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How Things Could Be…

 

He didn’t understand why he ate. The food tasted just fine, enjoyable even. But why did he eat? Lounging back in his oversized office chair, Aker called out with a mouthful of food. “8 have you had any luck tracking this Spider creep down?”

The computer screen in front of the Psuedo EL diver flickered to life and the hacked AI replied, “Negative. The best I can determine is he is using some sort of filter when he logs in.”

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.

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 Raymond looked at his bank account and sighed. He should’ve seen this coming, honestly, but he was still crushed to see it actually have come this far. Spider, he knew, wasn’t someone to be trusted. The man was a criminal, after all. But even criminals have honor, sometimes—but not Spider it seemed.

“Have you tried contacting the bank?” Amelia sat across from him at a small patio table, picking away at plate full of French fries.

“Sure have,” Ray sighed, putting his phone facedown on the table and then cupping his own face with his hands. Speaking through them, he explained that the bank said they couldn’t do much at this moment but would be investigating more deeply into the issue.

“That’s ridiculous,” Amelia said, folding her arms across her chest. “What about the cops?”

“Same answer,” Ray said, peaking out from behind his fingers. “But it’s the mob, Mel. I may as kiss my savings goodbye, otherwise who knows? It might be my ass I’m kissing goodbye instead,”

Amelia grew silent, sitting back in her chair as she looked at the man across from her wallowing in the depths of his despair. “You made a mistake,” she said. “We all make mistakes, Ray. You thought something had happened to your friend and you were in a bad way because of it,”

“I should’ve been smarter though, Mel. I shouldn’t have done what I did just because I was upset,” Ray ran a hand through his hair and groaned. “What’s the mob even doing running an operation through a damn online game, anyway?”

Amelia shrugged. “These creeps show up in the weirdest places. GBN is huge right now, so it’s only natural they’d try to get a piece of the pie, right?” but Ray didn’t respond, merely hung his head over his half-eaten hamburger and sulked. Amelia frowned. Seeing him like this was tough, after everything they had gone through together already, all the dark days they had left behind them. She worried that if they couldn’t get this sorted, then Ray might fall back into that pit of despair and never come back out. Or worse. He had come close before, too close for Amelia to let it happen again.

She finished her beer in one go and placed the glass on the table with a  thud. “Here’s what we’re going to do!” she announced, flicking him on the ear. Ray bounded backwards with a gasp, grabbing his reddened lobe. “You and I are going to hit the town and I’m going to treat you to a wonderful day of retail therapy,”

Ray looked at her with a complete lack of enthusiasm. “I don’t want to put you out,” he said. “I’ll be able to make do until I figure something out,”

“You can’t even afford to cover lunch,” she said, gesturing at the food in front of them. “Just let me spoil you, okay? You’re obviously not okay and maybe spending a little bit of my money might make you feel better!”

“I…”

“No arguing!” she said.

 

--

Before long, the two had found themselves at the local hobby shop. Amelia had insisted that this be their first stop, as gunpla was a hobby they both shared. Ray, hunched at the shoulders, followed his more energetic friend around the store as she stacked a number of model boxes on top of each other.

“I’ve been working on a couple of ideas,” she said, peeking at him from over the top of a High-grade Legend Gundam kit.   “What do you think about the Burning Legend? Half God Gundam, half Legend Gundam?”

Ray shrugged. “Wouldn’t you be missing out by not having both backpacks?”

“Yeah…that’s a good point. Okay, never mind, how about, like, the Double-X00”

Ray quirked an eyebrow. “What would that even look like?”

“Like a Double-X mixed with a 00,”

“I’d…be curious to see it,”

“Right! That settles it, then,” she said, putting boxes back on the shelves and racing down the aisle to find the two she needed, leaving Ray in the dust. Without her, his eyes wandered to the shelves. He hadn’t thought much about GBN in the last couple of days, and ever since building the QUEST, he had been a bit short on ideas. Besides, with the dire financial situation he was in, there was no point in continuing with the hobby.

But, as if on cue, Ray’s phone buzzed. There was a personal message from GBN.

I got him where we want him. Show up ready for a fight. Be advised my handle here is Hunter, so watch the friendly fire. Be ready for anything.

“Hunter?...Is this?” it seemed to be a message from Aker, but…what did it mean? Hope swelled in Ray’s chest. Maybe…just maybe…

His eyes darted up to the shelves. Maybe he could make just one last kit…

Edited by Judge
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Real Grade.

The only grade in GBN’s scale that would allow Wade Lincoln to continue his part in finding and defeating Spider once and for all. The Fleurs Leader poured his heart and soul into a mobile suit that he likely wouldn’t even use more than once. As much as it pained him to think it, he wondered if it was time to hang up the visor after this mission, but now wasn’t the time to be selfish. Shades of brown paint littered the desk next to the gaming device along with various sanded or cut parts, showing the Diver how much it really took for him to accomplish the task.

“It’s… exactly what Fleurs needs…” Wade slipped on the goggles, his model already on the scanning base. “I won’t let them down. Never again.” It wasn’t long before he was back inside the realm of GBN, standing back as many other Divers walked past him to the mission terminal. The Leader had already received his message from Aker, but the finishing touches on his kit prevented him from joining sooner. “I’m probably the last one.” Exclaiming as he bolted for the hangar bay. 

Two messages of his own were sent out, but not to his team members. The Diver wished he would’ve been able to wait, but this was a tense situation. “They’ll just have to meet me there…” He thought, transporting into a large brown mobile suit. With nobody in his way, the Gundam pressed its feet down on the catapult, with Wade completely ignoring the countdown. 

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“Screw that! Wade Lincoln is flying the Hi-ν Leader NOW!” 

An uneventful ride to a completely different biome allowed Wade to figure out his plan of attack. With his long ranged weaponry, he’d be able to keep any stragglers at bay while Aker and Icarus presumably attacked up close. What he didn’t realize was that he’d end up being in one of the biggest Force Nests he had ever seen in the game.

 “I-I… how powerful is this guy?” The place, even from the far distance Wade was at, amazed the Diver compared to their oil rig. Now wasn’t the time to be jealous though. With how big the area was, he had no idea who was out there yet, friend or foe. “He did say anything could happen…” Not willing to jeopardize anything, Wade didn’t send a response to “Hunter”, hoping that the two team members would be able to trust that he’d be there. The Hi- ν stayed perfectly still on the outskirts of A Boa Qu, waiting for its time to strike.  
 

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“What the hell!” Spider spat out as he came back into the lobby of his mansion. Hunter perked up at the words wondering if the jig was up. It was moments like that he was glad for his mask, so his face didn’t give away his expressions so easily. “What’s the matter?” Aker asked with alarm.

In response the hacker pulled up his menu and threw up a video onto the nearest wall. The feed was outside in space, it showed a lone brown Gundam floating off in the distance. The machine was motionless as it studied its surroundings. “I guess you are special aren’t you?” Spider sneered as he glared at Hunter accusingly.

Despite himself, Aker’s fingers twitched in response, but he shifted in his seat just slightly sitting up, “Is that? Is that a bounty hunter? Did someone track me from being logged on just this long? It’s been months!” It was the best acting he could muster, Aker just hoped the slimy dealer would buy it.

Spider stole a long moment just looking at his guest. Finally, the strange man finally smirked, “You just might be worth the trouble then huh?” Then without any explanation he reached for another command on his menu. “No matter my friend! It’s not often I get to use my expensive defenses! How about we sit back, relax, and enjoy the show?”

Aker allowed himself a smirk and nodded, relaxing even on the plush cushion. While spider was distracted, Aker discreetly toggled another option on his own menu. “I assume you’re talking about those statues I saw outside? What’s their story?”

Obviously, the hacker was enjoying the showmanship as he gloated, “You have a fine eye ‘White Disruptor’! You’re right those are much more than just statues!” As he spoke the feed changed to the outside of the castle and showed the colors on the statues fading into a much more vivid existence. “Those four are customized Gundam units with top tier NPD pilots!” He raised a finger to add an additional detail, “They’ve been beefed up by my very own Vemon Drives as well!”

Aker snapped to his feet in alarm, “What do you mean? You can make NPDs use those?” He clenched his fists trying to control his emotions, he recalled the sickening feeling he felt just being around one, he couldn’t imagine how an NPD would react to one of those drives.

Spider was unfazed by outburst and chuckled, “Oh yes! With my modifications those four machines could truly be unstoppable!”

Wade! Aker silently pleaded, please last a little bit longer without me! I’ll be there soon! He just needed a few more minutes to get this bastard right where he wanted him. 

——

One by one the four machines fully colorized into their appropriate shades. "This is Quattro Bajeena, Hiyaki Shiki Rebake launching!”

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“Wing Gundam Unite! Herro Yui! Mission accepted!”

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“Mu La Flaga! Lightning Strike Freedom taking off!

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“ Mikazuki Agus, Barbatos Lupus Regent lets do this!”

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All the pilot NPD’s eyes glowed purple and an aura seemed to emanate from each pilot. The took off in a formation, heading towards the designated threat, unable to think or behave beyond what they were intended to do now, destroy.

It was the Strike that got within striking distance first and it fired a burst from its’ chest cannon towards Wade’s machine first. The Barbatos floated by the Strike with its’ buster sword poised for action but standing by. The other two machines flew out wide to flank the intruder, poising their weapons to strike. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

“It might get hairy in there,” Ray looked over at Amelia sitting at the terminal next to his as he placed the freshly finished model on the scanner. He had had to work fast to get it done in time for this mission, but together they made short work of it. The paint was still a little wet, but it was nevertheless combat ready.

“Hairy is my middle name,” Amelia said, setting down her new model as well.

Ray grimaced. “I certainly hope not,”

“Oh lighten up and get in there,”

“Right,”

--

 “So…this is the spider’s nest,” Icarus said to himself as he and Million materialized in the space outside the massive, modified A Bao Qu. “I’ll admit, it’s impressive. A lot bigger than I thought it would be,”

“It’s nothing we can’t handle, Ick,” Million said, keeping pace with him in the XX00, her new gunpla. “Let’s link up with Wade—it says he’s here already,”

 

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“Good idea,” Icarus scanned the space around him, looking for the Nu Origin. Instead, he spotted a new machine—a new machine that was coming under attack by a very strange looking Strike Gundam.

“Looks like we’re a little late, Mill—keep an eye open and follow me,” Icarus’s hands danced across the controls, gripping the thruster slide and pushing it to max. The rear vernier thrusters opened up and flung the Gundam towards his leader. Icarus’s grip tightened on the controls. The speed this new machine was unimaginable, faster than even the Tallgeese QUEST and with more armor to boot. So fast was Icarus’s new gundam that it allowed him to interpose himself between the Strike and the Hi-Nu Leader, absorbing the blast from the Strike’s cannon with its shoulder mounted shield.

“Sorry I kept you waiting, boss,” Icarus smirked as the smoke faded around his Gundam. “I had to get a few things ready. Now, what say you take the Strike and I’ll take that Barbatos over there?”

The Gundam reached over its shoulder, drawing its Excalibur anti-ship sword and pointing it towards the Barbatos Regent.

“Let’s squash this spider, Gundam Alastor!”

 

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Out of no where a brilliant golden stream of energy coursed across the battlefield and was finally deflected by the Hiyaku Shiki with its’ reflective armor. The energy sputtered around like an acrid fog and the NPDs did take pause to consider the source.

Floating above all the combatants was a new mobile suit that no one had seen before.

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The newcomer hailed the members of Fluers De Noblesse, “How about we make this an even fight?” The Freedom Variant seemed to peer at Wade, “No time for fancy introductions, the name is Marco Creed, and our friend asked if I can help you guys out! Lead the way and I’ll provide backup! Liberty Freedom lets do this!”

 

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The Wing Gundam set its sights on almost every enemy it had, aiming the massive minigun to spray and pray. A steady stream of bullets came, but they never reached a target. Several gold panels deflected the bullets immediately, causing the Wing to stop.

“If you wanted to fight like a chump, you should’ve done it without the Charudim on standby!”

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“Long time no see, Wade! I almost wasn’t going to make it.” Kyle O’Connor said through the comms. “You’re lucky I met up with my... ‘friend’ in the Freedom here. It’s a long story.” The Lockon fanboy launched his regular funnels off of his pack, sending golden blasts at the Wing combination. “You know, I’m getting real tired of the stakes this game has put on me.” Charo spun as he heard this. “Shut up! Battle! Shut up! Battle!” 

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I can’t believe this…

He had been dragged into another fight that wasn’t his, all because some two-bit mob-punk thought he could hone in on ZAPP territory.

Even Creed is here…who the hell even are these guys?

“FEAR NOT, COMRADES! THE ORIOLE TAKES FLIGHT ONCE MORE! LET ITS GOLDEN LIGHT WASH AWAY THE FILTHY STAINS OF DARKNESS THAT HAVE SET THEMSELVES AGAINST THE THREADS OF THIS GLORIOUS GAME!”

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Apollo steered the Oriole next to Creed’s Freedom Gundam and let it hover next to it.

“Fancy seeing you here, old timer,” Apollo said, hailing Creed separately. “I thought you’d have retired by now,”

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Wade couldn’t believe it! The amount of people showing up was much more than he had anticipated. Kyle wasn’t too much of a shock, (Although the Fleurs Leader did wish the annoying Charo would have been tossed aside by this point) but once the other Gunpla began to show, his demeanor brightened. “I... I can’t believe it.” The Hi-ν continued pointing at the Buster Rifle at the Strike, although it proceeded to look around him.

“Alright.” Wade’s smile faded as he got more serious, contacting the entire group. “We outnumber them, but that doesn’t mean we can treat them like a joke.” He glanced over to his charging terminal. “We don’t know what else could show up, so pick your targets and be quick.” The brown Gunpla tightened its grip on the weapon. “They have no idea who they’re messing with! Fleurs De Noblesse NEVER BACKS DOWN!”

brrrrrrrrEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHH

Wade Lincoln created the biggest laser blast he possibly could with the powerful rifle, all thanks to the Real Grade’s strength. Even if Mu... pulled a Mu and tried to stop it, there was no stopping the aftereffects from the blast heading toward the gigantic lunar base.

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“What the-!” Spider grumbled as more and more divers suddenly appeared at his proverbial doorstep. “Just what the hell is going on here?” As he asked, he spun on his heel to glare at the fugitive diver who remained poised on the sofa and only tilted his head in response.

Gabriel glared right back at Spider, “You know, I’ve done some shady things in my past. But you take things too far, even for me.” The words caused the hacker to fully turn and regard Gabriel. “You not only bullied people, but you’ve threatened them beyond this digital world. To put it simply… You’ve actually hurt people.” There was a queer tone in Gabriel’s voice, almost as if he admired that simple fact. Standing up, the pseudo EL diver walked up to the crook. “Everything isn’t what you think it is spider… today is the day when you have your world turned upside down.”

For a long moment the two men glared at each other, it was spider who broke into a toothy grin and laughed, “Is that what this really is? A shake down?” Shaking his head, Spider reached up for his menu to press in a few more commands. Gabriel flinched but didn’t stop him, “That’s right…” Gabe taunted back, “Pull out all your tricks. I want you to know that you gave it your all right before you fall.”

Spider did flinch at this taunt, “Just who the hell do you think you are Disruptor? Hmm? You think taking me out will somehow fill your karma and let you walk around normal on the servers? I’ll be back next week with a new tag and hardly any repercussions you realize that right? This is meaningless ego stroking on your behalf!”

The hollow words made Gabriel smirk and he shook his head even as Spider retorted. Leaning in close the EL diver replied, “You better start paying attention…” Pausing he looked around and noticed a horde of Zakus begin flying out from the Zeon base. Still smiling he added, “This is the end of you Spider.” Just then a brilliant blast of energy splattered across the entire nest. Explosions erupted all around them outside the bubble. As if to accent his point, Gabriel pointed upwards as if indicating the source of the blast. “Don’t hold back.” He chided calmly as he put his arms behind his back to glance up at the growing battle, the notion inviting Spider to do so as well. The crook not daring to object to his strange guest.

----

Wade’s blast was indeed impressive and did deal massive damage on the base. But it was intercepted by the Barbatos, the nanolament armor causing the blast to splatter out behind the lone Gundam as it tried to “cut” the beam with its’ massive buster sword. Mikazuki growled in alarm as his mobile suit alone took the blast and shook violently from the attack. Catching his breath, he realized that his suit had taken damage from the beam albeit it spread out through his entire suit. “That stung.” He stated flatly. The Barbatos seemed stunned and floated motionless with its’ sword at the ready.

In response to the attack, a steam of bullets arced out towards the Hi-v Leader. The Wing Gundam came up fast and tried to flank Wade with its’ barrage of bullets.  “You won’t get through!” Heero promised as he begun his attack.

The Lighting Strike Freedom flew in towards XXOO and leveled its’ beam pistols and rail guns at Million. “Those look like my colors!” piped Mu as he opened fire.

Meanwhile the Hiyaku Shiki flared its thrusters and level its beam rifles at Marco who merely smirked as he traded fired with the AEUG mobile suit. The Liberty Freedom bore its’ own buster rifle at the enemy and took a moment to aim another powerful blast at the foe, “there’s only so much you’re able to take!” Marco promised as he moved in closer to engage.

As the four “Guardians” attacked a wave of mobile suits could be seen flowing out of the nest, all Zakus and all gearing to engage the nearly arrived intruders.

----

Meer sat in a booth of one of the lobby’s many cafés. She sat alone and sipped her drink as she mulled over the exact words she would send to Shinn and Stella. “It was fun while it lasted. But I don’t think I can stay with the SCC. I realize now that I need time to be on my own. I hope we can still be friends and I can’t think you enough for everything you’ve both done for me.” She mumbled as she read back her own words aloud. Sighing, she shook her head and slumped back in her seat. She didn’t know why it had to feel so hard to leave them, but deep down she knew it was the right thing to do. “Ever since Gabriel…” she muttered.

Just then a notification popped up in her menu and she tilted her head to see a message “A Battle For Everyone – Take Down The Hackers!” Furrowing her brow in confusion, she clicked on the message and was startled as a video feed popped up. She gazed around her to see if anyone was paying attention to what she was doing, but then realized that the other patrons were similarly opening up the same message, the same video.

Slowly her attention returned to her own floating video screen and she gasped, “Gabe!”

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Icarus watched at the Barbatos juked out of the way in order to intercept the blast from Wade’s buster cannons, wrenching the controls of the Alastor to pursue it as quickly as he could while keeping out of the beams’ line of fire.

“That’s some fancy armor you’ve got there,” Icarus smirked. “Doesn’t look like a beam blade will do much, but even if it can’t cut you, this sword still has some use!” The Alastor brought the Excalibur Anti-ship sword back and then swung it like a baseball bat at the side of the Barbatos, driving its solid, weighty edge into the torso of the Tekkadan suit. “I know you IBO guys like to get physical, after all!”

--

Million had been busy fending off some of the incoming Zakus when Mu La Flaga, the Hawk of Endymion, engaged.

She had just finished slicing through one of the ill-fated NPD grunts when the Lightning Strike appeared before her, visible through the newly created horizontal slash in the Zaku.

“Wahh!” Million cried, reversing the XX00 away from the Gundam with as much thrust as she could muster. “Where the heck did you come from?” As the Strike charged its salvo, Million realized the grave oversight she had made in designing the XX00—it didn’t have a shield.

Oh crap!

There was no time to dodge either. This custom Strike was speedy and had taken advantage of her being distracted by the NPD grunts in order to close the distance and catch her off guard.

“It can’t be over for me that quickly—I can’t let these guys down!” Million clenched her teeth, watching as the beams released.

“Fear not, fair maiden!” a voice called out over her comms. “I shall shield you from this twisted visage of a hero!”

A great, pink wall interposed itself between the XX00 and the Lightning Strike, absorbing the full burst that had marked her suit for destruction.

“Huh? Huh!?

 

--

Behind the golden shield of his mask, Apollo scowled. This fight had barely started and already he had to save someone’s ass. He didn’t even want to be here—he knew it was going to be a drag—but the bosses insisted, especially since Creed was here.
 

Worse yet, this Spider guy went and ruined Mu La Flaga.

Mu was his favourite and served as a template for the hero that Apollo played. A man who could make the impossible possible. The ultimate gundam pilot. So, when the Shooting Star Diver had seen this twisted version of his favourite character try to get an underhanded drop on one of his so-called allies, Apollo knew it was up to him to put a stop to it. He had activated the Oriole’s Minovsky Drive and spread its Wings of Light wide around the XX00, sheltering it from harm for the time being.

“Leave this one to me, madam,” he said to her, spinning the Oriole’s lance in its hands as he retracted the wings and arrived beside her. “I have a personal score to settle here,”

--

Million looked at the black gundam that appeared next to her.

“Uh, sure dude,” she said. She had no idea who this guy was but he seemed to be a role-player and he seemed to have some kind of grudge against the Strike. “He’s all yours,”

The XX00 pulled away, leaving the Oriole to stare down the Lightning Strike alone, watching on her cameras as the two units began their combat, Apollo’s gundam trying to push his advantage by getting in close with the lance. Feeling that the situation was in good hands, Million turned her attention back to the Zakus in need of culling.

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"Watch it!" The annoyed Fleurs leader blew backwards at the Wing's machine gun blasts. Strangely, the two held the exact same gatling loadout, causing Wade to retaliate with his. "You wanna fight! Let's fight!" What seemed like thousands of bullets went toward the two mobile suits, with some even directly hitting each other. With no shield, Wade could only do so much to dodge the attacks. One small mistake could lead to catastrophe though, causing the Diver to clinch his controls tightly in an attempt to not be out of the game in such an important battle.

"Zaku! Zaku!" 

Zaku.thumb.jpg.afe8683738d44caabdcbdc4c17731a16.jpg

Charo attempted to count the massive display of mobile suits, only for its eyes to become swirly from the sheer size. "So... More than a couple." Kyle stated, launching both of his funnels. The Charudim got into a long ranged position as the remote controlled weapons began firing upon the enemy Gunpla. One by one, gray machines began exploding in the distance, but a few managed to sneak through, firing missiles upon the red mobile suits position. "Come on grunts! Be better than that!" Using his brand new rifle, Kyle quickly shot down each of the Zaku's missiles, only for more mobile suits to come out of the smoke.

"Sheesh! This guy must be loaded to have all of these! Time to lessen his net worth...Targeted and firing...everywhere!"

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The Liberty Freedom came in hard at the Zeta era suit. Marco fired blasts consecutively at the shiny mobile suit only for it to be stunned at best or distracted. “That’s fine!” Marco called out as he got in close. “I was hoping for an excuse to use this!” He howled as the tossed the buster rifle aside and drew out a sword mace from his back. Shiki brough up its blades to block the attack but the force was startling as Marco hit hard with the massive sword. 

Sensing that his opponent was rattled, a toothy grin grew on Marco’s lips. “Don’t like that?” Before Quattro could bring his weapons around for a counter, the Freedom was already transitioning into another attack. This time the Sword mace slipped off the blocked weapons and cocked to the side before coming in hard for the left side of the Hiyaku Shiki. 

The shiny suit didn’t know how to react as the heavy weapon came in hard and fast. The sword mace was efficient at crumpling the side of the cockpit. An incoherent burst of a transmission erupted from the suit, which Marco took as a good sign. His hopes were affirmed as the suit remained inert for a heartbeat. Marco tried to pry his weapon free but sensed danger coming from multiple Zakus. Sure enough streams of bullets rained in to pelt against his Phase Shift Armor. “Cute!” Marco scoffed as he took note of how many enemies were attacking. “But you’ll have to do better than that!” 

The wings of the Liberty Freedom suddenly shattered apart and went flying in chaotic directions. A second later a burst of green beam fire pulsed through the void like a camera flash and all the Zakus went limp in his immediate vicinity. 

“Much better!” Marco chided as he finally pulled the weapon free. He put the weapon away on his back along with all his Dragoon bits. Recovering his buster rifle, Marco went looking for a new enemies. The ZAPP agent didn’t have to go far before seeing another company logo fighting the Lightning Strike. “Hmm this fool again…” Marco muttered, “Why is he always following me around like a shadow?” Even as he asked the question he found himself drifting his barrel up to aim at the pair fighting. “Would it be such a bad thing if I take him down a notch right now?” He mused as he found his aiming reticle lining up. “I wonder…” He mused as he thought of the situation as a whole. “Does he even know what Hunter is?” If Apollo knew the whole story then it could be problematic having the other ZAPP employee around. 

——

Sensing the challenge being offered Mu chuckled and put one of his beam pistols away do draw a beam saber out. Just like his original target Mu too had the problem of not really having a shield, the trade off being that he had to attack fast and hard constantly to keep his foes off balance. He kept sending waves of rail and beam shots as this newcomer and juked around to try any get an angle on his enemy. Even as the lance came in Mu did his best to maintain his distance. Despite himself Apollo’s weapon did hit his left leg, severing the limb at the knee. “You bastard! I’ll show you!’ He swung down with his beam saber hoping to tie the lance up, even as he leveled the beam pistol to shoot in towards any opening he could make. 

——

Mika tried to react to the incoming attack from Icarus, but Barbatos was still far too stunned from Wade’s incredible attack to move. Much like Marco’s attack the Antiship sword went past the feebly poised buster sword to smack in hard for the Gundam’s side. The attack sent parts of the left arm, and buster sword, exploding into space the the entire mobile suit into a dive of sorts with debris and smoke trailing from the attack.

It was perhaps the lack of gravity and the dullness of the attack which saved Mika yet again from a certain demise. “C’mon Barbatos!” Mika growled out and in response the eyes of the Gundam suddenly flashed an angry purple. The inert suit suddenly twitched as if finally getting out of a stupor and with sudden ferocity the blade of the tail shot back at Icarus to bat the sword aside. “Now you’ve pissed me off.” Mika warned flatly as his Gundam arched its back and flared its’ thrusters to balance out. Barbatos then launched itself at the Alastor Gundam, left arm cocked out ready for a clawed swipe. 

——

As the Wing Unite traded bullets with the Hi-V Heero was getting frustrated. Bullets alone would only do so much damage between the two and it was merely a war of attrition. He tried to fold I one of his wings to defend against the barrage and decided to make a move before he ran out of bullets. Suddenly he lurched forward, tossing the gattling gun to the side and reaching behind to pull out the telescoping hilt of a beam Trident. 

Quick as lightning he was ontop of Wade, wings erupting back out, creating a smoke cloud. The emerald tri-tip of the weapon darted in past the cloud to go in for the Fleur’s leader. Besides being battered by bullets the Wing Unite was still very much a serious threat. 

——

Spider grimaced as he watched the swarm of Zaku’s and NPDs clash with the smaller diver force of Fluers de Noblesse. Despite himself he felt suddenly unsure if the numbers alone would be enough. The hacker turned on his heel to regard Gabriel who stood still as if dumbfounded by the clash of force. 

“What makes you think you can win?” The small man suddenly asked. 

Hunter calmly looked down to regard Spider, the small but confident smile never leaving his lips. He simply stared at the hacker for a long moment, an act which had the smaller man trembling with rage, “Why? What makes you think you’re better than me?” 

Again Gabriel took a long moment before pursing his lips to reply, “It’s simple really…” His eyes drifted back up to the popping bubbles of light in the stars then drifted back down to the hacker. “We’ll win because we’re Fluers de Noblesse… We’ll win…” he held up a finger to silence the shaking hacker, “We’ll win because we believe and trust each other. Which is more than you are clearly capable of doing.” 

The asinine answer was more than Spider could take. Trembling with rage and disgust the hacker brought his arm up to raise his menu and glared at Hunter one more time, seeing if the other man would stop him. Laughter grew in his belly at that moment, “Alright! Enough messing around! I’ll show you everything! You’ll change your tune when you see what you’re really up against!”

Spider’s finger nearly missed the button as he pressed the option to activate his mobile suit. The hacker lifted his arms up and held them out wide as the wiry lines of a frame slowly traced around his body and grew exponentially. The building began to shake and crumble as the slimy hacker grew, tearing down his own place. 

The action wasn’t totally unexpected but it forced Gabriel to do the same, “8 now! Let’s do this!” He ordered and his own suit began to materialize as well. He was barely in the cockpit when a violent force sent the Noblesse Gundam stumbling backward, bringing down walls of the castle they were just standing in. Looking up Hunter saw what it was and grimaced at the visage before him.

52646DBD-8A32-44E1-975E-4A9AD8C14E17.png.28b8cdede1e1dd3fe20b91789e8a1715.png

“No please have a seat I insist! You are my guest after all!” Spider teased from the cockpit of his mobile suit. “Let me show you that you aren’t the only one with skill Disruptor! Arachnid Ronin! Venom drive activate!”

Gabriel looked on in horror as the mobile suit glowed an angry red, the light seemingly more brilliant than any Trans Am he had ever witnessed. The concussive wave from the activation sent more debris crumbling over Noblesse burying him more. Indeed the Arachnid Ronin glowed like a tiny red star. Even more startling was how quickly the mobile suit zipped away towards his friends. “That monster!” Gabriel groaned as he worked to get out of the rubble. Even at full thrust he doubted he could catch up quickly with Spider. 

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  • 1 month later...

The Lightning Strike was fast, but the Oriole was ready, aided by the shielding qualities of its Wings of Light, which absorbed the Seed suit’s projectiles with relative ease.

“Show me what, exactly!?” Apollo roared back as he abandoned the lance and evaded backwards. “That you’re just the lesser version of a mobile suit legend? With moves like that, I’d be inclined to believe you!” The Oriole, free of its somewhat cumbersome main weapon, reached for its pair of GN Sword 2s and combined them at the hilts into a beam glaive.

“A true hero is never without a backup plan! Now, let me show you—your demise!”

With a mighty flap of magenta wings, the Oriole shot forward blade first, aiming directly for the cockpit of Mu’s suit.

“In a single stroke, I will cleave through and reveal my own path to victory!”

--

For a moment, Icarus thought he had won—but he should’ve known better. Rare were the occasions when triumph came so easily, especially to him. The arm of the Barbatos shattered apart, the strike disabling its sword in the process, and Icarus let out a cheer that was quickly stifled by the Gundam’s tail blade lashing out at him, divesting him of his own sword.

No!

Icarus clutched the controls as his mobile suit rattled and shook around him. The enemy’s eyes turned purple and the Alastor’s pilot swore under his breath.

Yeah, of course they’d have those…

The Lupus Regent swiped at him with its claw, tearing a huge gash across the front of the Alastor that let the NPD combo into a series of more slashes as Icarus’s guard was broken. The Alastor was fast when it had the space to get going—but up close? It’s heavy armor could take a hit but going fast wasn’t an option…yet.

“I still have a trick up my sleeve, kid!” he cried as his hand’s flew across his controls and landed on the button he’d been saving for an emergency. “I can go beyond!”

A bright light flashed out from behind the seams of the Alastor, followed by a shockwave that stunned the Barbatos as chunks of armor flew out and collided with it. Where the Alastor once stood was now a much slimmer looking machine. This Gundam shot forward and sent a fist directly into the head of the Barbatos.

image4.png

“I call this one Zeus, by the way,” The Gundam rolled off of the Lupus Regent, dashed backwards, and fired a single shot from its dober gun aimed directly at the cockpit.

 

Edited by Judge
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      “Oh my! You’ve heard of me then?”
      The boy grew a toothy smile, “I think everyone’s heard of you Lacus! But where are my manners?” He tucked the tools away on his belt and reached out with a gloved hand, “My name is Jonathan Locke!”
      Lacus smiled at the offer and shook his hand, she looked around the empty looking shuttle she was aboard. Reading her expression, he nodded, “Yup its just me and you! This is fortunate circumstances; I was on my way to the Plants. Maybe now they’ll accept me if I help take you home!”
      “Accept you?” she asked curiously. Jonathan smiled as he returned back to the controls. “Yeah! You see I was in the middle of…” he scratched his chin to think of the right word, “well… I was fleeing my father… to try and immigrate to the Plants.”
      She cautiously followed and took the seat next to him, “Oh my! Why are you fleeing your father Mr. Locke?”
      Jonathan smirked some at her politeness but continued instead of trying to correct her. “He’s an Admiral for the Earth Alliance. Let’s just say we don’t see eye to eye… on account of me being a coordinator, much like yourself!” He gave her a friendly smile at the end of his declaration, and she returned the gesture. “Just sit tight Ms. Clyne and I’ll get you back home as soon as I can!”
      The singer lit up at his promise, “We would very much appreciate that Mr. Locke! And I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you’re welcome in your new homeland!”
      Jonathan smiled back at her, “I can’t thank you enough!”
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