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Glory to the Principality of Zero

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Qwaar, May 22, 2012.

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  1. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Hey Battlers! I bet you thought I wasn't even working on this anymo- oh, right, effectively I wasn't.

    Well I bet you thought I was only saying I was still writing for it as a means of remaining relevant here and deludin- Oh... yeah I was.


    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 3
    Chapter 4 part 1
    Chapter 4 part 2
    Chapter 5 part 1
    Chapter 5 part 2
    Chapter 6
    Chapter 7
    Chapter 8 part 1
    Chapter 8 part 2
    and oh god it ate my title for the one in the recent search bar from back when I was hunting down my own snippets in threads, and now I cant edit my title. SPACEBATTLES!

    FFN link
     
    PhoenixFTW likes this.
  2. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Glory to the Principality of Tristain

    Gundam UC crossover.
    ----

    The battle was essentially lost at this point, both the S field and N field defensive lines had crumbled, and E field was only a formality being used to evacuate. Being stationed in W field, this meant that Steve was essentially doomed. His squad leader had kept most of them alive during the battle, and had pulled what survivors he could into some of the corridors of the space fortress A Boa Qu.

    Currently this left them in cover, with enemies having difficulty in rooting them out, but also without a means of escape. Steve, a still reasonably fresh recruit stood at the rearmost bulkhead of the passage they currently occupied, he had first seen combat at Solomon, one of the lucky few to have been near cover when the horror of the Federation solar ray system made its debut, and later to survive the ensuing battle for the fortress and make his escape along with the rest of the survivors. He might have attempted to resign after that incident were it not for the encouragement of a fellow survivor, an ace with a white Zaku.

    He had survived, and fought on, with great veracity and valor trying to come even close to the glory displayed by the pilot of the white Zaku, but unfortunately, he was not blessed with the talent, experience, or even the same level of equipment as the ace. Steve's Zaku II F2 was rather modern in the conflict, but the Zaku series was simply falling behind the demands required of them against the dogged Federation and its new monstrous weapons.

    There had been another squad that was going to rally with them as it pulled from S field, but they had all been wiped out by the notorious “White Devil” of the Federation, as they attempted to briefly assist Commander Char. Their screams resonated with Steve now, as the tired remainders of his squad recognized they wouldn't be able to escape this final blow to Zeon.

    It painted a canvas pretty grimly for the members of squad 283, they would all die in this hallway, either to Federation beams, blades, and shells, or to the reactors of the fortress itself, as the Federation invaders severed the coolant and fail-safe systems, and blew the internal ammo dumps of the fortress. The fortress would be gutted, and immolate them. If they tried to leave, they would either be immediately be cut down by Federation mobile suits on the surface of the fortress that even now were moving in to mop them up. If they by some miracle made it past those suits, they would be overwhelmed and blown apart by Federation aerospace and cruisers.

    They would have surrendered already if not for the reports that most parties that did stand down and surrender were immediately shot anyway by vengeful Federation grunts. The Geneva Convention had apparently died with the city of Sydney Australia in the initial colony drop of the war.

    “That had been one year ago.” Steve grimly thought to himself, sadly noting that even for all the efforts and soul crushing crimes his comrades had committed in the noble name of independence, they were still exterminated by the might of the Federation within a year. Steve knew Zeon would not survive to see tomorrow. The machinations of the cruel god of this realm had manifested in the deadly terrifying newtypes of the Federation, and broken the spine of Zeon. Of the Principality they served, only one surviving family member remained. The rest having been killed by traitors or assassinated by the Federation's “White Devil”.

    I beg of you....

    “SHIT! Here they come again!” The squad lead yelled from the comm. Sure enough, as he said it a car sized canister was thrown into the corridor and started bouncing around, spraying aluminum shards and other particulates to blind both the optics and sensors of the squad members. Moments later however the magnetic sensors set previously alerted the pilots of the enemy presence and rough location. The suit in front was just about to clear the smokescreen when a hail of 120mm and 90mm rounds cut into him and pushed him back out the center of the bulkhead, the two suits flanking him however brought their shields to bear, blocking the brunt of the assault and retaliating.

    One of them, the leader of this particular unit overclocked his beam spray gun, ruining it for further use, but accomplishing his task as he brought it alongside his shield, and fired one continuous stream into the bulkhead across from Steve, Piercing it and entering the abdomen of the Zaku 1 of his comrade Richard, his scream was cut off mercifully quick as he was vaporized, and his Zaku was rendered motionless.

    My slave who lives somewhere in the universe!

    “You son of a bitch!” Claude, the squad leader yelled, as he left his cover and quickly thrust himself forward, body slamming the other Federation suit, a standard GM, before withdrawing his beam naginata from his Gelgoog and activating it to swing at the commander, in a GM Command. The commander responded quickly, and discarded the useless beam spray gun and withdrew a beam saber and activating it in one smooth motion, making a vertical strike to block the naginata.

    This left him open to Steve however, who in his free hand had retrieved Richard's shotgun and sighted down on it to the hostile GM Command and fired three times. The first shot ruined the shield and shattered the visor of the GM's helmet and some of the camera equipment beyond. The second shot perforated the torso of the GM, and ruined most of its motors, which allowed Claude to gain the upper hand, cleaving the GM in half through the cockpit. The final shot ripped away the shield of the other GM and staggering it.

    Oh sacred, beautiful, and strong familiar spirit!

    Unfortunately, the GM in its staggering was able to bring its machine gun to position and let off a quick burst that tore into Claude's Gelgoog, causing horrendous damage. Before it was finished off by the 90mm machine gun in the Gelgoog's free hand.

    “Captain, are you alright?!” Steve frantically pleaded, having seen at least one of the rounds enter the abdomen of the Gelgoog.

    “Fine, but my suit has about had it, we aren't going to survive another push like that.... I'm sorry I couldn't get you boys out of this.” he mournfully stated, with the tone of a man who had just had revealed to him all his sins and mistakes.

    Steve said nothing in response, respecting the man that was his leader, but not really forgiving him, for all his zeal, Steve was not one who thought himself ready to die for much of anything, much less beliefs that would not be realized either way. Placing the shotgun on the torso of the ruined Zaku beside him, he closed the arms over the chest. Steve was at least sentimental, and this was the best he could do to pay his respects to Richard. Richard had a girl back on Side 2 Colony, he had been so happy a few days ago to tell the rest of the squad about his son she had apparently just birthed to him.

    I desire and here plead from my heart!

    “Oh crap! Magellan!” Claude yelled suddenly!

    As the smoke from battle and the grenade cleared, sure enough, a Magellan Cruiser was a short distance outside the passageway, eclipsing their view of the stars, and bringing one of its main guns to bear, ready to blast the whole passage with its beam cannons, deeming the squad to not be worth any more risked mobile suits.

    Both of the surviving squad members quickly turned and charged down the corridor, putting all their hopes on the crossroad up ahead to evade the massive 2 barreled beam cannon. The faster Gelgoog and Steve's closer Zaku made it at about the same time, only for the Gelgoog to suddenly stop at the intersection as Steve ducked the corner.

    “Dammit! The AMBAC just locked up on me! I can’t move! Help me!” Claude desperately screamed, himself not truly ready to die either.

    Steve hesitated a moment in fear, not sure how long he had until the cannon fired and blew that passageway to hell, before gathering his resolve and reaching forward and grabbing the Gelgoog's gun wielding arm, and dragging him to the side. The fact that he couldn't use his thruster pack for fear of putting hot plasma down a breach in the armor meant it was slow going as actuators meant for the weight of a weapon strained to pull the weight of two mobile suits. Countless seconds seemed to go by in Steve's mind, though it probably took less than twelve, as he dragged the Gelgoog into the side passage, and placed it against the bulkhead, before a massive blast of plasma tore its way down the hall they just occupied, widening it slightly and making it cylindrical as plate boiled away down the entire hall. The barrel had apparently lined up perfectly with the hall, with the other impacting the fortress walls.

    Steve and Claude had survived another brush with death. They brought their mono camera's to bear for a moment, before breaking out in quite chuckling that soon turned into full blown laughter.

    “We made it! We fucking made it sir!” Steve said.

    “Yeah, we did, thanks Lieutenant. I almost joined my parents for a moment there.”

    Steve reached back around the Captain for a moment to retrieve his 120mm Zaku Machine Gun, before settling back on his side of the bulkhead, further from the hallway. As he came around though, he stopped cold, not in fear or in realization, but in surprise.

    Just next to him, on his side of the bulkhead, was a giant floating green oval.

    “Uh sir.... what the hell is this?”

    “No idea Steve, not a goddamn clue, was that there a second ago?”

    Answer my guidance!

    “I don’t thin-” whatever he was about to respond with was cut off as a second burst blast down the main passageway, followed a moment later by the wall behind Claude flash boiling from the second salvo from the Magellan outside, and being pierced, just before his own incineration. He didn’t even get the chance to scream, and nothing was left but the outstretched arm dragged by Steve, which just escaped the blast from the elbow down.

    Steve slowly turned with his mouth agape, and brought his camera to bear on where his CO had been a moment before. The man he had just brought out of the jaws of death had been killed anyway. Just like anything else, Steve's actions in the war were of no consequence whatsoever. His friends were dead, his CO was dead, and in moments another group of GM would come down that hall, and then he would be dead.

    Steve closed his mouth, choked down a sob, before snapping back into reality and turning again to look at the ovoid.

    It was smaller now, while before it might have easily fit the Gelgoog and then himself immediately behind if his science fiction theories were right about this 'portal', now it would only fit him if he carefully maneuvered through.

    Taking a final look back, he gave a sad look to do what he could to apologize for abandoning his fallen comrades, before taking the only other option given to him.

    Please.

    He climbed through.

    ---

    Louise, like everyone else in the field, was still hacking from the massive cloud of smoke and dust that had been produced. Once more, her magic had resulted in an explosion. This was her third and final attempt offered by Colbert for the summoning, and when she felt the familiar tug on her willpower before an explosion, as opposed to the flow one was supposed to feel she had begun to resign herself to failure, adding one last plea to her chant.

    The explosion was surely the largest one she had produced to date, yet no one commented on it. One student had been about to ridicule her and imply she was attempting to kill them with that blast, but the massive sound of resonating steel coupled with a quaking of the earth beneath their feet cut them off.

    Louise took a few steps back to clear the smoke and get some let hindered breaths, and looked to the center of the cloud, before glancing and smiling at Colbert. Surely her familiar lay within its depths, and she was eager to see it. Colbert was apprehensive but managed to return a look of encouragement. He wasn't as sure as she of the spells success, but surely something had happened to produce that crash. Just as he prepared the spell to clear the smoke, a single drumming tone played out, and a large red circle of light cut through near the top of the cloud, and a sound of moving steel heralded the exodus of a large steel foot taking a step forward and landing just in front of his students, one that may have crushed Louise, had she not backed away previously.

    Thinking the familiar blinded, and possibly about to accidentally crush his students, he immediately cast his spell, and dispersed the smokescreen instantly.

    And there it was, a massive seventeen meter golem, but no, it wasn't even so simple as that. Louise should be proud of such an impressive display of apparent earth affinity. The golem was either entirely made, or at least clad in armor of steel, and not the least bit deformed in any way. A typical square mage's golem was about twenty meters, but it wouldn't hold a candle to this masterpiece, a steel titan showing a mastery of craftsmanship, with a single glowing red eye. It was painted, a combination of greens and black, with a very light green used to mark a few places with a number, “238”.

    Colbert frowned a moment, the number implied a certain number of these golems, or at least attempts at creating them. What mage could have so much strength as to ever make so many of these in a lifetime of work? What’s more, he could see that the Golem was ARMED! To the teeth! The golem had weapons, the most prominent of which being the strange, massive musket-like contraption with a strange drum on the top of it in its hands that even now was being swept back and forth as the eye rotated along tracks on the headpiece. On its hip on his side he could see another of the strange drums, and just above that a 'short' axe. From this side, he could also see the edges of two more of the drums, partially overlapping one another, and some strange vaguely club shaped objects.

    This golem was made for war, a war so brutal that over two hundred had been produced at least. He shuddered at the implications, and breathed a sigh of relief as he watched Louise place the sealing kiss upon the edge of the golem's 'boot'. He looked again to the emblem across the bottom of the spiked shoulder piece on his side of the golem, the other side likely having another of the feathery emblem and a repeat of the number on the shoulder mounted shield.

    He hoped never to see that emblem on a flag opposite him.

    Show over, and most of the students now with sour expressions on their faces, having had their insults thrown in their faces most adequately, they began to file back into the main tower to prepare for evening activities, as the sun began to set. Tomorrow classes would resume and perhaps some modicum of normal would return to their perceptions of the one they called “Louise the Zero”

    ---

    Steve felt his stomach lurch as it was suddenly was subject to the acceleration produced when one experiences the common sensation known as gravity on a scale of one gee. Common to an earth-born at least. Not half a second later, he was halted as his Zaku landed on its feet. Steve was now quite certain that he had entered some form of portal like displayed in so many science fiction pieces, though the mechanics of it bothered him somewhat. It was the little things really, like the fact that in order to land stably on his feet from a straight drop he had to be in a display position, when the last position he remembered was something akin to a diver cramming themselves into a cardboard box underwater without damaging the box, IE he was in an embarrassingly moronic position.

    Discarding the somewhat disturbing implications of the mechanics of a portal that can instantly change the state of an object to be suitable for a new environment without any memory of such a process taking place, Steve reactivated his camera, and put a foot slightly forward to stabilize a combat ready stance with his machine gun. For a brief moment, all he saw outside was smoke, before it was cleared and showed a scene that took a long time to really click for his understanding. He continued through the motions of scanning for hostiles, but his attention wasn't really on what his sensors did and did not pick up.

    First to come of note to him was the assortment of odd creatures present among a large number of what appeared to be students only a few years his junior. Being nineteen himself, it didn't take much to remind him of the apparent age group of a high school, with this probably being only a quarter of the total students, with an administrator looking over them to his left. The creatures too, could be related to something normal, as he had recalled, the advance in motor technology for the war had also allowed for the production of some rather high quality and unique Haro toys recently, while ridiculously expensive, they weren't unobtainable.... to someone on a colony. Clearly these strange creatures were just the most recent line, though it was odd to see so many and so varied of models, as well as their workmanship making them almost like real animals.

    Second to come of note, oddly, was how different this location was to his previous location. The battle scarred hallways had given way to open fields and expanses of trees, beyond this courtyard surrounded by stone walls, and a central tower to his left depicting this place as a castle. Herein lay the problem however. Last Steve had checked, the last true castle of any scale had been destroyed in a natural disaster in the 2030s CE, about a hundred years ago.

    Alright, so the portal had plopped him down in front of some fantasy fair that he had never heard about, with a replica castle he had never bothered to remember the construction of. Furthermore he was on a planet, as he could see the direction of the curvature of the horizon, and it did not have the peculiarities of a colony's skies. So the portal had taken him down to the surface of earth, but oddly, the locals seemed rather calm with an active machine of war from their enemy being right in front of them. What’s more, they seemed to have been expecting something to arrive, and while the scale seemed to surprise them, judging by the higher resolution images of their faces he brought up, they weren't alarmed by the sudden appearance.

    That scratched earth off the list, he was a stranger in a strange land, a land without ravaged features, with unstained skies, and a bunch of strange creatures that may actually not be newfangled animatronic toys. “Lovely,” thought Steve, as he took it all in “I'm in one of my sister's forte's.”

    Switching his computer back into a non combat mode, he immediately received a protesting tone along with a low resolution vid from a backup monitor, one of a child all of 3 feet from his forward foot, the tone a proximity caution, one meant to say “Hey dumbass, you almost squished this.”

    He was about to slide the foot back just to keep from having any incidents occur, when he witnessed the oddity of her apparently kissing the Zaku's foot. He reached forward to flick the switch for the suit's intercom, which to date hadn't been used due to having been deployed in vacuum, when his other hand began to burn agonizingly. He was rather pleased he hadn't managed to flick on the intercom for the series of profanities born of his own and his drillmaster's creativity as his hand felt as if he had touched the rim of an active jet engine. Moments later it was over, and as if the pain had never existed his hand was once again fine. Confusion and worry mixed to form a rather somber face behind the visor of his helmet, before he brought the Zaku to a kneeling position, taking care to avoid crushing anyone or anything.

    After observing a ecstatic smile blossom across the pink haired girl's face, and odd reaction for being nearly crushed into paste, he noticed the administrator give her a nod and a smile of his own before saying something incomprehensible through the wall of armor of the Zaku. Steve at this point decided exiting the suit would be easier than activating the audio sensors, and reached to the panel to begin inputting the command when he observed another impossible act.

    The children all FLEW! With no apparent effort or machinery these people all flew back to various places across what he tentatively called a campus. These people were Not Normal, and as Not Normal people they were now reclassified as DEADLY. His sister's novels may have one thing to say about fantastic individuals and creatures, but in the war reality had shown the face that he could not ignore. The only Not Normal he had anything concrete on was the “White Devil” who was rumored to be a psychopath, and known to be a killing machine that could not be stopped, would not accept reason, and didn't seem to recognize surrender or retreat as sacred.

    If he revealed himself he could die, he could die very quickly. At the same time he couldn't quite bring himself to just reactivate his combat systems and deploy the S-mines to just wipe out a group of children. He himself wasn't much older, but something deep within him forbade his harming this group of children, and betray that look of bliss upon the face of the little girl who kissed his Zaku's foot.

    Said girl was now an oddity in the mix, as he watched her on the main camera, she had not flown away, and even seemed somewhat irritated to see the others do so. She turned to give one more smile towards the camera, before walking in the same general direction the others took off in. As she passed the administrator, he seemed to say something encouraging as she gave a reply as she nodded, and seemed to have a little more haste to her step, rather than the morose speed she had previously taken.

    Steve found it a little odd how much focus he was putting on the well-being of this entity who was likely no less deadly and Not Normal as the rest of the students, but discarded the thought process a moment later as unimportant. Instead, he focused on what was important.

    He was getting hungry, and only had emergency rations to last for two days if he was very frugal with them. Not ever being a particularly light eater, this meant that he was going to acquire food locally if he was going to survive, and this would have to be done covertly. Thankfully, he was able to recognize that this was a school, and the students had dispersed in slightly different directions. Given what he could guess of the scenario, this meant that they had various tasks they needed to accomplish, but the time of evening likely meant they were soon to depart for dinner. Steve wasn't so suicidal to just follow the students into a mess hall, but at the very least he could determine its location, and, by proximity, the location of the kitchens.

    Thus began Operation: Foodstuff.

    ---

    Louise returned to her room after a meal in a still jubilant mood, her first successful spell, Brimir’s sacred familiar summoning ceremony. What’s more, it clearly was a magnificent example of an earth affinity, one well respected, and safely distant from any similarity to that barbaric Zerbst. Her familiar was clearly superior to a lowly salamander of “The Fire Mountains”, a self sufficient seemingly self aware golem.

    She had been worried briefly upon her recitation of the bonding spell, worried that it would fail and the immense opportunity presented to her by her summoning, would slip through her fingers as the golem simply walked away. Instead, immediately upon its binding, it knelt before her, clearly showing its loyalty.

    Changing into her nightgown, she left the day’s clothing for the servants of the academy to take to be cleaned, and set out her uniform for the next day, the last day of classes before she would be able to take maximum advantage of the day of void to familiarize herself with, her grand majestic and strong familiar.

    Looking out the window, she noted her familiar’s great red eye had gone dark. “Perhaps its self aware and self perpetuating spells make it need rest?” she thought. It seemed a limiting factor she would rather do without, but it was acceptable.

    Who was she kidding, she was ecstatic over every single thing she knew about her new familiar. Flopping down on the bed with all the grace of a pleased child, she barely got the covers over herself before she was contently asleep.

    ---

    Steve began his preparations to begin his self planned operation. with something representing an impossible amount of luck, the particular angle he spied on the students during their exodus to a particular part of the oddly constructed castle allowed him to view the service coming in through a particular passageway to bring additional food to the students. What’s more, there was a boon, the service seemed mundane, perhaps these Not Normal individuals were not the sole people present in this odd fantasy realm right out of a novel. The servants, while still to be avoided, were less likely to exhibit the psychopathy present in the Not Normals of his own world. It was also unlikely they had additional ways to sense his presence.

    So, the plan, he would exit his Zaku, with a satchel for keeping the food he pilfered in. Remaining fully in his uniform, would allow him a bit of extra anonymity, as if he was discovered, he could ditch it, and pretend to be some of the help who just got mugged for their clothing. It was weak, but it was the best he was going to get. Zeon hadn’t particularly planned for covert ops in his training when he had joined, they had largely just rushed him through pilot training till he was ready for battle at Solomon.

    Powering down the Zaku, Steve paused for a moment, then opened the hatch. Surveying the area with his pilot’s sidearm, before dropping out and on to the ground. Quickly making his way to the hedges along the structure and thus out of the view of your typical window goer, he began moving to the external tower structure that contained the mess hall.

    ---

    Colbert prepared himself to close his notes about the day’s accomplishments, regarding the studies of his students, his own studies into his own progress into the fields of magic and his side projects, and finally the intricacies of the familiars summoned. Colbert’s notes at this time were rather biased in their distribution towards the Valliere's familiar, even the magnificent dragon Tabitha summoned getting a much lesser mention. Currently, he was wrapping up the portion of the notes regarding the fact the familiar carried a definite armament designed solely for its use, including a musket, a musket with no real visible means of reloading, but with numerous replacements for a single component.

    Perhaps it was some sort of magic musket? and the drums were pre-enchanted reservoirs for repeated fire? Colbert then realized, to his embarrassment, that he didn’t have any recollection of the golem’s runes to put in his notes. While not overly important, sometimes the runes had a direct relation to the nature of the familiar, and might give him more information about the nature of this giant golem.

    Something else he noted, the golem didn’t seem to flow from position to position like most did, but instead actually seemed to have parts that slid in and out and over each other to create its movement. It actually reminded him a lot of his little snake machine. Was someone else perhaps researching the same subject but with better support? Had they combined it with magic to make the massive war golem he saw? Questions ran rampant with Colbert, but they all required one task be completed in order to even begin answering them. He would have to re-examine Louise’s familiar.

    ---

    Siesta carried the load of clothes under her arm as she prepared to her last appointed task of the evening before she could go and rest for another day’s labor, her mind in a bit of a daze. Earlier, while cleaning up one of the Noble’s rooms at their request, she had glanced out the window in response to its rattling from the latest of Miss Valliere's spells, only to see a massive golem taking up her field of view. and, on its shoulder, underneath a feathery emblem, four letters of a script she had never thought she would see again since her grandfather’s death.

    The script had similarities in appearance to Albionese, but after being taught what had been called the English alphabet by her father and grandfather, she noticed the small differences and was able to read what it said with little trouble. Zeon. The name meant nothing to her, she had never seen it before, but something about it instilled a sense of dread, as if it would be an end to the peaceful days of her life.

    She shook off the silly notion, and regained her focus and set about her task, but resolved herself to be more focused in the days ahead.

    It would be the oddest thing she would consider a mistake in her entire life.

    ---

    Steve realized now upon entering the kitchen there was a significant problem with his plan. Apparently, there was the possibility that if this was a school it was for the stupidly wealthy, and the possibility that it accommodated the students nightly needs with a 24 hour kitchen, namely one that was still staffed 5 hours after dark, and brightly lit with torches. He was counting on no one being present to note the pilot stuffing what he thought would last the longest in his mobile suit while still nourishing him, namely a sack of potatoes followed by a couple pineapples, for nutrition and hydration respectively.

    Now that he was here, he had quickly gotten blocked off into the single dark crevice between food supplies in the room, the moment he left he would be spotted, and from here he couldn’t make out the location of either of the food products he was looking for. He couldn’t even check the supplies he was hiding in, as they were written in a language that he couldn’t read. Oddly enough the “help” was speaking in perfectly comprehensible English, though there was an unidentifiable accent. He couldn’t even open the supplies to check as it would ruin this place for future visits, and it would also be too loud to not be heard over the loud, boisterous, and vaguely annoying head chef. Steve didn’t really put much faith in his ability to fight his way out of here while carrying a heavy bag of food. For all he knew of the local customs though, if he defeated the head chef in single combat he would become the new head chef and be able to just go native without the constant threat of a psychopathic Not Normal precogging him on fire for no reason. Maybe if he became head chef, he could also learn more about local customs and find out what was going on with the Not Normals here anyway.

    Throwing away the notion as preposterous, Steve finally noticed an opening and one of his objectives, the location of the potatoes was left open and in clear sight of his position, and blocked most of the view of the other occupants of the room, if he just walked over and started stuffing his satchel, the noise might be drowned out and any noise that was made wouldn’t be unusual enough to warrant notice.

    Mission Complete.
     
  3. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Glory to the Principality of Tristain

    Colbert adjusted his glasses once more nervously while he travelled down the hall in the dead of night. He had with him a couple small tools with which to analyze Louise’s summoned golem. Nothing major, as he didn’t want to do anything that might be considered invasive, and he didn’t want to do anything that might disrupt the golem. Further tests would have to wait until he could ask permission of the young Valliere. Really, it was fascinating, a self aware golem of such size and quality, it was unheard of. To think of the research that must of gone into its design, the willpower of the individual or individuals that cast the spell would have had to have been enormous. Perhaps it was even elven magic, though that might have dire consequences should they have taken offence to its disappearance.

    Finally exiting into the courtyard where it still resided, Colbert noticed it seemed to have gone dormant. He sincerely hoped that meant it wasn’t ‘dead’ and out of energy, as it would be a tragic waste of possible research material..... and horrible to the young Valliere.

    As he got closer however, his angle of approach enabled him to see something a little odd. A small faint red glow seemed to emit from a behind a chair like object in a hole that had opened up in the golem’s abdomen. Slowing down a few meters from the opening, Colbert adjusted his glasses once more and leaned in for a better look, seeing some strange panels and numerous pins and raised surfaces, with small ropes leading from some to other locations where they disappeared into another strange structure.

    He was about to climb up for a better look when he heard a faint tearing nose followed by a series of incomprehensible expletives.

    “Are you fucking kidding me?! 30 potatoes tore this piece of shit satchel?” someone seemed to speak to himself, it was soft and slightly muffled, as if said someone were sneaking about, but what person would sneak onto the campus for potatoes of all things?

    Regardless, Colbert readied his staff and cast a simple spell to illuminate his immediate area, before calling out, “Who’s there?” his authoritative tone came from his military days, and put the fear of god into students who got so far out of line as to necessitate its use. As it was, he heard some quick scrambling as he turned to face the noise and moved quickly but with care for his stance towards it.

    After only a couple moments he had indeed come across a pile of potatoes dumped on the ground, and a strange sack with a shoulder strap. The sack seemed to have a torn seam along the bottom that turned the bottom into a circular flap, and it was made out of a most curious material, that looked rather thin, but was strong enough to hold the bulge of potatoes all the way from presumably the kitchen to this point. The material itself hadn’t even failed, but rather the stitching.

    This all possessed very little of Colbert’s attention however, as he was a Teacher first, soldier second, and not a fabric worker. His attention was to the hedges a short distance away, where he presumed the interloper to have hidden himself. He slowly took another step forward while reaching out to allow the torch-like light on the end of his staff to illuminate the hedges.

    *click*

    “Freeze. You have a handgun aimed at your head, and whatever bullshit you newtypes can pull I doubt it's faster than me pulling this trigger.”

    Colbert immediately stopped moving, unable to place the accent, but easily catching the glint of the metal of the gun just at the edge of his illumination, putting a little more willpower into it, he was able to see now the man you threatened him from the bushes just to his side. He also was able to make out the strange garb of the man threatening him. It was odd in make, but had the definite appearance of a uniform, with a emblem on the right breast, with the same feathery motif as the golem.

    “What were you doing with my Zaku?”

    Colbert blinked, not tying the name with anything, “I’m sorry?”

    “The god damned giant robot! What. Were. You. Doing?!”

    Colbert noticed a bit of a twitch, the man was trying to put off an air of suspicion and anger, but Colbert wasn’t so rusty he couldn't see the man for what he really was. Tiredness and fear were visible in his posture if one knew the signs. This made him dangerous and unpredictable, best to be placate him for now.

    Colbert made sure his hands were visible, and calmly responded, “I haven’t done anything to your, ‘Zaku’, was it? I was getting ready to perform a couple of tests on it. To see how it worked. Its really a magnificent golem.”

    “Golem?” the question was flat, as though the term familiar, but not its relevance.

    “Minerals collected together and animated through willpower and complex spells?”

    “No magic is involved here wizard.”

    “Really now? Well that’s fascinating!” Colbert was almost shocked out of his frozen stance, though his face had changed from weary to one of extreme interest.

    The individual didn’t respond for a moment, deep in thought, when a strange chirp played, and the hue of his helmets faceplate turned red.

    “Oh goddammit, never switched off the internal air supply. Fine, you have unfucked yourself, I’m sure you recognized enough of this situation to see I planned on shooting you for my anonymity, but now we can both offer the other something.”

    He flipped something on the side of his gun before pointing it down and placing it in a holster on his thigh. Then he reached to the side of his helmet, before pressing something that made a hiss like a snake, and unclasping the helmet.

    “I have been awake for a little over forty eight hours, and I haven’t eaten for most of that, and have been fighting for a decent portion of it as well. I am tired, and ravenously hungry. You don’t say a goddamn word about me, and handle my food and water needs each night, and you get to look at pretty moving parts while I’m eating. For now, help grab my potatoes.”

    Colbert mulled over what had just transpired for a moment. On one hand, he really ought to just report the mans existence and let him get the sleep and food he wants along with the comfort of a bed and the peace of mind that he wasn’t about to be killed by enemies. On the other hand, he would be violating a beleaguered soldiers trust, which seemed immensely wrong to Colbert somehow, and he had just been offered his dream scenario for his silence.

    Maybe a little time of secrecy between tired soldiers would be best for now. “Alright, but we could improve your food situation if I enlisted the help of one of the academies servan-”

    “Shut up, fine, you get ONE. ONE goddamn servant you really feel you can trust to shut up. For now, still help me with the potatoes, I want to eat during the day too, and these don’t spoil easily, and hell as I recall the Irish lived a really long time just eating these and nothing else.”

    Colbert blinked again as he reached down and began rolling the potatoes he could into a bundle with the ruined sack, and paused for a moment trying to place the name ‘Irish’.

    “Then again, they got really messed up when the blight destroyed their cro- Those are 2 big ass moons. Did someone mess with the orbits of the goddamn Moon and Luna II? No, that would destroy the weather systems and the tides, and it still sure as hell feels like one gee here.”

    Colbert stopped for a moment to quirk an eyebrow and stare at the strange man who had him: a noble, a teacher, and engineer picking up potatoes. Was this man perhaps suffering from some malady of the mind?

    Finishing taking off his helmet, he then revealed a man who was so average in features it was almost abnormal. He seemed slightly more rounded than his frame in the uniform would suggest, as if his muscle growth hadn’t eaten the fat from his body yet. His brown hair was currently quite greasy and disheveled, showing the look of one who had been exerting himself and unable to wash for some time.

    Choosing wisely to keep his comments to himself, Colbert finished wrapping the potatoes with the ruined sack. He watched the individual then crouch and spring into the air as hard as he could, ending in a lackluster amount of altitude to his jump.

    “Yep, definitely one gee, I come from a point eight gee colony myself, I’m used to a little more air time on that. So that rules earth out, which is good i guess, but mars doesn’t have this greenery and sure as hell not this much air or as large of moons. So between that and the swords and sorcery shenanigans where the hell am I?”

    Leaning back down to retrieve his staff again, Colbert replied, “You are currently in the Vestri Courtyard of the Tristain Academy of Magic. I am Professor Jean Colbert, and you are?”

    “Steve, Steve Lazlo Smith, of Florida Colony.” Steve replied, now grinning somewhat deliriously, “First Lieutenant and Mobile Suit Pilot for the previously glorious and now defunct Principality of Zeon.”

    "Zeon? Mobile Suit?" Colbert asked. “Is that what this machine is called?”

    “You first. Where exactly is this Tristain.”

    “Well it might be easier if I had a point of reference for you.””

    “Somehow I doubt that, but hey, I’m from way up there.” Steve said, pointing past the moons and at the stars.

    “You mean you’re from Albion?”

    “Somehow I doubt it, swords and sorcery means you think too small of scale. Describe Albion.” Steve replied, crossing his arms patiently.

    Colbert paused. He had been sure the man’s odd accent had been that of a man from Albion, and his pointing had seemed to confirm it. “It is a large mass of land laden with windstone minerals, allowing it to float in the sky at a low altitude.”

    Steve uncrossed his arms and made a short shoving motion, “Wait wait, slow down, you have a floating continent here? I’m already reaching my limit for weird things with your perpetual fireball there, but really? Hope I can see that sometime, sounds interesting at least, but no. Think of something man-made, closer to the moon than to the planet, it will be closer but still way off.”

    “So you live in a massive airship too high to see? That sounds preposterous!” Colbert exclaimed as he looked back up at the sky. “Even dragons will start to feel ill at a certain altitude. How can humans live so far above the earth?”

    “Close enough, but I can’t really explain the science of it to you. Just trust me, it’s complicated beyond your wildest dreams.” Steve explained, a vaguely superior smile on his face, showing at least a small arrogance streak. “Now I haven’t really been fair here, so let me explain about Zeon, and our pride and joy, the mobile suit.”

    Potatoes forgotten for the moment, Colbert listened to the fantastic tale this young soldier regaled to him. Questions were asked, and answers returned until the horizon began to brighten, and the two would part with something resembling the start of a friendship.

    ---

    Colbert didn’t look as tidy as usual as he headed off to instruct his first class of the day. He had only really had the opportunity for an hour of rest before he had to prepare the materials for the day’s lecture, and then a quick meal, before setting off. Steve’s story had seemed far-fetched, but the earlier lunacy had seemed to have melted away as he told his tale, as if it had allowed him some peace of mind to take stock of the situation himself.

    Colbert himself meanwhile was appalled, the numbers had to be exaggerated, but the conflict only made sense when the numbers correlated with each other in their large scale. It was atrocious, but it made a horrifying kind of SENSE! The weapons used, and their quantity applied to nations with resources far more massive than the whole of Halkeginia could ever hope to produce.

    What’s more, apparently the self proclaimed Lieutenant could prove it with some strange device that recorded all the information from a battle, after the first shot fired, and would show it to him tonight. Such was the excitement that Colbert once again let slip his mind the fact he had yet to test the ‘Zaku’ or its ‘pilot’ with detect magic, or check for runes. More pertinent and amazing things were opening doors of opportunity.

    ---

    Louise was apprehensive as she sat down in her desk for Professor Chevreuse’s class, while she had clearly displayed an element in her familiar summoning, she wasn’t sure if knowing that would help her as much as she had believed it would last night, now that a possible practical application was making itself prevalent. She looked about the room to let her mind wander to something other than the coming challenge. What she saw boosted her spirits somewhat, her usual tormentors were steadfastly NOT looking at her, and had tight expressions.

    HA, served them right, insinuating she was no better than a commoner since all her spells failed, and finally, with the ceremony, she had summoned something so grand it was clear her potential dwarfed theirs, perhaps all of her tormentors combined did not match scale. It brought her great joy, something that she had sorely lacked the last year of her studies at the academy. Now, she had something to be proud of. Would her mother be proud of her familiar? She would have to be, she would be.... not ecstatic, that would be unfitting of her station, but certainly she would be pleased.

    Miss Chevreuse chose this moment to come into the room and place herself behind the practical area, a small podium like structure front and center of the class. It was probably meant to be a desk, but truth be told Professor Chevreuse wasn’t particularly tall, and in fact was probably only equal to Louise herself.

    "Well, everyone, it seems that the Springtime Familiar Summoning was a great success. I, Chevreuse, always enjoy seeing the new familiars that are summoned each spring."

    Louise brightened and let a small smile come to her features. ”Ah Miss Louise, it is good to have you in my class, I’ve heard of the magnificent familiar you summoned, it seems we share an affinity for the earth element" she remarked as she looked out the window, where from her angle the massive golem was just barely visible, still as a statue. The compliment was genuine, but the classroom dissolved into dissatisfied grumbling.

    "I bet it was a fluke, or she had someone with more influence from her family arrange it."

    The other students chuckled.

    "Mrs. Chevreuse! I've been accused of fraud! Malicorne the 'Common Cold' just insulted me!" Louise banged her fist against the tabletop in protest. She was not going to take this insult.

    "Common cold? I'm Malicorne the Windward! I haven't caught any cold!"

    "Well, your hoarse voice sounds exactly like you've caught one!"

    The boy called Malicorne stood up and glared at Louise. Chevreuse pointed at them with the wand in her hand. The two suddenly jerked about like puppets on a string and rigidly sat back down.

    "Miss Vallière, Mister Malicorne. Please stop this unnecessary argument."

    Louise looked visibly dejected. All the vivacity that she'd shown just earlier seemed to have evaporated.

    "Calling friends 'Zero' or 'Common Cold' is not acceptable. Do you understand?"

    "Uhh Mrs. Chevreuse, I didn’t call Louise by that title, though for her, it's the truth."

    A few giggles broke out from somewhere, as Chevreuse seemed to wince slightly, having been caught perpetuating a rumor. She had clearly heard enough of Louise’s reputation that she had prepared defenses for her, the notion was sweet, but still an insult in itself considering her summon.

    Chevreuse steeled herself and looked around the classroom with a severe expression. She pointed her wand again, and, as if from nowhere, the mouths of the students who'd giggled were suddenly filled with lumps of red clay.

    "You people shall continue the lesson in that state."

    This put a firm stopper on any further outbursts.

    "Now then, let's begin the lesson."

    Chevreuse coughed heavily and waved her wand. A few pebbles materialized on her desktop.

    "My Runic name is 'Red Clay.' Chevreuse the Red Clay. This year, I will be teaching you all the magic of the Earth element. Do you know the four great elements of magic, Mister Malicorne?"

    "Y-Yes, Mrs. Chevreuse. They are Fire, Water, Earth and Wind."

    Chevreuse nodded.

    "And combined with the now-lost element of 'Void,' there are five elements in total - as everyone should already know. Of the five elements, I believe Earth holds an extremely important position. This isn't just because my affinity is Earth, nor is it simply a personal preference."

    Once again, Chevreuse coughed heavily.

    "The magic of Earth is very important magic that governs the creation of all matter. If it wasn't for Earth magic, we wouldn't be able to produce or process necessary metals. Raising buildings from large boulders and harvesting crops would also involve much more work. In this manner, the magic of the Earth element is intimately related to everyone's life."

    "Now, everyone, please recall that the basic magic of the Earth element is 'transmutation'. While there will be people here who have already learned this in their first year, basics build foundations, so let's review it once more. All of you pay attention, even you Miss Vallierre, slacking due to recent success will not be permitted in my class."

    Chevreuse turned her attention to the pebbles and twirled her wand over them. She then whispered a spell, and they began to glow brightly. When the light dimmed away, the pebbles had been changed into sparkling lumps of metal.

    “Is that g-g-gold, Professor Chevreuse!?” Kirche asked as she leaned forward over her desk to get a closer look at the new metals.

    “No, it isn't. It's plain brass. Only Square-class mages are able to transmute to gold. I'm just...” Chevreuse gave a self-important cough. “A Triangle mage...”

    Louise had to forcibly restrain herself from rolling her eyes at the professor’s sudden bragging. She was spiraling down a pit now for respect from Louise, the accidental insult had been quite telling.

    “Now Louise, since you seem to show such promise, why don’t you demonstrate for us? I’m sure you already know the process. Just envision a metal of your choice.” As she said this an uneasiness settled over the class, and they seemed to shrink back, with a couple even taking cover. Louise took some pride in that at least none of them said anything about her recent being her only success to date. Such thoughts at least gave her a metal to envision, she would make the pebbles into the same metal as made up that blade hanging at her familiars side, the gleaming edge of the massive axe.

    She began to chant.

    ---

    Steve’s rest was rudely interrupted by a loud explosion coming from nearby, and he on autopilot immediately scrambled out of the cashew position he was sleeping in and into a position of combat readiness, seeing the smoking hole in a far tower, he immediately switched his Zaku’s computer back into combat mode.

    Then he burned.

    He burned with vigor and aptitude. He recognized his Zaku was still configured for space usage, and shut down the AMBAC systems, and prepped himself to vault the two walls between him and the hole in the tower. Squatting with the mobile suit, he started his thruster pack, and let loose for the first time upon Halkeginia the scream of jet engines. Pushing into his jump, Steve left a hellish scorched landscape across most of the Vestri Court, and left the ground, perfectly sending himself along a trajectory to land in the plaza on the far side of the walls, and intersperse himself between the hole and any hostiles. Clearly the academy was under attack, he had been a fool for being so complacent, he could have been taken in the opening salvo had the enemy seen him through the main tower.

    Landing heavily, he slid into a stance in the ruined earth beneath his feet and aimed outward from the hole, while shielding it with his body. He swept the land scape several times with his gun at the ready, waiting to tear into those who would attack civilian children with explosive 120mm rounds fired in rapid succession. When no threats presented themselves, he turned to the smoking rubble, and turned up the audio sensors on the Zaku to try and pick up calls for help. Leaning in he also swept his camera from left to right to try and survey the damage visually.

    The return from the audio sensors was grizzled and unclear from the debris continuing to settle. Steve had to strain to pull anything useful from the output, but he could pick up some groans from the dazed students, a lot of them in fact. As a bit more of the dust cleared, from the markings on the walls he could tell that the detonation had occurred towards the front of the room and largely pressed outward from a single point, this wall was just the weak point that allowed the overpressure to escape.

    Miraculously, no one seemed overly injured, just dazed, and a couple of students even less then that, one, a pudgy blond straightened out his cloak and began to yell insults at someone further in the room. Steve couldn’t see clearly further in do to the misting of dust still in the air, and increased the resolution on his camera. The tone as the camera pulsed gave pause to the boy for a moment.

    “Even you aren’t a change, you are nothing but a fluke!” The boy seemed to say as he pointed at the Zaku. “The Zero once was, and always is a failure, her family should just disown her and pull her from the scho-”

    Whatever he was about to say was cut off as the student next to him, a rather developed dark skinned girl apparently took offense and proceeded to belt him across the face with her first, rendering herself the only fully conscious individual still in the room.

    “You really do say too much Malicorn the Windmouth. Don’t bother with him Zero, your familiar is a reflection of yourse- Louise? You there?” The girl looked to the front of the room, surprised seemingly that she hadn’t been interrupted yet.

    Steve panned the eye slightly, to focus on the pink haired one who he recognized as the one who kissed his Zaku’s foot before. She was currently sitting back on her own legs, head tilted back, seemingly in a daze, even through the Zaku’s limited resolution camera, at this range he could see the trails from the eyes of the girl identified as Louise. She was clearly in a state of catatonia at the moment and most likely hadn’t heard a word that was said.

    The dark skinned girl seemed ready to try and touch Louise to see if she was alright, when she was stopped by a blue haired girl who had just entered the room, who shook her head at the questioning glance she was given. Steve noted she was of few words and actions, but very precise in the few moments he observed. “She’s military.” Steve thought to himself, recognizing her manner from the commissioned officers he had served under. He also noted she was wise, unless this dark skinned girl was a very close friend, she had best not be the person to comfort the girl on her knees, who’s head had shifted slightly to allow her to look at the eye of the zaku. Her look almost seemed to be accusing him, asking him “Why?”

    It made Steve distinctly uncomfortable, even a bit of shame creeped from somewhere, though that look could probably inspire that feeling in anyone. Regardless of who was at fault here, Louise needed somewhere she could lash out, Steve hadn’t been without his own emotional breakdowns in life, hell he had been near one when the white Zaku pilot had consoled him during the retreat from Solomon.

    The bluenette took the initiative and knelt in Louise’s view and motioned her to her feet a few times before taking her hand and helping her up. Steve offered the Zaku’s free hand as a ride from the room, and the bluenette nodded once before leading Louise over with the dark skinned girl bringing up the rear. Stepping out of the way as if leading royalty to a carriage.

    Louise stepped lightly into the Zaku’s palm. She had stopped crying since she had been broken out of her catatonia, but it was clear that this was just out of some grace she felt she needed to keep in front of the others. Seeing that the other students drew back, probably deciding to let Louise have her time alone, Steve drew away from the tower, and walked the Zaku into the forest.

    ----

    Interestingly enough, when the Zaku stopped and knelt in the forested clearing, Louise’s first response wasn’t to break out in more sobs, but to bellow out a guttural scream and begin demolishing several of the nearby trees, shrubbery, and one particularly unlucky bear. The reaction of flesh to a rage induced bolt of unfocused magic from a screaming young girl drove home to Steve again just WHY he was opting to stay in his mobile suit, and let everyone think he didn’t exist, and the Zaku was just a particularly fancy golem.

    Yes, Steve much preferred not being rendered goo; goo didn’t experience the pleasures of living and eating fresh kiwi like he had enjoyed.

    After about only a minute of this the girl had seemingly tired and screamed herself out. Instead she opted to repeat a mantra to herself that only became clear after some tooling around with his Zaku’s audio sensors. “This is unbecoming of a noble, I am like steel, I do not bend to pressure. This is unbecoming of a noble, I am like steel, I do not bend to pressure.” she muttered, hands clenched tightly about her wand.

    Steve thought it an odd mantra, having a bit of a metallurgy nerd rage as he noted the mantra implied a steel that would probably break rather easily. It likely was a personal thing, related to something in her past. Steve was tempted to turn on the intercom and try to console her, but even if he tried to pretend to be the ‘golem’, could golem’s even speak?

    “Familiar, what am I? I wont be a failure, I won't accept that. But all my spells fail, even just now all I threw out were more attempts at transmutation.” She hicced a moment, before continuing, “Transmutation! The simplest basis of earth magic! I can’t even manage transmutation when my familiar is such a clear sign of an earth affinity! Why?! Why do I have to deal with that barbaric Zerbst having such clear mastery of her element, while mine is such a failure? Nothing I’ve done has mattered. Even that teacher knew my title!”

    Steve winced, that comment had struck a sore spot of his own, fresh wounds from Solomon and A Boa Qu to his pride as a soldier of Zeon were opened wide. His own career was a disgusting though short series of failures. His first deployment at Solomon he had been stationed to ensure infiltrators didn’t use the hanger he was BASED in for their entry. He had left his post on a whim to try and get a position with vision that had better cover, and hadn’t been behind the ridge he chose for five seconds before suddenly the entirety of Solomon blazed. His comms a mess of screams and pleas for help as his allies and the rest of his squad were vaporized.

    Then, during the retreat, he was ordered to help provide cover for the transports that were being loaded with supplies to keep them out of Federation hands as Zeon retreated from Solomon. Moments prior to the last crate of munitions being loaded a shell came from nowhere and struck the package dead center. The detonation carrying into both the the transport and the bay full of even more munitions laden with charges to be detonated once the transports were away. The secondaries destroyed the transports and killed all hands in both the hanger and the two mobile suits helping with the operation. Leaving just Steve and someone from another unit who had been stationed here, a older Lieutenant himself, who had been supplied a Rick Dom, that he had painted his own colors, presumably an ace from the battle following the solar ray. They had wiped out the small contingent of Balls that had attacked from the debris field in the shadow of Solomon itself, but the damage was done.

    Steve and this girl named Louise, it seemed, had failure at least in common. At least he held the joy of not having a reputation and title, if he did, it would probably be something like, “If you really want to die, just ask this guy to protect you.”

    “Take us back to the academy familiar, it will be time for lunch soon, and if I do not make an appearance after a defeat like this it will reflect poorly upon my family.”

    Familiar. She and others had referred to him as that a few times now, it wasn’t a term he was versed with. What did it mean? Perhaps it would be a prudent topic of discussion with Colbert later. If he could tear the man away from his combat footage.

    Shifting the Zaku, Steve brought it to a standing position. Destination in sight, he kicked the remains of a tree out of the way, and set his Zaku back into noncombat mode. He was met with what almost seemed to be a cooling sensation, before he set his mind to the task.

    And took one step before falling on the Zaku’s face from overbalance. The thundering crash was probably audible from the academy, and deafening to Steve who had his audio sensors cranked up to hear Louise. HOW could he have forgotten he was still configured for operation in SPACE! Zero gee to one gee genius!

    Come to think of it, how had he gotten out here over the uneven terrain without falling. He could have killed Louise like that. “OH FUCK!” Steve exclaimed, bringing the camera rapidly to bear on Louise’s form.

    “OW ow ow ow, what was that? Familiar be more careful! I could have been hurt!” The girl exclaimed, rising from her fall onto the Zaku’s palm.

    “You could have been killed is what the problem is.” Steve thought to himself, before bringing the Zaku back to a kneeling position, Louise still in hand. On a whim, he returned the Zaku to combat mode.

    He burned with energy once again.

    “Okay, that’s not normal” He thought, he would definitely have to bring this whole familiar thing up with Colbert. He then flawlessly brought the Zaku to a full standing position and walked back to the academy’s main gate.

    ---

    Colbert set yet another book over to the side, before sighing in exasperation. He had only a short amount of time left before he had to prepare his lecture again for his next class, but he had yet to find anything in the library about people living amongst the stars at all, much less anything of theirs being summoned. The library did have quite a repository of information on familiars, even a few old texts about the familiars of Brimir were placed off to the side for future reading. Maybe he would have a bit more luck with those, as the truly powerful familiars of history had been associated with him.

    For now though, he had to complete his deal and concessions with the man inside the machine. Cleaning up from his studies, he walked over and caught the maid that had been dusting a nearby clock just as she was preparing to set about another task.

    “Excuse me, but do you know who will be feeding the newly summoned familiars today?” He asked, a modicum of politeness entering his tone.

    The maid let out a small eep and checked the clock in a panic, before letting out a relieved sigh, as if she was reminded of something and worried she had missed a task.

    He couldn’t have just asked the particular maid in question had he? The odds against that were ridiculous.

    Nevertheless, the words out of her mouth a moment later were, “That would be me actually sir, I’m almost late to begin, so I must be quick, what do you need?”

    Colbert was silent a moment, before he gave a small chuckle, “Actually, I just need you to do something for me. Now, you know of the familiar Miss Valliere summoned correct? I want you to go stand in front of it with a meal fit for a guest of the academy, and I will reward you with twenty Ecu if you don’t speak of what you see to anyone.”

    ---

    Steve remained outside the dining hall with the ‘other familiars’ as Louise had put it. This included a menagerie of strange and fantastic creatures that Steve could name precisely two of, namely a giant mole, and a giant snake, the latter of which seemed quite content, like the cat that got the canary. He recognized a great many of them from his debut on this world, when he was ‘summoned’ as the locals seemed to put it.

    Thinking on it, Steve really started to grock for the first time that he was in a whole new universe. He hadn’t thought much on it till now, just processing the facts as they related to him and his continued survival. He mulled on it as he saw some of ‘the help’ bringing out a large trolley full of food and feed, and with a platter of food on top that seemed fit for human consumption. He thought it was a bit fancy for the lunch of someone in her position, but wrote it off as a difference in customs.

    He watched for a bit as she went from group to group to the familiars. Oddly enough some groupings seemed to have herbivores and carnivores right next to each other. Any analysis of that would have to wait as she took the platter and started walking over to his Zaku. Tilting the head down and adjusting the Zaku’s posture slightly, Steve kept her in view as she moved to the space just on front of him. Surmising that she wanted to take a look at something interesting before eating, he didn’t think anything of it until a few motionless minutes passed and she shuffled nervously.

    Realizing what was going on, Steve panned his camera back and forth a few times to ensure that there were no observers, seeing that the only thing even facing him was a large blue lizard more concerned with the leg of goat in its mouth, before kneeling and putting his loudspeakers on their lowest possible output, before asking, “Did Colbert send you?”

    The maid jumped and almost spilled the platter, but hesitantly nodded. Steve shut off the loudspeaker and popped the hatch before dropping down from the cockpit and taking a few steps towards the maid, who seemed frozen in shock. She snapped out of her daze when he took the platter from her, stepped back towards the Zaku, and propped his back on the leg and sitting down to eat.

    “I’m assuming he went ahead and told you to keep this secret, telling no one what you saw.” He said, before stabbing at some pieces of ham with his fork, clearly irritated. He took a bite though and calmed down a bit, clearly enjoying the well prepared food.

    The maid still seemed uncomfortable, before she asked, “I’m sorry sir, did i do something wrong? I seemed to have upset you.”

    “Actually I’m massively pissed off, but its okay, not your fault. Just when you get the chance, tell Colbert never again, not during the day, it’s way, way, way too risky.” He continued to eat even as he was talking, clearly both very hungry and not used to such good food. “Thank you for bringing this though, its quite good, I have to say for earthnoids you guys put together something pretty nice, might I get your name?

    Siesta blushed, “Thank you sir, I helped put it together, and my name is Siesta, Siesta of Tarbes.” she frowned for a moment then, something seeming familiar about the comment, “You called us earthnoids, does that mean you’re from a colony?”

    The plate made a distinctly loud ting as the fork dropped from the pilot’s hand and he stopped eating to look up in shock. “I’m sorry say that again?”

    “Well, its just your comment, it reminded me of my grandfather’s old stories, about people who made their homes with the stars, and called themselves spacenoids.” She left it unsaid that she thought it was related to the dementia he developed late in life, not wanting to offend the man in front of her.

    Steve allowed his mouth to hang open a bit, before closing it, then letting it hang open again. he then raised a hand and pointed a finger between himself and her, “We...we have to talk, not now though, too many prying eyes and ears. When Colbert grabs you for my food again tonight, try to collect your thoughts on your grandfather’s ‘stories.’ They might be importa- what the hell.” He was interrupted as the blue winged lizard from before had finished its leg and was now much closer than he would have liked without having heard it. It probed its long neck forward a bit to sniff him a few times, before giving a curious trill.

    Steve looked distinctly uncomfortable as the large carnivorous animal continued to sniff at him, but noted it wasn’t exactly acting hostile, just curious and oddly giving the impression of being childish. Steve went ahead and pointed to its chest and turned to Siesta again, “So uh, what’s this thing, and why is it looking at me?”

    Siesta giggled at the man’s amusing reaction, before replying “I believe its a wind dragon, its Miss Tabitha’s familiar, you can relax, she’s really quite sweet and friendly.”

    “Uh huh, right, nice dragon.” he tentatively reached forward, letting the reptile sniff his hand before he reached around and rubbed the base of one of its horns, causing it to trill happily. “Dragon, right, so I feel I have to ask, are they intelligent?”

    Siesta tilted her head to the side in thought for a moment, before replying, “Well she is quite clever as far as dragons go, but only Rhyme Dragons could speak, and they are extinct.”

    Steve was smiling now, starting to enjoy the trills the dragon was emitting, “Well that’s kind of tragic actually, sentience is to be valued after all, but really this is good for me, it would be really really bad for me if she reported back to her master about thi-”

    The doors to the dining hall chose that moment to begin creaking open as the students inside prepared to leave.

    “Oh fuck me!” he exclaimed before scrambling back in his cockpit, he then pointed between Siesta and jokingly the dragon, which had begun to whine at the loss of its attention, “Remember, not a word out of either of you. I don’t exist.” With that, he snapped the hatch shut, and started bringing the Zaku to its feet, as Siesta retrieved the platter and headed back to the trolley.

    ---


    Sylphid, or Irukuku, depending on what one knew of her nature, was in high spirits as her big sister rode her back and they soared in the starry night sky, the pretty moons shining overhead.

    “Irukuku made a new friend today big sister! Kuii! He was nice and rubbed my horns just the way I like, he lives in the giant man that your classmate summoned, that seems silly to Irukuku, but he didn’t want me to say anything, it seems so sad for him to just stay in that hole all day though, so Irukuku told you! You can convince him to come out and play with Irukuku too right big sis?”

    Tabitha said nothing, instead deep in thought. While she had sensed something off about Louise’s familiar, she hadn’t expected anything like this. When she had instructed Irukuku to keep an eye on it she had honestly just been expecting it to talk to the other familiars when the humans couldn’t see.

    “He kinda smells funny too, and not just sweaty, he doesnt smell like nature. Maybe he’s lived in that big man his whole life, maybe that’s what the nice food lady meant when she called him that weird name, spacenoid, that’s a funny word. He called her something weird too, earthnoid, thats a funny word too.”

    “Yes.” Tabitha could tell something far beyond anything she had seen in her travels was going on with Louise’s familiar, she just hoped nothing bad came of it, and that this new development didn’t threaten her uncle. She did not enjoy the prospect of a battle with such a large steel golem, and she would hate to kill the man who was nice to Sylphid.

    On the other hand, it wasn’t as if Joseph knew of any of this, and maybe keeping this to herself would be a nice trump card. She allowed herself a small grin. If it became a problem for him, it certainly would throw a roadblock that would be quite satisfying for the petite mage.

    ---

    Louise leaned on her windowsill in her nightgown, looking at the once again dormant form of her familiar. Since the familiars had been moved from the Vestri Court due to the damages her familiar had caused coming to her aid, it was much farther away now and she could only see its shoulders and up over the walls.

    Her familiar.

    She only now realized what an odd thing it was. There was such a human and precise shape to it, unlike most golems, and certainly any golems of its size. She had to wonder about who made it. There were so many strange things about it. Its quality, its need to rest, its ability to make mistakes like the incident in the forest. Why was it only given one eye, why did it’s eye only glow when the golem was awake. How did they manage such a powerful flame spell integrating with it and why not wind to make it FLY.

    Oh how she wished she could have seen that, such a display of power, in loyal service of its master, the golem ignored the boundaries between it and flew to her to protect her. She again began to wish to understand the insight its creator had. It was clearly a weapon of war, but it could clearly understand so much more. She had begrudgingly listened to Kirche who had explained to her that no order had been given, the familiar CHOSE to offer Louise a private place in her moment of weakness.

    Why give a war golem so much understanding of emotion?

    Louise looked eagerly to tomorrow, the day of void would certainly be a good day to get to know more about her familiar. Once more, she was asleep as soon as she turned around and entered her bed.

    ---

    Colbert had been apologetic when he showed up, but to Steve it didn’t seem entirely sincere. Clearly the man had understood the implications of daylight activities, but didn’t think Steve would be so upset about it. Steve let it go, it was unimportant for now, currently he was dumbing down some of the concepts being introduced in the replay of his combat footage for understanding in the current setting. While he had free moments, he would tear into the stew he had been brought by Siesta, while posing her with questions.

    Colbert was currently wearing Steve’s helmet so he could get audio from the recordings without drawing unwanted attention. The visor was open, which allowed one to see the grim face he sported as the vid went on.

    War was hell, Colbert had understood that, but he thought his career as a soldier would steel him against the horror of it, and he thought that since everyone fought in these machines and in their magnificent ships, he would be more detached. The sheer scale of it though got through to him, he realized that likely this battle alone killed the same number of people that currently occupied Tristain. That and the screams, the screams for help, for reinforcements, for family, war could get no more horrible than this. He found it hard to focus on the reason he was actually watching, to get a grasp of the scale, and to see this world that Steve came from.

    Steve meanwhile, was getting a grasp of the situation he now found himself in, and tried to verse himself on the mechanics of the world around him. “So, a familiar is a creature summoned to serve and protect a mage, a mage typically being one of noble descent, and the ruling class of Halkeginia, the continent we are on, and of which Tristain is a country, a small one, but a country nonetheless. Countries are typically ruled by ones who can trace their decent all the way back to a saint-like Deity named Brimir, who was the only user of an element called void, which is also worshiped.”

    Siesta nodded at each point, and elaborated more, “Mages are also ranked based on how many elements they can use, each element being a corner to a shape.”

    “So it goes point, line, triangle, rectangle? that about right? Since void is so sacred I assume it isn’t factored in, so no pentagon.” Steve asked, wanting to be as savvy as he could be in preparation for what Colbert told him was coming tomorrow. He pretty much could count on a field trip alone with his ‘master’ who would be doing her best to find out anything she could about him.

    Siesta winced a moment, before correcting, “Dot and Square actually, but yes. Most mages reach triangle level near the end of their careers, but only a select few ever reach square.”

    “I can’t listen to any more of this.” Colbert interrupted.

    “What she get something wro- oh, right. Forgot you probably aren’t used to this kind of war. I guess I kind of expected you to be too busy marveling over the technology involved to be noting the actual context.” Steve seemed apologetic in his tone, but it didn’t seem that he had the same reservations about war and its horrors Colbert did. Why should he, he had been hardened against it by his training and being subject to said horrors. Not to mention that he also had the added distraction of trying to not die at the time of the recording.

    “Well now that you have the sense of scale of the gap between our development, on the side of the cockpit under the left monitor there is a box. No, down by your knee. Yes that, open that.” Steve guided and instructed Colbert. “See we have a lil problem, my Zaku is still actually configured for space flight, and I need it configured for ground movement, after that at some point we will have to actually maintain the thing. That there is an operators manual, you need to start reading that so we can someday, start fixing up my Zaku to work properly here.” Steve explained, “Now for the moment, I seem to be able to compensate for the configuration while in combat mode due to some shenanigans regarding this familiar thing, but I don’t want to rely on that.”

    Colbert then raised the book in question and faced it to Steve, “I can’t read a word of this, it looks similar to Albionese, but I can’t decipher the letters. Second, you say you believe your status as a familiar is helping you compensate for your machines problems?”

    “Well that’s a pain in the ass, I’m going to have to help you transcribe the thing then, and that will take weeks like this.” Finally setting down his empty bowl from his stew, Steve took the book from Colbert’s hand. “As for the familiar thing, yeah, I didn’t used to experience sudden temperature differences when I changed computer modes, and I most certainly never received training for compensating for a incorrectly configured machine on the ground.”

    “Well if we saw your runes, I might be able to pull something from their meaning.”

    “Runes?” Steve replied quizzically, not familiar with the term.

    “They should have been inscribed somewhere on your body when Miss Vallierre bonded you as her familiar.”

    “I’m not exactly wearing anything under this pilot suit. I’m not sure Siesta would appreciate me going in the buff.”

    “You don’t remember feeling anything when you were summoned?”

    “Oh that’s what that shit was? It felt like someone stabbed me in the hand with a burning knife repeatedly! Why the hell would someone do that to a living creature?!”

    Colbert looked aghast, agony being a quick thing to understand after watching the record on the Zaku, “We most ceretainly would revise the procedure if that was the norm, most creatures don’t even show the slightest of discomforts.”

    “Well at least we know where it is, I can just take a glove off, lets get this over wi-”

    “I can read this!” Siesta suddenly interrupted, completely derailing the discussion, “Maintenance and Operations Manual: MS-06F-2: Zaku II F2, edition seven.” She proudly proclaimed.

    Steve blinked a few times in surprise, before smiling widely, “Colbert, you just got a study buddy.”
     
  4. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Glory to the Principality of Tristain

    Miss Longueville crept quietly through the hallways as she made her way to the school treasury. The treasury was, for some odd reason, placed just a single floor below where the headmaster’s office was. Normally, such an important room should be placed at the lower levels of a castle, usually underground, but she wasn’t complaining, it made the job easier after all.

    Finally she reached her target, an enormous set of iron doors. They were kept shut with a thick bolt mechanism, which in turn was secured with an equally large padlock. This place was where artifacts dating from even before the Academy's establishment were contained.

    After making sure no one was around, Miss Longueville withdrew a wand from a pocket. It was about the length of a pencil, but with a flick of the wrist, it extended to the length of an conductor's baton, which she whirled expertly.

    She casted a spell of Unbinding at the padlock but after waiting for a few moments, she frowned when the padlock didn’t open as it should have.

    "Well, it's not like I really expected a Spell of Unbinding to work anyway," she sighed before smiling deviously as she began reciting the words to one of her specialty spells a Transmutation spell. Chanting loudly and clearly, she waved her wand at the heavy lock and the magic flew towards it but once again there was no visible change. "Looks like it's been magically reinforced by a Square-class mage.”

    A Spell of Reinforcement was one that prevented the oxidation and decomposition of matter. Any substance that had this spell cast on it was protected from any chemical reactions, and allowed it to be preserved forever in that state. Even transmutation magic would have no effect against something protected like this.

    Only if one's magical skill surpassed that of the mage who cast the spell could it be overcome something that Miss Longueville, an expert in Earth magic and transmutation in particular, was currently unable to do.

    Taking off her glasses, she stared at the door once more, as if she could just will for the door to open up before hearing footsteps coming up the staircase. Reacting instantly, she shrunk her wand back to the size of a pencil and slipped it back into her pocket just as a balding man appeared over the steps, Professor Colbert, if she recalled correctly, one of the professors specializing in fire magic.

    The man, in Miss Longueville’s opinion, looked like he was going to fall over in any second. He was walking as if he was intoxicated, wobbling back and forth as well as left and right with each step he took.

    He didn’t even seem to notice her as he walked past her. Upon closer observation, the man had bags under his bloodshot eyes, indicating that he probably hasn’t slept in days...perfect.

    “Mister Colbert?” Miss Longueville asked as she placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him. “Are you all right?”

    The man stopped and turned his to look at her before blinking several times before his eyes seemed to refocus themselves.

    “Ahh...you are...Miss Longueville correct?” he asked in a slow tired voice. “What are...you doing here?”

    “I was going to catalog the contents of the treasury, but..." Miss Longueville turned her head to the locked doors and Colbert seemed to follow her gaze.

    “Ahh...yes...you wouldn’t be able to get in...without a key so easily...though there’s nothing really important in there...junk mostly...things the Headmaster collected...”

    But rather than face her while he was explaining the contents, he seemed to be talking to the statue to her left instead. She did not need another Osmond right now. She needed information.

    “But surely there must be something important in the treasury, like say...the 'Staff of Destruction'?"

    “Ah...yes...that oddly shaped thing...it has a handle at such a strange place...making you hold it so that the staff is at along the edge of your arm.”

    Colbert seemed to be waking up now. the window for her to get any more information out is closing fast and she still had no clue to get through the doors of the treasury.

    "I must say, the treasury is quite amazingly built,” She said quickly. “No matter what kind of magic a thief might use, it would be impossible to open, I assume?"

    “Yes...yes...quite...” Colbert nodded, his head drooping slightly again. “A group of square mages designed it I believe...resists all spells I believe...but not that strong against physical blows...though you’d need something big...”

    “Big like...the golem outside?”

    “Yes...big as that magnificent steel golem...never seen anything like it...fire and earth so perfectly intertwined...”

    At this point, Colbert’s body leaned so far backwards that he started falling before Miss Longueville managed to catch him before he smashed his head into the wall. Not that she had any reason to, but it doesn’t hurt to repay help with help.

    “Let’s get you to bed, Professor...” she said with a sigh as she helped the balding professor to his room. The treasury wasn’t going anywhere after all, and smashing through the walls right now when the golem was just outside the window was a fools move.

    She’d have to wait until it and everyone else was distracted before she made her move.

    ----

    Steve flipped a small device about over and over between his hands, keeping it in a state imitating gyroscopic motion. This was a rather fun exercise in zero gee, as one had to impart as little force as possible to try and keep it in open air as long as they could. In one gee, Steve discovered it fell rather flat.

    The device was a camera, one purple in color, a gift from his sister. It had stenciled on the side a heart of lighter purple, with a small golden facsimile of the Zeonic crest. Colbert had found it in the bottom of the Manual compartment and asked what it was, it took Steve several moments to remember himself. He had been using it not five minutes before launch from his squad’s Gwazine at A Baoa Qu.

    It was a device the two used to mail each other during his training and once during his active duty for Zeon, a little fun way for the two to talk with one another when video phones were unreliable or simply not as entertaining or portable. Steve had religiously guarded this device from the more crass or clumsy of his comrades in the barracks.

    Since his arrival, Steve had not once thought of it. The device that meant so much to him normally, and let him vent his thoughts, or console his sister in her moments of worry, had been sitting unused in the bottom of the compartment, like a piece of trash. Even the strangeness of Steve’s scenario didn’t warrant that, how could he have forgotten?

    Flipping open the side to reveal a screen, which he then turned to face the front, which now pointed at him, he powered the camera on and hit record. “Hey Sandra, sorry for the gap between records here, but things have been really hectic the last couple of days, though really you would probably love it here. I swear it’s right out of one of your novels. I apparently got summoned from A Baoa Qu to be some little girls familiar spirit. Crazy I know, but don’t you believe those casualty reports, I’m alive and well, though it is still dangerous here.” Steve never really got the whole idea around the concept of not worrying your family with details like that, he always felt honesty would usually be more effective, it meant you knew the risks, and prepared for them,

    “But hey, I know how you wished I had been deployed to earth so you could see pictures of the wildlife. Here I got something better, check this out, and yes, I remember the Zaku camera doesn’t show up great when you port this to your computer, I think you can deal with it considering how cool this thing is.” Using his free hand to poke around with the hat on the left control stick, he maneuvered the head into position before adjusting the eye for the last bit of focus on the right hat. gave a clear view of a window midway up the tower. “Alright, so this is the room of one of the other mages, she likes to take evening and early morning rides on her familiar. I’m sure you are thinking, ‘so she got a horse, why are you looking at the window?’ just watch- yep here she comes.”

    Catching the blue flying ball of energy on camera perfectly, Steve adjusted the focus perfectly on the dragon just as the bluenette came out of the window and jumped on her back.

    “The girl is a mage named Tabitha, don’t know much about her, but the dragon certainly likes her, so that’s points in her favor as far as I’m concerned. The dragon looks scary, but she’s a real sweetheart, I had her practically mewling into my hand yesterday.”

    Tabitha seemed to adjust herself a moment, before turning to face Steve, and raising her staff in a subtle wave. Steve frowned, before continuing, “Huh, she didn’t do that bit yesterday, must be saying hi to my master I guess. Oh yeah, apparently these mages are supposed to be able to see through their familiars if they want, I’m not sure how to handle that. Of course, apparently I’m pretty off as far as familiars go. Judging by what little I saw, I seem to have gotten the short-bus mage, but don’t let her know I said that, she will kill me, messily. Which brings us to the serious part of this.”

    Steve brought the camera back around to face him, his face a bit somber, “As you can tell by my terms for these people, they aren’t normal, much in the same way we were hearing newtypes weren’t. Now I know better than to just lump without evidence, but at the same time I don’t want to just throw myself out in front of them because I don’t know for a fact they will kill me.”

    Steve chuckled grimly for a moment before continuing once more “When we got briefed about the Federation newtype, we mostly were told about how the guy is apparently a murderous psychopath. You don’t get the title ‘White Devil’ for petting kittens after all.”

    “I’m starting to get the impression these people are markedly more sane, but my masters temper tantrum yesterday makes it hard to be sure. She gibbed the hell out of a bear with a spell that wasn’t even supposed to be harmful. I’m not letting myself get revealed until I’m damn sure I won’t end up a smear on the ground, just let the locals think I’m a golem, which is apparently just a moving mass of some sort of mineral.” Steve shrugged in a manner that said ‘I don’t know I just work here’, “So I’m a fancy golem, but still something normal to them. Anyway, I better be letting you go, my master is coming out for what apparently is going to be a field trip to get to know me better, before she shows me off to a crowd, here’s a shot of her for you.”

    Quickly flashing the camera back towards the screen which he brought to bear on Louise, he got as best a high resolution shot as he could for the camera, before flicking it off and closing it. Carefully setting it back in the side compartment, Steve resolved that he would continue to use this camera like a diary, and if he ever got back, it would be a hell of a gift for his sister.

    Flicking the audio sensors back on, having turned them off for ease of sleep, Steve met the girl partway into the main courtyard, where mages worked to survey the damage from his little episode the day before. He wondered briefly before kneeling if that would have to be paid for by his ‘master’, she certainly wouldn’t be getting her deposit back.

    “Ah good familiar, you’re here. It’s time we tested your abilities, pick me up and we will find somewhere suitable in the forest. Once that is done, we will return for the Princess’s arrival. I am unsure where they will place us, given your..... stature.”

    Steve tilted the Zaku’s head to get across the sense of confusion. In reality, he just wondered if she was bright enough to put the pieces together and figure out royalty coming to a talent show was an absolutely retarded concept. There had to be some other reason, that this was just a pretext for. If he found out she was here to warn, no, scratch that, foreshadow a neighboring nations political troubles, he was going to strangle someone.

    “I said pick me up, familiar!” Louise repeated. “I’ll explain everything as we search for a good place to practice! Really...why would someone make a golem that would get confused about its orders?”

    Steve left his computer in combat mode so he could make use of what were apparently his familiar abilities. Colbert said he would be studying to figure out the significance of this ability, since by the time they remembered the runes daylight was breaking. In the meantime they afforded him control so fine he was able to place his hand against the ground, palm up, and let Louise crawl onto it, before standing and turning in place, to head out into the forest.

    In actuality it took quite some time for them to find ‘somewhere suitable’ as the girl had wished for some large clearing for her to be at one end of and him to demonstrate at the other. Fun fact: trees tend to spread wherever the hell they want, and don’t tend to leave large clearings.

    They eventually settled for a large fairly shallow riverbed that the width of offered some flexibility in positioning. Setting Louise down on the riverbank in a sort of rivet between the shore-side trees, Steve took a few steps back and waited patiently in the middle of the river. Steve focused the eye, and fiddled with the resolution to make the eye clear the image, the tone emitted signaling to Louise he was ready for commands. Steve didn’t mind given an impression of some modicum of intelligence, but he wasn’t going to speak unless someone made it quite clear it was needed and expected him to.

    “Familiar, your musket, it doesn’t look like it loads normally, is it done magically? Can it fire forever? And what are those drums?” She had to raise her voice significantly to be heard clearly between the range and the sound of the water moving over the rocks and the feet of the steel titan.

    Steve had foreseen this question, and had his demonstration all planned out. First he ejected a round from the weapon into the Zaku’s free hand, and showed it to Louise. once she had a good look he shoved the round back in a port on the drum, and cycled the chamber to put another round in. He then turned to the side, careful to keep her opposite the side the shells would be coming out of, he shouldered the weapon, and picked a particularly large and tall tree downrange. He then fired two rounds about a second apart, wanting to not waste them, but at the same time look impressive. The first round hit the base of the tree, right at the ground, and exploded. The trunk was blown apart and wood shrapnel made quite a display as it splashed over a wide area in the moving water. The tree quickly began to fall into the river, but was intercepted in the middle by the second round, which blew the tree into pieces and left large pieces of driftwood floating back down the stream towards the two.

    Steve immediately followed up by turning and kneeling down to pick up the discarded shells and shoving one into the empty magazine on his left waist, before rolling the other into his hand to show Louise. As he turned he realized it might have been a good idea to show her to plug her ears. Currently she was sitting on the ground with her palms covering her ears and wincing slightly.

    “Oops.” Steve said to himself, remembering the first time he heard the 120mm blazing away. The ringing seemed to take hours to go away. Continuing with his demonstration, Steve showed Louise the ejected casing he had kept, the water steaming off its hot surface. He waited a moment to make sure she realized it was part of the round she saw earlier, and that it was now spent. Sliding this one into the empty magazine on his side, he contemplated what to do with the shell casings. Since this was a swords and sorcery setting, maybe brass was valuable, though with the sorcery shenanigans, most likely they could just magic the stuff up.

    If he ever was going to go into combat though, maybe he should look into that, maybe with some careful analysis of a round, they could magic up or forge him new rounds. It likely wasn’t necessary though. He knew in books like this, the main character always wound up involved in some kind of war for their kingdom, but things here looked pretty peaceful, unless there was a sudden invasion of demons he was pretty sure his master would lead a peaceful and boring life.

    Steve had two hundred rounds in reserve, and about seventy in his current magazine, he highly doubted anything that could come up would warrant even a third of that. Even then, he had the heat hawk, and the grenades, it’s not like anything here could even hurt the Zaku. HE on the other hand, he was squishy. Very squishy. Which was why he didn’t plan on leaving the Zaku except when he was absolutely sure it was safe.

    ---

    After Louise was certain she wasn’t deaf, she nodded in understanding, and a bit of wonder, as she realized that it seemed the golem’s musket was apparently very complex. It fired faster than any musketeer she had ever hear of. She wondered about what her mother would think of this familiar. Would it reflect enough upon her that she would gain her approval, or at least Eleanor’s?

    If she wouldn’t now, she would have to be ready to gain approval when the time came. “Familiar, how good are you with that axe?” she asked, crossing her arms, anticipating a demonstration.

    After clasping the musket to its back. the golem reached over with its right arm, and drew the axe with a smooth motion that was accompanied by a tone not unlike the one its eye emitted occasionally, before the edge began to glow a molten red. Turning completely around, the Golem picked a mid size tree, an old maple, and seemed to survey it a moment before deciding it suitable. It then reared back, and pushed forward slamming the blade down into the tree with all its strength. The tree reacted much as if it had been struck by lightning, and gave a screaming protest of shredding wood as the axe drove all the way to the ground, where the tree began to catch FIRE! The entirety of the innards of the tree were scorched, the burnt sap inside giving off a pungent smell of caramel left in the pan too long.

    The golem wiped its blade on the bank, before letting the axe cool, and finishing it off by dipping the blade into the river, and then clasping it back on its waist. Turning once again, the golem faced Louise, and let its eye ‘blink’ once more. That eye, what did it see.

    “Now just stay there and relax familiar, since you are a golem, I’m not sure this will work, but even if you aren’t alive you still see.” Louise had been told this process wasn’t so much an actual spell as just a manifestation of ones willpower. Even for all the failures she had endured, this ability shouldn’t be denied to her. Louise looked inside herself for the bond to her familiar, and envisioned the familiar in her mind, and pushed her willpower into its eye.

    ---

    Steve grew very worried with where this was heading. If she didn’t go all short-bus on him again, she was going to see what he saw, namely his hands on the controls in front of him. Steve closed his eyes in hopes that if she just saw nothing, she would say it didn’t work and never try again. Needless to say he was quite surprised when he heard her say, “Familiar we must clean your eye, wait, why are the strange spots moving? Are they mites?”

    Spots? Moving? That sounded like static.

    She was seeing out of the damn Zaku’s main camera?!

    “Why is the area you can see so small, I mean I can see me just fine, but really how can you fight like that? And what were all those words that I couldn’t hear when I tried to use your senses. What is an ‘administrator account’?”

    “You’re shitting me.” Steve said to himself, “Her magic senses, not only didn’t pick me to see out of, but logged into the Zaku’s very limited networking capabilities, made her an account, and linked her with the camera.” Steve paused several moments with a perturbed look on his face.

    “I call bullshit. I will not accept a wizard did it as an answer. No. No, no, no, this didn’t happen.” Steve leaned forward and brought up the networking console before bringing up the list of users, figuring he never networked somebody with the name [ null ], he quickly put in the commands to boot the user. “Denied.” Steve said monotonously as Louise staggered in place before shaking her head and glaring at him.

    “Familiar! Don’t be so rude to your master. I was only using your eye.”

    “No, no you weren’t, this didn’t happen.” Steve thought angrily, before their strange pseudo argument was interrupted by a blue form swooping down and landing, the mage on top just turning to say, “Late.” to Louise, before taking back off.

    Louise looked at Steve, who just shrugged in his cockpit, until it dawned on him, and when he pointed in the academy’s direction, on Louise.

    Steve would later deny laughing at Louise’s face, for a solid minute, before picking her up and starting towards the academy.

    ----

    Steve ran full tilt down the gap in the trees that had been their path. Unfortunately it was far from straight, and turned upon itself, as natural forest paths are wont to do. Louise was held close to the Zaku’s center of gravity, only a few feet of armor and technology separating her from Steve in fact. As they came closer to spotting the academy though, it was clear something was wrong. there was a huge plume of dust, as if someone had ground up a pile of dust and mortar and blew it into the air. As they rounded the top of another hill, the cause became clear.

    Steve was at a loss as he saw what looked like a massive stone and dirt and tree abomination slamming away at the central tower, impotently for the moment, but one could tell when viewing with the full zoom on the Zaku’s camera that it wasn’t going to hold forever.

    Steve debated for a moment how many shits he gave about this scenario, when Louise exclaimed something about worrying for the princess, it was mostly garbled out since she was right next to a audio sensor cranked all the way up. It was also very very loud.

    Steve slowed to a stop next to an outcropping of rocks on the ridge, before kneeling and putting Louise down, and pointing at the ground in a manner that clearly said ‘sit, stay, good girl’.

    Steve then ran a short ways to make sure Louise was clear of the backblast, before pushing off into a hard jump, and unslinging his MMP-78. This thrust of jet propulsion was loud enough that it made the golem pause and slowly turn around to investigate the strange noise. It finished turning just fast enough to catch a 120mm burst to the torso as Steve let loose with the machine gun. He started to feather his thrusters on decent to slow himself down, and both make the landing easier and give him more time with the trigger on target.

    The golem wasn’t just taking this, and was trying to shield its face with its arms while starting to retreat back towards the forest to Steve’s left. Steve responded with a burst of fire to the elbow of the golem on that side, displaying clearly that he wasn’t going to let it just run away after attacking the academy. The arm responded by politely coming off in a shower of mortar and clay, the first thing to really go Steve’s way today.

    Steve then slammed down in the courtyard, steadying himself when he halted his forward momentum with a three point stance. His gun held high, he looked up, fulling expecting the golem to be crumbing apart. He wasn’t expecting to see the tail end of the golem flinging its remaining arm from its body as a projectile, bowling over the Zaku, and knocking the gun from its fingers. Climbing out of the now loose earth and gravel, he caught a glimpse of the golem, which seemed to have fared the worse of the two in the recent exchange. While it seemed to be pulling more mass from below to repair itself and replace its limbs, it wasn’t doing it very well. It wouldn’t survive another volley like before. Trouble was Steve didn’t think it would just nicely let him dig his gun out of the rubble. Well that suited him just fine, he needed to vent, and the Heat Hawk was nothing if not a nice way to vent your anger on something. Reaching over, he took a firm hold and drew the weapon, letting the blade heat up nice and evenly before charging the massive enemy golem.

    The golem seeing his approach rapidly pushed mass out into its new arms, but if the previous arms could have been described as thick and meaty, these ones would only be described as little girly-boy arms. He simply turned and brought his shoulder shield to bear when the golem reared back to strike him when he got in range, and let the attack smash uselessly into the barrier with a loud clang, compacting the golems arm into a stub about half as long as before, before spinning in place and swinging the heat hawk from up below with both hands, to slash into the side of the Golem, and try and sever the golem from its right side to its other shoulder. If it could survive being cut it half, Steve was going to use the extra time to shove a grenade in the regenerating mass and see if it recovered from THAT.

    Surprisingly enough, magically dense gravel and earth managed to stop the heat hawk just before it fully embedded itself in faux flesh. Steve grimaced, placing right hand on the golem, trying to push it free. The golem was having none it, and tried to flow even more dirt over the axe to try and wedge it more firmly in place. Such was a mistake, as the torso was still savaged from the assault of the explosive 120mm rounds. As the changes in density reached a critical point in their fight against the tension of the Zaku’s servos the whole shoulder instead tore away as the axe came free.

    The golem couldn’t take much more of this, it was losing mass and integrity far FAR faster than it could replace it or adapt it shape to compensate. Steve finally saw the mage on the other shoulder, their face hidden, but their posture suggesting one who was not in control. While Steve was looking at the mage however, he didn’t see the boiling earth in the center of the golem’s chest until it was too late. The moment he did see it, an ultra dense spike of mortar and stone from the foundation of the academy was streaking towards the mono-camera.

    If that got taken out, Steve was doomed. He turned away from the blow and tried to sever it with the heat hawk as he turned, hoping it would disperse if severed.

    Then he heard the explosion and the sound of rubble hitting steel plate as the spike detonated for no apparent reason other than some of it deciding to be anti matter today. His master had apparently arrived by dragon-back with Tabitha, if his limited peripheral vision was to be believed.

    However, not all was joy and roses, as Steve had all the Zaku’s weight going into shoving its heat hawks blade through the air. The Zaku continued to turn and Sliced along the edge of the tower with the end of his heat hawk, the blade likely going in twenty feet, though at an oblique angle. It apparently didn’t hit any rooms of residence, though a storeroom was demolished and its contents poured out the gap left behind by the heat hawk as it came to a stop, wedged in more of the tower.

    He had screwed up. He was now defenseless against the golem. Focusing his mono eye as he tried to pull his axe free again, he watched the golem, waiting for the blow from its remaining arm. It never came, instead the rider saw something in particular fall from the storeroom and let their golem crumble to the ground, falling towards it. Steve managed to get his Heat Hawk free, just as the mage grabbed a strange case and began sinking into the ground. He tried to strike down on the mage with the hot blade, but was too late, the blade slamming uselessly into the armoire that survived the fall just behind the mage. Interestingly, though irrelevant, Steve could have sworn he saw the furniture being driven into the dirt, rather than shattering and burning.

    Silence reigned with the exception of the sounds emitted by the active heat hawk, and the Zaku’s reactor. A moment later, Steve allowed himself to breath for the first time since he saw the spike headed for the eye, before pulling the blade from the ground, deactivating it, and latching it to his side. His master was amongst the stunned bystanders who apparently had taken cover in the shelter offered by the outer wall. Steve retrieved his MMP-78 from the rubble and dirt from when the golem shot its arm at him, and brushed some debris from it, before holding it akimbo, turning to his master and the crowd, and giving a thumbs up with the Zaku’s free hand.

    So he was a ham, deal with it. The crowd loved it, and began cheering. Steve opted to just zoom his camera on Louise, who had a proud smile on her face. Steve wasn’t quite sure if said pride was with herself, or with him, but he also wasn’t quite sure he cared.
     
  5. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Glory to the Principality of Tristain

    After the battle, the entire courtyard was blocked off to the students and most of the staff. With so many artifacts having spilled from the academy vault, it was important that nothing else get stolen. The courtyard also needed repair from the destruction wrought by both the the attacker forming their golem and the damage from the Vallierre familiar’s arrival.

    Kirche stood leaning on the wall in front of her as she observed the earth mages redistribute the soil to even out the ground, and restore the foundation of the academy from where the massive golem pulled it into its mass. Her eyes then wandered over to the strange large brass cylinders that had ejected from the construct’s musket with each shot.

    “Louise sure did summon an interesting familiar. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of golems moving like that.” Kirche.

    “Yes.” Tabitha said, turning a single page in her book. This prompted a rather perplexed look from the Germanian, who was versed enough in the bluenette’s mannerisms to know this was a solid interest being expressed.

    “Hey, do you know something special about that familiar?” Kirche asked, leaning closer to Tabitha to see if she could hear any faint response.

    The Gallian girl opted to just turn another page of her book, despite having had not nearly enough time to clear the pages since the last turn. It was merely a manner of saying, ‘no comment’.

    “Hey, don’t be like that. Come on, you know something, let a girl in on the goods.” Kiche leaned more toward Tabitha before the bluenette just turned and started to walk away, towards the grounds the familiars had relocated to following the devastation of their second courtyard. Kirche, not to let an opportunity for something so interesting pass by, quickly followed, catching up to the Gallian and peering over each shoulder in turn.

    “So what is it? Did you figure out where it came from? Or maybe you found out something really different, like its not a golem at all, but an invader from the stars? Come on, give me something to work with at least.” Kirche was just throwing any suggestion she could think of at this point, just probing for an additional reaction from Tabitha, who opted just to keep walking, until they had exited into the next courtyard. Coming to the center, Kirche slowed to a stop and quirked her head at the sight in front of her.

    The golem was currently kneeling, with its musket off to the side, and tentatively tracing a finger across the back of Sylphid, who’s reactions varied based on the level of success the golem had in trying to gently pet it between its wings. These reactions ranged from expectant or impatient when the finger missed, instead just moving the air close to its body, to pleased when the steel finger actually made contact, moving along the ridges with a strangely delicate motion.

    It was an odd scene, one that gave Kirche pause. She didn’t really know what to make of it, on one hand, it was a war golem petting a dragon, which in itself is a strange image. On the other hand, it was doing it badly, showing a small degree of normalcy, as the construct clearly wasn’t designed for this purpose.

    Seeing her master approach, Sylphid darted out from under the golem’s hand and up to Tabitha, giving off a rapid pair of trills. The single eye of the construct panned over, locking its gaze to see where it’s companion had gone. After a moment, it moved back to center and the construct picked up its musket before standing, seemingly at attention.

    “We have to work on your tact familiar, not only did you leave your master behind without their consent, you really are making a mess of the academy! The academy won’t have any grounds left at this rate.” Louise said as she came out of the central tower, “Familiar, I was just asked if I knew anything about the current state of Fouquet. Did you manage to get them in the end?”

    When the golem shook its head, Louise groaned, “We cannot even say we pulled a success out of it, the vault apparently had some valuables that are yet to be accounted for, so the thief must have gotten what they wanted.” Out of the corner of her vision, she seemed to notice finally that they had an audience. “Zerbst? Tabitha? What are you two doing here?”

    Tabitha just gestured towards the blue drake with her staff, while Kirche continued to have a look of utter surprise upon her features, “Hey, Louise, why is your familiar so.... well, familiar with the other familiars. It seems weird for a golem to be social at all, much less a war golem.”

    Louise seemed for a moment like she wouldn’t answer, before deciding she couldn’t excuse such. She had been given an answer for her question, and the Zerbst’s question wasn’t unreasonable. “I honestly dont know myself, there are a great many unusual things about my familiar. I think it might be just how the spell that gave it its will has aged. A child will eventually think of things other than food and comfort, so maybe if they weren’t dismissed war golems would think of things other than fighting?” Louise’s tone had turned questioning towards the end of her response, as if she thought the possibility very flimsy.

    Kirche shrugged, not having a better explanation, before turning to look at the golem again, “Even if it thinks of other things though, it sure doesn’t hold anything back when fighting. That thief barely survived the opening attack!” The Germanian then sighed, before looking back to the previous courtyard. “You are right to chastise it though, at this rate, there won’t be anywhere left to keep the other familiars, and who’s going to pay for all these repairs and renovations?”

    Louise bristled at the unsaid accusation, “Clearly it will be paid for by that thief Fouquet, once she is made to pay for her nefarious crimes. After all, she is responsib-”

    “Responsible for the recent bit of damages yes, though your familiar certainly tore up the area pretty well itself, and the incident yesterday was completely its fault, or maybe it was yours, for making it worry.”

    Louise sputtered a bit at that recent bit of logic before paling slightly. Even if her family was proud of her summoning prowess, if she couldn’t contain the collateral damage of her familiar and forced them to pay damages..... the ensuing discussion would be less than pleasant. She shivered.

    ---

    Steve noted the conversation in front of him with detached interest, he was tired. This world was running him ragged with stress. Even as tired as he was, he was having difficulties getting any rest from his frequent cat-naps during the day. Night was unavailable to sleep, as it was the only opportunity he had to advance his position in this strange world. Colbert’s help was desperately needed, but the level of technological prowess, or lack thereof, was going to make even the mage’s help difficult to apply.

    The difficulty presented by fuel concerns was going to become quite relevant very quickly at this rate as well. The F2 was very fuel efficient, and Steve was keeping its movements minimal for the most part, but yesterday’s and today’s jump-jet requirements had taken their fair share of his helium-3 stores.

    His next task would be to get started on having those replaced. He presumed that it could probably be replaced by some magical means, but likely a sample would be necessary. On a less immediate note, he might have to reevaluate his previous assumption that his ammo supply was a superfluous concern, if attacks like earlier were not as uncommon as he had hoped.

    There was still a bizarre kind of hope however, the Royal entourage had been forced to vacate, meaning the royal guard were incapable of dealing with such a threat on their own. If important officials like the local principality were allowed to travel with such inadequate escorts, it meant threats within the borders were typically minimal.

    Well, either that or the leader of Tristain was the incredibly naive idealistic type. He doubted such a country would have survived so long with such a possibility looming overhead. He wondered what kind of person the leader of Tristain was. Was the Princess like Lady Kycilia perhaps, a stern but practical ruler, a military tactician?

    Still, he hoped things would slow down for a few days at least, the stress had not had a chance to dissipate since A Baoa Qu. One thing after another presented problems and worries. It would kill him at this rate, if his poor sleep schedule didn’t first.

    ------------

    Fouquet, Secretary Longueville, Matilda of Saxe-gotha, no matter the name used, they all refered to one immensely angry individual. She had the perfect opportunity to strike at the vault, the knowledge of its weaknesses, the means to exploit them, the flawless method of escape, and the client already lined up for the piece. Even better, the opportunity was exploited, the weakness assaulted, her means present, the product acquired, and the escape executed with no pursuers.

    Yet this woman raged. Nothing had gone according to plan. Her assault had not accounted for the royal guard, who thankfully retreated without question, just before she had been assaulted by the returning familiar of the young Valliere. Her golem had been hopelessly outclassed by the gleaming construct that was the girl’s familiar, and it had doggedly kept at her even during her best moments in the short bout, and it had very nearly turned her into ash with that flaming hatchet it carried. Her goal was accomplished only through dumb luck in the middle of the fight, and her escape had been observed.

    She wasn’t content with this, hence why once more she sat in Osmond’s office, she wanted to get payback, to redeem the strength of her Fouquet persona, even elevate it to new levels. She ignored the vermin trying to peek up her skirt, as she thought about how to gain her revenge. She knew on her own she wasn’t powerful enough, and she needed to use the staff to assist her in destroying that damned steel titan of the Valliere, but as of yet she hadn’t been able to work the device. It didn’t respond to magical input as a typical foci would. Colbert’s comment had helped her realize that the strange metal and wood protrusion on the side of the staff was meant for hands to hold, and she noted the end of the staff pointed at eye level when one braced it on their shoulder for easy carrying, but nothing made sense beyond that.

    Its make was similar to that of the steel constructs weapons though, so maybe if she could learn more of their workings....

    -----
     
  6. SmallTips

    SmallTips Ally of convenience

    You see the text box where allll the words go?

    Highlight text, click the eraser in the top left corner and boom, text is in normal format.
     
  7. So you are going to put the logistic issue with the fuel. I'm still willing to look that over for story sake. Honestly I'm more concern over ammunition. Maybe there are a number of MS armaments in the desert.

    Doesn't sound like the staff is the Regina. That thing was big and heavy, requiring at least two people to operate. Anything else won't do squat against a Zaku.
     
  8. MovingTarget

    MovingTarget Subscriber

    lol if she trys to use a rpg on the zaku shes screwed, might disable it if its that emp one from unicorn but that wont keep it down forever
     
  9. mdkcde

    mdkcde [ ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) INTENSIFIES]

    I just remembered you asked me to photoshop something for you.

    Is this blue enough or do you want it a more vibrant blue?
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Well.... yes. I got a friend to do one but that's better. Thanks. In other news my key board failed halfway into this post. excuse me as I buy a new one and stop using the on screen one.
     
  11. mdkcde

    mdkcde [ ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) INTENSIFIES]

    It still doesn't have the gold details you wanted. I'll see what I can do later...

    He'll probably end up looking like an Ultramarine if I don't do it right.
     
  12. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Better that then Optimus Prime, which is what I have.
     
  13. Depends on the series. Gundam has absolutely no consistency. About as much as say, Warhammer 40,000 where the One Year involves Space!Prussia or retro-futuristic Nazis, complete with Not-Stg44s and actual WWII German vehicles sometimes..

    If Mobile Suits are closer to how they are in say, 08th MS Team and Zeonic Front, then an RPG-7 could actually damage a Zaku pretty badly, as the guerrillas did in 08th MS Team with what really was just a real-world RPG from the looks of it.
     
  14. HecateGW

    HecateGW No longer rampant and practicing techno-sorcery.

    Then, I suppose that the author will lay down the law on what is canon and what is not as the story progresses.
     
  15. MovingTarget

    MovingTarget Subscriber

    keep in mind a zaku has alot of space inside ,a heat warhead is so nasty because tanks have verry litttle space inside so the copper plasma hits alot of things that should not be hit, ammo,crew, and other componets

    i penning hit to a zaku 2s lower leg will do squad besides maybe damaging the thrusters or the cables leading to the foot acuator, a hit to the main camera could blind it but it would need to hit the mono eye directly do do any lasting damage(a hit near it could knock it out or jam it ether by cutting power cables or jaming the track the eye moves on)
     
  16. I provided an example of how much damage a Zaku has taken in a Gundam series. Fact is that they're inconsistent, and please don't try to argue why MS are better armored than a tank. They just are, not because of any thing resembling that'd make sense.
     
  17. MovingTarget

    MovingTarget Subscriber


    i did not say it had better armor i said it has more internal space , you can hit a tank almost anywhere and the damage will hit something vital, a pening rpg 7 hit will go though 900or more mm of armor or empty space to a heat warhead its all the same armor or air,
    the zaku has less armor but alot of space, as i said the shot hits a leg and only that leg is getting damage same with the head, hit a tank in the turret and you hit most of the crew, the gun, ammo, unless it has armored bins, and can damage the rotation mechanism for the turret
     
  18. Yet, one of the series shows otherwise. And, really? You're still trying to justify why a 18 meter robot would fair better than a tank, which is completely silly, since MS aren't practical in the vaguest sense, and trying to actually explain why they're better is just silly. Instead of "MS are better because it's a giant robot anime"
     
  19. With so many variants of the Zaku II its near impossible to predict what a simple rpg could do.

    If it struck the jetpack or the missile pods than the damage would be visible.
     
  20. joe6168

    joe6168 Just a humble lurker

    It's a show about giant stompy robots, infantry weapons will do exactly as much or as little damage as plot demands at the time.
     
    Roadie, bdun140 and PhoenixFTW like this.
  21. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Regardless, you all are putting too much thought into this, it will go as the plot and character development demands it does. Whether or not the outcome surprises all of you, we will see (that it does).
     
  22. Qwaar

    Qwaar MS-06U

    Oh hey how did the other half of chapter 4 get here? I'm not good with computers....



    -----

    That night was quiet for Steve, Siesta gently paging through the manual after having brought him his evening meal, A simple beef stew and reasonable fresh firm bread for dipping in the broth. Steve would have liked some substantial vegetable matter to go with the meal, but he wasn’t going to complain. If he wanted to complain about living conditions and make requests were he ought not, he would ask for her to de-thorn some of the local plants. He supposed they kept students from making rendezvous behind the flower bushes, but Steve did have a functional digestive system and did prefer privacy in some moments of its function.

    Biting at another piece of bread, Steve tried to piece together more of Siesta’s past. She had said her grandfather told stories that Steve could recognize reasonable easily at those of a Federation pilot. That could potentially be a matter of concern, but he doubted it. She hadn’t asked any questions about whether stories of a massive city being dropped on another city were true, so Steve was pretty sure he was in the clear.

    Swallowing the pasty lump of broth, beef, and processed grain, Steve decided to scoot over to see what Siesta was spending so much time on. Steve groaned before palming his face, “Oh, god, the computer component, you can pretty much skim over that Siesta, that’s going to be a little out of your league.”

    Siesta eeped in surprise as Steve had gotten closer than she thought, and blushed a moment before thinking on what he said, “What, you think the maid is too stupid to understand it?”

    Steve leaned back and blinked, he was honestly not expecting that, she actually seemed rather perturbed, “What? No! It’s just that it’s computer based, I’m assuming you don’t have computers here. I mean, the utter lack of computers being here seems to validate that assumption. So anything dealing with computers would probably be a bit of an alien concept to you.”

    After a couple more seconds, Siesta’s expression turned apologetic, and she sighed heavily. “Sorry, its just, this feels like the most valuable thing I’m going to get to do in my life.”

    Steve hesitated a moment, catching her meaning, it had probably sounded like he was about to offer her new accomplishment to someone else. A decidedly not nice thing for him to do. “Well, sorry about my comment, it was a little on the harsh side, I’ll work on that. Anyway, it’s not really necessary that you study the computer portions of the process anyway, I’m going to be in the pilot’s seat doing those myself. You just need to know they are there so you can give me time to do my job in between you and Colbert doing your jobs.”

    “Speaking of jobs, since I’m doing this, do you think I could get compensated for this? My family could always use the extra income.”

    Steve, managed to keep his grimace entirely internal, the dual buttons of hearing of family, and hearing of impending Darwin awards having been pressed simultaneously. “I personally wouldn’t try it, instead just don’t say anything and do the best job you can. Seems cheap, but what you’re going to end up getting is a lot of favor from Colbert, and he seems honorable enough to certainly make that worth your while, distracting unscrupulous types and the like, not to mention offering more gainful employment in the future.” Steve advised, pointing his index finger in the air in a universal lecturing pose, “The key to getting a raise isn’t asking for it, but making the person feel guilty that you aren’t.”

    “That seems somewhat underhanded....” Siesta lamented.

    “All winning strategies are, after all, they say the most tragic thing in war is a fair fight.”

    “Why would they say that?” Siesta balked.

    “In a fair fight, both sides beat the shit out of eachother till one can’t fight anymore, keep in mind, as a side weakens, the other doesn’t have to fight as hard. So in a fair fight, most of the soldiers involved die. In a one sided fight, either one smaller side falls, or it realizes it’s going to lose and surrenders, meaning low casualties. Low casualties means low tragedy.”

    “I always thought war was supposed to be about who was right though? With the valiant knights overcoming the malevolent lords.”

    Steve quirked an eyebrow at the idealistic nearly childlike views of war, “You read a lot of books don’t you.”

    “Eh?”

    “Where I come from, war is really really shitty, and judging by what I’ve seen so far, war here is still pretty shitty. It’s only romantic in stories of wars long past, and even then, only because it’s in third person.” Steve turned to look at the sky, at the twin moons, and the stars about them. “No matter what the battlefield, war is hell, My fighting took place on fortresses in space, every defensive advantage afforded us, except the fact that we were on the defensive. I was a fool to join when I did.”

    “But didn’t you fight for the right cause at least?”

    “We fought for our freedom, but do me a favor real quick Siesta. Think of everyone you’ve ever known, giving each one the number one or two at random.”

    “What do you mean, what does that have to do with a wa-”

    “Where I come from all the twos are dead. That’s what my side did, early in the war it was just a battle of who could throw more weapons of mass destruction at the other, then we ran out of viable sources of those we dropped a goddamn city on them, one of our cities mind you.” Steve sternly stared at Siesta, who was trembling at this point. “I’m very hesitant to say anything good about the Federation, hell they were bastards, but I have a hard time accepting what Zeon did early in the war. I can’t reconcile with what Zeon did, and I can’t say I’m especially loyal to most of the Principality, because I’m not.”

    Siesta hung her head, and quietly said, “I think I should go.”

    “If you think so you probably should, take your time, but don’t forget, novels are the escape, not the reality.”

    As she left, and took the depopulated platter from Steve, she didn’t say a word, and quickly disappeared from sight. The Lieutenant waited a moment before shaking his head and flopping on his back to look at the stars, head propped on his hands. “What am I doing?” the pilot asked himself, “I didn’t have any business springing that on her, she probably could go her whole life thinking that, thinking the whole world a wondrous joyous place.... but is that okay to leave things like that? Would Zeon have been able to do what it had if people on either side had realistically remembered how horrible actual war was... would the Federation have committed the acts they had if they had prepared to do otherwise?”

    Looking over at the dormant eye of his Zaku, the pilot let out a chuckle, “Guess there’s nothing for it eh comrade? Its up to us to put the fear of fighting Freedom into those who would war!” He said pumping his right fist into the air, before laughing joyfully. “In all seriousness though, I really hope nothing comes out of the odd royal visit, as retarded as visiting a random school sounds, it’s better than a moral boost for the next soldiers before sending them to war.”

    Propping himself up, and glancing back at the main tower of the academy the spacenoid’s frown deepened, “I don’t want anything to disturb this peace, even if it’s under those mages.”

    ------------------

    If anyone asked, Louise was not pacing, she.... was just moving aimlessly while thinking about unpleasant topics. While the murmur among the student body had once again shifted away from her magical prowess, and back to how impressive her familiar was, she had been bought some time. Her fellow students couldn’t really excuse talking about Louise’s failures in the face of the proficiency with which her familiar battled the invading golem, much less when it had done so during the full retreat of the royal family and its guard.

    But Louise wasn’t naive, she had yet to be successful with any other magic, although the failure in her spell earlier that day had turned out to be remarkably useful, what with the fireball meant to be bright and annoying to the thief instead being invisible and blowing off the arm of their golem before it could strike her own. She needed to be able to pull of a spell in the intended manner soon, before the eyes of her peers were off of the golem.

    She was at a loss on how to do so though. She had toyed around with her earth affinity, but had not produced any different results from previously. She had considered that possibly she was putting too much into the spells, she hadn’t felt especially drained after summoning an eighteen meter steel golem after all and that had to mean something about her reserves. All she had produced were smaller explosions. She had been briefly amused with the morbid discovery that it was easier to destroy items by trying to transmute them rather than throwing fireballs at them, as it took a good deal of the aiming out of the equation.

    As she thought about this, Louise began to ponder more closely on the nature of her failures than ever before. Likely because of the lack of jeers to distract her from it, Louise first noticed how odd her failures were. From occasional viewings of mock combat, duels, and flat out practice of destructive spells, Louise knew that destruction should not be as clean and concise as hers. When one used fire spells, they left their targets scorched and burned. There was a pungent smell to be attributed with most things struck by fire, rather unpleasant most of the time. One could get around this by using another element if it was available, such as wind, but wind had the issue of less than desirable yield as a blunt force, and was ill suited for shattering. Slicing gusts worked, but had the problem of being largely indiscriminate in their blows and damaging things near the target.

    Wind users were the most popular with those who has to maintain the ranges where offensive spells were practiced, as they didn’t leave a mess like water, didn’t take additional mages to restore like earth, and didn’t have the intrinsic hazards of fire. Louise stared at the shattered nesting box full of hay in the corner of the room, she had requested it early because she wanted to be ready to coddle her magnificent new familiar should it appear tired. It had been superfluous once she had summoned the golem, but she hadn’t thought of resale yet in light of recent distractions.

    The splinters were scattered slightly, but remained largely where they were, and the hay was pulverized into an interesting powder that worked rather well as an eye irritant if disturbed. The young Valliere noted clinically that the dry hay was really a poor choice of target for venting rage at an unclear elemental affinity, but it hadn’t caught fire, and it wasn’t moist. While she had struck it with a transmuting spell, there weren’t any foreign substances she could see, and the floor underneath was unharmed.

    She couldn’t see further inspection of this furthering her progress into her studies, but something nagged at her about the results. It seemed important but all the details didn’t come together in any way that made sense.

    Shaking her head to disperse idle thoughts, the pink haired mage decided that it was too late, and prepared for rest. With a donning of proper clothes, and a clap to smother the enchanted oil lamp once she was comfortably under the covers, the girl slept.

    ---

    The next morning brought with is a somewhat gloomy overcast, Steve observed as the turned on the zaku’s main camera, which disturbed the pair of bats that had taken a shining to the crease just before the monoeye’s rail, the faint smears of quanno on the lense was annoying, and no amount of scrubber swipes or cleaning fluid would seem to dislodge them. Moments later, the alert he had programmed into the startup reminded him of the camera he was now using as an impromptu diary.... one he had completely forgotten the existence of again. Steve was conflicted on the matter. On one hand, Colbert had been nothing but helpful and sincere as far as Steve could tell, and the implications from both Colbert and Siesta were indicating he had nothing to fear from showing himself.

    On the other hand, even without a trove of knowledge on the fantastic, Steve could tell easily enough that there was some magical mind fuckery going on. Any sincerity on Colbert’s and honestly Siesta’s parts could easily be simple perceptions forced by said mind fuckery. Steve knew it was a weak argument, in that if such things could be implanted without his noticing than the same power could probably have either killed him or made him believe this world was filled with fluffy bunnies.

    But the fact that something was deliberately trying to make him forget to use the camera was apparent. He had been halfway into the process of dismissing the alert on screen when he had realized that it was something he was supposed to pay attention to. This made him very uncomfortable.

    Flipping open the camera and turning it on, Steve retracted his visor with a smile. “Hey sis, day four of these ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ shenanigans. I’m sure after the bombshell of the first recording you’d like a relatively calmer one for today, but sorry, I’m too honest. Yesterday after the lil familiarization session, a thief decided to raid the academy. Now I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘But brother, you are in a mobile suit, what’s a schmuck sneaking around with a dagger going to do?’”

    Leaning back in the seat and shaking his head, the Zeon lieutenant expressed his displeasure that such an image wasn’t accurate. “No, they had something called a golem, which is basically rock and dirt clumped together into a humanoid the size of a mobile suit. Though actually the thing had a good couple heads over me. God knows how thieves come across the ability to field things like that and are still in a life of thievery instead of military or constructive applications but hey, don’t ask me, I just work here.” Shrugging to punctuate that statement, the pilot paused for his breath, glancing to the side, he formulated his next string of thoughts, before he lunged into his next tirade.

    “So meanwhile, Louise, my ‘master’, henceforth known as Pinky the Brawn, for reasons I will state shortly, anyway she sees this going on as we are on our way back, starts freaking out about the danger to the local royal family, and so I, in all my badass glory, jump in and stitch the thing with about a dozen twelve o’s and kick its ass.” The grin Steve sports at this point is borderline obscene, as he’s obviously rather proud of himself for coming to save the day, “Now I didn’t manage to kill the lil’ scumbag, as they decided to run and hide as soon as Pinky the Brawn blows the damn golem’s arm off at two-hundred meters with her stick. The people around though didn’t seem to terribly mind though, given that this had occurred in the middle of a damn talent show and I just jumped in, like a badass, and tore the scumbag a new one. I’m pretty sure I won. I mean, sure the show was cancelled, but come on, anyone would know that you can’t top that.” Letting his grin expand to new heights for a moment, Steve got ready to set off on another spiel, when one of the auxiliary monitors caught something strange on the side camera.

    Taking his eyes off the camera lense to look at his right monitor, the Zeon soldier panned his camera over for greater focus, and saw a black and white form fleeing from the main gates. Specifically, a maid who on the higher resolutions looked suspiciously asian. “Oh what the fuck, can’t a man get a break?” Palming his face, Steve looked with an exposed eye back to the camera lense, “Well talk to you later sis, I think I better take care of this.” Snapping the viewfinder shut, Steve allowed the camera to end the recording, before putting it back away. A few seconds later he remembered to set the next day’s alert, and set off with the Zaku.

    Now to see what could possibly have happened to scare off his food supplier, prospective technician, female companion, and tutor. After that, testing to see how well they stacked up against 18 meters of composite steel.
     
  23. Oh, I hope Mott gets the ax. Literally.

    So Steve is realizing the mental effects of the runes and Louise is starting to analyse her magic. I call that progression.
     
  24. NeoSeether

    NeoSeether Time Diver

    Well, the following events will either be at the utterly LOL-worthy or the full-blown Greek tragedy end of the spectrum, and certainly nowhere near the center.

    And much like Steve in-verse, I would not be happy at all with the all-but-confirmed mind-fuckery that the familiar runes represent, regardless of what LN canon / WoG would attempt to convince the readers of otherwise.

    ...nope, not one iota impartial/objective on that particular can of worms.
     
  25. Rodyle

    Rodyle Ghost Who Haunts Fanfic Threads

    Oh thank god, something GOOD updated. Had a bit of a dry spell there.
     
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