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Mobile Suit Gundam: Broken Arrow [IC/PG-16+]

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OOC Thread

 

 

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~A Zai Mecha Anime Roleplay~

~Hosted By: Zai, Keto~

~Logo by: Yui~

 

BGM

 

“Maryanne, what’s that racket I keep hearing on the comms?” Arthur Degaines asked, somewhat rhetorically, as he took another sip of tea from his “#1 Boss” mug, his eyes fixed on the view out of the bridge’s windows, scanning the debris that he could see with the naked eye for anything dangerous, valuable, or perhaps both.

 

“Like you need to ask.” came the response from the Arrowhead’s operator, a young woman who sat at a console a few yards to Arthur’s left, watching a rather active radar display. Arthur groaned.

 

“He’s at it again, huh?”



“He” was, as usual, playing rock music very loudly as he maneuvered his mobile suit through the remnants of what had once been an ESA transport ship, now reduced to little more than twisted, melted metal and residual radiation. Though the song was coming out of an old jukebox radio crudely affixed to the Djinn High Maneuver Type’s console, the vibrations were such that it could be heard, rather clearly, over whatever radio channel the mobile suit’s communication’s antenna happened to be tuned to; in this case the open comms of the Arrowhead and her five mobile suits, who were in the midst of the rather delicate work of negotiating their way through space battle debris. As the Djinn kicked itself off of the wreckage, executing a spinning back flip as it did so, the pilot’s voice sounded over the channel.


“Sector’s clear guys. Junk is light and the rads won’t be giving anyone cancer. You can bring her on th-” He was interrupted as his Djinn’s left engine impacted a floating piece of armor plating, shaking the suit and forcing a course correction. The thud was of course just as audible as the music. “Erhm. Through.”


“Maybe if you quit showing off and paid attention to where you were going, I wouldn’t have to spend as much time fixing the armor on that thing, Reyd.” The familiar voice of Chief Engineer Kusanagi was the first to break the momentary silence over the comms, and it seemed that she was in a decent mood. At least for now. “Get your eyes forward and watch for anything valuable. That goes for the rest of you too.”


“Don’t sweat it Chief I’ve got it covered. Moving on to the next zone.”


“Right. Starboard eight degrees Mr. Tostensson. Let’s keep moving.”  Arthur gestured to the Arrowhead’s helmsman with his hand, and then proceeded to pull up an old, pre-Scarlet War map on the small console affixed to the arm of the captain’s chair. He frowned. “This place looks like hell. Can’t even figure out exactly where we are. No wonder nobody ever comes out here…” He turned to face his chief engineer, speaking in a slightly hushed tone so as not to draw the attention of the rest of the bridge crew. “Maybe this was a bad idea after all.”


“Scared of a few ghosts, Captain?” She responded in not such a hushed voice, a bit of a smirk on her face. “It’s all just superstition keeping the other crews away from here. Besides, there’s bound to be something worthwhile out here. You don’t just bomb a side to hell and back without leaving something behind.”


 “If I was worried about ghosts I wouldn’t be in the salvage business.”  he took another sip from his mug. “Still, if they’re around it wouldn’t hurt to ask them for directions. Stupid map was out of date 20 years ago.” Before anyone could respond, the Arrowhead lurched slightly, indicati ng that it had bumped into some debris. Clear, huh? He’s lucky that wasn’t anything but hull plating.”


“Reminds me of a certain other pilot. He’ll grow out of it.” At least Kusanagi, and everyone else on the Arrowhead for that matter, hoped he would. In the meantime, she took another draw from the “cigarette” that was currently filling the air on the bridge with the telltale scent of burning marijuana.

 

“At least I could stand grabbing a beer with that certain someone. Made his antics a bit more tolerable.” Arthur sighed and pulled up the invoice containing the crew’s wages on his console, deducting an appropriate amount from Reyd’s pay. “Just let me know if that doesn’t cover the dent, Chief. And didn’t we talk about smoking on my bridge while we’re working? STAN doesn’t like having to clean grime off the ceiling.”

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"Just another day at work..." Rosaria let out a quiet sigh, it seems like she's said that a hundred times now, though what else was there to this job? This sector was literally filled with junk and scrap, something worthwhile has to show up soon especially with five pilots and a whole crew searching. The quiet chatter of the crew and the emptiness of space gave off a calming vibe, until the comms exploded with music. The sudden change in volume in her suit surprised and made her veer off right into a small chunk of debris.

 

Getting herself reoriented and out of the way of the debris before she could get too many dents, Rosaria quickly pinpointed where the noise was coming from. "God... Dammit Reyd..." she muttered under her breath. A moment of peace, ruined by his music... Again. Back to the task at hand, Rosaria started to scan over the debris again and much to annoyance there still wasn't much of value.

 

Something did start bothering her however, her reaction time seemed slow on her left side for some reason. She halted for a moment and looked over her arm and started moving it a bit. Not only were reactions slowed but the joints needed a bit of tuning. "Ugh... Great... Hey Kusanagi, if your hearing this I could use a bit of tuning on my arm when I get back on the ship... Darn thing is sluggish... And for God's sake Reyd turn that off!" she called over her comms.

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"Heeeellllloooo everyone," drawled the familiar voice of the Arrowhead's doctor who entered the bridge area carrying a large bottle of wine, "how's everyo-" Reveka stopped mid-sentence sniffing the air. "Well, it appears somebody got some good kush and decided not to share..." Reveka pouted sending a sad look towards the chief engineer. "Well, I guess that's alright since I won't be sharing this," Reveka's smile returned as she poured more wine into her glass as she walked towards the captain "How's my boy doing today, is he earning his keep?"

 

"Awww, mom you don't have worry about me, I learned from the best in the business remember?" The voice of Reveka's son, Roche, called back through the coms. "Besides it's not me who's not pulling my weight," Roche teased needling Reyd with his last comment. "I think there's a little Stallion in this stable who might need some taming."

 

"Atta boy," Reveka chuckled, before turning to Arthur, "Arthur, sweetie, would be possible to maybe turn off these com channels, or at least Reyd's the rock music is not agreeing with me on this fine morning..."

 

Meanwhile Roche returned to moving debris out of the way, making sure to keep an eye out for anything useful. Roche smiled listening to Reyd's blaring rock music, and the banter of his crewmates. It was peaceful. Anybody else in the universe would've looked at him crazy if he'd said that out loud. How could anybody find that sort of chaos relaxing? For Roche though, life on the Arrowhead had been all he'd ever known. So, to hear the people he regarded as family be so lively, and carefree... well that was true peace.

 

"Hm..." Roche sighed quietly, "I'm getting all sentimental. I'd better finish up here and move onto the next sector..."

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-BGM-

 

Crap....crap...oh! ...wait no that's crap too. These were the thoughts coming into the mind of Kenji Mizuno as he searched through the current zone for junk. Not the crappy pieces of junk, we're talking the high priced stuff. And so far, he wasn't having much luck. Still, most of this could still be used.

 

Kenji began to move the controls for his Duel Gundam, watching the robotic arms moving as they grabbed the small pieces of junk and debris. It was a delicate procedure, at least in his mind anyway, and he didn't want to mess any of this up. That was...until he heard the loud music blaring through the comms. Kenji jerked back in response, jerking the controls slightly as it chipped a bit of the junk, splitting it in two.

 

"Well perfect..." Kenji sighed heavily, as he finally just grabbed the now two pieces of junk that was before him. It was obvious who had their music that loud...Reyd. While he didn't mind the music, surprisingly, it was just the fact of the matter that it was during a salvaging job like this. "Kenji over to the Arrowhead...I, well...I HAD something that could've been worth something, buuuuuut someone's music blared in my ears. So what was one piece...is now two. Just forewarning you there."

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Maxine waded through what seemed like endless waves of crap, constantly scanning for anything of use. Smoke billowed from wall to wall of her cockpit, as Maxine took another drag from her vaporizer. The journey, in its current state, appeared to be useless. They were hardly finding anything of value, and at the rate Reyd was moving, it appeared they would be taking a loss just trying to repair the machine. Truth be told, the music didn't bother Max much; she was pretty used to loud, unwelcome music interrupting her daily life, but it most certainly not flying well with the rest of the crew, and that bothered her more than anything. What was Reyd trying to accomplish by ostracizing his mates? Sometimes that boy didn't make sense to her.

 

"Captain... we actually on the hunt for something in particular here? Looks like a whole bunch of crap to me. Maybe the reason nobody comes around here is because it's a dead sector." her custom Djinn flew aimlessly through another patch of garbage, perhaps a few plates they could use if they were really hard up for cash, but probably not worth the storage space it would take up. She looked around; she was feeling a little paranoid, maybe it was the general carelessness of her crew that was setting her off, but her sense told her that this place wasn't right. Granted, it was far from her place to second guess the captain's plan, but the lack of valuable parts readily available, combined with the general aura of the place around her, had Maxine a bit on edge.

 

"I don't suppose any of you are picking up anything of interest in the area?" Maxine dragged again; she locked on to the actions of Kenji bringing back a broken piece of... something that was probably useful, "Good going, butterfingers."

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Kusanagi nodded her head in response to Arthur's comment about letting him know if the amount taken out of Reyd's pay wasn't enough to repair the hull damage, and then she shot him a look after his teasing. Without even speaking she conveyed both that she didn't care about not smoking on the bridge right now, and that he would probably rather not deal with her when she was sober. High as a kite or not, she was more than able to handle her duties. The fact that the Arrowhead was still working at all after 20 years with some undeniably questionable design decisions was a testament to that.

 

"Ugh...great...Kusanagi, if you're hearing this I could use a bit of tuning on my arm when I get back on the ship.  Darn thing is sluggish...and for God's sake Reyd turn that off!" As it happened, the job of a mechanic was never really done. Sighing, she leaned over the captain, with no respect for his personal space, and hit the push-to-talk button on the comms before speaking.

 

"Rosaria, are you sure it's the arm and you're not just accidentally turning on the funnels you have in storage again?" Her voice was still cheery, even as she was quite blatantly questioning the ability of one of their pilots. I mean it was a problem that they'd had before with the Ruby Queen's Psycommu System before, but that didn't take away from the fact that her words were probably still cutting. "Just make sure all the funnels are offline, and if you're still having problems I'll take a look when you get back." She cut off the comms, and didn't exactly move while she considered the possible real mechanical problems aloud. "Might just need more grease, might be a piece of debris caught in one of the joints." Of course Reveka chose that exact moment to come onto the bridge. And she was drunk no less. Kusanagi of course could function with regard to her job while stoned off her tits, but she wasn't so sure about their doctor being drunk.

 

"Well, it appears somebody got some good kush and decided not to share..." Now she was starting into a worse mood. Of course Reveka went and checked up on her son before she could get snapped at. That also gave Kusanagi a chance to calm down and take another draw from her "cigarette" before she rudely reminded their doctor that there was a stock of the stuff that the crew could take some for themselves from. She had just about calmed down again, when some news came over the comms.

 

"Kenji over to the Arrowhead...I, well...I HAD something that could've been worth something, buuuuuut someone's music blared in my ears. So what was one piece...is now two. Just forewarning you there."

 

"Good going, butterfingers." Good going indeed. Well, it was time for Kusanagi to get on the comms again, and this time she was very obviously upset.

 

"Butterfingers," she started with barely contained rage, "If freakin' music is enough to startle you into snapping a piece of scrap, then how in the name of every god that has ever been worshiped are you going to-"

 

"We're coming up on a break in the debris field." Maryanne interrupted, most likely for the best. Kusanagi shut off the comms and stood up straight, raising an eyebrow at Arthur as if to say "I guess he's not as much of a screw up as we thought" before stepping forward to get a look at this break.

-BGM-

Deep as they were into the shoal zone, the sun's light was dimmed by the surrounding cloud of dust and debris. At this point, the Mobile Suits and the Arrowhead had to activate their exterior lights just to properly see their immediate surroundings. However, now that they had come upon a clearing, they were given the chance to see to the very heart of the shoal zone.

 

A jagged, twisted mass of metal well over a thousand times the size of the Arrowhead hung before them in space. Beaten into something roughly spherical by twenty years of impacts with the surrounding debris, this enormous thing was barely recognizable as anything that had once been inhabited. In some places a chunk of an Alliance or Coalition ship stuck out at an odd angle, and in others one could make out the exterior wall of a colony cylinder. Spots of glowing metal studded its exterior, hinting at some source of incredible heat inside of it, and occasionally some part of it burst and vented smoke who knows what else into the space around it. Orbiting it most closely were the next largest pieces of debris in the shoal zone. Chunks of a colony cylinder that, when they rotated towards the Arrowhead, obviously held still partially intact cities upon them, warships beaten against each other and other debris that they were only barely recognizable as such after the years, and other, smaller, composite balls of debris whirled around the twisted heart of the shoal zone. Occasionally one or another of these pieces would collide, filling the space with ever more small fragments and sometimes giving a clear look at the distinctive glowing of radioactive material.

 

This was all that remained of Side 9, and the three Battles of Lagrange Point 5. What had once been a thriving region of space housing 300 million people who lived and worked throughout the side was now a graveyard for over half a billion souls who had perished in the many pitched battles throughout the region. It wasn't hard to imagine how ghost stories about this place had come about, between the eerie glow of the blasted heart of that place and the awful knowledge that it served as a tomb on a scale that was difficult to comprehend even when one looked upon it. The occasional static discharges ripping across the metallic pieces of rubble this deep into the shoal zone certainly didn't help. One such discharge arced past the Arrowhead, lighting the area around them and causing strange shapes to dance across their sensors and static to fill their communications for a few seconds. If there was any place in the Solar System that was haunted, it might well have been the L5 Shoal Zone.

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"Good going, butterfingers."

 

Kenji sighed a bit, hearing Maxine's voice over the comms. Yeah this was not what he wanted to deal with today. Careful...just be tactical... he thought, exhaling slightly. "I'm normally not like this and you know that, Maxine. If anything, Reyd's music just-"

 

 

"Butterfingers. If freakin' music is enough to startle you into snapping a piece of scrap, then how in the name of every god that has ever been worshiped are you going to-"

 

Oh great! Now Kusanagi was on his back about this. PERFECT! Thankfully, it seemed like Kusanagi cut off the comms feed, to which Kenji just slumped in his seat. It had only happened once and now he had people on his back like this. "Oh I can't WAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIT to hear the rest of that lovely conversation." he grumbled, moving from his original position, flying a bit more in the opposite direction. Either way, unlike most of these guys I know what the hell I'm looking for in the range of prices for most of this stuff...heh, gotta thank my uncle for that... he thought, shaking his head.

 

Kenji finally decided to access the comms again, only briefly as he spoke. "Kenji to Arrowhead. I'm moving towards a different zone with Duel." he said, only keeping the comms on for a reply.

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"Rosaria, are you sure it's the arm and you're not just accidentally turning on the funnels you have in storage again? Just make sure all the funnels are offline, and if you're still having problems I'll take a look when you get back." Kusanagi seemed to be in a good mood, a good mood in her case anyways. Rosaria did as Kusanagi instructed and check the funnels... No movement... Of course there wouldn't be any movement, they only moved when Rosaria wanted them to.

 

"Funnels are where they should be chief... Guess we'll figure it out back on the Arrowhead..." Rosaria pushed away some scrap as she spoke into the comms, some valuable looking materials were poking out, looks like a positive outlook won the day.

 

"Kenji over to the Arrowhead...I, well...I HAD something that could've been worth something, buuuuuut someone's music blared in my ears. So what was one piece...is now two. Just forewarning you there." Way to go Kenji, add another slip up to the list. "Just keep your hands away from what I found and we'll be good..." She responded.

 

As Rosaria moved through the debris she caught sight of something that had the crew on edge. A giant, small moon sized mass of scrap and electronics was floating before them. Sparks flew and lights flashed from the combined scraps and wreaks from Alliance and Coalition forces alike with a few colony cylinders here and there.

 

All that was left of Side 9 was here, in this moon of twisted metal, nevermind the eeriness of the atmosphere of the area. "Well... This is some graveyard huh? I'm heading in, wish me luck." Rosaria spoke over the comms before flying towards the mass of metal. If there was anything extremely valuable it had to be here.

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“Right. Starboard eight degrees Mr. Tostensson. Let’s keep moving.”

 

 

"Two- Uh, Eight degrees starboard. Yeah. Right, got it."

 

Kyy mumbled, hardly even looking up from his crossword puzzle. For all the education he's had in his life, for all the worldly knowledge he'd gained during his time in showbiz, for all the life in him, he could not come up with a 14-letter word for something done in "good Bohemian style." What does that even mean? He didn't even know what a "bohemian" was, let alone what their styles might look like. With a sigh of frustration, completely disregarding the lovingly polished pilot's stick he asked to have installed, he opened up the course adjustment screen beneath it, tapping a few symbols and altering their course to the suggested amount.

 

And then immediately correcting it to the actual suggested amount, instead of the Two degrees he had done so absentmindedly.

 

For someone who had spent the vast majority of his professional career piloting stunt fighters and other swift-and-nimble aircraft, piloting something as large and... ungraceful as the Arrowhead was more than just mind-numbingly boring. It was a grating experience, clawing at his very soul for every second he had to nudge the stick to adjust their course my 2 degrees this way, 4 degrees that. Fancy maneuvers were not only discouraged, but completely disallowed, especially considering the kind of debris-stricken places they loved to visit; the thudding of light debris hitting the hull rung in his ears.

 

"Geh... Reyd's an amateur and a half..." Despite his mumblings, he knew it was only kinda the kid's fault; his own personal radar could barely pick up debris, and even then, there's so much of it strewn across the area that even the most correct and ideal path would lead the vessel to another paycheck wasted on a new paintjob. Stretching in his seat with a sigh, Kyy peered back towards the half-finished crossword. This new lifestyle he led was certainly a far cry better than his situation years back; on the run and hiding from authorities, all due to one accident. He had gotten word from his folks-both of which who were sporting fancy new names-that they were still being hunted by Side 14 authorities. Recently, a new piece of information had surfaced, with an update on their bounty: one of the casualties of the incident years back was the son of a high-ranking official. With a seemingly endless grudge, a ton of patience, and bottomless pockets, as demonstrated by the Twins' absurdly high bounty, he certainly wouldn't be off their backs for a while. Every so often, Kyy would even find himself giving fellow crewmen the stinkeye; how many of them would sell their hides raw for the paycheck?

 

He sighed again. He knew this lifestyle was for the best, for the both of them. Stable work, a place to stay hidden, three hots and a cot; really not bad. Regardless, he often found himself longing for his time in showbiz. He longed for cheering crowds, the adoration, the fast ships. But more than all of that, he longed for the days before Arthur banned the firing of the main particle gun for fun; he could practically see the dust building on the trigger.

 

Old man's got a stick up his ass.

 

"We're coming up on a break in the debris field."

 

As Maryanne spoke up, he shook himself out of the minor slump. Up until now it's been petty business, traveling from point A to point B, but upon approaching a Side-or what was left of one-concentration was in order. He certainly wasn't about to lose his position here due to careless flying.

 

...Again.

 

He flicked on the Arrowhead's searchlights, in order to give a little brightness in this darkened sector of the field.

 

"I guess the fun's over, huh?"

 

 

---Meanwhile, in the bowels of the Arrowhead---

 

 

With an echoing clonk preceding it, the pained yell of Kokko rung out in R/C Subsection 2. He slowly crawled out of the space he was under, rubbing the spot on his head where it had hit the metal.

 

"Dammed woman... after I had crawled all the way in too."

 

Discarding the tool bag beside him, he found the nearest hard comm unit and punched in.

 

"Kusanagi, you bleedin' wench! Where the hell is my multitool?! You know, the one with the knife on it. It's not in my bag, I KNOW someone's been tampering with it, and you're the only bloke on this piece of shιt with enough balls to get within a meter of it!"

 

His head began to pound just a little bit harder than before.

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"-And for God's sake Reyd turn that off!"

 

"Aww, is it hurtin' your ears Rosey?" Reyd asked teasingly, punctuating the taunt by turning the volume up. "Here I'll fix the volume for ya." As he did so, he maneuvered his Djinn further into the debris field, this time taking special care to avoid any impacts with salvage or debris. As he continued to fly, he heard other voices on the bridge, whom he identified as belonging to miss Reveka and the Chief. They were far enough away from the microphone that he couldn't quite make out what they were saying, but he managed to overhear his name being mentioned. After a few moments though, Roche's voice came over the comms loud and clear.

 

"Awww, mom you don't have worry about me, I learned from the best in the business remember?" Momma's boy was in a good mood today. That was always a plus. "Besides it's not me who's not pulling my weight. I think there's a little Stallion in this stable who might need some taming."

 

"Good luck with that. There ain't a person in this galaxy who'll get me to settle down. You'd have better luck finding an intact colony in this mess... speaking of." Reyd swiveled his Djinn's camera eye around, surveying the area. "Nothing here either. I'm moving on, Arrowhead."

 

"Copy that." Arthur responded. Maxine's voice was next over the radio. "Captain... we actually on the hunt for something in particular here? Looks like a whole bunch of crap to me. Maybe the reason nobody comes around here is because it's a dead sector."

 

"Hopefully that isn't the case. No one's really been out here in the last decade or so. Keep your eyes peeled for intact components or large objects. If we're lucky we'll come across a nice hulk like we did out near Luna a few months back." He stood up from his chair, gesticulating with an outstretched arm as he usually did when giving orders. "Alright everyone, I want the mobile suits to tighten up once we get closer to the center of Side 9. Reyd since you're so eager today you'll be taking point. Maxine, you're with the Vertigo. Kenji, you're on Roche's wing. Once we get a better idea of what we're looking at and we're sure there aren't any nasty surprises waiting for us, we'll fan out and run a four-pronged sweep of the area." With that, Athur turned his attention to the new arrival on the bridge. He sighed. "Don't encourage her, Reveka." His brow furrowed as he saw that she was clearly drunk, and he continued.  "You do know we're on a job right now, don't you? This isn't exactly the best time to be hitting the sauce. God forbid hotshot out there slams torso first into a colony mirror or something and you have to opera-" He was interrupted by another, less violent thud on the comms.

 

"Kenji over to the Arrowhead...I, well...I HAD something that could've been worth something, buuuuuut someone's music blared in my ears. So what was one piece...is now two. Just forewarning you there."

 

"Orrr that could happen." 

 

"Good going, butterfingers." Arthur let out a giggle, a rather rare occurrence. Thankfully no one seemed to notice because the Chief interjected.

 

"Butterfingers, if freakin' music is enough to startle you into snapping a piece of scrap, then how in the name of every god that has ever been worshiped are you going to-"

 

"We're coming up on a break in the debris field." At that, everyone on the bridge went silent for a moment. The view in front of them, conveniently illuminated by the Arrowhead's spotlights, the electrical discharges of the shoal zone, and the red heat of some of the debris itself, was both breathtaking and foreboding. It had been 20 years since anyone (as far as those in the earth sphere knew, anyway) had penetrated this deep into the L5 shoal zone, and during that time the countless successive impacts had morphed the pair of colony cylinders before them into a grotesque orb of twisted metal and broken glass. At random intervals, the object radiated heat and light from cracks in its mashed exterior, indicating that within, some of the nuclear fires still burned.

 

Arthur and Motoko exchanged knowing glances at one another. Their pilots' blundering had, somehow, led the Arrowhead to what appeared to be an obvious payday. There had to be something here, hidden so far away from what remained of civilization, in one of the densest battle fields of the war. Still, if they wanted to find it, there were things to do. "Mr. Tostensson, take her in easy." Then Arthur turned to Maryanne. "Anything interesting Miss Levitt?"

 

"Aside from the scenery, nothing promising I can pick up on my radar. We'll have to send the Mobile Suits in for a closer look." 

 

"Alright folks, you heard the lady. Kenji, bring that salvage you found back to the port hangar and then catch up to Roche. You two search the moonward portion of the exterior. Reyd, you're on the sunward end. Ladies, I want you two to see if you can find us a way into those colonies. Worst case you should be able to shoot your way into the interior through one of the sky sections. As soon as Maryanne figures out which two colonies these are I'll have her send you the maps... see if we can't get to any places of interest." Arthur sat back down and scratched his chin, then turned to Kusanagi.

 

"Its kind of empty here for the heart of a shoal zone, don't you think..."

 

"I guess the fun's over, huh?" It was Kyy speaking this time.

 

"Actually..." Arthur replied, his face growing a bit more concerned with each passing second. The Fox was onto a scent. "It might not have started yet. Everyone keep an eye out. I'm getting a bad feeling about this place."

 

 

---

 

"Copy that."

 

Reyd banked and flew his mobile suit toward the sunward portions of the two impacted colonies. The Djinn darted in and out of the shadows cast by the debris as it flew, moving ever closer to their outer portions. The approach made for easy flying, and he took the opportunity to push his machine a little harder, darting this way and that and increasing speed. At last he made it, landing on a flat portion of the colony hulk at high speed, his Djinn's knees bending to cushion the impact. "It doesn't look like there's anything here..." He hopped along the surface, pushing plates of metal and city debris out of his way before at last he came upon something that surprised him.

 

It was an old ESA destroyer, wedged bow first into the side of the colony. It looked mostly intact, save for the crash damage from its impact with the colony. It was strange to be sure. Though Reyd hadn't been a Vulture for very long, he'd been around long enough to know that rarely, if ever, did one come across intact ships. Hulks, or clusters of debris and objects smashed together, were commonplace and excellent sources of components, but whole ships just didn't exist anymore. They'd either been picked apart or destroyed, either by weapons fire during the war or impacts with other debris after it. This lucky Danube-class, however, must have escaped this fate thanks to being wedged into the colony superstructure.

 

paydirt.

 

"Arrowhead this is Reyd. I think I found something." He transmitted the feed from his Djinn's camera to the bridge as he spoke. "What do you think?"

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"Don't encourage her, Reveka. You do know we're on a job right now, don't you? This isn't exactly the best time to be hitting the sauce. God forbid hotshot out there slams torso first into a colony mirror or something and you have to opera-"

 

"Oh Arthur, it's just a little morning drink. It'll take more than this to get me drunk~" Reveka giggled, "I mean come on, I do my job with one eye closed." Reveka laughed at her own lame joke. "You remember that one time I did the double bypass, yeah tot-"

 

"We're coming up on a break in the debris field." Reveka was cut off by Maryanne's statement. The whole bridge, in fact, went silent, as they saw the awe-inspiring, yet morbid scene before them.  Reveka grimaced a bad taste arising in her mouth. The sight of the two colony cylinders reminded of the hate she had felt for the Martian Coalition after she had received news of her husband's death. The hatred she still carried inside of her.

 

"You know on second thought, Arthur I think you might just be right. I need to earn my pay around here. I'll see you kiddos later for a check-up, make sure you send down the pilots down later too, and Kyy make sure you bring your brother with you I'm pretty sure you two are overdue for visit~" Reveka said leaving the bridge, and while her voiced seemed to carry the same lightness it always did there seemed to be tightness or discomfort about her words.

 

------

"Good luck with that. There ain't a person in this galaxy who'll get me to settle down. You'd have better luck finding an intact colony in this mess... speaking of." 

 

"Oh we'll see about that~" Roche replied, "I think you'll find that I can be quite persuasive when I want to be."

 

"Alright everyone, I want the mobile suits to tighten up once we get closer to the center of Side 9. Reyd since you're so eager today you'll be taking point. Maxine, you're with the Vertigo. Kenji, you're on Roche's wing. Once we get a better idea of what we're looking at and we're sure there aren't any nasty surprises waiting for us, we'll fan out and run a four-pronged sweep of the area."

 

"Got it." Roche replied, "Kenji you-" Roche was cut off by another loud clang before Kenji's voice came in through the comms. 

 

"Kenji over to the Arrowhead...I, well...I HAD something that could've been worth something, buuuuuut someone's music blared in my ears. So what was one piece...is now two. Just forewarning you there."

 

Roche's mouth pursed as he tried to contain his laughter at Kenji's clumsiness. If Roche was being honest it was almost kinda cute. 

 

"Alright folks, you heard the lady. Kenji, bring that salvage you found back to the port hangar and then catch up to Roche. You two search the moonward portion of the exterior."

 

"Aye aye Boss." Roche replied, "Kenji try not take to long it's dark and scary out here and I'm going to need you and your big, strong Gundam to protect me~" Roche teased giggling before moving further into the wreckage.

 

Moving to the moonward side of the wreckage Roche moved slowly scanning for anything that might be useful or dangerous, also not wanting to wander too far away without back-up from Kenji. He teased, but in the event, something or someone came after him he rather not take them on alone.

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"Kenji, bring that salvage you found back to the port hangar and then catch up to Roche. You two search the moonward portion of the exterior."

 

"Read you loud and clear." Kenji nodded, beginning to turn the Duel Gundam around to make it back to the Arrowhead. Though this was the time Roche's voice came through the comms.

 

"Kenji try not take to long it's dark and scary out here and I'm going to need you and your big, strong Gundam to protect me~"

 

Kenji sighed some, keeping quiet. Roche was an interesting individual to say the least, at least in his mind. The guy had a way of trying to hit on plenty of the guys here, and of course, he was one of them. Kenji did his best to try and ignore the obvious double entendres Roche gave out, but other times it was a bit more difficult than others. Regardless, Kenji kept focused as he navigated the Duel Gundam towards the port hangar.

 

"Kenji and Duel, now docking in the hangar." he said, letting Duel Gundam's feet touch the floor of the port hangar. Once in the hangar, Kenji slowly put the broken piece of debris on the hangar floor. From the looks of it, it seemed to once be a larger portion of an armor platting. Was it for a Mobile Suit or Gundam? That was irrelevant to think about now that it was broken and what not. "I'm heading back out to the moonward exterior to rendezvous with Roche."

 

The Duel Gundam then left the port hangar and Kenji resumed navigating through the debris as he headed towards the moonward exterior. "Roche. Whats the situation looking over there?"

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uUOEeWa.png

"Might learn to pilot one of those Mobile Suits myself," pondered the Arrowhead's one and only Stealth Termination Android. Or STAN, for short. While a perfectly capable robotic assassin, STAN had sworn off that life, and had different things in mind for his time in this solar system. Like becoming a janitor or a cook, and the Arrowhead was the ship currently graced with his services. What occupied STAN's attention at this juncture in time, one may ask? Cleaning, naturally. He'd put it off for a bit today, but it was part of his routine that not long after getting everyone fed, STAN would wipe down the counters, wash the dishes, and just in general make sure the kitchen was fresh and sparkly clean. As he continued playing with the notion of trying out the pilot gig, wiping down the counters of stray crumbs of food to the tinny sound of a small speaker playing vintage jazz, an unexpected sound passed through his audio receptors.

 

Squeak!

 

As if his entire body were on a swivel, STAN immediately stopped and turned to the source of the sound. A rat. "Intruder detected. Terminating..." The hunt was on, and the jazz music stopped. A pair of blades shot forth from STAN's wrists, before a possibility quickly passed him. This may have been a pet to one of the crew members. He couldn't kill it without knowing whether or not that was the case. He'd have to just capture it. Damn shame. Just as quickly as they extended, the wrist blades retracted before STAN leapt forward, intent on catching the four-legged fiend. It slipped away before he could catch it. The process repeated in the kitchen a few more times before it ran out the door! STAN wasn't letting this rodent get away. The counters would have to wait just a bit. Running out of the kitchen with nothing more than a measuring cup in hand, STAN was out the door, attempting to catch the fiend in a small plastic prison so that the crew could determine its fate.

 

The chase, while uneventful, passed through a few places on the Arrowhead. He caught the thing - conveniently enough - just outside the bridge. Holding the measuring cup with one hand and blocking off the top with the other - leaving small spaces between his fingers to let air get in - STAN stepped forth to join the bridge crew, furry captive in tow. If he had a throat to clear, this would definitely be the part where he did just that. Instead, however, he cut right to the chase.

 

"Not to interrupt, but I believe we may have a little stowaway." To show just who the little stowaway in question was, STAN held up the measuring cup and the rat within for all to see. "If this rodent belongs to anyone, speak up, and keep it away from the kitchen in the future."


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"It's kind of empty here for the heart of a shoal zone, don't you think..." Motoko had to admit that the captain was right in that regard. They had been through dozens of shoal zones before, all of them far more thoroughly picked than this one and two of them with similarly sized bodies at their centers. None of them had been this clear, even this far in. She thought through the possible explanations while the others spoke around her. However much she thought it over, there really was only one possibility that made sense to her. Not that she was going to just up and say it. The others were already on alert, and it wouldn't help them much if she added more to it. So for now she took another draw from her cigarette and watched as things unfolded before her.
 
"Arrowhead this is Reyd. I think I found something." Well, at least the trip seemed to be worth it, especially with what came over the feed. That was a remarkably intact Danube, but then the destroyers had always been hardy little things. "What do you think?" Once again she made her way over to the comms, and once again without the slightest sense of personal space with regard to the Captain she flipped them on and spoke up.
 
"See if you can find the ship's name. That'll give us some idea as to what it was doing and when it was out here. After that, hold position and wait for backup. I think this is interesting enough to warrant my coming out there to take a look myself." She cut the feed then and stood up to look at Arthur. "I'll see if what Kenji's bringing back is anything interesting before I head out in the Scrap Queen. Should be enough to handle anything we're likely to encounter out here." She was just turning around to leave when Kenji alerted them that he was coming aboard to drop off the scrap, which would make it that much quicker for her to get ready to go, and she just about ran into STAN as he came in with a rat trapped inside of a measuring cup.

 

"Not to interrupt, but I believe we may have a stowaway." Perfect. They had rats on the ship. "If this rodent belongs to anyone, speak up, and keep it away from the kitchen in the future." She was about to suggest he just kill the thing and shoot it out the airlock, but looking down at the terrified little creature stuck in the cup made her hesitate. Was she really getting emotional over a pest that their janitor had caught. Groaning inwardly she reached out, slipped the measuring cup out of the android's grip, retrieved the rat from it, and placed the surprised creature on her shoulder.

 

"Thank you, STAN, I'll make sure he stays out of trouble from now on." And with that, she made her way out into the hallway away from the bridge. A short distance down it, she affixed the rodent, which was curiously pawing at her hair now, with a stern glare. "If you make me regret this, I'll shunt you out an airlock myself." She wasn't sure if the creature actually understood, or if she was just anthropomorphizing the little bastard. Of course she hadn't forgotten that one of the twins had paged her on the comms. She'd mostly just been letting Kokko squirm for a bit. Stopping, briefly, at a wall-mounted comm station and spoke into it. "Kokko, there are four places I leave things I use. The Greenhouse, the Machine Shop, and the Port and Starboard hangars. If it's not there, I didn't move it." She hung up, and went back to the port hangar. She'd figure out a living situation for Cuddles later.

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"Aww, is it hurtin' your ears Rosey? Here I'll fix the volume for ya." Reyd proceeded to turn his music up louder, Rosaria sat with an annoyed expression on her face. "Ok... Now your just pissing me off..." She was about to just turn the comms off all together before Arthur gave orders to the whole group.

 

"Kenji, bring that salvage you found back to the port hangar and then catch up to Roche. You two search the moonward portion of the exterior. Reyd, you're on the sunward end. Ladies, I want you two to see if you can find us a way into those colonies. Worst case you should be able to shoot your way into the interior through one of the sky sections. As soon as Maryanne figures out which two colonies these are I'll have her send you the maps... see if we can't get to any places of interest."

 

"Roger that, Arthur... I'm heading in, try to keep up Maxxy." Rosaria flew out towards the large mass of scrap and look for a way in. A couple of spots were perfect for a MS to fit through if opened up, but nothing that could fit the Arrowhead. "Rosaria here... I'm seeing some minor openings, with a little force we could get the suits in but I'm not too sure about the Arrowhead... I'm gonna head in, see what I can find." Upon finishing her sentence, Rosaria sent out a few of her funnels and proceeded to blast an opening for her suit. After a sizable hole was made she recalled the funnels and headed inside.

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BGM - Return of Shakti

 

"Actually...It might not have started yet. Everyone keep an eye out. I'm getting a bad feeling about this place."

 

Kyy sighed, yet again. "Aye."

 

Wistfully gliding through the wreckage of the side, silent in its approach, the Arrowhead made its way towards Reyd's position, vaguely. The tightness of this particular corridor didn't leave Kyy with all that many options. He throttled the main thrusters lightly, only adjusting heading when it was absolutely necessary; he was in no rush, despite how much he wanted to get out of this place, so he kept their speed at a minimum. In the meantime, with what light controls he did have, he found himself scanning the debris with the travel spotlights, occasionally stopping on any particular piece of wreckage that caught his eye. He shuddered in his seat.

 

"This place... it gives me the creeps. Dredges up bad memories." Memories, of course, he'd rather not be remembering at the moment, but it seemed like every little stimuli was enough to bring more of his past as of late. Perhaps it was something about this mission? Or perhaps he had just gone too long without a good sleep. It had been a few days since his last restful night.

 

As the vessel grew closer and closer to the majority of the wreckage (and simultaneously, Reyd's location), Arthur had squinted his eyes nearly shut. In a motion, he held his right arm out in front of him, pointing slightly to the left.

 

"Bring us in as close as you can to that debris outcropping, then all-stop. Enter sentry mode in the mean time. Further approach would be an unnecessary risk."

 

"Aye, captain."

 

Luckily, Arthur was facing away from Kyy at the time, so his wide grimace had avoided being seen. This whole time, he had taken extra measures to keep the vessel as far away from debris and wreckage as he could. But now, he had to hug it. Perfect. The starboard course adjustment thrusters roared to life, as the slowly-moving vessel adjusted its heading towards about 9 o'clock, towards the outcropping indicated before. The fit was... tight. The proximity consoles on Kyy's board were having a small heart attack, partially due to the minimum distance he had set on them being particularly large. When piloting such a large vessel, he felt the need to take no chances. Turning on the center-port camera on one of his console's three monitors, he closed the distance, having already silenced the proximity sensors. Though the thud of several medium-sized debris chunks being knocked away made him cringe, he had nestled in safely without impacting on the major bulkhead. Inertia dampeners were activated, leaving the vessel at an all-stop, and letting Kyy switch controls to turret mode, to begin functioning as a sentry.

 

The Arrowhead now lies still beneath the shadow of a large piece of debris, in the partial shape of a half-cylinder.

 

While he was making the adjustments, he had gotten a glimpse of the feed that cowboy Reyd had been transmitting; the mostly intact hull of a warship, embedded into the side of a colony chunk, it would appear. And seemingly unsalvaged...?

 

"See if you can find the ship's name. That'll give us some idea as to what it was doing and when it was out here. After that, hold position and wait for backup. I think this is interesting enough to warrant my coming out there to take a look myself."

 

While testing to make sure the servos of the main turret were well-maintained, Kyy found himself grimacing again.

 

"Captain, Kusanagi, I've heard about the ghost stories and tales as much as the next guy, but how can this not be a trap? Were it just a pile of debris floatin' through the cosmos, that'd be one thing, but an entire warship? Any salvager worth his salt would've already stripped it clean by now. I doubt we're the first blokes crazy enough to come this way anyway."

 

A static arc jumping across the main turret camera caused him to jump in his seat from shock, much to his dismay.

 

---

 

"Kokko, there are four places I leave things I use. The Greenhouse, the Machine Shop, and the Port and Starboard hangars. If it's not there, I didn't move it."

 

Kokko had opted to take a seat in order to wait out the pounding in his head; he couldn't finish he scheduled repairs without his multitool anyway. As the pounding lessened, he had regained his composure, somewhat, but having his tool be misplaced irritated him more than anything else. He liked to think he took very good care of it, so he couldn't have misplaced it himself. He grabbed the small comm unit he had set aside while in the crawl space, setting it back around his neck and patching it in to the bridge.

 

"Listen, Motoko, it's not in the Greenhouse, because there's no reason to have it there. At least, god's be dammed I should HOPE you didn't put it there. It's not in the Machine Shop, because I was just there. And I swear if it's in the Starboard hangers I'm going to blow a gasket! Last time I left something there, it got sucked out into space during depressurization!"

 

...

 

"Having a rough time, are you?"

 

"Geh- Kyy? Where's Motoko?"

 

"Dunno. Left for somewhere. Careful with your ranting, though; the whole bridge can hear it."

 

"Fyeh... whatever. She's probably heading to one of the hangers anyway. Maybe it is in the Starboard? Vittu tämä, this bloody fluid cycler won't have another round going through it for at least a day. I have time to fix it." With a sigh, he hung up his communicator and gathered a few things off the ground.

 

He made up his mind to check the Port side first anyway.

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Maxine groaned when they arrived at their destination: two impacted colonies, riddles with holes from different impacts, explosions, and generally bad stuff for civilian life. Even with her years of military experience, looking at sights like this never got easier. Maxine never let most people get to her emotional side, which was a mixture of her genuinely not getting overemotional very often and the fact that she's got a bit of a reputation of being an unfeeling badass at this point, but it was hard for her not to get at least a tad emotional over the pervasive thought of the life lost in this scene. Pirates, scavengers, criminals, even other military force, that was all easy to watch go. But civilians? They are all so defenseless, they never stood a chance.

 

Maxine turned off her outward comms briefly, collecting herself mentally as she made her way to the colony. Her comrade had already done a decent enough job of opening up a hole the two of them could fit in, and she slowly made her way inside. She'd found her way into a few of these destroyed colonies, but something about the sight of two of them fused together in a pile of rubble had made it particularly difficult discern anything of value. She turned to the other woman's mech, and reactivated her comms,
 

"Hey, you go right. I'll go left. We'll scan the immediate area for anything of value and reconvene at the center, or unless something particularly large is in need of moving. Sound good? Call me if you need anything or find yourself in some kind of situation." With that, Maxine departed towards the other side of the colony, scanning as she went. A few small things here and there, although it sounded to her like Reyd was the one who had truly found the jackpot. Most of the destroyed garbage in here probably wasn't to be of much value unless she did some digging and got lucky, at least so far.  

 

Still Maxine felt unsettled, and she was almost sure it was not because she was still feeling sorry for the lost life... no, it was more like that feeling she got when she had worn something that was maybe just a little bit too risky at a club; was she being watched by something? Maxine reached for one of her guns, in the event that she needed to react quickly, always better to have a lethal grade backup plan.

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Reyd's mobile suit touched down on an outcropping in the colony wall with a thunk, just below the hull of the destroyer. At this angle, it seemed to rise out of the colony for several hundred meters, casting a long shadow out over the silvery metal it was embedded in. It was an imposing sight to be sure; old warships always were. Still, there was work to be done. No time to be awestruck.

 

OST

 

With a light touch on the throttle, and a short burst from its thrusters, Reyd's Djinn floated gently upward along the destroyer's hull, its camera eye illuminating the armor plating. It didn't take long for him to find what the Chief was looking for: the yellow lettering of a Japanese character emblazoned on the hull. Using the friction of his mobile suits hands on the hull to stop his upward movement, Reyd maneuvered his machine sideways along the string of characters, hoping to find the ship's name in English somewhere close by. Soon, he found it.

 

ESS Hagane.

 

---

 

Arthur scratched his chin, watching the monitor that displayed the camera feed from Reyd's Djinn. It wasn't something Reyd would have known, but a name like Hagane was peculiar for an ESA Vessel, most of which tended to be named for bodies of water or weapons, like the Arrowhead herself, and fewer still were christened in any language other than English. Wordlessly, he began accessing the Arrowhead's old files. With a little bit of luck, there would be some information on the Hagane in one of the dossiers Arthur had received during the war from fleet HQ. He initiated a search query, which came up empty remarkably quickly. Too quickly, in fact. It was almost as if-

 

"Chief," Arthur's voice echoed through the ship's halls over the public address. "I need you to send me Mr. Wooder's credentials. I think the Arrowhead's keeping secrets from me again." It was just a hunch, of course, but usually when the Arrowhead's aging, lagging intranet came up with an empty query so quickly, it meant that there was classified information about the subject that Arthur, as an ESA captain, was not permitted to access.

 

Luckily, he and Chief Engineer Kusanagi had found a way around this some 19 years prior, when they'd stumbled onto files that had accidentally been left aboard the ship by one Ben Wooder: Motoko's DCWD handler during the Scarlet war. Since information on Gundams and their Cyber Newtype Pilots was classified, DCWD personnel were given clearance to access those files. As it so happened, this special security clearance also gave them access to other files, some entirely divorced from the Gundam project. Hopefully, Mr. Wooder's login would reveal whatever information on the Hagane his ship held.

 

---

 

He'd been at it for several minutes now, trying in vain to find an entrance into what was left of the Hagane. Her hangar bay door, the first place he'd looked, was sealed off by colony debris, and so far he'd been unable to find a suitable, human-sized entrance either.

 

"Man... tough nut to crack, this one..."

 

For a moment, he contemplated returning to the Arrowhead for explosive charges. Breaching the hull would make this go so much faste-

 

Reyd's train of thought was interrupted by movement on his radar display. There was a target, and it was moving much too fast to be a piece of drifting debris. He barely had enough time to turn his mobile suit around before a barrage of beam weapons fire came streaking toward him. He spun hard to avoid it, the rounds missing his Djinn by inches before exploding on the hull of the ship behind him. Then, from out of the black, a red Sieg appeared, its beam rifle trained on Reyd's cockpit.

 

---

 

At the same time, the scene that greeted Maxine and Rosaria as they entered the colony cylinder was equally ominous. What was left of the city inside was a blasted, cluttered wreck, with chunks of buildings, debris, and bodies floating past at random intervals. The interior was not immune to the electrical arcs they'd seen outside, either, and every now and then a massive lightning bolt streaked from one wall to the other, occasionally igniting flammable material it came in contact with for brief moments.

 

OST

 

The girls hadn't been inside for long when, suddenly, several stories of skyscraper came rocketing toward Rosaria's Vertigo, impacting the mobile suit's upper body and smashing it into the colony wall. From the same direction came the origin of the improvised projectile: A mobile armor. Almost immediately, the monstrous mobile weapon charged toward Maxine's Djinn, aiming to grab and pin it with its claws.

 

Simultaneously, on the moonward end of the massive hulk, the colony wall seemed to erupt with cannon fire, with four separate bursts streaking toward Roche and Kenji's position, followed quickly by a quartet of Dauntless Weapon types. Over the comms, all of the Arrowhead's mobile suit pilots, as well as those listening on the bridge, heard the same audio transmission.

 

"Attention Vultures. We are the Poltergeist Corps, and you are trespassing in our territory. Surrender your mobile suits and any valuables aboard your vessel, and you will be allowed to leave with your lives. This is your only warning. If you do not comply, we will not hesitate to kill every last one of you. You have sixty seconds. Choose wisely."

 

---

 

"Figures."

 

Arthur's expression remained unchanged as he listened to pirates make their demands. when the message was finished, he tuned into the same open communications channel the pirate signal had come from and, while he did so, gestured to Maryanne and Kyy, indicating that he planned on maneuvering the Arrowhead into firing position. He was just going to buy time. Before he spoke, he made sure to broadcast the conversation on the ship's PA, so that the Chief and the rest of the crew, in addition to the pilots, could hear.

 

"This is Captain Arthur DeGaines of the Arrowhead. We will comply with your demands. Please allow us time enough to bring our vessel within retrieval range."

 

"Excellent choice captain. Men, make sure they-

 

"Surrender my ass! You've got no idea who you're messin' with!" Reyd shouted, interrupting the discourse and punctuating it by delivering a kick to the Seig's cockpit. Arthur smacked his forehead in frustration.

 

"Wrong move, kid." The Seig's pilot, evidently the leader, was unfazed. He drew his mobile suit's sword with his free hand, and used the backward momentum given to him by Reyd's kick to spin back around and fire his rifle at the Djinn once again. This time, it hit its mark, exploding on the High Maneuver type's shoulder and sending it careening into the Hagane's hull. The impact crushed its left thruster wing, causing its propellant tank to rupture and explode.

 

"Kill them."

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"Roche. What's the situation looking over there?"

 

"All clear over here, as far as I can see nothing potentially life-threatening, though four eyes instead of two will probably be a lot better, so get back here as soon as you can." Roche continued with the uneventful search for several more minutes before noticing a strange blip on his sensors. "Hm...? What the hell? Arrowhead I've got- holy s***!" Roche exclaimed just avoiding the cannon fire. Whirling on his attackers Roche leveled his rifle at the four Mobile Suits. "s***, Arrowhead we've got company!"

 

"Attention Vultures. We are the Poltergeist Corps, and you are trespassing in our territory. Surrender your mobile suits and any valuables aboard your vessel, and you will be allowed to leave with your lives. This is your only warning. If you do not comply, we will not hesitate to kill every last one of you. You have sixty seconds. Choose wisely."

 

Roche gripped the controls of his Sieg. There was no way in hell he was giving his baby up.  That being said Roche had no idea how big the enemy squad was, and he wasn't exactly keen on fighting battles he couldn't win.

 

"This is Captain Arthur DeGaines of the Arrowhead. We will comply with your demands. Please allow us time enough to bring our vessel within retrieval range."

 

"Wh-" Roche's first was to react in anger, however, he cut himself off. Arthur wasn't stupid, he probably... hopefully, had some sort of plan. 

 

"Excellent choice captain. Men, make sure they-

 

"Surrender my ass! You've got no idea who you're messin' with!" Roche heard the sound of metal on metal as Reyd no doubt retaliated against one of their attackers. He had to admit he was almost surprised it took Reyd that long.

 

"Reyd you absolute ass, s***... here we go!" Roche said noticing the Dauntlesses begin targeting him again. Putting his Sieg into a nosedive Roche attempted to put as much distance between himself and the enemy as possible. He had speed on them, however, those platforms had just as much range as he did and were much better armored than he was. Kenji's Gundam was much better suited for this sort of thing than the Sieg was.

 

"Kenji hightail your ass back here!" Roche yelled in the coms before firing off several shots from his beam rifle.

 

---

 

"This is Captain Arthur DeGaines of the Arrowhead. We will comply with your demands. Please allow us time enough to bring our vessel within retrieval range."

 

"What the hell is going on up there", Reveka looked up at the speaker in the infirmary. "Hey start prepping our operating room, if any of those idiots gets injured I want to have them in that room, and ready for operation as soon as possible." Reveka directed her nurses to begin prepping the medical bay for any patients, before proceeding herself over to the communications console mounted to the wall. "STAN, I need you down in the medical bay, if those people board us I'm going to need your help making sure they don't get into this medical bay." Without waiting for a response Reveka clicked to the bridge's communication channel. "This Reveka to the bridge what in seven hells is going on up there?"

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The inside of the colony had obviously seen better days, sparks flew from the walls of the wreak and debris from destroyed buildings flew past the two mobile suits.

 

"Hey, you go right. I'll go left. We'll scan the immediate area for anything of value and reconvene at the center, or unless something particularly large is in need of moving. Sound good? Call me if you need anything or find yourself in some kind of situation."

 

Rosaria gave a thumbs up with her mobile suit. "Roger that, I'll see what I can do, bound to be something valuable in this wreak... Wait... Do you tha... Agh!!!" Before Rosaria could even notice what was going on she found herself getting pinned against the wall of the wreak by a large chunk of a building. "Tch... Son of a b**ch!" She tried pushing the hunk of debris off her and only managed to squeeze her vertigo out of its position.

 

After reorienting herself, Rosaria looked to see Maxine in a tussel with a Mobile Armor of all things. "Attention Vultures. We are the Poltergeist Corps, and you are trespassing in our territory. Surrender your mobile suits and any valuables aboard your vessel, and you will be allowed to leave with your lives. This is your only warning. If you do not comply, we will not hesitate to kill every last one of you. You have sixty seconds. Choose wisely."

 

"This is Captain Arthur DeGaines of the Arrowhead. We will comply with your demands. Please allow us time enough to bring our vessel within retrieval range." Rosaria was not about to give her suit up and she knew the others didn't want to either. Then again... Arthur isn't stupid, he had to have a plan.

 

"Surrender my ass! You've got no idea who you're messin' with!" Dammit Reyd. Combat could be heard all through the comms, things went to hell real fast.

 

"Dammit... So much for an easy job. Hold on Maxine, Funnels away!" Rosaria launched her funnels towards the massive mobile weapon to try and get its attention away from Maxine and her Djinn. With how the funnels moved, it was unlikely the mobile armor could even hit them as they fired off their beam weapons at the large mech.

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"All clear over here, as far as I can see nothing potentially life-threatening, though four eyes instead of two will probably be a lot better, so get back here as soon as you can."

 

Kenji nodded at hearing Roche's report, seeing the moonward exterior in his sights. However, as he neared...it happened. He could see cannon fire in Roche's general location. They were being attacked on. Truth be told, Kenji wasn't expecting a battle so soon right now. This was just a routine salvage job...but then again, things never end up going according to the agendas of people in life.

 

Easy, Mizuno...you can do this... Kenji said, slowly still in the process of making it moonward, hearing the conversation over the comms.

 

"Attention Vultures. We are the Poltergeist Corps, and you are trespassing in our territory. Surrender your mobile suits and any valuables aboard your vessel, and you will be allowed to leave with your lives. This is your only warning. If you do not comply, we will not hesitate to kill every last one of you. You have sixty seconds. Choose wisely."

"This is Captain Arthur DeGaines of the Arrowhead. We will comply with your demands. Please allow us time enough to bring our vessel within retrieval range."

"Excellent choice captain. Men, make sure they-"

"Surrender my ass! You've got no idea who you're messin' with!"

 

And of course, a normal negotiations throw straight out the airlock by Reyd. Kenji silently cursed the pilot some, but he was in the right, nevertheless. This was a time where they needed to fight...they HAD to. Alright...guess this is the only time I'll agree with you, Reyd.

 

"Kenji hightail your ass back here!"

 

"Hang tight, Roche." Kenji said, pushing the Duel Gundam towards the moonward exterior, seeing the gun show that was going on at this moment. The sensors began to pick up an amount of blips on it. Seemed like four hostiles...and from the looks of it, Dauntless Weapon Platforms. Dauntless...and that platform has the autocannons...this might be a little harder to negotiate...but we can do this!

 

-BGM-

 

"Roche! HEAD'S UP!!" Kenji shouted, descending with a fast speed, skidding onto the ground. He quickly shifted slightly, equipping the Duel Gundam's Beam Rifle, before taking aim for at least one of the Dauntless Weapon Platforms. It wasn't long before the shot was taken and sent straight in the direction of the one Dauntless.

 

"Sorry I'm late." he said quickly, shifting slightly to cover with his shield in the Duel Gundam's other hand.

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Had Maxine not already felt something breathing down her spine, she most certainly would have been snatched by the mobile armor advancing towards her at high speeds. Reacting with one of the better times military had to offer, Maxine was quickly able to shift over to the side, instead being sideswiped by the attacker's claws, which still resulted in a considerable amount of damage, given her limited reaction time. Forcing herself to keep cool and react in a strategic manner, Maxine readjusted to the side.

 

"Mo----er just scratched my paint job... guess i'm going to have to teach you some damn manners!" Maxine drew her Pistol II's and began unloading into the side the best she could, hoping to create somewhat of a pinch from both sides in combination with Rose, who had quickly found herself out from underneath the building she was struck by and began firing herself. 

 

"Any idea why these guys have mobile armors just sitting here waiting for us?! I thought you said this place was going to be empty!" Maxine shouted in a harsh manner through the comms to control, who were most certainly busy with their own problems. From what Maxine heard, it sounded like every unit was surrounded; she and Rose would have to clean up this thing quickly if they were to make it out and provide support, but Leveler was hardly the type of mech to disable a mobile suit quickly, due to her type of offense. Especially considering she did not want to get into close range against those claws, Maxine's options here seemed limited. She would have to strike this thing from the back.

 

"Rose, keep hammering on this thing, I'm going to make a series of quick strikes against the backside; we have to get to the group as quickly as possible, so really lay into the spots I open up, okay?" Utilizing Leveler's superior speed for her suit type, Maxine attempted to circle behind the MA and take a few more quick shots at the back of the armor, hoping to find a weak point where she can get into the armor with the blade portion of her beam pistols. If allowed by the enemy, she would continue to float around it and take small chunks away from it at a time, like a bee, stinging its opponent into submission, all while leaving open opportunities for the much more lethal Ruby Queen to blow open the holes Leveler has created. Nothing like a plan to win a skirmish against an opponent you weren't expecting.

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"Welp, guess they aren't surrendering." The Mobile Armor pilot said, almost nonchalantly, as the pair of apparently modified suits chose to retaliate in moments. She'd hoped that the building would have kept the Vertigo busy while she caught the modified Djinn, but then these things were never simple were they. In just a few seconds she had funnels swarming her and the Djinn was blasting away with beam pistols. Those seemed like an odd choice of weapon, but whatever. The beam blasts weren't having too much immediate effect on the Mobile Armor, apart from leaving a few briefly glowing pits that quickly cooled and blackened, but it was better to get a bit of range on her opponents. So the Mobile Armor spun about in a maneuver that would tear limbs off of most mobile suits, briefly showing the pair its starship-class engines, and shot back across to the far end of the ruined interior of the fused colony cylinders. Floating debris from the cities had little effect on its course, merely being smashed to dust and gravel.
 
"Hey Richter, the two inside are puttin' up a fight. Whatcha want done with 'em?" Like she didn't already know what their ace was gonna say to that, but one of these was a good bit rarer than just about anything else they would find. "The Vertigo and the modified Djinn, if you didn't see 'em." Meanwhile, an octet of tubes opened up on the front of the machine and set about spewing missiles at the mobile suits she expected to be following her. If nothing else they'd slow her opponents down for a bit while she decided how to act next. Some of course just hit bits of floating debris and exploded in clouds of smoke and shrapnel, but others continued on their course towards the machines. The Mobile Armor's pilot whistled a tune while she picked out her next target, and decided that the vertigo with the fancy paint job was a good one. Another burst from her engines sent the machine rocketing towards Rosaria, claws open and extended.
 
---
 
"Chief, I need you to send me Mr. Wooder's credentials. I think the Arrowhead's keeping secrets from me again." Well, that earned a sound that was half sigh and half groan from the Chief Engineer. She could have sworn she'd declassified everything in the ship's systems the last time she'd done maintenance. It seemed she must have missed something. Of course this was something important enough for her to delay heading down to the port hangar. If whatever the captain had found was classified, that potentially meant they had an enormous payout on their hands when it came to the ship.
 
The visit to the storage room that had once been Ben Wooder's office was never an easy thing for Kusanagi. Today, it took everything in her power not to destroy everything in the room out of a rage that had been denied for twenty years. After what she had been subjected to by the DCWD, and what her handler specifically had taken advantage of his position to do to her, she wanted to smash his head into pudding with her own hands. She took a deep breath, and another draw from her joint, and stepped over towards the desk that had long since been pushed to the back and half-buried in the assortment of things that no one on the ship was quite sure what to do with but didn't want to toss. After a while of checking through the drawers, she found what she had been looking for. The memory stick, little more than a plug that would fit into a port on the computer at the captain's station. Once she had it in hand, she slipped out of the room and made her way towards one of the intercoms, but before she could speak a certain amount of drama started unfolding.
 
"Attention Vultures. We are the Poltergeist Corps, and you are trespassing in our territory. Surrender your mobile suits and any valuables aboard your vessel, and you will be allowed to leave with your lives. This is your only warning. If you do not comply, we will not hesitate to kill every last one of you. You have sixty seconds. Choose wisely." Pirates. Lovely. At least that explained the ghost stories.
 
"This is Captain Arthur DeGaines of the Arrowhead. We will comply with your demands. Please allow us to bring our vessel within retrieval range." Some of the others might have been confused, but Kusanagi was not. It was easy to tell that the captain was getting ready to play these pirates for fools. All the more reason for her to go and get the Scrap Queen up and running. Just as she was pulling her flight suit up and getting it zipped shut, a familiar voice came over the comms.
 
"Surrender my ass! You've got no idea who you're messin' with!" If there was any time that she wanted to kill Reyd it was right now. "Cuddles," as she had decided to name the rat, had since climbed up into her hair and was hanging on as if in preparation to avoid being flung against the wall by sudden movement. So she picked her jacket off the ground, she'd had to take it off to zip her flight suit off, and put the rat in one of the pockets while she called the bridge on the comms.
 
"Captain, I have those credentials for you and I'll get them to you after we've dealt with these pirates. You want me out there or on standby in the hangar where I can make repairs as our suits come back?" Arthur usually didn't like her going out in a combat situation, but she felt like asking him anyways. Maybe he had some information that she didn't that would lead to him sending her out.
 
"Stick around. If things go south i'm going to need at least one fresh mobile suit in the field." Well, that was her answer wasn't it?
 
"Aye, Captain. For the record my...project is at 60% functionality." Not that she expected he would send her out in it, but he did need to know what all the options on the table were. She switched to ship-wide comms before she spoke again. "Kokko, report to the portside hangar and get in a normal suit. I need you ready if we need to make repairs. And grab a spare helmet while you're at it." She did need something to keep cuddles comfortable in vacuum. She'd worry about building him an enclosure later. In any case, she got on her way to the aforementioned hangar at a fair pace

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"Aye, Captain. For the record my...project is at 60% functionality."

 

Well, she was certainly moving right along with it. Why Kusanagi was so eager to get that thing working again, Arthur couldn't quite figure out. Still, now wasn't the time to think about it. Orders needed to be given.

 

"Mr. Tosstensson, you have the helm and the main guns. Lets take her out and give the pilots some support fire." Arthur sighed and got back on the Arrowhead's public address. "Attention all hands, battle stations. Repeat. All hands to your battle stations." These days, making such an announcement was more a matter of formality than anything, but on the off chance some crew members hadn't been aware of what was transpiring, it needed to be done. Now, for what was next on the list. "Miss Levitt, what have we got out there?"

 

Maryanne darted back and forth between the feeds from the Arrowhead's mobile suits, sliding her chair up and down the row of monitors arrayed in front of her. While she did so, she cross checked their information with the Arrowhead's radar screens and databanks. Four of the enemy mobile suits were broadcasting ESA IFF signals, which made identification easy.

 

"Four Dauntless Weapon types, firing from within the colony wreckage. Our pirate friends haven't turned off their transponders, so I've got a fix on their location. "

 

"Hmph. How unprofessional. What about the other targets?"

 

It took the young woman a moment, but she was able to identify the rest of the attacking force with little effort. "One Seig, possibly modified and...:" She paused a moment. Something seemed to have her spooked.

 

"And?"

 

"A Mobile Armor, captain. Database says its a Bigro."

 

"I see.... It looks like we aren't the only ones with fancy toys. Send the data to the team." Arthur got back on the radio to the pilots. "Everyone got that? One mobile armor, five MS. Engage at your own discretion."  Again, formalities. It was almost reflexive at this point.

 

---

 

"Richter here. What's your status? Schnell? Cumberdale?"

 

Schnell was the first to respond. "Oh, you know, just fighting two custom, and very expensive looking, mobile suits. The usual. Don't worry about me, Jared honey."

 

"Don't bite off more than you can chew now, little girl. Cumberdale here. Striker team's engaging one bogey. Doesn't seem to have found us yet. They'll be slag in a- WOAH!" There was silence for a moment as Cumberdale maneuvered his mobile suit, a beam shot vaporizing the debris nearby. "Scratch that. Two bogeys, and.... Ho-ohhhh boy you won't believe this boss man! One of em's a Gundam!"

 

"Lucky us. I'm on my way. Don't let it get the best of-"

 

"Forgetting someone jabroni?!" Reyd wasn't finished yet. Despite the loss in maneuverability, his mobile suit was still fully combat capable, and now he was returning fire on Richter's Seig with his assault rifle. The first few rounds hit before the enemy pilot began to maneuver, denting the armor and taking one of the fins on the Seig's shoulder armor off.

 

"Give me a moment, Albert. I've got a fly to swat."  This time, Jared was thorough. He continued to avoid Reyd's fire, closing distance before taking a fly-by swipe with his sword, knocking the assault rifle out of the Djinn's hands and throwing Reyd off balance. Then, from behind, he took another shot with his beam rifle. It hit the Djinn in the leg, taking it off at the knee. Reyd drew his own sword, attempting a charge. The undamaged Seig however, was a good deal faster than the Djinn now, and it was a simple matter of flying out of the way. Jared got behind Reyd's Djinn once again, and took one more shot. It hit the remaining wing which, like the one before it, exploded, sending the damaged mobile suit hurtling into the hull of the Hagane.

 

"There. One less annoyance."

 

"Good shootin'. Our turn." Cumberdale sent targeting data to his three squad-mates, and soon four more cannon rounds came hurtling out from the debris, all aimed at the Duel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Rose, keep hammering on this thing, I'm going to make a series of quick strikes against the backside; we have to get to the group as quickly as possible, so really lay into the spots I open up, okay?"​ Rosaria nodded her head and continued to open fire with her funnels, before the large mobile armor sped out of range of the two pilots. "Damn... Wouldn't think something like that would be that fast huh?" Rosaria retracted her funnels a bit to prepare for a counter attack, only to see a massive barrage of missiles coming straight for her and Maxine. "Crud, incoming!" She spread her funnels out and started firing at the incoming barrage.

 

Beads of sweat started to form on Rosaria's forehead, she was putting a lot of effort into shooting the missiles down. Luckily, some of the missiles managed to hit debris from the colony, however the missiles were just the beginning. The mobile armor changed its attention to her Ruby Queen and charged right at her with its massive claws. "Agh, not so fast!" Rosaria got out one of her suit's beam sabers and dodged out of the incoming attack. She sped by the large mech and slashed at one of its large arms trying to cut it off.

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