((OOC: It's time to play catch-up. Prepare for a long post.))
- Osprey -
- Thirty minutes before the Ceresâ€™ Arrival -
Strike looked uncharacteristically grave as he studied the printout of the report that he had requested a few minutes before. Though the Osprey
's sensors had been knocked completely offline when it had been hit by the effects of the EMP bomb, a projected flight path of the intruder's Gundam Gold Frame Amatu had been collected, calculated and archived for later viewing. Despite their confusion and utter nonchalance, the bridge workers had complied with his request and had the data available to him in a matter of minutes.
Normally, he wouldnâ€™t have even bothered to take such a measure. The enemy had long since disappeared from the areaâ€”he hadnâ€™t even bothered to take a shot at the downed carrier ship. Not only that, despite the damage their forces had recently sustained, he surely wouldnâ€™t have posed a significant threat in a single Gundam. To top everything off, they were about to be transferred to a new battle shipâ€”a Minerva
class of all thingsâ€”and joined by Kyle and his new Valkyrie squadron. Their forces would be totally invincible now. There wasnâ€™t any reason for him to feel uneasy.
So why was he feeling uneasy?
It was a question Strike found increasingly difficult to answer the more he thought about it. Perhaps it was the fact that the intruder was still a complete mystery. He had managed to stow himself aboard the Osprey
and avoid detection completely for the entire time they had been in the air. It would have creeped him out far less if he had made some attempt to sink the aircraft. But all he had done was watch them from the shadowsâ€”and thanks to that, they had absolutely no idea what his plans might be.
Or maybe it was the fact that he had taken the dead Fandom officer's body along with him when he escaped. Strike simply couldn't allow himself to be settled after hearing about that. He couldn't explain whyâ€¦ itâ€™s was just that he couldn't shake the nagging and inexorably increasing bad feeling
that if they didn't do something about it, it would come back to bite them all in their behinds later.
This is why Strike had decided to commit himself to tracking the man down, finding out exactly what he was up to, and stopping him if necessary. Naturally, the idea was completely ridiculous, which is why he hadnâ€™t bothered to tell anybody about it. After all, how was he supposed to track a stealth mobile suit in the middle of nowhere? But, upon reflecting upon the situation, Strike had had a rare moment of ingenuity, and come up with a sure fire method to locate him using the facts that they had been left with.
The man had been acting on his own; that much was certain. In all likelihood, he had boarded the ship and stowed his invisible mobile suit on top the Osprey
before it had even left Gibraltar. But, even without any backup, Strike knew that a man who had planned an infiltration as carefully as he did would also have ensured that his escape would be flawlessâ€”not only in terms of evacuating the ship safely, but also in having someplace to escape to
. While there were no known Fandom installations anywhere near the Osprey
â€™s current location, he had simply proven himself too smart a man to allow himself to be stranded in the middle of the desert. Using this fact and the known operational limits of the Gold Frame Amatu, Strike had come to the obvious conclusion: the infiltrator had a secret camp that he could return to, and one that was not all that far away from their position. If he then combined this
fact with the projected flight path of the intruder's mobile suit, then he had a reasonable estimate as to the location of the infiltrator's camp.
He had to find himâ€”he wouldnâ€™t be satisfied until he did so. But of course, the team had other matters to take care of, and Captain Ryker would never approve of sending him and his Blu Duel out alone on a trek across the desert. So, he decided that he would leave on his own. There would be more than enough confusion in the transfer to the Ceres
for him to slip away unnoticed. It was a risky plan, Strike knew. He didnâ€™t know if he would find the intruderâ€”and there was no guarantee that he could defeat the intruderâ€™s Amatu even if he did.
Butâ€¦ what the hell. It wasnâ€™t not as if he was really needed around here anyway. The attack on Suez would proceed without a hitch without him; Strike would bet his life on it.
He flipped the paper over and began to scribble out a note. Once he finished, he laid it out on his bed.
To whom it may concern,
- Osprey Hanger -
I have taken it upon myself to steal military hardwareâ€”more specifically, my Gundamâ€”and track down the Fandom soldier that appeared on the Osprey. I have been able to determine the general area where he might be hiding. Once I find him, I intend to take him down and find out what the guy is up to.
Iâ€™ll understand completely if you donâ€™t send anybody after me. In fact, I would consider it completely irresponsible to waste any more of our valuable personnel on this idiotic venture. However, I certainly hope you donâ€™t hold it against me. This is just something I have to do. The bad feeling Iâ€™ve had ever since he left is just too much for me to ignore.
Well, that about covers it. Wish me luck. You knowâ€¦ so that I donâ€™t die, and stuff.
- Ceres Arrival -
had finally arrived. As Strike had anticipated, it was indeed a sight to behold. It was a shame that he wouldnâ€™t be getting to check it out.
Strike maneuvered his Blu Duel out the Ospreyâ€™s hanger. However, as he skirted around on his hover jetâ€™s, instead of following the others aboard the massive Minerva
class, he casually slowed, reversed, and started along the ground away from the ship. Plugging in the coordinates he had calculated, Strike set the Blu Duel to autopilot. For several minutes, he waited for somebody to notice, somebody to ask where he was going. Apparently, he really wasnâ€™t important enough for anybody to really care, as was able to move several kilometers away from the ships without being called for it.
â€œSee you whenever, guys,â€ Strike said softly. With that, he and his Blu Duel sped off into the distance, hot on the mysterious intruderâ€™s trail.
- Twenty minutes later -
â€œGoddamitâ€¦ I thought I told them not to follow me?â€
His radar registered a contact, approaching from behind and at high speed from the air. FOF indicated that it was with the Federation.
Strike sighed and turned around. Guess it was time to face the music. The mobile suit approached and eventually he was able to recognize it asâ€”
His eyes widened. â€œSpartan Gundam? Stellar?â€
The Spartain Gundam touched down about ten meters in front of the Blu Duel. Strike opened a COM line and sure enough, Stellarâ€™s image appeared on the monitor.
â€œWhy did they send you of all peopleâ€¦?â€ Strike said. Then he had a realization.
â€œWaitâ€¦ do the others know youâ€™re here?â€
Stellar looked down, thinking, then shrugged.
â€œThen go back. You donâ€™t need to come with me, Iâ€™ve just got to take care of some stuff.â€
Stellar shook her head. Strike sighed again.
â€œThis is dangerous. I mean, of course itâ€™s dangerous, but more dangerous than usual. I donâ€™t need you to be putting yourself inâ€”â€œ
â€œIâ€¦â€ Stellar interupted
â€œIâ€™m fine. I donâ€™t need help. Thereâ€™s no needâ€”â€œ Strike stopped and did a double take. Did she just say â€˜Iâ€™?
â€œIâ€¦ want to go with you,â€ Stellar said, slowly. â€œIâ€¦ want to fight by your side.â€
Strike stared at Stellar, mouth half agape, unsure of how to respond. â€œY-youâ€™re serious? You could really die this time,â€ he finally stuttered.
Stellar nodded, her expression replaced with a look of confidence. â€œI know. Butâ€¦ Iâ€™ve stillâ€¦ decided.â€
â€œWellâ€¦ Iâ€™ll be g**damnedâ€¦â€ Strike said after several more seconds of silence. Then he smiled. â€œYou know what? Forget what I just said. I need all the help I can get. Letâ€™s go!â€
Stellar smiled back. â€œRoger!â€
The Blu Duel did an abrupt about-face. Then, it took off back along its path, the Spartan Gundam at its side.
As he rode, Strike cast another look in the Spartan Gundamâ€™s direction and smiled again.
â€œYouâ€™ve grownâ€¦ so much more than I wouldâ€™ve thought possibleâ€¦â€
- Fandom Alexandria-class Mother Wind -
- Storage Bay -
Marlene found herself here a lot now. She didnâ€™t know whyâ€¦ she just preferred to be in the presence of the GN drive she had stolen several days beforeâ€¦ in the presence of its power.
She ran a hand along the devices smooth, metal casing. â€œSoon, its new vessel will be completeâ€¦â€ she said to no one in particular.
Her gaze drifted above and beyond the GN drive to the various mobile suit hanging on storage racks behind it. All of them were custom madeâ€”designed by none other than Marlene herselfâ€”the parts for her new soon-to-be GN mobile suit.
She had heard that somebody had done something similar on Earthâ€”adapted a GN drive for use in another mobile suit. It was a crude accomplishmentâ€”paling in comparison for what she would soon achieve. The mobile suit being constructed was designed to maximize the use of the infinite GN particlesâ€”a true beast of a machine.
â€œOnce itâ€™s completeâ€¦ nobody will be able to stop meâ€¦ not even him
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by an explosion that rocked the entire ship.
â€œWhat in the hell?!â€ she cursed as she got up and began sprinting for the bridge. Who could be attacking them? Orâ€¦ was it that pilot she had brought aboard?
- Mother Wind -
- Hanger -
Corporal Victor Simmons sprinted into the hanger just in time to see the Gundam Chaos break free from the restraints they had previously secured it in.
â€œDamn it!â€ He cried as he made for the Xeku Eins parked next to it. Luckily, it was ready and waiting for launch, so it only took a few seconds to get it up and moving. His monitor powered onâ€¦ and he was able to witness the Gundam blast a gaping hole in the side of the Mother Windâ€™s
hull. It then sped out the opening, only to turn aroundâ€¦
â€œOh no!â€ he cried. He punched the thrusters and the Xeku Eins shot forward after the Gundam just as it let loose with its torrent of missiles, all of them aimed for the opening it had made
Simmons opened fire, even though he knew full well he couldnâ€™t shoot them all down in time. There was only one thing for him to doâ€¦
â€œI wonâ€™tâ€¦ let you sink her! Never!â€
He charged forward. The Xeku Eins slammed into the wall of missiles and was engulfed in fire instantly. Though Simmons was lost, he managed to take the majority of the missiles with him, and only a few over a half dozen continued towards their target. The damage done to the Mother Wind
was not insignificantâ€¦ but the ship was saved, for now.
- Mother Wind -
- Bridge -
â€œReport!â€ Marlene shouted as she arrived at the bridge.
â€œThe enemy Gundam just busted out of the hanger, maâ€™am!â€ an officer responded. â€œIt is now en route to the enemy warship Grey Wolf!
Marlene seethed as the images on the monitors in front of her confirmed this. She cursed both that bastard for daring to damage her ship, as well as herself for making the rash decision to bring him on board in the first place.
â€œNew contact! It just appeared on radar. Itâ€™sâ€¦ engaging the Federation forces?â€
â€œWhat? Is it one of ours?â€
â€œUnknown maâ€™am. Bringing it up on screen.â€
The image of yet another Gundam appeared. It was equipped with remote weapons and was indeed engaging the Gundam Chaos and the Nu Gundam.
Marlene paused. â€œWeâ€™ll wait. He seems to be doing quite well. Iâ€™ll be interested to see if he could salvage the situation for us.â€
â€œWeâ€¦ weâ€™re not going to support?â€ the officer asked warily.
â€œNoâ€¦â€ Marlene said through clenched teeth. â€œWe are no match for both the Nu Gundam and the Gundam Chaos, and we have no idea to whom that third Gundam belongs to. So, as I said, we will wait, we will see what happens, then
we will determine out next move.â€
She said nothing after that, but continued to watch the bout between the three Gundams. The appearance of this new unknown unit had just made things a lot more complicatedâ€¦
((OOC: Yes, I'm aware I'm not fully caught up yet. I just got tired of typing for the time being.))