Chapter 3: Meeting the family
He didn’t know when he had fallen asleep, but Ransac found himself being shaken awake by Longshot.
“Wake up kid, we’re here.”
“Where is here exactly?” asked Ransac.
“Home, if you choose to make it that way.” Answered Strafe.
Ransac groaned as he stretched his body. Removing the straps keeping him in his seat, he stood up and watched as the cockpit began to open. The light streaming through made Ransac cover his eyes while they adjusted.
“Dude! What took you guys so long? You had Syrene and I worried!” Said a voice as Longshot climbed out of the cockpit.
“What did I tell you about calling me “dude”? For the last time it’s Longshot!”
“Keep your pants on pops, I’m only joking.” replied the voice.
“I’ll let you out before me, watch your step.” Said Strafe, motioning for Ransac to go ahead.
Ransac nodded, stepping outside of the cockpit to see his surroundings. The first thing Ransac noticed was the ceiling. Instead of a metal roof like most bases, the roof was made out of rock, with stalagmites hanging from above. They were underground, how deep Ransac wasn’t sure of. Also, for a mobile suit hanger the area was surprisingly empty except for the mobile suit he had entered in, and two people looking up at him, a boy and girl in their late teenage years.
“So this is the guy you guys went after? Funny, I expected him to be taller.” Said the boy. He had brown hair with a red tint, as well as a few freckles on his face. His facial expression was one of good intentioned mischief. The girl next to him smiled.
She had long blonde hair and a grease stain on her cheek. She wore the outfit of an engineer, explaining the grease stain. Upon meeting Ransac’s gaze however, she immediately turned away to speak to Longshot, who had joined the two.
“I distinctly remember Longshot saying the same thing about you when you first arrived, Dom. Though not as kindly.” Said Strafe, stepping out beside Ransac, placing his hand on the mobile suit has he spoke. Dom gave a short laugh.
“Ya, well at least I have personality, don’t know what you guys would do if it was only ol’ grumpy here.” “There’s a number of things we would do, the first being enjoying the silence.” Snapped Longshot. “I’m heading to the showers, I’ve had enough for today.” With that he walked off through a door at the opposite end of the hanger. By this time Ransac and Strafe had dropped down the ladder onto the floor. Strafe lead Ransac by the shoulder towards the girl.
“Ransac, this is Syrene Gaze, she is our chief engineer and medical expert. She’s going to make sure you’re healthy and ask a few questions. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite. Dom gave another laugh.
“Not unless you ask her on a date, then she pulls out the claws!” Strafe chuckled.
“And this would be Dom Bombardi, our heavy weapons expert, as well as the resident joker. Don’t take everything he says seriously or you may end up in a bad situation.”
“Come on Strafe! You’re gonna give me a bad reputation! You forgot to mention the best looking out of the group, next to Syrene of course.” Syrene gave another smile at this.
“Dom, I’ve told you before, you’re going to have to do better than that.” As she said this she made a face of mock irritation.
“Eh, you’ll fall for me eventually, can’t play hard to get forever!” Laughed Dom. “I’ll head to my quarters, I’ll send those designs to you later, ok?” With that Dom took off at a sprint.
“I’ll leave you two to it then. Syrene, please show Ransac around, answer any questions he asks.” Strafe patted Ransac’s shoulder before giving him a little push towards Syrene.
“Follow me please.” Said Syrene.
“Uh, ya, sure.” replied Ransac, taking a position beside Syrene as she began walking.
Syrene lead Ransac through a series of corridors. During this time she barely spoke a word. This struck Ransac as odd as she was seemed open around the others. Syrene finally lead him to a room colored primarily in white. It was obvious this was the medical lab from first glance.
“Take a seat over there please, I have to get some of the equipment ready. We weren’t expecting you until an hour from now.” Said Syrene, motioning to a chair behind a table.
Ransac took a seat, looking around as he did so. The room had five beds in it, each looking as of yet unused. In the corner on the opposite of the room was a diagram of the human body, detailing bone and muscle structure. Overall the room looked like a standard medical center.
Ransac suddenly jumped as he felt a needle piece his skin.
“What the hell?!” Immediately Ransac was on the defensive, leaping to the other side of the room as fast as he could. “I’m sorry, I read that if a patient is distracted, they won’t feel a thing.” Said Syrene in an apologetic tone. Despite the initial surprise of the shot. Ransac felt his anger flow away at her tone.
“Ya, well, let me know when you do that ok?” He said as he rubbed his arm. Ransac walked slowly and cautiously back over to Syrene, finally taking a seat again when he was sure Syrene understood.
“Sounds like you’re having fun.” Said a voice from the doorway. “Told you people wouldn’t like it if you ambush them like that.” Dom walked into the room, grin on his face.
Syrene walked over to a computer and dropped a small amount of Ransac’s blood into a special tray. Ignoring Dom as she worked.
“Blood type O, no infections evident, looks like you’re clear.” Said Dom as he looked over Syrene’s shoulder. “I believe I’m the medical expert here, Dom. Or do you want Longshot to explain yet again about butting into people’s business?” Said Syrene, a sliver of irritation in her voice. Dom feigned terror.
“No! Not that again! Anything but that!” To emphasize this he dropped to his knees and held his hands in a pleading gesture. Syrene rolled her eyes in response.
“Dom, will you please show him to his room? He’ll need to be rested before training starts tomorrow.”
“Hang on, what training?” Demanded Ransac. He was beginning to feel as if he was being trapped into a corner. This rose an eyebrow out of Dom.
“Training for becoming a Gundam Meister of course. You may be fresh from the Super Human Institute, but there’s no way you’re that good.” Dom turned to Syrene. “I thought Strafe said this was the new pilot for our group?”
“New pilot?! I just broke out of a place where they wanted to use me as a weapon in some war! Then I’m forced to run for my life through the city where I’m almost killed. Then some guy runs up, guns ablaze, tells me to follow him, and takes me away in a mobile suit!”
Ransac felt anger at being expected to fly a mobile suit for a group of people he didn’t even know. A familiar grumble came from the doorway.
“Can’t even get sleeping pills anymore without someone causing trouble. Look kid, you don’t have to pilot anything, if you want you can demand to leave right now and I’d take you out in the Agas and drop you off at the Orbital Elevator. But before you do that consider this. You are now a fugitive, the Super Human Institute is going to be searching for you. And from your reaction, you were to be terminated.” Ransac glared at Longshot, who had taken a position leaning against the doorway.
“Hold on there pops, you’re not selling the product here. Said Dom. He probably doesn’t even know why we want him in the group.”
“Tell him then, I’ll get the Agas ready to fly.” Said Longshot before leaving through the doorway. Dom sighed.
“Well, first of all, you should know we aren’t some small group. We’re part of an organization called Celestial Being. Our mission is to eradicate war through armed force. We, as in Strafe, Longshot, Syrene, And I are part of a smaller section of Celestial Being, we operate under Star Strike. It’s our mission to make sure things go over smoothly after the main branch is finished.” Ransac saw several flaws in this.
“Eradication of war through armed force? You have to be joking, that contradicts the very purpose of it’s existence.” Dom chuckled.
“Ya, it’s weird right, but the idea makes sense once you think about it. Basically we want war to end and we’re doing something about it. You don’t have to go along with it, but we’re short on pilots and we could use your help.” Ransac considered it. It did make sense on a couple points. People had tried diplomacy for years but it only lead to more suffering later. If Celestial Being could pull it off, it would also signify the end of the Super Human Institute, nobody would need Super Soldiers to fight wars anymore.
“I can back out anytime? No forcing me to stay or anything?” He asked cautiously.
“Aside from the obvious secrecy details, pretty much. Does that mean you’re in?” Asked Dom. Ransac waited a few seconds before answering, thinking everything through carefully. “Ya, I’m in, when do we start?”
“Training begins tomorrow, Dom will show you to your room.” Answered Syrene, relief crossing her face.
“And that’s Mr. Dom to you. Beat me in a simulator and I’ll consider dropping the mister.” Dom grinned as he motioned for Ransac to follow him.
“What have I gotten myself into?” Ransac thought to himself as he followed Dom.
Chapter 4: One Year Later
“Well boys, looks like it’s begun. Just saw on the news, Celestial Being has gone public. The news is flooded with reports and discussions about the armed interventions. They’ve replayed Aeolia’s announcement for the fifth time now.” Announced Dom as he entered the mess hall.
“Well, it’s not like we didn’t expect that. A private military group announcing their intention of eliminating war through armed force? That’s going to stir people awake.” Said Ransac.
It was a year after Ransac had first arrived at the underground base in Africa. Since then he had become less cautious, his fellow pilots having earned his trust within a week of his arrival. Now he was able to openly speak his mind, and had even found a friend in Dom, who’s jovial attitude at first disarmed him until becoming used to it.
“Looks like vacation’s over then, we’ll be receiving our first missions soon.” Said Longshot before taking a bite from a bagel.
“Sooner than we thought, we’re to assemble within the main hanger immediately, commander’s orders.” Said Strafe, leaning through the doorway as he spoke. Longshot grumbled.
“Can’t even finish my bagel.”
“I got ya covered.” said Dom. Swiping Longshot’s bagel as he spoke. Before he could take a bite he was pulled down to the table, with a fork aimed at his eye.
“Dom, do I take your food?”
“No, no sir.” Dom replied shakily.
“So why did you take my bagel?”
“It was a joke, I never intended to eat it.” Longshot pulled Dom in closer.
“Don’t touch my bagel.” With that Longshot released Dom, placing his fork back on the table before heading for the hanger. Dom took a seat in a chair, relief on his face.
“You know what he’s like when he doesn’t get his breakfast, you were lucky there.” Said Ransac. “Come on, let’s go.” He added. Dom nodded, rising out of his seat and followed Ransac out.
A year ago, the hanger had been all but empty, with only a single mobile suit stored inside. Now it was filled with them. Over the year, Star Strike had completed four more Agas mobile suits, bringing it’s complement to 5 mobile suits for use, each was assigned to a certain pilot. But due to lack of a 5th pilot, one had been left alone and unassigned until a pilot could be placed. Ransac suddenly noticed their was a 6th mobile suit. He nudged Dom in the shoulder.
“Look at that Dom! That has to be the new Gundam for us. I wonder who’ll pilot it?” He whispered. Dom looked up to view the Gundam.
The mobile suit stood at about the same height as the Agas, it was also the same red armor, yellow v-fins, and blue joints and condensers. But that was where the resemblance ended. At the end of each hand, attached above the fingers, were four claw like appendages. Ransac was told these would be brand new weapons unique to this mobile suit. The V-fin extending out of the head was more elaborate than those used by the Agas series, Extending out of the back was the signature cone of a GN-Drive. While the original plan was for Celestial Being to have only 5 GN-Drives, Star Strike had operated a little differently.
Using schematics from Veda, the quantum super computer responsible for most of Celestial Being, which contained everything but the critical component of any GN-Drive, Star Strike had constructed their own GN-Drive. In addition, they had been able to replace the TD-Blanket, which allowed the GN-Drive to use it’s topological defect to generate power, with a GN-Capacitor. For all intents and purposes, it was a fully functional GN-Drive.
“It’ll probably be Strafe, the guy has a lot more experience than all of us.” Said Dom.
“Ya, you’re probably right, well, let’s get in line before Commander Daryl yells at us, again.”
Ransac and Dom took positions besides Strafe and Longshot, who had been waiting in a line in front of the Gundam. Just as they settled in, Commander Daryl entered the room, followed by Syrene. Ransac had quickly learned that Commander Daryl was a man who knew his techniques. He was undefeated in the combat simulator, and was rumored to have served under the Union as a pilot for the new Flag unit. Daryl enforced this rumor by proudly wearing a scar over his right eye, which he claimed came from shrapnel from when his mobile suit crashed during a battle.
Daryl was made all the more intimidating by the fact that he brooked little to no failure. He pushed each pilot to their limits during training, only stopping when he was sure they couldn’t go on any further. Despite that, he was willing to point out mistakes, talking them out slowly and clearly so he was understood.
Commander Daryl stopped in front of the Gundam. He slowly looked over each person in the line to make sure everyone was present. When he was sure nobody was skipping this, he smiled.
“Everyone, we can finally begin our operations. The first armed intervention was a success, Celestial Being now has the full attention of the world. But I’m not here to talk about that. Fereshte has also begun their operations, and we about to do the same.” Daryl turned to face the Gundam.
“This is the GNSS-1D Rush Gundam. It is our first and most likely only mobile suit to be equipped with a GN-Drive for our use. Obviously, this means we have to take special care of this unit, if it is destroyed it won’t be rebuilt. Now, I’m sure all of you are anxious to hear who will be piloting this machine.”
At that moment everyone began to stand as straight as they could. This was the moment they were all waiting for. Dom had even replaced his usually mischievous smirk with a full attention seriousness. Daryl noticed the change immediately. Allowing himself a brief grin.
“Well, I guess I shouldn’t keep you all waiting now. The pilot for the Gundam will be Ransac.”
The energy in the room exploded into amazement. Dom turned to look at Ransac, then he looked at Strafe, a puzzled expression on his face. Even Longshot looked taken aback. Strafe however, seemed worse for wear.
He first turned to Ransac, then to Daryl, then to Syrene before finally turning back to Ransac again. It was obvious he had expected to pilot the Gundam like everyone else had. Strafe seemed to be stumbling for words, he wasn’t the only one.
“Me, sir? I’m to pilot the Rush Gundam?” Asked Ransac. Daryl looked Ransac straight in the eye.
“Yes, you. You’ve shown the most improvement out of everyone and seem to be the best choice.”
“There must be some mistake.” Strafe had found his voice, and it was filled with disbelief. Daryl frowned.
“No, there is no mistake, the instructions were very clear, Ransac would pilot the Gundam. If you wish to discuss it further, you will meet me in my office afterwards.”
Strafe opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, and finally closed it. He seemed to be stuck between arguing and respecting his duty. Duty won out. Strafe straightened himself up.
“Very well sir, I will respect this decision.” Strafe looked ill just to say those words but he recovered quick. Longshot, who had been watching Strafe very carefully, placed a hand on his shoulder. Daryl’s expression became one of seriousness.
“Now for the big news, recently an old nuclear power plant within the Union has become active again. The reason for this is unknown, and most likely it hasn’t even been noticed. You are to sortie in 15 minutes, you are to scout the area, and come back. We will decide what to do based on the information gathered. Good luck.”
Everyone went to prepare themselves. Ransac went to his locker and pulled out his pilot suit. It was a standard blue pressure suit with a helmet and com built into it. Next to him, Strafe pulled out his own orange colored suit.
“Listen Strafe, I thought you were going to be the pilot, we all did. I promise that if I mess this up, you’ll be the first I recommend to replace me, I prefer the Agas over something new.” Strafe nodded but didn’t say a word. After putting his helmet on he left the locker room to the hanger.
That wasn’t a good sign. Strafe had always come across as someone who accepted things and move on. He was never the sort to hold onto something and form a grudge.
Ransac followed him out, looking up he examined the Rush Gundam. At the end of the catwalk, leaning into the cockpit was Syrene, most likely doing last second inspections of all systems. At his approach, Syrene lifted her head.
“Is it ready to fly?” Asked Ransac as he inspected the cockpit, it looked very similar to that of the Agas. Syrene nodded before pulling away from the Gundam.
Despite knowing her for a year now, Syrene had remained shy when alone with him. This struck him as odd as she spoke openly around the others. Ransac struck it up to first impressions. He tried to make up for his initial hostility by offering to help her out but nothing had changed.
Once she was away from the Gundam, Ransac climbed into the cockpit. The controls seemed similar to that of the Agas. At least he didn’t have to worry about familiarity. Ransac began to reach for the switch to seal the cockpit.
“Before you go, you should know about the GN-Claws.” Said Syrene. “They’re remote weaponry designed to distract the opponent while you come from another direction. They’re designed for Omni-directional combat, so use them well.”
“So how do I control them if they’re flying around all over the place?” Asked Ransac.
“The GN-Claws are controlled by a bit control system, they’ll fly around automatically and adjust themselves to any movement the Gundam makes. Basically you only have to worry about activating them, and recharge.” Ransac nodded.
“Alright, thanks for the advice.”
Syrene nodded in response. “The group launches in one minute.” With that she walked down the catwalk.
“Agas Unit One Aero Armor, loading onto catapult deck.” Announced Strafe.
The Agas Aero was a unique modification to the original Agas. It was co designed by Strafe and Syrene to give the Agas a transformable fighter mode. This would grant it increased speed and maneuverability while giving it additional weapons designed for maximum utilization.
In fighter mode, the legs of the mobile suit were folded to act like the engines of old style fighter planes. The head was folded into the chest, while the wings on the back gave it a more streamlined design. In fighter mode the Agas could utilize two rapid fire beam rifles for more traditional dog fighting. Overall it was an efficient upgrade.
The hanger doors opened up to reveal an underground launch tunnel which opened above the sea. Strafe brought the Agas into a hover above a linear rail that led straight out through the tunnel. The Agas lowered into the linear rail, connecting through a thin rod.
“Agas Aero, Strafe Lenardo, launching!” With that the Agas Aero roared forward into the tunnel, leaving sight quickly.
“Looks like it’s my turn, Dom Bombardi, loading Agas Heavy Armor onto the catapult deck.”
The Agas Heavy armor was another modification to the Agas. Whereas the Aero Armor focused on speed and maneuverability, the heavy armor focused on defense and firepower at the expense of speed.
The Heavy Armor introduced a beam rail gun installed into the head of the Agas, giving it some long range capability. The armor also gave the Agas twin bazookas, one for each hand, that could combine together to fire a high output particle beam. But the most unique feature of the Heavy Armor was it’s capability of producing a GN-Field, a solid sphere made entirely out of GN-Particles for use as a defensive shield.
In order to generate a GN-Field, the Agas had to stop firing it’s primary gun in order for the particles to be used to surround the mobile suit, granting a powerful defense in exchange for firing capability. The GN-Field also had the advantage of being able to instantly shut off, allowing for continued firing of weapons. “Dom Bombardi, Agas Heavy, launching!” Dom roared down the catapult deck. Next in line was Longshot.
Like the others, Longshot had customized his mobile suit with a new armor. Longshot had designed the Agas Sniper Armor alongside Syrene to fit his personal preference. Instead of focusing on speed or firepower, Longshot had focused more on ranged capability.
The Agas had been equipped with four new sensors within the armor to improve firing accuracy. It also featured four new guns, a beam coated pistol designed to double as a shoto, two medium range rapid fire beam rifles, and a medium output sniper rifle attached directly to the shoulder. Unlike normal sniper rifles native to mobile suits however, this rifle couldn’t separate from the frame itself. Instead, it could rotate and swivel 360 degrees around the shoulder above and below the arm.
Because of the difficulty of piloting a mobile suit while using a sniper rifle, the sniper armor introduced a prototype technology called Shield Bits. They operated as remote shields that flew around to block enemy beam fire. The Sniper Armor had four Shield Bits installed for such defensive purposes.
“Longshot, taking off!”
Longshot’s Agas took off down the catapult deck, following the others outside. Now it was Ransac’s turn.
“Rush Gundam, loading onto catapult deck.” Ransac checked all systems, making sure everything was set. “GN-Drive stable, no anomalies.” He thought as he worked.
“All systems green. Ransac, Rush Gundam, launching!”
Ransac was thrown back into his seat as the Gundam roared down the catapult deck. At the end of the line, he threw the machine into the air at full speed, roaring outside of the tunnel into open air. Ahead of him he could see the others flying at a coasting speed, waiting for him before going at full.
“Come on slowpoke! We’re waiting on you, you know!” Said Dom over com.
“You want speed, let’s see what this thing’s got!”
Ransac threw the throttle to maximum speed. Almost instantly Ransac was thrown back into his seat by G-Forces. The speed of the suit was amazing. Now it was time to test it further. Ransac threw the suit through a series of barrel rolls, front flips, and rapid positioning maneuvers. The suit performed all of them flawlessly.
“Alright show off, we got a job to do.” Said Dom.
Ransac agreed, pulling the Gundam in formation with the group. It handled easily, even better than the Agas did. He decided he was going to like this Gundam.
To be continued…