Author's Notes: I'M BACK, BABY! Okay, it's only been a little over a week since I marked Gundam Wing: Journey to a New Battlefield as complete, but still… damn it feels good to have another story underway, and the sequel to boot!
One thing we need to get out of the way before getting into this. You'll notice that the date listed for this chapter is in A.C. 198. Now, I'm assuming that if you're reading this fic you've got a basic working knowledge of both Wing and SEED canon, which means that you're aware that the original Endless Waltz took place in December of A.C. 196. You'll notice that I don't make reference to it at all in this chapter, and that's for a very simple reason; in my fic, the Mariemaia Rebellion hasn't happened yet. That's right, I'm changing the canon, which is one of the benefits of writing fanfic. Now, Dekim Barton's insurrection will happen eventually, but it has not happened yet. Trust me, when it does, you'll know, because that's gonna be crucial for Part Three and this saga's grand finale. I'm not saying any more than that for now, so don't bother with questions on that.
I'm still doing the same song system that I had in Part One, so you longtime readers know the drill. If you're new, I highly recommend reading Part One first. Only one song for this chapter: "Journey to the Sun", from Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz.
I'll save everything else for the end-of-the-chapter Author's Notes. For now, let's get this show on the road!
Gundam Wing: Destiny's Call
Episode One: Bon Voyage
October 2nd, A.C. 198
Start "Journey to the Sun"
High above the blue, white, and green gem that was the Earth, a gathering over two years in the making was taking place. Their hulls gleaming as they caught the distant sunlight, six unique mobile suits and a white light cruiser maintained their positions, their occupants waiting for the final preparations for the mission to be complete.
Kicking back in the cockpit of his machine, his helmet set aside for the moment, an eighteen-year old young man in a black flight suit put his arms behind his head and smiled. It had taken far too long to make it to this point, and he was raring to get the show on the road. His blue eyes gleamed with excitement. Adjusting his right shoulder so his long, brown braided tail could fall down his chest, Duo Maxwell chuckled as he watched the activity taking place outside his Gundam.
"Over two years…" he murmured, "I wonder how he's doing…"
It still felt like it was only yesterday that he had heard the news that Heero Yuy had disappeared after destroying the falling Barge reactor. What had followed next, the revelation that the longtime salvage master and former mobile suit scientist Mike Howard had given them, had been even more shocking than the initial announcement of Heero's mission.
I guess if any of us was going to get his ass flung into another world, it'd be Heero, Duo mused, That guy's got some crazy luck even by our standards.
Duo had been the first to volunteer to chase after him, but unfortunately before he could get his Gundam into position the portal that the combination of the Twin Buster Rifle's energy and the massive amount of power released from the falling reactor's detonation had opened had destabilized and disappeared. Luckily for them all, Howard had been relatively close by to monitor Heero's mission at the time, and his ship had been able to take detailed sensor readings of the anomaly that had resulted from the titanic explosion.
Though he had been worried, Duo had never doubted for a moment that his old friend had survived. After all the crazy stunts that the L2 native had seen his fellow Gundam pilot pull he knew that it was far too early to count Heero as a dead man. Still, that did not change the fact that to go after him would be a tremendous undertaking, one that would take an incredible amount of preparation.
Said preparation had been handled by Howard and Preventers Director Lady Une. Combining the data from Howard's ship, his expertise, and the scientific and engineering resources of the newly-forged Earth Sphere Unified Nation, a massive but behind-the-scenes effort was undertaken to first understand the incredible forces that had been unleashed by Heero's shot and had pulled him to this mysterious new world before trying to find a way to go after him. That first period of theoretical work, of temporal and quantum calculations and hypotheses far over his head, had been by far the most tense for Duo; it was an area that he could contribute absolutely nothing to, and it had royally pissed him off. Were it not for Hilde's calming influence he could very well have driven himself mad with frustration.
Good thing I managed to find ways to keep myself occupied, he thought, The peace doesn't keep itself, after all… plus Hilde kept me busy helping her out with the junkyard.
While waiting for the day that he and the others could go after Heero and bring him home, Duo had split his time between helping his then-fiancé maintain her business at L2 and taking contracts for Preventers. It had helped make the days go by, but all the while he was aware of the absence of his friend, especially when he and Hilde had finally tied the knot; he'd been hoping Heero could be the best man. However, there was nothing he could do but trust that Lady Une and Howard had things under control.
At least Howard was able to multitask, he thought with a smirk, I'm glad he was able to upgrade my buddy here before our big trip.
With a combination of Sweeper Group and government resources, Deathscythe Hell had morphed into Deathscythe Omega. The Gundam had already born a striking resemblance to the Grim Reaper thanks to its black and dark grey color scheme, and now the God of Death's steed was even more a spitting image of Hades. The twin blades on the end of the beam scythe had been brought back down to one, but the beam was larger, capable of cutting down several enemies with a broad swing. On the opposite side of the beam emitter remained the thruster designed to increase the power of a swing, and that thruster had been further improved for additional output and thus greater striking power. The Active Cloak Beam Deflection Barrier had been completely remodeled, and when it was opened up it looked even more like the wings of a bat than the previous design. In addition to that, within the cloak were implanted a series of Micro-Defensors which created a small-scale energy field that further increased the cloak's ability to take beam fire, and the field could even be maintained while the cloak was open. In that form it could only take a few hits before shorting out, but it was still a nifty defense. Also, the stealth systems in the cloak had been boosted; a full-visual-spectrum tactical cloak could be maintained for less of an energy draw for longer periods, though it was still best used in the opening strike or hit-and-run attacks and not over the course of a prolonged battle.
The twin Vulcan Guns mounted by the head remained, and Duo had improved his skills with them to be better able to shoot down incoming missiles. Broad light-grey fins were mounted on the black shoulder panels, and in addition to helping stabilize the Gundam in the atmosphere they contained high-pressure fog emitters, designed less for actually concealing the mobile suit and more for the psychological effect such a mist combined with the machine's demonic appearance would have on enemies.
The Gundam's Hyper Jammer ECM Suite remained a critical part of its arsenal, capable of scrambling enemy radar and cameras. In addition to these capabilities the system had also been upgraded with the ability to hack missiles and send them back to their source. This capability could only be used with a limited number of missiles at a time though; a sufficient quantity of warheads could overwhelm the system and force Duo to employ the Vulcan Guns. Rounding out Deathscythe Omega's capabilities were improved engines, upping the Gundam's speed and maneuverability. Like all the other upgraded Gundams, Duo's machine was capable of full, unsupported atmospheric flight.
If we're not the God of Death now, buddy, he thought, then I don't think we ever could be… and you're not the only one that's gotten a boost in ass-kicking power.
To his right he could see the Gundam Heavyarms Arsenal. The most obvious cosmetic change for Trowa Barton's machine had been the shift in paint schemes, from white, orange, and red to dark blue and white. Beyond that, though, the mobile suit had been given a serious boost in raw firepower. On its right arm was mounted the Double Barrel Gatling Gun, while on its left was mounted a new weapon, the Double Assault Beam Cannon. This was essentially two Mobile Doll beam cannons mounted in a similar fashion to the Double Barrel Gatling Gun. Two Vulcan Guns were mounted on the head, while concealed within the clavicle armor were two stronger Machine Cannons. The unit's missile payload had been significantly increased, with the homing missiles stored in the front skirts and leg pods increased to 44 and the micro-missiles stored within the shoulders and side skirts increased to 52. Rounding out the mobile suit's arsenal were four smaller Gatling Guns concealed in the Gundam's chest. The machine truly did live up to its name; it was indeed a walking Arsenal.
He is vulnerable up close, thought Duo, but that's what the rest of us are for. Take Quatre, for instance…
Past the Heavyarms Arsenal there was the Gundam Sandrock Saladin. Cosmetic changes included an alteration of the paintjob, switching from black and gold to a mixture of light blue, white, and red. The two wicked, curved Heat Shotels had been upgraded, first by increasing their length and then by implanting a series of micro-energy field emitters within the blades, allowing them to parry strikes from beam sabers. A shield, modeled after a snake's head, was mounted on the left arm, and within the two 'eyes' were mounted brilliant flasher lights that could be used to blind enemies. Draped over the Gundam's heavy armor was a tan Diffusing Cloak, a large fabric that was able to take a few beam hits before disintegrating, providing a temporary defense. Upping the Gundam's firepower were two homing missile pods mounded on the legs, each one holding a dozen missiles. Rounding out the arsenal was the two typical head mounted Vulcan Cannons. The mobile suit wasn't as fast as Deathscythe Omega, but of all the Gundam's it had the heaviest armor, and in Quatre's capable hands the mobile suit was very hard to kill.
As formidable as Gundam Sandrock Saladin was, though, Duo knew that there was another machine that could edge it out in close-quarters-combat, though it would be a close contest. Chang Wufei's machine, the Altron Custom, had been modified to be a melee fighter on par with the fearsome Gundam Epyon. Sporting a primarily green paintjob, the Gundam quite clearly reflected its origins from the Chinese-dominated L5 colonies and the heritage of its master.
Its signature Dragon Fangs had been significantly modified. For starters, the way they were connected to the arms had been redesigned; they were now mounted in a set of folding blocks and not part of the entire mobile suit arms so if they were damaged or destroyed in combat that would not also result in the loss of the arms. The length the Dragon Fangs could extend had been increased and could reach three to four times the unit's arm length, longer than the previous incarnations could. The heads of the Dragon Fangs had been significantly enlarged and reinforced to the point that they could serve as shields. Finally, the flamethrowers mounted within the Dragon Fangs had been upgraded, their fire capable of reaching further and burning far hotter than before.
The Gundam had kept its Twin Beam Trident for blade-to-blade combat. The handle had been modified to be able to extend or contract to a certain degree, and if Wufei wanted to he could have either one or both ends ignited. It was a highly versatile weapon, one that even a fellow Gundam pilot would be hard pressed to fight against. Like the other Gundams, the machine had kept its twin head-mounted Vulcan Guns. However, the scorpion-like tail with the twin beam cannons had actually been removed during the modifications, per Wufei's request. In their place Howard had installed a set of extremely powerful boosters, much like those that had been mounted on the Tallgeese. Altron Custom's speed was incredible, but it was also very difficult to control, and Duo was amazed that Wufei was capable of utilizing them to their full potential.
Then again, Duo mused, his martial arts training always did set him apart from the rest of us. Maybe that's got something to do with how he's able to handle his machine…
The power of those four machines was far greater than any of their pilots could've imagined back when they had embarked on Operation Meteor over three years ago. They were even stronger than the modifications that they had received halfway through the last war, and Duo had to wonder what kind of havoc they could've wrought against the forces of OZ and White Fang with machines like these.
The last two mobile suits and their pilots would not be joining Duo and the others on their journey, but they would be instrumental in getting it started. The first, piloted by none other than Zechs Merquise, was the Tallgeese III. It was the latest model of the Tallgeese line, and Duo had been surprised to learn that construction on it had originally been started by order of none other than Treize Khushrenada, thought it had not been completed in time for that fateful final battle at the Libra.
Like its predecessor, the Tallgeese III bore a predominantly white paintjob with some blue trim mixed in. The high power thrusters had again been improved for even greater speed and maneuverability, and Duo had to wonder how even a pilot as gifted as the former Lightning Count could control such a machine. It retained the beam saber from the previous two incarnations, but it had also received three new weapons. Mounted on the head were two Vulcan Guns, the same type found on the Gundams. The shield on the left shoulder had been enlarged, and mounted within it was a retractable Heat Rod, much like the weapon that had been on the Epyon Gundam. Finally, mounted on the right shoulder was the fearsome Mega Beam Cannon. The weapon had two modes: a compact configuration which functioned much like a standard beam rifle, and a 'Burst Mode' where the weapon's barrel split open and extended. In that second mode the gun was almost as powerful as Wing Zero's legendary Twin Buster Rifle, a feature that would be vital for today's operation to succeed.
The final mobile suit, piloted by Lucrezia Noin and also vital to the successful launch of the operation, was a mobile suit that Duo had not expected to see again. He, along with the rest of the world, had thought it destroyed at the end of the war two years ago. However, that mobile suit, like its former pilot, had proven to have the lives of a cat, and Duo had to wonder what its former pilot could say if he could see it now.
Then again, he mused, I suppose it was only the bottom half that was trashed. Still, I didn't expect Howard and Une to restore it, much less upgrade it.
It was the Wing Gundam.
Of the five mobile suits developed for Operation Meteor, the Wing Gundam was the machine that bore the most resemblance to their common ancestor, the Wing Gundam Zero. It bore a similar blue, red, and white color scheme, and had a red shield mounted on its left arm. The original Buster Rifle had been restored and upgraded in both firepower and efficiency. It retained the head-mounted Vulcan Guns and clavicle mounted Machine Cannons, along with its beam sabers, and just as before the machine could transform into a Bird Mode for high-speed and long distance flight travel within Earth's atmosphere. However, the Gundam's mobility had been significantly increased, and just like the other upgraded Gundams assembled here today it too was capable of full atmospheric flight even without the Bird Mode configuration, and it could also fight quite capably in outer space.
Too bad Zechs and Noin ain't coming with us, he thought, although I guess someone's got to help Lady Une keep the peace while the rest of us are away.
Zechs' voice came over the radio. "All pilots, status report."
Duo shook his head. Speak of the devil…
"This is Wing Gundam," said Noin, "All systems online."
"Sandrock here," said Quatre, "Everything's good to go."
"This is Heavyarms," said Trowa, "All readings at optimal levels."
"All good here," chimed in Wufei.
"Yeah, just peachy over here, too," said Duo, smirking, "Can we get this show on the road now?"
"In a minute," Zechs replied, "Howard, how is it?"
'It' was the large, bulky object floating a considerable distance overhead.
A perfect replica of the original jettisoned Barge reactor.
After a very long period of research and debate, it had been decided that the best way to guarantee the successful creation of the portal that had transported Heero to another world would be to replicate the conditions of its original creation as closely as possible. A blast of similar magnitude, such as multiple simultaneous detonations of nuclear warheads in a single location, could in theory accomplish that, but both Howard and Lady Une still had not been satisfied with that. Thus they had worked in secret to reconstruct the Barge reactor and make it capable of storing the same amount of lethal power that had been held within the original at the time of Heero's mission. Building a new Barge reactor had actually taken only a few months; it was all the research and debate beforehand that had taken up most of the time required to get to the point they were at now.
The recreated reactor block was only half of the equation, though. It wasn't enough, in Howard's train of thought, to simply detonate the reactor. The trigger had to be the same as in the original incident, or as close to it as possible. Lady Une and the scientists she had assigned to the project had concurred, and that was why Zechs and the Tallgeese III were here today, and it was also why the Wing Gundam had been fully restored and upgraded. It was believed that the combined firepower of the Mega Beam Cannon and the Buster Rifle would exceed that of Wing Zero's Twin Buster Rifle, and when that combined with the massive release of energy within the fully charged replica reactor that would be enough to create the portal and send them on their journey.
Inter-dimensional travel courtesy of a giant explosion, Duo mused, Not exactly subtle…
The old Tallgeese scientist appeared on the screen from the bridge of the light cruiser and smiled. "The replica reactor's fired up and ready to go! It's all up to you guys now."
"Not so fast," said Lady Une as she moved onto the screen, "There are some people over hear that would like to speak to you boys first."
Duo smirked; he'd been wondering when they'd get to this.
Behind the lovely brown-haired head of the Preventers was a group of friends that the Gundam pilots had made over the course of the last war. Duo's eyes immediately found his wife, the black haired, emerald eyed Hilde Maxwell.
"Duo," she said, "you'd better be careful, you got that? Don't do anything dumber than you'd normally do!"
Duo smiled and held up his hands in mock-surrender. "Whoa, whoa, easy there! Come on, have a little faith, honey."
To his relief he saw Hilde smile. "Well, since Quatre and Trowa are there to keep you out of trouble, I guess I can."
Duo raised an eyebrow. "You're not counting Wufei in there?"
Hilde shook her head and laughed. "Please, he's just as a big a troublemaker as you are."
"I heard that," Altron's pilot grumbled.
He heard Quatre laugh. "Don't worry, Hilde. I'll keep him in line."
"Thanks, Quatre," Hilde replied, "Duo… I love you. Come back in one piece, you got that?"
Duo grinned. "You got it, honey. After all, we still gotta make Duo Jr.!"
He had the satisfaction of seeing his wife blush. "Yeah, well… we'll get to that when you get back! And if we do end up having a boy there's no guarantee we're naming him that!"
Duo chuckled. "I'll bring you around eventually, honey. Take care of yourself."
Hilde moved aside, and a lovely woman with mid-length brown hair and purple eyes took her place.
"Trowa," said Catherine Bloom, "Please, be careful! You have to come back to the circus after this, you got that? Our manager will throw a fit if we lose you; you're the only one I can count on for my act!"
Duo smirked. He'd always wondered what the deal was between Trowa and Catherine. It was more than just coworkers, whatever she might say to the contrary. At the same time, though, it wasn't really romantic, or at least not that he could tell. They seemed to have a brother-sister thing going as far as he could see, with her being the older 'sibling' in the relationship.
"Don't worry, Cathy," said Trowa, and though Duo couldn't see his face he could tell by the pilot's voice that he was smiling, "I'll come back. I promise."
Catherine smiled. "Good. You guys better take care of him, you got that?"
Duo smiled. "Don't worry, we'll look after him."
"When you guys find Heero," said a woman with long, curly brown-blond hair, "tell him I said hello, and that he needs to get his ass back here. Things get boring around here without him to stir up some trouble."
Duo chuckled. "You got it, Sally."
"Do send my regards as well," said a blond-haired woman as she nudged her way forward, "This world's just not the same with only four Gundam pilots in it."
Duo shrugged. "I'll try to remember, Dorothy."
The granddaughter of the late Duke Dermail scowled at him. "You'd best do more than try, Duo. Don't forget that I devoted a considerable amount of my personal resources to aid Howard in this project."
"Relax, Dorothy," Quatre chimed in, "We'll tell him you miss him."
Duo saw Dorothy smile and bow. "My thanks, Quatre. Do be careful, all right?"
"I'll try," Quatre replied.
"Master Quatre, you must do more than try," said Rasheed, a tall and muscular Arabian man and the head of the forty-man Maganac Corps, "Your sisters and I will do all we can to manage your company and holdings in your absence, but you are the head of the Winner Family. No matter what happens, you must return safely!"
Duo heard Quatre laugh. "I appreciate the thought Rasheed. Please, don't worry about me. With the four of us working together, along with the data Howard gave us, I know we'll be able to find Heero and then make it back here. Trust me, Rasheed."
Rasheed nodded. "Very well, Master Quatre. Good luck, and we'll see you when you come home!"
"We will pray for the safe return of all of you," said a familiar female voice, "and that of Heero. Please, come back as soon as you are able to."
Duo smiled as a beautiful young woman with long, light brown hair and violet eyes appeared on the screen. He'd been wondering when Vice-Foreign Minister Relena Darlian would chime in. This operation had been given her full backing, after all, and it was only natural that she would take the time to be present for the sendoff.
She'd held up well, but Due knew that Heero's disappearance had been hard on her. At the point that he had vanished it was hard to say where things stood between the two of them. Had they been in love, or were they just very close friends? Duo supposed that that was a question that only Heero and Relena could answer, and the success of this mission would give the two of them the chance to do just that.
"Relax, princess," said Duo, "We'll make it back, and we'll bring Heero with us. Count on it."
He saw Relena smile. "Duo, how many times do I have to tell you not to call me that?"
Duo chuckled. "I know, but I can't help myself. You make it too much fun."
Relena shook her head. "Nevertheless, I must insist that you stop that."
Duo shrugged and smirked. "I'll give it a try, princess."
"Do you have a message that you want us to give him?" asked Quatre.
Relena shook his head. "What I have to say to him I want to say in person."
"We'll make sure you get to do that," said Trowa.
"Is everyone done here?" asked Wufei, sounding a little annoyed, "We need to get underway."
"Yes, I supposed it's time," said Lady Une, "Remember, once you find Heero share the data that Howard uploaded to your mobile suits. Using that you all should be able to find a way to make it back here."
"Understood," said Quatre.
"Howard," said Zechs, "pull the ship back. Noin and I will line up our shots now. Once you give us the all clear we'll open fire."
"You got it," said Howard, "You heard him, everyone. Let's put some distance between us and them."
The white light cruiser began to break off while the four Gundams spread out to give the Tallgeese III and Wing Gundam a firing lane. Duo could feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing up as excitement and anticipation coursed through his veins, along with a healthy dose of fear.
Over two and a half years, he thought with a grin as he put his helmet on, and we're finally getting this show on the road!
After a couple minutes Howard's voice came over the radio. "Okay, we're clear! It's all up to you guys, now! Bon voyage!"
"Understood," Zechs replied, "Acquiring target and charging."
"Same here," said Noin.
Both Tallgeese III and the Wing Gundam raised their fearsome weapons. The shoulder-mounted Mega Beam Cannon split open and extended, with golden-yellow energy running up and down the opening. Meanwhile the barrel of the Buster Rifle glowed with a similar gathering power, and both weapons were already sighted in on their target.
"Fire on my mark," said Zechs, "Three, two, one... mark!"
Twin blasts of awesome destructive power tore across the void and slammed into the replica reactor. In the blink of an eye a titanic explosion ensued, with crimson energy flooding out in all directions, so bright that it almost overwhelmed Deathscythe Omega's visual sensors. The Gundam rumbled as the shockwave hit it, and Duo was glad he had his helmet on.
His eyes narrowing, he smiled as he saw what they'd all been hoping for. "There it is!"
Just like the data recordings from Howard's ship had show the last time, the portal had formed. It was a brilliant rift in the void, shifting all across the color spectrum in a brilliant vortex of light that managed to shine even through the massive crimson blast that had given birth to it.
"Go, now!" ordered Zechs.
Duo didn't need to be told twice. Hitting the thrusters, he braced himself as Deathscythe Omega rushed headlong into the swirling mass of energy, with the other three Gundams flying right with him. The violent shaking that had overtaken the Gundam increased the closer he got to the portal, but there was no way that Duo was going to let that throw him off course.
"Come on, big guy!" he said, "We got this!"
Pushing the engines harder, the self-proclaimed God of Death pressed forward. The shaking was growing almost unbearable, but he powered through, reaching the portal…
…and plunging through head-long with the other three Gundams right behind him.
Preview for next time!
The date is October 2nd, Cosmic Era 73. While the peace that resulted from the Treaty of Junius Seven has held it now stands on thin ice as both the Earth Alliance and ZAFT have built up their forces and improved them with new technologies. With the desire to discuss the PLANTs new armaments program, Orb Chief Representative Cagalli Yula Athha and her body guard, the undercover Athrun Zala, have journeyed to the new Coordinator colony of Armory One to meet with Supreme Council Chairman Gilbert Durandal with plans to observe the launch of the new battleship Minerva and to try to calm rising tensions. However, the top secret Earth Alliance organization known as Phantom Pain has their eyes on the colony and the new mobile suits being developed there. As the shadowy group launches a surprise attack and throws the colony into chaos a reborn mobile suit, piloted by a living legend, enters the battlefield. Next time, on "Destiny's Call", Episode Two: Armory One.
You know damn well who said that!
Author's Notes: Hey, how's everyone doing? I know it hasn't been that long, and I'd originally planned on taking a little bit of a break before getting to work on Part Two, but I just couldn't help myself!
The appearances of the Gundams are based off of primarily their designs from Endless Waltz except for the personal touches I added. I know a bunch of you guys were hoping Zechs and some of the others would tag along too, but that's not my plan. Don't worry, they'll have their roles to play in the future, but for now this show belongs to the boys of Operation Meteor (and I don't mean me!)!
I know some of you were also hoping or speculating on the specs of Heero's upgraded mobile suit. Rest assured, you'll get the full, official rundown on Wing Gundam Zero Albion soon enough! That's not the only thing that's gotten an upgrade either; the Archangel's going to have some new tricks up her sleeve as well, and I'm not just referring to the ability to travel underwater.
I don't have a cover prepped for this story yet, I'm hoping a certain reader can help me out with that in due time. You know who you are, buddy!
Welcome back, my friends. Well met and reacquainted.
Until next time! Please review!