Phase 28 - The Marshall Colony

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY

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Phase 28 - The Marshall Colony

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December 11th, CE 73 - Near the Marshall Colony, Lagrange Point 3

"700 to the colony and closing," Shinn Asuka said tensely, eyes flicking over the instruments in the Force Impulse Gundam's cockpit. He glanced to his right. "Are you okay, Stella?"

Stella nodded. She looked different somehow妖etermined, hardened, undoubtedly ready for what they were walking into. Shinn looked back at the colony, trying to feel the same way.

Up ahead, he could see the opening in the colony wall, large enough, it seemed, for the Impulse and Gaia to both comfortably fit. Shinn guided the Impulse towards it, the Gaia right behind him. He guessed that they could both slip into the opening with at least two minutes to spare before the colony's outer defenses came back online. All the guns were pointed outward, so if they moved fast enough, they might be able to get out safely, although he had no doubt that the defense field would be back online by the time they returned their mobile suits.

The Impulse and Gaia eased into the sewage outlet and came up against a massive airlock. Shinn glanced to the side, finding the appropriate switch.

"This won't be pretty," he muttered. "Watch out, Stella."

The Impulse and Gaia retreated to both sides of the outlet, and Shinn threw the switch. The airlock opened, and air began to rush out, along with a rather hideous cloud of sludge that Shinn found himself very grateful he could not smell. Both mobile suits slipped inside and Shinn quickly shut the airlock behind them.

The Impulse and Gaia set down in front of the airlock. Shinn unbuckled the Impulse's safety belts and reached under the cockpit seat, pulling out the field gear he presumed he would need. He loaded his pistol and sighed, opening the cockpit hatch.

Stella was already out. The tunnel's atmosphere returned, so Shinn and Stella left their helmets behind, descended on the zip lines, and surveyed the area grimly.

"What does the map say, Stella?" Shinn asked. Stella consulted a small digital device in her hand, and pointed at one of the openings. Shinn looked around, already feeling uneasy.

There were at least a dozen openings in the wall that all tapered off at the huge airlock that the Impulse and Gaia were kneeling in front of. Stella pointed at one of the ones on the ground level, and Shinn heaved a sigh. 鏑et痴 go, he said.

The sewage canal reeked as hideously as Shinn expected it to. He squinted through the nauseating vapors, shaking his head. 典his is ridiculous, he grunted. He glanced over at Stella; she had one hand clamped firmly over her face, looking most unhappy. He glanced down at the gear he had been loaded with for the mission. Kika and Miki had insisted that Shinn and Stella go heavily armed, so between the two of them, Shinn and Stella found themselves carrying six loaded handguns and several dozen spare magazines. Shinn was not entirely sure they would need to carry that much firepower with them擁f anything, they could steal some weapons from soldiers while they were here. But there was no complaining now, and besides, it was somewhat comforting to be carrying two loaded Berettas in addition to the handgun that ZAFT had stashed for him inside the Impulse痴 cockpit. It was dark, but there were ceiling lights mounted every few yards that cast some dim illumination through the tunnel. It was a straight tunnel with two metal-grate walkways on either side, and a deep canal filled with rotting, stinking sewage running down the center. The walkways seemed intended for the poor souls who had to maintain and repair this thing, to keep them from having to wade through the scum. Shinn cast a disgusted glance at the slime oozing past and shook his head again.

徹f all the places, he muttered. They came to a fork, with thin metal walkways mounted over the intersections of the canal. 展here does the map say we should go, Stella?

Stella pointed to the right, and they both headed down into the darkness. It was not long, however, before they came upon a problem.

Shinn and Stella hid behind a tangle of pipes as they heard footsteps. Soldiers were approaching祐hinn glanced out from behind cover and saw two Earth Alliance soldiers, clad in olive-green versions of the standard Alliance uniform, decked out in flak jackets, combat helmets, and gas masks, toting assault rifles and flashlights.

的 can稚 believe we have to check this place, one of the soldiers grumbled, his voice muffled and tinny by the mask. 展ho would come in through here anyways? Nobody could be so dedicated as to wade through a maze full of shit.

的 know, the other agreed, just as irritated. 展e壇 know if they even managed to make it this far in anyways.

Shinn glanced over his shoulder at Stella; she glanced back, but something had changed. The usual light in her eyes had gone out, replaced by a dull, animal kind of focus and concentration. Shinn bristled as he heard the quiet sound of a knife pulled from its sheath.

典here痴 nothing in this block, the first soldier muttered. 鼎ome on, let痴 check濫

Stella lunged out of hiding, wielding a huge curved combat knife with frightful precision. The first soldier never knew what hit him祐tella had cut his throat and nearly sawed his head off within moments. The second soldier let out a cry of alarm and tried to raise his rifle, but Stella darted straight at him and buried her knife to the hilt in his neck, jabbing out the back of his head, and with a gruesome spray of blood, the second soldier collapsed backwards, Stella痴 knife pointing straight out of his throat. Stella calmly retrieved her blade and wiped the blood off on the soldier痴 sleeve, returned it to the sheath at her side, and looked up at Shinn.

Shinn stared wordlessly at her.

滴oly shit, he said at last. Stella blinked confusedly at him, and Shinn just shook his head. 展ell, at least we can get their masks. He removed both soldiers gas masks and tossed one at Stella. Before they left, they took up both soldiers fallen rifles and shoved their corpses into the canal.

典he records office is a ways from here, Shinn said soberly. 展e should hurry.

They both took off at a jog down the walkway, into the darkness.

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Battlecruiser Kasselheim, near the Marshall Colony, Lagrange Point 3

"No one seems to have noticed us yet," Mike said nervously, glancing over his shoulder at Mev on the darkened bridge. The Kasselheim was drifting on the perimeter of the Marshall Colony's defensive network, lights darkened so as not to provide too obvious a target for the Marshall Colony's defenders.

Mev glanced over at Viima. "How long do you think we can stay here?" he asked.

Viima crossed her arms, staring contemptibly at the colony. "Probably another half an hour," she said. "Normally they wouldn't make the first move until we get too close, but if we just stay here, sooner or later they'll get suspicious."

"Should we move, then?" Mike asked. Mev glanced at Viima again, and she shook her head.

"We have to stay here as long as we can," Mev said, looking back at Mike. "Shinn and Stella would have to go looking for us otherwise."

He sat back, and cast a dour glance at Kika, as she stared nervously at the Marshall Colony.

"The defense net will be back online soon," Viima added. "Now it's all up to them."

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Marshall Colony, Lagrange Point 3

Three more Atlantic Federation soldiers had died for their country by the time Shinn and Stella finally found an access hatch out of the sewers and, hopefully, into the records office. Shinn scrambled up a ladder built into the wall and put his ear against the hatch, finding no sound beyond the metal that he could detect, even with his heightened Coordinator senses.

Another presence pricked another sense instead祐hinn felt the familiar pressure of a human life, just beyond the hatch.

展hat are we goin in here for? a voice asked, muffled and quiet through the metal. Shinn glanced back down at Stella, and she took his place at the top of the ladder, drawing her enormous knife.

鉄ome guys went in earlier and haven稚 been heard from since, another voice answered. 撤robably some of those dumbass recruits forgot their radios and shit.

的diots, the first voice agreed. The hatch opened

It was all over within moments. Stella dumped the two bleeding corpses down the hatch and pulled Shinn out, and they both took stock of their new situation.

They were behind a stack of crates near what looked like a warehouse, at one end of the colony. There were barracks everywhere, but this appeared to be the guards quarters. There was an imposing building rising into the artificial air not far away, guarded by a Strike Dagger and a Buster Dagger, with another Strike Dagger tramping by.

的s that it? Shinn asked in a whisper, glancing at Stella. She consulted the map and nodded wordlessly; Shinn looked back at it in frustration. 滴ow are we gonna get in with those mobile suits there? he murmured.

He glanced over the area surrounding the records office. The Strike Dagger and the Buster Dagger cast sweeping glances over the colony landscape; Shinn and Stella huddled behind a crate as searchlights built into their heads swept over their position.

展e have to find some way over there, Shinn murmured to Stella. He glanced back at her. 鄭ny ideas?

...distract, Stella murmured. ...distract them.

Shinn glanced back at the mobile suits. 滴ang on, he said. 的 have a better idea.

He looked over towards a building behind them. It was a massive block of concrete, and a squad of Strike Daggers guarded the closest end to Shinn and Stella. Shinn could barely make out the words 田ellblock 08 stamped over a set of doors. It was not too far away, but to get there, they would have to go right between the legs of one of the Strike Daggers, and that was sure to catch their attention.

...too many enemies, Stella whispered, looking around at the Daggers in front of the cellblock, and the Daggers guarding the records office.

Shinn consulted Stella痴 map and checked the layout of the sewers again. He glanced back up at the cellblock, and focused his attention on one section.

鉄tella, he whispered, catching her attention. 展e can sneak into the cellblock and start a riot there to distract the guards. Then we can sneak over to the records office.

Stella nodded. Shinn looked up at her again, still surprised by her ruthless expression, her stoicism in the face of this nerve-wracking assignment. Was this really how the Extended were supposed to operate, in their true element?

They returned to the sewer. Another guard appeared祐tella took him down with a vicious backhanded knife slash that ripped his throat out and sent him splashing into the muck. Shinn bit back a curse and quickly pulled Stella behind another tangle of pipes as they heard footsteps and saw a flashlight beam from around a corner.

添ou hear something? a voice asked. A soldier emerged, wielding a flashlight and a rifle.

鄭 splash, the soldier with the flashlight answered. "What the hell anyone would want to be putting in there is beyond me, though." The second appeared as well, rifle held loosely in one hand.

Shinn hissed under his breath and popped up from behind cover, squeezing off two rounds from his assault rifle. The first struck the first soldier in the side of the head, and he went down with a wordless, strangled grunt, into the muck. The second, however, struck the second soldier in the arm, and even as he reeled and his rifle went clattering away, he widened his eyes and Shinn realized that the guard had seen them.

的ntruders! the soldier screamed. 的ntruders! Over here! In濫

Stella silenced him with another gunshot, but the damage had been done. Shinn cursed under his breath as he heard urgent footsteps. He glanced back at Stella, and they scrambled back up the ladder and locked the hatch behind them, and both took cover behind the original stack of crates.

鉄hit, Shinn muttered. 哲ow what?

Stella crept around the corner, and Shinn followed her gaze towards a walkway suspended overhead, casting a dark shadow over the ground. She crept back around the other way, glancing towards the cellblock and the Dagger squad there.

展hat are you doing? Shinn whispered urgently. Stella produced an incendiary grenade and pulled the pin out with her teeth, rearing back and pausing a moment. Shinn痴 eyes widened. 展ait濫

The grenade went sailing forward, clattering towards the Daggers, and exploded into a forceful fireball. Stella dragged Shinn behind cover as the Daggers reeled backwards in shock. The Strike Dagger and the Buster Dagger stomped towards the Dagger squad in front of the cellblock, and Stella glanced pointedly at Shinn.

哲ever mind, he said, feeling stupid. 鏑et痴 go.

Using the shadows cast by the walkway, Shinn and Stella raced towards the records office and crept along the walls, hiding in the cover of darkness. Shinn glanced down towards another access hatch to the sewers, and as he passed it, locked it. It would not be long before the guards began to search the surface as well葉hey had to work quickly.

The records office appeared locked for the night, patrolled by the odd guard. Under the cover of shadow, Shinn hotwired a door to bypass its lock, while Stella kept a careful watch. The door opened葉he two infiltrators hid on either side of the open door as a quizzical guard wandered out, wondering what was going on. Stella took him down with a lightning-quick knife slash, she and Shinn dragged his corpse into the darkness, and they both proceeded through the door.

Their first problem was immediate. They had entered into a lobby耀ix guards were there, guns drawn, waiting for them behind the cover of tables and chairs and counters. Shinn barely had time to stare at them in disbelief傭efore even they could open fire, Stella tackled Shinn and sent him to the ground, kicking up a nearby table for cover as they fell and the guards opened fire.

鉄hit! Shinn grunted. 展e don稚 have time for this!

敵renade! one of the soldiers shouted. Stella痴 eyes narrowed and a moment later, after the sound of a grunt that had to have been from the soldier who threw the requested grenade, Stella darted out from behind cover, leaping into the air, and kicking the grenade in midair back towards the guards who threw it. They barely had time to gasp in surprise熔ne healthy explosion later, they were no longer a problem. Shinn stared disbelievingly at Stella as she landed.

She took off at a sprint through the impromptu crater, and Shinn followed, tossing a glance over his shoulder. The rest of the guards in the complex had surely heard that, but it was too late now.

Shinn and Stella raced down a corridor預 moment later, Stella shoved Shinn into a doorway, while she leapt into an adjacent one, just in time for two guards to fill the corridor with machinegun fire. Shinn grunted and glanced at Stella耀he was as ruthless-looking as ever.

The gunfire stopped for a moment; Shinn leapt out from behind cover and cut the soldiers down with an assault rifle burst of his own as the guards desperately reloaded their machineguns. The two infiltrators took off again, coming onto a walkway with an array of staircases stretching up higher into the building on the right, and a corresponding array of balconies looming overhead. Stella shouldered Shinn to ground, diving with him, as a silenced sniper round ricocheted off the floor傭efore they had even hit the ground, Stella had fired four rounds into the air above them, and two strangled cries were there to signify two more casualties.

Stella dragged Shinn back to his feet before he could even think anything and shoved him into the shadows, covering him with a spray of rifle fire.

泥ammit, Shinn panted, stumbling up against the wall and staring disbelievingly at Stella. She was the perfect soldier; fearless, damn near omniscient, inhumanly accurate, blindingly fastthis was what she was meant to do.

The last sniper died with a sickening splatter, and Stella glanced at Shinn.

的t痴 downstairs, he said. The two infiltrators took off for the stairs. Another guard shouted at them to stop熔n the landing on the floor directly below the ground floor, Stella leapt up, twirling in midair 360 degrees and blowing off the soldier痴 head at the top of the staircase. They kept going, diving through a doorway as another pair of guards opened fire. Stella left a grenade behind as they followed, and the explosion brought the door down behind them.

Shinn rammed open the next door with his shoulder and instinct took over as he silenced the room痴 five occupants with a burst of rifle fire. He glanced around, finding arrays of computer terminals, and then looked back at Stella.

的 think I致e found what we池e looking for, he said. 鏑ock the doors and cover me. As Stella began locking the doors, Shinn activated the first terminal, cracked his knuckles, and set to work.

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Battleship Kasselheim, near the Marshall Colony, Lagrange Point 3

Mike glanced grimly at Mev as he read the reports. 典he defense network痴 back up at 100%, he said dourly. 鄭nd they致e released an alert for the capture of two intruders.

典hat didn稚 take long, Yun groaned, burying her face in her hands.

典hey値l probably be more concerned about locking down the prisoners, Viima put in, crossing her arms. 典hat's where most intruders go. They wouldn稚 expect us to be hitting the records office.

滴ave we overstayed our welcome? Mev asked, arching an inquisitive eyebrow at Mike. He consulted his console.

的 don稚 see anything, sir, he said soberly.

Mev sat back, intrigued. 添un, keep the weapons on standby, he ordered. 滴ave the mobile suits ready to launch at a moment痴 notice. This will get interesting.

At her station, Kika looked nervously at the colony as she transmitted the orders to the mobile suit pilots.

Come back, Shinn, she thought anxiously. You promised me.

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Marshall Colony, Lagrange Point 3

Bastards!

Shinn had always had his suspicions that the Seirans were a bunch of greedy warmongers, but this just proved it. Right there, in green text on black background, was an invoice from Jona Roma Seiran for three prisoners in the colony, earmarked for a gruesome transformation into 澱iological CPUs, and something to do with a "Socius" project. He downloaded every byte of data he could find, as Stella anxiously looked around the room. There was surely enough documentation of evil deals in here to put away the leader of every nation of the world, but that would have to wait until another day. He pocketed a disk and glanced at Stella.

展e got what we came for, he said. 滴ow are we going to get out of here?

Stella glanced up at the ceiling and hurled another incendiary grenade into a light fixture, leaving it in place as she and Shinn took cover. The blast blew open the ceiling, and the two infiltrators leapt on top of one of the computer terminals to hop up through the hole in the ceiling.

As they emerged back into the lobby on the ground floor, Shinn found himself facing down no less than twenty armed guards, all toting a vast and frightening array of firearms. Stella dragged him behind the sturdy bole of a metal counter as the guards opened fire, and Shinn took up his rifle in frustration.

敵oddammit! he growled. 展e don稚 need this!

He glanced angrily towards what he thought was the direction the Kasselheim was.

I promised you...

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Battleship Kasselheim, near the Marshall Colony, Lagrange Point 3

The main screen came on with a flash, and to even Mev痴 surprise, the bridge crew of the Kasselheim was suddenly face to face with a grim-faced operator on the Marshall Colony.

He eyed Viima suspiciously for a moment. 鄭ttention unidentified vessel, he said tonelessly. 添ou are loitering in the restricted perimeter airspace of this colony. State your ship name, captain name, and business here.

展e池e having engine trouble, Mev said just as tonelessly. 展e値l need a little more time to fix them, and then we値l be on our way.

The operator was not ruffled. 鉄hall you require assistance, then? he asked coldly. 徹ur men will be happy to help you fix your troubled engine.

哲o, we値l manage on our own, Mev said smoothly, unperturbed by the operator痴 veiled threat. 典hank you for your offer but we wouldn稚 want to trouble you.

The operator cut the transmission. Mike, Yun, and Kika stared worriedly at Mev, and he sat back.

典ime is running out, he said, sitting back, stoic as ever.

典hey値l make it, Viima said suddenly, drawing surprised looks from everyone. She scowled. 典hey have to.

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Marshall Colony, Lagrange Point 3

滴ere痴 the plan, Shinn grunted, pausing just long enough to pop up from behind cover and squeeze off a single shot. As he hid, he heard a scream from the sixth soldier shot down as he collapsed backwards. Shinn glanced at Stella. 展e値l get out and lead them on a wild goose chase, and then go back into the sewers and get back to our Gundams. I saw a motorcycle outside. It値l do.

Stella nodded; a round of machinegun bullets slammed into the wall above them. Stella rolled out from behind the counter on her shoulder, spraying a volley of return fire over the soldiers and taking down two of them, before she rolled back behind the cover of a pillar.

The soldiers began to move in; Shinn lunged back up to take down three more soldiers. Stella charged straight towards them, knife drawn祐hinn opened his mouth to say something, anything, but what happened next silenced him.

The soldiers had no idea what hit them. Before they even realized Stella was up, she had cut down the twelfth soldier, and stormed right through him to shoot the thirteenth and fourteenth in the head. The remaining five drew back in disbelief, moving to surround her. Stella ducked down to avoid their gunshots, and Shinn痴 eyes widened in disbelief as he watched a bullet ricochet off the flat blade of Stella痴 knife and into another soldier痴 forehead. A moment later, Stella shot down two more soldiers, and the last two backed away in horror from the unstoppable Extended曜ust long enough for Shinn to take them down with two gunshots.

The soldiers collapsed gruesomely, and Shinn stared incredulously at Stella, her knife dripping with fresh blood, smoke curling off the barrel of her gun. He shook his head揺e had no time for that. They had to get going.

They escaped through a window and leapt onto a sleek motorcycle that seemed to intended for patrolling the colony. The soldier it belonged to had left the keys in; even though the area seethed with more soldiers, they were too late to stop him from turning the ignition and taking off with a roar.

Shinn cast an anxious glance over his shoulder, finding Stella clinging determinedly to him.

展e値l make them think we ditched and ran off over the surface, he said, 殿nd we値l return to the sewers. Stella nodded. 展e致e got to濫

There was an explosion祐hinn struggled to maintain control of the bike, and looked disbelievingly over his shoulder. There were three Strike Daggers following him, backed up by two helicopters, all spewing rounds at him. Shinn cursed and hit the accelerator, slaloming through two buildings as the rounds tore up the concrete and dirt beneath him.

滴ang on! Shinn shouted. He heard the distinctive noise of a beam rifle blast揺e saw the rifle shot coming towards him, landing at an intersection between four blocks of buildings in front of him揺e snaked along the side of the buildings as the beam rifle smashed into the intersection with a thunderous explosion, and took off under the cover of the smoke. The helicopters accelerated after him.

鉄hinn! Stella exclaimed.

的 know! Shinn shouted back. He narrowed his eyes and dove into a sharp turn, tires squealing against the ground. The lead helicopter tried to follow his maneuver and parked itself over the road, spewing firepower after the retreating motorcycle, just in time for the second helicopter to plow into it and destroy them both in midair.

The mobile suits continued to pursue with a flurry of CIWS fire, sending shards of concrete flying. Shinn glared back at them葉hey would be more difficult to topple, but they were still destructible.

A thick yellow beam smashed into the ground up ahead; Shinn slammed on the brakes and hooked into a narrow alley, flashing down the narrow passage and bursting out with a flash over the baffled heads of two guards. Shinn cast a quick glance to his left, finding the Buster Dagger pursuing, its guns docked and ready.

典hey池e using a hyper impulse cannon inside a colony! he exclaimed as the motorcycle landed. 鄭re they insane?!

鉄hinn! Stella cried out worriedly.

滴ang on! he shouted back. 典his値l get rough!

Shinn curved the motorcycle around and charged at the mobile suits. They paused for a moment, their pilots probably baffled that Shinn was coming at them on a motorcycle. Shinn charged towards them, dodging CIWS fire, and zipped by the first Dagger痴 legs. The second and third opened fire anyways, cutting the first Dagger痴 legs out from underneath it and sending the crippled mobile suit to the ground with a crash. Shinn raced off behind the remaining two Daggers葉he second turned to fire, but both Daggers toppled from a poorly aimed CIWS burst from the Buster Dagger.

的t痴 a damn good thing they have no aim! Shinn grunted. 鼎ome on, Stella! It痴 time to get out of here! Another helicopter was charging after them, and launched a missile. Shinn felt his entire body go cold as he saw the missile streak towards them. 笛ump off when I say! Shinn screamed. Stella nodded wordlessly, clinging to him. Shinn sent the motorcycle into a sharp turn, blocking the helicopter痴 view of the motorcycle with a building. The tires shrieked and sparks flew祐hinn clenched his teeth

NOW!

Shinn and Stella leapt off the bike and rolled away from it as the missile streaked into it and sent them both tumbling away from a thunderous explosion. Shinn grunted and helped Stella to her feet; they both leapt into the closest sewer access hatch, and slammed the hatch shut just as the helicopter rounded the corner, surveying the crater that was once the motorcycle.

Inside the sewers, Shinn and Stella broke into a full sprint, guided by Stella痴 map. A guard rose up to stop them祐tella hurled her knife at him, slicing his throat open, and kept going without missing a beat, seizing the knife by its upturned grip as she passed. They raced wordlessly through the darkness, knowing that in the end, all that mattered was returning to their mobile suits. Shinn felt his entire body go hot with determination. He had promised Kika to return. He had to get back. He had to make sure Stella got back safe and sound. He had to get back to Kika. He could not fail. Not now.

A guard leapt out of nowhere to attack; Shinn took him down with a gunshot before he could raise his rifle, and the two infiltrators kept going. The territory began to look familiar. Shinn and Stella threw themselves against a wall as the opening to the sewage outlet came into view, and glanced urgently towards their Gundams. A platoon of soldiers had gathered near the Gundams feet, as if awaiting reinforcements. Shinn glanced at Stella, and she hurled her last grenade at the feet of a group of a half-dozen soldiers. They vanished in a fireball; Shinn and Stella took down the rest with a rapid burst of gunfire, and abandoned their rifles, leaping back into their mobile suits. As the Gaia returned to life, Shinn activated the Impulse in a flurry of pressed buttons and thrown switches. The Force Impulse痴 eyes flashed a vehement green; it turned around and joined the Gaia in slicing open the airlock with its beam saber.

The airlock doors vanished into space. The Impulse and the Gaia took off with a roar.

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Battleship Kasselheim, near the Marshall Colony, Lagrange Point 3

鄭re you getting a read yet? Mev asked, looking pointedly at Mike. Even he sounded urgent by now. Mike checked his instruments but shook his head grimly.

鄭ll I can tell is that there痴 an intruder alert, he said. 的 don稚 see anything else going on.

展e致e probably overstayed our welcome by now, Viima warned.

Kika looked anxiously at the colony.

You have to get out, Shinn...

鼎aptain! Mike screamed suddenly. 的知 picking something up!

的s it them? Mev asked. Mike stared at his screen; his face went white.

的t痴 not them, he said in disbelief. 的t痴...way more than them.

展hat do you mean? Viima snapped. Mike turned, his face ashen, staring up at Mev.

典hey池e mobile suits, captain, Mike said, 殿nd they池e heading straight towards us!

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To be continued...