Episode 11 continued...
True to Major Athena Ibaz’s prediction, the Amuro Ray’s advance into the Jupiter Zone does not go unnoticed.
The Lord Jinba Ral, flagship of the Callisto Armada, and its escort fleet stalks the Amuro Ray as the Earth Federation Forces battle carrier approaches the demarcation line between the Asteroid Belt Zone and the Jupiter Zone. Evidently, the Federation warship and its supporting fleet are on course to enter the part of Solar System over which the forces of Callisto Zeon and Jupitorius Zeon, ruled by General Napoleon Spector, vie for control, in contemptuous disregard for the lives of the billion-plus space colonists caught in the crossfire. Over the past five years, their internecine war has already killed over twenty-million…in colonies first built under the auspices of, then abandoned by, the Earth Federation Government.
As far as the leaders of Zeon are concerned, the Federation has already ceded any claim to the colonies of the Jupiter Zone, not that it ever really had a legitimate claim. Earthnoids cannot rule Spacenoids. That much, all the Zeon can agree on. The presence of the Earth Federation in this Spacenoid frontier is an intolerable anathema to the Zeon, and must be expunged before even their own internal conflict can proceed.
In his private quarters aboard the Lord Jinba Ral, Admiral Vernon Lindquist communicates with his liege, the Governess Lara Constantinas of Callisto Zeon, via ultra-secure, laser-encrypted signal.
“From what Captain Renaldo and his team have reported,” the admiral tells the Governess of Callisto, “one of the mobile suit pilots aboard the Federation ship is the ‘White Phoenix,’ that Newtype we’ve heard so much about during the past year.”
“Is she the one who killed Braniff Oskar and Shin Matsunaga?” the Governess replies from her palatial residence estate deep within Callisto Fortress.
“Yes, milady,” Lindquist confirms, “and even Captain Renaldo’s team was deeply shaken by their brief encounter with her. She’s definitely dangerous, and so are the rest of the Federal Forces elements in that fleet. They’re elite troops: Special Forces.”
“So were the Titans,” Governess Constantinas replies dismissively, “the so-called ‘elite’ of the Special Forces during the 0080s. They could terrify the Federation’s own civilians, but crumbled like a sand castle when stricken by the proud waves of our Neo Zeon Forces. I doubt that they pose any significant threat to us.”
“Even so, milady,” Lindquist pursues, “It would be prudent for us to monitor them carefully, and to neutralize them before they can interfere in our current war against the Jupitorius Zeon.”
“Agreed,” the Governess replies, “Very well. Devote whatever resources you deem necessary to eliminating them, and then we must refocus our attention towards the Jupitorius Zeon.”
“Yes, milady,” Lindquist rises to salute his liege.
“So what do you do besides roll around and look cute?” Jolie asks Haro, holding the mechanical ball in the lap of her crossed legs.
“Haro makes people happy!” Haro says with convincing enthusiasm, “Happy! Happy! Happy!”
Jolie grins mischievously, “You don’t look like a sex toy…you’re shaped all wrong.”
“Haro doesn’t know what Jolie means!” the robot replies.
“And stop calling yourself ‘Haro,’” Jolie says irritably, “I know that’s your name, but we humans have a word called ‘I’ when we’re talking about ourselves.”
“But Haro isn’t human!” the globular machine protests with such vehemence that one could believe otherwise.
“The hell you aren’t,” Jolie says, spinning Haro on the deck, causing the robot to squeal.
Jonah approaches carrying two trays of lunch, his penalty for having lost a bet with Jolie in shooting Haro into a basket on the basketball court in the Amuro Ray’s onboard gym.
“Hiya, Chief Airball,” Jolie teases, “took you long enough to fetch lunch for us!”
“Well, YOU ought to try getting around this ship’s corridors and turbolifts juggling two trays of food,” Jonah says, but not with real bitterness.
“I didn’t shoot an airball, though,” Jolie says, flexing her hand as if she were shooting a basketball, “Nothing but net! Three points for Minh! Minh OWNED Michaels!”
“Yeah, so you’re better than me at basketball and sports in general,” Jonah says, handing Jolie her tray, “Next time, we’re going to have a drawing contest and then, I’ll OWN you!”
Jolie bounces Haro on the deck, causing the robot to yell, “Ouch! Ouch!”
“You ought to be more careful with it,” Jonah says, “You and Athena just fixed him. You don’t want to put him back in the shop again so soon, do you? Besides, robots have feelings too.”
“Haro has feelings too! Haro has feelings too!” the robot agrees.
“Sh’yeah, right,” Jolie says, caressing the smooth sides of Haro gently, “you’re telling me this ball of microchips has got feelings? You’re going space happy, Jonah…”
“It has sentience,” Jonah says, “even if it’s based on electronics rather than organics.”
“Haro thinks Jolie is mean! Jolie’s a meanie! Jolie’s a meanie!”
“Hey!” Jolie says, bouncing Haro down again.
“See?” Jonah says, smiling.
“It’s just programmed to spout nonsense,” Jolie shrugs, “The computer inside can make it act like it’s alive, but it’s not.”
“Haro is alive! Alive!” the robot declares, suddenly extending mechanical arms and legs from its spherical body.
“What th…?” Jolie says, startled, as the robot reaches out and begins to tickle her.
Jolie begins to giggle uncontrollably as Haro works his mechanical fingers on her.
“Stop…!” Jolie laughs, “Don’t….hee hee….I’m….ticklish…hee!”
Jonah watches in amusement, “Serves you right…for calling me ‘Chief Airball’…and for saying that machines don’t have feelings. Right, Haro?”
“Right! Right! Right!” Haro screams, as it tickles Jolie more rapidly.
“Jonah….!” Jolie cries, gasping with laughter, “….help! Ha ha! Hee hee!”
“You reap what you sow…” Jonah continues.
“JONAH!” Jolie yells.
Jonah finally relents, pulling Haro off the struggling Jolie, “This is a sad day indeed; the mighty White Phoenix…defeated by Haro.”
“Haro wins! Haro wins!” the robot declares, pumping its mechanical fists in the air as Jonah spins its globular form.
Jonah puts Haro down, and the robot retracts its arms and legs and rolls away to find other humans to amuse and annoy.
Jolie lies on the cold deck, gasping for breath, still trying to stop laughing.
Jonah lies atop her, kissing her deeply on the lips.
“Mouth to mouth resuscitation,” he explains, “now for some CPR…”
Jolie sits up, “Ohmigosh!”
“’Ohmigosh,’ what?” Jonah asks.
Jolie rises to her feet, suddenly anxious, “Athena assigned me to escort Anna on recon patrol! We’re gonna be launching in…AHHH! Four minutes! I am sooooooooooo dead!”
Jolie dashes towards the mobile suit deck of the ship…leaving Jonah alone for the moment.
“That girl ought to learn to use Haro’s daily planner function,” Jonah muses, “have him follow her around reminding her of her work schedule.”
Episode 11 to be continued...