The year is 289 LC.
The Jiha and its crew have managed to successfully escape thanks in no small part to the ludicrously unorthodox tactics of it’s Captain and the brave sacrifice of Gabriel Milton. Down a Gundam, the Jiha doesn’t even know where it warped to and there are many perils for those lost in space. On board the Laconia, Gabriel has been taken prisoner. With no other leads EES forces will gleefully pry every bit of information they can out of him if for no other reason than sheer bloody retribution. After being made a mockery of, careers and reputations in the Arden fleet will end.
Onboard the Laconia:
Former pilot of the destroyed Paradise Gundam, Gabriel Milton is left chained to a flimsy metal chair in the cold brig. He did his damnedest but there’s no way he was going to get away. It’s painfully obvious to him why he’s even being kept alive, they’re going to get whatever information they can out of him by any means necessary. This is the Eternal Empire of the Shadow after all, there is no code for the treatment of prisoners of war between the warring factions.
Now the Lunar Republic held themselves to some standards but Gabriel has heard the horror stories about EES custody. The thought does not frighten him. He has been trained for precisely this moment. Now is not the time for fear, now is the time for resolve and strength of spirit.
“I will die before I break”, he tells himself, “Satie’s counting on me.”
His cell door creaks as it’s opened. In steps the bastard that brought him down, the Lord Hand of the Emperor Rhegal Lucas. Dressed in his formal Blacks and hiding his face behind that mask of his, he walks to center of the cell dragging another metal chair with his telekinesis. The scrapping of metal on metal is not unlike some great predator dragging its claws along the side of a building. Water drips down on them from some deliberately neglected pipe while chains hung above them lightly clang against one another.
As Rhegal draws near he grabs the chair with his hand and places it directly in front of Gabriel. Once he seats himself an impertinently bright spotlight is turned on. It’s not quite blinding, it’s just bright enough to be painful. Gabriel knows it’s the type of light that’ll be left on for a while.
“So I see that stupid thing on your head isn’t just a crime against good taste”, he quips at his captor.
Rhegal smirks, “Indeed there is some utility in it, unlike your insults.”
“Oh I assure you…my Lord…as you’ll be working me I’ll be working you.”
“Is that a fact?”
“Yes it is, and if I were not in these chains…”, Gabriel trails off anticipating a reaction that doesn’t come.
Rhegal’s smiles grows till he’s grinning like the Cheshire Cat and his bellowing laugh echoes through the brig. This unnerves Gabriel.
“Shall we find out?”, Rhegal calmly states as he stands up.
The starborn stares down at the mere human who is quickly realizing that how out of his depth he really, truly is.
“Go ahead”, Rhegal says as the chains binding Gabriel shatter apart at the links.
After a moment’s hesitation Gabriel lunges forward, ripping out the small blade he sown into his shirt. Rhegal sidesteps and dances around his attacker with fluid motion and genuine ease, tripping him the process. Gabriel lands face first in a cold stagnant puddle on the cold hard surface, losing his weapon.
Angered, he jumps up and starts swinging. Rhegal casually blocks his strikes with minimal effort. Once he’s bored with the fight he telekinetically pulls free one of the chains hanging above them. A flustered Gabriel staggers back as he tries to create distance to reassess his enemy. As he does so Rhegal pantomimes a whip crack and the metal chain splits open the prisoner’s face, causing him to fall onto his back stunned and barely holding onto to consciousness.
A pair of Whites rush in and pick up Gabriel. They place him in his chair and bind him again. They salute their commanding officer and then exit. Rhegal sits back down in his seat and observes his prey for a moment.
“It would be best if you dispensed with your illusions. They are of little use to me”, he tells his captive.
Gabriel starts to chuckle in between pained wincing.
“What do you find so amusing, soldier?”, Rhegal queries.
“You’re just like her”, he chuckles.
“Like whom?”, the EES commander presses.
“This lips aren’t saying anything.”
“Hmmm…”, Rhegal feigns bemusement, “that would be problematic if I needed their cooperation in the first place.”
With nothing more than an intense stare does he break into his captive’s thoughts. Gabriel gags and seizes as he feels the foreign presence combing through his mind. It takes no effort at all to see his most recent thoughts.
Viewing another’s memories is not unlike watching a play in the fog. You are watching an interpretation of reality through an obscured lens, quite different from the clarity of clairvoyance. Rhegal is enough of a practiced telepath that the “haze of memory” is more of a light mist than a genuine fog so long as the thought is either fresh or profound. This particular thought would be the latter.
Standing “center stage”, in a manner of speaking, is a girl in her late teens with blue eyes like his. She’s in the middle of some sort of military drill, surrounded by three men armed with practice knives. The first rushes toward her, she sidesteps and trips him. The second follows suit and his strikes are casually blocked by her lean but toned arms. The third charges her from behind, she twists and tosses the second into the path of his fake blade.
Now only the two of them are left, her and Gabriel. She takes off her purple headband and levitates it in front of her while he holds the blade forward in a guarded position.
“Now just because you’re a gorgeous girl don’t means I’m going to let you win”, he tells her.
She smiles faintly, “Alright smooth talker, shut up and dance.”
He lunges forward. As he does so she wraps the headband around his wrist and uses it to torque him to the ground. Gabriel rolls out of it onto one knee but she’s immediately on him, wrapping him in a headlock.
“That’s game”, she says.
“Not quite”, he replies.
Wrapping one arm around her back and grabbing onto his wrist with the other hand, he spins around trying to pin her. She slips free of his grasp while wrapping her legs around his waist as she rolls with his roll, putting him on the flat of his back with her straddled across him, her forearm pinning him down.
Rhegal takes note of how the lighting of the memory grows brighter and softer, which is indicative of an emotional realization for the subject.
“I win, Gabe”, she gleefully whispers in his ear.
“Like you always do, Satie.”
With that bit of information Rhegal pulls himself out of Gabriel’s head. Gabriel heaves as if he were going to puke as blood flows out his nostrils in a steady stream.
“Satie”, Rhegal says out loud.
He straightens out his jacket and gloves as he prepares to leave.
“Thank you for your cooperation Mr. Milton. We will continue our ‘discussion’ later. Sleep well”, he says as he waves his hand in the air causing Gabriel to pass out.
A cadet’s voice is heard over the coms, “My Lord, Admiral Arden requests your presence in her quarters.”
“Tell the Admiral that I shall not keep her waiting”, he replies as he exits the brig.
Onboard the Jiha:
The ship blinks back into existence as it exits warp. Fortunately they weren’t obliterated instantaneously as they exited the blind jump. Unfortunately they jumped to the edge of the asteroid belt and immediate evasive maneuvers are needed if they are not to be crushed by an oncoming asteroid.
“All hands strap in!” Commander Yoko shouts.
“All personnel be advised for evasive maneuvers”, Maria relays the order.
The bridge crew hurriedly straps themselves to their seats. Nick secures himself inside the Gatsby. The only two aren’t able to do so are Satie and Lieutenant Jinn.
Captain Kan engages manual control and begins evasive maneuvers; flying up, in, and around the incoming debris. The wild movements send the two pilots flying in the ship’s low gravity but are able to maintain some control. They direct themselves toward the hangar bay control module and it’s railing but they don’t have enough momentum to make it.
“Satie, if I push you you’ll make it”, Jinn tells her.
“Don’t be a stupid old man”, Satie replies as she telekinetically shoves him toward it.
He flies toward the railing and crashes against it. There the old guard takes his carabineer and latches it to the railing. Meanwhile Satie closes her eyes and channels her starborn abilities to levitate in the center of the hangar as the ship ducks, dives, and weaves.
Once Captain Kan clears the asteroid belt and levels out Satie breaks her meditation and starts to descend in the low gravity. As she does the Gundam Gatsby reaches out with an open palm and she gently glides herself into it. She nods a thanks to Nick as he pulls her in. Now that they are free and clear they can take a breath and assess the situation.
Commander Yoko sighs the deepest, longest sigh of her life. She walks over and wraps herself over Captain Kan as he remains seated.
“Never do that again”, she tells.
“I promise nothing”, he says with a smile.
“You goddamn lunatic.”
“Don’t act like you don’t love.”
She gets flustered and wants to yell at him but words fail her, because he’s not wrong.
“Sound off!”, she commands.
“All crew please report”, Maria says over the coms.
One by one they all answer. Everyone is alive and in good health. The captain calls for a status report and they go about the business of figuring out just where the hell they are. A short while later there are some answers.
“Cadet, report”, Captain Kan demands as he stands dramatically on the bridge, still not wearing a shirt nor taken his sunglasses off.
“Sir yes sir”, Cadet Franz Allister nervously replies.
“Son, where are we?”
“Sir it’s hard to tell, sir but it appears to be in proximity to the asteroid belt…sir.”
“The inner rim or outer rim side?”
“I don’t know.”
“Find out you stupid fool!”, Commander Yoko yells at him.
“Ma’am yes ma’am!”, Franz shouts as he runs off in a panic.
“Why is he here?”, Captain Kan asks.
“I don’t know”, Commander Yoko replies.
“Can we leave him here?”
“As much as that would please me, no Captain we may not.”
“Ok Alla, we’ll keep him but only because you insist.”
“Do you have to joke?” she asks, beleaguered.
“I’m afraid it can’t be helped.”
“Why do we put up with each other?”
“Because you love me and I’d be lost without you.”
Alla stammers in disbelief.
“Kan! You can’t just say that.”
“Too bad. I did and we’re all still here”, he tells her.
“It’s neither professional nor appropriate.”
“Urrggghhaaa!”, he moans.
“We have to set the example Captain.”
“And what example is that?”, he asks her.
“Excuse me?”, she responds annoyed.
“This is war, not one of your political affairs.”
“Not this again…”
“Yes this again!”
“Why?”, she yells at him.
“Because we could actually die and I don’t want anything left unsaid!” he shouts back.
“But somethings are best kept at a distance!”
There is a great deal of unease as the bridge crew stand in awkward silence.
“Mommy Daddy please stop fighting”, Maria says with rambunctious grin.
“Captain…I”, Commander Yoko starts.
“Don’t worry about it. You keep your distance in your way and I’ll keep it mine”, he says.
He looks towards his coms officer and replies, “Honey, Mommy and Daddy are having a disagreement, not a fight.”
Flustered, Alla Yoko storms of the bridge. Kan pushes his sunglasses up his nose and grabs his jacket off of his captain’s chair.
“So I ask again”, he pulls a lighter out of the pocket, “where the hell are we?”
Onboard the Laconia
Rhegal and Alexandras sit next to one another in her dimly lit quarters. His helmet is off and his face is obscured in shadow.
“So her name is Satie Skye, huh?”, she asks him.
“It would appear so”, he replies.
“The only daughter of Basele Skye…”
“And me, the only son of Zevan Lucas.”
“The stars are at work here Rhegal. This was no coincidence.”
“I agree, but they are not fated for me” he reassures her.
She places herself on his lap so that he must look her in the eyes.
“The stars cannot have you, not yet”, she pleads.
“And they won’t”, he reassures her.
Alexandras wipes away a single tear.
“Forgive my weakness. What a disaster this has been”, she says.
“There is not an ounce of weakness in you to forgive”, he says with a smile.
He kisses her forehead and strokes her hair.
”Now the real disaster is this black…thing I’m wearing”, he says as he gestures towards his Blacks.
Alexandras giggles, “Don’t you say that! You look very handsome in black.”
”Yeah but I’m handsomer in my Reds.”
”Don’t you start with me you grammar tyrant. You know it’s the truth.”
”Well it’s only true so long as I’m the prettierest girl you’ve ever seen.”
He leans in and kisses her between each word, “Indeed you are…the…most…beautiful…gorgeous…prettierest…girl…in…the…whole…wide…system.”
”Oh alright alright”, she acquiesces, “go put on your ‘Warrior’ Reds.”
He kisses her once more and she kisses him back as he gets off of the love seat and all but sprints to the closet.
”Well the Emperor is going to be livid”, he starts speaking without really knowing what he’s saying,
But Alexandras does, “Rhegal…”
”And this is on me not you…”
”She slipped through on my watch. It’s on my watch.”
”Rhegal!”, she snaps.
He leans out of the closet half dressed with a quizzical look.
”It needs to be my fault”, she plainly tells him.
”Alex, no! I can handle Karn. You don’t want the Imperial wrath”, he says.
”We can’t afford to have you lose his favor.”
”But he could take the fleet from you.”
”And if he takes the Lord Hand from you…”
”I’ll just be a Lucas”, he says, dejected and angered.
”We’re so close. I know you want to be noble but I need you to be mindful.”
Rhegal stews in his hurt. Alexandras recognizes it and moves forward to embrace her lover. They sway back and forth in one another’s arms.
”If he does anything to you I’ll kill him”, Rhegal snarls.
”I’ll be fine. If you survived my father I can handle the Emperor”, she jokes.
He chuckles, “Yes ma’am.”
”Besides you’ll want to wait till he names you heir before you do anything like that.”
”Alex!”, he playfully scolds her.
“I’m kidding”, she says back, “now get you pants on before I get the wrong idea.”
With that tet a tet done Rhegal pulls up his pants and Alex buttons up his Red jacket. Lastly he puts on the helmet. Once he has done so he salutes his commanding officer. The admiral orders him to join her for dinner and dismisses him. With that he leaves. As soon as her lover is out of the room, Alexandras moves to her chair and prepares to make the worst com call of her life.
She contacts the Impericant court stating her name and rank, requesting to speak with the Emperor. She sits in silence as she waits. After what feels like a year to her the visage of Emperor Tenabrae Karn. If one didn’t know better they’d assume he was only old enough to be her father. There he sits in ominous glory with his white robes astrewn with gold in a torch lit chamber. His pale skin, bald head, and dark grey beard where not his most captivating feature. That honor belonged to his black eyes that stared at you like the void.
“Arden”, his gravely voice echoes through his empty chamber.
In Earth Orbit:
The Marauder’s freighter hangs in orbit as the dastardly crew prepares to launch. Their leader, the terrifying Viktor Krieg, is flipping switches in his Gundam unit preparing it for launch. His glistening white fangs and gleaming amber eyes pierce through the shadows. As each mobile suit activates their eyes shine in the darkness of the hangar.
“Hunt the bastard down. Forget about the suit. They’re both good as dead”, he snarls.
With that order the thieves, terrorists, and murderers begin launching their stolen Gundams. First is Mercedes Morana and the Gundam Overseer.
“So it is said by Krieg and so it shall be”, she says as her frayed black hair hangs in front of her black eyes.
Next is Essex and his Fukitsu Gundam.
“Oh what delightful excursion this shall be”, he minces as he plays with perfectly groomed short black hair while his pupilless white eyes tremble with anticipation.
Third is Norman Nemesio and the Tengu Gundam with its glider. He laughs maniacally.
“Edddiiee…run run as quick as you can”, he cackles with yellow eyes dilated like mad.
Fourth is Zebadiah Redwinter and his aptly named Orchid Gundam.
“But you can only outrun death so long”, he says with a grin as his purple eyes glimmer.
Lastly but certainly not least is Krieg and the bestial Gundam Smilodon.
“Carve a bloody enough trail and the ‘hero’ will come to us”, Krieg commands.
Down on the Earth’s surface the Venomous Gundam and its pilot stand over the wreckage of several much older mobile suits that it has ripped to pieces with its claws or cleaved in half with its buster sword. All the while a small contingent of refugees flees the area. Just as the Venomous is about turn its attention towards them its pilot notices five shooting stars flying across the night sky.
“Here they come, pal”, he tells his suit.
It chirps back in some kind of response.
“We won’t let that happen”, Eddie reassures it.
There its black armor is silhouetted against the full moon as it stands tall on the ridge overlooking a river valley. Down in the valley the campfires of civilization can be seen from a far and the Venomous leaps towards it, seemingly vanishing into nothingness.