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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:33 am 
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Okawara x Katoki Love Child
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Okay, after agonising over coming up with a proper "plan" for the story (without much success), I decided to just start bloody well writing the thing. This is a first draft, and I'm not 100% satisfied with it myself, so any constructive criticism would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

(Also, I must be doing that macro thing wrong, because I couldn't get it to work)

EDIT: Second draft, added a prologue. Apart from that, just a couple of minor tweaks)

Story inside the spoiler box...

Spoiler: show
“As supersoldier candidates, your studies have shown you that the history of mankind is the history of warfare. Dreamers and fools have always hoped that this history of warfare may come to an end, not realising that conflict is what drives humanity’s advancement. In the last century, we have moved from colonies on Luna and in Earth orbit, to terraforming Mars and establishing permanent outposts in the asteroid belt, yet conflict between nations continues, and will continue to do so unless humanity encounters another species that we must fight. Some thought that with humanity’s expansion into space would come a leap forward in evolution, the birth of new abilities. No such thing has happened. If humanity is to evolve, we cannot rely on nature to do it for us – we must cause it to happen ourselves. You are the fruits of that effort, the first children of the new breed of humanity. You are the ones who will be at the forefront of battle, destined to lead us into the future!”
- [NAME WITHHELD], Lecture at Sparta Base.

“Ensign Athene Gold reporting for duty, ma’am!”

“Welcome aboard, Ensign. I’m Captain Tanya Monash.”

The Captain was different than I had envisioned – a woman in her early 30s, the look in her eyes was nothing like the severe glares I was used to from the trainers at Sparta Base. But then, nothing about this assignment was what I had envisioned. I had expected to be deployed in the main Commonwealth forces, alongside the other trainees from Sparta Base. Instead, I had been assigned to the battleship Gallipoli in Mars orbit, far from the main theatre of operations around the Earth sphere, for a secret project – something called Project Gundam.

****
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM STORM

A Fanfic by Andrew Dynon

Based on Mobile Suit Gundam created by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Hajime Yadate

Report 01: Activation
****

“Athene Gold? Weird name. I’m Ensign Shane Yamada. Pleased to meet ya!” Shane stretched out his hand. He wasn’t what I was expecting, either. My fellow trainees had been about the same age as him, but he definitely didn’t carry himself like them. There was no way the instructors would have permitted such a casual attitude. What did he think was so weird about my name? I’ve always had it - it’s the name that was given to me by the instructors. And why was he holding his hand out to me like that? I hesitated, unsure what to do.

The Lieutenant standing beside Shane looked at me, expecting... something. Shouldn’t he have admonished Ensign Yamada for speaking out of turn?

“Go on,” he said to me, “Hold out your hand.” I did as he said, and the ensign grabbed it and pumped it up and down, smiling. I didn’t understand it, but for some reason, the combination of his facial expression and the sensation of our hands touching each other made me feel as if I belonged aboard the ship.

The Lieutenant turned to me. “Well, Shane’s taken the liberty of introducing himself. I’m Lieutenant Alan McDermott. I’ve been briefed on you, Ensign – well, what they felt they could let me know, anyway. You might find that things here are a bit different than what you’re used to.”

“Yes, sir.” I was finding that already – the lack of formality and discipline aboard the ship was making me uneasy.

“Anyway, you two go and unpack your things, then change into normal suits and meet me in the hangar. I’ll explain your assignment to you there.”

****

By the time I located my quarters, Shane was already there and had begun to change. He jumped backward as I began taking off my uniform.

“Athene? What are you doing?”

“Changing into a normal suit, as ordered.” Wasn’t it obvious?

“But… but I’m in here!”

“There’s enough room for both of us.”

“But… I’m a boy and you’re a girl!”

“Correct.”

“So shouldn’t we be changing in separate rooms?”

“Why should that make a difference?” I changed and bathed alongside males all the time at Sparta Base, and was familiar with male anatomy. But Shane’s reactions were different to them – including what his body was doing.

“Shane, why is your penis sticking up like that?”

“Uh… bye!” He rushed out of the room, still not only partly dressed.

Why was he acting that way?

****

The spotlights in the hangar switched on, and I heard Shane gasp at the sight of the three Mobile Suits that were illuminated – as if he had never been near a mobile suit before. Admittedly, this particular model was new to me, but that didn’t warrant acting in such a manner. And why were they painted such conspicuous colours? Surely white accentuated with blue, green or red – depending on the particular MS – would stand out far too much on the battlefield.

“Ensigns, welcome to Project Gundam.” Lieutenant McDermott said. At least he still seemed like a respectable soldier. “This is my unit,” he indicated the one with red highlights, “GD-1 Alpha, codename Flame. Ensign Yamada, you’re assigned to the blue unit, GD-1 Beta, Lightning. Ensign Gold, you will be piloting GD-1 Gamma, Gale. Both your units are designed as fast striker units – the Lightning has greater raw speed, but the Gale is capable of performing more complex maneuvers involving sudden shifts in direction. My own mobile suit is a heavy support unit – I’ll be minding your arses for you while you’re in the thick of things. Of course, I’ll be expecting you to look out for each other, too. Now, get to the cockpits and familiarise yourselves with the controls. Once you’ve done that, we’ll be running some simulations to see if the reports I’ve read are accurate accounts of your capabilities.”

I ascended the liftwire into the Mobile Suit’s cockpit and closed the hatch. Retinal scanners lit up, confirming my identity – clearly, someone had set the security clearances up beforehand – and the main monitor lit up.

“Pilot Recognised: Athene Gold. Welcome to GD-1 Gamma.” The voice speaking inside my helmet was a feminine one that was only vaguely recognisable as computerised. Was it part of the Gale’s interface system? None of the suits I trained on had used a vocalised interface, except perhaps as a warning system when the systems detected a lock-on. The voice continued.

“I am an Artificial Intelligence system designed to assist the pilot’s interface with the Gundam series mobile suits and offer tactical guidance.” That sounded useful. As far as I knew, the Commonwealth wasn’t using such interface technology in its Mobile Suits.

“Understood.”

“I do not currently have a name designated. Do you wish to assign me a name?”

Assign the AI program a name? What would be the point of that? Even if it was an advanced AI, its function was still simply to assist the pilot in combat. Giving it a name wouldn’t impede its functionality, but neither would it serve any useful purpose.

“Negative.”

“Understood.” For a moment, I thought that the AI’s voice sounded disappointed, but I quickly came to my senses and realised I’d imagined it. AIs didn’t feel emotion. Even if they could, such a system would only impede combat efficiency. Why install it in a Mobile Suit?

“Ready to begin run-through of basic control interface. Acknowledge when ready.”

“Begin.”

Working my way through the basic exercises, the interface felt much smoother than those on the GR series mobile suits we had trained on – neither too clunky nor so sensitive that the suit was constantly overreacting. According to the data, the suit’s power output was also greater than normal. It made me feel better about being assigned here – any of my siblings would have given their right arm (or their left – the instructors made sure we were equally skilled at using either hand) to pilot this MS. So why was it being deployed out in Mars orbit instead of the Earth Sphere?

When I had completed the exercises, I checked the others’ status and saw that Shane had not yet finished, meaning I had some spare time. The monitors were able to access general knowledge databanks, and I was wondering what Shane had meant earlier when he said my name was unusual. “Gold” was probably simply the colour or precious metal (not as precious as it had been in the past, though). There were a plethora of links to entries with “gold” in their name, but it probably wasn’t worth investigating them all.

“Search, ‘Athene’.”

“Affirmative.”

The entry appeared on the monitor. Athene, or Athena (among other variations) was the goddess of wisdom and war in Greek mythology, specifically the strategic, disciplined aspect, as opposed to the “fury of war” embodied by her rival, Ares.

Why had nobody told me about this?

Before I could read much further into the entry, I heard a beep indicating that Shane had completed his preliminary exercises.

“Seems pretty sweet so far! You ready for combat sims?”

“Ready.”

“You could be a bit more talkative. So, whatcha name the AI?”

“I didn’t give it a name.”

“Aw, why not?”

“There didn’t seem to be a point.”

Shane sighed. “Anyway, since the MS is called Lightning, I named mine Shazam.”

“Shazam?” The word wasn’t familiar.

“It’s from an old comic book. I could send some stuff to your pad later if you’re interested.” He noted my lack of reaction. “Or not.”

The main screen of my MS flashed and switched to the barren rocky landscape of Mars.

“Okay, you two ready?” Lieutenant McDermott asked. I allowed myself to smile a little (I doubted anyone would see it under my helmet) adjusted my grip on the controls and scanned the battlefield in anticipation.

“All right. Our scenario is an attack on an entrenched enemy position. Enemy forces are eight normal Regulus Mobile Suits and four Regulus Artillery Types.” Ordinarily, going against an entrenched position at four-to-one odds was not considered advisable, even if the enemy were grunts like the Regulus. But we weren’t using ordinary Mobile Suits. And I, at least, wasn’t an ordinary pilot. “Lightning, Gale, ready to launch in three, two, one!”

“Shane Yamada, Lightning Gundam, launching!”

“Athene Gold, Gale Gundam, launching!”

We dropped out of the (simulated) cockpit and boosted toward the fortifications the ochre-coloured Regulus MS were stationed at. Behind us, a swarm of missiles from the lieutenant’s Flame Gundam streaked past us and exploded against the fortifications, covering our approach.

Shane reached the enemy fortifications ahead of me, strafing them with his beam rifle. The enemy MS took cover, and his strafing run failed to do any significant damage.

“How are you gentlemen? All your base are about to belong to us!” What was he doing, talking over an open channel like that?

“Ensign Yamada!” McDermott snapped.

“Hey, that line’s a classic! I just couldn’t resist!”

One of the Regs was drawing a bead on the Lightning – I fired a shot with the Gale’s beam rifle, hitting it in the shoulder and disabling its arm. Not a killshot – my aim should have been better. I prepared to land amid the fortifications.

“Transition to melee!” I ordered the AI.

“Roger. Dual Saber.” In a single fluid motion, the Gale Gundam stowed its rifle and drew a pair of beam sabers. I stabbed one of the Reg Arts through the cockpit, then spun and sliced the Reg I had shot before in half.

I then boosted toward the next Reg, dodging aside from the path the Gale’s AI predicted as its likely aim. Another Art was coming up behind me, but the Flame Gundam fired a burst of Gatling rounds that riddled its chassis with holes, and it collapsed. After I sliced into the reactor, I glanced to my left to see the Lightning make another strafing run. This one was more successful than Shane’s previous attempt, shooting down two more of the enemy with a missile volley. That made six down – at least he looked like he had some talent.

I sheathed my right beam saber and retrieved the rifle. My next target would be the Reg taking cover behind a wall at ten o’clock. I kicked the thrusters in and jumped to the left to open up the angle. As I moved, the Flame swung around to the right, unleashing another stream of gatling fire on the two remaining Reg Arts.

I took aim and fired a shot, plugging the MS I had in my sights, and the AI reported that Shane had scored another in his next strafing run. Now, it was three on three, which with these MS was far better than even odds. McDermott could take care of the one remaining at the other end of the fortifications. One of the remaining Regs lined up to fire, and I shifted to the right, evading the shots while minimising excess movement, then boosted forward, cutting through it with my beam saber. Following through, I dashed toward the remaining Reg, and sliced open the cockpit – at the same moment that Shane fired a shot into its reactor.

“Scenario complete.” The Gale’s AI reported, and data about our performances flashed up on the screens.

“Hey, Athene, five kills. That was pretty impressive.” Shane said over the comm.

“Six, actually.”

“Come on, that last one was mine!”

“No, I was the one who made the kill.” The computer analysis showed my score as 5.5, but I hadn’t needed Shane’s help to beat that Reg.

“Fine, let’s settle this. You and me, one on one.”

“You’d lose. Look at the analysis. My senses and reaction times are higher.”

“I have my own theory. And hey, it’s not the first time I’ve been the underdog.”

“All right.” If he wanted me to beat him that badly, I’d be glad to oblige him. The scenery on screen shifted to a mountainscape, full of cliffs and ravines.

“Scenario Start.” I didn’t have visual on the Lightning yet. I kicked in the thrusters and moved forward, scanning for any sign of it. Then I heard his voice over the comms. Why did he insist on talking to the enemy?

“Y’know, Athene, since you’re so confident, maybe we should have some kind of bet.”

“You’re on.”

“Okay. If I win, you have to tell me about yourself.” That was classified information, but it didn’t matter, because he wasn’t going to beat me. “Just what are you? The way you’re acting, you seem as though you’re some kind of robot or android or something. I kinda wanna know if that’s really what you are, or just an act.”

That arrogant little punk!

I spotted a disturbance of dust at 3 o’clock, and turned and boosted toward it.

“It’d make sense, you know. Maybe that’s why you didn’t bother naming your Gundam’s AI. I mean, it’s just a piece of equipment. The same as you.”

He wouldn’t be so smart-mouthed when I beat the hell out of the Lightning. I sped around the corner where I had spotted the dust disturbance.

“Just a piece of equipment to be used until it breaks, and then disposed of. Nothing more.”

“SHUT THE HELL UP!”

I turned the corner, eagerly anticipating engaging the Lightning and teaching Shane to keep that damn mouth of his shut. I was so eager that, for what must have been over a second, I didn’t register the fact that the Lightning wasn’t there – just a single missile sitting on the canyon floor, blinking.

Damn it!

I threw the thrusters into reverse, but the force of the explosion still managed to knock the Gale onto its back. I saw the Lightning at the top of the cliff, and heard Shane laughing over the comm.

Determined to shut him up, I boosted up the cliff face, firing shots at the Lightning. Shane stepped back to avoid the shots, and I drew a beam saber in the Gale’s left hand and swung in a wide arc, intending to slice the Lightning in two.

“You’re telegraphing!” He stepped backwards, and the momentum of my swing shifted the Gale’s centre of gravity, causing it to overbalance, and pitch over the edge of the cliff.

Damn it, damn it, damn it!

The Gale landed face-first at the bottom of the cliff. The rear monitor showed the Lightning standing at the top, taking aim with its rifle, and then the screen went black.

I descended from the cockpit and stormed over to the Lightning, where Shane was descending the liftwire, grinning. “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?”

“That was me pwning your arse.”

“You won’t be so smug when I knock your teeth down your throat!”

“Ensign Gold, stand down!” Lieutenant McDermott ordered, and I immediately obeyed. “You lost that battle. Why?”

“Because I failed to fight effectively, sir.”

“True. But why was that?”

“Because I let myself be tricked, sir.”

“And why did that happen?”

I hesitated for a few seconds.

“Because I lost my cool, sir.” As I said it out loud, the realisation sank in. We were always told that emotion was a weakness in battle, and yet I had allowed myself to be goaded into falling for traps and making rash moves.

“Now that you realise it, don’t make the same mistake in a real battle. Although to be fair, Ensign Yamada seems to have a talent for inducing it in his opponents.”

“Now, I believe we made a bet. If I won, you had to tell us about yourself.”

I had forgotten – or rather, the comment had never really registered with me. I hesitated. “But I’m not supposed to tell…”

“What, even though we’re in the same flight? If the brass are that hell-bent on keeping secrets, what’s the point of even putting you on board?”

I once again felt the urge to knock Shane’s teeth in, but the Lieutenant fixed his gaze on me, and I restrained myself.

“Ensign, first of all, you made a bet and you lost. That’s an agreement, and I expect my soldiers to honour their agreements. Second, Shane has a point. Pilots in the same flight need to be able to trust each other, and knowing that you’re keeping secrets will hamper that. Responsibility for this flight lies with me. If the brass has a problem with it, maybe they need a reminder of how things actually are on the ground.”

I hesitated some more. I glanced around, from Yamada to McDermott and back to Yamada, feeling their gaze fixed on me. I was cornered.

“All right.”

“I am part of the first generation of Project Athena. I have been training at Sparta Base, and, have been deemed ready for duty. I was assigned here to serve as a pilot. That is all.”

“Wow, that was quick.” Shane said. “Okay, wait up, what’s this “Project Athena”? And “Sparta Base”?”

“Project Athena is the new breed of soldiers, created with superior abilities to serve the Commonwealth. Sparta Base is our training facility. Its location is top secret.”

“So you’re saying you’re some kind of supersoldier? Isn’t that sort of thing just science fiction?” A sardonic smile appeared on Yamada’s face at this statement. “I say that and I live on a spaceship. Anyway, if there’s a bunch more of you back there, why am I here? Why not just assign another of you to this project?”

“From what I can gather, the Gundams are the pet project of one particular higher-up.” Lieutenant McDermott said. “He was probably able to talk whoever’s in charge of Project Athena into assigning her to it as a trial run or data gathering. As for you, Shane, I've seen the combat report of your performance at the Battle of Tharsis, and I was impressed. I figure they thought you had potential, and weren't overly used to the traditional control systems, so you'd adjust quicker to these ones.”

Yamada looked deep in thought – for him, at least – then turned to me.

“What I said during our duel… I didn’t mean it to be so hurtful. I’m sorry.”

“It wasn’t hurtful!” I protested.

He just shrugged in response. He knew it had hurt, despite the fact that I wouldn’t admit it even to myself. I was convinced that I was part of the great leap forward for the Commonwealth, and for humanity. But perhaps even back then, deep down, I suspected that what he had said to me was the truth. Maybe that was why it hurt so much.

*****

“Pilot Recognised: Athene Gold. Welcome to GD-1 Gamma.”

“I wish to designate AI name.” When I had tried to sleep, I wasn’t able to clear my mind away from Yamada’s comments. Maybe giving the Gundam’s AI a name had a point after all. Maybe it would help me reassure myself that I was more than just a tool. Also, after looking through the data, I had found a name I liked.

“What name do you wish to designate?”

“Designate name: Metis.” It was the name of the cunning intelligence that was an aspect of the goddess Athena.

“Designation, “Metis”, recognised. Pleased to meet you, Athene.”

“You too, Metis. I hope we can work well together from now on.”

_________________
Vent Noir

@AJDynon on Twitter

April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


Last edited by Vent Noir on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:04 am, edited 14 times in total.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:50 am 
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Author's Notes:

Okay, back during 00 season 2 I was quite vocal here on Mechatalk about my dislike of the Soma/Marie storyline. I originally intended to "get it right", which eventually mutated into a whole different story. The core of the idea, though, is to do something better than bitching about that storyline, and also to take Gundam's legacy of Artificial Newtype/Extended/Supersoldier characters and, in the words of Joss Whedon concerning the concept behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "make someone a hero where she had always been a victim". Of course, I've barely started on that, and I'm not sure how good a job I've done.

Shane Yamada... I wanted a more light-hearted character, like Duo or Garrod (probably my favourite Gundam protagonists). The "trash talker" element of his character came from Spider-Man. I hope to fill out more of his character, as well as the suppourting cast, as the series goes on.

Finally, if there was an OP for this story, it would be "Dancing in the Storm" by Boom Crash Opera.

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April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


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 Post Posted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:43 am 
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I like this.

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 Post Posted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 4:43 pm 
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Rob DS Zeta wrote:
I like this.


Thank you. What aspects in particular do you like?

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April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


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 Post Posted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:47 am 
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Pilot's Doomed Girlfriend

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You'll regret asking me that! :mrgreen:

First off, I like your use of the concept. Super-girls are a greatly abused concept throughout anime/fiction, and they usually do a bunch of unnecessary flash to them to make them almost invincible. You, on the other hand, have gone and let yours show off her flaws right here in the first chapter. That's a biiiiiiiig step for some authors to take.

Second, you've kept with basics on the Gundams' performance. No flashy beam attacks, no missile barrages, just a rifle and some sabers.

Third, ALL YOUR BASE R BELONG 2 US.

I could go on, but I really don't have time at the moment.

I'll wait for some continuation.

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 Post Posted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:04 pm 
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Rob DS Zeta wrote:
You'll regret asking me that! :mrgreen:

First off, I like your use of the concept. Super-girls are a greatly abused concept throughout anime/fiction, and they usually do a bunch of unnecessary flash to them to make them almost invincible. You, on the other hand, have gone and let yours show off her flaws right here in the first chapter. That's a biiiiiiiig step for some authors to take.


Well, given that Athene's both a supersoldier and the main character, I had to let her flaws be seen or I'd be at risk of going into Mary Sue territory.

Quote:
Second, you've kept with basics on the Gundams' performance. No flashy beam attacks, no missile barrages, just a rifle and some sabers.


Well, the Flame Gundam used a missile barrage (but it's an artillery unit, similar to the Heavyarms or Leopard), and I mentioned the Lightning Gundam had missiles too.

Quote:
Third, ALL YOUR BASE R BELONG 2 US.

I could go on, but I really don't have time at the moment.

I'll wait for some continuation.


I appreciate the comments, and will try to have another chapter up soon.

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April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:04 pm 
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Okay, first draft of Chapter 2. I'll post notes and a slightly-revised version of chapter 1 (just a prologue and a couple of minor tweaks) later today, or failing that, tomorrow.

Story inside the spoiler box.

Once again, all feedback appreciated.

Spoiler: show
Sparta Base, nine months ago

Ares, Pallas and I took off our combats after the morning training session and headed for the showers. Most days, showers and meals were the only chance for socialisation we supersoldier candidates had, although as the top three members of gold group, we were awarded with more free sessions than others – free sessions meaning we got to choose what we trained in or studied. My favourites were close-range combat and MS unit tactics.

“You did really well today, Pallas.” I said.

“Don’t talk to me like I’m in Silver or Bronze platoon.” Pallas said, slightly miffed. “I was damn near perfect, and you know it.”

“Well, I wouldn’t go that far.” Ares commented. “After all, I have a winning record against you in combat exercises. You too, Athene, I might add.” Damn, he sounded smug.

“Is that a challenge?” Pallas and I chorused.

“Any time you want.”

“Anyway, can I assume you saw the information bulletin this morning?” Pallas asked. The Commonwealth’s bulletins were designed to keep us aware of any potential threats to security.

“Yes, it seems as though all the tension with the Lunar Pact nations has finally come to a head.

“Which means we might finally get called up.” There was no mistaking the enthusiasm in Pallas’ voice, an enthusiasm I shared, as did Ares and the rest of my siblings. This was what we were born for – the prospect of going into actual combat, not just sims, made our blood rush. “I’m going to prove my skills, and serve the Commonwealth as I was born to do.”

“That’s your weakness, Pallas. You think too small.” Ares said, his voice lightly teasing. “We’re the first of a new breed, superior to the old humanity. This is our opportunity to show our power.”

It was at that moment I realised that, even if we were born to be soldiers, we had our own desires. Our own dreams. I thought for a moment – what was it that I wanted most of all?

“I hope we’re all able to fight side by side. Me, both of you, and the rest of our siblings.”

“With yourself in command.” Ares added.

“Being named as commander would be an honour.” I replied. “But even if I’m not in command, just being able to be at my siblings’ sides in battle. That’s what I want most of all.”

On impulse, I put my arms around Pallas and Ares’ shoulders, and we huddled together like we would before a game of Capture the Flag. I briefly felt as if Pallas’ pale skin and Ares’ bronzed tones were one with my own dark-skinned body, while a single stream of water washed down from above us. Together, we thrust our fists upwards and cheered, and I heard my other siblings cheering along with us. Normal humans would call this sensation “joy”. At the time, we didn’t have a word for it.

Maybe such a gesture was tempting fate. Except that it wasn’t fate that caused what followed. Rather, it was people who were at fault for what happened between us.

*****
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM STORM
Report 02: Soldiers’ Dreams

A Fanfic by Andrew Dynon

Based on Mobile Suit Gundam created by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Hajime Yadate
*****

Commonwealth Battleship, “Gallipoli”

“So, a real live supersoldier, huh? Sorry if I’m still getting used to the idea.”

“It’s supposed to be lights out, Yamada.”

“Hey, I wanna get to know my new bunkmate. For starters, how long were you at that Sparta Base or whatever for? Did you have any parents? Did you just train all the time? Did you ever get to, you know, be a kid?”

Disclosing the information still didn’t feel right to me, but Lieutenant McDermott had said we needed to talk if we were to work effectively as a team. “I was born at Sparta Base, eighteen years ago, and we had instructors instead of parents. Training was pretty much constant, although in my early years, the exercises often took the form of games.”

“Wow, so you must be pretty good at fighting, huh? Are you the first supersoldier to come out of there?”

“Two others were put on active status at the same time. I do not know where they were assigned. We are the first to go active.” Why hadn’t we been kept together? We always worked well as a unit. Finally moving out, and we weren’t together…

“The way your head dropped then… you miss them, don’t you?” Shane asked. “Anyway, it’s a bit of a coincidence that a war starts just as the first supersoldiers turn eighteen.”

“Wars happen all the time.”

“Yeah, but this one looks like being bigger than most. Well, it was just a thought.”

“Yamada, we really should go to sleep now.”

“Fine. Just one more thing. You said you had males and females showering and changing together all the time?”

“Correct.”

“And yet you’re unfamiliar with something called an ‘erection’, meaning none of you ever got horny?”

“I am unsure what that term means, but from the context I’d say it’s also correct.”

“For some reason, that just seems so freaky.”

*****

The next morning, Captain Monash informed us of our orders. We were to head to Sirenum Fossae, and take part on the assault on the Lunar Pact base there. Taking the base would help free up ground transport through the nearby region. For the first time, I was going to see real combat.

Before that, though, the Captain, via Lieutenant McDermott, ordered me to undergo a medical examination. Ensign Yamada accompanied me to the infirmary to see a middle-aged oriental man whose uniform indicated he was a Commonwealth navy medic, accompanied by a young woman with darker skin, wearing a hijab and the high-visibility yellow and red uniform of the Interplanetary Rescue Corps. The IPRC was a medical organisation recognised by both sides involved in the war, existing to give assistance to injured soldiers. Under the treaties, their vehicles and staff were permitted on board military vessels, in order to easily access battlefields. I didn’t see the point of their existence – wounded soldiers should be their own side’s responsibility, not that of some bunch of civilians who decided to stick their noses into the battlefield.

“Khadija!” Ensign Yamada called out. “This is Athene. Take good care of her, right?”

“Sure thing. Athene, I’m Khadija Akram, and I’m part of the IPRC. This is Doctor Chen Li.” She smiled at me, but I didn’t smile back. “Shane and I knew each other growing up.”

She pointed to a metal sphere with a face that was perched on the back shelf, coloured the same yellow and red as her uniform. “Oh, and this is Haro. He’s a kind of assistant to me. Say hi to Athene, Haro.”

Haro, Athene!

“Khadija and I used to compete in mini-MS racing as kids.” Shane added. “She was really good. Almost as good as me.” He had that annoying grin on his face again.

“Excuse me? Did you say ‘almost’?”

“Then shouldn’t you have enlisted in the Commonwealth forces when the war broke out?” I asked.

“I hate the thought of fighting.” Khadija said. “And I wanted to work toward a medical degree, so I joined the IPRC. I pilot a rescue MS, retrieving soldiers who are injured or stranded on the battlefield.” If you hate fighting so much, then what the hell are you doing on a battleship? Get off and let people like me handle things. Stupid woman.

And that Haro thing seemed like it could get irritating fast, too.

“Well, lie down and let’s take a look at you. I couldn’t believe it when I was told. The thought of someone being raised just to fight…”

“I’m fine with it. Shane, did you tell her that?” I neither needed, wanted, nor would accept sympathy for being what I was, especially from someone who had no business being on the ship in the first place. And what was Shane thinking, giving confidential information to someone who wasn’t even part of the military?

“Actually, it was Captain Monash who told us. She felt that we should know about you, in the event that you needed medical aid.”

I sighed, and let them proceed with their examination.

*****

I decided to deal with the irritation of the medical exams by heading to the hangar – but with my anticipation for real combat building, I had something other than a simulation in mind.

Good morning, Athene.

“Good morning, Metis. It looks like we’ll be going into combat for the first time soon.”

Let’s work well together.

“Roger. I’m looking forward to it.” I swear, if Metis had a face, she’d be smiling.

She? Did I just catch myself assigning imaginary characteristics to an AI? Its voice was feminine, but... I shook my head and refocused on the task at hand.

“Metis, display known data on Sirenum fortifications and known Lunar Pact forces stationed there.” Strategically, ground-based supply lines were still an important part of warfare, being cheaper and with greater capacity than air. Taking out the base at Sirenum would free up a large number of those ground supply lines, but it was not an easy task. The base was well-fortified, able to resist bombardment, and its positioning made a ground approach difficult. The idea of fitting boosterpacks onto MS had been considered, but with the boosterpacks equipped, the GR series was deficient in manoeuvrability, and unsuited to anything beyond strafing runs, which troops in a fortified position could easily hunker down against. But what about on our Gundams?

“Metis, simulate the effects of attaching a Type M-5 boosterpack to this MS.”

Speed would increase by approximately 300%. However, turn radius would increase by a similar amount, and reaction time would be slowed by 33%. Additionally, the MS would lose access to weapons stored in backpack, and walking would be inhibited. Ensign Gold would be subjected to a corresponding increase in G-Forces experienced during acceleration.

“I can handle the G-Forces, Metis." The numbers weren’t great, but I believed that if we timed things right, they’d be good enough for what I had planned. “Simulate an artillery barrage and assault on the fortifications by Gundam flight and supporting MS units, using those numbers.”

Beginning simulation. Several windows appeared on the screen, showing multiple iterations of the scenario proscribed. I looked over the predicted results of the scenario. Viewing the simulated results, it seemed that my plan had a good chance of taking the objective.

Feeling better thanks to the mental stimulation, I copied the data to my pad and headed to Lieutenant McDermott. When I found him, I showed him the data, trying to rein in my enthusiasm and present myself as a proper soldier. I waited for several minutes as he looked over the simulations, before he finally looked back up.

“Tell me, ensign, what were you focusing on when you developed this plan?”

“Taking the fortifications, and destroying the enemy, as the mission objective stated, sir.”

“I’m assuming that’s what you were taught to focus on at Sparta Base, right?”

“That is correct, sir.” Of course that was what the mission was supposed to focus on. So why did his voice seem to carry a tone of disapproval?

“It’s an interesting plan…” he began. “However, you ought to have focused more on preserving yourself and your fellow soldiers.”

“But sir! Is it not a soldier’s duty to risk her life in order to accomplish the mission objective?”

“That’s true, to an extent. But the ba- people who trained you seem to have planted the idea that you’re expendable into your head.” He sighed, and put his hand on my shoulder. “Listen carefully to this, Ensign Athene Gold, because what I’m about to tell you probably goes against the entire attitude they wanted to engrain into your head: There is no such thing as an expendable soldier. Of course, every time you go into battle, you’re risking your life. But as an officer, it’s my duty to see that as many of my troops as possible come back alive. You are not to needlessly sacrifice yourself – or worse, risk the lives of others – just to complete an objective or defeat an enemy. Do you understand?

“Yes, sir…”

“You don’t sound very certain of that. Well, don’t let it get you down. Concerns over the risk involved aside, you did show initiative, and that’s something I want to encourage. I’ll see if I can’t work some revisions to these to reduce the risk involved. In the meantime, take some time to think over what I said. Dismissed.”

I headed off, his words echoing in my head. The instructors had defined putting one’s own safety ahead of the mission objectives as “cowardice”, and made us repeat the mantra supersoldiers do not show cowardice over and over. And I was not afraid to die in battle. But the sincerity of Lieutenant McDermott’s voice, the tinge of pain that had shaded the words he had looked me in the eye and spoken, placed a shadow of doubt about that mantra in my mind for the first time.

Lieutenant McDermott had said his duty was to see that his troops came back alive. If I were given command over my siblings, would I expect them to complete their objectives even at the cost of their lives? If I were in command, and ordered Pallas or Ares to sacrifice themselves, I was sure they would obey – and for some reason, that knowledge made the thought of doing so even harder to stomach.

And what about my younger siblings in Silver and Bronze platoons? I thought of Hippolyta, with her golden hair and bright eyes, full of energy, throwing herself into every training exercise with unmatched enthusiasm. Scipio, and the diligence he showed in his tactical analysis. I knew they looked up to me as an elder sibling, relying on me for guidance. Could I order them to their deaths?

Would one of my superiors order me to order them to die?

For the rest of the day, I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind.

*****

At dinner, Ensign Yamada spotted me from across the mess hall, and headed over to sit next to me.

“Athene, you look kind of down. What is it, nervous about going into combat?”

“I’m not nervous. And I’m not “down”, either. I’m thinking about something Lieutenant McDermott told me, that’s all.”

“And it’s made you feel down. Well, I won’t intrude. But I do have something that might help cheer you up.”

“What is it?”

“Come to the rec room after dinner, and I’ll show you.”

The “rec room”, such as it was, was an open area near the crew quarters, with a few consoles lining the walls, and some worn couches and a table in the middle. Shane had mentioned that the consoles had game and vid software installed, but they weren’t like the training games or information vids I was familiar with from Sparta Base. Yamada, already seated on one of the couches, gestured for me to sit beside him.

“When we talked last night, it sounded like you never really got to be a kid. So I thought I’d help you with that.”

“But I’m not a child.”

“Well, if you’re gonna learn to be human, that’s the place you gotta start. Luckily…” he tapped his datapad, and the screen in front of us flicked on, displaying a man in a ridiculously brightly-colored costume and cape, flying through space apparently not needing oxygen.

“This was my favourite show when I was growing up. I’ll explain it to you as we watch.”

The battles in Ensign Yamada’s vids were completely unrealistic and the tactics used were utterly ridiculous, and yet, for some reason I found myself entranced by the show, hypnotised by a whirlwind of colour and energy. As we lay in our bunks that night, Shane told me that I was grinning the whole way through the grid, but he must have been exaggerating.

Right?

*****

Two hours before dawn the next day, we headed to the hangar to perform pre-combat checks on the Gundams. Lieutenant McDermott had presented his refinements of my proposal to his superiors, and received permission for the operation – although he mentioned his suspicion that those superiors weren’t as concerned for our safety as he was. That didn’t matter to me. My whole body practically buzzed with the anticipation of heading into actual combat – I was finally going to do what I was created to do. My adrenaline was already beginning to flow, sharpening my senses, speeding up my reflexes.

Are you ready, Athene?

“It’s my duty to be ready, Metis. What about you?”

Being ready is my duty, as well.

“Glad to hear it. Let’s make sure we’re as good a team in real combat as we were in the sim yesterday.”

Roger that.

I listened to the sound of the artillery barrage exploding over the enemy positions, watching as the countdown clock ticked toward our launch time.

“Hey, Athene, your first time in real combat. You nervous?” Shane asked.

“Not at all.”

“Okay, I know you’re a supersoldier and stuff, but I’ve been in combat before and I’m still feeling nervous here.”

“Get over it.” That was what our instructors would say.

“Hey, a little sympathy wouldn’t hurt!”

“I don’t do sympathy. Especially not in battle.”

“All right, we’re launching in ten seconds, so sit your arses in for the ride and try to keep them alive!” Lieutenant McDermott ordered. “Four, three, two, one! GD-1 Alpha, Flame, launch!”

“GD-1 Beta, Lightning, Launch!”

“GD-1 Gamma, Gale, Launch!” Even with my normal suit working to counteract the G-Forces, I felt the pressure of acceleration on my body as the boosterpack kicked in, counteracted by the rush of excitement I felt. The monitors, set to night vision, showed several GR-series MS to our flight’s flanks boosting towards the Pact base as well.

Under normal circumstances, I preferred to have a weapon in each hand, foregoing a shield, but the reduction in manoeuvrability and reaction time due to the boosterpack made additional defensive capabilities prudent. Unlike the standard setup, though, I carried the Gale’s beam rifle in the left hand and the shield on the right arm – the unfamiliar arrangement and differences in the angle of attack might give me an edge over the enemy. A minor edge, but an edge nonetheless.

Our departure was timed to minimise the gap between the end of the artillery barrage and our flight reaching the fortifications. Still, there was less fire coming at us than I had expected. Perhaps the enemy troops had been instructed to hold their fire, on the basis that it was hard to hit an MS moving at boosterpack-enhanced speeds at long range. Or perhaps they were still hunkered down, anticipating a strafing run. As we approached, I saw that my second guess had been correct.

“Aw, look, they’re having a sleep in!” Shane commented over the radio, then switched to an open channel. “Ladies and gentlemen of the Lunar Pact, time for your wake-up call! Today’s weather will be cloudy with a strong chance of missile showers, beam rifle fire, and otherwise getting your arses kicked!” As he spoke, we changed our course, breaking off from the GRs’ strafing run to swing down towards the fortifications. McDermott and Yamada launched missiles to give us more cover, while Metis identified a series of targets for the Gale. I aimed and fired at one Regulus, shooting it in the cockpit, and immediately shot at the next one, with the same result.

“Athene, did you aim for their cockpits on purpose?” Yamada asked.

“Of course. It’s the most efficient location.”

“Geez, you’re cold.”

“Stay focused, Yamada!” McDermott warned.

I turned down the throttle, and dived into the enemy base. Manoeuvring among buildings like this with a boosterpack would have been considered tricky even out of combat, but the Gundam could handle it. We continued the attack for several minutes, before we heard the rumble of a massive engine.

“Is that what I think it is?” Yamada asked.

I knew what it was. We had trained in, and against, them at Sparta Base, one against a whole wing of MS. In the past few months, the instructors had even hinted that there were special ones designed for us in planning, and if we performed well, we may have the privilege of piloting them on the battlefield.

“Mobile armor…”

To Be Continued…

_________________
Vent Noir

@AJDynon on Twitter

April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


Last edited by Vent Noir on Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:03 pm 
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Very nice. I like how you fuse the action and the character development.

Now for some mobile armor action!

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 Post Posted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:47 am 
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Rob DS Zeta wrote:
Very nice. I like how you fuse the action and the character development.

Now for some mobile armor action!



Thanks, Rob.

Second draft of chapter 1 is up.

Author's notes for chapter 2:

I was a bit leery about how people would react the scene at the beginning with Athene, Pallas, and Ares showering together, but that's how the scene came to me and I really liked it. I did my best to make it as non-sexual as possible (especially since, as has been hinted, the supersoldiers don't feel sexual urges anyway).

Given that Athene's only an ensign, it's maybe a bit unrealistic to have the brass listen to a plan she formulates, but I wanted to have her be proactive and show that she's good at strategy/tactics as well as just fighting (when she doesn't lose her cool like in the first chapter, that is).

The scene with Shane and Athene watching superhero cartoons... one of my original ideas for the story was to invert one of the themes from Martian Successor Nadesico (one of my top three mecha anime, BTW, alongside Gunbuster and Macross), by showing how heroic aspirations could change a person for the better, but didn't feel I could do it without it seeming cheesy. As it is, the scene's a little cheesy, but serves as a nice break in the tension (IMHO).

Oh, and I just noticed Shane's surname is the same as Gai's real surname. Not something I consciously did.

Thank you for reading!

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April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:49 pm 
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First Draft of chapter 3. Story inside the spoiler box. All feedback appreciated, thanks in advance.

Spoiler: show
“Commonwealth forces are attacking?”

“Yes, ma’am. Their lead group’s penetrated the outer fortifications.”

“Order the men to hold their ground! Is the Corvus ready for launch?”

“Final preparations are underway, ma’am.”

“Tell them to hurry the hell up and show those bastards what we’re made of!”

*****

I heard the massive engines rev into life, and a thick cloud of dust from GES systems sprayed up and backward from near where the hangar was located. The black shape that resembled a huge, menacing bird came into view, swinging toward the main Commonwealth forces. Three Gatling cannons on each wing pointed towards the approaching GRs, independently moving cover their targets, and two flights immediately disintegrated into shards of flaming metal. I heard their pilots’ screams over the radio as they died.

“Okay, Miss Supersoldier, now are you nervous?” Yamada asked.

“No. The fact that the enemy might present me with a challenge does not make me nervous. I’m looking forward to it.” I didn’t bother trying to suppress the grin on my face. That Mobile Armor may have been made to dominate the battlefield – but so was I. And I intended to assert my dominance.

*****
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM STORM
A Fanfic by Andrew Dynon

Based on Mobile Suit Gundam by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Hajime Yadate

Chapter 3: Instruments of Destruction
*****

Sparta Base
Three years ago


“Silver Platoon, Squad One, fall in!”

The ten candidates I would be facing in mock battle stood at attention near their sim pods, and the blonde girl with the corporal’s chevrons on her normal suit led the others in a salute. Her hair was the same regulation buzzcut as myself and the other candidates, but her green eyes sparkled with the same vivacious energy that seemed as if it would burst from her eleven-year-old body.

I returned the salute.

“Corporal Hippolyta Silver, is your squad ready to begin the exercise?”

“Yes, sergeant!”

“Hippolyta, this is the first time you’ll be facing a Mobile Armor. It’s not like the mobile suit battles you’ve had in the past.”

“I know, sergeant Athene. This is meant to be an exercise in teamwork. We can’t hope to win one-on-one.”

Even if they managed to pull off the teamwork that the exercise was testing, the fact that I had four years more training than the Silver Platoon candidates meant they stood little chance of winning this exercise. But then, being in the cockpit of a Mobile Armor would be a new experience for me as well, and it was an opportunity that I was thrilled to receive. Even if it was only hooked up to a simulator.

*****

“Yamada, Gold, we need to try and take that thing out!” McDermott ordered. “Try and get around to flank it!”

“Roger that! Metis, how much can those Gatlings cover?”

Predict independently-aiming Gatling array on variable-geometry wings is capable of firing through 240 degrees horizontally, and 120 degrees vertically.

Enough space for at least one of us to get in behind. I expected the MA to have some rear defences, but they weren’t likely to be as heavy as the array of Gatling guns up front. Still, trying to do as a single three-MS flight what was the job of an entire wing in my training wasn’t going to be a simple matter.

I barely managed to dodge a burst from one of the MA’s Gatlings by diving into a gap between two buildings. Dammit, with the boosterpack attached, I had to keep moving forward at a relatively high speed, so I couldn’t remain facing the MA for very long or I’d end up overshooting it. If I disengaged it, the Gundam would be carrying a bunch of dead weight around, which would hurt its manuverability even more.

“Metis, detach the boosterpack.”

“Ensign Gold, the boosterpack’s required to clear the ground back to friendly lines once we’re done.” Lieutenant McDermott warned.

“I know that, sir, but I need the extra manuverability to stand a chance of taking out that thing. Besides, if we can take this fort, we won’t need to retreat.”

“All right. But remember what I told you earlier. Your own survival takes priority over the mission objectives. I’ll take the bow. Yamada, port stern, Gold, starboard stern.”

“Roger that, sir.”

Lieutenant McDermott’s Flame Gundam fired a barrage of missiles. The MA’s Gatlings fired at them, shooting them down before they could hit, but the explosions provided a distraction, allowing the three of us to move to flank it. I spotted two distinctive gunbarrels pointing astern.

“Yamada, it’s got a pair of rear-firing beam cannons. Be careful.”

“Gotcha. I’m heading in.” While McDermott drew the MA’s forward fire, Yamada shot in using his still-attached boosterpack, shooting at the body of the MA. The shots were unlikely to do much, though. I planned to make a more methodical, piecemeal approach – I boosted toward one of the wings, sliced at one of the auxiliary engines with my beam saber, and saw smoke spew forth. The MA could comfortably operate with one of those down, though, and this approach was going to take some time. I moved back behind cover to avoid those rear-firing beam cannons.

“Yamada, the main body’s too well armored for a beam rifle.”

“I just found that out. Bear with me!” He sped past the MA, managing to twist around to make a burst of shots at the cockpit area, but the shots missed. Even if he had hit, the cockpit was reinforced and could in all likelihood resist the shot.

“Our Gundams’ rifles and sabers are all powered by the same type of energy pack, right?” He continued. “They should be able to link their charge if we need to boost a weapons’ power.”

“Metis?”

"It can be done. However, the boosted weapons' power cannot be maintained very long.”

“Estimated charge?”

“Two shots for a gun, or twenty-four seconds for a blade.”

“It’ll be enough if I can get in there.”

“I’ll help with that!” Yamada said. He dumped his boosterpack, fired another volley of shots and sped away. McDermott made another pass, firing a burst from his Gatling and speeding off in a similar direction. The MA turned towards them, its wing Gatlings taking aim as its menacing frame moved forward. However, it still had its beam cannons trained near where I had taken cover, ready to take my Gundam out if I emerged. While I was waiting, though, I tucked my rifle and beam sabers into the binder of my shield, pointing toward the base, and set them to standby.

Then suddenly, an explosion rocked the Mobile Armor, sending it listing to starboard. It took me a moment before I realised the cause – Shane’s boosterpack. He must have set it to overload when he dumped it. The MA righted itself, but the port-side Gatlings were knocked out by the explosion.

“Now, Gold!” McDermott ordered.

I didn’t need to be told twice. I kicked the thrusters in, moved around to the MA’s port wing, and shot in towards the main engine at the stern. A single boosted shot was enough to blow away those rear-firing beam cannons, and then the airspace was clear. I switched to blade mode, and the oversized beam saber projected from the base of my Gundam’s shield. I raised its right arm, and it sliced from the rear of the MA, lengthwise along its belly. The Mobile Armor nosedived to the Martian surface, crashing through several buildings and defensive walls before its momentum gave out. At the same time, the huge saber blade disappeared.

“No power remaining in beam weaponry.” Metis reported. From the looks of it, the bottom quarter of the Gale’s shield had also been vaporised.

“All right, good job, Ensign. Now let’s head back.”

I spotted a ZK-70 rifle and vibroblade on a fallen Regulus nearby.

“I can still fight.”

“That’s a negative, Gold. You’ve done enough for today.” McDermott’s tone left no room for argument.

“… yes, sir.” I turned the Gale away from the fort and back toward the Commonwealth’s lines.

*****

Despite no longer having our boosterpacks, Yamada and I managed to make it back to friendly lines. As I arrived back in the Gallipoli’s hangar, reports seemed to indicate our forces were securing the area. Yamada and I emerged from our cockpits and alighted on the hangar floor at almost exactly the same time, Yamada already with his helmet off and reaching for a towel to wipe the sweat from his face.

“Whew! Now that was an experience I hope I won’t repeat anytime soon.” Yamada said.

“I wouldn’t mind doing it again.”

“You wouldn’t mind. Going up. Against that thing. AGAIN?”

“That’s correct.”

“What’s with you? I know you’re a supersoldier and all, but have you got some kind of death wish or something?”

“As a supersoldier, I am expected to be a part of the most dangerous missions. This is what I was born and trained for.”

“That doesn’t mean you have to seem so excited about it.”

“I enjoyed being in real combat. Even more than sims.” I said matter-of-factly. Why did they seem to expect me not to? It didn’t even make any sense for a supersoldier not to enjoy the sensation of being in battle.

Yamada sighed. “I’m gonna get something to eat. You coming?”

*****

Khadija

For a while, I just stared blankly at the scans of Athene’s organs. My dear god, how could people do this to her? I knew that in some regions back on Earth, people used to practice female circumcision because they believed that women should not be allowed to enjoy sex, but what they’d done to the poor girl went beyond that.

“They’ve completely removed her reproductive system.” I said to Doctor Li. “And they went and put in… this thing instead.” I indicated the strange organ in her lower abdomen.

“I suspected when I saw the surgical scars on her abdomen and groin area.” Doctor Li said. “The implanted organ has been made into part of her adrenal system. In all likelihood, it produces extra adrenaline, enhancing her senses, reflexes, and so on. The downside is that she needs periodic adrenaline releases to prevent it from building up too much. If she remains inactive for too long, she may become mentally unstable.”

“And the reproductive system was considered unnecessary, right? If they want more of her, the people who ran this ZOINKS program can just grow her genetic samples in a test tube! No need to worry about inconvenient things like parents or having a childhood for their damn human weapons! That extra adrenal organ’s not even big enough that it was necessary! Was it just some control freak thing that meant they weren’t comfortable with their little project having any kind of sexuality?” God, please forgive me for swearing.

“There’s another possible reason.” Doctor Li said. “In Imperial China, eunuchs were assigned high positions in government because it was believed that the elimination of sexual desire would make them virtuous. Perhaps whoever’s doing this aims to create an advanced form of humanity, and is thinking along similar lines. The problem in China was that the eunuchs found other vices to compensate for their lack of sexuality. And you know what they say about those who fail to learn from history.”

Personally, I was not as concerned about the ultimate goal as with the effect on the victim. The ability and desire to reproduce was one of the basic characteristics of not just humanity, but all life. And some sick human-being-in-biology-only had literally cut that out of the poor girl in such an irrevocable way, just to make her a better tool for killing people.

I found the idea of fighting and killing abhorrent. The idea of someone having their biology altered, and not even being given a choice about going through years of training, all to be a killing machine, was so grotesque that it was hard to even comprehend.

*****

Athene

I was still giddy with excitement as I ate my meal and sat through the after-action analysis session. The Gundam’s handling seemed even smoother in real combat than it was in the sims, and just the three of us had managed to destroy a Mobile Armor. I felt that I was already proving my worth as a supersoldier – with help from McDermott, Yamada, and Metis.

If only Pallas and Ares were here, so that we could compare our achievements, and argue about who had done the best, driving each other to improve…

*****

Sparta Base
Three years ago…


“Look at your time, Athene! It shouldn’t have taken you that long to wipe out a squad from Silver Platoon.” Pallas commented as I emerged from the MA’s cockpit. Did every training exercise have to be a competition to her? Then again, that may have been what made going up against her so exhilarating. I was never in any doubt about her using her full strength.

“The purpose of the exercise was to help our juniors gain experience facing a Mobile Armor. Simply annihilating them right from the beginning would be defeating the purpose.”

“In other words, you were holding back.” Pallas replied. “Against what we’ve learned about mercy having no place on the battlefield. As for helping them learn, getting blown away should teach them what not to do. I’m starting to worry that your helping out the Silvers and Bronzes might be at the expense of your own skills.”

“Teamwork is also a skill.” I retorted. “And if you think it’s making me weak one-on-one, I’d be glad to put that to the test.”

“I’ll be pleased to do that any time, 1F02.” Pallas grinned in anticipation.

“We’re scheduled for free training next period, 1F01.” I grinned back. “As per the rules, I made the challenge, so you can pick the form of combat.”

“Mobile suits, one on one.”

“Fine by me.”

*****

Victoria

I sat on the couch, watching the footage from the Battle of Sirenum on the monitor. My eyes drawn towards the white-and-green mobile suit.

“So the first supersoldier has been deployed in combat. That’s her unit?”

“That’s correct, ojousama.” One of the aides said.

“I would like to meet her.”

“Ojousama, it will take four weeks to reach Mars. And the military may not be happy with a civilian arranging to speak to her, even one as high-ranking as yourself.”

“Nevertheless, I would like to meet her. I will handle negotiations with the military. Please make the other arrangements.”

“Yes, Ojousama.”

_________________
Vent Noir

@AJDynon on Twitter

April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:13 pm 
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Fic Notes and discussion of themes in the spoiler box:

Spoiler: show
This chapter is a bit shorter than the first two (2400 words as opposed to about 3300). I'm worried that the MA battle felt a bit too short - anyone want to suggest ideas to stretch it out, or is it okay as is?

When I first posted ideas in the general fanfic discussion thread, I wanted to try and explore some feminist themes in the series. One of these ways I'm trying to do this is by making Athene's sense of kinship with her siblings from the project an important aspect of her character. Another facet of this is her sexuality, or rather lack of it. As mentioned, I hated how the Soma/Marie storyline was handled, but it's also been pointed out that it's a pitfall to try and pretend that a lack of sexuality is a desirable trait. So I incorparated that into the story, by making Athene's asexuality be something that was done to her in her creators' effort to make her a supersoldier, and that isn't a positive or desirable thing.

I'm not any kind of science expert, so in all likelyhood the stuff about Athene's biological details got something wrong. I also know that, realistically, it would take over 200 days to travel from Earth to Mars, not four weeks as stated. But then, if this were Hard SF, we wouldn't have mobile suits.

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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:44 pm 
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Very nice, as usual. Quality over quantity!

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:51 am 
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Chapter 4 (2nd Draft) inside the spoiler box

Spoiler: show
Personal Log – Athene Gold

It has now been one month since I boarded the Gallipoli. In that time, I have taken part in six operations under the command of Lt. Alan McDermott, alongside Ensign Shane Yamada. Both have proven to be effective soldiers who I am glad to have had the opportunity to fight alongside. McDermott is a leader whose decisions I trust, and is always willing to give his subordinates advice. Yamada is inexperienced, but skilled, and his tactics are creative and hard to predict.

The ship, under Captain Monash, places far less emphasis on protocol than Sparta Base did. I am used to knowing how I am expected to behave, and this lack of regulation is sometimes difficult to adjust to. However, during the large amount of downtime we experience aboard the ship, I am glad to have the opportunity to watch vids and play games (despite the fact that they’re far too unrealistic to be of any use in combat).

Today, we dock at the city of New Moscow, and Captain Monash has indicated we will be given shore leave. I would much prefer to remain aboard the ship, but I worry she will insist.

[End Personal Log]

I finished writing my entry, and brushed my fingers over my scalp. Pausing halfway through the motion, my thumb and forefinger closed over my hair, and I managed to take hold of a few strands.

That meant it was too long. I remembered our melee combat instructors’ words well. “Do not grant any unnecessary advantage to your enemy! If your hair is long enough to take hold of, an enemy can use that against you! You are to ensure that cannot happen!”

I had placed my shaving cream and razor in the cabinet above the basin, between my and Yamada’s bunk – I was careful to be sure I knew where all my equipment was. I stood up and opened the cabinet to retrieve them.

They weren’t there. I quickly scanned over the other shelves, and then stood in shock for a few seconds, before the realisation of what had happened to them dawned on me.

“YAMADAAA!!!!”

*****
Mobile Suit Gundam Storm
A Fanfic by Andrew Dynon
Based on Mobile Suit Gundam by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Haime Yadate

Chapter 4: New Moscow Panic!
*****


I spotted Yamada in the mess hall, and stormed over to him.

“Yamada, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

He gave a faux-innocent smile. “No idea what you’re talking about.”

“The hell you don’t! What the ZOINKS did you do with my razor and shaving cream?”

“Oh, those? I hid them.”

“Where?”

“If I told you that, they wouldn’t be hidden any more, would they? Besides, you’re a girl. Being damn near bald isn’t right.”

“I’m not a girl, I’m a supersoldier. Having long hair makes it vulnerable to being grabbed by an enemy.”

“Hey, you don’t need to remind me. I’ve seen what you can do in battle. But you’re an MS pilot, not infantry! We don’t have to keep our hair that short.”

“I am expected to be able to fight on foot as well as in an MS. I will not compromise those capabilities.” And neither should you. Why would you want long hair, anyway? What’s it useful for?

“Yeah, I can still feel the bruises from my hand-to-hand session with you the other day. But anyway, if it’s that big an issue for you, I’ll give them back… if you do something for me.”

“What?”

“Take advantage of shore leave while we’ve got the chance. Come into New Moscow with me.” He seemed to like having something over me. Bastard.

“If I’m going there, it’s even more important. What if there’s an attack by pro-LunaPact terrorists while we don’t have MS nearby?”

“Geez, how paranoid can you get?”

“’Paranoid’ means it’s not realistic. If you’d been paying attention, you’d know that there are several suspected terrorist cells in the region.”

“True, but unless an attack actually happens, I suggest you let the regional security forces worry about it.” Captain Monash said. “You are to take your shore leave, and try to relax and enjoy yourself.”

“Ma’am, I’d really prefer…”

“…to stay on the ship. I know. But you need to learn how to act in a civilian environment. I’ll ask you to dress as a civilian as well.” According to regulations, members of the Commonwealth military were permitted out of uniform while on leave, as long as they carried ID.

“The only clothes I have are my combats, dress uniform and normal suit, ma’am.”

“See if you can borrow some from Khadija or someone.”

“I think Khadija’s clothes would be too small for me, ma’am.” Besides, I wouldn’t want to wear anything she owned.

“You can borrow some of mine.” Yamada said. “To help make up for what I did with your property.”

We went back to our cabin, and I looked through his gear, picking out a T-Shirt and jeans.

“Wow, Athene, it’s even harder to tell you’re a girl in civvies than in uniform.”

“I don’t see why that should matter, Ensign Yamada.”

“Oh, and since you’re supposed to be learning how to act as a civilian, please refer to me as Shane.”

“Ensign Shane.”

“Wrong.”

“… Shane.”

“See? Feels much better.”

“Shane, you ready to go yet?” Khadija called from outside the room. I stopped.

“Wait. She’s coming with us too?”

“Is it a problem?” Khadija asked politely, then her expression hardened. “If it is, please keep it to yourself, because I would like some time off the ship as much as anybody else.” She then brightened again. “Now, let’s all go and have a day where we can enjoy ourselves.”

She wasn’t even part of the Commonwealth forces. She had no authority to give orders. So why didn’t I feel like pointing that out?

As I prepared to go, I glanced at my Personal DataPod, and saw a message. Unknown Sender – weren’t military issue PDPs supposed not to allow anonymous messages? And why would anyone want to send one to me? The only people I knew who would have cause to message me were based on the ship. My curiosity piqued, I opened the message.

White Rose Café, Little Deakin St, 13:30 – a map was attached showing the location.

“Did either of you send me this?” I asked. Yamada took the PDP and looked.

“Nope. Don’t think it was you either, Khadija?”

“Wasn’t me. Looks like there’s someone else who wants to meet up with you.”

“But why?”

“Well, we’re going to have to find that out, aren’t we?” Khadija replied.

“What if it’s a trap?”

“First of all, you need to learn to stop treating civilian situations like military ones.” Shane said. “Secondly, even if it is, from what I’ve seen you’re probably capable of handling anything that’s thrown at you short of a ballistic missile strike, so why worry?” Well, at least he had confidence in my abilities. “Anyway, we’ve got some time before that, and the first order of business once we get into town has got to be picking out some clothes for you.”

*****

Khadija drove us to a department store called Dai-Myer in central New Moscow, and as soon as we headed inside, I was struck by the sight of rows upon rows of clothing, in every imaginable colour, size and style. I stood, transfixed at the landscape spreading out before me.

“So… see anything you like?” Khadija asked.

“I like my uniform.”

“Come on, I’ll help you pick out something.”

“No, thank you. Ya- Shane?”

“Well, I guess I can try. I’m betting you’d probably prefer something more on the practical side.” With his help, I picked out some decent pants, jackets, and footwear. Greens, dark blues and browns, nothing too bright or showy. Shane grinned when he saw my choices.

“Okay, now just take them to the counter and pay for them.”

“Pay?”

“Yeah. Your PDP’s linked to an account, isn’t it? Or does your “position” mean you don’t get paid for your service?”

“Oh, that’s right. I was assigned an account.” I had never had cause to use it before. With a few touches, I brought my account up, showing I had one month’s worth of pay.

“Only that much?” Shane asked. “Man, the least they could do is give you pay for the eighteen years wormmmph—“ I slapped my hand over his mouth to prevent him divulging confidential information in public.

“This will do.” I took the clothes up to the counter, paid and headed off. As we left the department store, it dawned on me that these clothes were not equipment or uniform that had been assigned to me. They were the first possessions that I could truly call my own. When we got back to our car, I took one of the jackets out of the bag and sat there, gazing at it as we drove off. Khadija wanted to look around some of New Moscow’s famous markets, so we dropped her near one of them and arranged a spot where we could meet after I had visited the café the anonymous message had specified.

*****

I arrived at the address specified in the message I received – a building designed to look like an old-style café, an odd-sight among the cutting-edge buildings that made up most of New Moscow. As we parked, the doorman spotted us and opened the front entrance.

The café was empty except for a single customer – a young lady of about the same age as myself. But at a glance, I could tell that age was the only thing in common. Where my skin was dark and my hair black and short, her skin was strikingly pale and her white hair flowed in luxurious curls down the back of the chair she was sitting in. She waited patiently, holding a teacup delicately in her hand as she sat, gently smiling. Despite the fact that I didn’t have much of a sense of beauty, it was easy to realise how attractive she was, even without taking into account the reactions of Yamada and Khadija, who had gone slack-jawed at the sight of her.

However, her lack of muscle tone indicated that she hadn’t undergone a great amount of physical training, and she didn’t have any concealed weapons on her that I could spot, and with the dress she wore, if she had anything in a harder-to-observe location, I would be able to take her out before she could reach it if necessary. I noticed that the café staff cleared out as we entered.

“Athene Gold.” She said, gesturing for me to sit down. “I am delighted to make your acquaintance. My name is Victoria Castella.” She picked up the teapot and poured tea for all of us. She also passed out plates with huge slices of cake, with thick layers of cream, custard, and frosting. I looked suspiciously at the food on offer – surely it was so far outside of regulation dietary intake that the instructors from Sparta Base would have screamed at me for hours if they caught me eating it. Not that I had any chance to deviate from the prescribed diet while I was there.

“Don’t worry.” She said reassuringly. “An occasional treat won’t hurt your fitness. You can consider this a special occasion.”

“Victoria Castella? As in Castella Industries?” Shane asked. Castella Industries was a major conglomerate which manufactured – among other things - military equipment. Some of our Gundams’ components carried the Castella industries logo on them.

“That is correct.” Victoria replied. “I am the daughter of their CEO, Alfred Castella.”

“I see. Well, now that you’ve introduced yourself, I’m interested to know why the daughter of a major manufacturing corporation’s CEO is on Mars, and what, specifically, they want with me.” I said.

“Officially, I am on Mars for first-hand study of Castella’s manufacturing efforts here and in space. A necessary component of my education.” Victoria said. “What I want with you, of course, has nothing to do with that.” Her tone was lighthearted and reassuring, yet at the same time her voice seemed to penetrate into me – not in the way that the yelling of our instructors at Sparta Base did, but a gentle flow from her mouth, through my ears and into my brain, piquing my curiosity.

“Do go on.”

“I recently became aware of projects in the field of Human Enhancement.” Victoria said. “It’s a field which I have a personal interest in. Not so much the science behind it, though, as the ramifications of it.”

“I’m not sure if you have studied the history of the early colonisation period, but at the time, there was a somewhat-popular theory that immigration to space would result in the birth of a new type of humanity, with superior abilities. Some advocates of this theory claimed that this new breed would bring about the evolution of the human race, and a better future.”

“However, as the years went on, evidence of this leap forward in evolution failed to emerge. All claims of new abilities that were scientifically investigated ended up being debunked. Wars, of course, went on, as they have since the first caveman hit his rival with a rock. In fact, some of them literally involved hitting your rival with a bigger rock. That’s progress for you.”

“I know about the asteroid drop on Florida that ended the Lunar Independence War.” I replied. “This doesn’t seem very relevant so far, though.”

“What I’m getting to.” Victoria replied. “Is that it seems that Mother Nature’s lack of progress on the human evolution front has prompted certain people to try and jump-start things. Have you been told anything like that?”

I had, but I wasn’t supposed to disclose anything about my training. I kept my mouth shut.

“I apologise. Military secrets and such.” Victoria said. How could she tell? I felt sure I hadn’t made enough of an expression for her to read it. Was I wrong?

Her expression became more focused, but her voice still contained its serene, calming quality. “Anyway, what’s more important is: If you are, in fact, the representative of a new kind of humanity, what is it going to mean? How are you going to make a difference?”

I didn’t know how to respond. I had heard our instructors talk about the concept, but it had never been something that had mattered to me. Victoria looked apologetic.

“I know the idea might be hard for you to get your head around. You’re a soldier, you’re not used to grand philosophical debates. Nevertheless, please think about what I said. Don’t let anybody dictate what being a new kind of human means to you.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I couldn’t help asking.

“Let’s just say there are more facets to this project than just soldiers.” She replied, and winked.

*****

I felt confused as I headed off. I had been told before that I represented a new kind of humanity, but it had never really meant anything to me. My conversation with Victoria, however, had made me aware that my existence – and that of my siblings – in itself had ramifications, which I was barely beginning to become aware of. Were we really destined to spur on human evolution? Or were we intended to simply be tools, as Shane had said when I met him? His words had been taunts, designed to put me off our simulated battle and keep me from thinking straight, but they had struck a nerve, a worry hidden under my layers of professionalism that we ultimately served no other purpose than to fight and die.

“You feeling all right?” Shane asked from beside me.

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“You just seemed distracted for a bit.” He asked. “Don’t worry, I don’t know what my purpose in life is, either. I thought joining the military would give me one, but… it’s not what they made it out to be.”

“You became a soldier to give yourself a purpose in life?”

“I was bored helping grow crops back home, and I’d seen all the news bulletins about how LunaPact had launched an unprovoked war of aggression against the Earth Sphere Commonwealth and were going to do terrible things to all of us unless I, personally, helped stop them. So I headed to the recruitment office to sign up. The recruiter asked me my age, I told her sixteen Earth years. She said the Commonwealth couldn’t have sixteen-year-olds in their military, and to go to the back of the line and tell her something different. When I was called back in, I told her I was eighteen Earth years, and that’s what they entered in my records.”

“An officer ignoring the fact that a soldier is lying is a serious breach of protocol.”

“You’re more concerned about that than the fact I’m underage?”

“I don’t really understand why a soldier has to be eighteen to go into battle. Bronze platoon are currently ten Earth years old, but they have had far more training than a Commonwealth recruit needs to be deemed battle-ready.”

Shane looked disturbed. “Are they seriously going to send ten-year-olds to fight?”

“The rest of Gold Platoon would probably go active first, and then Silver Platoon. Is that more comforting?”

“And Silver Platoon would be…”

“Fourteen.”

“Not really helping.”

We arrived at the spot where we had arranged to pick up Khadija, but I couldn’t see her. Something was off.

Shane looked around.

“Is she late? She would’ve sent a message… hey, wait up! Where are you going?”

I had already jumped out of the car and started running into an alleyway. There, Khadija was backed up against a wall, four larger men leaning threateningly over her. Even if I didn’t like her that much, she was part of the Gallipoli. Besides, she was Shane’s friend.

“Be careful!” I barely registered Shane’s cry of warning as I acted. I aimed a punch at the first man’s throat, the whole movement seeming almost in slow motion to me. These men had attacked one of my crewmates. They were the enemy, and I was prepared to kill them. Except that Khadija wouldn’t want me to do that. At the last split-second, I adjusted the angle of my strike, hitting him on the point of the chin. He collapsed, unconscious, but alive. Two of the others tried to draw the knives they were carrying, but I knocked them out before they could bring their weapons to bear. I blocked the last one’s punch, grabbing his arm and throwing him against the wall. None left.

I turned to Shane. “You didn’t need to warn me to be careful.”

“I was warning them. Not that it helped. “Shane rushed to Khadija’s side. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah… yeah, I’m fine.” She turned to me, looking annoyed. “You didn’t need to do that.”

“I saw you were being threatened, and took action!” Didn’t she understand that she was in danger?

“Just chasing them off would have been enough. You didn’t need to punch them out!” She knelt down beside them, checking on them. “Thank God, they seem to be all right. But we should get them to a hospital to make sure. You’re going to help me.” Her glare and voice cut into me like a beam saber.

We took the thugs to a hospital and reported the incident to the local authorities, but Khadija declined to press charges. After the report had been filed, we returned to the Gallipoli. If this was a typical shore leave, I would not object to another one sometime.

Oh, and Shane did return my razor and shaving cream, as promised.

*****

Earth Sphere, Lagrange Point 4

“How are you liking it so far, ensign?”

“It seems magnificent, Captain.” The young woman with the blonde buzzcut replied from inside the cockpit. The rounded surfaces of the MS were a brilliant white, with black highlights on the shoulders and legs and a ruby-colored “visor” where the main sensor was placed in the head. “The handling and power output are tuned to perfection. And these beam cannons are more accurate than I’ve ever seen on a mobile suit.”

“I’m glad it meets your approval.”

“When I was transferred from Sparta Base, I was told there was a special mobile suit waiting for me. I would have been disappointed if it wasn’t up to standard. I like the name, too. Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens.”

“And you are the one who shall make it shine brightly, Pallas Gold. It is an honour to have you aboard my ship.”

“It is an honour to finally fight for the Lunar Pact, Captain.” I replied. All who saw the Sirius would be able to witness my skill. Hopefully, one day, Ares and Athene would be among them.

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April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


Last edited by Vent Noir on Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:11 am 
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Fic notes inside spoiler box.

Spoiler: show
We take a break from the fighting here (apart from one paragraph of Athene beating up the thugs). I felt I needed to get Athene into a civilian situation. The chapter title comes from Full Metal Panic, which is an influence here, although I'm not good at writing comedy, so I didn't try and have her go into full on Sousuke Sagara mode.

Structurally, the end of chapter 4 is the first turning point of the story. I tried to drop some hints as to what's up with the whole supersoldier deal without giving too much away. Victoria is the impetus for that. She's based on one of my pet theories about Lacus Clyne that I mentioned on mechatalk a while ago. Of course, Lacus gets a lot of accusations of being a Mary Sue, which puts any character based on her at risk of the same, but hopefully not having her be too heavily involved will avert that.

I finally gave Shane some backstory this chapter. I was going to go more, but I decided to save it for next time. The blatanty lying about his age and being allowed to get away with it was inspired by accounts people who had done exactly that when signing up for World War I.

I like the idea that Khadija doesn't like violence, but when she puts her foot down she can tell even a supersoldier like Athene what to do. It's a way of showing that one doesn't have to be a fighter to be a strong character.

As always, all comments and feedback appreciated!

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:11 am 
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Very good content. Normally, I'd complain about the lack of description in tone and such, but I understand that people don't write the same way I do.

Anyway, it's still a great slice of fiction. It's got plenty of potential, so keep going.

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:15 pm 
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Rob DS Zeta wrote:
Very good content. Normally, I'd complain about the lack of description in tone and such, but I understand that people don't write the same way I do.

Anyway, it's still a great slice of fiction. It's got plenty of potential, so keep going.


Any suggestions for improving that? I do feel a that it's something I have trouble with.

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:41 pm 
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Simple. For example, when Victoria was giving her big speech on the superhuman thing, how did she come off to Athene? Was she making a face? Was she sounding clever or superior? It's nothing too complicated, I think.

I'm not a very good teacher, sadly. I wish I still had those reviews and PMs from my old days on FFdotnet. My old sensei, Kit-Karamak, explained to me very very well.

One thing that helps your style, though, is that the story is told from Athene's mind. Maybe she's not taking note of these things. It'd be nice if she did, but she doesn't have to. It doesn't seem to be her nature, really.

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 Post Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:32 pm 
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Rob DS Zeta wrote:
Simple. For example, when Victoria was giving her big speech on the superhuman thing, how did she come off to Athene? Was she making a face? Was she sounding clever or superior? It's nothing too complicated, I think.


Yeah, that whole conversation was hard for me to write. I will probably go back over it at some point.

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 Post Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:20 am 
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Done a second draft of chapter 4, and tried to expand on some details.

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 Post Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:42 pm 
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New chapter in the spoiler tags.

Spoiler: show
Ten years ago

I stood inside the ship’s airlock, one among a crowd of eight-year-old supersoldier candidates. All of our hair was in the regulation buzzcut, and our physiques were strictly monitored to ensure they fit the parameters defined for our age. Strict regimens of physical training were required to ensure we could operate in any environment, and our diets kept our weights within the narrow acceptable range. Currently, we were dressed in identical normal suits, with helmets hung on the wall beside us. Aside from our natural variations in skin tone and hair colour, it would be hard for an outsider to distinguish us. That outsider may have seen a set of indistinguishable candidates, but even where two of my siblings had the same coloured skin and hair, I could unfailingly distinguish the subtle variations in their features. Pallas, Ares, Artemis, Odin, Durga, Guan Yu, and others. Even though we had not been together long yet, I saw my siblings assembled, unified in our purpose and pursuit of excellence. And I felt proud.

A virtual window popped into existence in front of the airlock, and the face of one of the instructors appeared. We didn’t know the name of the bald man with the moustache, only that, as our instructor, he outranked us and we were therefore required to obey him.

“Good morning, Gold Platoon. Today, you will be having your first face-to-face meeting with vacuum, and as you are likely to engage in many operations in its company, it would benefit you to get to know it well! You’ve managed to perform to an acceptable standard in simulations. I expect you to be able to do the same now that you are about to experience the real thing! Once the alarm sounds, the airlock will open. You will have thirty seconds to don and properly seal your helmet before the airlock depressurises. That should be plenty of time. Once you have done that, you will head out and perform manoeuvre patterns Alpha through Echo – your first experience in actual, non-simulated space. Get used to it, boys and girls!”

The alarm sounded, and the outer airlock doors began to slide open. I managed to grab my helmet, put it on and make sure it was sealed inside the twenty-second mark. I then looked around to see if anybody was struggling. I saw that Pallas’ collar was out of place, with a distortion in its shape common for a rushed sealing job, and walked over to her to fix it. She looked at me as I moved over, and I indicated where the collar was incorrect. She signalled for me to back off.

“I can fix it myself!” She managed to do so, but our exchange had drawn the attention of the other trainees – and people noticing one of the rare occasions when she made a mistake was not the kind of attention Pallas liked.

“Embarrassment won’t kill you, Pallas.” I said. “An incorrectly sealed helmet might.”

“Hmph. Ready for me to get those points back off you?”

“Is that the only thing you think about? Your points and rankings?”

“It’s how we know who’s the best, right?”

“1F-01 and 02, quit chatting and begin your manoeuvre patterns!” The instructor yelled.

“Yes, sir!” We chorused. With that, we took our first step outside of the hollowed-out asteroid that we had grown up in, and stepped out in the direction of Mars, Earth, and the distant sun.

*****
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM STORM

A Fanfic by Andrew Dynon

Based on Mobile Suit Gundam created by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Hajime Yadate

Chapter 5: To the Planet of Water, With Memories

*****

“What do you mean, we’re being reassigned?” Even considering your lack of military experience, ensign Yamada, that statement was unambiguous. Why did you feel an emotional outburst was in order?

Captain Monash kept her cool as she explained. “The Commonwealth feels that combat tests with the Gundam units have been conducted to their satisfaction. Therefore, the Gallipoli is to leave Mars and head to the main theatre of war in Earth orbit. Furthermore, we will be part of a major push toward Luna and the Pact-aligned colonies.”

“This is ZOINKS!” Shane protested. “I signed up for the military to protect my home on Mars, not to fight for the Commonwealth bigwigs back on Earth! How many Mars Fleet ships are going to be part of this push they’re talking about? I’m no master tactician, but I know that for each one that’s going to Earth, that’s one less we have to defend Mars with. Not that it matters to the brass. We’re just some far-off colony that should be grateful for the little support we do receive from them!”

“Yamada, as a red-duster myself, I understand your frustration.” Monash said, using the slang term for a Martian. “If it’s any compensation, remember that this will likely force LunaPact to call their forces back to Earth orbit as well.”

“Yamada, your duty as a soldier is to go and fight wherever you are assigned. Surely you are aware of that.”

“And what’s it to you, little miss supersoldier?” Yamada asked me. “How do you feel about this? Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t matter to you, does it? It’s not like you’ve got any kind of personal stake in what happens to the Mars colony or anything.”

I didn’t know how to respond, so I maintained my neutral expression. It was one thing to get yelled at for screwing up – I had endured, and more often seen my siblings endure, that for years at Sparta Base – but for someone to speak so accusingly, not over something I had done, but simply who I was, caused an odd kind of chill inside me, and my body made an involuntary shiver.

“Ensign Yamada, go and find something to do to work off your frustration.” Captain Monash said. As he departed, she put her hand on my shoulder.

“Don’t worry about it. Shane’s upset, so he’s lashing out at whoever happens to be nearby.”

“That’s irresponsible, ma’am.”

“Let him express his anger now. He’ll be over it by the time we get to Earth. But he does have a point. Out of all the people on the ship, you have the least emotional investment in the battle. Now, I’m sure you’ve been given the standard spiel about emotion being a weakness and so forth, but can you tell me what you’re actually fighting for?”

“…”

“It’s okay not to answer now. Just let me know when you’ve found something. In the meantime, you should see what you’ll likely to be going up against when we arrive in Earth orbit.” She turned to the computer. “Run Sirius files.”

A virtual window opened up next to us, showing video footage of an unfamiliar white mobile suit engaged in battle. I watched as a white mobile suit with black markings tore through a squadron of GRs. The new MS had the rounded surfaces common to LunaPact mobile suits, but its shape was sleeker, more streamlined. Performance-wise, it appeared far deadlier than LunaPact’s standard issue Regulus MS as well – armament shown in the footage included four beam guns, mounted on the shoulders and forearms, as well as a twin-bladed beam saber. The new enemy MS also performed some manoeuvres that impressed even me as it evaded fire and moved in to cut apart multiple targets – I estimated that its manoeuvrability was at least on par with Yamada’s Lightning Gundam – maybe even with my Gale Gundam. The only weakness I can see was the size of the generator on its back, used to power those beam guns, but the way it could move, even that would be no easy target.

At the new MS’ flanks were two more black-and-white MS – Denebs, the LunaPact’s current model superiority MS. They had extra verniers added, but they were still struggling to keep up with the new MS – and the pilot of the new MS didn’t seem all that concerned for his or her wingmen’s ability to stay with them. Did the pilot just want to show off what they, or the new MS, could do, without concern for the other MS’ abilities? I made a mental note of that behaviour – perhaps I could take advantage of it.

“That footage was taken from the carrier Verdun thirty-six hours ago.” Captain Monash said. “Intercepted transmissions referred to the new MS as Sirius. As you can see, its capabilities outclass the GR series that it fought against it.”

“And so command wants to bring in the Gundams to even the odds.” McDermott added.

“Sir, shouldn’t Yamada be here to see this?”

“Four weeks in transit is plenty of time for that.” McDermott smiled. “I think we can afford to wait until he’s in a better mood. In any case, it’s not all that much to go on, but we can convert the footage we have. It’ll be on the ship’s main server.”

*****

I sat in the Gale’s cockpit, feeling oddly lethargic as I watched and rewatched the Sirius footage. Yamada’s comments, and Captain Monash’s question about what I was fighting for, irritated me. I was created to fight on behalf of the Commonwealth, and I was damn good at it. Wasn’t that enough? Shouldn’t they just be grateful to have me with them instead of trying to get me to ask pointless philosophical questions about the meaning of my existence?

But did that mean I was ultimately just a tool? And if I was, what if I was no longer deemed useful? Would I be willing to simply be disposed of? What of my siblings? Would they also be disposed of if there were no more need for us? If it were only me, I could bear the prospect of termination once my services were no longer required. But when I thought of the siblings I had grown and trained alongside suffering the same fate, my skin went colder than if it had been exposed to a sunless vacuum.

Ensign Gold, your brainwave patterns are unusual. The sound of Metis’ voice interrupted my train of thought.

“How can you tell that?”

Sensors in your helmet and the cockpit measure your brainwave data. It allows me to fine-tune the Gundam’s reactions.

“Thought control?”

Negative. Manual control input is still required. However, this system facilitates greater responsiveness than would be possible using a purely manual control system. However, technical details are unimportant at this time. What concerns you?

“I’m just thinking, Metis.” There was a pause, as if we were each waiting for each other to continue. “Wondering what my reason to fight is.” I wondered why I was to a computer, even one as advanced as Metis, about my reasons. Was it because it seemed easier than talking to a human? Or maybe it was because Metis seemed, in a way, more similar to myself than they did? We were both made to fight, after all, designed as efficient killing machines.

I have no data on that.

“No, I don’t suppose you do.”

However, my purpose is to protect and assist you, my pilot.

“So you could say that even you have a reason to fight.”

Affirmative. I don’t know if I can help, but I shall attempt to assist you with this as well.

I was no expert, but from what I knew of computer systems, Metis’ responses were simply advanced brainwave analysis and response-pattern subroutines. She may be able to simulate emotion, I told myself, but she couldn’t feel it. Don’t be silly.

“I was wondering if this ‘reason to fight’ stuff is part of the whole ‘learning to be human’ thing they’re trying to get me to do, even though I’m not like the same as them. I’m not even sure I want to learn to be human. A lot of the things they do can be fun for a while, but in the end they seem kind of pointless to me. But it seems a ‘reason to fight’ isn’t just for them.”

All of us carry the potential for growth. We have both learned more since activation. As time passes, we change.

“I guess so.”

Maybe talking to Lieutenant McDermott and Ensign Yamada will help you understand them better, too.

“I’m not sure. Like I said, I’m different from them.”

Still, you should try.

“All right, Metis. And thank you.”

You’re welcome, my pilot.

*****

“So, Metis suggested that you ask me for advice?” Lieutenant McDermott said when I asked him to explain his reasons. “Good suggestion, if I do say so myself. Maybe those AIs in our Gundams are smarter than I’ve been giving them credit for.” He made a self-deprecating laugh to assure me that he was not as full of himself as he was acting.

“Actually, I’d been in the military a couple of years before the war broke out. I originally signed up because it was a good way to get girls.”

“To get girls?”

“Yeah, like they say, chicks dig the uniform. I’ve probably been with more than my share of women. Of course, that saying doesn’t apply to women who are actually in the military. Least of all you, ensign.”

“That doesn’t really seem like much of a reason to fight.” I’d had the concept of sexuality explained to me by now, but the alterations to my body meant I’d never felt it. Once, Shane had sent several pornographic images and video files to my datapad as “education”. For me, the most memorable part of the experience was the obvious frustration he felt at his failure to get me to react to any of it. In the end I had burst out laughing at his exasperated cry.

“You’re right, it isn’t. Matter of fact, when war actually broke out, it seemed like I was just swept up in things, and didn’t really have time to think about it. I was made sub-commander of a wing taking part in an assault on Ista Nova, near the south pole of Mars. We were a bunch of jocks – and that includes the women there, too – with too much enthusiasm and too little common sense. But we were good mates, and we looked out for each other.”

“Anyway, the brass completely bollocksed up the approach route we were using to assault the LunaPact position, resulting in our entire company diving straight into a meat grinder. The mates I’d served alongside dropped like flies, and it was all we could do to try and make it back safely to friendly lines. I was the only one in my wing who got there in one piece.”

“And then, brass being brass, they decided that we were the ones at fault for the failure of our part the operation, while the pillock who’d organised the whole debacle got a pat on the back and probably a pay rise thanks to the efforts of the soldiers in a couple of other companies who, against all odds, managed to establish a beachhead. It was when I heard about that I decided I couldn’t give a ZOINKS about what the brass thought any more. I’d had enough of seeing men and women I liked, and who put their trust in me, get killed, and just wanted to keep the soldiers under me alive, whatever it took to do that. Anyway, I didn’t really have a unit I was stationed with any more after that mess, and someone needed a commanding officer for a new pet project of theirs, which is how I ended up here.”

“So, you’re fighting for the sake of the soldiers under you?” I asked.

“That about sums it up.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Hey, don’t mention it.”

“Metis suggested I talk to Ensign Yamada as well, but…”

“You’ve got plenty of time for that. Leave him be for now while he blows off some steam.”

*****

When the ship’s night cycle arrived, I fell asleep, and dreamed. In my dream, I was back on Sparta base. The insignia on my uniform and the surroundings was unfamiliar, for some reason, but everything else was in place. I looked over the squad I was to command in a capture-the-flag match against Pallas’ squad. Teams of ten, as usual, in a maze of hills and rocky outcroppings. I instructed Artemis, our sniping specialist, to hold the fort with three others while Guan Yu and I lead teams to circle around and flank Pallas’ squad’s fort.

In this situation, I was in my environment. In a one-on-one battle, where I didn’t have to worry about anyone else, I was more free and could be more reckless, which sometimes ended up coming unstuck when I make a mistake that my opponent could take advantage of, although the only ones who could consistently seize the opportunity before I recovered were Pallas and Ares. When I was in command, however, I reined myself in. Being in command of a squad forced me to consider them as well as myself, but the restriction, ironically, helped put me at ease, allowing me to see the tactics in my mind more clearly. Even though Ares and Pallas both had winning records against me one-on-one, the figures were reversed in team situations. Pallas was the opposite, excelling in single combat, but often not considering her teammates. I could take advantage of that. But even so, I could count on her not to make things easy for me, and I was thankful to her for that. An easy victory would mean I didn’t have to push myself. And that would be dull.

Exercises against Pallas or Ares were never dull, though. With them it was as though the adrenaline burst we felt when we entered combat was more powerful, making our senses sharper, our bodies able to push themselves harder. The other candidates and I sometimes got that kind of reaction from each other, but we three felt them most intensely. Curiously, the same reaction occurred when we were fighting alongside each other. Was it that, even when we were on the same side, we still wanted to outdo the others? Or was it simply us being together?

In this case, my plan worked. I was able to lure Pallas into pursuing us, freeing up Guan Yu, Durga and Sif to take her squad’s flag. Pallas scored kills on Odin and Pele and a wound on me before I lured her into a location where Artemis could snipe her, though. By the rules, Odin and Pele would have to miss the next match, but it had been drilled into my head that the consequences on a real battlefield were much more serious.

“Looks like I win again.” I told Pallas as we sat to eat our rations together after the exercise. “Pallas, you’re a damn good fighter, but if you don’t take your squad into account, I’m gonna keep owning you in the team battles.”

Pallas stabbed at some meat substitute with her FRED*, and began chewing it as she talked. “The way I see it, Athene, is that they need to work harder. I’m not gonna slow down for someone who’s not on my level. And I’m already thinking of ways to even the score for this. And then beat you down some more.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing you try.” I grinned.

“No, I’m the one looking forward to seeing you try and stop me. Don’t lose to Ares first.”

*****

The next morning, I spoke to Shane as we went for our daily exercise in the gym. Weight training facilities were required on all Commonwealth spaceships to ensure that personnel maintained sufficient muscle mass while in zero gravity.

“Ensign Yamada, you said that you were fighting to protect the Mars Colony.”

“Yeah, I’ve got friends and family there, and I don’t want LunaPact to take over. I already told you the story about how I signed up, right?”

“Yes. I’m curious how you got assigned as a Gundam pilot, though. You’re not enhanced like me, or a distinguished pilot like Lieutenant McDermott.”

“Just managed to impress the brass, I guess. They saw me as someone with potential, who wasn’t so used to the old-model control systems that I’d have trouble adjusting to the Gundam’s.”

“And how did that happen?”

“Right place, right time, being good enough to make an impression, and lucky enough to survive.” He stopped his exercises and leaned back. I continued my weights routines as I listened.

“Picture this. I’m at base with a bunch of recruits like me who’ve just finished our MS combat pilot training. Okay, there’s some more experienced guys there, too, but they tend to be moving in and out for assignments. Anyway, one night, just as we’re getting settled in to sleep, the alarms go off, and two wings of Regs come over the horizon.”

“So we scramble, and I’m barely suited up and skimming through the checkup when we realise it’s not just Regs. This brand spanking new-model MS comes in and strafes the crap out of the base, manages to take out one of the hangars, along with anyone who happened to be inside it. I don’t know at the time if any of my mates were in there, but damn if I’m gonna let him do that again. So I manage to get a hold of an MS RPG launcher, and when he comes round for another pass, I fire. He sees it coming and dodges, but I manage to catch him in the lower leg.

“So now I’ve managed to get the attention of the new MS – we call it a Deneb, now – and I realise it’s probably one of their top pilots in there that I’ve gotten pissed at me. And I figure I can’t win in a straight fight against something like that, so I’ve gotta figure something out. But I know the area around the base better than he does, so I’ve got a chance if I can get him to go where I want.

“I run off, always trying to keep a corner between me and him. Occasionally, I get a shot or two off from a corner, but I don’t manage to hit anything. And I can hear the damn thing’s footsteps behind me in my head, closing in all the time. But just as he’s about to catch me, I manage to get him where I want him. Sanjay and Amanda are able to swing in behind the bastard and open fire, he’s taken down, and the base, my MS, and me survive intact.

“So even though Sanjay and Amanda were the ones who scored the kill, they tell the brass that I should get the credit. A few days later, I get a transfer notice. Next thing I know, I’m here.”

“So, that tell you what you wanted to know?”

“I think I understand why you were selected, now.” I replied. “Sanjay and Amanda were your fellow recruits, correct?”

“Amanda was. Sanjay had been there a while longer. He was a Lieutenant Junior Grade, but we weren’t all that worried about formalities there.”

“In any case, they were right to give you credit. I’ve been in several operations with you now, and can see that, despite your inexperience, you’re a skilled and intelligent pilot. Not to mention, you gave me a lesson about underestimating my opponent that I’m not likely to forget.”

“Hey, good to know I taught you something.”

“Oh, and also…”

“What?”

“When this is over, you’ll be going back to your home, right?”

“Hey, I’m gotta hope for the best.”

“I… I’m not sure if I’ll ever return home.” It felt strange to refer to Sparta Base that way. But just as Yamada had a place, and people, he wished to return to, I thought of that cluster of asteroids, and the siblings I learned and trained alongside, and hoped to see them again.

*****

Earth, four weeks later

The boardroom was designed for large meetings, but now, only three people were present. A pale-skinned young man in a military uniform sat to one side of an elaborate three-dimensional hologram of the area around Lagrange Point 4, while an older man and woman in business suits were seated opposite him.

“So the Gallipoli’s arrived in Earth orbit.” The younger man said. “And the data feeds are set up. The battle is set to begin shortly.”

“And we’ll have confirmation of the resonance phenomenon?” the woman asked.

“Assuming things go as anticipated, I’d say it’s highly likely.” The older man said.

“Risking two highly-promising candidates in this way seems wasteful.” The woman speculated.

“Everything about this project is a risk.” The younger man said. “However, if those two show you what you’re looking for, then it will be well worth it. There have been hints of it in training, but if our theories are correct, it will take real combat for them to properly resonate. I’m quite looking forward to the show.”

*****

Lagrange Point 4

Something was not right.

As I ran through the pre-combat checks, there seemed to be no reason to believe that. This engagement would be larger than my previous ones, and in space rather than on a planetary surface, true, but neither of those factors were a concern to me. I ran through the checks a second time, and once again, all systems were in working order.

Ensign Gold, your brainwave patterns are unusual again. Are you worried? Metis asked.

“I don’t know. Everything seems to be in order. But I just can’t shake this feeling that something’s not right.”

The only anomalous factor in this mission is the Sirius MS.

“And you’ve seen the data we’ve acquired. Going by that, we should be able to beat it, right?”

Affirmative.

“And yet, for some reason, I can’t seem to shake my worries about it.”

But the worst thing I could do would be to let it throw off my performance. Luckily, as I began the start-up procedure, I felt the adrenaline that came when I headed into combat, forcing my concern over the Sirius into the back of my mind.

“Athene Gold, Gale Gundam, launching!” Seconds later, I was outside the ship, in the vacuum of space. The Gundam flight’s primary task was to function as the spearhead of this assault, to try and penetrate the enemy lines and take the LunaPact-aligned L4 colonies. If the Sirius appeared as predicted, we were to focus our attention on that, to destroy it or at least nullify its impact on the battlefield.

For the first fifteen minutes of the sortie, we focused on the former task, blasting away at the vanguard of Regulus MS and clearing the way for the main force to follow through. Then, I heard Captain Monash on the comms.

“Sirius and escorts sighted! Gundam flight, that’s your cue. Engage and destroy!”

“Roger that, captain! Gold, engage the Sirius. Yamada and I will engage the Denebs.” Lieutenant McDermott said, and we turned to head toward the Sirius’ location. As we approached, the feeling of unease returned, stronger than it had been during my mission prep. I tried to force it down again, knowing I couldn’t afford to let it dominate me.

I made an approach from the black-and-white MS’ port flank, firing a probing shot, but the Sirius evaded with surprising speed. I couldn’t replay the video footage to confirm the fact, but it seemed to react even faster than our data had indicated. It turned, breaking formation with its Deneb escorts, and firing its beam guns at me, forcing me to take evasive action.

We made several more passes at each other, each time managing to evade each other’s fire. Whoever was inside the Sirius, they were damn good. But then, so was I. All the while, though, that feeling of unease inside me was mutating into something else, akin to a powerful adrenaline burst, sharpening my senses, push my body harder. As I fought, I gradually realised that the Sirius’ manoeuvre patterns seemed familiar, and that the burst of energy I felt was a more intense version of the way I felt practicing against…

“Pallas?”

TO BE CONTINUED

* FRED: Field Ration Eating Device, a multi-purpose utensil included with ration packs. Popularly known as a “ZOINKS Ridiculous Eating Device”.

_________________
Vent Noir

@AJDynon on Twitter

April 7, 1979: The first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam premieres. Fanboys declare Gundam "Ruined FOREVER".


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