the flying Gold unit came into view. He didn’t love fighting while constrained to the Guul, but the GINN couldn’t fly in atmosphere.
“I guess I should’ve requisitioned a DINN,” he said, but looking at the Astray and its flight pack, he knew it would’ve been able to dance circles around ZAFT’s flight-capable suits. “Right, I don’t know if it’s you in there, but if it is, I guess we both knew this was coming, didn’t we?”
Sword in one hand, machine gun in the other, Lowell took a deep breath before pulling the trigger, letting fly a hail of bullets towards the Gold Frame. “Let’s see what this machine of yours can do, Barondel!”
Cody’s GINN fired persistently on the Flerken Heavy, which did little in the way of retaliation.
“I don’t know what secrets you’re trying to hide, but you’re not getting away from me,”
Cody smirked to himself, despite the suspicion growing in his stomach that something was off here. It was like shooting fish in a barrel when the damn thing couldn’t even shoot back. What was Orb thinking? That it’d just go unnoticed? But its lack of defenses raised questions as well. What if it was a civilian ship?
At that moment, the Flerken Heavy started to go down, jettisoning its cargo as it descended.
Oh well, I guess…
The GINN approached the cargo pod and took it in its hands.
“You’re coming with me,” Cody said, still smirking. He was fairly new to the squad, but if this pod contained Orb secrets, he might be seeing a promotion in the near future. “Sir, I’ve secured the supply ship’s cargo pod. I’ll drop it off at the rendezvous point and double back to re-engage,”
It was Renato, the second in command, that responded. “That’s a negative Wolf-12. Take the cargo and return to Carpentaria. This isn’t supposed to be a drawn-out thing,”
Cody frowned and groaned to himself. “Yes sir, returning to base,”
Roane watched as both Nathaniel and Geneva launched before him, shooting out of the Archangel’s catapult one by one until it was his turn at last.
No freezing up this time. Eyes on the prize.
His expression hardened.
But these are your countrymen…
“They’re traitors,” he murmured to himself as he loaded the Red Frame onto the catapult.
“All systems are green, MacMaster. You’re clear to launch,”
Roane nodded. “Understood. This is Roane MacMaster, Astray Red Frame—launching!”
The mobile suit was thrown forward, the G-force pushing its pilot deep into the padding of his chair. Roane had a white-knuckle grip on his controls just like the Astray held its new weapon tightly in one hand. All of a sudden, he was airborne—soaring through the sky towards the battlefield. Nathaniel’s voice came on over the radios, describing their plan of attack to which Geneva, their XO, responded affirmative. As the Red Frame landed, its feet sunk into the concrete. The mobile suit slid for several meters, kicking up asphalt and concrete as it did so.
“Everyone remember,” Roane cried over the comms as he tried to slow his suit down. “This is a civilian zone. Let’s keep collateral damage to a minimum if we can,” he felt kind of silly giving orders—he wasn’t even truly military, but he didn’t want innocent people getting hurt.
Geneva’s voice came over the radio again as she dispatched a pair of Astrays. “I’m with you, ma’am, leave it to me.” He brought the shield in the Red Frame’s left hand up and surged forward with his thrusters, his spear pointed forward like a mighty lance. The first M1 turned just in time to get the sharpened piece of metal jammed into the side of its torso. Another M1 some distance to the left realized what was happening and began firing on the Red Frame, its shots either missing or being absorbed by the shield.
“I won’t let you destroy this country!” Roane cried as he removed the spear from the enemy, letting the mobile suit fall, inert, to the ground. Keeping the shield up, the Red Frame sprinted towards the firing M1, which was in the process of drawing its beam saber when Roane slammed into it shield first, knocking it backwards. The enemy M1, however, lost its footing and toppled backwards into a nearby building, crushing it underneath its massive weight.
The city was fast coming up on the horizon.
“3 minutes to contact,” Lowell announced to his squad, his hands keeping a steady grip on the controls of his custom GINN. “Remember Wolves, these aren’t like the Alliance Daggers. These things aren’t like the Moebius armors you may have fought top-side. They’re a lot more advanced and a lot more deadly—they probably even out-perform the GINNS if you’re just looking at the stats. But we remember, we have experience and the element of surprise on our side.”
“If things get too hairy in there, we retreat and rendezvous at the specified coordinates. From there we’ll wait an hour for any stragglers or pursuers and then head back to Carpentaria. No heroics today—this is nothing more that extended recon,”
“Seems like the fighting’s already started, chief,” Renato said. Lowell nodded, he could just make out the mobile suits engaging on the other side of the water now.
Please, let fortune be on our side today.
“Let’s show them what our pack is capable of, Wolf Squadron!”
Anime night came and went in the blink of an eye. It had been a surprisingly enjoyable time and even Roane was surprised that he and Keiran had managed to pull it off, and with minimal chewing out from the ship’s cook from whom Roane stole the required snacks. Their party was compounded by a much-needed shore leave that was only somewhat brought down by the fact that training loomed over them at the other end. Even though Roane himself had asked to join in on it, it was still work and hard work at that. There was no way it wasn’t going to be a drag in some way. In the end, however, it was beyond helpful and he could feel the Astray pilots, including Kali in the last of the five frames, coming together as a unit.
During this time, Roane was working closely with Micha Redwood to develop a better loadout for the Red Frame. Together they had decided to cut the rocket anchors down to just one mounted on the Astray’s left forearm as having a pair of them felt unnecessary. But the question remained: what would replace it, and more importantly, what role did they want the Red Frame to play on the battlefield?
“Well, Geneva has the sub machine guns covered,” Micha said, looking over his datapad at the specs of all five units. “How do you feel about long range support?”
“Like a sniper?” Roane asked from the open cockpit. He had his feet up on the consoles and was doing his best to steal some relaxation time while on the clock. “I don’t know if I have steady enough hands for that,”
“Well the Astray would do most of the work, but you’re right,” Micha swiped. “Your aim is terrible,”
“Hey, you should’ve seen me nabbing those choppers out of the air, ya’ git,”
“What about a sword? We could probably cook something up using the beam tech we already have,”
“More beams? Micha, any more beams on this thing and I’ll be out of battery before I even launch,” Roane leaned forward to look out at his friend. “What about a sword? Something physical that can cut through the enemy armor without wasting my juice?”
“Well, ZAFT GINNs have something like that, but that’s outside our supply chain obviously. I heard rumours about some old swords in Junk Guild territory top-side, but we just got you back from space and we can’t exactly be sending you up again. Besides, do you really think you’re sword material? You’d have to get all up close and personal and after your big freeze-up, it might be best to keep you a safe distance away from the enemy,”
Roane scowled. “Har har, let’s keep the Roane-centric jokes to a minimum, aye? What else have you got?”
“Well, what about this?” Micha sent the image on his datapad to the cockpit screens. Roane looked at it and stroked his chin.
“That might be worth exploring, Mich. Tell me more,”
“Chief, we just got word from Cody and Faulkner. Seems like we have a coup on our hands?”
“Beg pardon?” Lowell looked up from his datapad to his second in command, Renato Masters, who had just surprised him with this news. “A coup?”
“Sure looks like it. They’ve got one guy saying he’s in charge and another guy saying he’s in charge and of course they both have mobile suits that, according to our boys on the ground, are being scattered as we speak,”
Lowell frowned. That was unexpected news. He had been on recon barely a week before and never got the sense that there was any kind of political discord going on. He had found it a rather pleasant experience, in fact.
“I see. I guess it just goes to show that they’re a little bit better at hiding their troubles behind closed doors than we are,” he thought of the council back home and how…divisive it was. “Right. This is as good a time as any to see what we’re up against,”
“Oh ho,” Renato smiled. “Sounds like we might be heading out into the field,”
Lowell nodded, a grave expression on his face. “A house divided, old friend. There’s a good chance the Rainbow will show up to this little engagement and unless they suddenly decide to set aside their differences and unite against us, this is our best chance to see what they’re capable of,”
“Devious, chief. I like it. Maybe we’ll even get to take home a souvenir,”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Ren. Consider this an expeditionary op. If things get too hot, we’re pulling out,” Lowell stroked his chin. “But, if you can get a piece of one, I wouldn’t object,”
“Say no more,” Ren clapped his hands together. “I’ll get the squad ready,”
“Are you serious? A coup?” Roane folded his arms as he sat back in the cockpit of the Red Frame, ready to launch at a moments notice. The Astray had been equipped with a prototype spear in its right hand, little more than a long pointed metal rod in its current state. In the end, they had decided to forgo the rocket anchor for a shield, just to be on the safe side. Nathaniel, his XO, laid it out for them plainly and Roane considered it only briefly.
“Frankly, sir, Seiran is a worm. I don’t love the idea of fighting our kinsmen, but if they’re not going to play by the rules and try and fracture the nation, then they’ve earned what’s coming to them. Where you lead, I will follow,”
And no freezing up this time,
Roane pulled his helmet on over his head and regripped the controls. “You can count on me this time, everyone,”
Nathaniel’s gaze weighed heavy on Roane. The test pilot could tell his CO was trying his best to remain even-handed and impartial, but those eyes just kept making their way over to him and Geneva. It was reassuring to him, if only slightly, to recognize that his dark-haired comrade in the Blue Frame had made her own mistakes, but to be happy about it made him feel selfish. He didn’t want Geneva to fail any more than he wanted to fail himself. It was then that she decided to speak up—clearly eager to offer solutions rather than marinate in self-loathing like the red pilot was. She mentioned the squad getting to know each other better outside of combat to aid in cohesion on the battlefield. At this, Roane’s eyes flicked up and he glanced over at Keiran on the other side of the room.
“Ah…actually, Keiran and I had something planned with regards to team-building. I’m not so sure that it’s what you had in mind but it might be nice in helping us relax after today’s…” he wanted to say debacle, but held the word back. “…lesson. Keiran can tell you more about that, sir, but I wanted to take a quick moment to address what might be an elephant in the room,” Speaking of elephants, the lump growing in his throat felt about the size of one and growing. He hadn’t exactly planned on drawing attention to himself but then again, a lot of things happened today that he hadn’t really planned for.
Roane stood and cleared his throat. He looked around at his comrades, all of them dressed normally compared to him in his red and black crash-suit. “I’m going off of the assumption that all of you noticed and are either too polite to say anything or waiting for a quiet moment to really ream me out—which you’d be in the right to do—but in case some of you didn’t see it, I froze up out there today. For that, I apologize. I don’t come to this team from any kind of real military background—until recently I was little more than a Morgenroete test jockey taking these suits for a spin around the yard. I’m sincerely ashamed of what happened out there and infinitely glad that no one was wounded on my account,” Roane turned to face Nathaniel now. “Sir, with your permission, I would like to submit myself for additional training, perhaps in tandem with yourself or one of the other more experienced pilots,”
Internally, Roane’s stomach roiled. If he wanted to last out there, he needed to learn how to keep it together and fight back.
Roane awoke with a start, pulled from a sleep fraught with disturbing dreams an automatic reminder that he had a meeting in ten minutes. The Red Frame’s pilot looked around, unsure at first of where he was and frightened by the tight space he found himself in. When at last he calmed down, however, he realized he was still in the Astray’s cockpit. He must have fallen asleep here after the mission, unwilling as he was to leave and face his teammates in person. Roane remembered seeing Keiran waiting for him via the mobile suit’s interior cameras but at some point his white-haired comrade must have given up and left him alone. It left an uneasy feeling in the pilot’s stomach. Was Keiran hanging around to chew him out?
Roane checked his phone, pulling up the meeting information. The time of reckoning had come. There would be no avoiding the conversation now that it was official. He’d have to face his superior and his comrades and explain to them what the hell happened out there. Worse yet, he’d have to do it in his crash suit—there was no time to change at this point.
Roane arrived almost at the same time as Geneva, thanking the heavens that there wouldn’t be any time for a one-on-one before the meeting officially began. Squeezing into the room behind her, Roane felt awkward in his padded normal suit as he took a seat and eyed the way his superior officer was sitting.
What the hell is he doing? Roane quirked a brow, looking from Barondel to the hat tossed lazily onto the table. Still, the test pilot sat quietly, eyes downcast, as he awaited the arrival of his teammates.
A woman’s voice responded to his hail, informed him that she was having difficulty keeping her cargo secure in that familiar Scottish brogue he himself possessed in a slightly diluted fashion. She seemed insistent on calling him Mac, too, which caused him to quirk a brow and grimace. It was not a nickname he was used to, but to each their own and besides, he was too focused on the battle to mind. Then, from above a shower of junk pelted him and his comrades, as well as the opponents from whom they were trying to retreat.
“Ach, the hell?” Roane asked as he watched the junk plane strafe across the sky. The woman hailed him again and this time the Red Frame pilot frowned in consternation. “Yeah, great, thanks,” he said to himself in the cockpit. “’Can’t keep my cargo secure my bleeding arse’,” he then muttered as he backed the Red Frame to safety. He boarded the Archangel at last and, once his mobile suit was secure in the hangar, sat back in his pilot’s chair and heaved a deep, long breath. Only then did he become cognizant of the tension that wracked his body, the muscles in his arms and legs twisted into firm, unrelenting knots—coiled springs threatening to burst. He remembered the breathing exercises they had taught him, went through them with measured time.
It was no good though. The more he tried to focus on relaxing, the more the fear trickled in. He had frozen on the battlefield, embarrassingly so. The lieutenant had even had to chastise him for it, and then he practically went berserk. He was lucky that he didn’t accidentally harm any of his teammates.
I’m not a soldier…
He had to remind himself of that fact. Everyone else out there with him had some sort of experience that he did not, the quintessential ‘it’ factor that separated the warriors from the people like him. He knew the Red Frame inside and out, knew how to make it sing as only a mobile suit can. But he didn’t know how to unlock its true potential, to see it actualize into the weapon that it fully and truly was meant to be. Maybe it would simply be a matter of time—but if he kept performing the way he had today they would kick him out and find someone more suited for the job. Then he’d be letting himself and the Princess down.
Roane slammed his fists on the console, trying his best to avoid any sensitive pieces of equipment. He wanted to leave the cockpit but feared the reprimand that was invariably waiting for him beyond it. He pictured Nathan’s face—a man barely his elder—with its cool but stern aloofness bearing down on him. Roane didn’t particularly like the man—didn’t hate him either—it was a consequence of their meeting, he knew. But some part of him, quite possibly a heretofore unaddressed competitive side, still yearned for his respect as a member of the team.
“But I blew it,” he muttered to himself, staring at the darkened screens around him.
Barondel’s orders to pull back snapped Roane out of his battle focus, the shadowy edges of his mental tunnel vision peeling back to let the light of reality back in. He observed the wreckage of the helicopters and tanks he had obliterated, heaped and smoking on the jungle floor. The battlefield had been wreathed in flames and Roane felt like he was awakening from some dream to a scenario he no longer recognized.
“What the hell happened…?” he asked himself as the Astrays began their retreat. “What was the Earth Alliance thinking?”
Geneva’s voice came over the comms and Roane nodded. “On it, Gen,” he said, dodging back from enemy fire. As he made his retreat, he continued his assault with the rocket anchors wherever he could, pegging enemy aircraft out of the sky if they fell within his reach. Something curious caught his attention, though: an aircraft unlike the others.
“I’ve got eyes on some kind of jet fighter. Looks heavily modified and a little too junky to be Earth Alliance,”
What are you doing here? You’re going to get yourself killed.
Roane tapped furiously at the keyboard and extended his communications range to try and hail the Flerken.
“This is Private Roane MacMaster of the Orb Union hailing civilian aircraft. This is an active battlefield, mate. You should get as far from here as possible before you accidentally get shot down,”
(Thanks Roromi for the cameo)
Things only got more hectic. Chaos, in its truest form, blossomed up around Roane and the Red Frame as his allies all moved to engage and the radios blared with orders and activities that barely penetrated the oppressive thud of his heart as it hammered deep inside his chest, the blood rushing to his head. It was too much for him. Roane’s hands should have redoubled their grip on the controls but instead he found them sliding up towards his helmet.
Roane wrenched and twisted the helmet, trying to remove it but finding it locked steadily in place.
“Can’t breathe…,” his thoughts became sound, a whisper at first, then louder. “I can’t breathe!” he was clawing at the helmet now, his fingers trembling, fumbling at the locks on his suit. “Lieutenant I can’t do this!”
Gold Frame barreled past Red Frame again to stab at a helicopter with the bayonet rifle. “Damnit Roane!” Nathaniel cried out. “Was all that bluster just hot air! Not only are you going to die, but you’re going to get everyone killed MacMaster!” The pink blade of the rifle swiped sideways to get another enemy. The time for kind words was long past, with enemy fire coming in, Nathaniel had to get through to Roane.
“I….” Roane’s hands slowed their clutching but trembled still. “I don’t want to die,”
Then you have to fight.
“I don’t want anyone else to die, either,” for a moment, Roane’s loose grip on his senses allowed him to understand the Red Frame in a different way. The humming of his mobile suit that he heard in the cockpit was translated into words.
If you want to live, if you want to save them, you must be a warrior.
“A warrior…” his hands lowered form his head and found themselves resting on the controls once more. Tenuously, his hands wrapped themselves around the sticks. “I might not know how to fight…but that’s what the Red Frame was designed to do and I know the Red Frame,”
The Astray’s right hand swung upwards towards one of the helicopters and in a flash, the Gleipnir rocket anchor blasted off the mobile suit’s wrist, it’s golden diamond spike splitting into three claws that crushed the chopper in its grasp. Roane’s hands moved not necessarily with skill or confidence, but with familiarity as he swung the loose rocket anchor and the debris of the helicopter towards another assailant and swatting it out of the air. Letting go of the first chopper, the piercer lock retracted back to the Red Frame’s wrist, only for the Astray to pivot, aim both arms at two of the tanks engaging the Green Frame and let them fly. The rocket anchors pierced the tanks’ armor and Roane wrenched backwards on the controls, bringing the enemy machines up into the air where they slammed into yet more helicopters.
Inside the cockpit, wide-eyed and shaking, Roane tried to catch up to his racing pulse, stifling the roars of terror that brewed inside his lungs.
After parting ways with Keiran, Roane undertook a daring, one-man mission to the galley to try and convince the cook there that theirs was a worthy cause and that a donation of snacks would be of a great benefit to the team’s morale. They were, arguably, the Orb military’s VIPs—what were a few bags of chips when it came to keeping their spirits up? When he arrived in the galley, however, he found it empty. Not a single soul sat among the myriad tables and, as far as he could tell, there was no one in the kitchen either. The pilot called out and received no response. Looking over his shoulder conspiratorially, Roane ducked into the kitchen, found the pantry, and promptly liberated armfuls of carefully curated junk food. The selection wasn’t the greatest, but he knew that military ships kept this kind of grub tucked away. With his bounty in hand, Roane was little more than an orange blur as he made his way back to his quarters and, squirrel-like, shoved the ill-gotten goods beneath his bunk.
Before he knew it, the pilots were being called together. It appeared they had reached their destination.
He had been perched on his bed, typing away on his laptop and praying an irate cook didn’t come asking after his supplies, when the word came. Roane closed the personal computer’s lid and tossed it irreverently onto the bed next to him, giving the stash one last worried look before making his way to the ready-room.
A few minutes later, he was in his red and black test suit and riding the tow-cable up to the Red Frame’s cockpit. As he rode the cable upwards, he looked at the diamond-like devices affixed to the Astray’s wrists. Micha Redwood, a member of his team at Morgenroete, had discussed with Roane a rather unconventional idea that he wanted to test. Roane, a scientist at heart, agreed immediately. He was curious to see what a pair of rocket anchors affixed to his mobile suits arms could do and a training exercise sounded like the perfect place to test such a bizarre loadout. Thus it came to be that two ‘Gleipnir’ piercer locks, the same as the ones the G-team had developed for the Blitz Gundam, had been strapped to his machine.
“I don’t know if this is going to work,” Roane said as he sat down and booted up the machine. “But it’ll certainly be interesting,” the Red Frame was still equipped with its beam sabers, but Roane insisted on leaving his beam rifle behind. It was an energy sink and he was working with limited battery. The Gleipnirs weren’t exactly cost free but they didn’t have to generate a beam, at least. “We might run into some issues with speed though,” he muttered to himself, flipping switches over head before putting his helmet on. “The piercer locks take time to launch and retract, but at least we still have our CIWS guns.” The more he thought about it, the more he questioned the idea, but it was too late to change it now.
It’s only a practice op, if ever there was a time for something not to work it’s now,
“This is Roane MacMaster, Astray Red Frame. Launching,” the mobile suit then shot down the catapult, which flung them out over the water and the beach, where he landed with a thud, sending up a column of sand. “Seems like he’s running nominally so far, we should get off the sand though unless you feel like reprogramming your OS’s on the fly.” Every other machine but his was working off a Coordinator-based operating system. The Red Frame alone had one that was compatible with naturals, which he thanked his lucky stars for. Part of his mission, at least, was to gather enough data to produce a working, wide-range natural OS.
That’s a job for the egg-heads though, for now, you just have to make it sing,
But things went pear-shaped almost as soon as they had landed. Barondel’s voice came in over the group channel.
“Fall back? We just got here?” Roane cried as the helicopters overhead began firing their salvos. “What the bloody hell?” The Igelstellungs whirred to life, tracer bullets skittering across the sky as they intercepted the missiles headed his way. His team-mate, Geneva, was wailing loudly as the Blue Frame’s SMGs went wild.
“Keep it together Gen,” Roane tried to sound strong and reassuring but his voice was anything but. He barely knew his teammate but she sounded like she was having a bad time. “Ah, shite. Lieutenant, who are these guys?” A petrifying cold was beginning to seep into his limbs. He had never been in combat before—had never intended to ever be in combat. They were only attack helicopters and he was in a prototype mobile suit. It should be an easy win…but why couldn’t he bring himself to fight?
Topics I Participated In
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!”