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Hunter

Gunpla Breaker, Heart Taker

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“I’m breaking up with you.”

Gabe caught his breath at that sentence and did pause to turn and look at Meer. “Wha- what do you mean babe?” Even as he spoke the words he felt their strength waver at the truth that was beginning to form in front of him. She was cute, maybe too cute for the likes of him. She always took the effort to do her makeup and look phenomenal as soon as she stepped out the door. To top it off she looked like a casual version of her name sake with pink hair and gold hair pin. Was she out of his league? He never considered it before but as her statement hung in the air suddenly all the unsung insecurities began to crop up. 

She rocked her hips, her left hand resting easily on her body as she looked up at the sky. Her blue eyes seemingly searching for an answer to his confusion. “Listen Gabe… I’ve been going out to parties the last few weeks without you…”

“So you’ve been cheating on me?” Gabe hacked the words out in disbelief. The girl grimaced and bit her lip while slowly shaking her head. “Gabe no… I just… I’ve been just going out without you… nothing more…” the tone she had did little to comfort Gabe and he wrinkled his face in growing anger. “So that’s it you just want to ditch me?” He shook with contained rage but still looked around helplessly as the beautiful girl gave him a sad look, “look I didn’t come to this decision easily… I just need to be able do chase my dreams Gabe and I can’t do that with you…” he voice faded away as Gabriel Winter spun on his heel to storm away. 

———
A few days later

Gabe remained hunched over his desk in his dimly lit room. An orange hue attempted to breach his room from his window shades but was drowned out by the fluorescent light above his work station. He hadn’t left his room besides going to work since his break up with Meer. For the last few days he ran through all the scenarios in his head as to why she’d want to leave him. They had been together for over a year and not until recently did he feel any animosity from her. His mind wandered to them first logging into GBN and it dawned on him that maybe that was the beginning of it all. 

Meer was a cosplayer and a good one at that, but she was fiercely self conscious and had a hard time making friends because of it. Meer wasn’t even her real name but the alias she chose to be called by to associate herself more with her hobby.  Gabe was always the one pushing her to reach out of her comfort zone, to meet new people.  GBN was the happy medium for them both; he could build Gunpla for them, while she could try different costumes and plan out outfits for the real world while actually making friends. It felt good at first, a win win situation. 

As Gabriel mulled over his thoughts he trimmed and filed the gauntlet for his latest Gunpla. The blue plastic was becoming discolored from his attention but it would hardly matter once he painted the whole kit. In a fit of rage he took apart all the Gunpla on his shelves when he got home that night they broke up. He was ashamed that he actually broke a lot of the kits when he flung them off the shelf. At the moment he wasn’t sure that he wanted anything to do with GBN, all he did know was building something aloud him to not be so angry, it let him direct his focus from his sorrows. It was as if he took all the anger he had at the world and was condensing it into the single kit in front of him. 

He was a mediocre builder at best. He never won any awards before and was always afraid to make the extra commitment of scribing, paint and panel lining; the sort of thing she would add to the kits he gave her after he built them. This time was different, he was possessed to make the best kit he possibly could. Even if she never saw it, he would have the satisfaction of having something so pristine that she would not. 

When they dated he was always afraid to take risks, whether it was in building his Gunpla, or not doing particular missions. “No more…” he muttered to himself as Ash Liked Snow played in the background, “no, more hesitation… I have to reform myself… my Gundam…”

—-

A few days later 

The indicator for his email inbox showed the vast number of missed messages, something he had neglected to pay attention to the last couple of weeks, he simply wasn’t in the mood. Now he decided was the best time to finally drudge through the messages, most of it being spam. A few notes did catch his eye and give him pause. The first was from a mutual friend him and Meer had on GBN, a woman by the pseudo name Stella. She had apparently asked him to join a Force in the game. His initial reaction was one of hope, maybe Meer was trying to get him back in her life? To rekindle their relationship? But his face immediately soured the next message down where Stella retracted the earlier offer, saying that she didn’t want things to get awkward with Stella already on the team. 

He sighed, but that eventually turned into a sob at his own predicament. He wasn’t just loosing her but all his friends it would seem. Through tear filled eyes he read through the next few GBN messages, all varying between apologies and other sad things he didn’t want to bother with. He was about to close his messages when a notice from GBN itself popped up just then. Curiosity caused him to open it immediately, he was surprised to see it was an invitation for a private beta of the new version of GBN. Apparently he was chosen by lottery to test in and partake in the new version. It offered exclusive rewards, but more importantly to Gabriel, it offered a blank slate, a fresh start. One of the features the invitation offered was the chance to replace you’re user tag and avatar for free. With tears still slipping down his face he responded that he would be taking the opportunity. As the message went into the digital nether he gazed around his room to the Gunpla standing defiantly in the middle of his desk, maybe 80% complete, ready for final details and paint. Wiping away the tears he stood up to resume his work. 

—-

A week later 

PLEASE ENTER USERNAME:

Gabriel gawked at the display and the flicker of where his new title would show up. His fingers remained frozen over the keyboard as he swam through his thoughts. With a fresh start there would be virgin usernames out there with little chance of redundancy, but still it begged the question of what he should call himself. He wasn’t in a social mood still, and he wasn’t even sure what he was really doing on GBN all alone. Scratching the stubble on his chin he kept staring at the otherwise boring screen. “I suppose I’m looking for something…” he finally said out loud, his own voice startling him. Slowly his fingers chipped away a new identity. Next a wardrobe menu popped up and he scrolled through the options to pick out something to hide behind. He was never audacious enough to pick an avatar too unlike himself and he hated when Meer would as him to be a character to match hers. He stayed away from the generic Chars of the options and instead chose a black cloak like pancho and a matching mask. He did change his hair color from his typical black to brown and cleaned his face to be clean shaven. Finally he loaded up the new information and was satisfied to see it accepted. All that remained was...

“Please scan your Gunpla.”

He reached out hesitantly and grabbed the white and red mobile suit he had so diligently been working on over the last month or so. He traced the features with his fingers and was suddenly apprehensive about using the model. Once he placed it down it would become alive. Part of him would grow to be beyond just a hunk of plastic, and his declaration towards his ex would be made reality. 

“Please scan your Gunpla.” The mechanical voice repeated. Gripping the Gunpla a little harder he grimaced and placed the model in the scanner. With a scowl watch on his face he logged into GBN, to hunt for something he didn’t quite understand just yet. 
 

((Big shout out to Frosty for starting the side story trend, not to mention for his help with the yet to be revealed Gunpla! I thought it would be fun to do a new (if not slightly used) character. I’ll be adding more soon!))

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Posted (edited)

As Gabriel materialized he reflexively brought his hands up to study his virtual self. His hands had black fingerless gloves on and he look at his palms and wrists respectively before looking up at the lobby around him. It didn’t particularly look much different from the normal GBN but there was a lack of people around which was somewhat startling. The few people walking around did garner attention as he traded glances with several other divers before slowly walking along the lobby. A trio of Zeon looking soldiers walked by, one noticeable with a snake head, they all chatted away about their last mission and their teamwork. The boy grimaced at their camaraderie, if he was being honest with himself he would admit that he was jealous of their friendship. Ever since Meer left him, he just couldn’t find it in himself to socialize with other people. Friendship on GBN reminded him of Meer and all he wanted to do was get away from her shadow; then again, maybe this beta would have enough people who didn’t know about her? 

He tried to shake his worries out of his head as he brought up a menu. He did after all, have a very important thing to try out. He browsed the missions available, one in particular caught his attention, it was apparently a battle already in progress between two factions. Oddly enough it was giving him the option to join mid battle and he pressed the button to load up the additional options. Even more quizzically it didn’t ask him to join a particular side. “What is this game getting at?” He mused to himself as he hesitated. It was listed as being extremely difficult and it wouldn’t list an author behind the mission. The old him wouldn’t have look at such missions, he didn’t enjoy the risks. “Not anymore…” he echoed to himself as he clicked the button to join.

His cockpit materialized around him as his machine prepped itself to launch. His objective popped up in his screen, its’ simplicity made him smile for the first time in weeks.

STOP THE BATTLE AT ALL COSTS
DISABLE OR DESTROY ALL COMBATANTS

COMMENCE ARMED INTERVENTION?
Y/N

For the first time in a long while, excitement coursed through his body as he grasped the controls and hit the affirmative on his options. “This is Hunter! Ardent Exia! Commencing Armed Intervention.” 

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His Custom Exia launched out from it’s digital catapult and flew into the busy battlefield between Zeon and Federation forces. It was a jungle city, and from what Hunter could tell it was actually the last battle from the 8th MS team series! Exia dropped down from a high altitude as the city became bigger and bigger. He could see lines of bullets and lasers being traded between – what ? Not just NPD’s Hunter realized, but actual players. “Is this supposed to be some sort of suicide mission?” he gasped  aloud as his altitude continued to decrease.  He was just one player, and he was supposed to attack everyone? Zeek and Feddie alike? He hardly had time to contemplate the full implications as a pink bolt shot up at him forcing him to flare his GN drive thrusters to dodge the shot. Despite the implications a bitter smile grew on his lips, maybe there was no better way to test the Ardent than to bring to its absolute limit? 

Instead of using his thrusters to slow his descent he did the opposite, pushing his controls to will his machine to top speed. He decided right there and then to focus on the players and then worry about the NPDs if necessary. Two teams of three riddled the battlefield, one side (the Zeon side) appeared to be Gundam Wing flavored while their Federation opponents were a hodgepodge of units. Heavy Arms was apparently engaging in a shootout with a Blast Impulse Gundam, while Deathscythe was having a brawling match with a GN-X through the streets. Of the six only two moved dynamically, proving very quickly to be flying units of some sort. His emotions rolled between anxiety of failure to bloodthirsty vengeance. He knew he didn’t have time to consider the options as the city began to fill his entire display. The old him gripped the controls in fear while Hunter tightened his grasp for better control. How was he going to act? What was he doing making a fool of himself like this on a battlefield not even his own?

Everything evaporated, all his fears, all his anxiety, all his memories. And just like that, he shed his past, with the flare of a GN drive he no longer was Gabriel the meek, now he was Hunter the Gundam Miester. In a heartbeat he let himself go and Hunter took full control of the Ardent Exia at that critical moment. Exia leveled his GN pistol and shot down at the Heavy Arms, catching the diver off guard and making one of their Gatling guns explode and eject off its’ frame. Hunter didn’t skip a beat and fired a shot at the Deathscythe as it weaved through the streets with its’ opponent. Hunter’s shot scored a critical hit, making Deatyscythe’s arm fly off along with its’ signature weapon. By that point the Ardent Exia was low enough that Hunter leveled off his descent to weave between the few tall buildings in the city. He knew that surprise, shock, and confusion would be his only allies so he had to move quickly to capitalize on gains. 

The building in front of him suddenly exploded as Wing Gundam fell backwards through the rubble, its’ beam saber in hand, warding off an attack from the Destiny Gundam and its’ beam sword. “This is my intervention!” Hunter growled as he quickly came up on the side of Wing Gundam. He snapped his GN blade out in front of him and whipped it out to the side just as it’s sharp edge sliced through the unsuspecting Wing Gundam. As he zipped past Wing and Destiny, the latter erupted into flames, Hunter’s first player kill in his new machine. The radio was abuzz with confusion from both sides, the din making Hunter slowly grin in satisfaction. 

Keeping up his pace he flared his engines to halt his mad speed and threw his legs out to press into the side of a building and jump backwards to reverse his direction. He came back hard towards the startled Destiny and swiped again with his GN Sword, his blade hitting Destiny’s Sword hard. The diver of the Destiny didn’t quite know how to react from the violent change in the battle, one moment they were battling the Wing Gundam and the next an unknown Exia model, which was helping their side just a moment ago. 

A shaky male voice hailed Hunter over the comm, “hey dude! Aren’t you on our side?!” Hunter responded with a growl and another swipe from his GN blade. His attack knocked Destiny’s sword out wide, leaving hunter’s opponent seemingly open. Destiny responded by letting go of the sword with its right hand and reaching out with a glowing palm. Just as the destiny was about to grab Exia’s chest Hunter responded quickly, by kicking up hard with the tip of his right foot. For a moment it seemed as if the Destiny Gundam had put an end to the intruder, but the power faded from its eyes and its sword deactivated. Ardent’s foot had a beam blade which was protruding from the kick Hunter placed on the cockpit. His attack was well placed but his victory was short lived as everyone began to wisen up to his antics. 

“Shinn!” A woman’s voice screamed over the comm in disbelief. Hunter kicked away from the Destiny, the enemy suit simply falling out of the sky. He turned off the foot blade and charged back towards the Heavy Arms which aimed its good twin guns his way and began firing a volley after him. A few bullets plinked into his armor forcing him to weave back between buildings for cover. A flicker of green caught his attention as the Deathscythe charged at him, one handed with its’ weapon. Before the Deathscythe could close the distance of the building its’ charge was halted by the GN-X shoving its’ crimson beam sword into the gut of the Deathscythe. Hunter didn’t relent his assault as he whipped the sword away to pull his pistol out and shoot at the GN-X.  

“No you don’t!” Screamed the woman from before, as she suddenly appeared on Hunter’s left. The Blast Impulse burst from the cover of a building, leveling its beam cannons towards him. She would have had him had she not jumped in so close, she was only about a hundred yards away. “Not today…” Hunter easily retorted as he swung his arm and the sword back out. His lunge accompanied by his sword closed the distance in a heartbeat, the Impulse fizzling and exploding as he took yet another opponent out of the fight. “Two left…” he muttered stoically under his breath as he flew away from the renewed assault from Heavy Arms. The old suit didn’t give him much respite as it fired a volley of missiles his direction. 

Hunter flew backwards and up while pulling out his pistol once more, taking shots at the oncoming harm. Explosions led a trail closing in on his suit as he slowly got one after another of the incoming projectiles. There were too many however, and soon one after another connected with his suit forming a black cloud of debris where he was. The smoke hung in the air like a storm cloud but was suddenly sliced apart as a beam boomerang flew down hard towards HeavyArms. Surprised, but with distance to spare, the Wing era suit opened up a volley at the projectile easily shooting it down. That was all the victory Heavy Arms would taste however. Exia flew in hard from their right. A trembling voice yelled out, “how!?!” As Hunter sliced down with a beam saber in his left hand. “Trans-am…” Hunter chastised was he ended the second to last enemy. The explosion from the missiles had destroyed his shield and subsequently destroyed one of his beam boomerangs but the Ardent Exia was still very well armed, if not banged up a bit. 

His reverie was short lived as a crimson shot flew just past his head. The enemy GN-X was still up and willing to fight it seemed and Hunter was more than happy to oblige. Ardent Exia burst into motion its’ own speed startling Hunter ever so slightly, as if he couldn’t contain the machine. He closed the distance to the lone enemy and wiped his GN sword in front of him to dive into the enemy cockpit when at the last moment he batted hard to the side severing the GN-X’s weapon hand instead. “You!” He hissed out loud, more so to himself than his opponent. His voice was frantic, cracking even as he yelled out the single word. He was breathing hard as his mobile suit remained frozen in front of the suddenly familiar suit. The design on the GN-X’s left shoulder told Gabriel the story all too well. The nose art was of one Lacus Clyne done in a pin up sort of fashion. His opponent was in a mobile suit he himself had crafted, it was his ex girlfriend. 

She wasn’t showing any sign of acknowledgment as she reached for her beamsaber with her good hand. The crimson blade making Hunter yell out in complete rage. He was beyond any sensible words as the only thing he could yell out again was “you!!” He blocked the attack with the beam saber if his left hand, it was an awkward angle but effective for the way she was trying to slice him. He flared his thrusters to slam her unit against a building, the action forcing her to loose her grip on the weapon. Tears welled in his eyes as his saber slipped down across her torso. 

He was besides himself as the screen simply blacked out and slipped him away from her. The words of victory sprawled across the screen did little to comfort him at that moment as he lifted his hands to look at what he had just done. He wanted to see her again so badly, to show her how far he had come already. He got his wish it seemed, just not the way he would have liked.

He should have recognized the voices, the reference to Shinn and Stella their mutual friends, heck even their combination of machines. What was it that came over him? It was at that moment he finally realized he had taken down five enemy players single handedly. “Five?” He repeated to himself in awe. He never would have been able to do that before. Was it him? Or was it the Gunpla? After a moment of contemplation he finally decided that it had to be him, not without due merit to a Ardent Exia of course, but it was definitely him. There was a calmness, a focus, he had never experienced before while piloting in GBN. He let out a deep breath as he looked at his menu to save the video from the encounter. He was still a jumble of conflicting emotions at that moment but he decided quickly that he wanted to find another battle. He wanted to be Hunter again…

—-

Stella let out an audible sigh of frustration as she saw her friend Meer get cut down by the Jerk with the Exia variant. “Dang it!” She scoffed out loud as Shinn came up beside her to watch the monitor from their force nest. “Damn just who is that guy?” He mused outloud as he stood next to his girlfriend. A moment later and Meer materialized in the nest with her two friends a look of frustration crossed over her face. “Damnit!” She groaned as she hugged herself in disbelief. 

“Hey it’s ok Meer!” Stella chirped at her as she went to hug her friend. Stella and Shinn predictably looked like their Seed counterparts but hardly acted like their characters. Their Force was one dedicated to cosplay both in and outside of GBN. As the two girls hugged, Shinn scratched his head as he looked at the highlights from the mission. If anything the entire ordeal taught him not to let his guard down, a lesson he had to appreciate. Still the question nagged at him, “just who was that guy?” 

“He was a Jerk!” Stella shot back, startling Shinn who didn’t realize he asked the same question again out loud.
 

“There was something familiar about him…”
Mused Meer who seemed in a thoughtful trance, Stella still wrapped around her body in a hug. “What do you mean?” The blonde asked innocently.

Meer gazed at the video replay and shook her head more in disbelief, “It’s going to sound ridiculous…” she started, “but I… I just feel like that was Gabe…” both Stella and Shinn snapped their heads at their friend in disbelief. Stella chuckled, “no way! I don’t see that at all, he could never pilot like that before…” 

Shinn shook his head the entire time, “yeah sorry, I don’t buy that either…” Their disagreements did little to sway Meer’s impression as Shinn added, “what I do know for sure is when that jerk shows up again.” He cast Stella a wicked look, “he won’t know what hit him. I don’t care what the situation is I’m gonna get revenge on that punk.” Stella nodded her head in agreement and Meer snapped out of her revere to smile back and nod, “I can agree with you there!” She added cheerily. 
 

Edited by Roromi
Added a picture of Ardent Exia. All thanks and Credit to Frosty!
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The world of GBN could easily be overlooked, though no easily discounted when one took the time to simple pause look around. Gabriel was having a moment of repose as he lay on a shallow hill overlooking a valley. In the greater distance there were clouds clashing with mountains in bouts of lighting. He was exhausted, he had just completed another “intervention” and was trying to gather himself before logging off. A screen floated in front of his lazy eyes as he held his hands behind his head. 

The vista below him rolled into his memories as it intimately reminded him of the past. Back before he dated Meer he rolled with a bunch of mission programmers who specializes in making fan missions for GBN. There was a particular situation that he could vividly recall in his head with Zeon and Titans fighting in the hills. The crescendo of the mission was a duel with an enemy Gouf. Gabriel’s mind lingered on the fond memory as it soured his expression. Back then he was having fun with friends on GBN, what he was doing now?

The thought caused him to turn on his side in anguish as he felt the bitterness of his reality set in. Here he was doing the opposite of what he strived for in the past. Now he was invading other people’s missions, possibly ruining their experiences, and for what? Gabriel crinkled his nose and closed his eyes tightly. “If I can’t be happy why should they be?” He muttered to himself. He slowly relaxed his eyes open, “if they want to emulate combat so badly then they should be ready for anything.” He squinted ahead past the screen which seemed to float directly in front of his eyes. 

Gabriel has been having resounding success with the “intervention” missions and he didn’t question how he kept getting the prompt to do, them despite their shady origination. Although he had gotten his share of lickings, Gabriel’s proportion of damage was very much in his favor and even worth bragging. It even seemed that he was starting to get some renown as a talented player, a deed he never even got close to before. His fingers touched the mask gracing his digital persona and he smirked. He had to admit that he liked the feeling of being respected.

A message popped up on the persistent display and Gabriel frowned as he saw it was a message from the same party that had been giving him the missions. The topic simply read as “Warning Bounty” and he didn’t hesitate as he opened up the text. 

“A word of caution, our agents have been contacted and paid to place a bounty on your mobile suit. We are forced to oblige the details of our contract. Players will be able to engage you at any time…. Be careful.” 

His display erroneously fizzled out of existence as he read the last words and he looked around in sudden alarm. A flicker from the storm on the horizon made him squint and on sheer instincts he yelled out loud, “Exia!” He crossed his arms in front of him in a reflexive nature just as Ardent Exia formed a barrier around him. The Armor of the Exia illuminated in brilliance just as one of the “lightning bolts” burnt into the hill he was just standing at. 

——

“Clever kid…” the man crowed as he licked his lips and moved the aiming apparatus once more. The digital cockpit was completely custom, woven to appear more like the cockpit of the Dynames than the simple glowing aura most regular players were used to. Still it had its moments when it would flicker as ethereal but the use of Dyname’s aiming rifle was par none, especially for a person was was used to firing real weapons. “1 degree…” he whispered as he squeezed the trigger again. His rifle barked out again, the mirage calloid engulfing his mobile suit pulsing out of a existence before attempting to conceal him again. 

Much to his dismay the Exia variant had a shield up for this round which shattered just as it absorbed the shot. “Crap he already has an idea where I am, better reposition…” the man released the fake rifle before grabbing the controls and pushing his suit back into its feet. The mirage calloid shimmered around him as he moved but persistently did its job. He didn’t fire his thrusters but rather made his black suit run along a ridge on the mountains edge. There was a path just wide enough that he could get a good kilometer or two from his previous position. Although he suspected Ardent Exia would make a much larger gain in that timeframe he was confident that his extreme distance would forgive his repositioning. 

Most marks didn’t last past the first shot, fewer still survived a second. Maybe his colleagues were right about this “Hunter” fellow. The man chuckled as he found his next position, he had it set up ready for him already and it was as simple as parking his mobile suit in the designated area. “No this one is already tons of fun! If he does as well as I suspect, he’ll be most useful…”

The scruffy man was already pulling down the fake rifle to rest his cheek on the buttpad. Unlike a human a mobile suit didn’t have a pesky thing to deal with such as a human heartbeat. The long weapon was collaborated with the two weapons conjoined in sniper configuration still. Of course all of its features were still hidden under the veil of mirage calloid, nearly making him completely invisible, especially when not even moving. The crosshairs of the display placed the charging Exia at the very bottom of his scope still, signifying the extreme distance he was trying to shoot from. “That’s it, come to daddy!” The man mused as he leveled for another shot. 
 

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“What do you fight for kid?”

The eerie blue energy from the sniper rifle flared again along with its thunderous chorus. Grunting the man began to sprint away from the position. Caring little to see if his shot followed through, and more invested in repositioning to his final spot. “Things will get cozy if he gets any closer…” the shooter considered as he pressed his mobile suit’s back against a rock. 

He grimaced as he studied his sensors, sure enough the kid dodged the last shot. The man’s instincts were certainly proving to be true about this mark so far. “Alright no more games…” he muttered as he disengaged his rifle’s configuration and alternated it’s position to have the blunt end of the weapon as the main cannon now. Of course his version of the Buster was heavily modified. Instead of the typical colors the phase shift on his machine was simply black. The glow that radiated from the eyes was blue along with the energy of his shots, which was in itself quite rare and intriguing. The Edlen Buster was equipped with mirage calloid as well as an N-Jammer Canceller and a nuclear reactor. So unlike, the stock version he was able to rain continuous fire and even hide for his initial assault. The added boosters also increases his mobility while offering him twin beam sabers for close encounters. 

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The reticle of his crosshairs changed to designate the difference in weapon being aimed. The gun launcher shotgun would be sufficient for the medium range the boy was beginning to enter into. The Exia variant slowed its pace to a cautious patrol as it entered a ravine on the side of the mountain that the sniper had been using. “Surely he knows it’s a trap…” the sniper muttered as he leveled the invisible shotgun to aim. He waited patiently as the range dwindled down to the desired distance, not too far that the target could slip away from effective range, and not too close as to easily find himself. That’s when the fool did something the sniper wasn’t expecting. “He’s turning away? What a disappointment kid…” the Exia presnted it’s back just as it began to flair its’ thrusters. 

—-

Hunter readied his hands over the control. He had a feeling that he wouldn’t make it out of this encounter cleanly but he felt compelled to try. Whoever was shooting at him was darn clever and kept quietly repositioning. And the inconsistency of the shots proved to be almost maddening. As he approached the ravine it became clear to him that it was a trap of some sort. “We won’t play your game…” he huffed as he turned the machine around, as he did so a wicked grin grew on his masked face. “Take the bait…” he muttered. 

As if on cue a shot rang out and pelted the back of his suit, severely damaging his thruster pack. Hunter grunted but set his plan into motion, ejecting the GN Amplifier. The sacrificed piece fully exploded sending a cloud of GN particles everywhere. By now their hue was burning dark orange nearly burning red. The red intensified as Hunter immediately pushed the Ardent Exia into Trans Am. Everything blurred as made Exia drop nearly to the bottom of the ravine before turning and making the suit scramble up the steep edge of the cliffs. Between the GN drive and the feet of the Exia, he half flew, half hopped up the mountain towards the general direction where the last shot came from. 

—-
“Jigs up!” The man snapped as he tried to fire a second shot into the exploding GN Amplifier. The resulting cloud of particles flared his sensors and he almost didn’t notice Exia dropping like a stone. “Clever little…” he trailed off as he lowered the shotgun to try and get an angle. “You bastard!” He hissed as his barrel hit the lip of the rim overshooting his follow up shot, missing harmlessly above the Exia. “And giving away my location!” The man grumbled as he jumped away from the edge to hide more on the ground he was already on. He maybe had one more chance to get a lucky hit before his Mirage Calloid would be useless at hiding him. “Hmm let’s entertain the kid… he made it this far after all…” he touched a control shutting off the dispersal of his cloak and flared his engines up as he disconnected the rifle to duel wield the rifle and launcher. 

The Exia erupted over the side of the ledge and immediately locked in on him to throw a beam boomerang at his black mobile suit. He hovered to the side, shooting down the attack with his left gun while raising his right to shoot a beam at the Exia. The shot missed as Exia tumbled back down straight at him, a beam saber swipping in horizontally for the Buster’s chest. The sniper obliged the attack by drawing his own beam saber from his back, a blue blade igniting to clash with the red one.


“I can’t recall the last time I had to use this!” The shooter howled over the comm, “you are worth the bounty they placed on you!” The pilot of the Exia grunted and replied by pulling out its signature GN blade to swipe down with it, a move that the Buster blocked with the hammer head end of it’s gun launcher acting more like a club, parrying the attack. “Don’t be hasty! Don’t you wanna know what’s going on? Gabriel….”

((Again, thanks to Frosty for the amazing work on the Edlen Buster!))
 

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The man’s voice was coarse, yet somehow melodic. The tone couldn’t help but rub Hunter the wrong way. His concerns grew exponentially as the man called him by his real name. He wanted to lash out, to curse and pout but the eerie calmness he was accustom to made him reply slowly, “Who are you?”

The cackling on the other end of the line did little to ease his fears as the two suits pushed away from each other. Both aimed a weapon at the other, Hunter’s GN pistol to the weird Buster’s gun launcher. “Talk…” he beckoned simply. The other man laughed all the more before calming down, “you could say I represent your benefactor…”

Hunter didn’t say anything as he tightened his grip on the controls. He gritted his teeth and stared hard at the black Buster. The wind from the storm buffeted them both with dust which soon turned into a stead sheet of rain. Drops of water dropped off their weapons and the sniper finally cleared his throat. “You see… it’s no coincidence that you’ve been dropping into people’s games. We’ve been using you to… practice some exploits we’ve uncovered in the code. Whether you want to or not, you are working for us, you have been since the moment you logged into the beta.”

The news didn’t come as a surprise, in fact Gabriel wasn’t so oblivious as to assume what he was doing was officially part of the game. Hearing to spoken so clearly however was alarming. “What does that mean then? Why are you trying to shoot me down?” 

The sniper crackled as if the answer should be so obvious. “It’s simple!”the Buster fired a blue bolt at Exia’s GN pistol beating Hunter to the draw and destroying the GN sword in the process. “I need you to fall!” Hunter exploded into action ditching the broken weapon and charging with the beam saber in his off hand. He yelled out in defiance as he closed the distance. Before he could get close however the Trans am faded off. He talked to me to run my particles out! He realized just as he got within striking distance. The jolt of the machine was noticeable as he ran out of juice and his blade clashed with the blue beam saber. His power seemed to flicker in the cockpit as he brought his right hand to pressed against the enemy cockpit. He got as far as he could though and his beam saber cut off along with all his power. Luckily he didn’t feel it as the blue beam sliced through the Ardent Exia.

He soon rematerialized on the wet rocky ground right in front of the Buster. He looked up quizzically at the machine wondering what would happen now. The enemy pilot could be hear cackling over their PA system before finally addressing him. “Not bad kid! You see you were gaining too much attention! We needed to bring you score down so you remain under the radar. That’s not to say you’re doing anything bad. So don’t take this personally…” 

Hunter glared up at the ebony colossus, “what now? Am I still your little pawn?” He spat the question out accusingly and looked around as the wind and rain buffeted him. 

“I happen to think you’re a little more valuable than that… I’ll contact you in a couple of days kid…” the Buster flared it’s engines and began to hover away. “Keep all this under your hat… Gabriel… You work for Zapp now kid…Just remember… We know how to find you…” the man bellowed out as the Buster floated down the mountain and away. Hunter stood up to watch, perplexed by the turn of events and curious what it all meant. “Zapp?” He muttered, “the Gunpla aesthetics company?”

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