Episode 5 continued
Jolie hits the Centurion Gundam's retro verniers as she approaches the area of highest Minovsky particle concentration. The Centurion Gundam's array of sensor equipment is the most sophisticated and sensitive to be installed into an Earth Federation Forces mobile suit to date, but it is useless due to the engimatic electromagnetic phenomenon discovered by and named after a society of academics in U.C. 0065.
Over thirty years have passed since the Minovsky particle was first developed and deployed, but neither the Earth Federation nor the various incarnations of the Archduchy of Zeon have been able to develop an effective counter for a technological innovation that paradoxically rendered the most advanced war machines to become reliant on medieval combat tactics.
The scrambled radar of the Centurion Gundam is useless to Jolie, and eyeball visuals are no better. The area is cluttered with space debris left over from previous wars. Jolie marshals every scrap of restraint she has to resist firing upon the wreckage of a ten-year old broken RMS-106 Hizack.
Despite the ineffectiveness of her mobile suit's surveillance equipment, however, Jolie knows the enemy is out there. She senses a pressure bearing down upon her brain, something that has the form of...a falcon? A hawk? Jolie isn't sure, but her impression is that of a bird of prey.
But sometimes, the predator becomes the prey.
Aboard his Quebeley, Jordan Sinclair feels that his brain is on fire...a tormenting sensation. Just what could be out there?
Whatever it is, it's a threat, Jordan concludes, got to get rid of it before it jeopardizes the mission...and Caitlin's life.
A dozen metallic funnels emerge from the plume-like tail section of the Quebeley. The funnels, powered by compact fusion thrusters and verniers, are each tipped with beam cannon. The Psychom funnels array themselves into a deadly formation and bear down upon Jolie's Centurion Gundam.
Jolie's battle instincts flare to life as she senses the approaching Psychom funnels. The predator has become the prey.
The funnels surround the Centurion Gundam in a deadly crisscross formation, sealing off the Federation mobile suit from any avenue of escape.
Jolie Minh, however, has never walked on avenues; she dashes through them.
With a few deft moves on the Centurion Gundam's manuevering joystick and a flash of Psi-energy between her eyes, Jolie twists her mecha through a gymnastic maneuver that, by all rights, should exceed the Centurion Gundam's specified limits and tear the mecha apart. Somehow, the mighty mobile suit is able to hold together, and dodges seven of the twelve funnels' deadly shots.
Jolie brings the Centurion Gundam's arm mounted shield to protect herself from the brunt of the remaining five funnels' beam shots. The armored shield is battered and wrecked, but her mecha remains intact.
The combat computer of the Centurion Gundam reports that its host mobile suit has sustained an acceptable 3% damage, but the enemy's Psychom funnels are positioning themselves for a second barrage.
No you don't! Jolie's mind rages, undeterred by the imminent danger.
The Centurion Gundam's beam rifle is in the mecha's metalshod hand in less time than it takes to imagine the motion. Three bursts of red-tinged Earth Federation Forces' beam armament energy erupt forth, and three Zeon-manufactured Psychom funnels are immolated in an instant.
The Centurion Gundam is already well out of the target zone of the remaining funnels by the time that its beam cannon shots hit home. An instant later, four Psi-guided interceptor missiles burst forth from the Centurion Gundam's shoulder-mounted armament pack, each following Jolie's neurological guidance to a darting target. Four more Psychom funnels are neutralized.
Five more Psychom funnels remain. Following their programmed attack pattern as well as the psychic guidance of Jordan Sinclair, these mount up to attack more quickly and fiercely upon sensing the destruction of their siblings. Reacting to incoming combat data transmitted by the destroyed funnels in their final functioning moments, the remaining funnels arrange themselves in a wide spread to defy the Centurion Gundam any opportunity to hit them all with its beam rifle or missiles.
Jolie instantly reads the strategy, and forms a counterstrategy of her own.
The Centurion Gundam darts after the nearest Psychom funnel. The 20-meter tall mobile suit chases after the 3-meter long Psychom funnel like a cat after a mouse.
The remaining four Psychomm funnels are momentarily paralyzed by conflicting data. Dispassionate machines though they are, the funnels are nevertheless confused by the dilemma of needing to fire on one of their own in order to destroy the enemy. Artificial Intelligence experts would debate whether this phenomenon reflects a growing self-awareness in modern war machinery, or if it is merely the influence of human pilot.
In any case, the point is academic to Jolie; for her, all that matters is that the enemy funnels' momentary confusion gives her the scant seconds she needs to act.
The Centurion Gundam's magnetized, metalshod hand reaches out and draws the Psychom funnel into its grip. With an effort that strains the mobile suit's arm servomotors, the Centurion Gundam twists the funnel into the direction of a second funnel just as the beam cannon on the first funnel's tip erupts in a flash of light.
Crushing the captive funnel in its hand, the Centurion Gundam draws out its beam saber, a ten-meter blade of contained beam energy capable of melting reinforced alloy in instants.
The arc of the blade is as graceful and quick as that of any ancient samurai or jian xia of ancient Asian lore. The trajectory of the blade guides it through the fuselages of the final three menacing Psychom funnels.
Now, for you! the voice of Jolie's mind seethes, searching for her quarry. The prey has become the predator once again.
Episode 5 to be continued...