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Mobile Suit Gundam - The Second Century (Part 3: The Dark Side of the Moon) - Page 3
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  1. #41
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Episode 10 continued...

    The White Phoenix Gundam swings around to confront its enemy and antithesis, the Omega Gundam.

    Even with Christian and the Draco Gundam momentarily occupied and taken off Jolie by her SNRI comrades-at-arms, Jolie finds Jo-M and the Omega Gundam more than challenging enough an adversary.

    For Jolie, the experience is reminiscent of her duel against the Phobos Zeon ace Kyoko Yamaguchi five years earlier, but Kyoko…in terms of her person and more importantly, her fighting technique, was only similar to Jolie…not identical. There was still plenty of room for them to surprise each other, which Jolie did to narrowly defeat Kyoko in their duel-for-the-ages, but fighting Jo-M is, for Jolie, precisely like fighting a mirror image of herself. Every move she makes, Jo-M seems to anticipate; Jolie can only be thankful that the inverse is no less true.

    And then, there's the discrepancy of their war machines: Jolie never thought she would see the day when the White Phoenix Gundam would be outclassed: the OG has five times the WPG's raw power, a more variegated and sophisticated array of weaponry, far heavier armor, an I-Field, and, most importantly, that Biosensor…far superior to the one deployed on the WPG, which had been cutting edge as recently as five years ago.

    As Camille frequently reminds Jolie, in the realm of mobile suit technology, the progress made in five years might as well be five lifetimes. The WPG had been long overdue for an upgrade to its Biosensor, but, as Jolie now realizes, General Blackhead had been diverting most of the Federal Forces' (and especially SNRI's) to building his new Titans Corps. Camille never had the resources to upgrade the WPG's Biosensor the way he wanted to – those resources were allocated almost entirely to the Omega Gundam.

    All this, in practical terms, results in Jolie and the WPG's being batted around quite soundly by the Omega Gundam. Jolie gets her shots in, but as a consequence of the OG's thick armor and I-Field, isn't doing as much damage as she wishes she could.

    The WPG narrowly avoids a volley of powerful beam blasts that come very close to nailing it; Jolie's superior combat experience and training are keeping her in the fight, and Jolie believes that if she can drag the battle out long enough, she can make use of that experience and training to overcome the OG's superiority…but Jolie doesn't know if she has that time. Ahead of her, Jolie can see the Shambala Defense Guard taking heavy casualties at the hands of the United Forces. She might have only minutes before the colonies of Shambala are within range of the United Forces' WMD.

    Jolie opens fire with a devastating volley of beam and missile fire, which the Omega Gundam, belying its enormous bulk, dodges with an unexpected litheness and speed.

    Damn! Jolie curses, she's as fast as I am!

    The White Phoenix Gundam and the Omega Gundam exchange dozens of volleys, shifting position faster than the human eye can follow. Feints, dodges, parries, vicious power attacks…all come into play as the advantage shifts microsecond by microsecond, millimeter by millimeter.

    Jolie is momentarily distracted by a distant explosion, caused by Christian's Draco Gundam destroying two SNRI mobile suits. Her thoughts turn to her friends, Eric and Chieming, and her fallen subordinate 2Lt. Rayann Zhang…

    The moment's distraction is enough for the Omega Gundam's attacks to penetrate Jolie's defenses, resulting in a hit to a critical avionics relay that sends the White Phoenix Gundam spinning out of control.

    Jo-M's voice, a chilling duplicate of her own, comes through Jolie's helmet audio monitor, "I am Jolie Minh; this world doesn't need you anymore…Oldtype."

    Jo-M gathers her PSI-energy, projecting it through the Omega Gundam's Biosensor…

    A white phoenix of PSI-energy projects forth from the Omega Gundam.

    Jolie's forehead sparks…a second white phoenix of PSI-energy emanating from the White Phoenix Gundam.

    The two energy streams meet in the cosmos, obliterating any objects, be they mobile suits or space debris, which approach too close. This is no longer a battle of mecha: it is a struggle between humanity's newly tapped cosmic potential…of a force within humanity that it has barely begun to comprehend or control…

    For a long minute, there is stalemate…nothing unexpected, considering that Jolie and Jo-M are genetically identical.

    Jolie begins feeling the pressure…the strain…as the Biosensor boost given to Jo-M begins overwhelming her.

    Jo-M says as she presses her advantage, "Christian loved you, Jolie, but you didn't love him back. That's why this is how it will end for you. Christian and I are one; if you're going to destroy him, then I have no choice but destroy you first."

    It dawns on Jolie that Jo-M might be right; she feels her consciousness dimming, as if the entire cosmos is closing in on her. She is the White Phoenix…but she cannot spread her wings.

    Jolie once again draws upon her experience…not a specific combat maneuver as understood in conventional terms, but the experiences of her life. Jo-M spoke of her oneness of Christian, and Jolie is reminded of the darkest moment of her life…

    Jonah…

    He seems to appear before her, smiling that reassuring, gentle smile that had warmed her heart so many times in days long gone.

    I'm here, Jolie…

    Their essences merge…as they had in the past…

    Jolie's eyes flash and she snarls at Jo-M, "You dare to lecture me about love…about being one with another! Jo-M, you don't know anything about it!"

    The White Phoenix PSI-energy, having taken on a shimmering quality, surges forth, overwhelming Jo-M's PSI-energy, feeding back through the OG's Biosensor.

    Jo-M finds herself engulfed in a storm of lightning, the energy burning the core of her flesh. Blood seeps forth from her nose and mouth.

    Christian…the dying Jo-M casts her thoughts painfully.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *************

    Jo…Christian responds, distracted long enough for Major Gardner to nearly bring the Draco Gundam down.

    Christian…I'm sorry…I…

    Jo-M's presence fades…unreachable now.

    "NO!" Christian bites out, his eyes welling with tears.

    Christian disengages the Draco Gundam from the Centurion Gundam-2, throwing its arm-mounted shield like a missile at the CG2.

    Eric intercepts the incoming missile-shield with a single slash of the CG-2's beam saber (a trick Amuro had taught him years earlier), but before Eric can follow through, he is startled by the sight of the Draco Gundam appearing with dazzling speed right in front of his linear seat cockpit's forward monitor, its bulk looming over and filling his field of vision.

    Eric has the wind sucked out of his lungs as he feels the impact of the Draco Gundam's kick directly into the CG-2's gut, right on the cockpit hatch. Most other men would have been knocked out cold, and even the resilient Major Gardner finds himself stunned.

    Christian gives Eric no respite; the youth uses the Draco Gundam's armored fists to batter the CG-2's head unit to scrap.

    Satisfied that Gardner no longer poses any immediate threat to him, Christian vectors the Draco Gundam towards Jolie's White Phoenix Gundam.

    "Christian," Eric groans, fighting painfully to get his breath back, "They aren't lies. Stop, before you…"

    The CG-2's combat computer flashes a warning to Eric that a Crossbones Vanguard MS combat squad is approaching his team's position. Christian is on his own…

    Major Gardner switches to secondary camera units located (of all places) at the joint between the CG-2's legs; his mobile suit vectors off to join with his comrades, his woman included.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** **********************

    Jolie prepares to open fire on the smoldering, unmoving Omega Gundam with all of the WPG's weapons systems, but to her surprise, the OG converts to mobile armor configuration, and vectors away…towards Side 3, at full afterburner speed.

    What th'? Jolie wonders, puzzled. Then, her eyes widen as she comes to a horrible realization, "Oh my God!"

    Jolie prepares to convert the WPG to Wavediver configuration, but is forced to dodge a vicious incoming volley from Christian's Draco Gundam.

    Christian's eyes burn with liquid flame, his face twisted in an enraged scowl as he snarls out, "MURDERER!"

    Jolie's says nothing in response, focusing all of her attention on dodging the enraged youth's incoming strikes, drawing upon her eight years of veteran experience as a combat pilot to evade or counter Christian's furious, relentless onslaught.

    Blinded by tears of rage and grief, Christian brings the Draco Gundam's entire arsenal to bear against the White Phoenix Gundam.

    "Heartless b*tch!" Christian screams, "All we wanted was to live together in peace, but you! You wouldn't let us!"

    So saying, Christian unleashes another torrent of firepower against the White Phoenix Gundam.

    To any other MS pilot, the incoming firestorm would be unavoidable, and even Jolie is close to her breaking point…

    Christian Ray's eyes flash with an infernal flame as he bites out, "Jo-M deserved to live much more than you ever did! You're just a puppet! A toy for sick, evil men! A killing machine!"

    Words…or rather sentiments…that hurt much more than any weapon ever could...

    Jolie feels an enormous pressure bearing down on her, and the cosmos is momentarily inverted like the negative exposure of an old photographic film…and then the image of flaming dragon as massive as the universe itself bears down viciously upon her, threatening to sweep her away.

    Having just expended a great amount of her PSI-energy to defeat Jo-M and the Omega Gundam, Jolie cannot erect a defensive shield of PSI-energy against Christian's incoming psionic onslaught, but the youth's complete focus on his PSI-attack has created an instant's opening in his defense that would become manifest in…three seconds.

    Jolie takes aim with the White Phoenix Gundam's beam rifle, directly where the opening will emerge…

    She has time for only one thought – I'm sorry, Christian…

    Without an instant's hesitation, Jolie locks onto the target…both with the WPG's targeting systems and her mind. Her eyes are cold and intensely focused…nothing in them but the target and its destruction.

    A single beam rips forth from the barrel of the WPG's beam rifle, a stream of hyperaccelerated Minovsky particles rushing towards its target at a speed just under that of light.

    The beam lances through the center of the Draco Gundam, instantly incinerating its cockpit.

    In the instant before the beam strikes, Jolie senses Christian Ray's last thought…Jo-M…

    Jolie opens the visor of her helmet, disengaging the targeting system…the fiery eyes of the hunter soften to eyes flooded with grief.

    Jolie blinks away tears the tears quickly as her rage and deadly focus quickly reassert themselves.

    Minerva Zabi…

    Jolie transforms the WPG into Wavediver configuration and sets a vector into the Side 3 Zone.

    To be continued!

  2. #42
    Senior Member Melanie's Avatar
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    Hey! Surprised to see me here? I actually started reading those excerpts you sent me. I chose to start off with the introduction of Christian Ray, because he is the character that intrigues me the most. I love him! He's young, mischievous, and quite rebellious, but he's infinitely fun to read! He reminds me a lot of Yang Guo. I never liked Yang Guo very much, but so far, I like Christian Ray. I pity him, too. Spending time in an orphanage without the love of a parent must be difficult. It is no wonder that he is in awe with Jolie and so much in love with her, as she is the first person who shows some faith in him. However, I don't like where Christian Ray's crush on Jolie is going. He seems to idolize her, whereas I get this vibe that she only sees him as a kid, a little brother. This situation can turn sour pretty quickly... Men can be pretty unforgiving and vindictive when they don't get what they want.

    One more thing... I'm quite shocked every time Jolie slaps Christian Ray! I don't believe in corporal punishment and have never hit anyone in my life, so each time I read about these smacks, I reel back and cringe. You described Jolie as such a beautiful angel that it is hard for me to imagine an angel hitting her student.

    Oh, and the smoking! Goodness, I couldn't believe that Jolie passed a cigarette to Christian Ray! He's only seventeen! People shouldn't be smoking, regardless of age! (Please excuse the excessive exclamation marks. )

  3. #43
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melanie View Post
    Hey! Surprised to see me here?
    Delighted, but not surprised. I expected you to appear eventually (and "eventually" has finally come).

    I actually started reading those excerpts you sent me.
    YES!

    I chose to start off with the introduction of Christian Ray, because he is the character that intrigues me the most. I love him! He's young, mischievous, and quite rebellious, but he's infinitely fun to read! He reminds me a lot of Yang Guo.
    Yeung Gor was indeed the character template for Christian Ray. Through Christian, I wanted to show the dark side of being a character like that.

    I never liked Yang Guo very much, but so far, I like Christian Ray. I pity him, too.
    Spending time in an orphanage without the love of a parent must be difficult.
    Yes, and Christian has the additional burden of constantly being compared to a great, heroic father who was widely loved and respected (which is the opposite of Yeung Gor's situation in ROCH). Christian resents his father for two reasons: Amuro (dad) wasn't there for him when Christian was a child, and because everybody expects Christian to be like his dad. Christian is talented, as his father was, and he's not devoid of heroic qualities, but he hates living in his father's shadow.

    It is no wonder that he is in awe with Jolie and so much in love with her, as she is the first person who shows some faith in him.
    They're kindred spirits, in many ways. They share many things in common, and Jolie feels a sense of responsibility towards him: Christian's father is her idol, and saved her life when she was a little girl. She feels that caring for and training Christian is the right way to repay the debt she owes to Amuro. Consequently, perhaps, her feelings towards Christian are more that of older sibling towards younger sibling, which takes us to the next point...

    However, I don't like where Christian Ray's crush on Jolie is going. He seems to idolize her, whereas I get this vibe that she only sees him as a kid, a little brother. This situation can turn sour pretty quickly... Men can be pretty unforgiving and vindictive when they don't get what they want.
    Yes, and this is indeed their predicament. Although there is clear affection between Jolie and Christian, it's also clear that Christian is dissatisfied with the character of that closeness. He doesn't want Jolie to be his "big sister;" he's in love with her and desperately wishes she could be in love with him as well (but she's still in love with her dead husband, Jonah, and that's not going to change).

    One more thing... I'm quite shocked every time Jolie slaps Christian Ray! I don't believe in corporal punishment and have never hit anyone in my life, so each time I read about these smacks, I reel back and cringe. You described Jolie as such a beautiful angel that it is hard for me to imagine an angel hitting her student.
    They're military personnel in a Japanese-style military, and this sort of discipline, for better or worse, isn't uncommon. Goodness knows that when Christian's father was young, he got slapped around often by his superior officer, and so did Jolie (by Athena) when she was a rookie. Christian has a problem with authority (again, similar to Yeung Gor), and Jolie wants to make sure the kid understands that she's not going to tolerate that nonsense in her command. After a while, though, he begins to get the picture (besides, he's too smitten with her to not comply with her orders).

    Oh, and the smoking! Goodness, I couldn't believe that Jolie passed a cigarette to Christian Ray! He's only seventeen! People shouldn't be smoking, regardless of age! (Please excuse the excessive exclamation marks. )
    Heh. It's emblematic of the messed up world they live in...and how screwed up their own youths are. We're talking about a bad girl and a bad boy here, after all.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. #44
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Episode 10 continued...

    The damaged Omega Gundam docks on autopilot with the Mapother, the combat-converted cargo ship that has long served as Deputy Prime Minister Minerva Zabi's personal flagship.

    A crew of technicians and mechanics rush to service the battle-scarred mobile suit, quickly repairing or replacing damaged components to make the MS combat-worthy again on short notice.

    Minerva and Hathaway rush to an elevator crane, which carries them to the cockpit hatch of the mecha. Minerva enters a security code to open the hatch.

    The mortal remains of Jo-M, still helmeted and normalsuited, sits lifelessly at the controls.

    Minerva opens the visor of Jo-M's helmet; the beautiful, youthful face of Jolie's clone is the paleness of the death.

    Minerva reaches out to that face, which is cold to the touch.

    Minerva extracts a handkerchief from her breast pocket to wipe away the trails of cold, dried blood running forth from a corner of Jo-M's lips and nostrils.

    Minerva holds Jo-M close to herself for a long, silent moment.

    Simple gestures that say everything words cannot.

    "Hathaway," Minerva whispers at last.

    "I'm here," Hathaway answers softly.

    "Take care of her," Minerva answers.

    By that, Hathaway understands that Minerva means nothing less than interment with full military honors.

    Hathaway takes Jo-M's remains gently into his arms, asking Minerva, "What about you?"

    Minerva gazes up at the Omega Gundam, undergoing emergency repairs.

    "Min," Hathaway says disapprovingly, "You can't…"

    "Nobody else will," Minerva cuts her husband and confidante off, "Jolie won't, and Jo-M…no longer can. Everything depends on this, Hathaway…everybody…including her."

    Minerva's flesh right hand touches her slightly bulging abdomen gently.

    Hathaway stares hard at his wife for a long moment, then his gaze softens as he kisses her, "I understand…but you need to understand: if you aren't coming back…don't expect me to stay here alone."

    Minerva acknowledges that vow silently, and then sprints for the pilots' lockers.

    Hathaway watches regretfully as his wife…the love his life departs for combat…praying that this will not be the final memory they share together.

    ************************************************** ***************

    The United Forces Armada has bludgeoned its way through the Shambala Republic Defense Guard's defensive perimeter in lunar orbit and is within minutes of penetrating Side 3 proper.

    SNRI Forces attack the United Forces Armada from the rear while the Shambala Defense Guard sends in a second wave of defenders, but despite this two-pronged attack, General Manron Blackhead and Meitzer Ronah lack no confidence that Side 3 will fall within hours.

    "Major Almqvist," Blackhead rumbles grandly, "Can we presently deploy our medium-range weaponry on targets within the Side 3 Zone?"

    The gunnery tech replies, "Yes, sir. All targets within the Side 3 Zone are presently in range of our medium-range weaponry."

    Blackhead shifts his weight and answers, "Very well. Arm a ten-megaton Mjöllnir. Target: Amsterdam Colony."

    Colony 11 of Side 3, Amsterdam, population: 1,374,962. A residential colony; no military garrison. Defenseless other than small civil defense patrols.

    "Target: Colony 11, locked," Major Almqvist intones coldly, "Mjöllnir armed and ready to fire."

    "Deploy Mjöllnir," Blackhead orders.

    "Mjöllnir now deploying," Almqvist acknowledges, "Three minutes to contact."

    With some difficulty, Blackhead rises from his seat, leaning upon his cane. He wants to be standing for the moment…

    ************************************************** *****************

    Civil defense mobile suits and gunnery batteries from Shambala Defense Guard warships attempt to intercept the incoming Mjöllnir missile, but the missile's onboard avoidance-systems and I-Field render their valiant efforts futile.

    The missile closes in on the Amsterdam Colony, whose evacuation population has barely been evacuated.

    The initial impact is barely perceptible, except to those in the immediate vicinity of the collision.

    Then, it comes…swiftly, brutally, unrelentingly…light that blinds even through the strongest protective lenses, concussion that tears through and crushes even the most well-built steel structures as if they were made of crêpe paper, and finally, heat that melts titanium as if it were ice and flays skin from muscle, and muscle from bone and cartilage.

    There is time, perhaps a second, for the one-million inhabitants – men, women, children – to experience the horror and pain of nuclear death before they vanish from the universe forever.

    The flash fills the bridge of General Blackhead's flagship.

    The General lights a cigar, regulations be damned, dropping a match to the deck plates and crushing it with the heel of his boot.

    Blackhead gazes at the ballooning flash with satisfaction and grumbles lowly, "That was for our beloved Earth…dirty, degenerate Spacenoid swine."

    "Major Almqvist," Blackhead orders, "Arm another Mjöllnir.Target: Colony 18, Kyoto Colony.

    Another metropolitan colony, population similar to that of the disintegrated Amsterdam Colony.

    The missile is armed and readied for firing…

    ************************************************** *****************

    Meitzer Ronah watches the action dispassionately from the bridge of his flagship.

    Blackhead is a fool, the leader of the Cosmic Babylonia reflects as he watches Kyoto Colony disappear in a shining nuclear balloon that resembles a miniature sun, Wasting our firepower on these useless targets. But let him have his pleasure…in the end, my objectives will be met.

    ************************************************** *****************

    From the bridge of the La Kaelum-II, General Bright Noah of the Earth Federation Forces smashes his fist angrily against the forward bridge console.

    "Those bastards!" Bright rages, "Murderous scum and bastards!"

    "Sir," a mobile combat group tech reports, "SNRI Forces are taking heavy casualties; they have not been able to penetrate the enemy's defenses."

    "Have you been able to raise the White Phoenix Gundam?" Bright asks hopefully.

    "Negative, sir," comes the reply, "We lost contact with Major Minh-Miguel twelve minutes ago. No sign of her, sir."

    "Damn it!" Bright rages again.

    A veteran of hundreds of battles, Bright has never felt this helpless…

    General Noah takes to his command seat, "Gather our fleet: we're moving in to back up SNRI."

    ************************************************** *****************

    In her office on the top floor of the Hall of Parliament in Shambala City, Prime Minister Artasia Daikun receives word from frantic aides about the destruction of Amsterdam and Kyoto colonies; in a matter of minutes, two million of her people have been murdered by monsters in the form of men.

    Artasia contains her outrage, asserting a calm strength that she knows she will need if she is to save the rest of her people.

    "Step up all evacuation efforts," Artasia orders calmly, "Let's get our people out of harm's way."

    Minerva, Artasia casts her thoughts towards the cosmos,whatever you have in mind, please hurry; our people are dying…

    ************************************************** *****************

    Minerva dons her helmet and rushes to the boarding gantry of the Omega Gundam; the mobile suit is not in the best possible condition, but Minerva's engineers have deemed it combat worthy, if only marginally so.

    It will need to suffice.

    Minerva boards the cockpit of the Omega Gundam and brings its combat systems to life; the onboard combat computer and Biosensor immediately recalibrate themselves from Jo-M's synaptic wavelength to Minerva's.

    "Minerva Zabi: Omega Gundam, launching!"

    ************************************************** *****************

    The White Phoenix Gundam finds itself ringed by a squadron of Crossbones Vanguard mobile suits led by Carozzo Ronah himself.

    "I've got no time to waste with you!" Jolie snarls, tearing into her enemies.

    So saying, Jolie opens fire with the White Phoenix Gundam's missile batteries and beam cannon, flaming a half dozen CV mobile suits and scattering their battle formation.

    "Clip her wings!" Carrozzo Ronah orders, "This phoenix's flying days are done!"

    The CV mobile suits converge around the WPG, attempting to hem them in, but Jolie cuts through them with the WPG's beam saber.

    Suddenly, powerful beam strikes from another vector down one, two, then three CV mobile suits…strikes that did not come from the White Phoenix Gundam.

    "Omega Gundam!" Carrozzo Ronah growls.

    With a precision born of the years they shared as comrades-at-arms, Jolie and Minerva make short work of the remaining CV mobile suits…immolating more than two dozen enemy MS between them.

    Only one CV mobile suit escapes…that of Carrozzo Ronah.

    "May you send each other to hell!" Carrozzo curses as he leaves.

    Their common enemies destroyed or driven away, the Omega Gundam and White Phoenix Gundam turn to face each other once again…

    …one last time.

    In the cockpits of the two mobile suits, the two young women who pilot them regard each other across the short expanse of space…the distance between them actually much greater than that.

    Deep in their hearts, through all the years they have known each other…and fought alongside each other, each of them has wondered…and feared the answer…of what would happen if they faced each other in a battle to the death.

    Jolie's eyes burn with fiery rage; her blood boils for retribution.

    Minerva's eyes, characteristically, are colder, seeing an obstacle that must be removed.

    Minerva Zabi…Athena…

    Jolie…


    The two Gundams seem frozen in time, unmoving, until the death flash of another space colony in the Side 3 Zone reminds them what is at stake.

    When she was Lt. Col. Athena Ibaz of the Earth Federation Special Forces, Minerva was known as the fastest shot alive…in or out of a mobile suit cockpit. Although she has not actively served as a combat pilot for five years, her skill has not eroded. The draw of the OG's beam rifle, the shot…is faster than even Jo-M could have managed, and surprises Jolie enough to blast the WPG's own beam rifle out its armorshod hand.

    Having lost her MS's primary long-range armament, Jolie draws the WPG's beam saber and charges towards the Omega Gundam, plunging its tip towards the larger mecha's midsection.

    Minerva has anticipated the move, and counters by deploying a swarm of psychom funnels at the WPG.

    Jo-M didn't have the experience to properly use these,Minerva reflects,or she might be alive now.

    Minerva, however, does have abundant experience in deploying psychom weapons, and sends them towards Jolie in a dozen deadly trajectories.

    Jolie's eyes flash as she instantly calculates those trajectories, anticipating the vectors from which the incoming shots will come, and deploys the WPG's own psychom funnels to counter.

    The dozens of funnels mutually annihilate each other, the two mobile suits soaring up to evade the hellacious explosion their weapons have created.

    Behind them, in the distance, another ballooning mass of star-flame claims another million souls…

    "Get out of the way!" Minerva bites out, "While you're fighting me, millions of people are dying! I gave you the chance to make a difference, and you threw it away!"

    "It's because of you that all this is happening!" Jolie snarls back, "You were the one who created Jo-M! You were the one who used her to seduce Christian! I had to destroy both of them to clean up the mess you created…Zabi!"

    So saying, Jolie converts the White Phoenix Gundam's beam saber into its beam javelin configuration and hurls it directly at the Omega Gundam with the full force of the WPG's arm.

    The javelin flies straight and true towards the Omega Gundam at multiple mach speed, threatening to impale the OG through its cockpit.

    The OG swats the beam javelin aside with a sweep of its mighty armored right fist.

    Jolie catches Minerva off-guard with a maneuver that the latter did not anticipate as Jolie rams the shoulder of the WPG into the chest of the OG at full force, the momentum of the blow knocking both Gundams towards a derelict industrial colony.

    The Omega Gundam and the White Phoenix Gundam plow through the hull of the colony, crashing into a district of volatile chemical facilities (some still active), tumbling over gasometer bulbs, fuel lines, and exhaust stacks. Fires ignite all around them, casting an unholy glow upon both Gundams…giving them a distinctively demonic appearance.

    Jolie works the WPG's controls frantically, directing her mobile suit to tear frenziedly at external components of the OG, ripping out weapons systems, maneuvering thrusters, avionics nodes…doing damage that seems superficial, but could cripple the enemy MS if it continues to accumulate.

    Minerva uses the OG's titanic strength to hurl the badly damaged WPG into a cluster of gas containers; she then opens fire with the OG's remaining guns, setting the volatile chemicals within on fire.

    Unlatching the safety harness of her cockpit seat, Jolie opens the reinforced cockpit hatch of the WPG, defying death as she leaps clear from the cockpit, activating her normalsuit's vernier maneuvering thrusters.

    Minerva lays down more firepower on the gas containers, creating a hellacious explosion that engulfs the remains of the WPG in flames.

    At 100 meters above the hellish scene, Jolie draws a magna-cable reel from her normalsuit's waist belt. Jolie aims the tool at the armor of the Omega Gundam, attaching herself to the MS and reeling herself in.

    Minerva reverses the polarity of the Omega Gundam's armor, causing Jolie's magna-clamp to disengage from the OG's shell, but not before Jolie catches a handhold on the armor, hanging on for dear life.

    Minerva uses the OG's armored hand to attempt to brush Jolie off…an armored giant slapping at an annoying gnat.

    Jolie Minh-Miguel, however, is one of the most nimble human beings ever to have lived – she swings easily from protrusion to protrusion from the OG's armor, maneuvering herself closer to the cockpit hatch.

    Jolie gets atop the cockpit hatch of the OG as Minerva prepares to take the MS out of the colony and into open space again.

    Have to stop her!

    Using her sidearm, Jolie blasts open the access panel to the hatch controls, punching in the access code.

    The cockpit hatch swings open.

    Jolie reaches into the cockpit, grabs Minerva by the throat of her normalsuit.

    Minerva tucks her legs back and kicks Jolie out of the cockpit; she disengages her seat restraints and rises, drawing her sidearm.

    Jolie does not give Minerva the chance to fire her weapon, pulling on Minerva's flesh-and-blood right arm…the one that holds the pistol, and pulling Minerva out of the cockpit with her.

    The two young women tumble into somersaults, both landing on their feet.

    Minerva comes up shooting, denying Jolie the opportunity to pull out her own sidearm and fire back.

    Jolie charges, getting in close where Minerva cannot aim her weapon, twisting the other young woman's firing hand with her own, trying to force her to drop the pistol.

    Minerva swings her bionic left arm backward, catching Jolie with backhanded slap across the face that sends the younger woman reeling.

    Were it not for Jolie's superior training and reflexes, and her Newtype intuition, that blow would have cleanly decapitated Jolie; glancing blow though Jolie rendered it, however, she is still sent reeling. Her vision blurs as pain explodes through her skull.

    Don't hit her middle, something inside Jolie's head says, Not in the middle!

    Jolie clears her head just in time to dodge Minerva's shot.

    Jolie runs towards a nearby abandoned salvage yard, taking cover amidst its mounds of wreckage.

    Minerva notes the number of rounds left she has in her weapon and holsters it, turning back towards the Omega Gundam.

    Jolie stalks Minerva across the towers of metal and plastic refuse she has scaled. Minerva is less than fifty meters from the Omega Gundam.

    Jolie kicks at a strategically-placed piece of salvage, sending the mound into an avalanche.

    Minerva sees the tons of debris toppling towards her and dodges to the side.

    A huge plume of smoke rises where the mound has collapsed, apparently burying both Jolie and Minerva alive…

    NEXT...THE GRAND FINALE!!! AFTER FOUR YEARS, THE END OF MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: THE SECOND CENTURY!

    Coming soon...

  5. #45
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    FINAL GUNDAM!

    From his flagship, General Manron Blackhead surveys Shambala Colony…capital of the Shambala Republic, and once also the capital of the Archduchy of Zeon and the Zeon Republic before it. It was there that, a half century ago, Zeon Zum Daikun first proclaimed the dawning of the Age of Newtypes…and it is here that Blackhead plans to end his daughter's regime.

    "Major Almqvist," Blackhead says, savoring the words, "Arm a Mjöllnir. Target: Shambala City."

    "Yes, sir. Mjöllnir presently arming. Target acquired and locked. Ready to fire on your order, sir," Almqvist replies.

    "Not yet," Blackhead says, sadistic pleasure dripping from his voice, "Let's have a little more fun with them first before the coup de grace. Ready gun batteries."

    The beam gun batteries of the Titans fleet swivel towards Shambala Colony, raking it not with enough power to bring it down, but enough to cause multiple fires and explosions within Shambala City, further hampering evacuation efforts and claiming hundreds of lives.

    Blackhead grins at the carnage, "Degenerate Spacenoid vermin…now you know what we Earthnoids endured at your hands."

    Blackhead lights a fresh cigar; he decides that when it has run its course, so too will the Shambala Republic.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *************

    Jolie sees her enemy…her friend…her sister…in the darkness, seated on a dirty, greasy old canvas…surrounded by walls of crude, rusted sheet metal…empty crates and castoff mechanical parts scattered across the floor of the small space.

    A setting most unbefitting a former duchess and a current deputy prime minister…and unbefitting a final confrontation of such significance and consequence.

    Minerva senses Jolie's approach, and wearily, but steadily extends her sidearm in her flesh right hand…her cybernetic left limb disabled.

    Jolie extends her own sidearm…of a similar make and model to Minerva's own…a gift from long ago.

    Minerva squeezes the trigger of her weapon.

    Click.

    Empty…as she had known it to be.

    Minerva throws her useless firearm aside.

    Minerva offers Jolie a wan smile, "You've won…you've become as good as I hoped…and as good as I feared…you'd one day be."

    Jolie lowers her own weapon and steps forward…close enough to look Minerva in the eye.

    They hold each other's gaze for a long, silent moment before Jolie exhales and says poignantly, "This place…it's just like my old shack in Industria Colony…the place where we first met."

    Minerva hangs her head in resignation, not bothering to take in the condition of her immediate environs, but knowing what Jolie says to be true.

    "It's been eight years," Jolie says, "Eight f*cking goddamn years, 'Thena. Remember what you said to me when you first asked me to join the Federal Forces?"

    Minerva lifts her head to face Jolie with fiery eyes, but says nothing.

    Jolie continues, "You said that we'd change the world together…that we would make it a world where there'd be no more war…where no kid would ever be orphaned by war like you and I were."

    Minerva sighs, "Eight years…"

    "It was so long ago that it hardly seems real," Jolie says softly, "I was just a girl then…a street punk…a delinquent. I was scared…I was lonely…and I was hopeless. I was going to live out a dead-end life in that shack…on those streets…and I was going to die on those streets…maybe violently, while I was still young, or maybe of hunger as a crazy old bag lady when I was sixty."

    Minerva confesses, "You were a useful tool; if I didn't use you, someone else would."

    "Don't give me that," Jolie says, "I don't buy it, and neither do you. I know you, damn it. You took me in…you treated me like a sister…really a sister…and you taught me everything you knew, from how to conduct a war to how to wear a uniform with pride…how to be an officer…and how to be a woman. 'Thena…I wanted to be you. I tried to be you after I became leader of the Centurion Team. I couldn't…but I know…I know that if not for you, I'd have died alone in that godforsaken ghetto colony. On the saddest day of my life…the day I lost Jonah…you held me in your arms and shared my grief. I owe you…everything, 'Thena."

    Minerva whispers, "Don't forget that I tried to kill you. You owe me nothing, Jolie. Don't let what's past stop you from doing what you must: I taught you better than that."

    "You did," Jolie says coldly, lifting the muzzle of her pistol to Minerva's head, "So this is the end…Minerva Zabi."

    Jolie's finger tenses on the trigger…once again, Jolie senses a mysterious second presence within Minerva…something…somebody unable to form words, but pleading with Jolie to relent.

    And then, Jolie's eyes widen with alarm as the truth finally becomes clear to her…

    "You…'Thena, you're…!" Jolie begins.

    Minerva rises rapidly from her spot, attempting to grab at Jolie's weapon with her one good hand. Jolie turns the weapon away from Minerva and, with a quick, measured blow to the side of her neck, knocks Minerva unconscious.

    Jolie catches Minerva as she droops slowly to the ground, allowing her friend to fall gently.

    "Damn it, 'Thena," Jolie mutters, "Why didn't you tell me you were going to have a baby?!"

    Not that the "why" matters now…although upon a moment's reflection, Jolie understands why. Jolie had once nearly become a mother herself…she understands the desperation that must have driven Minerva to her choices.

    Jolie knows what must be done…Minerva taught her that much.

    Jolie lifts Minerva's meager weight and carries her unconscious friend out of the shack, away from the salvage yard towards where the Omega Gundam and the wreckage of the White Phoenix Gundam rest.

    Jolie carefully seats Minerva in the reinforced escape cockpit escape pod of the White Phoenix Gundam, placing Minerva's helmet back on her head and strapping her friend securely into the seat.

    Jolie looks upon her sister one last time, affectionately running her fingers across the smooth, pale complexion of the young woman with whom she has shared so much over the past eight years.

    "Goodbye, 'Thena. Take care of yourself and your family…you were always my family…my sister. I love you so much."

    Jolie tenderly embraces Minerva one last time, then seals her friend's helmet and the cockpit hatch of the WPG. Working quickly, she programs the cockpit pod to jettison, with a course set to Shambala City.

    Momentarily, the cockpit pod disengages and separates itself from its nacelle within the abdomen of the wrecked White Phoenix Gundam; the pod orients itself, and then makes it way through an access hatch out to empty space.

    Jolie pauses a moment to watch the pod depart, and then turns to the Omega Gundam, its open cockpit waiting for her.

    Major Jolie Minh-Miguel seals her helmet and boards the Omega Gundam…setting out on one final, all-important mission.

    "Major Jolie Minh-Miguel: OMEGA GUNDAM, launching!"

    One last time...

    ************************************************** ************************************************** **********************

    The streets of Shambala City are sheer pandemonium as millions rush to flee the approach of apocalypse.

    A young woman falls to the street; her husband, in a vain attempt to protect her, throws himself on top of her. Momentarily, they are trampled to death by their own neighbors…people with whom, just days earlier, they had exchanged jokes and pleasantries…people who bear them no malice, but are driven by sheer terror…by a desperate desire to live…

    A little girl, just six years old, screams desperately as thousands rush blindly past her on streets aflame with chaos. Her parents cannot hear her. She has no idea where they are…or if they are even still alive…lost in a relentless tide of frightened humanity.

    An old man who came of age in the early years of space colonization, when the colonies were still a source of wonder and hope rather than cause for strife and war, offers no resistance…cannot offer any resistance…as younger, stronger men desperately pull him away from the passenger access door of a shuttlecraft…one of thousands quickly pressed into service for the most desperate evacuation in human history. The young men dash the senior to the ground, letting the old man fall forty feet to the cold, hard, metallic deck below.

    It's just as well, the old man reflects. He'd had his share of living. Survival would just mean facing the horror another day. Let the young men fight for that chance.

    Maybe that little girl he saw earlier would have a chance…

    Maybe…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** ******************

    Across Side 3, hundreds of thousands of similar scenes play out in hundreds of thousands of different venues and contexts. These are fundamentally decent people, but unparalleled fear and desperation has buried the decency within them.

    Prime Minister Artasia Daikun, having delivered a multimedia appeal to her people to remain calm as the Shambala Defense Forces prepare for their imminent evacuation from Side 3, leaves her office at Shambala Parliamentary Hall and takes to the streets of Shambala City. Deep down, Artasia knows that despite the civil defense forces' best efforts, billions would be caught in the firestorm.

    Artasia has already resolved that she must be there, on the streets, with her people…for her people. She helps them in every capacity in which she is capable…as a leader, directing them to safety…as a medical doctor, aiding the wounded…as a soldier, taking up arms to protect them, if necessary.

    Artasia undertook an oath to protect, represent, and lead the people of the Shambala Republic. If she fails to fulfill her duty to them…then she will perish alongside them.

    Her father…and her brother, Cassoval, would expect no less of her.

    She expects no less of herself.

    But Artasia has another expectation…one that is flickering…fading, but not yet extinguished.

    Minerva…

    No...not Minerva...Jolie Minh?


    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************

    SNRI, backed by the dozen or so warships that represent what remains of the once mighty Earth Federation Space Armada, throws all of their resources against the combined armadas and mobile suit legions of the Titans and the Crossbones Vanguard.

    SNRI and the Federation Armada fight valiantly, but they are heavily, overwhelmingly outnumbered and outgunned. Their valiant forces manage to hold their own, but are unable to make any real headway towards the enemy armada bearing down on Side 3.

    "Eric!" Captain Chieming Noah, "the enemy fleet is almost within range of Side 3! The Shambala Defense Guard's ranks are collapsing!"

    "Hang in their, Chibi…we're gonna get through," Eric replies through gritted teeth.

    Deep down inside, though, Eric comes to a heart-deadening realization.

    We're not gonna make it in time…they're not gonna make it…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************

    The NRX-206 Omega Gundam bursts forth from an industrial colony of Side 3, catching a squadron of enemy mobile suits off-guard!

    Major Jolie Minh-Miguel of the Earth Federation Forces deftly directs the mighty mobile suit against the gauntlet of combined Titans and Crossbones Vanguard MS…three dozen in total, each piloted by General Manron Blackhead and Meitzer Ronah's handpicked, specially trained, elite Newtype Corps commandos.

    The enemy units surround the Omega Gundam in a Probert Attack Formation, devised by the twisted mathematical genius and tactician Dr. Leonard Probert. A prodigy who earned his first doctorate in advanced theoretical mathematics and applied physics at the age of fifteen, Dr. Probert was coveted by both the Earth Federation Forces and the Archduchy of Zeon Forces during the One Year War, but apolitically refused to serve either side in the conflict, sharing the ideology of neither the Federation Legislature nor the House of Zabi. Nor could AEUG move the great mathematician during the Gryps Conflict, much less the original Titans Corps. Only when his good friend Meitzer Ronah, with whom Probert had matriculated at Heidelberg University in Germany on Earth, shared with Probert his vision for a Cosmo Babylonia did Probert become willing to lend his talents to the science of space warfare.

    Probert had published a treatise on probability, published in U.C. 0064, aptly titled Probert on Probabilities, which revolutionized the study of probability (at least, among the few who understood its esoteric nature).

    As applied to warfare, Probert has created what has been deemed the perfect, unbreakable battle formation. For each additional combat unit in the formation, the combat potential of the overall formation increases exponentially…two mobile suits have the effectiveness of four, four the effectiveness of eight, eight the effectiveness of sixteen, etc. Moreover, the formation accounts for every possible vector of attack or evasion possible, ensuring that any enemy target caught within the formation will meet its destruction, no matter how it maneuvers…unless the enemy pilot can anticipate the incoming attack vectors and adjust to precisely the one (not fixed nor constant, but rapidly moving and changing) vector that will momentarily allow the pilot to avoid catastrophe. The formation closes in, however, winding tighter and tighter to ensure that at some point, no vector of escape is possible.

    Dr. Probert's attack formation has proven effective in all simulation exercises, and has worked well against every enemy target it has been deployed against…

    …but how will it fare today against the White Phoenix and her Omega Gundam?

    The Titans and Crossbones Vanguard mobile suits surround the Omega Gundam, taking their places in the Probert Attack Formation, hemming the larger, powerful mecha in.

    Jolie reaches out with her mind…targeting each of the thirty-six incoming mobile suits and locking in on them with the Omega Gundam's weapons systems.

    Before she can deploy the weaponry, however, the thirty-six enemy targets seem to become, improbably, exponentially more than that.

    Jolie finds herself seemingly hemmed in on all sides…her agile Newtype mind frantically searching for an escape vector, but as soon as she locates one, it closes off and a deadly beam or missile emerges instantly in its place, forcing Jolie to parry or evade, which only forces her into an even deadlier vector.

    Jolie regroups her senses, then reaches out with her mind again…encompassing all possible vectors from which enemy fire might come, and all evasion routes that the enemy might cut off…anticipating, pushing the OG into a series of movements that exceed its design capability.

    Jolie senses a route…one will close within an instant. An instant she won't have…

    …but she will have eternity.

    Throwing aside caution, Jolie launches a frenzied counterattack, successfully downing one, two enemy targets, but the remaining enemy units regroup the formation, pulling it in tighter, hampering the Omega Gundam's ability to maneuver.

    Inevitably, the incoming enemy fire seems to lance forth from every possible vector simultaneously, striking the Omega Gundam. The OG's thick Gundarium alloy armor absorbs some of the damage…the I-Field absorbs part of the beam energy. Jolie dodges most of the solid ordnance

    Inevitably, however, a strike gets through all of Jolie's defenses and defies her attempts to evade.

    A missile penetrates the armor of the Omega Gundam, igniting sparks that line a crucial fuel line; the explosion drives shrapnel through even the armored, reinforced cockpit of the OG.

    "Combat systems compromised," intones the dispassionate voice of the OG's operating A.I., "Automated guidance and navigation systems failing."

    Jolie wearily reaches a bloodied, gloved hand to the console display, switching to manual control.

    Jolie coughs, a severe pain rising in her chest…crimson blood spurts forth between her lips.

    Jolie's eyes flash. Three shots…two hits, one miss.

    A Crossbones Vanguard MS tags the Omega Gundam, causing further damage, rattling Jolie around the cockpit of the OG as if she were a rag doll, further aggravating her already severe internal wounds.

    Jolie knows she's bleeding internally…her ribs broken, likely puncturing her lung…or worse.

    Jolie feels her consciousness beginning to fade; she resists with sheer willpower. She needs to stay with it…just a…few…more…minutes.

    Jonah…

    She sees him reaching out to her.

    Jolie shakes the image away, screaming violently…in pain, in rage, in an unshakable determination to fulfill her duty…her final mission.

    Jolie's eyes flash, mirroring the flash of the Omega Gundam's eyes.

    Jolie's mind tracks as many vectors as there possibly are stars in the universe…her brain, her entire nervous system, feels as if it is on fire…she sees into the future…a microsecond…an eternity.

    The OG twists through a series of contortions that cause most of its maneuvering systems to momentarily falter…stabilizes, and then contorts again as the OG deploys all of its remaining weapons systems…smashing the enemy formation and immolating dozens of mobile suits, but not before taking more critical hits, including several that send more showers of shrapnel through the cockpit module…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** **********************

    A decade later, in U.C. 0116, Dr. Probert would publish a second treatise,Probert on Probability Reconsidered, whose central thesis would be an extended exegesis upon how the White Phoenix, Major Jolie Minh-Miguel, had achieved what Dr. Probert had previously determined to be probabilistically impossible.

    "What Major Minh-Miguel achieved was, perhaps, not actually impossible," wrote Dr. Probert, "After all, she did do it. To frame the improbability of what she accomplished in concrete terms, however, imagine this: astronomers believe that 900 sextillion stars occupy the known universe: Major Minh-Miguel's success in breaking the formation, albeit at heavy cost in terms of damage to her mecha, would be akin to shooting a beam of light randomly from some distant part of the universe and having that beam of light touch a precise, designated spot on the surface of the Earth. Her singular feat necessitated a complete reexamination of my earlier thesis. "


    ************************************************** ************************************************** **********************

    Heavily damaged, the Omega Gundam lumbers past the wreckage of its enemies, on its way to one final confrontation…

    Jolie painfully coughs up another lungful of blood onto the back of her gloved hand, the visor of her helmet shattered wide open. She knows he has very little time left…

    Shaking her head clear, Jolie recalls the data file that Dr. Camille Vidan had left behind for her…the words still lingering in her mind.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *******************

    Jolie,

    This is a doomsday plan. I pray to God that you never need to use it.

    The initial design plan of the Omega Gundam was conceived by Amuro Ray in U.C. 0090 as a hedge against weapons of mass destruction that the Neo Zeon, the Titans, or other hostile powers might develop. The advent of the Solar Ray, the Psycho Gundams, to say nothing of the colony drops, convinced Amuro that such a resource was necessary, if regrettable.

    The Earth Federation did not see the value of the Omega Gundam design at the time, deeming it too expensive and too dangerous to risk building. Perhaps that was a rare moment of sagacity by the Federation's leaders, but the Omega Gundam project, barely in its infancy, was abandoned in mid-U.C. 0091 in favor of the RX-93 Nu Gundam, which incorporated a portion of the technology originally planned for the Omega Gundam.

    After Char Aznable's attempt to drop Axis on Earth and Amuro's consequent death in U.C. 0093, the Federation reopened the Omega Gundam file for consideration, turning over the data that Amuro had compiled to me. I agreed to continue development of the Omega Gundam, even as I began the initial designs for what would become the Centurion Gundam and the White Phoenix Gundam. Those were powerful mecha, to be sure, but the Omega Gundam was a different story altogether.

    The Omega Gundam features superior power, armor, sensory and navigation suites, and weapons systems to any mobile weapon preceding it…but these do not represent its full strengths. The true secret of the Omega Gundam lies within its nuclear fusion engine, and its Biosensor booster built into the mecha's control system. Keyed to a unique genetic code, the Biosensor can synergize the PSI-energy of a Newtype with the nuclear fusion energy of the Omega Gundam itself, producing a destructive effect the magnitude of which we can only speculate, but possibly could destroy all human life within the Earth Sphere. It's a terrible weapon – for a terrible, desperate moment I pray none of us will ever need face.

    The genetic code that activates the Omega Wave is yours, Jolie. Should that desperate moment ever come, you will decide. I have come to trust in your wisdom to know what to do when that moment comes.

    I must warn you, however, that to use the Omega Wave is to make the ultimate sacrifice. If you use it, you absolutely will not survive it.

    I pray foremost that the day will never arrive when you must use it; I pray secondly that if the day does arrive, you will use it wisely.

    Camille


    ************************************************** ************************************************** *******************

    Jolie, her consciousness fading in and out, pulls it together sufficiently to understand…to understand the reasoning behind the creation of the Omega Gundam, and the reasons that Athena wanted it so desperately…and that Athena had wanted her to join the Shambala Defense Guard…and ultimately activated Jo-M when she refused.

    Athena must have known, likely through Hathaway's network of spies, that the Crossbones Vanguard and the Titans had built new stockpiles of WMD and had plans to use them on Shambala. Athena would also have realized that although she had access to colony laser technology, that technology had become off-limits for all applications aside from the restoration of Earth's ecosystem, and that seizing colony lasers for combat use would have breached the accords reached by the Shambala Republic and the Earth Federation.

    The Omega Gundam, whose existence was not publicly known, was Athena's best bet...her Hail Mary play.

    Damn it , 'Thena…nothing ever is that simple with you, is it?

    With a weary grin and deep sigh, Jolie pushes forth on the Omega Gundam's thrust level.

    The OG's powerful thrusters, sputtering, wrecked, nevertheless propel the MS towards its final encounter…its last shooting.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****************

    On the bridge of his flagship, General Blackhead stubs out his cigar. The moment has come.

    "Prepare to fire remaining Mjöllnir missiles at Shambala Colony," Blackhead orders, "Use 'em all, boys. It's extermination time."

    The United Forces Armada converges around Side 3…fifty units of nuclear-armed ordnance spread among its ships, now being mounted into launch tubes and readied for firing at the homeland of Zeon.

    The Mjöllnir missiles, each bearing a one-hundred-megaton nuclear warhead, are brought to bear upon the colonies of Side 3, whose evacuation had started over a dozen hours earlier, but was far from complete.

    At least a billion would die.

    "Ten seconds to Mjöllnir deployment…nine, eight, seven, six…"

    Blackhead lights a final victory cigar as the seconds tick down…

    "Mjöllnir missiles are away," the bridge tech announces.

    "General Blackhead," a second tech announces, "Enemy mobile suit detected at thirty kilometers…signature reads Omega Gundam."

    "Immaterial," Blackhead says, flicking ashes from the end of his cigar.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** **********************

    From the cockpit of the Omega Gundam, Major Jolie-Minh Miguel tracks the incoming Mjöllnir missiles…fifty of them, not with the OG's sophisticated array of surveillance equipment, but with her mind.

    Jolie activates the OG's inertial dampeners to anchor the mighty mobile armor in place, then channels energy into the MS's nuclear fusion engine…all of it…

    I'm on my way, Jonah…be there for me…

    Jolie unleashes herself…all of herself…into the Biosensor of the Omega Gundam. True to its design purpose, the Biosensor relays that energy into the nuclear fusion engine…

    A powerful aura of energy…spanning hundreds of kilometers…radiates forward from the core of the Omega Gundam…assuming the form of a white phoenix…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** **********************

    A brilliant, blinding flash fills the bridge of the Dreadnought Titan…of every ship in the Titans' and the Crossbones Vanguard's joint armada…a flash like the death of the cosmos, or the birth of a new one…

    Pleasure has given way to utter terror on the face of General Manron Blackhead, as his cigar falls from his gaping mouth onto the deck plates of the Dreadnought Titan's bridge.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *******************

    A vengeful white phoenix of pure PSI-energy radiates outward from the Omega Gundam…inundating empty space with brilliant light…

    Aboard one of hundreds of space shuttles, cargo ships, and warships…rapidly pressed into service as vessels of salvation…attempting to depart the Side 3 Zone in the most desperate exodus in human history…a child points out the view port, "Look, Mama…Papa! A white bird!"

    The passengers aboard the shuttle press themselves against the view ports to gaze, dumbfounded, at the fantastic sight before them…a vast field of white light…shaped like some great white bird…stretches its wings across the perimeter of Side 3…suspended in the cosmos…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************

    The Mjöllnir missiles, each capable of disintegrating a 30-kilometer long space colony, converge upon the energy field…unable to avoid it.

    The warheads make contact with the growing field of white energy…silently and safely disintegrating into vapor, harming no one.

    The energy continues to reach out…similarly vaporizing thousands of Titans and Crossbones Vanguard mobile suits, and hundreds of their warships. The mightiest war machines human technology has ever devised, capable of destroying a world, are reduced to nothingness.

    Blackhead screams in terror and pain as the energy consumes him body and soul…thirty years late, but welcome by a universe into which he had brought so much death and suffering…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** **********************

    Jolie feels herself disappearing as the Omega Gundam's armor streams away around her…the energy she has unleashed against her enemies consuming her as well.

    Jolie experiences a tranquility…a calmness unlike any other sensation she has ever felt. There is no sorrow in her heart now…no anguish…no conflict…no anger…no hatred…no regret…only a sense of contentment that all will be well…that those whom she loves will live on.

    Farewell…

    The universe turns white as the White Phoenix fades from view of the mortal eye forever.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** **********************

    From the streets of Shambala City, in the shadow of the Shambala Republic's Parliamentary Hall, Prime Minister Artasia Daikun and tens of thousands of her fellow Shambalans stare in awe at the sight of the White Phoenix…preserving them all from the fiery doom that evil men had chosen for them.

    Artasia's Newtype mind senses Jolie's fading presence, and the leader of the Shambala Republic falls to her knees in relief…and in gratitude.

    Jolie Minh…thank you…for all my people, thank you…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** ********************

    Aboard the Earth Federation Forces' flagship Amuro Ray, President Mirai Yashima-Noah, General Bright Noah, and Col. Christina McKenzie raise their hands and bow their heads in solemn salute.

    A tear trickles silently from the eye of Col. McKenzie.

    Major Minh-Miguel…Jolie…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** ********************

    Aboard the cockpit of her Cour de Leon, Captain Chieming Noah shakes her head violently in disbelief. When she can finally find her voice, all she can manage is a choked, anguished scream, "That light…Eric…is Jolie…?"

    Chieming can hear the tears in her fiancé's voice as he replies slowly, "Jolie saved us. All of us…but she's gone…Chieming, she's gone…"

    Chieming gives into sobs of grief she cannot hold back, pounding vengefully on the monitor of her mobile suit.

    After a long moment of crushing, unbearable grief, a comforting thought rises in Chieming's mind…

    Jolie…Jonah…finally, you're together again…together…forever.

    "Goodbye, Jolie...we love you...all of us, and we'll never forget..." Chieming whispers mournfully, remembering that long ago day when she first met that relentless, vivacious sixteen-year old with the fiery eyes and the long, raven black hair who represented everything Chieming herself wanted to be…everything that Chieming has since become.

    The mobile suits of SNRI, having mopped up or sent into retreat the last of the remaining Titans and Crossbones Vanguard mobile suits, fire their beam rifles into the cosmos in tribute to their fallen comrade-at-arms…their leader.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************

    From their flagship, now on a course to the Frontier Space Colonies far beyond the Earth Sphere, Meitzer Ronah and his adjutant, the masked Carrozzo Ronah, look back at the White Phoenix with angry, vengeful eyes.

    We lose today, Meitzer reflects, but tomorrow belongs to us. The White Phoenix can't protect them anymore. Whether it takes twenty years or thirty, the Cosmic Babylonia will rise to rule this universe…

    Meitzer turns to Carrozzo, patting the younger man on the shoulder and offering him an enigmatic smile. The two retire to plot their future…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************

    Minerva Zabi stirs…taking a brief moment to get her bearings before becoming cognizant of her surroundings.

    A brilliant white flash reaches Minerva through the external viewport of the reinforced escape pod.

    Minerva's Newtype sensitivity instantly comprehends what has happened.

    "No…" Minerva bites out, tears flooding her eyes, "Jolie…no, damn you…no…"

    Jolie…you fool…you damned fool…why did you do it?

    The answer comes through Jolie's voice in her head, For you, Athena…for you, for your child, and for all the people we swore to protect. Be a good mother, Athena…and a good leader of the people.

    Through her tears, Minerva spots the approach of her husband's Oglu Aslan mobile suit, which embraces the escape pod as a loving father would embrace a child…

    Through sobs that she struggles to control, Minerva brings her hand to her abdomen, which has finally started to notably swell…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************

    Jolie feels herself outside her body…outside the known limits of the universe, in a place of pure tranquility, warmth, and light…

    Here, there is no fear, nor pain, nor loneliness…she senses presences…familiar, comforting presences, enveloping her with feelings of utter love and security.

    She hears a familiar, gentle voice calling her name.

    "Jonah?"

    He appears out of the light, as handsome…more handsome than she remembers, smiling lovingly at her, reaching out to her, "Jolie…I've been waiting. We've been waiting. Welcome home."

    Beyond Jonah, Jolie senses other presences…which quickly take recognizable, but ethereal forms…Jolie's father, mother, brother…and a little girl whom Jolie knows to be the daughter she thought was lost to her.

    Jolie drifts gently into Jonah's embrace, and the light carries them away…to tides of peace that sweep across the cosmos.


    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************

    July 14, U.C. 0106…

    In the Shambala Republic's Hall of Parliament, applause and wild cheers greet the signing of the White Phoenix Accords, securing friendship between the Shambala Republic and the Earth Federation Government, by Shambala Prime Minister Artasia Daikun and her Earth Federation counterpart, President Mirai Yashima-Noah.

    The two national leaders, having once been comrades-at-arms aboard the White Base, are also friends whose bond has been forged across decades. The war-weary citizens of the Shambala Republic and the Earth Federation can, at long last, rest assured that the handshakes, embraces, and smiles exchanged by their leaders are backed by a sincere desire to establish and maintain a lasting peace between their nations.

    Absent from the celebration of peace, however, are two figures instrumental in making it possible. One, because she is no longer a part of the mortal plane…the other, because she is presently laboring to bring a new life into it…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************

    "Nnnnnnnnnghh!" Minerva grunts, her beautiful, still-youthful face betraying the effort she is expending in the long, difficult work of delivering her child into the world.

    Hathaway Noah gazes lovingly at his wife's pleasantly-shaped derrière, a pleasurable enough experience under more familiar circumstances, but under present circumstances…infinitely more so. Within view is the head of their daughter, slowly emerging into the world.

    "Unnnnnngh!" Minerva grunts again, straining with through her pelvic muscles, moving the baby back and out by another centimeter.

    Backand out because, to facilitate the all-natural birth, Minerva has assumed a hands-and-knees all-fours position on the warm, comfortable rug within the ranch home that she and Hathaway share in the rural district of Shambala's capital colony, ten kilometers from the center of Shambala City where the Hall of Parliament stands.

    Hathaway places warm, comforting hands along the side of Minerva's compact, firm buttocks…massaging her gently to ease the tension and assist her pushing efforts. Hathaway marvels at how little pregnancy has transformed Minerva's superbly sensual, graceful feminine figure (other than the obviously swollen belly); her physiological architecture remains alluring even under present circumstances.

    Not that such thoughts are remotely near Minerva's mind as she pants, then abruptly holds her breath, and grunts through tightly shut lips as she strains again, feeling a fullness in her bowels and burning, stretching sensation between her thighs.

    Hathaway gingerly places his hands around the crown of the emerging child's head, smiling as he says tenderly, "It won't take much longer, Min...hang in there."

    Minerva lets out a short, weary laugh, and says, "Easy for you to say…you're not the one pushing."

    Another powerful contraction forces Minerva into another grunt and push…more pronounced and painful than before, "UNNNNNGHHHHH!"

    "That was good, Min…that one got her whole head out," Hathaway says reassuringly.

    Minerva pants and, to Hathaway's surprise and dismay, begins sobbing.

    "What's wrong, sweetie?" Hathaway asks, concerned.

    Minerva shakes her head and pants weakly, "Hathaway…that last one…took everything out of me. I don't think…I can push anymore."

    Hathaway places his hands reassuringly alongside Minerva's buttocks again, saying softly, "Just rest a minute, honey. Don't try to do it all at once. Gather yourself…"

    Minerva, her head going light, seems to discern a familiar, wispy form in front of her.

    "Jolie…?" Minerva whispers wearily.

    You've always been strong, the apparition seems to say in words heard by Minerva alone, be strong again now…for her.

    The apparition fades.

    Minerva lifts her head, shuts her eyes tight, her teeth clenched in a rictus of supreme effort…gathers the remains of her strength and bears down one final, climactic time into her bottom.

    "MMMM….NNNNNGHH!"

    Hathaway collapses into tears of joy as his daughter topples forth into his loving hands, and takes her first breaths…and utters her first cries.

    "Min…she's…she's just like you. She's…beautiful…so beautiful," Hathaway chokes out.

    Minerva, still on her knees and hands, leans back to an upright position as Hathaway places the baby between her thighs.

    Minerva looks down upon her newborn child and smiles beautifully, tears of joy streaming down her face.

    "I love you…Jolie Athena…," Minerva whispers to her child.

    Jolie Athena Noah…born into a world at peace.

    THE END

    Thanks to everybody who has read and commented over the past few years. Hope you've enjoyed it. Perhaps more stories will follow...in the future.

    ...but for now...sayonara!

  6. #46
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    end of an era
    Participate in SPCNET Idol Season 4!!!

    http://www.spcnet.tv/forums/showthre...66#post1127566

    Entries due July 31st, 2016!

  7. #47
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    A new portrait of our story protagonist, Earth Federation Forces ace mobile suit pilot Maj. Jolie Minh-Miguel.


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