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The sudden gust of wind, and the wash of reverse thrusters from the enemy Asshimar had sent Risu tumbling away from the orange mobile armor even as it made its attempt to catch her. However, it was persistent, and soon, the newbie found herself in the metallic palm of the machine’s hand. She was kind of surprised that it had caught her instead of firing its beam cannon, though what it was going to do next was beyond her.

“Are you okay?” She heard over the Asshimar’s loudspeaker. With its other hand, it would shield her from the wind, allowing her to speak properly. “I’m Captain Remy Arbuckle, with the Titans. Don’t worry, I’ve got you. How did you end up falling from the sky?” The machine begun to turn about, getting clear of the enemy mobile suit’s weapons. Assimars were quite fast machines, and soon, Hikaru and Creed were far out of range: Risu had been captured.

Risu hesitated, having at least enough sense to understand that telling the truth would be a bad thing. She’d grab hold of a small ledge in the Asshimar’s finger joint, looking out towards the battle as she left her allies behind. “I escaped.” She called out in response. Likely story, given how unlike a soldier she seemed to act. There was no doubt that a sophisticated NPD like Remy would be able to pick that up. She paused again, before turning back towards the Asshimar’s cross-shaped face. “I’m Risu, by the way!”

“Well, you made the right choice, Risu. Those ZAFT people are trying to destroy the Earth, and they’ve gotten the help of those AEUG terrorists. Who knows what they would’ve done to someone like you? Did you hear about how they turned a peaceful neutral colony into a warzone for no reason? They might’ve started off with good intentions, but they’ve gotten way out of hand! Us Titans are trying to stop them to keep the Earth Sphere safe, along with everyone living in it.”

She was… playing the bad guy? Risu remained silent, instead choosing to digest those words carefully. While she might not have known a single thing about Gundam, her tendency to get lost in a story was most certainly affecting her here. Remy continued, breaking her free from her momentary trance. “I’m going to be taking you to a field hospital nearby, you’ll be safe there until all this blows over.”

Risu peered through the small gaps between the massive titanium fingers, hoping to spot the hospital from afar. “O-okay!”

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As the brown and blue machine was about to land next to the hospital, though, it was hit by what he assumed to be a stray shell. Either that, or somebody out there thought of the international conventions that protected non-combatants as international suggestions, the thought of which scared Remy. “Shit!” Now where would he deposit the kid safely? He then figured the safest place would be the weird legged ship: even if they lost and the ship was defenseless, surely nobody would think of destroying it. The kid could escape with the rest of the crew to elude being recaptured, too. With this in mind, he gently deposited the little girl next to one of the hatches, which opened for her. Inside, a soldier in Federation attire was reaching out for her hand. "Go in, kid! Don't be scared, I told them you were coming. I have to go back now, before things get worse..."

Indeed, strange things were happening while he was out of the fight: for starters, his wingmate Dennis Schrute had flown towards one of the attacking Gundams, and fired his large beam rifle at it, only for the beam to dissipate in contact with the enemy unit. "What the hell?! Captain, I think I- UGH!" Afterwards, his Asshimar was hit by a mace-shaped weapon, greatly deforming the bicolored armor and sending his Mobile Suit tumbling towards the ground. He nearly crashed into the ground, but managed to transform in time to use the Mobile Suit’s legs and save himself, landing in a rather uproarious and disorderly manner. “Captain, this is the one with the I-Field! I’ve found it!” Hearing him out, Remy flew to Dennis’ location from the Archangel. “Roger! Three, Four, Five, Six! Come with me! We’re gonna show him which machine is the real champion of heavyweights! The rest, don’t let the others interfere!” At his command, four of the twelve Asshimars circled around Marco’s Bael with him. As they landed, surrounding the white Gundam, Dennis’ unit turned on its backup cameras, becoming a triclops, then lifted his left index finger to point at him as he adjusted a loosening piece of armor back on its place with the other arm. “You can hear me, can’t you? I just wanted you to know… meeting here’s your unlucky day.” Remy, Dennis and the other four Asshimars that had surrounded Creed stored their beam rifles in the back of their waists, then turned on their thrusters to charge at him, the six of them at the same time. Their plan? Sucker punch Bael and dance on what remained of it.

The other six flyers made sure not to let the other two enemies interrupt what Remy and Dennis were starting. Blue Sky Seven and Eight swooped in to fire their large beam rifles at a flashy Gundam which belonged to Shin: his gigantic swords gave its role as a close combat unit away, so they preferred to take shots at it with their powerful beam weapons. Blue Sky Nine, Ten, Eleven and Twelve saw Hikaru’s Beta Gundam as a far more dangerous opponent, given he enjoyed a similar grade of mobility to the Asshimars and had shown them his powerful long-range weaponry. However, as its G-Defenser took off, becoming a separate combatant, the quartet was forced to let Twelve go in pursuit of the Defenser, trying to shoot it down with the large beam rifle as the three of them did the same, spreading and firing at Hikaru’s Gundam and support Flying Armor from different angles.

With Beta Gundam and its Defenser occupied, and no other long-range combatants at hand, a second cargo plane attempted to take off, while the first had its wing damaged and had to land, just to avoid a crash. They wouldn’t shoot this down anyways, thought the pilot of the second plane, lest they damage the cargo. Mu and his companion, Ensign Kaizuka, an impressionable young pilot in charge of the Hi-Zack by his side, spotted what seemed to be a convoy of brown trucks, speeding alongside a green Dom with custom parts. “Mu-san!” she cried rather formally, rather anxious about working alongside her hero, even though she technically had the same rank as he did by working with the Titans, who had given her a generous promotion. “I have visual. Those are not ours...” Mu La Flaga observed, and aimed his beam rifle at them. “Kaizuka, right? Keep the Jabber straight. If i can take out that Dom, the base garrison should just be able to take the jeeps out on their own.” After a rather enthusiastic roger from her, Mu fired his rifle multiple times at the green Mobile Suit from the air, not bothering to fire at the trucks.

In the distance, three Union Flags in Mobile Armor mode could be seen entering the airspace and heading for the base at a rather casual rate, equipped with external fuel tanks they had latched onto hardpoints in their wings. It was as if they were not aware of the current situation...

Edited by Replicator
does anything ever get past you?
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Creed hooted in victory as his weapon crashed down on the Asshimar. The mobile suit went tumbling down and for a second, he thought he had an easy kill. The notion unsettled him but not as much as when the stubborn Titan transformed to fly around with minimal damage. 

“huh… so you cant hurt me, and I can only tickle you..” he mused and was curious how he should react next. His curiosity quickly grew into concern as the single Asshimar was soon joined by multiple other ones. He was surrounded. 

“Cheeky buggers aren’t you…” he growled as he held his sword mace at the ready. They caught on quick, shelving their weapons and opting, opting for what? Marco scrunched his face and realized they meant to use their armor to their advantage. Then one of them spoke, why did the NPDs have to speak? 

You can hear me, can’t you? I just wanted you to know… meeting here’s your unlucky day.”

Marco sighed and focused his breathing; things were about to get interesting. Part of him wanted to retort back but he knew better than to waste his breath. Although he was still torn up about having to shoot down Kira; these Titans on the other hand, they were a different breed. He would gladly rid GBN of these walking war criminals. 

Just before they could advance Marco flared the wings up on Bael, spreading them out like a majestic bird. He flared the engines hard, redlining and shooting thrust into the sand. He spun Bael around, swinging the great sword in a horizontal slice, kicking up a small dust storm. He had to go off instinct, timing when he figured the Titans would enter his dust cloud, and that was when he pounced. 

He punched out at a random direction; he knew he couldn’t afford to get mobbed down. He shoulder bashed hard into one Asshimar, it wasn’t enough to knock the Titan back but it was enough to stop Marco from being caught in the middle. The action stunned the Asshimar and Marco followed through with a powerful stroke of the sword mace, ripping his weapon in hard across the belly of the Titan. He used the momentum of his attack to spin around and face all the Asshimars. Raising his wings up, he aimed the Rail Cannons and started firing into the dust cloud, the solid rounds would have a favorable result he knew. Flying backwards while firing away, he  hoped to kite the enemies as much as possible. He readied  his new weapon in front of him, waiting to fend off additional attacks. In the end, Marco  was determined to prove that they were the ones who sorely underestimated Bael. 

——-

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Cagalli was still getting used to the controls of her DOM. In many respects, having her pilot this behemoth was as much about inspiring her men rather than ability. Despite her misgivings, Cagalli was not one to squander generosity and she was determined to repay the faith the Desert Dawn had given her. When their group moved to charge the Archangel, they weren’t trekking along the desert for a new camp, they were ready for trouble. When the beams of a Distant MKII angled for her she moved into motion, kicking up sand and using the ground mobility the mobile suit was graced with to dance in an erratic weave. Seeing that the shots were aimed at her and not the convoy, she called out of her comrade, “they’re going for me, I’ll lure them away, while you guys go for the objective!”. Kisaka cried some protest back but Cagalli was as stubborn as they come. 

She readied her sword for a swipe at the Hizak, while aiming her shoulder cannon at Mu. She traded fire with the MKII seeing who would get lucky first in the exchange as she hoped to close the distance. 

——-

Kamille gently tested the controls of the G-Defenser, each slight movement rocked the mobile armor a particular way and within a few moments he felt like he had a solid idea on how to move it. Hikaru’s words rang in his head about attacking from a distance so he moved to gain some altitude away from the Beta Gundam. As he reached the operational height he decided to mimic what they had done entering into the battle field and moved to dive downward. 

Before he had even completed his U-turn he noticed he had a bogie on his tail. He decided that this would be the best chance to attack while it was playing catch up. “Let’s see you handle this!” He yelled out as he let hell loose on the Titan. The reticle lined up and he fired shots from his Linear rifle. Once had knew he locked on he followed up with a volley of missiles. He remember that he had the smart beam file as well and fired with that, alternating between linear and beam rifle. 

Each squeeze of the trigger reminded him of Green Noa, each squeeze - of all the destruction the damned Titans did to his home. “Die!” He screamed as he kept squeezing the trigger, hoping that the vengeance would soothe his mounting rage. As he got closer to the Titan he opened fire with the 4 laser guns and Vulcans, making sure the enemy didn’t have a chance to recover from the overwhelming initial attack. 

“This is for home!” He yelled in pure emotion as the G-Defenser whizzed by the smoking heap of the Asshimar in the sky. As he made his pass he checked his sensors to see if the attack worked or if he would have to come around to line up another attack, or worse if he would have to evade a counter attack. 

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Hikaru's hands clenched his controls more firmly as he worked to evade the inbound trio of Asshimar and their shots. He knew he wouldn't be able to keep it up, though. The differences between the Flying Armor and the Asshimar were notable enough to convey that he wouldn't be able to stay in the air for long with these odds. He held one notable advantage over the Asshimar, however. While the transformed machines were stuck on center line firing like most Mobile Armors, he could aim in unconventional directions. Two Asshimar were fired upon with quasi-psycommu-guided hip beam guns while the third was shot at with the more typical Beam Rifle.

The pilot didn't get to wait and see if the attacks hit, or which ones. A thruster of the Flying Armor was hit and the craft began to smoke and lose altitude, compelling Hikaru to steer the craft toward the nearest Asshimar. Bailing at the latest point possible and holding a spare shield which had been placed between the Gundam and the Flying Armor on the descent down, the Beta Gundam fell in the general direction of the Dom and Mk-II's fight...

Edited by MM007
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(Mafty + Replicator collab)

Risu's vision was quickly dominated by the impressively sculptural silhouette of a spaceship. It appeared as if it were reclining, its long legs bent at the knees up front. She recognized it, the ship she'd attacked during the previous mission. As the Asshimar came closer, an airlock at the side of the ship opened, deploying a small platform in front of it where a man dressed in uniform stood. The machine's massive hand hovered beside the platform, giving her the opportunity to hop off before it flew away. With one last glance over her shoulder, she'd look at the battlefield behind her, before stepping inside away from the wind. Closing the hatch, the Federation soldier briefly took a moment of rest to catch his breath. "God, that was close..." He then grabbed his standard-issue carbine, which he had left hanging from a strap, and signalled the little girl to follow him. "Come on. You're safe now, let's get you to the bridge."

Slowly, Risu begun to follow, first brushing her hands through her thoroughly windswept fur to straighten it out. She found herself inside of a large, almost cavernous corridor, at least compared to the... Arga.... Agra... Argoma thing. Why was this one so much bigger than the one she had left? Maybe it was from a different thing altogether. Her soft footfalls contrasted heavily with the soldier's boots as they contacted the metal floor, following close behind until finally, the two of them approached a small door. Why the bridge? What did she need to be there for? Sparing the thought, Risu waited for the door to slide open before moving through, making sure to not let her big tail get caught as it closed. Soon, they had reached the upper bridge, in charge of Murrue Ramius, staying away from Natarle's lower bridge, at least for the moment. Kira's friends could be seen in both levels, working some of the ship's systems, while other tasks had rather generic-looking people in charge.

The bridge was impressive, providing a sprawling, panoramic view of the world outside through large viewscreens. Explosions and streaks of light dotted the horizon, showing Risu firsthand that the battle raged on without her. Briefly, she wondered about her team. Were they alright? Surely, they too would realize that they were playing the villains too... or perhaps they knew that. Her heart sank at the thought, wondering how they could just so eagerly do such a thing, even if it was ultimately a game.

Perhaps the most important member of the crew seemed to be a Titans officer, dressed in a neat black uniform, with a peaked cap and a... cup of coffee? For some reason, it had a logo that looked like a yellow rhombus with triangles and a blue Earth. To somebody who was new to Gundam, it only looked like Brazilian iconography, but it was the symbol of the Earth Federation instead.

"Sir! We've successfully rescued the civilian." The soldier announced his presence loudly to the officer, and Murrue. She turned her head to look at her, but she was not prepared to see a normal, almond-haired little girl. "Oh, Lord. Did they really throw her into a free fall?" The Titans officer almost spat his coffee, too.

"Well, Miss Ramius. Now you see what these terrorists are capable of, just to gain an edge. Thank God our Mobile Armors are so quick, it was actually in vain for them to try such a thing. Nikon, you can go now. Keep looking after the hangar, don't let any of those redcoats get in." Dismissing the soldier, the officer left the now empty mug on Kuzzey's desk, probably where he had gotten it from, and approached Risu, changing his tone from stern, to caring. "Are you alright?"

For a complete outsider to Gundam, Risu had found herself completely absorbed in it, enthralled at just how... real and terrible the world it portrayed was. Finally, her ears swivelled towards the source of the voice addressing her, snapping the squirrel out of her momentary trance. The lady in the chair was now talking to her, presumably the captain of the ship. Risu examined her soft, but stern matronly features before replying with a hesitant "M-mhm.."

Sensing her unease, the man in the cap kneeled before her, continuing to address her from eye-level, seemingly placing a lot of trust on how Murrue was handling the situation as things exploded and beams streaked across the sky around them. "Ah, where are my manners? I'm Captain Yuiran. That's Lieutenant Commander Ramius on the chair, and Lieutenant Junior Grade Badgiruel on the pit o'screens." He didn't look like any stranger to the notion of approaching individuals in a non-threatening manner, like some sort of negotiator. "What's your name?"

Risu's attention quickly shifted to the man in the hat as he introduced himself and the rest of the crew. She nodded slowly, looking over the bridge until it was her turn to introduce herself. "I-I'm Risu." she said sheepishly. "It's nice to m-meet you." There was something in her that dreaded talking to people, virtual or otherwise. Maybe that was why she'd elected to use text chat for the longest time: only just recently did she find the courage to actually talk in GBN. "I-I... I'm sorry for attacking you last time." She would lower herself into a bow, as deep as she could muster.

Yuiran listened to the few words the girl could utter. Five minutes had not passed, and she already had his sympathy. Perhaps it was the way she reminded him of his own little daughter, and the way she would look terrified every time he dared to arrive home in his uniform. Only when he took his cap off did she finally recognize her father in the front lawn. However, the last line confused him and Murrue, who despite being so busy, had been listening to her too. She turned her head towards her again and asked her about it. "Attacking... us?"

Slowly, she'd nod. At the very least, she thought, the right thing to do would be to admit to it. Risu tapped her index fingers together in front of her, averting her gaze from Captain Yurian. "I was... uhm... the one in the... red... mobile... suit that was attacking this ship before." Risu visibly tensed up, as if to prepare for something painful in response.

While Toto Yuiran had no idea what she was talking about, Murrue remembered perfectly the lean, red Mobile Suit that had come close to the bridge last battle, which was repelled by the two blue Mobile Suits of Beta Team, rather appropriately. "So, you're saying that was you? But that's impossible. You're too young to pilot a Mobile Suit." Yuiran walked closer to Ramius and spoke to her. "Unless she’s…" Murrue soon understood what he was implying. "Her? But she's so young..." The man in the blue coat approached Risu again, trying this time not to scare her. "Suppose we say that's true... Did those scary people force you to pilot?"

Come to think of it, she was never given a real choice about where she was put in this... quest arc thing. She hesitated for a moment. Admitting to it would be betraying her team, right? But still, she did not... want to lie. "U-uh huh." Risu nodded. She'd say little else, instead waiting for him to respond. Surely, he would believe her.

"Poor kid..." Yuiran could not bear the notion of a child young enough to be his own, grown in a vat and made to fight, like some sort of living weapon. At least, that was what he hypothesised of her, and what she seemed to confirm. Slowly, he took a hand to her hair, and gently patted her. "Well, you're here now, with the good guys, and that's all that matters. You won't be forced to fight if we have a say on the matter. Huh? What is-?" Just as the Captain thought he had touched a pair of animal ears on an otherwise normal head, a nearby tremor almost made both fall to the floor. Yuiran quickly recovered, and immediately looked at the little girl. But there were no ears. I must be seeing things. "Badgiruel, damage report!" Natarle soon addressed the officer and reassured him. "Same as before, sir! It didn't touch us, but they're close."

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The attack on Bael was ferocious, but it was too much of a beast to handle unprepared. One Asshimar was lost immediately after the Gundam made its reactor go critical, but the initial attack missed the head and thus, the cockpit, so the pilot could’ve lived to tell the tale by ejecting the head to prevent its systems from overloading and letting the armor protect them. The next two casualties came from the twin Rail Cannons: an Asshimar was hit in the head with a round that went right through the monoeye, all the way to the cockpit, where it exploded and had somebody meet a gruesome fate. The other unit was instead hit in the groin, losing its legs as the module collapsed, and fell forward through the cloud. It was still able to turn into a Mobile Armor, however, which would’ve been largely useless for it since it had lost its main thrusters and its output was anemic at best now. Maybe it did it to camouflage and defend itself, giving up on the battle in exchange to stay alive. No time to think about it: two more Asshimars approached from the cloud, and they were already pretty close. One of them was Dennis’, still set apart by the damaged head module. “You monster, you killed Kenny! WHY WON’T YOU DIE?!” His Asshimar and the other flared all thrusters to accelerate towards Bael. They were still vulnerable to a Sword Mace strike, but the Captain did not have his say yet: he came out from the cloud with his machine’s feet hooked to the front of the unit that had transformed, and both put pedal to the metal to give Remy’s unit a boost, which small as it was, was still enough to close into range at a faster pace than Dennis and his other wingman, not giving Bael time to lift the long-handled mace again. As his machine brought down its fist from above upon the Gundam’s head and torso, Remy shouted at his enemy: “Take this, White Devil!”

---

While most of Kamille’s attacks hit the Asshimar, which started to descend towards the ground, they stopped quite short of destroying the machine or maybe even rendering it inoperative, as the missiles, guns and Vulcans weren't too effective against the thick armor. Rather, what truly defeated his foe was a Linear Rifle round to the red part of the flying donut, which was less armored than the rest of the MS. It was quite possible the pilot was knocked unconscious… or dead. He was still not alone, however. Blue Sky Seven and Eight had made short work of Shin’s Gundam, thanks largely to the fact that it wasn’t Shin who was in command, but rather a placeholder NPD that was laughably easy to outsmart: as Seven passed the Gundam, the dummy pilot tried to attack it with its big GN Swords, but left its back exposed to Eight who got a direct shot on him and destroyed the Gundam. Why did Shin abandon the team? Had he lost his connection? “Woooo! Not so tough now, are ya?!” Eight cheered as the wreck fell towards the ground, but Seven hit him with a reality check. "Alan! I think the nugget... Norman just biffed it!" Both looked briefly above them. The sole sight of the Defenser flying away while Twelve's Asshimar fell enraged both, and made them turn their rifles to Kamille, coming at him from below, where he had no offensive capabilities whatsoever, firing their large beam rifles at him. "Hey, you think you're hot stuff for taking out the little chick? Pick a fight with somebody your own size!" Eight said as he stepped on the thruster pedal to close the distance, to negate the Defenser’s long-range prowess, and taking advantage of his own machine’s atmospherical specialization: it didn’t look like something designed for the atmosphere of Earth, but rather like a space unit, or an all-rounder, which would still not be as good as something dedicated to one environment. His more level headed companion followed suit.

---

The three Asshimars harassing the Beta Gundam, meanwhile, had landed a hit on its sub-flight system, but not without its costs: while two of the Mobile Armors let up momentarily their attack to evade the beams, expecting the beam rifle but not the two INCOM guns, the third had already lined up a sure shot, which took out the Flying Armor, but also let Hikaru land a shot through one of the vents located in the upper thighs of his unit, blowing up Blue Sky Eleven's right leg from the inside and damaging the right side armor. "Sully!" shouted Nine. "Go back to the base, you can't do jack like that!" But Eleven wasn't gonna let up. "Like hell! I can still fly, and he can't! He's good as ours!" The three flyers followed the Beta Gundam down to the ground. Nine and Ten transformed to adapt to their enemy's new condition and hopped around the MkII lookalike, firing their beam rifles from opposite points of the circle formed around it, while Eleven kept flying with a limp, knowing that if he tried to land, what was left of the leg would most likely collapse under the weight. Instead, he decided to circle Hikaru and took a shot from one of the two directions left unattended by Nine and Ten. They didn't care to intervene in the fight between Cagalli's Dom and Mu's MkII yet, however. Dismissing the green Dom and the Jeeps as outdated and posing no immediate danger, they left Mu and Kaizuka to figure out how to take those down. While Mu exchanged shots with the unusual machine, the blue Hi-Zack's pilot tried to have their support craft avoid the beams. This would mean Mu would not land any hits, but at least the Jabber was safe. Soon they came closer and closer, and it became apparent for Mu that he needed to take things up close while his teammate attacked from another angle. Taking out a beam saber, colored white due to being a spare part rather than the original, he made MkII jump out of the Base Jabber. "Kaizuka! Go around it and use your beam rifle! If it tries to get away, trap it!" Once the Gundam had landed and prepared to receive the Dom with its beam saber, shield and beam rifle at the ready, Kaizuka ascended and took the Jabber away, readying the Marasai/Act Zaku beam rifle, before firing it at Cagalli from above.

---

In response to the attack that had damaged the ship, Captain Yuiran adjusted his cap, and prepared to lay down the law.

- "I need a report on our forces! What's with Blue Sky?" He approached the lower bridge, where Natarle briefed him.

- “Sir! Blue Sky One to Three are fighting Tango 01. Blue Sky Four to Six were lost to Tango 01. Blue Sky Seven and Eight defeated Tango 02 and are attacking Tango 03B. Blue Sky Nine to Eleven are engaging Tango 03A. Blue Sky Twelve… we lost the vitals. Same for Blue Sky Five." Upon informing Captain Yuiran of the casualties, she heard him lose his composure for a moment and hit one of the desks with his hand. He took a moment to recover, and then thought about their situation. He knew the pilots personally, like everyone else stationed at the base, but it wasn’t the time to mourn them.

- "So, three are still playing wrestler with the white one, two are in pursuit of the armed fighter, three are engaging the one that looks like a Mk-II… and we’re down by four units. Have we got any more forces?"

- “Only two, sir. Mu La Flaga in Mk-II Unit 01 and a Hi-Zack piloted by Ensign Yumi Kaizuka. They’re engaging a Dom type… designation, Tango 04. And there’s some jeeps incoming.”

- “Lieutenant Commander Ramius. This ship’s prepared for that sort of combat, isn’t it? Take the jeeps down. We must not let them go any further.”

- “... wilco.” Murrue hesitated for a moment, but the next, she was ordering the weapons officers to engage. “Prepare the Igelstellungs and the Helldarts! Target… light ground vehicles ahead! Fire when ready!”

As the ship fired its light payload upon the Desert Dawn off-roaders, Yuiran searched for something in his pockets, and took it out: a communicator resembling one of those real world smartphones that folded in half, largely bought for the novelty factor by those who had money to spare. He unfolded it with a quick motion from his hand and spoke to the device. “Toto Yuiran. Quick Dial Seven. Bypass confirmation.” Looking briefly to the screen for proof that his phone had understood him correctly, he went to a rather deserted corner of the bridge. The last thing he needed was the crew of the ship eavesdropping on him. However, he did not check where the little kid had gone. When the dial tone finally disappeared, he spoke through to him. “Nikon. We're in a tight spot, and I need to focus. Tell Murdoch to take care of that thing himself, and bring me a pack of Cigarette 43s. Be quick about it, yeah?” Afterwards, he hanged up. With any luck, nobody on this foreign ship would know he was not a smoker, and that he had just told Nikon to grab a vehicle and head for the city. Worst case scenario, if the base was captured and the archives were not burnt in time by the base commander, the terrorists would know where his family lived. Fortunately, Nikon was single, as far as he knew, so unless he had a woman or a man in his life, and maybe even then, he'd concentrate almost entirely on helping his wife and daughter skip town and keep them safe. Of course, there was a roughly equal chance of success, so he didn't know whether it'd be necessary to have them go into hiding. Better safe than sorry, he thought as he felt like ridding himself of a burden and focused on the screens again. As long as they're safe, i can move freely. As long as they're alive, they can do whatever they're doing later.

Edited by Replicator
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Creed didn’t have time to consider his attacks, he didn’t have a chance to weigh any victory or success from his moves. All he knew was that the only rest would come once the fight was over. As he trailed away from the dust cloud he did notice his heads up display flickering to show Shinn being taken out of the fight. “First Risu and now him?!” He growled in frustration. “Hikaru tell me you’re still here with me?” He called out frantically as he saw the other Asshimar shooting out of the dust to charge him, faster than the other ones. 

“Cheeky bugger!” Creed cried out in surprise.

It was the talker once more, blathering on about his homicidal comrades. The Titan really had it out for Marco. On he came rushing down with a fist aimed to bash down. Marco didn’t have time to fully bring his weapon to guard, a move that would have surely impaled idiot. Instead he twisted his suit to the right, using his retreating motion to help reduce the impact of the strike, it was the best he could do.

The fist came down hard, catching the left side antenna of Bael’s head and clipped the very front of the chest. The impact stumbled Bael into the sand, making Marco stagger. Bael’s head was now tilted down to the left but was still attached, the chest piece getting caved in some from the fist. Had he been there in person he was certain the impact would have stunned him physically. In response Creed let go of the cumbersome sword mace, at this distance he would not be able to retaliate effectively with it. Instead he jabbed up with the claw like right hand, the fingers forming a blade shape and jamming hard for the gut of the Asshimar, with any luck he would hit the pilot. He found his footing and pushed back to hoist the body of the Titan towards the other two charging at him. His left hand reached down for the pummel of the sword on his right hip, poising for a slash should he get the opening. 

——

Kamille’s eyes lit up as the Asshimar he was attacking simply went limp and began to fall out of the sky. “Hikaru I got one!” he called out cheerfully. His jubilations were cut short however as a tingling sensation made him dip his right wing to the ground, letting him narrowly dodge two incoming shots from additional Asshimars. He didn’t think anything of the reflexive move as he jerked his controls to avoid more incoming fire, moving the way he was simply felt natural. 

“Right there!” he announced triumphantly as he took note of where the two enemies were coming from. He spun the Defenser in a barrel roll and brough the craft around to get a firing angle on the new enemies. He had one more salvo of missiles, so he let the computer lock on to one of the Asshimars as he tried to line his crosshairs up with the next. Hearing the lock tone, he fingered the control for the missiles. There was no way any pilot would have that much faith in their armor to simply take the potential abuse from a barrage of missiles. His focus remained locked on the other asshimar which was coming up fast now as he opened up another barrage of fire, hoping to overwhelm his opponent like the last time. 

Kamille knew that while in Mobile Armor mode the Asshimars were about as fast as he was. Worse still, they were more maneuverable, being able to transform and alter their air speed dramatically. He knew that he had to keep on moving, and he had to keep his distance at all costs. “I’m engaging two more Hikaru!” he called out cautiously as he tried to remained focus on his opponents. All three were closing in fast, Kamille hoping to zip past the Asshimars before they knew any better. 

——

Cagalli didn’t like being out numbered but that was pretty much every fight they had there at desert. Her two opponents split up and she knew she would be flanked soon. And unlike the Jabbers she couldn’t fly. Her best chance was to try and finish one enemy quickly to focus on the next. The black mobile suit landed in front of her, apparently egging her on for a ground fight. “The nerve…” she began to say just as she noticed the Marasai get some height on her to try and shot her from above. “Fat chance!” Cagalli yelled out as she used her mobility to jerk her direction of movement, forcing the would be Zaku to miss. Dust kicked up from the Dom changing directions suddenly, a small cloud forming. The Goddess of Battle wasn’t quick to forgive and she lined up a shot with her shoulder cannon, aiming at the flying target knowing it couldn’t dodge as easily as she could. Luckily the MKII was still far enough away it likely couldn’t stop her shot. 

Edited by Roromi
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Hikaru's attack did little except damage one of the Asshimar, but not take it out of the fight. To top it all off, he didn't have the Flying Armor anymore, the bulk of which which slammed into the sand. Perhaps the only saving grace was that it had made a trench in the sand and kicked the offending material up to form a protective smoke screen. The Beta Gundam vanished into the sand, its leg thrusters kicking up even more material as they reduced the force of the landing. Once on the ground, it kept moving. The enemy Asshimar landing and taking pot shots into the sand cloud while circling Hikaru's machine wasn't a good thing, especially when a shot struck the outermost part of its shoulder. The joint survived, but the verniers and the armor were blasted apart. Another shot was narrowly intercepted by the shield. Other shots either passed the Beta Gundam outright or hit the ground to vitrify it into glass streaks.

The situation seemed dire, but there was an ace in the hole. Though he was in the dust cloud, the G-Defenser wasn't. And radio link was still strong enough for its cameras and sensors to provide him telemetry.

“Hikaru to Marco and Kamille. Still here, but they took out the Flying Armor. I'm ground-bound in a dust cloud! Using G-Defenser telemetry for secondary targeting!”  The hip beam guns fired again toward nine and ten, tracking their positions to exchange fire. Hikaru had to move after each shot to avoid a retaliatory hit, but it was at least something.

Evading a shot from above, Hikaru eyed a shadow cast by the sun and through the sand.  It was confirmed by the G-Defenser to be the more damaged enemy, Hikaru took aim with his Beam Rifle and fired at the center of mass...

Edited by MM007
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  • 2 weeks later...

- This post was made in a joint effort by the players of Alpha Team and Replicator. -

(1/3)

Marco managed to lodge Bael's right claw inside the Asshimar, doing such a good job that when it kept going, filled with momentum, it threw Bael to the ground and actually ripped its right arm off in a brutal manner, taking it away like a speeding train would a bird. Remy left the Gundam behind and flew some meters more, before his Mobile Suit crashed into the sand and tumbled down a dune. Finally, he lost power, but he was alive, owing to the enemy pilot not going for the Asshimar's head. Whether he did that on purpose, or just assumed the cockpit was in the torso, like in so many other Mobile Suits, he did not know. As the head's emergency generator kicked in, he used what little power it provided to get the head to crack open, then the hatch. As he came out of the Mobile Suit, he saw Dennis and Three in the distance, attacking the Gundam from the sides, bringing their beefy fists upon it at high speed. Creed sucked in his breath as Bael was tossed into the sand. He knew he had to react quickly. It wasn’t the first time he was glad he wasn’t actually in the cockpit of the behemoth. He fired the thrusters on Bael kicking up dust again, but more importantly keeping himself moving. It wasn’t quite enough. The two remaining Asshimars came in and bashed down at him. His movement allowed him to narrowly dodge one Dennis, but Three did manage to dive in and hit his left leg. The attack actually helped him return to an upright position, at the cost of popping off some armor on the leg. As he rose up he lashed out with the golden sword, the blade tracing a fine line across the head of Three’s Asshimar, all but guaranteeing his death.

Creed’s victory was short-lived as the last Asshimar barrel kicked into him. Bael went tumbling back, thrusters flaring hard to keep upright. He fought the controls to level the rail guns at the last one but was dismayed as the trigger pull didn’t flash a round out. “Damn it! Dry!” Marco hissed. He tried to bring his sword back to fend but just couldn’t repel the attack. His arm couldn’t get the same reach as the legs, even with the sword he couldn’t get any power behind the blade stroke. He waved the blade around wildly before opting for desperation. “Stop this!” He yelled out as he threw the golden blade at the Titan. Luckily for Marco, desperate measures were just what desperate times called for. As Dennis' machine prepared for another strike with its legs, the flying blade stuck on its foot, briefly throwing the Asshimar off balance. Attempting to regain its footing, Dennis backpedaled, and stepped on the sword, hoping the sword would come off. But Creed's weapons had a habit of becoming lodged, and so when pressure was exerted over it, the sword just went up the leg, destroying it from inside. Losing his support, Dennis just fell to the ground. Marco could always practically hear his heart pumping as he cautiously looked at his scopes, looking for any more enemies. Even as the situation died down he cautiously drew the remaining sword reverse grip with his left hand. Seeing as no more attacks coming his way he shuffled Bael over towards the fallen Titan. Poising the weapon over the head of the Asshimar he gulped as he caught his breath. He didn’t feel like gloating or mocking the fallen foe. “Next time you want to fight… don’t drag your friends into it…” with that he flipped his grip on the weapon and fired his thrusters to soar towards the bridge of the Archangel.

---

The duo of Mobile Armors cleverly attempted to avoid Kamille's initial attack with some aerobatics: by transforming into Mobile Suit mode, both performed a relatively instantaneous airbrake, falling down quickly. While Seven managed to avoid the Linear Rifle shots, Eight could see the missiles steering towards him, and so he used his machine's forearms to cover the head of his unit, using them to stomach the barrage of missiles. As Kamille flew past them moments later, both transformed again, this time on Kamille's tail. Seven moved as fast as before, but Eight's damaged armor was slowing him down, as it was not as aerodynamic now. Kamille was now out of missiles and knew that as soon as he passed the Asshimars he would have to do something to try and counter the inevitable air breaking the Titans would do. He angled upward, trying to rapidly increase the distance between himself and the Asshimars. His opponents weren’t push overs however, and were quickly giving chase. He noted however that his two tails were diverging in distance, whether by design or because of circumstances Kamille couldn’t be certain. Slowly a plan began to form in his head though. He toggled the controls to begin powering up the heat rod stowed on board the Defenser. The Defenser rose up higher and higher, leading everyone straight up. He twirled and jerked the controls trying to not to present an easy target but slowly he lined up his tail as he flew up. He knew his airspeed was beginning to slow as the Defenser began to stall. “Let’s hope this works!” As if sensing his lack of speed the lead Asshimar started shooting at him. Dodging became harder to do as he bleed more and more speed and a beam shot lanced in deeply into a wing, making an explosion of debris and smoke pop off.

Kamille twisted the controls to try and point the nose down back to earth. As he began to fall he released the heated heat rod down to drop alongside him. The sword-like weapon dived down looking almost like a piece of debris from his damaged wing, the profile deceitfully small and inconspicuous. With his foes directly beneath him he hoped the impromptu missile would take one of them down. Even so he lined up his cannon and weapons for another shot. It was a success: Eight was not maneuverable enough to dodge the "debris" in time, so he tried to power through it, assuming he'd just dent the armor further. But increasing his speed proved to be his bane, as the heat rod sliced the machine in half with ease. The entry point was close to the middle, but not exactly through it, so the pilot's survival was still possible, even though the machine was instantly ruined. Seven, instead, had dodged, and saw how lucky he was to survive. Immediately, he fired upon Kamille, doing a barrel roll to disorient him. But Kamille wasn’t about to let the last one off so easily. With the hit he took he could see he was losing power and wouldn’t be able to carry on the fight much longer. He angled the nose of the Defenser to the body of the Asshimar, not just to try and fire at it, but to take out the mobile suit. The Asshimar’s barrel roll was enough to ward off his shot of the linear cannon, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the greater projectile behind it. Just before the Defenser collided Kamille activated the beam lance over the shield. The Defenser ripped into the belly of the mobile suit, debris and smoke erupting out from the impact. At first, Kamille wasn’t so sure about the attack. He yelled out defiantly during the exchange almost wondering if he would be killed. As the Defenser emerged it wasn’t unscathed. Smoke bled out of many parts of the mobile armor. “This is Kamille! I’m going down!” He called out over the radio. He fought the controls as they grew increasingly stiff and unresponsive. Luckily the desert was a barren landscape so finding a place to put it down wasn’t too difficult. He just hoped his allies and Fa were doing alright.

---

The three Asshimars facing Beta Gundam were expecting retaliation, but it turned out to be more than what they bargained for: Hikaru's ingenuity gave him a way to strike them accurately, which he first used to disable Blue Sky Eleven, by way of blowing up the joint keeping both legs together, denying it enough thrust to ascend, given it had adopted a now inconvenient angle of attack before losing its legs. Eleven crashed into the dunes, spewing smoke, then a small cloud of fire retardant. Hikaru then kept hitting Nine and Ten's thick armor in the chest, ineffectively for the moment, but both pilots knew that with each hit, the layers burned away, and their durability decreased. They were running out of time: any beam could be the one to finally reach their reactor and end them. Both tried to improvise to avoid getting hit, but it just kept happening. "Aghh!" Grunted Nine. "It's no use! I don't know how, but he can see us! I'm gonna rush him, my armor's burning away!" Ten was far more confident in his marksmanship, however, and entered the cloud, but only to fire at what he thought could be the Gundam. "I can see him! I've almost got him!" Both Asshimars entered the cloud, one intent on engaging Hikaru at point blank range, the other just wanting to settle for visual confirmation. Hikaru noted this. Ten's cover fire forced the Beta Gundam to keep its shield up rather than use the Beam Rifle on Nine's approach. “What are they planning, trying to get close like this? They don’t have sabers!” The hip beam guns kept flaring at Ten to keep it at bay and hopefully destroy it, but the Beta Gundam did not switch to a beam saber. Instead, Hikaru tested out something new. "Melee range? Let's see how you like this!" Hikaru exclaimed as the bottom of Beta Gundam's shield started to gleam with a beam edge. Then the edge quickly extended down from the shield to a single point. When Nine got close, Hikaru used the Beam Lance function of his shield to slash diagonally downward at his foe like a high power Beam Saber, vitrifying particles of sand in the air into tiny drops of glass. Nine's armor finally gave in with this last push, and Hikaru’s Beam Lance became lodged in the Asshimar’s torso. With the head almost untouched due to the angle of entry of the beam, the pilot had enough time before his machine overloaded, to eject, or to keep up his offensive to the bitter end. Maybe it was the heat of battle, or just the sheer hatred the members of Blue Sky, having lost so many friends in the last hour to them, had acquired for the two white Gundams. But Nine traded in his life for one last act of defiance, and tried to close what distance remained between him and Hikaru, even continuing to lodge itself on the tip of the shield just to be as close as possible to his enemy, before the reactor finally went critical. “Shoulda stayed in space! For the preservation of our blue and pure- AAAAAARGGGHH!”

The reaction blew even more sand, expanding the sand cloud further. "Gabol! Damn it! I’ll get you for this!" Ten yelled, as he kept closing in for a chance at a better shot. Hikaru had guided the Beta Gundam to duck down under the shield as much as he could to avoid melee. While it didn't protect his machine fully from the explosion, the upper part of the blast was curtailed by the barrier. The face of the shield was ripped away, revealing the crude beam shield underneath which was powered by Beam Saber technology on a rigid frame. This provided a large source of light for Ten to hone in on, but was also a protective barrier. The Beta Gundam's unarmored shoulder was the worst off because it had less protection from the blast, jamming into position. One of the knees was also acting up due to the knee armor being mangled and putting pressure on the joint. The machine survived, however. "Suicidal nut job!" Hikaru exclaimed. His eyes stayed wide, scanning for Ten, unable to acquire him on the G-Defenser's sensors anymore. He kept his machine crouched down, raising the shield above his Mobile Suit in hopes of drawing his fire. He'd have trouble using the Beam Rifle with the messed up shoulder joint, but the Beta Gundam's Hip Beam Guns were still ready to go. Seeing the glow caused by the beam shield, Ten let his guard down and stopped firing, assuming he had already managed to hit the Gundam, and hoping to see the wreck soon. But the glow did not subside as he got closer, and when he had Beta Gundam right in front of him, he realized his mistake. It was not on fire, and very much alive, as a beam barrier had appeared to defend it. Ten flared his thrusters to gain some distance, but by the time he took that decision, two shots fired forward toward its head from the pair of hip beam guns, blasting through its foe's head sensor housing and disintegrating the pilot behind. Damaged but still working, Beta Gundam had defeated all its allocated enemies, but incurring damage. Carefully retracting the Beam Lance once the enemy was wiped out, he used the beam-heated edge of his shield to heat his bent knee armor enough to bend it forward away from the joint once more. Without a way to fix the seized up shoulder, it switched the hands holding his rifle and shield for the sake of better target acquisition, and left the dust cloud. Hikaru decided to see if anyone needed ranged support. "Beta Gundam to team. My targets are down. My machine's shoulder is messed up, but I can still lend ranged support."

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(2/3)
Cagalli winced as the Hi-Zack exploded in front of her. She wasn’t totally expecting her shot to work and was more startled by its success rather than if it had failed. Her awe was struck down as the MKII bounded in slashing horizontally at her. She barely managed to lift the sword up in defense as the MKII assaulted her.
“What’s your problem?” She asked out rhetorically as Mu kept her on the defense. “You didn’t have to go and kill her!” Retorted Mu as he kept swinging at the Dom. Cagalli winced at the accusation, she wasn’t out there to kill anyone, she was just fighting the monsters who were terrorizing the region - the Titans. Her thoughts betrayed her as the MkII lashed out hard, severing the Dom’s left arm. Cagalli cried out in fear as the Titan began to gain the upper hand. “You shouldn’t even be here!” She snapped back as she flared the thrusters on the Dom to bash into the smaller MKII. Mu grunted a response which was washed out from a volley of explosions hitting the MKII on the face.

“Cagalli!” Kisaka cried out as he fired another volley from his bazooka. “Now Cagalli!” The MkII stumbled back as more small explosions riddled its body. Another half truck veered away from the main group attempting to get beneath the Gundam to fire up at it. Ahmed gritted his teeth as he aimed an RPG at the pelvis of the suit. “I’ll save you Cagalli!” He yelled out fanatically as he let loose a volley. His actions, while noble, were ill conceived as the Gundam stumbled around blindly and stepped right ontop of the half truck, an explosion erupting from under the foot.

“Ahmed, no!” Cagalli cried out and she growled, “You bastard!” She gritted her teeth and screamed out in rage as she blindly thrusted her sword at the Gundam. The metal blade greedily cut into the black armor of the torso. She leveled her shoulder cannon at the Gundam point blank and fired with abandon. Each shot splintered off metal as flames and smoke began to roll off the forming wreckage of the MkII. Cagalli sobbed with each shot. “You idiot! You stupid idiot!”
---
The bridge of the Archangel was filled with the desperate voices of the few surviving Titans and Federation personnel. Stella, one of the ATCs, tried in vain to reach the dead men and women of Blue Sky, calling them by their first names. Nobody was answering. They had lost contact with the Hawk of Endymion himself and Ensign Kaizuka, too.

There were even reports of an AEU demonstration being disrupted by more Gundam-types, not too far away from Al-Ajiza. The situation was bleak, and it was only getting worse by the second. Half-Trucks and enemy Mobile Suits were approaching Archangel, the last bastion of armed resistance against the ZAFT invaders, and the Desert Dawn terrorists that apparently had made a truce with them, or had mistaken them for somebody else.

Everyone else in the base was leaving however they could, and Yuiran knew he wouldn't live to tell the tale if he did not board the shuttle Kojiro had just prepared for him. A moment too late, and he could be shot boarding it, or the plane itself could be destroyed with explosives. But there was little space. He couldn't take everyone with him. Pained, he made the decision of taking away the child and leaving the crew of the Archangel alone. He needed to take the Cyber-Newtype away from those who would make her fight again, no matter the cost. It was possible he would even have to lie to the Titans about her true nature, lest they did the exact same.
“Ramius, Badgiruel! I'll leave you in charge. I have to take Risu to a safe place before they storm the ship. Somewhere they won't shoot to kill." Opening the door to the long hallways of the ship, he signaled for Risu to follow him. "Quickly, follow me."

 Hurriedly, Risu followed Yuiran, making sure to stay close so as not to get swept away in the crowd of personnel rushing to evacuate. She found it difficult to keep up with the man's pace, and for a moment, she lost him, though a momentary break in the crowd allowed her to run forward, stopping right behind Yurian.

"Where are we going?" she asked, her voice barely audible above the panicked chatter of the Archangel crew. Not long after, the two of them arrived in one of the vessel's two hangars, which had been mostly emptied of mobile suits after the battle. Yurian moved quickly, almost at a jog towards a nearby shuttle, and Risu attempted to tail close behind. Stopping short of the dark blue shuttle, the Captain unholstered his weapon, as he heard gunfire coming closer. But the enemy was not there yet, so he encouraged Risu to board the shuttle while there was time.

"Hurry, Risu! A gunfight could ensue at any moment in this place." As the ramp to the shuttle opened, extending its airstair, Risu stepped up, looking back over her shoulder towards Yuiran at the ringing of gunfire in the distance, and as he drew his weapon, her pace increased, very nearly scurrying up the stairs to board. Once he had made sure his passenger had boarded, Yuiran hurried inside. The interior was almost deserted, as only Yuiran's co-pilot, a flight attendant and another soldier, this time a Hispanic woman in military police attire, had boarded the craft. Enough people, he figured as he closed the door behind him and entered the cockpit, taking off his uniform jacket and cap in favor of some headphones. Going quickly through the checklist, he turned on the seatbelt sign. He was able, and would possibly have to perform some pretty tight turns with his shuttle.
---
Marco made haste towards the bridge of the Archangel. Bael was beat up pretty good. At one point the thrust even cut out making him drop a few feet before picking up the slack once more. He was mad, pissed off at having to do such a brutal fight.
- “Hikaru! Kamille! What’s your status?” He called out as he approached the ship. He got enough altitude to start flying over the ship and circled around to study the area. He still wasn’t sure where Risu had disappeared to, and the notion unsettled him. Kamille’s voice cracked back on the radio.
- “Bidan here! I’m alive, I had to put the Defenser down though, I’m out of the fight!” Creed’s face twitched at the report and he found himself breathing some relief at that revelation.
- “Hikaru?” He called out again. As he asked he tried to steady Bael into a slow descent, right in front of the bridge.
- "I'm here!" Hikaru said through the radio as he too converged on the group. "My machine's shoulder is damaged, but I can still lend vulcan and beam support. I'll try to shoot down missiles or other point defense for the Desert Dawn, unless you guys have some other need!"
The Beta Gundam's damaged shoulder was locked in place, so that arm was dedicated to holding the shield. Said shield glowed with pink light, the beam functionality of the composite shield exposed with its face destroyed. Hip Beam Guns, a Beam Rifle, and head vulcans were still brought to bear and ready to defend.

Creed nodded his approval at Hikaru’s response, “Let's end this then, Hikaru! Keep your eyes peeled for any tricks. Let's see if we can get Risu back...” There was a bitter tone in his voice and he let that thought hang in the air. He descended into view of the Archangel bridge. Bael’s face was tilted to one side, its optic sensors cracked and splintered. He switched his PA on and pointed his sword at the window of the bridge.

“Archangel, you are to disarm at once and surrender. Don’t try my patience...” In that moment, a shuttle took off from the Archangel's sole functional catapult. It looked just like OZ's models, although painted in the typical Titans dark blue, and was moving very fast. Narrowly dodging Desert Dawn's missiles by making full use of the afterburners, it turned quickly in a certain direction, moving almost like an attacker craft. The voice of a Titans officer chimed in the open channel. "ZAFT and Desert Dawn forces! I am Captain Yuiran with the Titans! Cease and desist! There are non-combatants and children on board!"
Hikaru was surprised by the deployed rocket, not expecting something that fast from the MS catapult. This bought enough time for the Captain to escape and make his claim. "Tch...Desert Dawn, there may be Orb civilians from Heliopolis aboard! Please be careful!" He wondered if Cagalli had heard him.

Creed sighed as Yurian rambled on the radio. His sensors told him about the shuttle launch but in reality there was little he could do about that right then. He had them by the throat so to speak and he didn’t want to forfeit his upper hand over a trivial shuttle.

“I don’t care who you are. I will not ask again...” he lifted the blade up, poising it to strike down on the bridge. “Surrender now!”

Cagalli, meanwhile, stared at the smoking debris of the MKII. Her finger pulled the trigger for her cannon to fire to no avail. The clicks of the cannon echoed in her head. Her contemplation was interrupted when she heard familiar words. Orb! Heliopolis! She cocked her head to study the archangel and to see the shuttle leaving. She reached up to wipe the tears from her face. “Kisaka, what’s that boy talking about?” She asked warily as she slowly returned to the present. She pulled on her controls to bring her Dom towards the Archangel.


Murrue knew there was no chance of escape, much less of victory. But there were still hopes of survival. With a heavy heart, she ordered everyone in the bridge to put their hands up,and told Kuzzey to patch her through to the enemy Gundam. Once that was done, she stepped up to address Marco.
"I am Lieutenant Commander Murrue Ramius, in charge of this ship. The Archangel offers its surrender..." However, she kept her dignity and composure, despite the unsurmountable odds. "... on the condition that the Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty and the Desert Dawn treat the ship's crew humanely and in accordance to the Antarctic Treaty."

Yuiran's shuttle was quickly lost among the clouds, up in the sky. With it, Risu's signal was lost, a sign that perhaps she was among the "children" the shuttle's pilot was talking about. Furthermore, the three Union Flags once seen in the distance had turned around and were retreating at full speed. It was as if they were returning to base with valuable information. Could the Union be on the prowl for Archangel too?


Hikaru had the Beta Gundam take a piece of warped metal, likely part of the wrecked catapult hatches, and place it as a ramp for the Desert Dawn's vehicles onto the wrecked MS Catapult of the Archangel. It would make entry and egress easier for them at least. His machine entered as well, to ensure that no one got in an enemy Mobile Suit and attempted to attack the vehicles and infantry. "Risu's left the combat area. It looks like they have a hostage..." He said on the team channel.

Marco let out a profound sigh as Murrue offered her surrender. He had to take a moment to collect himself as he regained his nerve. “I accept your surrender ma’am.” He offered politely.
Hikaru chimed in on the team channel about Risu and he cursed, “Damnit, why was she on that shuttle?” He asked rhetorically. He honestly thought that by snagging the ship they would save her. He squeezed the bridge of his nose before looking back at his scopes. He spied the Desert Dawn folks begin to board the craft with Hikaru’s help. He was about to say something to Hikaru about it when he noticed a one arm Dom approach his teammate. “Heads up Hikaru.” Creed stayed poised by the bridge. He had a feeling the next few moments would determine whether they played nice with the rebel group or if things would get ugly.
“Just who the hell do you think you are?” The Dom leveled its’ sword to the Beta Gundam’s back. “We’re not about to pretend that you guys aren’t ZAFT forces! Explain yourself!” The snarky, bossy tone made it obvious it was none other than Cagalli in the Dom. Hikaru froze. He didn't expect this from Cagalli, though perhaps he should have. The girl was honest. Honest to the point of acting without thinking sometimes. The pilot pondered his next words very carefully before switching to laser communications and sending her a private communication.
"I'll gladly talk to you as much as you want about this after we're done, but we can't afford to present a divided front right now. You're showing weakness to the enemy and it may embolden them to retract their surrender. There also might still be civilians from a neutral nation aboard, and the Titans like human shields. It's a recipe for disaster." Indeed, he did want to talk to Cagalli after this. At length. Now was just the worst time.
Cagalli mumbled under her breath and after a long moment let her sword drop down. “Don’t think this isn’t over!” She warned as she moved into the hangar bay.

She parked the Dom but didn’t disembark just yet. Creed watched the tension but didn’t realize what Hikaru had said. He maintained his threatening demeanor until the rebels reported capturing the crew. Tired, he moved Bael into the hangar. As he parked Bael a message appeared.


MISSION SUCCESSFUL


He let out a deep breath of relief, it was certainly well earned. He popped open the hatch of his cockpit to disembark, but paused before exiting. He was still wearing a ZAFT red flight suit and took a moment to change the costume to a Celestial Being flight suit before stepping out. “Let’s see what we've got on our hands.”
 

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(3/3)

Marco looked around to see if he could spy Hikaru. There were plenty of rebels milling around the deck looking busy as they moved material. Kamille wandered up to the magnificent Earth Alliance ship. Smoke climbed out from the gashes on the vessel, but it remained intimidating. He held his helmet in one hand while slowly tugging off the top of his flight suit.  Rebels turned to regard him, but no one stopped him as he climbed up the ramp towards the hangar bay of the ship. He looked around anxiously for Fa and Hikaru. Beta Gundam regarded Kamille and stooped down once he was aboard. A hand was held in front of the cockpit to allow Fa to disembark. There was little need to subject her to Cagalli's tongue-lashing. Hikaru gave Fa a smile, knowing she was worried about the boy. "Desert Dawn Dom," he said over the laser link, noting the unintentional tongue-twister. "I'm letting a second person out of my cockpit. Not trying to escape our little chat." Cagalli didn’t say anything but it was almost as if everyone could see her glaring from the Dom. Fa thanked Hikaru quickly before getting out the Beta. She looked rattled and worse for wear from the battle, but was alive. As she got on the deck she instantly ran towards Kamille who accepted her embrace. The two held each other for a while, Kamille looking over her shoulder to give a thumbs up and nod towards Hikaru. Creed saw the young couple embrace and waited a few moments before approaching them. He cleared his throat and when they finally turned to regard him he offered a hand towards the young man. “You did good today! I wanted to thank you for what you did. We were in a tight spot and you bailed us out. I’ll fly with you any day Kamille.” There was a genuine smile on Creed’s face and Kamille grinned back. “Maybe next time I’ll actually have a mobile suit.” He offered and Creed could only find himself hoping for the same.

The Dom interrupted the moment as it took a step forward, the floor rattling from the weight.  “I want answers.” Cagalli demanded loudly so everyone could hear. Marco looked up at Hikaru, he could see the wisdom in remaining armed but at this point he didn’t care if they ended up getting put out by the rebels. “How about we all talk in person?” Creed offered as he looked from the Beta Gundam to the Dom. By the point most of the rebels had moved into the interior of the ship, leaving them largely alone. "Fine by me." Hikaru transmitted and sent through his machine's speaker, before walking the Beta Gundam to the hangar wall and connecting it. The machine started to be repaired. As the unit had logged in with the G-Defenser and the Flying Armor, the silhouettes of the missing components appeared as parts of the gunpla to regenerate... though the Beta Gundam's own damages came first.  Stepping out of the cockpit in a white and green pilot suit, Hikaru descended from his cockpit on a zip-line and looked to Cagalli and the others. He walked over, keeping his helmet on in case Cagalli got slap-happy. "I'm sure there's an anteroom nearby for briefings and debriefings. Let's find it and have that chat." Everyone including Cagalli walked over to one of the pilot briefing rooms. Creed was the last one in and closed the door behind them.  Kamille and Fa took a seat, easily looking the most exhausted out of the group. Cagalli stood near the front of the room so Marco decided to lean against the wall with the door. He looked at Hikaru before saying:
 

- “First, thanks for your help with the Titans.” He studied Cagalli who only snorted in response. He then added, my name is Marco Creed, this is Kamille and Fa...” he waved his hand to the couple then motioned towards his teammate, “and this is Hikaru Hiyashi.” He paused to study the princess and smiled. “We’re mercenaries hired by ZAFT."
- “That doesn’t explain why you’re helping us then. If anything I should have you all shoved off this ship right now!” She short back, Creed looked at Hikaru for help with convincing her.The look Cagalli had showed she was thrilled to find out the truth.
- "Because the interplay between factions is complicated to begin with, as is the reason we're in ZAFT's employ in the first place. That and Fa and Kamille are mostly here to show the Titans where to shove it. They're citizens of Green Noa and their victims." Hikaru hoped that would protect those two, at the very least. "ZAFT is allying with the AEUG and assisting the people in space that the Titans are oppressing when it is convenient for them to do so. I support those sorts of operations, and I believe my team as a whole does as well. The most recent case was when the Titans and Earth Alliance were using Side 7's civilian populations as human shields for their research and development programs. They even managed to subvert Orb's neutrality somehow to have Heliopolis make this ship, which is clearly based on stolen technology from Orb's Izumo-class. They probably infiltrated Morgenroete through technically civilian means, but the Sahaku Family at minimum had to be complicit since they run the company. We were initially hired by the AEUG to support the capture of the Titans' prototype machine at Green Noa, while ZAFT carried out their own operation at Heliopolis.We're not sure of the details of how that went down, but it clearly went badly. After this ship escaped and we failed to help catch it, the ZAFT commander hired us to make a drop to 'finish what we started'. He neglected to mention that there was a Titans base here. If we failed, fewer witnesses to what ZAFT recovered from Heliopolis, I suppose. Today was also the first mention of civilians being aboard." The implication of Rau's betrayal wasn't a certainty, but it was one that Hikaru felt was likely. "This ship can't be allowed to stay in the Titans' hands." Hikaru concluded.

Cagalli nodded her head as she listened but still kept her jaw clenched and her arms crossed in front of her. Despite herself she flinched at the mention of the Izumo-class, and Sahaku family.  That was all supposed to be a secret and it didn’t bode well that this stranger knew about that. Still she studied the peculiar pilot and his conclusion about the ship not staying with the Titans.

- “Well, of course it’s not gonna stay with the Titans! It’s also not going to ZAFT either!” She clenched a fist in front her and planted the other hand on a table in front of her. “I don’t know who you think you are but you’re talking about things you shouldn’t know about!” She looked on the verge of running over and strangling Hikaru, so Creed chimed in.
- “Look, our organization has an extensive intelligence network. Information can be just as valuable as weapons in a war.” He eyed Cagalli ,shifted a look at Hikaru, then back. “And of course you’re right, we don’t want this ship to fall back into enemy hands, nor ZAFT.” He looked her in the eye before adding. “I think the best course would be to take this ship to Orb. Don’t you agree, Cagalli Yula Athha?” Her face went white at the mention of her name and she stared at Creed then Hikaru in disbelief. “I think our terms with ZAFT are at an end...” he turned to regard Hikaru then Kamille and Fa at the mention of ZAFT. Hikaru sighed a bit. Dropping her name wasn't something he intended to do, but it might be for the best.
- "So on one hand, we risk attaching Orb's ruling family to a conflict which abandons its claim of neutrality by revealing her presence here, potentially inviting open war with the Titans and ZAFT. On the other, announcing her presence gives her the right to claim the vessel for the nation that built it and its technology, along with the instant loyalty of any Orb hostages or refugees aboard the ship. We'd have to play this very carefully. It'd be best for her not to reveal her identity at all to the outside until the ship got to where it needs to be, if possible."  Hikaru warned, not wanting Cagalli to simply proclaim herself recklessly on the battlefield without some sort of plan. "I was always more fond of Orb anyway, even if it has some weaknesses that need resolved. Maybe once Morgenroete is cleaned up, I can finally submit that idea to bolster its maritime defense...that's one of the reasons I studied Morgenroete so much anyway. It could be doing more. In fact...we MIGHT be able to spin this..." Hikaru tapered off there, pondering something. He then took off his helmet and revealed his face unobstructed to Cagalli for the first time, blue eyes shining as he grabbed a pencil and paper and began sketching out an idea. "We can make this into an absolute political nightmare for the Titans..." Now it was Creed’s turn to raise an eyebrow. He looked at Hikaru and smirked.
- “Oh yeah? What do you have in mind?” Even as he asked, Cagalli looked slightly queasy, as she slowly took in the revelations. Before Hikaru could respond to Creed, she cut in,
- “You know it’s none of your business what I do with my ship!” Creed looked back at her and cleared his throat.
- “Of course... you’re right...” he looked back between the two then added. “Look, either way you slice it, it’s not safe to stay here. And I think I speak for all of us when I say we’ll be happy to help you out, after we conclude our business in the region.” He cocked his head at his teammate. “It’ll take some time for the ‘Angel to be flight worthy, I think it wouldn’t hurt to hear what my colleague has to say.”
- “I don’t know if I can trust you!” Cagalli exclaimed.
- “You don’t have a choice.” Marco retorted flatly. “The only capable pilots who are willing to help your group are in this room right now. And after we help our comrade out that may include one more. Any way you think of it, it’s a long journey from where we are to Orb.” He looked hard at the blonde girl then nodded. “It doesn’t hurt to listen...” he turned his gaze back at Hikaru to see what he had to say. Hikaru nodded, having finished writing down the idea.
- "Okay. Right now, Orb is in a dicey political situation. ZAFT has an apparent cause to accuse it of covertly allying with the Atlantic Federation and the Titans. It's at risk of having its claims of neutrality nullified and any claim Orb makes can pretty much be mitigated or ignored. It may be dragged into the war. Thankfully, the Titans seized command of the ship, its technology, and crew. They ordered it to a Titans base. Then the commanding officer they installed fled and abandoned the Atlantic Federation assets and crew to the enemy. If we present things from that perspective and motive, and include the information that Orb was subverted and used as an apparent backdrop to the story... then the Atlantic Federation and the Titans can be made to fight each other politically. As they try to throw each other under the bus, they will implicate each other's crimes. ZAFT, which is taking a measure of heat for their conduct at Heliopolis, would be all but happy to pile the pressure on with whatever information they've gathered. Maybe even painting themselves as defenders of Orb's sovereignty or some other ridiculous claim no one will buy. ZAFT would likely also support our footage of the Titans' use of Gundam Development Project units with their ownGP04 data, causing questions there, too. It is my hope that this would reveal Orb to be the victim of subversion and a proxy conflict between various factions. It would give Orb the evidence needed to petition the Titans to return their civilians. Finally, it would give Lord Athha the necessary cause to purge or leash certain factions and families within Orb's government who are responsible for this mess. All while using Heliopolis to justify increasing the scope of Orb's military for defense."

Hikaru wondered what Cagalli and the others would think. The idea of manipulating the setting's politics was a bold one, but Gundam was half politics as it was. Marco stroked his beard as he listened. Everyone paid attention in silence. Even before Hikaru finished Marco was shaking his head, however.

- “To what end?” He asked. Kicking off the wall he stood straight and crossed his arms. “There are forces at play that aren’t...” he paused to consider his words, “normal... for the situation. The Titans and Oz for that matter will not take any insults lying down. Playing this type of political game is dangerous. This could backfire dramatically...just because something is justified doesn’t mean that’s what could happen. I think we need to consider the immediate situation. And we need to get Risu back.” He bit his lip as he brought up the suggestion and looked away. He took a deep breath, “I don’t know what she was thinking...”it was clear he wasn’t fond of the situation. Marco had an image to maintain and having his team make such a massive mistake wasn’t something he’d be quick to forgive. The only way to rectify the mistake was by saving as much face as possible. “We get Risu back then we can help Cagalli however she wants... at least that’s what I think...” He looked at Kamille and Fa, who seemed attentive.
- “I just want to take the fight to the Titans. I’ve heard stories of what they do to hostages and I’m worried about your friend.” Kamille offered. Cagalli slowly nodded her head.
- “I still don’t know how you know so much... but at this point I have to take all the help I can get.” Marco nodded to Hikaru.
- “What do you think? Let’s get her back so we can worry about what’s best for Orb?” Hikaru agreed, in a sense. Risu's actions were a massive problem. She just kept messing up and bringing down the team.
- "For one thing, I'm hoping that she had the good sense to be mistaken for a civilian. If Orb is put in a position to demand the return of the civilians aboard that shuttle, she might also be given to them. If not, I'm not sure how we'll get her back or even where they sent her. Also, the fact the Titans wouldn't take any insults lying down is why I want to parse it ascoming from the Atlantic Federation angle rather than from Orb. The other factions seem likely to pounce on the Titans' failings rather than cower against them as well. They aren't an absolute power. Still, it would take time... meaning the process would have to be started soon if at all. Luckily, with ZAFT and other opportunists there to fan the flames, we just have to get the ball rolling. We could still focus on finding Risu somehow without the initial leak costing us time. That and...I'd like to see Orb become a stronghold against this madness..." Hikaru admitted. It was one of his favorite factions, even if it had a few flaws.
 

Cagalli nodded in appreciation to Hikaru’s reference, “I gotta go see what my people are doing and the shape of the ship. I guess we’ll catch up later, after you sort out this stuff with your comrade.” She looked like she still had a lot on her mind but nodded to everyone in the room and left. Marco felt like there was more to talk about Orb but he wanted to stay focused. He looked at everyone, “I think we need to talk to the crew and figure out where that shuttle went. I also think Kamille and Fa should check out the hangar in case anything useful was left behind. Whatever we’re going against I’d like to have as much fire power on our team before we follow. It’s gonna take some time for our machines to get repaired somaybe we should check out the base while we’re here? What do you think?” He nodded to Hikaru. Kamille and Fa were already standing up, obviously excited about maybe finding a new toy. Hikaru nodded in agreement. "I agree. I think we should grab the Asshimar wrecks. There should be enough of them, with diverse enough types of damage, to cobble some units together. I also shot the wing of a transport plane that was trying to escape and forced it down. We might be able to find something there."

---

Marco and Hikaru stood outside of the planning room. Kamille and Fa enthusiastically went to check on the hangars, accompanied by a pair of rebels dispatched by Ledonir to keep an eye on them. Similarly, two other rebels seemed to stay behind, watching over Marco and Hikaru. On one hand, it went to show Desert Dawn didn't quite trust Alpha Team yet, but there was a silver lining: the rebels would come in handy if either group were to encounterany Federation personnel, barricaded in the ship or the base to make a last stand. Marco couldn’t say he was surprised by the escorts, but it mattered little to him. He nodded to Hikaru, “this way. Let’s see what the crew has to say about this situation. The old crew that is.” The duo made their way up to the bridge. Hikaru followed, having his own questions for them. "Yeah, some of them might even be conscripted Orb civilians...and they might know where Risu went, as well." Luckily, the crew hadn’t been moved to the brig yet. The few armed persons among the captured, meaning Murrue, Natarle and original crew survivors such as Arnold Neumann had already given away their Earth Alliance standard issue firearms to the rebels. While some of the Desert Dawn were trying to figure out some of the instruments of the ship and others held the crew at gunpoint, it didn't look like their interrogation had begun. Things were a little awkward with the rebels around but Marco decided that it would serve Alpha Team better to just act like he owned the place.

- “I need to ask the crew some questions!” He stated loudly for everyone to hear. The rebels shrugged at each other and Marco stood in front of the captives, putting his hands on his hips. His tone was impatient, but he remained calm. “I’m the pilot of Gundam Bael, my name is Marco Creed. I need to ask you guys where that shuttle went to? I suspect our comrade was onboard.”

- "There were also civilians, implying that the Titans have taken hostages. We need to know where they went for that reason, too." Hikaru added, looking between the various people present. He hoped Murrue would speak up. "Were they from Orb?" Natarle replied first.

- "Tch. No civilians boarded that shuttle. Only that coward Yuiran and the artificial Newtype you guys threw, plus the crew. It would’ve been useless for him to take anybody the Titans don’t have a need for. Those shuttles don’t have much space."

- "We don’t know where it was headed. I guess even a living weapon is worth more than us now.” Murrue took over for a little, while Natarle drank from a bottle of water. “Bask and Jamaican flew away yesterday with the last Mark II and the blueprints hidden inside the computer files. Not even us knew about those."

- "Yeah...” Natarle took over again, finishing on an enigmatic note. “A weird Titan found them and moved all of them to Bask's computer like nobody’s business."

- “Thrown out huh?” Creed reached up to stroke his beard, shook his head and muttered something under his breath. He shifted some then spoke again, “You guys know your instruments best, is there any chance you can help us figure out where the shuttle went? Any help you guys offer will improve your situation here. For the record, we didn’t throw her out. She... fell out of her own mobile suit..” It was a bluff, but he figured it was worth a shot. Ideally they would convert most of the crew to help with the ship in the future. Hikaru nodded in agreement.

- "Yeah, I'm still not sure how she managed that one. Something we'll have to ask her when we get her back. So, can you assist in locating where she went? I'm also interested in hearing about this mysterious Titan." He kicked himself. Emma was gone, it seemed.

- "Hmph. Sounds like something that happens when you put a ten-year old in a Mobile Suit." Natarle scoffed. Murrue gave her a stern look, perhaps telling her to cut it off, then spoke again.

- "We're not allowed near the instruments for now... but our chief mechanic heard something."

Weirdly, Kojiro Murdoch was there too, rather than the hangar. Technically he was part of the crew, however.

- "Damn right. I overheard one of those MP cliques boarding the shuttle and talking about some Gundams attacking an AEU base. Probably friends of yours. And her friend in the suit mentioned something about doing a stop in the East before heading for... Mogadishu, I think? They said an OZ bigwig was gathering forces there."

- “More Gundams? Maybe he’s talking about Beta Team?” He looked at Hikaru as he talked out loud. He didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing, it did confirm that there could be more trouble in the area though. Hikaru wasn't sure. They did have that GP03.

- "The Atlantic Federation, the Titans, ZAFT, AEUG... me. Everyone has a Gundam nowadays. Not really an indicator of alliance anymore, so we need more information. Is Emma- the other Gundam pilot still here? I'm also still curious about the identity of that other mysterious Titan you mentioned, and the way the Titans have treated you. It sounds like they seized control, stole the technology, and left you high and dry. Like some sort of widerpower play."

- “Ensign Sheen was in the Mark II that was taken away." Natarle informed them, then rejected Hikaru's courtesy. "Don't act like you care. I only saw the guy once, he had long hair and a blue uniform without sleeves over a black undershirt. That's all I know, so you can throw me in the brig already."

- "What color hair was that?” Hikaru glanced back at Natarle, but contained his irritation. “I do empathize, because I'm not a monster. They used G3 Nerve Gas to suppress the protests at Side 1's Colony 30 a couple years back. I wouldn't be surprised if they had something similar ready if Heliopolis became a threat so close to their base at Green Noa. They could probably have killed you all along with the populace, had you not complied with their wishes. I'm not pleased with the Atlantic Federation subverting Orb's neutrality through Morgenroete and using Orb's citizens as human shields for your work, but that's your superiors' fault more than yours."

- “Enough.” Marco put a hand gently towards Hikaru’s chest. He couldn’t argue with the kid’s points but he didn’t think this was the time. Marco nodded his head in appreciation towards the original crew. “I appreciate the information... truly. My friend has a point about the color of the hair, though. Who this is makes a huge difference. We have intelligence about the major players in this conflict and who was on board could be all the difference in ending this conflict. Please, Natarle...” He looked squarely at the woman, the way he said her name made it sound like he knew the woman, a claim he could say about all the crew in a sense.

- "Who even told you my...?" Natarle sighed. To think they'd obsess over such a trivial thing made her lose her patience, despite Marco's explanation. "He had a lilac wig and this...pedantic way of speaking. I swear there was nothing else of note. Are you done now?"

After thanking the crew, and in Hikaru’s case, apologizing for the lecture, Marco and Hikaru, plus escorts, took an all-terrain vehicle that was laying nearby with the ignition keys on. As Marco drove, he and Hikaru kept reflecting on the situation.

- “Scirocco!” Marco blurted then looked at Hikaru skeptically. He slammed his palm on the steering wheel. “Damn it!” If they had a full team they could have gone after a major enemy. “Just what else will that squirrel...”

- "Think the transport I shot down had anything interesting? Could be one of the Man from Jupiter's toys for all we know now... we could also check around for Kira. Maybe the medbay, given the thrashing he got?"

- “We’ve got more pressing matters. We need to get combat ready as soon as possible and head to Mogadishu.” Creed winced at the mention of Kira, he really didn’t want to think of that boy. What if he didn’t kill him? What if he wounded or crippled him? Marco shook his head at the possibilities and gave Hikaru a look. “Let’s go check all the wreckages. There could be something of value out there.”

- "There might also be other things around...we should be armed though. There might be stragglers around.”- “Yeah... say, why do you think Scirocco was here?”- "Hard to say," Hikaru stated. "Perhaps he was called in to analyze the G-Project's technology and integrate it into his own. Perhaps he's working with the Sahaku, since both want to undermine their respective allies. Or perhaps it's someone entirely different."
- “Could be...” Creed agreed, “Still, I’m not thrilled at the idea of Titan spooks creeping around us. Scirocco is up there next to Rau as far as I’m concerned.” He pulled the Jeep upnext to the wreckage, checked the glove box for a flashlight and tossed it to Hikaru. “Let’s hope we hit the jackpot!”


The two escorts jumped out of the jeep, wielding sub-machine guns. One stayed with Marco and Hikaru while the other went ahead to check the areas first. Seconds later, the cargo bay lights turned on and the large ramp in the back deployed for easier access. Then, the first escort reported that the plane was clear. Just like they had found a way in, the pilot and occupants had found a way out. They could now be wandering the desert, or amongst the captured back at the base. As for the cargo bay, there was a red Hi-Zack in it, standing atop a Base Jabber, and a Mobile Suit sized silhouette covered by a gigantic mantle. Weirdly, the Hi-Zack had not deployed during the battle, and its pilot was nowhere to be found too. As Hikaru looked inside the plane for Kira, Marco climbed aboard the Hi-Zack’s cockpit and turned it on to move the mystery item. The mantle fell, revealing the wreckage of Kira Yamato's GAT-X105 Strike Gundam, desaturated by the lack of power, and notably damaged in general. Since Kira was nowhere to be found, Hikaru got in the Base Jabber to assist in hauling parts. Marco quietly went about scavenging parts from the battlefield in the Hi-Zack. In reality, he didn’t want to talk about Kira, so by working he was avoiding the topic. There were a lot of Asshimar wrecks around and it seemed prudent to salvage the more intact wrecks. As he worked he noticed many of the Desert Dawn folks doing the same in Mobile Workers and trailer trucks. Marco soon came up to the smoldering wreck of the MKII .He paused as he regarded the wreck. He wasn’t too certain who the pilot was for the machine. Smoke rolled off the metal parts, whipping away in the arid wind. Solemnly he went about collecting what he could from the wreck. It took him several trips to bring what he could to the Archangel. On the last trip he parked the Hizak and returned to the hangar deck onfoot. It didn’t take him long to find Hikaru again.

“Hey. Want to check out the base?” Marco offered. Hikaru looked at him. "Yeah...I'm sure they have additional Asshimar and Hizack parts for maintenance at least. Maybe computer data on Titans designs." Hikaru knew that he was avoiding the issue of Kira, but that they would have to check the medical areas while he was able. The boy at least checked on the Mk-II's cockpit, seeing if the person inside survived or was still in there, gun drawn just in case. But it was empty. "The pilot got away, it seems. No remains. Let's check out that base..." Reluctantly, Marco followed Hikaru to the medical facilities. He really didn’t want to go there but knew he had to. The duo came to a pair of doors to the clinic. “After you...” Hikaru nodded and steeled himself. Entering the area, he started to look around to see if anyone had been left behind. The fact Marco held such guilt over injuring Kira indicated that he was a good person...but avoiding the issue wouldn't help. The hospital was busy. The usual medics and nurses of the Federation and Desert Dawn's paramedics alike worked to tend to the wounded. The sight of them working together for something was actually refreshingly positive, despite the unpleasant sight of all the seriously injured people being moved around in stretchers. Right by the entrance, there was a man in a white shirt, a green tie and a five o'clock shadow sitting on a desk with a computer and what looked like a very uninviting can of warm beer. He looked like he was in charge of accounting for the names that checked in and checked out of the facilities. Marco took in the environment, seeing the sight of people being injured, even NPDs wasn’t something he thought he’d see. He gulped some air down and cautiously approached the midday drinker. Creed look around and didn’t look at the man as he cleared his throat.

Edited by MM007
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3/3 Continued (Formatting Glitch required a split post)

- “Excuse me...” Marco started, before the man impatiently interrupted him.- "Make it quick, pal. Another one of our boys or yours could make it through the door looking like a colander any moment and I'm trying to savor the... uh, moment of silence."
- “Umm, yeah... we’re looking for the pilot of the Strike.” Despite the plea Marco paused, still entranced by the room. The entire situation suddenly felt wrong, there weren't supposed to be casualties in GBN. He thought of one person in particular at that moment and shook his head, looking to regard the man. This wasn’t the time for doubts. “Have you had him around here?”
- "It would also be nice if we could get a print out of that list of names. Turns out some Orb civilians were on the Archangel. We need to piece together if any of the injured are among them while we're at it." Hikaru didn't know if the man would recognize the pilot by name or not, but he also wanted to be able to see if anyone recognizable was on the list that they weren't expecting.
- "Yeah, I don't know which one out of all those Mobile Suit models is a Strike, and don't think I want to know either, so I'm gonna need a name there. I do know the Archangel is that White Base look-alike over there, but it didn't transfer anybody here aside from this boy in very bad shape... Uh, the bigwigs had him put in a medical plane and flew him away."
- "Of course they did... looks like they aren't going to let that particular civilian free..." Hikaru sighed. They were having okay luck with the Mobile Suits, but almost none with the actual pilots for this mission...aside from Cagalli, thankfully. He didn't understand why, aside from plot, the Titans would even want him. The technology for a Natural-use OS wasn't hidden anymore. Was it because of his engineering skills? Were his wounds so bad? Or maybe theTitans were just being Titans. "From what we can determine, his name is Kira Yamato. Can you verify if that was him, give us information on his condition, and tell us where he was transferred to?"
- "Kira... Yamato." After he typed that name, a red pop-up window appeared. "Would you look at that? Now I need top-tier clearance to see this file. But uh... that sounds like him alright. Some of his friends came in with the stretcher, they mentioned his name so many times and told him to stay alive. Heh. Like he could help it. From what I've seen running these lists and the way he looked when he came in, I'd give him some days, tops." He then stopped, considering the possibility that the pilots were acquainted with Kira, and apologized. "I'm sorry I can't be of further help..."

Marco punched his fist down hard on the desk startling the man with the loud thud. He glared at the guy for a moment then shot Hikaru a look before storming out of the place. He muttered something under his breath as he left, clearly agitated. With that, Hikaru went to follow Marco out. He needed to talk to the man. Marco was barely down the hall when he heard Hikaru behind him. He paused on his heel and spun to look at the kid. He waved a finger out in front of him threateningly at his teammate.

- “It is not supposed to be like this!” He growled before jamming his finger back at the door they were just in, “this is not supposed to be a real war!”
- "...You're right. The complexity of the people and the simulation is high...too high. It blurs the line too much. For those of us who just want to explore the world and characters we love...it's not 'fun' like a game. Befriending Kamille and Fa, interacting with Cagalli...they feel like real people. I can also tell you, as someone who has been maimed in real life, that it was very uncomfortable being back in such a...realistic approximation of a hospital portraying such injuries. Something to send back to the developers in our Beta testing reports." Keeping his emotions under control as best he could, he drew closer. "But don't abandon hope yet. That doctor likely isn't aware of Kira's...special biology due to the classification level of his data. Remember when he re-entered the atmosphere in the Strike, and the comparison of his and normal biology that was made on his recovery? That doctor's estimate on if Kira will survive is likely based on flawed presumptions." Marco was stunned by Hikaru’s admission about their physical condition. He looked down at the floor and sucked in a deep breath. After a long moment he nodded.
- “I just... I don’t enjoy the idea of giving that kid pain...and you’re right... something is definitely wrong with this world. You would think they would have learned their lessons after the EL-Diver fiasco, instead it looks like they ran the other way with things.” He rubbed his chin as he looked back at the room. “I’ll wait for you here, let’s get that list and get out ofhere... I’m not a fan of hospitals myself. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, he looked at the opposite side of his perch, clearly thinking about the turn of events.
- "I'm in full agreement with you there. If you want, you could always inquire with the ones directly responsible for the medical planes if they're still here like the medical staff is. Like Murdoch, they also have ears. If you're not here when I get back, I'll look for you there." Hikaru suggested, hoping they could get information directly from the rank and file. He also wondered just how many of the NPDs would wind up being akin to EL-Divers. Where did 'simulated' life end and 'real' life start, anyway?


With that, Hikaru headed back to the medical ward, steeling himself for what he knew he would see. He returned to the man they spoke with before.

-"Sorry about that. Kira Yamato is a civilian who was fighting to protect his friends, who were hostages aboard the ship. My friend's just a decent guy who hates what that kid my age is going through. Do you have the list?"
- "Right here." The man handed Hikaru two sheets of paper with names on both sides of them. Upon examining it, one could see the names of all people who had checked in and checked out that week. Some names were familiar from Blue Sky's radio transmissions... but nobody in there was a Gundam character proper. Hikaru winced at the sight. Indeed, the people they were fighting still had an impact in the world other than just being nameless pilots. That made things all the more 'real'...and painful.
- "How did Blue Sky Squadron fare?" He asked, curiosity getting the better of him. He knew they had casualties, but not how the survivors were doing.
- "The home team? Well, some were hurt but live enough to check in, like Lois and Bobby. You can see them in the last page, under ICU. A few were apparently in good enough condition to leg it before you could throw 'em on the brig. From what I hear, Remy and some others are missing. And the rest are in the freezers underground." The man's voice didn't betray a trace of emotion. He didn't seem to care much about anything anymore, and psychiatric medicine was not out of the question.
- "I see...well, at least some of them made it. Thank you for your help." Hikaru said with a measure of guilt over his role in that mess. The boy then departed, looking for Marco. Hopefully they could get more information on where Kira was going...maybe after that, they could loot the base for Mobile Suit parts and raw materials to fix up the Archangel. Though it was likely that the Desert Dawn were already working on the looting. Marco was waiting for Hikaru outside the building. He shrugged as he saw the kid and waved him along.
- “Let’s get back to the Angel.” He walked in silence for a few strides before adding. “We’re in luck. The medical plane is heading for Mogadishu too.” Marco had some urgency in his stride. “I think we need to hurry and get situated for the pursuit. The more time we give the enemy the more difficult our task will be.” He stated matter of factly.
- "I agree, but it's pointless to start the chase before our machines are fixed. Unless we get a transport with hangar slots or something." Hikaru nodded, following Marco. Realizing that would bypass the repair requirement, he added: "Unless you want us to use other Gunpla for this mission."
- “Not just ours. And I’m not sure if it’s wise to switch what we got just yet...” Creed chided as they were soon back on board. “Believe me when I say I don’t want them to join us...but I don’t see any other option.” As the reached the hangar deck he nodded to Kamille and Fa. The couple seemed to be talking about something near the foot of the Hizak. “We’re going to need them...” He added. “It’s that or we take on overwhelming odds just me and you?” He cocked an eye as he looked at Hikaru.
- "I think they should be allowed to choose. This missions is more personal for us, after all. I'm not happy about overwhelming odds again, but I'm in either way." Hikaru said, forgetting that the two weren't 'people' again. Creed narrowed his eyes to study the kid.
- “The way I see it, we’re in a dangerous situation as it is... we need to empower our allies while we can... whether or not they fly with us.” He looked back at the couple and briefly considered the consequences of forfeiting the game, but he would likely face significant blowback from Zapp if he did so. No, he couldn’t risk his livelihood so carelessly. “Let’s go ask them?” He said solemnly. He led them both towards the NPDs and greeted them, “deciding who gets the Hiz...” it was then, inspiration struck. He stopped and looked at Hikaru then at the couple, a smirk growing on his face. “Hikaru, can I see that medical list?” Toshiro handed the list to the man.
-“Sure, but there's no one I recognize on it save for some of the Asshimar pilots and no one but Kira came from the Archangel...and I thought you meant 'ask about if they want to join uson the mission or not'. Giving them something stronger to pilot? I'm all for that."
- “I do mean to ask...” he said as he studied the list. “So... will you guys help us rescue ourfriend? It will be dangerous... but we need to know now...” he hardly looked up from the list.“Here we go... an ensign...” he tapped the list. He then paused to look at the couple. “I don’twant to force you two to help... but I need to know...” he looked at Hikaru then back at them. Hesitantly, they both nodded with Kamille saying.
- “It’s the least we could do... what are you thinking?”- “Fa, go get Chief Murdoch from the prisoners. We need him and we need to act quickly...Operation Trojan Horse is a-go!”

By sunset, everything was in place. Kamille had found two OZ planes capable of carrying the team to Mogadishu non-stop. Kamille and Fa had brought several male and female Titans uniforms, matching normal suits and the credentials of several deceased Blue Sky team members. Hikaru had convinced Cagalli to grant them pilots for the planes and Marco convinced Murdoch to help them. He did not like the Titans too much, and agreed to cooperate so they could help Kira. This gave him access to a menu where he could see all the wrecks the Desert Dawn had brought to the hangar, their usable parts and most importantly of all, a tool to merge Mobile Suit wrecks. As he used the menu to put the parts to good use making a new Asshimar and creating a new, hybrid design, the four reunited again in the hangar, while Bael, Beta Gundam and the wreck of Shin’s Astral AGE were being loaded in the first plane. Hikaru had an observation.

- “Brilliant idea. Using all the Asshimar parts to put together a new one and sending Kamille as a ‘straggler’. We even have valid operating numbers and verification codes. But there’s an issue with this.” Hikaru shook his head. “The Titans know Kamille.”
- “Yeah, i was thinking about that.” Marco stopped and looked at him. “How about Fa? If this goes off well, being the horse in this plan could be relatively safe...”
- "Provided Beta Team doesn't recognize her if they're there...but if she wants to, it is far more likely to be successful." Hikaru was worried about Beta Team’s presence. They had an irritating habit of ruining plans immediately.
- “I think this is worth the gamble...” Marco responded, “Anything else? The sooner we get something together the more likely this will work. There were a couple of women on that list from Blue Sky.” He looked around connecting the names with the unit numbers he could see from there.
- "Fa has to agree and be told the whole plan." Hikaru insisted. "I've only heard a small piece so far. Say she gets in there. Then what? Is she smuggling Risu and Kira out? Do we need to install jump seats like the Beta Gundam has? What are we up to in the meantime? And remember, Murdoch doesn't have a reason to trust or help us right now... aside from our wanting to help Kira." Hikaru wanted a more solid plan.
- “I’ll do it.” Fa responded behind Hikaru’s back, surprising him. “Mr. Hiyashi... when you saved me at Green Noa, it showed me what someone can do, if they’re at the right place at the right time.” She nodded at Marco, “Mr. Creed’s plan is bold, but I have faith in him.” Marco nodded his thanks to the girl.
- “She goes in before us, feeds us intel of the enemy force. Then we spring the trap and bring the focus on us while she looks for Risu. As long as she doesn’t attack them she should go unnoticed in the chaos.”
- "Sounds like a plan, then. She'll have to carry her own radio to contact us. Fa, Mr.Murdoch, thank you." Hikaru conceded, glad to have more details worked out. He smiled at the pair, and wondered how Kamille would react to Fa taking such a role in this mission. "What will Kamille pilot though? The Hi-Zack, or something else? ”Smugly, Creed lifted a finger in the direction of the newly assembled Asshimar that would be used by Fa. Something else had been commissioned next to it, and slowly, it was taking shape...
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Edited by MM007
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       ((Thanks FrostyFoster for the image))
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    • By Hunter
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      Aliases: Hunter, Aker (Akerhero13)
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      Sex: Male
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      *there are additional details not entailed publicly
      Possessions: Quantum Computer 8 – briefcase sized super computer that is capable of aiding operations within GBN, typically housed in the cockpit of his unit, and linked to his com channel. 
      Kills: Hashmal (mobile armor)
      Role plays: Gunpla Breaker, Heart Taker ; Order of the Seven Stars; Three Musketeers 
      Coliseum battles: n/a
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