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GBN 1.8 [GBN 1.8] Alpha Override

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As Creed locked the MKII into place on the AEUG vessel his screen suddenly acknowledged “Mission Accomplished”. Marco release the controls clearly relieved at the end of the situation. He didn’t realize how on edge he was until the cutscene had started. As the cutscene went on Marco realized that the mission would become distinctively Seed based for the next round. He watched in intrigue as it depicted a slightly familiar scenario with Heliopolis. “Does this mean we’ll be working with Zaft this time around?” He murmured out loud. 

 

Finally the controls returned to his cockpit and Marco saw that a waypoint had been set for a familiar looking ship not that far away from his current position. Maneuvering the Saviour to the Nazca class Vesalius; Creed began to feel excited once more. His machine docked and he found himself inside the hangar of the fabled ship. As he looked around the hangar a deck officer approached him with a crisp salute. “Please proceed to the briefing room on the command deck sir! Commander Le Creuset will join you as soon as he’s able to.” Creed gave a half hearted nod in response. He floated his way to the command deck and was marveling at the detail of the ship. Part of him always enjoyed the idea of having a ship as a force nest. 

 

As he entered the debriefing room he brought up his game menu and swiped a few controls waiting for the rest of alpha team. Even as he did so he brought up the after action report and grimaced at the statistics. If they succeeded it was in spite of being a team not because of it. Creed wasn’t above acknowledging his own shortcomings. He got flustered, lost his temper, he was reckless. He let out a sigh and started stroking his beard in concentration. The memory of the Galbaldy caused him to furrow his brow in anger. He was letting something so simple bother him. That’s not the type of player he was, nor the type of person. “Things will change this time around.” He mused. 

 

One by one his teammates entered the room and he eyed each one curiously, having never seen their avatars before. The two boys seemed like normal average players  but the squirrel girl did caused him to slightly shake his head in confusion. As they filed in everyone eyed each other with their own motives hidden behind their faces. Marco cleared his throat, “I want to apologize to everyone here…” he looked at everyone in the eye as he said so, Marco was standing in front of the room. “I let my feelings cloud my judgment that mission and fought instinctively err- recklessly really... I don’t think I have to tell everyone that we got lucky.” He waited to see if anyone had a response to his admittedly lame apology. He dared to add, “I think if were going to succeed in his next round then we’re going to have to work together as a team…” he let the words hang in the air and waited to see what his teammates would say. He was genuinely curious how they would react. 

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The battle had ended and what had he done… nothing. The anger he felt for himself and the gunpla was more like a raging inferno, however he took a deep breath as him and his gunpla were transported to a hanger. The Win Screen was still on his monitor with a snarl on his face Shin rammed his fist through the monitor making the screen vanish. 

"You call that a victory… I call it a tasteless battle." He crossed his arms and sat in the cockpit of his gunpla. He could see the rest of his so called team coming and starting to head out of there machines. He didn't care, he pulled up the battle data and short recording of the fight from all his teammates. As he watched he got even angrier however he did see a level of skill and could see that each had their own plans, all except one. He could tell that she was a novice completely new to GBN how she got a beta key he will never understand. However something that stuck out to him was the gunpla, for being a newb it was very well crafted. After he was done with his analysis he opened the cockpit, Shin had opted for an actual opening rather than the teleport animation. As he floated down to the ground he continued to play out the battle over and over. Shin ignored everyone as they entered the room he was the last one in and that was fine by him. He leaned up against a far wall 

 

Shin closed his eyes as the man began to speak. As he spoke and apologized Shin grew more and more angry till finally it boiled over. His hand slammed against the wall making a loud bang 

"Stop apologizing! In fact that was a pointless way to start this meeting. We all acted according to our own will so accept it and move on. As for being lucky, your damn right. I only joined the beta to see what kind of fighters I could take out. " He paused for a moment then looked at the group. 

"So far I'm not really impressed." He let that sink in for a bit but then continued 

"I do agree that if this mission is a team battle we will have to work together. Because let me tell you… I won't lose again. " There was a certain fire to his words and the look in his eyes was that of someone determined to prove something, and what he wanted to prove had nothing to do with the fight. It was easy to tell there was hate behind almost every word he spoke. His disdain for gunpla and GBN was loud and clear in every action he took

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Hikaru couldn't help but be surprised at the victory.  He had no real knowledge of what was going on until the cutscene mentioned Unit 03's location.  Now things started to make sense.  One of the team had absconded with the damaged Mk-II without telling anyone, securing the victory, and it was the teammate that was AWOL from the battlefield.  After giving a sigh, he then looked to Fa and gave a small smile.  It was hardly a consolation for hurting her home, but...  "Miss Yuiry, Kamille Bidan was secured by one of my allies in time.  You should be able to see him soon.  Mind yourself of the others in the hangar, and you might be expected to sit tight to keep from being underfoot until some details are worked out."  Once they docked and he helped Fa out of his machine, he was informed by a crew member that there would be a team meeting and where to go.  Fa was left in the capable hands of the crew, though he really had no idea if she'd stay put or not.  He was able to at least see Kamille getting out of a machine with Risu and point him out to her before he left for the meeting.

The Beta Gundam's pilot went to the room in question and listened to Creed apologize to the group for his conduct.  The adolescent felt that Shin's response was absolutely cringe-worthy.  It wasn't something that could be left hanging in the air without comment.  "Acknowledging our failures and showing respect for the team is hardly a 'pointless' way to start a meeting dedicated to self-analysis and improvement.  You want to avoid losing in the future?  Exploring the 'why' behind the losses in the past is one of the ways to do that, right?"  Hikaru asked Shin before he looked back to Creed, pondering the matter carefully.  He scratched the back of his neck.

"In my case, I guess I flooded the radio too much in the beginning.  I was trying to clarify my plan for Argama Team in a way that the NPDs could process and act on.  If I went too meta with it, they'd have ignored it as ramblings.  This made it more...wordy than it otherwise might have been.  I might still need to do that in the future, but I can try to switch to our team channel and clarify my intentions in a more brief manner on the side.  I know the other team did it too.  That guy in the GM III was bragging about manipulating Emma Sheen when I tried to lure her Gundam into position for capture."  Manipulating the NPDs to act was a viable action and one he couldn't throw away because people were impatient.  Especially if the other team retained the tactic.  "I need to read up on this...merged history some if I want to keep that as an option though."

"I'm guessing you're Creed."  He recalled the voice from during the mission, and felt come confidence in his guess.  "Maybe you were reckless, but you were also the only one I who had my back in combat when I needed for support in the initial two-on-one.  I thank you for that, it's one of the reasons Kamille survived the fight at all.  That being said, I'm pretty upset that you ducked out on the fight later without telling any of us what you were doing.  Yeah, it won the battle for us, but our communication absolutely sucks.  I was the only one of the team left fighting when the battle ended, and had no idea why."  Hikaru said, hinting that going AWOL without cluing everyone else in on it had consequences for the team.

"Speaking of Kamille.  Risu, thanks for finally bringing Kamille into your cockpit."  Which one Risu was happened to be clarified by the fact that Kamille was with her.  "I have to ask though...what happened?  You took a hit and just...sat there for half the battle until the end.  You didn't even respond to me on the radio.  Did you bump your head on the console in the crash and get knocked out or something?  I hear the feedback for that sort of thing was upped in 1.78 for some reason..."  He was curious about the squirrel girl's effective non-participation.  Regarding Shin's actions specifically, he really had nothing more to say at the moment.  He fought solo, didn't like losing, and was a jerk to everyone about it.

Edited by MM007
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Risu took a brief pause as she was pulled out of the dark cockpit space of her gunpla and deposited into what appeared to be a large atrium, though the way that various other gunpla were placed in rows against the walls seemed to suggest that this was a hangar, not unlike one for aircraft.

She was perhaps too engaged with getting her bearings that she’d effectively tuned out the rather terse conversation happening between the other members of her team, though the way she appeared to actively avoid them would no doubt inform the other divers about what kind of person the little squirrel was, though as soon as her name was called, she’d turn towards the one who’d addressed her.

Hikaru, she recalled, though the fact that his name showed up just above his head helped quite a lot. Now that they weren’t engaged in distracting combat, she could dedicate her attention to what he was saying. Unlike previously, he was showing concern. Whether or not he was mad at her, she couldn’t tell, but regardless, Risu felt like she ought to apologize. With a small pout, a white speech bubble appeared overhead, filled with a single word.

[sorry :c]

[i’ll try harder next time]

It’s just a game, Risu thought to herself. There’s no reason you should be getting down like this! Even though she knew better, something nagged at her, or rather had been nagging at her for quite some time. Right now, though, it didn’t matter. She’d try to keep her word as best she could. She wanted to do good, if not for them, for herself, and then maybe Choco as well, whenever she decided to show up.

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Creed let the voices fire back and forth as Shin launched things slightly into the realm of uncomfortable dialogue. The kid seemed like a volcano ready to pop at the slightest irritation. There was an anger buried beneath him that Creed couldn’t quite seem to place. Marco kept his expression as neutral as possible as everyone else talked. Marco nodded in acknowledgment as Hikaru thanked him for the assistance earlier. Of the group, Hikaru seemed like the more level headed of the boys, Creed could sense some leadership potential from the kid. His eyes settled on the exchange between Hikaru and Risu. The squirrel girl intrigued him, she clearly had potential as a builder and with that in mind he had to wonder why she was in the beta. He studied her closely as she talked and finally cleared his throat. 

 

“Hikaru is right… we need to analyze the past to be victorious in the future. I would have preferred to bag all three machines if it was entirely up to me.” He eyed the fiery youth as he talk as if daring Shin to suggest a different outcome. He then returned his gaze to Risu, “let’s start this off properly… my name is Marco Creed, I’m the poster boy for Zapp inc. I’ve been building and driving pretty much since the beginning… I’d love to hear about each of you and what you built your machines to do? We need to understand the roles we all have in mind in order to figure out how to work together.” Marco nodded his head towards Shin once again motioning for the kid to speak up again. 

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Shin was ready to blow up at the kid, however his gaze quickly turned to the little squirrel girl. As the chat bubble appeared over head and her nervousness showed Shin stopped. All he could think as the girl typed was 'cute' he recomposed himself as Creed spoke and kept eyeing him. Shin let out a slight chuckle. He wanted to know if Shin could have seen a different or better outcome but he kept his thoughts on it to himself. This group already proved to him that moving past failures wasn't there strong suit. He remained quiet and once Creed was done speaking he could tell he was once again motioning for him to speak. With a deep breath the crimson haired man spoke up. 

"If you wanna know about me it's all public record. I'm Shin Hakuren, also known as The Raging Beast of GBN. I've worked my way up in singles ranked battles to be the best. As for why I build my gunpla it's for battle nothing more. That's a gunpla is good for. " As he spoke he flicked his wrist to show a detailed layout of his Astral Astray. On the screen several slots in the machine read out part missing. 

"This is my current Gunpla, and seeing that it didn't fully blowup in my first match I might use it again. It's main focus is close ranged combat with only mid range support tools. Don't expect me to help anyone at long range. I hate that kind of fighting and aim the farther I get it terrible." He let them study his specs a bit then closed the display. With that he was done he fully explained how his machine and him would be useful in combat. While he had a fair grasp on his teammates skills and there gunpla. It wouldn't hurt to see what they thought they could do. After he was done he walked back to his corner of the room and leaned back against the wall. Intending to silently listen to his "teams" discussion.

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Hikaru felt an urge to headpat the squirrel, but resisted due to politeness.  Not everyone appreciated such things and it could come off as creepy.  "Well, I wouldn't be surprised if Miss Yuiry was grateful to you.  I managed to bring her in as well.  To be perfectly honest, the realism of their expressions, their grief...it makes me wonder if the immersion is a bit too much.  But it might mean her relief will be just that much more real too."  He recalled Fa's realistic expressions and unknowingly commented on something Risu might be quite familiar with.  The impact was so great, in fact, that he couldn't bring himself to be overly familiar with the NPD and just call her 'Fa' as he would otherwise have.  Not without permission.

"In any case, I'm Hikaru Hiyashi.  My father is one of GBN's engineers and my step-sisters are playing on the GBN main servers as Purus Seven and Eleven.  That's why I have the 'Adopted Puru' handle.  I'm honestly surprised they weren't chosen for this Beta instead of me."  Those two were currently providing character and voice work for the Puru series in general in both game and media, often appearing at real-life events.  He wasn't sure how famous they were, but it was enough to contribute to the Gundam canon.  "As for me...let's just say Gundam and Gunpla got me through a time of mourning and leave it at that.  I got a 3D Printer, figured out how to make my own pieces, and never looked back."  He brought up information on his machine and provided it.

"The RX-179 Beta Gundam is a mix of the RX-178 Gundam Mk-II and the RMS-154 Refined Barzam made partly of custom-printed parts, plus the Zeta Gundam's beam rifle and a Clay Bazooka.  It's a 'jack-of-all-trades' machine meant to be upgraded depending on how my skills and the needs I encounter in GBN develop as well as an armament testbed, so I made it a modular unit with hip and arm hardpoints.  Let me know if there are hard-mounted weapons the team needs to test before full integration into a Gunpla and we can probably do that.  It also has the ability to employ a Back Weapon System-enabled G-Defenser that isn't completed yet.  There is also a quasi-psycommu, but it's meant more for connected armaments or turret control than INCOMs."  Indeed, the Gundam currently had two beam guns on its hips that each provided a dome of coverage to the machine's left or right.  The typical 'two INCOMs with two axes of movement each' limitation on a quasi-psycommu was the perfect amount of control to make it work.  It also employed a beam claw on one forearm and the top part of a damaged vulcan-equipped shield undergoing repair on the other.  A stolen GM II Shield was in the unit's left hand undergoing repair, a beam rifle was in its right hand, and a Clay Bazooka was in its rear skirt armor rack.  "I also have a stock FXA-00 'Flying Armor' intended for use by any non-flight-capable units on the team, but I have to remember to log in with it.  If someone needs me to provide that next time, please speak up.  It might have been useful moving the captured Gundam back faster at least.  Finally, I have two folding jump seats in the cockpit based on the one seen in Unicorn.  Miss Yuiry found them useful this mission.  Call me in to carry NPDs or for evacuation if prudent.  I just wasn't able to get to Kamille this time around."

It was then that he remembered something.  "Oh, I also think I managed to convince Emma Sheen that the Beta Gundam was another Gundam Mk-II or a derivative.  I might make appropriate bait for it, though Beta Team might have mitigated that to a degree."

Edited by MM007
spelling and grammar
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Risu listened quietly, though she'd occasionally fidget with her hands. While the others were talking about their Gunpla, she found herself more occupied with looking at her own. She didn't get an opportunity to look at the machine before, and now that she stood at the foot of it, she couldn't help but admire how it was portrayed. Risu had built Higanbana for Choco, but her friend had refused, instead telling her that she could have it. For a moment, the squirrel reflected on why that was. Maybe Choco had her build it to trick her into playing GBN. While that was fine, she wondered why Choco didn't just ask her if she wanted to play from the start.

It was obvious that the Higanbana was an exceptional Gunpla, built using advanced modeling techniques. While ultimately, the machine was stock in its configuration, it was far from a scratch build: the original white-and-navy colour scheme had been replaced with a pearl white and two-tone red satin finish, merging pieces formed from plastic plate to modify the proportions of the already fairy-like mobile suit. The V-Fin had been replaced as well with an intricately detailed golden figurehead, owing to the ornate aesthetic. Just how it was made was something of a mystery.

Eventually, she'd turn back towards the group, giving them a small bow as greeting.

[my name is risu btw  ٩(◕‿◕。)۶]

[im new to gbn wwwww]

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Marco kept an impassive face as the boys described their machines. They were fairly easy to understand, if not straight forward. Shin was meant for close range combat while Hikaru was a jack of all trades. If Shin was the most vain of the group then Risu could be described as the opposite. The squirrel girl seemed to be mindful yet still absent minded as she completely ignored his question about the Higanbana. While Marco was versed as well as the next Gunpla fan he was the first to admit that his expertise on the peculiar suit wasn’t the most forthcoming. The girl seemed to enjoy looking at her handywork (something Marco could appreciate as a builder himself) but lacked any self confidence. The most reasonable conclusion that Creed could come to based on what he had seen was that the Higabana must be a long range type of mobile suit. He would have to learn more but suspected that getting Risu out of her shell would be a bigger priority. 

The man stroked his beard as he processed the information. Theoretically they had a balanced team excluding himself. Truth be told he wasn’t happy with the performance of the Saviour and the whole reason for him asking about his teammates was so he could figure out how to compliment everyone. The so called victory they experienced was anything but to his pallet and he wanted to thrive on the next challenge. Clearing his throat he brought himself out of his contemplation. “That’s fine” he responded to Risu, “everyone starts out somewhere! I’m sure we can bring you up to speed in no time!” He added cherrily before returning his gaze to the boys, “It’s a pleasure to meet you all…. and thank you for sharing about your machines. As fans I think we can all appreciate the work we put towards our hobby. As a builder myself I can say that I’ve noticed a particular quality evident in everyone’s work. Craftsmanship aside…” his voice grew more serious as he looked around the ZAFT board room once again absorbing the simple environment. “I want to share with you all an observation I experienced in the last mission. Something that I think Hikaru was hinting towards as well… the NPDs… To put it bluntly, I think they’re on a different level than previous GBN incarnations… Beta team had a unique NPD pilot on their team and the characters she exhibited were startling… truth be told it was one of the more difficult fights I’ve had on here.” 

He looked around the room to gauge how the other players were taking in his words. He continued, “with that said I have a few concerns immediately for this next phase that I want everyone to be mindful of… Kira Yamato… and Rau Le Creuset… not to mention the unnamed NPD with Beta…. I believe that we will be working closely with Rau on this mission and I hope everyone can remember just the type of person that he is, the more that fact sinks in for myself the more… unsettled I begin to feel… if I’m being honest.” The growing look of disgust on Creed’s face portrayed his concerns openly. He knew he was starting to sound slightly paranoid so he added, “I’m also very concerned that we will be fighting against Kira this next go around… he’s easily one of the strongest characters in the entire franchise. New pilot or not he will be very dangerous I suspect…” he looked back up realizing that he wasn’t even looking at everyone else. He sheepishly smiled then asked. “What do you guys think?” Even as he asked his eyes fell on the squirrel trying to get a feel for how she would react. He could guess how the boys would respond but he needed to understand this particular teammate more if he could help it. He needed to figure out a way to get her more invested in their situation, like it or not everyone was stuck with each other. 

Edited by Roromi
:P
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In response, Hikaru paused for a moment...before finally yielding to the impulse and head-patting the squirrel with as much stoicism as the act would allow.  He might be unknowingly head-patting some 50-year-old man in his basement, but eh.  It was the internet.  "Nice to meet you all, then.  And yes, it will take time.  If it were a game that was immediately easy to master, it wouldn't be much of a game, would it?"

Looking to the group, as well as to Marco, Hikaru pondered the matter for a moment.  "I'm not surprised that the NPDs are more capable.  I wonder just what sort of game this will become.  It's a rather big change.  Not just in difficulty, but in player resolve.  Looking into Fa's eyes when she asked why her home had to be attacked in such a way...replicating the pain of war so faithfully is hard-mode stuff that not every player can stomach.  Myself possibly included..."  Indeed, it raised ethical concerns that weren't necessarily to the benefit of the game if playing the 'bad guys' had such a weight.  Shaking himself from these thoughts, he continued to ponder.

"Regarding Kira, you're right that he shouldn't be underestimated...even if his early survival was due in part to literal plot armor.  It's his role that will be hard to determine."  Hikaru looked to the group, trying to analyze what he'd seen so far.  "If he pilots the Strike and we fight in space without much change, we may face the Aile.  If the NPDs emulate the thinking of the character at the time without sufficient constraint in the system, however, he may instead hang back and use the Launcher to protect the Archangel as a mobile beam cannon.  Remembering his initial reasons for fighting, he has no reason to risk himself further than that if he has allies to handle the close-up stuff, and Beta Team may consider his safety a priority.  If he has to be called out to fight, he could just swap packs at that point.  Mu La Flaga, as a threat, is limited due to the low power behind his gunbarrels against our collective armor unless the machine he's piloting is changed.  He's more dangerous as a battlefield coordination asset as long as we keep our wits about us and avoid his main gun or joint, thruster, and sensor shots."  Hikaru suspected that the pilot in the GM would use the NPDs' reasoning abilities to alter their combat plans, at least within the scope of what the system allowed.

"Of course, if we get an opportunity to grab Flay's escape pod, we get some of Kira's reason for fighting.  It all depends on the when and where we face him, the nature of the new NPDs, and just how the enemy tries to take advantage of it.  On our end, confronting Athrun about Kira while we're here might change how he conducts himself in battle, for example."  Hikaru shrugged before moving on to another point he was wondering about.

"So, what are we working with on our end as allies?  Are ZAFT's machines still no-beam, or does their coordination with the AEUG give them access to the technology?  I could see early development of the CGUE DEEP Arms or something like the GINN High Maneuver Type II's beam carbine...otherwise they'll be limited against Kira's machine save as bait or battery drain."  The pilot was still wondering about the technological issues this gestalt world had.  It made him wonder about all the technological and political complexities promised by such interactions in this complex system...

 

Edited by MM007
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Hikaru was the only one to respond to Marco’s remarks, accordingly the man nodded his head in agreement about the game being a challenge. The boy was sharp and Marco found himself largely agreeing with the kid’s assessment about a lot of the possibilities they could be facing as a team. Marco was about to respond to Hikaru’s question about the technology when the door opened up to their conference room. 

A tall blonde man gave a smirk and a salute as he floated into the room. The smile the officer wore was charming yet Marco knew better than to trust the expression being offered. Indeed, the smile was complemented by a white mask which hid the eyes of the man, giving him an almost doll like appearance. The man spoke up with an air of friendliness in his words. “You must be the mercenaries the council has hired for this operation.” The white clad ZAFT officer paused to stand beside Marco at the front of the room. “Allow me to introduce myself, I am Commander Rau Le Creuset. I couldn’t help but overhear your last question…” Rau offered a nod towards Hikaru. “The Vesalius is equipped with my own CGUE along with a couple of spare GINNS. Hence the reason why you are all here to compliment our forces.”

Marco stood up stiffly as the notorious officer barged in. He had heard of other people hiring NPDs from series before but he couldn’t rightly recall anyone ever dealing with Rau, likely for a good reason. Rau didn’t miss a beat, “unfortunately my team is tied up with the capture of the Earth Alliance units and will be unable to assist. We will be relying on all of you for this next leg of the mission. Briefing and deployment will happen in 24 hours. In the meantime feel free to utilize any of our facilities or equipment to prepare yourselves. I for one look forward to seeing the performance that your unique machines have to offer.” The man offered a cat like grin at the comment and gave another salute before gliding out of the room. 

Marco remained some what  stunned by the performance and found himself staring at the exit longer than intended. Gulping, he snapped out of his trance and looked once again at his teammates who seemed just as speechless. Shrugging he cleared his throat, “I’m going to log out for awhile to rest and prepare for this next mission…” as he spoke he brought up his interface and sent a friend request to the people in the room. “Feel free to message me privately if you want to talk.” He glanced around at everyone one last time before logging out and entering into the real world once more. 

Edited by Roromi
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Risu’s little ears flattened at the touch to her head, appearing to wince away at Hikaru’s touch. Still, she looked like she appreciated it, judging by the small, nervous smile she’d given him. As the proceedings continued, she remained quiet, trying her best to understand what was going on. By the looks of things, this Rau person seemed quite important. And while she didn’t quite get the finer details of his speech, she understood that the next part of this questline was gated for tomorrow.

Her attention quickly shifted to her interface as a red circle marked with a ‘1’ appeared above the back of her hand. She’d hold it in front of her to open it, finding a friend request from Marco. She’d leave it for now. As the other divers begun their goodbyes, she’d stand idly in place. She was typing something, and it was taking quite a while. Eventually, she’d bow again, offering her own farewell-for-now.

[good night!! see u tomorrow wwww (´`)*: ]

Despite this, she lingered, watching the rest of her new Force disappear with clouds of teal, cubic particles.

Now alone, she could finally relax. It felt like she’d been holding her breath the entire time. Slowly, she’d slump to her knees on the cool metal floor, letting out a shaky sigh. This wasn’t normal for her. Usually, she had no problem with people online, where they were static, distant avatars speaking in text, but in the space of virtual reality, it all felt too real. They looked real, quite possibly like their real selves, and they were speaking to her about things she had no understanding of. And now they were counting on her: strangers she barely knew hanging their hopes of success on her meager shoulders. While they’d managed to eke out a victory, Risu could feel it in her heart that she was dragging them down, that they felt that she was dragging them down, holding them back from performing perfectly.

Why was she even doing this? She didn’t know Choco in real life, either, but the obligation of meeting her in this game gnawed at her conscience. She wanted to impress her, especially since she’d been given the game, owing nothing in return. For all her hangups and anxiety about all of this, Risu wanted to do better, she wanted to be better for when they would inevitably see each other.

She was never good at games, and in virtual reality, where real dexterity was important, she had little chance of keeping up: she was clumsy and unskilled with anything requiring a modicum of finesse or expertise. How would she get better for Choco?

Risu paused for a moment, laying back and closing her eyes before she’d log out herself. “Sorry….”

Edited by Rabbidy
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Creed did his daily routine as normal. Wake up, eat breakfast, and do shores around the house, and post on his Zapp Inc blog. It wasn’t until midday that he started having any thoughts about GBN and the next part of the mission. Gundam Seed had always been one of his favorite series and he vividly recalled being thrilled by the exploits of Rau Le Cruset during the show. This caused Marco to decide two things for his planned session that evening: the first being to not pilot the savior, the latter being to have fun with the situation. 

His two conclusions caused the sponsored professional to literally dust off a mecha from his shelf and do some light touch up work on it. Before he could really ask himself what he was doing he had his paints out and his printer etching out a custom design on decal paper. He meticulously cleaned the surface of the regal white Gundam with cuetip and applied his custom decal where the old one had been. 

The Gundam Bael had intrigued Marco, especially for being in a series that wasn’t particularly his favorite. Still the fan in him enjoyed the simple design the machine boasted. The white and blue paints paid homage to Tallgeese II and the weapon choice reminded him vaguely of Epyon in their specialization. Twin gold swords (which Marco had made out of actual metal) hung ready on the hips of the model. Even motionless and poised the figure had a majesty about it which Marco had to concede made it appropriate to lead Gjallarhorn. 

The skilled builder smirked as he ran his fingers over the recently added logo. He replaced the IBO livery with something more appropriate. On the left shoulder of Bael now housed the symbol for ZAFT with the letters being innocently swapped out to spell ZAPP  instead. By the time Marco had finished his updates to the model he ate a light dinner then finally decided to log into GBN and get his bearings for the new mission.  

 

As Creed appeared in the beta lobby because it was a beta he hadn’t bothered to set up a force nest just yet, and he took in the scene of the public lobby. He took a moment to access his menu before heading for the default hangar. He toggled a few commands and as he exited his menu his avatar shimmered for a moment as his clothes changed. It was no secret that Marco wasn’t a young buck anymore and his frame was no longer the wiry build he had from college. Fatherhood added a few pounds to his waist and he sighed in resignation as he looked at himself in the clingy red spacesuit of a ZAFT ace pilot. Ultimately he had to smile because this was the first time in awhile that he had gotten excited enough to play along with a mission. He paused to look at the patch on his shoulder and grinned when he saw his custom ZAPP patch in place there as well. 

A few random players paused to look at him but nothing too obtrusive as the veteran went to the tower’s launching pad. Within a few moments he was within the cockpit of the Bael. He flexed his arms and fingers as he settled over the controls and launched the machine into the always perfect skies outside. Bael wasn’t a true flying machine but it had a knack for maneuverability and unlike the savior wasn’t so rigid when shifted directions. He eased the machine through some simple paces and soon brought the machine to the loading point for his mission. In an instant he went from soaring around the pleasant blue skies of the lobby to the motionless, frantic pace of the Versailles Hangar. 

Technicians floated to and fro, pushing crates around as they prepared for battle. Creed pressed a button and found himself soon alongside the foot traffic, as he pushed himself towards the briefing room. As he sailed past different crewmen he noticed that a lot more of them paused to salute him, apparently appreciating his effort at wearing one of their uniforms. Marco smiled as he saluted back and was wearing a cocky grin on his face as he opened the door to the briefing room. As he neared, he wondered if his teammates would be appearing soon as well. Marco had a tendency to show up early for missions so he could prepare as much as possible; he knew he was likely the first one onboard the ship. Even so, the foot traffic of the NPDs was alarming as they hustled around, legitimately worrying about their existence as they prepared for the upcoming battle. Their existence, Creed mused, his grin fading into an expression of thoughtfulness. That notion stuck in his head more and more as he took note of the diversity in the ship's crew, and the unformed expressions on their faces. It was that damn look, not the look of a mindless NPD, but one of genuine concern about living the day through, which was unmistakable. He found himself floating outside the boardroom, staring out the viewport towards the stars, wondering just how far this update had taken GBN. 

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There was more activity in the lobby this time.  That was always a good sign, but Hikaru would only spare a smile and a nod to the receptionist due to time constraints as he headed to the hangar.  Blinking as he saw green bots moving about on his machine, he realized what was going on.

"More Elemechu?"  Hikaru noted when he stood in front of his machine again.  Of course, it was understandable.  He'd made a number of changes, particularly to the armament and equipment of the unit.  Such changes needed to be inspected for improper hacks or other measures before use.  He waited for the scan of his machine to complete, hoping he wouldn't be late for the operation, while reflecting on the changes to his unit.  The Beta Gundam was now equipped with its upgraded BWS-capable G-Defenser and had a simple but resilient 'Mobile Armor' form that consisted of the whole thing laying down on its face.  Its shield had a nice surprise if its main protection was breached and the Long Rifle had improved accuracy due to Smart Beam Gun technology being added and married to the quasi-psycommu in a similar way to the hip beam guns.  Wanting options other than just beam, however, Hikaru had settled on adding a Union Flag's Linear Rifle to the G-Defenser's centerline and a Dom's Heat Saber to the side opposite the new Long Smart Gun.  Both were low weight, but the Heat Saber sported a solid reach while the Linear Rifle served to improve the aerodynamic properties in detached or Mobile Armor mode with its electromagnetic field emitter.  Not the most powerful additions, but suitable until he thought of better.  Perhaps something based on the Gerbera Straight from Red Frame would be more appropriate than the Heat Saber?

Oh, and the whole thing was standing in a stock FXA-00 "Flying Armor", but that was meant to be loaned to one of his allies as needed.  Maybe it would improve the movement of one of the GINNs supporting the operation at worst.  Kira likely did have an Aile Striker, after all.

Once checks were complete, he got in his machine and the location shifted to the ZAFT hangar.  After guiding his machine off of the FXA-00 Flying Armor and setting it to be usable by any of their allies, he got out of his Mobile Suit and observed the tone of the people preparing for combat.  It was a good thing he brought the Flying Armor, too.  Someone had brought an IBO unit that was either bone stock or a sleeper.  Process of elimination implied it to be Creed.  He looked for the pilot and decided to check the boardroom they were in before.  He hadn't run into Fa and Kamille yet either, but wondered how they were doing.  They, and the NPDs here, were realistic enough for him not to remember that they weren't 'real' and feel actual concern for what was coming.  Memories flashed to Fa's grief and he wondered if it was more than 'skin deep'.  How far could one go emulating feelings before they became real?

"Hey there."  Hikaru said, taking note of his teammate.  "I see you brought along an IBO machine.  Good thinking against all the beam.  I brought an FXA-00 Flying Armor explicitly for a teammate to use if needed to keep up with the Aile Strike.  Think your Gundam needs the boost, or is it better without it?"
 

Edited by MM007
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((This was a collaboration between me and Hikaru. Enjoy!))

Creed was snapped out of his reverie by Hikaru’s question. The older man had a flustered look on his face as he returned to the here and now. He looked at the kid and took an extra moment to contemplate the question. “Hmm” he pondered out loud. Bael was somewhat specialized, if not specific in its design. By all rights he suspected that his machine would be fast enough to compete with the Strike, maybe even the Destiny is that became an issue down the road. The question wasn’t wether or not he needed a boost, it was if Bael would be better without the bonus? Marco finally shook his head, “let’s see what everyone else brings to the table. I’ll take you up on it if no one else has a use for it. Bael is plenty fast enough, my only fear would be off balancing the machine with too much speed. It could become unwieldy.” He looked at the kid directly, “thank you though!” He was genuine in his appreciation, at least the kid was trying to help his teammates. “Bael might get nakered up but it should outpace the Strike… last I checked sword beats knife.” He added the last part with a snicker as he referred to the armor Schneider knives the Strike was known for. 
 

Hikaru smiled back, getting the joke. "Heh, yeah.  Those and its vulcans may be the only things that can actually hurt your machine aside from the Sword Striker or maybe the Launcher Striker's overkill."  He chose to respond to the gratitude next, glad someone appreciated it. "You're welcome. Logging my machine in while standing on the Flying Armor was as easy as not, and my machine's new G Defenser should be just as fast so I don't need it unless there's call for atmospheric re-entry.  It's essentially a 'poor man's' Mobile Armor with a Beam Smart Rifle for longer range hits." That wasn't the full loadout, but it was a decent summary.

"I also added some emergency non-beam armaments in case I ran into a machine with anti-beam properties.  You and Risu are already fielding them, and it's only a matter of time until the enemy does too..." The Diver tried to keep combat trends in mind and predict them, though he wasn't going to pretend to be 100% successful.

 

Marco nodded his agreement as Hikaru spoke. “If they’re smart they’ll mix things up as well. Best we can do is hope to keep them off balance.” As he mused he began stroking his beard nervously as he gazed out the window. “Do you really think they’ll have us diving into the atmosphere?” The veteran asked cautiously of the younger man. His reference to the flying armor Hikaru brought along. “That’ll make things very interesting if it goes that route.”
 

"Well, I don't know if it'll happen this mission or not."  Hikaru admitted, having given a shrug. "Things are up in the air and the timing is likely off, but both scenarios this seems to be comprised of have an eventual orbital drop mission we can use it for.  In the meantime, the Flying Armor is something that might be able to keep an otherwise sluggish teammate more highly mobile. It seemed better to have it as an option than not to carry it along. The Aile Strike is fast.  Some of Beta Team's machines are also fast. It was that simple in the end."

Indeed, things were getting harder to predict.  The unit was something he could carry along with his machine into GBN without any form of penalty, and he didn't HAVE to use it...so why not?
 

Again Marco grinned at the man, a twinkle in his eye and looked back at Hikaru. “It’s very smart of you bringing that in. Any edge will help us! Once this is over I’d like to take -“ his voice trailed off as a man floated towards the pair. Non other than Rau Le Cruset appeared with an eerie smile on his lips. The NPD gave a salute towards the divers, “gentleman… the briefing will commence momentarily. I would suggest you attend the conference room soon”. With a curt nod the devilish man floated away and Marco gave Hikaru a helpless look. “If our teammates don’t show up won’t the simulation forfeit us out?” The question was partially directed at himself. In previous versions an impartial team would be disqualified from participating in the mission. Was this something 1.8 had changed?

Marco’s panic grew as more and more NPDs piled into the briefing room. It soon became obvious that the briefing would start one way or another. He looked at Hikaru, curious to see what the kid had to say about all this. 

 

Hikaru noted Rau, creeped out a bit by the man after knowing his true ambitions but giving him a nod.  Whether they remained in this altered era was hard to determine, however. In this merged universe, Rau may well take on Char Aznable's more ethically questionable aspects as well.

Entering and having a seat with Marco, Hikaru started noting various AEUG and ZAFT pilots.  There was even Shiho Hahnenfuss. Lots of background characters were present. "...Given that the other team was allowed to participate with an NPD filling their fourth slot,"  Hikaru started when speaking to Marco, "I suspect that we might not get the boot so easily. It's more likely that Kamille and Fa, who are here because of our actions, would be compelled to fight to balance out the roster.  That's just my guess though."


 

Marco found himself sitting with his teammate and nodding once more with Hikaru’s assessment. He was glad that he was stuck with a competent diver at the very least. It helped that they seemed to be of like mind as well. “That’s a valid point” Marco mumbled as the lights and din died down to let the attention settle on the infamous commander. 

Rau took a moment for the chatter to die down and a moment more before finally talking. “Thank you all for being here. As you are well aware we are still in a dogged pursuit of the legged ship. We have reason to believe that they will be making a run to enter the earth's atmosphere and proceed to Joshua.” He paused again to let his mask scan the crowded briefing room. “Because of the value of the G machines and our depleted fighting force we will be relying on the strength of our recently acquired mercenary force for this mission.” Rau lifted a glove hand to motion to Hikaru and Marco who shuffled nervously at the attention of so many NPDs. “Of course you will not be deploying alone, ZAFT does not take this task lightly so I will deploy as well to offer any assistance on this matter.” He let the gravity of the unusual deployment settle over the room. “At this point we can’t be certain of the exact strength of the enemy force but we can assume it will consist of five mobile suits and a single mobile armor.” The mention of the mobile armor hung in the air like a stale odor which caused the commander to grimace ever so slightly. “We must assess the enemy’s strength quickly and adapt accordingly. I would not ask for such a reckless course of action if it were not important.” As he finished there was that eerie smile along his lips once more. “Crew is dismissed, I want a word with our hired swords.” 

Marco tensed up as the man floated past the dispersed crowd of NPDs and paused an arms length from himself and Hikaru. “A word gentlemen…” he said politely, “it’s about that peculiar piece of equipment you brought along today…” Rau motioned to Hikaru and Marco felt his stomach sink as the NPD proceeded to formulate a plan, a decent plan, that used the resources of their small team. Marco’s emotions rolled from terror to fascination as the NPD got his reluctant approval. 

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***Immediately following mission 2*****

Before his blade could bite for more flesh the enemy MKII backed away. He had plenty of chance to pursue the enemy but Marco declined as the sinking feeling in his stomach grew. The text of “Mission Over” sprawled on his screen but he hardly cared and instead turned Bael around to fly for the Versailles. He checked his heads up to see the status of his allies. It seemed as if his team was still relatively intact. This did grant Creed some relief however the whole situation felt bittersweet. 

As he docked Bael he disembarked and was floating through the hangar of the Versailles. As he made his way through the ship he squinted as he nearly bumped into Kamille and Fa. The pair looked agitated, with Kamille clenching his fist and grinding his teeth. Clearing his throat Creed asked, “how are you two doing?” his face grew grave as he studied their reactions. The hesitation, the eye movement, it was all so lifelike that he could swear they were divers just like him.

“We’re fine, how did the mission go?” Fa responded.

Creed nodded, “The legged ship got away… but we dealt significant damage to the enemy…” he let the words linger as he chewed on their exact meaning. Shaking his head, he moved away from the pair before either could respond. He numbly floated his way towards the boardroom of the ship and sat waiting. The room was dimly lit with the monitor displaying the status of all the machines in the hangar as well as the projected course that the Archangel was taking to earth. He hardly reacted or noticed as his teammates floated in one after another. Despite himself, his thoughts dwelled on his son and the Freedom Gundam they had recently built together, and how “cool” Kira Yamato was supposed to be. With a simple sword stroke, it felt like had had just betrayed his son, and that thought was challenging to cope with.

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((This was a collaboration between all the members of Alpha team. Great work everyone!))

 

Hikaru's machine arrived at the Vesalius next, though it wasn't without at least something to show for its trouble.  The machine carried the main weapon, the lower body, and the arms of a RX-78GP04G Gerbera Gundam in Titans livery.

He disembarked from his machine, displeased.  They'd lost.  Oh, they managed to do some damage, but still.  He moved through zero gravity and landed near Fa, Kamilla, and Marco.  "Tch...at the very least we disabled a couple Gundams for a while.  I brought back pieces of the machine that tied me up, but the torso got away.  Maybe the AEUG can do something political with proof of the Gundam Development Project...or at least Anaheim can build us a machine faster out of the parts."

 

Marco snapped out of his reverie to regard Hikaru. His expression was blank and he shook his head as if in a daze before clearing his throat. “That’s good kid…” he slowly began returning to the “here and now” his eyes studying the room more openly. 

 

Kamille trembled with visible rage “those bastards! How can they get away with all this! First our home…” his glare shot up at Hikaru. “I can’t let them….” He shook as he clenched his eyes tightly. “I wish I wasn’t so helpless… I need to be able to fight my own battles…” he muttered with tears trickling out from his closed eyes. It was obvious how distraught the teen was and Fa moved to comfort her friend. “Kamille…” she offered feebly.

 

Hikaru hesitated for a moment.  He could egg Kamille on and coax him to fight, but this...wasn't like manipulating Emma.  No, this was a civilian transitioning into a soldier.  He scratched the back of his head in thought.

"Except it's not just your own battle.  If you go out intending to fight alone, you'll just be killed.  We were outnumbered, pulled away from the plan by it, and got lucky as it was.  It was very nearly two-to-one out there.  Besides...are you ready to kill?  Even if people have their own reasons for joining the enemy side?  Can you obey orders you might not like?"  Hikaru inquired, wanting Kamille to have a more solid idea of what he was getting into.  If he chose to help, it might aid his transition.

 

Shin loaded in looking and listening to the two players and then the NPDs But then back to Marcos 

" So what happened to the teamwork talk! Because once the fight started you rushed in same as last time, and y'all thought I wasn't the team player here!" He then looked over to Hikaru and the young kamille but didn't say a word. He knew opening his mouth further would only make things worse.

 

Risu entered a fair bit later than everyone else, scurrying in and giving the group a little wave. "Did I do good? Did I do good?" she called out, not at all aware of the room's current atmosphere. "We won, right?" Without a quick response, she'd stop speaking, giving her Force a small pout before sheepishly stepping to one corner of the room. Something told her that they were dealing with something, and her butting in would make things worse.

 

Marco involuntarily gasped at Hikaru’s words and grimaced. He stood up and turned to regard the conversation fully. Then Shin chimed in about teamwork. Creed stood up straight at the remark and flared at the kid. His first impulse was to react violently but Risu cut him off before he could do anything rash. 

 

Kamille was fuming “What does all that mean? At least if I’m able to fight I don’t have to sit here helplessly! I should be able to protect myself! Having you guys kill for me is worse than if I’m the one pulling the trigger!” He flared angrily around at all the divers sweeping his hand out wide. “I’m being forced to trust everyone else’s judgement! I can’t bear such shame!” He clenched his fist in front of him practically growling.

 

Marco took the moment to clear his angry thoughts and walked up to place his hands on Kamille’s shoulders before looking around at everyone. His touch on the boy made the teen jump but not run away. Creed took a moment looking at everyone grimly, “plans seldom make it through contact with the enemy… all things considered we did good…” his eyes settle in Risu as he said the last part. This was the most animated he’d seen her and he was surprised. Kamille hardly look pleased however as he began to brush Marco away. “I need to fight…” he stated defiantly, looking around for someone to help him.

 

Hikaru rubbed the back of his head.  He noted Shin, acknowledging the man's irritation.  First, he responded to him so as to explain things.  "So the Bael could attack the other Gundams with more impunity, and to keep the enemy's leader and probable main strategist from messing with Risu with his long range weapon, I led him away.  I didn't expect the battlefield area to shift and for them to throw an extra Gundam at us.  I sent a communication as soon as I could, and shot down the Zeong as soon as I saw you were in trouble.  That's all I could really do."  He wouldn't apologize for his actions, but he would explain them at least.

The Diver then regarded Kamille and Fa.  "...Kamille, I'm not telling you to fight or not to fight.  I'm trying to prepare you.  You may understand that the Titans were using you as human shields and might forgive us for fighting, but not everyone will.  You might be ordered into a situation like that again if the Titans keep employing such strategies.  You might have to fight among innocent civilians like we had to.  We can't always choose our battlefields.  If you insist on fighting, maybe we can contact Anaheim and have them finish this GP04 or something...but I think you need to talk to Fa about it before committing.  You're her lifeline here, and she was scared out of her wits for you."

 

Shin looked over to the young Risu and with a strange sort of smile spoke to her 

"As far as I could tell your the only one that kept the plan I knew of before the mission started." He turned to look at Creed and Hikaru and took a deep breath then looking at Kamille. 

"You wanna fight, do it your way. Stop feeling down about it and just move forward. Make a choice and stick to it. Trust me questioning your own choice will only hold you back." He walked closer and look closer at Creed and sighed as he looked away. Before he looked back at him

" Guess what happened doesn't matter anymore." As Hikaru spoke Shin listened 

"Thats fine. Things happen, however Creed did exactly what he did in the first mission. He rushed forward without a full plan or if he had one he didn't explain it well. I've worked on teams before and it's a two way street. I was humiliated because I worried about what I was supposed to do to be a 'Team Player' in the end I realized I wasn't fully the problem on this team. " He scratched his head and then looked to all of the group. 

"If we wanna be a team we have to work together and play off each of our strengths. You all work off my all out combat style and I learn to work with the rest of you. I hate to admit but if we could actually work together we wouldn't be able to lose even if we got outnumbered."

 

Risu paused for a moment, giving Shin a small nod of thanks. However, she'd continue to stay quiet, figuring it'd be best to listen intently. She had little knowledge of anything Gundam, and the best way to start would be to listen to everyone else.

 

Marco looked away from Shin and muttered. “I’ll admit I got buck fever… but I didn’t intend to get lured away from everyone else for so long… I… I haven’t been the best teammate I know….” The man seemed more emotional than he should be as he still mulled over thoughts of Kira in his head. 

 

Kamille scoffed and headed for the doorway. “If you guys can’t help me then I’ll find a way to fight myself…” as he stormed out of the room Fa called out chasing him “Kamille!” The two NPDs  exited the room and there was a tension that seemed to go away with them. 

 

Creed stroked his beard and eyed everyone. “All things considered we almost pulled that one out of the bag… one thing on my mind is how you did it?”  he nodded to Risu. “I didn’t know your suit could perform like that…” he then looked at Hikaru. “Also why did the field change for just you?”

 

Hikaru sighed, noting that Kamille seemed to reject the offer of trying to make the GP04G work for him.  Maybe he should make a Zeta Gundam for him.  Having him fall for Rau's logic would be a bad idea...though hopefully Char would be quick to accept Kamille as a protegé.

He noted the question and responded after a moment of thought.  "I suspect it was because of both distance and some flag the other team triggered.  Cima Garahau mentioned that the other team's leader was to be executed along with me.  I only managed to pinpoint her sniping position by contacting the Red Frame to warn it of the danger and being given the location of the Gerbera in exchange.  Not everything seems to be going well between Beta Team and the NPDs."

 

Shin after sharing his piece leaned against the wall just watching the room. Maybe something helpful would be discussed

 

A brief, almost hesitant pause met Creed's question, though soon enough, she'd return with that peppy, youthful countenance. "I-I dunno!" she smiled. "I-Isn't it like... if you put a lot of effort into building it, it's really good?" As cheerful as she seemed to be, it was pretty obvious that she was hiding something.

 

Marco simply nodded as his teammates responded, he took in all the information and processed it silently. He gave Risu a knowing look before answering, “I’m going to be re-watching the replay of that fight very closely…” his eyes shifted from the squirrel to both boys. “It’s clear there’s …” his voice trailed off as he looked at the screen behind his teammates. The smiling face of Rau seemingly taunted all of them through the wall display. 

 

Rau’s melodic voice cut in finally, “I’m sorry if I’m interrupting anything…” the soulless gaze of the NPD seemed to scan the room and all the divers before he contributed. “Time is of the essence though and I have a new mission for you all… assuming you’re all still available for employment?” 

The question hung in the air as Marco looked around uneasily at his teammates trying to gauge their reaction to their pseudo employer. Curiosity got the better of him though as he impulsively blurted, “We’re listening…..”

 

Hikaru noted Rau and was on his guard.  So much for their after-mission discussion.  At least it was largely over anyway.  Rau had his attention, but he hesitated to immediately agree to something reckless.  After all, Rau was offering employment on ZAFT's terms.  He wasn't sure if they were ever on ZAFT's payroll and he didn't want manipulated into changing sides in ignorance.  "I'm listening as well, but would this mission be for the AEUG, for ZAFT, or both?  I have to admit to a bit of confusion about our status since we seem to have been handed off from our original co-workers."

 

Shin looked at the wall with the NPD but just kept quiet. He would just talk if he spoke anyway so what was the point. In fact he took the time to pull a design bored and started to work on a long range type for the Astral AGE

 

Rau grinned ever so slightly as he garnered the full attention of the room. “I’m glad we still have your attention then… as for employment this would be for the motherland. That’s not to say our goals don’t align with all spacenoids however.” He let the word spacenoid hang in the air as if trying it out. “As it stands the ZAFT forces are spread thinly. But we cannot afford to have the legged ship escape to their base on earth. The last battle set them off course, a timely mistake. We would like to have your team follow them down to the surface to finish what was started here in space. Unfortunately you will have to wait one more day before you can effectively pursue them, due to the rotation of the earth. In reality that  gives you little time to prepare. We will provide you with re-entry pods and you can continue the pursuit once you have landed. Will you accept this job?” Rau’s tone was deceptively sincere as was his polite smile. The question hung in the air like a bad stench. 

Creed tilted on his heel to see what his teammates would do. He was curious beyond belief and wanted to see just how deep these missions would go. Even if it was just him he’d take on the challenge, whatever it might be.

 

"Would we have support, or be operating solo?"  Hikaru inquired of the commander.  On the surface, it was a reasonable question to determine combat strength.  They'd just been overpowered by their target, after all.  However, he was truly pondering just how much oversight ZAFT would have over their decisions.  If they had too little support, that could be a blessing on its own...given the nature of the man in front of them.

Still, it felt like making a deal with the devil.  Maybe he could use this to fish for an angle to let the AEUG stay connected to the deal, if the support was too light.

 

Rau’s demeanor didn’t skip a beat as he calmly replied to Hikaru, “reinforcements will be forthcoming but not immediately available. So it’s safe to assume you may be operating alone for this whole ordeal.” His masked face scanned around and he politely asked, “any other concerns? I’m not saying that this won’t be dangerous, to the contrary it should be a worthy challenge for a team such as yours. We have high hopes for you…”

 

Creed let out a sigh and nodded. “I don’t know about you guys but I’m good to go. I just need some repairs and Bael will be ready for terrestrial combat.” He turned to nod at Rau. “I’ll report back a couple hours before we begin.” He hardly acknowledged the response from Rau before bidding everyone else goodbye. As he was about to log out he noticed a reward waiting for him from the mission “hmm this out to be handy...” he mused as he fully logged out of GBN.

Edited by Roromi
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((This was done between myself and Hikaru.))

Kamille  bumped through the hallways of the ZAFT warship, tears streaming out behind him. Fa called out to him but each time a little more softly as the angry teen mindlessly went down the hallway. She eventually forced herself to stop chasing him. As much as she cared about Kamille she knew she couldn’t do much for him in this state. Fa hated the idea of fighting, but she felt just as frustrated as he did at that moment. “We can’t even protect ourselves…”

She muttered more to herself as she steadied herself to look out the viewport into space. Tears welling up in her own eyes as she gazed at the countless stars

-

 It wouldn't be long after the conclusion of the meeting before Hikaru followed.  He couldn't really tell where Kamille was, but he did notice Fa looking out amongst the stars.  He told himself that she was an NPD, as was Kamille, but he couldn't really ignore this.  He moved to be near Fa, respecting her personal space by staying at the next window over.

"...Hard to save someone from themselves, isn't it?"  Hikaru asked, not fully interpreting Fa's lament at the moment.

-

Fa fought back a sniffle and nearly jumped as the kind pilot from before surprised her. She looked around quizzically before catching on. “Oh… yeah, well Kamille has always been a stubborn one…” she looked away absently and an moment passed before she gasped. “You know I don’t think I properly thanked you or introduced myself… I’m Fa Yuiry… I appreciate you pulling me to safety back at Green Noa…” her voice trailed off as she was still very much worried and thinking about Kamille. 

-

This briefly surprised Hikaru as he realized that he'd not introduced himself.  The NPDs were just so iconic that he felt like he knew them already.  It seemed to be time to rectify that.  "Ah, I'm Hikaru Hiyashi.  You're welcome for that, Miss Yuiry.  I regret that you got dragged into that.  In a perfect world, governments wouldn't use their civilian populations as shields.  Of course, given that Kamille's parents both work for the Titans, he might not have been able to avoid that mess either way."

-

Fa’s eyes lit up momentarily at the mention of the Titans and she went back to staring longingly at the stars. “Fate is a funny thing isn’t it? Don’t you feel like sometimes life has a script that you have to follow? And no matter what you do you have to follow it?”

She paused as the thoughtful words flowed out of her. “Still… I know I feel the same as Kamille… I feel like we need to take the fight to the Titans… we can’t sit idly by while they destroy colonies…” her gaze turned cold as she talked about the enemy. Hate could be seen etched on her face. “I think that’s why I can’t bare to bring myself to Kamille right now… I can’t tell him to stop, because deep down…” her voice trailed off again as she weighed the implications. 

-

The mention of a script made Hikaru flinch slightly.  At what point was her pain real?  When did this transition into cruelty?  He gave a sigh and rubbed the back of his head a bit.  "There's a difference between feeling a need to do something and charging in blindly.  That's what I was trying to warn him about.  He has to be careful who he throws his lot in with.  I feel stuck myself right now  and want him to avoid that if he can.  ZAFT may be the Titans' enemies, but it isn't necessarily a group that would always align with his intentions.”

-

She looked around in response, as if studying the ship itself. “Well you guys seem fine enough… though I understand you guys are somewhat freelance…” she looked at Hikaru now, “it’s not a matter of being blind for us right now as it is a matter of taking action. Green Noa is still fresh for us… too fresh…” she looked away as thoughts of home flooded her sense. “Do you think you could talk some reason into Kamille?” She asked meekly as he eyes absorbed the stars once more. 

-

"Yes, we're freelance, though that doesn't come without questioning a few things here and there.  I'm willing to try helping him, if he'll listen.  That's the important part.  He seems to think I'm trying to stop rather than advise.  Do you know where he is, Miss Yuiry?"  Hikaru asked Fa, wondering if she might have any ideas.

-

Fa pointed at the hallway that led to the hangars blankly. “He went off that way… and… thanks again Mr.Hiyashi” she offered a polite bow to Hikaru. “We really are indebted to you and your allies.” She offered a weak but genuine smile. 

-

"Ah, you can call me Hikaru.  I just felt like I shouldn't presume upon your given name."  Hikaru bowed back to Fa.  "And really...it might help if you were there.  You're the only familiar person on this ship for him.  Even if he is too upset and angry to show it right now, you might be an anchor for him as he is for you."

-

Fa nodded reluctantly and pushed off the railing to lead the way with Hikaru in tow. 

Meanwhile Kamille clawed at the cockpit of the the Beta Gundam. He snarled in frustration as the godlike mobile suit denied him entry. It looked almost identical to the MKII’s the titans were using, he was certain he could use this machine if he could just get inside. He whimper and groaned in frustration as the cockpit hatch didn’t budge open. “Please!” He begged softly. As it became evident that the machine wouldn’t yield he punched the metal hatch angrily yelling out in rage. “Let me fight!” Some of the Zaft personnel paused to regard the angry teen but most went about their business eager to avoid the awkward situation. It was during the height of his sorrow he could sense an approach, it was a difficult feeling to describe but in that moment he knew he wasn’t alone. 

“Kamille! What are you doing?” Fa called out as she floated toward him. He turned around to glare at her and the pilot equally. Fa caught herself next to the cockpit of the Beta Gundam, “Kamille you can’t take…” she bit her lip eager to not anger Kamille any further. “You can’t Mr. Hiyashi’s mobile suit! Did you forget that he saved me?” 

Kamille gave Hikaru an angry look and spat out. “Don’t think I’m ungrateful…” he muttered in response. “I just… I know…. I know I can make a difference… inside a Gundam…” he looked at the pilot of the machine before him. Silently challenging Hikaru with the glare. 

-

Hikaru noted Kamille and, strangely, didn't seem angry.  If anything, he was thankful that Kamille tried to take the Gundam.  "First off, you're lucky you picked my machine to try and take.  If you tried to steal one of the ZAFT suits, you'd probably be in the brig by now.  If you'd done that to one of the Gundams they just took, you might even have gotten shot."  It was important to clarify the danger Kamille had placed himself in, to shock him back to reality...such as it was within the game.

"I'm not angry though, I get it.  You want to do something about it.  But we won't even be in a position to deploy to attack the Titans or the ship they're on for another day.  It would also mean descending to the Earth.  So since there's nothing any of us can do at the moment..."  Hikaru leaned back against his machine and regarded both Fa and Kamille.  "Mind listening to a story?"

-

Kamille wasn’t so eager to take the bait but Fa edged them on, quietly asking “ what’s it about?” As she asked she floated next to Kamille and took his clenched hand in her own, in an attempt to sooth the teen. Kamille reluctantly nodded to hear what the level headed pilot had to say, curiosity getting the better of him. 

-

"There was a time, in Side 3, when people were angry about how they were treated by the Federation.  They wanted freedom and independence from the distant foreign power that controlled them.  They weren't alone in feeling this way, since Side 6 had achieved that peacefully in 0077.  However...that feeling was easy to manipulate by those in power."  Hikaru started, glancing to Kamille as he continued.  He had to parse this carefully.  He glanced to the parts of the GP04.

"That machine over there was piloted by a woman named Cima Garahau.  She was a Zaku I pilot in the One Year War who fought for independence and wanted justice and freedom for her people.  As such, she listened to the Zabis and became one of their soldiers.  She had no idea that she was using poison gas in January 0079 when she obeyed her orders...but she has to deal with the knowledge that she had been tricked into killing a whole colony full of her fellow Spacenoids for the rest of her life.  After the war, her superior officer blamed her for the war crime and fled to Axis.  By 0083, she no longer loved her homeland and was a pirate who only wanted revenge."

He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment.  "When she rebelled against a former Zeon admiral and advanced certain plans with her actions that year, actions which may still be classified and led to the formation of the Titans, she apparently became exactly what she hated.  An instrument of Earth's oppression and hatred.  She is now a Titan, and seems unable to be anything else."

Hikaru glanced to Kamille and Fa, intent on getting his message through.  "Her mistakes were in who she trusted and signed up with.  In her haste to achieve her ends, she became the pawn of people who had their own agenda beyond that which she desired.  My point is that, before you join some military or group to take revenge, consider that group's intentions and goals.  Ask yourself what they might insist you do for them in exchange for the power to fight."

-

Kamille did blink as the story became prevalent to himself. He ever so slowly nodded his understanding that the pilot was trying to relay to him. Slowly his anger seeped away and he reluctantly let his fist unclench. He was still distraught, but he understood that perhaps he should bide his time. He glanced away unsure of how to react before finally looking back at Hikaru. “I…” he searched for the words before shaking his head, “thank you…” he said at last and Fa nodded alongside him as they floated in front of Beta Gundam. “I’ll take what you said to heart…” he grumbled before looking at Hikaru. “I still plan on fighting with you guys next time… but… I’ll be patient…” he pushed away from the Gundam and gave a little nod to Hikaru. Fa looked from Kamille to Hikaru and gave him a brief smile. “Thank you Hikaru…” she said softly as she looked back to see where Kamille was off to now. 

-

Hikaru smiled, glad to assist.  "You're both welcome, Mr. Bidan.  Miss Yuiry."  He could have said more, but he would have been repeating himself.  He didn't want to hold Fa up any longer than necessary in going to Kamille.  The Diver could only hope that the pair stayed away from racist tripe and thought through who they trusted.  ZAFT wasn't exactly a nice army for Naturals.

-

Kamille winced at the use of his surname, it reminded him too much of his father. He paused as he hit the catwalk away from the Gundam and turned around. “It’s Kamille… my first name is Kamille… you better remember it.” The teen warned as he looked back at Fa and Hikaru. Fa pushed away from the Mecha to join Kamille. She waved politely at Hikaru as she joined the infamous “boy with a girl’s name”. 

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      Leon growled. "She just caught me off guard. That's all." He thought. "I'm the leader of Die Zeonic Mörder, after all." He began to hear laughter behind him. "HAHAHA!" Easily the biggest Diver in the lobby began to walk toward him, howling with laughter. The massive bald man wore a sleeveless tan Zeon uniform to show off his fictional muscles. "She really destroyed you, huh boss?" Leon was angry, but couldn't get mad at the big oaf, Hans Sauer. "I could've blown that AU trash away with my gattling guns at any moment!" Leon responded. "I just didn't want to hurt the lady's feelings."
      "Ssssssure." The "man" to the right of Hans said. "I would've ssssssneaked up to her with my sssssshotguns and ruined that eyesssssore." While Leon and Hans could roleplay as real Zeon Pilots, their third teammate, Sepp, could not. While had did wear his own custom Zeon pilots suit, the scaly, brown individual had the head of a snake. "Ha! No way!" Hans yelled. "You couldn't take out a Ball with your Gelgoog!" Sepp hissed at the large teammates, sticking out his tongue. "Alright, break it up." Leon exclaimed. "I'm in the mood for another team mission!"
      "Me too!" Hans said as he put his fist in his hand. "But not that Kobayecho Heyto test. Not being able to win is stupid!" The snakeman sighed. "Kobayassshi Hayato tessst, dummy. Have you even ssseen Gundam?" Han put his hand on top of his head. "Oh yeah, sorry!" Leon looked through the missions, trying to find a new Universal Century mission that would be a challenge for them. In fact, their disdain for non UC stuff caused them to never touch a mission not from it. Eventually he found the perfect one.
      MISSION: Feddie Scum
      DIFFICULTY: Hard
      DESCRIPTION: Destroy the Federation's new test Mobile Suit!
      "Alright boys!" Leon yelled out. "Let's destroy some Federation garbage! SEIG ZEON!" The members of Die Zeonic Mörder each vanished as the mission began.
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