The year is 289 LC.
With the reluctant approval of High Chancellor Danella Tagar, Operation Prodigal has been set into motion. The daring and preposterous Captain Kan has lead a successful effort to capture the EES’s new prototype Gundam Reta. Spearheaded by the successful infiltration of the Red training program by special agent Satie Skye, Operation Prodigal is off to a smashing success. Unfortunately for the crew of the Jiha stealing the unit is only half the task. With the entirety of the Arden fleet in pursuit of them, it becomes critical for the heroes of the Republic to stay one step ahead of the enemy…but that will be no easy task.
On board the Jiha:
The triumphant Satie Skye steps out her new Gundam. She is greeted with cheers and chants as she does and they are well earned. Not only did she successfully infiltrate the high security facility, made it to “Red” in less than three months, got out clean with the target, but she held off Rhegal Lucas in a real fight. Maybe people would start recognizing her for her accomplishments.
Satie looks down at the EES emblem on her space suit. She can’t rip it off fast enough. As the loading lift carries her down her fellow pilot Nick Fitzgerald steps out his unit, the Gundam Gatsby. The suave and sophisticated gentleman with coiffed blonde hair and vermillion eyes tips his hand and graciously bows to her. Satie tips her hand back at him. It would appear that the entirety of the rest of the crew is there to greet her.
As Satie steps off the lift she is warmly embraced by the self appointed “mother” of the ship, First Officer Commander Alla Yoko. Just shy of thirty, an inch short of six foot, white haired, with amber eyes the Commander was a comforting…and aprapo of her rank…and commanding presence. She is the reason, focus, and diligence behind the Jiha.
As Commander Yoko steps aside the incomparable and incorrigible Captain Kan steps forward. Grinning from ear to ear the thirty odd man’s man, tall, with his signature sunglasses, jet black slicked back hair, and still not wearing a shirt underneath his coat. He wraps Satie in a giant bear hug and spins her around as he lifts her up. As he steps aside he wraps his arm around his first officer’s shoulder.
The instant the captain is out of the way, Cadet Franz Allister rushes forward. The awkward auburn mop top is overjoyed to see his friend in good health.
“Satie! I missed you!”, he screeches as he stumbles into an awkward hug.
“So I see you’re still the same old Franz”, she mutters as she reluctantly hugs him back.
Franz tries to ever so slyly slide his hands.
“Did you miss me…Sates”, he says in an excruciatingly forced low baritone.
With a single hand Satie easily shoves him aside.
She sighs, “Yup. Same old Franz.”
While Commander Yoko is busy chewing the cadet out the ship’s coms officer, Maria Andalu steps forward. A few years older and a few inches shorter than Satie, her luscious candy apple hair compliments her caramel skin, but what is most striking is her eyes. Those jade pools shimmer with a shine that betrays her as Starborn as well.
“Good to have you back pilot”, Maria says with a cool reserve all the while empathically projecting passionate warmth.
“It’s good to be home”, Satie says as she empathically reciprocates with cool distance.
Maria picks up on it and winces slightly. She is content with a handshake and quietly excuses herself back to her post.
Next the haggard old veteran, Lieutenant Kao son Jinn steps forward. The stress of his difficult life does not rest easy on his shoulders. His prematurely greying hair is poorly combed and his teal eyes brim with sorrow and pain. Kao nervously avoids Satie’s gaze.
“Old man”, Satie greets him.
“Young Wan”, Kao replies.
Satie takes off the necklace and goes to hand it to the lieutenant but he refuses it.
“No no no! That’s yours now”, he insists.
“She’d be proud of you.”
His compliment doesn’t quite sit right with her. Satie visibly flinches.
“Yeah yeah”, she sneers.
Lastly there’s Ensign Gabriel Milton. A somewhat short man with long, wavy black hair and eyes red like rubies. With much dramatic flare he quietly salutes Satie who returns the gesture in kind. Only the two of them really know what it means. He glances over at Commander Yoko with disdain in those eyes but only for a brief moment.
Only a few seconds later the alarms go off and Maria is heard over the speakers, “Enemy approaching!”
“Everyone to battle stations”, Captain Kan starts issuing orders, “Fitzgerald get the Gatsby ready for the jump.”
“Good Captain, I don’t know if he can take it”, Nick responds.
“He’s going to have to”, Kan retorts as a matter of fact.
“Milton, I need you to launch with the Paradise”, Kan commands.
“Yes sir”, Gabriel replies.
Satie starts to move the lift into position so that she can board the Reta.
“Skye, stop!”, Kan barks.
“But sir”, Satie tries to argue.
“Don’t “but sir” me pilot!”, Kan snaps back, “Alla, tell her.”
“Those are orders Skye!”, Commander Yoko shouts.
“I’m good to go.”
“This isn’t about you Satie”, Kan rebuffs her.
“We’re not going to risk losing that suit. So get down now!”, Yoko demands.
With a hard sigh Satie relents, “Yes ma’am.”
“Good. Commander?”, he asks Yoko
“Yes sir”, she replies.
“Would you escort me to the bridge?” he says as he extends his arm for her to hold on to.
Being greatly annoyed she responds, “Can please take this a little seriously?”, as she obliges him.
“Let me think…Uh, no”, he coyly smiles as he speaks.
Gabriel Milton suits up and climbs into the Gundam Paradise, an “L” series warp fighter.
“Before their eyes in sudden view appear
the secrets of the hoary deep, a dark
Illimitable ocean without bound,
Without dimension”, he says as he prepares to launch.
Maria relays his ok to launch and he does so. Jettisoning off into the void of space. As he flies out he sees the two “L” series warp fighters that followed the Jiha. He prepares himself for two vs one combat as the Gundams Prejudice and Karenina that just blinked out of warp.
On board the Laconia:
Alexandras is overseeing preparations to launch her fleet. For all this calamity to befall them she is grateful that the were more or less restocked and ready to ship out. They have to be ready to make the jump the instant her pursuit units make contact. Depending on where the enemy warped that could be three hours or twenty minutes.
While she’s quietly fixated on ship formations Lord Rhegal enters the bridge. He stands tall and salutes her.
“Your orders Admiral?”, he asks her.
“I will meet you in my office in due time, Captain”, she curtly responds.
“Yes ma-am”, he replies without hesitation and excuses himself from the bridge.
After relaying a few more orders to her Grays, commissioned officers, she excuses herself and heads toward her office. There Rhegal is inside and he snaps to attention as Alexandras walks in. Alexandras stands ominous and still until the sliding door closes behind her. Once it does they run into one another’s arms and kiss.
“Are you alright my love?”, he nervously asks her.
“Am I alright? She could have killed you”, she half scolds him.
“Yes she could have but against anyone else she would have killed them.”
“Now is not the time for braggadocio, Rhegal”, she scoffs.
“Alex, I assure you that I am not.”
“Is she really that good?”
“Her numbers, unlike everything else, are not a lie.”
She holds her hands together tight, anxiously clasping and unclasping them.
“When we engage them I have to take point against her”, he tells her.
“I know”, she says holding back her frustration and fear.
“I can’t sit back and watch as my Reds die.”
“Yes. I know, and that’s why everyone loves you”, she smiles faintly.
Rhegal grabs her by the sleeve and pulls her in and they hold each other tight.
“I won’t tell you not to but I am ordering you to come back alive. Be our hero not a martyr”, she says as she rests her face against his chest.
Rhegal takes off his helmet and gently lifts Alexandras’ chin so that their eyes can meet.
“Alex, look at me. No matter what happens I’m never going to leave you. I’ll always find my way back to you”, he solemnly clutches her hand, “I promise.”
They quickly kiss one another. The love birds rub one another’s noses as they pull away, smiling with tender joy, and then he gently holds her cheeks in his hands as they go in for one more long, emotional kiss. Afterward they just stare into one another’s eyes and it’s as if all of time and space fades away…
Until a knock comes at the door requesting the admiral. They stare at one another just a little longer.
“I love you”, she tells him.
“I love you”, he doesn’t hesitate.
Alexandras opens the door while Rhegal puts his helmet back on. She did not expect to see this person standing at the door.
“Mr. Zara?”, she bemuses.
There stands their celebrity charge, Friedrich Zara. A man of average height, in his late thirties, royal blue eyes, light brown hair, but what was most distinctive about his appearance was undoubtedly his large bushy mustache. Wearing his Grays signifying his rank as a commander given to him by the propaganda agencies.
“Ms. Arden…”, he starts.
“Admiral”, she corrects him.
“My apologies. Admiral, I’ve come to inform you that Reds Levin and Austen have made contact with the enemy and that the Laconia is ready to launch.”
“Thank you Commander”, she says as she walks out making her way back to the bridge as Rhegal follows a little ways behind.
“It is my duty.”
“Speaking of, you may disembark and remain here at 2C3XI should you wish.”
“You are generous Admiral Arden but I must refuse. Though I may be but a novice I cannot in good conscience abandon my countrymen on the eve of battle.”
“Hmmm. I find that an odd conviction for a man who rescinded his citizenship”, Alexandras digs at him.
Friedrich smiles, “What can I say, they refused my letter of resignation.”
As they approach the bridge several Whites pass by them. They halt to salute the Admiral but they are clearly excited to see the Commander and have to restrain themselves from trying to speak to him.
“Well the commoners do have an affection for you”, Alexandras says smugly.
Friedrich senses her disdain and it makes him smile, “It does them good to see their own among the upper ranks.”
“Does it?”, she questions.
“I assure you my dear Arden, it does.”
“Then you shall not be dissuaded from your post?”
“No I shalt not”, he insists.
“Very well. Then you are needed at your post Commander. Standby by your Gundam and await further orders.”
“Yes ma’am”, he acknowledges as he heads toward the lower decks.
As Rhegal and Alexandras step onto the bridge the open coms of their fighters can be heard.
“We are engaged by a single enemy Gundam. Another L series unit”, Liza says over the com.
“Do you have the warp point?”, Rhegal demands.
“Yes sir!”, says Leo, “Transmitting them now.”
“Forward that information to the Morrigans and tell them to make the jump”, Alexandras orders.
If Satie wasn’t part of the crew then Gabriel Milton would easily be the best pilot among their ranks. He soars in and around his enemies constantly harassing them and interfering with their ability to target the Jiha. Beam rifle shots fire past the three warp fighters as they soar in and out of each other’s sights.
“Get em Gabe!”, Satie shouts over the com.
The EES Reds are evidentially flustered but they are also good enough to keeps themselves from being shot down. It’s becoming clear that neither will they succeed in reaching their target nor will the Paradise be able to take down both the Prejudice and Karenina. Gabriel knows what’s coming. The L series warp fighters are the veritable blood hounds of warp travel with their AI’s ability to synch with target warp drives and be able to maintain pursuit through warp. They don’t need to kill the enemy themselves, they just need to keep the scent.
”Nick you need to get your Gundam going. We only got a couple minutes before the rest of that fleet starts showing up”, Gabriel tells his comrade.
Indeed that is precisely what happens. With a blue blink three Morrigan class corvettes enter the battle zone. Very soon the Bubo class assault carrier is simply going to get outgunned and cornered. Unless Captain Kan has another trick up his sleeve.
“Captain, what are we going to do?”, Commander Yoko asks as she stands over him in the captain’s chair.
“Fitzgerald, is the Gatsby good to go?”, Captain Kan queries.
“Sir he is but my good friend can only carry this ship once more before his rest becomes an incontrovertible necessity”, Nick replies.
He thinks on it for a bit before proposing a radical notion.
“Milton”, Captain Kan asks, “their units are the same as yours, correct?”
“Yes sir”, Gabriel answers as he ducks his unit in and out of the line of fire.
“What does your warp synch target?”
“The frequencies sent out by the AI as it calculating where you’ll exist warp.”
“What would happen if you made the jump without the computer?”
The whole crew looks at the Captain with disbelief and you could hear a pin drop in their fretful silence.
“They would have nothing to track, sir”, Gabriel answers.
“Very well. Get back to the ship. We have a leap of faith to make.”
“I’m sorry captain I can’t do that.”
“Ensign that’s an order”, Commander Yoko snarls at Gabriel, “get your ass back here now!”
“Alla”, Gabriel replies, “do me a favor and shut the hell up! If they pick up only one AI making a calculation they’ll assume we’re both making the same jump. I’m going to lead them away from you.”
”Ensign! Don’t be stupid!”, Commander Yoko yells.
“Be brave son”, Captain Kan tells him.
“Yes sir, I will”, Gabriel says.
Gabe don’t do this”, Satie pleads with her friend, “you won’t make it back!”
He smiles, “Knowing you was the best part of my life Satie.”
With that he silences his coms. The corvettes begin to move in. Gabriel begins his warp’s targeting. Nick, placing his trust in his captain, prepares the Gatsby to make a blind jump. All the while Satie makes a mad dash for her Gundam but is stopped by Kao son Jinn.
“I can save him!”, she pleads as he holds her back.
“We’re not going to lose you”, he tells her.
“Let go of me!”, she screams as she breaks free of his grasp and climbs up toward the Reta’s cockpit.
“I can’t lose you too!”, he shouts back at her.
Those words provoke a memory that freezes Satie in her tracks. She remembers back to days when her mother was a pilot and that terrible day when she watched Basele Skye get ripped to pieces by mobile suits emblazoned with the sigil of an orange demon’s face.
“Gabriel!”, her mind screams across space, “I know them. The Arden fleet is where the EES puts the children of important people to pad their resumes. Go at them hard and they’ll panic.”
He hears her and responds, “Thanks…I’m sorry Satie.”
With those words both the Paradise Gundam and the Jiha blink out of existence. The Prejudice and Karenina follow the Paradise in kind.
The Laconia has launched and the Morrigans have warped to catch up with Prejudice and Karenina. Alexandras plots her next moves. The warp fighter Gundams will keep the trail while the corvettes corral the enemy ship. Once they’ve exhausted their options she’ll move in with the Laconia itself. If they surrender the Reta they will be taken as POWs. If they don’t then she will have them obliterated.
There’s a blue blink in space and she assumes that it’s one of her warp fighters. As it begins to open fire on her ships it becomes quite evident that it is not.
The Paradise soars along firing its beam rifle at point blank range on an Ashura class cruiser and Mangala class frigate scuttling them. Just as Satie said they would, the fleet panics and begins to open fire on the small, high speed, moving target and start blowing themselves to pieces with laser and turbo cannon fire.
“Cease fire! Cease fire! Cease fire!”, Alexandras screams at the top of her lungs.
She looks upon her eviscerated fleet and the calm, collected demeanor gives way to white hot rage.
“Rhegal, murder that bastard!”, she commands with a seething whisper.
“At once my love”, he readily accepts it.
The Lord Hand and greatest Red in the EES makes his way to his unit and prepares to launch. Meanwhile the Paradise is reeking utter havoc. Now that they’ve stopped firing on each other not nearly as many ships are getting scuttled but he is still annihilating their armaments. It dances through explosion and flame, in and out of storms of bullets, and with it’s golden wings and yellow beam saber it is as if it were some kind of angel sent to wreak holy retribution.
The Prejudice and Karenina blink back into existence and their pilots are left aghast at the damage left in their enemy’s wake. Reds Liza Austen and Leo Levin take formation and come in hot against their enemy. Unfortunately for them, Gabriel Milton is no longer trying to defend a target. Free to cut loose he easily overwhelms them. Levin gets his beam rifle cut in half but dodges quick enough to keep the Karenina intact.
In a desperate bid to save her fellow Red, Liza opens fire upon the enemy. It succeeds in diverting his attention. Now the Paradise comes barreling down at her with beam saber in hand. She can’t come anywhere close to hitting it. Just as she’s about to be run through, a flash of red and black sweeps in. It’s the Strike Maul!
Rhegal’s unit solidly kicks Gabriel’s in the face forcing him back, saving Liza’s life.
“Thank you most graciously, My Lord”, she tells him.
“Both of you fall back, now”, he commands.
They heed it and the two Gundams withdraw. This leaves the Paradise and Strike Maul to face each other alone in the wreckage of the Arden fleet.
“Shall we begin?”, Gabriel growls menacingly as his red eyes flare.
“Have at me”, Rhegal responds calmly as he ignites one side of his beam staff.
The Paradise rushes forward as Gabriel tries to blitz the blitzer. With fluid motion and genuine ease does the Strike Maul dodge, deflect, and maim its enemy’s off hand. Enraged, Gabriel rushes forward again. This time Rhegal subverts his strike with a back guard that he ripostes into a thrusting jab that takes the Paradise’s right arm off entirely.
“You are beaten. It is useless to resist”, Rhegal tells his foe.
“Is it now?”, Gabriel chuckles as he smashes the self destruct button.
The lights flash red in the cockpit of the Paradise and the external alarm blares. Gabriel Milton closes his eyes as he embraces his death with serenity. Yet before he can meet his fate the Strike Maul clenches its fist and rips the enclosed cockpit out of the Gundam. Channeling his power through his unit’s other hand, Rhegal telekinetically tosses it away where it explodes uselessly…and just like that the Gundam Paradise is lost.
Gabriel Milton is now in enemy custody.
Next time on Mobile Suit Gundam Reta:
Our heroes onboard the Jiha managed to get away clean, thanks to the sacrifice of Gabriel. Now that he’s in EES custody what fate shall befall him? Where is the Jiha? Even they don’t know! Next week: Aristoi
Follow to find out!