Part 143: Mission 34 (Setsuko - Gibraltar Route) - The False Queen and the Masked Songstress
Chapter 34: The False Queen and the Masked Songstress
Shinn contacted the Pain via the Gaia, and Neo, no longer their commander, has come to pick her up. Stella is shaking, so they both want to do the deed quickly (Neo more so because he's in spitting distance of an enemy base), but first he asks Shinn - twice - to promise him this isn't a trap.
Shinnll trust the guy since the came alone and, as Stellas handed over to Neo, he calms her down saying theres nothing to worry about anymore; Shinn says hes handing her back because he didnt want to see her die and, in fact, wants Neo to promise him something - "to send her back somewhere kind, far away from wars and Mobile Suits and all these dangerous things."
Neo promises, and even thanks Shinn. Shinn doesn't want thanks, though - he wants Neo to keep his word.
Now that Stella is leaving Shinn for Neo, she misses him already. "Please, Stella," says Shinn sadly. "Don't forget about me."
Elsewhere in the base, it seems Kihel vanished because shed been kidnapped by Sarah! Sarah begs Dianna Soreil forgive her lack of manners and says she was ordered to do this.
Diana doesnt flinch and insists that she's Kihel Heim, not the Queen...
Teteth pops out of nowhere and tells her to drop the act, surprising Sarah.
No, she's not in cahoots with the Pain (shes even surprised someone else was after Diana) but, rather, she's looking to murder the Queen, not capture her; Kihel quickly realizes she was behind the bombing back on Port Tarkius.
Its quite convenient that Sarah pulled her away from any potential annoyances; Sarah isnt amused and pulls her gun on Teteth but the woman doesn't believe for a second she'd fire it. She can tell Sarah has never actually shot someone.
Indeed, now its finally time for Teteth to get revenge over her and her mothers suffering people like her, neither earthling nor moonrace, have no place in this world; Kihel tries arguing that this moment demands everyone to work together for the future rather than being trapped by their past pain.
Teteth isn't listening...
But Kihel did keep her busy long enough for her bodyguard to arrive! Loran asks why shed do something like this but being reminded that we're people with status and a place to belong and she's not doesn't help Teteth's mood any.
Loran isnt about to let her hurt Diana, though, and Kamille and Katz arrive soon after; Loran wants to hear Teteths reasons for her actions but before the woman does anything, someone shoots her.
Sarah wails that it wasn't her and Kamille advances on this suspicious girl asking why shes armed and whether she was the one who kidnapped Kihel; Katz asks everyone to calm down as he recognizes her from the concert and he doesn't think she's worth doing anything rash with.
They both exchange names and Katz would like to hear her side of the story but
Jerid comes for Sarah, and things get awkward really quickly. He says they're pulling out while the defenses are knocked out and ZAFT is immobilized.
Sarah obeys her commander like a good Titan, much to Katz surprise, but not without giving him an "I'm sorry, Katz."
Kamille barks for Katz to stand back and Loran to take Kihel; Jerid, as usual, wants an old-fashioned MS duel and Kamilles starting to get sick of his self-centered antics but
Suddenly, Kamille falters as Scirocco arrives on the scene. Kihel instantly recognizes his presence as the one that's been watching her.
Scirocco is satisfied to have seen her in person, though; he'll be back for her, but for now, he and his people are leaving.
Katz is about to go after them, but Kamille stops him. They have someone wounded to tend to.
But Loran says it's too late for her. A woman has died over Kihel, so Kamille feels like it's officially time for him to explain to them what's he's hiding.
Kihel steps in and tells Kamille the truth: that she is the real Dianna Soreil, Queen of the Moon...
And oh, by the way, Federation forces are indeed moving on the base.
Durandal demands to know why they weren't detected and his officer tells him that the defense system has been knocked out seems like Gibraltar has been infiltrated.
That's also going to make it difficult to mobilize the guard. Bright offers to retrieve and mobilize ZEUTH until they can get set up.
Yazans quite surprised that Scirocco was able to mess this place us this bad, Zaft traitors or not; both him and Faye realize they may only have a short window of time to mount their offensive, and open fire (though she seems to be having misgivings about proving her strength in such fashion).
Meer, in her pink ZAKU, is trying to embolden the troops to fight the enemy.
The ZEUTH members at the concert set off to return to the Minerva and sortie ASAP (Amuro, however, notices the definitely-not-a-Mobile-Suit in the enemy formation).
The Zaft soldier actually piloting Meers mech is preoccupied with keeping her safe, though, and pulls back.
There's still time before Amuro's team returns but Saegusa reports that a machine is already deploying -
: That's insane! Retreat, 2nd. Lieutenant! One mech isn't going to accomplish a thing!
: I can hold them off long enough for everyone else to mobilize!
: (After all, fighting is all I'm worth...)
: 2nd. Lieutenant...
: Heh. So they do have a mech on hand. Sucks to be the pilot.
: I came to join up with Scirocco, but I've got time for a round with you!
OK, so I'm surrounded and all I have is Reccoa. Obviously I have to survive until reinforcements come.
Reccoa, however, unlike 90% of Real Pilots, does not know Focus. So instead I cast Guard and hope she lives the next round.
I'm not one to sit back passively. She'll fight!
: I have to do the job I'm given if I want to belong!
: I have no choice, even if others... even if men made that decision for me!
Enemy phase comes...
And this is the typical battle situation.
Luckily, Reccoa's Blocking kicks in a few times!
Sadly enough, Sword Block still makes Evasion Decay ramp up. Oh well, she has Guard so it's not too bad.
Next turn I move her here and have her repair herself. Around Z1 Banpresto introduced the awesome innovation of Repair mechs being able to repair themselves. It's beautiful.
She's not doing half bad, of course, she's out of SP having burned both casts of Guard, chewing through her limited ammo. But hey, she can make it to turn two!
She's even getting a kill!
Anyway, ZEUTH finally gets its resources together and scrambles its fighting force.
Faye is disappointed to see the Gran Kaiser isn't around. You know why.
: That's enough, 2nd. Lt. Reccoa. Fall back.
: Not so much as a "well fought"?
: 2nd. Lt. Reccoa...
: I can't believe you...
*Reccoa turns around and dives right into the Phantom Pain*
: What are you, stupid? You trying to get yourself killed?
: If all I'm worth to anyone is a weapon...
: Wrong move!
: 2nd. Lt. Reccoa!
: Someone recover her escape pod! Hurry!
: On it!
: Hold it, Kamille. We need to handle the Phantom Pain first.
: Lt. Quattro, but...
: We're the only ones who can defend this base. Let ZAFT recover the 2nd. Lieutenant.
Meanwhile, Diana orders the Counter to fight by ZAFT. She's still not forming an alliance with the Chairman, but fighting is in their best interests.
That's the last straw for Milan and Phil. Milan declares he's assuming command of the Counter right then and there in the name of the Moonraces future.
The Soleil takes off, but it's clear to ZEUTH that it's moving to escape, not to fight; Harry demands to know if Diana ordered them to escape and Phil tells him whats what.
Harry knows a rebellion when he sees one and Phil tells him to get in line or get arrested; Harry deploys to stop them and Phil orders Poe to take her squad and capture or destroy him, if necessary.
ZEUTH is outside of all this infighting, so Harry explains the coup quickly to the flabbergasted Loran and ZEUTH; Kihel calls to Loran, demanding he get her to the Soleil as quickly as possible. They haven't a moment to lose.
She begs Sochie and ZEUTH listen and reveals her true identity. Everyones surprised to have been travelling with the queen of the moon and Loran confesses he knew as well (apologizing for keeping quiet).
Sochie then realizes that, in this case, itd be her actual sister aboard the Soleil and, in order to free her, Diana wants Loran to take her aboard.
She's well aware of the danger she's taking on. "I must wage my own battle for the future of the Moonrace."
Harry accepts the order. He joins Loran so they can protect and deliver the Queen together.
The Pain doesn't understand what's going on between the Counter and ZEUTH either, but Faye asserts that their only concern is ZEUTH (best to ignore the Counter if they wont attack them).
Yazan agrees: "The Diana Counter is barely even a platoon. There's no point wasting ammo on them."
This puts ZEUTH in the awkward situation of covering Lorans approach to the Soleils bridge while fighting off the Phantom Pain.
And the objective comes up. We have to get Loran next to the Soleil. To get the Battle Mastery, we have to first defeat all the Phantom Pain enemies.
This means we only have to worry about beating the red ones. The Moonrace guys are a third side and will attack both of us.
Amuro and Kamille head down this way to handle Yazan and some reinforcements.
Meanwhile, Shinn, Quattro, Athrun, and Setsuko are going to cut off Phil.
: (2nd. Lt. Reccoa, please be safe. There are too many things I need to ask you!)
Sure, I don't have to fight the Diana Counter mooks, but I'm going to.
Harry Ord takes the lead of the Loran/Harry Duo, because his Squad Leader Bonus gives an extra point of movement.
On the enemy phase, one squad does get a hit in on Quattro, darn it.
And Yazan targets Amuro.
That wasn't too bad
Meanwhile these little guys are trying to hit Harry Ord. That's a mistake.
Why Harry. Why.
Phil begins making his escape!
: We'll just slip out while the Federation and ZAFT are fighting! We'll escape whatever it takes!
: What do you intend to accomplish with such cowardice?
: Idealism itself accomplishes nothing. What we need now is power, not platitudes.
: (My lady Diana, I'm sorry... I was powerless...)
Jerid's kept his promise, eventually showing up in his new transforming suit (Vengeance for Kakricon! ). Somehow, Katz guesses Sarah's in the other machine, and she recognizes his voice.
Anyway, Jerid tells Sarah she doesn't have to do anything dangerous, but Sarah is intent on living up to Scirocco's expectations.
Now I'm sure you all remember Stage 30. (Hard to forget a stage in which you shoot down Kira.)
It also had a an enemy Battleship trying to reach a point on the stage.
: (I don't see Neo Roanoake... he must be taking Stella.)
: (Please, I'm asking you. Don't make Stella fight anymore!)
If you'll recall, I was able to handle that one easily enough.
: The doll with the moustache! I don't know what your game is, but you're not getting near the Soleil!
: Do you even undersatnd what you're doing?
: You're not going to reclaim the Earth this way, and you're just going to bring the fighting back!
Since, after all, units can not pass through opposing units.
So surround Phil with four mechs and suddenly he can't move anywhere. The Battle Mastery becomes trivial.
Oh yeah, and Gavane reaches Prevail-5
Amuro drops down a little lower to be able to hit Yazan with his Naginata.
Kamille joins in to finish off that spider mech.
So comes the enemy phase. Support Defense+ Shield+ Barrier Part means Gavane takes 0 damage Defending Quattro. To bad he can't block Nukes.
: But my lady Diana, if you switch with Miss Kihel, you'll be in danger !
: I must carry this out. It is my duty as Dianna Soreil.
: I will fight as Dianna Soreil for the Moonrace. I swear on the life of Teteth Halle.
: Understood, my lady. I will fight beside you.
Then Faye gets into range. What are you doing here Faye Toga's on the other route.
: I volunteered for the Phantom Pain to show Touga what I can do!
: All I can do now is show my power by destroying ZEUTH!
Meanwhile Amuro's trivially dealing with Yazan.
Loran getting hit, repeatedly, at sub-30 odds continues to be a thing that happens.
Just like to point out that Loran getting shot down is a lose condition.
Jerid does his thing.
: Lyla! Kacricon! You've taken too many of my dear friends' lives!
: I didn't want to, but I didn't want to die, either!
: I don't care what you want! I have to defeat you to move on!
Sarah moves up as well.
: He's the one that interfered before!
: So this is Sarah! But she doesn't seem too used to live combat!
: I have to do this! I'll eliminate anyone who gets in Master Paptimus' way!
: What's going on? What is it driving her to fight?
There we go, not bad Kamille.
On my turn, first thing is to not let Kamille and Loran be a hit away from death. They both get hit with Trust.
Then start progressing towards the Battle Mastery.
Oh look it's another stage without the Minerva, so I end up stuck with Shinn being only with the short range sword. Great.
At the very least he hits like a truck to make up for it.
: Not bad! You're quite a target, you know!
: Just what do you think battle is?
: The most exciting game in the world... because both our lives are on the line!
Oh come on!
Because of that Sword Cut, he survives this turn.
Enemy phase comes and Kamille manages to punch through these things barriers to wipe out the squaddies.
This gets Katz to Level 40 and teaches him his fourth Spirit Command.
* Confuse(60) - All enemy hit rates halved for one turn.
Another incredibly powerful Spirit Comamnd, Confuse alone is enough of a reason to bring Katz along. Probably the single best defensive spirit in the game, a casting of this can really help get into position or simply make it so that you won't get seriously hurt for a turn. Pluz Katz is one of the first people to learn it.
Harry Ord picks up Level 6 Counter as well.
Go away Yazan.
: Dammit! I can't see all the way around with these monitors! I'm out!
Oh and Loran manages to barely survive after getting hit on sub-50% odds. This is a theme I notice.
Getting a little tired about that, and so I want to make what'll be the last major turn as I remove the remaining enemies as safe as possible. So Katz puts his new spirit command to get use.
I then switch him to the lead.
SECRET ALERT: Have Katz fight Sarah on this stage.
: Sarah... is that Sarah Zabiarov in that Mobile Suit?
: Katz... is that you?
: You don't have to fight! What's a girl like you doing in this war, anyway?
: How dare you! I'm fighting because I want to!
: You go first! If you stand in Master Paptimus' way, I'll destroy you!
: So this is real battle... I'm so very sorry, Master Scirocco, but I have to retreat!
Jerid's almost gone.
Meanwhile, I just got rid of every single Phantom Pain enemy except for one Gells-Ghe, Faye, and of course Jerid.
Confuse is beautiful.
This is Poe, a boss, after an entire round of evasion decay.
: I've finally been given my own unit and yet--!
Just like to point out that Amuro and Kamille handled the entirety of the west side of the stage, that had three named pilots and several tough Mobile Armors with high powered barriers.
He'll go down in a Counterkill.
There. On the bright side, Luna maxed out her Support Attack.
: This isn't what the Gran Trooper is for!
: Falling back!
: Dammit! And Scirocco is watching, too!
: Ill get you for this, Kamille! Ill never give up!
With that, all that's left is this one Walking Dome.
And now there isn't.
Loran finally makes it to the Soleil. Phil believes he intends to attack the bridge but, instead, he jumps in with Diana in tow.
Kihel and Diana greet each other with their actual names, much to Milans confusion; Diana demands an explanation and Phils quickly annoyed by this earth girls tone but she insists that she's the real Queen.
Kihel, however, fires back that SHE is the Queen and Milan can tell the real Diana's force of presence; Loran interrupts the bickering when he arrives to pick up KIhel and she agrees, at Dianas urging. This is her battlefield now.
Though by Milan's judgment, it doesn't matter who's the real one as long as they have a Diana...
Outside, both the Soleil and the Phantom Pain (not that there should be any left after the SR Point, but they say it anyway) make their retreat.
So much for the ZAFT/Moonrace alliance, but Loran and Harry assure Kihel that she did just what Diana would have done - Harry declares that they must stop the Soleil and save Diana.
Inwardly, Loran ponders how Diana returned to the ship despite knowing of the danger she intends to carry out her duty as the Queen until the very end and Loran knows that he, too, should do everything in his power for the Moon AND Earth
Meeya saw the whole thing and can't believe she bought an orange from Queen Dianna Soreil at the market.
Her manager Ruble is furious with her for wrecking the concert, but after all, she only went because Lacus Clyne would be there.
"But I'm sure that one will be able to sing when she finds something important to her."
Nearby, Midgard is also furious that not only did his agent fail to assassinate the Queen, but she's back on the Soleil!
Just then, Mauer and Scirocco spot the guy and she draws a gun on him; Scirocco recognizes the uniform of a Moonrace, but if he's not with the Counter, he must be working for Agrippa or Ghingham.
Either way, he'll make a useful bargaining chip.
Back in Gibraltar, Kihel tells the whole story of how she's been switched with Diana since before the Break.
Gwen rather impressed but he wishes all that rhetoric about coexistence had been the real Diana - Kihel says that all she said was what she was sure the real Diana would, though.
Bright and Talia would like to hear more from Harry and Kihel, but Harry warns them that he will be speaking with the discretion of a Moonrace agent.
You'd think Sochie would be mad at Loran for keeping such a big secret from her (again) this whole time, but she understands that her sister would have been in danger; thats a surprisingly mature attitude from her and Miashey and Gavane and impressed.
Sochie says even she cant remain a child forever and, besides, her very sister was the Queen of the Moon for a while. That's so cool!
Setsuko realizes that we've been making the actual Queen of the Moon clean and do laundry. Whoops! But Loran says he thinks she did it out of joy.
Beltorchika, on the other hand, wonders if they have any pictures of her for later and Setsuko offers to look over the Virgolas data banks for anything of the sort. Won't that be a scoop when we can finally tell everyone!
Luna and Meyrin asks Loran what the Queen was really like, since he was the only one she'd show her real self to.
Loran says she's a person with feelings just like all of us. "I think that's why she wants peace between the Earth and Moon."
Silently, he asks Teteth to believe in her as well. "Lady Diana grieved for you. That's what makes me believe in her."
And oh, by the way, Kamille is down because they haven't found Reccoa.
: We don't know we've lost her. ZAFT is looking for her as well.
: Is that all you have to say for her?
: 2nd. Lt. Reccoa pushed herself, sacrificed herself...
: Because she wanted you, Lt. Quattro, to notice her...
: Setsuko is right. Lt. Quattro, you knew what Reccoa was going through.
: I told you, not everyone has the right to intrude on matters like that.
: What do you see behind those sunglasses of yours?
: Dianna Soreil has returned to her position to fulfill her duty, but you...
: So you know of my past, Kamille...
: I had my suspicious about you.
: Seeing you and Amuro together made me certain. You're...
: I'm Quattro Bajeena now. Nothing more, nothing less.
: What kind of adult are--
: That's enough, Kamille.
: Why, Amuro? Doesn't this bother you too?
: Lt. Quattro...
: Clean up here, Athrun. I need to deliver my report on 2nd. Lt. Reccoa to Captain Bright.
: Where does he get off?
: Leave it, Shinn. Quattro has a lot on his mind.
: I bet he does! Is being a grown-up all about making excuses like that?
: I give up! Seeing Lt. Quattro like that was...
: (Between that Four girl and Axis' approach, Char's under a lot of stress...)
: (Could Reccoa tell ?)
: Lt. Amuro, we're also going to search for 2nd. Lt. Reccoa.
: She may have drifted from the point she ejected from. Let's find her!
: My Core Splendor is faster. I'll get approval from Captain Gladys!
Not so fast, though. Arthur's discovered that Stella's missing; there's no way she could have left on her own, so someone must have taken her out.
Shinns face speaks volumes to Kamille and he quickly confesses; Arthur takes him away to explain himself (inwardly, though, Shinn doesnt regret what hes done).
Aboard the Phantom Pains Garuda, Faye is asking Scirocco for a transfer. The Gran Trooper is for defeating aliens, not other humans.
"If you ask me," says Scirocco, "being a symbol of all humanity means it should be used to cull the undesirable of humanity."
Still, he transfers her to another squad following the other part of ZEUTH.
"You may even get permission to engage." He smiles. "To show that the Gran Trooper is better than Gravion... or should I say, that you are better than Touga Tenkuuji."
Faye's glad, but also shocked. The details of the Trooper's development were an AAA-class top secret.
She leaves to be replaced by Yazan, who has successfully recovered "the AEUG woman." Is Scirocco planning to question her?
No, she's a woman who could sense his presence and, as such, he has a "more fitting job for her" in mind.
"She'll be among the women wholl reforge the world. And the one that stands over them all, the Queen, will join me soon enough."
Yazan doesn't care, mind, as all that matters to him is his ZEUTH prey. Good, says Scirocco - they're up to him and Jerid after he and the Queen return to space.
If that's so, then Yazan is going to need a better machine than the Gaplant; Scirocco is happy to give him one, but first, they have something very important to do in Ameria.
The Federation, right? Indeed, and Scirocco has already sent Neo to be the spark that lights the flame.
"And when it burns, humanity will have taken another step forward. Operation Crusade, when the righteous one guides the world to a better future."