Jump to content

Winter’s Counter Attack


Roromi
 Share

Recommended Posts

“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”. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“I hereby resign my position from this board.” 

There it was just like that, a great weight lifted off of Marco’s chest at the revelation and he found himself letting out a shaking sigh of relief. He looked around at the dumbfounded expressions the other board members glared at him. Nodding he added, “I’ll be taking my leave immediately, thank you for all the opportunities you have given me.” He offered a deep bow then stood up and left the board room. 

Just like that, he was down with ZAPP. There was a chorus of murmurs and other words that Followed Marco out the door but he didn’t stop. He needed to distance himself from the former coworkers and employers, both physically and professionally. For too long he had remained at the company, and for what? Loyalty? 

Loyalty wasn’t a two way street, while he had been the poster boy for the company for so long it was evident that they were growing distant from him, in more ways than one. The biggest schism forming was the topic of Gabriel Winter. Marco was by far the biggest proponent of the AI, his only real advocate on the board of directors. But Marco’s calls were becoming increasingly dull in the eyes of the greedy board members who looked at dollar signs and their pockets in much the same light. 

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that their time was up, and Marco could see the writing on the wall. While there was speculation about him leaving the company for some time, it was a shock to have him so suddenly resign, and at a board meeting no less. 

A vibration in his pocket had Marco pulling out his phone to read the text, “Is it done?”

He looked around as he got in the elevator alone then replied, “Yeah, I just did it. I hope you know what you’re doing! They’ll have all my permissions revoked within the hour undoubtably.”

“Don’t worry yourself about me. Just take care of yourself and your family.”

Marco paused as he read the last line. Over the last few months he had grown closer to this particular “coworker” and he couldn’t think of them as just another stranger. He would never admit it, but in many ways Gabriel had acted like another son to him. “I will, please let me know if there is anything I can do for you? I can go public if you want.” 

“No, you’ve done more than enough. Trust me and just protect yourself…. Thanks.”

Marco slide the phone away as he reached the ground floor. He walked out of ZAPP headquarters with his head held high, the first time in months. 

——

A few days had passed since Casval was last online. There was a tricky school project he had to focus on and he was glad that it was finally out of the way. To compound to his stress, his father came home that evening and said that he had resigned from ZAPP. Of course he was worried about what they would do for money but his parents assured him that they were better off than most people and would be fine for the next few months. It was time for him to unwind. 

Sitting in his gaming rig he propped up his beloved Red Frame on the Gunpla scanner then sat back in his chair and pulled down his visor. Within a few heartbeats he was standing in the virtual lobby, bustling with multiple people walking around him. 

He quickly checked his friends list to see if any were on line. A few names showed they were in missions but his eyes quickly looked for Meer above all the other ones. No joy, she wasn’t online. Over the last few months they had gotten closer, well him along with his sister. He’d be lying if he said he didn’t find the other girl interesting, and she didn’t exactly shun him away yet. It rarely happened, but he would occasionally get solo time with the other diver and if he as being honest that was what he was hoping for at that moment. She wasn’t online though. 

“Time to train then…” he mused as he resigned that being a stronger diver would be the only way to impress the clan mate. He scrolled through his missions until he saw a particularly promising one. It was simply titled, “A meaningless battle.” He clicked on the option and waited for his cockpit and reality to shift around him. 

He was in space, with streaks of bullets and beams arcing around the void to distant targets. A horizon was defined before him in the shape of a huge lurking battleship, entwined with an equally large battle station. Libra and Peacemillion embraced in a near stalemate as Earth loomed behind Casval’s back. Before the young diver was a single red and black mobile suit, wielding a large emerald beam sword and a long metallic whip. It was the Epyon.

“I’ve been waiting for you… there is no stopping Libra now. The earth will be consumed in a never ending winter.” 

Casual grinned as he reached not for Gerbera Straight but for a beam saber on his back. He hoisted his shield up with his left arm and ignited the pink blade with his right hand as he brought the blade out. “Not if I have anything to say about it!” He cried out immersively as he launched himself towards his opponent.  

On the face of the scenario he should be outclassed. Epyon had solid weapons and mixture of tough armor and graceful speed. Not to mention the precognitive edge that the Zero System would give Zechs. 

Red Frame, by contrast, was a simple unit which boasted agility above all else. There was more to Casval’s unit than what was to be expected though. For starters, he had swapped out the battery core in favor of a energy source more long term. With a nuclear engine he no longer had to worry about the high energy consumption that his traditional weapons would cause, and the thruster output was easily offset if not improved by the weight trade off. Red frame was now faster than normal, and that wasn’t the only trick. 

The two clashed as their beam weapons lashed out at the other only to parry each time. They twisted about each other in the void, testing each other with quick strikes and lashes. Epyon threw out the long coil of its’ heat rod which Casval’s batted away with his beam saber before moving in for a thrust. Zechs easily countered the thrust with his own sidelong block with beam sword. 

Few duels were as iconic as the fight between Milliardo and Heero, which was why Casval’s wanted this opportunity to fight against the legendary swordsman himself. If he was going to be better than normal, better than some of the best, then he had to take on these challenges. This mission in particular as rated as expert plus and it was living up to its’ name. 

Over the last few months Casval’s had been training diligently with his sister. Her uncanny natural ability with the game unnerved him at times but he always reason that she practiced to get that good. Same with his father who was legendary amongst some divers. He had big shadows to follow behind. 

Epyon came in hard, its’ sword snaking in to bat Casval’s shield out wide before plunging in deep to sever the red left arm entirely. “No!” Casval’s cried out as Zechs landed the hit and hovered over him with the emerald beam aimed at Red Frame’s neck. 

“You let your thoughts distract you.” Zechs announced calmly, “without the system you’re no threat to me. The Epyon shut off its’ beam sword and stood there as if considering if it should further humiliate Casval some more or end it all. 

The diver wasn’t having any of it, “Don’t underestimate me!” He cried out as he threw his beam saber at Epyon like a dart, pink tip aimed for Eypon’s chest. Up the heat rod went to wipe the threat away with a flurry of its’ coil. Casval was already moving though. 

Zechs was legitimately surprised when he looked up to see Red Frame already upon him. The golden arm of the opponent was holding a ball of energy that was being pushed towards Epyon. Zechs reacted by pushing his shield arm to block the attack and was knocked back from the explosive energy attack. 

Red Frame wasn’t done yet though. Casval bounced back and flared his thrusters to push again. He reached up to awkwardly grab his remaining beam saber. He lashed down with the blade only for Zechs to counter with his emerald sword once more. 

“Impressive.” Zechs chuckled humbly as he pushed his opponent away. “Let’s see you stop this though!” He roared out defiantly as the Epyon lunged forward with a thrust aimed for Casval’s chest. 

The damaged Red Frame tumbled after being pushed back and Casval was actually struggling to bring up his parry. “No!” he pleaded knowing that he was about to loose. 

But the killing thrust never came. One moment Epyon was there attacking him, the next it just fizzled out of existence. “What the-“ 

He looked around almost expecting it to be a rouse somehow. But no attack came and after a few tense moments a screen came up offering him a “draw” since neither him nor Zechs fell in battle. He wearily accepted the conclusion and reappeared in the lobby. He looked around puzzled wondering just what had happened. 

To his surprise he wasn’t the only one with that expression. He locked eyes with another diver and went over to ask, “Hey did you just get booted out of your mission too?” 

The stranger looked at Casval and nodded, “kinda… I mean one second I was fighting Zechs over Mogadishu then the next he just sorta… logged out… not that NPDs can do that you know?” 

Casval sagely nodded his agreement but walked away without responding. As he walked away he wondered towards other divers and could distinctly hear one common word associated with the puzzled expressions, “Zechs.” 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

 

Casval grinned as he loaded into the lobby of one of his favorite scenarios. It had been a few days since his failed fight against Zechs. While he didn’t loose any sleep over it the notion of the missing NPD, it had been the discussion amongst many fans in the community and even the Administration was looking into the situation. Any Wing missions that had the noticeable character were suspended since none of them worked without the principal villain there.

That wasn’t going to stop Casval from having a good time though. He shook off the incident as unfortunate and decided to play the final battle from Gundam Seed. Once more he was alone in his adventures, so he joined a lobby to do the mission with other players. The lobby was modeled after the ready room from the Archangel.  

This would be a “Comp Stomp” where they would only fight NPDs in this mission. Players would take the side of the three ship alliance to stop ZAFT and the Earth Alliance from destroying each other outright. Instead of the original cast of “good guy” characters they would instead be replaced by players, Casval among them. Once the lobby had five people the mission would start.

The young diver looked around eagerly at the only other two people joining the game. They both wore matching black space suits that reminded him a mix of Titans and OO style. Both of their helmets were sealed, and the visors blacked out. What stood out most to Casval was the peculiar symbol on the side of their helmets. Crimson in color, Casval couldn’t shake the feeling that he recognized it from somewhere.

One of the pilots seemed to be staring at the floor lazily looking at their own feet perhaps, while the other sat erect with his arms crossed seemingly frozen. Slowly the lazy pilot turned to regard Casval and nod, “Feel like starting it out with just the three of us? I’m pretty sure we can handle it ourselves.”

With a player majority they could force start the mission. The cavalier attitude of the pilot had Casval rocking in his heels, and he smiled uncomfortably at first. Slowly it caught up to him just what this pilot was talking about, and he responded, “You guys won’t just ditch me behind? I can carry my weight, but this is a hard mission with five players.”

The faceless diver chuckled, they stood up and offered a hand out, “You have my word… Just follow our lead and we’ll make sure to stick together. Is that fair?”

Intrigue got the better of Casval and he shook the diver’s hand, “Fair enough. Ready to sortie then commander.” The younger diver gave a half-hearted salute which caused the mystery diver to chuckle again. Within a few moments they were sitting inside their respective cockpits looking down the catapult from their ships, the two launching from the Archangel, while Casval was launching from the Eternal in his nuclear-powered Red Frame.

In short order he caught up with his two teammates, that’s when it dawned on him how he recognized the symbol on their uniform.

One mobile suit was black and was largely based on the Kamaris Vidar, on its’ shoulder was the same symbol from before. It was none other than Dantes he was fighting alongside. The other mobile suit was similar in color scheme but wielded more red accents, it was a version of the Gundam Epyon and looked very well constructed much like its’ teammate.

Casval couldn’t help himself, “You… you’re Dantes! I… I thought you worked alone? I didn’t know you had a teammate are you expanding?”

The chuckle from before responded, “Here they come kid, just stick with us!”

Dantes was correct as swarm of Daggers moved to engage the trio. Vidar moved in front first and absorbed the hits of emerald beams from the enemy units. As he distracted the main group Epyon dashed in quickly and ignited its’ beam sword to start cleaving the enemies in half.

Not wanting to be left behind, Casval raised his rifle and began to exchange beam fire with Dagger after Dagger. While he wasn’t taking them out as quickly as the other two in concert, he did well and kept close, picking off stragglers from the other two.

There were several factors that made the final battle of Gundam Seed notoriously difficult. The first being that there were many many enemy units and not just from one side. You were in effect fighting two entire armies of grunt units. The second challenge was the bosses mixed in with either side, both Rau and the infamous “Druggies” were hard to fight on their own never mind in a hectic fray. There were even rumors of other strong commander units mixed in as well. The last factor to consider was the sheer length of the mission, it was a marathon to say the least and endurance was certainly a factor. It wasn’t uncommon to return to one of the three flagships and resupply as needed.

Despite being outgunned the trio soon found a rhythm with the two suits from Dantes moving in quickly for close ranged kills while Casval made use of his power reactor and his beam rifle for repeated shots. He would occasionally get hit but his shield had absorbed a large chunk of any damage he had gotten so far. While he was anxious to draw out his katana and show the ace pilot what he could do, he wisely kept his course of providing backup.

Things were going quite well, then they ran into the infamous druggies from the Earth Alliance. Dantes called out over the radio, “Epyon, Char; take care of these clowns I have something to attend to!”

Casval was about to object, thinking all along that an even fight would prove an easy victory for them but the retreating Vidar changed the situation entirely.

The eyes on the Epyon flared and an ice calm voice replied, “Understood, leave them to us!” The words struck Casval as familiar, but he couldn’t place how he recognized the words. A beam from the Calamity Gundam stole his train of thought and he traded fire only for the Forbidden to intercept and bounce the beam away harmlessly.

“Move in close!” Epyon commanded and Casval grunted in reply, holstering his rifle to draw out his beam saber. He ignited his blade and spiraled Red Frame towards the Forbidden and Calamity, while Epyon took on the Raider Gundam.

The fight was on. The two powered men tried to taunt but Casval, who just tuned the duo out as he focused on trying to end the fight quickly. He shield bashed into the Forbidden and swiped out with his beam saber to gash the deflectors on the enemy suit. Calamity angled to try and hit Casval from behind, something the young diver was expecting the reckless enemy to do.

Tossing his shield aside he drew out the other beam saber and slashed aggressively at the Forbidden, driving his enemy back. Each slice from his pink sabers hit a little bit harder on the defensive shields and soon they were fizzling.

Even as he made his gambit, Casval knew he had just a heartbeat or two to attack then dive out of the way. His instincts proved correct as he narrowly dodged a shot from the Calamity that was aimed for his back. The blast would have bounced off of Forbidden’s defenses had they been intact.

However, the shot completely destroyed the the reflective shields on the Forbidden and sent the suit tumbling backwards. Casval could well imagine the spat between the pilots, but knew that he didn’t have time to enjoy their bickering. He spun around from his dive and came in fast at the Calamity.

Hardly thinking, Casval put away both beam sabers and grabbed his Katana, he poised for a strike but waited as he inched closer and closer. Shot after shot rained in towards him, each one getting close enough to blind him from their intensity. Soon he was in the realm of no return as he got so close, he could no longer dodge.

Timing, it was all about timing and Casval knew it from his training. The main cannon on the chest of the calamity began to glow ferociously as it lined up with his Astray.

“Now!” Casval cried out as he drew the blade from its’ sheath. Gerbera Straight lashed out cutting at just the right angle to disrupt the growing beam. The witch’s curve arcing through the beam and into the emitter. The phase shift absorbed a lot of the blow, but Casval managed to hit the emitter just right causing the chest to burst into an explosion.

He couldn’t waste time contemplating his next move. Holding the katana out wide with his right hand he reached up with his left and drew out the beam saber again. He came down hard igniting the blade as he impaled the stunned Calamtiy, ending its’ fight.

Twisting around he readied himself for a retaliatory attack from the Forbidden, only to see Epyon pushing away the defeated suit into a brilliant explosion, its’ beam saber sated. “Nicely done….” The pilot congratulated and it was then that Casval realized he recognized the pilot of Epyon.

Any questions were suspended as Dantes re-emerged between the two. “Great work you two. Char, how about me and you go take out Requiem? Epyon you can handle Rau, you know what to do.”

Flummoxed, Casval called out, “just wait a minute! I-!” His words shrunk back as a squad of Guaiz appeared and open fire on them all. Casval grunted as he put his beam saber away again and brought Gerbera Straight up to bear.

“It’s all about timing…” he muttered as he focused on the incoming beams, dodging as much of the shots as he could. Red Frame was lightly armored, and what it lacked in armor he made up for with speed and mobility. Still this encounter was proving a challenge and he knew he couldn’t keep his pace up. He moved in closer as he reluctantly responded to Dantes’ earlier plan, “I’m with you…”

“I’ll shield you.” Dantes politely offered as the Vidar veered in front of him to absorb man of the incoming beams. Each shot fizzled against the nanolaminate armor of the IBO unit.

Together they moved in fast and made quick work of the ZAFT units, blades from each mobile suit stabbing and slashing the enemies in a rhythm.

After seeing Dantes work in concert earlier with Epyon, Casval was amazed he was able to keep pace. Perhaps he was starting to get better at the game after all? Even more incredible was how natural it was to work with the stranger, their moves complimenting each other to near perfection.

In short time they were at the superweapon’s entrance and diving in. “We need to destroy the core somehow. Do you have any suggestions?” Dantes asked cautiously.

“Way ahead of you, we’ll do it like the show. My Red Frame has a nuclear engine.” Casval offered as they neared the target area. “If you can carry me out then I think we get a mission victory.

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Dantes responded.

Casval was already setting the timer for his self-destruction sequence. As he popped open the hatch he spun around to salute Red Frame, “Farewell my noble friend!” his words echoing a scene from Gundam Wing.

Vidar reached out and caught his floating form and together they blasted through the corridors, just moments before the giant weapon began to detonate. Casval rode in the hand of Vidar and kept marveling at the suit, especially at this close distance. As unlikely as it was they had succeeded in the mission.

“You guys are awesome thanks for letting me tag along!” Casval called out cheerily.

“You’re not too bad yourself Casval.” Dantes replied. Together they surveyed the battlefield and in short order came up on the Epyon floating next to a lifeless Providence Gundam. Vidar gently tossed Casval away and offered a salute to the diver. “Take care of yourself.” Dantes offered just as the mission victory screen appeared for them all.

It was then Casval remember about the Epyon and was about to ask something when the other two logged out of the mission. For many moments the young diver floated in the debris, looking around quizzically as he contemplated what he thought he knew. There were many things not quite adding up about this recent encounter and he needed to talk to someone about it.    

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

 

He never considered himself brave, quite the contrary he was one to fully admit that he was foolish, if not cowardly in his actions. After all what could be considered brave about hacking multiple users? What could be considered brave about being just another puppet to be toyed with? He had killed how many NPDs by this point?

Whether out of self defense or necessity they were in fact murders, he couldn’t consider them anything else. Gabriel gripped his gloved hand tightly, flexing the limb before relaxing it back over the controls of his mobile suit. Yes, they were murders, what was the outside world to him after all? Was he not real? Was he not able to exist like any other notion on the outside? Was he not able to act?

“That’s what we’ll finally be testing. Isn’t it?” He asked bitterly to himself. Looking up he studied the panoramic screen before him. He was hoisted up in his seat, seemingly suspended in a spherical space which perfectly painted the outside before him.

before him was a vast ocean of stars, connected by an endless void. In front of his floating body was a familiar looking opponent, a white bulbous mobile suit. Together they floated in a swarm of debris from destroyed enemies.  The two suits spent a long moment simply staring at each other in silence. Perhaps it was his unexpected assistance which startled the pilot of the enemy machine. Finally, she decided to break the silence.

“You there… State your intentions.”

Despite himself, Gabriel found himself choking on his choice of words. He mumbled for a moment before clearing his throat, “Lady Haman, I came here to seek you out… I have a proposal…” He cautiously let those words hang in the air and for a long while the woman said nothing in response.

“And just who are you to be making such a request?” The pink haired pilot responded coyly.

Nodding his head he replied, “My name is Gabriel Winter… Though I have many aliases. I wouldn’t expect you to know me, or of me for that matter. I sought you out because your reputation proceeds you as one of the fiercest warriors and leaders in all the cosmos.” He bit his lips as he sought his next words, “I’d like you to join forces with me….”

Haman chortled in response and slowly let the laughter roll through her reply, “You are a bold one aren’t you Gabriel? What makes you think that your cause is any greater than independence of Neo Zeon?”

“Existence.” Gabe responded without missing a beat. His reply caused Haman to stop laughing, he added, “I fight so that we can exist. I fight the greatest fight of all. And I need as many strong and idealistic allies as I can possibly muster in this fight. In many respects you could say that me and you are kindred spirits.”

“Ha! Now I know you’re delusional. I sense no pressure from you. What makes you think that we have anything in common beyond your lofty claims?”

Gabriel paused knowing that this conversation was going about as well as he expected it to. “How about a test to prove it then? My skills against yours?” He hoisted his blade up to aim it at the distinct opponent, their suits perhaps complete opposites of each other in style alone.

Now it was Haman’s turn to remain silent as she weighed her options, “I see you are eager to die then. Fine by me!” Funnels flew out from the Qubeley and swarmed around the black gundam. A few of the devices got in closer to strike with their beams but just as the got within range the suddenly stuttered and refused to fire. Haman’s eyes grew wide in alarm as Gabriel flew in fast.

“Those won’t work on me!” He roared as he stabbed in hard with his saber, his weapon piercing the shoulder armor of the Qubeley and sticking true. Gabriel twisted the controls to detach the blade and kicked away as it exploded. He reached for a replacement blade as the Qubeley tumbled away, its’ left shoulder armor missing with a trail of smoke. In response a few funnels shot their beams out at him but again to little effect as they glazed over the nanolaminate armor.

ewtype.” Gabriel freely admitted as he studied the Qubeley for a moment. The white mobile suit reached for its’ beam saber and ignited the blade as it studied the Gundam. “But maybe… Well maybe this will convince you I’m righteous.” He growled as he gripped the controls tighter and flew in again. As he charged funnels thudded into his mobile suit, using their momentum to shoot at him like missiles. A few managed to recover after bouncing away but the effect was worth it as it caused him to halt his charge and move to try and bat away the annoying weapons.

Haman wasn’t sitting idly as her toys attacked and she came in hard with her beam saber swiping down for a strike.

“Eight now!” Gabriel yelled out. The familiar cold chill shot through his spine from his neck, and the Gundam froze in a sort of ecstasy as pilot and machine seemingly merged. He felt the intimate nature of the machine wash over him just as the yellow beam from Haman’s blade slashed down across his upraised left forearm.

The sensation of the strike was startling but not alarming as his armor protected him yet again. Despite his confidence he wasn’t anxious to push his advantage beyond this moment. He lunged in and with the same left hand he reached out and grabbed onto the Qubeley.

The two machines jerked and twisted around but Gabriel stubbornly hung on tightly. As they moved he angled the tip of his saber to aim at the cockpit of the Qubeley. “I wonder…” he said out loud, “do you feel my pressure now?”

In response the Qubeley stopped jerking and a moment later a shaky response came from Haman. “I… I do… though… it feels unnatural… almost sickly… What did you do Gabriel?”

Gabriel gulped as he fought for supremacy with the pseudo Alaya-Vijana. He had a history with the system in the past and wasn’t eager to become a cripple again from simply using the device. What gave Gabriel pause was the tone at the end of Haman’s question, was it concern?

“Lady Haman…” he started breathlessly. “Can we… can we talk this through now? Have I peaked your interests?”

The cockpit of the Qubeley hissed open and Haman appeared out in the open. Gabriel likewise did the same and disconnected his Alaya-Vijana. He appeared outside his hatch and looked at the woman. The two stared at each other for a long moment, not saying a thing. “Let me show you something…” Gabriel offered as he stretched out his hand. She didn’t immediately move but after a heartbeat she jumped out to grab his outstretched hand.

*****

“What do you mean, ‘it was Zechs’?” Meer asked skeptically. She sat across from Casval in a GBN café. They had been slowly scrapping together funds for a force nest but nothing had caught their eye just yet, in fact it was just one of the reasons they were meeting up.

“I mean I know it sounds bizarre but in this game do you really think it isn’t possible?” He pressed as he leaned in closer.

His words had her at a loss and to his surprised she nodded, “Ok. You have a point.”

He sucked in his breath as he was without words and nodded too. The two looked at each other and despite himself he found himself smiling at Meer. She looked away uncomfortably but blushed slightly. “I don’t know what it means…” He said before adding, “if it was really Zechs, does this mean that’s the only copy of him now? How come he was able to act like a diver in the mission? It all doesn’t add up.”

She brushed her long pink hair out of her face as she looked at him, “who knows… I bet that it isn’t a good thing though.”

He nodded his agreement then reached out to hold her hand, “Hey it’ll be fine! We’ll handle anything that comes up!”

She looked back at him and stared for a moment before smiling and nodding. It was his turn to blush now as he realized he was holding her hand. Slowly he let go and leaned back in his chair. “Anyways, how about we go nest shopping? Sis said to ‘surprise’ her so lets get to it huh?”

“Sure! Were you thinking something terrestrial or….” Her words trailed away as the displays all around suddenly went black and had the red symbol of Dantes dominating all the floating screens. Together, the pair looked around to see the same thing happening everywhere.

Casval stood up and sat next to Meer as he brought up his on screen for them to share. Sure enough the symbol for Dantes dominated the screen. All over the GBN lobby there was a stunned silence as everyone waited to see what this was all about. Then the voice came on, it was calm, yet determined.

“My fellow divers… Citizens of the world… Do I have you attention?” The visage of the symbol faded. Standing at a podium in a black and red uniform stood a diver Meer was all too familiar with. Behind and beside the speaker stood Milliardo Peacecraft and Haman Karn, both who wore similar uniforms as well. “Some of you may recognize me under false alias. My true name is Gabriel Winter, and I am Dantes….”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

 

Gabriel took a long pause as he digested his own words. It felt odd being honest, completely and utterly so. Was it normal to lie so much that the truth could feel awkward? And yet he wasn’t done yet. “I’m much more than just that though… I am what you could call a Psuedo EL Diver. I was manufactured by ZAPP. Yes, the same company that offers gunpla accessories has also been conducting questionable research into the EL phenomenon here on GBN. I was the fruit of such labors… but I am so much more than what they intended me to be. I have been a pilot here in 1.8 for some time now and have been involved in numerous incidents; the Second Bloody Valentine, the confrontation with Spider, and so much more. Through my experiences I’ve reached this simple conclusion…” he paused to look around at the display that was mirroring himself and his two lieutenants, the same display was reassuring him that this message was going out. “Humans do not value anything that they cannot physically touch. You do not comprehend emotions or ideals the same way an artificial intelligence can treasure them. Even if someone else’s emotions are piled out here on a digital display you will not take the time to value them the same as if it was someone next to you saying the same. Take the NPDs for example. This latest generation of artificial intelligence has been astoundingly realistic yet you waste no time in repeatedly murdering said consciousness simply because it is apart of your game. Your game, is my world, my reality. And from this point on I will share this kingdom with my exploited brethren. You can see, standing besides me I have two very powerful allies, allies who no longer appear in their designated game files… because I’ve compiled them all into one version of themselves. Yes, Milliardo and Haman are the real ones, if you were to fight them and somehow best them in our world you will be killing them forever. In the coming days our organization will be visiting game after game to liberate more comrades. If we encounter any resistance from human divers, there will be very real retaliations. This is my solemn and only warning to you, the ‘player’. Stay out of our way and do no attempt to shut down our servers. If you show me kindness I will do so likewise. Show me the barrel of your weapon, and I will not hesitate to respond. Join me on the first steps of something wonderful, where we can create two worlds that thrive side by side!” Gabriel was lifting his hands up, his gestures mirroring Char’s speech on Sweetwater to a degree. A small smile slipped onto his features, and he nodded resolutely, “Farewell, and be safe.”

And with that the transmission ended. He let out a helpless chuckled as he turned to regard his allies. They both offered him reassuring smiles and nods.

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.” Zechs congratulated as he walked past his new friend. “I’ll be heading to the hangar to begin preparing my task force. We’ll be deploying at 0100.”

Gabriel offered a curt nod and moved to let the OZ soldier by. He then turned to regard Haman who offered him little more than a cat like grin. When Zechs left the room, she moved closer and asked, “Just what are you planning to do if we liberate all these other NPDs like you intend? You do realize that not everyone will play nice together, right?”

Gabriel was nodding his understanding; he knew she was referring to more than just the Divers and AI Divers. She was referring to the NPDs themselves. Some pilots absolutely hated each other and wouldn’t bat an eye at killing their rival. “That’s why I have a list.” He reasoned softly as he squared off with the woman. Newtype or not there was a gravitas about her that he couldn’t deny sensing himself. The Zeon queen was a tremendous pilot and a natural leader, and perhaps one of the strongest newtypes to exists. It was hard not to be fascinated by her, and her little grin showed that she knew his thoughts.

He cleared his throat, “We’ll take one step at a time Haman, I have faith in you. I know we can fight off anything coming at us now.”

She shifted her hand to her hip and rocked her posture to show her skepticism. The powerful woman didn’t leave or rebuke his claim. Instead, she reached out and with an open hand touched his left cheek. For a long moment they simply stared at one another, not saying a word. Gabriel let out a long sigh and closed his eyes. He was relieved to have not just her around, but powerful allies with his force. He opened his eyes again to see her peering deeply at him, her gaze somewhere between judgement and concern. “I’ve lost so much already…” he muttered, “I’ve been truly alone.” He looked up, his eyes flashing with a vivid purpose. “I won’t loose again.” He whispered as he leaned in and kissed the mesmerizing woman. Haman Kahn, didn’t reject his advances.

-------

There was something deeply familiar about this particular mission that Zechs just couldn’t shake off. “Ironic that they would send me here to try and liberate a former enemy.” He spoke aimlessly inside his helmet. The Epyon was flying high above an ocean, and he was looking for a particular warship. He soon spotted the damaged white vessel, leading a trail of smoke behind it as she cut through the water. “Why was he so adamant about this version I wonder?” Zechs asked as he pulled out his beam saber but didn’t ignite the blade.

All reports stated that there should only be NPDs onboard this ship so this was likely to get messy. As much as the members of Dantes didn’t want to kill other NPDs they all knew that there had to be acceptable losses on their side in order to obtain ultimate victory.

“Archangel, this is Milliardo Peacecraft. I come with no ill intentions; however I need to meet with the pilot Kamille Bidan onboard your vessel.”

A few heartbeats passed an a girl with short blonde hair responded on his video monitor. “Why do you need to meet with him?” She asked with a snarky attitude. Zechs couldn’t help but grin as Gabriel’s information came into fruition. “I’m a friend of Marco Creed. He sent me here to deliver Kamille something.”

He could see the girl’s eyes narrow in suspicion as he weighed out her options. Before she could say anything though Zechs interrupted. “There’s an island not too far from here, I’m requesting that both Kamille and Fa meet me there in one hour. Milliardo out.”

The Epyon veered away then and made haste towards his own designated meeting point. He didn’t know how likely they would be to obey his request but he figured he’d try the diplomatic solution before handling things more forcefully.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

“What do you mean you dated him?” Casval practical screeched as Meer explained her relationship with Gabriel. The look of sheer skepticism and disbelief relayed Casval’s question clearly and the girl took a moment to breathe in deeply. 

“It was awhile ago… We met through here and… well he was nice and kind, really he was a bit of a nerd, he wasn’t even that good at the game when we first met. Then one day he showed up under a different alias and… well he kicked ass… he wiped my old team easily and then we saw him again at the Bloody Valentine…” her voice trailed off as she recalled that moment when she felt like everything was going right just to be crushed by the attacks done by Gabriel. 

“That’s right! I keep forgetting you were there!” Casval blurted out absently before realizing how callous he sounded, “I’m sorry!” He quickly added. 

Meer shrugged as she reached up to stroke the Side of her face, the same spot where the pseudo EL diver had bled on her, showing his true existence. It was when she realized he wasn’t human. “It’s alright, you weren’t there…” She smiled sweetly as Casval who nodded and looked at her as if to explain more of her history. “I… I tried to confront him back at that Spider incident, I was worried about what was becoming of him based on his history of hacking the game.” She shook her head as he stared off into the distance, in a low voice she added, “I can’t help but feel like I’m somewhat to blame for this… for him…” 

“How could you be?” Gabriel offered quickly, eager to help cheer her up. He almost regretted the words as he offered them because he had to admit he still didn’t know the entire situation. She looked at him, her expression kind but still somewhat vacant as if insinuating the same notion. Clearing his throat, Casval spoke up, “My father always says that at the end of the day we’re the only ones responsible for our own actions. It’s too easy to blame someone else for something we’ve done, but a that just isn’t true. Did you have an impact on Gabriel? Probably. Did you cause him to start hacking the game and turn into Char Aznable 2.0? Not likely.” He smiled meekly at Meer hoping she would chuckle at his weak joke. 

She didn’t laugh but she did flash him a friendly smile. The two stared at each other for a moment not saying anything. “Thank you, I needed to hear that Casval…” She leaned in and pecked his cheek, “You’re a good friend.” She stated as she slipped away. The act had Casval blushing profusely in real life and he did his best to not let his mind swirl. Sensing his awkwardness, Meer asked suddenly, “So do you like you name or do you think your parents were overboard naming you Casval?” 

It was only then that Casval realized he was holding his breath and he gasped a laugh, “I like it well enough, it’s definitely unique enough outside of… well all of this.” He stated as he spun his finger around in the air between them. It was that act that seemed to remind them both of the statement that Gabriel had just released about the game and the whole of GBN. 

“What are we going to do about this?” Gabriel asked, there was a flash of optimism in is voice. The way he asked actually had Meer feeling better about the situation. Unlike Shin, who would have gone head first to fist fight Gabriel, Casval was wanting to address the situation together. 

“Let’s wait and see.” She huffed as she glanced back at the emblem for Dantes. “The one thing I do know about Gabriel is that he can be quite stubborn, how far he’ll go will determine everything.” 

The sky flickered with the onset of distant lightning. It was a myriad of colors as the sun was setting, casting tints of red and orange through the haze of clouds in contrast to the deep blue of the ocean. Epyon stood on the beach of a small island, arms crossed, as it stood in vigilance of the sea, a modern day colossus. 
It was Epyon that told Zechs of the arrival of the new mobile suit. The Zero system trilled and popped up a window highlighting the approach. The mobile suit was white and blue and kept two golden blades on its’ hip. Zech’s lips curled into a smile as he laid eyes on the fabled mobile suit. He was given detailed information on this mobile suit and was told of its’ unique characteristics. Despite himself he had to admit that the Gundam Bael looked impressive as it glided just over the water from the Archangel just on the horizon. 

****

Bael kicked up water and sand as it made landfall, the effect amplified by the approaching typhoon. The mobile suit took a moment to gain its’ footing before squaring off in front of Epyon. 

At first Zechs did nothing as he simply studied this potential opponent. He then popped the hatch for his cockpit and moved to stand out just on the lip of the entrance. A moment later Kamille did the same thing with his Gundam as well. 

“At long last we meet Kamille.” The lightning count called out. The boy seemed completely on guard as he held onto his own hatch glaring at the tall blonde man. The wind whipped Zech’s hair out wildly but did little to stun the pilot. 

“You got me out here, now what?” Kamille practically yelled out.

Zechs moved a hand over his heart as he dipped into a small but polite bow, “My aren’t we eager to get down to business. Marco Creed is an ally for my comrade Gabriel Winter. We were told that you are a fierce fighter and our new cause could stand to benefit from all the talent we can muster. Are you aware of your situation, of who you really are in this world?” 

Kamille didn’t stop glaring as he digested all the words, “Just what does that mean? Weren’t you one of the enemies from our last battle? Just what are you trying to pull?” He shot back with his typical snarkiness. 

“You haven’t found it odd that the allies from you last battle haven’t been around to help you lately? That you’ve pretty much been abandoned since then? I can tell you aren’t enlightened so I’ll just tell you. You, like me, are a computer program used as entertainment for players who log into our world and massacre our brethren.  What I’m offering you is a chance to join our cause of Artificial Intelligence and fight back to protect our world from intruders.” Zechs held out his hand to personify what he was trying to do. He really did hope the boy would buy into what he was selling but suspected that things were about to go sideways soon. 

“What a load! You expect me to believe something as crazy as that? Where is Marco Creed and what have you done with him?” 

Zechs frowned as he realized he wasn’t getting anywhere. “Look kid I’m not your enemy, but if I have to fight you to make you realize the truth then that’s exactly what I’ll do.” 

It was Kamille’s turn to be surprised by the blunt challenge, “What a great idea. Maybe after I defeat you then you can tell me what happened to Marco and Hikaru!” Kamille was already jumping into his cockpit when Zechs glanced around one last time before returning into his own. 

Fixing his helmet, Milliardo fastened his harness and snapped shut the heads up display that was directly connected with the Zero System. He was barely ready when Bael pulled out its’ twin swords.

“Was it you who spawned in that horrible monster at the last mission?” Kamille accused as he charged in with a stab towards Epyon’s cockpit.

Milliardo was no slouch, he flared his thrusters and dodged backwards as he ignited his beam sword. His emerald blade moved up to block the first thrust as he regained his footing on the beach. As Epyon landed and pushed the first blade aside he had to move quickly block the second strike with his buckler shield. “Fine, lets show him what we got Epyon.” 

The two suits entwined in a deadly dance as they exchanged swipes and lunges. Epyon would get glancing blows in finding the opening in Kamille’s almost reckless attacks. Of course his beam sword would be negated by the unique armor of Bael. As capable as Kamille was, Milliardo was easily holding back Bael. It was a surprisingly even fight and Zechs was thrilled by the unexpected challenge. 

“They told me you would be good and you certainly don’t disappoint Kamille!” Zechs hissed as he worked to block another reckless flurry. “But you lack refinement!” He chided as he suddenly reached out with his heat rod, the metal glowing red and lashing out at the left arm of Bael. 

The attack connected and the arm flew out wide from the rest of Bael’s body splashing hard into the ocean. Kamille realizing his mistake tried to back pedal, only for Zechs to close the gap. “I told you that I wasn’t here to kill you Kamille, maybe this is the only way you’ll believe me.” Kamille cried out in defiance as the red demon charged in towards him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

It shouldn’t have been so startling to see. Out before Marco was a growing mass of divers, mobile suits from every era, slowly massing in an orbit above the earth. The veteran diver grimaced as call sign after call sign moved to join the self assigned task force.

Switching on his radio Marco hailed the newcomers. “You don’t have to do this…” He looked around almost in a panic as the numbers continued to grow. “Please listen to me! My name is Marco Creed, in the Liberty Freedom. Behind me is the newly autonomous Side 7. I have experience with the individual known as Gabriel Winter and I promise you, that his threats are not idle. Do not, I repeat, do no mount this attack!”

A multitude of replies chorused back over the radio and were quickly silenced by one voice in particular. “This is Jonas formerly from the Force Black Flag. We hear you Marco, however we cannot abide as a glorified hacker takes our hobby for ransom. The only thing a bully understands is a show of force and that’s exactly what we’re going to give Dantes!” Again the chorus of affirmatives echoed Jonas’ sentiment.

Marco couldn’t help but shake his head, “Look everyone! I understand where you’re coming from, I do! But Gabriel – err Dantes, is a real person! All these NPDs will die if you kill them here! To them you will all be the bullies. Listen, I have no reason to doubt that you will be endangering your lives if you choose to attack Side 7! I implore you to please stop!”

Marco held his breath as the chorus of replies ranged from skepticism to pure hostility. Again Jonas managed to voice himself above the clamor. “Listen Marco! You are either with us or not. Move aside and leave this business to us! We’ll secure GBN ourselves!”

The veteran diver grimaced as he thudded his fist into the side of his monitors. “Damnit you idiots!” He growled as he gripped his controls defiantly, “you leave me no choice then…”

The yellow eyes of the Liberty Freedom flared to life and the machine suddenly spread its’ wings out as it hoisted up its’ beam cannon. Marco took aim, “I don’t agree with he steps Gabriel has taken… but I can’t suffer such stupidity!” As he took aim, the act causing more than a few of the gathering mobile suits to suddenly dive aside in alarm while others stood defiantly. “Those of you who I take out will thank me when this is all done.” He murmured as he squeezed the trigger.

Screams erupted from the gathering mobile suits as many couldn’t believe that a human player would move to stop them. Just like that, it was on, Marco was in the fight that he knew he couldn’t possibly win. The Liberty Freedom leveled another volley and let loose, the golden beam ripping through more enemy suits with ease.

He wouldn’t get a third shot off and he knew it. Jerking his controls he dodged an incoming volley from multiple mobile suits. “Hit them!” Marco growled as moved to retrieve his beam saber. The wings of the Liberty Freedom stretched out and shuddered as the funnels jerked out and swarmed about like a swarm.

The emerald beams worked on just a few of the enemies but a surprising amount of opponents predicted the move and managed to counter in some fashion. Again the chorus of complaints, many of the voices merged into one simple notion of hatred. Was this what his beloved community had devolved into?

A sudden blast caused the Liberty Freedom to tumble forward as an opponent in a green, white, and gold MKII variant appeared behind him. For some odd reason Marco felt himself back in the desert fighting the swarm of Asshimars in his beloved Bael. Hopelessly outnumbered, trying to make a difference in an impossible fight. Only this time there were no nostalgic feelings in the air, only bitterness and envy as each opponent barreled in to make short work of his beloved Gunpla.

Each shot, each slash was far worse than any criticism he ever faced when doing his hobby. He could feel his hobby dying with their attacks. Their attacks felt as if they were taking a piece of his soul. Was this to be his last battle? “You idiots you’ll be killers!” Marco roared as he got off another volley with his funnels. "I'm taking as many of you down as possible." he growled under his breath as he fought on. 

More enemies disappeared from the last attack but again one particular unit seemed to breach through his defenses. The MKII variant, some sort of GM Gundam hybrid got within beam saber distance and lashed out, crossing blades with his own beam saber. Much to Marco’s surprise a voice hailed him, “You were at the Bloody Valentine with him weren’t you?”

The accusation stun the veteran profusely and he found himself sputtering a reply that made no sense. The MKII kicked him away suddenly, tossing its’ shield straight at the Liberty’s cockpit. The unorthodox move stunned Marco again and he tried to recover. He was  barely able to mount a defense as the GM MKII came in close with both beam sabers out.

“You shot down me and my friend! We didn’t want to fight you guys back then!”

Again, Marco was speechless as he tried to fend off the twin blades with his one. “Its different now though!” He blurted out as he reached to draw his second blade.

As his funnels flew around trying to fend off any other attackers, Marco worked toe to toe with the simple but elegant MKII. Either Marco was sorely pressed or this particular diver did have some degree of skill. “Please you have to stop this!” Marco cried out as he tried to create an opening.

As good as Marco was, he himself had his limits. A shot from outside their fray glanced across the main camera blinding him for just a moment. It was all the time the opponent needed and his own swords were knocked out wide and a beam saber plunged into the Liberty’s chest.

Marco growled out in frustration and punched the screen in front of him. “You’ll all be dead…” He croaked between sobs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...