Chapter Four:  Six Gundams Confirmed

 

            Lady Une and Treize were walking down the corridor from the war room back into the main hold.  “It will take a while for all the people to readjust.”  Lady Une commented.

 

            Treize shook his head.  “Not as long as you would think.  People are very adaptable.”

 

            “But to recreate the city inside the ship?”

 

            Treize smiled.  “I’m sure they can do it.  They can take the buildings directly from the island and plant them into the main hold.  The city will give them a sense of normalcy.  It will help them stay sane for the long trip back to the Earth.”

 

            Lady Une nodded.  “I guess that is true.  What about the meeting?  What do we do about the Gundam situation?  Septum insists that the Gundam is a destroid, so it should be turned over to him.”

 

            “He will not get possession of the Tallgeese, or any of the other prototypes for that matter.  For the time being, I’, using it as my craft until a new veritech can be manufactured.  I’ve just had the production of extra veritechs…stunted…for the time being.  The troops will have enough, but there won’t be one available for me anytime soon.”

 

            “What do you plan to say when they ask for the other Gundams?”

 

            “The pilots are not regular army.  They are by no means bound by it.”

 

            “But they won’t be allowed to be free agents in this place.  The ship is effectively under martial law.”

 

            “If they realize my connection to the other Gundams and insist on them joining, I’ll simply leave the Oz squadron to Zechs and lead them myself.  We’ll become a different branch of the ship’s military.”

 

            “What about Zechs and me?  What will become of us?”

 

            Treize glanced about and turned to Lady Une.  “I thought that you would be happy.”

 

            She turned back to him in shock.  “What do you mean?”

 

            “Our relationship could be brought into the open.  We would no longer need to hide it away from everyone.”

 

            She looked back forward with her emotionless mask on.  “I still think it would be wise to keep it hidden.”

 

            Treize raised an eyebrow.  “Why would that be?”

 

            Her voice continued in her emotionless speech.  “I will not be used as a pawn against you.  If our relationship were to come to light, our enemies would use it against you.  You would appear to have a weakness.”

 

            Treize nodded.  “Very wise, my lady.”

 

            Lady Une decided to change the subject.  “Who do you think tried to assassinate the princess?”

 

            Treize scratched his chin.  “Could be any one of our enemies, but if I were to lay odds, I would have to say Onegell.”

 

            “Why him?”

 

            “He was the one who destroyed the Sanc kingdom in the first place.  The last thing he would want is the kingdom to rise again.”

 

            “Does Zechs know about him?”

 

            “He does.  I’ve told Zechs to bide his time.  His chance for revenge will come soon.”

 

            “So you do plan on carrying out the foundation’s orders?”

 

            Treize nodded.  “I do.  But the timetable will be more delayed than the original.  We have all the time in the solar system.”

 

            “Indeed.  The entire length of it for that matter.”

 

            Treize nodded again.  “Right now our main priority is staying alive to see the Earth again.  That will be the Gundams main goal.”  They walked on in silence for a bit before Treize spoke again.  “Has that fanjet been found?”

 

            Une looked at him.  “No.  It’s been a week, and we still haven’t found anything.  The Hunter boy is probably dead.”

 

            “I doubt it.  There is something that I felt off of him in his piloting.  Something like destiny…”

 

 

 

            Elsewhere in the veritech hanger aboard the SDF-1 that the Oz squadron had claimed as home, Zechs Merquise was lying on his back making a few minor repairs on the underside of his veritech.  He had already established himself as a superior pilot.  At the battle on Macross Island he had easily shot down twice as many enemy craft as any other pilot in the squadron.  It was like he was one with his machine.  He was amazed how little piloting his plane seemed to need.  It was like it was responding to his thoughts.  He couldn’t believe the reaction time it gave him.  He would think about the transformations and the plane would start to shift even before he pulled the lever for the change.  Robotechnology was truly amazing.  If he had had this craft during the Global Civil War, he could have taken his revenge easily.

 

            Then there was the Tallgeese.  Something about that machine seemed to call to him.  He knew that it was his friend Treize’s machine, but something about it drew him.  He had seen it a couple of times in its bay, and he had already managed to already memorize all the controls.  They were almost exactly like the guardian mode of the veritech fighter.  Zechs was amazed at the sheer amount of power and simplicity that the machine radiated.  He would have to ask Treize to take it for a flight…maybe a battle…

 

            “You lose yourself again?”

 

            Zechs started and hit his head against the underside of his plane.  He looked behind and saw his wingman, Lucrezia Noin.  He shook his head to clear the ringing of his head.  Hitting his helmet on other metal surfaces were always the most jarring.  “What is it, Noin?”

 

            She stood in front of him with her arms crossed.  “You were obsessing again, weren’t you?”

 

            “What business of yours is it if I do?”

 

            “I’m trying to make something out of you, Zechs.”

 

            Zechs harrumphed and went back to working on his plane.  “And what would that be?”

 

            “A human.”

 

            Zechs hit his head again.  He ignored the ringing and went back to work.  “I’m already human.”

 

            “No, you’re just a vengeance obsessed shell of a man.”  She knelt down beside him.  “Look around this bay.  You don’t see anyone else besides the technicians and us.  Everyone else is out trying to enjoy a break from the cockpit.  You’re here making adjustments that the techs are supposed to handle.”

 

            “And what are you here for?”

 

            “I here to make you step away, get some time away.  You were still human the last time I checked.”

 

            Zechs smiled underneath his mask.  “I’m sorry, but you’ve made a mistake.  I’m a machine.”  He went back to work.

 

            Noin got an annoyed look on her face.  I know I love him, but he can be so frustrating some times.  She grabbed his ankles and hauled him out from under the craft.   “You WILL come with me to the officer’s mess, and you WILL enjoy it!”

 

            Zechs stood up and brushed his flight suit off.  “Why are you trying to give me orders?  You know that I am your superior officer.”

 

            Noin smiled, took him by the arm, and walked him out of the bay.  “Sometimes you have to unilateral action.”  She leaned her head onto his arm.

 

            Zechs walked along with her because he knew that resistance was futile.  She’d just keep hounding him until he relented.  He’d get more done if he went along with her now.  He looked down at her smiling face.  Maybe when this is all over…

 

 

 

            A few days later, inside the main hold itself, Heero and Relena were walking through watching the construction.  Heero glanced about, seeming to look in every direction at once without moving his head noticeably.  Relena just tried to have a pleasant conversation with the young boy.  “Isn’t this wonderful, Heero?”

 

            Heero continued walking and watching.  “What?”

 

            “This city.  It will be the first human settlement outside of Mars.”

 

            “What is so wonderful about it?”

 

            “It’s a space colony!  We’re all apart of something new.  Maybe we could all learn to live in peace with each other. We could set an example for the people of Earth.”

 

            Heero just scoffed at her.  “Man will always be at war.  It’s in his nature.”

 

            “Well, what if a woman were in charge?”

 

            “We’d still be at war.  There are women who like war as well.”

 

            “True, but why couldn’t we all live together.  We could fight wars against things besides countries.  We could fight against drugs or poverty.  Why continue to fight against other people?”

 

            “It’s mankind’s nature.”

 

            “I don’t believe it’s in its nature.  I believe it is in its history.  If we could somehow leave behind the people that have fought the wars and their influence, I believe we could all live in peace.”

 

            “What about the aliens?”

 

            “I think they could be taught to live in peace as well.  If we had tried negotiating instead of fighting, I think we could have avoided all the death.”

 

            Heero shook his head.  “The only language both our races understand is war.  They way they deployed was for an attack.  They had no intention of negotiating.  The pre-emptive strike that was made with the Main Gun was correct.”

 

            “I heard that the firing of the gun was an accident.”

 

            “It may have been.  I don’t really care.  I’m just a soldier.”

 

            Relena stopped him and turned to stand in front of him.  “No, you’re not.  You are a teenager like me.  You are not a hardened fighter.”

 

            Heero just looked at her with an emotionless expression.  “I AM a soldier.  My mission right now is to keep you alive.  After I have completed that mission, I will return to the battlefield.”

 

            Relena would not relent.  “There hasn’t been a battlefield before this last attack since you were four!  How can you ‘return’ to it?”

 

            Heero shook his head at her.  “There are wars occurring all around you, wars that will decide the destiny of the human race.  The war didn’t end because the open battle stopped.”

 

            Relena looked into his eyes, trying to find some tenderness there.  She saw a small bit, dying away to the side.  She knew that Heero would be doomed if that part died.  “Heero.  You must stop fighting!  You have to learn love and peace!”  Tears were forming in her eyes.

 

            Heero’s eyes softened a bit.  “Relena?”  His voice softened a bit as well, but it hardened again.  “You’re in over your head.  Just stay alive, and don’t try to stop me.”

 

            Relena went back to his side and continued walking.  Heero, you must learn to be human.

 

            There was a large crash and some shouting to the side.  Relena took off for the source and Heero followed closely behind.  They came around the corner and saw a crane had crashed into the floor of the hold.  People were shouting back and forth.

 

            “You stupid moron!”

 

            “Hey, there’s something down there!”

 

            “There’s someone down there too!”

 

            “Get a rescue team over here!”

 

            Rescue workers showed up and pulled a young girl and an exhausted young boy out of the hole.  The name’s circulated quickly as Lynn Minmei and Rick Hunter.  Heero heard the name and thought; Treize must be informed immediately.  “I’m taking you back to your room.”

 

            Relena turned to him.  “Why?”

 

            “I need to do something.”

 

            “I can take care of myself.”

 

            “No you can’t.  There is someone trying to kill you.  Stay in your room until I get back.”

 

            Relena smiled.  “I could just ask Duo to watch me.  He is a part of your ‘organization’, isn’t he?”

 

            “He’s just an idiot.  Just do as I say and you live.  Got it?”

 

            She crossed her arms.  “I still don’t see why you’ve decided to be my personal bodyguard.”

 

            “I was ordered to.   Now, com on!”  He took her arm and dragged her back to her quarters.

 

 

 

            Still more time passed.  Everyone worked frantically to prepare for the next enemy attack.  They knew it was only a matter of time before they were found.  They all had realized the main target of the attack was the SDF-1.  They had attached the two aircraft carriers and sealed them for deep space operation.  They had also salvaged all they could from the island and rebuilt the city inside the largest hold in the SDF-1.

 

            In other holds around the ship, other projects were being completed.  The final touches were being put on and the pilots were put through their final training.  The next battle with the alien menace would not be as one sided as the last.

 

            Eventually the enemy did find them again.  They launched another attack.  Several capital ships of the enemy fleet attacked from the front.  The veritech squadrons were launched.  The enemy ships launched their battle pods.  The battle began to rage all about the surrounding space.

 

            “Why don’t they fire the main gun?”  Noin asked.

 

            Zechs changed over to her frequency.  “They can’t.  The main power conduit was severed when the fold system disappeared.  We have to stop them without it.”

 

            “Where is Treize?”

 

            “He is just now launching from his bay.  They just had to make some final adjustments.  Now just watch you’re flank!”  He quickly imaged his fighter over to battloid and rained bullets into the oncoming pod.

 

            “Thanks, Zechs.  Let me return the favor.”  She fired two missles into another pod.

 

            In the bay of the Tallgeese, the gantries were just now being pulled away.  A large cannon was mounted on its arm.  “So what do you call this one, Dr. J?”  Treize asked from the cockpit.

 

            Dr. J was watching from the observation booth.  “It’s a canister rifle.  You’ll find that it packs considerably more power than anything else that any GU-11 gun pod.”

 

            “Now here’s the important question.  Will it work?”

 

            Dr. J smiled.  “Of course.  We actually tested this one first.  Now I must be going, Heero is waiting.”

 

            “The others are prepared?”

 

            “Of course.  They will be launched right after you.  Operation Meteor proceed right on schedule.”

 

            “Excellent.”

 

            “What will be their first orders?”

 

            Treize narrowed his eyes.  “Any alien who lays eyes on a Gundam shall not live to tell about it.”

 

            Tallgeese pulled away from the gantry and walked to the air lock.  The doors opened and Treize launched into combat.  He was still amazed at the maneuverability and power of the machine.  He powered up the Vernier engines and flew to the area where his squadron was fighting.  He found Lady Une being pursued by three battlepods.  He brought the canister rifle to bear.  The rifle came up and one of his vernier rockets cut out.  Treize started to panic until the shot fired.  The back blast from the rifle kept him from flying in circles.  The canister struck the center pod, and its explosion destroyed the other two.

 

            “Thank you, sir.”  Lady Une said into the com.

 

            “You’re still my wingmate.  Now let’s give them hell.” The Tallgeese came about and fired three more blasts at an incoming group of pods.  Three were struck dead center, but many more exploded.  The surrounding pods opted to withdraw.

 

            Zechs and Noin flew up and transformed into battloid mode and stopped behind the Tallgeese. “Nice gun, Treize.” Zechs commented.

 

            “It’s not the size of the gun, it’s how you use it.  Now back to work.  There’s still a battle happening.”  They all throttled up and flew to the next quadrant under attack.

 

           

 

            Another group of battlepods were making a strike to the underside of the SDF-1.  Their job was to disable the launch engines of the SDF-1.  The Zentraedi mission was to disable the ship not destroy it.  They had managed to get this far undetected.

 

            The commander looked up when his display showed an incoming bogey.  “What is it?”  He asked his forward elements.

 

            “It’s another enemy craft, but it doesn’t appear armed.”

 

            “Destroy it!”

 

            Several pods opened fire.  The space shuttle was struck several times and exploded.  “Target eliminated!”

 

            Another frantic voice came over the radio.  “No it’s NOT!”

 

            A beam of light shot out of the debris and struck the group.  Half of them were destroyed in one blow.  The survivors checked their viewscreens and saw another plane fly toward them.  They all opened fire.  The plane rocked to the side from the blow, but was not destroyed.  To the Zentreadi’s horror, they watched it transform into a giant robot.  While they were still shocked from the transformation, it lifted the beam cannon in its hand and fired again, wiping the group out.

 

            Inside the cockpit of Wing Zero-One, Heero was laughing maniacally.

 

 

 

            In the darkest part of the exterior of the ship, right between the two massive thrusters to the rear of the SDF-1, another group was on a mission to disable the main engines of Zor’s ship.  They were planning on taking the ship by surprise from behind.  Little did they know that someone else had the same idea for them.  Behind them a light beam formed in an arc.  The arc turned and sliced cleanly through the first pod.  The others turned to see what had destroyed their leader, a dark shape holding a scythe with a blade of pure energy.  They didn’t know why, but they recognized it easily as Death itself.

 

            Death charged and slashed two more.  It started making its way methodically through the group.  The last pod tried to retreat, but a buster shield caught him from behind.  The pod exploded and darkness ruled again.

 

            From the cockpit of the Gundam Deathscythe, the pilot reported in.  “Duo here.  There’s nothing left but the clean up.”  He thumbed the com off.  “Anyone who sees me has a date with their maker.”

 

 

 

            Off the starboard bow, the Wolf squadron was being annihilated.  The pods had come in too fast and too numerous for them to handle.  They had made a brave and admirable showing, but it was too much to turn the overwhelming tide.  The last pilot was retreating to the SDF-1 calling frantically for backup, but the veritech squadrons were already stretched thin.

 

            His gunpod was out of bullets and his lasers had overheated.  He watched as the pod that had his name written all over it came in for the kill.  Suddenly a laser beam punched through the front armor of the pod.  It exploded meters away from the veritech.  A hail of laser and bullet fire followed the first shot from the direction of the SDF-1.  The veritech pilot turned to see a large group of destroids flying toward him and firing on the enemy pods.  The apparent leader of the group drew two massive scimitars from his back and began slashing through pods like they were butter.

 

            Within a few minutes the pods were all destroyed.  The leader of the group in Gudam Sandrock turned to the last veritech.  “Go and rearm your plane.  We’ll cover this sector.”

 

            “Who are you?”  The reply came back.

 

            “I am Quatre Rebarba Winner, and these are the Maganac Corp.  Now go.”

 

            The pilot thanked him and flew back toward the SDF-1 to re-equip.

 

 

 

            Off the portside, another group of pods were closing in on the SDF-1.  They were taken by surprise as they were engulfed in plasma fire.  A battloid wielding a two energy bladed staff and shield shot to the center of the group.  It began slashing through them and they exploded.  It twirled it in the air and then stopped.  A wave of energy went out from the destroid and destroyed the surrounding pods.  The last two pods charged in.  A pod that looked like a Dragon’s head lowered onto the robot’s arm.  It shot out and punched through the front of the first pod.  The pod didn’t explode, but was slung into the other one.  They were both destroyed.

 

            The Wu Fei Chang watched with a cynical looked on his face.  The Gundam Shenlong had easily cut through the attacking pods.  “They were all disappointing, weren’t they, Nataku?  I didn’t figure that our interstellar enemies would be so weak.”

 

 

 

            On the deck of the SDF-1, Destroid Defenders and Tomahawks were coming out of their hatches to open fire on the battlepods that had made it to the ship itself.  The opened fire, but a hail from the enemy capital ships laid the destroids to waste.  The pods closed in on the command deck of the SDF-1.  They were preparing to open fire on deck.  Anoter hatch opened and a final destroid stepped out.  This one was different from the others with its red and white paint job.  It had a massive gatling gun on its arm.  It raised the gun and opened fire on the battle group.  Compartments all over the machine opened and spewed out missiles.  The missiles started laying waste to the pods.  The chest cavity of the robot opened up to expose two more gatling guns.  They opened fire and destroyed the group. 

 

Another group of pods came in to reinforce the first.  The robot turned and opened fire on them.  Most of the group was destroyed before the destroid ran out of ammunition.

 

“He’s out of bullets!  We can move in!”  The leader of the Zentraedi attack group called into the come.

 

A blade popped out from the forearm of the destroid.  Rockets on its back flared up and it launched into the group of battlepods.  In short order the rest of the group was cut to shreds.

 

The pilot of Gundam Heavyarms turned on his com.  “This is Trowa Barton.  Enemy attack force in sector one has been dispatched.”

 

 

 

Treize smiled as the report came in.  The Gundams were doing an excellent job, but the capital ships were still there.

 

All of the sudden a call came out over the tac net.  “Prepare for modular transformation.  This is not a drill!  Repeat.  Prepare for modular transformation.  This is not a drill!”

 

“What is that all about?”  Zech’s voice came over the com.

 

They all watched as the entire ship began to change shape.  The ship turned on its short axis.  The rear thrusters extended out.  The air craft carriers swung out and around.  The fore of the ship parted into two massive booms.  The whole ship transformed into a massive techno knight with two booms sticking straight up from its back.  The boom lowered and pointed at the enemy capital ships.

 

“Does that answer yours question?”  Treize answered.

 

The tone came over their radios that told them to evacuate the area in the path of the main cannon.  Energy arcs appeared between the booms.  The number increased and intensified.  It built to a massive power level.  The Main Cannon released its massive power on the capital ships of the enemy fleet.  The ships and unlucky battlepods were vaporized.  The remaining pods retreated at top speed.

 

“I guess that takes care of that.”  Noin announced of the com.