Part 33: Contact
The alternate Crowe decides that he doesn't particularly enjoy being in the light. But he still gets his money from Traia.
Treize persuades Zechs that the time has come to strike at GOONZ. Zechs objects that moving on GOONZ means moving against the Peacekeeping Council, but Treize informs him that GOONZ has divided into two separate operations, and there's nothing Elgan Roddick can do to support the shadow side.
On the other hand, GOONZ has already fought with the PMC Trust. Treize is certain that we know we have someone in power gunning for us, and Roddick isn't stupid enough to just leave half his forces sitting ducks. No, the shadow team is the surely the bait for a trap only the Chairman could cook up. But Treize and Zechs are perfectly willing to accept the invitation.
The teeth to the trap is GOONZ itself, still a formidable pack of firepower, so Treize has brought Zechs a second-in-command. Lucrezia Noin knew Zechs about a year ago and she's heard everything about the Lightning Baron since then. Zechs really dislikes having such a reputation - "It puts a target on my head, and it gets peoples' hopes up."
But what about Noin? Zechs seems to remember her being a spacebot pilot up at Victoria Base. But when the base was destroyed by the Colonies' Gundams, space stopped being the place for Noin. Now that those Gundams have been spotted in GOONZ' ranks, Noin plans to chase them as long as it takes. And she wants to fight by Zechs' side, too.
Treize adds that they're going to have company for this operation, but leaves the details for later.
As Zechs and Noin get ready to move out, Treize hopes that GOONZ will put up a fight. "If you can't handle my friend, you'll never change the world."
As the Ptolemy sails over the Pacific Ocean, Sumeragi explains that they don't have any particular orders from Chairman Roddick. That means Celestial Being is back in the war-trolling game. What's the Chairman up to? Does he have a reason for letting Celestial Being run loose on his watch?
Zero's guess is that the shadow team is bait to draw out whoever's got a bead on them from the U. N. and keep them from messing with the public team's projects. When the attack comes, it will be their team's job to engage the enemy and keep themselves and their officially sanctioned comrades in one piece.
Tieria's been checking on Veda, and it's been pinging about the WLF for weeks. Duo is curious about why Tieria, a pilot, is allowed a say in picking missions, so Sumeragi explains that Tieria is a proxy for Veda, the supercomputer that actually directs CB's strategy. For some reason, Tieria has been designated to have access to Veda's output.
This special treatment raises even more questions that the man himself refuses to answer. Zero points out that everyone on the team has their own secrets to keep, so they aren't that interested in prying into others' as long as they don't have to share their own. They may not trust each other, but they'll stick together as long as their goals align.
Tangent aside, hitting the WLF sounds like a good thing to do right now. Sumeragi, Zero, and Duo (speaking for the Colonies, since Heero won't) all agree, but Zero asks that they visit Area 11 at least once during the campaign. He doesn't hide that he wants to put on a good show for the Elevens. Sumeragi sighs, but agrees, and asks Tieria to look into WLF activity in Area 11. The pilots discuss how the WLF is a conglomeration of warmongers and bright-eyed idiots who don't know how to translate their good intentions into productive action. The problem is that the WLF has teeth, which makes it an actual serious problem for the world at large.
Ian comms in to say that something's going down in the briefing room...
It sounds like Setsuna called the Resistance's methods into question. Tamaki snaps back, "So Celestial Being is any better? Newsflash: they think you're terrorists too!"
Crowe's waiting for someone to make it stop. Allelujah is taking Tamaki's side, at least to the extent that Setsuna's the provocateur here. Musashi suggests Crowe stop them himself if he thinks it's necessary, but Crowe would find it wasted effort on something that wouldn't make him so much as a single G. "What if it was worth one G?" asks Musashi. "Hm," replies Crowe. "Then I'd do it and put my life down on it." But seriously, Team D reflects that normally he wouldn't go out and pick a fight like this, so he must have some powerful triggers no one knows about. And speaking of quiet types with potential triggers, there are a lot of those going around -
For example. Karen's probably known Chirico the longest out of anyone here, and she knows almost nothing about him. What is he fighting for?
Aoi is particularly curious (but, she quickly has to assure Karen, not like that). Most of the fighters here have a goal or a dream in mind, but Team D was just plucked out of nowhere and thrown in a robot. So she's been thinking about reasons to fight, and Chirico's is one big enigma. Ryoma suggests she go ask Gotho next time they rendezvous with the ship, but she claims she didn't care that much. Just curious, was all.
Ohgi arrives with news. They've already reached Area 11 and are about to engage the section of the WLF stationed there. That was fast! Karen is already to shoot justice all over Area 11, but it won't be too easy - they've got the Red Shoulders on their side.
Chirico suddenly speaks up to ask if Ohgi is absolutely sure, scaring the bejeezus out of everyone nearby.
"Area 11. The Red Shoulders. Those two words came together in my mind. It may only be a hunch, but if I follow the line connecting them, I should find what I'm looking for. So I chose to believe... "
Chapter 16: Contact
As the curtain rises, the WLF has hurriedly scrambled their defense force. With the Red Shoulders behind them, they're ready to rout GOONZ - or try.
GOONZ comes in from the north side of the base. Also, apparently the full moon is out. Don't know why; there are two robots in the game that care, and neither of them is here right now.
Chirico deploys without prompting, which actually surprises everyone, and the battle is on. Crowe isn't expecting much cash, but for once is more concerned about smacking down the WLF.
SR Point: Take out all enemies within two turns.
Since we're dealing with fast ATs and tough Genoncidrons, Zero will give the order to Attack and take the lead.
Spirits like Strike, Sense, and Focus will also be extremely useful.
Did you miss Karen? I did.
The heavier robots can take the Axios and Genocidrons.
End of turn state.
The wounded ones start falling off.
Chirico even gets hit. Hooray!
Though the ones with longer range choose targets that can't fight back.
Beginning of turn 2 state.
Another order to Attack to begin with.
First we pick off the foot soldiers...
Then the snipers.
Before the Genocidrons, all that's left is
Okay. I guess the Genocidron has Defensive Support. That's cool, we'll just kill it first.
That was fast, Chirico.
Now there's just the tank Genocidron left.
Look at that, it's still turn 2.
But as always, there's no time to relax. The pink AT from the Shinjuku Ghetto zips in!
Against Zero's orders, Chirico follows the Phantom Lady. She leaves, and he gives chase, removing them both from the stage.
Before we can follow, a squad from the AEU - or more accurately, OZ, one of the AEU's special forces - catches up.
Britannian forces move in from the other side. Looks like the trap was on us all along!
Graham is thrilled to be working with the Lightning Baron, but more thrilled to get another chance to take on a Gundam. On the AEU side, Noin is surprised that Britannia let them into Area 11 at all, let alone sent a squad to fight with OZ. Zechs just says that Treize has some magic tricks up his sleeve. Both sides are keeping up the pretense that their meeting on this battlefield was pure happenstance, but it's clear that they're both gunning for us alone.
With the SR Point already obtained, the timer is gone and the only thing the game asks is to take down Zechs' Leo and Graham's Union Flag, though Noin, Daryl, and Howard are on the board as well.
Zechs' custom Leo is equipped with a High Performance Radar unit, extending the range of all his weapons by 1. Graham's Union Flag is wearing E-Carbon Armor, which increases his machine's HP and armor. Neither of them is in a particularly tough machine, but it's their piloting that would carry them through.
For our part, we'll regroup and absorb the first wave. The boss fights should come within a turn.
Like they said, let's take the bait.
OZ, at least, seems not to have brought their A game. These Aries are what pass for air mobile suits in the AEU.
Their Leos work scarcely better.
Noin and Zechs themselves bring up the rear.
The AEU's mobile suits aren't much good, but Britannia's Knightmares are even worse.
In a flash, every single Glasgow is reaped.
The Sutherlands rapidly follow.
With Graham's team late to the party, the turn rolls over.
Apparently, I put everyone on the wrong side. Celestial Being, Zero, and Karen need to fight Britannia, and the Colony Gundams are supposed to take Zechs and Noin on.
I don't see the Gundam that attacked Victoria Base!
But a Gundam started this, and Gundam can face the consequences! This is for all my students!
This is going to be really easy.
Time for the opening salvo against Zechs, but I'm sure he doesn't have enough HP to trigger all the conversations fair and square.
The Axion prototype from the orbital elevator? It's as good a machine as I suspected.
I'll let the Chief know the famous Lightning Baron likes her work. It'll make her happy.
Speaking of which, if I shoot you down I'm in for a bonus. Nothing personal, but I'm taking you out!
Oh, dear. KMFs belong to the Britannian Union, you know. You don't have the right to pilot one.
But I see you proudly walk the warrior's path. So I'll show you the respect you deserve!
I'll intercept him as soon as he swoops down to hit me... let's do it, Guren!
Likewise Graham, whose flying mech won't help him.
And who cares, let's get the subbosses out of the way.
This won't take much longer.
Noin goes for the Ptolemy, to no avail.
Gundam! You destroyed my men, and now I shall destroy you!
I fought him in Africa...
My machine may be inferior, but my skills will make up for that! I'll show you why they call me the Lightning Baron!
Wow, he actually survived.
Like his counterpart, Graham goes straight for his rival.
Who is kind of damaged, so he braces to dodge.
It's been a while, Gundam! You're looking good!
What is this man saying?
Let me introduce myself! I am Graham Aker, and you've smitten my heart!
Luckily, Setsuna blocks the attack with his shield.
Daryl tries to take down Getter. It works out great.
With the enemy almost gone, I'm just going to dump the conversations again.
There's the transforming robot. But my Flag is pretty good in the air too!
He's fast! And those are some tricky maneuvers he's doing!
I raised this Flag myself. It can take on anything, even a Gundam!
The Union unit's commander! Once we take this guy out, we win!
Hey, sniper Gundam! Can you follow my quick, flawless maneuvers?
Damn it! Don't you dare mock my aim!
He has no chance when it comes to agility. I'll just approach from behind!
A Gundam Meister is not allowed to fail. I will demonstrate that personally!
I respect your pride. Allow me the honor of being your first failure!
Why, if it isn't the infamous Zero!
He's targetting me. It's the obvious strategy.
How predictable! All units, defend me and shoot down the enemy commander!
So the king's calling his knights to protect him. But breaking down the guard for a check is the fun part!
Black Knights, it's time to get you in checkmate!
I'll give Zero the final kill. He doesn't get to fight much and could use the experience whenever he gets a chance.
Graham tells the Gundam that absence will make the heart grow fonder when it comes to their love.
The Gundam with the jammer... but that doesn't matter if I can see you with my own eyes!
You know, I haven't made it all this way with just smoke and mirrors.
Now that you've seen the shadow of the Grim Reaper, you're taking a trip to the underworld!
He moves differently from the others in his squad. No time for precise attacks; I'll have to flood him.
It's the Gundam that crushes the enemy with extreme firepower. A worthy opponent!
I'll close the distance and eliminate you before you have a chance to use it!
This must be the leader. If we shoot him down, the OZ forces will retreat!
He's targetting me. So he knows that much tactics.
I'm fighting the heavy armor close quarters Gundam. I'll have to harry and overwhelm him!
Speaking of the OZ forces, Noin's was still here. Let's fix that.
Zechs tells her to retreat before she gets blown up. She objects, but he insists that he would rather have her alive for the many, many battles to come. She tells him not to do anything stupid, but he says to himself that he might not be able to win otherwise.
Anyway, Heero takes him out.
He learns Sense.
It's pretty clear to GOONZ that AEU forces - OZ, no less - being allowed into Area 11 means that this was a joint operation between the AEU and Britannia, no matter what they say. The pressing question is, who orchestrated this? Someone cunning and powerful, that's for sure. But Zero looks at this as a sign that the world is noticing us.
A few kilometers away, Chirico and the Phantom Lady are sizing each other up. Chirico is hoping that if he defeats the mysterious pilot, it'll yield a clue about the mystery that's followed him from Rid through Area 11.
Could it be a good idea to risk letting Chirico take some damage? Let's throw a shot to see how tough the Brutish Dog is.
Round 2 goes great.
Anyway, Chirico wins quickly, scoring an equippable ISC.
But the pink AT is still moving, and disables the Scopedog. Cheater. But note that she carefully brought him to exactly 0 HP.
Instead of killing him, she opens up her AT and shows herself. Chirico is shocked to see that it's a woman.
As he tries to figure out what's going on, the Ptolemaios catches up to the two, and the lady exits stage right. GOONZ picks up Chirico, alive and well, and putting the puzzle pieces together quietly as his consciousness slips away from the damage.
As Zechs and Graham commiserate over their loss, Graham asks where that secret new OZ mech, the Taurus, is. They don't have one yet? He knows about it because of his engineer, Reif Eifman - mechanist, physicist, and weapons development pioneer. Graham is confident that this mech maker extraordinaire will use today's combat data to cook him up a beautiful Gundam-fighting machine.
And another thing Eifman told Graham - OZ has a Mobile Suit up its sleeve that's the stuff of history and legend, something so powerful it's dangerous even to pilot it. It had to be toned down to the Leo before it could be mass produced, and the good doctor says the Colony Gundams were also built from its specs. Graham says he hears it's called the Tallgeese.
With that, Graham says he hopes to meet Zechs on the field again. He'll keep giving it his all to defeat the Gundam, and so will Zechs (but they probably don't mean the same Gundams). Both soldiers are eager to get their hands on a new, more powerful weapon.
After Graham hangs up, Zechs orders his man Ottoni to find this "Tallgeese". He means to master its power and use it to take down the Gundam.
Chirico wakes up in the Ptolemy's sickbay. Gotho is delivering some supplies to the Black Knights, so Cocona's paying him a visit. So are Tamaki and Karen. Everyone's worried about him! But Chirico asks after his AT first of all. They sorrowfully admit it's completely totaled, but it's okay - Gotho's team is putting together a new Scopedog from the salvage. Chirico wants to get up and see, but Karen holds him down - he's injured, after all.
Zero demands to know what was the matter with him today, but Chirico has no reason to give. Zero continues questioning him, but Chirico simply clams up. He's now a threat as far as Zero's concerned, unwilling to take orders and prone to sudden outbursts and unexplainable acts. But Zero remembers that all that holds the shadow team together is an unspoken agreement not to pry into one anothers' secrets and doesn't press the issue. Still, he can't have Chirico endangering any missions or the safety of any of his men...
Chirico goes to the hangar to check on his AT, while Gotho and Vanilla marvel at his unkillability. They've brought some new weaponry for his AT, too. Chirico wants Gotho to figure out an arrangement that will let his AT hold a missile launcher, a cannon, and a gatling gun all at once. Ian reminds him that his speed and maneuverability will suffer as a result, but Chirico insists. At least the Scopedog itself is all ready, and as a bonus, painted the Scopedog's shoulder red. It does look somewhat like the Red Shoulder mark, but Chirico points out that his shoulder is lighter than the real thing and on the wrong side.
Thus it comes out that Chirico is a former Red Shoulder himself, and that his former commander tried to put a hit on him. In fact, to be precise, he was a member of an elite squad nicknamed the Bloodsuckers. The Black Knights ask why they never told him he used to be one of those, and he calmly replies that no one asked. But if he wants revenge, that's a good enough explanation for Zero why he's suddenly so aggressive when the Shoulders come up.
But Crowe knows just what it's like to have a past you don't want to talk about...
Chirico is glad he has a war to fight. It doesn't matter why, but as long as he's fighting, he can forget all his pain. And eventually...
Okay. We have a mod part now. I'll explain before I go.
Between stages (or at deployment), Chirico can have his regular Scopedog or attach the Red Shoulder Custom modification. As you can see, it weighs down the machine quite a lot, but adds several new weapons.
Many new weapons. Missiles, rockets, and two new guns, better (P) moves and better counter moves. With a plug-in ISC attached, the drawbacks are almost cancelled out. It's actually a fairly sweet deal. I'll keep this on for the moment.