Part 3: The World ChangesLet's train Crowe before I go any further.
The first ability I'm buying him is Hit and Away, since a few people want to see Crowe become a true sniper.
The second will be Attack Again, which is kind of my own choice.
For now, I'll leave one slot open and the Fortune slot up for grabs. Fortune is still kind of useful now, but it'll get less so once we get some units with the Luck Spirit and/or the Best Gundam Pilot in the Universe.
The chapter begins with Crowe in a small Axio transport flying over northern Africa, chatting with Traia over the radio. There's a bit of banter here, so humor me while I try out the format for a sec.
Let's hear some more about this next job.
As long as you don't ditch when you hear it. I don't want you to take the Blaster and run off on that million G debt.
Excuse me, that's a 999,999 G debt.
Oh, don't be pedantic.
That's the price tag on my freedom you're talking about.
Well, if you're going to be that way, I guess I don't have to worry about you running off.
Anyway, the job is to crash the exhibition of the AEU's new machine. Axion is an arms manufacturing conglomerate with a bad habit of selling to anybody who asks. This is why the WLF had Axios just lying around, and they're not the only ones - the Axio is what Crowe calls a "best-seller" all over the world.
The real issue here is that the AEU's new model is wiping the floor with the Axio Mk.7 in trials, and Axion's "moron" CEO (Traia's word) wants Crowe to crash its exhibition. This is definitely why Crowe has to fly a one-man transport all the way to Africa and act like a douchebag in public. Traia claims that her lab is just super secret and has to fly under the radar, but Crowe's view is that the CEO just hates her and is giving her shit for publicity and resources. As for the muck job, that's the price for more funding for the Blaster's development.
And while the Blaster's big crash may be just for show, that CEO would like him to actually beat the thing down, and Traia wants him to show off her Blaster's power. Crowe laments being dragged into this drama, not to mention forced into the bad guy's role, but his hands are tied by that million - sorry, 999,999 G.
The two discuss the sorry state of global politics some more, and how unstable the whole world has been since the Great Dimensional Quake twenty years ago. Well, the WLF may just be dicking around playing revolution, as we saw last chapter, but the mysterious mobile suit that lent Crowe a hand? That's some serious tech, and it makes Crowe and Traia think someone out there really does mean to change the world.
Also, for our information, a dimensional distortion has rendered an area in southern Africa impenetrable, leading it to be called the "Dark Land" (make your own jokes/observations/protests).
Finally it comes back to work, with Crowe complaining that the Blaster is supposed to be a DM Buster, but it's being used for thug stuff. Traia doesn't like it either, but the moron taunted her into taking it. Tell you what, though, she'll give Crowe 30000 G for the job and another 20000 bonus for bringing Blaster back unharmed. Of course, Crowe changes his tune and is all ready to go make 50 big ones.
Chapter 2: The World Changes
The map opens in a hail of gunfire, as Patrick Colasour scores perfectly in the Enact, AEU's first-ever solar machine, their attempt to make up for being the last superpower to build a space elevator, exposit Graham Aker and Billy Katagiri. Continuing the lecture: The Republic of Gizan, a Britannian territory, and the country of Marania, receiving support from the AEU, are having a series of small conflicts.
But Zechs Marquis, the Lightning Baron of OZ, joins them and smugly asserts that this is just between the two small countries, and definitely not a sign that the AEU and the Britannian Union are at war. He sits down to join the pair in
Meanwhile, Crowe is hunkered down in the woods under the cover of the Blaster's stealth system. Now that the first act of the demo is about done, he's about ready to make his move and crash the party, but before he gets the chance, an unknown drops out of the sky! Why didn't he notice it before it got so close?
Because it's the Gundam Exia, and it's crapping out a strange light everywhere which is interfering with everything near it.
Billy thinks it's part of the show, and is surprised that the AEU developed two new mobile suits. Zechs is shocked too, because he knows that the Gundam is definitely not on the plan.
Patrick wants to tangle with the new robot. Crowe is sitting still, since there's no point to him busting into the exhibition now.
The fight starts. It's a one-on-one showdown for now. The SR Point is to clear the map in three turns. Obviously, that means this stage is not going to end with Patrick.
Gundam Exia (Setsuna F. Seiei)
EN Regen (S)
Ace Bonus: 1.5x damage to Gundams or mechs equipped with solar furnaces.
Oh Setsuna. This machine/pilot pair is stuck together, and built to do one thing: cut. Mediocre Skill stat, pilot skills that are all fighting, and an Ace bonus that essentially only works against enemies from his own series. This is brute force.
The Exia is a basic close-range Real robot. Its bread-and-butter attacks are the GN Sword and the GN Beam Saber, which only reach a few tiles and take a small amount of energy. It has one weapon for countering at range, the GN Sword Rifle Mode. The Vulcan is probably just there because it had one in the show, but it'll see a little use finishing off weakened enemies and hitting targets just out of sword range.
He can approach Patrick and start butchering right away.
Or maybe not. His Beam Saber needs 110 Will to use, and he only starts with 105 (and that's only because of that Ace bonus).
At least the normal sword still works. Note the costs - Energy Save will be a good idea to add to Setsuna later.
Hmm. Patrick has a reasonable chance to hit, and also, the turn clock is ticking, so we don't want to miss.
One Focus later, that problem is fixed. And since the Enact is a solar robot, Setsuna will deal lots of extra damage to him.
"There's no such thing as God in this world. That's why I..."
Predictably, Setsuna hits and dodges.
Patrick targets Setsuna on his turn. Setsuna's AI has selected the GN Vulcan to counterattack with. In Super Robot Wars, attack-choosing AI falls down to the weakest attack that it calculates can destroy the enemy's unit. There are several foibles to this behavior - if it can't kill the target in one shot, for example, it tends to pick the best attack it has available, and it doesn't take things like barriers into account.
Setsuna is hit, but not for very much.
As it turns out, the AI was right. The weakened Enact can't take Setsuna's boosted vulcan fire.
For shooting down Patrick, Setsuna wins me a Repair Kit. This is an equippable part that can be used once to fully repair a machine's HP.
Patrick whines that he's the ace... of 2000... mock battles.
Graham notices the word GUNDAM carved into Exia's head.
Meanwhile, Setsuna reports (to who? We'll see!) that Exia has completed the first phase and is moving into the second.
But as he passes by the Blaster's hiding place, the stealth system fails. Crowe guesses it's because of the particles Exia is emitting.
But there's no time to chat. The AEU sends out the reserve forces it had hidden in its elevator. They seem to think Crowe and Setsuna are terrorists in cahoots with each other.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, one of the AEU suits is sniped down from an outrageous distance!
Meet the second of the 00 Gundam pilots joining this little happening: Lockon Stratos. He's the pilot of Gundam Dynames, the sniper Gundam. Looks like we'll be working together with these "terrorists" to defend ourselves from the AEU forces for the time being.
Oh right, it's still the enemy's turn. These are Leos, robots from Gundam Wing, so Setsuna doesn't get his fantastic damage bonus against them. Lockon is closer, but the enemies prioritize the wounded Exia, even though Setsuna will just dodge and rip their faces off.
The rest of the enemies just move. They're too far away to use any of their weapons.
It's the top of turn 2 for us, and a new Gundam shows up. Boy, is it a party in here today.
Duo Maxwell has come to investigate the AEU's stuff, and he's hit the jackpot - those reserve forces we're fighting are in violation of treaty. He declares on an open comm channel that he'll be helping us out. He styles himself the Reaper of the three superpowers - AEU, Britannia Union, and the Human Reform Federation - so he's more than willing to bust some AEU heads.
Gundam Dynames (Lockon Stratos, Haro)
Offensive Support L2
EN Regen (S)
Ace Bonus: Critical rate +40%.
Lockon has a new feature we haven't seen on any mechs before: a subpilot. Subpilots don't have stats, Ace Bonuses, or skills (with a few exceptions, and most of those are just for show). But they do have a set of Spirit commands and an independent SP pool. Haro's only Spirit for now is Scan, which lets us see the full stats of an enemy without having to engage it in a fight first. Usually, it's not too useful, but I plan to use it to scan bosses so I can show off their stuff.
Lockon and his Dynames are the very picture of a sniper - high critical rates, high Range stat, and the Snipe and Strike Spirits. Snipe is particularly useful: it increases the range of all the unit's weapons* by 2 squares for a round, which can lead to some really fearsome attack zones. If positioned right, he can also multiply his sniping by using Offensive Support on attacking allies.
But there's something absolutely criminal about Lockon's sniping skills: he doesn't have Hit and Away. I want to know who at Banpresto decided that. Fortunately, he's got a few PP under his belt, so we'll be able to fix that as soon as we've got our hands on him.
*Anything that increases range has two exceptions - weapons with a range of 1, because you really have to be adjacent, dammit, and MAP weapons, which affect an area and can't be easily extended.
Gundam Deathscythe (Duo Maxwell)
Ace Bonus: Critical rate +30%.
Like Setsuna, the Reaper is a melee beast. Like all the Gundams so far, his mecha has both the blocking functions: a sword to block other swords and swat away projectiles, and a shield to absorb incoming blows.
It has two useful new traits as well. The Hyper Jammer is unique to Deathscythe. When Duo reaches 130 Will, he has a 30% chance of using the Jammer to vanish from combat, perfectly evading the enemy's incoming attack. This is independent of his regular dodge rate.
The second new nice thing about Deathscythe is its Jamming Unit, which increases the hit and dodge rates of the Gundam and any other allied robot within two squares of it by 10%. It's a fairly nice thing to have on a Real type robot.
So where was I? There are eight enemies left on the map, we have four robots on our side, and two turns to take them out. Even considering that the enemy units can probably take a couple hits from our Gundams, this should be easy.
But how can we make it even easier...
Do you remember how Setsuna has Chain Actions? Remember when I said it gives a whole extra turn to any machine that kills an enemy at 120 Will or higher, once per turn?
I lied just a little. (Behold Offensive Support.)
Setsuna started that battle at 115 Will. Cutting down the target took him up over 120, and then his ability triggered. His turn state has been reset, so now he can move again, attack again, whatever. It's as if he'd started the turn where he is next to Lockon.
"I don't know about these guys, but I hope things aren't always gonna be this crazy. Guess I drew the short straw. Maybe I should have gone back to the military..."
The benefit of Hit and Away. Just because the Clutch Sniper isn't a (P) move doesn't mean Crowe can't use it on the run.
"(The AEU is one of the three superpowers controlling the Colonies. But they're being manipulated from the shadows themselves. My real mission is to take down whoever that is. Lucky for me those mysterious Mobile Suits went digging up the dirt. Hope they don't mind if I help myself.)"
The GN Sniper Rifle is a hell of a weapon. Imagine it with Snipe active.
"It's about time the space boys made their move. We're counting on you, Allelujah, Tieria."
"Lockon! Enemies approaching! Lockon! Enemies approaching!"
"I know. Dynames, sniping the target!"
This is what's called a "Dynamic Kill," meaning that the animation is different when the attack takes down the enemy. Usually this means a couple of extra shots, maybe a one-liner from the pilot, and occasionally a different death for the poor sap on the business end. They're specific to attacks and not all attacks have them. In the Sniper Rifle's case, it fires off two extra blasts, and a shot of Lockon's face appears as he drops a killer line ("Who's the next target?").
Setsuna's second turn in the round. He moves up and takes an attack - Chain Actions actually gives you a complete turn, no strings attached.
His ability already triggered, so he's done for the round, even though he took the other guy out.
On the enemy phase, the last weakened Leos down themselves against the Gundams.
Setsuna pulls off another Dynamic Kill - a shot of Exia's face as it slices clean through a downed enemy with its beam saber.
The last super move video is the Deathscythe's Hyper Jammer Slash, which cuts clean through barriers, ignores size adjustments, and inflicts a new status problem, lowered accuracy. Expensive, though.
Holy shit it statics up the screen.
That was the last enemy. It's still only turn 3, so the point is scored.
Duo proposes we all ditch before more reinforcements arrive. Setsuna still looks like he's in for a fight, but Lockon convinces him that now's not the time.
After the Gundams leave, the electronic interference seems to clear up. Duo's ready to split too. Crowe stops him and asks what the hell's going on, but Duo replies that it's safer not to know and leaves. Crowe heads out himself, not wanting to get caught by the AEU.
The AEU aces wonder what just happened; Graham's guess is that the first machine (Exia) came to destroy the new prototype as well as draw out the AEU's illicit reserves so that the rest of the world knew they were in violation of treaty. A check and a warning, as he puts it.
Just then, Zechs gets an urgent message that the HRF's high orbit station was attacked by terrorists, but the terrorists have been wiped out by unknown mobile suits.
Sure enough, up in orbit, two more Gundams are cleaning up Helions (AEU mobile suits, hmmm). Tieria declares the third phase complete. Allelujah muses on how Sumeragi, their commander, managed to predict everything the enemies would do. Both Gundams retreat, leaving us with the question: how will the world react to them?
This guy Sergei is shocked at how suddenly the mysterious Gundams appeared out of nowhere and wiped out the terrorists. Of course, there's more of that coming.
Back on the transport, Crowe is questioning Traia about the strange mobile suits. She figures they're serious attackers, not just a show like the Blaster's intrusion was meant to be. Crowe also mentions that Deathscythe looked kind of like the suit that helped him out earlier (Shenlong). Of course, they're from the same series!
Traia explains that based on Crowe's collected data, the robot which attacked the Enact and the long-range sniper bot also use similar tech. This is the "strange light" everyone's fussing about, and Traia hazards a guess that the particles are emissions from the machines' energy cores. And it sounds like the mysterious suits that showed up at the HRF station are in the same family.
(Crowe questions where she'd get that information, and Traia just says it's a perk of working for that moron. And that it's what he gets for abusing her Blaster for his own crap.)
She confirms that the Reaper robot shares a lineage with Shenlong, of course. All of them - Blaster, the Colony Gundams, and the GN Gundams - are definitely way above common mechs. Very dangerous that all these unsavory characters with access to high-tech weapons are gunning for the AEU.
Suddenly, Traia shouts at Crowe to turn on the news! The group that took out the terrorists are broadcasting a video message to the world!
"This message goes out to all of humanity. We are Celestial Being. We are a private organization that controls the mobile weapons called Gundams. Celestial Being's aim is to eradicate war from this world. We will never act to help ourselves. We are here only to bring an end to war. Now, we declare to all the world: we will bring our force to bear against all who wage war, be it over land, faith or energy. Any nation, organization, or corporation that commits an act of war will face our power. We are Celestial Being. We are an armed organization founded to eradicate war from this world."
So now you know the basic plot of Gundam 00.
In Area 11, Saji and Louise wonder what's going on.
In Ashford Academy, Millay, Shirley, and Rivalz are having a little argument about whether Celestial Being are just terrorists out for blood, or heroes. Lelouche is impressed with their power, and wonders if he can use it to defeat Britannia, but then decides that he would rather use his own power instead of depending on anybody.
Back in northern Africa, Duo guesses that Celestial Being is much more organized than whoever he's working with. He wonders idly if Celestial Being will someday come after him, too. But he'll fight whoever he has to to free the colonies.
And in Paris, at OZ headquarters, Zechs is discussing the situation with Treize Kushrinada. Treize is curious about Celestial Being - if they have the power to back up their idealism, and about the "other" Gundam that appeared. He calls it a Gundam because its armor is made of a alloy called Gundanium found only in space, which means it must have been built in the Colonies. He orders Zechs to investigate while the rest of the world powers are busy with Celestial Being.
Lady Une asks if Celestial Being will get in the way of Treize's plans. Treize considers that for a bit, but dismisses it for the moment. "Like me, they want to change the world."
Finally, we turn to the Ptolemaios out in the depths of space. Sumeragi Lee Noriega is celebrating the plan's success with a cold one. The crew, with Allelujah and Tieria, muse on how The Plan has irrevocably been put into motion, though there's a long way to go. Allelujah and Tieria are ordered down to the surface for the next operation.
Once more back to Africa for the other two Gundam pilots, Setsuna and Lockon. "We are the Gundam Meisters of Celestial Being," declares Setsuna.