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Mobile Suit Gundam - The Second Century (Part 2: The Second Century) - Page 5
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Thread: Mobile Suit Gundam - The Second Century (Part 2: The Second Century)

  1. #81
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    Episode 4 continued...

    Later that evening, Athena returns to her quarters. Bone weary, Athena nevertheless lights up a fresh cigarette as she switches on her personal Datapad.

    Using a private email account registered with a civilian Uniweb provider, Athena checks her personal email, including a message from “Chibi Noah,” nickname for Chieming Noah, daughter of General Noah and his wife, Mirai Yashima.

    Chieming, a girl of seventeen, is in her final months of high school before her post-graduation plan to join the Earth Federation Forces Officers’ Academy. Athena and Jolie had met and become good friends with Chieming a few months earlier when the Centurion Team was assigned to provide security for her father as he attended a security conference in the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai on Earth, capital city of the Earth Federation Government and the city wherein the Noahs make their residence.

    Athena reads the message from Chieming, which arrived just an hour or so earlier.


    Athena,

    Hey, girl! How RU doing? Heard you were on some kind of secret mission so I don’t know when U’ll get this.

    Daddy says thanks for helping him write up that speech. I don’t know what speech he’s talking about but he said U would know which 1.

    I got a message from Hathaway asking about U but I told him I hadn’t heard from U lately either. He said not to forward anything directly to U from his email (he’s weird about privacy like that), but wanted me to pass on a “hello” shout out to U, so hello! LOL! RU2 still seeing each other? Doesn’t sound like it. He really likes U, U know? I think U2 would be really cute together!

    Anyway, gotta go. Say “hi” to Jolie from me. I got an email from her last week saying that she’s got a boyfriend now. Even showed me some pictures. His name’s Jonah, rite? He’s pretty cute. U 2 are so lucky! U both have boyfriends! When am I gonna get lucky?!

    TTYL!

    “Chibi” Chieming



    Athena considers Chieming a good friend, but in Chieming’s email message, Athena’s interest lies primarily in one line: “Daddy says thanks for helping him write up that speech.” It was Athena who proposed the idea of using the M-Booster Afterburner System for the operation…an idea that might not have gotten the High Command Council’s approval had she gone through regular channels or, just as likely, gotten bogged down in bureaucratic procedure for many months. The most expedient way was to persuade General Noah to authorize it directly.

    General Noah saw the strategic and tactical wisdom of deploying the M-Boosters for the operation: it was the only way to ensure that the Special Forces would be able to reach Frontier 8 in time to be of any help should the Zeon attack the colony while the Special Forces were still in transit from Cislunar Space to the Outer Solar System (something that the Federal Intelligence Agency had warned likely would happen and now, certainly has). General Noah could and did use his authority to make the M-Boosters available to the Special Forces, but he knew he would need to answer for it to the Earth Federation High Command Council.

    Fortunately, Athena provided that answer in the form of a succinct, 167-word speech that persuaded the High Command Council of the need for them to act expediently if they were to save Frontier 8. Those stirring, compelling words sounded to the council as if the general had spontaneously uttered them; only the general and Athena know that she had, in fact, penned those words for him.

    Athena grins slightly as she exhales a stream of smoke from her cigarette, recalling General Blackhead and Colonel Cairlay’s flustered, chagrined looks as the High Command Council overruled their protests and supported General Noah’s decision.

    Athena well remembers how Blackhead and Cairlay ordered and executed the slaughter of dozens of journalists from the Cislunar Free Media at Side 3. She also remembers the police state they perpetuated at Federation-occupied Side 3, causing hardship and misery for the millions of people living in the former capital of the Archduchy of Zeon. Beyond her personal contempt for their callousness and inhumanity towards Spacenoids, Athena also views Blackhead and Cairlay as obstacles to her ultimate plans. Like all obstacles, Blackhead and Cairlay would need to be removed, but being that they are high ranking and respected officers in the Earth Federation Forces, their removal would require patience and planning. Inflicting the kind of public humiliation upon them that they endured today is just the beginning of Athena’s plans to undermine their authority.

    After the likes of Blackhead and Cairlay are eliminated, Athena reflects, authority over the resources of the Earth Federation will be in the hands of capable leaders rather than corrupt, self-serving officials. The, we can really begin to make a difference in this world.

    Athena is confident that her plans will pay out dividends in time: after all, she has two trump cards for which the Federation will have no choice but to be beholden to her authority: the loyalty of and personal authority over two of the most powerful Newtypes to have ever lived. Blackhead and Cairlay undervalue the importance of Newtypes, and that is the reason that they have so readily let first Jolie and now Jonah slip out of their control and into Athena’s protection and guidance. Athena knows very well how cruelly both the Earth Federation Forces and the Army of the Archduchy of Zeon have exploited Newtypes in the past; she is determined that nothing of the sort will happen to Jolie, Jonah…or herself.

    Episode 4 to be continued...

  2. #82
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    Episode 4 continued...

    For years, Athena has been conscious of the emergence of her own Newtype abilities, although hers are not on par with Jolie or Jonah’s. Colonel Char had much to say about Newtypes during the years he spent caring for Athena during her adolescent years, and one of the things that the colonel had impressed upon Athena’s young mind at the time was that Newtypes represented humanity’s future, and needed to nourished rather than exploited.

    Butting out her cigarette, Athena takes a second and last look at Chieming’s email message before deleting it. There is another line that is of interest to her:

    “I got a message from Hathaway asking about U but I told him I hadn’t heard from U lately either.”

    Hathaway Noah. Chieming’s elder brother. General Noah’s son.

    The one man in all the universe who has ever moved Athena’s heart.


    Hathaway Noah, ISRLA inteligence operative, son of General Noah, and the man whom Athena loves


    Athena was raised as royalty, the Duchess Minerva Zabi, heir to the throne of the Archduchy of Zeon following the death of her grandfather, Duke Degin Zabi, and her father, Prince Dozle Zabi, as well as her uncles Giren and Garman and aunt, Kishiria. As a young girl, she had been kept sheltered from contact with other children her age. The matter of her education was handled by royal tutors and by her regent, Lady Haman Khan herself. The matter of Duchess Minerva’s eventual marriage when she reached maturity was a matter for Lady Haman and the Royal Staff to decide. The Duchess, being young (nine at the time she abandoned the throne), was not consulted for her input on this matter. Inevitably, she would be expected to marry a Zeon nobleman of elevated lineage, qualified to be the Prince Consort of Zeon.



    The infant Princess Minerva Zabi in the arms of her father, Prince Dozle Zabi in U.C. 0079, shortly before Dozle's death in battle



    Princess Minerva with her guardian and regent, Lady Haman Khan, in the late U.C. 0080s



    The Duchess Minerva Zabi, Sovereign of the Archduchy of Zeon, U.C. 0088

    The fall of the Archduchy of Zeon in U.C. 0089 saved Duchess Minerva from such a fate.

    Minerva’s first intimate relationship of any kind with a man was Colonel Char Aznable, the famous “Red Comet” of the One Year War. Char, perhaps the most famous Zeon soldier of all and eventual Fuhrer of the Archduchy for a brief period in U.C. 0093, had served under the command of Minerva’s father, Prince Dozle for most of the One Year War. He had also served under Minerva’s uncle Garma and aunt Kishiria for a time, and there had been rumors among some officers that Char had betrayed and murdered them both. Those rumors were all too plausible, as it was later learned that Char was, in fact, Cassoval Rem Daikun, the son of Zeon Daikun, founder of the Zeon Republic. It was Minerva’s grandfather Degin who had murdered Zeon Daikun, reorganizing the pacifist Zeon Republic into the militaristic Archduchy of Zeon.

    However Char might have hated her family, he had always had a soft spot for Minerva herself. Some of Minerva’s earliest and happiest childhood memories were of Colonel Char coming to play with her when she was a toddler. Colonel Char was extremely protective of Minerva, and he distrusted Lady Haman’s machinations upon the young monarch. After Char left on his extended undercover mission, infiltrating the Earth Federation Forces as “Captain Quattro Bagina” in U.C. 0084, Minerva did not see Char for several years. He reentered her life in U.C. 0087 as a leader of the AEUG and thus, according to Lady Haman, an enemy of the Duchess and a traitor to the Neo Zeon.

    As the Federation/AEUG Alliance extinguished the final dying embers of the old Archduchy in Cislunar Space, occupying the Zeon capital of Zum City in U.C. 0089, it was Colonel Char who came to Minerva’s rescue, saving her not only from the Federation authorities who would take the young monarch custody as a prisoner of war (and despite her young age, possible war criminal), but also the life of enforced pomp and pageantry that Minerva had known since infancy and had come to hate. She had power. She had wealth. She had the adoration of billions (and the enmity of as many billions on the other side). What she did not have, and wanted far more than anything else, was freedom. Freedom to be herself…to have her own aspirations…and her own accomplishments.



    U.C. 0089 - Colonel Char Aznable secretly escorts Duchess Minerva Zabi from life as puppet ruler of the Archduchy of Zeon to a more quiet life in Switzerland on Earth.

    Colonel Char gave her that. Freeing her from her golden prison, Char took Minerva to the home of his own foster parents, the Masses, in Switzerland on Earth. There, among the majestic beauty of the Alps, Minerva grew to womanhood under the care of the Mass family, who loved her as they would their own grandchild. As a young Duchess, Minerva had been trained in literature, history, the fine arts, and the etiquette of elite society. Now, Colonel Char trained her in other skills that she would need for the future…how to survive in a dangerous world replete with hidden enemies, the intricate and treacherous politics that governed humanity, the arts of stealth and espionage…every skill that Char himself had mastered in becoming Zeon’s most infamous warrior.


    Duchess Minerva as a young teenager, newly renamed "Athena Ibaz"




    Duchess Minerva, aged thirteen, shortly before Colonel Char's death

    Minerva and Char were very close during the years he cared for her between U.C. 0089 and U.C. 0093. Minerva was too young at the time to call it a romantic relationship; she was only fourteen when she last saw Char, and he was twenty years her senior. She had always looked to Char as a benevolent, but enigmatic older brother. She remembers the heartbreak she felt when Char was reported killed in combat, but she did not weep for him then. Char had always taught Minerva to be strong…to be a warrior, and warriors do not shed tears lightly, not even when a beloved comrade loses his life in battle.

    Char died with his dream unfulfilled. He had wanted to continue his father’s vision of helping humanity to literally ascend into the future by embracing the cosmos. Minerva had endured the loss of many loved ones to war: Colonel Char, her father, even Lady Haman. The wars needed to end, but how could they with such corrupt powers ruling the Earth Federation?

    Six months after Char’s death, Minerva used the skills that Char had taught her and the skills he had given to her to refashion herself as “Athena Ibaz,” a name whose meaning was clear to her when she conceived it, and enter the Earth Federation Forces’ Officers Academy. Minerva Zabi “died,” at least figuratively, and from the ashes of the young Duchess of Zeon arose Cadet Athena Ibaz, promising young Federal Forces’ officers trainee.

    While at the Academy, Athena picked up and mastered dozens of skills related to combat, tactics, espionage, communications, and most importantly, leadership. As a duchess, she had been born into leadership, but had not truly learned how to lead. Athena had taken early cues from Haman and Char, but at the Academy, Athena finally was able to coalesce those skills into a body of principles and methodologies that would effectively inspire and organize people to give their utmost to each and every task. Athena learned a great deal about human psychology…how people thought and behaved, their values and limitations, and how behavior could be modified and manipulated.

    As a girl, Athena had been trained in the use of firearms by Colonel Char, who even bequeathed to her one of his vintage One Year War sidearms. By the time of Char’s death, Athena had already become an excellent markswoman, and her skills impressed even the Academy’s instructors. Nor did Athena lack abilities in hand-to-hand combat, mastering nearly a dozen different martial arts disciplines from various cultures. Until meeting Jolie Minh and being unable to overcome the gifted teenager’s singular fighting talent, Athena had never lost a one-on-one fight to anyone. Her reflexes became as quick and nimble as a cat’s, moving into and out of the shadows with the greatest of ease. Her brain a sponge, Athena had absorbed all the knowledge provided by the books in Char’s personal library in the Mass residence during her adolescent years. She became literate and fluent in fifteen languages. By the time she graduated from high school two years ahead of schedule at age fifteen, she had the equivalent knowledge of doctoral candidates in various fields of liberal arts, physical sciences (particularly astrophysics, mechanical and electrical engineering, and medical science), social sciences (particularly history, politics, and the art of government), and the fine arts.

    At the Academy, Athena picked up more than just the skills she would need to fulfill her goals. She also picked up a litany of vices that she knew she might come to regret, provided she lived long enough (a dubious proposition in light of her profession). Federal Forces officers drank heavily, particularly young cadets facing pressure-inundated training conditions. Char had introduced Athena to liquor when she was thirteen. By the age of fifteen, she was a heavy drinker, although with enough self-discipline to avoid slipping into alcoholism. By the age of sixteen, she was a chain smoker, easily inhaling up to three packs of cigarettes in a twenty-four hour period. Athena had done a calculation: at her rate of alcohol and cigarette consumption, she would likely die of liver cancer by age thirty-eight…provided she did not die of lung cancer by age thirty-six. The point was moot, however. She calculated her odds of living to thirty to be quite low in light of the work she would do as an officer after she graduated from the Academy. That being the case, the small comforts of fine wine and cigarettes were more than welcome.

    One vice that Athena did not indulge in during her days at the Academy, however, was sex. Not that the opportunity had not presented itself on numerous occasions. Athena endured no shortage of attention from her fellow cadets, who were mostly male. The previous wars had greatly cut down on the number of qualified young men who could serve in the military, and the Earth Federation Forces had come to be comprised almost half by female soldiers…except at the elite levels. Of flag-ranking female officers in the Federal Forces there were still comparatively few, and in Athena’s class of seven-hundred officer cadets, only two dozen were women. Having inherited the exquisitely beautiful looks of her mother, Senna Zabi, Athena could scarcely get through a week at the Academy without being approached by a half dozen different solicitations by male fellow cadets for dates. Without exception, she turned these solicitations down. None of Athena’s cadets interested her, and she let them know it: by the time that she graduated, Athena had acquired a reputation among the men: hot-faced, hot-bodied, cold-hearted. Of the young men who lusted after her, almost all learned to be intimidated by her. It was just as well; Athena’s goals were far too important for her to become distracted by a romance.

    The focus of Athena’s life was to reshape the world as a better, more peaceful place. Athena knows that to accomplish this goal, she will need power…power as she once seemingly had as the Duchess Minerva Zabi.

    To that end, Athena applied for Special Forces duty after graduation from the Federal Forces Officers’ Academy. She was assigned to the Centurion Team as junior executive officer to Captain Rick Tinne, the team’s original leader. Athena’s initial plan had been to gradually undermine Tinne’s authority until the team leader position fell to her, but the opportunity rose during her very first mission (to recover the then top-secret, stolen Gundam-100 prototype) to eliminate Tinne and make it look like an inevitable casualty of battle.

    It was the most evil act that Athena had ever committed…a murder that she was able to commit and get away with through deliberate omission. It was just the kind of act that her family had been known for. That vile Zabi blood ran true in Athena’s veins, much to her self-disgust, as unlike her forebears, Athena still had some remnants of a conscience…not that it would stop her from acting, however.

    Before her nineteenth birthday, Athena was a Captain in the Federal Forces and the commanding officer of a Special Forces unit.



    All grown up: the former Duchess Minerva Zabi, now Major Athena Ibaz of the Earth Federation Special Forces

    During the mission to recover the Gundam-100 prototype, Athena encountered and befriended the Newtype girl Jolie Minh, an orphan from Side 5. Athena recruited Jolie into the Federal Forces, and the two soon became partners…and friends. A more unlikely friendship probably could not be imagined: Athena and Jolie were different in so many ways. One was raised as royalty; the other grew up on the streets. One was governed by careful planning and calm, rational thought; the other was passionate and guided by her emotions. One took an essentially amoral, Machiavellian view of the world; the other was stubbornly principled and saw the world in clear lines of black and white. Surprisingly, however, this oddest of pairings also had an essential piece of common ground: both were war orphans whose nightmare it was to see others lose their loved ones to war as they had, and both were willing to go to any lengths to prevent that from happening to others. This common ground has been enough to sustain their friendship as they shed blood and tears together on the field of battle. They became like sisters: sisters of war, forever guarding each other’s backs as they ran down their enemies, one after another, en rout to their goals.

    Athena has never had difficulty separating official business from personal in terms of her friendship with Jolie: Athena could easily be Jolie’s stern, uncompromising, and exacting commanding officer when on duty, then easily transition into being Jolie’s affectionate, nurturing “big sister,” sounding board, and best friend when they were off-duty. Jolie, afflicted with the same vices as Athena (picked up on the street rather than at the Academy), could drink and smoke at the same capacity as Athena, a fact that brought them even closer together. Their off-duty hours were often spent together at nightclubs, glass of brandy or whisky in one hand, cigarette in the other. Perhaps that was the only way either of them could cope with the seeming futility of their quest, which they could nevertheless not turn away from. Athena accepted it; so did Jolie. They would change this vile, venal world that they were born into, or die in the attempt. It was that simple.

    Things were not nearly as simple, however, when it came to Hathaway Noah.

    It was only three months ago, when General Noah had gone to Earth to attend a top-secret conference with the High Command Council in Shanghai, and the Centurion Team was dispatched to provide security for the general after Central Intelligence had gathered information indicating that the ISRLA was likely to attempt to assassinate the general during the conference. Athena quickly discovered that the general’s would-be killer was none other than Mafty, the ISRLA’s infamous top assassin; Athena also quickly learned that Mafty was, ironically, none other than the general’s own son, Hathaway, who had had a bitter falling out with his father years earlier and was prepared to commit patricide for ideological reasons.

    Athena could appreciate the irony of a son attempting to kill his own father. She had come from a family wherein such occurrences were common: her uncle Giren had murdered his own father, Athena’s grandfather Degin, to secure the Zeon throne for himself. Giren, in turn, was murdered by his own sister, Kishiria. That Hathaway had designs on murdering his own father hardly fazed Athena.

    What did catch Athena off guard, however, was that she and her quarry would fall in love with each other.

    Duty-bound to protect General Noah from Mafty, Athena took advantage of the fact that Hathaway Noah was greatly attracted to her to shadow his movements, learn his plans, and uncover his weaknesses. Athena went to all lengths, including making love to Hathaway, to fulfill her duty. On a cold, snowy late autumn night at Hathaway’s residence in Shanghai, Athena compelled Hathaway to surrender himself to her…paradoxically by surrendering herself to him, body and soul.

    But the strangest thing happened: in the process of carrying out her duty, Athena found that she had truly fallen in love with Hathaway – a curve that blindsided Athena and complicated matters.

    Athena has never been able to account for exactly why she fell in love with Hathaway. He was deliciously handsome and supremely charming, that was certain, but Athena had never been one to be easily swayed by a handsome face or a charming demeanor. In Hathaway, however, Athena recognized a kindred spirit: like Athena, Hathaway understood what it was like to live a lie. He lived behind a mask every much as she did, and for much the same reason…to reject a heritage that he could no longer embrace. Athena Ibaz lived a lonely life because essentially, she did not really exist; Athena was merely a mask for Minerva Zabi. Hathaway understood that. Most importantly, however, was Athena’s sense that Hathaway’s love for her was sincere; his feelings for her compromised the secrecy that he needed to operate, but he was willing to surrender that secrecy for her. Hathaway trusted Athena more than she even trusted herself, and that, above all, moved her.

    As a Federal Forces officer, Athena’s duty required her to neutralize Mafty, but although she overcame him in a brutal battle in the wintry Chinese hinterlands, she was unable to bring herself to kill Hathaway. Athena was more than capable of killing any man in cold blood if her goals required it…any man except the man she loved.

    In dereliction of her duty, Athena spared Hathaway’s life, with the admonition to him to never let her see him again, because if he did, she must surely take his life then.

    General Noah’s life secured and the conference completed without further incident, Athena and the Centurion Team returned to space, but that mission had left Athena with an ache in her heart that has not gone away since.

    Athena shakes herself out of these reflections, wondering just when she has gotten so sentimental. Perhaps it’s the danger involved in their new mission.

    Athena opens up her desk drawer, and draws from it her one physical link to the man to whom Athena had given her love.

    Athena stares at the photo of the handsome young visage of Hathaway Noah for a moment, and holds the photo close to her heart.

    Episode 4 to be continued...

  3. #83
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    Episode 4 continued...

    Admiral Lara Constantinas, on the bridge of her flagship Artemis Moon, addresses her massed troops, already at battle stations and prepared for deployment.

    “My dear and loyal comrades,” Lara begins grandly, “for years now, we have struggled here in this remote domain…cast away from our homeland and our mother planet to vie with our former allies for the right to decide humanity’s future. That right belongs to us, the Zeon of Callisto, and not to those who would be our rivals. We are the true heirs of Zeon and the true avatars of humanity’s future. Today, we will take Frontier 8 from the inept control of the Earth Federation Government so that we can use it as a base from which we can assault our enemies at Deimos and Phobos. After we overcome them, we will have access to the rich Martian ores that, combined with our hydrogen fuel resources from Jupiter, will empower us to reshape humanity’s future. Tell me, my comrades: will we succeed?!”

    The response is thunderous, “Yes, my lady!”

    “For the glory of Zeon!” Lara exhorts her troops.

    “SIEG, ZEON! SIEG, ZEON! SIEG, ZEON!”


    Dozens upon dozens of Gaza-C, Gaza-D, Gaza-E, Dreissen-II, Geara Doga-II, and Gellond mobile suits blast forth from the hangar bays of the Dolos-class assault carriers that comprise the forward guard of the Callisto Armada’s attack fleet. The mobile suits bear down upon the space colony of Frontier 8, intent on seizing control of the colony. They are not out to kill civilians, but any civilians who might become casualties of the Callisto Armada’s need for a field base will be written off simply as victims of fate. None will be spared, for none are particularly needed for the Zeon cause.


    At the perimeter of the Frontier 8 Zone, the Federal Forces’ Civil Defense Guard prepares to engage the Callisto Armada. The CDG has been badly mauled by previous incursions into Frontier 8 by the warring Zeon forces during the past year, and with no reinforcements having come from Earth, each confrontation with the Zeon has left the CDG weaker and less equipped to protect the space colony from the Zeon threat. Zeon activities have caused heavy damage and casualties among civilians at Frontier 8 in recent months, and the Zeon had not even been targeting Frontier 8 specifically; instead, Frontier 8 has merely been caught in the crossfire of the long, bitter Zeon Civil War.

    All that changes today. Today, Frontier 8 is the target of the Zeon attack.

    Volleys of beam cannon fire pour forth from the Zeon mobile suits, cutting a swath through the meager Civil Defense Guard. The CDG’s mobile suits and fighter planes return fire gamely, but it is evident that they are overwhelmed. Here, a Dreissen-II cuts a GM-III in half with its beam tomahawk. There, a Gaza-E eliminates a squad of White Falcon fighters with a spread of missiles. Everywhere, Zeon firepower is brought to bear against Frontier 8, and casualties begin to mount.

    “Hold the defense line!” 1Lt. McConnell orders, “We have to repel them!”

    McConnell knows that his directives likely will not meet with success, but he and his allies are committed to protecting Frontier 8 from the Zeon as long as they possibly can. What choice do they have? They are fighting for their own lives as well.

    Episode 4 to be continued...

  4. #84
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    Episode 4 conclusion



    Ninety minutes earlier, aboard the Amuro Ray.

    The Centurion Team sits in the Ready Room adjacent to the MS hangar deck, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. The nine young Federal Forces MS pilots are clad in their normalsuits. Each one is tense. Each one is nervous. None can say for certain that he or she will return alive from battle today.

    Jolie and Jonah sit side-by-side, their youthful faces grim and solemn. Jolie has never had any trepidation about going into battle. She has never had any fear of death…at least not as it pertains to her. What does scare her is the possibility that harm will come to her loved ones, and she will be helpless to save them. It is a nightmare that Jolie has lived since that fateful day of her tenth birthday, and that she hopes never to live again. Today, Jolie’s fears are for Chief Warrant Officer Jonah Michaels, whom she has known for less than a month, but with whom she has formed a deep emotional bond stronger than any she has had since the loss of her parents and her older brother.

    Sitting next to Jolie, Jonah sweats slightly. He wears a brave face, but he too feels fear. He does fear somewhat for his life, but his greater fear is failing to function effectively on the field of battle, letting his teammates down and condemning them to die with him for his failure. That is a thought that Jonah cannot bear, especially if Jolie is harmed as a result.

    I’m just going to have to not screw up… Jonah tells himself repeatedly.

    Military protocol forbids that the young couple embrace each other openly under the current circumstances, as much as their hearts long for each other’s warmth. Jonah does feel, however, Jolie’s small, gloved hand clasp his tightly.

    “Are you scared?” Jolie whispers.

    “A little,” Jonah admits, “How about you?”

    “Only for you,” Jolie replies, “Remember what you promised me.”

    Jonah smiles wanly, “Don’t worry. We’re unbeatable together, remember?”

    Jolie brightens, “JoMi, JoMi!”

    “JoMi, JoMi!” Jonah repeats, trying to sound confident.

    Each of the other Centurion Team members has his or her private, uninterated fears. What of the loved ones that will be left behind? The parents? The fiancés? The friends? Who will finish the business of their lives should they not return from battle? These thoughts burden the minds of the young soldiers of the Centurion Team like ten thousand granite boulders. It is especially difficult for the rookies, who have never experienced the harrowing ordeal of battle before, but it is also difficult for the veterans, who know what they must embrace once again. “Once more into the breach,” as the Bard once said.

    The calm center of the storm of anxieties amidst the young mobile suit pilots is their equally young commanding officer, Major Athena Ibaz. Upon her tender, twenty-year old shoulders has been placed the responsibility of guiding the Special Forces on a mission that could very well determine the direction of all humanity’s future. At least thirty-five lives are directly Athena’s responsibility today; billions more, likely, as time unfolds into the future. It is an incomprehensible burden that would drive most mad, but if Athena is feeling the pressure, her subordinates cannot tell. Nonchalantly, as if she were waiting for a shuttle bus to the local library on a slow day, Athena lights a cigarette, as she had thousands of others since she became a smoker at age sixteen.

    Athena spares a moment’s glance at her two executive officers, 1Lt. Jolie Minh and Chief Warrant Officer Jonah Michaels. The couple’s tightly clasped hands have not escaped the major’s notice.

    Athena smiles; she is not afraid to admit that a part of her envies her two friends…the depth of their emotional bond to each other and the strength that it gives them. Athena remembers a time, not so long ago, when she felt a similar bond to another, but that she had to squelch before it blossomed for his and her own sake. The decision, which Athena could not avoid, has left an ache in Athena’s heart that has never gone away.

    Despite her supremely calm demeanor, perhaps no soldier entering the breach today feels more fear than Athena. It is not just her life at stake, or even just those of her friends and comrades…it is the future of all humanity, nearly robbed once by Athena’s own kinsmen. The blood shed by the Zabis remained on Athena’s hands, and the only way to redeem that blood is to destroy her family’s evil spawn: the Archduchy of Zeon, in any and all of its incarnations, needed to die.

    Athena checks her pocketwatch, a gift Jolie had given her the previous Christmas. The time has come.

    Rising from the bench where she has been seated, Athena stubs out the remains of her cigarette, and picks up the comlink transmitter that will broadcast her orders to the MS deck of each of the Federal Forces’ battle carriers assigned to this operation.

    “This is Major Ibaz. All Special Forces units scramble immediately. This is not a drill. Deploy M-Booster units upon launch, destination: Frontier 8 Zone.

    The thirty-five Special Forces mobile suit pilots assigned to Operation: Vigilant Eye don their helmets and seal their normalsuits as they spring towards their mobile suits. Within minutes, the mobile suits are deployed.

    The mobile suits are readied on the hydraulic launch catapults of the Amuro Ray and its sister ships. Multi-ton armored mechanisms of mayhem are about to be cast like grains of sand into the formless, massless void of the cosmos.

    “Chief Warrant Officer Jonah Michaels, Centurion Gundam Unit 2, now launching!”

    “1Lt. Jolie Minh, Centurion Gundam Unit 1, now launching!”

    “Major Athena Ibaz, Cour De Leon, now launching!”

    Into the breach.


    END OF EPISODE 4!

    Next Episode: The Earth Federation Special Forces vs. the Callisto Armada, with the lives of millions of Frontier 8 civilians hanging in the balance!

  5. #85
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    EPISODE 5: THE BATTLE OF FRONTIER 8

    The mobile suits of the Special Forces tear forth from the bays of the space battlecarriers. The M-Boosters engage as soon as the MS are clear of the launch catapult.

    Soaring forth at a velocity of Mach 60, the MS pilots of the Special Forces are moving faster than any other human beings have ever moved. In Earth’s gravity, such a velocity would be impossible to achieve: the stress and friction upon the traveling body would cause it to tear apart. Out in the frictionless, gravity-light cosmos, however, sixty times the speed of sound is a silent glide.

    Every single MS pilot in the Special Forces contingent assigned to this operation would have his or her name recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as having set a historical speed record. They are the first thirty-five humans to ever travel at a velocity of Mach 60; the figure would stand as the highest velocity ever attained by humanity for the next forty years.

    None of the pilots, however, have their thoughts on speed records or the future as far as forty years. At the moment, they are entirely focused on surviving the battle to come.

    Aboard her Cour De Leon, transformed to Waverider mode and pushed by the tremendous kinetic force of the M-Booster, Major Athena Ibaz receives a communication from Captain Beecher Olech, commanding officer of the Federal Forces fleet’s flagship, the Amuro Ray, “Major, how long do you anticipate it will take for the Special Forces to reach the Frontier 8 Zone?”

    Athena has the figure on hand, “Sir, we’ll be entering the Frontier 8 Zone in precisely 28 minutes, 22 seconds and counting.”

    “Godspeed, Major,” Captain Beecher replies, “We’ve gotten word from Frontier 8 Civil Defense Guard that they’ve already begun engaging Zeon elements from the Callisto Armada; they won’t be able to hold out for long.”

    “Roger, sir,”Athena replies.

    So fast, Athena reflects upon the tremendous velocity offered by the M-Booster, but will it be fast enough?


    In the Frontier 8 Zone, the Earth Federation Forces’ Civil Defense Guard desperately fights to maintain an armored defensive line against the oncoming tide of invading Zeon mobile suits and ships.

    Antiquated, outnumbered, and outgunned, the CDG fights valiantly, but futilely. Its defensive squads of aging GM-II and GM-III mobile suits are no match for the Callisto Zeon’s state-of-the-art, powerful new generation mobile suits.

    A Dreissen-II impales a GM-III on its beam tomahawk, while three other Dreissen-IIs use their tri-beam cannon to make short work of a squad of five GM-IIs.

    From her flagship the Artemis Moon, Admiral Lara Constantinas issues her orders, “Attention all mobile suit units: eliminate all opposition and secure the space colony quickly. We need to establish a foothold before the Deimos and Phobos forces counterattack. Minimize damage to the colony’s facilities: we’re going to need them.”

    The Callisto Zeon Armada intends to convert the Frontier 8 Space Colony, one of the Earth Federation’s newest developments in the Outer Solar System, into a base from which it can launch attacks against the Deimos Zeon Imperium and the Principality of Phobos Zeon. The Callisto Zeon covet the rich metallic ores of Mars…ores that the Deimos and Phobos factions now exclusively control.

    The operation calls for the Callisto Zeon to seize control of Frontier 8’s energy-generating, manufacturing, and mecha and spaceship docking and maintenance facilities. All of these are vital if the Callisto are to gain access to Mars’ rich ore mines. For the civilian population of one-hundred million who reside at Frontier 8 and their communities, however, the Callisto Zeon have far less use. As such, Admiral Constantinas has ordered a purge of the colony, to leave it “sanitized” for her armada’s use.

    The Callisto Zeon mobile suits crash into the first bunch of the Frontier 8 space colonies en masse and in force. Mercilessly, the assortment of Dreissen-IIs, Gaza-series, Geara Doga-II, and Gellond mobile suits rain destruction upon the people of Frontier 8 and all that they have built. Rubble and human flesh mingle in the streets. Screams of terror and pain, multiplied thousand-fold, ring out across the colony.

    The CDG’s mobile suits re-enter the colony, fighting valiantly to preserve the lives of those whom their pilots have sworn to protect, but they fight in vain. The enemy is too numerous, too powerful.

    In his heavily damaged GM-III, 1Lt. McConnell lets off the last charge of his depleted beam rifle, neutralizing a Gaza-D mobile suit.

    “Repel them from the colony!” McConnell, bloodied and battered, orders futilely, “They’ll kill everyone in the ci…!”

    McConnell never finishes giving the order before he is silenced forever in the wake of the roar of his GM-III’s explosion, the result of a beam tri-cannon strike by a Dreissen-III.

    Episode 5 to be continued...

  6. #86
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    Today's update is an illustration. A concept portrait of the three main characters of MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: THE SECOND CENTURY, by David K. Wong at San Diego Comic Con '07 last month.



    "Three's Company" - Jolie Minh, Jonah Michaels, and Athena Ibaz

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    Episode 5 continued...

    Still hundreds of kilometers away, Major Athena Ibaz receives reports through her Cour De Leon’s tactical computer of heavy casualties at Frontier 8.

    “Centurion Leader to all units,” Athena orders, “Disengage forward M-Boost thrust; engage retro thrust.”

    Upon that order, the mobile suit pilots of the Special Forces switch off the forward thrust that had been pushing them towards Frontier 8 at Mach 60, kicking in the powerful reverse thruster to slowly decelerate them to speeds that will be safe for operating within the colony zone.


    Back at Frontier 8, the mobile suits of the Callisto Armada occupy the streets of the city of Freemont, an urban colony of 500,000 civilians. Freemont Colony is also home to the Civil Defense Guard. As such, it must be cleared of human habitation with its facilities preserved for military use.

    At strategic points around the colony, the Callisto Zeon mobile suits plant toxic G-3 gas canisters and heavy explosives. G-3 gas, a single hundred-liter tank of which is more than adequate to kill a space colony population of up to three million, is strictly prohibited by treaty, but the Callisto Zeon feel very little obligation to abide by any treaties.

    The streets are still filled with screaming, fleeing civilians. All around them are flame, smoke, and falling rumble. Some are crushed under the armored footfalls of Zeon mobile suits. Others are trampled to death by their own panicked and irrational neighbors. Very few are cut down by Zeon beam cannon fire. Hardly necessary with the G-3 set to do the job in the most economic and energy-efficient manner.

    Mitsuko Ishikawa, aged 14, and Diana Chang, aged 15, had been best friends since they were in the Fourth Grade. Over the years, they had shared pieces of candy, cuddly stuffed animals, cosmetic items, and during the past year, gossip about their respective boyfriends.

    Today, the two high school girls apparently will share death.

    The two girls flee as the street behind them collapses and buckles. Separated from their families, the teenagers find themselves stalked by three Callisto Zeon Dreissen-IIs.

    Mitsuko trips over a fragment of fallen rubble, spraining her ankle. All her friend Diana can do is to hold her and shield her as best she can as the Dreissen-II towers menacingly over them, its monoeye sensor merciless.

    The two sobbing girls await the end.

    There is a loud blasting noise, followed by a vacuum of air. When the girls dare to open their eyes, they are surprised to see that the Dreissen-IIs have taken off.

    In the distance, the girls can see the approach of mobile suits…Earth Federation Forces mobile suits…a Cour de Leon, two Gundams, and a large force of Jegan-IIs, GM-IVs, and Guncannon 100s.

    The Special Forces have arrived.

    The girls stand and cheer as the Special Forces sweep into the space colony Freemont and begin to engage the enemy forces.


    Five minutes earlier, outside the Frontier 8 Zone:

    Major Athena Ibaz sees the Callisto Armada bearing down upon the Freemont City colony of Frontier 8. Telltale explosions from within the colony indicate that the battle has already begun.

    “Centurion Leader to all units: disengage M-Booster packs. A, F, G, and J Teams commence firing on enemy capital ships; C, T, S, and V Teams, follow me into the colony!”

    There is a collective “Yes, ma’am!” through the tactical net as the Special Forces move into battle formation behind Athena’s Cour De Leon.

    The mobile suits of A, F, G, and J Teams open fire with long-range weaponry: a heavy torrent of missiles, beam cannon, and artillery shells towards the Callisto Armada’s ships. The devastating salvo destroys three ships outright, and heavily damages over a dozen more.

    At the same time, Athena leads the charge into Freemont City, Jolie and Jonah’s twin Centurion Gundams at her wings and the remaining Special Forces mobile suits bringing up the rear.

    Behind them, the discarded M-Booster Packs detonate as programmed. The nuclear fusion engines, though depleted, still have enough for a final spectacular paroxysm of fiery destruction that heralds the arrival of the Earth Federation Special Forces in the Frontier 8 Zone.

    Episode 5 to be continued...

  8. #88
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    Episode 5 continued...

    Unlike the pitiable CDG forces that the Callisto Armada’s mobile suit squadrons rolled over as if they were grass in a lawnmower’s path, the Special Forces prove to be a far more dangerous opponent for the Zeon invasion force. The Special Forces tear into the enemy with a controlled fury…a disciplined attack reflecting their relentless training and preparation. Within minutes, the Special Forces turn the tide, and the Callisto Armada’s mobile suits are forced from an attack to a defensive position.

    Most spectacular of all are the twin Centurion Gundams of 1Lt. Jolie Minh and Chief Warrant Officer Jonah Michaels, cutting through the enemy mobile suit squadron with their beam rifles and beam sabers like armored ghosts. Their strikes are precise, economic, and quick…designed to neutralize the enemy without causing massive collateral damage that would endanger civilians.

    At the same time, Major Athena Ibaz’s Cour de Leon transforms from Waverider to mobile suit configuration, pulling out its beam rifle and dodging, rolling, and striking three Dreissen-IIs and a Geara Doga. The enemy mecha fall into prone metallic heaps as the Centurion Leader sweeps her aerodynamic mecha through the city streets, looking for more quarry.

    All around, the scene is the same, with the Special Forces mobile suits routing the Zeon mecha with breathtaking swiftness and efficiency. The tide of battle has turned in favor of the Earth Federation Forces.

    From the civilian refuge shelters, some of the braver civilians emerge into the streets to cheer on the Federal Forces. The sight of the twin Gundams routing Zeon mobile suit after Zeon mobile suit lifts the spirits of the beleaguered citizens of Freemont City, giving them hope that their community might actually survive this day.

    A trio of Dreissen-IIs bears down upon Jolie and Jonah’s Centurion Gundams, strafing the area around them with beam cannon fire and beam tomahawks raised for deadly slashes. Explosions rock the street.

    Jonah, up! Jonah “hears” Jolie’s thoughts in his mind.

    Instinctively, Jonah knows what to do. He and Jolie have not ever discussed, much less practiced what they are about to do next, but they seem to know by pure instinct how to respond conjunctively with one another in the heat of battle.

    Jonah sees a trio of Geara Dogas approaching at street level, charging at his Centurion Gundam.

    Jonah lowers the Centurion Gundam into a combat crouch. Jolie rapidly runs her identical mobile suit towards Jonah’s mecha. Jolie leaps the Centurion Gundam upon the back and shoulders of Jonah’s Unit 2. The Centurion Gundam Unit 2 rises, lifting its mighty arms to give Jolie’s Unit 1 a boost underneath its armored feet. Jolie engages the Unit 1’s boosters…the combined power of the booster thrust, the leap, and the Unit 2’s catapult push launch the Unit 1 up high, meeting the descending Dreissen-IIs midair.

    Jolie draws the Unit 1’s beam saber. With a graceful motion like the aerial dance of a bird of prey gliding in flight, Jolie does not so much slash as she does twirl the beam saber upon the Centurion Gundam’s armored fingers…like a bored, playful, and dexterous student might do with a pencil during a long and dull lecture. The motion is swift and singular, as fleeting as it is graceful, and is over almost immediately after it begins. The result is three disabled Dreissen-IIIs, lying wrecked on the streets of Freemont City, its pilots dazed and bruised, but spared an explosive death.

    Jonah doesn’t like me to kill unnecessarily, Jolie reflects,so I’m gonna try to win without killing anyone. It’s important to me that he knows how much he means to me.

    Jonah is aware of this, and internally smiles. Jolie means the world to him, and if he can be a positive influence upon her, if he can save her from becoming an inhumane killing machine like his brother, then he will be content.

    There is little time for such thoughts on the field of battle. Athena’s words come back to Jonah, Focus. Don’t be distracted. Distractions are fatal in battle.

    The moment after Jolie launched her Unit 1 into the air to confront the trio of Dreissen-IIs, Jonah drew out his Unit 2’s beam rifle and began to exchange fire with the three Geara Dogas bearing down upon him. Never mechanically-inclined, Jonah has nevertheless been studying the internal layout of Zeon mobile suits…to learn exactly how an enemy mobile suit can be disabled without killing the pilot or nearby civilians who could be caught in the blast.

    The average mobile suit pilot would never attempt such an intricate and involved maneuver in the split-second, life-or-death-determining circumstances of battle, but there is nothing “average” about a Special Forces mobile suit…particularly not Chief Warrant Officer Jonah Michaels. In an instant’s time, he has locked onto the vital points of the three enemy mobile suits facing him…vital points that if damaged, would render a mobile suit effectively inoperable, but that would also not threaten the lives of those mobile suits’ pilots nor nearby bystanders.

    Jonah opens fire even as he leaps his mobile suit out of the way of the Geara Dogas’ return fire. His shots targeted to precisely the spots on the Dogas that would disable them, Jonah watches the mobile suits drop harmlessly to the pavement, unable to inflict further damage.

    That tactic isn’t going to work too many times, Jonah acknowledges, Those pilots stood their mobile suits still to get a bead on me, and I was able to take advantage of the split-second that they weren’t moving. Next time, things might not go in my favor like that.

    Jonah joins Jolie midair within the center of the space colony. Hovering high above the city, they gain a panoramic view of trouble spots.

    Jonah contacts Jolie, “Jolie, there’s a school down there at ten o’clock collapsed and on fire. My sensors are picking up people, alive, trapped in that building!”

    “Let’s go!” Jolie answers, not waiting for Jonah, dropping the Centurion Gundam Unit 1 towards the burning school building.

    Jonah follows after, smiling behind the visor of his helmet. Jolie’s heroic heart knows no patience, and Jonah recognizes that as one of the qualities that has endeared her to him.

    Episode 5 to be continued...

  9. #89
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    Episode 5 continued...

    Aboard the Callisto Armada’s flagship the Artemis Moon, Grand Admiral Lara Constantinas receives word that her mobile suit attack squadron has encountered a heavy counterattack from an Earth Federation Special Forces contingent of mobile suits that appeared from seemingly nowhere.

    Admiral Constantinas considers the situation. Her intelligence personnel had been observing Frontier 8 for nearly a year, and they had determined that the Federation’s only military presence in the Frontier 8 Zone was the Civil Defense Guard, a small and lightly armed force that the Callisto Armada could easily overwhelm with just a relatively small fraction of its available forces. Where, then, could these mobile suits have come from? Did her officers provide her faulty intelligence? If they have, Admiral Constantinas vows that they will pay for their failure with their lives.

    But there are more immediate priorities. Reports received from the attack force indicate that they are losing ground to the counterattacking Federal Forces.

    “Order all ships to stand by for bombardment using primary and secondary gun batteries and missiles,” Admiral Constantinas commands, “Scramble backup mobile suit units, and detonate the G3 toxin canisters. The Federal Forces will not win this day: whatever happens, Freemont City will be sanitized!”

    The cannon of the Callisto Armada’s ships swivel towards the Freemont Colony, guided by targeting computers to trace and fire upon any Federal Forces mobile suits or ships within range. The gunners sit ready at their stations, fingers tense upon the triggers, waiting for the order to fire.

    From the command bridge of the Artemis Moon, the signal is transmitted for the G3 canisters to detonate, unleashing their toxic contents into the enclosed environment of the Freemont space colony.

    The explosives attached to the canisters are armed and primed; when the fuse connects in ninety seconds, nothing will be able to stop Freemont City from becoming a city of corpses.


    The sensors of Athena’s Cour de Leon detect the canisters of deadly G3 toxin that the Callisto Zeon attack force have planted throughout the colony…enough to kill off the colony’s entire population several times over.

    The Zeon have left behind forty-four G3 canisters scattered all around the colony. Although the Special Forces are succeeding in eliminating the enemy mobile suits, Athena knows that it will all have been in vain if the G3 canisters are detonated within the colony, releasing their toxic spew…something that Athena also knows can be done easily by remote control from the Callisto Armada’s flagship or perhaps from one of the still-operational mobile suits.

    Athena activates magnetic attraction on the exterior fuselage of her Cour de Leon, sweeping low and slowly through the colony, picking up as many of the metal drum canisters as she can. She radios her comrades, “This is Centurion Leader. Forty G3 canisters have been laid throughout the colony. Your orders are to locate, retrieve, and remove them from the colony. This is an emergency priority: all units able to disengage from combat to neutralize G3 canisters must do so immediately.”

    About three kilometers away from Athena’s position, Centurion Gundam Units 1 and 2 have just lifted the burning ceiling off a classroom building at Freemont Riverglen High School, sparing around four-dozen high school students, most of whom are Jolie and Jonah’s age or slightly younger, and their teachers from what would have been a fiery, crushing death. To the couple’s great relief, most of the people within the building are alive and in relatively good shape, though frightened to death. A few are not so lucky: Jolie and Jonah see that at least five or six people are critically wounded with burn and/or crushing injuries, and three have perished.

    Jolie and Jonah register the sound of the survivors’ grateful cheers coming through their helmet aural pickups, but the sound is soon interrupted by Athena’s orders to locate and eliminate the G3 canisters.

    “Those canisters need to be rounded up and removed from the colony immediately!” Athena’s voice comes through the tactical net.

    Jolie and Jonah waste no time. Centurion Gundam Units 1 and 2 are on the move again, using their sensors to identify and locate the G3 canisters located around the colony. The other mobile suits of the Special Forces soon begin to respond likewise.

    “We need to hurry,” Athena’s voice comes through the tactical net calmly, but urgently, “we don’t know when the Zeon might detonate these canisters.”

    So saying, Athena blasts the Cour de Leon in Waverider configuration out of Freemont Colony, carrying with her a half dozen G3 canisters magnetically attached to her mecha’s hull.

    Right behind her are Jolie and Jonah’s dual Centurion Gundams, each also bearing five to six canisters.

    The remaining Special Forces mobile suits that broke off from combat against Zeon mobile suits do likewise, carrying the canisters of deadly toxic gas out into the airless cold of outer space.

    In deep space, the G3 toxic gas can do no harm. Should the canisters rupture or be detonated in space, there would be no unprotected human beings for their content to affect. Moreover, the released gas would instantly freeze solid in space, rendering it harmless.

    Nevertheless, Athena resolves that the deadly nerve toxin will not be recovered and recycled for use against others some future day. Hence, she issues the order, “Centurion Leader to all Special Forces mobile suits. Discard G3 toxin canisters, target plasma missiles, and open fire.”

    The order thus given, Athena’s subordinates obey. Disengaging the magnetic attraction of their mobile suits’ hulls, the Special Forces pilots direct their mecha to hurl the G3 canisters farther away from the Freemont Colony. When the canisters are at a suitable distance, the pilots lock in on them with their MS targeting computers. Plasma missiles rocket forth from launch tubes on the MS’ armament packs, incinerating the toxic gas in a flash of brilliant light.

    The Special Forces have no time to savor their achievement. They find themselves under heavy bombardment by the beam cannon of the Callisto Armada’s capital ships. Although the heavy firepower of the capital ships poses a substantial threat, the nimble and maneuverable Special Forces MS prove capable of eluding the ponderous aim of the ships’ beam cannon.

    Even so, Athena has no intention to allow herself or the young men and women under her command to be targets, “Centurion Leader to all mobile suits: lay down a heavy counter barrage of missile fire against the enemy ships, then close in on them.”

    Once again, the order is swiftly obeyed. The Special Forces mobile suits let rip with a heavy missile barrage against the ships of the Callisto Armada. Most of the missiles find their way to their targets. Three of the armada’s ships are destroyed outright, and the rest are all heavily damaged, including the flagship Artemis Moon.

    “Dammit!”Admiral Lara Constantinas rages as her flagship is rocked by the missile fire.

    Lara is about to order a second barrage of cannon fire against the Special Forces mobile suits when she notices that they have all approached too close to her fleet’s ships for the ships’ cannon to take aim at them. The cannon were meant for long-range bombardment, not close-in fighting.

    Their commander is clever, the Grand Admiral of the Callisto Armada concedes, I’ll need to adjust my tactics.

    “Deploy the second wave of mobile suits!” Lara commands, “Colonel Brakar will lead the counterstrike! Those Federation vermin will pay for their interference!”

    Episode 5 to be continued...

  10. #90
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    One of the reasons I'm interested in this topic is that I'm trying to determine whether or not my depiction of one of the characters in my GUNDAM fanfic is realistic.

    She's a former princess of a destroyed space city-state, who has now taken on the identity of a commander in the Earth Federation Special Forces.

    Here's what she has going for her at age nineteen:

    1. IQ of 200 (inherited from her family; her uncle had a similar IQ).

    2. Literate and fluent in 15 different languages.

    3. Although officially, she has not obtained a single college or university degree, she has, through self-study and her training in the military, acquired the equivalent knowledge of a Master of Arts/Science in the following fields:

    a). History (general and military)
    b). Warfare and Tactics
    c). Mechanical Engineering
    d). Electrical Engineering
    e). Astrophysics
    f). Advanced Mathematics
    g). Literature
    h). Political Science
    i). Art History / Appreciation
    j). Psychology
    k). Sociology
    l). Media and Communications
    m). Law
    n). Medicine (equivalent to a third year Med student)

    4. top markswoman in the Earth Federation (i.e. best shooter in the entire army)

    5. ace pilot; can operate almost any machine

    6. one of the top ten hand-to-hand fighters in the military

    And she looks like this:



    Yeah, I know, she's practically Supergirl, but she also has some faults. Her moral compass is a little dubious at times (she's definitely a Machiavellian). She's a heavy drinker and chain smoker. She's very demanding of the people that work under her (although that's largely because she cares about them too). And for all her abilities, the one thing she doesn't quite know how to handle is her personal relationships. She starts out seeing other people as pawns in her grand scheme to remake the world as a better place, but gets confused when she starts feeling personal closeness to these people.

    So to get us back on topic (I swear this wasn't just a plug for my fanfic, although I'd be a liar if I tried to tell that that didn't interest me at all), I'm wondering is it possible to have...well, not quite such an implausible "perfect" person like my fanfic character, but someone who, like her, combines those attributes of physical beauty with a very keen mind and strong personality (i.e. unlike Britney, Paris, etc.).

  11. #91
    Senior Member GuGu's Avatar
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    All of this just to promote your fanfic.

  12. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuGu View Post
    All of this just to promote your fanfic.
    All good conspiracies need to be elaborate.

    Of course, in anybody actually commented on my fanfics at the Fanfics Forum other than sheraldine and (very occasionally ghostdarTeal'c, I wouldn't have to resort to such desperate measures).

    But in all seriousness: is it possible for such a person to exist?

  13. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    One of the reasons I'm interested in this topic is that I'm trying to determine whether or not my depiction of one of the characters in my GUNDAM fanfic is realistic.

    She's a former princess of a destroyed space city-state, who has now taken on the identity of a commander in the Earth Federation Special Forces.

    Here's what she has going for her at age nineteen:

    1. IQ of 200 (inherited from her family; her uncle had a similar IQ).

    2. Literate and fluent in 15 different languages.

    3. Although officially, she has not obtained a single college or university degree, she has, through self-study and her training in the military, acquired the equivalent knowledge of a Master of Arts/Science in the following fields:

    a). History (general and military)
    b). Warfare and Tactics
    c). Mechanical Engineering
    d). Electrical Engineering
    e). Astrophysics
    f). Advanced Mathematics
    g). Literature
    h). Political Science
    i). Art History / Appreciation
    j). Psychology
    k). Sociology
    l). Media and Communications
    m). Law
    n). Medicine (equivalent to a third year Med student)

    4. top markswoman in the Earth Federation (i.e. best shooter in the entire army)

    5. ace pilot; can operate almost any machine

    6. one of the top ten hand-to-hand fighters in the military

    And she looks like this:



    Yeah, I know, she's practically Supergirl, but she also has some faults. Her moral compass is a little dubious at times (she's definitely a Machiavellian). She's a heavy drinker and chain smoker. She's very demanding of the people that work under her (although that's largely because she cares about them too). And for all her abilities, the one thing she doesn't quite know how to handle is her personal relationships. She starts out seeing other people as pawns in her grand scheme to remake the world as a better place, but gets confused when she starts feeling personal closeness to these people.

    So to get us back on topic (I swear this wasn't just a plug for my fanfic, although I'd be a liar if I tried to tell that that didn't interest me at all), I'm wondering is it possible to have...well, not quite such an implausible "perfect" person like my fanfic character, but someone who, like her, combines those attributes of physical beauty with a very keen mind and strong personality (i.e. unlike Britney, Paris, etc.).
    She obviously isn't normal. But there are real prodigies in this world and there are young geniuses who went to university at 11. So, I think your character is believable.

    There is one theory that beautiful people are usually not that smart because beautiful people get what they want more easily (due to people liking them and will to do things for them because of the good looks), so they don't need to strive so hard to learn things and equipment themselves in other areas. It's not that they are born less smart. So, being beautiful and smart is possible.

    Your character has the motivation to equip herself with knowledge due to her circumstances in life.

    Maybe you should mention that she has super duper memory so that she can remember things at one glance. That way, you can account for her able to squeeze so many subjects into her head.
    Last edited by kidd; 09-05-07 at 05:46 AM.
    什麼是朋友?朋友永遠是在你犯下不可原諒錯誤的時候,仍舊站在你那邊的笨蛋。~ 王亞瑟

    和諧唔係一百個人講同一番話,係一百個人有一百句唔同嘅說話,而又互相尊重 ~ - 葉梓恩

  14. #94
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kidd View Post
    She obviously isn't normal. But there are real prodigies in this world and there are young geniuses who went to university at 11. So, I think your character is believable.
    Thanks. That means a great deal to me.

    Your character has the motivation to equip herself with knowledge due to her circumstances in life.
    She's motivated by a crushing sense of personal guilt. Her family committed atrocities that resulted in the deaths of billions of people. She's trying to redeem her family's evil deeds and create a world wherein the disaster they unleashed can never happen again.

    Maybe you should mention that she has super duper memory so that she can remember things at once glance. That way, you can account for her able to squeeze so many subjects into her head.
    Heh. Thanks for the suggestion. She does have an IQ of 200, and she's what they call a "Newtype" in the GUNDAM universe: a human with evolved telepathic sensibilities (it's a very complex idea involving human evolution as a result of having immigrated into space for nearly a century).

  15. #95
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    Episode 5 continued...


    Aboard her GM-IV AWAC, Sgt. Anna Horowitz picks up the approach of three dozen Zeon mobile suits on her surveillance monitors, “Major Ibaz, thirty-six enemy targets approaching: mix of Dreissen-IIs, Gaza-Es, Jagd Dogas, and Gellonds…one of which is a Gellond Officer’s Type.”

    Athena responds, “All units: prepare to engage enemy mobile suits.”

    Athena switches to the frequency of the Amuro Ray, “This is Major Ibaz to Captain Beecher. We need fleet support, sir.”

    “Roger that, Major,” Captain Beecher Olech replies, “Our ETA to Frontier 8 Zone is approximately eight minutes. Hang in there.”

    “Special Forces units, engage enemy!” Athena orders, as her forces and the Callisto Armada’s mobile suits meet head on, “No prisoners!”

    Jonah shudders, No prisoners. Athena means for them to utterly wipe out the enemy, leaving no survivors.

    This is war, Jonah reminds himself, Compassion must be set aside for the sake of survival.

    If only he could get himself to believe it.


    Fourteen Earth Federation Special Forces mobile suits face off against thirty-six Callisto Armada Zeon mobile suits. Nuclear fusion engines rev. Beam rifles and beam cannon are charged. Missiles are loaded.

    Local space erupts into a terrible firestorm.

    The Federal Forces mobile suits dislodge the remainder of their missile payloads against the oncoming Zeon mobile suits, swiftly reducing their number to twenty-eight.

    The Zeon mobile suits respond with beam rifle and beam cannon fire. A few of the Special Forces mobile suits take hits, but to Athena’s relief, remain intact, their pilots fortunate enough to avoid grave injury.

    “All damaged units retreat from the combat zone,” Athena orders, “all remaining units, press the attack!”

    And press they do. 1Lt. Jolie Minh’s Centurion Gundam dives headlong into the midst of five Dreissen-IIs and four Geara Doga-IIs. She deftly dodges the torrent of beam fire they level against her, like evading a rainstorm of concentrated nuclear fusion energy, and counterfires with her mobile suit’s own beam rifle. Three shots, three enemy Zeon mobile suits downed. Floating into the midst of the remaining enemy units, where they cannot train their beam cannon upon Jolie’s Centurion Gundam without hitting each other, the Dreissen-IIs and Geara Doga-IIs are forced to draw their beam tomahawks and beam sabers against the advanced Federal Forces combat mobile suit.

    Got them right where I want them, Jolie thinks, smiling confidently.

    With a move so swift and so graceful that it is reminiscent of an old-time martial arts movie, Jolie’s Centurion Gundam draws its beam saber from its backpack storage/energizer nacelle, the crimson energy blade erupting forth with a touch. The blade swings in an arc so quickly that it is barely detectable to human eyes. A brief crackle of lightning follows. The green of the Centurion Gundam’s eyes intensify, growing brighter…brighter than the brightest summer sun. The red of the Zeon mobile suit’s monoeye units similarly burn hot for an instant before dimming.

    The Centurion Gundam vectors away; in its wake, four Zeon mobile suits explode.

    The two remaining mobile suits pursue the Centurion Gundam Unit 1. Jolie lets the two enemy mecha close upon her, casually dodging their cannon fire. When she is certain that the two mobile suits have attained maximum thrust, Jolie abruptly shuts down the forward thrusters of the Centurion Gundam and guns the retro-thrusters.

    The Centurion Gundam comes to an abrupt halt; the two Zeon mobile suits shoot past it, directly in line with Jolie’s sight.

    Jolie activates the targeting computer reticle and draws out the Centurion Gundam’s beam rifle once again. One carefully timed and placed shot takes out both enemy mobile suits, penetrating them directly through the nuclear fusion engines located in their central body cavities.

    The entire duration of Jolie’s spectacular display of prowess was a mere eleven seconds. Eleven seconds to destroy nine enemy mobile suits using an array of the Centurion Gundam’s weaponry.

    My God… Jonah gapes in stunned silence.

    Although Jolie has never discussed it with him, he has heard from the other Centurion Team pilots how Jolie had defeated and killed the Twin Starkillers, the Blackbird Squad, the White Wolf Shin Matsunaga, and the infamous “One Strike Killer” Braniff Oskar. All of these were well-known and feared veteran mobile suit pilots…even Jonah has heard of Matsunaga and Oskar. Jolie met each of them in combat and utterly destroyed all of them. As such, she has developed a fearsome reputation among MS pilots on all sides…the “White Phoenix” of the Earth Federation Forces, whose appearance on the field of battle meant horrible casualties for the enemy.

    The abrupt and massive losses of their comrades tip off the remaining Zeon mobile suit pilots. To a man, their faces become pale and blank, their skin, though ice cold, paradoxically perspires beneath their normalsuits, their throats are as dry as the Sahara sands in July, and their hearts pound with a fury rivaling that of the nuclear fusion engines that power their mobile suits.

    “W-White Phoenix,” someone finally whispers harshly, “That’s the White Phoenix!”

    “S-she’s real?” ventures a second Zeon pilot.

    “She’s supernatural!” a third Zeon pilot says, “We can’t fight her!”

    “Let’s get out of here!” a fourth Zeon pilot shouts in panic, turning his mobile suit around and gunning its afterburners.

    His comrades follow suit. The entire mobile suit force dispatched by Admiral Lara Constantinas disengages from the battle and flees.

    A spark flashes forth from Jolie’s helmeted head. She hits the Centurion Gundam’s afterburner thrusters, pursuing the fleeing Zeon mobile suits.

    A reciprocal spark of alarm ignites from Jonah’s head, “Jolie, wait!” The Centurion Gundam Unit 2 blasts off to follow its departed counterpart.

    As awesome as Jolie and her Centurion Gundam are, she is still one pilot, and the Centurion Gundam Unit 1, one mecha going up against an entire enemy squadron.

    What a foolish and reckless thing to do! Jonah can’t help thinking.

    That doesn’t stop him, however, from following suit. Military discipline dictates that he obeys Athena’s last order. Logic dictates that even if he catches up to Jolie, there’s not much he can do to help her anyway (she being a far superior mobile suit pilot to him).

    Discipline and logic, however, dictate nothing to Jonah at the moment. Jolie could be in danger, and THAT dictates that he rushes to her side…to protect her if he can, to perish alongside her if he cannot.

    “1Lt. Minh, Chief Michaels, get back here!” Athena commands to no avail, “Jolie! Jonah!”

    Athena seethes with frustration, Those stupid kids! They’re going to get themselves killed!

    That is something Athena cannot allow; although she is confident that Jolie and Jonah can handle the opposition, she will not let her two executive officers and closest friends face the enemy without support.

    “All units, pursue!” Athena issues the order, leading the charge

    Episode 5 to be continued...

  16. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by mind_wander View Post
    Ken,
    As you posted up about the fanfic. In this world, this is highly possible by having the looks can get your places. But, it does not mean you truely need a College degree to do it. If you have all that time on your hands, yah grab a book; then read on languages, art/literature, history, science. Of course, there are some defaults because your not in College, so can't asked the right people for the right answers[besides online sources]. Concluded, you can still be intellegent, as long you follow the current events around you. Also, the main objective in College and years of schooling; how to put concepts and abstracts put them together as one.
    Thanks for the comments.

    Let's use my character, Athena, to discuss further about the EQ/IQ divide. I've already told you about Athena's IQ acumen. There's no doubt she's an extremely smart cookie when it comes to book smarts (one of those people who seems to know EVERYTHING), and being a military officer in a Special Forces unit, she's "street smart" as well (can hold her own in fights against anybody). The one area that she has a problem, however, is one-on-one EQ. She has good EQ when it comes to leading groups of people. She is a natural leader and has a knack for organizing diverse talents and coalesceing them effectively to do a job. Where she tends to screw up alot, however, is personal, intimate relationships. Athena has three close relationships in the story: the first is an older friend, her former domestic (back when Athena was a princess) who now considers her a traitor. The second is a younger girl (aged sixteen), much less educated than Athena, and far more reckless, who is her best friend and something of a "little sister" (Athena plays a mentor role to this girl, Jolie). The third is a young man with whom she shares a mutual romantic interest (but things are complicated by a fact that he's a terrorist agent working for the other side, and she KNOWS it). If you read the fanfic (there goes that plug again), Athena, for all her IQ, manages to screw up all three relationships to some extent because she seems to have a difficult time dealing with people on a close, intimate level. She's so accustomed to seeing people as pawns in a great game that when she does start to develop more intimate feelings for people, it completely throws her, and all her intelligence, knowledge, and skill are of no help to her.

    This probably gets at the heart of the idea that EQ is governed by a different aspect of thinking than IQ (although the two are related), and moreover, that there's a *mass* general EQ in terms of being a leader, and a more personal, intimate EQ that operates more on a one-on-one level, and that is negotiated differently.

  17. #97
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    Episode 5 continued...

    Before the Special Forces can rush to back up their two comrades, however, they are confronted by a dark olive and purple Gellond Officer Type mobile suit, which successfully scatters the Special Forces’ formation by barreling straight through it. Several Special Forces mobile suits are knocked off course, colliding into each other or spinning momentarily out of control.

    Colonel Gore Brakar is among the finest mobile suit pilots in the Callisto Zeon Armada. He is known as the “Dark Knight of Callisto,” or the “Devil of Callisto.” A deadly and cunning fighter, Col. Brakar has personally sent 120 enemy mobile suit pilots to their deaths over a career that has lasted twenty years, since he was a young Zeon mobile suit pilot serving under Admiral Kycilia Zabi during the One Year War.

    Your White Phoenix might have chased off my men, Brakar addresses his thoughts to the Federal Forces pilots, but she’ll return to find all of you dead. For every life of my men she takes, I’ll take one of yours!

    Athena rises to Brakar’s challenge, drawing the Cour de Leon’s beam saber and holding her mobile suit’s elongated triangular shield in a defensive position.

    “All of you, go support 1Lt. Minh and Chief Michaels,” Athena orders, “I’ll handle this one.”

    The Special Forces pilots are reluctant to leave their commanding officer behind to face a dangerous enemy ace pilot single-handedly, but her sternly emphatic “Go, NOW!” leaves no doubt that she expects her orders to be obeyed.

    The Special Forces mobile suits surge forth, complying with Athena’s command.

    Colonel Brakar swings his Gellond’s beam rifle towards them, threatening to immolate them as they pass.

    A slash from the Cour de Leon’s beam saber, which narrowly misses slicing the Gellond’s beam rifle in two, places Brakar’s attention firmly back on Athena.

    “So be it,” Brakar mutters to himself, “first, you die, then I’ll finish off your underlings. You are an excellent commanding officer: sacrificing yourself so that your subordinates might live. But in war, the victors are those willing to sacrifice pawns for the game!”

    So saying, Brakar counters Athena’s beam saber slash with a beam tomahawk slash of his own, which the Cour de Leon dodges deftly.

    “Quick,” Brakar admires.

    Athena backs the Cour de Leon away and draws out the mecha’s beam rifle. The deadliest markswoman in the Earth Federation Forces takes aim at the Dark Knight of Callisto.


    Jolie has chased the remaining mobile suits of the Callisto Armada’s second assault wave to the edge of the Frontier 8 Zone. Jolie’s Centurion Gundam fights the enemy mobile suits like an enraged tigress amidst a flock of sheep. The Zeon mobile suit pilots have absolutely no hope against her. One by one, Jolie has eliminated a total of sixteen mobile suits – without sustaining so much as a scratch to her Centurion Gundam.

    Jonah’s Centurion Gundam streaks onto the scene. He sees the carnage that Jolie is unleashing upon the enemy and is horrified. Although Jonah is happy to see Jolie in no great danger, he is shocked by the destruction that his beloved is wreaking. The pilots in those mobile suits might be Jonah’s enemies, but they are also human beings. Jonah can hardly bear the thought of what Jolie is doing to her soul taking human lives with such abandon…just like Jonah’s brother Alexander does.

    “Jolie, stop! Stop it!” Jonah exhorts through the tactical net.

    Jolie responds with a lightning quick vertical slash that cuts a Geara Doga-II in half. The mobile suit explodes.

    “No!” Jonah shouts, “Jolie!”

    “What are you doing here?!” Jolie demands, “You’re supposed to be backing up Athena and the rest of the squad!”

    “So should you,” Jonah challenges, “Why did you charge off like that without the rest of us?!”

    Jolie’s eyes narrow momentarily, “Since when do you question me, Jonah?!”

    Distracted by their private quarrel, Jolie and Jonah fail to notice the remaining enemy mobile suits closing on them.

    Jolie rushes forth, moving the Centurion Gundam into attack position again.

    “Jolie!” Jonah calls out helplessly, watching the Unit 1 charge into the enemy legions again.

    Jonah finds himself assaulted by a trio of Gaza-Es, engaging his Unit 2 with a flurry of missile fire. All Jonah can do is dodge, but a stray missile soon catches the arm-mounted shield of the Unit 2, destroying the shield.

    A second Gaza E closes in on the Unit 2 while Jonah is still stunned and reeling from the nearby explosion. Jonah’s eyes see nothing but bright spots of light, his body aches from the shock of abrupt impact. The Gaza-E draws its beam saber and digs it into the side of the Centurion Gundam.

    Not far away, an energy spark crosses Jolie’s eyes. Jonah’s in trouble!

    Quickly laying waste the mobile suits she had been engaging in battle with a salvo of beam rifle fire, Jolie streaks back to where had left Jonah just a moment earlier.

    Jolie’s heart runs cold with fear as she sees her boyfriend’s mobile suit being assaulted by three Callisto Zeon mobile suits, the beam saber of one of the enemy mecha approaching dangerously close to the Unit 2’s nuclear fusion engine.

    “GET AWAY FROM HIM!!!” Jolie screams, her eyes flashing with rage. She rockets the Centurion Gundam Unit 1 forward towards the Gaza-E twisting its beam saber into Jonah’s Unit 2, knocking it clear away from Jonah. As her mobile suit streaks by, Jolie uses the Unit 1’s other armored hand to extract the Gaza-E’s beam saber from the Unit 2, swinging it forward to destroy the Gaza-E with a single slash.

    Jolie twists the Unit 1 around to destroy a second Gaza-E assaulting Jonah’s Unit 2 with a well-timed, precise shot from her beam rifle. The accuracy of the shot pleases Jolie, who smiles and thinks to herself, I’d like to see ‘Thena top that shot!

    The odds against him reduced to one-on-one, Jonah, whose eyes have cleared and mind has settled, proves capable of taking the last Gaza-E himself, even with his damaged Centurion Gundam. Jonah grabs hold of the enemy mobile suit by the shoulders, pulling it towards his own mecha with the Centurion Gundam Unit 2’s powerful arms. Jonah guides the armored, reinforced knee of the Unit 2 up towards the Gaza-E’s monoeye, crushing the Zeon mobile suit’s camera/sensor unit. Blinded and stunned, the Gaza-E pilot is unable to react as Jonah extracts the Unit 2’s beam saber and disarms the enemy MS by severing its arms, legs, head-mounted cannon, and thruster backpack. The Gaza-E is left floating dead in space, inoperable except for the onboard life support system keeping the terrified pilot alive within the cockpit.

    Jolie admires the deft skill with which Jonah finished the last Gaza-E, “Not bad.”

    “Thanks,” Jonah replies, more for Jolie’s having saved his life than for complimenting his skills. He says nothing else to her. They would need to talk later, but now is not the time…not when the battle is still on.

    Assuming, of course, that they lived to see a “later.”

    Episode 5 to be continued...!

  18. #98
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    Episode 5 continued!

    Another flight of Callisto Zeon mobile suits approaches. Jolie and Jonah are ready for them, and this time, they are reinforced by their arriving comrades from the Special Forces.

    Jolie and Jonah lead the charge together as the Special Forces gain the upper hand.

    Seeing that the squad has the situation well under control, Jolie asks Jonah about a matter that has been nagging at the back of her mind for the past few minutes, “Jonah, where’s Athena?”

    Jonah replies, “I don’t know. I was in such a rush to come after you that I kind of just abandoned her and the rest of the squad.”

    “With all due respect, Chief,” cuts in the voice of Msgt. Karim Abdul Al-Said from his Guncannon-100, “that’s exactly what you and the lieutenant did. Major Ibaz ordered us to come support you: she stayed behind to confront an enemy unit, likely their commander and almost certainly their ace.”

    “Sergeant,” Jolie says, an apologetic tone in her voice, “Jonah and I going back to help Athena. You guys mop up here.”

    “Roger, Lieutenant,” Msgt. Al-Said replies, “You heard the Lieutenant, people: mop up remaining enemy mobile suits.”

    “Rejoin us after you’ve confirmed all enemy units neutralized, Sergeant…c’mon, Jonah!” Jolie says as she blasts the Centurion Gundam Unit 1 back in the direction where they had left Athena.

    The two Centurion Gundams rush forward, their pilots praying that their friend and commanding officer is all right.


    Athena’s aim is perfect, and her shot would definitely strike Brakar’s Gellond-S Type dead center through its cockpit…if only she had the chance to get the shot off.

    A split second before she can pull the trigger that would cause her Cour de Leon to squeeze its own armored finger upon its beam rifle’s trigger, Athena senses danger from behind. She spins and flips the Cour de Leon out of the way of a beam blast from one of the Callisto Armada’s capital ships with just picoseconds to spare. Had the blast connected, Athena and her aerodynamic mobile suit would have been reduced to cosmic dust.

    No sooner does Athena dodge that massive volley, however, than does she need to dodge a shot from the Gellond-S’s own beam rifle. A second volley is fired from another Callisto Armada battleship, and although Athena is able to avoid getting the Cour de Leon itself stricken by the blast, the enemy beam fire does heavily damage the Cour de Leon’s beam rifle, rendering it unusable.



    Major Athena Ibaz in MS combat.

    Caught between the Dark Knight of Callisto and a fleet of space battleships without her mobile suit’s long-range weapon, Athena’s best option is to transform the Cour de Leon into Waverider mode.

    Once again, Athena brings her mecha close to the hull of an enemy ship, rendering it impossible for that ship (too close to aim its long-range guns) or its sister ships (would hit the other ships) to bring their weapons to bear upon her. It also makes Brakar more tentative because he too is forced to be cautious about hitting his own side’s ships.

    Sure enough, Brakar receives that message from Admiral Constantinas herself from the bridge of the Artemis Moon, “Colonel Brakar: neutralize the enemy unit, but use extreme caution not to damage any of our own ships.”

    “It will be as you command, milady,” Brakar replies.

    To comply with the Grand Admiral’s orders, Brakar eschews his Gellond-S’s beam rifle for its beam tomahawk/saber. The key lies in drawing the Federal Forces mobile suit, a transformable aerodynamic type designed for high-speed maneuvering and long-range attack, to get in close enough to his Gellond-S to fall within range of the Callisto Zeon mobile suit’s close-in melee weapons.

    The Gellond-S cannot match the speed or maneuverability of the Cour de Leon. How can he tempt the enemy closer?

    Noting that the Cour de Leon has been stripped of its primary long range weapon by a stray blast from one of the fleet ships’ cannon, a ploy then forms in Brakar’s imagination, causing him to smile.

    Once again, the Gellond-S draws its beam rifle, not to fire it, but to gently lob it into space, where it floats equidistant between the Gellond-S and where the Cour de Leon has taken shelter along the hull of one of the battle carriers.

    Take it, Brakar urges the enemy silently, Come on, take it.

    Major Athena Ibaz sees the abandoned beam rifle and immediately understands Brakar’s intention. On one hand, Athena must give Brakar credit for coming up with an imaginative and daring strategy; on the other hand, she feels almost insulted that he would think she’s stupid enough to fall for such a ploy.

    At present, she and the enemy are at a stalemate, but Athena knows it cannot last. If Brakar decides to charge her with the Gellond-S’s beam tomahawk/saber, Athena will likely need to jet away from the hull of the Zeon battleship to give herself room to maneuver, but that will open her to more attacks by the cannon of the Zeon ships. There is also the likely possibility that there are additional enemy mobile suits that will join with the Dark Knight of Callisto to overwhelm her; Athena is confident, but not certain that Jolie, Jonah, and the rest of the Special Forces crew had eliminated the second wave of Callisto Zeon suits. Moreover, what of the enemy mobile suits last seen inside Freemont City? Had the allied units who stayed in the colony succeeded in eliminating them all, or would additional enemy units reinforce Brakar from that theater as well?

    A glint of light in the distance catches Athena’s eye for a brief instant. It is the light of the sun, peering over the rim of Mars in the distance to reflect upon the giant mirrors that collect solar energy and redirect it into the colony’s power generators, providing the space colony with an additional source of energy, warmth, and light.

    Another light goes off, within Athena’s mind. Recalling what she had read about the Earth Federation Forces’ Solar System weapon during the Battle of Solomon (the same battle in which Athena’s father, Prince Dozle Zabi of the Archduchy of Zeon, lost his life in combat against the Federal Forces’ 2Lt. Amuro Ray and the RX-78 Gundam), how the Federation used a weapon that concentrated, intensified, and redirected solar energy like a giant magnifying glass to unleash as a weapon of mass destruction against the Zeon fleet, Athena is struck by an instant’s inspiration.

    Firing two missiles to delay Brakar momentarily, Athena once again reconfigures the Cour de Leon to Waverider mode and jets back towards the Freemont Colony.

    Episode 5 to be continued!

  19. #99
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    Episode 5 continued...

    Frustrated that his enemy had not taken the bait, Brakar gives pursuit in his Gellond-S, stopping briefly to retrieve his mecha’s beam rifle.

    At least out in the open, away from the ships of the fleet, Brakar will be free to bring his considerable shooting skills to the fray without any qualms. The enemy had lost her own beam rifle, and her missile supply should be about exhausted as well. It should be only a matter of time.

    The Gellond-S is not as fast or as maneuverable as the Cour de Leon, but it is a tougher mecha with greater power. Brakar is confident that with the enemy mecha’s ammunition depleted, the upper hand belongs to him.

    Brakar maneuvers the Gellond-S in the direction of Freemont Colony, where the enemy MS had been last seen. The Callisto Zeon have been saturating local space with Minovsky particles in recent months in advance of their invasion of Frontier 8. The upside is that the enemy would not be able to detect their approach via radar or other long-range tracking technologies; the downside, obviously, is that the Callisto Zeon cannot track the enemy either.

    It’s times like this when I wish I were a Newtype, Brakar reflects, even though I don’t think they really exist.

    More than three decades have passed since Zeon Daikun theorized the existence of Newtypes, but despite the emergence of several Newtypes as turning-point figures of the Earth/Zeon Wars, many remain skeptical of their existence.

    During the era of the Zabis, the Axis Zeon of Haman Khan, and the short-lived Neo Zeon of Char Aznable, the Archduchy spent billions to research Newtypes and how they could be exploited as super-soldiers. Haman and Char, in fact, were said to have been Newtypes themselves. Brakar has never put much stock in those rumors; he prefers to believe that Newtypes are nothing more than the fanciful speculations of a dreamer and philosopher, exploited as propaganda by both the Zeon and the Federation alike. In Brakar’s view, success in combat is still determined, as it has always been, by a sharp eye, quick reflexes, and keen battle instincts, not some bizarre metaphysical “mind power.” One might as well believe in ghosts as in Newtypes…

    But just what was it that caused Brakar to spontaneously bring up his Gellond-S’s beam saber at that precise instant to block a viciously quick and unanticipated beam saber slash by the Cour de Leon, which had seemingly materialized alongside him as if it were a ghost?

    The Gellond-S and the Cour de Leon exchange a dozen thrusts, parries, slashes, and counterslashes. In fewer than ten seconds, it is over, the Cour de Leon having soared away into the ebony of space again.

    This one relies on speed and stealth, Brakar notes, Can she actually use it to overcome my superior power?

    Brakar is canny enough a combat veteran to understand that he must not let himself be goaded into pitting his weakness against the enemy’s strength. In a contest of speed and maneuverability, Brakar is at a disadvantage. He must force the enemy to play to his strength, which is his raw firepower and durability. He must fight for center, and not let the enemy lead him.

    Aboard the Cour de Leon, Athena realizes that her opponent is shrewd and cunning. He refuses to let himself be drawn from his spot, where Athena can do little more than harass him. Without her beam rifle, she cannot shoot at him. In terms of beam saber skills, he is no worse than her equal, and his mobile suit has superior armor to the Cour de Leon’s.

    If Mohammed cannot go to the mountain, Athena remembers an old proverb, then the mountain must go to Mohammed.

    Like all satellites, be they natural or artificial, the massive colony cylinders of Frontier 8 are in constant motion, orbiting the nearby planet Mars. Athena sees that the enemy has taken a geostationary position, avoiding movement because he believes that Athena is trying to force him from his “safe” position into a trap.

    That would have been the easiest thing to do, and it had been Athena’s original plan. Brakar, however, refuses to be a cooperative enemy.

    Among those who know her best, Major Athena Ibaz is known for a relentless tenacity - perfectly willing to move Heaven and Earth to eliminate an enemy. Despite her divine namesake, however, Athena is no goddess…at least not the kind that has the power to literally shift the configuration of the skies. She can shift strategies, however, to achieve the same effect.

    If the enemy wishes to stand his figurative “ground” (a strange metaphor in the endless expanse of space), Athena will let him: the mountain will go to Mohammed.

    That will mean, however, fending off the enemy’s attacks…a task that ironically will be made easier by the enemy’s refusal to move from his “secure” location.

    Athena checks out her armament status: her beam rifle is neutralized; the Cour de Leon is out of missiles; the beam saber still has a strong charge, but will require her to close in on the enemy to use.

    Athena switches to the Vulcan cannon, firing it to strafe the enemy’s Gellond-S.

    Brakar raises his mobile suit’s arm-mounted armored shield to deflect the incoming machine gun fire, which is too weak to be a threat to his heavily armored Gellond-S even without the additional protection of the shield.

    “Still trying to goad me to come to you, eh?” Brakar mutters quietly, “You’re not dealing with a green recruit, Feddie.”

    Almost casually, Brakar levels his Gellond’s beam rifle at Athena’s Cour de Leon and opens fire. Although Brakar’s aim seems almost lackadaisical, it is, in fact, carefully directed, and misses the Cour de Leon by mere centimeters.

    The shockwave from the proximity of the powerful blast jostles Athena a bit in the Cour de Leon’s cockpit, That last shot almost nailed me, Athena acknowledges, I need to be extra careful or I’m not going to last long enough to make my plan work.

    An immense shadow passes over the Cour de Leon; the Frontier 8 space colony Freemont, all six kilometers and one-hundred billion tons of it, blocking out the light from the distant sun.

    Behind the menacing armored figure of Colonel Gore Brakar’s olive and mauve Gellond-S rises the immense sphere of Mars. Set against this backdrop, Brakar’s mobile suit looks indeed very much like the “devil” of his nom de guerre.

    And to face a devil, one needs the heart of a lion…a cour de leon.

    Even as she fends off Brakar’s beam rifle blasts, Athena runs a series of calculations on her mobile suit’s combat computer. Athena graduated from the Earth Federation Forces Officers’ Academy earning the equivalent of Master’s degrees in spatial mathematics and astrophysics. Athena brings that training into use now; the slightest miscalculation of time, distance, speed movement, angle of motion, and dozens of other variables will render her ploy completely worthless.

    As improbable as moving a mountain indeed, Athena realizes.

    One more slash run to set him up, Athena resolves.

    The Cour de Leon dives towards the Gellond-S, deftly avoiding its beam rifle fire, spiraling in with its beam saber raised high.

    Seeing the Federal Forces’ transformable mobile suit approach too close to assault by using the beam rifle, Brakar draws the Gellond-S’s beam saber. A fierce duel ensues, again unresolved as the Cour de Leon withdraws again…once more out of sight.

    Unbelievably persistent, Brakar concedes, but also unbelievably stupid…to think I’ll fall into her trap.

    For the first time, it occurs to Brakar that he has been thinking of the enemy pilot as a woman…a very young woman, all along. It’s very odd; Brakar cannot see into the enemy mobile suit’s cockpit, and he has exchanged no oral communication with the enemy pilot, but somehow…he just knows there’s a young woman in there.

    A chill of realization runs up Brakar’s spine, Could Newtypes actually be real? And if they are, is it possible that I’m one of them?

    Brakar isn’t sure whether he should be thrilled or revolted by that prospect; he’s always believed that Newtypes, if they were indeed real, must be freaks. They couldn’t be real, “normal” human beings.

    Brakar has no further time to contemplate those possibilities, however, because the Cour de Leon faces him again, maintaining its distance, waiting for his next move.

    Episode 5 to be continued...

  20. #100
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    Episode 5 continued...

    The great mass of the Freemont Colony passes very close indeed; perhaps only one kilometer separates the colony’s outer hull from the single location where the Gellond-S has been situated for the past several minutes.

    The Cour de Leon appears to be resting with the colony at its back, standing dead still.

    In the back of his mind, Brakar senses that something is wrong. There is something about the Cour de Leon that strikes him as being awkward and different from when he saw the mecha just moments ago. It’s really Brakar’s first good look at the enemy mobile suit, as he had previously managed to only catch quick glances of it while exchanging beam saber slashes with it at high speed (and that damn Feddie girl is fast, he had to give her that).

    For a moment, Brakar wonders if his enemy could be the infamous “White Phoenix” that he and his comrades have heard so much about in recent months. The White Phoenix was known to be a young girl named Jolie Minh, and during the past several months, she has brought down the “White Wolf” Jen Matsunaga and the “One-Strike Killer” Braniff Oskar, perhaps the two best pilots to ever serve the Archduchy of Zeon Army after the “Red Comet” Char Aznable. Brakar has gained some measure of fame and a fearsome reputation as one of Zeon’s finest ace pilots, but even he admits that he’s always been a level or two below the likes of Matsunaga, Oskar, and Aznable. If the White Phoenix was able to defeat two of Zeon’s three top aces, Brakar shudders internally at his chances of surviving this battle against her.

    But no, this cannot be the White Phoenix. First, the White Phoenix is known to pilot a Gundam-class mobile suit. The enemy mobile suit facing him right now is an experimental model somewhat similar to Hyakushiki mobile suit (albeit transformable and more aerodynamic in shape) that Anaheim Electronics produced for the AEUG during the Gryps Conflict; it is not a Gundam-class mobile suit. Second, if Brakar had indeed been facing the White Phoenix, there’s no way he would have been able to last this long against her.

    Unless I’m seriously underrated or she’s seriously overrated, Brakar reflects with a smile.

    But there’s no time for doubt. There’s no time for hesitation. Doubt and hesitation kill more soldiers before beam weapons, missiles, bombs, and bullets do. Those who survive and win are those who act promptly.

    Brakar squeezes the trigger on his control joystick; a final shot erupts from the beam rifle of his Gellond-S, a deadly crimson beam of charged, high-velocity mega-particles that streak across space to hit the Cour de Leon dead center through the cockpit.

    Or so it seemed for an instant.

    The last thought half formed within Colonel Gore Brakar’s mind in the brief instant before the very beam that he had fired, the last shot of his career and his life, ricocheted back towards his Gellond-S and disintegrated him along with it was, If only I had observed and thought longer instead of acting in such haste. Well played, my enemy. Well played.

    Brakar’s mobile suit and his body disappear in a brilliant flash of silent light; Brakar’s soul discovers the truth of the Newtype. He had doubted their reality, but for the rest of eternity, their reality is the only one he will ever know again.

    And that’s good enough for him.

    Athena turns the Cour de Leon around, to watch the death flash of Brakar’s Gellond-S.

    The solar panel mirror of the Freemont Colony where the reflected image of Athena’s Cour de Leon continues to appear, the spot where Brakar’s final beam rifle blast ricocheted off of, appears undamaged, designed as it was to reflect powerful, concentrated light energy.

    Athena had used an improvised, miniature version of the Federal Forces’ “Solar System Mirror” weapon from the One Year War to destroy Brakar. Taking advantage of one of the Freemont space colony’s giant solar-power collecting and redirecting mirrors, Athena had cast a reflected image of her Cour de Leon that Brakar, deeply enthralled in the heat of combat to note as a reflection, shot at. Brakar’s beam energy was deflected by the mirror back towards Brakar too quickly and too unexpectedly for him to react. Had he observed the Cour de Leon more carefully for a moment, perhaps he might have noticed that the mecha’s markings and device dispositions were reversed…that the shield and beam saber were on and in the wrong arms. Athena had gamble that Brakar would be too preoccupied with the battle to notice such details, and her gamble paid dividends.

    For all the precise calculations necessary to pull that off, Athena realizes, in the end, it came down to playing probabilities.

    Athena has played and won enough games of chess and poker to realize that winning at war involves elements of both. Precise calculations are for naught if the probabilities of fortune are not on one’s side.

    Major Athena Ibaz has made a life and a career out of putting herself on the advantageous side of numbers.

    And speaking of numbers, two mobile suits approach. The Cour de Leon’s combat computer identifies them as friendlies: 1Lt. Jolie Minh and Chief Warrant Officer Jonah Michaels’ twin Centurion Gundams.

    “’Thena, are you OK?!” Jolie’s voice comes through the tactical net, “we saw that explosion and were worried sick that you were…!”

    Athena says, “I’m fine…but you and Chief Michaels won’t be doing so well after we return to the ship. You know better than to charge off like that without orders, Jolie. We’ve talked about this before.”

    “But I…” Jolie begins, then grows quiet as she realizes that Athena is right. As always. Damn her.

    Jonah, reflexively sticking up for Jolie, says, “Major Ibaz, ma’am. 1Lt. Minh…”

    “Now isn’t the time to discuss this,” Athena says, cutting him off, “We have a mission to finish.”

    Episode 5 to be continued...

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