[gundam] [STORY] Gundam New Century: Part #1


Prabal Nandy (nandy@U.Arizona.EDU)
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 19:34:20 -0700 (MST)


        Gundam New Century
Project Xerxes Part 1: "Flanagan's Conspiracy"

        He floated serenely on a purplish pink cloud, surrounded
by innumerable flickering white/yellow sparks embedded in a
rectilinear matrix curving up and around him as far as his
thousand eyes could see. He could feel himself rising,
slowly, floating upward, away from his discarded body, up and
yet somehow inward, as if seeping like water into the soil of
his own consciousness. He gasped suddenly, supprised,
remembering to breathe, remembering his tie to the flesh, the
hammer blow of his heart straining inside his superheated
chest.

        "He's deep in it now, I can tell", two cold blue eyes
beamed sparklike through the deepening fog. "I hate the sight
of him in a Federation uniform, it turns my stomach," the
voice rumbled.
        "He's feedbacking theta bandwaves," a disembodied voice
chirped in the background of his mind, he could feel the
purplish blue prescence of cold calculation glowering behind
those meaningless words. "In Sharia's case that was a good
sign, it's difficult to tell here though. I'm going to have
them reduce the thresholding current, his blood pressure is
rising too quickly."

        Abruptly, his eyes cleared and the real world dropped
away. His new world grew dark and misty, his breath
condensing beads of vapor on the transparent screen of a
coffin-like pod, his back firmly strapped against a rib-like
cage of metal filiments. He could feel the mechanical warmth
of the psychommunicator coils through the artificially heated
blush of his cheeks and chin. He shook his head slowly, side
to side, gasping as the world spun several times under his
head. He could feel a rising nausea, though strangely, it
seemed to be coming from a presence outside, beyond his own
body. He felt like he could hear words.

        "What's the meaning of this?" A hard grey voice to match
the twisted, scarred grimace of a once handsome face.
        "I'm sorry Colonel, but I'm afraid I can't continue to
run the Psychommu system without risk to --"
        "Xerxes." The grey voice spat, one jackbooted foot
slamming to the floor with controlled anger. "Listen to me
Flanagan, before I found this sorry excuse for a Jion warrior
this boy was lying in filth in Riah, skulking out the war by
hiding from the Federation and his own people. And to think
he was once one of Sharia Bull's chosen soldiers, the men
destined to be the salvation of spacenoids and the righteous
wrath of Zeon! Your task and mine is to give him back this
birthright." A purplish, greenish flame seemed to hover,
specterlike, in the space between his two eyes. Fear and
hatred pulsed through his body like a black blood. "Forget
the man who walked in here, this man IS Project Xerxes now,
he has no other name, and he has no other purpose than to
serve my own!" The grey eyes flared making a double
exclamation of their own.
        "I see." He could not see the face of the white-haired
man who now leaned against a control panel with practiced
nonchalance, but he could feel the snakelike pattern of
thought beginning to ripple though the old man's mind. "So it
was your purpose all along to use this boy, this child as
your personal tool of vengeance, Killing? And all that talk
of human liberation, all that idealism you came to me with?"
Somewhere, he could feel the faint, metallic 'bleep' of an
electronic connection being tapped three times in rapid
succession. A strange invisible grey cloud high above his
head began to suddenly move as if in reply, growing more and
more distinct.
        "Spare me, old man." A steel edge moved into the cold
voice, "Don't think I don't know what you plan to do with the
technology I brought you. Don't think I don't know you'll be
selling biological-soldiers like Xerxes here to the highest
bidder, just like you sold him to me." The voice virtually
spat out the words, "Give me what I want and let's end this
charade. Give me the full power!"

        He could feel the oncomming rush of energy like a
frothing pink tidal wave made of concrete and boulders
slamming into his brain. "My god" he whispered, his mouth
sealed in a grimace, "I'm fading away... someone help me!" He
felt his very soul, his very essence of self beginning to
disintegrate, flowing outward like raindrops in a flood. The
Colonel's fanaticism and the Scientist's duplicity rippling
nearby like pebbles bouncing across a lake.

        "Colonel Sir! The Federation carrier has powered up and
is deploying Mobile Suits!"
        "What? What's their target?"
        "There are three GM-Qs dropping from the axis, they'll
land about three kilos from here. There's a GM-Sniper coming
down too, probably the squadron commander."
        "We've been betrayed!" Colonel Killing stamped twice on
the floor, fists clenched until they turned shock white.
"Tell Karim to get the shuttle, but keep the psychoframe
powered, we'll take the entire capsule with us. Get me a
Junior Mobile down here!"
        "The Sniper has landed and is moving into position about
two and a half kilos antispin of here. The GMs are power-
jumping to the spin-side. We're bracketed, sir!"
        "Gahh, Federation beam weapons. Dammit." The Colonel
sighed loudly, pretending to make a decision he had committed
to already, "Alright, tell Kowrin to get ready, he's got to
buy us some time to save the Xerxes."
        "Sir, we're surrounded! That's four Federation GMs
versus one--"
        "Idiot, we're doing this for Jion! We can't be stopped!
Do it NOW, Sergeant!"

        He floated, deeper and deeper into a sea of darkening
purple, his voice, his mind gurgling, drowning under the
depths of the ocean. He reached out, reached, stretched his
hands toward three falling stars descending all too slowly
towards him.

        "Jerid, get your men in closer and get axisward of the
target. Section twelve can't move into position without
blocking a civilian roadway."
        "I copy that, Lieutenant." Jerid clutched his control
sticks and lurched his GM-Quell into the air, sinking briefly
into his heavily padded G-Seat as the GM accellerated on a
blast of superheated air. The ground tumbled away and then
abruptly tumbled back at him wth a sickening thud. His
thermograph scan broadcast its dull red 'negative' across his
sensor screen as he waited. The screen shuddered briefly
twice more, the reassuring green flecks of friendly units
winking on his IFF monitor. "In position, sir!"

        "I'm afraid I can't allow this experiment to continue."
        "What?!" The colonel looked up in shock as he wheeled
around to face the almost comically small barrel of a compact
handgun nestled in the old scientist's birdlike claw. "What's
the meaning of this Flanagan? Don't be stupid!"
        "In a minute this facility will be full of Federation
troops. Give it up now, I can't allow you to leave with him."
        The Colonel's buldging eyes narrowed with his
realization. "You're a traitor! You took Delaz's gold and
then sold us out!"
        "The war is over, Killing. He, and the technology that
created him, is our property."
        "You can make him wear an Earthnoid uniform but all
Newtypes belong to Jion!" The veins on the Colonel's neck
buldged like coiled ropes, his voice rising to a shriek,
"Shoot him! SHOOT HIM!"

        His mind had all but dissappeared into the rising
pulsing pink mist. His ears were filled with the throbbing
heartbeat of thousands of pinprick stars, blazing hot like
suns by the hundreds of thousands. His body melted like ice
in the inferno, his mind filled by the roaring rage of the
violence tearing apart the matrix of his world just scant
feet away from his unseeing eyes. But in the depths of his
skull, rippling like a rising rhythm pulsing through his arms
and legs, he could feel the coming of thunder and power. He
closed his eyes and opened his mouth to cry for help,
watching as his body melted into the great beyond. Watched as
minute balls of metal flew slowly through the air, slowing
into motionlessness before his eyes. "Please, help me!"
        
        "Hostages!"
        "What was that, Jerid?"
        "They've taken Hostages! We've gotta bust in there right
now!"
        "Settle back, Ensign! Section Twelve is in the building
and they'll have everything under control in-- What the hell?
Emma, do you see that?"
        "Lieutenant! There's something coming out of the loading
docks at the institute, I can't identify..."
        "Keith! I need to know--"
        "It's a big whatever that thing is-- Uh oh! I can see it
now. I can't believe it, I thought we captured all of those
after the war?"
        "Cut the history! I need to know if it's got beam wea--"
        "GET DOWN! It's firing!"

        
        "Mark your targets! MARK your targets! We've got
civilians and Federation employees in there!" The plexi-
armored faceplate of the Federation Terrine sergeant failed
to hide the sweatstreaks of tension glistening across his
cheeks. A sporadic burst of recoilless rifle fire blasted
down the hall, causing his squad of four terrines to drop to
the floor. "Damn, we're not going to make it in time at this
rate," the sergeant growled. "Prepare to use gas grenades on
my mark!" He folded himself back into a crouch, raising his
ventilator grill off his chestplate armor and onto his mouth
and nose. "Corpsman! Call the lieutenant and tell him what
the civvie told us!" He paused long enough to load a shotgun
shell into his underbarrel launcher. "Here we go!"

        "He's got us pinned!" Jerid winced involuntarily as a
staccato blast of superheated plasma lanced through the air
above his prone GM's head. The fire came sporadically but
consistantly, he could tell that the giant Jion Mobile Suit
was not trying to kill so much as to delay. Either way, his
under-armed team didn't have much of a chance against it. He
yanked back on his control stick and let fly another burst of
semiautomatic machine-cannon fire at the hulking green and
red monster.
           "No dice, Lieutenant! That Zaku-Zeta's got thick
titanium armor, we're not loaded for hide that heavy! You're
going to have to use your beam rifle."
        "Forget it Emma, we've got Federation Terrines,
employees, and civilians not a hundred yards from that beast.
I hole his reactor and we could lose everyone."
        "What about our grenades?"
        "He's too close to the Institute, we can't risk it now.
But we've got to move and move fast. I just got a communicae
from Section Twelve that the Jions have a shuttle prepped for
launch. Keith, I need you to circle back behind the Zeta and
try and strafe the hangar. Keep that shuttle from launching,
but don't shoot it down, they're taking hostages, I'm sure of
it. Emma, Jerid, do your best to draw that monster away from
the Institute, if I can get a clear bead on him I'm going to
try and end this. Keep your heads down and your shields up,
don't forget what's going to happen if he hits your engine."

        "Colonel! We've got to go now!" The Sergent clutched at
the Colonel's blood stained left arm, dangling lifelessly
from a raw hole blown through his shoulder. "The Terrines are
almost here, we've got to get out now!" The Colonel's ashen
face was transfixed with a rictus smile, the pistol clutched
in his hand shivering feverishly. He stared with grim
satisfaction at the writhing form convulsing on the floor,
hair stained pink with blood and sweat. "Goodbye, Dr.
Flanagan," he whispered, raising his pistol a second time.

        Kowrin smiled balefully to himself and half-listened to
the rising hum of his Zaku-Z's powerful generators. A hail of
90mm shells ricochetted off of the armor plating belted
across his massive machine's ironclad chest, setting of a
fireworks display of sparks and hot titanium droplets.
"Hrm... who could that be." He muttered sardonically, letting
fly another quad-volley of beam blasts from his Mobile Suit's
wrists, setting some tall pine trees on fire and shattering
others but not connecting with the cowering Federation GMs
hiding inside the dense artificial forest surrounding the
Institute. "Fine, just fine, hide." he thought to himself,
smiling, there would be plenty of time for real combat after
the shuttle left and he would be free to hole the colony
walls as necessary. Until then, he'd be safe from the GMs as
long as he kept close to the Institute. Kowrin opened up
another cluster of beam blasts at a GM trying to skirt around
his position, smiling as the lanky machine skidded to a halt
as if in surprise, narrowly missing a public transit bus.
"Cowards!" He bit his tongue and held his fire, drawing his
massive heat-hawk instead, knowing full well he would not
live to see another day. He promised himself to give the
Federation a fight to remember.

         He gurgled, suffocating inside his darkening purple
void. He could feel the pain of innumerable bullet holes
lancing through his body, feel the horror and the fear of
dozens of men and women and soldiers roiling like hot metal
snakes through his body. He could see the thousands and
thousands of searing metal pellets flying slowly, serenely
through the air, each speck blinking out a star in the sky of
his rapidly collapsing universe. Gunshots broke through his
mind, filling him with unimaginable horror. He could feel the
last tendrils of his conscious mind, his memory, his sense of
identity, of "I", fragmenting, splintering, diffusing away in
that flood of pain and terror. "Please... it's got to stop!"
He screamed into the dark purple emptiness as constellations
erupted and exploded into violence.

        "Augh!" The Colonel staggered as if punched as his shot
went wild, stumbling into the Sergeant who wrenched him away
toward an exit. "Let's get out of here, sir! We can't save
the Project if you're captured!"
        "But... Xerxes..."
        "Don't worry, I've made sure the damned Earthnoids won't
capture him or the project."

        "This way! Bust in!" The Terrine Sergeant shouted
through the choking orange smoke of Somnogenic gas grenades
as he waved his men past him, "The power's out, go
thermoptic, and remember we've got hostages in there! Mark
your targets! Go go go!"
  
        "Hold it, hold it..."
        "Lieutenant, he's gonna kill Keith! I've got to get--"
        "Wait for it..." The Lieutenant squinted through the
sighting monitor linked to his GM-Sniper's special forehead
visor's telescopic sensor, his world shrunked and narrowed
into a tiny zoomed-in spot on the Beast's chest, his finger
trembling and tight over his trigger, waiting for the
telltale firing reticle to go green. "Almost got it, just a
few more steps and--"

        The world skidded to a halt and shattered into a
thousand razor-sharp pieces. He coughed, sputtered as if he
had just been punched through the chest, his sweat-soaked
forehead slamming involunarily, spasmodically against the
glass of his canopy. He was suffocating in there, a tight
metal coffin, sealing him away from the larger real world.
The glass became spattered with his own blood. "Let me out of
here! Let me out!"
        The Terrines burst in through the bulkheads, guns
glinting in the dull-red emergency lights. The rapid-fire
burst of orders filled his head: "Secure the area!" "They've
shot Dr. Flanagan! Call for Medevac, Corpsman, haul this man
out of here now!" "Sergeant, there's one of ours trapped
inside that glass case!" "What the hell? Crack it open!
Private, cut through that bulkhead!" "Sergent! Someone's
wired a bomb to the control panel here! It's gonna blow!" "Ah
sh--, Everyone out of here NOW! Evacuate Evacuate! Get that
man out of that cylinder, don't leave anyone behind!"
        

        "Gotcha!" The Lieutenant let his finger squeeze the
trigger gently, almost resignedly. The GM echoed his motion,
the air in front of the massive machine distorting with the
heat of a searing yellow-white flash of superheated plasma
hurtling its way across a kilometer of scorched colony air.
The Zaku-Zeta shook and shuddered at the impact, spasming as
the blast seared into its armored chest, blasting off great
chunks of metal and armored panels. The beast-like MS
convulsed briefly in mid-step, as if refusing to die or
acknowledge the raging fire erupting from it's midsection.
        "You got it sir! A sure clean shot!"
        "Perfect! Right through the hatch."
        "Whooyeah! Good shooting sir, I think... oh no."
        "Ah geez, tell me it isn't--"
        The four soldiers watched in horror as the mammoth
corpse of the Mobile Suit slowly, inexorably, began to tip
backward into the east-wing of the Institute.

        His world was filled by a tumbling chaos of darkness and
faint white stripes of light flicking across his eyes. He
could feel himself lifted, torn out of the frozen metal
ribcage that had welded him to the pod's electronics, thrown
over a shoulder and manhandled through darkened hallways. He
could feel the smouldering intensity of the soldiers
struggling to get him and others he recognized as civilians
through the darkened halls, he could feel the fear running
through them all like a fine purplish-silver webwork, pulsing
in beat with the passing seconds. He could feel the greyish
haze of the Sergeant's confusion as he paused briefly at a
pitch-black juncture in the corridors, unsure of himself,
disoriented by the false colors of his computer-vision and
his memory. But was obvious which way led out and away from
the center of the facility, he felt his knowledge reach out
and brush across the Sergeant's fear, reassuring, pointing
the way towards light, air and freedom. "This way men! Let's
go!"

        "Grey Phantom, this is Lieutenant Able, we've got a
situation here, we need Medevac shuttles, over!"
        "Lieutenant, this is Grey Phantom control, have you
secured the shuttle?"
        "There's no time for that, the--"

        The monstrous hulk of the Zak-Zeta crashed backward into
the white Eastern wall of the Institute, slowly sinking,
burying itself into the heavily shielded bunker. It paused
there for a moment, seemingly coming to rest in a cloud of
white dust and smoke. A rumbling began to build through the
smoke, a white winged shape lifted angelically off of the
Institute's hangar pad and into the air, rising up toward the
axis.
        Then, the world was split apart as a titanic blossom of
flame and metal erupted like a geyser from inside the
building itself, shattering walls, blasting apart the Zaku
like a toy as it ripped up into the sky and deep into the
belly of the colony itself.

        
        
-
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