(We open on SHINN ASUKA and LUNAMARIA HAWKE, sitting on a couch in front of a TV, playing a video game. Luna's has a fairly-calm and relaxed air about her as she plays, but Shinn maintains a hunched-over, wide-eyed, death-grip on his controller-posture.)
SHINN: (Shrill) AIGH! AIGH! C'mon, c'mon! Wings of Light, Wings of Light! DAMMIT! Refill, boost gauge, you motherless homo!
LUNA: (Rolls eyes) Sheesh, Shinn, tone it down.
(We see the TV- they are playing split-screen Gundam Extreme VS. Luna's custom red GUNNER ZAKU unsheathes a beam tomahawk and performs a combo on Shinn's DESTINY GUNDAM, knocking it to the ground and costing it half its health. Shinn makes a frustrated noise.)
SHINN: Your ZAKU shouldn't be able to beat the Destiny! This game is totally unrealistic!
LUNA: (Shrugs) I dunno, when Athrun plays Infinite Justice, he still totally crushes you.
SHINN: (Grits teeth) Shut. Up.
(Luna's ZAKU fires a beam cannon shot that spears the Destiny through the chest, causing it to fly backwards in pieces and slowly explode. We hear Shinn's voice emanate from the TV.)
VIDEO GAME SHINN: AIGGGGGH!!! STELLAAAAAAAAAA!!!
(The Destiny explodes on-screen and Shinn throws his controller down in disgust.)
SHINN: I do NOT sound like that!
LUNA: Actually, you kinda do.
SHINN: Whatever! I'm bored with this stupid game anyway!
(Luna sets down her controller and turns to Shinn, looking concerned.)
LUNA: Actually, there was something I wanted to talk to you about...
SHINN: (Arches an eyebrow) Uh-oh. Is this the bad kind of talk or the kind that eventually ends in sexytime? Cuz I'm only a fan of ONE of those.
LUNA: (Uneasy) It's just...have you noticed anything...off...about Athrun and the rest recently?
SHINN: What do you mean?
LUNA: C'mon, I'll show you...
(Luna leads Shinn into another room, looks around, then pulls him behind a bookcase.)
SHINN: What's wrong??
LUNA: (Indicates something) Just watch.
(A moment passes, and KIRA YAMATO enters the room. He looks different than we remember him somehow, brighter and more-defined in physical appearance. His vacant stare seems even...vacant-er. ATHRUN ZALA enters the room shortly thereafter, also looking different in the same manner as Kira. Athrun's expression matches Kira's- his eyes dull and listless, his mouth a line with a slight downturn. The two face each other as Shinn and Luna watch in secret from behind the bookcase.)
HD KIRA: Muh?
HD ATHRUN: Guh.
HD KIRA: Uh!
HD ATHRUN: Yuh.
(The two nod to each other and then walk off in opposite directions. Kira bumps into a wall briefly, but rights himself and manages to get through a door. After a moment, Shinn and Luna exit from their hiding place.)
SHINN: They seemed normal to me.
LUNA: No they're not! Don't they seem...I dunno...brighter and more visually-defined? Also, I feel like my vision is narrower when I look at them!
SHINN: Didn't notice.
LUNA: (Frustrated) Ungggh, Shinn! You know, this is what I'm talking about when I say you need to be more attentive.
(Shinn doesn't respond. Luna snaps her fingers in front of his face.)
LUNA: (Shouts) SHINN!
SHINN: Huh? Oh sorry. I was just thinking about Rey. Whatever happened to that guy?
LUNA: He died, Shinn. Rey died.
SHINN: (Stunned) Nuh-uh, when??
LUNA: Like...forever ago!
SHINN: Well, why can't I flashback to it?
LUNA: Why can't you...wait, what?
SHINN: (Shakes head) Usually when I want to think about something that happened in the past, everything gets all wavy, or blurry at the edges, or sepia-toned, and I see what happened. But lately I...can't do it so well.
(Luna puts her hands to her temples and thinks for a moment, then looks back up at Shinn with a worried expression.)
LUNA: Now that you mention it...my flashbacks aren't working at the moment either. Something...is wrong here.
(The two stand in awkward silence for a few moments. Shinn looks out a nearby window, then pokes Luna's shoulder.)
SHINN: Uh, Luna...
LUNA: (Looking at the ground) Not now, Shinn, I'm trying to work out what's happening to us...
SHINN: But Luna, I'm seeing something here...
LUNA: (Sighs) No, Shinn, it's not Stellar's ghost, it's just a trick of the light.
SHINN: No no, this is definitely something new.
LUNA: (Still not looking) It's not Mayu's ghost either, Shinn.
SHINN: Did you check the weather channel recently, Luna?
LUNA: (Looks up) Huh? No, why?
SHINN: (Pointing out window) Are we supposed to have a whiteout today?
LUNA: Whiteout? What the hell are you- ?
(Luna walks over and looks out the window. A wave of pure whiteness is engulfing the entire landscape. Anything and everything the white consumes vanishes, and it is coming closer every second. Luna blinks a few times in disbelief.)
SHINN: (Smirks) Yeah. Who's dumb now?
LUNA: (Looks back at Shinn) I didn't say you were dumb.
SHINN: (Fuming) So the TRUTH comes out! You don't think I'm dumb! (Pauses) Wait...good.
(Luna is already looking back outside, watching the encroaching wave of whiteness ominously approach.)
LUNA: This can't be kosher.
MEYRIN: (From outside) LUNA!!!
(Luna looks down to see MEYRIN HAWKE some distance away, running towards the house. The wall of white is rapidly catching up to her.)
LUNA: (Shouts) MEYRIN!!!
MEYRIN: (Desperately) It's covering everything! Consuming it! You've got to r-
(Meyrin is swallowed up by the wall of white and is silenced. Luna screams for her sister again.)
LUNA: (Anguished) MEYRINNNNN!!! Shinn...it...it took Meyrin!
SHINN: You lost your sister again? (Tilts head) Sooooo...sexytime?
LUNA: NO, SHINN!
(Shinn punches a fist into an open hand.)
SHINN: Well then! I'll just get Destiny and we'll beat whatever this is and save her!
LUNA: (Upset) What are you gonna do with Destiny, fly sword-first into the white stuff that's eating everything???!!!
SHINN: (Confused) Well...yes, that is the thing I do, Luna. Don't you get me by now?
LUNA: We've got to run!
(Luna grabs Shinn's hand and they both run out of the room into a nearby hallway. Unfortunately, the whiteness has spread inside the house already from the other side, blocking them in.)
LUNA: Oh no...
(The two go back-to-back as the whiteness surrounds them.)
SHINN: Luna...if this is the end...I'd just like to say...
LUNA: Yes, Shinn?
SHINN: (Screams) DAMN YOU, FREEEEEEEEEE-DOMMMMMMMMMMMUUU!!!
LUNA: Thanks, Shinn.
(The whiteness is only seconds away from consuming them. Suddenly, green sparkles start gathering right in front of the duo.)
SHINN: What the-?
(A quantum portal forms in front of Shinn and Luna, and SETSUNA F. SEIEI appears from it, his skin silver and metallic from ELS-bonding. He extends a hand to them.)
SETSUNA: (Stoically) Shinn Asuka...Lunamaria Hawke...COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE.
(Shinn and Luna exchange a look, then jump into the portal after Setsuna, just as the whiteness completely envelops everything. Elsewhere, in a dark room, the quantum portal opens again, and Shinn and Luna messily spill out of it onto the ground.)
SHINN: (Rubs his head) Dammit, ow! Easy going in, hard coming out! Just like my signature cheese cheesewiches!
(Setsuna casually walks out of the portal and it seals behind him. He looks down at Shinn and Luna.
SETSUNA: Are you two alright?
LUNA: (Gets up and dusts herself off) How come whenever anyone gets teleported somewhere, they always end up on their asses when arriving? It's such a cliché!
SETSUNA: (Evenly) I apologize, but I never said “jump into the portal”.
LUNA: Well, we WERE in kinda a hurry, so that's sort of implied.
(Luna helps Shinn up. Shinn dusts himself off, then looks at Setsuna, who watches them impassively.)
SHINN: (Points) So, you working for Galactus now, or what?
SETSUNA: I am simply in communion with the ELS.
LUNA: Oh right...bonded with an alien lifeform. We did see your movie.
SHINN: (Grumbles) Way to try out new things and innovate, anarchist.
SETSUNA: Thank you.
SHINN: It was meant as an insult! I mean- aliens in Gundam?? Come ON!
SETSUNA: I'm afraid I don't understand...
SHINN: Let me break it down for you- there are certain rules in Gundam you follow!
(Shinn holds up his hand and starts counting-off.)
SHINN: One! No normal childhood! Your dad and/or your mom were terrible people and/or they died horribly!
LUNA: (Speaks up) Um, my folks were okay and alive.
SHINN: (Turns) Yeah, but you're a girl. No one cares.
SHINN: (Turns back to Setsuna) Which brings me to TWO! Girls are no good at anything! Except being terrible people or dying horribly!
LUNA: HEY! I'm standing right here!
SHINN: (Whispers aside to Luna) I looooove yooooou. (Back to Setsuna) THREE! NO aliens! We're not freakin' Lacrosse!
SHINN: Whatever! The greatest threat to mankind is mankind itself and the wars they create! That's the truest and lasting message Tomino passed on to us and all Gundam shows! It's tradition!
SETSUNA: (Solemnly) Unfortunately, it is tradition that is the enemy here.
SHINN: (Confused) Huh?
SETSUNA: HE can explain it better than I can.
AMURO: (Off-screen) Me.
(Shinn and Luna turn to see AMURO RAY approaching them. As he comes to a stop before them, Shinn steps forward and sizes the newcomer up.)
SHINN: (Looks Amuro up-and-down) …...The hell are you?
AMURO: (Rolls eyes) We've met before, remember?
LUNA: Shinn, it's Amuro Ray! The first Gundam pilot. The Gundam protagonist from which all Gundam protagonists spawned!
SHINN: (Realizing) Oh RIGHT! You're the dude on my cereal boxes!
AMURO: (Sighs) Yeah, probably.
SHINN: So you're my prototype, then?
AMURO: Well, yours or Kira Yamato's.
SHINN: (Growls) RGGGGGH.
(Amuro holds up his hands in a conciliatory manner.)
AMURO: No, listen. It's GOOD if you're not descended from my basic protagonist mold. That's exactly what we need nowadays.
LUNA: Does this have to do with what was happening back home?
AMURO: (Nods) Yes. I afraid it does. You see, your reality was being erased.
AMURO: Yes, to be re-polished, remastered, and re-released in high-definition. You must have noticed a change in some of your fellow castmates for the last few months, haven't you?
LUNA: Yeah...Athrun, Kira, Lacus, Cagalli...they all seemed...different for awhile now.
AMURO: It's because they've been remastered already. I'm here to tell you that a remaster of YOUR series is imminent.
SHINN: So we're...what? Going to be...erased?
AMURO: (Nods) Yes. And restored again.
SHINN: So what's the prob?
AMURO: Every time something old is erased and remade, it degrades a little. And in today's world, this is done at a much more alarming pace. Attention spans aren't what they used to be, after all. And things that are “new” are often risky.
SETSUNA: People fear change.
AMURO: Yes. This is especially true for Gundam. Sure, there have been shake-ups of the formula, but you can only shake the bottle so often before it foams up and over the top and we get style-over-substance stuff like...oh...your show.
SHINN + LUNA: (Simultaneously) HEY!
AMURO: (Holds up hands) Sorry, sorry, that was a cheap shot. But you see the danger here? You take the original concept and water it down enough over time and it starts to erode the whole infrastructure.
SETSUNA: If this erosion continues, it will destroy Gundam... (Narrows eyes) Forever.
AMURO: They try to reinforce the concept by returning to old, proven things, but that can't even maintain the stagnant status quo. The decay has already set in and they're just making it worse. And very soon now, we're going to reach a breaking point.
LUNA: How so?
AMURO: They're going to remake MY show.
(Amuro pauses to let it sink in. Shinn and Luna regard each other with dubious expressions, then look back to Amuro.)
SHINN: Sheesh, up-your-own ass much?
LUNA: Yeah, and you don't have to get all preachy about it. And how can you be so sure that remaking your show will “break” Gundam? I mean, you've been around for decades in other shows, manga, and video games. You're certainly not suffering from the same kind of degradation.
AMURO: (Shrugs) I'm made of sterner stuff than you guys.
SHINN: (Shouts) I'm willing to test that! Let's crash head-first into each other!
AMURO: (Holds up his hands) Let's not. Look, you saw how badly it was affecting your other castmates, didn't you? The Remaster of Seed was the final straw for them. They've been burnt out and gutted. And you guys don't have much time left either.
LUNA: (Concerned) Yeah, we could see.
SETSUNA: If you two return to your reality, you'll be erased too. I managed to save you for the time being, but we have to do something to cut this rot out immediately or it'll spread beyond you.
AMURO: It's time you met the others. Along with Setsuna here, I had to gather some people to join us in fixing this.
(Amuro motions for Shinn and Luna to follow him, and they walk out of the room into a corridor.)
SHINN: So who are these other people? Other Gundam characters?
AMURO: Yes. People that haven't quite felt the decay setting in yet, but will in time.
(Amuro leads them into another room, where four other people stand waiting. They are BANAGHER LINKS, FLIT ASUNO (aged 63), ASEMU ASUNO (aged 41), and KIO ASUNO (aged 13). Shinn and Luna take in the room as Amuro gets everyone's attention.)
AMURO: Everyone, this is Shinn Asuka and Lunamaria Hawke.
(Asemu Asuno walks over and offers his hand.)
ASEMU: Pleased to meet you, Shinn. I hear you enjoy fighting at sea with vaguely-pirate-like music playing in the background. I can somewhat relate to that. I am a pirate...in SPACE.
(Shinn shakes his hand.)
SHINN: (Disappointed) Aw, no hook for a hand? Or even a space-parrot? Aw.
ASEMU: Uh, no. Let me introduce you guys to the rest of my family.
(Asemu motions for Flit and Kio to come over. Flit gives a stern nod to Shinn and Luna.)
FLIT: Nice to meet you. Pending a background check to make sure you're not in league with the Vagan, I look forward to working with you.
LUNA: (Confused) Uh-huh.
FLIT: This is my grandson and Asemu's son, Kio.
(Kio steps forward, regarding Shinn and Luna with suspicion. Luna smiles and waves at him.)
LUNA: (Cheerfully) Hey, little fella!
(Kio doesn't respond and turns to his grandfather.)
KIO: Are these guys more NPCs?
FLIT: Correct. Interact with them.
(Kio turns back to Luna and squints. Luna looks uncomfortable with the scrutiny.)
KIO: Don't rush me, I don't see a timer! I'm just picking an appropriate response!
LUNA: (Confused) Huh?
(We see from Kio's perspective as he stares at Luna. A list of written options appear below her.)
“Hey, little fella!”
B. You're pretty.
D. Don't call me “little fella”, you harlot!
KIO: (Considering) Hm, I picked mostly the “nice” options in my playthrough of Age. Maybe I'll be a total dick for this one.
LUNA: (Still confused) Pardon?
KIO: (Shouts) Don't call me “little fella”, you harlot!
LUNA: (Taken aback) Whoa! (Looks to Asemu) Maybe you should keep a lid on your kid!
ASEMU: (Shrugs) I think I lost the right to discipline him when I left him and his mother alone for thirteen years to be a pirate...in SPACE.
LUNA: Oh well, that's...not cool.
ASEMU: Eh, I'm sure I didn't mess him up too bad, right Kio?
(Asemu turns and sees Kio squinting at him. We see from Kio's vision again.)
“Eh, I'm sure I didn't mess him up too bad, right Kio?”
A. Not at all, dad!
B. I've cried myself to sleep every night since I was born.
D. Where's all those back-payments of child support, you deadbeat??
ASEMU: (To Luna) See? He's fine.
(Luna just shakes her head. Amuro motions her and Shinn toward Banagher.)
AMURO: This is the main character of Gundam Unicorn.
LUNA: Oh yeah, we've seen his show.
(Shinn reaches out and shakes Banagher's hand.)
SHINN: Dude, let me just say...I appreciate the turmoil of trying to save some crazy chick, only for some overbearing douchebag who's trying to steal your spotlight butting in and blowing her away.
BANAGHER: Oh...thanks...I think. (Turns to Amuro) Ah, Mr. Ray...ah...I just wanted to say, it's an honor being chosen to help out here, but I'm kinda...
AMURO: (Smiles) Please, Mr. Ray was my father. Call me Mr. Amuro.
BANAGHER: (Laughs nervously) Well, uh...Mr. Amuro, what I'm trying to say is, uh...
BANAGHER: Well, the thing is...um.
AMURO: “Um” is the thing?
BANAGHER: (Shakes head) No, no. I mean, I get that this is important and all, but...
AMURO: (Impatiently) Buuuuuuuuuuu-t?
(We hear Shinn snicker in the background.)
SHINN: Heh. Butt.
BANAGHER: -I mean...MY show is still in-progress right now. I-I'm kinda busy with this LaPlace thing and-
AMURO: And when do you have to be back for the next episode, exactly?
BANAGHER: Well, like...a year probably, but that's-
AMURO: Let me ask you something, Bananas...
BANAGHER: (Meekly) Uh, Banagher.
AMURO: Right, let me ask you something, Bonanza... (Leans in close to him, threatening) -What do they have on you?
BANAGHER: I'm sorry, I really am! But they're treating me really nicely at the moment.
AMURO: Yes, yes. “At the moment”. But they'll keep taking and taking, and one day you'll be on the verge of being a burnt-out husk of a Gundam character! (Points at Shinn) Like that guy!
SHINN: (Looks behind himself) Huh?
AMURO: This HAS to be done! This is a surgical strike at the heart of the Gundam franchise! We have to go in, and stop this remaking trend at any cost!
LUNA: Um, yeah, you actually haven't said where we're going yet.
AMURO: (Nods and addresses the group) We're going to the central hub of Gundam, which is unimaginatively called “Central Gundam”. Once there, we will take our case to the one at the top, the one who controls the Gundam franchise.
AMURO: What? Don't be ridiculous- Tomino is just an abstract construct, he doesn't really exist.
SETSUNA: (Solemnly speaks up) There is no Tomino in this world.
AMURO: Well, I shouldn't go that far, but in whatever case, there IS someone at the head of the Gundam table, and we're going to confront him and make him see things our way!
LUNA: Or “her”.
AMURO: (Snorts) Heh, yeah, or... “her”. Good one. (Composes himself again) But I need to know one last time, are you all with me?
(Amuro looks around the room at everyone, starting with the Asunos. Asemu smirks and nods.)
ASEMU: I'm already getting a remake movie, so I can see your point. I'm in. Kio?
(Asemu looks to Kio, who is squinting at Amuro intently. We see through Kio's vision once again.)
“-are you all with me?”
C. Dot Dot Dot!
D. You betcherass, you ****ing ****head!
(After a moment, Kio decides.)
KIO: (Shouts) You betcherass, you ****ing ****head!
AMURO: I appreciate the intensity, kid.
ASEMU: (Shrugs) He must get it from my old man.
FLIT: (Suddenly shouts) DEATH TO ALL THE VAGAN!
(Everyone looks at Flit. He coughs awkwardly.)
FLIT: Sorry, that just slips out sometimes.
SHINN: (Shakes his head) Old man, hating on people for their dietary choices is not cool.
(Amuro looks to Shinn and Luna.)
AMURO: And you guys?
LUNA: (Rolls eyes) I'm pretty tethered to this insanity by now, aren't I?
SHINN: (Nods) We're in. Anything beats being like Yamato and Athrun.
(Amuro looks back to Banagher lastly, who still seems conflicted.)
AMURO: Look, Ben-Hur, you're the golden child right now, but it won't last. Their attentions are going to return to me very soon, and then it might be too late to make a difference.
BANAGHER: (Quietly) I'm in. Tomino help me, I'm in.
(Amuro nods approvingly, then steps to the head of the group as Setsuna opens another quantum portal in the room. As it forms before them, Amuro grimly narrows his eyes.)
AMURO: Let's do this thang.
TO BE CONTINUED!