5/15/2020- Update to chapter.
"Are you sure?" Asked Whitley as he held his head in disbelief.
"I'm afraid so, sir." Said a young officer by the name of Bright Noa, just under 20. "Virtually all Federation personal was either wounded or killed by the Zaku attack and the ensuing missile barrage. Head scientist Tem Ray is also missing. The situation is grim, sir."
"How did this happen?" Asked Whitley. He couldn't believe that a couple of Zakus had infiltrated Side 7 so easily. Granted the perimeter scanners weren't installed yet and Luna II was nearby to provide assistance if need be, but could two massive machines get inside Side 7 without them noticing.
"We're still working on that, but we believe that they used one of the maintenance shafts to get inside." Said Bright. "They don't have any security cameras installed in them yet so it's possible they used them to get past our security personal." Whitley grumbled at that before asking the damage to Side 7 as well as the Project V prototypes. "Incredible, sir. Despite the G-2 Gundam's best efforts, we lost nearly all project V units, including the other two Gundam prototypes, the G-1 and G-3. G-1 was destroyed in the initial attack and G-3 was reduced to scrap when a Zaku hawked it to pieces. The same Zaku that decided to open a hole in Side 7 to suck a Guncannon and Guntank out into space." Whitley winced at that. That was just terrific. Just plain terrific.
"*sighs* Any good news? I know that we have a pilot in the Gundam G-2 transporting what material from project V that survived that attack, but is there anything else?" Asked Whitley.
"No, sir." Said Bright. "I'm afraid that's all we have." Whitley then sighed to himself. He then made a tough decision.
"After the pilot has brought the remaining Guncannon and Guntank to White Base with enough parts to keep them and the Gundam combat-ready, order the pilot to destroy what's left of project V. There's just too much unaccounted-for data that the Zeons can use against us." Said Whitley.
"Understood." Said Bright, agreeing with doctor Whitley. "We have a bomb that can do the job. Will that suffice?"
"Yes." Said Whitley. "And inform the pilot I wish to speak with him after all this is over." Bright nodded before saluting and leaving. When he did, Whitley just sighed before placing his face in his cupped hands. This is a complete disaster. Everyone in the V project, aside from him, was dead. The situation was grim. Not just for the project, but for the entire Federation. If the sole surviving prototypes can't collect enough data to replicate and ensure the Federation high command with their usefulness, then the whole project V will be for nothing. As he was thinking about how to recover from this, Bright's sudden exclamation made him snap out of his thoughts, especially when he heard the name he exclaimed out.
"What!?" Yelled Bright. "That's Amuro!?"
"What?" Said Whitley before going over to Bright, who was on a communication terminal. "Amuro Ray!?" As soon as he saw the view on the cockpit of the Gundam, his body filled with shock at seeing Tem Ray's kid at the helm of the Gundam. He knew that the AI was activated prior to the defeat of the Zakus but he still couldn't believe that Amuro was in the cockpit, actually fighting the Zakus. "What are you doing in there, Mr. Ray?"
"Mr. Whitley?" Said Amuro as he looked at the communication screen. The man had visited a few times to discuss some top secret Federation secrets with his father, but had, at times, spent some time with him, helping him with some homework or pet projects of his. Needless to say, the man was on his good side, especially when he helped build Haro, his robotic companion, and praising him for his work. "You're alive? Where's my dad?" Whitley just sighed before telling Amuro what he had heard just a few minutes ago.
"I'm afraid that Tem Ray is assumed dead along with the other missing Federation officers. We can't find his body anywhere on Side 7" Said Whitley, sympathizing for the boy. He looked distraught at the news, but eventually shrugged it off, though Whitley knew that he was saddened by the news. He'll have to comfort him later. Right now, they have matters to attend to. "I know that you are hurt by this news, but I must ask you to assist us with destroying the last pieces of project V." Amuro, though still hurt from the news, looked confused.
"But why? We could make more." Said Amuro.
"If we had the time, we would ask you to help scavenge what's left, but since the Zeons are right outside the colony, we need to destroy what's left in order to prevent them from learning our secrets." Explained Whitley. Before he could explain further, the entire colony and the ship shook.
"Another missile barrage?" Said Bright as he recovered. "But why?"
"It doesn't matter." Said Whitley. "Amuro, as much as I don't want you in there, I need you to grab a bomb that's in White Base. It should be enough to destroy the everything in related to project V if placed correctly. I'll guide you to it."
"Understood. I'm coming back with a mobile suit that looks like a tank." Said Amuro. "I'll grab the bomb and destroy what's left of this project."
"Good." Said Whitley before sighing. He then began to instruct Amuro on the bomb as well as some basic piloting movements. As this was happening, Bright was going over to captain Paolo, who was severely wounded during the Zeon missile attack.
"Are you alright with this captain?" Asked Bright in concern as he looked at the captain, in a stretcher, and appears to be in a lot of pain. "A kid in the cockpit of a top secret Federation mobile suit."
"It may sound hard and illogical." Said Paolo, struggling to get the words out. "But we don't have any other choice. Besides, we had child soldiers before. This isn't really that much different. I'll allow it until we can get a proper Federation soldier to pilot the Gundam. After that, I want the kid as well as the rest of the civilians to be left alone. They don't deserve a military arrest just because an attack forced us to shelter them in the White Base."
"Understood and I agree as well." Said Bright before saluting. He then went over to their helmswoman for the White Base. A young woman by the name of the Mirai Yashima, a member of the Yashima family. As he began to instruct her on the White Base's complex systems, Whitley was talking with Amuro.
"Be careful with that, Amuro." Said Whitley. "If you drop that thing, it may cause it to explode, killing everyone here."
"Right." Said Amuro, a little nervous. "Besides, the AI is helping in carrying it. So, it's in good hands."
"Yes, but I rather be safe than sorry." Said Whitley. "I see that you are working with Vega. That's good."
"Vega? That's the AI's name?" Asked Amuro as he and the Gundam went outside to the colony.
"Yes." Said Whitley. "It's the name that I choose for him. Is he working alright for you?"
"He's okay." Said Amuro. "He's not doing anything bad and he seems okay, for an AI."
"You'll get used to it eventually." Said Whitley. "He's quite the gentleman, actually. I built him to be friendly to the pilot and to place their lives and the mission before himself. If he had to choose between himself and you, he'll do whatever he can to save you."
"Wow." Said Amuro as the duo made their way to the wreckage of project V. Before he could ask Whitley further, he suddenly gasped. With the help of the Gundam's exterior cameras, he spotted a civilian with a Zeon soldier. It looked like a standoff. Upon seeing the Federation mobile suit, the Zeon soldier flew away, using his jetpack to do so. "Mr. Whitley, I just spotted a Zeon soldier."
"What!?" Asked Bright as he approached Whitley. "Are you sure?"
"No doubt about that." Said Amuro to the stranger. He then laid the Gundam's palm next to the civilian, a young woman at around his age. "Climb aboard. I'm going to use a bomb to destroy everything here." Said Amuro, using the Gundam's speakers. As the woman was climbing on the hand, Vega suddenly 'spoke' again, using texts.
"The bomb's blast radius will melt even the Gundam's armor. I recommend moving away at least two miles before detonating it." Said Vega as the two were getting back to White base with the civilian in tow via an elevator that will take them to the hanger that the White base was in.
"Don't worry, Vega." Said Amuro as he aimed the rifle that Whitley had told him to get at the bomb. "We'll be safe soon." As soon as they were in minimum safe distance, which was then told by Vega, Amuro fired the rifle. Rather than a bullet, the rifle fired a concentrated beam of Minovsky particles. The particles penetrated the bomb, resulting in a burst of flames covering the wreckages of the project V prototypes that were destroyed by the Zaku attack. As the doors that lead to the White Base were opening, Vega suddenly spoke.
"One Zeon soldier is in the vicinity." Said Vega. Before Amuro could comment, he saw a Zeon soldier going through the opening gate. Amuro gasped before informing Bright and Whitley of the situation. As the two were scrambling to resolve the threat, Vega offered an apology. "I would like to apologize for informing you too late of the Zeon soldier. I'm still integrating my software into the Gundam's systems. However, I know this is no excuse and will accept any punishment for my failure." Amuro, a bit surprised at this, just responded.
"Don't worry about it." Said Amuro. "We'll stop him before he could get anything valuable."
"…Understood." Said Vega before they were contacted by Whitley.
"Amuro. Vega. We need you two to escort the White Base as we're leaving the port. The Musai may try and attack us while we're leaving port."
"What about the Zeon soldier?" Asked Amuro.
"Forget about him. Bright is dealing with it right now with a volunteer group of people." Said Whitley. "Besides, Gundam's weaponry is too powerful to deal with one human soldier. Now please, go outside and protect the White base as we're leaving the port."
"Understood." Said Amuro as he piloted the Gundam to hanger doors that led to the vacuum of space. As soon as everyone went inside the White base, both military and civilian, the doors opened. As soon as enough room was made by the sliding doors, the Gundam went out to the void of space. Upon getting outside, Amuro pulled out some targeting scopes inside the cockpit. Upon using them, he spotted a group of Zeon soldiers going back to their cruiser. Not willing to let them go, Amuro was about to press the button that will fire the beam rifle when Vega spoke.
"I recommend not firing the beam rifle, Amuro. Especially with your nerves acting against you" Said Vega as he scanned Amuro, detecting high amounts of anxiety and fear coming from him as well as seeing him shaking from video screens inside the cockpit, which are normally used to communicate with someone.
"But they'll get away with what information they managed to acquire." Said Amuro, though was thankful that Vega was trying to stop him from doing so. It was easier to kill the pilots of the Zakus earlier because he didn't see their actual physical form, just their mobile suits. But this time…he can see that they're clearly humans.
"I'm afraid that it'll be too inefficient to use the beam rifle to terminate them, Amuro." Said Vega. "It wasn't designed with something that small in mind." Vega then detected missiles cruising to the White Base. "And I'm afraid that we have more pressing matters to deal with. Four missiles are closing in on the White Base. I'll help with aiming." Hearing this, Amuro jumped into actions and turned the Gundam to the approaching missiles. Looking down at the targeting scoop, he opened fire at the missiles, scoring a direct hit with three. He missed the forth one, but Vega helped him with destroying it with the second shot. Sighing in relief, Amuro then looked at the cockpit to see the radar blaring to life as two objects are approaching them. Vega then confirmed to him that they're mobile suits. However, Amuro's blood turned cold when Vega mentioned that one of the Zakus matched the color scheme and speed of one of Zeon's most elite pilots. Char Aznable, the Red Comet. Amuro knew to the legendary ace pilot. He single-handily took down five Federation battleships at the battle of Loum. A fear that many thought would be impossible. And know him, a kid, was about to face down this ace pilot.
"We should disengage and return to ship." Said Vega as he realized that Amuro's anxiety levels were increasing again, most definitely due to the red mobile suit coming at them and the White Base. "We won't be able to survive a battle with the Red Comet, even with our superior mobile suit." Amuro, upon hearing that, just shook off his anxiety and gripped the controls of the cockpit.
"No way!" Yelled Amuro "We can beat him. Just watch me." He then aimed at the approaching Red Comet before firing a shot. To his surprise and shock, the red mobile suit dodged that attack before attacking the Gundam with it's machine gun. Shrugging off the sudden attack, Amuro turned the beam rifle around and fired again, though a little shaken as he was in a real battle. After Amuro fired a forth shot from the beam rifle and missing every time, Vega barged in.
"If I may, Amuro, I can help with aiming the weapon at the Red comet, like the time that I helped you with the missile." Said Vega. "With my assistance, you'll be able to hit the Red Comet with a higher chance of success. Will you accept my help?" After gasping in shock from a hit to the cockpit by the Red Comet, Amuro nodded his head. Getting the confirmation from his pilot, Vega piloted the Gundam away from the Red comet and aimed the beam rifle. "Might I suggest we waste one shot to throw the Red Comet off with our second shot? He will likely not expect such a maneuver with a Federation mobile suit as this is be one of the first battles between mobile suits."
"Sure." Said Amuro, a bit surprised to hear that this AI was going to use such a deceptive maneuver. "Let's do it." Amuro, though a bit shaky, aimed the beam rifle at Char and fired. As predicted the Red Comet dodged the shot, but was completely thrown off guard when another shot was fired to where he was going after he had used his thrusters to move out of the beam rifle's shot. To Amuro's frustration, the Red Comet was able to react just in time to prevent a fatal shot, but was unable to shot the 2nd shot from destroying a leg, leaving Amuro a bit of hope that he can beat him with Vega around. "We got him!"
"Yes, however, we still have one more Zaku." Said Vega just in time for the other Zaku to open fire on them, the bullets doing no harm to the mobile suit. Grunting in exasperation. Amuro aimed at the other Zaku and opened fire, this time scoring a direct hit. The beam energy ripped right through the Zaku's armor and caused a chain reaction, causing the mobile suit to blow up. Amuro was amazed at such power.
"I-I got a Zaku…in just one shot!" Said Amuro, horrified at the power the Federation mobile suit had.
"Federation technology has always been top of the line. The beam rifle was designed with the idea of destroying mobile suits with ease." Said Vega before notifying Amuro that reinforcements were arriving. As if on cue, a core fighter came and started shooting at the Red Comet, who was shocked at the display of power. Shaken out of it by the core fighter, the ace pilot was about to shot at it when the Gundam fired at him, forcing him to retreat lest he suffer the same fate as the other Zaku. Amuro was about to fire again when the White Base ordered him to return back. A bit hesitant to let Char go, Amuro nevertheless followed orders and went back. After they landed in one of the White Base's main hanger bays, Vega began to 'speak' to Amuro.
"Before you leave, Amuro, I would like to congratulate you on how you handled the Gundam and dealing with the Zakus as well as the Red Comet. Not many would have been as successful as you." Said Vega as Amuro read the text message. Smiling a bit at the praise, Amuro talked back.
"I don't deserve all the credit." Said Amuro. "You helped me a lot back there. If you didn't come up with that suggestion with Char, we probably would have been toast."
"Agreed." Said Vega. "Though I will not deny that you need further training and experience to more effectively pilot the Gundam. If you like, I could set up a simulation system in the Gundam."
"Thanks, but I have to go to the bridge." Said Amuro. "And I doubt that I'll be allowed to pilot the Gundam again." He then opened the cockpit and got out. Before he walked, he said good bye and left for the bridge. As he did so, Vega wondered if he would meet a pilot like Amuro again.
White Base bridge
Whitley sighed to himself as Bright walked away from Amuro after telling him that he's the new pilot for Gundam, despite not being a soldier. Amuro was, understandably annoyed by this, but reluctantly agreed. As soon as Bright went to help the helmswoman with steering the ship, Whitley went over to Amuro.
"Are you fine, Amuro?" Asked Whitley as soon as Amuro was done talking with Fraw Bow, a neighbor of his and close friend.
"I guess, Mr. Whitley." Said Amuro as he rubbed his arm. "This a lot to take in."
"I know." Agreed Whitley before asking Amuro to walk with him, which he agreed. As they were walking to the hallway, Whitley began to speak. "Do you wish to talk to me about your father?"
"…If you don't mind, I rather not talk about that." Said Amuro.
"I understand." Said Whitley as he looked at Amuro. "If you wish to know, Tem was proud of you and wished for you to be free of this war, which is why he poured so much of his time into the project." Amuro, still a bit unenthusiastic, just nodded in understanding, causing Whitley to sigh. "We'll talk more of this when you are ready for it, Amuro. For now, let's talk about the Gundam and how we can improve your skills with it." With that, he led Amuro to the hanger bay. If he had to partake in this war, the least Whitley can do was help him prepare for piloting the Gundam.
"Is this right, doctor Whitley?" Asked Amuro as the two were checking the Gundam's systems.
"Yes, we just need to connect these two circuits and…done!" Said Whitley before the two got out of the cockpit. "Vega, can you use the speakers now?" The Gundam's eyes flickered a few times before the speakers of the Gundam activated.
"Yes, doctor Whitley." Said Vega in a gentleman-like tone. "I'm now able to speak through the Gundam's onboard speakers."
"Excellent." Said Whitley before he handed Amuro a manual. "Now let's work on the weapon systems, Amuro." Amuro just nodded and listened in. As he listened in, Amuro couldn't help, but like doctor Whitley. He liked the man before, but now that was raising more and more as he spent more time with the doctor. Unlike Bright, he treated Amuro like a normal citizen and not a soldier. He understood that he wasn't a soldier and needed time to adjust, something Bright didn't seem to get. Dare he say it, but Whitley was more of a father than his real father was. A few minutes pass and the two were discussing about the beam sabers of the Gundam.
"So, we just need to remove the safeties and the beam sabers will go into this javelin mode?" Asked Amuro as he read the manual.
"Correct." Said Whitley as he looked at Amuro. "It'll give you more penetrating power and range. Good when you're out of ammo for the beam rifle, which will happen often as it only carries sixteen shots. Now, here what we need to do." Before Whitley can talk more, the White Base's intercoms flared up, telling every able body crew member to meet at the bridge. "We'll have to do this another time. Come, it won't be polite to be late." Amuro just laughed a bit at this before leaving. As the two were traversing the White Base, Whitley spoke to Amuro.
"How is Vega treating you? Is he doing well?" Asked Whitley.
"Not too bad." Said Amuro. "He actually helped me hit the Red Comet."
"Yes, I heard that." Said Whitley. "I was amazed along with the rest of the officers. It not only proved that the Red Comet can be taken down, like any other pilot, but it showed that an AI working together with pilot that's willing to cooperate can be an effective team." Whitley then looked at Amuro. "Listen to my words, Amuro. Trust Vega to get you through situations you believe you can't win. He'll do whatever it takes to make sure you live and that the mission is complete."
"Even at its own life?" Asked Amuro, a bit surprised at this. Amuro wasn't exactly all for fully sentient artificial intelligence, despite actually liking Vega and his attitude, but even he would be a little uneasy if even a machine was willing to sacrifice itself by choice to save him.
"Yes." Said Whitley. "If you want, you can ask him yourself. I'm sure he'll give you a more detailed explanation if you're up for that. But anyway, treat him with respect, he may save your life one day. And also, to trust each other. You'll need it if you're going to survive this war." They then reached the bridge, where everyone was already there. Upon seeing Amuro and Whitley, Bright began his announcement.
"I know that this will be a controversial topic, which is why I'm making this a vote." Said Bright before explaining. "Currently, our enemies are rendezvousing with another ship. We don't know if this is another warship or if it's a supply ship. If it's a warship, then they'll likely be able to overwhelm us and destroy us." This caused some to murmur in worry. "However, if it is a supply ship, then we have an opportunity to destroy the enemy while their resupplying. They'll be vulnerable to an attack. So…for those against attacking raise your hands." A few hand rose an the air. "For those up for attacking?" A large number of hands than rose in the air, including Bright and the helmswoman. As everyone was raising their hands, Amuro was whispering to Whitley.
"Should I raise my hand for the attack, Mr. Whitley?" Asked Amuro.
"If you're asking my opinion, Amuro, you shouldn't." Said Whitley. "This is your choice. If you choose to attack and volunteer, I can't stop you. This is your choice on the matter." Amuro just nodded in understanding before raising his hand. Seeing that the majority were for attacking the enemy, Bright began to discuss the battle strategy. As he was doing so, Whitley spoke to Amuro.
"Remember, trust in Vega and he'll get you through against Char." Said Whitley, causing Amuro to nod. Vega pulled him through once before, it can do so again.
Amuro sighed to himself as he went in the Gundam's cockpit. This time wearing a actual pilot suit. Upon turning on the Gundam, he was immediately confronted by Vega.
"Amuro? Are you going into battle again?" Asked Vega, genuinely surprised at this. His calculations deemed it unlikely that another battle would take place so soon.
"Yup." Said Amuro. "We voted on it. Listen Vega, I'm trusting you out there to help me against Char if he comes at us."
"Past records of the Red Comet's participated battles suggest he will fight us" Said Vega.
"So, I need you to help me again with Char." Said Amuro. "I'm counting on you."
"I will try my best and ensure that I won't let you down." Said Vega. Amuro just smiled at that before grabbing a bazooka as the beam rifle was still recharging. "Do you wish for me to help with the aiming for the initial attack?"
"Yeah, we'll going to try and ambush them." Said Amuro as the Gundam got on the catapult, which will launch them out of the White Base and into the action. "You ready."
"As ready as an artificial intelligence can be." Said Vega before the two launched into the vacuum of space.