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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:28 pm 
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Lackey GM Pilot
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Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 5:53 pm
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Phase 1: Fracture Points

"Everything seems so much clearer after it's all gone. You see what you wanted, what you needed, what you always had but never realized. It's a clarity that is hard to understand, a state which you kick yourself for not reaching earlier. Yes, everything is so much clearer when it's all gone." - Yzak Joule, formerly of ZAFT, C.E. 76, three years after the Break.

“Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.” - Francis Meehan

-

The year is Cosmic Era 79, six years after the Break of the World; the worst terrorist attack in mankind's history. Attempts to break up the colony proved less effective then hoping, sending the earth into an ecological and economical tailspin. The devastation was made worse by an accidental misfire of the Junk Guild-held GENESIS Alpha device. The resulting collapse spawned a desperate three-year war that left 5/6th of the PLANT colonies destroyed or uninhabitable, many losing contact with each other entirely. And at the end, it saved nothing but to render space as dispopulous as earth. Even the land of peace, the Orb Union itself, dissolved into civil infighting before the waves claimed it once more...

Now, in the ruins of the world, many struggle to survive. Refuges crowd the Junk Guild-constructed and operated Waystations, massive facilities clustered around a nuclear or geothermal power plant, each holding millions of people. The others cities are flooded or destroyed, only now are settlements springing up again. It is in this world that factions, remnants, bandits, and vagabonds make their lives. This is the Broken World.

-

Ruins of Boston, Massachusetts, North America, June 5th, CE79

"ZOINKS it!" was the only thing Launo felt applicable in his current situation, pressing his mobile suit back into the recess of the wall as another beam impacted nearby. His heavy panting was drowned out by the alarms which blared in the cockpit, the GAT-01 Strike Dagger protesting rather loudly about how screwed it was, and by extension how screwed Launo was. He knew he couldn't keep this up for much longer; if the mobile suit didn't burn out, then he would. The motors in the left knee where grinding hard, sending spark with every movement, and he could smell the burn from the other joints all the way in the pilot's seat. He'd tried to stretch times between a proper overhaul too much, tried too many time with discount hangers when he did have it maintenenced. Yet another warning light began to blare as he threw himself across the street, charging through the knee-high water. Water which was rapidly leaking into the mobile suits lower extremities as the waterproofing failed. Launo's unit was literally coming apart at the seams.

The pilot threw himself behind another rotting skyscraper, a viridian beam streaking past him and hitting down the street. The impact and explosion began to collapse the structure, forcing Launo to begin evading once gain. Yes, ZOINKS fit the situation quite well. He should have known better then to take a job that smelled so keenly of Zodiac. He had known better, he really did. He never took the Zodiac jobs, or jobs that smelled like Zodiac. Or jobs that it appeared Zodiac might have once imagined. Same thing went for the flip of it, avoiding Phantom Pain in every way possible. It was better for business, pleasure, and life expectancy that way, as far as he was concerned. And he wasn't concerned about their ideals, or rhetoric. It was the same old garbage they'd said before the break, and he hadn't listened then either. Why any of it mattered now was beyond him. Old habits die hard, he supposed. The piercing beam rifle reminded that wasn't all that would die hard if he didn't keep moving...

He wasn't sure if the mobile suits where Phantom Pain. They weren't regulars, though, the pilot knew that much. Phantom Pain, like Zodiac, was far looser then their previous organizations, both of which already allowed the aces and specialists to color their mobile suits in various ways. But the gaudy paint jobs of these mobile suits where beyond even beyond those lax standards, a haphazard mish-mash of stripes and marks combined with strange mixes of neon oranges and greens. The patterns weren't known to him, but more then a few wannabes painted up their units to give the impression of greater skill then they actually had. Not that these two seemed to have much trouble pinning Launo down. The twin suits, a GAT-01D1 Duel Dagger and GAT/A-01E2 Buster Dagger, far exceeded Launo's own Strike Dagger. But they were rare, as well, and hard to maintain.

So, that meant one of two things: irregulars or mercenaries. And given the quality of their gear, despite the flash and pomp of the paint, the former seemed the most likely. Launo swore again. Irregulars were the bane of many freelancers; unstable or unsuited for regular duty, even with the loose organization of the post-Break militaries, irregulars were still too skilled to be discharged or locked up. Given gear, ammo, and fuel and sent out on loose missions to enforce the ideals or purposes of Phantom Pain, or protect the group's interests according to the irregular's own understanding of them. Most took this as a very loose mandate to do whatever the hell they wanted. Others committed atrocities that made even the hardliner regulars sick to their stomachs.

Yeah, Launo was ZOINKS.

He slammed on the controls, brutally sending the Strike Dagger around another corner as a massive blast from the Buster Dagger's impulse cannon tore through the building he had been hiding in. Launo was only more convinced of their irregular status by the wanton disregard for the city ruins, something Phantom Pain wasn't so keen on. Here, in the flooded ruins of Boston, there was so much history. Much of which was being vaporized and slagged with each attempt to vaporize or slag Launo instead. The slippery pilot wasn't about to lay down his life for history, though. He'd his own story to write, which didn't involve getting turned to vapor by a bunch of whacked-out psychopaths.

Well, at least not HERE it didn't.

-

Terminal File

Launo Denman was a former Earth Alliance soldier, serial #336321-234-92. Rank, 2nd Lieutenant. Age, 27; blood type, A positive; hair color, strawberry blond; eye color, blue. As per last official physical, in accordance with standard Earth Alliance regulations, circa CE.0074, weighed at 172 lb., or 78 kg. Height, 6' flat, or 1.8 meters. Merits include Distinguished Service Cross, a Bronze Star, and the Valentine Service Merit, amongst others. He was a member of the 6th Mobile Suit Regiment, out of Georgia. Certified Top Grade on GAT-01 Strike Dagger, GAT-01D1 Duel Dagger, GAT-01A1 Dagger (including AGM/E-X01 Aile Striker, AGM/E-X02 Sword Striker, AGM/E-X03 Launcher Striker), and GAT-02L2 Dagger L (including AQM/E-A4E1 Jet Striker and AQM/E-M11 Doppelhorn Striker), . Certified Second Grade on GAT/A-01E2 Buster Dagger and GAT-706S Deep Forbidden. Cross certified basic on enemy models ZGMF-1017 GINN and ZGMF-515 CGUE, as well as theoretical basics in other ZGMF- models. Projected qualification on and Re.100 series of mobile suits is top grade.

Psychiatric profile described him as a creative and solid soldier, if one without a hardcore code of loyalty or ideals. His job was soldiering, nothing more. Concerns over repressed feelings of regret or similar problems did not manifest, or concerns over over detachment that might make him a danger to himself or those around him. Any further concerns outweighed by service marks and qualifications. Marked as stable for service.

Turned down service in 81st Autonomous Mobile Group "Phantom Pain" three times.

-


Pacific Ocean, Near the Equator, June 5th, CE79


"Descent Team 17 ready for orders, Home."

"Roger Descent Team 17, proceed to quadrant Q22X-TN25 in the staging zone. Good luck down there, stay safe." the operator said, no hint of true concern at all. It was a false gesture, an attempt at easing nerves foisted upon him without any true feeling to support it. It was, in short, a lie. They didn't care if he was safe, just that he brought them something usable.

Michael gulped down a breath of recycled air, pausing to collect himself. He'd done this half a dozen times already, deep recovery dives having become the primary focus of his job as of late. It was no question why; the pay was the best he could get. Duty had played a part early on, but that had burned out after he first one of his buddies had popped, their mobile suit crumpling up like a tin can in a compactor. The fact that it was an instantaneous and painless death did little to assuage his fears. But he wasn't going to hyperventilate, not again. That hadn't ended well the first time, and had only served to get him killed in yet another way. He didn't to add yet another method to the list.

He deftly handled the controls, mobile suit sliding through the ocean with ease. It was designed for that, then further modified to serve as a recovery unit. This, of course, meant most of it's weapons had been stripped as well, yet another thing that never sat right with Michael. He resolved to spend the rest of his life on solid ground after this, his sea legs having been throughly amputated. The suit began it's descent, it's home submarine drifting out of view as he continued to sink into the depths. He double checked his sensors, his nerves remaining on high despite their universally positive readings. Too many stories of death coming faster then any diver could react to burned him out, but fear kept him coming back. Fear of what might happen to him if he tried to run without fulfilling his contract, fear of fates far worse then a death, even A death down here. That was a fear which drove him back under the waves, counting the days till he was a free man again at last and praying he lived long enough to enjoy the sizable payoff he was getting from this.

He looked to his left and right, making sure the SONAR was accurate in reading his diving partners, both in their own mobile suits. Everything was fine.

"Alright, 17-2 and 3. Lets get this over with." he said, the massive mobile suit rapidly sinking as it headed for it's assigned goal.

-

Terminal File

Michael Amsel is a member of Zodiac, West Pacific Chapter. Green uniform. Age, 31; blood type, B positive; hair color, golden blond. eye color, green. Records, abet old, have him at roughly 170 lb. and around 6 feet in height. Known for service since the the first Bloody Valentine War, Michael is a certified diver with numerous accolades for his service in the naval theater. However, given the ZAFT organization, concrete records are hard to find. However, it is known that he was a moderate in politics, and that he had decided to emigrate to Orb due his love of the ocean. He rejoined Zodiac after the Break due to old ties and great need of a job. However, the West Pacific Chapter is not known for being the friendliest. Of the seven Zodiac chapters, the West Pacific was the most commonly despised outside of the factional conflict that existed between Zodiac and Phantom Pain.

-

Unknown location, Pacific Ocean, June 5th, CE79

The slow drip was the only sound. Give enough time, it would erode away everything, the slow inexorable advance eating away at the foundation day by day, year by year, second by second. Water was a constant foe, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. You could divert it or guard against it, but in another way or another form it would show up once more. Even here, a place hardened against it, would eventually fall with enough time and lack of attention. Not that anyone was left to attend to it, all long having died or fled. The collapse had been hard for Orb, a combination of economic devastation, political infighting, and the ecological shift brought on by the Break of the World. The rising seas and other factors had led to Orb becoming unstable in a literal sense.

The Orbian political scene, dominated by strong personalities, was a battleground between Representative Cagalli Yula Athha and her hardliner followers who preached the Orbian ideal, attempting to bring unity and peace. Her side, however, fell into the pitfalls of extremism all the same. Many attributed things to her that she would have never supported, nor her father. In her name, great travesties where born. From the misuse of her ideals of peace came pain. The Seiran family found the political refuge on the far side of this, but was marred by corruption, hypocrisy, and lies. They sought to abandon Orb and it's ideals, to join with the false rage of the world against an equally false foe. The Sahaku family, on the other hand, had already abandoned it's home, ironically saving itself from the demise of Orb as a result.

Ame-no-Mihashira remains a fixture in the heavens, and continues the Sahuku's enigmatic goals even now. But Ame-no-Mihashira was not the only mobile suit factory, nor the Morgonroete facility on terrestrial Orb. Other facilities, on Orb and the outlying islands, held secrets of a previous age and new discoveries of the Break.

And in once such facility, a single solitary facility, on a single solitary island, sat a single solitary tube, with a single solitary figure. A boy, not a day over fifteen, sat in a pod in the center of a strange darkened room. The only light came from the pulsing. green glow which radiated from the pod. Eerie shadows danced across peculiar devices in the room and lit the young boy up, who rested in nothing more then a white gown. The pod was vaguely oval, like an oblong egg holder turned into a technological marvel. Wires streamed from it, snaking through the room like a cable rainbow, and linked into the various machines surrounding the device, some going into the floor and ceiling. It as a laboratory, that much was clear. And it held a secret...

The slow drip was the only sound.

-

Aboard the Lesseps class (refit) Goethals, middle of the Pacific, June 5th, CE79

Bernd Armbruster tossed some of the manila folders back onto the table with a sigh. "Are you sure these are the ones? Nothing all that remarkable about them..." he said, eying his captain carefully. He was no stranger, having served with the captain for almost half a decade now, but that only scratched the surface of the bond they shared. It was odd, in a way. At 36, he was amongst the eldest members of the crew. And he held considerable prestige amongst them as well. But his captain, a young man by most accounts, commanded near awe from them. Each of the crew, Bernd included, had a story to tell about the captain and how he had, in one way or the other, saved them. Be it literally, as was in the case of many of the more recent joiners, but some others had more specific means. Others kept their stories hidden, safe to say each had their own reasons for this, and Bernd didn't begrudge them it. It had taken him some time to open up with his own story.

The captain had found him, as he found all of the crew, in their moment of greatest need. For Bernd, it was a point in which the once alcoholic man had fallen on hard times, doing enforcer work for the local mob. He drank to drown out those feelings, the murmured voices in his head. He had to shut them out. But the captain came, and he spoke to Bernd in a way no one had ever spoken to him. On a level different. He had taken the man, spent months with him to ween away the dependency and shown him a whole new world. The feelings where back, the voices more constant, but with it came a new clarity, a new existence.

Porsche said he had been her destiny. He had saved her from a life of crime and piracy, one of constant abuse by her fellow 'mates,' and a death at the hands of the ZAFT forces. Bernd didn't know anything about destiny. All that mattered was he was dedicated to the captain, sworn to repay the life he had been given a second chance at.

He felt the captains bemused grin before it ever crossed his face.

"I am sure, my friend. They have their parts to play, and they will need our help. The others, they will help us more then we could ever help them."

"But..."

"Do not worry, Bernd. Please, go inform Andrew of the destination. I'll be there shortly."

"Sir..." was all Bernd could bring himself to say, bowing respectfully and heading to the bridge. Waltfeld would be happy to get things underway again, at least.

Back in the office, the captain let out his own held sigh, his long blond hair falling around the Victorian mask he wore. He glanced down at the folders in front of him, eyes scanning the profiles and lists. At least two where like him, and he was eager to meet them some day. The others each had their part to play. He pulled open the drawer, quickly taking out a small case of oval pills as his eye caught the sheets labeled N. Roanoke, R. Burrel, V. Dare, and J. Nara. He pushed them aside as he gulped down the pills, revealing three others; S. Asuka. A. Zala, and C. Zala. But the last two brought him a smile. Even in this time, there where points of joy to be found. The captain stood, leaving the strew folders across his desk, and headed for the door. He adjusted his mask as he left, heading for the bridge with due haste. Idly, his brain began to wonder. How long would he have to keep up his Masquerade. He already knew the answer.

Until it was done.

-

Ruins of Boston, Massachusetts, North America, June 5th, CE79

Launo cursed twice for his luck. Phantom Pain irregulars where one thing. One very bad thing, but still, one thing. But now, that was the last of his worries. What ever God he had offended, he made a silent prayer requesting a stay of judgement just this time. His prayers were quickly adding up, the list including to please let his unit not die on him now, and various pleas for divine intervention. But this was not the intervention he wanted. The pilot guided his mobile suit to glance around the corner again as another explosion rocked the flooded city. The air was steamy now, sizzling energy as the mobile suit battle began to unfold. Launo watched as a strangely equipped ZAKU let a beam boomarang go, carving through a building on it's way to the enemy. Another, a GOUF of some sport, flew above the buildings, raining down a torrent of fire from an arm-mounted gatling. Two others, both equally customized ZAKU units, supported the other two.

The Zodiac Specialists, North American had come. The Strike Dagger pilot was piecing together a picture from snatches of conversation he was overhearing. Apparently, the not particularly bright Irregulars had decided to call in some friends. What they got was a trio of Dagger-like mobile suits that Launo had not seen before, only heard about. However, these units where not here to support. Instead, they opened fire on the irregulars, apparently citing something about 'gross misconduct in accordance with the ideals of the organization." The units, which he knew only by the name Hyperion, carried a back mounted defensive barrier which weathered all of the two Irregulars attacks, counterattacking with rapid-fire hand-held weaponry of some sort.

And the Zodiac Specialists had shown up after that.

"Shinn, watch it! You're being to reckless!" shouted a young womans voice, laced with concern. The reply came from a smooth and older male, a simple response which spoke instead of free spirit. "Ah, let him be, Lunamaria. Shinn will be Shinn."

Launo simply hid, counting his options as a war broke out around him...


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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:34 pm 
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Lackey GM Pilot
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Phase 2: Boston Illegal

"It is perhaps sad that so much has changed since the Break, and yet nothing at all has changed with the war." - Neo Roanoke, CE 78, on the conflict between Zodiac and Phantom Pain.

“When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.”
- Winston Churchill

Aboard the Hannibal class (refit) "Bonaparte", Northeastern Sector, North America, June 4th, CE 0079

Stella Loussier was very, very happy.

The 21-year old blond was currently doing pirouettes in the massive hanger bay of the Bonaparte, deft feet avoiding all obstacles in a very peculiar display of super-human agility. Her dance wove through cables and mobile suits, through cranes and mechanics, and more then once through the path of people who where making their way through the bay to the other sections of the ship. Many stopped to watch her, most accustomed to her peculiarities. She was the doll of the crew, an always smiling bright spot in a world that could be very bleak. And it also reminded men what they where fighting for, all the beautiful girls of the world. It was base, in a way, but a primal inspiration that cunning leaders had exploited throughout time. Anyone who could not see the value of a female operator on the end of the line for combat pilots clearly had checked out of humanity long ago.

Not that any of this was going through Stella's head. No, the bubbly girl had but one thing on her mind. A string of words, coveted by women everywhere. A chain of but eight symbols with significance beyond their humble size. The thing which mankind had spent thousands of years trying to crystallize and physically manifest through art, sculpture, or many other means. All attempts had failed, for trying to capture the true essence of those three small words was like trying to move the earth

The hanger wasn't too crowded now in the early morning, the night staff having bet let not long ago, but the morning staff still trickling in. She was an oddity, fully awake and vibrant in her blue and white dress. It was not all that different from what she had worn six years ago, and it still floated and danced with her. She shifted through the legs of her own mobile suit, it's blue and white shield the only sign that when it's gray body was active it would turn a color to match her young woman's dress. The unit she had stolen from the Coordinators so long ago had been long dismantled and dissected, technology learned from and integrated into newer units. Not that her unit was all that new, but at four years old it was still in it's prime. The GAT-X110 Strikeforce matched the three others in the hanger; those of her fellow Extender pilots and the captain's, as well.

Auel watched, thoroughly amused. He was watching from the pilot's lounge, a small room that overlooked the hanger, with a perfect view of the amateur ballerina. He bit into an apple, synthetically grown in one of the sky-scraping vertical farms from the nearby waystation, a cluster of massive buildings. It was almost a parody of the old office life, each level of the building being used as an insulated and climate controlled farm facility. He chewed quickly, pausing only to turn to his 'brother' for a moment, his fellow Extended pilot who was reading a book, lounging back in one of the finely cushioned seats. "Eh, what's she bumbling about now, Sting?"

"He finally said it." was all he replied, the green-haired man not even looking up from his book as he spoke. Auel raised a quizzical eye. He pondered his brothers words, finally reaching a somewhat complete thought that ran for a conclusion in his mind. "The Captain? Said what?"

This did make Sting look up from his book, a blank stare saying all he wanted to his fellow Extended, and 'adopted brother.' Still childish, still lost, he simply shook his head and sighed. "Amazing that Stella became more adult then you."

Stella did not hear the loud argument this spawned between her brothers. The bubbly young woman remained in her own world, and she danced.

Neo, on the other hand, sat in their room. The sheets where pulled up around him, wrapped around his waist to cover up his noticeable lack of pants. He looked down at the pack of cigarettes in his hand, withdrawing one and bringing it to his lips. His other hand flicked the lighter, azure flame holding for a moment before he flicked it closed and tossed the cigarrete away without lighting it. Stella hated it when he smoked. He sighed, tossing the pack to join it's ill-fated brother in the trash bin. He was sighing, but he was smiling as well. He looked down at the mask resting next to him, recalling back to the day he woke up in that hospital, face covered in bandages. A single hand moved up to run across the spiderweb of scars that criss crossed his face.

Stella didn't care about his scars, or his past. Stella didn't care about anything, really. She was perhaps the most startling example of a free spirit he had ever encountered. Or, at least, remembered encountering. Regardless, she was unique in the world, something he found sorely lacking in his life. A complete and utter lack of purpose, and yet having the greatest purpose of all. Stella lived to live, she fought because she fought, and she did anything only now because it was just what she did. There was no overlying purpose, or plan. No great mystery to unravel, no xanatos gambit to run. Stella was. And Neo wanted so very much to simply be. Neo wished he was.

Instead, Neo plotted and planned and schemed and tricked and bartered and snuck and lied. Neo couldn't be. He never was. Always an angle, always a difference, always another step in a grand plan. He was a plotter, and a planner, and a schemer. He could no more change that then he could stop Stella from dancing. And nothing stopped Stella from dancing. Nothing stopped Stella at all when she truly wanted something. He still had trouble tracking how it was that he ended up here, in this place, with her. How that was injected into his plotting and scheming and planning out the blue one day. How as it she, or in truth any of the other Extended pilots entrusted to his care, had gone from pawns to partners. He let out another sigh. The captain looked up, eyes scanning the room as the hand fell away from his face.

The room was solid grey, for the most part, each piece of furniture built in to the walls or floor, a single molded piece. It was polymer, almost entirely so. Where it wasn't polymer, it was something else coated in polymer. There where certain areas that had one kind of polymer coated in another polymer. It was resistant to wear, and it was cheap, which is why despite it's rather drab appearance it could be found almost universally in the items used by the Earth Alliance. However, it's somewhat dull apperance did little to brighten any days. Some had blamed the chronic rash of suicides and depression after long stints on such vessels as perhaps related to this drab and dull atmosphere. A report came back saying that the cost of treatment and lawsuit settlement still came out less then the cost So it stayed. Neo hated it.

But the Bonaparte was one of a kind. Other Hannibal class vessels existed, but the Bonaparte's was the only that held a powerful fission reactor and the Neutron Jammer Canceller it work. That technology was rare, and after ZAFT had dropped even more N-Jammers to earth during the war they had become even more valuable. It meant that at least his small contingent of forces didn't have to rely on the Junk Guild to keep running. This was a unique boon. The Junk Guild held a monopoly on many of the high technologies people used to take for granted. The waystations served as bastions for humanity, though. After all, in a world where the wold had gone to hell, and everything was one big junkyard, who better then the Junk Guild to take charge.

Neo stood to pull on his black uniform, the same one he had worn for nearly six years. Six years of plotting, and planning, and scheming. He donned the mask before stepping out. In all the time, he had found very few answers.

But at least he had found Stella. And from Stella, he found eight letters, and three words.

Aboard the Lesseps class (refit) "Goethals", middle of the Pacific, June 5th, CE 0079


"Andrew, this is the most pensive I've ever seen you." Masquerade said, face and emotions radiating concern over the situation. Of course, seen was perhaps inaccurate, given his XO, the legendary Andrew Waltfeld, was actually standing behind him. The former Desert Tiger held a cup of coffee in one hand, white steam rising as the aroma filled the planning room. Masquerade, captain of the Goethals and almost mythical figure of the vessel, was hunched over the large digital map table. The table cast up a green glow in the dimly lit room, a map of North and Central America taking up the majority of the flat screen. The captains finger traced lines across the surface, different pressures and combination of fingers forming various symbols and routes as he did. The technology was truly remarkable, and yet remarkably intuitive as well. Coordinators had a way with such things.

Andrew stepped forward, eying the map and tracing the various route the captain was proposing. He frowned, "Ah, you know how I feel already, I know, but I'd feel better for my own conscience by getting it out there. I'm concerned your proposed goal is going to bring us into undue danger. I know you have a habit of predicting. Some of the crew say you can see the future. And I've not doubted you yet..."

"But you wonder when my luck will run out. When I'll be wrong." the masked man said, looking up into Andrew's eyes as he did. "I ask myself that every time I ask anyone to do anything. But the answer, you see, is simple. Please do not misunderstand what I mean when I say this, but we must go because he while we have saved many people, in the end... this one will save us all."

Waltfeld simply smiled, "Eh, you've not made a bad turn yet... but why this guy. Last I checked, though, wasn't that green shirt closer?"

Now it was the captain's turn to smile."He'll come to us, without knowing it." was all he said, looking back down to the table as he did. Waltfeld shrugged and turned to leave, looking over his shoulder for a moment before he did. "You know, captain... Malchio would be proud of you."

When the captain turned to respond, Andrew was already gone. He paused for a moment, staring at the door before sighing.

"Thank you, Andrew... thank you."

Ruins of Boston, Massachusetts, North America, June 5th, CE79


Lunamaria landed heavy on the top of the building, hoping dearly that it would hold as she leveled a pair of high-power beam cannons on the foe. The building, some sort of office building at one time, was crumbling, but it seemed stable enough for at least one shot. As the targeting reticule lowered into place, jumping circles on the screen, she cursed how long the damn thing took. And also that these stupid enemies wouldn't just hold still for one moment and let her blow them away. How inconsiderate to turn down a lady's request. Lunamaria let a smug grin cross her face as the circles fell into place. Twin lances of incandescent energy flared towards the foe. Lunamaria could taste the sweet taste of victory.

Which was dashed as the mobile suit launched itself into the beams, strange back-mounted barrier absorbing the impacts. The only result, in the end, was a rather nice lightshow.

"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa... that's not fair! That's not fair at all!" the female pilot said, suit slacking a bit as she stared in disbelief. Disbelief which led to lingering a bit to long on the unstable building which began to creak and quake with age. As the enemy mobile suit rushed in, beam submachine gun spitting out fire the entire thing finally collapsed down, plumes of smoke and dust shooting out from it as each level began to impact on another, collapsing like a concrete and steel accordian. Lunamaria's resultant scream was more in anger then fear. Why her? Why was it always her?

"Luna!" was all that her fellow pilot, one Shinn Asuka, said as he launched himself at the enemy who had assulted his not so long-suffering lover. His personal ZAKU lashing out with twin "Excalibur" anti-ship swords. His mobile suit was fast, but the swords where slow, and the strike was clumsy. The enemy mobile suit nimbly dodged, launching itself back. It impacted heavy, sliding back in one of the city streets. Water churned as he moved, the murky brown flood water reaching up to the mobile suit's knees. It raised it's weapon with a two handed grip and took aim at Shinn. It was at this point that he finally realized just what he'd been fighting.

"Hyperion G!" he shouted, recalling the rather tedious report documents they'd all been ordered to memorize not long ago. The design was silhouetted in his mind now as he recalled it's capabilities. The Hyperion G had been constructed by the Eurasian Federation, twelve units produced in the first batch. The second set had never been finished, however, after a piece of the Junius Seven colony struck near the facility and destroyed it. And after the final collapse of governments, the Hyperion G units became part of the Phantom Pain organization that took hold of the Earth Alliance remnants. The mobile suits where seized and redistributed, forming four groups of three mobile suits. One unit, the one that the Zodiac Specialist's found themselves fighting, was stationed in the northeastern sector of North America, stationed on the mobile base Bonaparte.

The mobile suit was a mass-production variant of the earlier Hyperion units, utilizing a downsized version of the Umbrella of Artemis lightwave barrier. While the original prototype could form a full 360 degree barrier, these lesser units had only a single flat barrier. However, that single barrier was still more then adequate in most situations. The unit was also prodigiously armed, with an array of beam weaponry and machineguns which made it more then a match for most mobile suits. It was for this reason that Phantom Pain most often used them as an enforcer unit, rather then a main line force. Their units where too valuable, too hard to repair, and damn near impossible to replace. Thus, much to the chagrin of the Hyperion G pilots, they'd gone from a special forces unit to the cleanup crew. Shinn could imagine they where enjoying themselves, then. A chance at a real fight, for once.

But they had not been lucky, despite what they thought. Shinn pushed his unit forward, thrusters flaring and sending it careening into the foe. His two-sword overhead blow impacted with tremendous force. Although it had impacted the foe's lightwave barrier the force still sent the enemy reeling. The ground shuddered and quaked, water rippling as the Hyperion unit hit the ground heavy. A cold grin crossed Shinn's face as he raised his swords for the final blow. In his vengful rage he failed to notice the second Hyperion slide into a firing position to his left, a block away from the customized ZAKU. It's back-mounted beam cannon lined up and flared to life.

The flash of light was blinding, the shock wave was terrifying, and for a short few seconds, Shinn Asuka thought he was dead. But a familiar voice dragged him back to reality. His eyes openned to find an orange-painted GOUF to his right, shield raised. "Ok, Lunamaria, I take it back. Shinn, perhaps you should be less reckless." Heine said with a smug grin, no malice in the words. The second Hyperion unit dispersed as a barrage of beams began to rain down around it. Lunamaria had recovered from the building and was bringing her weapons to bear while Rey's high-mobility ZAKU provided covering fire for Heine and Shinn. The Hyperion that Shinn had been assaulting has slipped away through the winding streets, causing ZOINKS to grit his teeth in frustration. His ZAKU shot off after the enemy.

"Heh, so much for that..." was all Heine had to say, turning his shield-mounted beam gatling on the second Hyperion who joined it's comrade in retreating through the streets. The third unit, perched some distance away on one of the ruined buildings began to lay down it's own suppressive volley as the others began to fall back. The three regrouped, laying down a few more bursts on the Zodiac pilots before making it very clear they where falling back. Their goal had been completed, after all. The two Irregulars had been destroyed early in the fighting by crossfire between the two forces, and it seemed the Hyperion G's superiors where not so keen on letting their precious suits get trashed here.

The Zodiac Specialists regrouped on top of a stable parking garage, watching the Hyperion units disappear over the horizon.

"Was it wise to let them go?" Rey asked in a tone which said that he clearly felt it wasn't.

"Eh, we we're just supposed to find out what they where doing. No need to complicate things, I say." was Heine's reply, the de facto team leader lounging back in his cockpit. Meanwhile, Shinn simply watched with impotent rage as the units left, but said nothing. Why should he? It wouldn't make any difference. He'd just destroy them the next time he had the chance. And next time he wouldn't let his guard down, either. The pilot kicked himself mentally for that rookie mistake. He couldn't be like that. He was supposed to be better then that. He was better then that. He was.

Lunamaria sat silent as well, eyes locked on her lover's unit. Shinn was so devoted, and yet so reckless. She worried about him each time they went out, wondering when his luck would finally run out. She wished he would realize how much it hurt her to see him rush off without a concern. But she was beginning to feel that was a lost cause. She had fallen for Shinn a long time ago, and he for her. But that didn't mean she had to like everything about him, nor excuse his thoughtlessness. Still, a part of her warmed at the thought it was her danger which inspired him, in a way. It was a small thing. And these days, Lunamaria lived for small things.

Shinn's unit suddenly shifted, monoeye sliding to track a subtle movement to the west. A Strike Dagger unit, heavily damaged and painted a solid red emerged some distance away, heading off away from the city. "Another one!"

"Let him go, Shinn. Check the markings, he's not with Pain. Freelancer, of some sort."

Shinn's suit remained in an aggressive stance despite Rey's words. He stared as the unit retreated over the horizon.

Outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts, North America, June 5th, CE79

Hallelujah, his prayer's were answered. As Launo pushed his long-suffering mobile suit towards one of the smaller Junk Guild run support centers that dotted the landscape. He'd head for the "Serenity" waystation after a decent nights rest and some patchwork repairs to at least let the suit get there. Of course, it was likely to collapse the moment it did, but hopefully he could find a replacement with the funds he . He glanced down at the metal briefcase tucked next to his seat and scowled. So much trouble for that stupid thing. As the terrain raced by he began to wonder just what was so special about it. The briefcase was simple enough, locked with some sort of hardcore magnetic latch with an attached explosive. It wasn't a military grade lock, nor even a government lock. That was something else, in his time as a freelancer he'd not seen anything quite like it.

However, he highly doubted the briefcase was desired because of it's peculiar locking mechanism.

He had been lucky to slip out of the city at all. The Hyperion units had been focused, at least, on the out of line Irregulars. They'd engaged hard and fast, wasting the Long Dagger within moments of their arrival. It had been a brutal image, one that Launo was not keen to remember. The cockpit burst in flames, pilot leaping out half-charred into the water. It hadn't saved him, of course. What the fires had started, the 15 meter drop had finished. The Buster Dagger hadn't faired much better, though it's pilot never got the escape attempt. Safe to say that the Hyperion's beam cannon was quite effective at slagging Dagger armor.

He shook the thoughts from his head as the support center came into view, a small compound of 20 meter concrete and a single massive structure, a rectangular box with various extensions built off it. His IFF registration code registered as soon as he came in view, improvised turret emplacements swinging off from him as he approached.

"Ah, Mr. Denman. Welcome to Support Center NW03..2... oh, you get it. Welcome back, hun." said a soft voice, causing Launo to smile wide. Karen was on duty as operator. Sweet lil' Karen. He rather liked her, she was a very down to earth sort of girl, which was amusing given she had been born on the moon. "Looking for a patch job, Karen. And a room."

"Yeah, I can see that. Hun, what have you been up to this time? I can smell the wear of your joints from here!" she said, her middle aged face appearing on his screen soon after, bright and beaming.

"You know me, Karen, all work and no play."

This brought a chuckle to Karen, who nodded and grinned in a way that said she knew otherwise. She punched in a few keys on the console in front of her, openning one of the hanger doors for him. The same buttons sent his key through a vacuum tube, "Bay three, key for your room is waiting there too. You know the drill."

"Sure thing, Karen." he said, his hands deftly handling the quite sluggish controls towards the bay. The structure was lined with hanger bay doors, all motorized and linked to a central computer hub. Most of the tools, arms, and whatnot in the hanger where the same way. Even if he had the money for a full overhaul he couldn't get it done here. He'd need to go to a waystation for that. But anything up to that point was a trifle to the experienced techies at most support centers. They'd overhaul it too, if they could, but it was a lack of tools and parts rather then skill on that front. Launo rode the boarding wire down, briefcase in hand. He picked up his key from the vacuum tube and headed for the residential areas.

He took one last glance down at the briefcase and sighed. He really hoped this damn thing was worth it.

Technical Update:

Model number: CAT1-XG#/12
Code name: Hyperion G
Unit type: mass production ground use mobile suit
Manufacturer: Earth Alliance (Eurasian Federation)
Operator: Earth Alliance (Eurasian Federation); Phantom Pain (Hyperion Unit)
First deployment: CE 73
Accommodation: pilot only, in standard cockpit in torso
Dimensions: head height 16.9 meters
Weight: max gross weight 49.3 metric tons
Powerplant: ultracompact energy battery, power output rating unknown
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 39,300 kg, 2 x 14,550 kg; vernier thrusters/apogee motors: 15
Performance: maximum thruster acceleration: 1.38 G; maximum ground running speed: 105 km/h;
Equipment and design features: sensors, range 32000;
Fixed armaments: 2 x "Igelstellung" 75mm multi-barrel CIWS, fire-linked, mounted in head; "Armure Lumiere" mono-phase lightwave shield, can be used as arm-mounted shield or 360 degree barrier, also doubles as beam spear, mounted on back; "Forfanterie" beam cannon, mounted on backpack, internal magazine fed, 5 rounds + 1 in the chamber, positioned over right shoulder in use; 5 x RBW Type 7001 "Romteknica" beam knife, mounted on main body, powered by rechargable battery; GAU-8M2 52mm machine gun, mounted on backpack, positioned over right shoulder in use;
Optional hand armaments: RFW-99 "Zastava Stigmate" beam sub-machine gun, mounts RBW Type 7001 "Romteknica" beam knife, magazine-fed, 50 rounds per magazine;

In January C.E. 71, the Atlantic Federation's first line of mobile suits entered the battlefield following the ZAFT attack on the Heliopolis space colony. Soon after, the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam is briefly captured and held at the Eurasian Federation space fortress Artemis. Not wanting to be left behind, the Eurasian Federation launches its own mobile suit development program, which produces three prototype Hyperion Gundam units. Although visually similar to the Atlantic Federation's mobile suits, the Hyperion Gundam's systems and armaments differ. The Hyperion Gundam lacks the Atlantic Federation's Phase Shift armor technology, but it compensates with the "Armure Lumiere" mono-phase lightwave shield system.

Later on, the Eurasian Federation made an effort to mass-produce the unit, similar to what the Atlantic Federation had done with the Dagger series of mobile suits. The result was the Hyperion G, a ground use mobile suit which used a slimmed version of the Armure Lumiere lightwave barrier. The rest of the armaments remained nearly identical to the parent unit for the exception of the addition of a back mounted machinegun for additional firepower. An initial run of 12 units where constructed and shipped out for testing. However, during the Break of the World, the facility was destroyed, scuttling the plans to mass produce the design in the face of the much cheaper and already common Dagger series of mobile suits.

Model number: ZGMF-1001/M2
Code name: High Maneuver ZAKU Phantom
Unit type: high mobility assault mobile suit
Manufacturer: Zodiac (Zodiac Mobile Suit Arsenal Developments)
Operator: Zodiac (Zodiac Specialists, North American)
First deployment: C.E. 77
Accommodation: pilot only, in standard cockpit in torso
Dimensions: head height 17.9 meters
Weight: max gross weight 81.5 metric tons
Powerplant: ultracompact energy battery, power output rating unknown
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 33,500 kg, 2 x 23,000 kg; lightwave pulse thrusters: 2 x 64,000 kg; vernier thrusters/apogee motors: 27
Performance: maximum thruster acceleration: 2.55 G; maximum ground running speed: 105 km/h; maximum ground hovering speed: 215 km/h;
Equipment and design features: sensors, 29000 meters; hardpoints for mounting Wizard packs
Fixed armaments: 2 x MA-M8 beam tomahawk, stored inside shields, hand-carried in use; 4 x hand grenade (ZR30F fragmentation grenade, ZR20E high explosive grenade, ZR271 thermite incendiary grenade, ZR11Q flash grenade, ZR13Q smoke grenade), stored on hip armor; 2 x shield, mounted on shoulders;
Optional fixed armaments: 2 x M68 "Pardus" 3-barrel missile launcher, mounted on legs
Optional hand armaments: MMI-M633 beam assault rifle, powered by replacable battery, 2 extra battery per shield; M68 "Cattus" 500mm recoilless rifle, magazine-fed, 6 rounds per magazine + 1 in the chamber; MMI-M8A3 76mm heavy assault machine gun, magazine-fed, 100 rounds per magazine

Following the first war between the Earth Alliance and ZAFT, the Junius Treaty places restrictions on the mobile suit forces of both sides. With a new focus placed on quality over quantity, ZAFT develops a "New Millennium" series of mobile suits such as the ZGMF-1000 ZAKU Warrior and the ZGMF-1001 ZAKU Phantom. Whereas the ZAKU Warrior is meant for the average pilot, the ZAKU Phantom is reserved for aces and commanders. The ZAKU Phantom is equipped with two spiked shields, each of which houses a beam tomahawk. The ZAKU Phantom is also armed with four grenades and a beam rifle, but its armament can be further specialized through the use of interchangeable Wizard packs. These Wizard packs are also compatible with the ZAKU Warrior.

One such Wizard was designed and constructed on Earth using a combination of new and reengineered parts taken from a number of sources, most notably the ZGMF-1017M GINN High Maneuver Type. The /M2 High Maneuver Wizard mounted a pair of powerful lightwave thrusters, as well as mounted a pair of Pardus missile launchers taken from a GINN mobile suit. The result was an extremely fast mobile suit capable of skimming the ground or performing high mobility stunts as a result. The pack was not favored by pilots, however, and has found relatively little use outside particular aces, such as the Zodiac Specialists, North American pilot Rey Za Burrel.

Next Phase: Shinn Asuka's ZGMF-1001/D Dilettante ZAKU Phantom and Neo Roanoke's GAT-X110 Strikeforce Gundam

Terminology:

Waystation A large fortress, city, and base constructed by the Junk Guild, and centered around a group of nuclear reactors. Usually the size, if not bigger, then many of the old American large cities, Waystations are the central hubs of humanity on the planet, providing a safe haven from the harsh outside world. Crime is nearly non-existent, due to the threat of being banned from every waystation and settlement run and protected by the Junk Guild. Usually, the waystations form a sort of spire, with smaller buildings on the outside growing larger as the interior is reached, with a massive hundred or more story tower at it's very center. The outer walls are truly massive, both in height and girth. Waystations have massive population density, due to going up rather then out. The Waystation in the Northeast sector of North America is known as "Serenity" and is located near the ruins of Washington, DC.

Support Center Located between waystations, the support centers are located most often in rare 'blind spots' of Neutron Jammer coverage which allows them to make use of smaller reactors. They form a support system for freelancers and other survivors who spent time away from the waystations.

Junk Guild General term for formerly loosely affiliated group of freelance techs, which became more organized after the Break of the World. The only major organization to survive, they took the forefront, becoming an effective world power. Controls all the Waystations, which it built, and regulates the actions of most other groups, though endorsing none.

Phantom Pain Though at once the elite wing of the Earth Alliance which was controlled by Logos, Phantom Pain has become the open term for the remnant of the Alliance military which have slowly been reorganizing. Well armed and equipped, they lack the ability to operate widely without the Junk Guild, which hinders their actions, at least for now. They are broken into sectional authorities, abet with a far looser chain of command then pre-Break. They use a large number of loosely affiliated pilots known as Irregulars, which are often the force that gives Phantom Pain their bad reputation, or at least a worse one.

Zodiac Much like Phantom Pain, Zodiac is the remnant forces of ZAFT and their Earth-based allies which have become slowy better armed and organized over time. However, they are limited with suits, though possessing more land battleships and other units that give them a better logistical side. However, due to their lack of pilots, they too lack the ability to make a major power grab. They have a number of small elite teams known as the Zodiac Specialists. Many of the crew of the Minerva are now part of the Zodiac Specialists, North American.


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 Post Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:40 pm 
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Ah, the glossary at the end explained some things I was wondering about, like Zodiac, for example. That apparently is an abbreviation of ZAFT either way. However, how would you place this CE-story timewise? This is after GSD, but Sting, Stella and Auel are still apparently alive. Just a bit of background would be very nice, seeing as you did a lot of things in a few rows of text in the beginning (the demolition of PLANT, etc.). And this also begs the question where is Jesus Yamato and Lacus; you hinted at Cagalli's and Athrun's presence earlier. Of course if you are planning to answer these questions in coming chapters, there is no need to go into them here.

In general terms, I find your take on CE quite good and consistent with the style of the timeline. I also appreciate the fact that you are giving proper gravity to the Break of the World -incidence, which is something GSD miserably failed to do. Battle in a changed and damaged global environment seems interesting enough. :)

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*Almost everyone I've killed uttered similar last words.
-Then I am glad once again that you are on my side.
*They've often said that too.


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 Post Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:44 pm 
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Lackey GM Pilot
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Timewise, it actually takes place in a divergent history, which would become more apparent later on. Essentially, the Break of the World caused far more destruction, which led to a rapidly changing timeline.

Other questions... wait and see. :P

Glad for the approval, however. Tell your friends, haha.


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 Post Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:05 pm 
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Cardboard Leo Ace
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Cool love how you have Shinn and co piloting Zakus and the Shinn/Luna moments(yes I'm a Shinn/Luna fan :lol: )...please tell me they'll be more of this

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 Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:54 pm 
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Phase 3: Business Ethics

"There is good and there is good business. I am most happy when the two intersect." - Liam Garfield, Director of Operations and Services, Junk Guild of North America

"The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away." - Ronald Reagan

-

"Serenity" Waystation, outskirts of the ruins of DC, North America, June 9th, CE79

Launo made his way through the crowded streets, subjected to near constant sensory assault from all sides as he did. Serenity was the central Junk Guild facility in North America, and while it was not the largest of the waystations it was still amongst the most trafficked, known for it's strategic location and large citizenship due to the population density of the area pre-Break. In fact, it was for this reason that the facility was originally constructed, and "Serenity" was the second of the waystations to be completed. Construction on the first tier of the central cluster was completed just two months after the March, CE 75 finish of the first waystation, the "New Hope" waystation near Atlanta. Both had access to the Daniel Route, and tt was this combination of population, date primacy, and transportation access that had made Serenity such a powerhouse.

It also made it very, very crowded. It reminded Launo of his time in Hong Kong. Unknown smells, unknown sounds, and the somewhat disturbing situation of unknown sights where all around him, joined by a coordinated fight to get access to his wallet from a steady stream of aggressive street vendors and gaudy signs. Launo had long learned two things about Serenity. One, it's name borderline false advertising, and two, always carry your wallet in your jacket, preferably behind two layers of zippers or buttons. He'd taken a needle to the long brown coat he wore for this very reason. He was rather handy with a needle in general, having spent two months as a seamstress during a particularly bad down time two years ago. On the plus, he'd become very adapt at modifying his clothing to hide what he didn't want anyone else to know he had. For example, a 6.5x25 chambered pistol he was a month late on paying the license for. He still wore the uniform pants from his days in the Earth Alliance, though the stuffy jacket he'd ditched years past. The pants were comfy though. That was just like the Alliance. Get one thing right and two things wrong.

Some people sometimes asked why he left. Why had he decided not to stick it out, to join up with Phantom Pain or one of the veterans organizations (back before those all just joined up with Phantom Pain too). He always gave the same answer, because it was always the truth. He had no great secret to tell. It was a simple, really. He was more then happy to ride out his contract, see the world, and pilot robots for someone. But he did not like being a pawn. Not because of an inflated self-worth but rather because he knew he was worth ZOINKS all, and that was no different after the end of the world then before. He wasn't keen on someone throwing his life away just to prolong their own, and despite it happening to him anyway that didn't mean he had to take a job in which it was essentially in the job description.

His mind began to wander, running over the technical details for his new ride. After the patch job, he had been able to get to Serenity without too much fuss. However, when he arrived he knew that the life of the unit was done and he was going to need something new if he intended to continue his work. It had been no miracle that he found a buyer for the scrap, given the nature of the station as a Junk Guild center and his friendly relations, but finding a new unit proved to be more miraculous. He had followed a web of connections from various recommendations and name drops and was led to a very clean deal from a respected Junk tech. He'd just gotten done refurbishing a unit, with no set buyer, but had a new load coming in and needed to move the thing fast. Right place at the right time, Launo had bought it with a fair chunk of his saved notes, but it was a deal he couldn't pass up. A GAT-03E3 Dagger E was rare to find on the market. It was a newer model, by far, and yet easier to maintain due to being easily adapted to parts from other Earth Alliance units. Actaeon had struck gold with the design, but production never reached the level they desired, and even the barely produced GAT-04 Windam had greater representation these days.

Launo's head was brought back to the street soon after. When he saw someone selling what he thought was dog from a fried meats stall he felt almost certain that someone had uprooted a part of some east asian city and sewn it into the east american coast. He had been stationed in China for a period before the Break of the World, a member of the base assignment after the first Bloody Valentine War. The Republic of East Asia had been hit hard during the war, their spaceport of Kaoshiung having been occupied by ZAFT during the early parts of the war. The resultant fighting left them drained, financially and militarily, and although the territories where returned to them after the war they still found themselves in a weak position. This weakness was exploited by the Atlantic Federation, leading the Republic of East Asia to rely heavily on them during the later years. One of these was the stationing of a large number of troops in East Asian areas, where Launo did a tour of duty.

He'd learned how to move in streets like this then, though he'd never expected to be using it now. How the world turned, he supposed. The pilot adjusted his grip on the briefcase that he'd handcuffed to his wrist. He still had no clue what was in the briefcase, but what he did know is that it was valuable. Very valuable. After yesterdays close call he was sure of that. As he drew closer to his destination his mind began to wander, trying to sift through the mistakes his former employer had made two days earlier at their meeting. Other, of course, then the mistake to try and change the deal...

-

"Chinese New Year" bar, Serenity Waystation, North America, June 7th, CE79

"Fifty." was the only word the bespectacled man said, and he said so only while looking elsewhere. Launo grinned. The guy was good, very good. The glasses, he felt, we're a nice touch. They oozed intelligence, sophistication, and authority. Launo realized he likely had chosen the glasses specifically for that reason, hand picked these specific glasses for his purposes. It was a clever touch, one that served it's purposes quite well. It was also a lie, but from what Launo could tell that didn't bother or phase the man. Launo knew they were a lie because the man was a member of Zodiac, and a high ranker at that. This man's entire bearing spoke of his position and how much he loved it. He wasn't a spook, that much was for sure. Or if he was, he was a very very good actor. But Launo found that unlikely. The glasses made him look intelligent, but he didn't need them. He was a coordinator, he had hundreds of thousands of dollars in gene manipulation and laboratory godhood imitation to do that.

The man tapped the desk absentmindedly, looking off into the sparse crowd of the bar. It was early, the regulars weren't in and the drunks were passed out. The bar was hazy, still lingering with poorly ventilated smoke. It was another thing Launo gave the man. He was very good at negotiations. That's why they'd sent him rather then some spook or operative. He knew how to get people to listen to him. Primacy was all about those little things. The glasses, the smoke (which, he noted, was very annoying. Launo was simply glad he didn't have allergies), the two oversized 'bodyguards' he'd brought with him, and the fact the twat had spent ten ZOINKS minutes on his ZOINKS phone talking about god knows what. Nothing important, he knew. It was a delay tactic. Delay the other party, assert your control over the meeting, the discourse, the entire flow of the whole world. The guy was asserting his place as dictator and Launo was the peon. Launo was to feel overjoyed this high and mighty one had deigned himself to even speak to the lowly freelancer, much less offer him a scant 50% of what the contract had been for.

Which usually meant one of three things. Zodiac thought Launo was a pushover, a rookie, or they were strapped for cash. He knew it wasn't the second of these. Or at least, he really HOPED it wasn't. Launo was not famous, and he did not want to be famous. He was quite content to be a nice average grade freelancer who did average grade jobs and got average grade pay. But he was known enough in the circles to be recommended for a job, he knew that much. And he was known enough not to get discounted as some wannabe who could be shoved off with half pay and a pat on the back. For the same reason, he found it unlikely they thought he was a pushover, either. He was not known as such by any stretch, his reputation was clear and good. He made sure of that, both through action and a few greased wheels. Bit of money in the right hands got your name into all the right places.

Launo looked around the smoky bar. It was well worn. Not run down, but rather well loved. The bar was clearly unofficially reserved for the regulars, the middle aged female who manned it unconsciously wiping some areas more then others. Launo flashed a smile, one the fairly attractive woman flashed back, perhaps more out of friendly habit then true attraction, given she got right back to wiping soon after. He reached into his jacket, eyes still scanning the room. The Zodiac operative didn't even flinch, but the two guards where less inclined. They were not trained or told to be subtle, they were told to be cautious. But it was just a cigarette. Launo set it in his mouth and lit the rather expensive brand up. Although at his core an admitted cheapskate, Launo was more then keen to use little tricks of his own. He was open about what he was smoking, and that he was going to smoke, even if, in truth, he was not a smoker in the traditional sense. It was a tool, not a habit. And you never knew when you'd need a pack of cigarettes.

They weren't short on cash, he also knew that. Zodiac had a whole section of the job postings dedicated to them, and rarely were credibly reported to bounce their contracts, and the few plausible instances usually involved more then simple trickery. Often, a incomplete contract, or missed clause, neither of which where valid in this case. Launo knew, because he'd written the contract himself. Which also meant he was going to have the C-1A clause to use if he felt he could get away with it. The ability to redesignate the fee should the employer fail in some part of the deal. It was abusable to a high degree. When strapped for cash, Launo had very few regrets about using it, as well. Still, it was peculiar. They'd no reason to try and stiff him, so why do it?

He finally spoke right after taking out his lighter and flicking up a flame, "I hope you don't mind if I smoke." he said. Not asked, said, because he really didn't give a damn if the man minded. And that was the point. It was just another play of a game. A move of a bishop, a jumped checker, a ZOINKS shoryuken, if you will. He puffed a few times, setting the expensive pack down on the table, just out of reach. "The deal." he began slowly, letting the smoke drift from the tip to join the rest of the haze, "was for 100. 100,000 notes. 100,000 certified Junk notes, dated and scanable. No IOU, no trash currency, no continentals. One zero zero zero zero zero. This was the contract." he said, hand tapping the case he had set next to him, still connected to his wrist by a set of ceramic handcuffs. He smiled nice and pretty at the man, who finally decided it was time to look at the freelancer. The man kept his hands under the table, face absolutely blank even now.

"We feel that, for the job done, 50 would be more appropriate and fair." he said, hand finally coming up to adjust his fake glasses and brush some hair away from his face. Launo let the cigarette hang loose in his mouth for a moment before replying, plucking it away quickly and leaning over the table with a grin.

"Well, you know what, you're right. I'm very sure that you feel that 50 is more then fitting now, and you could even be right. But, you see, the contract says 100. And so it's going to be 100." he said, staring into the mans eyes as he dabbed out the cigarette in an ashtray. He finally leaned back after finishing crushing the butt into ash, placing his hand over his chin as he leaned back. "Zodiac isn't a new kid on the block, but apparently you've forgotten your business manners." Launo said, hand falling on top of his cigarettes for a moment. He sighed internally, already noticing how the man's 'bodyguards' were positioning themselves. The man didn't even bother to hide it, simply looking at each in turn and then nodding. This was Launo's cue. He crushed the pack of cigarettes and slid it across the table, ducking down as the two guards drew their weapons.

It really was a shame to mess up such a nice bar. He kicked at the table, knocking it back as the flash charge hidden in the cigarette pack detonated, providing all the cover he needed to scramble towards the door. He could hear the bartender screaming at them in the back of his head, but he wasn't' about to heed the warnings, particularly not when the area around him became densely populated with lead. He pushed his way to the door breaking out into the crowd he knew would be useful to mask his escape. Zodiac had tries to set him up, he realized. The entire thing was a set-up to give the plausible excuse of a contract dispute ending in the forfeiture of his life. Launo shook his head in disgust. This was no way to operate a business...

-

Aboard the Hannibal class (refit) "Bonaparte", Northeastern Sector, North America, June 8th, CE 0079

Neo eyed the mission orders with some concern. The entire mission profile, remarkable in it's brevity, had been delivered to him the moment he stepped foot on the bridge. It was a piece of technology they'd taken for granted, once, a flat clipboard-sized touch panel and screen which held all of the mission data, and had a direct link to the Bonaparte's computers should the captain choose to delve deeper into the cross-references and data sheets. The device seemed simple some time ago, but now days it was considered a far rarer resource and generally kept for the truly important assignments to minimize the risk of accidents or wear. This, to Neo, meant that he had just been handed a very important job, one which came from somewhere on high. It was a priority job, something he was to handle personally. It had even been hand delivered by a major from the Operations Division. A damn major. To a military man like Neo, this was to be treated as though God himself was speaking, and he'd just been handed the new ZOINKS testament.

And it was a pickup job. A pickup job. The entire report spanned nineteen pages, covering a psyche profile of the person who was holding the package, mission parameters, and a number of other reports that made Neo despise his obligation to read it all. He was required to digitally sign each page, with a recorded time on how long he spent with the page, before he could move on to the rest, and then sign again at the end to certify he had read the whole order. And with the operations major standing right next to him he had little choice in the matter. Still, he supposed, at least the Ops where better then Int Spooks. Neo did not consider himself a particularly nice man, but the things Intelligence was involved in made even him shudder. He reclined in the briefing room chair as he scrolled through the pages, noting the few tidbits of useful information as he did, scanning a few times to beef the time indicator and avoid any 'performance evaluation investigations.' He had no time for such beurcracy, and it was a marvel that even in spite of the collapse of the government, the Alliance had managed to create bureaucracy so strong that it persisted to this day.

The thought brought a grin to Neo's face, which in turn spawned a confused look on the straight-laced operations major awaiting the return of the tablet. Neo ignored him, signing off moments later and sliding the device across the table to the man, who snatched it up with an incredulous look. Neo simply sighed. "A pickup job? You spent all this for a simple pickup, sir?"

"Direct from North American Central. You and your team are to report to Serenity waystation and retrieve an item of importance from one Second Lieutenant Launo Denman, retired. The item is a metal briefcase, 16 inches by 30 inches, silver with black trim, digital lock with explosive device. Content-" the man said, listing out each thing in rapid succession. He would have continued had he not been interrupted. Under most circumstances, Neo might have been glad for this interruption. but the fact of who did it made him less inclined.

"Are not to be spoken of aloud." the interrupter said, standing at the door with a self-important grin. Neo scowled. Intel Spooks were bad, but this spook was worse. Lieutenant Colonel Eduard Shapiro stood, finely pressed uniform and hand-polished buttons making him look like a toy soldier in his full dress getup. He always wore the full uniform, always immaculate, and he was always an ZOINKS. He was good looking, and he knew it. Oh god did he know it, the self-absorbed prick. He had an eye for women, and a habit of feeling each and every one of them should be swooning over him. He still grinned at the thought of Stella's reaction to him, a thought that Neo held near and dear to his heart. Stella was a fireball when she wanted to be...

"Captain Roanoke, I hope you're not feeling somewhat underwhelmed, are you? I mean, a pickup job isn't somehow beneath you I hope. You know the freelancer who picked it up, if I am not mistaken." Shapiro said with that devilish grin. He had had it out for Neo and his entire team since Stella's rejection. Neo simply smiled, "Not at all, sir. Given my team have a number of leave days built over, I think we may take some time after this mission to spend at Serenity. Perhaps a date, or two... sir." Neo said, heading for the door with his own grin. He didn't need to see Shapiro's anger, he could feel it radiating off him. He had gotten used to that, knowing how people felt before they ever said anything, or betrayed themselves with body language. If one thing was better about the state of the military post-Break, the increased informality of things was one of them. That, and the fact that while he was a captain, Neo held more direct power then nearly any officer on the ship. The advantages of being hand picked for Phantom Pain.

He headed for the lounge, expecting to find his team there, as they often where. He arrived minutes later, the large ship taking some time to traverse. The vessel lacked the speedy methods of travel, as many space vessels did, and this made getting around it something of a challenge. This was partially why nearly all of the vessel was built in the rear, the entirety of the design being primarily a mobile suit carrier, though some of that space had been replaced with a number of magnetic catapults for faster deployment. But when he had arrived, he could not help but smile. Emotions of respect and admiration washed over him, but all where trumped when he saw her. Stella rushed over him, embracing her captain and lover as tight as she always did. A single emotion replaced all others as he held her: Love.

-

Pacific Ocean, Near the Equator, June 5th, CE79

Michael Amsel's breathing was erratic, his heart was racing, and his chances of survival where getting progressively lower. His BaGOOhN had been hit hard in the initial wave, taking a solid phonon hit to the left 'shoulder' of the nautical mobile suit. The damage had been sealed but those seals were not going to last all long in the grand scheme, and even if the seals didn't fail soon his power would. He was already operating on emergency power, the red warning lighting in his cockpit casting crimson shadows. But he dared not surface, not now. Not when he could tell 'they' where still there, even if he didn't know how. He simply knew it. It wasn't the first time he'd gotten such feelings and he'd long learned to trust them.

The Pacific Fleet of Phantom Pain was not to be scoffed at. Although the naval power of the Earth Alliance was not as great as it had once been, this was due mostly to a combination of desertion, theft, and lack of crew rather then the number of vessels they held. However, they still did hold many vessels, and their naval power greatly exceeded that of Zodiac or any other organization. From their large mobile suit carrying Lindbergh class, an update of the Spegler class from earlier times, to the smaller updates of Danilov, Arkansas, and Fraser classes. And after the First Bloody Valentine War the Earth Alliance had beefed up their submarine corp, expanding it by dozens of vessels. And after the Break many of these fell into the hands of freelancers and the like, or broke off from the organized navies to form their own pirate groups and flotillas. But many still remained in the hands of Phantom Pain, and they proved a constant thorn in the side of the West Pacific chapter of Zodiac.

He kept his mobile suit still, hoping to be passed over as the enemy circled above. The recovery fleet was protected well, but every time they went out was a gambit. A few surface craft, often little more then a Petrie class or two, and a few Vosgulov class submarines simply lacked the numbers to fight off a concentrated attack by the numerically and, in too many ways, technologically superior Phantom Pain fleet. However, Phantom Pain didn't risk assets without good reason. That, however, boded poorly for Michael. On one hand, it implied they knew something about the dive sector that made it valuable enough to strike, but on the other hand, it meant the dive site was valuable enough to strike. Meaning he and his comrades, some still using unupgraded GOOhN or GINN WASP units from the First Bloody Valentine War, where facing a combination of the cheap GAT-01mod.7 Strike Dagger ASP (or Aquatic Systems Package) and far newer designs, like GAT-X399/D Dive Daggers. Perhaps, if they where lucky, they'd get a glimpse of the damn near mythical GAT-X304 Cruiser Aegis which had claimed so many of Zodiac lives. A glimpse before it closed in and crushed you, at least.

Michael wouldn't die that way. He could see it in his mind, the BaGOOhN units frantically trying launch enough to deter the attack, and failing utterly. He could see Deep Forbidden units tearing into his team. He could feel the brief instants of pain before they where snuffed out in his mind's eye. MIchael curled into himself, blocking out the images and feelings which began to flood. He lashed out, grabbing the controls and sending him lower. He didn't know where he was going, he simply had to go. The mobile suit creaked as he sent it into the abyss. He would live... somehow, he was going to live. The world began to fade from him, and he screamed out in impotent rage. Or so he thought. Did he? He'd never know, he supposed. Not as the world began to drift into nothing...

He awoke confused, sitting motionless except for the heaving of his chest for a long time. He didn't know how long. Eventually his hands moved to the release on his restraints. The cameras where down, Michael didn't know why, but the other sensors... they read normal. Above normal, really. He was sitting on the surface, yet he was not bobbing. His mobile suit seemed too still, lacking the rolling he'd grown accustomed to. He knew only one thing that was like this, yet another feeling he was quite familiar with. He reached for the release hatch, pushing himself up from the horizontal seat. The fact he wasn't drowned or crushed by pressure was his first hint to confirm his suspicions. And as he hit the floodlights on the front of his mobile suit, illuminating the soft off-white room, he was confirmed in full. He was in some sort of docking facility, his mobile suit sitting mostly still in a large facility which looked large enough to hold two submarines in full and have space to spare. The coordinator stood, eyes scanning the room.

Just what the ZOINKS had he found...

-

"That Place" bar, Serenity Waystation, North America, June 9th, CE79

Launo reclined back in his seat. He'd been first to arrive this time, though he had fewer intentions of playing games with the representative. He had been told who was coming, a fact which made Launo smiled. It had been some time since he had last seen him, or the rest of his team. He'd been placed under the command of the 81st Autonomous Mobile Group a number of times, each time ending with their attempt to have him transferred, something he resisted each time. It wasn't ideological, it was a simple matter of logistics. They never stayed in one place, always on the move. Pilots in Phantom Pain had no home, no place to call their own. They where part of the military, nothing more and nothing less. And as he often told people, Launo was in this for a job, not to be a pawn. Or had been in it, at least.

He looked around the bar he'd chosen, a far higher quality establishment, but one which looked to be on harder times then the somewhat worn out bar he'd been a patron of the previous day. If that wasn't an amusing metaphor, Launo didn't know what was. Just because it was nice and shiny, well kept and, from what he could tell, well run didn't make it better. Tradition won out so very often, tradition and habit. Zodiac and Phantom Pain.

He gave up upon the introspection as he saw his 'associates' step in. Launo smiled and stood, extending a hand. He could see the bemused grin as the Phantom Pain officer closed, clasping Launo's hand with a hardy grip.

"It's been some time, Captain Roanoke. Let's get down to business."

-

Technical Update:

Model number: GAT-X110+AQM/E-X08 (GAT-X105II+AQM/E-X04II)
Code name: Æther Strikeforce (aka Second Gunbarrel Strike)
Unit type: limited production all-purpose multi-mode mobile suit
Manufacturer: Actaeon Industries
Operator(s): Earth Alliance (Coalition of Reponse Elements)
First deployment: Late CE 73
Accommodation: pilot only, in standard cockpit in torso
Dimensions: head height 17.72 meters
Weight: max gross weight 63.8 metric tons
Powerplant: ultracompact energy battery, power output rating unknown
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 2 x 30,000 kg, 2 x 15,000 kg, 4 x 7,500 kg; vernier thrusters/apogee motors: 19
Propulsion: maximum thruster acceleration: 1.88 G; maximum ground running speed: 115 km/h
Equipment and design features: sensors, 37300 meters; Variable Phase Shift (VPS) armor; enhanced power unit; hardpoints for mounting Striker packs
Fixed armaments: 4 x M2M5 "Todesschrecken" 12.5mm automatic CIWS, fire-linked, 4000 rounds per gun, mounted in head; 2 x "Mk315 "Stiletto" rocket-propelled anti-armor penetrator, stored in hip armor, hand-carried in use; 2 x ES04B beam saber, stored in recharge racks on hips, hand-carried in use; 2 x M83 "Longbow" sextuple missile launcher, mounted on legs; MAU-M4K1 linear gun, mounted on right arm, hand-operated in use; magazine fed, 10 rounds per magazine + 1 in the chamber, 3 x extra magazines stored on left arm rack;
Optional fixed armaments: "Mystischschild" Mk93mod.1 energy deflection shield, mounted on left arm;
Optional hand armaments: M703Kmod.3 beam carbine w/125mm grenade launcher, powered by rechargeable energy capacitor, optionally stored on right leg; Mk39 low-recoil cannon, magazine-fed, 10 rounds per magazine + 1 in the chamber;
Remote weapons: 4 x M16M3-D7 wireless Gunbarrel (includes GAU-868L2 dual beam gun, DE-RXM91C Field Edge "Horned Moon" beam blade), mounted on AQM/E-X08, can be detached and controlled wirelessly;

With the outbreak of war, the Earth Alliance's Atlantic Federation begins a secret project to develop mobile suits to counter ZAFT's mass-produced ZGMF-1017 GINN as well as operate free of interference from the N-Jammers. The GAT-X105 Strike Gundam is one of five initial prototype suits secretly developed in conjunction with Orb's Morgenroete defense company. Whereas the other Gundams are designed for specific roles, the Strike Gundam is intended to operate in various configurations through the use of Striker packs. Like the other prototype Gundams, the Strike Gundam is equipped with the new Phase Shift (PS) armor technology. When in Phase Shift mode, the Strike Gundam is nearly impervious to attacks from shell-firing artillery or melee weapons. However, use of Phase Shift for extended periods of time is a massive drain on the energy battery.

After the Break of the World, Actaeon Industries thrived for a short while. After rolling out their new refined versions of the original Alliance prototypes, Actaeon began to produce them in greater numbers for the war effort, these powerful machines going to the ace pilots and leading the charge against the PLANTs. One of the most popular of these was the GAT-X105II Strikeforce Gundam, a refined version of the original GAT-X105 Strike. Nearly identicle, the Second Strike's primary differences were internal, mounting refined versions that optimized the design for modern combat and made it more then a match for the modern mobile suits deployed by ZAFT. Actaeon also produced a redone line of Striker packs to go with the Second Strike. After proving a success, the Second Strike was redesignated GAT-X110 Strikeforce, becoming the third mobile suit in the Re.100 series of mobile suits.

One of these remade striker packs was the AQM/E-X04II Second Gunbarrel Striker, later redesignated AQM/E-X08 Æther Striker. Based off a combination of the original Gunbarrel Striker and the modernized version of the original TS-MA2Mod.00 Moebius Zero, the TS-MA4F Exus. The design also incorporates data taken from the stolen RGX-01 Chaos Gundam, most notably the ability for the gunbarrel pods to operate in the atmosphere, and a refined broadcasting and OS which allowed them to be used wirelessly. The result was a powerful pack which gave the Strikeforce Gundam a powerful all-range attack capability. However, it's high cost and still high skill requirement made it the least produced of the redone Striker packs. However, it did become popular with certain ace pilots, such as Phantom Pain captain Neo Roanoke.

-

Model number: ZGMF-1002D
Code name: ZAKU Dilettante
Unit type: all-purpose multi-mode mobile suit
Manufacturer: Zodiac (Zodiac Mobile Suit Arsenal Developments)
Operator: Zodiac (Zodiac Specialists, North America)
First deployment: C.E. 77
Accommodation: pilot only, in standard cockpit in torso
Dimensions: head height 17.9 meters
Weight: max gross weight 75.2 metric tons
Powerplant: ultracompact energy battery, power output rating unknown
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 33,500 kg, 2 x 23,000 kg; vernier thrusters/apogee motors:
Performance: maximum thruster acceleration: 1.06 G; maximum ground running speed: 105 km/h;
Equipment and design features: sensors, 29000 meters; M321 multi-pack adapter, compatable with all known Earth Alliance and ZAFT model packs
Fixed armaments: MA-M8 beam tomahawk, stored inside shoulder shield, hand-carried in use; 2 x hand grenade (ZR30F fragmentation grenade, ZR20E high explosive grenade, ZR271 thermite incendiary grenade, ZR11Q flash grenade, ZR13Q smoke grenade), stored on right hip armor; shield, mounted on right shoulder; MA-M941 "Vajra" beam saber, stored on left hip armor, hand-carried in use; MA-M80 "Defiant" beam javelin, stored on left hip armor, hand-carried in use
Optional fixed armaments: MMI-RG59V mobile shield, mounted on left arm;
Optional hand armaments: MMI-M633 beam assault rifle, powered by replacable battery, 2 extra batteries on shoulder shield;

Following the first war between the Earth Alliance and ZAFT, the Junius Treaty places restrictions on the mobile suit forces of both sides. With a new focus placed on quality over quantity, ZAFT develops a "New Millennium" series of mobile suits such as the ZGMF-1000 ZAKU (ZAFT Armed Keeper of Unity) Warrior. Based on the more powerful ZGMF-X999A ZAKU Mass Production Trial Type, the ZAKU Warrior is in essence an update of the original ZGMF-1017 GINN with a host of new features. The ZAKU Warrior's base armaments include a beam assault rifle, four multi-purpose grenades stored on the hips and a beam tomahawk stored in a spiked shield mounted on the left arm. The ZAKU Warrior can also be further equipped for various mission roles through the use of specialized Wizard packs. These Wizard packs can include additional armaments such as beam cannons or missile launchers. Some Wizard packs also feature extra thrusters for increased speed and mobility, as well as specialized equipment for combat in certain environments.

The ZAKU Dilettante was constructed on Earth after the Break of the World incident specifically for Zodiac Specialists, North American pilot Shinn Asuka, former assigned pilot of the ZGMF-X56S Impulse Gundam. However, after years of conflict the Impulse was deemed too expensive to continue to maintain and repair, and after it's home ship Minerva was heavily damaged in combat it was decided that a custom mobile suit using parts taken from the Impulse and combined with a refined version of the ZAKU frame would be more economical while retaining effectiveness. In the process, the shoulder shield was mounted on the right rather then the left and a pair of the standard grenades where replaced with a set of close-range weapons to augment the mobile suits melee potential. The Impulse's highly effective shield was retained, along with it's energy deflecting field. However, the greatest change was the addition of the M321 multi-pack adapter which was integrated into the frame. This module was originally designed for the Impulse and allows it to mount all known models of ZAFT and Earth Alliance mission packs, giving the unit unprecedented adaptability.

Next Phase: Technical Interlude

Terminology:

The Daniel Route The most commonly used name for the system of rivers and super-rivers formed in post-break North America. Created due to a combination of impact effects, wide scale flooding, and other ecological and geological issues, the route has become one of the most common ways to traverse much of the post-Break North American continent. It is named after Isaac Daniel, the captain of the first vessel to navigate the route from it's northern start to where it empties into the pacific.

Masquerade Both a person and a group, Masquerade is the name of a mysterious masked man who leads an organization with unknown goals. A number of former Three Ships Alliance members are known to be part of Masquerade, and it is said to have links with Terminal. However, as fitting it's name, it is not known exactly what it's goals are. It is named for the man who leads it, who wears a Victorian mask to hide his face.

Freelancer Also known as Oddjobs and Indys, Freelancers are non-affiliated mobile suit pilots who sell their services to whoever can pay, often undertaking dangerous in and out of mobile suit missions. They are a deeply divided group, with some working off codes of personal honor while others are little better then bandits or marauders. Some freelancers band together to take on bigger jobs, but are generally still called freelancers regardless.

Notes Junk Guild currency notary, effective at any of their stations or centers and often with other organizations as well. Due to strict control by the Junk Guild it has avoided any significant inflation in the half a decade it has been in effect.

Northeast Sector: An area composing a massive amount of territory in an area which stretches from upper Virginia and into the Canadian Arctic Region. One of the most productive spots on the Earth, the "Serenity" waystation is the Junk Guild headquarters for North and Central America, rivaled only by "New Hope" in southeast and "Mercy Point" in the southwest.

Zodiac, West Pacific Chapter Composed of a combination of ZAFT remnants and allied forces from the Equatorial Union and Australia, the West Pacific Chapter has been fighting a losing battle against the Phantom Pain's Pacfic Fleet for years. It has been searching numerous dive sites for unknown reasons for some time now.

Character File 1:

Launo Denman, 27. Former Earth Alliance 2nd Lt. Pilots a GAT-01 Strike Dagger for a short time before he is forced to upgrade to a GAT-03E3 Dagger E. Freelance pilot, does various jobs but often avoids working for, with, or anywhere near Zodiac or Phantom Pain. Despite his reputation for getting jobs done in a serious manner he is actually very laid back.

Michael Amsel, 31. Former Zodiac green shirt. Pilots a UMF-4B BaGOOhN for the West Pacific chapter of Zodiac. A kindly soul who fell in love with the ocean, he was later pressed into dangerous service.

Masquerade, age unknown. A young man who captains the Goethals. He has intervened in the life of the entire crew at some point, saving them in various ways. Wears a Victorian mask and elegant clothing to hide his identity, and wears a peculiar necklace. Pilots a modified ZGMF-600 GuAIZ.

Bernd Armbruster, 36. Crewmember of the Goethals. Uses a modified MWF-JG73 Civilian Astray JG Custom. A long time member, Bernd was discovered by Masqurade while working as a mob enforcer. Loyal to Masquerade, he is a brotherly figure to the rest of the crew.

Andrew Waltfeld, 38. One of the few survivors of the Three Ships Alliance, Andrew Waltfeld joined with Masquerade early on, serving as his XO aboard the Lesseps-class Goethals. Has a MVF-M11C Murasame, though he rarely pilots it.

Porsche Piëch, 27. Member of the Goethals crew, Porsche was once a member of a space pirate vessel though after a string of hard times she was pressed into less savory duties by the crew. Saved by Masquerade, she treats him with an almost religious devotion. Serves as a liaison for the crew and the Command and Control operator.

Neo Roanoke, age 36. A man with an unknown history, often experiencing memory flashbacks to a life he cannot remember. Serves in Phantom Pain as a high-ranking officer, often being seen as the most charismatic of the group. As a result, he is amongst the most commonly used spokespersons for the organization. Pilots a GAT-X110+AQM/E-X08 Æther Strikeforce Gundam, and leads a group of Extended pilots that he has done so for over five years now.

Sting Oakley, 23. Extended Human. One of the few remaining members of the Extended program, Sting Oakley has gone from being a simple soldier to an important member of Phantom Pain, serving as Neo Roanoke's XO. Still seen as a big brother to his 'sibling' Extendeds, he changed little in the years. Pilots a GAT-X110+AQM/E-X05 Cosmo Strikeforce Gundam

Stella Loussier, 21. Extended human. Although still somewhat quiet and bubbly, Stella Loussier has matured greatly over time. However, she still hangs off Neo Roanoke, abet with a decidedly more romantic tone now, and the two do share feelings for each other in a relationship they somewhat fell into. She serves in his unit in Phantom Pain. Pilots a GAT-X110+AQM/E-X06 Flare Strikeforce Gundam

Auel Neider, 22. Extended human. Although closer to his 'siblings' due to time and experience, Auel is still a wild card in combat, known for his reckless abandon when assaulting enemies with almost always excessive force. He serves with his siblings in Phantom Pain. Pilots a GAT-X110+AQM/E-X07 Nova Strikeforce Gundam

Shinn Asuka, 22. Coordinator. Forced back onto Earth, Shinn Asuka serves Zodiac as one of it's premier aces, and a member of the Zodiac Specialists, North America. Still angry, Shinn has matured into a cold man who opens up only rarely, and to only a few, such as his fellow specialist and lover, Lunamaria Hawke. Pilots the ZGMF-1001/D Dilettante ZAKU Phantom.

Heine Westenfluss, 27. Coordinator. Leader of the Zodiac Specialsts, North American, Heine is a jovial but realistic soldier, much as he was four years earlier. He pilots the ZGMF-X2001 GOUF Invoker.

Lunamaria Hawke, 23. Coordinator. Heavy weapons pilot of the Zodiac Specialists, North American. She has become as inversely boisterous to how her squadmate and lover, Shinn Asuka, has become colder and insular. Truly cares for Shinn, but is often upset at his lack of self-control on the battlefield and how much it hurts her. Pilots the ZGMF-1000/A2 Launcher ZAKU Warrior

Rey Za Burrel, age 22. A silent but happy man, Rey Za Burrel is far more mature then his given age would think. He is often the voice of reason to his friend and comrade, Shinn. Pilots the ZGMF-1001/M2 High Mobility ZAKU Phantom


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