“I need more. I need you all to push me further. Strain me to my absolute limit and reaffirm my will to live!” The voice practically begged over the in intercom of its’ black mobile suit. Even as the pilot asked it was clear that their opponent could offer no such obligation.
Shinn gasped in shock as the monitors inside his virtual cockpit shattered into thousands of pieces. Of course the shards couldn’t hurt him, but that didn’t stop him from reaching out in front of himself to try and stop the debris from hitting his avatar. “Just who the hell are you?”
There was a strange rasping laugh that echoed in the open air between his Golden Destiny Gundam and the black mobile suit that was now in front of him. “What does it matter?’ The voice taunted back as it reached forward to claw at the cracked cockpit. Shinn yelled in fear, “What are you doing?” The Golden Destiny tried to swat the invasive arms away only for the dominate black suit to bat the weak limbs away. In mere moments the Diver was soon being held in the clawed hand of the black mobile suit.
Of course this was all virtual, but it was no less terrifying, no less disturbing. “Dude! You’re not going to get any points for shooting me down this way!”
The arm holding the diver suddenly shot forward and into the side of a cliff, rocks showering down over the dazzled diver. He wanted to log off at this point but couldn’t virtually reach up to access his menu. Shinn was by all accounts a pretty good Diver. He had taken on some pretty tough opponents and won. His colleagues respected him and his talents. But this fellow, this monster in front of him, had no respect.
In a low grumble the black Gundam spoke and peered closer, “Who said anything about points? No, let this be a warning… Log off and never come back on. Do I make myself clear?”
Shinn scoffed at the preposterous demand, “Just what the hell are you talking about? You’ll be lucky if I don’t report you to the administration!”
“Joseph Wagner, 3224 West Raindrop Drive…”
Despite himself, the diver gasped and looked upon the terrible machine with a tint of fear over his face. The two stared back for a long while before Shinn, or rather Joseph, gave a small but distinct nod of understanding.
“I will tell you this much…” Even as the black mobile suit spoke it hoisted the helpless Shinn around like a rag doll. “The name is Dantes.” With that simple declaration the black mobile suit suddenly twitched its’ thumb to cause the enemy pilot to dematerialize out of the battlefield in defeat.
“What would you do if you lost her?” Gabriel licked his lips as he asked the question to his impromptu companion. True to their nature the tall man stood up straighter, as if that very notion was impossible to consider. Carefully Zechs searched for a proper answer, “Noin is her own person… it’s not my place to claim ownership over her.”
Despite himself Gabriel chortled at the predictable response before leaning heavier on the railing they were standing next to. The vista of a European countryside was breathtaking before them as the sun sank lower on the horizon. The Psuedo EL Diver wore a peculiar outfit, a mash up of a Phantom Pain uniform with the color and edges of the sleeves flared red, almost like a mix with a Titans uniform.
“I didn’t claim that you did.” Retorted Gabriel with a self deprecating chuckle, “that doesn’t excuse any feelings you may have for her. She is a remarkable woman after all. No, no one can dictate your feelings and how you care about another.” He stared off longingly at the brilliant streaks of orange as they peaked past the low clouds. “What I want to know is, what would Zechs Marquis do to anyone who wronged the woman he loves?”
Gabriel could tell his words struck a nerve as the taller pilot glared at him with that metallic helmet. For a long while the Oz pilot said nothing, a notion that confirmed the words Gabriel spoke, and detailed volumes as to the length the pilot would do for vengeance.
“Or should I be calling you Milliardo?”
Now it was Zechs who scoffed as the pilot casually joined in the gaze at the horizon to mirror Gabriel’s posture. “Heh, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” The man calmly replied as he studied the horizon.
Chuckling Gabriel replied, “Look its fine, like I told you. I know more about you than you about me right now. That’s a big reason why we’re talking-“
“Then just get to the point.” Zechs muttered, though his tone was more restless than annoyed. Clearly the noble soldier was caught somewhere between intrigue and alarm, right where Gabriel wanted him.
“I can’t fully explain the situation right now unfortunately.” Gabriel shifted as he reached into his pocket for something. “All I need to know is that you would do what it takes to protect those that matter to you… and I think you’ve given me the answer I was expecting.”
Zechs stood back up to study the shorter man and attempted to glare at him through his mask. Gabriel stood up to look back at the gifted soldier, “Allow me to free you…” Zechs’ eyes widened in alarm as the Diver pulled out a weapon of some sort and shoved it into the Oz soldier’s chest.
“This is GBN Deep Dives with your scoop on the comings and goings of your Gundam Battle Network!’
The voice was being projected onto the main displays of the lobby. Most of the divers didn’t normally pay the news channel any heed, but lately it had been more relevant than ever. Many groups of divers now paused to regard the multiple screens of the cute new anchor dressed with bunny ears and purple hair. Among the spectators was a young diver by the name of Casval Creed, who stood awestruck by a fountain as he watched the highlight reel begin to play.
“The Force simply known as Dantes has struck again! Within the last two weeks this relatively unknown force as quickly climbed the ranks at an astonishing pace! They are now slated to be within the top five Forces in the entire network. What makes this all the more incredible is that there has only been one reported Gunpla at every one of their team battles!”
The video snapped to a clip of the black mobile suit as it stood within the flaming wreckage of an opposing Force. The scheme was a matte black, with chrome and red metal highlights across the body of the mobile suit. On the left shoulder was the stylized emblem of Dantes; a red outlined rapier that pointed down to the left and seemed to merge into a wolf’s head on the pommel and handle on the upper right. The make of the suit itself seemed hard to discern other than it being a unique take on the Gundam Vidar, if even that.
Casval whistled low as he saw the stats of Dantes pop up on the screen next. It was an impressive record for a force simply composed of one. His own small force had been doing pretty well in recent dealings as well, but no where compared to the climb Dantes had. For being made around the same time it was astonishing to see what one could do so quickly. He smiled as he considered his team of Sayla and Meer. The trio worked quite well as a team and he hoped that the Force simply known as Allegiance would keep on its’ steady course as well.
“In other news, there is yet another reported case of a missing person who was last seen logged into GBN just a few days ago. As always if you have any information regarding the missing individuals please contact the administration who will work with local law enforcement to –“
Casval stopped listening as he brought up his menu and loaded up a new mission. He was feeling a little out of practice and was itching for a fight. He saw his chance when a battle royal popped up. “Maybe I’ll get some sweet loot for competing in this…” he mused as he clicked “join”.
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.
Full name Zhane Tan
Height: 6 foot
Weight: 155 pounds
Ingame name: Lucky
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.
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.
Gunpla #1: XXAGET-01X105-2DB Gundam Deathstrike Bullet
Gunpla #2: XXXGAT-X10201H Gundam Duel Heavy
Gunpla #3: RXGN-001OP Prime Gundam
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.
“So, this is Orb,” Lowell looked out across the sandy, sunlit beach as azures waves as crisp as crystal crashed against the shore, ticking his sandaled feet. He shaded his eyes against the sun. Even with sunglasses and shorts it was too bright, too hot. It was same thing he disliked about the desert when he was stationed there. The ZAFT pilot much preferred the climate-controlled PLANTs to actual atmosphere and all that came with it.
Behind him, some meters away, Renato Masters was sitting at an outdoor bar, shaded by the palm-frond thatching and sipping on a deep orange Mai Tai. He was watching Lowell as he trudged his way back up towards the bar and took a seat next to him. Renato had gone to the trouble of ordering him a similarly vibrant drink.
“It’s very…blue,” Lowell said, picking up the sweaty glass and observing the miniature novelty umbrella wedged between the ice within.
“It’s called a Blue Hawaiian,” Ren informed him, sipping his own drink. “Give it a try, you’ll like it. It’s fruity,”
“Wolf Squad really is lucky to have its own former mixologist on board,” Lowell said, sipping at the drink. It was indeed very fruity and very alcoholic. Lowell set it back down and looked out towards the ocean. He wasn’t fully sure why such a natural thing unnerved him—perhaps it was because it was so like space but yet completely alien, ironically. Boundless and vast. “Do you ever miss your place?”
“What, the bar?” Ren quirked a brow. “Sure, every day. But this is more important I think, don’t you? If we don’t fight here and now, there might not be a bar to miss, you know? Besides, it’s in good hand. My little sister is running the place until I get back and I swear she knows more about business than I do. She’ll probably have bought me out by the time this is all over and then I’ll have to find a new job or become a lifer or something,” Ren chuckled and took another drag of his Mai Tai. Lowell smiled softly and then turned his eyes back to his drink, contemplated it.
“There’s that look again,” Ren said, lightly pushing his commander’s shoulder. “You’re stressing yourself out again,”
“No, no,” Lowell smiled. “Just thinking about things back home that’s all,” a silent moment passed between the two as a warm, tropical wind blew through the cabana. Quietly, Lowell made a decision for himself. “Enjoy yourself, Ren. I’m going to head into town to do some looking around but I don’t think it’s a two person job,”
“Hey, you’re the boss, Lowell,” Ren grinned. “You say drink, I say how much,”
Lowell’s rent-a-car slowed to a crawl as he brought it to the side of the road, cursing his bad fortune. He knew he shouldn’t have cheaped out on the rental, but with the amount that Ren was likely to be drinking today, he didn’t want to run up too much of a charge on the unit funds. The smoke coming out from under the hood was dire, but after being in a mobile suit, no amount of minor vehicular disrepair could faze him. It did, however, greatly inconvenience him. His personal phone wasn’t exactly on an Earth plan. Lowell exhaled through pursed lips, his hands on his hips. Of course he broke down on a country road outside of the city. He could even see it in the distance, but he wasn’t exactly looking forward to walking several kilometers in sandals.
Lowell leaned up against the side of the car and folded his arms across his chest as he tried to think of a plan, when a plume of dust on the horizon caught his eye.
“Oh! Hey!” he cried out, waving his hands up over his head in hopes of flagging down this oncoming driver.