|Disintegrator Rising (Part 1)|
|Summary: Johnny Ridden manages to flee from Axis with the little heir 'Mineva'. But will he make it far enough alive, with Haman Karn soon rushing after him, trying to stop the little weasel from doing so? Also, what happened to Puru Two? And what are those two mysterious OZ mechs that just showed up?|
SOME TIME AGO AXIS
Johnny Ridden knows something is wrong before he even opens the door into his quarters.
When the electronic door whooshes open, the Crimson Lightning's hand is already on the saber he's wearing at his side, part of the ceremonial Zeonic uniform, an only half-regrettable necessity in his current role as training instructor.
He wasn't sure what to expect from the torrent of emotions writhing within his room; fear, loneliness, confusion... they're too torrential and overwhelming to even begin to sort through, and not knowing what to expect always puts Johnny on edge, a side effect of his many and long years of soldiering.
What he actually finds, after a few steps deeper into his room, is worse than any of the possibilites he could imagine in the few seconds he had.
Mineva Lao Zabi is sitting on the floor in between Johnny's bed and the far wall, sobbing uncontrollably, and into a pillow to muffle the noise. When she hears - or as much senses, really - Johnny, she lifts her head to look at him, and for a brief moment the tears pause.
The flesh around Mineva's right eye is swollen and discolored with bruising. Dried blood is caked onto her lips and chin, leading down in a stream from her nose and where her lip has split.
After a beat, the girl starts sobbing again.
For several seconds, Johnny can only stare... and then his body tries to go in three directions at once. It takes another few seconds for his limbs to work out how he can hug Mineva, acquire a wet cloth, and work his space cell phone all at the same time.
SOME TIME AGO STILL AXIS
Johnny Ridden, now in his red and black flightsuit, storms into the... well, let's be honest, the Throne Room. Haman is, currently, absent; probably chasing the psychic dragon, or something. Logically, Johnny knows to be relieved, but some part of him would still rather do this in person, thanks to the bile he can taste in the back of his throat and the way his heart thunders in his chest.
Without addressing any of the handful of guards on permanent station in the room, Johnny all but throws an ornate, sealed envelope onto the seat of Haman's throne; the one place he can be absolutely sure she'll find it.
Mysteriously, the envelope is slightly damp.
Johnny doesn't hesitate; as soon as the envelope is out of his hands, he turns and storms back out of the throne room.
NOW YEP, STILL AXIS
"We're just going to stretch our legs," Johnny Ridden assures the flight control technician, as his High Mobility Zaku steps onto the catapult in one of Axis's many hangars. "Keep the rust off the antiques."
"Well... I guess it's okay, for you two," the technician concedes uncertainly. "Just try to lay low. I don't want to get chewed out for allowing an unscheduled launch."
"Can do," Johnny assures him. "We appreciate it. Have a good one."
"... uh, you too," the tech replies, after an uncertain pause. He does not get told this a lot.
The catapult fires, and the red and black Zaku goes rocketing down the catapult, launching into the space around Axis.
Johnny, to the tech's surprise and concern, proceeds to fly in a straight line away from Axis for one full minute, thrusters on full blast.
At that point, Johnny checks his rear cameras to make sure his Posse is with him, and then half-clambers out of his seat to turn and address the tiny figure in a hilariously large normal suit cowering behind his pilot seat. "Just say what we talked about," he prompts gently, reaching out to rest a reassuring hand on the figure's shoulder. "Okay?"
"O-okay," the ~*~mysterious normal suit~*~ replies meekly.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Samuel Flynn transmits, "Soooo, anybody got any clues what the heck is going on?"
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Ascian Luddite transmits, "Sounds like trouble at Zeon."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Divada Kirador transmits, "Beats me. I'm just here to investigate."
YOU ARE NOT DREAMING
Forces beyond your control are operating without sanction or anaesthetic. It starts like the feeling of a warm finger slipping upward and inward, slick but bony, and expands once inside, as if blossoming of its own regard to the full fist around the time you can give the elbow a peculiar kiss. Things move outward and toxicity increases -- metaphysical filament burns bright with no off switch. You are a smoke alarm and the universe is ablaze.
The one-note signal cries out from some rotted cavity of spacetime. It's a flare in the night sky, a horn calling to arms, a war drum, a gong, a siren song or just a siren. It isn't heard, or seen, but it's felt. Deep down, where it counts. Where no one has the right to touch you. It invades memories good and bad alike, rewriting images, conquerting every channel. It's your reflection in the water and the taste of your dinner. It's psychic phenomena written as spontaneous cancer, a figment of the imagination given unheralded veracity.
This is the moment that Haman Karn discovers that Johnny Ridden and Shin Matsunaga have betrayed her.
Control is lost, and in that moment, it all goes to hell, a psychic backlash that can be felt by even the dimmest dullards.
"Lady Haman, your Queb--gurk!"
The random soldier's brain splatters on the Schnee Weiss's knee as Haman Karn shoots him in the head without so much as breaking her stride. She doesn't say a word, or explain herself. Around her, psychic interference percolates, as if she was the center of a three-dimensional river of hate. To even come near her is to invite a shuddering relapse into the worst parts of your anything -- the way your uncle touched you in the woodshed, that failing grade on the big exam, the way your cheeks flush as you cross the street when you see a black person. It doesn't matter what it is. If it's ugly, it's for sale, and captive consumption is the order of the day.
As the Schnee Weiss launches without waiting properly, literally exploding out of its moorings, the order goes out, across all Divine Crusader channels: "Johnny Ridden and Shin Matsunaga are traitors to the cause of Zeon and have kidnapped the Princess Mineva Lao Zabi to force her into a false surrender."
A pause -- just a beat.
"Only the Princess is to be brought back alive. Ridden and Matsunaga will be terminated with extreme prejudice."
"Obey or face the same fate."
Then Haman Karn gathers up speed.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Divada Kirador transmits, "That is.....unusual."
SOME TIME AGO SHIN MATSUNAGA, THE WHITE WOLF OF SOLOMON'S ROOM, WHICH HAPPENS TO BE ON AXIS Shin is fiddling with his space cell phone, using it to 'cyber-surf' the 'neo-space-net'. "Bear41111? What's this all about?" He talks softly to himself, not really knowing what he's getting into. Thankfully, he is saved when he recieves a call.
FIVE MINUTES LATER
Shin sits hunched over his desk, struggling to find the right words for this letter, struggling to control his righteous rage. Eventually he gives up, scrawls 'I QUIT' in big angry letters, and breaks a bottle of scotch over his desk.
NOW RIGHT BEHIND RIDDEN
The white wolf's Zaku II keeps checing back over its shoulder, not out of fear, but because the pilot's experienced enough to know that with Haman on their tail, you can't be too cautious. Even with her grand announcement as warning (he's not gonna miss those), it pays to be prepared. It's something that Shin Matsunaga, the soldier, has alway tried to heed. "Hear that?" Shin's voice is confident, full of a certain something that it's lacked in recent months. "She's coming, Johnny. You ready?"
ON THE EXELION
Having said impressive and brave things, Jung thinks to herself how yeah, she's pretty cool, even as the NRX-7 she has customized goes flying out of the high-velocity interception catapult. The Machine Weapon's engines start firing, to control its deceleration as it moves to intercept the zone of broadcast.
The megameters tick away steadily as Jung watches the computer. She knows she's being followed, by Takaya in a close echelon behind her and by Almace on a controlled trajectory following them. Periodically the ionic thrusters on the NRX-7 fire sharply to avoid transient space junk. Something...
She speaks on the laser comm link, the one aligned only towards Noriko. She doesn't want to show this in front of the new girl. "Takaya," she asks. "... Can you feel that?" She can't even feel /where/ it is. It would feel oddly nostalgiac if the nostalgia wasn't for 'that day when everyone died.'
Glemy Toto is having a terrible week.
One of his Purus -- his eyes, ears, and hands -- is missing. Not dead -- dead would be... not optimal, and he would miss the fallen ally, but not quite so worrisome or so problematic as missing. Glemy Toto prefers to run a tight ship -- the rule of a dictator is accepted so long as it brings peace, but it must actually bring peace. Disquiet in the home of the dictator means discredit among his people.
So it is that, as Haman orders all forces to their vehicles, Glemy Toto takes the captain's chair of the Sandra. The great ship moves itself out from Axis all at once, its mobile suit contingent readying itself... and from his captain's chair, Glemy weighs his choices.
Is this it?, he asks himself, probing the deep recesses of his own mind -- a difficult task to be sure, with that intense psychic illness washing over him like a waterfall of toxic sludge. Is this the time to make my move?
Trailing slightly behind the pair of NRX-7s is something decidedly not Neo. It's old, in fact. It looks like a remnant from the One Year War, polished up and brought back to life.
This is because that is exactly what it is.
Meriden keeps coaxing the space thrusters of the Seventh Gundam to change her course slightly and add a bit more speed so she can actually catch up. She doesn't seem likely to do it at her current rate; the Neo RX-7s have backpack thrusters, and she does not, instead maneuvering with a large number of small ones that jet narrow bursts every so often as she maneuvers.
She doesn't need to hear Jung to realize something is wrong. Meriden can feel it in the distance, like something twisted and strange. It makes her want to hit something, or maybe throw up, neither of which she can get away with doing in a cockpit; she is already feeling bad about her sudden demand to deploy, which is making her in turn feel guilty for possibly abandoning some girl even younger than she is out there, which is /also/ in turn making her feel angry that she even considered it.
It's not very pleasant.
Some time ago he's talking to Johnny and Shin about something strange. It's a strange coverstion really. However, he knows what must be done. HE darn well knows what must be done. He can't join them yet. He'd become prehaps ware of what had happen to Minerva but there were others to deal with. Packard simply nods to the strange things Ridden has told him.
Now Packard is at Axis, odd as most of Delaz fleet has been keeping it's distance claiming to be working with the oldsmobile army on suit development. He however was here with his small squad of trainies often but for now he seems to be doing a system check and hasnt' launched yet.
Haman seems to have a Puru clone following her around these days. This particular one is wearing a Psycommu control device, which would seem to narrow down which one it is. Puru Two is the only known Puru to use those occasionally, since her Qubeley Mk. II is the only one with a suitable interface for it. But unlike that particular Puru, her eyes lack life, staring dully ahead. And rather than being all angry, all the time, she seems to be complete devoid of any emotion.
Even when Haman is going around shooting people and being a walking psychic violation, the Puru clone does not react at all, seemingly staring through everything with an unseeing gaze. The only thing she reacts to is Haman boarding a mobile suit, which prompts her to do the same. It isn't the Mk. II, it's one of the newer mass-production models, still colored a natural metal grey. Perhaps it's due to being fresh off the production lines that it hasn't gotten a coat of paint yet, or perhaps it was felt this was an unimportant detail.
Regardless, the Puru pilot doesn't speak, and doesn't act until being given orders, upon which the Qubeley MP-Type launches immediately, and follows Haman's Schnee Weiss closely. The only thing she says is basically parrotting her orders, with as emotionless a voice as one would expect from looking at her. "Mission acknowledged, retrieving Mineva Lao Zabi. Priority targets: Johnny Ridden and Shin Matsunaga."
The Alexandria class battleship Saratoga, transferred to A-LAWs with the unification of Earth peeps and Space peeps, drifted through the darkness of space. On the bridge, its erstwhile and often absent commander, Colonel Zechs Merquise, stood resolute.
"Sir!" the young Captain called, snapping a sharp salute. "It is as you expected. We are receiving repeated reports from the Zeonic Front. There appears to be trouble, sir."
"Take us there," Zechs said, his expression unphased.
Arriving on the perimeter of the brewing battle zone moments after the psychic scream rips across the cosmos, the Saratoga jettisons a single Mobile Armor. Dark, macabre, with maroonish purple plating -- the Armor bursts forward -- the looming spectre of Axis blotting out the greater horizon. It's been a long time since Zechs Merquise has been so close to Zeon.
"Such a battle, Zero, with a life without choice on the line --" he says softly, closing the visor on the ZERO System's helmet. Data starts to flow, a rhythmic chant opening Merquise to the screaming swells of combat. "In such a situation, I do not even need you to show me who my true enemy is!"
Noriko strides down to the Exelion in her extremely airtight and thoroughly spaceproofed (these are lies) piloting leotard, thinking to herself, yeah, Jung can be pretty cool when she lets herself be. She grabs the ascension rope. Normally Noriko is focused on the alien threats to the Earth to a level nearing monomania, but...
But it's not like she's forgotten who she fights for, or why.
Soon, NRX-7 Nausica rockets along behind its sister machine, Noriko cycling through the weapons systems for the sixth time, her eyes grim. Something's wrong, an unconscious upset in the pit of her stomach.
"...a little," Noriko admits to Jung. Being about as psychically adept as a brick, this is saying quite a bit.
The life of Quatre, and probably Trowa's -- the blonde could never quite tell -- has been sheer and utter hell. Unrealistic schedules of constant training in the use of the mobiles suits they had somehow managed to get 'recruited' for to pilot. And it is during one of these sheer maddening training missions during which the two are working together - popping a series of mobile dolls for 'practice'... in life fire... that a call suddenly comes in.
Their commander, a man who Quatre wished to swear up a storm about... which would be entirely out of character... has just received an 'interesting' message across the global radio. A lady named Mineva was fully intent on handing herself over to the enemy. And with Trowa and Quatre incredibly close to Axis somehow, it is up to them to respond for the sake of OZ. Well, at least, for the sake of that commander's promotion. Because surely, if his underlings got their hands on Mineva, he might finally get that other promotion he needed to make even more peoples' lives miserable.
Making use of the transport which had moved the Mercurius and Vayaete to their positions in space, the two are quickly shipped to the area of combat, and the young blonde decides that it may be best to perhaps converse with the fleeing unit; a fact that becomes apparent the moment the two appear on scene.
The freighter unlocks the bays, opening the hangar and moving the both units 'up' into launching position. His own unit, the red Mercurius, jets straight up, whilst Quatre inside of there, wearing one of those awful and out of style OZ uniforms, goes over some quick checks and rushes closer towards Axis - trying to get a lock on the unit. Then suddenly... his head turns.
For some reason, the arrival of the Saratoga drew his attention. He got a strange feeling at the pit of his stomach from that unit. But probably nowhere as bad of a feeling he got from this area in general. Something was wrong...
<Radio> Tightbeam to Johnny Ridden: Vier Winnaar says, "This is Vier Winnaar, please come in."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Quatre Raberba Winner transmits, "I got a bad feeling about this."
<Radio: B - Secure> Amuro Ray transmits, "Well... looks like we've got a job to do."
<Radio: B - Secure> Camille Bidan transmits, "Is this really happening..?"
<Radio: B - Secure> Amuro Ray transmits, "Whether it is or not, we have to take the risk."
<Radio> Tightbeam to Vier Winnaar: Johnny Ridden sounds, in short, 'tense as shit.' "This is Major Johnny Ridden. Whom do you represent?"
<Radio> Tightbeam to Johnny Ridden: Vier Winnaar replies, shortly - unsure if he qualifies as a representation, "I represent the Organization of the Zodiac."
<Radio> Tightbeam to Johnny Ridden: Vier Winnaar asks, with pure intentions, "Are you alright?"
<Radio: D - WING boys> Trowa Barton transmits, "What's wrong?"
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "I don't know... just... I have trouble hearing the Heart of Space..."
Takeshi was in japan. At least, that's where he was a couple of minutes ago. Now? He's rolling out of bed, putting on a uniform and storming down the corridors of the very pear shaped Izu Base towards Tsubasa. An emergency scramble order was never good. It usually meant something or someone was trying to make something or someone else go up in flames. Never a good situation. But that wasn't the time for this, he had a battle to catch!
"Pilot Designation Alpha Charlie November Thirty Seven. Requesting permission for hot jump."
"This is Izu ATC. You are free to hot jump."
"Tsubasa, Ithica system on." *Confirmed. Ithica System booting. Ithica system at full functionality. Preparing point field. Point Field deployed. Activating fluctuation...Activated.* The mech moves forward and steers to face towards the runway. Then it flashes forward before changing angle and going straight up, straight up, through the atmosphere. For a normal mech, this would spell suicide, the atmosphere would burn them to pieces before they reached orbit without the proper shielding. For tsubasa, it wasn't so bad, what with that whole convenient gravity flux going on. Once in orbit, the mech turns once more before continuing towards the battle field.
But Takeshi was not an up close and personal fighter. He also wasn't one to rush into the field. Sensors might pick him up as he strolls into position at the edge of the battle field, but he's not moving. Completely still. Just a random white dot against the blackness of space. Once he knew what was happening, where things stood, then he could get to work. "Alright Tsubasa, start recognition. Let's see where everyone is." The mech's giant eyes flash yellow as they begin to survey the field, tactical information streaming into the cockpit. Now all that was left was the beginning. That he would leave to the others amassing at the field.
Life as part of the Mobile Suit Development Division has been particularly hellish, but no matter how much their superior officer seems to be intent on making their lives miserable, Trowa simply shrugs it off. If anything, that might be why they're so close to Axis to begin with. Petty vengance against a young soldier who continues to go about his business in an atmosphere of oppression. Not far behind 'Vier' and his Mercurius is Trowa and it's blue sister unit, the Vayaete. The Strongest Spear to the Mercurius' Strongest Shield. Within, Trowa remains quiet and stoic, his eyes scanning across the black void towards the distant IFFs.
<Radio> Tightbeam to Johnny Ridden: Vier Winnaar says, "Please fly towards my unit. I will offer you my full protection."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "I have contact with the unit that carries Miniva."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "I have my hesitations of handing her to OZ, but I think she'd be better off than within Zeon."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Trowa Barton transmits, "Give me it's position so I can mark it as a friendly."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits the data on Johnny's unit.
<Radio> Tightbeam to Vier Winnaar: Johnny Ridden says, "Roger that."
Samuel Flynn is not a Newtype. For once, this is some kind of blessing from God himself.
He is, however, the sort of technical staff that the Divine Crusaders like to throw anywhere they happen to need an extra pair of hands with expertise in just about everything. He ended up on Axis most recently, partially because he was taking off with them from Mars a while back and partially because they had the parts he needed for his latest project... er, /Zeon's/ latest project. (Yeah, that's it.)
Not long after Haman Karn storms through the hangar, the tech pokes his head out from around the corner. He shivers a little, a chill running down his spine. "Geez," Sam mutters to himself. "Felt like someone just walked over my grave--"
Bam, dead body.
Cue momentary freak-out.
Another Zeonic mobile suit deploys from Axis, one of many, though a more unique model to be sure. The EXAM Efreet (now with space-type equipment!) is not Sam's first choice of mobile suit for a time like this, but he didn't have time to pick and choose and it's the only one around that was /his/. That queasiness in the pit of his stomach seems to grow all the while, even as his bronze and grey mech follows in the wake of the Qubeley and the somewhat distant... traitors.
He honestly is not sure which side he'd rather be on right now.
<Radio: A - DC Chat> Glemy Toto transmits, "... I see the Mass Production Qubeleys have been finished."
<Radio: A - DC Chat> Samuel Flynn whistles appreciatively.
MARS, BEFORE NOW (But not very long ago)
The Sundered Heart is one of the most advanced Dropships created by the Inner Sphere, but it was still insufficient for the needs of the Alpha Numbers. Because of this, it had been directed to a ship repair facility around Mars to be upgraded with better launch systems for deploying mechs in space, and better flight systems for maneuvering in atmosphere. The work was a bit complicated, as the local crews had no experience on this class of ship, and the ship's crew had no experience with this kind of equipment, however after over a week of being in drydock, the Sundered Heart was finally ready to move on to Earth itself, where Adam would get his formal assignment.
Before that though, Adam had to put the new equipment though its pacing though, so he had been delaying the jump to Earth while they tested the new systems. This was scheduled to take a few more hours, however an interruption from Rachel Specter, the ship's intelligence officer, derailed all of that.
"Adam, I'm getting a relay from a transmission in Earth. It's an emergency distress call. I'm not sure about the details, but it sounds like the leader of one of the DC forces is trying to defect, and the rest are trying to stop her."
"Hmm," Adam says slowly. Odds that it's a trap? Probably pretty high. And if they jump now, they'll need several days to recharge their jump engines, meaning they won't have a good chance to escape. However, further intel shows other EFA units are en route. "Alright, set our jump point for as close as you can get. Tell the crew to prepare for immediate jump."
"Adam," Specter says with a bit of hesitation, "Are you sure? We haven't been assigned any mechs aside from yours, and if we're caught off-guard out there,"
"I know," Adam says coolly, "But this might be our only chance to put an end to this 'colony war.' It's worth the risk.
EARTH, RIGHT NOW
The fold bubble that brings the Sundered Heart into Earth space is barely notable against the blackness of space. It appears a ways out from the field, but almost immediately the heavy engines of the dropship flare to life and start bringing the ship in closer. They have no working intel on what's going on, so the entire crew is working double-time to gather as much as they can, linking up with the A-LAWS to share information, and otherwise just reconning the hell out of things. They're not bringing the Sundered Heart directly into the fight just yet, instead holding back in a support position, but they're keeping the option to break into combat open at any moment.
In his quarters aboard the Argama, Amuro Ray is in bad shape. Being one of the most powerful Newtypes in the Earth Sphere has many advantages, to be sure... but it is equally laden with peril. Haman Khan's brutal psychic output, those vile and violating fingers of power, have penetrated his soul even here. The White Devil is curled in the fetal position, wracked by silent sobs.
"Amuro! You're so wild and violent! So paranoid! I don't... I don't even KNOW you any more!" shrills Kamaria Ray, seeming to tower over the young EFSF pilot. He screams in return, something about war, and runs away.
"I'm ashamed to call you my son!" she shrieks at his retreating back.
Over and over and over.
And over and over.
Amuro Ray doesn't even notice when Beltorchika shoves him into a wheelchair and takes off at a run down the hallway, trailing a red-clad figure towards the hangar.
Divada happened to be on the bridge finalizing the repairs upon the Defender Squadron when the COmms officer calls her over to the station. Miranda Helmsley joins her as they play the signal back, where Divada shakes her head. "This... is getting seriously ridiculous." Divada says as she looks to Miranda. "Get us to Axis. We'll start our search there."
A flash appears in the distance before the Ark Hammer rapidly decelerates near the Axis colony, apparently just in time to see Zeon forces deploying from the colony. "Seems someone's on the move already. I'm betting they're deploying to chase those who have the princess." She then looks to Miranda. "I'm also betting that no matter what happens, we're going to find someone shooting at us." As she says that, the sensor's officer chimes in.
"My lady, A ship just jumped in system." Divada just looks to Miranda. "Shields up. Charge weapons. Fight if we must, but we're mainly here to see if we can't rescue that princess. I don't want to consider any alternatives." With that, the Ark Hammer begins it's crawl forward.
Talk about being at a wrong place at a wrong time. Coming back from taxing over a few young folks over to the Inner Sphere, this seemed like the most appropriate coordinates for Warping back into the Earth Sphere. It was! Ignoring that it was near the boiling pot just waiting to explode that those crackpots over at Zeons are. That's OK, Ted reasoned, they'll warp in, warp out, and just get somewhere else. Stay stealthed. Wait it out. Unfortunately, it's not that easy when you have a blooming battle exploding out of nowhere because some freaky bitch with large hair decided she's having her menstruals while having the keys to the kingdom. Oh, and a young girl that is apparently the actual heir of that place is capitulating and about to get killed. And Ted Morrison, great Hero of Erehwon, has caught himself right in the middle of it. "WHAT!" Ted shouts as forces are already being deployed, slamming a fist into his seat's arms. "Get us the hell out of here, Alexia!" "I cannot." The digitalised voice of the on-board AI gently intones. "We still need time for the Drive to cool down. If we jump now, without having any coordinate calculated--" "Oh /never mind/." Morrison cuts off Alexia, emiting a grump and pushing himself off the cockpit and running to the mechbays, speaking on the way. "Just keep the ship out of the way, cloaked in for all you can, I'm going out there. I guess I can't evade this little political talk now, can I?" Moments later, out of the ER-00S Leopard, the Rampage piloted by Ted Morrison blasts out, aided in space by those fancy stabilizers sold now all over the Inner Sphere. These will even up the odds for these mechs normaly not built for Space Combat. "ALRIGHT, LET'S DO THIS BULLSHIT!" Morrison shouts, orbiting around his ship to defend it.
"Come with me."
Three words that cause any member of the Newtype Squad to drop what they're doing and follow. The personal attention of Glemy Toto is something that all of the clones of Elpeo Puru crave-- and sometimes fight over. Elite soldiers or not, they're still children. Ones that may or may not occasionally be a little ruthless and cruel.
So after dropping her lunch and charging after the blonde man with a far-too-serious look on her face, Puru Seven follows Glemy Toto all the way to the Sandra. The entire situation is almost like clockwork-- in the bowels of the ship, Puru Seven turns and heads a different direction, gliding down the halls and taking advantage of the track-grip sticks as soon as the gravity weakens on the way out.
Climbing into the cockpit of her own Qubeley Mass Production Type, the Puru clone starts to flip switches and tap on keys, getting the engine to start up and the panoramic display kicks on, the HUD and on-board psycommu systems coming up in sequence-- the latter putting a small tingle at the back of her mind.
Pulling off her goggles-turned-hairband and pulling /on/ her helmet, Puru Seven connects the O2 seal and closes her eyes while the blast of breathable air fills the helmet's interior.
For now, she's on standby.
<Radio: A - DC Chat> Samuel Flynn transmits, "Wouldn't mind getting my hands on one of /those/. Don't think I'd've chosen that design aesthetic, but hey, whatever floats your boat."
<Radio: A - DC Chat> Glemy Toto transmits, "And the pilot is... I see."
<Radio: A - DC Chat> Samuel Flynn transmits, "Uh... sir?"
<Radio: A - DC Chat> Puru Seven transmits, "Qubeley number seven, ready."
"Where the hell do you think you're going?"
Camille Bidan was being a ridiculous insubordinate again, arms crossed, standing between one Quattro Bajeena and the only door to an awaiting shuttle. He was in a normal suit, and his youthful features were sit in a mask of simmering anger and dogged stubbornness.
"Camille." There was no way Quattro could say his name in a way that didn't anger him right now, but in calm platitudes was probably the worst, "There is urgent business I must see t-"
"What could be more urgent than what's coming?!" Camille shouted, gesturing around them with both arms, "If I can feel it, I know you can! The Zabi Family! Haman fucking Karn! Something's going to happen, and you need to be here for it! You can't just run away!"
"Not everything is decided in battle." Quattro remained frustratingly in control, ignoring his accusation "Soldiers have their place, but one day you will understand there are many ways to fight."
"You want me to kill her." The blue-haired newtype asserted the feelings that had nursed in his heart for too long to be aware of, and wore a cold grin in satisfaction of finally getting the Captain's full attention, "That's why you brought me back, isn't it? Got me back to the Argama, back in the Zeta, then let everything come back to me as it did, showing up every now and then to prod me in the right direction." A humorless, mocking, laugh began as he continued, "Because you knew this would eventually happen! You want Haman Karn dead, but you can't do it yourself, so you got me."
It was enough. He didn't wait for a response before muscling his way past him, tossing a few parting shots over his shoulder, "Char Aznable! The Red Comet! What a disgrace!"
Camille Bidan lived a waking nightmare. The deaths of his parents flash before his eyes with every step: His mother's face painted with horror as the glass capsule shattered around her in the vacuum of space. His father sailed away from him into the darkness, beyond all hope of rescue. The screams of those he'd the lives he'd taken reverberated in his mind, the mocking laughter of Euzeth Gozzo mingled throughout.
Too many deaths, too many lives, too much as he took every step towards the Zeta.
He knew what had to do, much as he hated it, much as /that man/ always had to be right.
The Zeta Gundam taxi'd to the launch bay, and Camille donned a helmet in vein hope it would quiet the sludge in his mind. There was only one source of this, one way to make it stop.
Her name became a curse on his lips as the Gundam launched for the borders of Neo-Zeon.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Puru Two drones, "Proximity alert. Presence of Katharon and A-LAWS Newtypes has been detected, approaching at high speeds. Requesting instructions."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Haman Karn transmits, "Interlopers must die."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Puru Two transmits, "Acknowledged."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Glemy Toto transmits, "Are they higher or lower priority targets than Ridden and Matsunaga?"
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Aoba Tsuzaki transmits, "Puru Two! Hi!"
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Ascian Luddite transmits, "Sorry, I cannot help. The doctor refuses to let me out of the medical bay..."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Puru Two transmits, "Aoba Tsuzaki." And that's it, apparently.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Divada Kirador transmits, "Smart doctor. Rest."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Aoba Tsuzaki transmits, "You sound a little... weird."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Haman Karn snaps, rather viciously: "/Ignore her/ and /focus/."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "We'll be covering that unit, Trowa."
An atmospheric carrier turns and faces the barrage of the Earth Federation's White Base battleship. Its armor sheers away, melting and bubbling at the fierce barrage. Inside, a man grips his headset, his face white with shock.
"It doesn't make any sense!"
"It doesn't have to make any sense to you. Your father will understand, and that's all that matters."
The man on the carrier dies. The man on the ground pilots his Zaku away before he can be intercepted.
On a different battleship with the same people but older, Quattro Bajeena disengages the fueling mechanism from his business shuttle. It is a refurbished commercial craft with the passenger area refitted to hold two mobile suits and some extra fuel. The golden Hyaku Shiki is already strapped into one of its carrier cradles, and along side it is the Psyco Dijeh.
"Amuro's not in any condition to pilot. Especially not a suit like that."
Beltorchika hovers over the wheelchair, which she's positioned at the special access ramp. "You're the one that said space was the best place for him. What is he supposed to do if he can't overcome something like this?"
"Be another sacrifice, I guess," Quattro murmurs.
The shuttle trails the battle at an extreme distance. The booster system on bazooka launcher could fit two. Quattro rechecks the seal on his helmet as he watches the Zeta Waverider rocket past them, on the other side of the asteroid.
"He's becoming quite the newtype," he says absently to the wracked Amuro alongside him. Quattro breathes evenly, his chest tight but his mind is clear. There are memories with him but they're just that. The back of the shuttle breaks open, the Hyaku Shiki and Dijeh coming alive in preparation. "But he's still not an adult yet. You know what I mean."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Trowa Barton transmits, "Understood. You focus on defense, I'll be covering you."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "Thanks Trowa."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Puru Two will not confirm nor deny the allegations, only responding when Haman speaks, "Yes, Lady Haman."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Aoba Tsuzaki transmits, "Oh, you guys are about to fight, huh. I should.. probably let you concentrate on that. Be careful, okay?"
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Haman Karn might have replied, but it also might have just been breathing too close to the mic.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Puru Two, however, definitely did not reply.
"Okay," Johnny assures the cowering Mineva. His vision is swimming from Haman's psychic temper tantrum, but he does his best not to show it; he has to stay strong, for Mineva's sake, at least. "It's going to be okay, Your Highness. Okay?"
The head of the normal suit containing Mineva nods weakly, and Johnny swings around to lower himself into his seat again, hands flying across the archaic controls. The crimson and black HM Zaku rotates to face the white one following in its path, and directs the (miniscule) procession towards the distant Mercurius. "We've got one bite, at least," the Crimson Lightning murmurs to himself, as he swivels the Zaku back around and accelerates once again.
He is eager to get there before the inevitable shooting starts.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Divada Kirador transmits, "hmmmm...."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Divada Kirador transmits, "Something isn't right here...."
The savage outland swells of Haman Karn's mind threaten to burst, viscous psychic fluid throbbing trapped in collapsed veins as cockroach sensations slip little legs across clotted crystal blood. A thunder of horses carries across the vacuum, an erratic beat syncopating to the say a corpse shakes on the gallows vine, neck pulled over-taut and feet slimy with shit. Death rides onward, gathering purpose.
"Ffffaster," Haman Karn rasps to herself, her lips dry and her gums starting to ooze and make yellowing teeth bright red. She opens her eyes so wide that the cockets might split. "FASTER!"
And the Schnee Weiss complies, as it generally does when its mistress commands. The Regent of Neo Zeon's pursuit of Ridden the renegade is interrupted, though, by the untimely appearance of (among others) Zechs Merquise. Invisible chthonic tendrils flail and lash, carrying the physical and provably real bits as they cascade outward from the chunky, ancient mobile suit.
She doesn't send them at Zechs, though. Haman tries to send them /past/ him. The Gundam Epyon, she apparently intends to ram head-on, as if he were simply a wall to be broken through.
His limited psychic range working in his favor for once, Shin Matsunaga does not feel Haman's maelstrom of hate and insanity so strongly as some. This simply equates to a vague queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach that is easily ignored, as opposed to being near-incapacitated. His machine, the white Zaku II that he's used for years, slows as the pursuit approaches. After all, he doesn't have Mineva; there's no need for him to hold back, nothing keeping him from throwing himself at the enemy in the defense of a Zabi. "Just like it should be..." The warm feeling of nostalgia is almost enough to make him forget the rock that's settled in the pit of his stomach. Almost.
Thirty second till they're within range of the lead units. Trowa watches his rangefinder as he communicates with 'Vier', passing along information. The two lead units in his display have their IFFs tagged and marked as friendly and the two plan out their gameplan. It doesn't take long though. The two of them have a natural synergy amongst them and this sort of mission naturally falls into their respective strong suites. 'Vier' will act as a roving defense to guard the two defectors from attack, while Trowa acts as a striker, eliminating threats proactively and keeping the enemy on their toes. The rangefinder ticks down with each passing second as Trowa levels his cannon towards the trailing Mobile Suits. The safeties are unlocked, and the panel mounted on the back of the mobile suit snaps open, drawing in and condensing minovsky particles to power it's main weapon.
Then Trowa's hud goes red and he pulls the trigger. A blast of condensed energy leaps out of the barrel of the cannon and streaks across the distant voice, hurtling towards the Efreet as it trails behind Haman. Trowa would have preferred to take aim at the Regent herself, but friendly units are in the way and even trowa isn't cold enough to shoot through his comrades just to score a kill.
Puru Seven draws in a breath as Glemy gives her orders. She doesn't like it, but... she's not about to turn against him. Slowly, the Qubeley undocks from the storage racks, the canary yellow Mobile Suit striding across the deck until it's loaded into the Sandra's launch bay and catapult. The doors open, and distant stars twinkle in the darkness of space.
"Puru Seven, Qubeley MPT. Launching!"
The Mobile Suit's knees bend before it skims across the catapult deck and thrusters fire, throwing the machine into space. Before it can get too far, the wing binders that cover the arms swing outward and deploy, the tail binder shifting and twitching before the flight arc starts to come around to a safe position ahead of the Sandra-- not in the path of any of it's guns, but certainly there to act as a buffer for any opposition coming toward the ship.
"No one will get near you, Glemy!"
Jung's sense of foreboding is momentarily broken when Zechs Merquise addresses her. Wow! she thinks, if not quite in those terms. This fades into worry. The trajectory computer on the NRX-7 is updated, with those updates sent out to Meriden as well; huddle up. Jung appears to be volunteering to be in the front.
Which is something she dimly regrets, as the relatively small units grow ever nearer to the horrible irradiance coming out of Haman Karn's noggin. Jung is not a powerful newtype in any case, and already she is feeling sick, fatigued, isolated, ashamed, that strange throbbing semi-irregular pulsating...!
It is not as bad, yet, as it could be. She sweeps the comm laser forwards, washing it over the lead Zaku. Her voice crackles out: "Zeonic unit, fall in with us, we're going to rendezvous with the Saratoga." She's securing them - she's /not/ trying to avoid fighting. The fact that her hand is shaking is due to a completely unrelated nerve pinch in her shoulder. Totally.
As Meriden gets closer, whatever it is gets stronger.
Whatever she sees is probably, compared to some of the Newtypes, nothing. Meriden is young, almost innocent - she hasn't had much to do with the worst aspects of war yet, human versus human. It is still enough to make her feel horrible, like something twisted in her stomach.
It's Zechs of all people - someone she doesn't know, and has never met - who warns her that it's not /her/, but some kind of psychic assault. That helps. Meriden cannot shut it out, but she can try to ignore it. It has mixed success. She snaps at a couple people without really meaning to. The sense of chaos/forboding/hate gets worse. She is more powerful than Jung, and less experienced at blocking it out; all she can do is struggle.
The Seventh Gundam drifts slightly out of formation before jerking back up into it, a sudden surge of the thrusters recentering it. It overcorrects, drifts past it too far the other way, and straightens out only a few seconds after that. It keeps moderately steady after that, but only because Meriden focuses on drawing one of the Seventh Gundam's weapons, a strange-looking scoped heavy beam gun.
The similarity of Mineva Zabi's lot in life with the Peacecraft family's own gives Zechs Merquise an added sense of purpose in this encounter. For she is a child who has been raised with the curse of her own family's name, just as he. She is a child who had her rightful life, one full of happiness and simple things, ripped from her by the horrors of war. But she has not yet learned what Milliardo Peacecraft learned -- she has not yet become a new person, a Zechs Merquise, who can seize her own destiny to change her position in the world.
And for that, she has his heart and his sword.
"There is no honor in this," Zechs Merquise transmits, directly at the leading Rick Dom. He knows Haman Karn is inside of it. The Epyon's dragon-shaped Mobile Armor fires its verniers, launching ahead of both forces. He's moving to intercept. "You once were a person to respect, Haman Karn. But today --"
The Epyon explodes outward, transforming at full speed into its Mobile Suit mode. The huge wing-like verniers fan out, thrusters firing wildly to stall its velocity. It's right hand clenches, a tremendously large and glowing green Beam /Sword/ sizzling to life. Swinging it forward to grip with both of the Gundam's hands, the dark robot levels its gaze ahead.
"Zero shows me no future for you."
The Epyon blasts forward, twin swirling cyclones of cobalt energy billowing from its verniers. It comes straight at Miss Karn, sensing her purpose and matching it with his own. If she intends to ram into the Epyon, he will play her game of chicken. With speed carrying his attack -- a suddenly cutting whip-like Heat Rod ejects down the length of the Epyon's arm, prepared to attack just as the Epyon smashes straight into the Schnee Weiss.
The Epyon's path is derailed by the explosive collision, spinning up into the space past Karn. Merquise's body shakes from the abrupt shift in direction, willing the Gundam to turn back around. By the time he's back facing the tail end of Haman's Mobile Suit, she's gained a sizable lead on him. With one Hail Mary attempt, Merquise swings the Epyon's Heat Rod after the Schnee Weiss -- the glowing, superheated, whip-like column of metal coiling for the leg of Haman's Mobile Suit.
After the conversation on the radio between Quatre and Ridden, the blonde blue-eyed Arab has somehow become the official protector of the young man and Mineva in the High Mobility Zaku. The Mercurius darts for the unit, the Planet Defenders coming to life and move ahead of it, a threesome of them quickly settling behind the Zaku in order to activate in case they are needed. Of course, this requires some attention from the undercover Wing boy, attention that otherwise would go to taking note of the rest of the battlefield. But he has full confidence that Trowa has his blindspots.
The red unit slighly veers towards the left as Trowa's unit fires, almost like he felt the tension behind his friend's attack before it launched. The young man didn't need to worry about hitting 'this' friendly unit. And within not too much time, the red unit is right next to Johnny's unit and tries to place a 'hand' on his protectee's unit. He tries to converse; "Follow me. There is a freighter out a few." He offers. "Just hang on, you're safe now."
As much as his voice was kind and calm - Quatre himself was nothing of the such. His eyes were wincing and he felt an incredibly pressure on his head, now that he'd gotten closer to Axis -- and with that, Haman Karn. His right hand is up in his hair, the red weird OZ standard hat tossed to the side. This all felt wrong, he could not hear the Heart of Space. All he heard was hatred...
Adam settles into the captain's chair as information keeps coming in. His chair is set on a deck overlooking a large holographic display, which shows the whole battlefield, mobile suits highlighted in the colors of their faction, with ships looming on the edge of the sphere. Adam doesn't have any squad to command here though, and his orders are to provide fire support for the mechs.
He's about to order the ship into a fire support position, when a new shape forms on his display. It's another ship, IFF tagged as Divine Crusade. As it appears, Specter calls up to Adam, "New signal incoming, Adam. It's a big ship...Probably the mothership for the DC forces."
"What's it doing?" Adam asks, not looking up from the tactical display.
"It's headed into the target zone."
"Great," Adam mutters. If that thing starts rolling though the friendly mobiles, it could provide a lot of headache. He's pretty sure the forces here could bring it down, but that delay could cost them the mission objective, which Adam is unwilling to see happen. "Alright, move us into its path. Let's blockade it and give our forces time to do their job. Launch Banshee squads to intercept it. Tell them to move to sector 21 by 7 by 19 and then sweep past, targeting weapons. One pass, then break 191. Hopefully the strike will distract the ship while we make our approach."
The Sundered Heart is a big, ponderous carrier, so while it moves, three fighters are launched from the fighter bay on the side of the ship. They fly off in a tight formation for a minute or so, before they all swing around as one and charge straight at the Arc Hammer, medium lasers flashing though the darkness, striking at the ship with pillars of green energy as the fighters make one fast strike, before breaking off and heading off into space.
Though Glemy is weak as Newtypes go, it takes all of his concentration to focus through the mental 'noise' and have all of the myriad conversations he needs to be having right now. His questions are answered... but the answers are things he doesn't particularly like. Puru Two is a tool, to be certain -- but Puru Two is /his/ tool, not Haman's. She is to claim /his/ glory, not Zeon's.
Grinding his teeth and cutting some of his comms as the conversations end, Glemy turns his attention out toward the amassed machines. The Seventh Gundam is one of the first to get his attention; he still has that preoccupation with the power of Gundam, even amid the chaos engulfing Zeon.
And as an interloper unit rather than one of the primary-target defectors, it serves optimally for his plans.
Ordering the gunners to aim for the classic-style Gundam, Glemy waits for the Sandra to turn and unleash a volley of beam cannon fire on the much smaller machine. It's not much, but it's as much to check the sighting on the guns as anything else, aggressive maneuvers can come later.
Sam flies along keeping his head up and his eyes open when... he gets contact from someone he hadn't expected. It isn't Haman snarling orders at him like he thought it might be, but instead Glemy Toto making him a generous offer to do what he was considering doing anyway. For the price he's willing to pay, Sam's mind is made up. He snickers darkly to himself for a second. Once a Raven...
Suddenly, a bright beam lances out from behind him. The shot lances across the back of the Efreet, blasting a chunk of armor off it's leg and cutting a path across to the back of it's shoulder. Sam winces and checks his weapons--all still listed as attached and green--and points an arm backwards, turning to fire a grenade from the built-in launcher in the direction of the incoming mobile suit. He doesn't recognize the model... is it new?
New enough to be a problem. Sam grits his teeth, flips a switch, and waits the heartbeat it takes for the cover on the panel to retract. He slaps the big red button with his palm, and a timer and system status display appears on his monitor, flashing for just long enough for him to feel it start to work.
EXAM SYSTEM: ACTIVE
That guiding feeling, the strange presence that mimics that of the ever-present whispers he lives with, suddenly appears. It feels a little... off, but it's nothing to worry about. It's probably just that weird feeling he had before coming back, thats all. He rolls the Efreet and breaks what little formation he had, launching a pair of missiles from the leg-mounted launchers back at the cannon-armed mobile suit and then accelerating towards Ridden and his accomplices. The missiles auto-lock and chase the mobile suit, and thus, Sam is saved some trouble. He has enough of it already.
The main priority of the pilot of the mass-produced Qubeley close to Haman Karn is never the current mission. It is to make certain that the Regent doesn't come to harm. Unfortunately, intents to harm are coming from multiple vectors at the same time. Obviously there's the one that Haman is engaging herself, but presumably Haman has that matter handled. Best to take on one that is still approaching unintercepted.
One presence stands out therein. It's a presence she knows, and a presence filled with animosity directed straight towards Haman Karn. "Zeta Gundam..." Without hesitation, the Qubeley breaks off from the original vector and moves to intercept the named unit.
The first introduction from the pilot is to shoot. At least that much is still like her original personality: shoot first, talk later. The Beam Launchers mounted in the mobile suit's forearms fire multiple times, and only then does the radio transmission follow, showing Puru Two's dead-eyed blank expression. "Camille Bidan. You will be terminated."
With all that newtypeism going on right now in this region of space, Ted Morrison's mind reach out and... Nothing. No, there's nothing coming from the Inner Sphere machine known as the Rampage. That would be because the man is not a psychic. Ain't that's a shame! Ted Morrison clamps magneticaly his Rampage on the roof of his ship, before launching himself away as it speeds onward. "Alright, let's see -- ultra fast fighters, mechs coming down on another and holy crap what is the velocity of that thing?" Morrison snaps out, locking on the Rick Dom. Anything that big has no buisness on going this fast, not to mention going in HIS general vincinity. Wordlessly, Morrison's targeting systems locks on the machine, firing off a volley of missiles in it's way. What gathers more his attention is the arrival of the Sundered Heart. Lyran Designs. "Alexia," Ted says outloud, "Scan me that ship. Tell me who's in it." "Understood, Ted."
Noriko gets the update; follows suit because, well, why wouldn't she? "Rihgt, right!" she chirps to Jung's silent order. Noriko feels not unlike someone is breakdancing on her grave, which is kind of a weird phenomenon since the last time Noriko felt anything psychic was...
...Her lips thin into a grim line, and she takes a slow breath in. "We'll save this one," she murmurs, to nobody, as the NRX-7's thrusters flare. She flips a switch, current arcing through her shock lancer. No comment from her; Jung's on point, today. Jung knows these Zeon guys and their deal better than Noriko, anyway.
The Ark Hammer continues it's slow crawl after Johnny Ridden's Mech, despite the fighting going on all around the ship. However, The reinforced lance of fighters bearing down upon the ship is noticed quite quickly by the blonde haired captain of the ship. "POWER BROADSIDE SHIELDS!" She yells just in time for the fighter's laser attack on the ship. The result is barely even a ripple upon the shields. Divada simply looks down at where they were attacked, then back up to the Sundered Heart. "How quaint. They're trying to cut us off. Miranda, distance to target." The Brunette at the front of the bridge speaks up "500 yards and closing. They won't make it to earth, My lady." "Distance to CAPTURE, Miranda." "Uhm.....1500 yards, My Lady. You have something in mind?" "A gut feeling, Miranda. For now, we need to keep the Sundered heart from cutting us off. Keep an eye on that mech, Miranda. Tactical, deploy missile racks 1 through 8. Target the Sundered heart's engines." She waits a heartbeat. 'Fire."
Missiles fly in towards the Vayaete and the barrel of it's beam cannon glows once more, scything across the black of space. Two of the missiles vaporize instantly, but the final one slams high into the shoulder of the Vayaete, engulfing it in an explosion. The Gundanuim Alloy holds however as the OZ Mobile Suit accelerate, giving chase. He trust Quatre to protect the two defecting machines while he deals with this problem. With a few quick keypresses, Trowa switches the Beam Cannon's charge cycle to rapid fire mode and takes aim. The barrel of the beam cannon pulses three times, each one sending out a bolt of compressed minovsky particles. The shots are individually weaker than a single one, but their numbers more than makes up for their lesser power.
Takeshi was ready now, all had been seen. His targets are up and battle information is flowing freely. Perfect. Then the battle really starts and already people are getting hammered out there. Not again, this better not be another behemoth episode where everyone runs around playing hero with one Tenshi left to keep them all fighting. Oh, well, he can't worry about that.
Wordlessly, he moves, the eyes flashing once more as the flux increases in strength and the thrusters activate propelling the mech forward with unfettered acceleration. It flies under the larger battle ships and the openings on the back of the 'wings' slide to an open position. Then he noticed something as the nanobots streamed towards Trowa's mech. "Hmm. That ship, wasn't that the one on ... Totally was. Tsubasa, what information do we have on that ship." *Accessing Alpha Numbers databases. Ship Designation Ark hammer. Details unknown.* "That doesn't help. Leave it to them to keep things out of our hands. Oh well, let's just get this party started."
He loops around and then moves to hover over Steiner's ship, watching the battle field happening before him. All he ever did was watch and then show up at the last minute to pull you out of the ocean. That was just his style. "You know what to do. Continue analysis."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "Trowa!"
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "Be careful..."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Trowa Barton transmits, "I will."
"Status of the enemy ship?" Adam Steiner says, watching the holograms slowly move though the globe which represents this field of engagement.
"She's holding steady. She's got some sort of energy shield which is blocking our shots," Specter responds, her voice just a little tense.
"Fantastic. Remind me to ask someone about energy shields if we make it out of this," Adam muses before thinking about this tactically. Small red triangles appear on the display, representing fast-moving missiles as the Arc Hammer returns fire. The Sundered Heart doesn't have energy shielding, but what it does have is several machine gun turrets set around its hull, made explicitly to shoot down incoming missiles. That job they do quite well, the AMS firing and taking out each missile before it can impact on the ship's hull.
"Alright, bank the ship around to vector 21 and go at full burn. Give her a volley of LRMs across her nose."
"That puts us on a collision course with the enemy ship," Specter says, finally looking up at Adam, who only nods back to her.
"I know. Let's see how much nerve this captain has."
The memories had ceased their unending, hellish repetition behind the whites of Camille's eyes. Perhaps he had simply become deadened to them, but those waking scenes of horror were now replaced by a thing in some way worse: the slow, abject mental torment that was the mental presence of Haman Karn at this close a range. Camille felt it more keenly than perhaps any other Newtype here, getting a far larger piece of the Regent's mental backwash than he ever would've care to. But it was a simple matter to deal with.
Running faucet? Turn that shit the fuck off.
"HAMAN!!!" Not a name, but an /evocation/, spoken on more than one plane of existence. The Zeta rockets across the confusion of the battlefield, not even bothering to mask who it was headed for in a ridiculously headstrong and dangerous maneuever.
He sees a flash from the corner of his eyes, the rest of his body moving in near-unconscious reaction to adjust the vernier thrust by the bare degrees necessary to avoid the Qubely's attack and follow with a simultaneous blast of his own. The pronouncement of Puru Two, her subdued mental signature combined with her sullen appearance, was enough to jolt Camille from his suicidal assault.
"Puru Two..." He spoke in disbelief, knowing something was both horribly wrong and who was responsible, "My God, what has she done to you?
<Radio: F - A-LAWS Chat> Shinji Ikari talks in a deep voice. "Good Evening."
Norris Packard has seen things he doesn't like has seen things that put Zeon in danger. He knows what he has to do, he has tomake his choice. To Packard Puru Two isn't a tool, she's a comrade and one of the one Bian's put his hopes in, he's not about to let h3er end this way. His machine launches from Axis it self but he knows what he has to do but the question is when? The GOUF Crusader laucnhes and his fateful choice awaits him.
The Seventh Gundam drifts up, a little bit away from formation again - and that's when Glemy strikes. Or, well, tries to strike.
Overloaded as she is, Meriden does not manage to sense the bolts coming. Everything is chaos and she can't make out anyone in particular through Haman's psychic radiation. But she does see the ship, eyes widening, and she brings up the Seventh Gundam's shield, firing thrusters to slow her forward movement.
Beams lance all around her. The Gundam has remarkable maneuverability; it was built for space from the beginning. The one shot that gets too close, Meriden partially deflects with the shield; it leaves a red-glowing patch on the lunar titanium, but it holds. She looks at the battleship, heart sinking... briefly.
She realizes she wants to fight it. Meriden brings up the high-powered beam rifle. There's no way she can get a really damaging blow on the Sandra, but she doesn't want to kill it or the people inside it. Instead Meriden goes for the beam cannons, firing in while they're exposed (because they're shooting at her! she keeps dodging while she does it) and trying to shut down at least some of them.
"I'm engaging!" Meriden says, breaking formation with Jung and Noriko entirely to avoid tangling up with them on a dodge or accidentally tracking a beam blast into them.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Samuel Flynn transmits, "Shit; enemy repair unit spotted. I'm going for it."
Zechs Marquise is a man who can do many amazing things, and it is only one trick up his sleeve that is currently on display: beating back the tides with a sword. Or, in this case, a heat rod, but really, same principle. The heat rod jams into the back of the Schnee Weiss's leg, peeking out from its thigh like an erection trapped in tight jeans -- fitting enough.
If this were proper gravity, the Schnee Weiss would slam into the ground and crater, but this is space, so it simply hurtles forward, momentum bleeding out. Haman Karn screams a wordless assassin's cry as she pulls hard on the control sticks, nearly breaking them loose from their panels. As she tumbles, the blasts from the RMP-5GA whiz by, narrowly missing a flailing arm -- had they hit, it would have found itself absent an elbow.
When the Schnee Weiss is righted, Haman still has a distance to go between herself and Johnny Ridden's MS -- but that is why the good Lord gave us all bits. "/RIDDEN!/" the Queen of Space howls, throat so tense that her cry comes out hot and scratchy.
Small rocket-propelled death sticks attempt to introduce themselves to strategic points on Ridden's high-performance Zaku. She knows Mineva is in there. She's not making cockpit shots. She's in control. She's in control.
Haman Karn keeps telling herself that.
The Ark Hammer continues it's flight towards Johnny Ridden's mech in the distance. It's not moving very fast at the moment either. Can we really reiterate this much more? Slow moving. Yeah. However, it's the actions in the bridge that are more important. Miranda keeps watch over the fleeing mech, as Divada watches the Sundered Heart. "Tactical, Flak cannons." A second later, 4 small turrets on the broadside of the Ark Hammer fire at the incoming missile barrage, one explosion leads to another, and another, until all of the missiles have been shot down. "Hmmm....." Divada says as she watches the Sundered heart's flight path. "I'll give the captain one compliment, he's ballsy." The Tactical officer looks up from her display. "My lady, the Titan Laser cannon is fully charged." Divada smirks a little bit. "Excellent. Target Engines." She waits a heartbeat. "Fire." A Turret on the side of the ship turns towards the Sundered Heart and fires a red beam of light at the ship. Steiner's seen lasers before, and probably knows how dangerous they are.
Newtype senses extend, sharpen, /focus/ on the battle as it unfolds. She doesn't make a move for Meriden, at least not at first. If Glemy is going to go after that Mobile Suit-- that Gundam-- he'll be fine. He wouldn't take on a single opponent with the whole of the Sandra if he wasn't going to be!
Instead, she focuses on the two machines nearby. Call it a pre-emptive strike, or one of anticipation, but the young Newtype's eyes snap open as the Qubeley lunges forward through space. Screaming straight on 'till morning, the Mobile Suit's right arm swings forward while a beam saber ejects from under the wrist. The blade ignites a bright and vibrant green, the blade arcing around to strike at Jung Freud and the Yuliana!
"Funnels!!" she cries, at the same moment.
The tail binder shifts. With a burst of blue, a group of ten Funnels scatter from the Qubeley's robotic backside, some spinning wildly through space with their directional thrusters, some jetting in straight lines-- and all ten of them are in some way or another aiming at Noriko and the Nausica. Three fire in rapid succession, one from below, one from on high, and a third from behind!
That is definitely the Mobile Suit that Zabi heiress is in, Zechs concludes. Haman's blind, burning, business with it is undeniable. There's few things in this galaxy that would force the woman to such a psychotic tilt, but Mineva represents everything Haman Karn has grown to love: wealth, power, and absolute authority. Without it, she is nothing. But she is also traveling in an extremely fast Mobile Suit --
The Epyon transforms again, forced back into Mobile Armor mode for the speed advantages it gives. With both of its vernier thrusters coupled together into one tremendous engine, the Epyon can chase after the customized Rick Dom. But, the drawback of a Gundam built for dueling is that has no ranged weaponry.
"The Zaku is our ally," Zechs transmits, lifting the visor of the ZERO helmet to disconnect from the battle data feed. There is little need for it when he is in pursuit of his major enemy. And unless someone else can slow her down, he won't be able to stop her.
"...", is Puru Two's eloquent response to Camille's question, while the Qubeley weaves and evades the energy blast with the kind of precision that clearly indicates that she saw it coming in advance. Immediately, Funnels are launched in response - only two, for some reason - which fire their on-board beam weapons as a deterrent. Looks like she isn't going for swarming tactics, not yet anyway.
This particular model of Qubeley has an additional feature. If only Puru Two was all there, she'd be pretty eager to try it out. As it is... well, she's still eager, but there's no way to tell. She is completely unexpressive, and there's absolutely no emotions coming from her. Her mind is there, her psychic ability is clearly there, but... there's just no /life/ holding it all together.
Movement occurs on the back of the Qubeley, while Puru Two finally sees fit to say something. "Your continued existence is a threat to Haman Karn." Notably, not Zeon. Haman Karn, specifically. In the mean time, two cannons have swiveled into position, extending over the Qubeley's broad shoulder binders, and immediately launching twin energy shells at the Zeta Gundam. "A threat which I will now remove."
Funnels! Quatre's head turns upwards as he senses the hatred come closer, and his gaze picks up the rapid movements of the funnels. A sixsome of Planet Defenders rush out and between each pair of three, they create an invisible netting that stops each funnel in their paths - sapping away at the energy within them - but holding. After all, these things could take a hit from a Buster rifle like the Wing Zero's - and still work.
Quatre tries to focus his attention on the many things that are going on now, and his hands quickly move over the levers and buttons that are needing to be pressed for the defenders to move... and one more thing.
The Mercurius reaches for its right side and takes hold of a beam rifle which quickly gets raised towards the Rick Dom's head-- planning on cutting off its sensors. Quatre takes his time, taking aim, and then finally squeezes off a torrent of thick yellow blasts of energy. It wasn't because he had a good bead on her. But because of the sheer pressure on his mind this woman was excerting.
He quickly then turns towards Johnny, following the movement of the Mobile Suit, and begins to burn backwards - following it, becoming a shield to the unit. He had to protect this person. Or rather... the girl within that suit. It was perhaps /her/ presence that made him be able to stand the sheer force of Haman's presence.
Quattro stands at the edge of a depression in space. He feels it. He knows it is there. Beside him, Amuro is spent and useless. The Dijeh remains docked. Quattro regards the more sensitive newtype as his protege flings himself into battle.
Years ago, an admiral now dead sat with a war hero in a room on Axis.
"I was thinking hard about those who continue to fight for independence. I would like to hear your opinion."
The younger man opposite the admiral had been summoned for an audience unlike his wingman from the recent evacuation operation, another ace named Matsunaga.
Eloquence aside, he finally finishes: "Fighting in this state will only spread the damage. Their actions are meaningless, Admiral Karn."
"I hold the same opinion. That is why Axis is devoid of those who wish to continue the war."
Close to there but another name ahead, Quattro Bajeena disengages the Hyaku Shiki and launches with the mega bazooka launcher, letting the massive gun and booster set carry him further toward the sinkhole. It takes him longer than usual to locate the Zeta Gundam and read the battlefield.
'Camille, I shouldn't be using you as a decoy,' he thinks. 'But you're strong enough to shoulder some of my vices. Besides--'
The Hyaku Shiki glides through one of the gaps in the multi-factional vanguard, still cautious. Quattro's eyes narrow. He leans forward, spotting a familiarly painted Zaku that is not toeing the line it should be. It's too obvious.
The Minovsky density isn't enough to prevent long ranged burst transmissions, so the Hyaku Shiki continues to circle, calling out to confirm what its pilot suspects.
"Still the White Wolf? We haven't seen each other since the last time."
"Status of the enemy ship?" Adam Steiner says, watching the holograms slowly move though the globe which represents this field of engagement.
"She's holding steady. She's got some sort of energy shield which is blocking our shots," Specter responds, her voice just a little tense.
"Fantastic. Remind me to ask someone about energy shields if we make it out of this," Adam muses before thinking about this tactically. Small red triangles appear on the display, representing fast-moving missiles as the Arc Hammer returns fire. The Sundered Heart doesn't have energy shielding, but what it does have is several machine gun turrets set around its hull, made explicitly to shoot down incoming missiles. That job they do quite well, the AMS firing and taking out each missile before it can impact on the ship's hull.
"Alright, bank the ship around to vector 21 and go at full burn. Give her a volley of LRMs across her nose."
"That puts us on a collision course with the enemy ship," Specter says, finally looking up at Adam, who only nods back to her.
"I know. Let's see how much nerve this captain has."
The Sundered Heart keeps its heading, going straight for an intercept course for the Arc Hammer, as it travels to intercept Johnny Ridden. Soon enough, either captain will have to decide whether to break off and change course, or let the two collide. However for now, they still have some distance between them.
The red laser strikes the Sundered Heart, blowing apart the heavy battleship armor and causing the entire ship to rock slightly. Adam demands, "Where were we hit?" and one engineer answers, "Level 13. No major systems damaged. Looks like secondary water recycling took most of the blow." Adam nods, and turns back to the fight.
"Alright, let's turn up the heat. She's in the firing arc for our forward and port gauss rifles. Focus all the batteries on one location. Maybe if we hit her shields hard enough, our shots will overwhelm them and punch though to the hull."
A few seconds later, four Gauss Rifle cannons turn, sync though the targeting computer, and then all fire as one, four massive metal slugs propelled though the air at many times the speed of sound via heavy magnetic coils, all aimed to converge at a single point, right before they strike the Arc Hammer.
The sudden barrage is... actually taken better than the single shot. The Efreet bobs and weaves, darting through space with the aid of the added verniers, the thrusters scattered across it's normally land-bound frame and the pilot's uncanny evasive skill combining to make it a difficult target to strike. The sheer volume of attacks makes it difficult to keep up, though; whatever the nature of that interference is, that strange feeling is interfering with the EXAM System as well.
Sam can't explain it. The presence with him becomes more restless, tense, nervous; feelings that aren't his own begin appearing, voices whispering at the edges of his conscious thought. He opens his mouth to reassure himself (because talking to yourself is a sure sign of sanity), eyes flicking over the monitor. "OZ-thirteen-em-ess-X1 Vayeate, beam cannon equipment, minimal defensive subsystems; Tsubasa, m--" As if catching himself, Sam suddenly smacks himself across the face and shouts at his instrumentation. "SHUT UP! /NOT NOW/!"
He's got to do this quick. He can't let himself be out here with whatever is causing this feeling much longer, or... be out with the EXAM System, anyway. The time limit is ticking away, the normal limit extended by his own brand of technological genius. He suddenly fires his forward thrusters and shoots backwards, the EXAM Efreet rushing at the Vayeate and taking a glancing hit across the left arm on the way back. It draws both it's heat sabers as it goes, approaching at breakneck speed. "Nngghhh--"
The Efreet passes the mobile suit, spinning and slashing like a whirlwind of bladed fury. It circles once with a two-boost turn, going in something like a wide 'U' and shooting off in another direction. The machine is suddenly on the tail of the Tsubasa, practically flying up it's ass, ignoring the heavily-armed dropship that is practically touching it to try to quickly and efficiently dismember the apparent support unit before it can do /that/ again. Its thrusters fire /again/... but this time, it breaks off.
Sam has seen Luciferian warships up close and personal. He doesn't want to be that close, even if he /is/ losing his mind.
Missiles misses. That's nothing new in the Earth Sphere. That's almost why the are there for. It's almost like everybody and their mother can evade a flurry of SRMs in here. This slight indignation is quickly replaced by a realisation. This ain't no random attacks. That crazy bitch is gunning for someone. That girl in the broadcast? That /young/ girl in the broadcast? Ted Morrison is widely regarded in his section of the Inner Sphere as a hero, a reputation that he feels -- /screamed/ about being undeserved. He always done things, very often indulging to himself, that many of his heroic actions were to save his own skin. Even with this indignation he feels, he still think so. But he can't let this happen. Maybe it's about time for some Periphery-Style Political Meeting. The Rampage is a slow machine. Contrary to the Zero, however, it's full to the brim with all sort of ranged weaponry, the BattleMech being little more than a walking artilery platform. A quick radio is sent to Zechs, before turning his radio up to full broadcast. "REGENT HAMAN KARN!" The BattleMech pilot roars out on the radio. "I am President Ted Morrison, of the Free World Erehwon! Is this how Zeon truly do thing? Assassinate young ones for your own /power/? " The massive cannon under the Rampage's left arm heats up, firing loos a large sustained beam of plasma aimed at the Rick Dom. It slices downward, aimed in the best way to /not/ endanger the target of the Regent. "I cannot allow that!"
"Roger that," Johnny confirms curtly. That's as far as he gets before a beam of lightning flashes before his eyes, and the Zaku whirls just in time to see the Mercurius's own remote weapons sally forth to counter Haman's Bits. "Too close-" the man mutters to himself. This prompts a terrified whimper from Mineva.
Speaking of Mineva; if it /is/ Mineva's presence that allows 'Vier' to resist the psychic onslaught from Haman, he's... well, he's got some bad luck, because as the Mercurius rushes to engage Haman, the crimson and black Zaku it was defending bolts, firing its thrusters again and accelerating away from the machine, its partner, and their transport.
"Got to get away," Johnny mutters fervently, eyes flitting back and forth across the battlefield. The net's closing, so to speak... but at the very least, his plan to create a battle to cover their retreat worked /fabulously./ The problem now, of course, is not getting himself and the Princess killed in that battle.
Or Shin, for that matter; another glance at his rear camera, and Johnny mutters a curse and begins circling around to regroup with the White Wolf.
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "Good... they are fleeing."
Matsunaga reacts poorly to some of their support, a far cry from trusting as a unit he doesn't recognize moves up next to Johnny. But the Crimson Lightning is fine with it...so there's no choice. Much as he doesn't like it, Shin will just have to follow his lead and trust in his judgement and ability. It's difficult, when Haman 'bit bullet hell' Karn is on their trail; but if that's all she can resort to, so much the better. There's sufficient backup, it /should/ be fine. And in the meantime, there's much else that demands the Zeon ace's attention.
"Hm?" It takes Shin a moment to recognize the voice, the mobile suit. It's not red, but it certainly stands out. "For now. I've been thinking that it doesn't suit me like it did back then." But this is hardly the time for reunions with old war buddies; not this kind, anyway. "If you want to catch up, we can do it later. I've got plenty of free time coming up." That said, the White Wolf displays a portion of his famed speed, accelerating again to keep up with Johnny. As always, with a wary eye on the pursuing forces; in particular, one rapidly approaching Gouf that's going to have to be handled with care.
Jung stares for a moment forwards. Why is this OZ unit putting a hand on the Zaku? She squeezes her eyes shut for a moment, then opens it again. No, she thinks, she just wasn't tracking it right. Whatever is coming out of that machine is some bad shit, Jung decides.
She makes herself breathe in through her nose, out through her mouth. Repeat. Repeat. Then things break down like falling dominos and her head snaps up. Someone shot and now Meriden's breaking off, shit! A surge of irrational half-remembered panic washes up Jung's spine. She turns partway towards Glemy and then the future changes AGAIN!
This is getting maddening. A thought crosses Jung's mind, in the portion that got her called a 'space combat genius' long ago, that this means that a large conjunction of Newtype pilots would eventually produce an implausibly contrived outcome. Such as --
Jung loses several seconds. When she regains them the NRX-7 is attempting to axe-kick the Quebeley's arm, which goes very poorly; the machine loses its foot, although this is not a crippling injury in space, as Quattro Bageena might be able to attest. "Shit!" The fear in her turns rather rapidly to anger, even as the Oz unit seems to be tending to that Zaku.
"So you're going to shoot your funnels at us! Wonderful!" Jung shouts, the NRX-7 drawing the black shape of its lance out of its upper thigh and twirling it once as it crackles actinically with current, at which point she stabs it like a giant black knife towards the lower end of one of the Quebeley's upper AMBAC binders. "You aren't killing anyone today, you little bitch!"
Maybe she thinks it is Puru Two.
After a few moments of intense concentration, Glemy manages to put himself back in the appropriate frame of mind to handle what's going on; this is good, as it helps him to give a last-second order that gets the Sandra out of the way of that high-speed beam rifle shot. He is almost certain the Gundam is more than a match for the Sandra... but he intends to give it a fight until he needs to retreat, just the same.
The Sandra then keeps its guns focused on Meriden, swiveling toward her -- and then suddenly, Glemy gives the order to spread the pain out a little bit. Not much -- the focus remains on the Seventh Gundam -- but enough that rather than merely firing shots toward her, the Sandra opens up with a wave of difficult-to-dodge curtain fire.
The Ark Hammer continues it's seemingly suicidal course straight for Johnny ridden and by hook and crook, the Sundered Heart. The Ship shudders under the combined shots of the multiple gauss rifles from the Sundered Heart. Divada, however, is less than impressed. "Gauss Rifles? Really? Come now. I thought there were some sort of autocannon that did a lot of damage. Oh well." She says before looking towards Tactical again. "Fire the titan laser cannon again."
Takeshi doesn't even seemed phased when the massive cannons on the Ark hammer fire lasers at the Sundered Heart. There's a grin, "You'll have to scare me worse than that." Tsubasa continues to ascertain combat data as the battle field changes, always in constant flux. "Well, it's time for us to join the fight. Let's see, the weakest link." And then that ship is flying across the field and another grin appears on Takeshi's face, "Look at 'at Tsubasa. He thinks he can sneak up on us."
The machine is silent, it doesn't move and as Samuel comes up behind him, it still doesn't move, until that second, the second the weapon came in towards him and then Tsubasa was gone. A massive, almost instantaneous redirection of velocity. "Hahah, he came to us. Okay Tsubasa, target locked." And then the machine is moving again, this time faster. This time it isn't going to stop, it's almost skating in this envrionment and the only thing that propelled it was an initial thruster burst. Even then, it shows no signs of slowing down. The question becomes then, can he shoot something at this speed?
"I'll show you the power of my mother's custom machine. Because I won't ever be shot down, because I'm going to rip everything apart." Almost like a demon, he's on the mech's tail. But he doesn't just fly up Sam's ass, he flies all around it and then, once in front, it just turns, continuing to move in backwards motion. Those yellow eyes flash as they seem to ascertain the mech across from them and energy gathers into three of the laser focus lens. They begin to become hot and once sufficiently charge, three laser blasts shoot out towards Sam. "Dodge that. A test of skill."
"I'm not someone who gets sentimental when there's a job to do," Quattro replies over radio to Matsunaga. He reaches up to the seal below his helmet, fingers toying with the catch before he realizes what he's doing and stops himself. His breathing becomes regular again. "There's still plenty of us who defected from Axis. Tell me who you're with."
Melee combat. Not the vayaete's strong suite, nor Trowa's for that matter. Still, he does not shy away from it when it comes and quickly angles himself when the charge comes. It's paramount to his ability to continue combat that he must not allow the beam cannon to be damaged. So instead he rolls sideways to expose the legs of the mobile suit and whips out with a kick. the saber strikes, carving through the leg at the shin, but the momentum of the severed limb carries it right into Sam's face regardless. "Damage within acceptable range..." Trowa glances at his scopes and spots Takeshi out of the corner of his eye. Looks like he has a little backup. With a simple flick of his switch, he activates his broadband com, "Attention Zeon Units, disengage and do not pursue the defecting machines or I will not hesitate to kill you." The cannon is levelled at Sam. "This is your only warning." And then BLAM!
"Since when did you give a damn about Haman Karn?!" Camille demands, remembering all too well the last battle at Mars not long ago, "Didn't you tell Judau you were going to take care of Haman yourself?!" It didn't take an autistic child to see just how well that went. Newtype-sense peals down the back of his neck like an ice-cold rivulet of water as the funnels launch, and Camille instinctively backs the Zeta off while covering his retreat with a liberal spattering of fire from the head vulcans.
'Damn..' He thinks, as the Zeta is suddenly doing rapid evasive maneuevers under pressure from the bits, 'Haman has done a number on her. What would Judau do? Oh god did I actually think that?'
A horror nearly worse than Haman's projected hellscape nearly grabs Camille before he notices the rival of the Hyaku Shiki. "Captain Quattro?!" He gapes in disbelief and slow-dawning realization of his own foolish idiocy, "You...came..?"
The stray blast of a biy sears across armor and instantly takes him back to the moment. No time. Survival now, talk later.
"Like you have what it takes to eliminate me!!" The Newtype assets, seeing the outline of a plan to deal with Puru Two as he takes advantage of an opening in the predicted pattern of fire, something only most Newtype could do, and presses in towards the Qubely, beam sword flashing in pink haze, "I'm going to break this toy of yours, little girls like you don't belong on the battlefield!!!"
Shin Matsunaga can't help himself. Even considering the serious situation, he barks out a laugh at Char's question. The irony is just too rich. "Are you telling me you don't recognize him?" Shaking his head and returning to a more somber tone, he adds, "It's Johnny Ridden. The Crimson Lightning."
Noriko Takaya is a little distracted by the sense of unease; a faint chill in her heart, scarcely detectable but still unnerving for someone like her, who is unused to it. But...
"We'll get her to safety...we have to!" Protect a scared little girl, that's the kind of thing Noriko can absolutely do. Noriko keeps in formation with Jung, a far cry from the frightened girl who could never fly straight of yesteryear. But she grips the control sticks (she hates control sticks, she thinks, but Jung wouldn't hear about harnesses) tighter, shoulders wired and tense. And then-- Beep, beep, lockon warnings. Noriko catches the maneuvering funnels on the machine's battlefield scanner, and quickly doesn't even bother with defense - jerking around and spraying fire wildly at the remotes while her machine tries to find the real target. She's rattled and struck, but manages to shoot some of the funnels, in turn. It drives her blood higher, as she scans across space, and...
And Jung zips off. Noriko blinks. "...well, not like I was gonna find her my way," she decides, and boosts after Jung - following in! "Jung, I'm coming in to support!" she calls, and then demonstrates that when she says 'support', she means 'conduct violence', which in this particular case means Noriko rears back with one arm reflexively. She /intends/ this to cause her machine to punch the enemy, but it mostly causes the machine to spin around wildly for a few seconds and then Noriko says, "Wait, crap, wrong system--!" and manages to recover the maneuver and heel kick the Qubeley's...well, chest, it doesn't have much face. Or neck.
Meriden Almace is a little less sure that she can fight a battleship, whatever the battleship thinks of /her/. This is just an old Gundam; yes, it's good, but can /she/ keep up with it?
The continued beam volleys come in. Meriden does her best to dodge them, but without opening up her mind any further than it already is. There are a couple glimmers of intuition, then something bright -
But the something bright is the shot that skims Meriden's Gundam's torso. It doesn't vaporize, but the armour is crazed and cracked, and Meriden inside is jolted back to herself from the impact. She actually considers her plan of action for a split second.
And then she charges the battleship. Meriden figures the number of guns it can shoot at her goes way down if it's closer, but there's a lot of distance to cover. Unable to make it all at once, she replaces the beam rifle on its magnetic clip and instead draws a blocky tube with a number of small barrels rather than one big one. It fires a cluster of microgrenades; Meriden gets two clustered shots out of it before she has to reload. It's still more of a 'drive-off' attack than 'blow-up' attack.
Zechs Merquise is forgotten, for now. Haman Karn's mind is moving too fast and he's left in her psychic dust. It's a dangerous move. Perhaps she will regret it one day.
In fact, Haman forgets everything. There's Johnny Ridden. There's Mineva. There's the Crimson Zaku. And beyond that, just a sea of blood set against a sky where the stars are being asphyxiated by the void. Space and feeling around Haman are an ocean of stone. Ted Morrison's next shot whizzes past one of the bit deposits on the Schnee Weiss' fat frame. "Vier Winnar" has better luck, but the diffused spray of his beam shots means that while the Schnee Weiss is peppered with scalding deformity, no single strike is a killing blow.
"ENOUGH GAMES, RIDDEN!" Haman Karn bellows. She's not talking into her radio -- but the feeling of what she's saying carries. "ENOUGH! ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH!!!"
More bits seek to close the gap, trying to sir-sum-vrent Vier's blocking.
The Sundered Heart rocks violently as another laser shot comes in, slamming across the port armor on the massive ship and tearing an impressive line though the heavy armor that plates the sides. The damage on this one is a bit more serious, with several engineering levels hit, damage to the power grid requiring immediate work from repair crews, though reworks at the bridge level keeps the ship from losing any combat efficiency.
Meanwhile, Rachel Specter is getting a bit nervous. "Adam...That ship is getting awfully close, and it doesn't look like they're breaking off."
"Keep it steady," Adam Steiner responds, his voice as cool and even as ever. We just need to get a little bit closer. Gunnery teams! Fire as many missiles as you can, as fast as you can pump them out! At this range, they shouldn't have enough time for their flak cannons to intercept them all."
It's just a guess. Adam has no idea how efficient their flak cannons are. It sounds good from where he's sitting, though.
From all sides of the ship, missiles are pumped out, LRMs pouring into space like a hive of angry hornets, missiles twisting though space to come about on the target and fly though the air, filling the space between the two ships with well over a hundred small, fast-moving missiles, aimed to strike across all levels of the enemy ship..
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "I can't explain it... but that Mineva person... she has to be saved."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "She must get away."
"Ridden?" Quattro murmurs, bemused enough to talk to himself. "Didn't they call him the Crimson Nightmare?"
The Hyaku Shiki stops the mega bazooka launcher. Its barrel extends, the final compression cycles beginning within its core. There was little reason to use it offensively here, but an overload could translate to burnt out boosters and a fast escape. Still, Quattro orients the launcher toward the conflict-- toward Ridden and Mineva.
His eyes are bleary behind his helmet. He gags. The precious few moments he spends with his eyes squeezed shut could mean the Hyaku Shiki being shot down. He's still alive three seconds later so that can slide.
"Crimson Lightning," Quattro interjects during the game of cat and mouse between Ridden and Haman, using the probably made up name Matsunaga provided him with. "I have you covered from these coordinates. Get past me."
When Haman speeds by, Quatre's Planet Defenders dart in the way of her approach, but fail to catch up. The entire suit quickly turns around - the young man squinting his eyes at the unit that... upon passing... almost made him feel like killing a colony or something. You know. For silly reasons like 'they have weapons there'.
But no, he manages to keep it together. He squints as he looks through the monitor and raises that weapon up towards the Rick Dom once more - and the thrusters to the Mercurius activate at full blast.
"I won't let you!" Vier 'Raberba' Winnaar calls out without actually activating his speakers. After all, he did't want to risk the chance of anyone recognizing his voice. The blue fire of the engines pushes the unit forwards and he continues to line up the weapons - aiming this time for the /thrusters/ on Haman Karn's unit. He'd felt a pure heart hidden within that unit which Johnny was pilotting. It had reminded him, slightly, of Relena peacecraft. And he was under the full impression that such people had to be saved.
So, another series of yellow blasts rush from the rifle whilst the Mercurius strafes to the right, to make sure that the shots won't directly impact the unit, but rather would fry the thrusters from the side.
<Radio: D - WING boys> Trowa Barton transmits, "I can't get a clear shot from this angle. Too many friendlies in the way."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "Alright. I'll see what I can do then."
There sure is a lot of Newtype violence flying around out there. The physical kind doesn't bother Puru Two much when it's not being directed at her, but the mental kind is wearing down on her no matter what it's directed at. The Psycommu headset she wears was modified to keep outside interference away from her mind and in so doing help to keep her under control, but its capabilities are being seriously pushed to their limits. Haman herself in particular isn't helping at all.
The net result is that Puru Two is starting to get mentally distracted. Bits and pieces of people's various mental pressures are seeping past the headset, allowing stray thoughts to mix in with her absolute devotion to Haman Karn. This allows Camille's questions to actually be considered, somewhere in the back of her mind. Since when /did/ she come to be so devoted to Haman Karn? Did she actually say something like that at one point? She can't remember any of that at all.
And suddenly Zeta Gundam is right there in her face with a beam saber. "...!" There are no words, but there was an emotional response. For a moment, she clearly transmitted complete surprise. It disappears just as quickly however, ripping a beam saber of her own free from the Qubeley's arm to defend herself with. It doesn't go too well. Taken off guard like this, her parrying attempt goes poorly, leaving a gash across the length of her machine's frame. Thankfully she backed off, leaving the tear a shallow one.
And then Camille brings out the little girl speech. Instantly, another emotional response briefly breaks through to the surface. Irritation. This too fades quickly. But the physical response still shows it clearly, as the Qubeley draws its second Beam Saber as well, and charges back into melee with the Zeta. "You talk too much. That too will cease soon," she promises, slashing away with both weapons.
The Sandra is not quite so lucky this time; the grenades, for the most part, find their mark or something near it. It's hardly critical damage for the immense Sandra -- but it is damage, and Glemy doesn't want to risk himself too much for this. He needs to find his perfect timing -- and this isn't it.
Grinding his teeth and attempting to close out that continued psychic distraction, Glemy leaves the handling of the ship on an 'at will' basis; he can't keep all the myriad systems going on coordinated right now. Too much weighs on his mind, both psychically and more broadly.
The beam cannons are temporarily offline after those explosions, so instead, the Sandra's missile tubes turn toward the enemy machine, the immense ship presenting its side to its opponent. A large yet incredibly swift missile shoots out, whirling through space like the sort of missile usually seen on a Variable Fighter, before -- hopefully -- making solid impact with Meriden's Gundam.
The Ark Hammer looms closer to the Sundered Heart, even as it's broadside is rocked by more missile fire. However, it doesn't change course. Divada pulls herself back to a standing position after the missile barrage hits the shields, then the hull. "Huh. Seems this guy is definitely intent upon ramming us." She almost sounds bored in her proclamation. "All right. We can play this game. Helm. Launch avoidance maneuver delta." "Yes My lady." A pair of powerful thrusters on the front of the ship fire and aim the front of the ship up and aims the ship over the Sundered Heart. As it flies over the Sundered Heart, Divada shakes her head. "And now, let's aim for their engines yet again." "My Lady, The EOTI laser is charged." "Wonderful. Target the Engines and fire." A Turret under the belly of the ship turns towards the Sundered Heart and fires at it's bridge! However, the White Laser BENDS around the bridge to impact on the engines if it hits...
Johnny's 'running away like a punk-ass bitch' unfortunately makes it increasingly difficult for 'Vier' to cover him, even with the range of the Planet Defenders... and besides, Haman has an awful lot of bits. So, so many bits.
Luckily, the Crimson Lightning is not exactly a slouch.
The crimson and black Zaku, despite its age, weaves gracefully between yellow mega particle beams as they lance towards it from every direction. Under his helmet, Johnny's teeth are gritted together; the pressure on his mind from Haman is only getting worse as she becomes angrier, and there's no way he can keep this up all day.
So who is it to the rescue but...
"That's Char!" Mineva all but squeals, as Quattro's voice fills the Zaku's cockpit. "Char'll help us! He'll help us, right?!" she begs of Johnny, leaping up to tug at his arm.
"Princess," Johnny glowers through gritted teeth, as the tugging on his arm causes one of Haman's bits to just about shave his Zaku's paint off, "Please sit down again."
As per Quattro's statement, however, Ridden's Zaku begins accelerating towards the given coordinates. It's Char, Johnny reasons; he's just like me and Shin. He'd never let something happen to Mineva...
"Copy that," Johnny responds curtly. It's about all he can get out without interference, anyways... although he does, as an afterthought, add, "Red Comet."
Puru Seven's mind races-- this woman isn't familiar, but the way that she's talking to her... could it possibly be? Had she fought with someone else in the squad in the past, or could it have been Puru Two? Either way, her eyes narrow while the axe comes swinging in her way. The Qubeley's thrusters fire with a heavy BANG that rattles the interior of the cockpit as it pulls backwards, twisting hard to one side while the lance narrowly passes by the Mobile Suit's torso by a few lucky feet.
A few of the funnels are caught in the sweep of gunfire. Some move away, dodge the return fire, but trying to fight two fronts-- literally-- is a daunting task even to her. Puru Two doesn't strike out with that beam saber a second time, instead allowing the Mobile Suit to sway backward and get a little bit of range from Jung, even as Noriko comes blazing in all on her own.
An impression, a brief feeling and glimpse into the Nausica's cockpit is what gives her the indication to dodge, the whole of the Qubeley's bulk twisting /away/ from Noriko as she comes in closer, the arms lifting high. The pseudo-Gespenst Kick cuts across the chest armor in a shallow slash, blunt force and velocity acting in concert to tear a nasty-looking rip across the armor.
Puru Seven grips the controls tighter and presses her back to the seat to minimize the shake, even while her small feet dig in against the pedals to adjust her thrust, while her arms attempt to keep control of the machine, while her mind keeps track of what Funnels she has left out of those that she had deployed. When Puru Seven speaks, her voice is certainly the same-- but much more calm.
"I'm afraid you have me confused with my elder 'sibling,'" she says. "I have no overt interest in killing you, unless you continue to threaten Zeon's forces."
Twisting around to regard Noriko, scanners and data are gathered as quickly as possible. The Qubeley Mass Production Type's two backpack-mounted beam launchers rise and flip forward over the shoulders while targeting systems attempt to lock on to the Nausica's frame... and /fires/, twin blasts screaming through space toward Noriko.
Meanwhile, the remaining Funnels flit around the Qubeley like a defensive turret. One zips toward Jung after the other, cutting and speeding around before two fire at once, hoping to catch the Yuliana in a cross formation with their shots!
Those bits are rather annoying to deal with. Speeding all around, being confusing to the targeting systems... speaking of that: "Alexia!" Morrison shuts off his radio, yelling at the AI. "Clean up the targeting screen! Only show them if they start sneering at my face or that girl's face!" There, lots better, Morrison muses as he speeds foward the Rick Dom. There's a lot of other units around this place. Seems like he's not the only one that want a piece of that psychopath. Ted Morrison didn't feel anything of Haman's own psychic yelling. He can tell the pilot is being agitated by how it /moves/ though. Ted flips the radio back again, catching up as he reeves up the rotatory AC/10 toward the Zeonite unit, yelling up in the frequencies. "WOMAN, IN THE NAME OF ME, SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN!" Lead in space is rather less effective when fired. However, when they are /explosive/, that's another matter entierly.
Divada's plan would have worked perfectly, had Adam actually been intending to ram her ship. However, that was never his plan from the beginning. He simply needed her to commit first. As soon as his crew reports the Arc Hammer changing course, Adam stands up, and hits a hand on the guard railing in front of him. "That's it! Activate the tesla drives! Slide us 1-5-1, rotate sixty degrees starboard!"
The Tesla Drive is new tech for Adam, and he only had a few hours to test how it allows his ship to move. A lot less than he's like. However, in that time, he did discover a few tricks to pull with it, such bringing the ship about more quickly when it's used in conjunction with his ship's normal thrusters. The Sundered Heart pivots and turns rapidly enough to cause some of the crew to fall over, and many on the bridge to fall back to their chairs.
Adam remains standing though, hands gripped tightly around the rail in front of him as the ship spins to bring it parallel to the Arc Hammer, looking so close that crew looking out ship's windows could make out crew on the other side.
"Alright," Adam says, a slight rise in his voice, "Open up our attack profile! All guns, fire at will!"
The broadsides of the ship brought right up to the Arc Hammer, the Sundered Heart finally opens up with all its available guns. Pulse lasers fire from all parts of Adam's ship, rapid-fire laser blasts of yellow and crimson striking out at every corner of the Arc Hammer. Between them, more Gauss Rifles take aim and fire high-velocity impact slugs, while Rotary Autocannons put out lower velocity, but much more rapidly fired spray of fire. LX-10 Flak Cannons are also fired from here and there, and lastly several more missiles streak out from launchers, peppering all along the Arc Hammer's defenses.
More missiles! There are way too many, Meriden thinks. The haze in her head has not let up; if anything it's gotten worse, as Meriden tends to open up more during combat. But the insight is still there, if a little fainter.
Meriden discharges the half-reloaded grenade launcher one last time as she abruptly pulls up. The closest missile slams into her shield, sending her cartwheeling through space and twisting the shield but leaving the actual frame largely unharmed. The biggest issue is that she is getting very dizzy, very quickly, and it's hard for her to reorient herself -
Eventually she manages it, straightening 'up'. She still can't focus; apparently angry, she slams the grenade launcher back against its lockpoint and redraws the beam rifle, actually taking aim before squeezing off shots. This time she aims at the missile launchers.
Meriden also starts sending a message. "Hey, ship!" she says. "We're trying to rescue someone; can't you just let us?"
The Efreet gets battered on the way past. Damage mounts, alarms beginning to sound and lights flicking into danger zones across his display. The Tsubasa gives chase and starts to pull out in front of it... but it can't quite. There isn't enough time that the Efreet is sitting still to get in front of it, constantly changing course and maneuvering out of the thing's reach. It slows suddenly, letting it get in front, and then rushes straight at it and hacks a gash across it's body in something like revenge. The Efreet takes the laser shot right through the shoulder for it's trouble. Sam calls it worth it.
It keeps moving. Sam spots Trowa, but he can't seem to keep him in focus. The sounds--the voices--they're screaming, shouting, crying, sobbing into his ears. He doesn't hear them but he /hears/ them, he doesn't see them but he /feels/ them--the megaparticle beam streaks forward, his one warning taken, his only chance, there, right /there/, shut them /up/--
The Efreet spins out into space, trailing arcs of lightning. One of it's legs tears off with a spray of metal and megaparticles, exploding and sending it careening. It's sword spins, one hurled at the last second, flipping end over end and finding itself stuck in the OZ suit.
The EXAM System deactivates. Flynn is left in the dark, accompanied by the sounds of his own breathing as the voices quiet.
Whispers. Only whispers. Thank God.
Divada is still looking out at the Sundered Heart as the ship turns parallel to it. "Ooo, nice maneuver." She says with a bit of a smile as she practically looks into their bridge and, tilts her head at Adam Steiner, crossing her arms at her ribs as she Autocannons hit the shielding for the ship, barely making a dent in the armor, let alone penetrating the shields. "And here I thought there'd be more to your attack. A shame." She's still smiling at the Sundered Heart as she raises her hand, to which the Tactical officer looks up, then Divada points at the Sundered Heart out the window, two fingers at the engines. The Tactical officer simply nods and presses a button, with the same white bendy laser zipping around the Sundered Heart to go for it's engines again.
It was hard for Camille to tell if he was getting much of a response form Puru Two; the psychic interference from Haman was far too great for even his greater sensitivity to pick up on the subtle cues of annoyance and irritation his words elicit. Yet the Zeta Gundam has tasted the blood of its foe and the bettle would be pressed further.
"Not even Bright Noa can shut me up when he wants to." The boy asserts, the inner wall of his cheek stinging with the faint memory of blood from the slap he received some weeks ago, "What chance do /you/ have?!"
The Quebly's double beam saber somehow worked it's way past Camille's guard, scoring a garing gash across the Gundam's chassis to match the one it had just inflicted on it's foe.
"Okay, fairly good chance." He muttered grudgingly, "Then if you want to be soldier, tell me: Where is your pride, Puru Two?!" A second beam sword joined the first, meeting the next clash in a brilliant meeting of opposite polarities that brings light to the darkness of space between the two mobile suits, beautiful were it not so dreadfully apparent that they were locked in deadly combat.
'Damn it..' Camille finds his own thoughts once more, 'I can tell Mineva is on that Zaku Haman keeps harrying, but I can't shake this girl! I hope you know what you're doing, Captain Quattro...'
Camille hoped he knew what he was doing, too.
"Where is your anger?! Your rage?!" He demands, breaking the lock with a sudden mechanical flourish and leading in with his right sword, only to reveal as a feint for a strike to the left, "I just called you a child! Where is the /real/ you?!" No wait, a /double/ feint!! The true attack was from the right!!
"What would /Judau/ say if he saw you like this?!"
Linda's getting attacked!!
Jung's teeth bare even as she remembers that, no, that Gundam doesn't contain a dead Scandanavian-Japanese woman. The skittering sparks coming on a psionic plane from engagement between Haman Karn and the mysterious Mr. Bageena hits Jung like mild electrical shocks. Puru Seven gives her something to discuss.
"Threaten Zeon forces?! You're the fucking ones shooting you miserable little Ageha bitch!!"
Well, Jung is under stress, so let's be charitable. "Shove your condescension out of your -" She is cut off when one of the NRX-7's antennas is shot with a funnel flit, the machine suddenly doing a barrel-like tumbling 'roll' in mid space with vernier controls to avoid being carved open. Jung takes the opportunity to inhale deeply.
"You can declare your overt interest --" The NRX-7 lunges inwards, reaching out with its non-spear-holding hand to grasp the Quebeley's head, even as it propels itself forwards to try and drive its knee into the Zeonic suit's forward cameras. "TO THIS!"
In the middle, there was darkness, and at this darkness's center there was a light that burnt anything that it touched. Surrounded in all directions by river silt, gills choked out, caked with mud -- poison oak rustling on bare flesh -- smoke stinging nostrils -- a flicker of red in the flare of the pink...
Haman Karn banks left, hard, and once more swerves free of Ted Morrison's assault, letting his cluster of shots disperse without incident. That bank puts her right into the path of Vier Winnaar's assault, and as his beams wrack the Schnee Weiss's frame, pieces of it break away. But the machine doesn't slow down. The dog has smelled blood.
There's a guttural hiss that can be heard over the shoulder, like a rumor.
Bits explode around the fray like nihilistic firecrackers, party poppers celebrating the end of everything.
The heat sword finds itself wedged in the left shoulder of the Vayaete, narrowly missing the actuator itself. Trowa takes a moment to reach up and yank the blade free, then turns back to the raging battle. Quatre is calling for assistance and Trowa takes aim, but he doesn't take the shot. Too far away and too many friendlies clustered around the target for him to fire. he could just as easily hit an ally as Karn. he needs a better firing angle. The Vayaete launches off, cicling wide as Trpowa seeks a good angle of attack to strike from. the ever changing conditions however makes it difficult. Waaaaahnanananananana! The proximity alarm! Reaction out of reflex, Trowa whips around to face the machine coming up from behind: A GOUF. it's broadcasting a DC IFF, and it's not one of the two machines he marked as friendly. That means it's a target. The cannon snaps up once more, it's energy discharging towards the rapidly approaching machine.
Glemy does the opposite -- he closes off during combat, letting himself shut out the world of feelings for the world of steel. Right now, it's helping. Opening a comm to Meriden, Glemy says, "No," and then turns his attention away from talking and back toward commanding.
He has a plan. Specifically, he has a plan to command by actively refusing to command. Leaving the crew to operate at-will, Glemy continues to fight that headache down until it becomes nothing. The crew, meanwhile, begins to get sloppy.
A larger beam cannon swivels around, aiming for the Seventh Gundam; it fires a rather uncoordinated, unimpressive blast, the ship seeming to fall into less and less fighting form as the battle goes on.
The homing lasers strike the large engine on the starboard side of the ship, tearing apart the heavy armor a good bit, but don't manage to destroy any of the internal engine structure yet, thanks mostly to the super-heavy armor used by the Inner Sphere.
"Our weapons aren't getting though their shields," Specter reports as the Sundered Heart continues to pound fire from lasers, missiles and autocannons into the enemy ship. A lot of the bridge crew looks worried, but Adam doesn't. His eyes are narrowed slightly, and he's still standing, looking out the window out at the large ship that they're exchanging fire with. "Keep up the fire. Autocannons, target their weapon systems."
"Not their engines?" Specter asks, looking up again. Adam just shakes his head. "If we disable their engines, their long-range lasers will still be a threat. We disarm the weapons and they'll be forced to break off."
While the pulse lasers continue to unload into the enemy shield,s several heavy, rapid-fire rotary autocannons swivel around, gunners targeting the source of those homing lasers, and start unloading rapid-fire autocannon shells into the enemy ship. Individually the shells don't do much damage, but they fire at a rate much faster than most autocannons, and there are several of them.
Takeshi snickers, "Hah. He's pretty fast. Good, Good." The sword manages to reach the front of the machine and tear through it, but this machine wouldn't fall to just that. No, it would take much more punishment yet. The yellow eyes flash once more as they read the battlefield. "Now, let's find our next enemy." He watches the enemies flash before the screen. "Hmm. Which one should I go after. They're all going after that Dom, it won't do us any good to get involved. Still," He stops on Glemy Toto, "That one. That's the one. They're trying to hurt those two. I think we can be of use Tsubasa."
The yellow eyes flash as they pull in the enemy and begin to ascertain the make up of the mecha.
And the mech is off again, but he doesn't wait to get in close to take a shot. "Hahah. Time for a little sniping Tsubasa. Let's teach them about Tenshi." And energy begins building once more in three laser focus lens as it barrels towards teh battleship. "Lasers can cut through just about anything. Tsubasa, full power on lens 3, 12 and 15. Fire on my mark. Mark!" And the lasers stream towards the massive ship in help of his ally on the front. He doesn't pause to revel, flying past to make it hard on the massive thing. This should be fun.
Meriden Almace sprays head vulcans with reckless abandon while flying parallel to the Sandra. It is stupid and dangerous and she does it anyway - and it actually pays off when they stop strafing her, instead deciding to use single massive shots.
Okay, double massive shots.
Meriden actually touches down on the Sandra for a split second, but only to push off of it and accelerate away faster than she could with just the thrusters. She does a somersaulting flip in the air, until she has the Hyper Bazooka pointed down at the battleship and is drifting away from it. "Well fine!" she says. "But I warned you!"
Meriden fires the Hyper Bazooka. The shell explodes before it impacts, but just barely; Meriden is still not going for killing blows because she doesn't want to be responsible for that, instead just hammering it with shrapnel and larger chunks of twisted metal along rather than in.
Okay, so, Autocannons weren't all that useful. Some information on the radio proves to be useful insight, on the other hand. Saturate the whole godamn place up. See if those things survives that unharmed... "Alright, that's it," Morrison mutters under his breath, feeling a little more than annoyed that most of his onslaught has been avoided pretty much effortlessly for the most part. "ALEXIA! Power up the core! Ready the missiles! It's Alpha time. And if she gets out of that one completly unharmed, I'm going to go buy a hat and /eat it/." Ted snaps up two covers on his controls, immediatedly pressing the two large red buttons hiding underneath. They are not the trigger to any sort of super weapon, or anything of the sort. It is, however, the button to fire all the missiles. /All of them/. The pulse laser starts the hail of firepower toward the Rick Dom, quickly followed by a rain of Autocannons and quick-targeted SRMS and LRMS. An array of medium laser joins the dance, saturating the area with enough energy to be seen quite clearly from his position. Machine gun fires and an useless flamethrower joins into the fray. Last but not the least, plasma gouts joins to fill in whatever hole was left by the barrage of firepower.
The Pulse lasers combined with the Rotary cannons barely dent the armor of the Ark Hammer. In essence, the Ark Hammer is really being dinged to death. Miranda looks out of the front window and grunts. "It seems Karn was able to disable that mech." Divada simply makes a face. "I guess we won't learn the truth now, will we?" She says quietly as the tactical officer pops up. "Ma'am. Ion Cannons are charged." Divada smiles a bit. "All right. If we're not going to get the truth out of this, we'll just have to look deeper into this later. For now, target the Sundered heart with Cannon one. Fire." She almost sounds bored. However, the Turret spits out a high intensity blue beam at the Sundered heart, on a different turret mount than the EOTI laser.
Oh, no. You'd know if she were...
Noriko hears that banter between Puru Seven and Jung, and...doesn't quite have the same emotions in it. "You're trying to hurt someone who's walking away," Noriko says, directly - a strange cool to her voice, the calm that hides the flaring, incandescent inferno that is Noriko Takaya's soul. "Whatever's going on here, I know that much. The one who's a threat is you!"
The Pile Bunker clicks, silent, and then pistons back.
And that means--!
Systems warn her of the high-intensity scan passing through. She sweeps her machine in a quick evasive pattern, swinging her free hand forward to block the incoming massive laser cannon blast. It strikes, and the Nausica vanishes in a blank void--
When Puru Seven can see again, Noriko Takaya is /right there/, EXPLODING through the light! "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!"
And thrusting her Pile Bunker forward to reduce the Qubeley's entire lower torso to scrap.
Norris Packard has been only in limited engagements as he seems to have been waiting for something but it's too late an alarm sounds. He's gtot a target lock on him. He tries to evde the fire but to no avial so he charges right at Trowa, the shield taking a large amoutn of the damage as he closes with the Vayate to get in it's face, he pulls the Tempest blade and it comes to life.
"OUT OF THE WAY I HAVE MY DUTY TO PREFORM AND I WILL NOT HAVE A FEDDY GET IN THE WAY!" He then strikes with a savage combo he's aiming to dispach this unit quickly and move on to his real target.
Puru Two's attacks may be powerful, but completely lacking in finesse. Beam Saber Mastery is clearly something she doesn't possess. She's just trying to keep up the pressure, trying to brute force her way past Camille's guard.
She again foregoes talking while attacking, until the tables are suddenly turned on her. The Qubeley is pushed back, forced into defense against the Zeta's follow-up strikes. However, even though melee is not her forte, her senses are still working overtime. The feints might have fooled a lesser psychic, but she is yet capable of seeing where the real strike will be coming from, and she has a saber ready to intercept it.
Meanwhile, Camille's questions about where her defining emotions are were going completely ignored, but that last question seems to pierce through somehow, prompting a sudden violent reaction. "I don't /care/ about what he'd say." The words carry little emotion, but the emphasis on the word 'care' is more than she's used during the rest of the fight. Plus there's the little matter that it's followed by another saber strike. One so powerful, that when it impacts with Camille's, the weapon simply explodes in the Qubeley's hand.
This setback doesn't get more than a grunt from the pilot however, the mobile suit backing away to a range that suits its style better. That's when the psychic gloves are finally taken off. A group of Funnels is launched from the Qubeley's tail binder, ten of them flying off in seperate directions. They soon return, converging on the Zeta Gundam, surrounding it and trying to trap it within an intricate pattern of energy beams. As if that wasn't bad enough, the two from before return, trying to shoot the Zeta Gundam in the back while it's forced into dodging the other ten.
"If your intent was to provoke me, then congratulations, you have succeeded," the clone soldier comments dryly. If she's being sarcastic about this, that might be considered a mildly good sign. The Funnels, of course, are less of a good sign.
"Momentary admiration. She was still a child."
"She's near my age, though. Yours too."
"Lalah was special."
"It was because you loved me, and I responded to that."
"It was her kindness--"
"Her innocence is dangerous. If you don't protect her, she might-- she's already--"
The Hyaku Shiki lurches forward, ungainly, banging against the mega bazooka launcher as it tries to disentangle itself from the firing mechanism. Quattro sucks his breath through clenched teeth, reduced to panicked gasping from the moderation he was taught to maintain in pilot school.
"Lalah, why can I feel the battlefield so easily now? Is it because of Amuro is being surpressed?"
"It's because you're fighting to protect someone."
"Then why did--"
Quattro's golden mobile suit fires its thrusters, blazing impetuously into the running gunbattle between the escapees and Haman. It jukes almost amateurishly, aware of the unfolding web of bits and reacting to them but still punctured through the thigh and shoulder, beam-resistant coating melting away.
His reckless charge nevertheless brings him past the fleeing Zaku, its undamaged arm raised to joust with the modified Rick Dom, disgorging a barrage of firepower from its wrist-mounted gatlings.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Glemy Toto transmits, "Nngh... the Sandra can't take much more of this."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Glemy Toto transmits, "Moving back toward Axis. Puru Seven, remain in the field to cover our retreat and aid in the recovery operation. A ship of this scale is a liability on the field, anyway."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Puru Seven transmits, "Roger!"
Eventually, the pressure from Haman - and the rest of the battlefield, for that matter - is just too much. Johnny zigs when he should have zagged, and a beam of yellow energy lances through his Zaku's hip, severing the limb from the MS's body with a brilliant flash of light and a small explosion.
As much as Johnny loves his old Zaku, he has to admit he was fighting uphill to begin with... and minus a maneuvering limb... well, in short, 'shit's fucked.'
"Princess!" the Crimson Lightning barks suddenly; with one arm, he reaches behind him and grabs Mineva's arm, and with the other he reaches below his seat and yanks on the closest thing the Zaku has to an eject lever.
The Zaku being, well, old, of course, it doesn't have a modern ejection system; it just opens the cockpit hatch, and as what little atmosphere there was rushes out of the cockpit, Johnny leans forwards and pushes off of his seat, rocketing himself (and Mineva) out of the Zaku's cockpit and into free space.
A second and a half later, six beams of energy lance into the crippled Zaku's torso from every direction, and the aging MS erupts into a tremendous ball of flame.
Johnny and Mineva only barely make it out of the fringes of the explosion... but this still leaves them in a terrible position; as two normal suits, clinging to each other, floating in the middle of a battlefield. Minovsky interference is way too high here for his normal suit's meager radio equipment to contact anyone except Mineva. So...
After a quick patdown of Mineva to make sure she's okay, Johnny takes a deep breath, fights down his still-growing urge to throw up, closes his eyes, and... concentrates.
Char... the Crimson Lightning projects outwards across the battlefield, sticking to the trend of it being God damn impossible to communicate empathy via any means but abstracting it as something vaguely resembling actual telepathy.
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Samuel Flynn crackles. "Ran into some Federation trouble; wouldn't say 'no' to a pick-up."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Glemy Toto transmits, "Can you move at all?"
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Glemy Toto transmits, "If you can get any motion we'll change course to do an on-the-fly pickup on our way out."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Samuel Flynn transmits, "A little; pretty much everything got blown out by that last hit, but I can jury-rig it to get a bit of thrust in the right direction."
<Radio: B - DC Tactical> Samuel Flynn transmits, "Give me your flight path, I'll crunch some numbers."
Being 'dinged to death' is a good way to describe this fight between the Arc Hammer and Sundered Heart, as the two ships continue to pace each other, firing relentlessly back and forth. Rachel picks up the power spike on the Ion Cannon and calls out a warning, prompting Adam to rotate the ship a bit, in expectation of another shot to the engines. The blast comes in, striking the ship on the top right quadrant, energy dissipating across the armor, which boils into a thick vapor, the vaporized metal absorbing and transferring some of the energy away from the ship, leaving a large swath of destroyed armor where it hit.
"Alright, that's it," Adam declares, standing up again. "All weapons, fire everything you've got. Target engines and weapons. Keep firing until they melt, or we do!"
Once again pulse lasers pepper the enemy ship from all around, dozens and dozens of lasers firing in rapid succession, although this time their fire is targeted to a few specific spots. Added to it are arcs of lightning from ER PPC turrets, and the usual assortment of autocannons and flak guns. As well, yet another missile barrage flies out, hitting all across the Arc Hammer's profile.
The Sandra's weak command and weak defense prove a liability -- the Hyper Bazooka rips through the armor, the premature detonation only blunting its strength negligibly. Likewise, the sniping shot pierces through the hull, nearly killing a technician but missing him by mere inches. The heat from the shot is enough to leave him in pretty rough shape, though.
Glemy orders a retreat, the Sandra becoming a liability on the battlefield; a ship that can barely defend itself isn't worth it. Ships are for carrying suits, not direct battle.
Massaging his temples, Glemy looks out onto the battlefield. So this is the way that Haman and Ridden want to play... Glemy Toto must rise to the occasion, it seems -- though right now, rising to it means shrinking away. He needs to think on how to approach this.
The young blonde remains ignored by Haman. Something that partially makes him glad, and partially proves to be a problem. He tries to keep up in the Mercurius, but the units ahead of him are moving at much higher speeds. The Planetary Defenders towards Johnny's machine, but do not manage to make it in time to intercept the bits.
It is only after the machine is so severely hit that the red OZ made Gundanium Alloy suit suddenly stops right in front of the unit. The red unit opens its arms in front of Johnny's broken mobile suit - but not to protect it. A full orbs of shielding suddenly forms around the behind the Mercurius, stopping Haman Karn from going any further than that.
The Planetary Defenders then turn inwards, as Johhny and Mineva themselves float away, and form a thick shield - stopping any explosion the unit might made from flinging shards their way. The shield bits then part again and return to the unit, whilst Quatre tries to assess the situation. Somehow, he has a visual on the two bodies. A single of the Defenders moves towards them and gently 'stops' their movement, and remains near them in case the humans need defending. Life is sacred.
There's only so many words one can use to describe an explosion, and that's what this is -- no more, no less.
Because when "all the missiles" collide with "all the remaining bits," the effect is a bit like when uranium collides with uranium inside the cylinder of an atomic bomb. Haman Karn's weapons are detonated, and as such, the Schnee Weiss itself is detonated. But it's the damnedest thing. The Schneed Weiss's corpse still hurtles forward, powered seemingly by pure hate.
Stripped of arms, legs, skull, weaponry, thrusters, guidance, and respect for human decency, the Schnee Weiss's cockpit block is a cannonball of gnarled and twisted metal that hurtles toward the Hyaku Shiki. It doesn't matter who destroyed the Schnee Weiss, because there's only one name on Haman Karn's lips.
And so it continues, as the molten kidney stone of a machine corpse tumbles away, unable to alter its own direction of travel.
A dog's head on a pike.
Still feeling the lingering traces of amusement from his conversation, Shin Matsunaga looks from Axis to Johnny, back and forth. Unfinished business on one end, a favor given for one received. And on the other, everything he's been fighting for, in one adorable little royal package. The White Wolf wavers, his course uncertain. Haman's putting the pressure on Johnny, but he has backup, he Char, he has-- He has no chance, and Shin watches in silent horror as the red and black Zaku is completely annihilated, torn apart bit by bit by bits. Everything else forgotten, his machine rushes forward, desperately scanning for signs of life despite the futility of it, the odds against survival and the odds of finding two small bodies amidst a cloud of wrecked rubble. There's not even a target for Shin to vent his grief on as Haman explodes moments later. There is only grief.
The Beam cannon lights up once more and sends out a burst of yellow light that slams into the Gouf. It's not enough to stop Norris though as he closes to melee range with the Vayaete. Trowa weathers the assault as best he can with his limited defenses. All the Vayaete has to fall back on is it's Gundanium Alloy Armor. Which actually not much different from Heavyarms. Trowa is not big on defense. He makes up for it in offense however as the Vayaete breaks away from the vicious brawl. Trowa does not respond to Norris. he is broadcasting a DC IFF and hasn't stated his alligence to either side after all, so as far as Trowa is concerned, he is a potential threat. The left arm snaps up, flinging the heat saber Trowa yanked out of his machine earlier. Then the cannon snaps up and opens fire at it, ricocheting the shot off the saber (and destroying it in the process) to bouncing the cannon shot down at Norris from an unexpected angle.
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "TROWA!"
<Radio: D - WING boys> Trowa Barton guhs, "I'm fine... the commander isn't going to be happy though."
<Radio: D - WING boys> Vier Winnaar transmits, "Hang on, I'll be right there! We'll retreat."
The canary yellow Qubeley continues to move in smooth, agile movements-- carefully timed, trying to keep from getting caught up between both Noriko and Jung for too long. If she ends up getting crossed up between those attacks, then... she's got a lot of problems on her hands. Jung's coming for her now, she can tell from the pressure, the presence.
Puru Seven turns to look over her shoulder. Computers and sensor arrays give her a good grasp of how far away Jung is, and how fast she's closing. After the twin blasts are fired, she's about ready to flee, but then suddenly she gets one hell of an awful feeling.
It's because Noriko Takaya is now appearing /right in her face/.
The pile bunker digs into the Qubeley's body, even as she attempts to blaze backwards, get away from the fist and the strike behind it. The pile bunker's stake catches the Qubeley through lower half of the machine's abdomen, ripping straight through the armor and punching a hole out of the Mobile Suit's back. Puru Seven /rocks/ forward in her seat, just barely holding steady while she cries out from the shake.
Literally, all that connects the Qubeley's upper half to the lower is a few support struts and a few sets of heavy cables in the skirting armor.
The left side of the abdomen blows out with an explosive burst, ripping and shredding armor and the internal cabling and components. The Qubeley continues to move backward at the young Newtype's urging... just in time for the NRX-7's knee to come plowing straight into the smooth curves of the head unit.
Screens go blank as the impact throws the small girl's weight against the seat again, the whole of the cockpit shaking again while the head's exterior splits open from the tear. Twisting around, the Qubeley fires it's thrusters, aiming to position itself again-- this time, to stay between the retreating Sandra and Jung and Noriko. Breathing a little harder, her eyes open wider as she pushes-- hard-- with her mind.
Glemy gave her a job. An order. A request.
Funnels, funnels everywhere. They swing into position and start to fire at both the Nausica and Yuliana in rapid sequence, with no clear pattern or technique-- just a random, unrelenting barrage from the upper left, right, from below and above and behind, leaving very few gaps and very few places to run to!
God damn him, Camille /was/ doing what Judau would do, or so he thought.
"Heh." He smirks, suddenly feeling a little too Kai Shiden for his breeches, "You seem pretty set on convincing me you don't care what he'd think. I wonder why that is?! What the hell are you gonna do about it?!" Okay, yes, this was probably long in coming.
"Oh." Camille grimaced as the Zeta's HUD lit up with the word FUNNELS and no less than ten blips appeared on the rader in a lovely fuck-you array around the Zeta Gundam, "Oh, shit."
And then things got real.
Newtype reactions were great to have, but they weren't so great against other newtypes. Sure, Camille keeps the Zeta from getting completely savaged were a normal suit would be cut to pieces, but for ever two shots he dodges there's one that hits, and hits good. One beam lanced across the Gundam's shoulder, carving a molten line down the side and reducing joint acuity by 50%. Another sent the beam rifle sailing beyond his reach with a shot the arm. Still more scored strikes all along the mobile suit's back and flanks before Camille was able to pull himself free, huffing and sweating inside his suit.
"Yeah well.." He retorts, "Great job protecting you glorious regent there, for someone so dedicated it." Haman's unit is torn apart for all to see, and Camille doesn't deny taking a grim pleasure in the sight (even if she isn't dead), "Oh, right, by the way."
The Zeta lifed the Hyper Mega Launcher, took careful aim for a disabling shot, and let heave ho.
"I haven't even /started/ to succeed yet!!"
Norris Packard is locked in deadly combat with an unknown unit. It's powerful, it ripped the GOUF crusader a new one with a single attack. Alarms are going off, he sees Ridden's machine goes up. Minerva was on board, he's not a newtype so he has no hope to find them short of looking when things calm down. But he has to focus.
"MY DUTY AS A SOLIDER OF ZEON WILL NOT LET ME DIE UNTILL THIS MISSION OF MINE IS FINISHED!"
Norris can't get a good purchase on his sword, but he reaches out there's wreckage there. It's jaggled mangled but he can weield it. He just rushes the unit again even as he keeps firing on him. he gets in close and just starts to savage the unknown mobile suit with this section of broken battleshiphull. Again and again he hits with it, those who know packard there's something rarely signs of, desperation. Minerva was out there possibly dead, or alive. They had to finish off the feds, and he had to find her before someone else did. He can not fail, Minerva is the last of The Zabis and to many of Zeon? Their last hope...
Mutually closing distance, the gagged and choked Quattro cannot do a thing to evade the gutshot of the evacuated pilot block. It strikes the Hyaku Shiki squarely in the chest, bouncing off but still touching for a brief moment where metal touched metal touched flesh.
In the few seconds that they are in direct contact, Quattro can barely hiss "Haman!" with no thoughts of elegance otherwise. The escape pod glances off, hurtling away as the slightly savaged Hyaku Shiki turns toward the wreckage of the crimson Zaku.
"I don't think they're dead," he says, convincing himself. "Then why do I--"
The two clinging normal suits drift into the black palm of the golden AEUG suit as soon as it normalizes its speed with theirs. Its fingers curl lightly around the two, Quattro sparing a few tense moments of no defensive movement to allow Ridden to grab onto something.
"White Wolf, cover me, I can't evade," Quattro transmits, his voice sounding hollow. With its hand pressed lightly to its chest, the Hyaku Shiki makes an even line for the mega bazooka launcher.
Takeshi snickers at the retreating battleship and turns back on the battle, his work done for now. "Good, good. Reassess." The enemies once again flip through his screens and then an alert, Trowa is hit and down, that won't end well. "Well, one down. Who hit him?" Tsubasa calculates battle telemetry and then centers on Norris. "I see, that one. Well Tsubasa, I believe we just got our next assignment. As my father would say, Nut up or go home."
The white mech again rockets towards an enemy. This isn't ending well, every time he heads towards someone they're destroyed, maybe norris will fare better. Maybe not. "Full power to lens array 4, that's node 16,22, and 26." Then there's a grin, "That's right Tsubasa. Increase the power levels, redirect all available backup power to array 4. This is going to be one hell of a big shot. If we don't take him down now, we'll die trying." Then he puts the pedal to the metal as the lasers begin to charge.
He's still pretty far away from Norris at this point, but that won't stop Tsubasa or Takeshi. "heeee. I'm getting to use to this whole battle thing Tsubasa. Now, prepare to fire. Calculate trajectories. Don't let him so much as escape. He's going to get hit. No exceptions." And then it happens, the lasers discharge, the same pattern, streaming towards that single mobile suit that just destroyed trowa, "And they shall call me vengeance, and I shall come upon man at night and take from him his soul."
It's not the first time that trowa and Norris have faced off, though last time at least Norris knew who he was fighting. Something seems... off however. Norris is a furious warrior to be sure, but his was always a controlled, focused fury.
This outburst is anything but controlled. There's not enough time for the beam cannon to recharge for another shot before the Gouf is upon him, slamming it's piece of hull into the Vayaete. Trowa tries to recover, but the beating continues unrelenting until the Vayaete falls still and floats motionless, save for the occasional spark from it's damaged joints.
When Trowa's unit is suddenly severely damaged -- to the point of being disabled -- thanks to Norris' attack, Quatre calls out for his name within the Mercurius. The Planetary Defender that was left pushes the two bodies of Mineva and Johnny towards the nearby golden unit Quatre somehow feels... should be the one receiving them, and then returns to the holder on the back of the Mercurius.
It doesn't take long for the blonde to activate the thrusters to full and for the unit to blast straight along the midst of battle in order to get to the Vayaete unit. Upon reaching the unit, a freighter is already thrusting through the battle. Making use of the left arm, the unit pulls the Vayeate in and places it onto the freighter, then deploys the Planetary Defenders once more in a full-globe around the freighter -- before it bursts off to the safety of the OZ colony that housed the Mercurius and Vayaete 'secret' project.
The Ship shudders from the all of the weapons hitting the shields, then hitting the hull. Divada, however, shakes her head. "Helm, plot a course out of this field." "My Lady, the Sundered Heart is still in close proximity." "Right. Let's discourage pursuit. Tactical, Trident Laser. Fire 2." From underneath of the ship, another blue beam lances towards the Sundered Heart." "Comms, Hail them." This should be an interesting conversation.
Shin Matsunaga, newtype though he may be, is awful at it. Though repeated tests have shown that /something/ unusual happens inside his brain, all attempts to draw out more definitive psychic activity have failed miserably. Even now, under the second-most traumatic circumstances of his life, the White Wolf of Solomon can barely detect only the strongest of psychic whispers. But he knows of one, one reaching out into the rubble of Johnny's Zaku, who is rumored to be far more capable than he. "Is that...?" Shin whispers, staring at the Hyaku Shiki's hand. Crushing despair lightens, fears not dispelled entirely but held in check. "Roger. I've got your back." The solid white Zaku II moves to the golden mobile suit's side, overlarge heat hawk held in hand. "Even if it costs me my life."
Meriden Almace does not follow the Sandra. She doesn't actually want to hurt it any more than she has to - she /gave/ it the opportunity to retreat! She certainly isn't going to object to it taking it.
Instead she turns. Meriden still feels the twisted aura and it's not doing her any favours. Until she hears otherwise, she too pulls back, taking up position with the oversized Hyper Bazooka on some kind of overwatch. She especially looks out for Noriko.
MEANWHILE: Rachel Specter informs, "Adam, we're getting a transmission from the Arc Hammer. They want to talk."
Adam Looks a little curious as he stands up again, and nods to Rachel. "Keep up our course, but put them on. Let's see what they want."
The holographic display that had been showing the battle's tactical data flickers and changes, and instead starts to display whatever visual transmission data the Arc Hammer might send. Likewise, Adam transmits a full visual of him standing on the bridge, dressed more like a ground pounder than a ship captain as he says, "This is Captain Adam Steiner of the Sundered Heart. Talk fast, we've got people to save."
Johnny is absolutely, completely convinced that his idea was completely insane right up until the very minute that it works, and the Hyaku Shiki Kai's hand closes around him. Johnny lets out a heavy breath and wraps his arm firmly around one of the golden mobile suit's fingers, pulling Mineva closer against his side with the other. Uncertain of how to contact Quattro, Johnny settles for banging twice on the Hyaku Shiki's hand, and then flashing a thumbs up towards the machine's head.
And then, unsure of what else to do, Johnny sets about the arduous task of comforting Mineva with a nonstop stream of, "It's okay, it's going to be okay, we're alright-
A small hint of satisfaction can be perceived from Puru Two as she employs her Funnels to give the Zeta Gundam a pounding, but not much more than that. If she were mentally all there, she'd find herself quite a bore. This is supposed to be when you gloat like no tomorrow! But nope, nothing like that. The Qubeley just hovers stoically while the Funnels continue their bombardment.
Until the Hyper Mega Launcher comes into play. She remembers that weapon. She knows that she absolutely can't afford to let herself be hit by that. And unfortunately for Camille, her mental focus doesn't waver this time. She doesn't even look at the Regent's exploding mech. Did she manage to break free somehow? It's hard to say, since she still sounds very much emotionless when she predicts, "That won't hit."
It looks almost childishly simple, the way the Qubeley just slides aside, allowing the deadly launcher's fire to pass harmlessly by. Puru Two's psychic ability can be downright frightening that way. And it's about to get more frightening, the clone soldier declaring, "I'm not done yet."
Following that statement, the Qubeley launches more Funnels. Eighteen more. This Qubeley has /thirty/ of them. The extra Funnels remains circling the mobile suit for the moment, but she clearly can keep all of them under control just fine. This definitely doesn't bode well. "A valiant effort, Camille Bidan, but it is about time to--"
Puru Two abruptly stops talking in mid-sentence. Her mouth remains hanging open for two seconds longer, before the words she was planning to still say are replaced by a scream. The clone soldier grabs her head, feeling as if it's about to explode as violently as Haman Karn's mobile suit did. This is the ultimate guarantee that she won't betray the Regent. This is what happens to force her to obey in critical situations. She has just been forcefully reminded of Directive Two, Protect Haman Karn.
Unable to act otherwise, all Funnels are recalled to the Qubeley, and the mech rockets off at top speed, following the path Haman's cockpit block headed into. Immediately, the headache lessens. It will vanish completely once she has ensured Haman Karn's safe recovery. Looks like it won't be so easy for her to break free from this after all.
Norris Packard is fast enough to not directly get caught in the blast even so the flank of his GOUF, the dmaage is bad. Power from damageed system crackles about the wound and Packard pulls away from the downed machine. He's not moving to finish it, something is up and he's seeming to. He's got to find Minerva. He is not yet aware of her fate, and that of Johnny.
As the Ark Hammer turns away from the Sundered Heart, Divada's full body appears in the Sundered Heart's Holographic display. "That's quite ironic, Mister Steiner, considering that we were here to do the exact same thing." She says with her arms still crossed. And yet, instead of asking if we were going to, you fire at us." She then shrugs. "can't really say I'm surprised. However, we were trying to figure out why the Zeon Princess was kidnapped." Her head turns towards another direction and smirks a bit. "Seems neither of us are going to rescue them. Someone else has gotten to them." She then holds one arm under her breasts and gripping her right arm. "Maybe next time, instead of shooting first, you should ask someone's intentions." She then shrugs. "Good battle though. Even got the crews to perform in field repairs. Thank you for helping to train my crew, Mister Steiner." After this little conversation however, the Ark hammer's engines flare to life and the Ark hammer jumps out of the system.
The Hyaku Shiki and its Zaku escort return quickly to the mega bazooka launcher, the final rounds of the skirmish having occured not too far from it. The golden AEUG suit holds on to the gun/booster platform-- there's another grip for the Zaku. In this case, he stops to lower the hand toward the Hyaku Shiki's midsection, opening the cockpit. The air voids quickly, but they're all in normal suits and the shuttle is nearby enough to not worry about lack of extra oxygen tanks. It doesn't take long to crowd inside, the 360 cockpit offering enough space to scrunch up to the sides of the Red Comet's chair. His tinted visor inclines forward as he's brought face to face with Ridden.
This gives the nearby transport enough time to reorient itself and aggress upon the slowly evacuating AEUG and former Axis suits. In the open cockpit, the transmission is directed solely to Quattro's normal suit. He hesitates, and then returns a series of beeps indicating 'negative.' The bazooka launcher fires its thrusters, pulling away from the large ship and toward the still-drifting shuttle with Amuro aboard.
"As I understand it," Adam Steiner states flatly, his arms crossing over his chest as well, "Your princess wasn't kidnapped, she 'escaped' from your custody. Under those circumstances, I think we were well within our rights to stop your people from recovering her." She is right that the battle slowed them down enough that someone else recovered them, but for Adam, that was better than her being brought back for likely execution by the Divine Crusade's forces.
Adam does give a polite nod to Divada when she moves out, though. "Until next time, Captain Kirador."
Noriko manages to scrap a significant portion of the Qubeley, but although she disabled a whole lot of things, it was apparently not enough. "They make those things tough," she mutters, assessing her options quickly. And then she sees something coming -- "Sh--no!" she yelps, and moves quickly, trying to jerk her machine into a minimum defensive position so she doesn't just /immediately die/, and then firing back with her beam cannon wildly, trying to keep the sky busy enough that blasts won't necessarily hurt too bad. OK, OK...
Jung's down. She sees it happen fast. "You--" Noriko growls. Not again, not again, not again, with the tension in the air these space battles all seem to bring back that /moment/ in her head, and that's why Puru Seven is suddenly treated to the glowing muzzle of Noriko's shoulder-mounted Beam Cannon, while Noriko holds down the trigger and ducks into a long, winding evasive sweep, trying to avoid the many, many probable angles of fire, while the bar goes higher...
"A true Top pilot," Noriko breathes, and her soul is like a brick of fire, immobile and blazing like the sun, "doesn't back down until the job is done. Go home! BUSTER BEAM!"
Puru Seven may or may not actually hear this, because the Nausica suddenly unleashes a screaming lance of light, a purple bolt that could core through a ship, easily. It's small; unlikely to hit.
It was a shot Camille absolutely had to make.
And he missed, damn him.
"Fuck." He cursed Puru Two's frightening psychic talent as the Qubeley made child's play of dodging the high-powered beam weapon, watching with slowly growing wariness as one by one the amount of funnel trackers increased on his HUD. He felt the younger pilot's awareness all around them through those funnels, trapping him in a psychic spider web: One false move, one errant twitch and he'd begin a chain reaction from which there was no escape.
The Newtype felt the sweat beading on the back of his neck. This was bad. Puru Two had him at her mercy, and Captain Quattro was in no position to help (Not that Camille deserved much help from him right now). His only chance was maybe, maybe to reach out to her.
Then again, having the /normal/ Puru around wouldn't make this situation much better. fml
"Are you really doing what you want, Puru?" He began slowly, dangerously as a way out began to pain it's way across his mind, so much clearer now that Haman wasn't around. He saw it; If could just...
Suddenly Puru was screaming inside his head, and before he knew it Camille was screaming two. This close, he must've gotten a sampling of whatever absolute order had ticked off on his head, and felt like it was about to split apart until the Qubeley was finall far enough away that it faded from his mind.
"What the..?" Slumping back in his cockpit, Camille reeled from the mutual facts of what he didn't understand and understood all too well. Whatever had been done to Puru Two would take more than some combat banter to break through, and maybe more than someone like him. How stupid had he been in the first place to even think so? This was /Haman Karn/ they were talking about.
"...." Camille looked on towards the Hyaku Shiki as it retrieved the miraculous pair of survivors from the battlefield. He'd been stupid about a lot of things, lately.
"This is Camille Bidan, Zeta Gundam." He extends a communique dourly to Quattro's normal suit, his mood that of a whipped dog. "I'll escort Amuro back to the Argama, unless you have other suggestions." A pause, "I didn't think you would come." Another pause, "I'll wait up for you."
Single glowing eye flitting back and forth from the Hyaku Shiki and 'everything else', Shin's Zaku stands anxious guard. The two small figures climbing from hand to cockpit do not escape him, and he lets out a breath he didn't realize he had been holding. Following Char's lead, the White Wolf jets to the bazooka launcher and grabs hold of it, still wary of its surroundings; especially that large transport right next to it, looking rather menacing. But so long as its content to hold its peace, so is he.
Ted just hears some beeps. Beeps that the ALEXANDRIA swiftly translates. Morrison shurgs. "A'ight, be my guest." He lets out, slamming on full power to his mech and flying back to his transport. Hell, if they don't want a neutral party taking care of a princess, that's fine. Less problem for him. Why did he even offered it, anyhow?
The AMX-004G Qubeley Mass Production Type.
Built Tonka tuff.
One down, one to go. The only factors working against her are the damage to the Qubeley's body and the time it takes for the Sandra to return to safety inside of Axis. Puru Seven's head tilts forward while her gaze becomes more intense than before.
An apocalyptic blast of purple cuts through the darkness of space, fast and bright. Puru Seven's eyes widen behind her visor, and she slams down on the pedals with both feet for all she's worth. She tilts the control sticks, reaches through the on-board psycommu, trying as hard as possible to /move/ the mangled machine. The bolt--
-- narrowly misses.
The shockwave is what does it. The Qubeley's lower half is torn clear off the frame, caught up in the destructive forces and systematically torn apart in the shot-- from the hips and legs to the tail binder itself. All that's left is a sparking, angry-looking torso marked with damage from the varying kicks and knees used upon it. Somehow, the eye camera still functions.
And Puru Seven is sweating bullets.
The arms limp, the camera is the only indication that the Qubeley is still alive, the single eye sensor flitting around in what space it actually /can/ manage due to the Yuliana's earlier impact. The backpack thrusters fire, pushing what's left of the Mobile Suit toward Axis on a retreat course. Fighting like this would do nothing more than cost her her life...
... especially when she can't call out any more Funnels.
"Next time," she says to Noriko, tone firm.
Takeshi looks around as the battle field clears of enemies. "Eh." Nanobots stream forth to repair the wound in the Tsubasa before it begins its descent back into the earth atmosphere. "Well, all's well that ends well I suppose." He leans back in the cockpit and pulls a manga from one of the side compartments. "So, on to the reading. Activate Autopilot. Izu." *Understood. ETA 10 minutes.* "Right, right." And then he's gone, flipping the pages of his manga.
"It looks like the enemy is all pulling back," Rachel Specter reports, once again simply giving words to something Adam can already see on the big map display he's been watching.
"Alright. Hold position here. We'll continue pulling fire support until the area is secured. Get engineers down to the main mech bay, let the allied units know they can dock and make repairs. We'll stay here until things are under control, and then continue to the orbital ring as planned."
Noriko fires that final cannon blast, and then watches as the enemy retreats - eyes briefly ticking to her energy gauges, depleted by the massive-output blast. The reactor on this thing is not actually intended to /do/ that, so she's actually kind of glad she just booked it, because Noriko's not totally sure she can line up another shot without bad things happening. But it's retreating.
...and they seem to have failed.
Noriko collapses back, quietly, into her seat, staring at the monitors for a second. "Did she die, really...?" she wonders, morbidly. 'Another life lost to those people..."
She slides her fingers to the throttle. "Another life that didn't need to end..." she murmurs, and moves the machine to dart after Jung's Yuliana, calling, "Meriden, form up, I'm getting Jung and then we're heading back."
Free rides are never to be refused, especialy if they go where you need to go. Thus, a Leopard-class transport is hooking itself to the hull of the Shattered Heart, docking into the Battleship. Morrison, inside the ship and out of his BattleMech, lets out a deep breath. Kid's safe, he's pretty sure anyway, crazy Regent got blown up. All in all, he'd say that's a pretty good mission accomplished. Time to get plastered. Hopefully there's a bar on that ship.
"Adam," Specter says, her voice a little too even, "Oe of the Trailer mercenaries named Ted Morrison are looking to take up your offer of refitting until we reach the orbital ring."
Adam sighs a little. "Reject it. We're not a free port for any merc looking for a free ri--Wait, did you say Ted Morrison? As in President Morrison?"
Rachel nods once. "I believe it's one in the same, yeah."
Adam and Rachel stare at each other for a moment before Adam shrugs. "Well, I can hardly reject passage to the president of a Periphery world. Clear him to dock. I'll go down to meet him personally. If anything important comes up, radio me. Otherwise you're in charge, Specter."
Several minutes later, Adam Steiner is walking into the main mech hanger. So far, there are only two armors here: Adam's own Berzerker, its shining armor still a little tarnished and broken from the numerous fights it's been in lately, and now Ted's machine, set in a cubicle across from the Berzerker, where a few technicians are working on it, patching damage and rearming guns.
Adam doesn't care about the machine though. He's interested in meeting the man, who he walks straight for, a hand held out to shake Ted's. "Hello, President Morrison. I have to say I'm surprised to find you all the way out here."
Ted hoped that he was wrong that this was Adam Steiner captaining this ship. Unfortunately for himself, sometimes, he is often right about things that could make things more complicated than they should be. Morrison just pulled off his helmet off his head, climbing out of his mech as the Captain himself comes to greet him. He knows Adam Steiner at least by apperance. Vaguely. He's seen photos, at least. It's not like he's a /nobody/. If the captain of a ship comes down to greet you, you can't really refuse. "I'd say the same about you, honestly. You've surprised a lot of Luciferians by coming to the Earth Sphere. Surprised or releived, really." Ted replies, bobbing his head once, taking the Commandant's hand and give it a vigorous shake. He's not an impressive man, but at least he got a great shake. "Good to meet you in person at last, Adam Steiner."
Adam gives Ted a bit of a smile at that as he shakes the man's hand. "Yeah, I was surprised myself when I got the request. But when the Archon of the Commonwealth personally requests you to go, it's hard to say no."
Adam looks over at his mech briefly before adding, "More seriously though, the Inner Sphere can't pretend it's isolated from the rest of humanity anymore. If we don't start working together now, when will we?" That's the line, anyway. Fortunately Adam believes it.
"What about you? What draws Erehwon's leader out this way?"
Running away from my obligations. "Buisness, mostly." Morrison replies. At least if Ted /is/ truly one thing, he's a man with perfect manipulation of his expression in social condition. "Watching what's going on in here, scrounging what I can to send back home. What I've mostly accomplished is getting myself stuck with the Balmars invading and blowing the heads off of crazy psychopaths, like that Haman Karn lady I atomised a few minutes ago." Morrison takes his hand back, looking at his own mech. "Stuff's pretty different than back in the Inner Sphere. Staying in our hole ain't gonna be very positive for us. You know what those Zeon guys, particularly that woman, 'spourting about, yeah?"
"Tell me about it," Adam Steiner says with a laugh. "Come on, the techs know what they're doing. We'll be here for a couple more hours before we head back. We can head over to the common area until it's time to move." Adam starts moving, leading Ted out of the mech bay and into the pilot area. The section for pilot crew is a bit more comfortable, though not connected to the main part of the ship's operations.
"To answer your question, no. I've read the files on Zeon, but I wasn't briefed about this fight. All I know is that some princess was trying to defect and the DC was trying to recapture her. I've spent about a week on Mars, and it's been about the same way. People attacking for reasons I can't even start to figure out."
"Good plan." Ted sure appreciate the change of area. He gives a brief tap over his eat -- shutting off the receiver after murmuring a brief 'see you later' --, El Presidente follows along. Pilot areas aren't luxury, but they're certainly better than just standing around in the Mech Bays. "Heh, I've been here for a few months and I barely understand just how this became an enormous firework." Morrison replies, taking himself a seat into the area. "From what I've gathered, that sounds about correct. Haman Karn's the Regent, I'm assuming she has been since that Princess sounded pretty damn young. Apparently she grew old enough to not take for her Regent's crap anymore, and that woman didn't liked it." He begins to explain. "Karn's kind of crazy, if you didn't noticed. From what I understand, Zeon's been kind of advocating that gravity weights down your soul or some nonsense like that, wanting humanity to move to space, period. Haman Karn's been kind of crazy about Newtypes, being one herself, raving about their supremacy those that aren't. They kinda seem to like dropping their homes toward the Earth."
"Hmmph," Adam scoffs. "Touting her 'genetic superiority'? Now /that/ sounds familiar, doesn't it?" Adam shrugs a little. "I'd try chasing down whoever did recover her and see if we couldn't get her into protective custody, but I'm already pushing my orders enough as it is. We were supposed to be at Earth dock six hours ago."
After going though a short hall containing locker rooms for male and female pilots, a gym and an electronic library, they finally get to the rec and mess area, where Adam directs Ted to a chair. "You can feel free to stay here until we reach dock. We haven't been assigned any mech compliment, and only half of our fighter capacity, so this whole area is unused right now." Adam laughs softly and adds, "Don't even get me started on the tank company or marine barracks. I'm still surprised we were given this ship for this job. Between you and me, we could have probably done it with a ship half this size."
"Yeah, ZAFT's was like that until their leader went batshit and got himself killed, too. Sounds like it's a /trend/ around here." Morrison grunts out, shaking his head. People fight for the craziest of reason. Not like they're any better examples back in the Inner Sphere. Except they know what happens when you take it /that far/.
"What, they gave you this huge ship and not even with the proper man power to fill it up? Daaaaamn." He says, NOW taking a seat as it's offered. It's a damn nice ship, too. /HE'D/ know what to do with it, if it was his. He's pretty certain Adam Steiner would, too, if he had the man power to do it. "Tanks aren't used around here as much they are back home. Hell, don't even get me started on infantry -- you can storm almost any battle ship with a small Battle Armor squads and you'd take them over no problem. At least this ship got a nice amount of guns, that's something."
Adam takes a seat opposite Ted, and gives the man a bit of a shrug again. "The ship was given to the EFA as part of their new taskforce. It's part of a deal that Victor Steiner-Davion worked out with the EFA and the old Federation and Commonwealth to strengthen the alliance between the Inner Sphere and Earth Sphere. The Federated Suns actually made the ship, but Peter and Yevette asked me to captain it. I'm sure the whole thing was Victor's idea, though..."
Adam shakes his head a bit at that. "Anyway, they would have given me a whole company of assault mechs, but the EFA didn't want that. They wanted the ship, but they wanted to fill it with their own units. Something about a highly mobile threat-response unit. Hell, I had to spend the last week with her in drydock while they installed these 'launch catapults' just so we had a way to deploy units in space that was better than getting in an Atlas and throwing them out the door like a bouncer at some bar. The ship's got space for hundreds of marines and a company of tanks as well though. Still no idea what to do with all that room."
"They'll probably want to to refit them into 'Mech bays. More space for their units. They're not that big on combined arms warfare around here. With 'Mechs like they've got, I can see why, though." Morrison replies with a brief shurg. "From what I understand, the EFA's Fleet has been pretty much wiped out to a quarter left like eight month agos, that'd probably explain why they desperatedly wanted a ship more than anything else." Ted crosses his arms, thinking for a moment. "Keep a marine contengent around. Prefferably Battle Armor if y'got access to some immediatedly. It'd be a nasty surprise to pull on some people around here -- they ain't too used to have something climb in your face and rip you out of your cockpit."
Adam nods a little. He'd actually considered converting the extra space to more mech bays, but that's unlikely, simply because of how much vertical space is required for mech bays. It's easy to make a few levels able to house armories, barracks and facilities, but making it into a mech bay requires knocking out levels above it, which is sometimes tricky.
As for the marines or battle armors, Adam shrugs. "We've certainly got space for 'um. I imagine after I get my official orders I'll be able to requisition support units like that. We'll see what kind of toys the EFA is offering after that. You don't have to tell me how useful battle armors are, though. If I have to, I'll request some from back home, but hopefully that won't be necessary."
Knowing what to do with your marine areas when you don't have any marines is kind of tricky. More creative ship captains might find some solutions and turn them into more.
Ted laughs out, shaking his head quickly afterwards. "Yeeaaaaaah, didn't really need to tell you that to you out of all people, didn't I? They've got some really nice toys around here. Probably best to use 'em while you're here. I know I am." He is! Kinda. He's been in a few of the local units but didn't aquired one just yet. No need to buy a death trap like those Ball things.
"Either way, this /is/ a damn nice ship, it'd be a waste to not use it to it's fullest."