New Mobile History - Gundam Wing: The Sword, Ch.9

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Re: New Mobile History - Gundam Wing: The Sword, Ch.9

Post by Seraphic » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:29 am

Content Warning: mild sexual content and adult situations. Reader discretion advised.

Start 9.4.2016

Act Special: Red
Episode II: The Betrayal



December, After Colony 195

A Space Leo pushed achingly forced away a mass of debris that had collapsed on top of it. The 60 ft tall mobile suit had crashed into the side of the colony wall. A fierce dog fight continued outside.

Isaac Winters strained to get his mobile suit standing again. He could feel his Leo beginning to fall apart at the seams, worn from months of combat and shoddy, patchwork maintenance.

In a short year, the Mars Liberation Group had weakened the Earth Alliance's stranglehold on the Mars Sphere considerably. What started as a squad of a few men with guns had grown into a small guerilla army in the command of mobile suits and transport carriers. The thought of victory was no longer a fever dream, but the MLG's vision of freedom could be easily shattered by a single loss.

If he was sane, he would have stayed put and waited out the battle. The others could handle themselves; one mobile suit would not make a difference. But something burned inside him. The thought of Alliance soldiers having one more breath of Martian air made Isaac's blood scream.

Isaac punched the throttle forward. Blazing sapphire flames erupted from the Leo's backpack, blasting it through the debris of the colony wall into open space again.

Streams of crossfire lit up the space all around him. Isaac gritted his teeth. Alliance pilots were smug and incompetent when he first encountered them, but now that they were on the verge of extinction, they fought with immense ferocity and desperation.

The same Alliance Leo that caused him to crash before reappeared and opened up with its machinegun. Isaac spun around the stream of bullets and returned fire with his rifle. The bolts hammered the other Leo's shield but left it unharmed.

Isaac retreated as the Alliance Leo gave chase with its machinegun, spraying lead like it was trying to saw Isaac in half. Isaac ducked and weaved to avoid the attack, the glowing streams of bullets and jet fire like hot ribbons braiding into each other. A Space Leo might be slow, but its backpack gave it perfect balance and mobility.

He was chased towards another wall. The Alliance Leo would be sure to finish him this time. Isaac's mobile suit rocketed toward the colony wall at full combat speed. Another crash would surely be fatal. Instead, he swung his Leo's legs forward and landed feet-first on the colony's outer shell, the giant mecha going down into a low squat to absorb all the momentum.

The Leo's legs sparked from the strain, but it immediately sprung off the wall directly at its opponent. With a momentous punch Isaac decapitated the Alliance machine, his Leo's left fist completely smashing through the other suit's main camera. The Alliance Leo reeled from the devastating blow, bits of glass and debris scattering into the emptiness. Isaac placed two rifle bolts through its torso before it could recover.

With a lull in the battle, Isaac stopped to catch his breath. His head was spinning from the intense maneuvers he used. His mobile suit's legs and left arm were heavily damaged. He shouldn't need them in a space battle, necessarily, but it would be dangerous to continue.

Another Space Leo loomed behind Isaac. The pilot didn't signal as an ally, but Isaac already recognized who it was.

"What a mess...." Demitri commented coldly. "These mobile suits are hard to come by, you know."

"Save it," Isaac snapped. He couldn't say much else, seeing Demitri's Leo was completely unblemished.

Demitri Zabek joined the Mars Liberation Group several months ago as a pilot. He was fond of high powered weapons, his Leo brandishing a shell-firing Dober Gun. Isaac disliked Demitri almost immediately. He seemed to care only about promotion and little else.

"The battle seems to be dying down. We won't need you anymore. Why don't you just head back so you're not in the way?" The older pilot's condescending tone made Isaac growl.

Isaac bit his tongue, "I might just have to...." He turned his Leo around to return to their carrier. "Aren't you going with me?"

"Not yet," Demitri answered, his voice dripping with poison. "There are still Earthlings that need to be murdered." Demitri's Leo took off in the other direction, rejoining the thick of the fight.

Demitri's words caused a deep loathing to burn within Isaac, but he could not sort out the root of his bitterness. Was it Demitri that he despised? Did he hate the Alliance for their tyranny? Or did Isaac hate himself for being so powerless compared to someone he disliked so much?

He didn't know.

Wordlessly he returned his Leo to the fleet of carriers waiting nearby.

***

Hours later, the mobile suit carrier arrived at the MLG base of operations.

"Isaac," Sage greeted his protégé with a smile as he stepped off the carrier. "I'm glad to see you've returned safely."

"Brother," Isaac returned the greeting. "That was the last colony. Mars is almost free from the Alliance's stranglehold."

"I only wish I could fight alongside you and the others," Sage lamented. As the Mars Liberation Group grew in number, Sage could no longer lead from the front lines. He left the fighting to his more capable pilots and field personnel. Instead, he strategized from behind the curtains and garnered support from various factions and Martian citizenry.

Sage Schneider was a beloved hero in the eyes of the colonists. His calls for freedom and independence moved mountains throughout the Mars Sphere. He and Isaac had begun referring to each other as brothers in the years since Sage took the young orphaned Isaac under his wing.

"Come," Sage motioned. "You must be tired. Let's have some tea while we talk."

They retired to the officers' quarters. Throughout most of their campaign the MLG had to remain hidden and stay on the move to avoid the Alliance's detection. However, their base of operations had not moved from this colony for several months since the Alliance was ousted. It was run-down and poorly funded for a space-borne military group, but for the first time, it began to feel like they had a home.

Isaac sipped from the cup Sage poured for him. He wasn't nearly sophisticated enough to recognize what type of tea it was. He just knew it made him feel better. The warmth of a cup of tea was a small refuge in the life of a pilot.

"How did the last battle go?" Sage inquired.

"My Leo was damaged again. I feel like our mechanics are being worked to the bone...."

"They're hard workers," Sage offered. "They will manage. Mobile suits can be replaced. Pilots on the other hand can't be fixed so easily."

"We didn't lose many pilots in this last battle. We played our cards right, but taking some losses is unavoidable. The Alliance retreated and abandoned their last colony stronghold."

The Alliance had been defeated on Earth by OZ, so Mars was their last outpost. Without their former numbers and resources, the Alliance's arm on Mars was a paper tiger. The Mars Liberation Group's battles against them were fierce, but they finally had the momentum to push the Alliance against the ropes. Still, with their limited resources, it felt like the MLG could crumble at any moment.

"My informants tell me that the Alliance remnants are gathering at Deimos. It could be our chance to destroy them," Sage said, "but if they're expecting us ahead of time, their defense might be impossible to break."

Isaac was worried. "We've only been winning up until now because their occupation force was so scattered. Catching them off guard was all we had. A few Leos aren't going to be able to overtake a fortification like that. How can we win without help?"

"We might not have to," Sage answered. "Now that victory is in sight, the Sons of Mars are offering their full support. I'm not sure I want friends like them, though."

Isaac scoffed, "You are too principled, brother! They want to see Mars free, just like you."

"They're corporate-backed terrorists," Sage disagreed. "They talk of freedom, but their bombs and scare tactics do more damage to the Martian colonists than the Alliance. They're being manipulated. The corporations just want to oust the Alliance so they can take over Mars' resources."

Isaac was not sure how to respond. He was too young to understand economics and subterfuge.

Sage continued, "They're not the only ones. OZ is seeking asylum with us."

"OZ?!" Isaac blurted. "What are they doing all the way out here?"

The older soldier sighed. "My information is limited, but things have been changing quickly on Earth. Apparently Romefellar has united the Earth against the Earth's space colonies. Treize Khushrenada dissolved the OZ Specials."

Isaac scratched his head. "Why did OZ leave Earth and come to Mars, then?"

"That's the thing," Sage pointed out. "OZ must have had a massive falling out with Treize. I'm not sure if working with them would be a good idea."

Isaac wondered, "You were part of OZ when you were on Earth. Why not welcome them?"

The veteran soldier smiled somberly. "Treize was always a very good judge of character. He must have had a very good reason to denounce his ties with them."

"If you keep turning down allies at every opportunity, we will have nothing. Do you expect me to destroy the Alliance with my bare hands, brother?"

"I'm sorry, Isaac," Sage apologized with sincerity. "I know how hard you pilots have been fighting to liberate Mars."

"I understand you were old friends, but I don't know why you trust this Treize Khushrenada so much. We've been asking for his help for years and he hasn't responded. It's not like he'll suddenly show up and drop victory into our laps."

"Actually...." Sage started apprehensively. Isaac was wide-eyed. "I received a video message from Treize while you were out on your mission." Sage's hands were clasped tightly together. "I've been trying to work myself up to watching it.... I think I can manage if we both look at it together."

Isaac could see his blood brother was visibly nervous. Sage was always calm on the surface, but inside he carried the incredible burden of freeing Mars, the burden of guiding his people between death and rebirth. This was it.

Isaac agreed with a soulful nod.

They both sat down at Sage's communications console as MLG's veteran leader queued up the message from his old friend. The young Isaac saw Treize Khushrenada for the first time as the screen flickered to life. He sat in an ornate chair at a large desk, his fingers interlocked and his hair slicked back handsomely. Isaac knew almost nothing about him, but he felt drawn to him almost immediately. Much like Sage, there was an almost supernatural charisma about the man.

Due to the vast distances between Earth and Mars, live communication was impossible. Most communication was simplified to transmissions of electronic messages or plain voice recordings. The fact that Treize went through the trouble of sending his message as video showed the painstaking care he took to speak to his close friends. The massive amount of data must have taken days to transmit over encrypted channels.

Sage and Isaac both listened intently as Treize began to speak.

"My dear friend Sage. I hope this message finds you well.

"It saddens me to hear that Mars is in such turmoil. When you left OZ, it was my sincere wish that my friend could retire in peace. I am afraid that your fight with the Alliance is one of the messes I have left behind. In our efforts to expand OZ and Rommefellar, we failed to deal with the Alliance remnants as a credible threat, and now this catastrophe has fallen in your hands.

"Like Mars, the Earth is in a time of great turmoil. I am leading Earth to battle against the colonies' White Fang. Their leader is Milliardo Peacecraft."


"What?!" Sage jumped up at this revelation, knocking his chair backward in a crash. "You're fighting Zechs? This can't be possible...." His blood ran cold as he gripped the console with his hands.

Isaac was startled. He knew of Sage's friendship with Treize and Zechs while they were all in OZ, but he didn't know what to make of Sage's outburst. He had never seen the man lose his composure before.

"There is not much time left," Treize's message continued gravely. "White Fang is on our doorstep--their immense battleship and vast mobile doll armies ready to destroy the Earth as we know it.

"I know you have reached out to me for aid in your battle, but the Earth is not in a position to render it. By the time this message reaches you, there may no longer be an Earth left to spare any resources.

"I must ask for your forgiveness, old friend. I will have to trust that Mars will be freed in your capable hands. Please continue fighting bravely. I am with you in spirit."


The video feed ended into a black screen. Both Sage and Isaac were silent for a long time.

"That was our last chance," Isaac finally said. "We shouldn't have banked on Treize. Pretty words aside, he may as well have just slapped us in the face. How are we going to beat the Alliance now?"

"I don't know...." Sage responded dejectedly.

Isaac didn't know what else to say. After a time, Sage stood up and began to walk out of the room.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to talk to OZ," Sage answered sternly. "And the Sons of Mars."

***

In the coming weeks Sage Schneider negotiated the Mars Liberation Group's alliance with OZ and the Sons of Mars. He never knew military leaders could be such petulant children. They were only concerned with who got what credit and how they would divide the spoils.

But he had to compromise and sacrifice. The longer they took to talk, the longer the Alliance was able to consolidate its power at Deimos.

OZ brought with them experienced pilots and new technology including the Taurus mobile suit and mobile doll controls. Sage questioned the quality of their pilots, however. They had gotten lazy and complacent with months of letting mobile dolls do their dirty work.

Sage and the Mars Liberation Group offered valuable intelligence on the Alliance's Mars branch. They had been engaged in combat with them for years and had the most talented pilots amongst the three groups. The MLG and OZ ran several combat drills together to get everyone up to speed. OZ's talent was quite watered down since Sage's days in the organization, but he was willing to take all the warm bodies he could get.

The Sons of Mars offered financial and industrial support to the other two. They would be able to manufacture a handful of new Tauruses, but there would not be enough mobile suits to develop a mobile doll squadron.

The combined assault on Deimos was only days away. Sage, Isaac, and Demitri came to inspect the newly manufactured Tauruses.

Isaac looked over the mobile suits carefully, examining their lines and forms to the last detail. "They're nothing like the Space Leos at all...." he commented with a clinical tone.

"Good," Demitri replied, already examining a Taurus's beam cannon. "The damn things are 20 years old by now. They weren't even designed for anti-mobile suit combat."

"It doesn't look like there are enough Tauruses to go around," Isaac lamented. ''I guess I'll be sticking with my Leo again."

"No, Isaac," Sage interjected. "You'll be leading the Taurus squad at Deimos."

"What?" Isaac blurted, incredulous. "What about you?"

"You can't be serious," Demitri growled.

Sage responded, "I'm being very serious. I think at this point Isaac has proven to be a capable pilot with the potential to master a superior mobile suit. I'll be taking his old Leo to Deimos instead."

"Are you sure? This is pretty big.... We can't afford any mistakes at Deimos," Isaac questioned.

"I'm sure."

"It's your funeral," Demitri commented snidely.

Isaac never thought this day would come. It was their last battle with the Alliance. Sage worked and sacrificed for years, and now he was entrusting the final victory to Isaac. He had come a long way since his days on the streets. Either they would finally break the Alliance or they would fail to see Mars free. Isaac did not know how things would turn out. All he knew was he wasn't about to let down the man who saved his life. He refused to die with nothing to show.

He looked up at the new Tauruses. They glistened under the hangar lights, proud and tall.

"Well...we better start breaking these things in," Isaac started. "There's not much time left."

***

January, After Colony 196, Deimos

A storm of gunfire. A net of white-hot lead. And they were flying head-first into it.

A wave of Martian Leos charged through the thick barrage, desperate to break through to Deimos. With each passing second another Leo was smashed by a cannon shell or shredded apart by machinegun streams. The gunfire was blinding and deafening. The Leos took evasive maneuvers as they charged. It was meaningless. There was no sense or reason--only the inevitable intersection of a pilot with an armor-piercing slug.

They fired back desperately, hoping to take down a few of the Alliance's turrets and mobile suits before they were themselves destroyed. A suit here. A gun battery there. But they could not deplete the Alliance's firepower quickly enough.

Deimos could not be caught by surprise. The Martians had started their assault by shelling the rocky satellite with every available cannon, but the Alliance was dug in too deep. When Deimos began its counter-barrage, the Martians were wide open.

Only a few of the Leo wave remained. They abandoned any hope of surviving, instead banding together to consolidate their firepower to destroy as much of the Deimos artillery as possible before they were killed.

A Martian pilot took aim for one of the turrets. Just as he pulled the trigger, a massive golden beam shot over his shoulder and obliterated an entire row of mobile suits and gun batteries. He spun around to see a band of lights in the distance.

A squad of fighter jets screamed past. They unleashed a shower of beam bolts, destroying a dozen targets with surgical precision. The one mounted with a beam cannon crippled another array of turrets with a well-placed burst.

The fighter at the center of the formation twisted and unfolded in form, eventually turning upright with beam rifle in hand. It was Isaac's Taurus.

"This is it, everyone," Isaac radioed in a commanding tone. "Fan out and destroy the artillery. Watch your 6 for enemy bogies."

"Sir!"

Demitri's Taurus readied its beam cannon.

"Just don't get in my way."

Isaac's Taurus squad quickly breached the Deimos defensive line. They were outnumbered and surrounded, but the Alliance pilots had never seen a Taurus before. Using sheer speed and mobility, they ignored the Alliance Space Leos completely and proceeded to cripple the satellite's network of gun batteries.

Sage observed the battle conditions closely from the rear. His brow was wet with perspiration. As the Alliance's barrage began to thin, he sent more troops forward.

"Leo waves 3 and 4 advance!"

As Isaac's Tauruses ravaged the Alliance artillery, the Martian Leos traded blows with the Deimos defensive line. They fired frantically into each other's formations, Martian and Alliance Leos falling in equal numbers.

Just as another wave of Alliance Leos launched from Deimos, Demitri's beam cannon smashed their entire left flank. He backed off as his weapon recharged, allowing his wingmen to move forward and dissect the rest of the formation.

Sage watched in anticipation as the Taurus squad joined the fray against the Deimos defensive line. Without their artillery to support them, the Alliance formation fell to shambles against the Martian pincer attack. The Alliance pilots were unable to cope with the numbers of Martian Leos and the mobility of Isaac's Tauruses, attacks hammering them from either direction.

The hairs on Sage's neck stood on end. This was it! He readied the throttle on his Space Leo.

"All waves advance! Take Deimos!!"

Just as he punched his accelerator, a massive beam split the battlefield in two and incinerated four of the Martian carriers. The Martian pilots looked on in terror as the ships sank in flames.

Sage panicked. What kind of weapon could possibly have that kind of range and firepower? He instinctively traced the origin of the beam.

An Alliance battleship arrived from the far side of Deimos, escorted by a fleet of Space Leos. The front of the craft was jerry-rigged with an array of fifteen beam cannons fire-linked to launch a single colossal beam. The improvised weapon was imprecise and poorly tuned, but the range and firepower it achieved was tremendous.

Sage was shocked by the arrival of the new weapon.

"SCATTER!!"

The Martian forces dispersed as the Alliance battleship launched another volley. A wispy, golden ribbon smashed another row of Martian Leos and carriers.

Isaac gritted his teeth as he watched his Martian brethren go down in flames.

"Tauruses! Advance on the battleship. We're taking it down!!"

Isaac's Taurus transformed and scrambled through the thick of tangled Leos for the Alliance battleship.

Demitri was taken aback. "Are you suicidal?!" But his words fell on deaf ears. He shook his head and tailed Isaac, the rest of the Taurus squad following suit.

The Alliance battleship fired another blast on the Martian fleet as Isaac's Taurus fighter screamed closer. Almost immediately he was swarmed by the battleship's mobile suit escort.

They greeted him with an intense barrage of beam rifle and machinegun fire. Isaac's Taurus juked left and right, up and down to avoid the deadly bolts. He returned fire with his beam rifle between movements, taking out a few Leos at a time, but he couldn't advance on the battleship.

The other Tauruses arrived, weathering the immense firestorm of bullets from the Alliance Leos. Like Isaac, they attempted to breach the battleship's escort. Many Space Leos fell, but their numbers seemed unceasing.

Demitri leveled his beam cannon and carved out an opening in the formation's center. The entire Taurus squad burst through, weathering damage from automatic gunfire. The Taurus at the tail of the squad spun around to draw the fire of the Alliance Leos. It destroyed another three before a rifle bolt pierced its cockpit block. The ensuing explosion sent its mangled remains reeling.

Isaac and the others were within reach of the battleship, but the Alliance Space Leo barrage threatened to kill them all. Another Taurus lost its rifle arm to machinegun fire, so its pilot transformed his suit and attempted to ram the battleship at full speed.

A net of machinegun bullets tore chunks from the Taurus fighter, but it managed to collide into the side of its target. The ship was rocked by the powerful explosion, but the damage was not enough. The beam cannons began to charge to fire another volley on the Martian fleet.

Isaac gasped at the impending destructive attack. "We can't let those cannons fire!!"

Demitri surged forward with his beam cannon. "I'll take the shot. COVER ME!!"

His Taurus stopped completely and took careful aim with its weapon. To damage the battleship at this range, he would have to use a full-powered blast and hit a weak point. The Alliance Leos took notice of Demitri's Taurus immediately, but Isaac and the others attacked relentlessly to defend Demitri.

Isaac strained under his Taurus's intense maneuvers. He spun and juked and pivoted, destroying anything that came close, no matter what the direction. Bloody streaks began to impair his sight, but it no longer mattered. He experienced a strange tunnel vision where he could only see the targets directly in front of him, yet he could feel where everything was.

Every hostile. Every bullet. Every attack and any possible maneuver. He could see everything.

Time slowed to a crawl as Isaac's very being began to meld with the battlefield. His beam rifle hammered the Alliance Leos, and he sidestepped their counterattack by mere inches, over and over. The Taurus's engines and rifle screamed, burning from overexertion. Yet Isaac pushed ever harder, on the brink of destruction.

Another Taurus fell. Isaac could do nothing but continue his counter-assault and protect Demitri. There were too many.

Isaac was going to die.

He didn't care. Running away would never quiet his rage, his hatred of the Earth. Instead, he chose to die screaming into the wind, to vanish meaninglessly, painfully, taking down as many of his enemies as he could.

The battleship's cannons whined, beam energy frothing from the charged barrels. Isaac felt a pit in his stomach as the hybrid weapon fired.

Just as the beams converged, a wild blast from outside smashed into the cannon array. It was Demitri's Taurus. His beam cannon shot gouged into the battleship's charged weapon system, the stored energy backfiring on the vessel. The ensuing explosion blew the battleship's front half apart, splitting its massive hull like a blossom made of molten embers.

A burning shockwave of plasma rocked the battlespace. Martian and Alliance forces alike stopped to see the battleship sink. The Alliance's trump card was now just a smoldering mass of twisted steel.

Sage was shaking with disbelief. Half of the Martian fleet had been destroyed, but they managed to sink the Alliance's superweapon. He assumed control of the comm. again.

"All Leo teams advance. Capture Deimos."

As the Alliance battleship sank, its escort of Space Leos lowered their weapons. Isaac and Demitri were still on pins and needles, but their opponents no longer seemed interested in fighting to the death without something to protect. Eventually, the Alliance Leos withdrew completely back to Deimos.

Isaac and Demitri both heaved a sigh of relief, followed by fits of painful coughs and sputtering. All at once the strain and damage they endured from their intense maneuvers became apparent. The adrenaline that suppressed the pain of their overexertion had disappeared, and they both heaved deep breaths as they tried to recompose themselves.

"Let's head back," Isaac ordered in a hoarse voice.

So the remaining Taurus units turned around to return to the fleet of Martian carriers. As they left the field, they passed the Deimos infiltration teams. The Space Leos they passed waved or saluted to show respect to the Taurus team.

As the battle died down, the infiltration teams surrounded and occupied the satellite. They arrested any Alliance soldiers who surrendered and subdued the ones who did not. Eventually the Alliance generals radioed from a bunker deep inside Deimos and called for a cease-fire.

It was done.

A couple of hours later, Sage relinquished command of the Martian fleet and rushed to meet the Taurus squad. The carrier's hangar was swarming with mechanics and support staff tending to the mobile suits and pilots returned from battle. Isaac recognized Sage immediately and went to greet him. In his exhaustion, he stumbled and fell to his knees. Sage caught him by his arm and lifted him up again.

"Sage Schneider," Isaac said, meeting the other man's gaze. "Deimos is yours."

"No," Sage said with a strange mixture of laughter and tears welling in his eyes. "Deimos is ours. It belongs to Mars."

***

Cracking fireworks. Streamers and confetti. The electrified roar of a cheering crowd.

Surreal was the only way Isaac could describe it. He stood on a parade car with Sage and Demitri. Adoring colonists flooded the streets to celebrate the heroes in their final victory.

Mars was free.

Two weeks after the battle at Deimos, the Earth Alliance had been completely dismantled. The Mars Liberation Group and the Sons of Mars formed a temporary militia to keep order in the colonies.

It was a time of great chaos and excitement. Mars was free of any ruling Earth government, so the leaders of the liberating parties congressed on how to structure an independent, self-sustained system of rule on Mars. The possibilities were endless.

Demitri worked the masses, lifting his hands, demanding they cheer louder. He soaked up their adulation like a prideful sponge. He was already picking pretty faces out of the groups of happy fans. His swelling ego threatened to topple the parade car.

Sage waved handsomely at the crowd. His protégé stood stupidly on the parade car, completely out of his element. Sage kindly tugged at Isaac's elbow, encouraging him to engage with the populous.

Isaac waved meekly. Throngs of young women screamed and wept adoringly in response, embarrassing him even further. This was madness.

His eyes narrowed a bit as he felt a painful twinge in his heart. Isaac didn't like crowds. As long as he knew, they were angry and hateful things. When he was young, mobs formed to drive him and the other homeless children away from town, berating him with cruel words or sometimes beating him savagely. For most of his life, he was a freak, a burden, or a parasite to be driven off with extreme prejudice.

Isaac looked upon the smiles and happy expressions. Could these really be the same people? Which face was the real side?

A group of children ran alongside the parade car. They offered a bouquet of flowers to Isaac, an especially rare gift in the Martian colonies. Isaac hesitated. He knelt down gingerly and carefully accepted the gift.

As he did so, the people crowded up to the parade car. They held his hand, patted his arm, and touched his face like he was something divine. He had never been so close to people before, seeing all the different faces, looking deep into their eyes. They were young and old, plain or beautiful, wealthy or poor. All the same, they touched him, hoping to feel for themselves that spark of divinity in Isaac that blessed him and saw Mars free.

Isaac stood up again, the bouquet of flowers in hand. His heart trembled. He didn't know what to think. For the first time, his eyes were really open to the Martian people's suffering, but they were also open to the people's hope for a better life. All Isaac knew for certain was that he had to protect these people.

Two figures looked on quietly from the next parade car.

"They really do adore him, don't they?"

"Yes. He's perfect...."

***

As the parade came to an end, the key leaders of OZ, the Mars Liberation Group, and the Sons of Mars convened at the Dreyfus estate to discuss the future Martian government. Isaac and Demitri followed behind Sage as he lead them into the estate. There were many important but unfamiliar figures in the gathering. Isaac and Demitri were mere pilots in the campaigns, so they were terribly inexperienced when it came to matters of politics.

Isaac marveled at the fine porcelain carvings and marble fountains inlaid with crystal and gold. He couldn't understand how such wealth could exist in the Martian colonies. Only hours ago he stood above throngs of ragged laborers. They were nothing but bones draped in robes of pain and suffering. Under the Alliance it was not uncommon for orphans and the destitute to die of starvation. That was all Isaac knew in his youth. And now, Isaac was so far removed from that world. He wouldn't know how to behave himself in the company of wealthy and powerful figures.

Sage paraded his subordinates around the court, introducing them to various military and business leaders. Eventually they met Krista Dreyfus, the head of the Dreyfus estate. She was a woman in her early thirties, and she was exceptionally beautiful. She had long dark blonde hair and carried herself with pride and a sultry feminine charm. Her eyes were narrow and cunning. The public spoke her name rarely, but everyone knew that it was the Dreyfus estate that financed the anti-Earth terrorist group, the Sons of Mars.

Krista had married into the Dreyfus family ten years ago. Sage thought it unusual for a woman of her status to take part in such dangerous and underhanded matters, but he recalled that Krista's husband and daughter were killed by Alliance soldiers in a random act of violence. As the sole remaining heir of the Dreyfus estate, Krista wielded whatever power she had to bring the Earth Alliance to its knees through any means necessary.

"Why if it isn't the Red Knight himself!" Krista exclaimed, her arms crossed over her bosom. She was attended by her assistant Carla Genus-Wray, a bookish girl with braids and glasses.

Sage bowed graciously. "Lady Dreyfus. I hope you are well this evening."

"Y-you must be the Beast of Deimos?" Carla stammered timidly.

"Who's asking?" Demitri barked.

Carla retreated with a small whimper. Krista laughed, "You soldier types are as pleasant as ever. Tell us, Mister Zabek, how many Alliance mobile suits did you shoot down at Deimos? Forty-seven?"

"Forty-eight." Demitri corrected with a self-satisfied grin.

"Isaac Winters, I presume?" Krista turned to the younger pilot. "You lead the new Taurus squad into battle, yes? I've heard much about you in my talks with Mister Schneider."

Demitri jabbed Isaac in the side with an elbow. "Tell 'em how many kills you got at Deimos, pipsqueak."

Isaac lowered his gaze. "Thirty-one. I still have a long way to go before I can match Demitri."

Krista smiled at him knowingly. "You've got a bright future ahead of you in the military, son, especially if I've got any say in it." Isaac could only stare harder at his shoes in response. Krista changed the topic, "Speaking of that, Sage, have you and your men decided what to do with the former Alliance captives?"

"We are still interrogating them, and we are looking into seeing if it's possible to transport them back to Earth when all is said and done."

"Why not execute them?" Krista shrugged flippantly. "Air is still a limited resource, after all."

Sage's brow hardened slightly. "They are still human, Lady Dreyfus," he said firmly. "Please don't speak so plainly about taking their lives."

Krista laughed, her chin held high. She linked arms with Sage, pressing her side intimately into his. "You never change, Mister Schneider. So kind and compassionate--even to dogs!" Isaac was taken aback. Demitri snickered.

"You flatter me too much," Sage managed through a stony expression.

"The Earthlings have long since abandoned any sense of right and wrong," Krista whispered just loud enough for everyone to hear. Her voice was at once alluring and chilling. "You should do the same."

Everyone looked up as the cook rang the dinner bell. "Looks like preparations are done," Carla commented. She motioned the group toward the dinner hall. "This way, everyone."

"Actually, I have arranged a separate table for Isaac and Demitri as my special guests," Krista interjected. "If you would please join me?" Surprised, Isaac and Demitri nodded in agreement.

"Well, then, I should join the others in the main hall. There is still much to discuss," Sage relented. "Please excuse me." He bowed again to Lady Dreyfus and departed from the group.

The others retired to a smaller, much more private dining room. The furniture was made of a dark exotic wood from Earth, polished with a beautiful lacquer. There were fine silk curtains and the chandelier made the room burst with golden starlight.

"You are quite the remarkable young man, Mister Winters," Krista said. "I have never met a Martian with your condition before." She was referring to Isaac's canuchromia, a mutation that caused his hair to be naturally gray from birth. "It's quite striking, I must say."

Isaac looked away, dejectedly. "Don't you mean that I look like a freak?"

"On the contrary," Krista fluttered. "I hear that the mutation only occurs here in the Martian colonies. In a sense, that makes you a real child of Mars, a true Martian. The people can sense it! They adore you like royalty. You can be a true hero."

"I don't know what to say to that," Isaac stammered.

Demitri interjected, "What kind of nonsense is this? This runt can't even hold a candle to me. What kind of hero is second best at everything?"

Krista smiled at Demitri, a knowing look in her eyes. "A hero isn't just the thug with the biggest weapons, son. And besides, who knows if a man with Earth-blood can be trusted to lead Mars to victory?"

Her words startled Demitri. How did she know?

"This is ZOINKS," he said in offense. "I'm out of here." Demitri turned on his heel and stormed out. Isaac and Carla were speechless.

"Please show him out," Krista motioned to her assistant. Carla snapped out her daze and nodded. She disappeared after Demitri.

Isaac didn't know what to make of the situation. He suddenly felt awkward being alone in a stranger's home.

Krista floated to the other end of the dining room and motioned to someone on the other side of a door. An entire wait staff appeared and set a ten course meal on the dining table. There were rich and delicate meats, choice caviar and seafood, delightful sweets and pastries, and costly wines and champagnes. The staff bowed on their way out, and Krista and Isaac were alone again.

Isaac's breath was taken away. The rich, savory aromas, the deep colors and beautiful shapes...it was all too much. His world was changing so fast. Suddenly tears were streaming down his face. His heart was in pieces, remembering the desperation of his youth and remembering his friends who starved without a single bite to eat in their bellies.

"What's the matter, son?" Krista implored her young guest to speak his heart.

"This is too much," he said painfully. "I can't have this all to myself. I've watched so many people live and die with nothing. How could I possibly deserve to live like this, if even for just a day?"

"This is how a hero eats," Krista proclaimed. "The people give this to you willingly. You fought hard and won for them."

Isaac shook his head, still resistant.

Krista spoke softly, "I've been hurt, too, Isaac. The Alliance took my family, but I survived, just like you. What do survivors like us do?"

Isaac looked up, unsure.

"We get stronger," Krista answered. "We don't let anyone push us around. We win, and we take for ourselves. That's why you can live a good life now, because you are strong." She put her arms around Isaac's neck and hugged him close to her breast.

He hadn't been hugged by a woman since his mother held him as a child. He felt like he was melting away, like he was in a trance. All he could feel was the warmth of her embrace and the deep aroma of her perfume.

"Isaac, you know as well as I that we're not done fighting. As long as the Earth exists, Martians will never have peace. The terrible things that happened to us...we never want for that to happen to anyone else ever again. The people adore you, and they need someone to fight for them. The people need a champion. Will you protect us, Isaac?"

Isaac shut his eyes hard, heavy tears welling down his face as he nodded.

Yes. His answer was yes.

***

Wisps of smoke wafted into the air. The smooth bands spread out into long hazy loops and dissipated into the darkness. The room was all black but for a single red ember.

Demitri took a slow drag from his cigarette and exhaled the smoke softly from his nostrils. It was 3 in the morning. He was slouched back in an armchair, shirtless, his eyes looking into nothingness.

Through the haze, he looked over to the bed. Under the sheets was a naked woman sleeping soundly. He didn't know her name, but it didn't matter. She was the prettiest of her friends and a decent lay. In the morning he would leave, and they would forget each other.

Despite the shallow conquest and a brief moment of bliss, he sat alone in the dark feeling knotted up inside. There was no relief or understanding to be found anywhere or in anyone.

That Dreyfus woman was a witch, he thought, looking back on the prior evening. Who was she to question his loyalty? The people pulling the strings never understand soldiers. He had done more for Mars than any other Liberation Group pilot.

Of course, the only loyalty he ever held was to himself, and even that was an unsure promise.

How did Dreyfus know about him? What an irritating memory...!

Demitri's mother was from Earth. She was always doting and overprotective of her only child...always...in the way. The pure-blooded Martian pilots always talked down to him for it. No matter where he went or how hard he worked, Demitri was neglected when it came to praise or promotion. How miserable his life was because of his mother. How he hated her for it and how he hated the Earth.... If he were to ever visit his mother's home planet, he swore to raze it to the ground.

When Demitri left home he vowed to himself he would claw his way to the top. They would have no choice but to respect him if he were the best, the most powerful.

And that was why he despised Isaac. That fool was always being treated like he was special. He had a helping hand everywhere he turned. Demitri, on the contrary, didn't need help to become great. He refused it.

He stewed alone in the dark, thinking only of the greatness he would win and how he would throw it back into the faces of everyone he loathed. They all wrong to judge and discriminate against him.

Eventually Demitri put out his cigarette, grinding it resentfully into the leather armrest of the chair. He imagined one day he would squash Isaac with the same motion, when he became General of the Martian space military. Oh, how satisfying that would be....

One day soon.

***

"Are you ready?" Isaac asked.

"I've been waiting for this moment my whole life," Sage answered with genuine bravado.

Two months had passed. Sage and Isaac were wearing the military uniforms of the new Mars Space Republic. They were gray on black with boots and white gloves. As officers their shoulders both had intricate embroidering. Sage's uniform had a cloak draped over his left side to indicate his prestigious ranking.

Sage was remarkably dashing in his military uniform, Isaac thought. This was likely how he looked in his old OZ military wear. And yet, he seemed so natural. This was where Sage belonged, that much was sure.

Today was the official formation of the Mars Space Republic, the first government independent of the Earth Sphere. Sage and Isaac went to sit on a raised stage along with a dozen other MSR officials. Millions of Martian colonists gathered for the occasion, the ocean of people stretching so far it could be seen along the curve of the colony structure.

It was a momentous first in human history. One by one the MSR officials on stage stood at the podium and announced the various branches and functions of the new government. Representatives, voting, economics, aid and health programs, terraforming Mars...the citizens heard it all with bated breath.

Cheers erupted from the crowd as Sage Schneider graciously took the podium. He spoke with an electrifying confidence as he presented the formation of the MSR's military. The audience listened in anticipation as Sage spoke of the military's branches, command structure, powers of authority, and the production of new mobile suits. On the screens arranged throughout the colony Sage presented renderings of the Gemini, a new series of mobile suit designed exclusively by Martian engineers.

As his presentation ended Sage paused. "I would like to take this opportunity to speak directly to the new citizens of the Mars Space Republic. This is a day I've dreamed of for as long as I can remember. The freedom we have today was won through much hardship and bloodshed, but freedom is just the beginning. We Martians live on humanity's frontier, but we can make it our own. Through Martian ingenuity, collaboration, work ethic, and a hope for the future we can create a true paradise here. May this be an unprecedented time of cooperation and prosperity in human history."

The Martian citizens thunderously applauded Sage's heartfelt words. Many wept, overwhelmed with emotions of pride and unity and the honor of having such a hero amongst their leadership.

It was time for Sage to bring in the final speaker. "Now, I would like to introduce a dear friend. He has been an ace pilot with the Mars Liberation Group since its inception. A prince among men. My protégé and brother-in-arms...Lieutenant Isaac Winters."

Sage greeted Isaac at the podium, embracing him with a brotherly handshake as the crowd offered him a hero's welcome. He returned to his seat, eager to see what Isaac's speech would hold.

Isaac was nervous. He had never spoken to a crowd before, but he gazed into the sea of proud Martian citizens and knew what he had to do. He took a deep breath and steeled himself.

"My esteemed fellow Martians, the path one walks to freedom is long and arduous. Each one of us endured great pain or hardship under the rule of the Earth Alliance. Every one of us knows someone who has lost a friend, a partner, a brother or sister, a parent or child. Today is the day we stand up for ourselves as Martians and strike back against our oppressors.

I hereby declare a draft of all able persons under the flag of Mars. As a military citizen you are under the full protection of the Mars Space Republic, and each military citizen shall have their place within the system, whether that be in industry, technology, agriculture, or the armed forces. Each person will belong to one part of the greater whole.

A shared purpose...a shared direction.... We will work together, fight together, and bleed together. But my blood is RED, as is yours! As one, Mars will inherit all of space as humanity's true successor. Together we are strong, and together we will be victorious!"

Silence. The pit in Sage's stomach almost brought him to his knees. Was this really Isaac?

To his horror, the crowd responded with uproarious applause. Sage could hear their utter resentment and hatred of the Earth, and with it, Isaac wielded the will of the people.

The other officials applauded quietly, pleased with the citizens' response to their plans. Isaac raised a fist into the air. The people chanted.

"Long live Mars! Long Live Mars! Long live Mars!"

It was a new war.

***

Isaac winced painfully as he was thrown back into a wall.

"What have you done!!" Sage had dragged Isaac aside as soon as he left the stage. "Declaring war on the Earth? An entire planet? This is utter madness!"

Sage scrambled for words to make sense of what transpired. "Did the Sons of Mars put you up to this?"

"This is what Mars wants," Isaac answered defiantly.

"How long you been planning this? How can you keep this from me?" Sage demanded. "I thought we could trust each other."

"I knew you wouldn't agree," Isaac admitted.

"Of course not! The last thing Mars needs is another war. The cost is too great. You think these people are in any shape to survive, let alone win, an interplanetary war? Why are you doing this?"

"We might have won at Deimos, but the next time we face the Earthlings, we might get wiped out completely. We have to gather our strength and strike first."

Sage couldn't understand Isaac's thinking. He took a step back. "We are already free, Isaac. The Earth Alliance has already been dismembered."

"ZOINKS," Isaac countered. "What is freedom when the Earthlings can just fall out of the sky and take everything? As soon as they hear of our independence, it will be inevitable."

"Isaac," Sage pleaded, "we are free. We could build Heaven right here, on Mars! But all you can think of is raising Hell on Earth! Why do you think of nothing but destruction?"

"You understand nothing, brother," Isaac seethed resentfully. "As long as there is an Earth, Mars will never be free. That's why I'll fight."

"You have never even been to Earth. How do you even know they won't recognize Mars as sovereign?"

"I don't know how you can defend those mindless dogs and still claim to be devoted to Mars. Earthlings do nothing but take...they do nothing but burn us and kill us Martians. You've seen it!" The scar on the side of his neck began to burn painfully. He pressed a hand over it. Hateful tears welled up in Isaac's eyes. "Have you forgotten what happened to me and my friends? And all those other innocent children? Those Earthlings created a literal Hell for us here!"

"Those were Alliance soldiers, Isaac," Sage reminded the younger man. "Most Earthlings are not like them at all. They would never stand for such injustices."

"Then where were they as Martian children cried out in pain, when our friends were bleeding out? Where were they when countless Martians starved to death? They're all the same for all I care!"

"Isaac," Sage pleaded sincerely, "I know you have been hurt, but you must release your anger. This hatred will only burn you up and take all of Mars along with you. There is always a better way."

Isaac was quiet for a moment, but his eyes suddenly pierced Sage with white-hot resentment. "Release my anger? Wasn't it you who told me to fight the Earth Alliance? You told me to fight injustice on behalf of Mars. And I did! I've slain countless men for your cause. And I'm not nearly done. I'll keep killing until I know for myself that Mars is really free--until I breathe my last breath. Without this anger I have nothing!"

Sage closed his eyes sorrowfully, nodding in agreement with the accusation. "You're right, Isaac. I used your anger to destroy the Earth Alliance, and that was wrong of me. We've been so focused on the fight that we forgot how to be human. That was a mistake, and I am deeply sorry for committing such a sin against humanity.

"But you have a choice now. You don't have to fight anymore. You of all people deserve to live a good life, so please, Isaac, choose to move past your hatred and live."

Isaac was quiet for a long time, working his oath-brother's words over, not breaking eye contact with Sage. Isaac sighed and looked away. "It's too late for me, Sage. There is nothing left in me to save. But there are innocents out there that I have to protect. Your words fall on deaf ears. My mind cannot be changed. We are done here."

Sage was stern, "Don't think that this is over. I won't give up on you, Isaac. And I won't let Mars go down the wrong path, either."

Isaac turned to leave the room. He paused for a moment and offered one last thought. "I've looked up to you, Sage, like an older brother. For a time, I thought you were my only family, but now I see I was only a tool for your revolution.

"The fight for Mars isn't over. I don't know why you insist on protecting those Earth dogs, but only one side will come out of this alive. This war will happen with or without you."

Isaac disappeared without another word.

Sage stood alone in the room. His vision of peace was shattering before his eyes, and the very people he fought for had turned their back on that vision. Even his old friend Treize failed to see peace won. He shook his head with disappointment, thoughts churning in his mind like a storm at sea.

There had to be a way....

***

Isaac sat on the outside of the colony wall, adorned in an astrosuit. He only had enough air to last a few hours, but he needed to sort out his thoughts. He reclined against the massive steel plates, all alone in the deafening vacuum, starlight reflecting off his helmet's visor.

He never thought he would see the day when he and Sage were not on the same side. In the back of his mind, he always hoped that Sage would join the war effort. A direct war with the Earth would be an immense struggle without his talent and leadership, but ultimately, he was too stubborn to see Isaac's side of the matter.

It came into view as the massive colony completed its slow, continuous rotation: a tiny red ball hanging in the distance. Mars. Isaac had suffered his whole life for this lifeless ball of dust. So many people born into poverty and lives of back-breaking labor just to make this rock remotely livable.... Why the Earthlings wanted it he could never understand. Not a day passed where Isaac didn't want to just give up and let them have it.

As he gazed at the distant planet, the scar on Isaac's neck began to ache and throb. In the red light, he saw his friend Richard, bled out on the clinic floor. He saw the savage Alliance soldiers with their sneering grins. And he saw the many who starved in the streets as the Earthlings took everything for themselves.

What a terrible life, he thought. Was there no hope of redemption? Of better days ahead?

Suddenly he was reminded of the faces he saw at the parade and of the cheers of the masses as he rallied them to war against Earth. Surely, if the Martian people could endure all they have and still smile, they could endure anything. They were righteous. They were the chosen people, and he would rise to fight as their champion.

The planets, moons, and stars pulsed and shimmered, calling him forward. He promise was infinite and unbreakable. He would bring justice to Mars.


Even if he had to do it alone.


Act Special, Episode II: The Betrayal, End

-seraphic
3.6.2017


Zechs Merquise encounters old friends and old rivals as he escapes the ever-expanding grasp of the Mars Space Republic. Will he live to set foot on the Earth once more? Next time on New Mobile History Gundam Wing: The Sword,

Act II, Episode III: Aegis and Excalibur



Reference Materials:

GW: The Sword, Martian Timeline (Incomplete)

AC 120- Relay stations are constructed on Deimos and Phobos, Mars' moons. Space colonies are established in orbit around Mars, populated mostly by engineers and laborers.

AC 130- Resource satellites are sent into orbit between Earth and Mars as relay stations between the two planets.

AC 133- The United Earth Sphere Alliance is formed.

AC 140- The space colonies of Earth relinquish the right to self-rule under the Alliance. The Martian colonies are conquered within a few years.

Civil unrest exists in the Earth space colonies for several decades. Martian colonies are slowly developed and populated. Martian colonists are put to work gathering resources and capturing resource satellites from the asteroid belt.

AC 165- Heero Yuy is elected as representative of Earth's space colonies. His influence does not spread to Mars, and Martian citizens continue to labor under the Alliance without hope for independence.

AC 173- The Romefellar Foundation begins developing mobile suits for use in combat.

AC 175- Heero Yuy is assassinated. The Organization of the Zodiac (OZ) is formed. The scientists disappear from the mobile suit development project.

AC 182- Sanc Kingdom falls.

AC 187- The Martian colony economy is crashing rapidly. Little to no aid is sent from Earth due to internal conflicts and limited resources.

AC 193- Treize Khushrenada takes command of OZ. Sage Schneider returns to Mars after retiring from OZ.

AC 195- The Gundams are sent to Earth.

The Alliance is destroyed on Earth, but its Martian arm still exists. It becomes desperate and isolationist.

Martian rebels fight back against the Alliance occupation.

White Fang is defeated on Earth.

The Alliance is defeated at Deimos and dissolved.

AC 196- The Earth Sphere Unified Nations is formed.

The Mars Space Republic forms in secret with plans to gain independence and conquer Earth.
"Red particles are bad, they mutate you into... dead? But green/blue particles are good, apparently, for reasons and for purposes yet to be determined. Isn't science sometimes nicely color-coded?"
-Antares

GW: The Sword . Sera's Art . Gameplay . The Lost Citadel

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