Phase 02 - The Caucasus Wolf

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED - Soldiers of Old

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Phase 02 - The Caucasus Wolf

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June 18th, CE 73 - Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Pacific Ocean

Athrun Zala grunted in annoyance as he strapped himself into the cockpit of the Justice Gundam. They hadn't been on Earth for two days and already someone was attacking them. It was an Archangel-class and it was already launching mobile suits. And according to the visual scans, one of the machines was a strange new model that nobody had ever seen before.

"Enemy Archangel-class has launched twenty mobile suits," Miriallia's voice said urgently, as Athrun closed the visor of his helmet. "We're going to launch the Gundams first, then a squad of Murasames." There was the briefest of pauses. "Athrun Zala, you are clear for launch."

Athrun narrowed his eyes at the clear blue sky before him. It was about to get a whole lot less clear.

"Athrun Zala, Justice," he called, "moving out!"

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Atlantic Federation Archangel-class battleship Mephistopheles

"The Orb Raiders ship is launching mobile suits," reported Eric from the CIC. On the bridge, Lee looked up ahead at the Megami. It had the legs and wings of an Archangel-class, the engines and catapult deck of Orb's Izumo-class, and the main body and engine pods of ZAFT's Eternal-class. It was an odd-looking amalgam of warships that was painted entirely in red and black Lee guessed that it had superior weapons as well.

"It looks like one hell of a warship," Murphy's voice rumbled through Lee's headset. He scanned over the mobile suits.

"We shall see," he said grimly. "Weapons control! Aim the Gottfrieds and Valiants at that ship's engines! We'll try to capture it first!"

"Aiming Gottfrieds and Valiants at the enemy warship壮 engines!" the weapons officer, Ronald, responded. Lee watched the Mephistopheles' Gottfried cannons rise ponderously from the tops of the ship's legs and extend their barrels towards the Megami.

"Major," he added as an afterthought, glancing over at Alison, "you may begin your exercises."

Alison stood up and donned a headset. "Doctor Peterson," she said tremulously, "the Diablo has launched. Standby to activate the Psyco System on my mark."

"The mobile suit squadrons have made contact with the enemy," Shelia reported from out of the CIC.

"Captain?" Alison began, glancing at Lee.

"Wait," Lee instructed. "We'll let our mobile suits engage them regularly first."

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Yzak Jule dove through a blaze of beam blasts and sent the Duel Gundam into a dizzying dive. The Duel's atmospheric handling was good enough however, those Jet Dagger Ls were far more formidable than he had first assumed. One of them pitched down to follow him and unleashed a hail of rockets; Yzak cursed under his breath and took off, skimming along the ocean, as the missiles slammed into the water and exploded on impact.

Up above, the Dagger L opened fire with a bazooka Yzak's eyes widened as the shell slammed into his shield and sent him hurtling back towards the water. The Dagger charged, raising its bazooka for another blow

A thick yellow beam slashed through the air, stopping the Dagger short, and the Buster Gundam put itself between the Duel and the Dagger.

"Yzak!" Dearka shouted. "Are you alright?!"

"He's going down!" Yzak screamed; the Duel rocketed up over the Buster's head and returned fire with its beam rifle, blowing the bazooka out of the Dagger's hand. The Dagger drew its beam carbine and backpedaled, deflecting the Duel's shots with its shield.

"They're just grunts!" Dearka exclaimed, wheeling around as a railgun shell whizzed by the Buster's shoulder. Another shell slammed into him head-on, throwing him backwards; he activated the thrusters and looked up, catching a glimpse of a Buster Dagger combining its guns and taking aim with its hyper impulse cannon. With a yelp of surprise, he took off above the thick yellow beam and roared into the sky. The Buster Dagger disconnected its guns and followed.

"These guys aren't ordinary Alliance pilots," Dearka muttered, as the Buster Dagger fired a salvo of missiles. Dearka braced for the impact he remembered the Buster's new CIWS installed in the head and opened fire, cutting the missiles down. As the smoke rose over the battlefield, Dearka dropped towards the ocean and took off along the water's surface.

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The beam sabers met with a shower of sparks, and inside the Aile Strike Gundam, Mwu La Fllaga grunted as he felt his mobile suit rattle. The Strike was performing wellbut so was this Jet Dagger L.

The Dagger backed away and charged again, beam saber in hand Mwu skirted aside and tried to slash it in half, but the Dagger deflected his blow with its shield and pulled back with a hail of CIWS fire.

"These aren't any regulars," Mwu muttered to himself, diving down towards the sea. He looked up, as the Dagger followed up above, Andy was circling the sky in the Aegis Gundam, in a vicious aerial dogfight with another Jet Dagger L.

"These guys must be aces or something!" Andy exclaimed, as the Aegis ducked beneath a beam rifle shot. The Aegis tried to fire upwards into the Dagger's torso, but the Dagger deflected the shot with its shield and took off, raining missiles on the retreating Aegis.

"Our machines aren't aging well," Mwu grunted, as the Dagger and the Strike slammed together again. "Upgrading the internals only does so much!"

The Dagger pushed off from the Strike violently and drew something out of its left hip armor. Mwu's eyes widened in surprise as a familiar white bolt split the air in front of him the Dagger hurled a small pointed object at him, and he moved his shield to block it

A moment later, a thunderous explosion sent the Strike reeling back. "What the hell was that?!" Mwu screamed as the Strike dropped towards the sea. The Dagger burst through the smoke and charged, beam carbine raised

The Aegis dropped in to deflect the Dagger's blast with its shield and fire back with its beam rifle.

"Mwu!" Andy shouted. "Are you okay?!"

Mwu shook his head in frustration and reactivated the thrusters, pushing the Strike back into the air. "These guys are something else!"

The Dagger up above dropped down with a saber slash the second Dagger skirted around the struggling Aegis, and Mwu charged at it with a yell, brandishing his saber.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami

"They're not average grunts," Murrue muttered as she watched the mobile suits battle.

"Archangel-class is increasing speed!" Chandra exclaimed. "Captain! They喪e turning around us!"

"Increase to flank!" Murrue ordered. "Release all weapons! Miriallia, launch the Murasame squad!"

"I can't!" Milly shouted back. "They don't have a clear launch path!"

Murrue scowled at the Daggers on the battlefield, as they kept their duels with the Gundams directly in the path of the Megami's catapults.

"Neumann!" Murrue exclaimed. "Take us forty meters higher! We'll launch the Murasames over their heads!"

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Athrun grunted as the Justice Gundam dove backwards, avoiding a vicious beam rifle blast from the Diablo Gundam. It came storming towards him, its beam rifle blazing Athrun pulled away and fired back, but the Diablo twisted out of his beam rifle blast's path and stormed up towards him.

"This guy" Athrun hissed; the Diablo drew a beam saber.

Inside the Diablo, Jack O'Hara cackled with delight.

"You look like you're scared!" he screamed. "Well you should be! YOU SHOULD BE!"

The Diablo charged; Athrun clenched his teeth and deflected its saber blow with his shield. He pushed the Diablo away and tried to fire back with his beam rifle Jack laughed and charged back into the Justice's face before it could fire, cutting the beam rifle in two.

"What?!" Athrun exclaimed. He abandoned the ruined beam rifle to explode in the Diablo's face and pulled back.

"That's not gonna trick me!" Jack screamed, bursting through the smoke with a CIWS salvo. Athrun pulled back behind his shield, drawing a beam saber of his own.

"This guy's unreal," Athrun grunted, as the Diablo swung in for another attack. Athrun swung back, slamming his saber against the Diablo's the Diablo pushed Athrun back with sheer brute force and opened fire with a pair of beam cannons on its subflight lifter. Athrun smacked the shots away with his shield and backed off, as the Diablo followed with a roar.

"Come back here!" Jack shouted, swinging his saber wildly after the retreating Justice. "You're not getting away that easily!"

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Atlantic Federation Archangel-class battleship Mephistopheles

"The Diablo has engaged the enemy -X09A Justice," Shelia reported from the CIC. Alison glanced across the bridge at Lee.

"Athrun Zala's unit," Lee said stoically. "Your Extended has chosen a tall first test."

"Doctor Peterson," she said into her headset, "the Diablo has engaged the Justice."

"Shall we activate the Psyco System?" Peterson's voice replied. Alison watched the Diablo carefully for a moment.

"Negative," she answered. "We'll let Jack fight normally for the time being."

She looked over at Lee harshly. He said nothing.

"Captain!" David, one of the electronic warfare specialists, shouted out of the CIC. "The enemy ship is engaging its weapons!"

"Time to see what this ship can do," Lee said. "Gottfrieds, Valiants, aim for the engines! FIRE!"

The Gottfrieds and Valiants fired with a roar Lee watched the two blazing railgun shells and four thick green beams lance out towards the Megami. The Megami slowly banked out of harm's way and returned fire with four Gottfried cannon blasts.

"Hard to port!" Lee shouted. "Evasive maneuvers!"

The Mephistopheles tilted aside as the four beams streaked by harmlessly. Lee grunted and eyed the Megami carefully as it leveled itself out.

"Flank speed!" he ordered. "Load the missile tubes with Sledgehammers! Prepare to fire a full spread!"

"Full spread, aye!" the weapons officer, Ron, acknowledged from his station behind Lee's chair. "Targeting enemy warship's engines!"

"Activate the Igelstellungs," Lee added. "They'll probably launch missiles next." He glanced over at Alison. "Major, I advise you to take a seat. Things will be getting bumpy shortly."

Alison hesitantly returned to her seat and fastened her safety belt, watching the Diablo in action.

"Target acquired!" Ron exclaimed.

"Sledgehammers, fire!" Lee ordered.

The Mephistopheles' anti-ship missile launchers roared to life, and two dozen powerful anti-ship missiles took off, lancing forward and arcing around towards the rising Megami.

"Captain, they're trying to launch more mobile suits!" shouted James, the other electronic warfare specialist in the CIC. The Sledgehammers streaked in towards the Megami an inferno of CIWS fire from the ship's hull cut them all down, throwing a cloud of smoke over the ship as it pulled back.

"Helm, bring the ship around!" Lee shouted. "Gottfrieds, Valiants, prepare for another round! Open fire on my mark!"

The Megami continued to rise, and its catapult decks began to open. The Mephistopheles banked around it, Gottfrieds taking aim at the Megami's engines.

"Multiple heat sources detected!" Eric exclaimed from the CIC. "Missiles, sir!"

"Igelstellungs, shoot them down!" Lee ordered. The Igelstellungs shrieked to life, tearing the missile volley apart as the missiles came darting out of the smoke.

"Captain, we'll never find them with all this smoke!" Murphy's voice warned from the headset. "We need to clear it!"

"Gottfrieds, Valiants, aim fifteen degrees higher than the enemy ship's last known bearing!" Lee ordered. "If we're lucky we'll hit them through the smoke!"

"Aiming fifteen degrees above course zero-three-seven!" Ron acknowledged. The Gottfrieds and Valiants fired again, blowing the smoke cloud apart; Lee cursed under his breath, finding his vessel's shots blazing harmlessly over the Megami as it descended closer to the sea.

"Whoever that captain is, he knows what he's doing," Lee grunted.

"Captain, enemy ship is turning to engage us!" James exclaimed.

"Helm, I'll leave evasive action to you!" Lee said.

"Aye sir!" Jason responded. Lee watched the Megami carefully. Whoever was in command on that ship, he was a damned good captain.

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"They can't be this hard to beat!" Dearka grunted as the Buster Dagger fired its combined guns again, nearly clipping the Buster Gundam痴 shoulder. Dearka sent the Buster reeling backwards, firing a shower of missiles into his enemy痴 face. The Buster Dagger pulled back, returning fire with its own missile launchers.

Up above, the Duel Gundam rocketed up into the air, beam saber drawn with an angry scream, Yzak cut the thrusters and went hurtling down towards his Dagger L opponent. The Dagger reached for its own saber, but it was too late Yzak痴 saber plunged into the Dagger痴 torso, and he kicked the sparking mobile suit aside as it began to explode.

典hey池e not invincible! Yzak snarled. 典hey can still die! The Duel skimmed along the ocean surface, firing a salvo of missiles up into the air. The targeted Dagger pulled back with a CIWS burst. Yzak screamed again, charging, and the Dagger swung forward towards the Duel with its shield. The Duel kicked the Dagger痴 shield aside and sliced off its left arm with a beam saber slice. Another kick sent the wounded Dagger spiraling back down into the ocean.

鄭re they this good or are our machines just that bad?! Dearka grunted, dodging another blast from the Buster Dagger and firing back with his own beam cannon. 添zak! Help me take this guy down!

Down below, Yzak wheeled around to face the Buster Dagger that Dearka was fighting, and cursed under his breath.

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典his one is different, Athrun snarled, as the Justice pitched backwards, dodging a handful of wild beam saber swipes. The Diablo Gundam followed with a roar from its engines; inside, Jack痴 eyes flashed furiously.

滴old still! he screamed, rocketing into the air and brandishing his beam saber over his head. He brought his saber down onto the Justice痴 shield with a crash. 敵oddammit! Die already!

Athrun ducked underneath another wild beam saber slash and rocketed up into the air, detaching his subflight lifter. The Justice itself came down onto the Diablo with a crash, landing on the Diablo痴 shoulders and vaulting back up into the air. Jack growled angrily as the Diablo shuddered under the blow his eyes widened in disbelief as, a moment later, the Justice痴 subflight lifter slammed into the Diablo痴 stomach, forcing it back, and rocketed over his head before he could shoot it down. It slammed back onto the falling Justice痴 back, and Athrun wheeled around, beam saber in hand, for another pass.

Jack snarled in rage as he turned to face the Justice. 典hat痴 it, he snarled, as the Justice streaked towards him, 土ou池e going down!

The Diablo fired its boosters and charged.

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Atlantic Federation Archangel-class battleship Mephistopheles

溺ajor, Doctor Peterson痴 tinny voice spoke through Alison痴 headset, 途equesting permission to activate the Psyco System.

Alison glared sharply at her headset. 哲o, she said, 努e池e not going to activate it unless we have to!

展e池e going to have to! Peterson shot back. 徹ur entire job is to activate it and see how Jack performs in actual combat under the effects of

的t値l kill him! Alison snapped, as all eyes on the bridge turned to her in surprise. 添ou remember what happened last time! He almost had a heart attack!

溺ajor, Lee interrupted; she turned towards him, surprised. 鼎alm down. We池e in the middle of a battle here.

添es sir, she said quietly, glowering back at her headset. 撤eterson, you activate that system on my mark and my mark only, you understand?

There was a sickening crash outside; Alison looked up at the Diablo, and found it reeling from a head-on blow from the Justice痴 subflight lifter. The Diablo charged back after the Justice.

的知 activating it, Peterson said sharply.

展ait Alison began.

Up above, inside the Diablo, Jack痴 eyes widened as a familiar feeling surged through him. The Diablo痴 cooling vents sprung open and its eyes flashed red Jack felt his entire body seize up with unbearable tension, and his mind slipped away, his eyes darkening and reddening as something seized him in its grasp and refused to let him go.

Back on the bridge of the Mephistopheles, Alison stared in disbelief at the Diablo.

典he Psyco System has been activated, Peterson reported. 徹utput is at 35 percent, status is nominal. There was a pause. 鏑et痴 show these guys what Jack can do.

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The Diablo stormed forward towards the Justice. In the cockpit, Athrun blinked in surprise it had opened up a series of vents on its arms, shoulders, and legs, and its eyes had gone from green to red.

展hat is this thing doing?! he exclaimed, as the Diablo rocketed up into his face, slamming its saber against his. 鉄ai, what the hell is going on?!

的t痴 got some kind of radio link to the ship that I致e never seen before! Sai answered, as the Justice pitched backwards, barely dodging a flurry of furious beam saber swipes. 的 don稚 know what痴 going on!

The Diablo roared up over the Justice痴 head, showering it with beam shots; Athrun grunted and took cover behind his shield, backing away as the Diablo charged again. With a scream, Jack sent his machine sailing down into the Justice痴 face, and with a thundering crash, slammed down onto the Justice痴 shield and snapped it in two.

泥ammit! Athrun grunted, taking off low over the water and dodging a blaze of beam cannon shots. 展ho is this guy?!

The Diablo followed with a roar of engines. Inside, Jack stared at the cockpit screens with wide eyes. The voice was there again it told him to attack. He felt himself move the Diablo痴 controls, but he was not trying to. The Diablo vaulted up into the air, slammed down and kicked the Justice痴 saber aside with a crash, and with a shriek of torn metal, sliced off the Justice痴 left arm at the elbow.

鉄hit! Athrun snarled, firing the boosters and rocketing up above the Diablo as his machine痴 maimed left arm threw sparks. 典hese reflexeshe痴 no normal Natural!

The Diablo rocketed back up into his face. Jack shrieked as the Diablo stormed in for the kill; Athrun narrowed his eyes, seeing his chance

A blood-curdling shriek split the air as the Justice slashed off the Diablo痴 right arm at the shoulder, and sent the Diablo staggering back towards the ocean痴 surface with a devastating kick to the stomach.

Jack glared up at the Justice as it swept in for the finishing blow. He took off, backing up along the water.

笛ack! Peterson痴 voice barked. 迭eturn at once! You致e sustained too much damage!

的 can still fight! Jack snapped. 的値l take him down!

哲o you won稚! Peterson shot back. 添ou値l make another mistake!

Jack痴 eyes widened in horror, and the Diablo came to a halt. Athrun blinked in surprise as the Diablo floated before him, lifeless.

Alfred! Alison痴 voice snapped. 展hat the hell are you doing?! You池e not authorized to use the block word unless

滴is productivity is down, Peterson answered. 的知 recalling him.

I CAN探 MAKE A MISTAKE! Jack shrieked. I HAVE TO BE PERFECT! PERFECT!

The Diablo took off, arcing around the Justice and roaring back towards the Mephistopheles. Athrun watched it go in disbelief.

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Atlantic Federation Archangel-class battleship Mephistopheles

The Diablo Gundam staggered into the hangar with a crash, as the Daggers slowly filed in behind it. The cockpit hatch opened as the Diablo sank to its knees a team of white-coated scientists rushed towards the cockpit, pulling the pilot out. Jack shrieked and thrashed as they dragged him to his feet, tearing off his helmet and pulling open his flight suit, wielding syringes. The screams rang out, but a moment later, they went silent.

的s that him? one of the mechanics asked, glancing at his partner. The second mechanic nodded.

典hat痴 him. The Caucasus Wolf.

The first mechanic blinked. 典he Caucasus Wolf?

添eah, said the second, 土ou haven稚 heard of him? Shot down sixty mobile suits during the Black Sea War.

The first mechanic looked down at the twitching body as the researchers and a handful of guards dragged the silent boy away. That is the Caucasus Wolf?

滴e痴 one of those 薦xtended,樗 the second explained. 展hatever the hell they are.

On the bridge, Lee watched with veiled interest as Alison hurled her headset to the floor in fury, storming out of the room.

鉄helia, he ordered of the mobile suit deck supervisor, 途ecall the mobile suits. We値l have to try a different plan of attack here.

The Mephistopheles mobile suits arced around back towards the ship, and Lee sat back, watching impatiently.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami

溺ove, move, we致e got damaged units coming in!

The hangar was alive with action as Murdoch shouted orders to the mechanics, and the Justice Gundam came down with a crash, stumbling forward and barely catching itself against the hangar wall.

In the cockpit, Athrun Zala gasped for breath, pulling his helmet off.

鄭m I that out of practice? he grunted. 典hat pilothe put up such a fight

鄭thrun, move aside! Murdoch痴 voice shouted, tinny and garbled through the Justice痴 speakers. 典he Duel痴 coming in hot behind you!

The Justice stepped aside, and the Duel Gundam came shrieking into the hangar, slamming its feet down onto the hangar floor and stumbling forward.

典hey were so powerful, Athrun grunted, easing the Justice into its usual brace and popping the cockpit hatch open. 鄭re we getting too old?

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Murrue sat back with a suppressed sigh of relief as she watched the dark hull of the Mephistopheles turn away, its mobile suits climbing back into the ship痴 hangar.

典hose aren稚 average Alliance units, she said. 哲eumann, once the mobile suits have returned, set a new course north. We値l have to lose them before we can do anything else.

The bridge doors opened, and Cagalli swept onto the bridge angrily, clad in her flight suit and holding her helmet under her arm, watching anxiously as the Mephistopheles pulled away. 鄭re they retreating?

撤robably, Murrue said, glancing at her. 鄭thrun managed to damage that new model, and they pulled back with it.

展hy would they attack us, though? Cagalli demanded. 展e have no quarrel with the Atlantic Federation!

You don稚, ma誕m, Neumann put in from the helm, 澱ut we do. We were Atlantic Federation soldiers before we joined the Three Ships Alliance. They喪e probably coming after us for desertion and treason.

的 don稚 think they壇 expend such good troops on us just for that, though, Murrue added. 典hey must have some reason of wanting to destroy us.

典he Seirans! Cagalli exclaimed. 典heir ties to the Atlantic Federation!

典hat doesn稚 explain why the Atlantic Federation would care, though, Murrue pointed out. 典hey crushed Orb easily once before, they could do it again. And mass drivers aren稚 nearly as important now as they were in the Valentine War. She sat back, crossing her arms. 釘ut I don稚 think we致e seen the last of them.

典he mobile suits have returned, captain, Miriallia put in from her console.

鉄et the course and get us out of here, Neumann, Murrue ordered.

The Megami痴 engines came to life with a roar.

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Atlantic Federation Archangel-class battleship Mephistopheles

The world was a dim blur when Jack O辿ara awoke, staring hazily at the ceiling. He found himself in his bulbous maintenance pod, shrouded in a cool mist, his ears filled by a harp痴 gentle tune, and his nostrils filled by mellow floral scents. He sat up slowly, rubbing sleep from his eyes, and the canopy slowly opened.

添ou池e awake, someone said. Jack looked up, and smiled groggily at Alison as she helped him out of the pod.

滴ehe used it on me, Jack said quietly.

的 know, Alison said. 滴e shouldn稚 have. I知 sorry. She helped him to his feet. 哲ext time you値l have to be more careful. That machine is a powerful opponent.

釘ut I was gonna beat him, protested Jack, 殿nd then

哲one of that now, Alison said, putting a finger over his lips. 的t was all in the past. You値l just have to do better next time.

徹kay, Jack agreed, grinning brightly.

哲ow, get dressed, Alison added, pulling away and smiling gently at him. 添ou致e got another session today.

Jack nodded enthusiastically, and Alison turned to leave. 滴ey, Allie? he spoke up; she turned towards him. 填mI don稚 want him to use it again

的値l talk to Doctor Peterson, she said. 鏑eave it to me.

She slipped through the door, and Jack turned and rushed towards his locker.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami

展hat a mess, Dearka grunted, watching from the gantry as the Buster痴 shoulder missile launchers were reloaded and leaning on the railing tiredly. 鄭 year ago today these things used to at least be able to stand their groundnow we池e getting outclassed.

He glanced over at Yzak, standing with arms crossed next to him, glowering at the Duel as its railgun was reloaded. 哲ext time I won稚 be beaten so easily.

Dearka arched an eyebrow at him. 滴ey now, none of that, he said, straightening up. 展e all got our asses kicked, it wasn稚 just you. He paused. 釘esides, he added, gesturing over his shoulder at the Justice, 登l Golden Boy Zala came out worse off than you.

Yzak glanced at the Justice, as Murdoch and a handful of mechanics steadily worked on replacing the Justice痴 severed left arm. 的t doesn稚 matter, he said, scowling back at his own machine. 哲ext time we have to put up a better fight. That痴 all there is to it.

展ell, we did well enough today, considering that we were up against some strong opponents, Dearka ventured, returning his gaze to the Buster. 鄭nd in outdated machines, too. We managed to force them to retreat.

典hat won稚 be good enough next time, Yzak grumbled. 哲ext time we値l have to do better.

Dearka glanced at Yzak for a moment; he stared down angrily at the Duel, festering in the mud of his perceived defeat. Dearka heaved a sigh, looking again at the Buster. Yzak would always be like this, he supposed ever since that day on Aprilius 1.

的 guess I never did apologize, he said. Yzak glanced at him inquiringly. 鄭bout your mother, I mean.

Yzak flinched and stalwartly returned his attention to the Duel. 的t痴 not like it痴 your fault.

典hat痴 not gonna stop me from having sympathy for you, Dearka responded. 的 mean, your mother died. Of course I知 going to feel sorry for you.

的 don稚 need anyone to feel sorry for me, Yzak shot back.

徹h yes you do, said Dearka, arching an eyebrow at Yzak. 的f nobody cares about you while you are here, then you wind up like Nicol. He looked back at the Buster, as Yzak glanced at him in surprise. 撤eople scream and cry and hit things after the smoke clears, because they didn稚 realize that they cared until you were gone. I don稚 know about you, but I知 not going to make that mistake again.

Yzak looked back at the Duel resolutely. 添ou致e been hanging around Milly too much.

Dearka smirked back. 的t痴 good for you, he said. 添ou should try it.

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Scapa Flow Naval Base, Orkney Islands, Scotland, Atlantic Federation

The bitter cold was no matter to Lord Djibril, wrapped in a long black coat, his gloved hands resting comfortably in his pockets, as he stood on a balcony overlooking the sprawling naval base of Scapa Flow. It had once served as a dockyard for the Royal British Navy, and the German fleet had been scuttled here at the end of World War I in AD 1919. It was only fitting that a world so steeped with armaments would once again open the sarcophagus here and rebuild this base.

Djibril glanced down at the dock in front of him. An Alliance Spengler-class aircraft carrier, the John Paul Jones, was taking on supplies. A column of Dagger Ls stood patiently on its deck, as workers and sailors scurried around down below. Djibril looked along the side of the John Paul Jones痴 hull three mobile suits were being loaded into the hangar, two of them with the faces of Gundams, and the third with heavy weapons.

鏑ord Djibril, a voice spoke. Djibril turned, finding a figure standing off in the shadows. 典hey致e arrived.

鉄o I see, Djibril said, turning back towards the John Paul Jones. 典he Mephistopheles has already engaged the Orb Raiders once, and accomplished nothing. The Atlantic Federation Special Forces are sending the Barbosa Unit to supervise.

展hy would the Special Forces care? the figure in the shadows asked.

釘ecause the Mephistopheles was deployed with the -X117 Diablo, Djibril answered testily. 笛ack O辿ara is a Class II Extended. He痴 valuable.

的 see, the figure answered. 鄭nd so they are being sent because?

的 want someone from the Phantom Pain to be on hand, Djibril said. A wicked smile flashed onto his face. 鄭nd I think they値l do nicely.

The figure chuckled to himself. From his side, another figure emerged a silver-haired young man with dull gray eyes, swathed in a heavy coat and a blue Earth Alliance uniform. 典hey will indeed, the darkened figure said, glancing at the young man. 展on稚 you, Sven?

Sven Cal Bayan straightened up.

添es sir, he answered.

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To be continued