Loum Province, Side 5
His eyes slowly opened, wincing at the bright light flooding his vision. He took a moment for his eyes to adjust, taking shallow breaths. To his surprise, he found a respirator attached to his face, feeding oxygen to his body. Looking to his right, he found another man in the same position, only he was still unconscious. The man’s attempts to rise from his bed were stopped by a firm hand to his shoulder.
“Easy there, you’re still under shock.”
Looking to his left, he found the source of the voice. The man wore a standard normal suit for the Federal Forces, though the pip engraved on his suits collar gave him the rank of Captain. Taking a look around, the man was shocked to see space through a window. As he took another breath of air, the man noticed a half dozen other men lying in gurneys, all in various states of injury. The Captain moved closer to check the man’s pulse. “Do you remember anything, Ensign Henry Williamson?”
The man, Henry, slowly shook his head. “Not much sir, my brain feels like hammered ZOINKS.”
The Captain nodded, slowly pushing himself off the gurney. “It’s alright; we thought you were dead when we pulled you from that wrecked Saberfish.” It took Henry a few seconds to process that Captain’s statement, but he slowly remembered the day’s events. ‘Ensign Henry Williamson, Saberfish pilot, 1st Combined Fleet. Side 5’
“Sir” Henry turned to address the Captain, “My ship, the Juneau, is she…?”
“Sunk? Unfortunately yes Ensign, as is half the fleet.” He let the news sink in for the young Ensign. It was a hard hit for the young pilot; he had a lot of friends on that Salamis. Lying back in his bed, he brushed his hand over his head, minding the IV needle protruding into his dark skin. Taking a few seconds, he turned his attention to the Captain, who was attending another patient.
“Captain, where are we heading now?” The officer in question glanced back, before turning his attention back to the patient at hand. “There’s a rally point for what’s left of the fleet, then it’s Luna II. Hopefully, we’ll sneak by the Zeeks to the rendezvous.” Turning to address the Ensign, he found the young pilot puzzled.
“Sir, what do you mean, I thought the battle was over?” The officer in question elected a dark chuckle, before gesturing to the window behind the Ensign.
“Look behind you.” Taking the Captains’ advice, Henry turned just in time to see a distant Salamis consumed in a flash of purple light.
Warrant Officer Jones swore as the cruiser went up, before checking his radar again. The small voice in the back of his head asked why he was doing this, since the instrument was all but useless. With the amount of Minovsky Particles in the area, all that was emitting from his radar was static. Checking his radio, he found it to be shot as well, with only laser communication possible.
“Where’s the damn RV point?”
Taking his eyes off of the instruments, he turned his head to address his co-pilot, Specialist Simmons. A reservist, he was a replacement for one of the countless soldiers lost during the first week. His status as a rookie was evident, as Simmons kept scanning the sea around them while muttering nervously. Jones shook his head before turning his attention back to the space around the shuttle.
“Relax Simmons, just stay on this approach”
Even as he said those words, Jones had a similar feeling. His eyes were drawn to the not too distant remains of Revil’s flagship, Ananke.
‘Jesus Christ, half the fleet’s gone.’
His thoughts became darker as a shattered colony came into view, its docking bay warped and twisted, courtesy of a Zeon nuke.
‘The Zeeks did this, ZOINKS monsters.’ His hatred for the Zeon was subsided when his co-pilot shook his shoulder. “Sir, look!” Looking to where Simmons was pointing, the CASEVAC pilot only saw the tangled remains of a Musai.
“That’s just wreckage Simmons, get your head clear.”
The rookie Federal Forces pilot shook his head, “No sir, by the Musai, I saw something move.” Again, Jones strained to see what the rookie was talking about. His eyes scanned the wrecked Musai, focusing on the shattered forward section. As he did, he noticed three shapes dart out from the wreckage.
Even as Jones redlined the engines, he knew it was useless. Those new Zeon machines were faster, even outperforming the top of the line Saberfish. As they enveloped the shuttle, he got a better look.
There was one older model, classified as a Zaku I, wielding a bazooka. The other two were the newer Zaku IIs’, both of them armed with machine guns. The Zaku I darted to his left, training its bazooka on the shuttle.
One of the Zaku IIs moved the Jones right, leaving the last one just a few hundred meters in front. The one in the center gazed at the shuttle, and Jones could swear the mono-eye was looking right at him. Behind him, the pilot could hear the wounded gasping at the sight, one even began to clutch his rosary beads and pray.
Seconds seemed like hours as Jones kept his eyes glued to the Zaku, every beat of his heart feeling like a hammer blow. Behind Jones, Henry could see the Zaku as well, drawing shallow breaths as a means to stay calm.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the Zaku made its move. The left hand holding the massive machine gun, its right hand formed a fist. Sticking the thumb out, the Zeon mobile suit jerked the hand back, toward their supposed battle line. Seeing this, the two other mobile suits moved, rocketing past the stationary machine. The resulting scene was a shock to the Federal soldiers, but then the last Zaku started to move.
Flattening its right hand, the pilot brought the hand fingertips first to the machines head. To those inside, it looked like the Zaku was saluting them. Then, dropping the hand down, the green and black mobile suit turned around and rocketed away, the glow of its thrusters disappearing as it ducked behind the wrecked Musai.
For a few minutes, the occupants inside the shuttle were stunned, trying to comprehend what just happened. Ever since the start of the war, from the opening salvos to the Colony Drop, the Federals Forces had assumed all Zeon were hell bent on genocide. And yet, they were just spared by a few of these ‘murderers’. It was Simmons who was the first to speak.
“I…I don’t believe it.”
That was enough to break Jones out of his shock, “Got that right kid, let’s get out of here before they change their mind.” Handling the control stick, Jones brought the shuttles nose towards the RV point, using the small maneuvering thrusters to correct his approach. Though it took close to an hour, they managed to find a friendly battle group, lead by a damaged Magellan. While the trip took a whole day, the battered group of ships reached Luna II, being of the few lucky ones of the fleet.
It would take a few weeks before Ensign Williamson would be cleared for flight status. During his recovery, the lingering thought on his mind was the small act of mercy given by the Zaku pilot, in a war where none was to be expected.