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Replicator last won the day on September 6

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  1. The attack on Bael was ferocious, but it was too much of a beast to handle unprepared. One Asshimar was lost immediately after the Gundam made its reactor go critical, but the initial attack missed the head and thus, the cockpit, so the pilot could’ve lived to tell the tale by ejecting the head to prevent its systems from overloading and letting the armor protect them. The next two casualties came from the twin Rail Cannons: an Asshimar was hit in the head with a round that went right through the monoeye, all the way to the cockpit, where it exploded and had somebody meet a gruesome fate. The other unit was instead hit in the groin, losing its legs as the module collapsed, and fell forward through the cloud. It was still able to turn into a Mobile Armor, however, which would’ve been largely useless for it since it had lost its main thrusters and its output was anemic at best now. Maybe it did it to camouflage and defend itself, giving up on the battle in exchange to stay alive. No time to think about it: two more Asshimars approached from the cloud, and they were already pretty close. One of them was Dennis’, still set apart by the damaged head module. “You monster, you killed Kenny! WHY WON’T YOU DIE?!” His Asshimar and the other flared all thrusters to accelerate towards Bael. They were still vulnerable to a Sword Mace strike, but the Captain did not have his say yet: he came out from the cloud with his machine’s feet hooked to the front of the unit that had transformed, and both put pedal to the metal to give Remy’s unit a boost, which small as it was, was still enough to close into range at a faster pace than Dennis and his other wingman, not giving Bael time to lift the long-handled mace again. As his machine brought down its fist from above upon the Gundam’s head and torso, Remy shouted at his enemy: “Take this, White Devil!” --- While most of Kamille’s attacks hit the Asshimar, which started to descend towards the ground, they stopped quite short of destroying the machine or maybe even rendering it inoperative, as the missiles, guns and Vulcans weren't too effective against the thick armor. Rather, what truly defeated his foe was a Linear Rifle round to the red part of the flying donut, which was less armored than the rest of the MS. It was quite possible the pilot was knocked unconscious… or dead. He was still not alone, however. Blue Sky Seven and Eight had made short work of Shin’s Gundam, thanks largely to the fact that it wasn’t Shin who was in command, but rather a placeholder NPD that was laughably easy to outsmart: as Seven passed the Gundam, the dummy pilot tried to attack it with its big GN Swords, but left its back exposed to Eight who got a direct shot on him and destroyed the Gundam. Why did Shin abandon the team? Had he lost his connection? “Woooo! Not so tough now, are ya?!” Eight cheered as the wreck fell towards the ground, but Seven hit him with a reality check. "Alan! I think the nugget... Norman just biffed it!" Both looked briefly above them. The sole sight of the Defenser flying away while Twelve's Asshimar fell enraged both, and made them turn their rifles to Kamille, coming at him from below, where he had no offensive capabilities whatsoever, firing their large beam rifles at him. "Hey, you think you're hot stuff for taking out the little chick? Pick a fight with somebody your own size!" Eight said as he stepped on the thruster pedal to close the distance, to negate the Defenser’s long-range prowess, and taking advantage of his own machine’s atmospherical specialization: it didn’t look like something designed for the atmosphere of Earth, but rather like a space unit, or an all-rounder, which would still not be as good as something dedicated to one environment. His more level headed companion followed suit. --- The three Asshimars harassing the Beta Gundam, meanwhile, had landed a hit on its sub-flight system, but not without its costs: while two of the Mobile Armors let up momentarily their attack to evade the beams, expecting the beam rifle but not the two INCOM guns, the third had already lined up a sure shot, which took out the Flying Armor, but also let Hikaru land a shot through one of the vents located in the upper thighs of his unit, blowing up Blue Sky Eleven's right leg from the inside and damaging the right side armor. "Sully!" shouted Nine. "Go back to the base, you can't do jack like that!" But Eleven wasn't gonna let up. "Like hell! I can still fly, and he can't! He's good as ours!" The three flyers followed the Beta Gundam down to the ground. Nine and Ten transformed to adapt to their enemy's new condition and hopped around the MkII lookalike, firing their beam rifles from opposite points of the circle formed around it, while Eleven kept flying with a limp, knowing that if he tried to land, what was left of the leg would most likely collapse under the weight. Instead, he decided to circle Hikaru and took a shot from one of the two directions left unattended by Nine and Ten. They didn't care to intervene in the fight between Cagalli's Dom and Mu's MkII yet, however. Dismissing the green Dom and the Jeeps as outdated and posing no immediate danger, they left Mu and Kaizuka to figure out how to take those down. While Mu exchanged shots with the unusual machine, the blue Hi-Zack's pilot tried to have their support craft avoid the beams. This would mean Mu would not land any hits, but at least the Jabber was safe. Soon they came closer and closer, and it became apparent for Mu that he needed to take things up close while his teammate attacked from another angle. Taking out a beam saber, colored white due to being a spare part rather than the original, he made MkII jump out of the Base Jabber. "Kaizuka! Go around it and use your beam rifle! If it tries to get away, trap it!" Once the Gundam had landed and prepared to receive the Dom with its beam saber, shield and beam rifle at the ready, Kaizuka ascended and took the Jabber away, readying the Marasai/Act Zaku beam rifle, before firing it at Cagalli from above. --- In response to the attack that had damaged the ship, Captain Yuiran adjusted his cap, and prepared to lay down the law. - "I need a report on our forces! What's with Blue Sky?" He approached the lower bridge, where Natarle briefed him. - “Sir! Blue Sky One to Three are fighting Tango 01. Blue Sky Four to Six were lost to Tango 01. Blue Sky Seven and Eight defeated Tango 02 and are attacking Tango 03B. Blue Sky Nine to Eleven are engaging Tango 03A. Blue Sky Twelve… we lost the vitals. Same for Blue Sky Five." Upon informing Captain Yuiran of the casualties, she heard him lose his composure for a moment and hit one of the desks with his hand. He took a moment to recover, and then thought about their situation. He knew the pilots personally, like everyone else stationed at the base, but it wasn’t the time to mourn them. - "So, three are still playing wrestler with the white one, two are in pursuit of the armed fighter, three are engaging the one that looks like a Mk-II… and we’re down by four units. Have we got any more forces?" - “Only two, sir. Mu La Flaga in Mk-II Unit 01 and a Hi-Zack piloted by Ensign Yumi Kaizuka. They’re engaging a Dom type… designation, Tango 04. And there’s some jeeps incoming.” - “Lieutenant Commander Ramius. This ship’s prepared for that sort of combat, isn’t it? Take the jeeps down. We must not let them go any further.” - “... wilco.” Murrue hesitated for a moment, but the next, she was ordering the weapons officers to engage. “Prepare the Igelstellungs and the Helldarts! Target… light ground vehicles ahead! Fire when ready!” As the ship fired its light payload upon the Desert Dawn off-roaders, Yuiran searched for something in his pockets, and took it out: a communicator resembling one of those real world smartphones that folded in half, largely bought for the novelty factor by those who had money to spare. He unfolded it with a quick motion from his hand and spoke to the device. “Toto Yuiran. Quick Dial Seven. Bypass confirmation.” Looking briefly to the screen for proof that his phone had understood him correctly, he went to a rather deserted corner of the bridge. The last thing he needed was the crew of the ship eavesdropping on him. However, he did not check where the little kid had gone. When the dial tone finally disappeared, he spoke through to him. “Nikon. We're in a tight spot, and I need to focus. Tell Murdoch to take care of that thing himself, and bring me a pack of Cigarette 43s. Be quick about it, yeah?” Afterwards, he hanged up. With any luck, nobody on this foreign ship would know he was not a smoker, and that he had just told Nikon to grab a vehicle and head for the city. Worst case scenario, if the base was captured and the archives were not burnt in time by the base commander, the terrorists would know where his family lived. Fortunately, Nikon was single, as far as he knew, so unless he had a woman or a man in his life, and maybe even then, he'd concentrate almost entirely on helping his wife and daughter skip town and keep them safe. Of course, there was a roughly equal chance of success, so he didn't know whether it'd be necessary to have them go into hiding. Better safe than sorry, he thought as he felt like ridding himself of a burden and focused on the screens again. As long as they're safe, i can move freely. As long as they're alive, they can do whatever they're doing later.
  2. Just in time, six beige and brown cargo planes started taking turns to land on the runway that hadn’t been blown to pieces in the chaos. Rashid Kurama spoke from his custom Maganac. “Not a second late. Master Quatre, our flight is here. The Maganac Corps will accompany you on your next mission.” Abdul followed by offering a helping hand, his Maganac moving the monoeye to look at the Trinames and the Comet Dagger. “You guys are not looking so good… Come on. We’ll take you to the planes.” As for Aida and Isla, they returned to their Gunpla rather cautiously, and used the loudspeakers to communicate. “I’ll be walking my way to the planes. And there, we can talk about where we’ll be going next!” Minutes later, two planes were filled: In the leading plane, Quatre, Rashid and Ahmad. Following them, Abdul, Auda and a Maganac. Two other planes were destined for Beta Team: In one, Aida, Kyle, and Carter. In the other, there was only Isla’s Mobile Suit, while the rest of the plane was filled by two stolen Base Jabbers, that could be deployed to aid any of the team on the next operation, and some supply boxes. Finally, the two extra planes were filled with stolen supplies, weapons and sub-flight systems. Soon, everyone was on the air. The two supply-filled jets departed for Maganac’s Village immediately, escorted by Maganacs on Base Jabbers, while the four jets containing mecha briefly flew together. Sitting on their cockpits, the four Maganac squad leaders and Beta Team attended a meeting called by Quatre from his Sandrock. There, he detailed their next course of action. - "With you four tagging along, I reckon we can do more in less time. Recently, we received four assignments, but having to take the defense of Maganac Village into account, we had to make due with only two teams. Abdul?" Quatre started typing on a keyboard to bring a map to everyone’s screens, while Abdul continued with the presentation. - “Yes. We completed two assignments in one go: attacking the Enact demonstration, and restocking on supplies. Now, there were two more assignments, but one of them is big enough we can’t just go in alone while the other team is still escorting the supplies back to base. So we were gonna attack Point A72 while they came back from that, then gather in A80 and attack A81, all of us. Right now, we’re heading to A72.” - “But you lot look quite capable of some heavy lifting.” Rashid interrupted, going straight to the point and talking to Aida. “If Celestial Being’s tactical forecaster over there really wants to be of help, my suggestion is that your jets make a beeline for A81. You could free Master Quatre and the four of us to raid A72 while we still have the edge of surprise.” - “We don’t want to order you around. I only expect all of us to be respectful with each other. That’s why… it’s your choice.” Quatre also asked Aida for his cooperation, far more gently. Aida was in a tight spot. As “Lockon’s” commander, he was mistaken for a Celestial Being field strategist, if they ever had such a thing. Unsure of how they saw Carter and Isla, he didn’t want to correct them. He knew this could end really badly, just like it did back in Gryps, but he didn’t have a choice at this point. - “Well, even though i am authorized to, i don’t want to send my pilots into battles they don’t think we can handle. What do you say, people? Can we break it?” - “I think you know the answer to that, ‘Mr. Aida’... ” Uttered 'Lockon', rather humorously, to his 'forecaster'. “We can easily go to A81 with our Gunp- I mean, with our Mobile Suits. Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it!” - “Of course!” Carter smirked, and placed his hand on the instrument cluster. “No matter what the job is, the Chall-… Celestial Being won’t be beaten!” His Elemechu could be seen jumping behind him, excited. - "Well, it'd be stupid if the Challenger Squadron was not up to the challenge…" Isla closed the circle, playing along with a surprising display of creativity. - "Then, you can count on us! We’ll show them who is boss...” Aida confirmed, before being stopped in his tracks. “Uhhh… mind telling us what’s there, though?” Hours later, back in the real world after having redirected his plane and Isla's to Point A81, Aida studied a picture of it, given to the team by Quatre. An island. Accessible only by air or sea. Heavy artillery... He knew he had seen the place before in Wing, as hinted at by the Aries flying around the massive island. But he couldn't remember what had transpired there, until Daniel brought him a Gundam Wiki article. The resemblance was crystal-clear. The next attack would take place at Mogadishu Base... home to the Noventa Cannon.
  3. The battle was over. With the provisional leader of the Featherheads falling in his green Mobile Suit to a certain death, going out in a small atomic blast, whoever was miraculously still alive got out of their wrecked Mobile Suits or, in Neil's case, turned his machine around to return to the base, knowing he was all alone against those who had decimated eleven other Leos, and twenty-four Aries on their own. The members of Beta Team let them all go, and so did Quatre, but it only fueled their newfound hatred of them further. The survivors, scarce as they were, would be back, and so would their commander: in the distance, the team could see Treize's personal shuttle flying away at peak speed, and while he was still in range of Kyle's GN Sniper Rifle, his weapons, along with everyone else's, were disabled as a sign appeared on their HUDs: < MISSION ACCOMPLISHED > With that, Wufei had already failed in his mission. Perhaps out of shame, he did not return to Quatre, which meant he was left alone with Beta Team until brown Mobile Suits approached, all custom and made to their pilots’ specifications: WMS-03 Maganacs. Quatre used Sandrock’s optics to signal them briefly, before opening his hatch and greeting the members of Beta Team. “My name is Quatre Raberba Winner! Pilot of the Sandrock Gundam! Who are you?” Aida felt the need to respond, and opened his hatch in kind to yell back. “I am Aida! Pilot of the Airbatel GM III!” Eventually, Kyle made it to the others. The Trinames knelt down as its hatch opened, revealing the diver and his companion. “I’m Kyle and this is-“ At that moment, the Gunpla’s other arm crashed to the ground. Kyle sighed while grabbing the red toy. “This is my buddy Charo...” Carter grabbed his panicked Elemechu and opened up the hatch, pulling himself out of his wrecked Gunpla. He waved “Yo! I’m Carter, this one is...” He scratched his cheek, then apologized. “I'll get back to you when i name it." Finally, Isla introduced herself, rather bluntly. “Isla. Variable EWAC Gundam.” Aida finished rather enthusiastically with a pose and a battle, hoping his teammates would also follow him. “We are the Challengers of Diamond!” However, only Carter replied with a distant “Woo!” before Kyle took an amused look at both, while Isla just gave a quick smirk that quickly disappeared, like an artifact in a hologram. You've gotta be kidding me. Quatre smiled, as the Maganacs loomed closer, and took a step further by coming out of the Gundam, using the automatic rope to descend, then approach the Challengers’ Gunpla on foot. Aida did the same, and soon the whole team was in the ground, approaching Quatre, then stopping a pair of meters ahead of him. The group of Maganacs finally reached the five Mobile Suits, and took position around them. “I did not expect to see you here. You're here too early...” Out of the blue, however, that innocent smile vanished from Quatre’s face, as he raised a handgun to aim it at the group, and the Maganacs lit beam sabers to trap their Gunpla with them. One sudden move, and even if the pilots managed to evade Quatre's marksmanship, their machines would probably bite it. As the group took a deep breath and realized where they were standing, Quatre spoke to Kyle again. “... Lockon Stratos.” Things had gone from fifty to zero, then all the way to one hundred again really quick. Aida went over their possibilities and remembered something: his Fatum-00 was still in the air. A swift order to the flyer and some quick thinking could let them overcome this twist, but only wise words from the team could defuse this situation pacifically...
  4. As the brown and blue machine was about to land next to the hospital, though, it was hit by what he assumed to be a stray shell. Either that, or somebody out there thought of the international conventions that protected non-combatants as international suggestions, the thought of which scared Remy. “Shit!” Now where would he deposit the kid safely? He then figured the safest place would be the weird legged ship: even if they lost and the ship was defenseless, surely nobody would think of destroying it. The kid could escape with the rest of the crew to elude being recaptured, too. With this in mind, he gently deposited the little girl next to one of the hatches, which opened for her. Inside, a soldier in Federation attire was reaching out for her hand. "Go in, kid! Don't be scared, I told them you were coming. I have to go back now, before things get worse..." Indeed, strange things were happening while he was out of the fight: for starters, his wingmate Dennis Schrute had flown towards one of the attacking Gundams, and fired his large beam rifle at it, only for the beam to dissipate in contact with the enemy unit. "What the hell?! Captain, I think I- UGH!" Afterwards, his Asshimar was hit by a mace-shaped weapon, greatly deforming the bicolored armor and sending his Mobile Suit tumbling towards the ground. He nearly crashed into the ground, but managed to transform in time to use the Mobile Suit’s legs and save himself, landing in a rather uproarious and disorderly manner. “Captain, this is the one with the I-Field! I’ve found it!” Hearing him out, Remy flew to Dennis’ location from the Archangel. “Roger! Three, Four, Five, Six! Come with me! We’re gonna show him which machine is the real champion of heavyweights! The rest, don’t let the others interfere!” At his command, four of the twelve Asshimars circled around Marco’s Bael with him. As they landed, surrounding the white Gundam, Dennis’ unit turned on its backup cameras, becoming a triclops, then lifted his left index finger to point at him as he adjusted a loosening piece of armor back on its place with the other arm. “You can hear me, can’t you? I just wanted you to know… meeting here’s your unlucky day.” Remy, Dennis and the other four Asshimars that had surrounded Creed stored their beam rifles in the back of their waists, then turned on their thrusters to charge at him, the six of them at the same time. Their plan? Sucker punch Bael and dance on what remained of it. The other six flyers made sure not to let the other two enemies interrupt what Remy and Dennis were starting. Blue Sky Seven and Eight swooped in to fire their large beam rifles at a flashy Gundam which belonged to Shin: his gigantic swords gave its role as a close combat unit away, so they preferred to take shots at it with their powerful beam weapons. Blue Sky Nine, Ten, Eleven and Twelve saw Hikaru’s Beta Gundam as a far more dangerous opponent, given he enjoyed a similar grade of mobility to the Asshimars and had shown them his powerful long-range weaponry. However, as its G-Defenser took off, becoming a separate combatant, the quartet was forced to let Twelve go in pursuit of the Defenser, trying to shoot it down with the large beam rifle as the three of them did the same, spreading and firing at Hikaru’s Gundam and support Flying Armor from different angles. With Beta Gundam and its Defenser occupied, and no other long-range combatants at hand, a second cargo plane attempted to take off, while the first had its wing damaged and had to land, just to avoid a crash. They wouldn’t shoot this down anyways, thought the pilot of the second plane, lest they damage the cargo. Mu and his companion, Ensign Kaizuka, an impressionable young pilot in charge of the Hi-Zack by his side, spotted what seemed to be a convoy of brown trucks, speeding alongside a green Dom with custom parts. “Mu-san!” she cried rather formally, rather anxious about working alongside her hero, even though she technically had the same rank as he did by working with the Titans, who had given her a generous promotion. “I have visual. Those are not ours...” Mu La Flaga observed, and aimed his beam rifle at them. “Kaizuka, right? Keep the Jabber straight. If i can take out that Dom, the base garrison should just be able to take the jeeps out on their own.” After a rather enthusiastic roger from her, Mu fired his rifle multiple times at the green Mobile Suit from the air, not bothering to fire at the trucks. In the distance, three Union Flags in Mobile Armor mode could be seen entering the airspace and heading for the base at a rather casual rate, equipped with external fuel tanks they had latched onto hardpoints in their wings. It was as if they were not aware of the current situation...
  5. Quatre finally got to the battle zone, and registered every machine on the fray. Every machine had problems of its own: There was a silver and green GM of sorts, which looked even more weird without the visor that usually covered the monoeye camera in Federation Mobile Suits: having disposed of every Leo equipped with a Dober Gun, two beam saber-equipped Leos followed it to the site where a white and green Gundam fought with more Leos: two of them commander-spec, with a shoulder cannon on the right, and a shield on the left. The other one was apparently normal. On the other side, a blue GM lookalike had been left alone: the two Leos left to shoot it were also the same Leos that had drawn beam sabers and now ran after the flying GM. In total, five Leos were left. Six if one counted the one that had been relieved of its legs, but not of its arms. It didn’t look like it could do much, though, and Quatre wondered whether the pilot was still inside, or was already making a run for the base, be it on foot, or with a thruster pack. Whatever the case, these three machines were registered by the IFF as UNKNOWN. It wasn’t the case, however, for the remaining fighter. A white and red Gundam that had left just four black Aries and a green commander unit standing after an all-out attack, it hovered in the sky without any apparent propulsion system, just leaving a trail of green shine that came out from a white, cone-shaped device in the back. Unlike the other three machines, when scanned, this one prompted the IFF to regard it as CLASSIFIED, with a small pop-up warning him that he did not have the clearance to see its data. The only other time this had happened to him was back in the colony where Sandrock was built, as he studied in preparation for their turn… Could it be? But we just got here… and even we would’ve got some warning that the plan was being changed. What is going on? Confused, Quatre decided to help the team, if only to gain their trust, and coax them into telling him what was happening. So he pointed his Beam SMG at the nearest Leo, one of the commander-spec units, which still hadn’t made a move against the hat-wearing Gundam or the two GMs, and fired. With Quatre unable to fire at the two Leos besieging it without hitting his potential ally, Isla had to fend them off somehow. Out of more brilliant options, she simply smashed the Jesta Beam Rifle into the head of the Leo on her front, and with the same momentum, tried to turn around quickly enough to avoid being impaled by the other Leo. While she was rapid enough to bring up the beam shield, the Leo’s beam saber went through the center, where the emitter was located, then perforated the left forearm. First, the forearm burst into flames from the inside, then, less than a second later, fire extinguishing foam came out of the same place and drowned them, but also reducing the visibility of both Isla and Neil’s Leo. With her Gundam’s left arm unable to power it anymore, Isla’s beam saber shut down, so she redirected the power to the right arm, and once more relied on the Jesta Beam Rifle, trying to fire it at her foe. It was really a big gamble, considering she had used its receiver as a blunt weapon seconds before. The rifle could still work and do its job, it could blow up and damage the right forearm, or it could simply fail to fire. As for Aida, he was the only member of Beta whose machine was still in mint condition. Fearing that his beloved Fatum was next, he pressed the button in his dash that allowed him to relay orders to his flying steed’s AI, and spoke. “Fatum; undock, ascend, circle, standby.” Fatum recognized the key words and complied, taking control away from Aida for him to make Airbatel jump down to the ground, storing his right sword to access his DODS Rifle again, then firing at the two Leos that had been chasing him. “Come and get me if you dare!” Meanwhile, Fatum climbed and was soon lost behind clouds, where it spun in circles around the four members of Beta, waiting for orders to support somebody. Back at the base, things had died down. Almost all of the guests had left, save for Billy Katagiri and Graham Aker. As his mechanic finished cutting a hole in the escape pod for Mr. Special to come out on his own and curse the Gundams, they laughed. - “I see… AEU’s latest model is already done for, but the safety ratings are off the charts…” the MS engineer stated, while Graham was not so quick to put the blame on the Mobile Suit. - “That Khushrenada sure put on a better show.” - “He’s no Flag Fighter. Come on, we gotta go. I just noticed a dozen missed calls to my phone. We have to report.” - “Those Gundams, though, giving the AEU a check and a warning. OZ will not take this laying down, that's for sure...”
  6. Thanks to Roromi for letting me participate! When Aida entered the SEED festival, he was not thinking of attending the party, singing along to that famous Diver's J-Pop covers or discussing the shows and their side stories. Rather, when Daniel sent him a virtual flyer of the event, he scoffed at the idea, since he wasn't a big fan of Cosmic Era, even though he had watched the main series. But Daniel, who was an avid fan of the timeline and wanted to share his love of it with his best friend, convinced him to give the festival a try with the excuse of entering his old JANET Murasame in the build contest, for the chance of winning a Quattro Vaharo - a golden, sun-shade wearing, child-loving version of the ubiquitous franchise mascot. And quite like one of the previous limited editions, the Char Aznaharo, it was a very talented fellow when it came to piloting a Mobile Suit autonomously. Perhaps taking it into his possession would prove useful: AI companions were perfect for the task of automating certain systems or tasks. And he was in the process of building a space-use GM III that would greatly benefit from an independent G-Defenser craft. With this in mind, he painted the Murasame candy red, bought Rau Le Creuset's white uniform at a Zapp vending machine (then the mask, out of fear of running into one of his old crew mates and being recognized), and got ready to pass his machine as an "Alex Dino" custom… whoever that guy was. In retrospect, it wasn't such a brilliant idea. When he finally entered the festival as a contender, authorized by the organizers to bring his Gunpla and land it anywhere he felt like, he realized he had bit more than he could chew. The other contestants all had beautiful, well-crafted machines, some of which he recognized, some of which he didn't. And while he felt capable of taking on most of them, sadly, there seemed not to be a single time trial, race or battle in hand. Rather, it was going to be a beauty pageant, and Aida knew he didn't have a chance in the world to win based on looks alone: after all, the JANET Murasame was first and foremost a sleeper, given the guts of a different Zeta variant depending on the environment it was going to operate in, and a massive overhaul of all its systems, weaponry and avionics. When a Strike Gundam was suddenly given the Memento Mori treatment by an unknown force in orbit and a certain white Exia entered stage left, he was surprised, but knew he wouldn't have to walk away empty-handed and call it a day in the red, so while everyone else in the show was cussing out both tangos, he instead thanked them, wholeheartedly, for giving his humble flyer a chance to shine. I know what this is… the orbital bombardier and the fast chaser. This is just like our evasive training at the JANET Force Nest! I knew there would be challenges! I gotta ace this! He turned on every system again, and quickly took off, leaving the festival behind and reaching a stable pace. Not yet. Soon, he could see a new flash in the sky, showing up above him in the Zeta panoramic cockpit. Unsure, but assuming it was meant for him, he floored it, and a pair of seconds later, surprisingly, a powerful beam that came from above missed him. “Hahaha! Get real!” Knowing that having missed him could’ve pissed off the orbital sniper, he prepared to evade again. Reaching a stable speed, he knew what he’d try next, so a second before the acceleration burn, he used his verniers to perform a surprise 180º roll, and accelerated away in the opposite direction. He soundly succeeded, as this time, the beam missed him for twice the margin. The sniper had attempted to fire at what he thought would be his future location, to make him fly into the beam, but had been outsmarted twice. Soon, he felt Creuset’s mask rubbing off on him, and laughed louder. “AHAHAHA! This is SO contagious!” For the next trick, he just made the switch to MS mode and waited in the air. Soon enough, four quick blasts appeared to his left, right, back and front at once, and before the fifth appeared, the Murasame was on the fly again, evading death once more. “Oh, god, he’s so pissed, I know it!” The fun did not last long, however, with the white Exia coming to rain on his parade. Having annihilated the other contestants of the Mobile Suit pageant, it was coming for him. “They’re already dead, I won... Why does it still want to gut me?” At least i ain’t gotta worry about that damned orbital sniper for the moment. He can’t reliably take a shot at me without hitting the other guy. Seeing the Exia fly towards his Murasame, he stepped on the pedal and went sky high. One could imagine his surprise when, after having reached his operational ceiling, he switched to MS mode again, only to see the white Exia already on his face. “How did he?!” Panicking, he fired his head-mounted CIWS at the assailant. From the Exia’s back approached a new Gunpla, in support of the red Murasame: it was Daniel’s. - “Hold on tight, Aiden! We’re gonna take this guy out! No Gundams...” Daniel spoke, from the cockpit of a silver Kampfer, sporting a GINN’s wings and backpack. He couldn’t enter it in the contest, but since the attack began, the barriers were lifted for anybody to bring their own Mobile Suit, in defense of Orb. - “... no problems! Hiyaaaahh!” Aiden, regaining his confidence, drew two Type 70J Beam Sabers from their holsters and attacked the Exia from the front, while Daniel aimed two Giant Bazookas and two Sturm Fausts at the Gundam’s back, then fired.
  7. Wufei felt scorned by fate. He had come all the way from the battle in Colony A0206, surviving his very own wife, the woman who gave Nataku its name, only to be bested by some soft-spoken, wealthy aristocrat in a Mobile Suit made of blue toothpicks. In his very first official sortie, no less. - “Kill me.” Feeling worthless, incapable of fulfilling his duty as a Gundam Pilot, he asked Treize to take the final step. However, he just lowered his weapon, deactivating the vibrating blade. - “It was a good fight.” He stated matter of factly, a trace of melancholy in his words. He shifted the Enact to start to look away, making a cheap attack more tempting, however, Wufei just demanded death once more. - "Kill me now, or I'll come back until I get you!" His Gundam got up, and took the lodged blade out of its shoulder, but it made no move against the Enact. - “That would be interesting...” mused Treize. “Maybe then, we could resume our discussion.” He moved his Enact away - "Shit!" Furious, Wufei clicked on some buttons and Shenlong moved its arm. It looked as if it was about to attack the Enact, however, all the Gundam did was launch the inactive sonic blade towards the floor and leave it buried there, transmitting rather graphically its pilot's frustration. It then walked away, leaving Quatre to fend off the Aries alone, and Beta Team in a clash with the Leo Team. Victorious, Treize walked his Enact back to the hangar, while Lady Une, who had taken command at the control tower, talked to him. - “Sir. We’re assigning Hellions to the pursuit of that Gundam-type.” - “Call it off.” - “Why?” Une was surprised to hear him say that, as he powered down the systems of the Enact and opened the hatch. - “Today we fought in Mobile Suits. Next time, we'll fight a proper duel. The thought that he could, perhaps, be deadlier in person makes it all worth the wait.” Treize Khushrenada stated, hanging out from the Enact's hatch, as wind blew on his face and made his cape float behind him. Meanwhile, Quatre was left behind by the Aries, even though he had managed to cut down one of them with his Shotel. As a bonus, however, the Shotel fell to the floor along with the Mobile Suit it had downed, which let Quatre retrieve it yet again. Things had not gone like he had wanted to, though. Wufei was nowhere to be seen, neither was Colonel Khushrenada. The Aries had left him alone, like there was anybody there to take care of him, but the Leo garrison was occupied with what seemed to be another Gundam and two weird GMs. Could they be here to help us? The base is going nowhere… i guess it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Turning off the shotels to let them cool down and lay off the reactor for a while, Quatre made Sandrock run towards the fray, the beam submachine gun and Gundanium shield at the ready, in case anybody fired at him. --- One of the two commander Leos, equipped with a beam saber, then attacked Isla's Variable Gundam. Knowing Phase-Shift would not save her from a beam, she instead tried to defend herself with the beam shield, then fired her Jesta beam rifle from the hip, in a very awkward manner. Aida, in exchange, had not Phase-Shift, nor any form of beam defense, so he had not a moment to spare: quickly, after missing the third Dobergunner, he fired up his thrusters to ascend and was picked up by Fatum-00. Soon, the integrated AI made over control of the sub-flight system to him, so he sped away and turned around for a second go at the two remaining 'Gunners, this time, making Fatum give them its all: in addition to the twin MA-4B "Fortis" beam cannons, he also fired two M9M9 "Cervus" turret machine guns and four GAU5 "Volucris" machine guns at the Leos, sweeping down in a flashy manner. "With all of these weapons firing, I HAVE to hit something!"
  8. "Tch!" Having actually been proved at a disadvantage, given the importance of maneuverability for a close-quarters combat machine, Wufei took a split-second decision to let the sonic blade try its luck against the Gundanium Alloy shoulder plate, and as it became lodged inside, Nataku let the Beam Glaive go, deploying its Dragon Fang and attacking Treize, but merely as a claw, so as to not make a dishonorable move. “I fight for a just world, devoid of tyrants!” Sandrock quickly saw to getting back its Heat Shotel from the flaming wreckage of the first Enact, and stored it in its backpack. By the time Quatre could look around for its escape pod, the Aries had arrived, so he had to focus on them, oblivious to the presence of Beta Team in one of the extremes of the base, and the fact the Aries were attempting to attack them. Pulling off a move from Amuro Ray's playbook, Quatre made Sandrock jump, then fired up its thrusters to ascend. Then, just before reaching the height limit of his rudimentary thrusters, he used his verniers to spin a pair of times, before letting go of his left hand's Heat Shotel, sending it towards the squadron of Aries. Immediately after, he stopped his spin by using the opposite verniers, and fired his beam submachine gun at them, while his Gundam started falling down to the ground again. "I can't fly, but from this height, I might actually hit one of them..." Meanwhile, and seeing a chance to move around the testing grounds without getting Sandrock's attention, a little jeep came out of the Enact hangar, driven by an AEU soldier and carrying three passengers towards the ejected cockpit pod, which appeared to be damaged by the crash landing. Once they arrived at its side, they quickly took out some tools and a stretcher. - "I told you this was a bad idea!" Patrick's chief mechanic, a petite ginger boy, prepared a cutter to get Colasour out of the pod. "We're gonna get blown to fu-" A distant explosion made short work of Nick's favorite expletive and made the group shudder. - "So you'd rather leave the poster boy here to die?! Stop being such a whiny b-" A short tempered woman with a medical green armband screamed back at the mechanic, before another fake building, hit with a stray explosive shell, underwent unplanned disassembly. "- and get this bloody door open!" - "Shut up!" The mechanic finally got his cutter working, and started making a hole in the pod, big enough for one of the paramedics to get in. "Nicky's a man's name, and I'm a man!" --- Aida and Isla, meanwhile, were under bombardment by four Leos with shell-firing Dober Guns. In order to not get hit, Aida hit the pedal to make his Fatum-01 accelerate, but things weren't going so smooth for Isla, who brought up her beam shield, and charged the enemy with propelled leaps, knowing whatever was not caught by the beam shield, would be stopped by her Phase-Shift armor. As she got closer and closer, she started firing her beam rifle at the first Dobergunner, while Aida turned his Fatum around to speed towards them, firing the twin beam cannons that pointed forward and the DODS Rifle at the Dober Gun Leo next to it. "Good job, don't let up! We must take out these four first!" Upon reaching a certain distance, Airbatel sheathed the DODS Rifle, dismounted from the sub-flight system, and took out two swords with a two-tone hilt, to attack the third Dobergun Leo from above, as Fatum gained altitude. "Kyle, Carter! I think you two know better than me where you'll be most useful. You're cleared to move wherever you think is best!"
  9. Captain Remy Arbuckle was a man of following routines, with the same reverence people went to church on Sundays with. So when he first heard the air raid alarms, he was in Hangar A07, climbing the steps to the cockpit of his sky blue and sand brown Asshimar for some routine inspections. Just like every morning. Never one to reflect too long on the circumstances of each sortie, he climbed inside his machine and made a cold, quick boot of the systems, which really went to show the trust he placed in it. All he needed to do was to put on his orange normal suit, and in record time, both were ready to take off. But... what was the point? He still needed to wait for the rest of his team, or else he couldn't call himself the leader of a squadron. With a sigh, knowing he could just take off there and then, he taxied outside of the hangar, aligned himself with one of the taxiways, and waited there, while he questioned the tower. - "This is Blue Sky Leader. Fine day for some big game huntin', don't you think Stella?" - "Hello, Captain. You're gonna climb high today. Our boys in space are reporting an orbital ZAFT drop. It ain't no coincidence…" - "I know… they're here for that ship, no doubt about it." Remy spoke of the Archangel, a state-of-the-art ship that had landed in Al-Ajiza Base a day prior, carrying two of the Titans' highest ranking officers and three prototype Mobile Suits. Somebody was bound to try something before the ship left for Jaburo, but Remy assumed the base would simply be infiltrated by spies, rather than assaulted outright by a task force. "Daring today, aren't we Chairman Zala?" - "Captain?" One of his wingmen talked, while his Asshimar exited Hangar A08. - "Oh, don't mind me. I'm just talking to myself." - "I mean… this is all of us, Captain." - "Right then… attention, Blue Sky! Take off and form up on me!" Using the taxiways to take off, twelve Asshimars soon gathered in a V-shaped formation and ascended towards the tri-dimensional coordinates provided to them by their controller. Surely enough, upon arriving, they encountered three silhouettes, descending from the heavens. Remy, as always, was impressed. Our forecaster's from another world. You just be wherever she tells you, whenever she tells you, and you'll be where it's at. It almost made up for the fact that they never knew what was the plan or why they were going somewhere until they were there. But it was like that ever since the olden days of the great Federation, when his company took back New Yark with some GMs and a timely goddess. Hardly something one could blame the Titans for... - "Blue Sky here. Element within gun range." - "You're cleared hot, Captain. Watch out for these ones. We don't want nobody getting a two-rank promotion." - "Roger that. Element, let's go. We're gonna be right on time for their landing." As most of enemy trio touched down and tried to close in on the base, after a barrage of missiles courtesy of the Archangel, the squadron fired their large beam rifles upon the three Gundam-types. Soon, the one that hadn't landed seemed to respond in kind with a rifle that equalled or surpassed theirs on length, but not in barrel bore. The formation broke to avoid the attack, which made it all the way to the base, and into the Archangel, where a white and red Marasai was taking off from the right catapult. With no room to evade, and the catapult actively taking the mecha towards the beam, an explosion was soon heard and seen in the Archangel’s right “leg”. While the explosion did not reach the hangar, with the access to the catapult being closed off automatically, the catapult itself and the right Lohengrin cannon were ruined, even though the flames were quickly extinguished by foam dispensers. As for the Marasai, only its feet remained, and were launched by the catapult, which did its job one last time before becoming stuck at the edge. Not that it did a pair of feet any good… As this happened, Mu La Flaga took the Gundam MkII to the entrance of a hangar, from which a Base Jabber was dispensed for its convenience. Stepping on it, and joined by a blue Federation Hi-Zack, he took off, barely avoiding a cargo plane that was trying to flee the area. “Mu La Flaga, launching!” I can't let Kira... As for the head of the Blue Sky Squadron, Remy and his second-in-command had nimbly avoided the Beam Smart Cannon’s shot by flying upwards. Just as they were about to return to the battle, however, their cameras picked up a very small object in free fall. They narrowly avoided it, and seconds later, the feed showed them a holographic reconstruction of it: the object seemed to be a child. Surprised, both Asshimars circled around and focused on it again. From up close, there was even less of a doubt. “I can’t believe ZAFT… just what kind of monster simply drops a little girl from the stratosphere? What’s even the point of that?! Dennis, cover me! I’m picking her up!” After an affirmative response by 1st Lieutenant Schrute, his machine transformed in the air, and matched the terrified kid’s speed, so as to pick her up as gently as possible and avoid hurting her. It was not easy. At times, it looked like she attempted to maneuver away from the Asshimar, as if she did not want his help. But he attributed it mostly to the shock of free-falling without a parachute, in the middle of a desert, and the midst of a Mobile Suit battle. Finally, he managed to place her in the Asshimar’s open right hand, and move it close to the left arm, which he used as a shield to protect the kid from harm, and to keep her from being blown away again. Then, he attempted to return to the base. “This is Blue Sky Leader! I’m taking a civilian to safety! Keep the attack up!”
  10. Shenlong, being attacked relentlessly by the Colonel, had to increase the distance. Wufei reflected on his armaments and the Enact's: He couldn't incinerate the unit with his Dragon Fang, given the enemy's honorable action of discarding their rifle, nor could he use the Vulcan guns. No more option but to use his beam trident, while the nimble turquoise unit was stuck with a knife that didn't even glow orange. He had the longer weapon, he had beams and a reason to fight. "You're a good soldier… But!" It's all about taking control of this situation, Wufei thought, and flied a short distance backwards, where he used his Beam Trident to keep the enemy out of reach, but also thrusting it forward to attack the Colonel. "We accepted a mission!" Quatre was less enthusiastic about discarding perfectly good weaponry just for the fabled "honor", a thing lost in contemporary times, but which Wufei and lots of OZ officials tried to force back into existence while war ignored them and did its thing. Dodging some of Patrick's shots and taking others with his shield, he was trying to analyze the fact that the Enact's spinning shield had blocked his heat weapon, when it should've cut through it. Is it some new material? Is it vibrating? Or maybe I didn't calculate the Shotel temperature adequately… With a few tweaks, Quatre got the huge sickles to glow brighter, and threw one at the Enact's head. Immediately, he followed up by using its newly freed hand to take out a beam submachine gun, firing it at Patrick without much care for the fake buildings below and behind. "It doesn't look too sturdy! This should do the trick!" --- The team automatically received an update from the Variable Gundam's sensors, which had proved to be a formidable asset so far: - "New contacts. Six instances of OZ-07AMS, bearing 020." - "Huh? Aries?" Incredulous that the upgrades him and Daniel had made to the old build were so dramatic, Aida checked the directions, and indeed found six silhouettes that resembled the OZ flier coming towards them, pointing their rifles at the group. Their IFF squares flashed between yellow and red every second. "She's right, we've got company, coming at us fast and angry." Fitting, I guess. We've got two Gundams, and we've done nothing to convince them we're not with Wufei and Quatre… - "Aida-san..." Isla added some pressure, and hurried Aida. - "I know, I know… Just let me think for a moment." Aida was still growing accustomed to his commanding role, but soon had an idea when Carter's artillery reminded him of World War II anti-air guns. "Fine… Carter, give them some flak and see if you can't down some. Kyle, leave the Enacts to Wufei and Quatre. Try to pick some Aries off right before the blast makes them scramble. Isla, follow me. We'll try to keep them within our firing range and away from this hill. - "We have to be fast. Ground Mobile Suits are probably coming." - "Hey, I'll try, but I'm no speedrunner." Aida touched a few buttons, and the Airbatel's new backpack suddenly flied up and away. Moments later, it was approaching from the back, and the silver and green Gunpla jumped on top when it was about to crash into its legs. "Fatum! Onwards, me trusty steed! Into the battlezone we go!" Now using the Fatum-01 of the Justice Gundam in a fashion similar to a Base Jabber or Guul, Airbatel gripped its shield, which was that of the GP01, and a DODS Rifle they had found laying around the Lost & Found. However, Aida did not fire yet. He didn't have many chances to hit them at this distance, and he didn't want the Aries to disperse before Carter and Kyle could blow up a few. Behind trailed Isla, who without a Mobile Armor mode or support flier, could just jump and hover over the ground, but Aida tried to go slow enough not to arrive alone at the furball.
  11. This post was made together by the Challengers of Diamond. Don't talk shit about grunts. Don't talk shit about the beta. - Days later, Aida logged in for the second time that day. He had finally checked out the beta tester forums, as set up by the administration, however he didn’t dare make any posts yet. Instead, he was logging in because of a post telling him of a function that had been there since the start of the closed beta, but which he apparently missed. So they went and did it? The madmen... Dressed in a brown coat and a dark blue turtleneck, his civilian preset, he made a beeline for the hangar where the new iteration of the Airbatel was materializing, and entered the cockpit before those pesky Elemechu could invade it and keep him from entering. In effect, it was like he left it. A standard panoramic cockpit with dark blue/yellow upholstery and a normal UI, as expected from the new torso, taken from a Titans Pale Rider DII. But it wouldn’t stay like that for long. Soon, he fell over his seat and explored the menus until he found what people were talking about… cockpit customization. Opening the menu, a hidden shop appeared before him, where he could spend some of his currency buying different Mobile Suit cockpits, color presets, UIs, or even props to clutter the place. Like a kid in a candy shop, he tweaked stuff to his liking for 30 minutes straight before feeling satisfied with his creation. He was now trying out a Re-GZ cockpit with brown upholstery, and perhaps most importantly, a small cassette player taped to the back of the moving screen, a prop from Gundam Thunderbolt’s Io Fleming. There we go… this newer cockpit shouldn’t be too different from the other one, and the radio can play music for some added kicks. I’m liking this already… He then switched on the screen, and the entire environment around him appeared on it. The new UI showed information on the mobile suit currently using the Hub’s Catapult 03, a white Marasai with weird addons, apparently called a “Marasai Transformable Type”. Again, it was piloted by the same administrator who kept bringing a different Marasai each day. This person appears to have lost their sanity and found the Marasai instead. After the obscure contraption cleared the catapult, it was his turn to use it. However, while he attempted to place his Gunpla’s feet in the launcher, the machine instead stepped inside of a portal on the floor, taking him by surprise. The Airbatel Atmospherical Test Type lost its balance, and fell through the brilliant hole, spinning out of control. Aida swiftly remedied the situation by ordering all the thrusters and verniers to make the machine land on its feet, but by the time he landed, it was too late to say no. He was already in the African savannah again, and had blown away a confused flock of autochthonous birds, which now ascended and were trying to regroup. “What the hell… did i press something by mistake?” This campaign is almost like a bad hangover. Jeez, they gotta patch this. Soon, he looked around him, and found the transparent silhouettes of a Zeong head and the Comet Dagger, along with Beta Four’s Mobile Suit. The Murasame Sleeper Specification, an artifact of his time with JANET, soon accomplished its purpose of reminding Aida to change the NPD’s Gunpla with something he had logged on with some hours before, and so he opened Isla’s character menu. Right there, she used the radio to communicate with him. - “We’re moving out soon, right?” Isla gave the conversation a cold start, focused entirely on the mission, even though there was none yet. Were she a person, she’d be the kind that would find living without war very hard. - “Right… but first, a little something for you, from the shop. You’re showing promise, and we didn’t want to leave an ace out there without a custom of her own.” Aida found the Gunpla he had used that noon on the testing fields, and applied it to Isla, who soon saw the Murasame turn into luminous dust, which then took the form of another Mobile Suit. - “I suppose thanks are in order...” Right then, Kyle arrived in the full Trinames, with all the bells and whistles. He brought a brown jacket with a scarf, and put on Quattro's famous sunglasses as he teleported onto the ground with the others. The diver realized that he wasn't the only one to change their Gunpla. The Airbatel almost looked like an entirely new mobile suit to him. The other machine confused him at first. He assumed that it was Carter's, but then the Comet Dagger, relatively unchanged, showed up. Back in his cockpit, Carter stretched a little. His mobile suit only went through some minor changes since the last skirmish, but he already got his upgrade anyway. He opened the cockpit and hopped down with a smile. His civilian attire consisted of a custom Tekkadan jacket, styled like Mikazuki’s, but with an original logo, a diamond with a burning aura. - "Wow!" He exclaimed while walking toward the others. "Looks like I'm not the only one who upgraded!" He waltzed past the two, getting a better look at the machines. "Gotta be honest though. I won't let them outdo my Trinames!" Kyle said jokingly… or was he? - “That'll make 'em think twice!” Carter studied the machines as he stretched his legs in game. The bright colours of the Trinames were eye catching, counter intuitive for a sniper, but too cool to turn down. The Airbatel and the unknown Gundam had more down to earth designs and colours, however the feature that stole the show was the sombrero of sorts on the new Gundam's head. “That... is awesome.” - "Ah, well, thank you both! Me and my pal Daniel at the shop had to rush this new Airbatel, matter of fact it ain't as complete as I would wish it to be… but we had to leave some time to dust off and restore this guy to its former glory. I call it the EWAC Variable Gundam." Aida presented Isla's new machine to his mates, before returning the favor and congratulating Kyle with a joke. "Your machines are awesome, too. Kyle and his huge, shiny cloak can get spotted and shot to pieces by the enemy, while us three can sneak by and get things done behind their backs." - "You've got the bark nailed down. But if you're finished, the radome is picking up multiple signatures, northwest of here." Isla interjected, having already found something interesting thanks to the advanced systems in her Gunpla. "They could be Mobile Suits." - "I agree. Let us investigate, and find out how sharp these new fangs of ours are." Aida quickly jumped on top of Airbatel's hand, and commanded it to take him to the cockpit, before using Io's music player in auxiliary mode, to play the Zeta Gundam track titled "A.E.U.G" through the loudspeakers. The winds of the savannah made his coat fly behind him, as he struck a dramatic pose and ordered his team. "All hands! Level one battle stations!" - "Alright!" Kyle was pumped up, and followed suit by entering his cockpit. He started up his Mobile Suit's systems, and woke his assistant up. "Time to hit the road, Charo!" The red ball with the silver helmet happily bounced into place, and greeted Kyle. "Charo genki! Charo genki!" - "Unbelievable… oh, well, what're you gonna do?" Carter was annoyed nobody had congratulated him on the logo he wholeheartedly made for the team, but he didn't let it get to him just yet. He'd have plenty of time to show it off after the mission. Two pairs of eyes, a visor and a monoeye lit up, and the team took off as one, flying in a formation towards their fate… --- Elsewhere in the dry lands, a turquoise Mobile Suit nimbly dodged CIWS fire. Landing on a mock city, it used a spinning shield to brush off the bullets, then blew up some of the automated turrets and some balloons with incredible precision, using a linear rifle. A crowd sat far enough from the machine to be safe, composed of officials from the various power blocs of Earth. Most of them were impressed, but some less so than the rest. - “Mobile Suit Enact… the next generation of AEU’s domestic defense fliers. As usual, their cost-cutting left their state-of-the-art prototype without a single beam weapon...” Union technical advisor Billy Katagiri observed the machine’s acrobatics, while his friend Graham appeared behind him with two bottles. - “It’ll still end up on everyone’s hands, just like the Hellion. Sheikhs, corporations, and even terrorists. Some idea of ‘domestic’ they have...” Graham Aker stood by Katagiri, handing him a bottle of water and going for his seat. - “Oy, is it all right for you, the ace of MSWAD, to be seen here?” - “Course not...” Graham sat next to Billy and took a sip of his own bottle. - “But talk about the AEU being stouthearted...” Billy continued, as the Enact spun in the air for the entertainment of the viewers. “This is most likely a product of OZ being unable to take a ‘no’ for an answer. They offered to buy our Flags, and when we said no, they just told the AEU to make a blind imitation of them.” - “I’m guessing they were happy to provide. The exterior design is the only original part of it.” The turquoise Enact demonstrator landed near the tribune, but just as the pilot was about to get out of the machine and dare the two Union guests to repeat themselves, one of the hangars nearby opened, and an identical unit powered up its Minovsky reactor. Test pilot Patrick Colasour was confused at the sight of the spare demonstration unit walking up to his. - “Somebody’s piloting the spare? What the hell...” Flicking a pair of switches, he communicated with the chief mechanic, a close friend of Patrick’s. “Oi, Nick! What’s going on here?” - “I’m sorry, Pat! I was gonna phone you, but the boss man told me to only let you know after you were done with the performance… some bigwig in a fancy uniform just waltzed in here and grabbed the bloody thing. He wants to...” The mechanic was promptly interrupted by Enact 02’s pilot. - “That was a stellar performance, young boy. Your unit seems most impressive...” A gentlemanly voice came from the machine’s loudspeakers and addressed Patrick. - “I am Patrick Colasour… the ace of the AEU.” - “Oh, right. Where are my manners? My name is Treize Khushrenada, Colonel for the Organization of the Zodiac. As i was saying, this unit looks impressive… but let’s say i want a more hands-on demonstration.” - “Are you saying…?” Petrified, Patrick asked Treize for confirmation. “You should know, i’ve never lost a single mock battle.” - “Would you still please me with a duel, knowing there’s always a first time?” Treize picked his words carefully, challenging Patrick’s undisputed status. “Don’t worry. You need not hold back, no matter what your commander says. That way, you’ll just lose trying.” - “Heh. You’re gonna eat those words, Mr. Bigwig. I’m Mister Special… i’ve done two thousand of these mock battles!" Both units reached slowly for their inactive sonic blades as their pilots exchanged words. However, before they could have an exciting duel, two cloaked silhouettes suddenly performed a violent, ground-shattering landing not too far down the fake avenue. The cloaks then flew off as two white Mobile Suits stood up, lighting up their sensors. Graham and Katagiri, unsurprisingly, were as shocked as the rest of the crowd to see those machines start walking towards the two Enacts, brandishing two sickles and a long pole. - "Those flashy colors… pointy antennae… their faces! Don't tell me… the AEU has built Gundams?!" Billy observed the two Gundam-types through a pair of binoculars he had taken from another guest. - "I don't think they're even theirs…" Graham, however, looked at a panicked AEU official, yelling orders at his phone. - “What do you mean you couldn't detect a stupid cargo plane?! Get me Lord Treize and Patrick on the line! And issue a civilian evacuation order now!” His furious shouting caught the attention of Graham and Billy, who unlike the rest, disregarded an AEU soldier’s advice to evacuate and stayed to see how it all played out. Soon, the officer's voice was rerouted to the Enacts. “Patrick! Escort Lord Treize away from the assailants! The Specials are coming to help!” - “This escalated quickly...” Patrick switched to the linear rifle, and spoke to Treize. "I suppose our duel will have to wait, Colonel..." Khushrenada's response, however, surprised Colasour. - "We'll do no such thing, my friend. I have not forgotten the meaning of war. Come. We'll approach them. If they wish to intimidate, we'll scare them instead. If they wish to shoot, we'll fire back." Treize's Enact brought its linear rifle up too, and started walking towards the Gundams, as their pilots prepared for an imminent clash. - "It's started… Gundam Sandrock, ready! Let's do our best!" Quatre Raberba Winner activated his Gundam's Heat Shotels, and had it adopt a fighting posture. - "Nataku… Shenlong Gundam, ready!" Chang Wufei, meanwhile, pointed Shenlong's long pole at Treize's Enact, and fired it up, revealing its true purpose: a beam trident. As this happened, the second group of unknowns observed from the heights of a hill. It was no less than the Challengers of Diamond, making use of Variable Gundam's flying cameras and the feed sharing function to watch the whole thing from afar. However, the team had no intention to stay quiet. After all, being there was only half the fun. - "They're all showing up as neutrals, so I guess we have three choices here. The way I see it, we can go up against the Enacts for an easy ride, or face the Gundams and have it rough, but for what will probably be twice the payout and experience." Aida was no tactical forecaster, but he could see how things were likely to go. - "And the third option?" Isla inquired. - "We shoot everything we see for a challenge, and score a six-figure payout." - "I don't understand. Even if you manage to kill everyone and live to tell the tale, who will be left to pay you?" Being an NPD, Isla looked at it from an in-universe standpoint. Aida didn't want to waste time explaining that the system would pay them just for clearing the stage and its associated achievements, so he merely brushed it off. - "Who knows? Challengers, I'll leave the voting to our guns. Point at your favorite candidate, and if roughly everyone's pointing in the same direction, we can let democracy do its thing!
  12. Aida waved his team off, but after they left, he noticed Beta Four, now sitting on the hand of her Gundam, contemplating the savannah. As usual, she had let everyone go in silence, without any sort of commentary. Once both his companions were out of the stage, however, he had nobody else to turn to, but her. Using his remote, he ordered Airbatel to pick him up with its left hand, then take him next to the GP03. While he waited for it to get there, he created a chatroom with Kyle and Carter inside, and sent them a message with his assessment of the situation. <8TMS> Aida > Impromptu Group #3976043 We’ve got a savannah with little to no probability of return to space. Make sure your MS can handle gravity and dust before coming back. Lots of extra fuel to walk aimlessly. And DEFINITELY bring a civ attire preset. In case we find a village. After sending them the message so they’d prepare for the next fight, he lowered his interface and looked at his artificial teammate, still wearing her normal suit. An aura of mystery surrounded her, but he was determined to know what lied underneath. - “I never did ask you.” Slowly, his feet changed hands. He did not dare to come next to the NPD, as he felt it was too soon, but he’d be forced to yell if he were to talk from the other hand. - “Hm?” - “What is your name? I mean, we’re all in the same team, but i don’t think you’ve told anyone yet.” - “Would it make you happy?” As was standard practice for her, Beta Four fired an armor-piercing question, but didn’t seem any less apathetic about it. Not being able to see her face definitely helped. - “Well, uh...” Aida struggled to find a reason not to make it about his uncertainties, but soon he found a good enough excuse. “... i noticed the guys aren’t quite as formal as my usual band of performers. So i’d like to get accustomed to the idea of calling everyone by their names, so we can build trust. This can be a long tour of duty. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable.” - “If that’s what you’d like to call it… here are my papers.” Surprisingly, a window sprung up in Aida’s interface, with the NPD’s name, speciality, and an icon that represented her current appearance, plus some numbers and status icons. - Isla (#0005) ReConfigurableNonPlayerDiver HP: 101/101 Unharmed MP: 275/400 Focused Customize < Stats - - “Nice to meet you, Isla...” Aida was obviously baffled. A customizable NPD? This is very new. I haven’t heard beta testers talk about anything like this in the private forums. Curious about the possibilities that had been implemented already, he opened the customization menu and found not only a myriad of options for Isla’s appearance, but also a very important function: changing her active Mobile Suit. Opening the menu, he discovered a timeline, which only had two entries: The green Galbaldy Beta, and the Titans GP03. Apparently, she could switch between any MS she had used up until this moment… but there was an option to add new Gunpla to her roster. Excited, he knew he had to try it all out, so he played with the options. He made her Mobile Suit into a Murasame provisionally, then went for her appearance. What do you even look like? Finding just two presets, A and B, he figured the one without the spacesuit was her canonical appearance. He applied it, and a masked, blonde woman wearing green showed up. Still can’t see her face. Well, don’t want to make her upset, if i haven’t already. Satisfied, he logged off, and upon returning to his shop in the real world, he took off the headset and cleared the sweat off his forehead. His cabinet being intended for the shop’s clients, it wasn’t as comfortable as one of those models people used from home, but being that he already lived literally next to the shop and spent most of his days there, it was somewhat pointless to buy one of those rigs with mood lighting integration, a motorized rumble seat or a Mobile Trace System, when the store cabinets already had the basics covered: decent seating, force feedback, working systems. He thought that was enough for him, and had no plans whatsoever of- WHAT THE HELL? Just look at the time! Wake up, get up, get out there!
  13. (Post-Operation II) Having regrouped near the Archangel, Beta Team tried to reach for the hatch of Archangel’s right catapult. Oddly, not a transmission had come from the ship ever since the announcement of victory: Aida himself was guiding the team to the ship with his Super Airbatel’s Mobile Armor mode, going at a pace the Buster Dagger and GP03 could keep up with. As for the Zeong’s head, it was still being carried by Beta Four. As nimble as it was, it was not fast enough, nor did it have a reactor anymore, so it would have to save its energies as much as it could. - “Alright, people. We’re here...” Aida switched to MS mode as soon as he reached the closed hatch, and put the GM’s hand on it to establish contact with the bridge. “Archangel, this is Beta! Open up! We’re here!” - “Lieutenant. I wouldn’t have thought you as the naive type...” As a video window opened up in his cockpit, Aida saw Cima Garahau in a room of the Archangel, along with Bask Om and Jamaican Daninghan, rather than the bridge. It was possible those in the bridge could not hear what was going on. - “Garahau! You… how did you get here so quick?” Aida was surprised to see Cima in the ship, but she refused to disclose any information. - “Does it matter? Now, you’re in the perfect position. The whole lot of you will burn up in the atmosphere, Mobile Suits and all. I would’ve preferred to interrogate you, as traitors deserve, but merely getting rid of you will do the job.” Mocking Beta Team, Cima put on her Titans peaked cap, and grinned as she dedicated the four of them a military salute. - “Hahaha! And while you’re at it, you’re taking that GP03 with you to Hell!” Bask laughed, while Jamaican served himself some gin. - “Truly, two birds with one stone. They're saving us a logistics problem on their own.” Daninghan only had but a slight smile for the team, before sipping from his glass and exiting the room. - “You snakes!” Aida, furious at the three of them, tried to aim his weapon at the ship, before realizing his weapons were locked, as usual for cutscenes, and interactive story sequences. “I’ll get the Titans back for this, i swear...” After this, the communication was cut and Aida took back the Airbatel’s hand. “This ain’t good… We need to find a way to descend safely, fast!” -“Bastards! Bastards!” Charo chirped as he bounced around the entire cockpit of the Zeong. -“Watch your language.” Exclaimed Kyle as he looked through various settings on his control screen. “You’re right though. I’m sick of these Titans and their nastiness!” If there was anyone in the group who could get them through this predicament, it definitely wasn’t Kyle. The diver stood inside of the Zeon machine’s head, trying to think of a plan. It seemed that there was truly no way in. Kyle was getting more and more concerned by the second, even though he knew that he wouldn’t actually burn up physically. Worse case scenario, they’d be locked out of the game, a far worse fate in Kyle’s eyes. “I don’t think any of us have atmospheric reentry capabilities either, except maybe Aida’s mobile armor.” He uttered. Turning on the teams comms, he hoped the others had an idea. “Can anyone here reach the actual bridge?” --- Thus, the Divers began to truly cooperate for the occasion. - "Tsk.. SERIOUSLY?! We fight tooth and nail to protect them and this is what we get? Dammit..." Carter, normally the aloof member of Beta Team, was clearly unsatisfied with how they were being treated, with good reason. This must be what Garma felt when Char betrayed him, he thought to himself, looking around and scoffing before speaking again. "Should I blow open the catapult?" Carter’s irritation was slowly getting the best of him, however, he was not the only one. - "Believe me Carter, if only our weapons were unlocked, I'd burst in there myself and take over the ship with this 9 mil of mine..." Aida begun, clearly angered, yet in a state of tranquil fury, "but it's no option." - "We now have four minutes before we ignite. Beta One, what are your re-entry measures?" Four coldly stated the facts, and inquired about Aida's machine, unwittingly (or perhaps not?) following up with Kyle's thoughts. - "I don't have that stuff! This is a GM, after all! Doesn't anybody see some thick debris we can get behind or something?" -“Beta Four! Try to get us in front of the bridge. We’ll try to alert the crew while the others look for debris!” Kyle pleaded. The angle of the head didn’t give him much visibility, so he couldn’t find any, but Aida and Carter were bound to find some around in the area if they went looking. - "Tch.. this is a rotten situation. Wait a moment. You fought in a debris zone, right Kyle? This is gonna be dangerous but..." Carter suddenly fired up his main burner. "If I use the Saturn engine, i might be able to pull myself out to grab some debris!" He was fully aware of the rangers, they were already burning up, and a Saturn engine on top of that only complicated matters. But maybe, just maybe, it could work out. - "To be seen by the crew, we would have to hack control of the comms away from the Titans. Even if the crew heard us out, i don't think they have any authority to let us in..." Aida, still pessimistic about trying to talk things over with NPDs which could very well be scripted to disregard them, put all his bets into Carter's attempt to bring something able to withstand re-entry. “That sounds like a plan, Carter. Can i be of help?” Aida turned the Airbatel into a Mobile Armor again, and followed him towards part of a colony cap that seemed to have drifted into orbit from the debris field. If they could briefly make their orbit steeper, they could reach for it. - "I can attempt to hack the comms.” Beta Four surprisingly revealed. Dedicated hackers were a rare commodity on the game, due to the sheer complexity of some of the puzzles. “It's worth a try. Carter, Aida, you have three minutes..." Still speaking in her signature monotone voice, the NPD put the GP03's hand over the bridge, which couldn't see any of them directly because of the covers put over the bridge windows to survive re-entry. "Authority fabrication sequence... begin." - “Hmm.” Shaking around in the Zeong’s head, Kyle hoped that the other two members could find a big enough piece to withstand the return to Earth. He felt worthless, for he had no way to help the others. However, someone else could. “Hey, Charo.” He reached for his red robotic companion. “You’re a smart little machine. Can you help Beta Four hack into the comms?” -“Roger! Roger!” The ball responded while essentially going limp. A bizzare noise, which almost sounded like a fan running, began to play. Kyle grabbed the toy to keep it from rolling around. Hacking wasn’t it’s speciality, but as a product of the game itself, he could give them a better chance of contacting the bridge. With the crew being unable to physically see them, it’d be worth a shot for the droid while Aida and Carter went for the colony cap. - "Ever watch some football?" Carter asked, diverting power to only what was necessary for his plan. "I'll be the running back…” Conscious that Aida might not be a sports fan, he corrected himself and used cleared terms. “I'm gonna flick the Saturn engine switch and grab onto your mobile armor. Our combined boost outputs should pull us out to reach for that thing." - "Haven’t got the foggiest about football, but that sounds like a plan. We're taking that piece of the cap as close as we can to Four and Kyle, in case Plan A fails..." Firing up his thrusters, Aida caught up to Carter's Comet Dagger, and positioned himself in front of him. "Four, can you take yourself and Kyle to the colony cap when that happens?" - "It will be done. Two minutes remaining." Four couldn't be bothered to lose her calm. Her job was hard enough as is. "Attempt 3, failure. The structures are predictable, but... I lack dedicated hardware." - "Hardware, huh?" The NPD's comment made Aida think about Beta Four's proficiencies. Slowly but surely, more information about her playstyle surfaced. If only he was in charge of her Mobile Suit of choice, he would not be afraid to specialize her, given that he was already a jack of all trades for the team, even if a Gundam was naturally better-performing than a GM. -“Charo!” Kyle, worried, yelled as smoke started to come out of the droid’s “mouth”. He put the unit down, as the toy shut down completely, it’s lights turning off. The diver realized that, for the first time ever, he felt something for an AI. “You’ve gone on plenty of adventures with me, little buddy. I’m not gonna lose you because of this.” With Beta Four also not being able to contact the bridge, their only hope was the colony cap retrieval operation… --- - "Alright!" said Carter, you could almost see him smirking from his MS. "This is gonna be a gamble, so let's see just how lucky we are..." He flipped the switch on his Saturn engine, and diverted all the power to thrusters, life support, and comms. "On three, Aida." Taking a deep breath, Carter’s foot hovered over the pedal. "One… two… THREE!" After the countdown, he put his foot down, and the Comet Dagger burst forward with his thrusters flaring beautifully. Having carried out his own countdown silently, Aida fired up all of his rear-facing thrusters, and both the Comet Dagger and the Super Airbatel sped towards the colony cap piece, eventually reaching it. Weirdly, the cap appeared to be from an O'Neill Cylinder rather than an Hourglass-Class: this meant the piece of debris destined to save them was not from Junius Seven, but rather another colony. - “Ok… now we oughta make sure we don't overshoot that piece, so turn off that engine for now! On the count of three, we'll use the verniers to pull off a 180°, then full throttle on the mains to take it with Kyle and Four! Ready?! One, two, THREE!" On his signal, the Airbatel fired up all of the thrusters mounted in the front of the GM. For the maneuver to be successful, it was paramount that Carter used the thrusters in the back of his MS to counter the maneuver, and so both of them would be able to achieve the desired spin. As for Beta Four, her GP03 finally gave up. It appeared as if the Titans had not only repelled her attempts to hack into the Archangel, but also attempted to counterattack with a hack of their own. Before it could engage the Stamen's self destruct protocol, Four simply took back the hand, and gripped the Zeong head, grabbing it from one of the big red antennas. "It ain't gonna work. Hold on tight and remember to prioritize life support... They only have a minute to come back." -“One more minute?!” Kyle yelled while grabbing the front console with one hand, while holding Charo in the other. It was going to be tight, but he believed in Beta Team. He knew the others would work together to win. “AIDA! CARTER! DO IT!” - "IKU DE~!" Carter cheered as he and Aida shot towards the colony cap, he smirked, knowing his plan was gonna work. "Come on!" He said, cutting off the engine and then firing his verniers at the perfect time! They spun and pulled off a perfect 180 together, before using the main thrusters again to get to the piece and push it towards Earth. "We made it! Now let's push this thing back to our friends!" He said over comms, the excitement was painted all over his voice and his face. He didn't know PVE could be this fun at all! - "Just a little longer..." Aida pushed his thrusters as much as he could: less than a minute was left until the temperature reached levels capable of damaging the Mobile Suits of his friends, and when that happened, it wouldn't be much longer until the heat sinks couldn't hold it any longer. I'd rather not lose any of my teammates the one day we're on the winning side. The payout is probably twice as good! - "Thirty-three seconds... Aida-san, Carter-san, you're not gonna make it at this rate." As she waited for Aida and Carter, Beta Four had eyed the timer, and her predictions were not pretty. - "Hold my war crimes! We'll be there in time, just you watch!" Aida, determined to leave no Diver (or NPD) behind, had one last trick up his sleeve, and was not afraid to use it for the home stretch. "EXAM! CHEESY ONE-LINER! HERE WE GO!" Pressing the right combination of keys on his controllers, all the sensors of the Airbatel turned blood red, marking the deactivation of all the machine's limiters, and the engines flared like never before, giving the colony cap that direly needed push that would allow it to get to Kyle and Four on time. - "Don't die just yet." Four gripped the other antenna of the Zeong, and taking it with both hands, the GP03 waited for the colony cap fragment to reach a certain point, before kicking the Archangel to propel itself towards it at maximum acceleration. The Gundam started to glow orange, then red. But just before bursting into flames, it activated all of its fire extinguishers at once, buying a little more time for Four and Kyle, and leaving behind it a beautiful white trail. After this, it arrived to the safety of the colony cap, where it started to lose glow, and Aida knew he could turn off the EXAM, lest he let the Airbatel blow up there. - "Woooohoooo! Turn off the engines, we did it fellas!" Aida celebrated, as all of his systems, save for the life support and communications shut down. "I think a celebration is in order! And a damage report, of course." - “Oh man! You guys are fast!” As the four of them went behind the colony cap, Kyle took in a huge breath of relief and congratulated the team. “Awesome job!” The diver looked down at the unmoving ball. “As for a damage report, uh, it’s a lot of damage for me. Plus, Charo...” Beeps and boops whistled from the toy as it rebooted. Lights on the machine lit up while Charo jumped out of Kyle’s hand. - “Idiot! Almost died! Idiot! Almost died!” It chirped while hopping on its owner’s head. - “Alright, alright.” Kyle exclaimed as he pulled up his menu. “You did great today, and don’t worry. I’ll be piloting a proper Gunpla for us next time. The diver pressed a button, putting Charo back into his inventory. After that, he felt Beta Four’s Gundam aiming the head to the side, so as to let Kyle contemplate the scenery, which left Kyle speechless. It never ceased to amaze him how much work went into the graphics of this world. - "WOOOOOOO! I’M A GENIUS!" Carter said jokingly, cheering in his cockpit. The Comet Dagger turned off its engines, as the pilot congratulated Aida. "That was awesome, man! Hell of a way to debut that EXAM of yours." He said, before going on to render his damage report. "I'm kinda crispy, but luckily I'm not too battered up." Carter relaxed slightly and then leaned back, looking at the beautiful view. He had always wondered what it looked like.. - “The view… it’s gorgeous. I need to take this one picture.” As Aida’s main camera turned back on, shining very dimly, the view came to his screens as well. Without a second of doubt, he kept three keys pressed, and screenshots were taken, being saved on his personal gallery. Smiling, he thought he’d be sure to send them to his new teammates. For a group of randoms, they're sure good fellows. I wish I could invite them to the force. Even the NPD. --- Minutes passed, admiring the view and chatting with one another as the colony cap fragment slowly burned away, pieces of it coming off at intervals. At times, they worried that the fragment would be completely destroyed, and tried to have the three Mobile Suits (and complementary head) occupy as little space as possible. However, just as their impromptu heat shield had shrunked down a few sizes, the trail of atmospheric heat disappeared, marking the point where they had survived re-entry successfully. Soon, the ground was visible. An extense, lush savannah. The question now was, how should they land? Hmmm. Non-transformable MS without ballutes meet a long, long fall… And we don’t even have a Dodai. Aida quickly put his knowledge of the aerial environment to the test, coming up with one plan. Later, the team put it into action by pushing the cap fragment together with their thrusters, making it go horizontal, in a maneuver that made their descent less of a downspiral and more of an actual curve. When the cap fragment was about to touch down with incredible force, the Beta MS bailed out, using all their available rocket fuel to slow down, while Aida's Mobile Armor took off for the clouds. When it came back into sight at a much lower speed, he saw the Comet Dagger and the GP03, boots on the ground. Touching down next to them, a prompt showed up for everyone, as the sun started to set. < Landing Successful! +2000 Cr.> The leader of Beta Team got out of his MS, for once relatively undamaged, only to remember there were no welcoming figures, no new motherships or politics. Only them, in the middle of a savannah, along with some animals that had been blown away by the force of their thrusters. Alone. On their own. Does that mean I have to do a debriefing? Putting on his usual dress uniform, he stepped down from the cockpit into the hands of Airbatel, which automatically lowered him down to ground level. Beta Four put the Zeong's head down next to Aida, then opened her own cockpit to come with her two teammates, while Carter did his own thing. If this is the end for now, then we truly don't know what comes next. I have to come up with something... a strategy of sorts.
  14. Alarms sprung up as the Archangel reached orbit, and immediately went “vertical”, at least, that was what seemed to be going on for all of the pilots, but in reality the ship was aligning itself with the Earth, then tilting a little upwards from there to prepare for re-entry. The cannons retracted into the hull, and a visor protected the ship’s bridge from the heat that would build up soon. It was now or never for everyone near the ship, and the Archangel's two catapults opened their hatches for anybody who wanted access to the hangar bay. “KIRAAAAAAAA! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” - Kuzzey Buzzkirk's loud shriek, played on all bands and frequencies, brought Mu to his senses, after Rau made his retreat and insulted him by taking his beam saber away. Quickly, he turned around to find the Strike Gundam trailing smoke and fire from its cockpit. “No, no, no! I told him he’d be alright… but i just got so caught up in the battle!” Unit 01 accelerated towards the Strike and quickly gripped it, before flying away with it for a moment. Then, he turned both machines around and sped towards his ship. "Archangel! This is Lieutenant La Flaga! We don't have much time, take fire control and paramedics to the hangar bay NOW! Deploy the net!" Shortly, Mu's Mark II entered the corridor at such a speed, his machine broke through the first MS-sized net. However, said net slowed it down enough for the one after it to bring him to a complete halt. As the Gundam entered the hangar bay and people in spacesuits approached it with pressurized foam guns, the door started closing. Just one transmission from the medical team escaped before it shut, sealing the left catapult for good. "Patient recovered in critical condition! This is bad, we have to take him to the E.R now before-" Nothing else was heard on that end, but Emma had bigger problems than a wounded supersoldier that would probably be back on the fray by noon: she quickly aborted her attack, as soon as she saw the enemy machine ready their gilded blade. She was fearful, fittingly for her first true battle in a long time. It's… it's not fair! How can something be so strong, yet so fast? As she changed course, new orders were delivered to her cockpit, through a video window that opened next to some meters. On it, a group of soldiers could be seen taking Kira's devastated friends away from the bridge. The person speaking to her was Ensign Badgiruel herself, who had to take Buzzkirk’s position and relay her orders directly to the Mobile Suits. "Unit 02, RTB immediately. Enter through Right Catapult." As she sped past the white machine and made a U-turn to enter the hangar bay, she was given further orders by her superiors. They weren’t pretty, but orders were orders. As her Mark II stood inside the bay and reloaded its beam rifle, she remembered that sensation the enemy Gundam gave her. I had forgotten… how terrifying is to approach Death. --- Kyle and Charo saw Shin leave their fight, for a chance to attack the Archangel. Charo amusingly voiced his opinion on the matter. - “Coward! Coward!” - “Looks like he’s heading for the Archangel. I better pursue…” Kyle did not want to let Shin go, not without getting him back for Green Noah, but Charo was still flipping out for some reason. - “Look! Look!” - “Oh, Haro… er CHARO. Looking out and surveying the battlefield is just one important part of being a successful sniper. Firing at long range targets, pointing out where people may be, these are things I HAVE to do. If I didn’t look around and pay attention, then I wouldn’t advance at all while playing this game, now would I?” - “No! Look!” - “Oh, I’m sorry Charo! You just wanted to show me AHHHHHH!” By the time Kyle looked at the screen Charo wanted him to pay attention to, it was too late. The ever-precise Beta Gundam and the new enemy sniper, Higanbana, had fired two powerful shots at his machine. As they landed and the Zeong turned into a fireball, sending both Psycommu hands flying away without aim or purpose, Beta Team briefly heard interference from Kyle’s end, before he was annihilated. Or was he? From the huge explosion caused by the destroyed Mobile Armor, came the Titans GP03, engulfed in flames and carrying the head of the Zeong. It appeared, Kyle was able to eject it, outrunning the reaper in true Char Aznable fashion, while Beta Four grabbed it and sped towards the Archangel. “Four? I… i had this under control, but… thank you.” Kyle was surprised by the NPD’s gesture, thinking they had done it out of kindness, but the electronic lifeform promptly shot that down: “We’re trailing behind and my machine’s faster. Hold on tight.” The dark Gundam put pedal to the metal, and soon reached the ship. --- As the little red Gundam was firing at the Zeong, Aida’s blue GM found an opening, and aimed his Shot Lancer at it, while its pilot was distracted. “Don’t forget who you’re fighting with!” Alarms sounded in the little rabbit girl’s cockpit, and a closeup of the GM appeared within a little window, designed to catch the pilot’s attention. A split second passed, where Aida had Risu down his sights, and where Risu knew the next attack would hit, and there was nothing to do about it. But before he could fire, the IFFs and weapons systems turned off. The Archangel had begun re-entry, effectively making the score even. Beta Team’s machines heard the voice of a woman announce ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’, while Alpha Team was told by the same voice ‘MISSION OVER’. Aida smirked, certain of what would’ve happened, had the mission not ended. “I would've gotcha...” As he lowered his weapon and made a run for the Archangel, he savored his team’s victory. But there was a bittersweet taste to it. Kira Yamato, judging from what he had heard, could be in any kind of shape by now, from a coma, to a flatline. And numbers were in their favor all the time, yet the same could not be said of their skill, or the capabilities of their machines. They had barely scraped through… --- Alpha’s story will continue in Alpha Override! Beta’s story will continue in Challengers of Diamond! Check out the latest side stories!
  15. After a while, Airbatel had been cleaned up and upgraded: it was a minor question, but the Vulcans on the GM III's head were no longer decorative. Aiden and Daniel had also gotten rid of the Hyaku Shiki Wing Binders: from now on, the Gunpla would use a Gundam MkII backpack when not meant to operate alone. This made docking with the new Mobile Armor easy. After this, they put the Super Airbatel on its box and moved to the counter, as Meryl had to go home for the night. Daniel drew upgrades for an atmospherical loadout that had been stored away long ago, while Aiden was thinking of a new naming convention. We should call that previous build the Airbatel Early Space Type… This is the Airbatel Space Type, it turns into the Super Airbatel. The atmospherical Airbatel is the Airbatel Air Type... His head was soon spinning with multiple mentions of the same name, and decided to speak a little with Daniel. He felt it was enough of his happenings for now, and wanted to know what his partner was spending his privilege on. - "What have you been up to in the game, anyways?" Aiden knew the business-focused Meryl had gotten automatic access to the closed beta, as the legal owner of one of the most beloved shops of the region, and since she rarely used GBN, the privilege immediately went to Daniel, in a strictly unofficial manner. His intrusion was never noticed, for Meryl had picked a male avatar the one time she tried the game, fearing she'd be bothered otherwise. - "Well, i learned some interesting stuff. There is only one, big server. Most of the testers are nationals, that is to be expected..." - "... but there is the occasional foreigner. I know. I suspect the two guys playing with me are living abroad. Their ping is ok, fortunately. Forget that, tell me you played Gundam Generation." Aiden was excited to hear Daniel's thoughts on the campaign he was playing, but Daniel had not gotten to play it. - "Uhh… no. Not enough people. I did find a whole group interested in some campaign with a Latin name. And it's very fun, let me tell you about that. First of all, you don't use your Gunpla. The game is far more narrative and you have to pick a character archetype. There are scavengers, hitmen, a 'cowboy cop' with a Mobile Suit." - "I don't think all those terms mix quite right for the Department of Cost to State." - "Heh. All-original story and mechs. Gundam meets 80's and 90's cyberpunk. You know how cyberpunk goes, just add cops and robbers in Mobile Suits. Terrorists steal a Gundam, mercenaries scramble to steal it back for the corporation that made it, policemen scramble to leave no robot standing. The first stage is kind of a three-way where the terrorists only have the NPD with the Gundam, but trust me, when your Mobile Suit is a kei minivan with legs and a potato launcher…" - "You got your ass kicked?" - "Hmph. Wouldn't have quite played out like that if I had my actual whip. The terrorist was still very careless with that thing." - "These campaigns are getting good. Let me tell you, the people who know best what the fans want are the fans themselves." In that moment, they were interrupted by a bearded man they had not seen up until an hour earlier, when he came in with two kids and bought a Real Grade Titans MkII, what appeared to be a High Grade Freedom Gundam and one of the "extra finish" kits, which had a monochrome cover that made it difficult to spot the model from a distance. Taking into account the Freedom was probably a starter kit for one of the kids, he supposed the second kit would also be a High Grade due to the low complexity of the line. However, he wouldn’t call the Freedom a good starter kit, when much less complex HGs were available… - “I didn’t realize your unit got that knackered up from Green Noah?” The strange man walked over calmly to Aiden and Daniel, speaking in a loud and taunting tone, yet friendly at the same time. Extending his hand, he declared: “I’m Marco Creed, I piloted the Zero Saviour that last mission.” - “Zero Saviour...” From his mention of Green Noah, Aiden realized the man had taken part on his last battle. He did not recognize the machine immediately, but knowing his teammates piloted a Dynames and a Zaku, he knew the man was his enemy, and he discreetly took a napkin from the holder on his table to cover the reassembled Airbatel, having it mimic the RX-78-2 before Amuro found it laying on a giant stretcher in Side 7. "Can… can I help you?" - "Aiden, I can't believe it. You've been playing with Marco Creed? He's the guy who appears in every Zapp advert! Mr. Creed, your conversion kits and Option Parts sets are killer. I've already pre-ordered the Nemo III and the Nagano Galbaldy Beta." Daniel on the other hand was far more receiving than his friend, and offered to shake hands with Marco. "And Aiden's force right here uses Zapp uniforms for their reenactments!" - "No we don't- OW!" Aiden's left foot got promptly stomped as soon as he tried to correct Daniel. - “Aw well, I barely have a hand in those kits, a lot of it is Corporate pushing them.” He cleared his throat to address the elephant in the room. Marco could sense Aiden’s discomfort and smirked as he tried to hide his Gunpla from him. The man’s eyes lingered on the napkin and he politely shook the other kid’s hand. “Look, I just wanted to come over and say that I was very impressed with the construction and creativity of your kit! From what you and the other members of your team have brought to the table, I can tell I can’t half ass my way through these missions!” Marco’s face was cheery if not warm in his demeanor. - "Well, I…” Slowly, Aiden started to warm up a little to the stranger. I don’t think a guy whose sole purpose is to appear in adverts would be involved with the old band, could him? “I appreciate the compliment. I only paint it, though. Until it enters the paint booth, it's usually in Daniel's hands here." - "It means a lot coming from you! And hey, I don't think Corporate has bad taste. I enjoyed Dozle’s Dom." Daniel received the compliment well, too, but had an opinion of his own regarding the conversion kits sold by Zapp Incorporation. Zapp was one of the largest aftermarket providers of conversion kits, option parts, and cosmetics for both real life and GBN - most of the real clothing offered by the corporation included a tag to unlock their virtual counterparts for free, but the virtual catalogue was much bigger than just those items. - “Well, it would seem you guys make a good team then!” Smiling, his eyes darted to Daniel, then shifted back to Aiden. “I wanted to ask...”, he started as he looked around and lowered his voice. “Did you notice anything odd about the NPDs in that mission?” Marco wasn’t certain how the kid would react but he was increasingly curious to know if it was just him finding the new AI to be something... different. - "Odd... I'd describe these new NPDs like that, yes." Aiden remembered Emma Sheen's attraction to the unit of the player who had struck him down in the last mission, then his very own NPD teammate, Beta Four, which among other things, occupied an empty Mobile Suit, and... "I've never seen an NPD misjudge the strength of a big cannon. That's what she had to say about it." - “Almost human...” he muttered more so to himself than the two kids in front of him, as he rubbed his beard and nodded his head to take in what the kid was saying. “The one I fought, that green Galbaldy, she was... exceptional in combat, errors and all. Really caught me off guard...” His eyes shifted from his memories of the fight to study the kid and see how he was taking Creed’s side of the story. - "I guess I'm not the only one, then..." Aiden had found somebody else who felt as if the NPDs had taken a quantum leap forward, and while he did not want to tell a member of Alpha Team of Emma's attraction to the faux Mk-II, or Beta Four's acquisition of a GP03, he still felt immensely curious. Finding somebody who could say he had seen the same things did not quench his thirst for knowledge... rather, it made the mystery bigger. Suddenly, however, Creed’s face grew dark, and he locked eyes with Aiden. - “Be careful out there, stay on your guard...” He let the words linger, before letting the smile return to his face. “Well, I’ll leave you two to it!” He added cheerily as he began to turn on his heel. Once the man was gone, Aiden turned back to Daniel, understandably freaked out by Creed’s last words. However, Daniel just thought it was nice of him to choose their shop to buy his children’s kits, and congratulate them on the quality of their build. Very conveniently for the creepy stranger, Daniel was taking care of somebody who wanted to buy a Suille Enact, and so only Aiden had seen that last unsettling display. Man… now he looks like a guy even the Gunpla Mafia would fear. Or maybe the kind of man to rule them? As he started making preparations to close the shop in a pair of minutes, he let his head run wild with dumb theories. But at the end of the night, when everyone had gone home and he had put on his comfy, warm overcoat, he had no other choice than to hear himself, and accepted it probably was just Marco trying to intimidate him into thinking the stakes were far higher than they seemed to be. Zapp Incorporation, rigging championships…? Pfft. What a load of bull. I need a sandwich. “Aiden Keyes… closing up shop."
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