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Judge

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Judge last won the day on August 27

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  1. Where does this all end? Lowell Baskerville leaned forward against a railing as he looked out towards the Pacific Ocean. It had been days since the operation in Orb territory and there had been much deliberation about what to do next, more than enough to distract him, but in these quiet moments, Lowell found his thoughts drifting back to that day without fail. There was a lot to think about; the soldiers they had lost, the soldiers they had killed, and, most bizarrely to him, the strange connection that he had forged with Nathaniel Barondel. In truth, the bond had been forged the day they’d met—the operation was simply a progression and not particularly a pleasant one. It was the bond between enemies, enemies that might have been friends were it not for the fact they found themselves on opposing sides in this war. Would we be friends, really? Lowell wasn’t so sure. Recalling the day they met, he seemed to remember they had some pretty fundamental ideological differences. But at the same time, he found that he didn’t dislike Barondel—not on any personal level. There was the obligatory animosity between soldiers, but beyond that… Lowell shook his head. What good did this kind of thinking do, really? It would only make it harder for him to shoot Barondel down later, should he need to. He hoped that fateful day would be the last time they crossed paths, but something deep down told him that wouldn’t be the case. Overhead, a pair of seagulls brayed and Lowell wiped the sweat off his brow with his forearm. When he first arrived on Earth, he had found the ocean unsettling but now…now, he thought he maybe kind of liked it. As long as he didn’t have to be in it. He could still do without the heat though. His phone beeped, alerting him to a text message that caused the ZAFT commander to grimace. A business call, waiting for him inside. The fun never stops, does it? Lowell wondered for a moment what it could be about. A court martial maybe? Not likely—he was pretty certain he was out of the frying pan on that count. It certainly wasn’t a promotion—there wasn’t much further up he could go in the volunteer militia without being on council. Not that he wanted to go much higher anyway. What then? He considered ignoring the text until his curiosity and the heat of the sun got the better of him. -- He hadn’t expected a call from the Chairman of the supreme council, but there he was, Siegal Clyne, looking at him sternly from his vid-screen. Lowell had asked Renato to join him in the conference room as well—the Wolf Commander liked having his number two around both for the image it projected and because, speaking truthfully, Renato had a better memory for this kind of stuff. “Good afternoon Commander,” Siegel said. “Please, be at ease,” Lowell lowered his salute and nodded, sitting down in one of the office chairs across from Renato. “How can I help you today, Mr. Chairman?” Clyne’s stern face seemed to ease once he got some kind of measure of the man. “I’m sorry to hear about the losses your unit sustained in your recent operation. It is a shame that anyone should lose their life in this conflict but I’m sure it stings all the more for a man in your position,” Lowell nodded and glanced at Renato, who wore a withdrawn expression himself. “Thank you, sir. It was unfortunate to say the least but all my Wolves know what they signed up for,” It was Clyne’s turn to nod. “Allow me to move right along, commander, and assure you that what I’m about to ask of you is unlikely to end so tragically—at least, that is my most sincere hope as both a leader and a father,” Lowell quirked a brow, but Clyne went on. “As you know, my daughter Lacus has become something of a diplomat and an activist. As such, she tends to draw quite a bit of unwanted attention whilst touring and is in need of people she can trust to keep a watchful eye over her. So I think, at least. She tends to disagree, but has acquiesced to her father’s wishes on one condition,” Lowell had a bad feeling about this. “And what is that, sir?” “She has specifically requested one Johnathan Locke to be part of her security detail. My reports, of course, tell me that he has recently transferred into your unit. As such, I would like to formally request that the Wolf Squadron act as honor guards for my daughter during an upcoming tour to Aprilius,” Both Lowell and Renato blinked stupidly. Honor guards? That wasn’t exactly what Wolf Squadron was formed for, but he couldn’t just say no to the Chairman, could he? “With all due respect, sir, I’m not sure that’s Wolf Squadron’s specialty. May I ask why John Locke is so integral to this plan?” “Well, Commander,” and Clyne seemed almost embarrassed now. “It seems that Mr. Locke and my daughter are something like friends,” That’s why? Lowell thought. “Allow me to clarify a bit more, commander, without putting too fine of a point on it. While I have absolute faith in my daughter’s choice of security detail, the circumstances surrounding the previous operation require me to strongly suggest you not turn this opportunity down,” So, it’s not a choice after all. I didn’t think so. “Absolutely not, sir. It would be our absolute honor to take this assignment. I’ll have the Wolves prepare for the trip immediately,” “Good to hear, commander,” Clyne smiled. “When you arrive, be sure to touch base with Captain Rondfellow aboard the Descartes. He may have an update for you with regards to the operation and your loadout. Clyne out,” Lowell saluted and as soon as the screen blinked out, turned to Renato, who was smiling wryly. “What did he mean by ‘loadout’?” Lowell asked. But all Renato did was laugh. In a matter of hours, the Wolves were space-bound once more.
  2. Lowell let the hum of the fluorescent lights wash over him as he sat alone in the ready room of Carpentaria Base’s Hangar 3. The hum infiltrated his thoughts, an effect he appreciated as it helped to distract him from his fevered analysis of everything that had gone wrong on the mission. It didn’t stop the analysis…but it helped. Six Wolves had gone in, three Wolves had come out. A quarter of his squadron—three good men—had been wiped out in the span of minutes. How had things gone so sideways so quickly? The Gundams… It was his first and most intense theory, the one he wanted to cling to the most, but he knew it wasn’t the correct one. The Gundams, as much as he wanted them to be, were not responsible for what had happened in Orb. He was. Sending Wolf Squadron in to interfere had been a misjudgement on his part. Lowell thought he could capitalize on the chaotic state of the Union but the Astrays, it seemed, had been more powerful than he anticipated. And not just the Astrays—their pilots, too. From what Renato had told him about his encounter with the Green Frame, these pilots weren’t just your run of the mill grunts in colourful mobile suits. If Lowell had taken the time to really think about it, he would’ve realized it too. Obviously those pilots had been picked for a reason—it was a special unit after all. But Lowell had trapped himself in the idea that his own elite unit was better. Foolish. His thoughts drifted to their leader—the Gold Frame’s pilot, Nathaniel Barondel. The two of them shared some kind of link, that was certain. He had suspected as much when they first met, but their battle had confirmed it. A heightened sense of awareness between the two of them—a knowing. If Nathaniel was near, Lowell could feel it, feel him, and he was sure that Nathaniel could feel it too. But why? That was the question he kept coming back to. What reason could there possibly be for such a bond to exist between two enemies? “Chief,” Renato’s voice broke the silence of his reverie and Lowell looked up at his number two with tired eyes. “Command is looking for us,” “To give us a good dressing-down I suspect,” Lowell sighed and stood up, straightening his uniform. “Let’s not keep them waiting,” The two of them made their way down the halls of Hangar 3 and into the larger administrative building that made up the brain of Carpentaria Base. As they approached the door of the council room, Renato and Lowell looked at each other and wordlessly conveyed a message to each other: this was not going to be fun. And it wasn’t. Sitting around a vast table were eight angry looking men, joined by another angry looking man on a nearby TV screen. Lowell raised an eyebrow at that—he hadn’t expected Rau Le Creuset to be a part of this but it made sense. Three of the G-weapon pilots had not returned from the sortie, Athrun Zala—their leader—among them. “I suppose you know why we called you in here, Baskerville,” said one of the men. “Yes sir,” Lowell said, standing at attention. “Your assault on ORB was an unmitigated disaster,” another man said, scowling. Lowell was about to agree when Renato spoke up. “Sir, if I may. I believe that to be an inaccurate overstatement of the situation. The mission may have been a failure overall, but my understanding is that one of our units came away with the wreckage of one of the Astray prototypes and I know that Faulkner managed to secure a cargo container,” Rau spoke then. “While it is true that we have secured half of the Blue Frame Astray, we did so at significant cost. Three GINNS and three Gundams, all for what? Half of a prototype? An unpilotable mess. No, Lieutenant Masters, I do believe this counts as a disaster. If your units had remained instead of pulling out, we might not have experienced the losses we did.” “With all do respect, Commander,” Lowell said, his eyes lifting to the screen. “Zala team was deployed without my knowledge, presumably to secure our retreat. Their loss does not fall on Wolf Squadron’s shoulders. Furthermore, the destruction of the three G-Weapons only confirms that my men and I were sitting ducks out there. If the Astrays were capable of handling the Gundams, what chance did a squadron of GINNs have? I happened to notice, as well, sir, that you were not present on the battlefield alongside your squadron,” Rau’s face fell at the words, a slight scowl resting on his lips. “I have my orders,” “I’m sure you do, sir. As we all do. Every one of us in this room bears some kind of responsibility and mine, at that moment, was to see my men safely away from the battlefield and to get out of the way of the heavy-hitters. The next time you want Wolf Squadron to support your superweapons, I suggest you provide us with something a little more capable than your standard issue GINN,” “You’ll remember who you’re speaking to, Commander Baskerville,” said one of the older men in the room. Lowell winced and fell silent, casting his eyes back to the floor. “Right. We all know that the Orb mission went less than smoothly. However, I believe that Commander Baskerville speaks the truth. If the even the G-weapons were so easily disabled by the Astrays, then we’re lucky Wolf Squadron escaped at all and that we now have a sample of these units in our possession,” All the eyes turned back to Lowell as the same man continued. “Commander Baskerville, you’ll understand that we called you here under punitive circumstances and that will stand. Wolf Squadron is grounded until further notice. Your remaining squad will hold their position aboard the Paracelsus while you, lieutenant Masters, and Private Faulkner will remain on standby here at Carpentaria until we see fit to mobilize you. Understood?” “Yes sir,” Lowell said at once. “Good, you’re both dismissed,” Lowell and Renato both nodded and exited the room. They made it about ten feet down the hall, turned a corner, and then gave a sigh of relief in unison. “That could have been bad,” Renato said, leaning against the wall. “But still—grounded? What a joke,” “It could be worse, Ren,” Lowell said, giving his lieutenant a weak smile. “Consider this another little vacation,” “You know I like my vacations, chief,” Lowell nodded. A break might be nice for the three of them and yet…he had a feeling that this was far from over.
  3. The Lightning Strike was fast, but the Oriole was ready, aided by the shielding qualities of its Wings of Light, which absorbed the Seed suit’s projectiles with relative ease. “Show me what, exactly!?” Apollo roared back as he abandoned the lance and evaded backwards. “That you’re just the lesser version of a mobile suit legend? With moves like that, I’d be inclined to believe you!” The Oriole, free of its somewhat cumbersome main weapon, reached for its pair of GN Sword 2s and combined them at the hilts into a beam glaive. “A true hero is never without a backup plan! Now, let me show you—your demise!” With a mighty flap of magenta wings, the Oriole shot forward blade first, aiming directly for the cockpit of Mu’s suit. “In a single stroke, I will cleave through and reveal my own path to victory!” -- For a moment, Icarus thought he had won—but he should’ve known better. Rare were the occasions when triumph came so easily, especially to him. The arm of the Barbatos shattered apart, the strike disabling its sword in the process, and Icarus let out a cheer that was quickly stifled by the Gundam’s tail blade lashing out at him, divesting him of his own sword. No! Icarus clutched the controls as his mobile suit rattled and shook around him. The enemy’s eyes turned purple and the Alastor’s pilot swore under his breath. Yeah, of course they’d have those… The Lupus Regent swiped at him with its claw, tearing a huge gash across the front of the Alastor that let the NPD combo into a series of more slashes as Icarus’s guard was broken. The Alastor was fast when it had the space to get going—but up close? It’s heavy armor could take a hit but going fast wasn’t an option…yet. “I still have a trick up my sleeve, kid!” he cried as his hand’s flew across his controls and landed on the button he’d been saving for an emergency. “I can go beyond!” A bright light flashed out from behind the seams of the Alastor, followed by a shockwave that stunned the Barbatos as chunks of armor flew out and collided with it. Where the Alastor once stood was now a much slimmer looking machine. This Gundam shot forward and sent a fist directly into the head of the Barbatos. “I call this one Zeus, by the way,” The Gundam rolled off of the Lupus Regent, dashed backwards, and fired a single shot from its dober gun aimed directly at the cockpit.
  4. Lowell continued to pull the trigger as the Gold Frame advanced, his teeth clenching at the seeming implacability of his opponent. This was a man on the edge he was facing—a man who was willing to give it all up just to stop him here and now. Damn it, Nate…you could just turn around and tell your squad to get out of here and save us all the trouble. Meanwhile, he could see the signals of his own squad begin to blink out of existence as the Astrays fended them off. But you’re not going to, are you? The two of us are going to keep pushing and pulling until something gives. The Wolf Leader watched as the Gold Frame drew nearer. “I can’t just back down, Nate, there’s too much riding on this war!” The GINN tossed it’s gun aside and was about to bring its sword up to slash at the Gold Frame, but the Astray had tried to pull a fast one on him. A shot from the beam rifle fired from the gun’s barrel but rather than speed past him, it hung in the air. A beam bayonet!? As the sword came down, the bayonet came up, slashing cleanly through the GINN’s arm and driving a long, diagonal scratch across the mobile suit’s torso. Pink light and an intense heat filled the cockpit and Lowell recoiled as his cameras failed and his systems began to spark. -- “Kali, you…” Roane’s own voice sounded distant to the pilot of the Red Frame, but the high-pitched whine in the background of his mind was beginning to dissipate. “You’re right! We have to keep pushing forward. For Geneva, for the Union—for everyone!” Roane brought the Red Frame back up to its feet, it’s mechanisms groaning under the stress. The pilot reaffirmed his grip on the controls and took a deep breath. Something deep within him still trembled, quivered with fear, but for the time being he found he was able to push it down, to pretend that that part of him didn’t exist or at the very least didn’t bother him. Confidence surged in him, a thin assurance but assurance nonetheless. “Alright, let’s form up and keep eyes on each other’s blind—huh?” Something shimmered in his periphery and then, for a moment, a figure appeared—and by then it was too late. Before he could even alert Kali to the invisible threat, the Red Frame was moving as fast as Roane could make it—and he knew how to make this machine fly. The Gundam had shot something—a beam--at the unsuspecting Purple Frame and Roane had forced himself into action. He realized too late the irony of it. For a man so afraid of death, for a man who had just seen his comrade eliminated on the battlefield, he sure had been quick to throw himself between Kali and the enemy attack. The shot tore through the Red Frame’s cockpit with ease, tunneling through the space just above and to the left of the pilot’s seat and triggering a series of critical malfunctions leading then to a series of explosions. Roane was buffeted in his chair, his head swinging violently to the right and colliding with the controls with a sickening smack before everything went dark. -- Renato would not be ashamed to admit that he breathed a sigh of relief when the red Gundam had appeared to assist him. The Green Frame recovered quickly though and began to maneuver again, shooting at the GINN as he forced it into the centre of the conflict. Renato clenched his teeth as he hailed his commander mid-evasion. “Lowell it’s getting too hot here. I think it’s time to pull out!” He aimed his gun at the Green Frame and fired, hailing the red unit. “This is Renato Masters of Wolf Squad. I’m outclassed here and need to retreat. Put that fancy mobile suit of yours to good use and cover me,” With that, Renato brought his GUUL around and maxed out its thrust, heading back in the direction of the ocean. -- Lowell gasped as he came to seconds after his lights had gone out. The GINN was still standing, working on auxiliary power and cameras, though he could only see out of the two side monitors. In front of him, where his main monitor used to be, was a rend—a gash through which the light of day filtered in from the world outside. Garbled voices came in over the radio. Lowell didn’t know what they were saying but knew what he had to say. This mission was a failure—his failure. It was time to end it before things got worse. He flipped his radios on. “Wolf Squadron…this is Wolf Leader…we’re pulling out. Regroup at rendezvous alpha and leave this to the Gundams,” He turned his attention to Gold Unit before him and tried to force the words to come out—but they didn’t. Lowell didn’t know what to say to Nathaniel Barondel in this moment that wouldn’t come across as hateful or petty, so he kept his trap shut. The GINN, minus an arm, darted its way over to the crashed GUUL and remounted it, hoping against all hope that it was still functional. When it lifted into the air, Lowell whispered a small thanks to a God he didn’t fully believe in, and took off as fast as he could towards Carpentaria.
  5. Lowell brought his GINN up and on top of the building he was hiding behind, intending to fake out his opponent and possibly get the drop on him. It was a foolish move though—Barondel had been ready for him, whether it was through his cunning as a soldier or because of their strange connection Lowell couldn’t decide. Nate’s voice came in over his radio and the Wolf Leader grit his teeth in a scowl. The sudden appearance of Zala team, especially its outrider, had disrupted the entire mission. But it was kill or be killed out here—Lowell knew that going in. He had advised his unit not to try being heroes, but they had entered the battlefield intending to do damage. “Open your eyes, Nathaniel—this is a battlefield! People are going to die!” As the volley of gun fire came towards him, Lowell propelled his GINN off the top of the building and angled himself towards the fast approaching Gold Frame. “People are going to die…but it’s up the survivors to make their deaths mean something!” Lowell pointed his rifle towards the Astray and let loose a volley of his own as he neared the ground. Did he believe such a thing, something so nihilistic? Truly? Lowell did his best to take care of Wolf Unit, but he had lost people in the past—he had lost people here and now, in fact—but he didn’t realize until now just how stoic he had become. -- Renato raised his eyebrows as the Green Frame turned towards them, revealing not one but two bazookas aimed directly at him and Faulkner. The two GINNS managed to dispatch the missiles before they landed true, making use of their machine guns to do so, but it required taking the brunt of the CIWS fire. “Pssh, this guy is nothing!” Faulkner crooned as he repositioned, his attention focused destroying the missiles. “I could dance circles around this guy in my sle—” “Faulkner!” A beam of fuchsia light tore through Faulkner’s GINN, the machine exploding from the inside out and taking the Guul with it. Faulkner’s dying screams roared across Renato Masters’ comms before cutting out abruptly. “God damnit!” Renato growled, kicking his Guul into high gear, sword held back in preparation for a deadly lunge when another, larger beam cut appeared alongside him, arcing towards the Green Frame. “Wh-what?” Masters turned his head to see the red G-weapon flying nearby, its clawlike cannon aimed directly at the Astray. Masters’ eyes widened in awe at the machine. He hadn’t seen it in person before…but it was magnificent. -- “She’s…gone…” Roane said as he watched the Purple Frame land nearby. “She’s gone! They killed her, Kali!” Roane’s fist slammed into the control panel before him. “They killed her and I couldn’t stop it! I couldn’t even keep him from running away!” The Red Frame fell to one knee and its pilot leaned forward, clutching his head. “I don’t know what to do, Kali!”
  6. Icarus watched at the Barbatos juked out of the way in order to intercept the blast from Wade’s buster cannons, wrenching the controls of the Alastor to pursue it as quickly as he could while keeping out of the beams’ line of fire. “That’s some fancy armor you’ve got there,” Icarus smirked. “Doesn’t look like a beam blade will do much, but even if it can’t cut you, this sword still has some use!” The Alastor brought the Excalibur Anti-ship sword back and then swung it like a baseball bat at the side of the Barbatos, driving its solid, weighty edge into the torso of the Tekkadan suit. “I know you IBO guys like to get physical, after all!” -- Million had been busy fending off some of the incoming Zakus when Mu La Flaga, the Hawk of Endymion, engaged. She had just finished slicing through one of the ill-fated NPD grunts when the Lightning Strike appeared before her, visible through the newly created horizontal slash in the Zaku. “Wahh!” Million cried, reversing the XX00 away from the Gundam with as much thrust as she could muster. “Where the heck did you come from?” As the Strike charged its salvo, Million realized the grave oversight she had made in designing the XX00—it didn’t have a shield. Oh crap! There was no time to dodge either. This custom Strike was speedy and had taken advantage of her being distracted by the NPD grunts in order to close the distance and catch her off guard. “It can’t be over for me that quickly—I can’t let these guys down!” Million clenched her teeth, watching as the beams released. “Fear not, fair maiden!” a voice called out over her comms. “I shall shield you from this twisted visage of a hero!” A great, pink wall interposed itself between the XX00 and the Lightning Strike, absorbing the full burst that had marked her suit for destruction. “Huh? Huh!?” -- Behind the golden shield of his mask, Apollo scowled. This fight had barely started and already he had to save someone’s ass. He didn’t even want to be here—he knew it was going to be a drag—but the bosses insisted, especially since Creed was here. Worse yet, this Spider guy went and ruined Mu La Flaga. Mu was his favourite and served as a template for the hero that Apollo played. A man who could make the impossible possible. The ultimate gundam pilot. So, when the Shooting Star Diver had seen this twisted version of his favourite character try to get an underhanded drop on one of his so-called allies, Apollo knew it was up to him to put a stop to it. He had activated the Oriole’s Minovsky Drive and spread its Wings of Light wide around the XX00, sheltering it from harm for the time being. “Leave this one to me, madam,” he said to her, spinning the Oriole’s lance in its hands as he retracted the wings and arrived beside her. “I have a personal score to settle here,” -- Million looked at the black gundam that appeared next to her. “Uh, sure dude,” she said. She had no idea who this guy was but he seemed to be a role-player and he seemed to have some kind of grudge against the Strike. “He’s all yours,” The XX00 pulled away, leaving the Oriole to stare down the Lightning Strike alone, watching on her cameras as the two units began their combat, Apollo’s gundam trying to push his advantage by getting in close with the lance. Feeling that the situation was in good hands, Million turned her attention back to the Zakus in need of culling.
  7. I can’t believe this… He had been dragged into another fight that wasn’t his, all because some two-bit mob-punk thought he could hone in on ZAPP territory. Even Creed is here…who the hell even are these guys? “FEAR NOT, COMRADES! THE ORIOLE TAKES FLIGHT ONCE MORE! LET ITS GOLDEN LIGHT WASH AWAY THE FILTHY STAINS OF DARKNESS THAT HAVE SET THEMSELVES AGAINST THE THREADS OF THIS GLORIOUS GAME!” Apollo steered the Oriole next to Creed’s Freedom Gundam and let it hover next to it. “Fancy seeing you here, old timer,” Apollo said, hailing Creed separately. “I thought you’d have retired by now,”
  8. “It might get hairy in there,” Ray looked over at Amelia sitting at the terminal next to his as he placed the freshly finished model on the scanner. He had had to work fast to get it done in time for this mission, but together they made short work of it. The paint was still a little wet, but it was nevertheless combat ready. “Hairy is my middle name,” Amelia said, setting down her new model as well. Ray grimaced. “I certainly hope not,” “Oh lighten up and get in there,” “Right,” -- “So…this is the spider’s nest,” Icarus said to himself as he and Million materialized in the space outside the massive, modified A Bao Qu. “I’ll admit, it’s impressive. A lot bigger than I thought it would be,” “It’s nothing we can’t handle, Ick,” Million said, keeping pace with him in the XX00, her new gunpla. “Let’s link up with Wade—it says he’s here already,” “Good idea,” Icarus scanned the space around him, looking for the Nu Origin. Instead, he spotted a new machine—a new machine that was coming under attack by a very strange looking Strike Gundam. “Looks like we’re a little late, Mill—keep an eye open and follow me,” Icarus’s hands danced across the controls, gripping the thruster slide and pushing it to max. The rear vernier thrusters opened up and flung the Gundam towards his leader. Icarus’s grip tightened on the controls. The speed this new machine was unimaginable, faster than even the Tallgeese QUEST and with more armor to boot. So fast was Icarus’s new gundam that it allowed him to interpose himself between the Strike and the Hi-Nu Leader, absorbing the blast from the Strike’s cannon with its shoulder mounted shield. “Sorry I kept you waiting, boss,” Icarus smirked as the smoke faded around his Gundam. “I had to get a few things ready. Now, what say you take the Strike and I’ll take that Barbatos over there?” The Gundam reached over its shoulder, drawing its Excalibur anti-ship sword and pointing it towards the Barbatos Regent. “Let’s squash this spider, Gundam Alastor!”
  9. Roane accepted the shield from the Green Frame just in the nick of time, bringing it up to deflect a flurry of gunfire from one of the newly arrived GINNs. “What are you even doing here?” Roane cried, sending another blast of his CIWS at the ZAFT suits, just enough to get them to dodge into cover and buy him some time. The Red Frame stepped back, shield still up, in search of a better position, when a third GINN arrived on the scene. Keiran and the Green Frame had already disengaged to assist the Lieutenant, leaving only him and Geneva alone with the three GINNS and whatever M1s that still remained on the scene. Roane moved to intercept the third GINN, only for him to be waylaid by the first two ZAFT suits popping out of their cover and raining bullets on him. Roane locked up, the Red Frame unable to get itself out of the way of the suppressing fire the GINNs were laying down. He tried to make the mobile suit as small a target as possible, bringing it into a crouch behind the increasingly damaged shield. He was forced to sit there and watch as the unthinkable happened. The Blue Frame and the GINN engaged in combat and…and… “No…” Roane’s voice quavered as he watched the lower half of the Blue Frame crash to the ground and the backpack erupt in a plume of flames. His eyes widened and he felt sick to his stomach. Terror and anguish crashed together in the primal roar that rang out from Roane’s throat. His own fear of death melted away under the scouring heat of his anger and the pilot’s hands began to move on instinct alone. One of the GINNs harrying him popped out from behind a building to fire on him again, but the Red Frame’s hand twisted, changing its grip on the spear and hurling it like a javelin towards the ZAFT grunt. The pointed metal rod tore punched through the GINN’s armor like it was wet paper, causing the mono-eyed unit to stumble back before exploding. The Red Frame kept moving though, its free hand reaching for its beam saber. A fuschia whip of energy arced out from the handle as he swung it at the retreating headless GINN, but he was intercepted by the other remaining ZAFT suit which charged at him with sword drawn. Seeing it from the corner of his eye, Roane swung the shield up, deflecting the GINNs sword upwards and leaving the olive-coloured mobile suit wide-open. With a full-bodied swing, the Red Frame brought the beam saber across the waist of the GINN, its pink beam searing through the grunt suit and causing it to explode as well. But when the Astray emerged from the billowing smoke, the headless unit—and the half of the Blue Frame still clinging to it—were gone. --- Renato Masters observed the situation going on before him and scowled. Reinforcements had arrived it seemed. Lowell wouldn’t like that, but his attention was elsewhere, and so was Renato’s. The Green unit had begun to move, apparently on a trajectory to intercept Lowell and assist the Gold unit. It was Renato’s job to make sure that didn’t happen. “Just as the chief expected,” Renato smirked to himself. “Faulkner, on me. Let’s make sure that the Jolly Green Giant interrupts Lowell’s little duel,” Angling their Guuls towards the Green Frame, Renato and Faulkner began to fire upon the Green Frame. “Hey, hey, eyes on me, Big Green! What do you say that the three of us have a little tango of our own!” -- Lowell grit his teeth as he watched the Gold Frame begin to plummet toward the ocean. Something about the whole situation seemed…wrong. “Not like this,” he muttered to himself. He adjusted the heading of his Guul and launched it toward the Gold Frame. Maxing out his GINN’s thrusters, Lowell disengaged his mobile suit from its carrier and launched it as high into the sky as its wings would take it before cutting the thrusters. As he soared towards land, Lowell did his best to keep an eye on the Gold Frame as the Guul collided with it. If his plan had worked, the Astray would be pushed by the flight platform back towards Terra Firma. Lowell flared his thrusters again as the GINN began its descent, slowing his fall just enough to prevent any serious damage to the legs. The ZAFT pilot sheathed the GINNs sword and rolled the mobile suit into cover behind a taller building. What the hell am I doing? He’s the enemy… His inexplicable act of mercy aside, without the Guul, he would have to get creative with his exfiltration. That was assuming that he hadn’t consigned himself to defeat by saving the Gold Frame from the ocean depths. As he sat in wait for Barondel to recover, Lowell received a communication that made him raise a brow. “Baskerville, this is Dunn at Carpentaria,” “What is it Dunn?” “HQ wants to let you know that Zala team is inbound to your location. One of their advanced guard should be there now—a Johnathan Locke, piloting a GINN unit,” “Zala Team? What the hell are you talking about?” “HQ has decided to mobilize the G-Weapons to assis-“ Lowell cut his radios and scowled. What the hell are they thinking? He clenched his teeth even harder. Things were about to get a whole lot more chaotic.
  10. Albus turned his gaze to Eco as he spoke up, his face twisting in anger at his words. “Oh yeah? You think you’re hot shit? Last I recall, your name and the word ‘Gundam’ didn’t even share the same sentence.” Barely hidden behind the sheen of his sunglasses, Albus fixed a contemptuous glare on the man. His anger at what the Meister was sure Eco thought was a harmless comment began to boil over. “Hell, I don’t even remember your name.” Eco began to speak but Albus cut him off. “Save it for when you’re actually a Gundam Meister. Then you can talk all you want about how your teammates screwed up,” and with that, Albus sauntered out of the room, leaving many a stunned face behind. -- The call came some time later for the Exia to sortie, news that the Meister couldn’t have been happier to hear. The atmosphere aboard the Ptolemaios had become tense and it wasn’t entirely to do with him either, though of course he played his part. This whole ‘Co-Forecaster’ business and the addition of the Fereshte crew had effectively created two factions within the confines of a very small ship and while some crew members got along with their Fereshte counterparts, others—Albus in particular—did not. Thus it was that he happily shut himself away within the confines of the Exia and launched quick as he could into the expanse. His good mood was soured a little when he saw that the Kyrios was launching as well. He quickly hailed Edmund on a private channel, appearing on the masked Meister’s HUD. “So our new ‘Co-Forecaster’ thought I needed some help, huh?” he turned his attention to the feed of the enemy units, keeping the line open between him and the Kyrious. “These look like those AEU suits we saw when we crashed their test drive at the elevator. Didn’t think they were space capable though. Shouldn’t be an issue though, their armor is as weak every other non-Gundam,” Albus opened a separate channel to the Ptolemaios. “Appreciate the vote of confidence, Miss Acustica. I was practically quivering in my normal suit until the Kyrios showed up.” He smirked. “The Exia is moving to engage the AEU units. Don’t worry, I’ll try to make sure Edmund isn’t inconvenienced,” He closed the channel again, letting his smirk fade into that scowl of concentration as he approached the Enacts.
  11. Raymond looked at his bank account and sighed. He should’ve seen this coming, honestly, but he was still crushed to see it actually have come this far. Spider, he knew, wasn’t someone to be trusted. The man was a criminal, after all. But even criminals have honor, sometimes—but not Spider it seemed. “Have you tried contacting the bank?” Amelia sat across from him at a small patio table, picking away at plate full of French fries. “Sure have,” Ray sighed, putting his phone facedown on the table and then cupping his own face with his hands. Speaking through them, he explained that the bank said they couldn’t do much at this moment but would be investigating more deeply into the issue. “That’s ridiculous,” Amelia said, folding her arms across her chest. “What about the cops?” “Same answer,” Ray said, peaking out from behind his fingers. “But it’s the mob, Mel. I may as kiss my savings goodbye, otherwise who knows? It might be my ass I’m kissing goodbye instead,” Amelia grew silent, sitting back in her chair as she looked at the man across from her wallowing in the depths of his despair. “You made a mistake,” she said. “We all make mistakes, Ray. You thought something had happened to your friend and you were in a bad way because of it,” “I should’ve been smarter though, Mel. I shouldn’t have done what I did just because I was upset,” Ray ran a hand through his hair and groaned. “What’s the mob even doing running an operation through a damn online game, anyway?” Amelia shrugged. “These creeps show up in the weirdest places. GBN is huge right now, so it’s only natural they’d try to get a piece of the pie, right?” but Ray didn’t respond, merely hung his head over his half-eaten hamburger and sulked. Amelia frowned. Seeing him like this was tough, after everything they had gone through together already, all the dark days they had left behind them. She worried that if they couldn’t get this sorted, then Ray might fall back into that pit of despair and never come back out. Or worse. He had come close before, too close for Amelia to let it happen again. She finished her beer in one go and placed the glass on the table with a thud. “Here’s what we’re going to do!” she announced, flicking him on the ear. Ray bounded backwards with a gasp, grabbing his reddened lobe. “You and I are going to hit the town and I’m going to treat you to a wonderful day of retail therapy,” Ray looked at her with a complete lack of enthusiasm. “I don’t want to put you out,” he said. “I’ll be able to make do until I figure something out,” “You can’t even afford to cover lunch,” she said, gesturing at the food in front of them. “Just let me spoil you, okay? You’re obviously not okay and maybe spending a little bit of my money might make you feel better!” “I…” “No arguing!” she said. -- Before long, the two had found themselves at the local hobby shop. Amelia had insisted that this be their first stop, as gunpla was a hobby they both shared. Ray, hunched at the shoulders, followed his more energetic friend around the store as she stacked a number of model boxes on top of each other. “I’ve been working on a couple of ideas,” she said, peeking at him from over the top of a High-grade Legend Gundam kit. “What do you think about the Burning Legend? Half God Gundam, half Legend Gundam?” Ray shrugged. “Wouldn’t you be missing out by not having both backpacks?” “Yeah…that’s a good point. Okay, never mind, how about, like, the Double-X00” Ray quirked an eyebrow. “What would that even look like?” “Like a Double-X mixed with a 00,” “I’d…be curious to see it,” “Right! That settles it, then,” she said, putting boxes back on the shelves and racing down the aisle to find the two she needed, leaving Ray in the dust. Without her, his eyes wandered to the shelves. He hadn’t thought much about GBN in the last couple of days, and ever since building the QUEST, he had been a bit short on ideas. Besides, with the dire financial situation he was in, there was no point in continuing with the hobby. But, as if on cue, Ray’s phone buzzed. There was a personal message from GBN. I got him where we want him. Show up ready for a fight. Be advised my handle here is Hunter, so watch the friendly fire. Be ready for anything. “Hunter?...Is this?” it seemed to be a message from Aker, but…what did it mean? Hope swelled in Ray’s chest. Maybe…just maybe… His eyes darted up to the shelves. Maybe he could make just one last kit…
  12. Albus, with a huff, sat back down in his seat and folded his arms across his chest as Edmund took control of the conversation. Chall’s response was, as he expected, just as infuriating as the words she spoke before only this time she took to openly insulting him as well. Then the Haro began to speak. Albus looked at it with glaring eyes, but strangely found its words reassuring. The robot, at least, seemed to have a realistic degree of self-awareness. The same couldn’t be said for Chall, unfortunately. But Albus said nothing more for the rest of the meeting, choosing instead to stew in his anger until the farce was over. Everyone began to disperse at that point and Albus, rising from his chair, stuck close to Edmund. At that moment, he was incredibly glad that he had opened up to his fellow Meister and began mending their frayed relationship. It felt good to know that someone had his back again. In one corner of the room, Chall had approached Feldt. Albus turned his back to this exchange but kept his ears open. So…they have some kind of connection, do they? He didn’t know that Feldt was capable of having a connection with anyone. He had written her off early in their training as singularly focused and closed-off. But now…he had made amends with Edmund, maybe it was time to try and understand Feldt better too. At the very least, he could determine if it was a waste of time, but maybe if he got through to her they could put up more of a united front against these new arrivals. When Eco and Sherilyn approached them to see if they had any questions, Albus brought his attention back to the surface. “Yeah, I have one,” he said, placing his hands on his hips. “What happened to this ‘friend’ of yours that you lost?”
  13. Albus sat in the conference room, his arms crossed tightly across his chest as he listened to Sumeragi begin to explain what the new situation was, only to be interrupted by some white-haired woman who seemed to think she now ran the place. He didn’t particularly care for the implication and the tone that Sumeragi herself started with, but Chall interrupting her the way that she had left a sour taste in the Meister’s mouth. She was quick to lay down the situation and then… The haro arrived. Albus’s frown deepened. “You have to be shitting me,” he said aloud. “Do you people think this is cute? That this is a fun little joke? I don’t give a damn where you people came from or who you are—you could be Aeolia Schenberg’s great-great-granddaughter or something and I still wouldn’t care. You can’t just come in here, announce you’re the new sheriffs in town, and then just expect us to casually accept that the new Meister is a goddamn haro,” The previous Meisters were far from perfect, but they were highly trained. Saying that some piece of machinery was going to replace Rai was a slap to the face to all of them. “If you think a haro is good enough to pilot the Gundams alone, then why not just replace us all with them?” Albus rose to his feet, slamming his metal hand on the table. He knew this was bothering him more than it should, but for these people to just show up and replace his old teammates just like that… Even if they didn’t necessarily get along, Albus had spent the last two years getting to know Multi, Christina, and Rai. Maybe he wasn’t their friend, but they were his team.
  14. Judge

    Far From Home

    ((Thanks to Roromi for the dialogue)) Lowell smiled as the driver pulled over. “That’d be great, thanks,” he said as he opened the door. He had always been told to not take rides from strangers, but he figured that this was a small enough place and it was a short enough drive that it wouldn’t really be a concern. Besides, he was a highly-trained member of ZAFT, he was sure he could take this guy if he proved to be a problem. “I appreciate the help—Hell of a car you’ve got too,” he said loudly, trying to compensate for the music playing over the stereo. Nathaniel smiled sheepishly as he reached down to turn the music off. “Sorry!” He offered as he waited for the guy to buckle up and close the door. “Thanks!” He said as he put the car into gear. “So what brings you all the way out here? I usually drive these roads outside of town because there’s no one here…” he left off the detail about clearing his mind since he didn’t see the point on burdening his guest with his own personal troubles. Lowell strapped in and closed the door behind him, feeling the rush of the car move through him as its engines really started to hum. It was a nice change of pace from the junker they were steadily leaving in their dust. “I’m taking in the sights, I guess,” Lowell said, looking out at the ocean as they sped down the road. “Technically I’m here on business but it’s easy to forget about work when you’re somewhere as beautiful as this. Hell, I left my coworker at the bar just a little while ago. That might have been a mistake on my part,” Lowell chuckled to himself. “The man’s liable to float away with the amount he can drink,” Lowell turned his head to face his saviour. “What about you? You’re a local I take it?” Nathaniel plastered a smile on his face as he listened to the guy talk. As they drove he slowly settled his aviator glasses down to peak over the rims and glance at the fellow. “Yeah I’ve lived here since I was a small child. Guess I’m a little used to the scenery by now!” He chuckled as he steered into a particular turn. He nodded to the man, “I uh… I work in the military actually. You’re lucky you caught me on some shore leave at the moment. The name’s Nathaniel by the way!” He offered though he barely dared to take his eyes off the road. He wasn’t driving all that sporadically, just that the road was particularly winding. “How could you ever get tired of this?” Lowell asked, making a sweeping gesture at the ocean with one hand. He remembered then his great distrust of the ocean and reconsidered his words, but by then the man had continued on, introducing himself. The ZAFT pilot smiled despite himself. Of course this guy was military—that’d be just his luck. Looking at him now, Lowell could see it. There was something about him, a je ne sais quoi about him that flagged Nathaniel as a soldier. Lowell wondered if he himself had it. For his sake, in this moment, he hoped not. “Nice to meet you,” he said. “I’m Lowell, Lowell Baskerville. Are you a boots on the ground guy or do you pilot one of those machines? I have to say—I don’t think I’d be cut out for that kind of work. My friends say I’m too much of a worry-wart,” Nathaniel scoffed at the question, something about how it was raised made the special operator raise an eyebrow. Still he smirked as he replied, “you could say I work on a ship I guess.” He answered, trying to play his role off as something mundane. Something was definitely smelling spooky about this hitchhiker, but he had nothing to go off of other than instinct. “So Lowell did you visit Orb to get away from the fighting?” Lowell tried not to study his saviour too much and instead focused on lowering his own profile. Nathaniel’s answers were cagey, defensive. The ZAFT pilot didn’t want to put him on edge or show his own hand too much. He was technically on the job, but if Ren was going to treat this like a vacation, why shouldn’t he? “No, I didn’t,” Lowell said at last. “I’m actually a location scout for a movie studio. Since Orb is neutral, it makes it a whole lot easier to film here than a lot of places. So I guess, now that I think about it, I am here to get away from the fighting, aren’t I?” Buildings began to pop up around them, growing steadily taller and taller as they entered deeper into the city. “Hey, what do you say I buy you lunch or something? Least I could do to pay you back for helping me out,” Nathaniel smirked as they came to town. There was a pub he particularly liked and at that moment Lowell’s offer sounded nice. Both intrigue and hunger got the better of Nathaniel , “sure why not. There’s a place over here I rather like.” He pulled into the parking lot and parked the car, stretching as he looked around. He motioned for the other man to follow and soon they were inside the pub sitting in a booth waiting for their respective drinks. Nathaniel nodded, “truth be told I’m amazed they’re still making movies with all the bloodshed going on. Mind if I ask you-?” His question was cut off as their server delivered their drinks. The pilot nodded and smiled as he grabbed his pint of ale. He took a swig then nodded to continue. “I was curious… what is your take on the war? I don’t get the chance to talk to many people not in the military, much less those outside of the country.” He hovered over his glass as he looked over the frothy beverage to his new friend. Lowell looked around as they entered the pub. Was there a term for when things were distinctly…earthling? He had noticed it a few times during his stints on Terra Firma that the bars were unlike the ones back on the PLANTs but not in any way that Lowell could put into words. There was just…an atmosphere around them. The two of them put their orders in and the drinks came in good time. “You just can’t keep the film sector down,” he said, grabbing his drink. He had simply ordered the same thing that Renato had gotten him earlier because the name was easy enough to remember. “People need escapism,” Nathaniel’s next question caught him off guard. He was expecting the man to ask about what kind of movie he was making and Lowell was a bit disappointed he didn’t get to tell him all about the completely fictitious romance drama he had made up on the spot: Love Coordination. “What do I think about the war, huh?” he pretended to mull it over. “Would it be too simple of me to say it’s bad?” he laughed at sipped at the Blue Hawaiian, trying his best not to wince. “In all honesty, the idea of killing another person makes my skin crawl, so I can’t condone war in any way. But I understand that it’s an inevitability, though I wouldn’t call it a necessity. Fighting for what a person loves or believes in is as natural as breathing, but I think our efforts and passions are better directed elsewhere. I dream of peace—I think everyone does—but I won’t begin to pretend like I know how we get there. Who knows…maybe all it takes is the power of friendship?” and with that he let out a merry laugh. “How about yourself, Nate? What’s a soldier’s take on all of this?” Nathaniel raised an eyebrow and was about to respond to his own poison when a familiar voice cut him off. “I thought that was you Lieutenant! Honey come here it’s Nathaniel!” Closing his eyes he took in a deep breath to brace himself and look up at a man he did recognize, “hey Frank! Delphine! How’s it going!” He looked up at the married couple and he could read the discomfort on Delphine’s face which she quickly hid for her husband’s benefit. “Hey Nathaniel!” She announced cheerily. “We were just coming in to eat some lunch.” Frank announced while Delphine looked quizzically at Lowell then back at Nathaniel, “whose your friend?” A million things went through Nathaniel’s head at that moment ranging from him simply not wanting to be with his lover’s husband; to his “friend” being a stranger really. He stammered, “Oh this is Lowell, I was helping him get back into town.” Nodding to Lowell he then gestured to the couple. “This is Frank and Delphine. I uh-“ he was still flustered and Delphine picked up his slack. “Actually it’s Captain Hawthorne.” She smiled as she teased all the men. She politely offered her hand to Lowell, “it’s nice to meet you Lowell. We were just going out to celebrate my promotion, we’ve been so busy we haven’t had a chance to go out until now.” She gave Nathaniel a look as if silently asking how he would handle the awkward situation. Lowell’s attention was drawn away by the sudden appearance of a man and a woman—a woman, he quickly learned, who was a captain in Orb’s military. Hawthorne, huh? Good to know. Lowell met them with a smile. “Pleasure to meet you! Nate really saved my bacon today, though of course I still have to explain to the car rental place what happened, don’t I?” he chuckled nervously, a cover for his assessing of the situation. Nathaniel seemed deeply uncomfortable by this turn of events. Normally, Lowell wouldn’t want to prey on a man’s insecurities, but this was as good an opportunity as any he would get to know learn about who he might be clashing with in coming days. “Hey, why don’t you two sit with us? We haven’t gotten our food yet and there’s plenty of space in the booth. Nate and I were just about to discuss the movie I’m scouting for here. It’s a romance, you see, and while I can’t give away too much, I can probably let you in on some juicy production stories and stuff,” Delphine’s expression went from nervousness to intrigued as she took up the Hollywood man’s offer for movie details. After all she did enjoy a good romance. Nathaniel politely listened as the two bantered, he made uncomfortable small talk with Frank. At that moment he was feeling fairly small, like a child more than anything, as he endured the odd lunch party. Oh how he wanted to run out the door and drive off, far away from the situation. He grimaced as he entertained such a pleasant notion. Outside the mobile suit it was clear he was just a pitiful flesh and blood man with no hope of winning over Delphine. Yes, his mobile suit was the only thing that could validate him wasn’t it? The only thing that could make him more than his meager flesh and blood, the only way she could acknowledge him. It was then something snapped his attention back to the present as Delphine made an odd comment, “Oh if you ever wanna make an action movie you should sign Nathaniel on as an advisor, he could teach you a thing or two!” He flashed Delphine a hard gaze and ever so gently shook his head no before forcing a smile. “Oh I don’t think he wants to hear boring training stories…” “Oh I’m not a writer, unfortunately,” Lowell said with a chuckle. “Just a guy with a good eye for setting. I’m sure Nathaniel would appreciate the break too,” he gave the Orb officer a knowing look and a warm, soft smile. The four of them continued to talk for a short time until at last, the drinks had been drunk and there was nothing left of their food but scraps. Lowell stretched his arms above his head. The liquor and the heat of this island nation had begun to make him sleepy—it was probably just about time to be getting back to Renato anyway. The four of them paid their bills and Frank and Delphine gave their goodbyes at the entrance, leaving Nathaniel and Lowell alone once more. “Love sure is tough, huh?” Lowell said after a quiet moment, his hands in his shorts pockets. “But that’s what makes it worth fighting for, huh? You seem like an honest guy, Nathaniel. You didn’t get a chance to tell me what you thought about war but something tells me you get it,” Nathaniel looked worn from the odd engagement. He soberly nodded as Lowell re asked the earlier question. “I uh… I think there needs to be a balance. That’s why I think the Alliance and ZAFT are wrong about the war… I think that together, Naturals and Coordinators can do more together. Take me and the Captain for example. She’s a Natural and I’m a Coordinator. We work well together and get a lot done. I dare say that it’s our differences that make us stronger together.” He shrugged as he realized his answer was getting a little too preachy. “I’m sorry…” he muttered as sipped what was left of his drink. Lowell studied Nathaniel as he spoke and quirked an eyebrow at his mention of ZAFT and the Alliance being wrong. When the soldier was finished talking, Lowell put his hands in his pockets and let his affected smile fade. "I see. I don't disagree with the heart of your argument, Nate. Naturals and Coordinators are stronger together--but that's not really the issue here, don't you think? The real problem is the Earth Alliance trying to force their way of life onto others. They fired the first shot, after all. The PLANTs just want to be free to be who they are, but the naturals seems to have an issue with that." Lowell turned to face Nathaniel now, his face deadly serious. "I can respect the position you're in, as a soldier in the middle of a war your nation is neutral in. But just because Orb is neutral on the political battlefield doesn't mean it'll stay that way on the real one. You can try and stay away from the war...but the war will come to you eventually. Maybe it's already on the way. When it gets here, though, Orb's going to have a decision to make," The two men's eyes met and as they did, time seemed to stop. What is this...feeling? Their surroundings seemed to fall away from them, a backdrop of colour, of outerspace, replacing it. All at once, it seemed the distance between them--both physical and idealogical--was simultaneously vast and miniscule. But just as quickly as it came upon them, the feeling dissipated. Lowell, stunned, tried to play it off with a smile. "Pretty dramatic sounding, huh?" he laughed and swatted Nathaniel's arm. "Did I sound like some big action hero or something?"
  15. Keiran’s voice came in over the radio as Roane tried to pry his eyes away from the collapsed building beneath the M1, remind the Red Frame’s pilot of the evacuations that had already taken place. “R-right! Thanks, Keiran,” Roane said, taking a deep breath before redoubling his focus. Geneva was calling for him now, in need of his assistance. The Red Frame adjusted its grip on the spear and scanned the surroundings for the enemy just as a flurry of beam fire fell upon them. “Tch!” the Red Frame was buffeted back by some the beams as they connected with its shield. Roane wrenched the controls to the side and his mobile suit slid along the ground until he was safely in cover behind a skyscraper. It didn’t take a scientist or mechanic to tell him that his shield was toast. Just looking down at it told Roane all he needed to know. Large swathes of the shield’s front side had been melted or punctured. “Well, damn,” Roane muttered to himself, letting the shield fall to the ground and grabbing the spear with his now-free hand. “I’m coming Geneva!” -- The 6 GINNs, all equipped with Guuls, had reached the edge of the battlefield, led by their commander’s distinctive silver-and-black mobile suit. It wasn’t the full squadron—6 pilots were left on standby at Carpentaria, but it would do for what was supposed to be a recon mission. Lowell, being the tip of the spear, scanned the battlefield ahead of him. The Wolf Squad’s leader had never seen the Astrays before, but it was easy enough to tell which ones were the Chromatic team in question. Nice and colour-coded for us… What was a bit more confusing were the mobile suits that looked just like them, rendered in an orange-black-and-white colour scheme. They had been told that Orb was undergoing some kind of coup, but no one had mentioned that the Union was mass-producing its own mobile suits. “What would a supposedly neutral nation need with mass-produced suits?” based on their intel, the chromatic suits were being developed alongside the G-Weapons…but he figured they were also for the Earth Alliance, not for Orb’s personal use. Lowell had a bad feeling about all of this but he knew now wasn’t the time to get distracted. Cody’s voice came over his comms. “Sir, I’ve got eyes on what looks to be a supply ship—it doesn’t have Orb designation, but it does seem to be carrying a full load,” “Good eyes, Cody. Pursue that ship and disable it. If you can recover the cargo, all the better. Who knows what kind of secrets they might be—ah!” Lowell felt a sudden twinge in his head and found his attention pulled towards something—someone—he couldn’t see with his eyes, but could…feel. “Sir?” “Sorry,” Lowell shook his head. “Pursue the ship, Cody,” “Roger that,” Cody’s GINN broke off from the rest of the squad, taking off after the supply ship trying to leave the battlefield. Renato spoke next. “Sir, we’ve got two bogeys inbound. It looks like the Gold unit and the Green unit,” “Right,” Lowell’s heart began to beat faster. “Renato, Faulkner, engage the Green unit. I’ll take the Gold one. Simmons and Araki, push deeper and pester the others where you can,” A chorus of affirmatives came over the radio as the GINNs peeled off from the group, but Lowell’s attention was already focused on the incoming Gold unit. It couldn’t be you, could it? -- Roane rolled out of his cover and charged forward, full burst. As it approached the Blue Frame and its assailants, the Red Frame pulled back the spear and let it fly like a javelin. Roane cried with elation as the spear collided with one of the M1’s heads, ripping it off the body of the mobile suit. “Come on!” the test pilot cried as his hands danced across the controls. The Red Frame leapt up into the air, tucked its leg and delivered a half-turn roundhouse kick to the beheaded M1, causing the torso to his the ground with a massive thud that kicked up a cloud of smoke. The Red Frame reached backwards and drew one of its beam sabers from the backpack unit, the pink blade glowing violently in the haze of concrete dust. Roane was about to bring the blade down on the disabled Astray when his sensors blared. The Red Frame wheeled around just in time to spot two missiles headed directly for it. Thinking fast, Roane kicked the CIWS guns into gear, the trail of bullets arcing upwards and connecting with the incoming rockets, exploding them prematurely. “Where the hell did those came from?” Roane said, bewildered. His question was quickly answered as two ZAFT mobile suits atop of flight units came into view. “What are ZAFT units doing here? Geneva, Kali! Watch out!” --- Lowell’s face hardened into a frown as the flying Gold unit came into view. He didn’t love fighting while constrained to the Guul, but the GINN couldn’t fly in atmosphere. “I guess I should’ve requisitioned a DINN,” he said, but looking at the Astray and its flight pack, he knew it would’ve been able to dance circles around ZAFT’s flight-capable suits. “Right, I don’t know if it’s you in there, but if it is, I guess we both knew this was coming, didn’t we?” Sword in one hand, machine gun in the other, Lowell took a deep breath before pulling the trigger, letting fly a hail of bullets towards the Gold Frame. “Let’s see what this machine of yours can do, Barondel!” --- Cody’s GINN fired persistently on the Flerken Heavy, which did little in the way of retaliation. “I don’t know what secrets you’re trying to hide, but you’re not getting away from me,” Cody smirked to himself, despite the suspicion growing in his stomach that something was off here. It was like shooting fish in a barrel when the damn thing couldn’t even shoot back. What was Orb thinking? That it’d just go unnoticed? But its lack of defenses raised questions as well. What if it was a civilian ship? At that moment, the Flerken Heavy started to go down, jettisoning its cargo as it descended. Oh well, I guess… The GINN approached the cargo pod and took it in its hands. “You’re coming with me,” Cody said, still smirking. He was fairly new to the squad, but if this pod contained Orb secrets, he might be seeing a promotion in the near future. “Sir, I’ve secured the supply ship’s cargo pod. I’ll drop it off at the rendezvous point and double back to re-engage,” It was Renato, the second in command, that responded. “That’s a negative Wolf-12. Take the cargo and return to Carpentaria. This isn’t supposed to be a drawn-out thing,” Cody frowned and groaned to himself. “Yes sir, returning to base,”
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