Mission 2: Allies and Enemies
The Unicorn Gundam was surrounded. The pilot, Banagher Links, was trying to figure out what his best option was when he received a hail from the red, Sinanju-like mobile suit that led the Geara Dogas.
“To the pilot of the unidentified mobile suit. You’re tough, I’ll give that but you are surrounded. I’d advise you to consider surrender.”
Sounds like Full Frontal, thought Banagher, but that isn’t the Sinanju. What’s going on here?
The mystery pilot was right however and Banagher wasn’t nearly so foolish as to try anything in his current predicament.
“Very well. I surrender, but I’ll warn you now, my suit won’t be any use to you. Only I can use it.”
“Brave words,” replied the red pilot, “But why don’t you come back to our base and we’ll discuss things from there.”
Banagher had no choice but to follow.
A short time later he found, much to his surprise, that they had arrived at a large military-looking installation. Banagher was taken to the hangar area and then ordered to get out of the Unicorn. As soon as he exited, a pair of Neo Zeon guards escorted him to a ready room. It was sparsely furnished and the air had a strange smell to it, something Banagher couldn’t quite identify. It was like this base was brand new but people had only just come there.
There were three other people in the room, two men and a woman in addition to four more armed guards. The woman had shoulder-length honey-blond hair and wore a dark red uniform. She and one of the men were sitting next to each other when Banagher was escorted in and they rose to face him. The second man was sitting in a chair to their side and just lazily turned his head in Banagher’s direction. Banagher regarded him with a bit of shock; it’s not every day you meet someone who has pastel green hair. His outfit was also kind of strange as well.
“So you’re the pilot.”
Banagher turned to look at the man who had spoken and got another, much more violent shock. The man, dressed in an elaborate but functional red uniform looked like Full Frontal! But this man had much shorter blond hair and seemed to carry himself differently.
“I admit, I want to be surprised but I’m not. Young men seem to have a way of finding themselves in Federation mobile suits,” he said evenly.
“Were you… the pilot of that red mobile suit?” asked Banagher cautiously.
“And your forces are Neo Zeon right?”
Something clicked in Banagher’s memory.
“Then you must be… Char Aznable, the Red Comet.”
“In the flesh,” replied Char. Banagher doubted the statement just a bit as to his knowledge Char Aznable had been dead or missing for nearly three years know. The green-haired man chuckled at this sudden pronouncement.
“You’re famous. He’s a little star-struck.”
“I think the important question here is, what are we going to do with you?” said the woman. Banagher started to tense. He’d been held prisoner by the Neo Zeon once before and had only escaped thanks to Commander Daguza and the Nahel Argama.
“Relax,” said Char, “We mean you no harm. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’re in the same predicament that we’re in.”
“I… don’t know what you mean,” said Banagher, still unsure of what he should and shouldn’t tell this man who claimed to be the legendary Char Aznable.
“Let me enlighten you,” said the green-haired man, “You were investigating a strange signal that was likely coming from space. When you went to investigate, you blacked out and suddenly found yourself here. Am I correct?”
Banagher cast a startled glance at the man. That was in fact his very story.
“The same thing happened to myself, Nanai, and our Neo Zeon forces,” added Char.
“I am also assuming that you might think that the date is different from what we think it is, correct?”
“It was UC0096, why do you ask?”
“Because I thought it was 2312 AD,” replied the man.
“UC0096? That would account for why your mobile suit was unfamiliar. I’m sure you can guess where Nanai and I think we’re from?” added Char. Banagher nodded.
“Now that we have all that cleared up, I think we can get to the business of figuring out how to get home. It really doesn’t matter where or even when we think that is, as long as we can get back there.”
Char walked over to Banagher.
“We got off on the wrong foot, but I hope you can understand that we don’t need to be enemies here. If we’re going to survive this, we need to pool our resources. What do you say?” Char held out a hand. Banagher wasn’t sure what to make of all this, but as long as he wasn’t a prisoner, he might as well help. Especially if what they said was true.
“All right, I’ll help out, but this doesn’t mean I’m part of Neo Zeon,” said Banagher as he clasped hands with Char, to which Char grinned sardonically.
“I don’t believe your mobile suit really matches up with ours in any case.”
“Then we should finish exploring this facility. I’ll go see what I can get the computers to tell us,” the green-haired man said lazily as he strode out of the room.
“Who is that man?” asked Banagher, Char frowned a little.
“He calls himself Ribbons Almark and that’s about all I’ve gotten out of him. If I were you, I’d keep on eye on him, rather than us.
Elsewhere Garrod Ran helped Minevea Zabi to her feet.
“Sorry if I startled you,” he said, “I thought you were a friend of mine.”
“It’s all right,” she replied, brushing dust off of her sleeves.
“The name’s Garrod Ran,” he said cheerfully, holding out a hand for her to shake.
“I’m… Audrey Burne.” Not knowing where she was or what was going on, she had decided to keep using the name she had introduced herself to Banagher with. “Do you know where this place is Garrod?”
“Well, it seems to be Earth but I’m not so sure…” Over the course of the next few minutes, the two of them discovered that their stories were almost identical, with the exception that “Audrey” had been onboard a ship when she blacked out. Garrod also told her what he knew of the installation they were currently in.
“I guess I should take you to our leader… at least I guess that’s what he is. When I woke up here, there were already a bunch of us lying around, so we’ve kinda joined forces. But all I really want to do is find Tiffa.”
“Who is that?” asked Audrey.
“She’s… a close friend of mine that I have to find.”
Garrod led her through several non-descript hallways until they reached what must have been the central control room for this installation. Monitor stations with flat panel displays ringed the rectangular room, which was centered around a large holographic display table. There were four other individuals in the room, a brown-skinned boy dressed in a white button-up shirt, jeans and suspenders (whom Audrey mistook as a girl at first glance), a tall, beautiful woman in a white, red and grey uniform that Audrey didn’t recognize, another, violet-haired woman in a dark uniform…
Audrey stiffened as she realized the woman was wearing the uniform of the Titans, the renegade Federation taskforce that had oppressed the space colonies and whom the AEUG had fought against. And the last person in the room was wearing a white uniform and also had violet hair. As he turned to face her, Audrey felt a shock pulse through her as she saw that he was one of the last people she cared to run into in this situation. Paptimus Scirocco, the Man From Jupiter, schemer, mobile suit designer, unearthly powerful Newtype and second leader of the Titans… after he had the first one, Admiral Jamitov Hymem, assassinated. And as far as Audrey/Mineva knew, Paptimus Scirocco was supposed to be dead, killed by Kamille Bidan, pilot of the Zeta Gundam.
“Ah Garrod, I see you’ve found another guest. And who might you be, young lady?” asked Scirocco, smooth as silk.
“I’m Audrey Burne. Garrod here told me about what happened to all of you. I assume all of our stories are similar?” she asked while trying not to be unnerved by Scirocco locking eyes with her. She’d stared down many powerful people in her time, but she almost got the feeling that Scirocco was trying to read her mind.
“You would be correct miss Burne. I am curious though, where did you come from?” Audrey frowned slightly; she should’ve expected something like that from Scirocco.
“I’m originally from a colony called Industrial 7,” she replied.
“Hmm, then perhaps you’re affiliated with Anaheim Electronics? I believe they maintain their technical college there?”
“I was a student there, yes.”
“Interesting then, that some of us here are military, some civilian, and at least one a royal.”
For a moment Audrey thought he meant her, but then realized he was speaking of someone else and cast a curious glance at the white-haired boy. He grinned back at her sheepishly.
“He doesn’t mean me. I’m just pain old Loran Cehack. Queen Dianna is who he means, but she’s resting right now, you can meet her later.”
“I see,” replied Audrey, wondering who exactly this ‘Queen Diana’ was.
“As I was saying to Captain Ramius here,” said Scirocco, “obviously wanting to steer the conversation back on course, “We need to do two things. We need to figure out where we are exactly and we also need to set up patrols. Some of our allies may be out there and there may also be enemies. I hope that everyone with a mobile suit will help out. Captain, I also hope that your ship can help as well?”
“Once we get the Archangel back up and running, we’ll see what we can do,” the lady captain replied. Audrey could tell that she wasn’t completely comfortable with taking orders or “suggestions” from a man like Scirocco and Audrey couldn’t blame the elder woman. From everything she’d heard, this man was a master manipulator. She’d have to be very careful here.
“All right! The sooner we get going, the sooner we can find Tiffa!” said Garrod happily as he left the room with Loran and Captain Ramius. Audrey made to go after them but was stopped when Scirocco said, “Miss Audrey, I hope that you too will give us your support,” with a hint of smirk.
Has he figured me out?
Audrey merely nodded in response and went after the three that had already left. She caught up with them and tapped Garrod on the shoulder.
“Excuse me Garrod, but if you and Loran are going out, could I ask a favor of you?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“While you’re out, could you also keep an eye out for a friend of mine? His name is Banagher Links. He’s a mobile suit pilot like you.”
“Don’t worry Audrey, if he’s out there, we’ll find him!” replied Garrod enthusiastically.
“We’ll definitely do our best,” added Loran.
“Is this Banagher your boyfriend?” asked Captain Ramius with a knowing smile.
“No! No, he’s just a very close friend and if he is out there, I’d like to know that he’s okay.”
“Great! Let’s get going!” said Garrod as he bounded out of the corridor’s exterior exit.
Elsewhere, Treize Kushrenada regarded the masked man in the strange red uniform on his monitor carefully.
“Let me propose a theory to you. Suppose this was not the Earth that we know, nor a colony for that matter.”
“A preposterous supposition…” replied Full Frontal, “Yet hard to refute.”
“Indeed. I find it hard to believe this is all a coincidence. We’re completely isolated and cut off from help here. In that case, I believe it would be beneficial to join forces.”
“I’m more used to giving orders than taking them, but I agree, there’s no need for us to be enemies. We should try and see if we can find something that will help us.”
And so Treize Kushrenada and Full Frontal joined forces.
Cagalli continued to stare up at the Destiny Gundam, which was pointing its beam rifle down at her un-phase shifted Strike Rouge, not that the PS armor would have helped at this range.
“Are you going to kill me Shinn?”
There was a very pregnant pause as the beam rifle continued to hover over her cockpit.
“No,” crackled Shinn’s voice finally, “Not like this. Not when you can explain to me what’s going on. Last thing I knew, I was in space, I blacked out and now I’m on Earth.
“How would I know, the same thing happened to me!” Cagalli shot back, her temper flaring again.
“What do you mean the same thing?”
“Just like I said! My comrades and I were investigating a strange signal, I blacked out and then woke up with a killer headache and you!”
“You were investigating a strange signal as well?”
“Yes! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see if I can find my friends,” said Cagalli as she turned on the Rouge’s PS armor and started to guide it to its feet.
“Not so fast Attha. You’re not going anywhere,” said Shinn sternly as he pointed the Destiny’s rifle at the Rouge again.
“What?! Shinn, what are you playing at? Do you really want to fight here and now?”
“No matter the situation, we’re still enemies.”
“Enemies? Shinn, I’ve never been your enemy!”
“ORB is a part of the Alliance and I’m assuming you’re technically still the leader of ORB. So yeah Attha, we are enemies.”
“Ugh, if I didn’t have a headache right now, I’d take you up on it. Okay, listen to me Shinn. What if your friends on the Minerva are here and in the same situation we’re in? What if they need your help? Don’t you think they’re more important than settling this grudge you have with me and our nation?”
“It’s your nation, not mine… and I suppose you may have a point. Huh, first smart thing I’ve heard you say Attha.”
“Don’t push it.”
“Heh, not like that old piece of junk you’re piloting would even stand a chance against my Destiny,” Shinn shot back with a sneer.
“Just go before we both find out if your shooting is as good as your boasting,” Cagalli said irritably as she launched her Rouge away from Shinn.
When Amuro, Kou and Setsuna returned to the mysterious base after their scouting, they reported that they didn’t have much to report. They still weren’t sure exactly where they were and no towns, cities or other bases seemed to be nearby. They had run into a patrol of mobile suits that they couldn’t identify. They had fired on them and they were forced to destroy them. The one interesting thing they had gotten out of the exchange was that Amuro had determined with his Newtype abilities that the MS weren’t being piloted. They were either being operated remotely or had some kind of AI pilot system. On the other hand, the crew of the Minerva had made many more discoveries concerning the installation. Its extensive hangar facilities housed actual mobile suits. Upon examination, it was discovered that these suits had no cockpits. At first they thought that the suits were remotely controlled but it turned out that each suit had an onboard AI control system. The suits could receive general commands from the installation’s command center but were capable of fighting on their own. This explained where the enemy suits that Amuro and Kou encountered may have come from.
In addition to these AI mobile suits, the installation also had a factory block that contained all the necessary materials to create more mobile suits. Even more amazing was that the factory was fully automated and could operate without any human workers. The Minerva’s chief engineer also found plans for multiple types of mobile suits in the factory’s computer, some familiar (like Strike Daggers and GINNs) and others utterly alien. Attached to the factory were numerous supply bunkers.
The installation also had a large communications complex, which they didn’t fully understand the meaning of yet. All the Minerva engineers could determine was that it was broadcasting something, they just weren’t sure what yet.
The entire complex was protected with a well-placed network of beam cannon turrets, missile launchers, CIWS Vulcan guns and mobile suit mines, ensuring that, once activated, the installation was a veritable fortress.
“And it seems to all be controlled primarily from this room,” Captain Talia Gladys said, gesturing at the command Center that she, Arthur Trine, Meyrin Hawke, Amuro, Kou, Setsuna, Tiffa and several other Minerva crewmen were gathered in.
“How many mobile suits could this factory block make?” asked Amuro.
“According to our Chief Engineer the supplies here are finite, but depending on the complexity of what you wanted to build, you could make up to a hundred GINNs. Those are a basic mobile suit that our ZAFT forces use,” she added.
“Interesting,” replied Amuro, crossing his arms thoughtfully. The tech geek in him really wanted to get a look at all this.
“It almost sounds like this was left for us to find, as if someone wants us to fight,” said Setsuna, “We should destroy it.”
“But what if we need it to defend ourselves?” argued Kou, also eager to see more of the secrets of the installation.
“What about the communications complex?” asked Amuro.
“It’s controlled from over there,” said Talia, pointing at the consoles in question. During the conversation, Tiffa had wandered over to them and was now examining them closely. Suddenly, she began punching something up on the console.
“Miss Adill, please don’t do that,” said Talia in alarm, “We don’t know yet what all of the equipment…” she tailed off as a burst of static blared over the command center’s recessed speakers. A voice could just barely be made out.
“This… please respond! We’re under heavy… can’t hold out much longer! Please, if anyone can…”
“Meyrin, see if you can get a better signal,” said Talia. Meyrin immediately ran over to the console,
“Excuse me Tiffa,” she said as she sat down and began examining the unfamiliar layout. After a minute or so, she began pressing button and adjusting a digital dial. The static began to clear and the voice was finally understandable as a woman’s voice, high with panic.
“If anyone can hear this, this is Technical Officer Chan Agi of the Earth Federation Forces. I’m pinned down with another mobile suit pilot and we’re under heavy attack…” she was cut off as what sounded like an explosion blared over the speakers and the transmission dissolved into static again.
“Chan!” cried Amuro, startled.
“Someone you know Captain?” asked Kou.
“Yes! She helped me build my Gundam.” Amuro turned to Talia. “Captain Gladys, I know I really can’t ask this of you, but Chan is very important to me. Would it be possible for us to take your ship to where she is, if we can find the source of the transmission?”
Talia appeared deep in thought for a moment, but then nodded at Amuro.
“We need all the help we get I think. And if she’s an ally of yours, so much the better.” She turned to the Chief Engineer.
“If we leave you here for awhile, can you protect yourselves?”
“This defense grid can be computer controlled, so as long as we make sure it doesn’t shoot you down when you come back, once we turn it on, we should be good,” he replied.
“Meyrin, can you trace the source of the transmission?” asked Talia.
“I can Captain,” she relied.
“Then let’s move out.”
As the others began to exit the room, Amuro noticed tat Tiffa was hurrying after them.
“Tiffa, how did you know to do that with the computer back there?’ asked Amuro. Tiffa didn’t meet his eyes but replied, “I can hear the thoughts… the thoughts of this world.”
To anyone else this would have sounded cryptic or nonsensical but Amuro knew immediately what she meant.
“Tiffa, are you a Newtype?” he asked.
“They call me that, but I think of myself as just Tiffa.” Amuro smiled at her.
“That’s not a bad attitude. But don’t worry too much about your abilities. If I can, I’ll try to help you.”
“Yes, I’m a Newtype as well.”
For the first time, Tiffa met his eyes and Amuro felt the familiar spark of Newtype intuition flash through him.
“I thought so. You remind me of Captain Neate.” Amuro had no idea who that was, but he supposed it was a good thing.
“Well then, are sure you want to come along?” Tiffa nodded in reply.
“Garrod might be out there,” she said.
“Well then, you better keep up!” Amuro replied jokingly as he sped up to rejoin the others. Tiffa’s eyes widened slightly and she hurried after him. For his part, Amuro felt grateful to the young Newtype girl. If it wasn’t for her, they might not have known Chan was in danger.
Chan… please be okay. I’ll be there soon!