Disclaimer: The characters mentioned in this story are either made up or belong to their original creators.
< >: Thoughts
In the far reaches of the galaxy, two ships came tumbling out of hyperspace. The old section of the Ikazuchi was heavily damaged with nearly all of its systems offline. The pirate vessel was also listing as its engines had been strained during the journey. Debris from both spacecraft floated about and among the random bits of hull plating, conduits and bulkheads, was the battered form of a Gundam.
Inside the still operational Wing Zero, its pilot regained consciousness and looked about. He immediately began checking all of his systems.
<Hmmm, life support and thruster controls are functioning. Navigational systems are offline. Weapons are down. The outer armor took some serious hits but it's mostly superficial. All other systems are available except for... the self-detonation device. Naturally. Power levels are low. Can't move... >
It was then that he saw the Paksis Pragma in action as the Ikazuchi's Paksis reactor began emitting tendrils of crystals and drew the pirate vessel closer to it.
"What's going on? Is the crystal trying to devour the ship?"
After determining that this was not the afterlife, Magno had tried to contact the rest of her crew. It was at that moment that the Paksis had begun flooding her ship with crystals and was in the process of reconstructing itself. She managed to get a hold of her chief engineer Parfat, but was informed that nothing could be done to stop the Paksis from drawing the pirate craft toward the old section of the Ikazuchi. As she looked out the observation window of the bridge, she saw that strange-looking Vanguard floating nearby.
"Give me a reading on that... thing." She ordered to one of her bridge crew. "Anything alive in it?"
The woman, Amarone Slaintheav, a dark-skinned individual with hair done in multiple braids, nodded as she replied. "I'm picking up life signs from that weird Vanguard."
"I'm not too certain if that's even a Vanguard." Buzom said as she walked up to her commander. "It's too big and..." She glanced down at the sensor readings on her console. "I can't identify the alloys that it's made of."
Magno looked up at her first officer and nodded. "Whatever it is, the pilot is still alive and kicking. Hmmm..." Magno considered her options. With the ship in its current state, she could ill-afford the time, crew or resources to rescue the pilot. However, that strange mecha did raise her curiosity. In any case, Magno was not like the Mejele military, who would have left the male pilot to die. Leaving a person to perish without helping was not in her nature. Furthermore, that weird machine had tried to defend the pirates from the space torpedoes. She then raised Gascogne, and gave her instructions to tow the mecha in.
A few minutes later...
Parfat gave a low whistle as she looked upon Wing Zero as it was laid down on the floor of the hanger, where some of the leftover Van-types were stored. The larger mecha was certainly more impressive looking than its smaller counterparts. However, the captain was more interested in questioning the pilot. That was the reason why there were five guards, all aiming their laser rings and blaster rifles at the cockpit. The engineer waved them back as she tried to figure out how to open the hatch.
Then all of a sudden, there was a hiss of air as the cockpit depressurized and the hatch began to swing open.
Meanwhile, in the Paksis Reactor room, Dita, Meia and Jura came to their senses. They looked about and saw that the entire area had been flooded with crystals. At that point, Magno and her second entered the area and greeted them.
"I'm sorry that you had to come all the up here, Captain." Meia apologized.
"Oh that's all right. I wanted to see this for myself." The ancient woman looked about and was in awe at the changes that the Paksis was causing to both vessels. She then spied Hibiki as he was still unconscious on the floor.
"This was the man that Dita was chasing." Meia explained.
"It's been a while since I saw a man." The captain remarked as she gazed on Hibiki's inert form. "Were their faces always this funny-looking?"
It was then that BC's communicator beeped.
"Yes, what is it?"
"We've got a hostage situation down here!"
Parfat gulped as she found herself being pressed up against the stranger's chest with one arm across her throat, restricting her breathing. She found herself between him and the weapons of the guards. Being taken prisoner by a prisoner had certainly not been on today's agenda.
Using the chief engineer as a shield, Heero surveyed his surroundings and could only surmise that hostile forces had captured him. His survival instincts and training had kicked in as soon as he got out of Wing Zero's cockpit. Grabbing the nearest person, he immediately put her in a stranglehold and turned her around. Now he was in a very precarious position and his options were limited. He could retreat back into his Gundam and take off. However, Wing Zero was low on power and would need some time to recharge. Added to the fact was that it needed repairs, he had no idea where he was and the navigational systems were offline.
He could try to take over the ship, but considering the size of the hanger, it was a safe bet that this vessel was huge and was probably manned by a large crew. What he was seeing now was most likely only a small fraction of the personnel. He found it a bit odd to see only females but the most important factor was that they were all pointing their weapons at him.
"Let her go now!"
Heero looked up and saw another woman enter the hanger. She was a tall figure with bronze skin, silver-blonde hair and wearing what appeared to be a harem-style outfit.
After a long and tense period of waiting, he decided on option three. Slowly releasing his grip on his hostage, he then raised his arms in surrender.
"I'm not just any third-class citizen! The name's Hibiki Tokai!"
Heero ignored his brash cellmate as Hibiki conversed with Duero. The Gundam pilot took in his surroundings. So far, there was not much to offer in terms of escape. The energy bars that were in front of him were intimidating and there were no locks to pick. Since there was no available means of getting out, Heero decided that getting more information would be the best he could do at the moment.
It was then that Duero turned his attention to Heero.
"Who are you and how did you end up here?"
Heero considered the man, then replied. "My name is Heero Yuy."
At that moment, the machine that Hibiki had brought along with him suddenly sprouted arms and legs.
"Pyoro! Where am I? Who am I?"
Meanwhile, in the hanger...
"No way!" The head engineer breathed as she and her staff stared at Wing Zero. The machine's outer hull had been badly dented and pitted when it had been towed in, but what they were seeing now was nothing short of remarkable. The surface of the Gundam had begun regenerating itself! If one looked closely enough, one could see the metal surfaces move as if they were alive. Like human skin tissue that repaired itself when damaged, the Gundanium alloys began straightening out the deformations and depressions. Smudges disappeared and all of the dings popped out. Gaps in the metal became whole as its luster began to shine through.
"Have you finished with the analysis?" Parfat asked one of her coworkers, who happened to be in front of a spectrographic scanner.
The girl shook her head in puzzlement. "It looks like some kind of nanofiber repair system, but the energy readings I'm getting make no sense. They seem to be similar to what I'm reading from that Paksis Core."
Parfat nodded as she turned her attention back to more important matters, such as stopping the Paksis from flooding the entire ship. She ordered more Linestar Particles to be injected into the main relays, but it was no use. Before long, both ships became permanently fused.
Magno nodded as Heero, Duero and Hibiki were brought to the interrogation room. Sitting beside her was another captive, Bart Garsus. She was a bit puzzled to see that Hibiki had a red handprint across his right cheek.
Heero remained emotionless as he scanned his new surroundings. So far, all he had seen were women on board this vessel. Aside from the other prisoners, there were no other males on the ship, which struck him as rather odd. One of the men had poked one of the female guards in the buttocks, and she had predictably reacted.
"Well now, I was expecting men, but they're all just little boys that are still wet behind the ears." The elderly captain remarked as she assessed the prisoners.
"Hey it's interrogation time! I'll tell you anything!" The little Navi robot chirped as it hopped about.
"Well now, how nostalgic. A Navi robot." Magno remarked, then turned her attention back to the captives.
"I'm afraid I don't follow." Duero said. Heero nodded as well.
"This ship belongs to Tarak!" Hibiki said.
Magno snorted a bit. "I'll have you know that this ship was part of a fleet of colony ships that left a planet called Earth more than a century ago. This was before your fathers were born. However, your cowardly grandfathers made off with this section of the ship and fled into the night!"
The machine nodded as it continued on with the explanations. "They overhauled this section and added living quarters."
"Yes and now we're simply taking it back." The hundred and eight-year-old woman then gave them a sly look. "Now what shall we do with you? Perhaps we can cook you over a slow fire. I always did like my men's innards medium rare."
This made Hibiki turn white as a ghost, but Heero became even more confused, then posed a question to the pirate captain. "I don't understand what you are talking about."
Hibiki became more panicked. "Don't you get it?! She's going to tear out our livers and eat them!"
Heero looked at Magno, did a double take, then shrugged. "She doesn't look like a cannibal to me."
"Are you nuts?! Women are monsters! Didn't you know that?! I thought everybody on Tarak knew that!"
Heero shrugged again. "It's news to me. Then again, I'm not from this... Tarak."
"You're...not?" This piqued Magno's curiosity, as well as her first officer BC.
"No... I'm from Earth, Colony L1."
This especially got the pirate captain's attention. "Earth, eh? Now there's something that I haven't heard about in a long time. Tell us more."
Heero considered all that he had seen so far then made a hypothesis. The stars were unfamiliar to him and he had not observed any familiar colonies or planets. The technology of this vessel was quite advanced and there was that strange crystal that was similar to what had resurrected Wing Zero. From what he had been able to learn from the other prisoners, the men and women lived in two separate cultures and were currently at war with each other. They didn't seem to realize that they were all members of the same race. Before making an assumption, he decided to ask a few more questions.
"Tell me... what year is this?"
Magno considered the Gundam pilot before her and then replied. "By our calendar, it would be 2592 AD... on Earth."
"Have you ever heard of Mobile Suits or Gundams?"
"What's a Gundam?" Hibiki asked.
"Are you referring to that strange Vanguard that we found you in?" BC asked.
Heero gave the first officer a nod. "Is that what you call them here? Well, yes that's what I'm referring to. Have you ever heard of OZ or the Earth Sphere Alliance?"
"Not to my knowledge." The pirate captain admitted.
"How about the space battle station Libra or the White Fang? I'm sure if you've retained Earth's history, that particular battle would have been mentioned. Especially since Libra almost crashed into Earth."
Magno shook her head. "I don't know any of that. Since I'm from the first generation, I would have known something like that, but there is no mention of anything that you've said in the history books. Besides, ever since Mejele and Tarak had been established, we've had no prior contact with Earth since then."
"If you don't know about the Gundams, or anything else, and considering what I've seen so far, then what I'm about to tell you, may sound completely unbelievable."
"Try me." Magno said.
"All right. I'm from Earth, but from another dimension. At least, that's what I can figure out."
There was a long silence as the revelation sunk in to all those present. Finally, Hibiki became the first to speak.
"Oh get real!"
The fused vessel shuddered as it found itself under attack.
"Captain! We're being attacked by some unknown enemy!" Parfat declared as she spoke through the communicator.
At that point in which all Hell broke loose.
Three Dread fighters rushed out to engage the alien attackers as the ship's defensive shields were just barely brought up. Unfortunately, since the main Dread platform was offline, and most of the pilots were trapped in the showers and freezing, (courtesy of Paiway and her intent to wash away those icky male germs), the only pilots who could defend the ship were Meia, Dita and Jura. Despite the enhancements in which their fighters had undergone during the Paksis implosion, the females found themselves badly outnumbered. Two large alien vessels kept on spewing out strange drones, which attacked relentlessly. For every enemy craft the pirates destroyed, two more would take its place.
Deep in an unused portion of the ship, Hibiki and Heero were left alone. Since it would have been too much trouble to put them back in the brig during the current crisis, Buzom had decided to leave them in a storage facility with a guard watching over them as she returned to the bridge.
"I'm so pathetic!" Hibiki lamented as he talked to Heero about his situation. Duero was helping out with his expertise as a doctor while Bart had managed to weasel his way into being the helmsman. "I shouldn't even be here!"
"So tell me. Why are you here?" Heero asked.
"It was just a stupid dare." The Tarak male replied. "The other guys made fun of me and told me to forget about trying to do something better with my life. I was so sick of that and I felt that there was something more than just what I was. I guess I should have known better. I should have been happy with just being a third-class citizen."
Heero considered the young man before him then shook his head. "I don't believe that."
The Gundam pilot explained. "Once... I was like you. All I ever did was follow orders and never questioned the meaning of my existence. To me, the mission was everything. However, things changed and I suddenly felt... out of place. It was if fate had decided to tell me, that there was something more than just the mission. However, I had to first acknowledge that there was existence outside the mission. Then, I had to take the first step toward that ideal. You've taken that same first step by accepting that dare. Now you're unsure, just as I was."
"So... what can I do?"
"You can ask yourself, what you want in life and how do you prove your own existence. I couldn't find what I was looking for back in my own dimension, so I guess this was Fate's way of giving me another option. If you just sit by and do nothing then there's no point in existing, is there? There's an old Earth saying. The Gods only help those who help themselves. Now, are you going to help yourself?"
"Huh? You want to fight?"
Hibiki nodded as he spoke through the communicator. "That's right! I want to prove that I'm not just another third-class citizen! I want to prove that I exist!"
Magno considered the youth and assessed the new fire in his eyes. She nodded, then directed her gaze at Heero. "And how about you?"
Heero only said one phrase.
As Heero entered Wing Zero, he noticed that the controls were slightly altered. Pushing those thoughts aside, he quickly did a check on all of his systems, then activated the thrusters, just as Hibiki's Vanguard also launched.
Both mecha flew headlong into the fray.
"They're our backups?" Meia said as she saw the two machines charge headlong into battle.
As Hibiki struggled with his Bangatta, (remember that this is his first time with piloting the mecha), Heero's Gundam opened its angelic wings and brought out its Vulcan guns.
"How beautiful!" Jura remarked as she caught sight of Wing Zero. In the background, she saw the pirate vessel lurch and begin to move away from the battle.
Inside his cockpit, Heero engaged the Zero System and began attacking.
Meia's eyes opened wide as she watched Wing Zero execute a series of maneuvers, that even their enhanced Dreads seem slow and plodding. It began darting about the enemy formations like a dragonfly that was hopped up on drugs. In less than a heartbeat, the Gundam let loose with a storm of gattling fire, causing a trio of enemy fighters to explode. As their explosions were still occurring, the mecha reached behind and pulled out a cylinder, in which an energy blade ignited from one end. The Beam Saber slashed through a couple more alien attackers, reducing them into spare parts as Heero began systematically reducing the odds.
The Dread pilot looked down at her sensors as she tracked the Gundam.
<Impossible! Those readouts can't be right! According to this, they're measuring his reaction time at 0.0015! That's not human! >
Of course, if she had known about the Gundam's Zero System, she would have understood. Aside from two others, Heero was the only to have ever mastered the advanced combat system without becoming mentally unstable. Now with the system being boosted by the Paksis, Wing Zero was almost virtually unstoppable.
As he continued to whittle down the enemy, Heero noted that his companion was having trouble operating his mecha. The Gundam flew toward where the Vanguard was busy fending off several attackers as Heero activated the sensors. Taking a quick glance at the schematics, he realized that the Tarak machine was similar to that of a LEO Mobile Suit.
"Hibiki. Don't fight the controls. Follow my lead."
"Shut up! I don't need any help!" Hibiki shot back as he charged his foes. "Check this out! Lightning Fist!" The mecha thrust out a hand as its pilot expected something flashy to happen.
However, the results were predictable, which was nothing happened. Hibiki's mecha took several hits, causing the inside of the cockpit to smoke and spark.
Heero shook his head and sighed as he chased off Hibiki's attackers, then guided his Gundam alongside the Vanguard.
"Listen up Hibiki. First rule of Mobile Suit combat. Make sure you KNOW what weapons you have. Your Vanguard doesn't have any guns, but it can engage in close combat. Watch." Heero then demonstrated by speeding forward toward a cluster of enemy fighters with Beam Saber held at the ready. Using the most basic moves, he then began talking through the attack. "Let your opponents come to you, instead of wasting time chasing after them." Wing Zero slashed through two enemies as they tried to blindside it.
Hibiki became a bit awestruck as he watched the Gundam cut through its adversaries like they were nothing. He then decided to get into the act by having the Vanguard draw its own weapons, which was a pair of large energy swords. Though he was still a bit clumsy, he managed to slice a couple of enemy fighters in half. (1)
Heero nodded as he continued with the mid-combat training. "Make your slashes less choppy. Swing in narrow arcs. That makes it harder for them to evade and counter. Smooth out your thrusts. Always keep an eye on your opponents and watch your back." He emphasized this point by taking out a fighter that almost caught Hibiki from behind.
Gradually, the two machines began working in tandem, as more enemy fighters fell to their blades. Heero was impressed. Hibiki was already grasping the basics of mecha hand-to-hand combat. It seemed that the Tarak teen had some natural talent. All he needed was some guidance.
"It's amazing!" Dita exclaimed as she watched the two warriors take out a substantial number of the enemy.
"Dita, get back!" Meia warned as the young pilot began getting close to where the Gundam and Van-type were battling.
"It's okay, Meia! Mr. Alien and Mr. Alien 2 will help us!
Though they were making quite a kill ratio, Heero knew that it was taking too long. He winced as he saw the two alien vessels spit out more of those strange fighters and decided to take them out with one attack. Distancing himself from his Tarak counterpart, he directed Wing Zero to bring out the Twin Buster Rifle. The targeting computer was activated as he carefully took aim, then fired.
A huge particle beam lanced forward and anything caught in its path was instantly annihilated. Fifteen alien fighters were reduced to subatomic particles.
"He just blew away FIFTEEN targets with a single shot!" Jura gasped.
"Impossible." Meia breathed. Then her eyes widened as the enemy fighters began converging on Wing Zero from opposite sides. This didn't concern Heero in the least as the Twin Buster Rifle split apart. Directing each barrel at a separate wave, Wing Zero fired off two beams of energy while rotating on its axis. Both waves were obliterated as the battle area was being swept clean of the enemy.
At this point, Hibiki became bold and rushed toward one of the main alien vessels, intent on finishing it off.
"Hibiki! Wait!" Heero cried out as Wing Zero reassembled its most powerful weapon. A few of the enemy fighters had managed to avoid being destroyed and began converging on the attacking Vanguard.
Hibiki rashly charged toward the enemy ship, but was stopped before he could reach his goal. Five alien craft held him down as the main vessel opened up its front.
Heero gritted his teeth as he tried to aim his Twin Buster Rifle, but with Hibiki in the way, he couldn't get a clear shot.
It was then that Dita's fighter flashed toward his stricken comrade.
At that moment, the alien vessel let loose with metal tendrils. They stabbed at the two fighters. Both were engulfed in a massive explosion.
"DITA!" Meia cried out.
"HIBIKI!" Heero cried out.
On the bridge of the pirate vessel, Magno bowed her head in sorrow. "I guess, that wasn't enough of a miracle."
However, just as she was about to order all hands to abandon ship, something large emerged from the explosion.
Heero stared as he saw something that was even larger than his Gundam appear. The new machine was huge and had twin spikes attached to its back. Vandread Dita was born.
The Gundam pilot could only watch as the new mecha tore open the front of one of the alien ships with its metalshod hands. The two spikes on its back swung around and pointed forward on its shoulders. Two massive beams of energy similar to his Buster Rifle's output blasted forth and destroyed the target.
The second alien craft swung about to try and attack from behind, but Heero snapped out of his stupor and aimed the Twin Buster Rifle at it. One blast was all that was needed to reduce the last of the enemy into space debris.
On the bridge, Magno became a bit apprehensive as Wing Zero turned to face them. After seeing the destruction that one Mobile Suit was capable of, she knew that Heero had the power to wipe them out with a single shot.
However, her fears were alleviated when the Gundam pilot's image came on the monitor and the rifle was lowered in a non-threatening position.
To be continued...?
As you can plainly see, there will be several changes to the Vandread storyline and I've gotten some new ideas, such as Heero's Gundam being able to combine with the Dreads and so forth. However, like I said before, this is mostly low-priority and I'm more intent on working on my other fics, so don't expect any quick updates with this one.
(1) With so few men aboard the pirate vessel, Hibiki will eventually look up to Heero as a kind of big brother figure.