Zechs looked out from the control deck in the hanger that was going to be the new staging area for the Gundams. The hanger was located in what would be the outcropping of the SDF-1’s neck when it was transformed. The bay had an enourmous door that would allow all the Gundams to launch at once. This bay had originally been a holding area for emergency supplies, but after the first encounter with the aliens in space, it had been cleared out to make sure that the material was not all in one place. Also, most of the supplies were moved closer to Macross City for expediency’s sake.
He turned his head and saw the gantry that held the Tallgeese. Technicians were making adjustments and minor repairs. The reactor was recharged from the mysterious fuel that powered the massive reflex furnaces of the SDF-1. The canister rifle was reloaded with its highly explosive ammunition. Zechs’ mouth twisted into a smile as he regarded his machine. The test the other day had passed with flying colors. Despite the trouble with the overpowered engines and the massive recoil of the rifle, he had enjoyed the experience completely.
Noin was looking at him from the corner of the room. She smiled when she saw Zechs smile. Zechs noticed and quickly dropped his expression back to his normal neutral. “Shouldn’t you be back with the rest of the squadron?”
Noin shook her head. “Nope. Treize assigned me as a special liaison officer for this unit.” She smiled a little broader.
Zechs crossed his arms and stared back out into the bay. “Why would he do that?”
Noin pushed herself off of the wall and walked over to Zechs’ side. “It’s a funny thing. There I was with no wingmate anymore and all the sudden there was an opening for support staff in a new unit. How could I refuse?”
Zechs shook his head. “Will I never be rid of you?” He said with a hint of humor.
Noin slid a arm around one of Zechs’. “Never. No matter what I’ll always be at your side.”
Zechs turned and regarded her with another smile. “After this is all over and the earth is at peace, I promise I won’t send you away again.”
Noin got a serious look on her face and stared him down. “Why make a promise that will never come to fruition? The Earth will never be at peace while humans are running it! Make me a better offer.”
“Like you won’t send me away any longer from this point forward.”
“How about after I have my revenge? I can’t be distracted from my ultimate goals.”
“Deal. When is the strike?”
Zechs shook his head. “Treize is still biding his time. We still have other matters to concern us as well.”
Zechs nodded his head. “She will be very important to the future.”
Noin looked at Zechs and thought, Open up, Zechs. Admit that you’re worried about your sister! Show some more emotion, and then you’ll have a chance for happiness!
Just then five specks appeared on the radar. The tone sounded and the technicians left the bay. The atmosphere was drained, and the massive door swung down to greet the newest visitors. The five Gundams flew in with great precision. They all picked out an empty gantry and parked their Gundams with ease. The great door closed once again, and the atmosphere was restored.
Zechs and Noin made their way down into the bay just in time to see the five pilots disembarking from their mecha. Noin stopped in her tracks. “They’re kids?!?!”
Zechs nodded. “They’ve been trained for this ever since the Gundam project started. They have no preconceived notions of the limitations of crafts, and therefore to them they have no limits. They were raised to be the ultimate pilots of the next generation.”
“But…but…they’re kids!!! How can Treize, or anyone for that matter, ask kids to fight!!!”
“One could ask how could they let women fight as well? I’m still wondering that myself.”
Noin turned an annoyed glance at the Chinese boy that had spoken to her. “There’s a real enlightened opinion! I’ll have you know that women have been fighting for years!”
The boy just gave her an amused chuckle. “Just as enlightened as your statements. Children have been fighting for years as well. Do you forget that in legend it was a young boy not much older than ourselves that felled a giant and conquered an army and a nation?”
Noin was dumbstruck. This kid is good! “Okay, smart guy, how about this? Kids need to at least be able to shave to pilot a mecha.”
“Women don’t shave…well their faces anyway.”
Noin turned again to see a blonde slightly Arabic looking kid. “What is this? Pick on the grownup day?”
“Naw! It’s just have fun at someone else’s expense day! Why don’t you just run along and get us kids some grub from the kitchen!”
Noin was starting to get irritated. This time it was directed at the boy with the long braided ponytail down his back. “Okay, pal…”
“Duo.” He interrupted.
“Okay, DUO! Let’s get this straight! I am this unit’s Executive officer and liaison to the rest of the RDF. I am not some slave for a snot nosed brat to boss around!” Another pair of boys walked up behind the first three. “And I supposed you two want to get your cracks in too, eh?”
Heero looked at Trowa. Trowa shook his head. Heero spoke up. “No. We’re apparently the only ones here to do a job instead of goofing off.”
Quatre turned to him. “I’m not goofing off. I’m trying to make a new friend.”
Duo laughed and put his hands behind his head. “I’m here to goof off! What else are we supposed to do between missions?”
Heero threw an angry glance at the God of Death. “You should be training, you fool!”
Duo shook his finger in Heero’s direction. “Careful there, buddy. You’re letting your emotions show again. First it’s a girlfriend and now you’re getting emotional.” Duo shrugged. “What is to become of the mighty Heero Yuy?”
Heero clenched his fists. “She is not my girlfriend.” He managed to say it with his usual lack of emotion, though great strain.
All the Gundam pilots turned toward Zechs. “That’s enough. We’re here for a briefing. At fifteen hundred hours we will be posted at the third and forth quadrants from the SDF-1’s local coordinate system.”
Heero narrowed his eyebrows. “We’re not going in to the first quadrant with the veritech groups?”
Duo’s shoulders slumped. “Third and forth quadrants!!! That’s in the rear!!! We’ll never see any action!!!”
Zechs motioned them to be silent. “Gloval wanted us to watch out for any surprise attacks. He also wanted it to appear that all the forces were at the fore, so we will all be powered down until the enemy attacks. We’re the aces in the hole, gentlemen. This will not be easy.”
“This is so uncool!!!” Duo shouted.
“That doesn’t matter. It’s O-Seven hundred now. I suggest you all get some rest before mission prep.”
The boys broke apart and started walking toward the airtight barracks that had been set up inside the bay, all of them except for Trowa. He started walking toward the entrance to the rest of the ship.
Zechs turned around toward him. “Where are you going?”
Trowa didn’t even stop walking. “I’m going to meet someone for breakfast. Then I’ll return.”
Zechs just shook his head as the boy walked out the door. This is going to be harder than I thought.
Half and hour later, Catherine Bloom was waiting at the front entrance of the circus tent. “Where is that boy?”
She nearly jumped out of her skin. The voice came from inside the tent. “Don’t DO THAT! You nearly scared me to death.”
Trowa shrugged and walked out in to the open air. “So where did you want to go eat?”
Catherine just looked at him and shook her head. “Let’s go to the coffee house. How does that sound?”
“I don’t really care.” Trowa turned and started walking that way.
“Hey, wait for me!” Catherine caught up with the boy and walked beside him. “So what were you doing inside the tent?”
“I was telling the ringmaster that I wasn’t going to be there today.”
She stopped in her tracks, but then quickly had to double time to catch up with Trowa, who never stopped walking. “Why did you do that?”
“Because I’m not going to be there.”
Catherine had a slightly annoyed look on her face. She walked with him in silence until they arrived at the coffee shop and sat down. Then the damn broke. “What do you mean? Where are you going to be? What do you do? Where do you go every day? Who are you?!”
Trowa leaned back from the barrage of questions. He hadn’t realized how fast she was capable of asking so many questions. “I really have no name, but I go by Trowa Barton. I have a second job besides the circus and it keeps me busy. In fact I need to get some rest as soon as I leave here.”
“What do you mean, you ‘really have no name’?”
“My parents died before they could give me a name. I was raised by the state until I was old enough to run away. I roamed the streets for the longest time until I came to Macross.”
“So where did you get the name, Trowa Barton?”
“Another employee where I worked died, and I took his name.”
“To honor him?”
“Something like that.”
“Why all this cloak and dagger about a second job? Does it have to do with the RDF?”
“It’s something like that. I can’t really discuss it all. In fact I’ve probably said too much.”
Catherine smiled at him. “Don’t worry. I won’t say anything about it. I just wanted to learn more about you. I was wondering one thing though…”
Trowa looked up at her. “Yes?”
“How come you never smile?”
Fifteen-thirty hours found the Gundams floating dead in space.
“This totally SUCKS!!!”
“Shut up, Duo.”
“You shut up, Heero! I’m tired of floating out here while all the other pilots are duking it out at the front! I signed up for action, not floating in space like a piece of junk!”
“Now that you mention it…”
“Was that a joke? Heero, was that a joke out of you?”
“Damn it, Heero!!!”
“Both of you SHUT UP!” Zechs cut across the line. “You’re supposed to be observing radio silence.”
“What’s the big deal? We’re using tight beam line of sight transmission. It shouldn’t attract anything.”
“That’s beside the point, Duo. Just cut the chatter and wait for the enemy.”
“How do you know they’re coming?” Wufei asked. “They may not be smart enough to figure out this opening. We may have wasted our resources by floating around on the dark side of the SDF-1.”
“Even if nothing happens, we still know that the backside of the SDF-1 was protected with a minimal amount of troops, allowing the full veritech forces to attack the alien forces.” Just then Zechs radar signaled him of incoming objects. “Okay, heads up! We’ve got three small cruisers coming in. We’ll do this by the numbers. Two to a ship and…”
“Never mind that.” Heero cut him off. “I’ll take care of the one on the left. I don’t need any help.” His Gundam came to life and transformed into bird mode. He rocketed off toward the first cruiser.
“Wait…” Zechs started.
“Hey! If he can do it, so can I!” Deathscythe powered up its engines and roared toward the ships. “I’ll take the one on the right!”
“Duo…” Zechs tried again.
“I don’t care about you’re petty squabbles, but Nataku is perfectly capable of taking one on his own. I’ll take the last one. You three can guard the ship.” Wufei started up Shenlong’s powerful core and head toward the last cruiser.
“Wufei!!!” Zechs shouted, but it was too late. They were already gone. “Doesn’t anyone know how to obey orders?”
“We’re still here.” Quatre came over the com.
Zechs checked his radar and saw Sandrock and Heavy Arms at the ready. “That’s great, but we’ll still need to split up to cover those idiots. Quatre, you go help Duo. Trowa go after Wufei. I’m going after Heero.” He throttled up the Tallgeese and charged after the Gundam Zero-one. The other two Gundams went to their assigned locations to support their reckless comrades.
Quatre caught up with Duo as he was going through the first wave of battlepods from the first ship. Duo was slowly scything his was through the troops, taking a lot of hits in the process. Quatre triggered the Vulcan cannons on his Gundam’s head and destroyed one that was about to attack Duo from behind. “You can’t take them on all by yourself!” Quatre called to him.
“Sure I can! It’ll just take a little bit longer than I thought at first…”
Quatre shook his head. “We need to work like a team if we are going to be effective. Right now all you’re doing is destroying battlepods that are already being replaced by the next wave.”
Duo snorted form the other end of the connection. “Then what do you suggest we do?”
Quatre smiled as he destroyed another battlepod. “Just follow me in.”
Sandrock pulled his massive sickles from his back. He brought the two hilts together in front of himself, forming an almost continuous blade. The rocket engines on his back fired up, and he shot straight through the line of battlepods, heading directly for the cruiser. Any bottlepod not smart enough to dodge the oncoming Gundam was split in half.
Duo fired up Deathscythe’s engines and followed the path that Sandrock left behind. “Not bad…”
Duo could almost hear Quatre’s smile over the radio. “Just make sure you stay close, or they’ll close the path and you’ll have to go back to fighting your way through.” They approached the hull of the cruiser. “Now, how to get in…”
Duo smirked. “Leave that to me and my buddy here.” Deathscythe’s plasma energy scythe slashed into the hull three times. A triangular piece of the hull fell away. “Easy as pie.”
“Hurry and get in!”
“Wha?” Duo followed the order automatically and just barely followed Quatre in. A sheet of metal crashed down and sealed the hole with a crushing sound. “How did you know?”
“I didn’t. I just assumed that since the SDF-1 did it, that these did too. They are both the same technology.”
“So how do we destroy a ship that heals itself?”
“Easy! You destroy the power source. This thing has to have reflex furnaces like the SDF-1.”
“Okay. Now how do we find it, smartguy?”
“Easy again, we just find the biggest source of heat and follow it.”
“You have an answer for everything, don’t you? Alright, who should I bet on for the next world series?”
“Sorry, can’t tell you that. It would give you an unfair advantage.”
“Let’s just do this.”
About that time a squad of the giant aliens charged in guns a blazing. The two Gundams nodded to each other and opened up on the aliens with their Vulcan cannons. After a few fell, the aliens ducked back behind some bulkheads to avoid the fire.
Duo sensors started to whine. “Found the hot spot. It’s twenty kilometers on the other side of the wall at three-o-clock.”
“So make a door.”
“Always with the bleeding answers… I’ll have you know I figured that one out myself.” His Gundam slashed through the wall and made another triangular door. The two Gundams fired another burst down the hall and leapt through the door. They proceeded to make a few more on the way to the reflex furnace, after all the quickest way between two points is a straight line. “Hey! Those walls aren’t fixing themselves!”
“I noticed that as well. It must be only active on the outer hull…”
“Like the SDF-1.” Duo finished for him. “Yeah, yeah. I figured that out for myself too.”
“Keep making observations like that, and you might be a good leader one of these days.”
“Yeah, Yeah. Let’s just blow this Popsicle stand.”
About that time they arrived at the reflex furnace. “Okay.” Sandrock pulled his machine gun out and opened fire on the core.
“Y’know I just thought of something…”
“How are we getting out of here when this thing blows?”
The core exploded in a ball of light that threw the Gundams back through the passage that they had made getting there. At the last instant, before they impacted on the outer hull, Sandrock opened fire on the it. The decompression sucked them out into space, and the force from the explosion of the ship threw them away from the shrapnel.
Quatre lifted up his goggles and smiled. “Thought of that already.”
About the time that Quatre caught up with Duo, Trowa found Wufei already making excellent headway toward the cruiser. Wufei grimaced as more pods poured out of the ship. “You cannot stop NATAKU!!!” He throttled up to full power and blew through the pod’s lines. He smiled as he closed on the ship. “You are all too weak. We need to find a better challenge, Nataku.” The battlepods closed in on his as he stood on the hull. He smiled. “But they do fight like hyenas, trying to overcome a stronger opponent by strength of numbers.” The Gundam Shenlong’s Dragon’s Head engaged, and it opened fire on the pods…literally. The flamethrowers were the last thing that the Zentraedi forces were expecting, especially in the depths of space. The hulls of the pods superheated and the pressure inside them increased to crushing. The pods burst, as the pressure was too much. “Too easy.”
At that same time several explosions came from the aft of the ship. Wufei turned to see Heavy Arms flying away from the aft section. He could tell by the speed it was traveling that it had expended all of its ammunition. Trowa’s voice came over the line. “I’ve blasted through the hull by the forward propulsion jets. I destroyed the power conduit and its chain reacting with the rest of the ship. We need to get away from the ship.”
Wufei nodded and flew away from the ship just as Heavy Arms passed him. “I told you I could handle this on my own.”
The ship exploded, and Trowa came back over the line in stern voice. “You lost sight of your goal. That is unacceptable.” He cut off the line and said nothing more as they jetted away from the explosion.
Zech’s caught up with Heero as he was nearing the hull of the capital ship. Heero was using his beam saber and shield to cut his way through the hordes of pods. “Heero! What do you mean by charging off like that! I am in command of this unit! You could get yourself killed.”
Heero put away the beam saber, brought his buster rifle to bear, and aimed it at the Tallgeese. Energy collected at the barrel and it spewed forth its destructive power.
Zechs pulled hard to the right and just barely avoided being struck by the beam. Explosions caught his attention to the side. Battlepods had regrouped and were trying to attack the taller Gundam from behind, before Heero had cut their execution short.
“You need to worry more about yourself.” Zero-One powered away from the Tallgeese.
Zech’s turned up the throttle on the Tallgeese and chased after the other Gundam. “Come back here, Heero! You need to follow my orders!”
“I do not take orders from you.”
“You WILL take orders from me. Treize placed me in charge of this unit.”
“He told me I was a part of this unit. He did not tell me to follow your orders.”
“Being a part of a unit means following orders!”
Zero-One abruptly stopped and turned around. “How about we save time and have it out right now.”
Tallgeese stopped up short of the shorter Gundam. “What will we battle for? Command of the unit?”
“No. Command over me. If I win, I never have to take orders from you.”
“If I win, you follow my orders to the letter just as you do Treize.”
“Agreed.” Zero-One’s re-ignited its beam saber, and charged the Tallgeese.
Tallgeese ignited it’s own beam saber and deflected the other saber away. Zech’s tried to parry the blow with a horizontal strike with his own. Heero shot up and away and the saber connected with the void of space. The two Gundams started to circle one another, trying to find an opening on the other. Heero charged in with his saber extended in front of him. Zechs moved his shield around to block the blow. With a twirl of Zero-One’s wrist, the blade moved out of the path of the shield and cut into the arm that was holding it. The arm wasn’t severed, but the actuators were severed, causing the arm to become useless. Zechs swung in an overhead slice. Heero spun out of the way and shield bashed the taller Gundam in the back.
Zechs fired his Vernier rockets and put some distance between Heero and himself. How can a kid be this good? He can’t be more than fourteen, and I’m finding myself on the defensive. He dodged around a flurry of rapid stabs and slashes. He’s definitely a great pilot! I may have drastically underestimated him.
A group of battlepods took advantage of their dual and opened fire on the pair. Heero forced Zechs to retreat into the group of pods. Heero expanded the arc on his slashes and managed to destroy the pods as he pressed his attack on the Tallgeese.
Zechs fired his canister rifle at Heero. Heero easily evaded the shots, but the pods that were remaining in the attack didn’t. “Now we’re even.”
“Don’t presume to be equal with me.” Heero’s voice came back with the same unemotional tone that had existed the whole time.
After the pods were finished, Heero herded Zech’s back toward the cruiser. Heero forced him toward the aft. Zech’s found himself being backed against the plasma fire of the massive jets. He couldn’t retreat any further. Heero made another series of slashes that Zechs tried to block. He missed the last one that sent his beam saber flying from the Tallgeese’s hands. Heero once again swung his shield at the other Gundam and this time knocked it out away from the ship.
Heero brought the Buster Rifle to bear again. “You’ve lost, Zech’s.” The cannon gathered power once again, and Zech’s tensed up on his controls, readying himself to dodge. At the last instant, Heero turned the barrel back around to the alien ship and unleashed the blast into the engines. The blast burst through the other side of the ship and explosions started to wrack the hull of the ship. Heero transformed into bird mode and flew back toward the SDF-1.
Zech’s shuttered in his cockpit as Heero’s maniacal laughter filled his cockpit from the com system.
After everyone was once again in the staging area and back in their gantries, Treize approached the pilots as they came in from the bay. “Good job. You’ve all done well.”
Zech’s nodded his head, but had his doubts.
Treize continued. “You missed all the excitement from the battle.”
Zech’s gave his childhood friend a questioning glance. “What excitement?”
“The main gun wouldn’t fire because of the power drain from the pin point barrier system.”
“How did they destroy that heavy cruiser?”
Treize smiled. “Oddly enough, Lisa Hayes devised a new tactic using the Daedalus’ hull and the barrier system. The ship was skewered by the aircraft carrier, and then the destroids inside opened fire and finished off the ship.”
“So she has some use after all?”
“I was as surprised as you, my friend. You all did well. Get some rest.” They all saluted, albeit Duo’s was very sloppy, and walked past the commander. Treize put a hand on Heero’s shoulder as he passed.
Heero stopped and looked at him. “Sir.”
Treize’s face became deadly serious. “You need to obey your commanding officer.” He turned and walked away.