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A Tangled Web We Weave


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“...and remember everyone, mid-terms may be next week but that’s not excuse not to have your essays in to me on time. You’ll have some time to work on them next class, but I better not catch anyone using that time to slack off. Class dismissed,”

As Raymond Hermes’s students filed out of the room, abuzz with groans and chatter of their upcoming deadlines, the beleaguered English teacher sat himself down at his desk. He was flipping through papers when his phone buzzed and beeped with a notification. Ray looked down at the phone, quirked a brow, and then unlocked it. He scanned the message once, and then scanned it again, his blood running cold on his second read-through.

Son of a…

Ray practically jumped out of his chair, shoving his phone in his pocket and grabbing his belongings before charging out of the classroom.

---

“What the hell is this all about?” Icarus growled as he crossed the casino floor. The Force nest was garishly coloured and loud—a far cry from the Fleurs’ base.

Spider gave Icarus a slimy smile as he approached, spreading his arms wide in mock welcome. “So good of you to make it, Icarus. Pull up a seat, enjoy yourself,”

“Cut the crap, Spider,” Icarus said, eyeing the diver up. He was dressed like a stereotypical mobster, his cheap suit adorned with a spider-web pattern. He wore a black domino mask over his eyes, his long silver hair pulled back into a ponytail. “You and me were done. Fair and square,”

You were done, or at least, you thought you were,” Spider’s eyes glistened in the bright casino light. “But my bosses and I had other things in mind. See we need you and your friends to do a little job for us. An easy one, a test of sorts. Accept and perform admirably, and we’ll cut you loose for good, no strings attached. Refuse, though, and…well, I think my message earlier painted a pretty enough picture for you,”

Icarus clenched his fist and grit his teeth. He wanted nothing more than to tell Spider off but right now the man across from him was capable of ruining his life and Icarus didn’t doubt that he was willing to do just that.

“Fine…”

“Good,” Spider smiled again. “Next steps then. In the next couple of days, you’re going to receive a package…”

--

And a few days later, Ray did, in fact, receive a package. As he opened it, he took a deep breath and cursed himself, his bad fortune, and most importantly, Spider.

--

The next day, he sent a message to his teammates to meet him at the Force Nest. He was sitting in the common area staring at a picture of the Tallgeese QUEST on a tv screen, growing increasingly more miserable as time ticked on. He had told Aker and Wade that this was an urgent matter, but had told them little more. He just hoped that they understood…

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A seam of flames followed the schism the Noblesse cut out from the black Psycho Gundam. Aker kicked away from the exploding behemoth and tucked the blade away. He watched in disdain as the machine erupted into brilliant flames. “That figures…” he lamented quietly as he completed the mission. “8 you saved the recording for this one right?” 

“Affirmative sir.” The quantum computer chirped back at him. Aker brought up the menu to leave the mission when he saw a message from Icarus. Shaking his head, he let a smirk slowly grow on his face as he brought it up. “Another fire huh?” He mused and entered the command to leave the mission and approach their force nest. 

After docking the Noblesse, Aker switched to his team uniform and strode into the common area. It had been a few days since he had bothered to stay at the base and was pleased to see it all in order still. “Hey Icarus!” He greeted out cheerily as he moved to sit opposite his teammate. Aker glanced around to see if Wade had showed up yet. He was still concerned about that one’s behavior of late and almost wondered if this meeting was going to be just himself and Icarus. “What’s going on?’ He asked tentatively. 

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The Nu Origin stood a field of grass, gazing all around the area. "Not here either?" Wade yelled out, pulling the Nu up into the sky. Clearly looking for something, the Diver brought the Gunpla up higher. Almost touching the clouds, he caught a glimpse of what he was looking for. "There!" He pointed at a single cherry tree, hidden underneath the cliff of a nearby mountain. "I get this and our base will get a makeover!"

The mobile suit headed directly towards it at a pace only a desperate Diver would go. The Nu got faster and faster, ready to snag one of those cherries, only to be met with a message from a team member. "Right now?" Wade asked as the Gunpla stopped. "Well, I could go see them now, but I'm sure they'd understand why I'd take me longer. After all, this cherry will-" Wade's eyes watched as a Belphagor snapped the entire tree off its stump, holding it with one of its claws. "You didn't need to take the whole thing..."

The Nu landed on their Nest's platform, with Wade noticing the others had already arrived. He hadn't discussed the situation with the man covered in binary code, only mentioning the new finishing move. However, the Diver knew this was now urgent, putting it off for Icarus. "Hello Fleurs!" He walked toward the two. "Yeah, what IS going on?"

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Icarus’s eyes flicked up to his teammates as they entered almost at the same time, a look of panic followed by a look of defeat flashing across his features.

“Hey you guys,” he said, hanging his head. “Sorry for the vague message it’s…well it’s kind of a long story,”

Icarus took a deep breath and tried to make solid eye-contact with his two teammates. “I won’t sugar-coat it, I’ve gotten myself into some trouble with the mob. I started doing odd jobs for them a little while back for some spare hobby money—nothing too shady at first,” he looked directly at Aker. “Then after I thought you had…well, died, during that ZAFT mission, I went to a pretty bad place and started doing some less than nice things. A lot of PK’ing, mostly newbies, all for the entertainment of my contact—a man by the name of Spider. Spider’s job allowed me to finance the QUEST and once it was done, I told him I was out. But I guess he didn’t much care for that decision, since he’s threatening me into one last job,”

Icarus stood up and paced across the room and back. He folded his arms and grumbled to himself, before shaking his head and pointing to the screen. An image of the Tallgeese popped up, standing staunchly on its platform outside.

“You can’t see it, but they sent me a special part to put on the QUEST that they want me to run tests on,” the diver’s face darkened. “The only problem is that this part is highly illegal. I assume you guys have heard of Break Decals, right? I hadn’t before today…but apparently this is something similar. They called it a Venom Drive. Highly experimental and I imagine it’s quite illegal, at least in-game.”

The screen turned black and Icarus faced his teammates again. “Obviously, I don’t like this and I would’ve said no or went to the authorities or something if I thought it was safe to do so. But Spider somehow got his hands on a lot of my real life information. Bank account log-in, my address, that kind of stuff. He said we would be square after one last job and I have no choice but to take him at his word,” Icarus brought up his menu and showed the others. “Spider set up a special mission for the three of us. I have to complete the mission to test the Venom Drive but from what I can see, it might be tough for me on my own…so I’m asking you for help,”

The mission on the menu before them read thusly:

Heart of Darkness: The Tangled Web

A familiar shadow looms, warped by its evil spirit.

(LOL. Good Luck, Icarus. You’re going to need it.)

Difficulty: BURNING

“I don’t know what ‘Burning’ difficulty means,” Icarus said with a sigh. “But I assume it’s not a good thing. I would understand if you’d rather not get mixed up in this kind of stuff, though. Wade, you’re still just a kid and the stakes are especially high for you, Aker…but…”

Icarus frowned. He wasn’t sure he could do this alone.

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Aker furrowed his brow at Icarus’ comments about taking out lower leveled players. It wasn’t all that long ago that he was doing that himself, of course he had different motivations. He kept any comments to himself as he patiently listened to Icarus explain his sticky situation. Needless to say he found himself sympathizing with his teammate though.

Then Icarus brought up the proposed mission and Aker cleared his throat. “You know this wont make things go away right?” His tone hinted at being judgmental, causing the EL diver to shake his head more at himself, “know that I’m with you, but this will only appease this ‘Spider’ fellow for a little bit.” He then thought of how he would never truly be rid of Zapp and nodded, “we gotta figure out a means to make sure he won’t be bothering you again after this mission Icarus…” Aker’s gaze shifted to Wade to see how the boss was taking the situation then shifted his eyes back at the mission details. “The difficulty doesn’t matter… we’ll prevail.” Aker promised, a small smirk crossed his lips and he looked back at Icarus. There was an unspoken eagerness in Aker’s expression, something between confidence and anger that spoke volumes on its’ own. The EL diver seemed anxious for action, a mentality that had been present since their rumble with the other teams. 

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Wade pondered as he heard Icarus' story. He'd dealt with bad apples who used Break Decals in the past, unknowing that Mr. "0's and 1's" had used them. Venom Decals didn't sound much better either. He sighed. Bad luck seemed to come to their team quite often. "We can't catch a break, can we?" The Fleurs leader uttered while thinking about his teammates predicament. "But there's no choice at this point. We've been with each other long enough to keep going, so count me in." He thought about the times they had with each other, from their first mission against Yzak and Dearka, to their battles with Zeonic and Starshiners. 

The Diver then nodded toward Aker. "He's right too. This is very serious and can't continue." Wade wonder if he could come across as a wise leader, considering his age, but it didn't matter much to him. He had to help make these decision for Fleurs, even if it meant what they would do was risky. "I'm not gonna let my friend keep getting bullied by some 'Spider' guy. We'll squash that bug soon enough, trust me." He then realized that a spider wasn't actually a bug, but that was the least of their problems. "So BURNING, eh? I guess we'll have to see what that means..."

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Icarus looked at his teammates, a small smile appearing on his lips as they spoke their pieces. He knew better than to question their loyalty to the team, but it was still reassuring to hear them agree to back him up on this mission. Aker had raised a valid point though, one that made the diver stop and think. The thought had crossed his mind before as well, but he tried to ignore it. But now that his teammates had brought it up as well, it needed to be addressed.

“I know this isn’t a permanent solution,” He said, raising his head. “But it buys me some time to try and figure things out a bit more. Spider isn’t trustworthy, but I know he’ll at least wait to see how we do on this mission before he makes any other moves. You can bet he’ll be watching somehow, as well. He enjoys this kind of thing. But for now…I guess we may as well get this party started, huh?”

Icarus stood and froze for a moment, his fears catching up to him.

Nothing left but to do it, Ray

He took a deep breath, clenched his fist, looked from Aker to Wade and nodded. “If things get crazy with this Venom Drive thing…” he shook his head. “Let’s do it, Fleurs!”

He pressed the start button on the mission screen and was instantly transported to the cockpit of the Tallgeese QUEST. They had loaded into a vast, cavernous space that was covered wall-to-ceiling in spider webs. It was dark on top of that, limiting visibility.

Well, at least it’s on brand I guess,

The QUEST’s eyes lit up, shining a bright light like a flashlight into the dark space around them. Icarus scanned the walls and ceiling. It seemed that the battlefield stretched high above them, with several levels of webs spanning across the tunnel above them. Hanging from these web platforms were what appeared to be…

“Egg sacs?” Icarus said out loud. “I don’t like that very mu—”

As if on cue, several of the sacs seemed to burst. Nine dark shadows plummeted to the floor where the Fleurs team had materialized in, hitting the ground with a metallic clang that rang out throughout the cave. In a matter of seconds, the shapes lurched to their feet.

Mobile suits…?

They were indeed. Nine yellowish mobile suits, in various states of disrepair, rose to their feet and let out a loud, mechanical groan that reminded Icarus of those cheap zombie movies they used to make years ago. They were mono-eyed suits, but their optics weren’t like those of a Zaku. No, they were remarkably more human looking and took up most of the real estate on the mobile suit’s head. All nine of them hefted up their club like rifles and began to fire on the Fleurs.

“Heads up, team!” Icarus shouted, unsure if his team-mates had been caught off guard. “Looks like he isn’t going to give us any time to breathe,”

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Aker’s expression of superiority shrank into a scowl of confusion, “he takes this ‘spider’ persona a bit seriously doesn’t he?’ Aker remarked. The Noblesse gundam looked around cautiously, and eyed the “egg sacs” as they began to drop their payloads. The pseudo EL diver had seen a few things in his time, but this was by far one of the more bizarre encounters he could think of. “What-“ the thought evaporated from is mind as they enemies began to fire on the three of them. He shook his head as he moved to dodge the shots while avoid the webs, he really didn’t want to find out how accurate those were.

Bringing up his GN pistol he traded shots with the enemies. To say that Aker was acting cautious could be an understatement. The strange environment and even stranger enemies let the imagination run wild with that they could really be facing. As Aker settling into a rhythm of attack and defense he asked, “so when are you supposed to use that Venom Drive?” They were barely into the mission, and he couldn’t wait to be done with the weblike nightmare of the surroundings; the unnatural scale of it all was intimidating on its’ own. 

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Wade didn't exactly know what he'd be expecting from this mission, but as soon as he saw how it looked, fear began to sweep over him. "Ewww... Ah!" The Nu Origin jumped as it walked into webbing near the wall. "Oh, I hate this..." The Fleurs leader shivered inside of his cockpit, scared to something that couldn't legitimately hurt him. Or could it? Very slowly, the Nu caught up with the other two Divers, with Wade thankfully being able to see with the QUEST's lights. However, he wondered if he would be better off NOT seeing what was in front of them.

Disgusting eggs sacs surrounded the grim area, bursting open as whatever came out of them hit the ground. "I don't... are these from Gundam? Dark army maybe?" Wade quickly asked, noticing all the creature pulling up their strange weapons. Surprisingly, they had long range attacks, causing Wade to defend with his shield. "I guess just aim for the head?" With no clue if zombie logic applied here, the Nu sent out a few shots from its rifle and shoulder cannons, hoping they'd connect before he had a heart attack from this level.

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As the Death Army units continued their assault, Icarus did his best to fend them off and answer Aker’s question at the same time. “I’m not fully sure when I’m supposed to use it, actually,” he grunted, slicing off the arm of one of the Death Armies with his battle blade. “There’s a big button on my console here that’s all grayed out though, so I’m assuming now’s not the time.” He glanced down at the button and frowned. It had completely replaced the toggle for his Trans-Am system. While that worried him, the ongoing attack from the yellow units was a bit more immediately pressing.

Icarus had just managed to slice one of the grunts in two, watching as it landed with a thud a little else before another two attacked him, grabbing onto the QUEST and attempting to drag it to the floor.

“I don’t think so,” Icarus growled. He detached the SQUIRE platform from the Tallgeese’s back and the AI-driven support unit took to the air, taking one of the Death Army units with it. Freed of the additional weight, the QUEST grabbed the remaining grunt and tossed it aside where it hit one of the webs and found itself stuck.

Icarus wheeled his mobile suit around to assist his team-mates in taking out the remaining suits.  Wade and Aker had been managing without him though, having eliminated a number of the suits themselves.

These things don’t seem very tough…these can’t be what we’re here to fight,

Icarus was about to boost over to one of the remaining Death Army suits when the ground beneath him erupted and a fanged Gundam head on a snakelike body shot up from the stone. Before he could react, the machine had sunk its fangs into the armour of the QUEST, shredding it like paper and by latching on, sent Icarus and his machine crashing to the ground.

A distraction!?

Two more Gundam-snakes burst out of the ground and further pinned him to the floor.

“What the hell? Where are these things coming from?”

--

The beams sent forth from the Noblesse’s GN pistols ripped through one of the Death Army grunts and then another, leaving only one poor sucker to face down the much more impressive Gundam. With a loud, metallic groan like the grinding of gears, the remaining grunt ran headlong towards Aker and his machine, something deep within its core beginning to grow brighter and pour smoke out from its seams.

“Diediediediediedie,” the suit began to repeat in a squirelley electronic voice as it sprinted towards the Noblesse. “diediediedieDIE,”

--

Wade’s cannon fire made short work of the first Death Army unit, but the other two, undaunted by the loss of their comrade, continued firing on the Nu Origin with their club like rifles. One, seemingly wiser than the rest, had taken cover behind a cluster of stalagmites that was jutting out of the cave floor, laying supressing fire for its zombie-like ally as it stood in the open and fired with wild abandon.

Vibrations began to subtly shake stones loose from the nearby wall until, growing more and more violent until, at last, the surface of the wall erupted in a hail of stone. A Gundam-headed snake shot out from the rock wall next to the Nu Origin, its teeth bared. A powerful pink beam of energy lanced out from its open maw, aimed directly at the Origin’s rifle hand while two more sprang up from the cave floor beneath the Nu, hoping to twine themselves around the Gundam’s legs.

--

Far above the fighting in the bowels of the cave, the commotion and gunfire shot vibrations up the length of the webs that threaded their way up into the darkness. These vibrations, reaching the source of the webs, stirred something lingering there in the dark. It let out a low, rumbling hiss as eight eye-like lights pierced the darkness, four small, four large. With a groan, the thing in the shadows lumbered into a graceful, silent motion uncharacteristic of its size.

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Something about the situation was reminding Aker about his encounter with Hashmal all that time ago. When him and another diver had to fight off waves of Pluma in order to even deal with the big boss. The death army grunts weren’t anything hard to fend off as he kept getting shot after shot off, but then they went and proved his suspicions as they suddenly changed for the worse. 

“What the- a suicide unit?!” It was as much a denial as it was an assessment as one of the units literally looked like it was about to explode as it bull charged at him. He was running out of room in the claustrophobic setting so he wasn’t thrilled about anything explosive going off near him. Still his shots weren’t strong enough to stop the berserker style unit so he flipped out his GN blade. “Give me a burst 8!” The quantum computer gave an affirmative, and the Noblesse flared into an angry red glow. Just as the smoking grunt came closer, and Aker jetted the Noblesse across, cleanly slicing along the core of the opponent and safely getting a fair distance away from the volatile body. He kept his blade out but turned off the Trans Am, knowing he didn’t have much room to maneuver would likely waste the advantage of a sustained Trans Am. 

“There’s gotta be something bigger…” he muttered as he tried to figure out what his teammates were up to, he groaned as he caught a glimpse of something. “Oh! I am really starting to hate snakes now!” He growled. As he spotted trouble for Wade and Icarus. He kept his momentum up as he sliced through another grunt unit. Already they had gotten so separated he had to get back closer to at least one of his teammates, “but who” he asked himself as he kept the Noblesse moving. After all, to stand still was to become a target it would seem. 

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Everything seemed to be getting worse for the Fleurs leader. More reinforcements came as the Death Army fired on Wade, keeping him busy with his shield, but nothing could stop has rifle from being obliterated. "What the? Snakes?" The pink beam directly hit the weapon, causing wade to toss it toward the G Gundam units. "Just started and I lost my main weapon..." The Diver pulled out his saber as he let his vulcans unload on the snake, only for more to crack through the ground beneath him.

"Ah!" He blasted upward with the Nu, hoping to get clear of the creatures with whatever room they had, but it was too late. The Origin's legs were taken quickly by the strange machines, bringing him back down to their level. "Geez, what is up with these enemies." BURNING Difficulty had proven itself to be quite the challenge. "That or I'm not doing so well..." Wade swung down toward the two, but he wasn't quite sure anything was connecting. The dank area seemed to be getting darker for him. "Are they... pulling me in?"

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The ground beneath the Nu Origins began to crack and splinter as the Gundam Snakes began to pull Wade’s machine deeper into the rock. Two more burst out around him, shooting their mouth-lasers at the Origins’ armor. The beams that shot into the Nu’s armor, however, seemed weaker, as if the energy was being diluted amongst the various Gundam Snakes as they appeared. They were still dangerous of course, and would punch through the Nu’s armor if Wade didn’t do something about it soon.

--

The suicide unit stuttered and jerked before exploding in a burst of pink smoke, its inert parts clattering lifelessly to the floor. As the Noblesse sliced through the last of the Death Army units and considered its next move, something above it crept down silently on a reinforced strand of web. This mobile monstrosity was huge compared to the Fleurs mobile suits, comprised of a giant black Gundam head with four green, glowing eyes and eight metal spider legs. As it looked down on Aker’s mobile suit, it’s mouth opened like it’s snake headed minions, letting out a bloodcurdling shriek as it snapped its tether and began to fall towards the Noblesse.

--

Icarus struggled against his controls as the Gundam Snakes coiled themselves around the QUEST and brought him closer and tighter to the ground. The Tallgeese began to creek and groan under the pressure, the mobile suit’s joints popping in distress.

“Come on, come on,” Icarus growled. But nothing he did seemed to work. He was unable to get purchase in this position and was completely at the mercy of the Gundam Snakes. He craned the Tallgeese’s head up to try and find his friends and comrades on the battlefield and his gaze levelled on Aker in the Noblesse. But what Icarus saw did not fill him with relief.

“Aker!” he cried out, trying to warn him. But the massive mobile armor had already begun closing its trap, plummeting towards the ground, and the Gundam, beneath it. Icarus’s heart hammered in his chest as a cold sweat enveloped his entire body. His eyes flicked down to the now glowing purple button on his control console.

‘Venom Drive enabled’ it said. Icarus closed his eyes. That thing was the whole reason they were here, after all. If it could save the day, why not use it?

“Dammit, Spider,” he hissed as he brought a fist down on the button. All at once, Icarus felt a surge of energy course through his mobile suit. The Tallgeese QUEST’s thrusters came to life, burning yellow, then blue, then a deep and violent purple. The plume of flame obliterated on of the Gundam Snakes and the subsequent thrust broke the mobile suit free of their grip. The QUEST, a shining beacon of heat, arced upward through the cave, nearly reaching the top where the Devil Gundam Monstrosity made its nest before shooting back down.

All this time, Icarus found he was not in control. His attempts to steer the QUEST was met with negative buzzing sound and soon after, the view screen connected to his cameras clouded with purple. He was blind now, too, forced to sit in the cockpit of an out of control mobile suit.

The QUEST cratered the cave floor as it landed, battle blade in hand and radiating a menacing aura as the white armor turned pitch black.

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It all happened so fast, one moment he was rushing to help his teammate, the next he heard his name being called out, then pain. 

It was an alarming sensation, the moment Icarus activated the Venom Drive. A sickening nausea threatened to steal Aker’s sensation as he saw the Tallgeese began to glow an eerie unnatural color. 

Aker had worked with game hacks before and done some shady things in the past but he had never interacted before with game breaking seals. Seeing it used, felt like seeing an unholy abomination in his reality. Maybe it was the game code warning him, maybe it was merely his intuition but he felt the overwhelming desire to be far away from his teammate in that moment. 

Despite any desires he may have had, they were soon set aside as the Noblesse crashed into one of the many webs. Aker had  been so distraught from the Venom Drive he hadn’t been paying attention to where he was even going. Aker let out a profound curse as he crashed through several layers of web to finally get stuck in one particular bed, he coulnd’t move. 

Any notion of Icarus and the Venom Drive, were replaced with the sight of the monstrous spider mecha. Aker wasn’t one to sit back and accept his fate, “Sword bits!” He cried out sending the bits flying out to try and cut him out. He only hoped it would work fast enough. Whatever Icarus did he knew couldn’t be good, “I got to help my friends!” 

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It continued to get worse for the Diver as the Nu Origin was taken deeper into the rock. Even more of the snakes arrived to fire upon the Fleurs leader's machine, causing Wade to make an impulse decision. "I'm sorry guys! I gotta use it now!" Sliding his control screen to the left, he saw a single finishing move light up. "Time for you to smell the flowers!" Wade pressed down on the button, causing a large white light to slam down through the roof of the cavernous area.

"Yes! It does work in places like this! The special move made the Nu glow a bright white color as he floated away from the now disintegrating snakes. Whatever was around him was covered in a variety of flowers as the room lit up like a firework. The colorful atmosphere was soon changed once the Diver rang the bell of a Newtype. Producing a bolt, Wade sent it toward the remaining Death Army in his vicinity, destroying them completely.

The Nu Origin landed itself back onto the surface, but this time it stayed with his teammates. "Can't take me this time..." He muttered, knowing he had to now help his friends. However, without his special move, Wade would likely have trouble only using a single beam saber for the rest of the battle... 

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The snake heads surrounding the Nu Origins were immediately disintegrated by the Fleurs Flash that Wade unleashed upon them. The Death Army were close behind them on the trip back to whatever hell they sprang from as Wade and his machine vaporized them as well. When at last the shining light of the diver’s special move faded and the Gundam set itself back on the ground, the Tallgeese QUEST turned its darkened gaze towards it. From some dark corner of the cave, the QUEST’s Squire platform returned to it, latching onto the mobile suits back. Within, Icarus wrenched at the controls, trying to wrest command back from the Venom drive to no avail.

“I can’t even open the damn cockpit,” he growled. “Hey, Wade, Aker, can you hear me?”

The Squire platform flipped up into its flight mode and flared its vents, which burned blue with heat as it lifted the QUEST a few feet off the ground. The Tallgeese gripped its battle blade with both hands and immediately shot off towards the Nu Origin, making an attempt at a swift lunge-slash-kick combo on Fleurs leader.

---

The Devil Gundam Monstrosity hit the ground, but the Noblesse had managed to get out of its way in time, evading the cruel fate of being pinned beneath the giant Gundam head. It hit the ground with a thud that reverberated throughout the cave, shaking it to its core and causing several stalactites to fall from above. The Devil Gundam then began to transform, the giant head splitting open and turning into a waist and a pair of chunky legs. The upper half of the Gundam’s true form folded out from the center, the eight spider-like limbs folding up onto its back and twitching menacingly.

The Devil Gundam Monstrosity, fully transformed, let out a roar directed to the Noblesse above it. The eight spider legs pointed themselves at Aker’s suit and shot eight purple lasers in the Gundam’s direction.

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Despite the risk of death. Despite the danger to his friends. At that moment Gabriel felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Vivid memories of a mangled Hashmal pummeling into the Ardent Exia flooded Aker’s mind. As the lasers flew at the Noblesse Gundam, Hunter felt freedom. “Let’s show everyone just what we can do Noblesse?” 

The web broke free just as the first barrage of lasers came in. The Noblesse allowed gravity to help him duck the shots and he twisted; flashing out the GN blade to bat against more webs. He turned around just in time to see more lasers about to hit. The Noblesse raised a hand at the blasts as if to somehow block the shots instead the sword bits appeared just between; they both nullified the attack while making the Gundam glow hot with GN particles and disappear in a radiant mist. 

If the Devil Gundam was confused it didn’t show it; but it certainly jerked in surprised as the Noblesse Gundam suddenly quantized right behind, and above. Hunter was so enthralled in the moment, the sickness from the venom drive, the gleeful nostalgia; it all blended into pure reaction, pure battle. “I’ve slayed angels before what chance does a devil have!?” 

Images of Wade using his Gundam as a crux of power, making an ultimate attack filled Hunter’s mind with envy. If he could do it...The GN sword from the Noblesse came slashing down along with the Gundam attached. The blade slitted along the spine of the monstrosity, sparks and flames bleeding as readily as ichor. The Noblesse thudded to the ground and Hunter retracted the blade as he threw out his right arm wide. He paused but didn’t relent his attack as sword bits flew in hard from opposing angles criss crossing along the body of the beast. 

The bits dug into as many limbs as best they could, attempting to restrain the Devil Gundam like crude spikes for crucifixion. The evil machine twisted to glare down at the diminutive Noblesse, spite somehow evident on the machine’s mask. Hunter raised his left arm up with a beam saber deactivated in hand. Inside the cockpit a text materialized on the screen, and the words flowed out of the Pseudo EL diver without him even reading the name. “Angel Slayer.” The words were calm but the delivery was anything but. The GN blade snapped back out wide, just as the beam saber activated in the opposite hand; left, right the slashes went. The GN blade illuminated with a glow elongated into a giant beam saber then arced over like when he had swung at Blaze in her dragon mech. The giant blade came driving down at the head of the crucified Devil Gundam. A brilliant flashed flared as the attack connected and as it faded away the Noblesse tucked both the blades away and the sword bits retreated back into the shield. The red aura faded from the machine and Hunter caught his breath and fluttered his eyes, returning back to the moment from his moment of perfect clarity.  His eyes darted up with concern, “Icarus! Wade!” 

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Wade slowly walked along the path created by his wrath as rock chunks continued to break off the ceiling. His power was much lower than he had liked, with the Nu not being built to handle that type of finishing attack. "Ok... let's see how long you can keep going, little buddy. You RG's are a pain to work on!" At that moment, he looked ahead to see something come towards him at an alarming pace. "That's weird. No warning blares. Wait..."

Upon further inspection, it was quite clear that the new enemy was in fact, his friend's Tallgeese. "Icarus?" While it wasn't the right colors, it was definitely the custom Gunpla his teammate had been using. "The Venom Drive!" Wade pointed his beam saber forward, hoping to stop the mobile suit, but not take it out of the battle. "I don't know what happened, but I can't just let you control my friend like that! Let's go!" The Nu Origin's thrusters flared in retaliation as Wade pushed his joysticks forward. "Hyah!!!!"

But the white machine didn't move an inch. "What?! My energy?!?!?!" A swift kick removed the Fleurs leader's weapon, only for a large slash to end his participation in the mission. The cockpit got dark, with Wade unable to see that his mobile suit had exploded in a pitiful fashion. Immediately pulling up as chatlog, he tried contacting the two teammates, but to no avail. "Dammit... I hope Aker is still fighting. We can't let this Spider guy win..."

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The Tallgeese QUEST loomed menacingly above the Nu Origins as it fell to the cave floor, its energy expended, before exploding. The QUESTs cockpit cameras cleared themselves of the trolling purple haze that blinded its pilot just in time for Icarus to see what his mobile suit, regardless of his input, had done. His hands trembled as they clutched uselessly at the controls.

“Wade…” Icarus clenched his teeth. He felt awful. He had brought his teammates, his friends into this, only for his mobile suit to go berserk with no explanation. Icarus couldn’t image what was going through his leader’s head right now. Did Wade feel betrayed? Icarus tried to bring up his chat window but was met only with a restrictive sound effect that told him such an action could not be taken at this time. “God dammit, boss…I’m sorry,”

The QUEST turned its attention to Aker and Icarus felt his stomach drop. Wade’s machine being destroyed was one thing. His young leader might be upset but he was undoubtedly unharmed. But if Aker fell to the venom drive-infected Tallgeese…

“I can’t let that happen,” Icarus said, as the QUEST began to rev up its engines once more, spinning its battle blade in its hand with a flourish as it set its sight on the Noblesse. Icarus leaned back in his cockpit and brought his feet up before driving it as hard as he could into the control systems. The panel in front of his cracked and sparked and the QUEST seemed to jerk in response but it quickly righted itself and made its expeditious advance towards Aker and his machine. Drawing the sword back, it aimed to finish its opponent in one strike as it rocketed forward. Icarus, meanwhile, kept kicking the panel as hard as he could, hoping that if he couldn’t free himself or regain control, he might be able to disrupt the rogue QUEST.  

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Everything about this situation felt wrong at that moment, felt jagged and out of place. Wade was gone, just like that, and here Aker was stuck in this nightmare having to fight one of his only friends. Whether it was truly intentional, or the Venom Drive, the betrayal felt fresh; it hurt. 

Things had begun to look better in Aker’s existence, despite his own shortcomings, he thought he could trust people again, he could trust his teammates. Couldn’t he? Was he wrong? Was he doomed to repeat himself over and over again until his own naïvety ruined him? Would he keep falsely trusting people until he ended up dead?

“Icarus!” He roared out as he brought both his beam saber and sword up to block the attack from the QUEST. He barely managed to keep his footing as the mobile suit was pushed back by the sheer power of the attack. Just the mere proximity of the blade was enough to make the Psuedo EL Diver gag, if he hadn’t been so worked up from the Devil Gundam he surely would have been sick.

“This isn’t you! This can’t be what you want!” Electric arcs fizzled around the two mobile suits and he could feel the Nobelesse Gundam waiver under the pressure of the attack. Aker was at his limit, his GN drives nearly fully exhausted from the finishing attack he did on the Devil Gundam.  

Silence was the only answer Aker got from Icarus. No, he realized, Icarus was anything but silent. Whether it was the Venom Drive or truly a betrayal; the Tallgeese was being loud and clear in what it wanted at that moment. 

Enough was enough, “I’ll stop you…” the words were sobering as he spoke them and Aker roared out with sheer rage. He pulled his arms out wide, breaking the weapon lock. The opening was mutual, but in the heat of battle split seconds were all it took to win or die. 

He stepped back trying to keep some distance, his set of GN and bullet Vulcans firing with abandon at the twisted mobile suit. Even as he held down the trigger the GN bolts faded into sputtering fizzles, his beam saber likewise shrinking out of existence. He threw his left arm out wide further to release the spent weapon while jerking his Gundam to the right. The move was slightly more dazzling as he released the volley of GN mico missiles he had stored in the same shield. The move cost him as the Tallgeese closed the distance to sever the offending arm. The fired missiles scattering harmlessly into distant explosions.

The cockpit inside the Noblesse nearly shut off as the second GN drive was severed. Aker responded by jabbing his GN sword in hard for the belly of the Tallgeese. The GN sword dug in lower than he intended and seemed to nearly sever one the legs but it didn’t stop the torso from sputtering and trying to attack him still. 

Deftly working the controls, he released his grip on the GN sword while reaching for one of the metal sabers on is hip. His actions nearly proved disastrous as the murderous machine brought it’s weapon in hard overhead, blade digging into the Noblesse. The angle was awkward and the Tallgeese could only muster a slow but deliberate cleave. The cockpit groaned from the frame getting split from the cut, if Aker did nothing the sword would soon claim him sooner rather than later. 

The Noblesse pulled up the metal saber and took a moment to aim for the cockpit. He pushed the blade in towards his friend, or he tried to. The Tallgeese reached up to catch his wrist just as the blade began to piece the enemy armor. They were now entwined in a slow war of attrition as each blade slowly worked the other’s armor, 

Aker was going to loose and he knew it, the possessed Tallgeese was too strong. They were likely evenly matched prior to this fight but with he venom drive his foe was too much. Yet it was almost as if something was keeping the Tallgeese from outright killing him. The enemy sword slipped closer to his cockpit and he could hear both suits creak and groan from the metallic stress. “Damnit 8! Noblesse! Just a little further!” His mind tumbled back to his fight with Shinn and the golden Destiny Gundam, he recalled how he lost that fight too. “I can’t die!”even his declaration sounded pitiful in the face of such adversity. 

Despite everything terrible in his life there was one constant he had to acknowledge, “I have to move forward….” Pushing with his feet, he shuffled one foot forward, the Tallgeese staggered from the shift. The move seemed to dig the Tallgeese sword in deeper and Aker could feel wires and debris his his helmet in the cockpit. 

Any move at this point could prove disastrous, but he had to do something. The integrity of the QUEST’s hip was his only exploit. The Noblesse dramatically dropped to a knee suddenly, the angle shift retracting the enemy blade some, while letting him jerk his offending hand free from the grip on his wrist. It slipped then, the blade eating deeply into the cockpit of the enemy and the flicker of life left both mobile suits. 

A shaky breath fluttered out of his dry mouth. Aker’s head rested on the side of the sword the Tallgeese had tried slipping back in as he delivered his own killing blow. The very edge of the blade actually shattering his left collar bone, blood seeping out of his space suit and down his side. A few more inches and he likely would have been killed or seriously injured, it was that close. He rested there a long moment before the screens of the Noblesse flicked back to life. He carefully maneuvered the two mangled suits away from each other and stood straight up. He flinched and gasped as the blade was removed from his shoulder, the massive weight lifting and releasing more blood. Flicking on his PA, Aker loudly called out in a blood curdling cry, “mark my words… you are a dead man Spider!” 

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Whatever was going on out there, the Fleurs Leader couldn't see. He would've liked to help Aker defeat the Venom enraged Tallgeese or perhaps even find a way to save Icarus' mobile suit, but all Wade could do was sit patiently while the team was crowned winners or losers. "Man... I shouldn't have released the Flash so soon!" He felt there had to have been some way to escape those creatures, but even the power of an RG Nu didn't have enough to help him.

"Maybe I should go back to the drawing board." The Diver wondered, tapping his fingers on the control panel in front of him. The Nu Origin did have a fearful amount of power, but the lack of a multitude of weapons didn't allow Wade to reach his fullest potential. Whatever it may be, he knew something had to be changed. They were bound to fight this Spider eventually, Aker had his share of enemies, and who knows when the numbered Shenlong man would strike. Wade thought intently as he waited. 

"There's only one place to go after Nu..." 

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Icarus could only watch as the Tallgeese engaged with the Noblesse, his kicking clearly useless. Aker fought valiantly but the QUEST fought just as hard, spurred on by the malicious energy of the Venom Drive. When his rogue mobile suit seemed like it had taken the initiative and began to really push the Noblesse into a corner, Icarus felt his breath catch in his chest.

I can sense your hurt, Aker…the betrayal you feel…

He let go of the controls, let his face fall into his hands as the cacophony of creaking metal and battle raged around him like hell’s own symphony. It was only when the Tallgeese rocked backwards from the impact of Aker’s sword did he allow himself to look up. His cockpit camera was filled with burning pink light and Icarus flinched hard when he realized what was happening. As the beam saber penetrated the cockpit, Icarus jerked backwards with a stunted cry.

In the hobby shop, Ray’s seat tilted backwards, spilling him out and almost taking the rest of the rig with him. He lay sprawled on the shop floor, visor half off of his head, and a nearby attendant rushed over to help him. Ray quickly waved her off, righted his chair, and settled himself back in just in time to see the screen display their victory.

The victory screen looked odd. No rewards, no congratulations, just the words “A winner is you,” before the divers were kicked back to their floating oil rig nest. The simulated breeze tossed Icarus’s long hair as he sat up. Across from him were Wade and Aker, behind him, their mobile suits loomed large on their platforms. Icarus turned to look at the QUEST and rose slowly to his feet.

Maybe I wasn’t ready…

His hands in the real world groped around blindly for the model and pulled it off the scanner. The QUEST disappeared from the platform, the space where it once stood intimidating in its emptiness. Icarus closed his eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath, before turning to face his teammates.

“I’m sorry,” of course those were the first words out of his mouth. What else could he have said. “I should have known he would try to pull something like this, that it’d be more dangerous that it first appeared…but…I couldn’t just…”

He looked down, his hands curling into fists as he tried to fight back tears. “I’m a weak link. A liability. I tried to get stronger but look what it cost me. Every time I think I’m on top, I get pushed back down and you don’t deserve to be dragged to rock bottom with me,”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Like the others, Wade was booted back to the oil rig, only to find Icarus in a somber state. He knew exactly how the Diver felt, in terms of being the one to bring others down in battle. However, the Fleurs leader never felt that about his companions. "That's simply not true." He responded to his friend. "You weren't in control there. It's not your fault." Whatever had happened though, it was time to stop. "But I'm not gonna let people ruin this game. I say we finish all of this once and for all."

 Aker remained quiet, his right arm wrapped to grip his left shoulder tightly. Of the three he looked the most pissed off and exhausted. For a long while he said nothing and just looked at the two divers. But then Wade’s words struck Aker profoundly. He quietly responded, “are you prepared to do what needs to be done? Just how do you propose we end this?” There was a lot he wanted to say at that moment but bit his tongue knowing that his friends shouldn’t be to blame, at least not entirely.

 Icarus looked despondently at Aker, who appeared wounded. He was still alive and for that the diver was eternally thankful, but he had almost forgotten that Aker couldn't just brush these battles off like he and Wade could. Icarus turned to his leader and frowned. "I could have said no and faced the consequences. I could have just never gotten involved in the first place. But I'm with you. I want this over with--I just don't know what to do..." he chuckled to himself, spitefully. "Look at me--I'm supposed to be the adult here,"

The fact that Aker was physically hurt signaled to the Diver that this needed to be done, but he was right. "I-I don't know, but no more missions. We need to contact these people or something. He clenched his fists as he thought about what each of the three has gone through. "Ah! I'm sick of this crap! I'm sick of you getting hurt, I'm sicked of you getting abused, and I'm sick of all of this feeling so real!" Wade pointed up at his Gunpla. "This Nu is flawed, and the only way I'm getting better is building a new one." Wade pulled up his menu, sliding pages open. "I'm gonna go work on that. Don't contact me until we got a lead on Spider and whatever's going on with you. I'll be ready for what's thrown at me." The Fleurs Leader felt enraged, seeing this as a sort of tough love, but seeing two people he called his friends in pain told him there needed to be a change.

Aker scoffed at Icarus’ response, but looked away as he winced in pain. When Wade spoke he then realized that this wasn’t a burden to be handled alone. As much as he wanted to go off on his own at that moment. Again he fought the urge to get preachy instead nodding. “Give me a week….” His eyes darted from Icarus to Wade and he nodded, “give me a week and I’ll find him. These hackers hold nothing sacred… to deal with him We’ll have to work on his level…” it was his polite way of saying that he would be doing shady things for their common goal.

Icarus looked down, his fists beginning to sting from the pressure as his nails dug into his palms. "I promise..." he said, unable to look at his teammates. "I promise I'll make this up to you both. Fleurs and GBN has helped me get back on a better path in life and I'm not about to turn my back on either. I know that with you two helping, we can figure this out," He looked up, tears in his eyes. "Whatever it takes, I'm with you!"

“Then it’s settled.” Wade Lincoln logged off right after, bringing himself back into the real world. He slammed his fists on the table, knocking over is figure as he left the room. “Fleurs De Noblesse needs a real leader. One with a kickass Gunpla too.”
---

When Ray finally logged off, he looked down at the utterly wrecked table and console in front of him through the haze of misty eyes. He quickly wiped his tears away as a staffer approached him, handing him a bill for the damages done. Ray looked back at the table. He must've been striking it for real when he was trapped in the Tallgeese and trying to kick his way out. Apologizing profusely, he accepted the bill, sighing at his misfortune when the staffer walked away.

Later, as he was walking home in the darkness of a quiet night, he thought about all that had transpired and all that was yet to come. They didn't seem any closer to freeing him from Spider's clutches, but his comrades seemed to have a plan--or if not a plan, an ambition. Ray pulled out his phone and saw several missed messages, most of which he swiped away. Then, he pulled up a certain number and pressed 'dial'. The phone rang several times before the call went through.

"Hey," Ray said, looking up at the moon. "Sorry I've been so quiet...a lot's been going on. I think we need to talk,"

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      How Things Could Be…
       
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      Aker nodded in agreement; he couldn’t say he was too surprised by that revelation. “He probably logs into his own hellish hacked force nest too I bet. No dice tracking him down there…” he shivered at the memory of their last encounter. He took another bite of his apple as he looked at the screen. Could he get fat? If he kept eating, would he gain weight? He did loose the feeling in his arm before but was that merely a programming glitch or was he fully simulated?
      Shaking the thought from his mind Aker leaned back forward to glare at the screen. “Alright… lets send out a message to Creed… Time for him to do a favor for me for a change huh?”
      As he rhetorically asked out loud, he was already typing a message to his sponsor of sorts. Satisfied that he had done all he could do at that moment he stood up to walk, or rather float, along the halls of his spaceship to the manufacturing bay.
      It still bothered him just how vacant the personal base was. It was after all a battleship of sorts and in theory should have been full to the brim with soldiers milling about. He came to a catwalk that oversaw the production line and he caught the railing to bring himself into a standing position over the silent behemoths in his hangar.
      The Noblesse stood prominently in display; floodlights activated all around the machine. Despite the obvious attention the Gundam demanded, he couldn’t help himself as he spotted a darker machine in the corner being nearly completed. Aker narrowed his eyes as he studied the machine, still wondering if it was the best course to explore.
      His reverie was interrupted as he got a video call from Marco Creed. Activating the screen, he asked, “So you got my request?” The middle-aged man didn’t look thrilled by the casual attitude the EL diver was giving him, but he still nodded, “Yeah, I did, and it is concerning. In a manner of speaking ZAPP was supposed to have the corner on gaming exploits in 1.8. This Spider fellow, well he isn’t playing by our rules. Needless to say, I’ve been… ‘permitted’ to give you unrestrained support in your current venture.”
      The tone in which Marco said “permitted” wasn’t lost on Aker and he slowly nodded his appreciation. He was about to say something else when he felt compelled to ask. “Is… is everything alright?”
      The older man looked around uncomfortably and sighed, “The board doesn’t like the freedom you’ve been given, they didn’t appreciate your ‘stunt’ of logging back in after you were here last… The point is… well… they’re worried… they’re worried about what you could expose.”
      Marco gulped and nodded, “half of them want to pull the plug on you. Others want to pull your connections after you get knocked out again, study you… A few want to exploit your existence, tell the world and put GBN in a position to fully open 1.8 for the ‘freak show exhibition’.” The man looked disgusted at the choice of words.
      Aker frowned and asked, “And what about you? What do you think?”
      Marco allowed a soft smile, “I think you deserve your freedom… I’m just at a loss as to how you could secure that.”
      Nodding thoughtfully Aker cleared his throat, “You know.. I often wonder about my existence… about why I do the things I do….” His eyes looked blankly ahead as if lost in contemplation, “I wonder why I feel the things I do… why I like the people I do…” a cold sneer grew on his lips, “And then I wonder why…” his voice trailed away as he shook his head. “Look… I need to find this Spider… at any cost…”
      Marco gave a sympathetic smile and nodded, “It’s going to be hard to track down a hacker from this side alone… there’s a few new programs I can offer you which might help. If we work together, I think we can fish him out though.”
      Aker nodded eagerly, “let’s get started then!”
      --------------
      It felt uneasy switching off his digital “mask” of sort. Part of him felt like he would suddenly be put in an awkward situation that could be dangerous. One option after another, Aker maneuvered his floating pane of settings and toggled the last switch. His entire person shimmered as his clothes changed from his Noblesse uniform to a Phantom Pain uniform he had worn awhile ago. It was still stained with blood on the breast and sleeves and looked smothered in soot and ash.
      Despite himself Aker held his breath as he stood in front of his test machine. Together they were out in the middle of a field not far from the main lobby. A cool breeze brushed the grass and played with his dark hair as he looked around in alarm. There were no sirens or sounds of incoming mobile suits. Nothing that told him he was in for a world of hurt. Reluctantly he let out a sigh of relief. Once again, he had simply become Hunter. He went back into his options to dawn his black poncho and matching mask. “Alright… lets find us a Spider….”
      A few moments later he was flying to the lobby. It had been months since he had pulled off his so called “Second Bloody Valentine Massacre”. Undoubtedly he would have a lot of players still pissed off at him. Perhaps it was his insecurity, but he swore he felt a few players glower at him as he passed by.
      The GBN lobby at times could feel misplaced with time, often appearing to be daylight when he was tired and ready for sleep instead. Despite this, there seemed to constantly be darker corners one could find if they were determined. It was largely debated that some of the best hang out spots were in the darker pubs and clubs that GBN offered in the darker recesses.
      Never the social type, Gabriel went to a shady club and walked up to a grungy looking bartender. The gruff figure gave him a once over and smirked, “you lost boy?” Shaking his head, the EL diver tilted his head to look around at some of the shadowy corners. “I’m looking for a man named Spider… know where I could find him?”
      A few patrons paused their actions to study Gabriel and see just how serious this outsider was. The barkeep huffed, “Heh! You don’t find Spider, he finds you. If you wa-“
      Gabriel was already shaking his head and raised a finger to silence the bartender. “You don’t understand…” he tilted his gaze then added, “Everyone is looking for me. I need to see spider now… otherwise I just might have to lockdown this establishment and wipe everything out.” His tone was matter of fact and he gazed at each patron who was looking at him.
      Scrunching his face up the bartender replied, “Not possible kid, are you loony?”
      Not missing a beat Gabriel cut him off, “Second Bloody Valentine… Surely no one else has stolen my log in lock trick, have they?” He was referring to an attack he had perpetrated; where him and Marco Creed hacked a Gundam Seed event and prevented anyone from logging out while they destroyed nearly all the gunpla there.
      For a long while no one moved, no one said anything as they all studied each other. Gabriel’s mask made it hard for anyone to tell who he was even looking at. Finally, a door in the back of the room popped open, creaking loudly and a voice called out. “Get back here fast!”
      -----------
      “What do you mean you need my protection? What kind of idiot runs one of the most sophisticated hacking attacks in GBN history and not have a fallback plan for when things go bad?”
      Shaking his head Gabriel replied, “The kind of idiot who didn’t think it would actually work! Look I didn’t come here to poke fun at myself, can you help me or not?”
      The criminal crossed his arms and studied Gabriel for a long while then slowly stated, “what you’re asking for will not come cheap. And I don’t always take cash for my payment… do you understand what I’m suggesting?”
      Gabriel nodded eagerly, “Hey you saw what I could do on my own, imagine what we could do together? That aside does that mean you’ll take me in?”
      Spider waited a heartbeat before nodding, “Sure, I’ll have you stay at one of my private nests while I figure out a way to mask your log in.” Unceremoniously he brought up his menu and sent Gabriel an invite to transport to a new location. Together they both left the back room of the tavern and emerged moments later in a truly unique location.
      Gabriel gawked around; he was begrudgingly impressed. Together the stood on top of an asteroid inside of atmospheric bubble. It was no normal asteroid however, for they were standing on a heavily modified version of A Baoa Qu. The dome they were inside was on top of the Gate of Zedan and prominent inside the dome was a rather large castle, reminding Gabriel of the palace the Zabi family would use on Side 3. Despite whatever criminal background Spider had he did seem to appreciate the finer things GBN had to offer. The next thing he noticed was four towering mobile suits at each corn and or the castle, or were they statues? As the pair got closer to the door, Gabriel could tell they were skinned with a stone texture. Shaking his head, he focused on what he had to do.
      “Make yourself at home, have a seat in my lounge and I’ll be back in a few moments.”  Spider offered as he gestured to the couch. Gabriel spoke up, “So, did you get all this by selling hacks like the Venom Drive?”
      Spider paused at that comment and spun around to glare at Gabriel, “And…. How do you know about those?”
      “How could I not? They’re the hot item right now for anyone wanting to get better at the game fast!”
      A smile curled on Spider’s lips as if that notion satisfied him. He nodded then walked on towards the back of the room.
      “you’re certain no one can trace me here?”
      Spider twisted around to walk backwards and raised his hands up to shrug. “Relax, would you? This is my personal nest. I’ve installed some of the best security credits can buy; not to mention some top-notch hacks.” He turned around and waved a hand dismissively. “You’ll be fine just wait!”
      Gabriel frowned as he sat on the comfortable couch and waited a moment to be alone before he brought up his menu. The fist thing he did was active the program he had used all those months ago which prevented anyone from logging out of the area. Then he sent a message to his teammates along with a pass to get them into the nest.
       
      I got him where we want him. Show up ready for a fight. Be advised my handle here is Hunter, so watch the friendly fire. Be ready for anything.
       
      Gabriel closed the menu after he sent the message and leaned back on the sofa putting his hands behind his head. He’d strike when the moment was right, but first he wanted to see this scumbag squirm as everything he worked so hard for crumbled.
    • By JohnSeever
      Biography
      Full name Zhane Tan
      Faction: n/a
      Rank: n/a
      Age: 15
      Sex: Male
      Height: 6 foot
      Weight: 155 pounds
      Eyes: Redish-Brown
      Hair: Silver
      Skin: Caucasian
      Handiness: Right-handed
      Ingame name: Lucky
      Personality
      Zhane is a calm and easy-going man. His attitude towards others makes him seem like a loner, but he is a people person and enjoys meeting new and interesting people. Quiet and thinks all the time as he makes notes on what he sees and experiences. He tries to avoid conflict as much as possible with the tendency to do the ‘right’ thing when he knows it will get him into more trouble. Lancer has a sense of honor to his friends and duty to those he works for and with. He stays loyal to his friends and makes sure that he stays true to his word, since he was raised to show dignity, honor and respect to all.
      Strengths and weaknesses
      Zhane is still new to the GBN, having taken part in a few battles. He is quick on the controls and is good as a close combat-based player. Not the best out there when it comes to teams but is amazing in singles. When he dives, he is super friendly and enjoys it. Seems to have a natural ability to piloting and figuring out the Gunpla's abilities quickly.
      Appearance

      History
      Born in the United States, Zhane grew up in the Midwest. His parents traveled due to their careers and so he was never in a single place for more than two to three years. Additionally, he has a few health issues, mainly bone cancer, and is not able to do much, and making friends is hard. Due to this, he spent time building Gunpla and creating his own worlds with them. Finally, after many years and many homes, Richard's family has finally settled down and has stopped moving and now, perhaps he can make friends.
      While not a very good pilot, he does have some natural abilities and is an excellent builder of Gunpla. Due to moving, he was not able to take part in GBN, and has never dived before, however, he might his chance and more and maybe he will find a team he can join or get some time in to better his skills. If nothing else, he will just enjoy what time he can within the GBN.
      Possessions
      Gunpla #1: XXAGET-01X105-2DB Gundam Deathstrike Bullet
      Gunpla #2: XXXGAT-X10201H Gundam Duel Heavy
      Gunpla #3: RXGN-001OP Prime Gundam
      Role plays
      Mairéad Grace Sandilands: For the Homeland
    • By Zhane Tan
      Looking at the Gundam Battle Nexus setup, Zhane blinked and had no idea what to do, "So, I just sit in this and put my gunpla here?" he asks the person at the GBN store as he looked back at them. "That's right," said the worker.  Looking at the machine, he thought for a moment and sat down. "Ok, now what do I do?" he asked as she looked again after placing his Gunpla on the machine. The employee blinked and just looked, shocked more than anything "... you've never done this?" he asked. "My first time," was Zhane's response.  The employee sighed, "You put on the headset, and create an account," and as the employee spoke, Zhane did that. "That's it?" he asked. "Yes," said the employee.
      Zhane is odd in this matter, having not been out in public much, except for his trips to the hospital. He has bone cancer and has been going through a lot to try to stop it and fight it of and the Doctors are sure that they are to the point of getting all of it, so he has little experience with anything like this, and thinking, Zhane types in a name, Lucky. The employee looks, "Interesting name," he states. "Yea," Zhane says. "I have been lucky my entire life, and still am so far," he replies as he listens and places his Gunpla on the machine to scan it in. "Interesting suit design," the employee said. "Thank you," he states simply as he closes his eyes and takes a few breaths, kind of tired but opens them. "Here it goes," he comments to himself as he logs in for the first time....

      Traveling through the VR of the login, he looks around and smiles, "Totally cool," he states as he wonders, will keep his same appearance or will have a different appearance. 

      He looks at the screen and thinks as he gets his answer. smiling to himself, he picks an design that he thinks will be cool. "Can I change my appearance later?" he wonders to himself as he picks his normal appearance with simple clothing. Afterwards, he steps through the door and into the GBN.
      Arriving in the GBN, he looks around as he sees all the different avatars, "Wow, there's someone dressed as Zechs and another as Char.... and... is that a dogboy?" he says to himself as he walks around the floor and looks completely lost.
       
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