A Freed Melendrez sidestory
Penned by: John Nigel
July 27, LC 0038
It was like any other day in the Taipei Space Station. Oblivious to the chaos caused by the arrival and departure of the throngs of people, both spacenoids and earthlings alike, Freed Melendrez was slowly sipping his Coke float. The humidity inside the station was like no other; it caused his to sweat profusely. Also, it was his first time to ride a space transport, first time to travel in space, as he and his father Alstaire would be going to Side 4 residential colony Eidon. His mother Maricka and younger sister Fiona had already migrated two years ago. After completing all requirements and saving enough money, Freed and his father were on their way.
Why space? Changes on earth made them decide to live in space: countless wars that the War of Pride started caused the earth to be 40% polluted. Resources dropped, food production became scarce for decades. Sovereign nations ceased to exist; some where dissolved into alliances with other countries, or either the federation or empire. Others were just laid waste, deserted after numerous core block explosions during mobile suit battles. Still others were annexed by other countries under pacts or treaties, like Taiwan. The whole island was annexed by Neo Nippon under treaty with Royal Zeon Empire. One of the six mass drivers in the world was situated there.
The deafening roar of a space transport taking off irritated Freed. He was sulking and particularly angry for leaving his whole life on earth; school, friends, room, girlfriend… It was as if his life was overhauled. After hours of waiting, their flight schedule was finally announced over the public address system. Grabbing his backpack. He went to where his father was and lined up for boarding. In the mild pandemonium, a woman in her 40’s was unexpectedly knocked down by a hasty man in a business suit, forcing his way among passengers. Obviously he was running late for his separate flight.
“Don’t block the way, old hag! Sheesh!”
“S-sorry, mister. I didn’t mean to delay you…” The woman’s baggages were everywhere. Alstaire immediately helped her pick up some of her things.
“Why, thank you, kind sir!”
Alstaire gave a smile. “No thanks necessary madam. I see that you are in the same flight as us. Why don’t you join us and we’ll keep you company, together with my son?”
Freed rolled his eyes. Here we go again, he thought. His father was always like that.
The woman beamed, “Really? That would be delightful! Thank you.”
Alstaire turned to his son, “Freed, will you be kind enough to carry her luggage?”
“WHAT?!?! Are you crazy? No way I’m carrying all that…” Of course, those words did not come out of his mouth, as Freed obediently gathered all his strength to drag the woman’s luggage. He thought, Too heavy! Is she keeping a mobile suit in this bag?
Soon, the transport boosters roared into life and the shuttle screamed down the mass driver track. G-forces pushed Freed deep into his cushioned seat. In his anxiety, he grabbed his flute from his coat pocket and tried to play some notes but no air came out. Instead, his father patted him on the head to calm him.
“You’d get used to space, son, sooner than you think.”
Ten minutes later, the “WEIGHLESSNESS” sign lit inside the cabin. Everyone were by now allowed to roam inside the shuttle cabin. Freed, who was not accustomed to weightlessness, became lightheaded. He felt that he was about to heave over. He looked to his right side, where the woman was sleeping soundly.
“Hahahahaha!!! For Pete’s sake, Freed, you’re practically a man, but still you can’t pull it off?” Alstaire lovingly mocked his son. “A thirteen-year old boy like you… Come here, you!”
Suddenly the space shuttle came into a jarring halt, which caused people and things to be flung forward in the cabin. Alstaire grabbed Freed by his coat collar and looked outside a space porthole. He saw a Musai-class cruiser. Space mercenaries!
They had set up a huge E-carbon composite mesh and trapped the shuttle. All of the sudden, two explosions were heard that caused the shuttle to shake violently. Alstaire muttered, “It seems that they successfully disabled this ship. We are in a pit of trouble now.”
Inside the cockpit, an “audio only” communication was established. It was choppy but the demands were clear.
“All passengers and crew are to board the emergency escape pods if you all value your life. We will take over this shuttle and seize your cargo. Do not try to resist in any way or we'll shoot you into oblivion without hesitation!”
In the heightened situation, the co-pilot, who was tense and on the verge of panic, accidentally pushed a button with his elbow, transmitting the communication with the mercenaries into the passenger cabin. The people inside the cabin suddenly sprang into chaos and panic. Not minding other people, everyone was moving here and there, trying to do something out of desperation. The woman, however, remained alert but focused after hearing the broadcast. She immediately left the cabin and slipped behind the small exit door leading to the cargo bay below. Alstaire saw her and motioned Freed to follow her as well.
“Where are we going, father?” Freed worriedly asked. “Are we escaping?”
Alstaire replied, “We will, son. But there’s something I want to find out first.”
Alstaire opened a small trapdoor on the floor and slipped inside. On it was a sign “CARGO BAY”. Being weightless, they glided through the narrow path, leading to a huge, dark cavity in the shuttle’s lower deck.
In the darkness of the huge cargo bay, Alstaire and Freed could hear metallic noises likened to a metal door creaking open followed by a blood-curling scream.
Freed was startled. “W-WHA-!!!!”
“It’s the woman from earlier,” his father exclaimed. “What is she doing here?”
Freed went ahead, looking for the woman, groping between the walls and the cargo.
“Madam, are you okay? Where are you? What are you doing here in such a time as this?” Alstaire called.
Freed found a LED torch from the emergency kit mounted on the wall and shone its light towards the woman, slumped beside a cargo hold door. Her leg was pinned down by it. Drops of blood were freely floating in space.
“I can’t…ARGH! I can’t free my leg,” the woman said.
All of the sudden, the ship gave a shudder which meant one thing: they mercenaries are preparing for embarkation.
Freed demanded, “Do you have anything to do with this? Who are you, and what’s inside this hold?”
Alstaire motioned his son to calm down. Turning to the woman, he asked, “Madam, whatever you’re keeping from us might help us out in the jeopardy. What are you doing here? And why are you trying to open this cargo hold?”
The woman hesitated first but finally gave in. “I am May Yuuri. I work as a technical engineer of the NEU. Inside this hold is a prototype mobile suit unit that I stole from the Royal Zeon Empire’s factory in Iberia. I have to send this to NEU_2, or at least destroy this to prevent Zeon from using it.”
“What?! You actually stole a mobile suit? And what’s NEU_2, anyway?” Freed interjected.
The woman ignored his question. “Time is of the essence. I believe that these mercenaries were hired by the empire to retrieve this unit. This unit must not fall into their hands once again. We cannot allow the empire to use this for their oppression and tyranny. You have to help me before…”
She wasn’t able to finish her sentence when an explosion took place outside the ship that caused its cargo hold to be ripped open. The sudden vacuum sucked the woman into space, while Alstaire and Freed immediately grabbed onto something fixed.
“FAAAATTTTHHHHEERRRRR!!!!!” Freed screamed.
“Hang on, son!!!!”
Freed’s hands slipped and he was drawn toward the hole. Alstaire shouted, “CLOSE YOUR EYES AND COVER YOUR EARS!! I’M COMING FOR YOU!”
Alstaire let go of his grip and grabbed Freed’s collar just in time before he was sent into space outside. Fortunately, the shuttle’s crisis system automatically took over the emergency situation. The pressure drop caused the release of hundreds of spherical and sticky gum-like substance often called “birdlime” which was used to temporary seal off any hole or breach in the shuttle’s hull. After the pressure was restored, Alstaire hugged his son, who was shocked for a moment.
“For a moment, I thought I’ve lost you…” Alstaire mumbled.
Fortunately, somehow the vacuum helped Alstaire to successfully open the cargo hold door.
Freed was alarmed. He realized that his father was about to board the mobile suit. He grabbed his father’s arm and exclaimed, “Dad, you can’t be serious! It’s not your responsibility to…to help! If we…if we use the escape pod, we might get through this! Besides, the woman is already dead.”
Alstaire looked at his son with a serious look in his eyes, and said to him, “That’s the problem that started this whole war; for evil to triumph, good men only have to do nothing.”
Alstaire hovered on the mobile suit’s cockpit hatch. He pulled a latch and it hissed open. Freed stared at his father, who said, “I am not going to fight to kill. I’ll fight to protect. In that way, everyone can become a hero.”
Alstaire donned the pilot suit inside the cockpit and brought the yet unknown mobile suit into life. Freed watched the mobile suit as it stood and moved toward the cargo hatch.
On the Musai-class cruiser, the space mercenaries leader known only as Tro was furious.
“Who authorized the attack?!?!?! We mercenaries, though live through this method, still follow protocols to keep our humanity!!!”
The crew in the bridge were tense as Tro was known to be harsh, impulsive, and quick-tempered.
“You fools! We could have damaged the merchandise!!!”
In his fury, Tro drew his hand gun and pointed at the gunner. The gunner flinched, waiting to be hit. Just in time, the one manning the radar barked a warning.
“Taisho! The shuttle’s cargo bay is opening. It seems that it is forced open!”
Tro forgot his fury instantly. He returned to his seat. “WHAT?!”
The monitor on the bridge showed that indeed the bay was slowly opening. Amid the dark cargo hold, two flashy lights were seen.
“A MOBILE SUIT!!!!” Tro exclaimed. “Scramble the Space Tierens and intercept! Prevent the pilot from escaping!”
Alstaire kept an eye on the console monitor in front of him. Too much information was being displayed that he didn’t know where to start. Somehow he gained satisfactory control over the mobile suit. The mobile suit’s boosters flamed and it zipped out of the shuttle.
Instantly, a flashing red light caught his attention. On the radar, 4 bogeys were detected, leaving the mercenaries’ ship. Alstaire muttered under his breath, “Enemies, huh? I wonder…”
The Tieren units divided into two groups and flanked Alstaire. One pilot relayed a commlink to Tro aboard the cruiser.
“Visual confirmation of the mobile suit, Taisho. It’s the Gundam stolen from the empire!”
“Retrieve the Gundam at all costs, don’t let it get away,” Tro barked. Facing his crew aboard the ship, he grinned, “We’ve hit jackpot, people.”
In the combat area, Alstaire struggled against the Tieren attacking him all at once. The Tieren Space types were using 12.7 mm coaxial machine guns and blazingly fired upon Alstaire thoroughly. Some bullets hit the legs and back.
BOOM! The mobile suit was jerked by the blast. “ACKK!!” Alstaire shrieked. “At this rate, I’m gonna be space dust before I can even retaliate!”
In the blitzkrieg, he sought the computer for available weapons. To his horror, he found out that there were only beams sabers available. “WHAT THE--!! This unit’s not even calibrated for a decent use! And where the heck are the other weapons?!?!”
Alstaire was relieved upon knowing this but still the Gundam was way too hard to maneuver. Nevertheless, he shouted, “YOU’LL NOT GET WHAT YOU’RE AFTER!!!!! NOT WHEN I’M AROUND!!!!!”
The Gundam took hold of its two beam sabers on each hand. As they powered up, the console monitor flashed a battle information about the weapon. Alstaire found out that these were not ordinary beam sabers. He thought, Such ingenuity, I should say, to design this beam sabers this way… not the conventional type… Hmmmm, perhaps I got a chance after all…
“Give it up, you fool! You can’t possibly take us down with just puny matchsticks! Hahahaha!!!” one Tieren pilot cackled through the commlink.
“Try me! Let’s see what you got, pilot!” Alstaire mocked in return.
The Tieren pilot, being provoked, closed in for a close quarter combat. Upon doing so, its comrades ceased firing. Armed with the heat sink sword bayonet in its machine gun, the Tieren went for a thruster-boosted attack. The Gundam, though erratic in movement, managed to evade the attack and countered with a resounding side kick to the torso. The momentum sent the Tieren in collision to another Tieren unit.
“Watch out!! We’re gonna colli-!!” BOG! The pilot on the second unit was stunned for a moment.
“Why, you!!” said the Tieren pilot, clicking the machine guns into burst fire. BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! Four direct hits on the Gundam, which damaged the left calf. Alstaire rammed the pedals for a counter. As he neared the momentarily immobilized Tieren unit, he flung the right arm forward that sliced the machine gun into two. Alstaire sent the other beam saber for a stab onto the Tieren’s head unit, which exploded eventually.
“One down, three more to go.” Suddenly, the radar warned Alstaire for an incoming attack. He looked around the panoramic display but he couldn’t see a thing. “Where?” Alstaire gasped.
The first Tieren unit sped up and went for a shooting spree with a dive, coming at the Gundam from above. Bullets bored into the Gundam’s armor, causing sparks and damage.
The pilot sneered over the commlink, “How’s that?”
Alstaire grunted, “Tshk! I’m getting too old for this…but, I will not die here!”
As the Tieren flew past him, Alstaire turned a knob in the cockpit which in turn increased the power output of the saber. The beam was longer this time which sliced the hip away from the Tieren’s body. An explosion followed afterward.
The other two Tierens started to move forward for attack, followed by the Musai cruiser. The quad-barrel on their arms launched capsules which in mid-flight fires an immobilizing substance at the Gundam’s left arm, hardening upon contact. The Gundam cannot move its arm. Alstaire forced the mobile suit to move. Unfortunately, the hydraulic system creaked and eventually burst. It sent hydraulic fluids leaking everywhere.
As the enemies came closer, Alstaire moved the suit’s right arm and tore the Gundam’s left arm away. Sparks from severed electronic wires were all around the unit.
In desperation, Alstaire grabbed one beam saber and pitched it toward the incoming enemies. Upon instinct, the pilot shot the saber which exploded. It was all that Alstaire needed, grabbing the remaining beam saber and lunged on the nearest Tieren. Beam hitting the Tieren armor caused crackling sounds around. Electronic malfunction in effect caused the unit to explode.
“ARGH!!!!!” The remaining Tieren moved in and charged directly against the Gundam. CRASH! The Gundam was thrown against the cruiser’s fuselage, which was tailing behind.
“GAKK!” Alstaire gagged against the jarring shudder of the mobile suit. “(gasp) You never know when to stop, huh?”
He replaced the beam saber into its mounting for a recharge. The Gundam’s thrusters roared into life, albeit fluctuating. It glided past the last Tieren, avoiding the turrets of the cruiser until it reached the bridge. Alstaire reached for the beam saber and aimed it against the cruiser’s bridge canopy.
“I FIGHT TO PROTECT!!!!!” Alstaire screamed.
Lunging the saber forward, the Gundam charged against the bridge, burning the people, including Tro in an instant. The destruction of the cruiser’s bridge caused a chain reaction of multiple explosions in the fuselage. The Tieren, who happened to be near the engines, was engulfed in the flames and the blast force brought it to its detonation. The Gundam, exhausting its propellant was swallowed up in the blast as well.
Freed watched in dismay and cried, “FAAAAAATTTTHHHHHEEEEEEEERRRRR!!!!!!!!”
July 29, LC 0038
The distress signal of the space shuttle was at last intercepted by the Eidon colony. Fortunately there were no casualties on board the shuttle except for May Yuuri. Her body was never found.
Alstaire singlehandedly routed the mercenaries using the unknown Gundam luckily without any extreme injuries, but the Gundam sustained substantial damge and was almost beyond repair but still Alstaire and Freed salvaged its remains and settled in Eidon for the meantime. Maricka and Fiona joined them afterwards.
Freed insisted on keeping the Gundam’s remains. “Who knows? It might be something of good use in the long run.”
Alstaire just smiled and stared at him with admiration. He knew deep inside that Freed will one day become a hero himself.