KSGU:Volume 1 Chapter 1
 Chapter 1
 Part 1
The ship's alarm sounded. Despite the goosebumps the sound caused, it made the mind focus as well. The girl went to window on the wall.
Outside the plastic board window was the vacuum of outer space. Right now, neither the Earth nor the moon could be seen, and only the multitude of starry spots in the sky lit up the silent darkness. This ship was moving forward at a very fast speed, but the stars outside the window weren't moving at all. It was like being locked in a still darkness.
The girl recalled how she would ask her maidservant, Lamias, the reason for this phenomenon, as she didn't understand it herself. The ever-patient Lamias would give a beaming smile and say: "Princess, that's because the stars are too far away, so they don't see us moving."
That was the excuse the adults gave, but it wasn't without merit. The 17-year-old girl knew this. Lamias was a good maidservant, but she had already been dead for almost ten years now. The girl's youth was shrouded in mystery, and she who was called a princess remained in her memories. But for the moment, the past she bore had to be forgotten for a while.
Because she had forgotten her past, she didn't need a name right now. She stowed herself aboard this ship because she was just a nameless person who was going to where she should be going, to meet the person she should be meeting. That was all.
<Scatter the Minovsky particles, ASAP! Get them to combat levels!>
<One enemy ship. Most likely a Clop-class battleship.>
“That's no ordinary patrol. It was waiting in ambush in this area. There will be enemy mobile suits attacking. Don't let your guard down.”
The crew was scattering Minovsky particles, which could disrupt electromagnetic waves and jam electronics like radar, around the ship, but it was still possible to communicate with internal ship-wide communications. As the ship rang with the people's voices and the sounds of operation, the girl heard the low grunt of the ship’s captain, Suberoa Zinnerman, over the intercom and looked at the darkness outside the window.
As she looked, she saw a pink light fly past the window. It was the glow of a mega-particle cannon beam. The glowing, high-energy beam weapons were due to the development of Minovsky physics. The Earth Federation was shooting at this ship to capture it. This ship ignored the command to stop and continued to spray Minovsky particles around itself as it accelerated away. The next shot wouldn't be a warning shot. The enemy should have realized by now that a civilian ship couldn't be this fast.
The concentrated mega-particles were moving at very close to light speed, and would immediately pierce through the ship's armor if it was a direct hit. Even if it only grazed the hull, the high temperature of the particles themselves might melt a hole in the wall. The girl kicked herself off from the wall of the dim cabin, and moved over to the cupboard in the corner of the room. The cupboard was designated as storage, and its contents were fastened down due to the zero gravity environment. Inside were the three days worth of food and water she had smuggled in, and a spacesuit.
The girl pulled everything out of the cupboard, and used the resulting inertia to push her body about, using zero gravity to put on the spacesuit with minimal hassle. This cabin was hardly used, so the crew used it as a storeroom. If the ship was damaged, the life support system in this part of the ship would be one of the first systems to be cut off. In the likely situation of a vacuum, the supplies that were fastened to the wall or the floor would be frozen. The girl didn't want to think of the worst case scenario, where she would be sent flying out of the ship, and put on her space suit's large helmet.
<Two enemy ships approaching fast, firing high-energy particle beams!>
<There’s a mobile suit!>
<It’s on a Geta. Estimated time of contact: T-minus 320.>
<They’ll catch us before we enter the debris field. Alright, hurry up and send Marida out. Let her chase the flies away.>
Though they all looked like members of a shipping crew, the people on the bridge all had combat experience and sounded very calm. Right now, they would be in spacesuits, moving to the bridge, which would be filled with flashing red lights. The girl remembered the that bridge was as cramped as the cockpit in a plane; she remembered the thoroughly moustached face of Zinnerman as he sat on the captain's seat; and she wondered whether she should tell him that she was here. If a battle began, it would be best for her to be in the safe protected zone. If she was discovered as a stowaway, she would definitely be sent there anyway. If she died here without being found, it would really be a futile death.
No, she couldn't. If he knew that she was on board as a stowaway, Zinnerman may change the ship’s projected course and go back to the Palau. Even if he didn't, she would be locked up and watched closely. She wouldn't be able to achieve her goal, she wouldn't be able to got out, and she wouldn't be able to meet the person she had to meet. This outcome would cause the deaths of even more people.
This was the only chance, the girl told to herself. She knew this was a reckless act, but there was no other way. This was to prevent Earth from being covered in battle and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. She could only do that...
<The Kshatriya is ready for launch.>
<Target the enemy Mobile Suits. Ignore the mothership. The Garencieres is fast enough to shake them off.>
Zinnerman’s deep, coarse voice could be heard of the intercom, and a clear female voice could be heard responding <Understood>. The girl remembered the face of the solitary woman, Marida Cruz, who should be of the same age as she was, and looked outside the window. She saw the silver form of the battlefield, and numerous scale powder-like things glittered around the ship. The shutter suddenly appeared and covered the windows as the ship The Garencieres’ was entering battle mode, and all the windows had their protective shutters on.
The only image screen was on the inside of the bridge window, and the protective shutter on the inside of the cabin windows didn’t have such a convenient function. The girl left the wall and hid her body in the gap between some boxes. Under the light of a weak standing lamp, she used the tape that she had included in her supplies to tie her hands together, and focused her attention on the wireless communicator inside her helmet.
She would die when she would, looking outside to scare herself wouldn’t do anything to change that. She might as well gather as much information as possible to deal with the current situation. She calmly and clearly told this to herself as she tucked her knees in and hugged herself in the spacesuit.
Suddenly, she felt a chill. It was a chill that the life support of the spacesuit couldn’t adjust, a chill that entered deep inside her heart. As she had often gotten involved with the battlefield when she was young, her body was already numb to the fear of it, and this chill seemed to be the price. The girl let herself be the instrument of silence as she closed her eyes and waited for the chill to fade.
 Part 2
The transport ship Garencieres was 112 meters in length, and it was cone-shaped. Its maximum weight capacity was over 500 tons. The bridge was at the front of the ship, which was shaped like the nose of an old airplane. The shape made it look like the designer factored in air resistance, and one could tell that the ship could fly in an atmosphere, and could be used as a transport between Earth and space. It was a model commonly used by shipping companies in the past, but it was hardly seen anymore.
The words “Ribakoona Trading” on the side indicated the Garencieres was registered as a civilian transport ship, but that wasn’t the whole truth. Right now, the large door on the back of the cone-shaped ship was opening, and the sliding cargo crane was emerging. Instead of carrying cargo though, the crane was carrying a giant, human-shaped robot.
The robot had four limbs that were somewhat thick at the end, and a bulge at the top of the waist that had a beak-shaped piece of armor. The head had a something like a large crest poking out, as well as a single eye-like laser sensor. The almost 20 meter tall humanoid frame had four shoulder-mounted wing-like pods, each one about as tall as the main body. This dark green machine should, by all rights, be called a giant, and the shape was far from a normal human’s. However, its humanoid appearance was far too defined to be called anything but a giant. In this age of mobile suits, giant human-shaped weapons that had the power of a battleship’s main cannon, this machine’s profile was somewhat strange. However, like most mobile suits, it had a ball-shaped cockpit in its abdomen, covered in many layers of armor. The figure of the mobile suit’s pilot was already wearing a space suit, sitting in the cockpit, starting the machine.
“Target acquired. There’s a Jegan that’s somewhat fast, possibly a commander type.”
Marida Cruz looked through the full screen display on the inside wall of the cockpit, and a small window showed the details of the enemy mobile suit.
<This means it’s not a coincidence that we met, doesn’t it?>, she asked emotionlessly
<We’ll be entering the debris field soon. Hurry up and finish it off before coming back.> Captain Zinnerman responded through the wireless communicator.
Marida heard Zinnerman breathe in a more tense manner than before, then came the usual words <Don’t call me master>. The reason it was odd that they would meet a Federation ship here was that it was rare for them to patrol this area of space. However, it was really abnormal to stop a trading ship on its designated course and ask for an inspection. They had even sent out specially equipped mobile suits.
<This may be because the Federation Army already knew our true identity and objective and set an ambush in the debris field>. Zinnerman had to deduce who leaked the information about his ship, and wondered what he should do next.
“That’s right,” thought Marida, “The next step…. Master doesn’t need to be bothered about this. This is why I exist." Ignoring all other thoughts, Marida put her hands on the control sticks—the hemisphere Arm Raker that allowed all 5 fingers to be gripped together.
“Marida Cruz, Kshatriya, launching.”
As the restraints on the machine were released, the abnormally-shaped mobile suit, Kshatriya, slowly descended from the hangar. It wasn't really accurate to call it “descending”, since there was no concept of up or down in outer space, but the machine had the feeling of being dangled as it was released from the hangar at the bottom of the ship. Marida released the activation control thrusters and moved under the Garencieres, until she was more than 100 meters from the ship, and stepped on the pedal. The four main thrusters on the wing-like pods let out white light all at once. The Kshatriya left behind the inertial motion of the of the Garencieres, spun and approached from behind its target.
In the ball-shaped cockpit was one and a half meters across, and the screen of displayed a full 360 degrees of scenery. The intense rays of the stars hit Marida's eyes, and a bystander would feel that Marida's cockpit was suddenly floating in the midst of the stars, and that she was flying through them. However, the image of outer space that was shown around her wasn't a real scene, but a computer-generated image of outer space that used images of constellations to aid positioning.
One part of the screen showed an enlarged image of three targets. The optical sensor couldn’t capture very much at such a large distance, so it was a rough image. But in contrast, the model number of the targets, RGM-89, was rather clear. It was the mainstream mobile suits of the Earth Federation, the Jegan. The one leading the attack was a special type that had an S-shape extending from its back. The mobile suits abandoned their Geta as they scattered and closed in. Geta was the common name for mobile suits flight packs, used for long range attacks, acting as a flat bed to transport the mobile suits and send them into battle without wasting the mobile suit’s fuel. In short, it was something like a miniature boat for mobile suits. Marida didn't know why they were called Geta.
The three mobile suits were each wielding their main weapon, a beam rifle, as they closed in on Marida. She sensed that the enemies wanted to surround her from three directions outside her weapon’s range, and decided that this battle would be difficult. It wasn't that hard to take down three Jegan, but missing one would open a hole in the defenses of the Garencieres. Rather than being confident or bold in this situation, Marida merely used her head to think of the best way to handle the situation, and let her mobile suit decelerate suddenly.
The four pods swung forward, and the main thrusters on the tips spurt flames ahead of the Kshatirya, causing the suit's speed to immediately drop from meters per second to meters per minute and finally, nothing at all. As her back bore the sudden force of slowing down, Marida endured the discomfort of her eyeballs feeling like they was going to fly out of her skull, and her fingers swelling as the blood flowed into them. Then she muttered, “Funnels”.
Numerous exhaust lights on the inside of the four wing pods lit up as a pair of two-meter long objects came from each of them, totalling eight of these small things things altogether. They moved normally, and as they hovered around the Kshatriya, their thrusters activated and they rushed to their targets like a bullet.
The sensor cannons were shaped like their name, funnels. The conical objects gathered and dispersed, striking the Jegans that were still outside the Kshatriya’s shooting range. This pattern wasn't automatic, nor was it mechanical long-range control. In a battlefield saturated with Minovsky particles, it was impossible to use electromagnetic waves to control anything, and it was impossible to use a computer to launch an attack on one spot. This weapon, the funnel, was controlled by the pilot's brainwaves.
The Psycho communicator, commonly know as psycommu, was a brainwave guiding system that recorded the brain signals of the pilot, magnified them and sent them as instructions to the funnel units. These brainwaves were also called psycho waves, and they didn’t cause the Minovsky particles to react. Thus, the psycommu didn't run the risk of interference like normal electromagnetic wave transmissions. As long as the pilot could control them, the funnels could be thought of as completely invincible in the modern battlefield, as Minovsky particles would prevent all electronic devices from working. And as it was required to use a large mobile suit like the Kshatriya to protect the pilot and engage in close range combat on the battlefield, the funnels truly became a necessary piece of equipment.
Of course, not everyone could use this system. Even through many improvements, the psycommu system still caused a lot of physical and mental stress on the pilot. However, Marida could operate it better than anyone. More accurately, she had been created to be able to operate the funnels.
The funnels continued to spin as they attacked the two Jegan behind Marida. Due to their size, the funnels weren’t much larger than space junk. It would be hard to detect them, even with visual sensors. The funnels quickly fired their control thrusters and gradually pinned the Jegans down before shooting out lasers. The Mega-particle energy beams glowed pink and fired completely through the Jegans that hadn’t detected the enemy approaching at all. The funnels were only equipped with a small rechargeable battery, and so the intensity of their laser was low, and didn't have much energy. However, they did have the power to shoot through a mobile suit's armor. The Jegan pilots panicked and started firing beam shots randomly, trying to hit their invisible attackers. However, the funnels continued to destroy the Jegans bit by bit. Electrical transfer fluids continued to shoot out from damaged critical areas like blood, and the Jegans, smaller than the green Kshatriya, were painfully struggling. By this point, the funnels were like a flock of sharks hunting down a whale as they lunged forward to attack.
One, two. Without checking for the lights of explosions, Marida sensed that the two Jegans had already been blown to bits and concentrated on the remaining special unit. Though its backups were already destroyed, the unit didn't slow down at all as it continued to close the distance between itself and the Kshatriya. Marida decided that there was no need to let out new funnels and again pushed the Kshatriya forward.
The psycommu showed an image of the specially equipped unit that was more like a human, with added armor and thrusters. Before it entered the Kshatriya's range, the recoilless rocket launcher the Jegan was wielding let out a flash, and a physical shell with a diameter of 380 millimeters came flying at the Kshatriya. This high-powered shot was a normal size for a mobile suit’s recoilless rifle, and though it had the disadvantage of being small, the destructive power it contained was be larger than that of a beam weapon. Right now, it was in shotgun mode, and as it exploded, hundreds of metallic balls scattered around the Kshatriya. However, Marida had expected this, and dodged with the smallest of movements. The pilot of the specially-equipped mobile suit seemed to have also expected it to be dodged and used the scattered pellets as a smokescreen, firing his thrusters and getting above the Kshatriya.
With this, the battle became a typical mobile suit battle, as was commonly seen in this era, as if to prove why humanoid weapons were so valued. The specially equipped Jegan's missile launcher again fired another shell, and let out the missiles that were mounted on the shoulders. The Khastriya activated its main thruster to move up and grazed past the missiles as they passed. She then deployed the four wing-pods horizontally, spun the mobile suit 90 degrees, and flew forward. The Kshatriya slipped through the Jegan's trajectory, and into the dark outer space to get the initiative.
Normally, only thruster exhaust is needed to change directions in the vacuum of outer space. However, mobile suits had another system called the Active Mass Balance Control, or AMBAC system. Though there's no gravity in outer space to cause weight, objects still have all their mass, and a one Newton push would require one Newton of force; the force required would be equivalent to the force exerted. The main principal behind the AMBAC system is Newton’s third law of motion: for every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. Simply put, the system could control any of a mobile suit's limbs, and use the “equal but opposite reaction” to change the direction the mobile suit faces. This was the one of the main reasons why mobile suits were the strongest weapons of the era, standing head and shoulders above any other.
The Kshatriya skilfully used its four thick limbs and four wing-pods to maneuver as it closed in on the Jegan via a complicated trajectory. The two machines' thrusters were glowing, and these two humanoid robots gave every impression of dancing in outer space. The explosions of the bullets flashed on the screens of both suit's cockpits. Under cover of the explosions, Marida closed in on the enemy. The Kshatriya's pods opened like a blooming metallic flower, with the one shining eye in the middle. The metallic flower was covered with beam cannons, and it used the impact from the explosions to become the most savage and beautiful flower in outer space.
These images were all displayed on the cockpit screens in the Jegan. Both machines were within a few meters of each other, an extremely close distance in outer space, and could use their optical sensors to look directly at one another. A battlefield saturated with Minovsky particles meant close-range combat, and thus it was common to see machines go in close for attacks. In situations like this, there was a need for a one-on-one battle, which was another reason mobile suits were designed as humanoids.
The moment before she crossed the Jegan’s path, Marida switched from the firearms to the beam saber and aimed at the abdomen of the Jegan. The Ksatriya used its mechanical hand to grab the handle of the beam saber and draw it out from the wrist holster. Particles of light shot more than ten meters from the handle, and formed a blade that hacked through the Jegan's abdomen.
The Jegan seemed like it wanted to draw its own beam saber, but reacted too slowly. The beam saber that could cut through 30 centimeters of metal in a second, melted through the Jegan's abdomen, and a metallic sound struck Marida’s mind through the suit.
<Damn you, Sleeves...!>
At the same time Marida heard the voice of the other pilot, whether through wireless signal, or a sense other than her hearing, she did not know. No matter how she heard the voice, though, things ended here. The beam saber slashed through the armor of the Jegan, going straight through the cockpit, immediately vaporizing the pilot, and slicing the entire machine in half. The nuclear reactor inside the Jegan didn't explode as the machine was hacked in half at the waist, and floated away. The burnt remains were still giving off sparks, and the remains of the machine floated past this enemy called the “Sleeve” and silently disappeared.
Marida watched silently as she stowed her beam saber. The wrist of the Kshatriya had a place to keep a beam saber, and was adorned with a crest that looked like a wing—something that looked like a sleeved decoration. The mobile suits of the organization Marida belonged to all had such a design, which was why the Federation called them “Sleeves”, but that wasn't important to Marida at all.
No, it wasn’t just the nickname that wasn’t important. Even the ideal of being an Anti-Earth Federation organization or the content of this mission weren't important. Humans were animals that could think and had curiosity, but Marida felt that this definition wasn't suited for her.
Just like how a man was born a man and a woman was born a woman, Marida Cruz was born a pilot, and lived as a pilot. To follow her master's orders and destroy the enemy mobile suits was her only desire. Perhaps the Garencieres should enter the debris field before the enemy mothership arrived. Right now, though, Marida had to return to her ship as soon as possible, do a damage inspection on the Kshatriya, readjust and resupply. Once she was done, she would prepare for the next launch and get as much rest as possible. She wouldn't do anything else, and wouldn't think of anything else. Marida didn't feel this was in any way unnatural, and she didn't feel sad about it either.
However, once the battle ended, as she relaxed from her tense state after having concentrated for so long, her empty soul would feel some pain. The emotions she suppressed in the battlefield would awaken, and her mind would complain about the unhappiness. As the fire of the funnels destroyed the enemy machines, it felt as if the psycommu system were working in reverse, as she felt really complicated, uneasy about the dying scrams of the pilots that entered her mind. When she sliced the specially-equipped mobile suit, it felt as if she had personally sliced a pilot to death, and the final cringe before he died would cause an uneasiness in both her mind and soul. After recalling the funnels, Marida switched back to full screen view to let the cockpit screens show outer space.
Marida reached up, took off the helmet of her spacesuit, and loosened the hair that was tied behind her head. The straight, waist-length hair was pushed aside, and the hair of a healthy 18-year-old should have floated infront of her eyes, but Marida was instead staring at the starry sky.
The cockpit screens of a mobile suit wouldn't show outer space as it actually appeared if there wasn’t some specific reason. It wasn’t just because it was hard to accurately capture and display, but also because the risk of the pilot panicking was too great. The reality of outer space was so dark, grim and filled with emptiness that it seemed as if it would swallow all existence. However, Marida liked the view to be this way.
During the short time she had before she returned to the ship, Marida took off her helmet and relaxed her entire body as she remained in the vacuum of vast emptiness. This let her feel as if the uneasiness inside her would be washed away. Each star would perform a music she had never heard before, bringing her to another place. To an outer space that didn't have war or unhappiness, that people didn't need space suits to explore.
Of course, such a place didn't exist. Outside this cockpit was an outer space of vacuum deadly to humans, and a reality filled with problems—the human social circle known as the Earth's boundary. Marida adjusted the main camera of the Kshatriya and looked at Earth, far away enough that it was only the size of a tennis ball.
Like many space migrants, she had never stepped onto Earth even once. Marida knew by the object floating in front of the blue body of the Earth that the Garencieres’ target was near. Floating in one of the Lagrange points between Earth and the Moon was the rubble of the past war; this debris field was home to numerous destroyed space colonies and spaceships.
Humanity had created space colony settlements, known as Sides, in the five Lagrange points around Earth and the Moon, and most of humanity had been living in outer space for almost 100 years by now. The wounds of this grand-scale war ran deep, and the debris field was one of them. The place people used to call Side 5 was no longer there, and what remained was a floating graveyard of countless frozen remains. The final destination of Marida and the rest, the colony known as 'Industrial 7', should be located somewhere deep inside this graveyard.
Right now, though, it was impossible to find the colony in the large amount of rubble, but she did find the Garencieres which began to move towards her. Marida again checked to see if there were any pursuers behind her before pushing the Kshatriya on. The nuclear rocket engine sounded through the machine as it jerked, and the force of acceleration pressed on her uneasy body. The helmet that was floating in the cockpit hit the rear screen and let out a light thud.
 Part 3
The moment the vibration of the alarm clock woke him, Banagher Links thought "I am so out of it today."
As he turned the alarm off, he saw the time was 4:20 AM. After confirming the time, he stealthily got out of bed. It was still pitch black outside. He could barely see the contents two-man dorm room: the beds, desks, or dressers that were still covered in darkness. The only sounds Banagher could hear were the clock ticking away the seconds, and his roommate Takuya Irei snoring away on the other bed.
It was, of course, impossible for a room inhabited by two stinky guys to be anything resembling clean, as there would always be things like discarded clothing and empty food containers. However, there was still some order in the mess, and Banagher was able to grab his shirt and jeans without turning on the lights, and tiptoed his way to the bathroom. He quickly combed and washed himself, then looked at himself in the mirror above the sink.
He had dark brown eyes and the skin color of someone with Middle Eastern blood. His long hair was the same color as his eyes, and it was rather smooth even if he didn’t take care of it. Upon seeing that his 16-year-old boyish face was completely ordinary and nothing special, a disjointed feeling rose up in him. However, this feeling only persisted until he put on his coat.
It was the official jacket of the Anaheim Electronics Industrial College. The logo of the parent company, Anaheim Electronics, was sewn on the left side of the blue, fireproof materials. This jacket wasn’t fashionable enough that it could be worn outside shop classes, but Banagher had modified the extra one he bought and used it as casual wear. The main modification was on the collar; the crest of the Anaheim Electronics Industrial College, AEIC, looked like it had been removed. Of course, Banagher hadn’t removed it himself, rather a second-hand shop he was familiar with did the job for him.
Banagher finished putting on his clothing to help suppress the disjointed feeling. What replaced it was the realism of him being part of the large enterprise of Anaheim Electronics. Once he slapped his face to help keep himself awake, Banagher left the bathroom, checked that his roommate was still deep in dreamland, and began to move silently towards the room’s exit. On the way, however, he tripped over an object roughly the size of a basketball laying on the floor.
<Hello, Banagher. Hello, Banagher.>
The two circular disks on the ball-shaped body flapped out like ears as the impact from the kick activated the Haro unit, and made it speak in a loud, but monotonous voice. Banagher frantically tried to hold down the Haro as it moved around the floor. He soflty growled “Quiet, Haro!” But it was too late. Takuya, who had had the pillow covering his head, wriggled around his bed, and the moment his eyes met Banagher’s, he sat up.
“Damn it, Banagher!” Takuya roared out, “You don’t care about our agreement at all do you? We aren’t supposed to sneak out!”
His tea-colored hair was all messy, and he was so angry he had even forgotten to wipe away the drool from his mouth. Though the impression his roommate usually gave was something like an affectionate big brother, his popularity with the ladies would likely drop were they to see him like this. However, Banagher didn’t have time to think about popularity, and as he carried Haro out of the apartment, he asked: “Didn’t you set your clock five minutes fast, Takuya?” Banagher put Haro on the floor, and grabbed the sandwich he had bought yesterday. Haro was jumping energetically like a self-propelled ball, out through the automatic door that led to the hallway.
Banagher ran through the school campus that was linked to the dorm, down the stairs that linked the school atrium and the road, and arrived at an electric car station. The stations were managed by computers, and would automatically send vehicles to locations with the highest frequency of use. Anyone with an ID card could use them. Banagher took a bite from his sandwich as he got into the open, two-seat electric car. He inserted his ID card to into a slot on the dashboard, pressed the start button, grabbed the steering wheel, and stepped on the accelerator.
<Very improper, Banagher.>
Perhaps because Banagher was holding the steering wheel with the only one hand, the other held his sandwich, Haro had spoken up, flashing its optical sensors at the same time. Haro had a first-level artificial intelligence in its ball-shaped body and was supposed to be a toy robot marketed toward children. This normally wouldn’t be something belonging to a vocational student in the equivalent of high school, but Banagher had modified it, and carried it around like a pet.
The streets were quiet before dawn. Banagher swallowed the last of his sandwich and looked up through the windshield at the sky. Through the clouds scattered in the night sky, he could see numerous lights flickering. They looked like stars, but they weren’t. Those flickering lights were the lights from the windows of shops, factories, and skyscraper windows that stayed open throughout the night. It was the city lights that just so happened to be above Banagher. The carpet of lights was about 6000 meters above, and covered the entire sky in a gradual arc. In the gap between skyscrapers in front of him, Banagher could see the lights climb to the sky ahead of him. If anyone in those lights above were to look at the sky, the headlights of the electric car and the surrounding street lights would look like stars to them.
The artificial ground within the large cylinder of the space colony was covered with houses, office buildings, parks, and other important things that made up everyday society. The internal structure of almost all space colonies were like this. The cylinder that was 6.4 kilometers across would spin at a definite speed, creating a centrifugal force on the inside of the walls, creating artificial gravity equivalent to gravity on Earth. The constructed ground on the inside of the cylinder were on large areas 3.2 kilometers long and 1.6 kilometers wide. Big enough that from the inside the ground wouldn’t look like it curved with the wall of the colony. At most, the joints where the plates met would look a little slanted.
Day and night inside the space colony were created via the mirrors outside the cylinder itself, or by an artificial sun at the center, which also helped in adjusting the temperature and replicating the seasons. The time was set to Greenwich Mean Time, and the climate was set to emulate the Northern Hemisphere. Unless there were special issues for tourism, these basic settings were used for every space colonies. Thus, right now, on the 7th of April, at 4:30 AM, the residential area itself was neither too hot, nor too cold, and most of the colonies were still in middle of night. The billions of residents of those colonies were, just like the residents of this one, ‘Industrial 7’, were also waiting in the night for spring.
Banagher was one of those billions of people, and had been getting up before daylight for a while now, in order to get to the space dock to work. The work involved clearing junk away from the outside of space colonies. It was tough getting up early in the morning, but it wasn’t that bad, since Banagher could easily sleep through the general education periods in school. It was worth more to work three hours before lessons though, since three hours of the morning shift payed more than working five hours after school on the evening shift did.
Takuya worked at the same place as Banagher; the first one to clock in got a mini mobile suit that was better-suited for the kind of work they did, and their wages would increase based on their job performance. Thus, the two of them would race to see who would get out first. Though underhanded methods were considered poor form, everything else was fair game. So Banagher and Takuya were always thinking of ways to sneak out of their dorm without waking the other one. Right now, the chances of winning were about 50/50.
All that being said though, the two of them were still doing well in their studies. They were attending a vocational school where it was required for them to stay in the dorm, and their clothing and food were provided for them. The most they needed was some spending money. "This is just a game," Banagher thought.
”A game to shake off my roommate and getting a high capability mini mobile suit. A game to shake off studies, using work to get rid of boredom. Everyone else is the same. Enjoying the game of student’s relaxation and not facing that disjointedness…
<Working all the time. Study some more.>
Babagher had no idea how Haro reached this realization that struck through him. “This is seperate from studying!” Banagher answered back, feeling that the robot had a very good read on him, “The vocational students here will all become employees of Anaheim. It’s not like it’s a bad thing to test out this mini mobile suit first.”
On the one hand, he wondered how he ended up making this kind of excuse, but on the other hand, he felt really satisfied by it. Banagher again felt that ‘disjointed’ feeling. This was a future he wouldn’t have even dared dream of a year ago, and as he looked forward to the twelve wonderful years ahead of him, he felt as if he were just drifting with the flow, and yet feeling a bit bad for walking on the path others had set in stone. However, there wasn’t anything else he really wanted to do. He would maintain his grades in the middle-high tier, party with others, and feel extremely out of place. The psychological reason behind this disjointed feeling had started when Banagher was very young, and had now became a bad habit.
The electric car moved through the colony’s residential area and into a heavy-industry zone set between two light-industrial areas. Banagher parked the electric car at a parking station near a convenience store and walked down to the nearby subway station. Thinking that Takuya might catch up to him if he kept letting himself get distracted, he left his stupid problems behind as his feet naturally quickened through the silent street.
Industrial 7 was one of the industrial space colonies Anaheim Electronics operated. Under the control of the Space Colonies Association, the management of facilities was completely controlled by Anaheim Electronics. Amongst the population of two million, more than half of them worked for Anaheim Electronics, or was directly related to someone who did. Of the remaining one million, half of them worked in enterprises related to Anaheim, or in underground companies, and those who were unrelated to Anaheim were mostly civil servants working with government administration, the police, or the fire department. The colony didn’t belong to any Side, and it didn’t have any form of self-government, so the Federation Army didn’t maintain a military presence. This space colony was basically Anaheim Electronics’ personal island.
After the One Year War, Anaheim Electronics began to recover and absorbed other, smaller companies, eventually becoming a large corporation that many people called the ‘Spoon of the Space Army’. The company grew so large, that supermarkets, fast food chains, and most other companies in any given commercial district would all bear the logo of Anaheim Electronics. There were movies sponsored by Anaheim Electronics, sports teams sponsored by Anaheim in away games, and people using AE credit cards to pay for all of these. Money would flow around within the corporation, forming a structure where the money was paid out, then taken back. However, none of it was ever forced, and it was all done such that the residents wouldn’t notice anything. This was the reason why Anaheim Electronics had become the world’s largest corporation. Banagher glanced at the posters outside the station, 80% of which were somehow related to the corporation, went through the turnstile, and onto the platform.
The whole of Industrial 7 was just like a factory. At all times there were people working. However, there was no real shift change, such as during morning peak hours. Therefore, on the subway, there was only a drunk, middle-aged man who had collapsed in his work clothes, and a woman who looked as if she worked in a night club, and whose thick make-up was coming off. She didn’t notice Banagher get on the train as she looked emotionlessly out the window. The smell of old perfume inside the train car reminded one of the smell of a hometown long ago given up on. Banagher saw a double-wide seat and quickly sat down.
The three layers of doors closed, and the train jerked slightly before moving from the platform into the tunnels leading to the outside of the space colony. It was called the subway, but subways in the space colonies didn’t run underground, but along rail tracks on the exposed outer walls of the space colony. In other words, the train was hanging on the tracks and transported outside the space colony—in outer space.
Soon after the train left the station, the air lock door at the end of the ramp was locked behind it. Then, the air lock door in front opened, and the train entered the vacuum of outer space. The sound of both movement and air-flow disappeared in the train, and an ear-stuffing silence filled the car. The train went through the air lock and glided across outer wall of the space colony.
As there was no air resistance, only a minimal amount of force was be required to move the train at high speed along the track. In a space colony, this was one of the most efficient modes of transport. It was the fastest way to get to the dock, faster than taking a cable car from the bottom of the colony, or even riding the elevator up in an electric car. Banagher also preferred to look at outer space from the train’s window, so this place had a sense of release other places couldn’t provide.
There were people who didn’t want to take the train for fear of motion sickness, though. To create a centrifugal force of 1g, the space colony had to make one rotation about every two minutes, which worked out to a rotational speed of more than 600 kilometers per hour. If it were to follow the movement of the rotation, the subway train would appear to continually move, and to a passenger, it would look like someone shaking the bottom of a toilet bowl full of stars at incredibly high speeds. Of course, as it was just a long rotation of more than 20 kilometers, it would merely look like the stars were constantly moving. However, if one weren’t careful, the mind would feel dizzy upon returning to the inside of the space colony, and. In the worst cases, it would cause severe a psychological problem, called Coriolis Syndrome: a common environment illness amongst the first generation of space migrants. However, to Banagher ,who had been born and raised in the space colonies, looking out from the window into outer space was like looking at an exhibition, something that was merely a little different from everyday life. Once outside the space colony, Banagher could clearly see the in-progress construction of Industrial 7.
Industrial 7 orbited in the shoal space at L1, between the Moon and Earth. It was shaped like a large oxygen tank, and the end undergoing construction was facing Earth. On the other side, the side that faced the moon, there was a covered settlement-building tool commonly known as “Wheels”. After construction was completed, the cylinder of the colony would be 30 kilometers long. Right now, though, only 18 kilometers were completed. In fact, Banagher remembered, there was a new plate arriving today.
The notice board at the dorm had a poster saying “On 7 April, at 1:00 PM, there will be a new plate extension which will cause inconvenience…” and so on. This meant that there would be new artificial land added. The cylinder of Industrial 7 would be extended by another six kilometers. The space colonies were floating amongst the large amount of rubbish from the last war. No matter how much it expanded, the world Banagher lived in would be that size.
As Banagher thought about this, as his mind thought of that “disjointedness”, he saw something white flash past, outside the window.
It wasn’t a star. It let out several exhaust lights of blueish-white, going past in a diagonal manner and flying faster than the rotation of the space colony. It was only for a moment, and was far enough away that it looked only about the size of a small fingertip, but Banagher was sure that the afterimage looked human.
“A mobile suit…?”
It was completely different from a mini mobile suit, like the one Banagher used for work. It was a real mobile suit. It wasn’t just a complete duplicate of a human being’s dimensions, though. as Banagher saw a single horn which extended from the head. Industrial 7 didn’t have a factory that could create mobile suits, so it couldn’t be a new mobile suit field test. Was the army nearby?
For some reason, Banagher’s pulse started to race, and his palms began to sweat. The uncanny resemblance to a white horse—no, the impressive lone horn made it look not like a mere white horse, but like a mystical beast from legend. What was it called though...
At that moment, the “disjointed” world became apparent, and it seemed that something previously unseen had appeared before Banagher. However, he could find no way to describe this. Banagher put his face to the window, eagerly looking for the white machine. The nightclub-styled woman sitting behind him wasn’t moving, and the man in worker’s clothing was still snoring loudly.
The train reached one end of the space colony ,and turned down a corner. The front end of the colony looked like a sealed, round pressure tube. The train moved through the seal, and to the docking bay in the center. Banagher couldn’t find the white mobile suit and sat back. Outside the windshield, one could see the immense docking bay linking to several large buildings near the commercial area, and the sheer weight of the sight would make anyone gasp for breath. However, Banagher no longer cared about it. He merely felt the intense white afterimage in his eyes start to fade away, as his heart started to beat wildly for some reason.
This was how everything began.
 Part 4
The white machine moved past the rotating space colony and headed off in the opposite direction from the docking bay, towards the Moon.
Similar to those of the other space colonies, the outer walls of Industrial 7 were of a blueish-silver color. However, at the 18 kilometer point, facing the moon, the color changed to a tea-brown color. This was because the space colony building tool, the Wheel, was set on the end of the moon's side.
The Wheel was 10 kilometers long and 6.4 kilometers across, just like a normal space colony. From a distance, it looked like an Eastern teacup, and the part that covered the space colony looked like a pencil case. Its job was to build the outer wall of the space colony, and the plate block on the inside of the wall. As the name “Wheel” would indicate, the space colony was created out from the large cover. Once the outer wall was built and aligned properly, the Wheel would slide back the appropriate distace before separating. The front end of the cover had a gate to move equipment, and a workers quarters. This meant that, even with the expansion work, the space colony could continue to operate without day-to-day life being affected.
Right now, Industrial 7 had the Wheel’s equipment at the entrance, at the bottom of the “cup”. This way, other machinery and equipment could be moved in through the large machine. The white mass went past the outer wall of the Wheel, and shortly reached the far end of moon side of the colony, and the large machine, the Magallanica, that was attached to it.
The Magallanica was about 6,500 meters long, and the long, thin center exposed the rotational residential area that was 1.6 kilometers long. The machine’s unique shape earned it the moniker of “Snail”. Both sides of the of the rotating residential area had factories sticking out, looking like little asteroids that were absorbing resources. The seemingly-biological appearance matched the Magallanica’s nickname well. On the back of its main body, there was a nuclear pulse engine. Due to the fact that it could navigate on its own, it could be said to be a giant spacesuit. Due to its ability to create, refine, and even build space colonies, it would be more appropriate to call the Magallanica a mobile factory with an engine. In fact, the Magallanica was classified as a space colony builder, and its dimensions were very different from those of a spaceship.
At the area of the Magallanica that was the head of the snail shape, there was an oval-shaped command center. The white machine slowed down in front of it, made a flip with the AMBAC system, flew along the arc of the windows, and went up. Several unmanned cameras followed its path, taking shots of several of the machine's parts: the main thruster on the back of the machine, the overall image of straight and curved contours, and the complicated antenna that extended out from the forehead. These images were immediately analyzed and displayed on multiple screens in the command room, all in front of Cardeas Vist.
The dome-shaped command room was more than 70 meters across, and had a fan-shaped command system that gave the impression of the bridge of a docked ship combined with the control center of a military base. The inside walls of the dome-shaped space seemed to be filled with nothing but screens and windows. Displayed on the fan-shaped metal board in the middle was a control panel full of messages and switches. The Magallanica was a space colony builder meant to develop the area around Jupiter, and it was this opulent command room which bore the responsibility of a central brain. However, as it was now in Earth's vicinity, most of the control functions weren’t used. Thus, only a fourth of the control seats were occupied, and the whole scene seemed somewhat relaxed.
However, every single one of the 20 control personnel looked rather serious. They were staring at the screens on the wall and recording the data there on the computers in their hands. The command room hummed with intensity, and it wasn't just because of the end of the overnight operation experiment. It was because they knew that the UC Project itself was about to end. Cardeas also felt this excitement as he sat in the central seat of the command room.
The Earth Federation had requested Anaheim Electronics to secretly carry out the UC Project, and that project would end with the completion of this white mobile suit. However, that would also be the beginning of Cardeas’ plan.
The product of this UC Project, the RX-0 “Unicorn” mobile suit, would be born out of the darkness, where even the army and Anaheim wouldn't see, and would become the key to a journey that would break a hundred-year-old curse. The machine that bore the name of the beast of possibilities would bring release to the world or—
“RX-0, you are too close to the space colony! The train is moving! What will happen if a passenger sees you?”
An operator, who also bore the secrecy of this job, roared into the microphone. Cardeas also felt nervous when he saw the Unicorn close in on the outer walls of the space colony, but a daring pilot was a reliable pilot.
“Today is his last time piloting the Unicorn,” Cardeas said with a wry smile, “Forgive him.”
“Yes, sir...” Even though he kept back his attitude, the operator still couldn't hide the emotions on his face as he looked at the screen. Even though he was a overly serious, he was still a good worker, and Cardeas' wry smile made this even more obvious. All the workers here, including the test pilots, were Anaheim Electronics employees involved in the UC Project. The Vist Foundation gave them a high salary in return for their silence and aid to fulfil Cardeas’ plan. Of course, not a single one of them was the kind of person who could be bought over with money, and all of them were outstanding technicians who hoped for the Unicorn to be completed successfully.
Right now, the only person in the room who wasn't a member of Anaheim Electronics was probably Gael Chan, who was standing beside Cardeas. He was Cardeas’ secretary and bodyguard. Gael, who, like Cardeas, had also been in the military, joked, “That’s just what you’d expect an ex-pilot to say.” He was in charge of maintaining the secrecy of this project, and now, he should be reviewing the security at the secret stronghold in Magallanica.
Gael had once been involved in an underground society, so he knew of the dealings within the army and the police. If there was a need for it, he would do a dirty job without hesitation. Gael had a bitter look on his face, which made Cardeas feel that he had something to say. He whispered, “What is the matter?”
“We just made contact with our allies on Luna II,” Gael whispered back, “A Londo Bell ship engaged the Sleeves, lost three mobile suits, and let them get away.”
Londo Bell was an independent mobile squadron of the Earth Federation, and didn't have a designated control area. It was a brigade that dealt with things once there was something to deal with. The command system was obviously different from that of a normal squadron, so it was more like an external organization, than part of the army.
And Londo Bell set an ambush around the shoal space region and fought with the Sleeves. To Cardeas, who had something important to complete, he couldn't just leave this alone.
“So news was leaked. Has Londo Bell take any more action?”
“We've tried looking into news on Londenion, but there's nothing yet. The commander's a really upright person.”
“He's called Bright Noa, right? I saw him before on a television interview or something like that. Such a man...”
“RX-0 has passed its final phase. All objectives complete.” The voice of the operator rang out, and Cardeas looked back to the front.
“Good work. The mental response to the G-force is within expectations.”
“Pilot's lifesigns all all normal.”
The sounds of reports continued to echo through the room, and behind Cardeas, Gael went quiet and seemed to back away. "Has it arrived?" Cardeas asked as he rubbed his eyes, and looked at the screen to confirm that the white machine had already entered the planned return trajectory.
“Everyone, please swear this together with me,” Cardeas said into the microphone on the control panel, “The activation experiment of the RX-0 has successfully completed. Once it returns, we are going to remove the test OS, seal the NT-D, and activate the Laplace system.”
The air rumbled a little, and soon, the command room was filled with an urgent silence. As the workers floated in front of the screen in zero gravity, they were all grabbing their things and looking at the chairman with nervous expressions.
“I'm grateful to everyone for taking part in this. The UC Project will never see the light of day, your accomplishments here will not be passed down through the generations. However, I would like to guarantee to everyone that here, where history will be made, the Unicorn will play an important role. Before that day, however, I hope that everyone remains silent about this and forgets everything you have heard here. The Vist Foundation will use its name and influence to ensure all of your safety. That is all.”
The “safety” that had just been guaranteed meant that all the people here would be watched by the Foundation. All their relationships and communication records would be thoroughly examined. It was, after all, unknown just how much the workers knew. Gael indicated with his eyes for everyone to applaud, and after a slightly awkward applause, Cardeas put down the microphone.
Now, all the preparations were complete. The Unicorn would be sealed and handed to the recipient. If the recipient had the necessary element within themselves, the Unicorn would approach them, carry them, and lead them to Laplace’s Box.
After that, it was impossible to predict what would happen. If the recipient didn't have the needed element, the seal of the Unicorn will not be broken—no, there was a bigger problem. There was no proof to indicate a person with the necessary qualities even existed. No matter how much he planned, there was no guarantee that the plan would work. Cardeas' conclusion, therefore, was not to think about it. He turned around and looked at Gael.
“Proceed according to plan,” Cardeas said, “Continue to track Londo Bell's movements. If we can't track the commander, we can still know where the fleets are going if we follow their supply lines.”
“Understood... but, aren't you going to reconsider?”
Grabbing onto the handle of the chair, Gael lowered his upper body and whispered to Cardeas. Cardeas looked at Gael's face.
“They not related to the Federation, but the Sleeves are still a dangerous organization. There's no need for the head of the Vist Foundation to personally meet them.”
On seeing Gael's expression, which was practically screaming “Think about your age!”, Cardeas couldn't help but grimace inwardly. Even if this wasn't something directly related to the Foundation, Cardeas didn't want to hand it over to other people. After all, if there was really someone who fit the plan’s requirements, Cardeas wanted to see what kind of person they were.
“If you really think that, then just do your work properly and safely, and try to prevent trouble here in Industrial 7,” Cardeas said in a half-joking manner, “Besides, I'm the chairman of a school here.”
As he spoke, he used the computer beside him to open the introductory page of Anaheim Electronics Industrial College. Gael didn't smile as he used his eyes to ask “Is this really alright?”, but left the command room quietly. On seeing Gaelfloat down the corridor, Cardeas looked back at the screen displaying the logo of Anaheim Electronics and a photo of the school.
After keying in the password that indicated he was the chairman, Cardeas looked through the list of student names. A list that was never to be released to the public. As Cardeas scrolled through the alphabetical list of five thousand students, he stopped a certain photo on the screen, and then sighed in what seemed a habitual manner.
Now that he thought about it, he really shouldn't be using this place to make deals. However, there was no better place to hide from the eyes of both the client and the developer, and there was no better place to install the Laplace System in the Unicorn. The industrial space colony builder Magallanica, jointly owned by Vist Foundation and Anaheim Electronics, symbolized a good inseparable location that could fool the army and Anaheim. A secret garden to readjust the Unicorn. Cardeas silently watched as the screen showed an enlarged profile of the student.
Banagher Links. Currently of the Technical Resource development branch. 16 years old. As Cardeas looked at the birthday and the listed personal particulars, he again sighed, and looked at the boyish face that seemed to represent his youth.
 Part 5
The dock of a space colony was called a docking bay, mostly as a holdover from when space development was still under way. In that age, when humanity finally found a way to send space stations into low orbit above Earth, the ships that went to and fro were just docking with the space stations. The size of the stopping point wasn't large enough to be called a “bay”. There were also quite a few cases of space stations being linked to each other. Regardless of terminology though, the early space constructions were just relay platforms.
Right now, the docking bay at the front end of the space colony had seven space docks of different sizes inside its cylindrical shell, and a spaceship at the dock would merely be stopped in zero gravity, waiting for the immigration check and other bureaucratic procedures. The zero gravity industrial area of Industrial 7 was linked to the docking bay, so there was a ring-shaped construct that reached out from the space colony. Including the cylindrical docking bay, the entire assembly was over 3.5 kilometers long. All of the factories in the colony had a dock for transport ships to dock, so there weren't just ten or twenty ships that came in and went. There were so many of them it was like fireflies surrounding a high pressure bottle.
4:15 AM. The Garencieres became one of those fireflies as it gradually approached the brand-new docking bay of Industrial 7. The space colony was only half complete and still new, and the platform showed a dim glow. Even more eye-catching, though, was the light reflected from the solar panels. The four rows of five kilometer-long rectangular solar panels were aligned beside the space colony, and their main surface was always facing the sun. The electricity obtained from the solar panels was sent to the space colony via microwaves. To the isolated environment of the space colony of Industrial 7, this was a must.
Of course, it was very easy to get electromagnetic interference when the electricity was being transferred, so the solar panel wouldn’t be in a path where ships docked. Despite that, the Garencieres grazed by the solar panels and reduced its velocity relative to Industrial 7. As the ship past a piece of solar panel reflecting sunlight, the hatch opened, releasing a mobile suit from the hangar.
There was a dark green body and a single, glowing pink eye. This was an AMS-129 “Geara Zulu”, the mobile suit that made up most of the Sleeves’ fighting forces. It looked like a cross between a knight from the Middle Ages, and an early 20th Century soldier wearing a helmet and a gas mask. As it moved past the solar panel, the mobile suit dropped off the Garencieres, using the shield on its right shoulder to reflect sunlight, and soon began to let out bursts of thrust. Next to the large solar panel, the 20 meter-tall, human-shaped machine was like dust. Once it slipped through a gap behind the structure of the solar panel, it was as good as invisible.
Not even 10 seconds had passed from the time the Geara Zulu left the Garencieres until it disappeared behind the solar panel. Even though the ship’s trajectory had been cleared, this region of space still had lots of debris around, and the space traffic control couldn’t possibly notice a single ship’s mysterious actions. Even if there were someone serious enough to take out a pair of binoculars and look, the light reflected off the solar panel would conceal everything. Marida Cruz looked back at the solar panel, then back at the ship’s bridge.
Located on the left and right sides of the bridge were the helmsman’s station, and the navigational station, respectively. In the back, and slightly elevated over the rest of the bridge, was the captain’s seat. The bridge of the Garencieres was full with just those three things, and those who didn’t have a position here couldn’t stay for long without getting uncomfortable. However, since the ceiling still had a definite height, there weren’t much problems when under zero gravity. In zero gravity, everyone on board could squeeze into the three-dimensional space the bridge provided.
“This will take a while,” the captain, Suberoa Zinnerman, bellowed to the microphone, “But it’ll be over before the day is out. Just bear with it.”
The old captain’s hat, brown leather coat, and rough stubble of moustache made him look like the stereotypical captain of an old trading ship. However, his eyes were sharp.
The acknowledgment that came back through the wireless communicator couldn’t hide its anxiety.
The one who responded was Savoir, the pilot of the Geara Zulu. He would be hidden under the solar panel for a whole day to watch the outside of Industrial 7. They hadn’t let the enemy know about the deal, but since they had been ambushed by the Federation, they couldn’t trust in the kind intentions of the other party. If they were closely inspected once they entered the dock, Savoir’s Geara Zulu would wreck havoc.
If that were the case, not only would Marida sortie in her Kshatriya, but the other Geara Zulu would launch too, piloted by Gilboa Sant. Right now, he was in the navigation seat, busily explaining to the control officer why they were slightly off course. Gilboa was 30 years old, with a friendly and approachable face. He had pure black skin that was rare to see nowadays, and was the father of three children. In the helmsman's seat on the other side of the bridge was the 27 year old Flaste Schole. Compared to Gilboa, Flaste gave off a cold and aloof vibe. Though he looked rather unapproachable, he was really a good big brother-type who took care of others. All the other members of the crew trusted him. He was a long-time acquaintance of Zinnerman, and the number two man on board, supporting the captain from behind.
The entire compliment of the Garencieres was 33 people, including the mobile suit team and the crew of the ship itself. Amongst the Sleeves which the Earth Federation had declared "Terrorists who appear from nowhere, then disappear", they could be said to be a specialized unit. With Captain Zinnerman leading them, the entire crew were disguised as members of a trading ship, so they weren’t as rigidly structured as a military organization. The main forces of the Sleeves seemed to view them as radicals too, so it was like Zinnerman was leading an independent group, or an underground organization carrying out a mission. In fact, they had received this mission precisely because of this nature. Because of the recent ambush by the Federation Navy, however, the ship had an atmosphere of not quite knowing how to deal with this mission.
They were headed to Industrial 7 to collect Laplace’s Box, which the Vist Foundation claimed it would provide. At first glance, this was a mission that anyone could do. A mission that even a delivery company could do. The only strange thing about the whole affair was that no one knew what Laplace’s Box actually was.
“We’ve bypassed the inspection completely,” Gilboa said worriedly once he had ended the conversation with the traffic control officer, “It seems that the Harbor Authority was notified too, so we can dock without an investigation…. I don’t understand.”
Marida looked over at him, and through the window in front of him she could see the guiding lights leading to a thumb-sized space gate.
“The thing we’re after is in the port on the other side of the colony, right?” Gilboa asked, “Why won’t they let us go there? Since it’s connected to the colony builder, wouldn’t it be easier to carry out the deal if we weren’t allowed into the colony itself?”
“That colony builder is said to be Vist Foundation property,” Flaste responded, “Odds are, they don’t want us getting too close.”
Industrial 7 had only opened the port on the Earth side of the colony, and the port on the moon side was covered by the colony builder. The builder itself was a large installation that could purify and use the space dust in the debris field to make parts for new space colonies. Not just the the employees of the builder, but even the people living inside the space colony were said have their movements restricted. While it was no one knew whether the Laplace’s Box of rumor was real, this colony builder was still a good place to carry out a secret deal. However, for some reason, the Vist Foundation wouldn’t let them go directly to the colony builder.
“They’re being cautious", said Zinnerman as he drank from a can of coffee, “We are the dreaded, illegal Sleeves after all.”
Zinnerman’s self-moking tone washed away the doubts of his subordinates and reminded everyone that they were in danger. Despite that reminder, though, Flaste continued on, a rare feat for him.
“So, what is this “Laplace’s Box” thing, anyway? You should probably tell us, right?”
That was the question that went straight to the core of the issue. Gilboa looked back at Zinnerman in the Captain’s seat. Zinnerman shrugged.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s some huge, shocking treasure.”
“It’s well-hidden, but the Vist Foundation is just one huge organization, and it’s deepin bed with the government and Anaheim Electronics,” said Gilboa, “The colony builder is their main base, right? Those guys who deal with the Federation government would actually offer us a treasure? I just don’t understand what’s going on here.”
This was precisely what everyone on the Garencieres was thinking, but Zinnerman just continued to look aloof. He answered, “This is information we got from Full Frontal, so we can trust that it’s at least accurate.” He looked at Marida, who just so happened to look back at him.
"There is definitely something wrong with this situation, what with that ambush and all,” Zinnerman said, “Don’t let your guard down.”
Marida nodded at this warning, and looked out of the window. Luckily, the port official’s ship was closing in, and Flaste and Gilboa started speaking into the radio, and the conversation ended. Marida looked at the numerous lights and readouts, checking that everything was normal.
At this point, there were three things they knew. First, they would be provided with the Box for free, provided they followed the instructions of Vist Foundation. Second, the item was large, so it had to be transported via cargo ship. Because of this, they had only two Geara Zulu even though they could normally hold three. On the other hand, the fact that they only took one fewer mobile suit showed that Zinnerman was being cautious on this mission.
However, the most important point was the third one. This thing called Laplace’s Box had the ability to overturn the world—shake the Earth Federation to its core and radically alter the status quo—it could be some scandal in the current administration, or an ultimate weapon that could bring about an overwhelming military victory. It was important though, otherwise headquarters wouldn’t have agreed to the Vist Foundation’s invitation. Right now, the Sleeves were such that even if it was only a trace of hope, they had to grab it.
All that aside, no matter what was inside Laplace’s Box, Marida’s mission was to protect her master and follow his orders. That would never change. If the box really existed, they would bring it back. If it was a trap, she would break through it. No matter how much of a sacrifice she had to make, she wouldn’t hesitate in the slightest.
Marida looked out again at Industrial 7. The isolated space colony, and the secret locked inside it, was floating amidst the stone and metal debris. The Garancieres followed the guiding lights and entered the docking bay. As the ship was about to be assigned to a space gate, Marida saw numerous small objects flying past into outer space. She consciously checked the appearance and number of objects, checking to see if they were dangerous.
They were cylindrical objects, with short legs and arms for work, and bubble-shaped canopies covering a pilot. These human-shaped machines were about as tall as two humans. Marida determined they were mobile suits used for short-range work around the port.
A total of eight mobile suits flew by, perhaps here to clean the runway, then, another dozen of the miniature mobile suits past the Garancieres . As he looked at the squad of three-meter-tall mobile suits, Gilboa said, “Those are Bubbo’s company machines.”
“Yeah. Lots of space colonies opened up franchises. They probably came here because of Anaheim’s outsourcing project. It looked like good work, and thanks to the One Year War, there’s enough junk to last hundreds of years.”
Gilboa sounded somewhat heavy-hearted, perhaps feeling that he was in the middle of creating even more junk. Flaste didn’t respond to him, and Marida just looked at the mini mobile suits floating in vacuum.
As they let out a thruster boost, the mini mobile suits started to move toward the space dust in orbit. They would cut down those things that were too big to carry back. To them, junk was just junk; just a commodity to reclaim in order to decide who gets more back. “There’s a life like that then,” Marida thought. A life where she wouldn’t take other people’s lives or have her life taken. After thinking about her life in one year, ten years, or even longer, a life to fight for tomorrow would…
“The enemies shot down today may one day be reclaimed?" Marida looked at the lights that didn’t involve her and thought.
 Part 6
The girl moved through the ship that brought her here. She went through three compartments, and arrived at the central bay.
The docking had begun, and a variable-sized communicator that looked something like a harmonica was connected to the bridge and air lock of the Garencieres. As she looked through the window and saw that the workers inside the ship were busy, the girl cautiously left the room.
She closed the visor on her spacesuit’s helmet. The helmet wasn’t that important when there was air, but the girl was mainly using it to hide her face. Most of the port workers would be wearing spacesuits, and if she was lucky, she could sneak through. The girl held a mobile handle and moved through the narrow corridor, reached the hatch of the ship, and decisively opened the air lock.
The wind caused by the difference in air pressure between the outside of the ship and the inside remained unheard, thanks to the sound of metal colliding, the sound of the exhaust of an overhead crane, and an audio broadcast by the dockmaster. The center dock was a large space that was almost 500 meters across, and the floor and the ceiling—though it was meaningless to call them that when there wasn’t any gravity—had four canes each. Each of those cranes were attached to trading ships like the Garencieres. The girl went through the air lock, let her body float towards the floor twenty meters away. Before the magnetic boots of the spacesuit touched the ground, the girl took out a cable gun from her belt and fired at the side of a crane.
The magnet on the end of the cable stuck to the crane. The girl squeezed the trigger again, and the cable began coiling, carrying the girl to the magnet. Tools like this were really important when working in zero gravity.
After the cable finished coiling, the magnet disengaged from the crane. Aiming at another point, she fired the cable again. Like this, the girl moved towards the exit of the dock. On her way to the exit, she past the crew of the Garencieres, but since everyone was busy dealing with the docking, and she had her spacesuit and visor on, no one recognized her. The girl reached the exit without anyone noticing, and then used a mobile handle to move on. The mobile handle installed on the wall and handrail went faster the tighter it was gripped, and a strong squeeze sent the girl towards the industrial area.
The ships that had already cleared inspection were docked at this port. Thus, it wasn’t hard to leave, and there should be no problems if the industrial port wasn’t actively operating. The problem was how to reach the colony builder on the other side of the space colony. As the girl remembered the map of Industrial 7 she had memorized, she slipped among a group of workers and entered the main terminal.
The girl had a plan. At the center core of Industrial 7, there was an artificial sun. This installation reached out to both sides of the colony, and created the illusion of night and day. In the old century’s manner of speech, it was something like an elaborate play.
The artificial sun had a walkway for inspection that connected to both ends of the space colony. Naturally, this wasn’t a place anyone would normally go. And since the artificial sun gave off lots of heat, the pathway couldn’t be used in the day. However, if the girl used that walkway, she wouldn’t have to enter the space colony proper, and could quickly reach the other side. There was a chance that she could get near the colony builder, usually restricted to public access, and find a chance to sneak in.
5:50 AM. The girl checked her watch to make sure there was still time until daylight, and took off her spacesuit helmet. She pulled her short brown hair out of the suit, and floated into a nearby restroom.
Now that she was out of the busy part of the port, it would be too conspicuous to wear a spacesuit. She entered the restroom stall that had a toilet bowl for especially for use in zero gravity, took off her spacesuit, and put on dark blue jeans and a white blouse, then left the restroom. She ignored the whistling worker who passed by her as she put on a jacket that was as fluffy as a shawl, then grabbed a mobile handle and moving to the exit of the tower. As it was probably not time for a shift change, there weren’t many people at the exit.
“I have to get to the colony builder before Zinnerman and Marida get there and meet the person I need to talk to,” The girl thought as she moved out of the terminal building.
 Part 7
A while back, Banagher was in the same Terminal Building, at the office of Bubbo’s Company, facing the Chief of the Management Section.
“So I can’t sortie today?”
“That’s the instructions of the superiors. A trading ship’s about to enter at the last minute, so I had to send a crane out first…I asked the previous shift to handle the rest, and they went off.”
While the superiors ask for increase in efficiency, the subordinates ask for improvement in working environment, and the Chief of Management had to explain that the blame wasn’t on him. Right now, the large amount of space dust caused lots of social problems, and the Bubbo Company showed marked improvement in growth. However, most people viewed them as merely junk collectors who overturned things, and there’s a rather bleak feeling about this. Even if they changed their title for ‘Junk Collector’ to ‘Resource Collector’, the understanding of society would not change. At this operation base of <<Industrial 7>> and everyone inside, including the Chief had a rather lonely feeling.
It was really no surprise that Bubbo Company would lend out cranes to a ship that just arrived, but to Banagher who came here to work part-time, it wasn’t worth being so happy about. The morning shift squad had already left, so those who were working today flew off. There was no latest mini mobile suits to use, and everything was just a waste of time. Banagher really wanted to grumble ‘I finally became the first one here…’ or something like that.
“Sorry, I’ll add some extra money for your overtime fee next time.”
The bespectacled Chief smiled and seemed to be busy managing the delayed trip. He wasn’t hiding the fact that he didn’t have the time to deal with part-time workers as he went into the office to get the call. The two workers who were working night shift were also lowering their heads and staring at their screens. Seeing them like this, Banagher didn’t have the energy to talk more as he left the office that had the smell of plastic. The word ‘Disjointed’ went through his mind again.
Banagher let Haro exit onto the corridor first, kicked against the wall that had footprints all over it, and let his body float towards the corridor window that could look at the central port. The number 4 crane Bubbo Company used was parked at a ship he had no impression on. It was an old-styled Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) Craft. The ship that was obviously stained had the logo ‘RIbakoona Trading’ on it and the ship’s name <<Garencieres>>.
“The name’s rather delicate…”
As he muttered this a little grudgingly, he found that Takuya was coming in from the other end of the corridor. Takuya let go of the handle that was moving at the fastest speed possible before his body landed on the cushion on the wall due to inertia. The first thing he spoke was: “Banagher, you bastard…!” And Banagher silently pointed to the office’s entrance.
Takuya was also stunned as he then walked into the office, and soon appeared on the corridor after 1 minute. He looked like he didn’t know what was going on, but he chuckled on seeing Banagher, and even said (That’s karma, karma.) Even Haro was flapping its ear disks and crying ‘Retribution, retribution’. Banagher carried Haro and left the corridor.
There was still three hours until vocational lessons began, and Banagher and Takuya didn’t want to head back to the hostel to sleep. Thus, they went to the cafeteria in the industrial area. The cafeteria that was facing the inside of the space colony was also a rest area that functioned as an observatory post, so they could still take a little nap at this time.
In this <<Industrial 7>> space colony that was almost completely covered with factories, the zero gravity industrial area that was linked to the docking bay was the largest production base. There were all sorts of production lines, from metal, refining, heating to assembly, and it included a production work that made use of the zero gravity environment. This place produces everything related to industrial needs, from the screws used on a train to the <<gundanrium alloy>>.
To the industrial area that works for 3 shifts, 24 hours a day, no matter whether it was midnight or morning, it was just a unit of time. Once they entered the unloading area that was full of air, they could hear the sounds of mini mobile suits moving about, hoots and controllers shouting, and also the sounds of metal colliding with each other. Soon, they heard the voices of the operator shouting :”DAMN BRATS! WEAR A HELMET HERE!” Banagher and Takuya shouted, “Sorry!” but didn’t slow down as they grabbed hard onto the mobile handle and continued to head to the unloading area that would lead to the cafeteria.
On the way, Banagher mentioned to Takuya about how he saw a white mobile suit in the subway train. Takuya, who was studying mobile suits and aimed to be a test pilot, was already familiar with military affairs such that he could be said to be a fanatic of it. Banagher thought that his facial expression would change on hearing a new mobile suit, but Takuya’s reaction was unexpectedly cold.
“The war with Zeon is over. The Federation finally started with reprogramming. Even if a new mobile suit is developed, it would just be a minor modification to a <<GM>>.”
“But that machine was completely white and had a single horn on it. It really looked special. Since it’s a reprogrammed one, it’s not weird to see a new mobile suit developed, right?”
“Fool, that’s something that can only happen during war. Why would they allocate some of the budget to develop a new mobile suit if there’s no imaginary enemy.”
That sounded logical. “Is that so…” “You really don’t know anything.” On hearing such a response, Banagher felt like he may want to find a hole to hide in.
No matter what aspect it is, someone who works hard on one thing would have the keen eyesight of observing the world from that perspective, and Banagher felt a little short and behind others for not being able to have it. It wasn’t too bad if it was an ordinary high school student, but someone studying this ‘one-way trip’ at Anaheim Electronics would feel really guilty.
“It’s great that you had a goal.”
Thus, Banagher suddenly raised this issue. Takuya looked somewhat surprised and gave a wry look “What are you saying?”
“Aren’t you planning to go develop the Jupiter zone?”
However, Banagher was different from Takuya. He merely chose one subject out of many when he transferred into Anaheim Electronics Institute College, and didn’t really have a particular insistence. Banagher merely wanted to see Jupiter and was moved by the term trail blazer, but he lost all enthusiasm when he thought of how he had to study engineering and mathematics. No, it’s not that he found studying hard, but that he found himself ‘disjointed’ when he was mixed together with a group a really passionate volunteers.
Thinking about this, the doubts Banagher often had would appear in his mind, whether he should be here? He searched through the layers of his memories as to why he was here. His mother died, and on the night of the funeral, a group of men in suits appeared and said, “We’re hired by your father.” And told him that his life will be assured in the future. After that, what he got was a transfer application to Anaheim Electronics Institute College—
They never explained what kind of person his father was, and only said that one day, he would meet him personally. Banagher himself didn’t want to ask too much. It wasn’t really much of an interest to him, but as both mother and son relied on each other for more than 10 years, anyone would be troubled about a father who suddenly appeared, and no matter what the reason was, Banagher didn’t want to recognize a man who wouldn’t even come to his mother’s funeral. At the same time, he felt that if he opened himself too much, he would be betraying his mother.
His mother was a kind and strong-willed person who raised Banagher alone and made Banagher forget that he needed a father. Though the ever-changing jobs and residences caused Banagher to end up transferring schools without having time to make friends, it wasn’t his mother’s fault. Banagher would always remember how on Christmas night at the age of 5, that this Haro was sent over without warning.
His mother said that it was a present from Santa Claus, but Banagher knew that it was a present sent over by his father. After that, his mother would keep moving houses like she was running away from disaster, perhaps to get away from his father. And his mother would be unhappy if he asked. Thus, Banagher knew before the age of ten that this was a question he couldn’t ask.
“He’s really a strong-willed person. You can be proud to be his son. But I know that his strength won’t bring happiness to us mother and son, so mom can only bring you away from that person…”
His mother would only talk about this when his father was mentioned. Whenever his mother asked “Do you understand?” Banagher could only pretend to understand and nod his head. Both mother and son stayed in an old space colony at <<Side 1>>, an old residential area near the slums. Banagher grew up watching his mother who shouldn’t be living in such a place, felt that he shouldn’t cause too much trouble for his mother, and started to feel troubled by the ‘disjointed’ feeling in him.
It’s especially because of that unknown reason that he started to feel ‘disjointed’ ever since he first had his memories. It was different from feeling out of place. It felt like there was a place he should really be at, but that his mind and body was being separated from that place. This baseless feeling still didn’t disappear even after he accepted the invitation of this father of his that he never met before and stayed in <<Industrial 7>>. The naïve expectation that this ‘disjointed’ feeling would disappear the moment he came here was just a rhapsody of his own youth. Banagher could calmly analyze this aspect of himself in hindsight.
He thought that if he put on the uniform of Anaheim Electronics and thought of becoming a member of this large corporation, he could forget all about this. However, after 8 months of hostel life, what he got was only an ordinary license and a mini mobile suit license. In the days that never changed, where things never really happened, the ‘disjointed’ feeling started to grow. Right now, he still didn’t know his father’s true identity, and neither did he try to know as he was already having a hard time handling the future that was becoming smaller.
Why did I come here? Why do I feel that I am looking forward to this ‘Disjointed’ feeling being filled up? As he carried the Haro that he took care of all this time, Banagher pondered. Was it that I want to meet my father? To see where I come from? But even if we meet, nothing will change. Even if I know my origins, I can’t be assured that there will be where I will go…
His thoughts just continued to beat around like this as they went from the unloading bay to the cargo area. Takuya, who was walking in front, shouted excitedly, “Wow, that’s a huge find!” and Banagher lifted his head up.
At a corner of the large cargo area, there were the remains of a mobile suit. It’s unknown whether it was the Bubbo Company or other ‘Junk Collector’ company who took it in. The parts below the knees were severed, and those parts under the right shoulder were gone. However, the dark green body and the head with the one eye were still intact, and it was still easy to identify what the damaged thing was. This was really a great find, and even Banagher felt this way. Almost all the remains of space colonies or mobile suits were taken back, and as mainstream mobile suits became mini ones that were only able to pull scraps, it’s really rare to see such a relatively intact scrap. It’s unknown who found it, but the person who found it can earn half a year’s worth of salary with this. Banagher and Takuya let go of the hand and floated towards the remains.
“Is that a <<Zaku>>?”
As he reached the deck where he could look down at the remains, Banagher grabbed onto the handrail and asked Takuya. That used to be the main fighting force of the Republic of Zeon, the name of the line of machines and also the mother of all mobile suits. No matter whether it was the green frame that had lots of spikes on the left shoulder armor, Banagher really couldn’t think of any other machine that had these characteristics. However, Takuya answered: “Idiot, that’s not it.”
“That’s the <<Geara Doga>>, a machine used during ‘Char’s Counterattack’.”
“Never heard of it. I’m not that crazy about machines.”
“This is created by Anaheim! Remember that.”
Takuya used his finger to point at the temple, and Banagher just stared at the remains of the mobile suit. The machine that obviously had burned scars had workers all around using their handheld notebooks to enter data into. It’s unknown whether they were trying to diagnose the selling price of the machine or how to distribute this once they decide to split this out. The one eye and the visor glass were broken, but the power source that was severed off was leaking oil, making one wonder if the reactor could still work. The still-human appearance that remained made one wonder that it may be a remain that could move once someone adjust it.
Maybe the pilot was able to get out in time? Banagher had this idea as he turned his eyes to the cockpit at the abdomen, but gasped as he found that he was wrong. The armor plate that was protecting the cockpit was twisted by the heat, opening a hole that was 1m long. It looked like a beam weapon shot through it, burning through the cocking, leaving a laser bullet hole and vaporizing the pilot. It looked just like a black hole that led to an endless darkness. That was the action of humans who made the hole, one that was unrelated to them, called war. It was deep and black, looking like it was about to absorb someone into it—
“…The war’s over. There won’t be any new frames now.”
Takuya swallowed his saliva and mentioned what they were talking about just now. The side of his face seemed to be a little white.
“There aren’t any news on terrorism recently.”
“There’s still some remnants of Zeon, but the scale’s not large enough to form an army. The Defense Ministry wrote in black and white that ‘We’re cleaning up after the war on Zeon’.”
“The space colony I was staying on once had a freelance transporter, but he said something about space residents living independently, and I didn’t feel anything much after hearing it.”
Side 3, which was on the back of the Moon, was self-proclaimed the Republic of Zeon that declared its independence from the Earth Federation and triggered what’s called the One Year War. Banagher understood this as well. The dark wasteland region where <<Industrial 7>> was where the remains of the initial battle both sides had, the ‘Battle of Loum’. Banagher himself was born under this offensive age where half the population was wiped out—what sociologists call babies born after the war. During the 16 years of war, the so-called remnants of Zeon continued to launch conflicts one after another, creating terrorist attacks on a grand scale. However, these were another thing entirely to Banagher and the rest, just information taught through televised news and textbooks. No matter whether it was the war or the independent movements of the space residents, it was nothing different from fiction to them.
However, the dark bullet hole in front of them showed them that all these were real. It caused them to realize that people really died from this and reprimanded them of their lazy lifestyles. They talked to each other in perfect unison and left this place. The image of war that suddenly appeared in front of them wasn’t so easily erased, and that deep and dark hole that led to emptiness shot through Banagher’s heart.
The cafeteria that was facing the inside of the space colony had one wall that was completely made of glass, and they could see the streets on the inside of the wall from the center of the cylinder. It was 5.20am, and the artificial sun that goes through the entire inside of the colony wasn’t activated as there seemed to be a thin carpet of light seen inside the wall of the colony from 3,000m height.
In another 10 minutes, the artificial sun would declare the start of the day, and the vast amount of light and heat would bring about morning to <<Industrial 7>>. At that moment, the windows of the cafeteria would have a light filter on to reduce the shine the artificial sun would release at close range. However, there was no need to cover it for now. The artificial sun outside the window that lead to the other side of the space colony was still in darkness. There were few people who were in the cafeteria at this point, and Banagher and Takuya were holding onto their own trays as they sat beside the window.
They were discussing about what to do with the report they have to hand in a month later, just before summer vacation began, how the old hag in physics lesson would mess them up, and talked around before Takuya started yawning. After putting the empty soup pipe onto the tray, he said “I’m going to sleep” and used the zero gravity environment to put his legs about. Banagher was trained by his mother strictly and couldn’t be as rash as he was. However, he did feel that he was trying his best to get along with his surroundings and let himself loose already.
“Get some sleep, man. Micott’s going to have a party at her house tonight.”
Takuya closed his eyes as he said that. Banagher answered back: “Really?” But didn’t sound very interested.
“Our technical school has too many people with no charm, but her school has quite a lot of good girls there. This is a good chance to get to know them. Better save our energy here, or else it’ll be sad if we’re still single once it’s summer.”
“Aren’t you going back to your old home? Even if you have a girlfriend here…”
“Don’t say that. I do go to the <<Francesca Colony>> with my family to do manual labor. Bringing my younger siblings out to fish in the day, barbequing at night with relatives; I can be so happy that I could cry. How can I hang on without a girlfriend waiting for me?”
“Don’t go then.”
“I can’t do that. That’s the bond of family…”
Takuya suddenly shut up and opened an eye before asking: “What are you going to do during summer vacation?” Banagher could only shrug at this concern that bothered him “Who knows.”
“I don’t have any relatives when I go back home, and I shifted. I guess the most I can do is to stay here and continue to work and earn money, and that I can earn my school fees before my sponsor changes his mind.”
“Haven’t you heard anything from your dad?”
“Un. Well, I don’t know what I should do if there really was news.”
“Fu-n…that’s really hard to understand. Calling you here and not coming to see you.”
Takuya felt that this was the only way he could show concern as an outsider and didn’t mention this again. He diverted the topic and said “Then you should take advantage of tonight. There’s only one summer when you’re 16 years old.”
“Un…”, Banagher merely answered methodically as he continued to look outside the dark window.
However, it wasn’t that he wasn’t interested. Like others, Banagher went through romantic relationships and breakups, and he did have a few girlfriends at his hometown. However, what seemed to be a happy thing to them wasn’t a happy thing to Banagher himself. Also, he never actually got on well with them, and was always seen through. Thus, the relationship would never last long. Girls in their youth really can’t stand creatures like insincere men, and anything more didn’t exist.
No. it was just because he never really had a real romantic relationship. Maybe things would change if he found a good partner. Maybe tonight’s party may solve this. Banagher forced himself to think this way. This may be an encounter that could clear all the ‘disjointed’ feeling he had with the world and enchant him; an encounter that would make this Industrial space colony look rose colored; an encounter that could land him at where he lived. He would become a member who would walk in and out of a factory, covered with sweat and oil, and have a drink on the way home from work as an occasional luxury—an encounter that could allow him to accept this life.
Right outside the windows, the streets lights before dawn broke. The lights on the highway were showing a spiral shape, and what looked like lights from night delivery lorries were gliding silently. In another 2 hours, most of the people would get up and rush to their respective workplaces. The people who were waiting at the bus stops for buses will form crowds, and the subway trains that were filled with workers changing shifts will move between the streets inside the wall and the industrial area. Today, that’s just like yesterday and may be like tomorrow, continued to operate like a conveyor belt.
“Will we become part of this once we graduate…”
Feeling that intense ‘disjointed’ feeling again, Banagher muttered. Takuya didn’t answer back, and as Banagher looked at him, he found that the body that was almost asleep was floating up from the table. As he grabbed Takuya’s shoulders and pressed him back onto the chair like magic tape, Banagher saw ‘that thing’ outside the window.
At the base that’s 100m above the cafeteria, at the pillar of the artificial sun that was reached out to the opposite side of the space colony—there was a warning light flashing. There was something floating as it crossed near the large pillar in the darkness. He first thought that it was junk. It’s obvious for junk to be stuck near the sun after being taken away by an artificial convection when the space colony’s being built in the opposite direction. However, the ‘object’ that was so small that it would disappear into the darkness, and that it was moving on its own. It seemed to be frantically flailing its limbs and moving its body to control its body as it flew with the wind.
He consciously let his body float near the window and grabbed Haro’s fluttering ears in the air from underneath the table. Banagher looked at that ‘object’ that was lit up by the weak warning light. That’s right, there was someone. Someone was floating near the artificial sun. it was 1km away, but Banagher could see—or rather, feel that the person who was floating had a cape-shaped coat on.
It was soon going to be daybreak, and there couldn’t possibly be testing on the artificial sun. Banagher looked at the person who wasn’t even wearing a spacesuit. The figure left the artificial sun and floated towards the wall. It’s obvious that the person was in trouble, and it would be easy to spot in daylight. However, at that moment, the artificial sun would be activated, and the surrounding air would be really hot. The cylinder that was 6km in diameter was a large source of light to the entire space colony, and would burn up anything nearby.
Banagher looked at the watch. It was 5.26am. There’s still less than 5 minutes to daylight. “Eh? What’s wrong?” Banagher left behind Takuya as Takuya rubbed his eyes, kicked the table, and rushed through the empty cafeteria, using the pillar near the entrance as the support point and rushed to the corridor. At this moment where not even a second was to be wasted, he didn’t even think of explaining this to anyone else, and the body that was pushed by impulse continued to rush to the worksite.
 Part 8
She really couldn’t understand what happened for the time being. In her eyes, what she could only see was the artificial sun pillar that was leaving her and the street lights and clouds on the inside of the wall appearing and disappearing at the same time as the winds blew past her ears.
As she kicked her legs about forward, the girl tried to stop the spinning on her body. However, against this artificial wind, such an action was futile. There was an endless steady supply of wind inside the colony to allow for convection of the sun’s heat. The artificial convection installation that was installed in the zero gravity area was moving the air, creating a complicated flow of wind near the sun.
The girl held back the fear that was rising up her throat, telling herself to calm down. She had managed to slip into the artificial solar inspection area and arrived on the passageway that was parallel to the illuminating installation. She just needed to grab the mobile handle and move forward for about 20m, and she should be able to reach the other side of the space colony in less than 30 minutes—where her target, the colony builder.
However, she didn’t expect that pathway to have a section cut off because of repairs. It was too late once she moved in for about 1km, felt that the tunnel was blocked and let go of the handle. The girl’s body flew out in motion, breaking the plastic seal that blocked the passage, and dropped outside the passage.
At the same time, she knocked into the fire extinguisher that was placed on the platform, and got the gas squirted at her, causing the situation to become complicated. The girl was pushed away from the artificial sun pillar because of the gas pressure. And under the vacuum of zero gravity, there’s nothing she could grab onto. The girl became a speck of space dust that was floating in the core of the space colony. She was forced away by the gas pressure and the airflow convection, and was pushed down to the wall 3000m away—
The artificial sun was gradually getting further and further away. The layers of moving clouds and the street lights that were inside the wall were closing in. The centrifuge force of the space colony wouldn’t work without direct contact. It looked like she could land safely, but the problem was the rotation speed that create the 1G worth of gravity. It looked slow from here, but in fact, the inside wall of the space colony was rotating about 600km per hour. The girl’s body was out of the rotation speed, and if she got close to the inner wall and hit the wall that’s rotating at high speeds, she would be pancaked.
However, she couldn’t just wait for help in zero gravity as a premonition started. *BAM BAM*, continuous tremors could be heard through the air of the space colony. This was the voice of the artificial sun getting powered up. It was the awakening of a laminating device, the sound of it letting off light as it burned the air around it.
I don’t want to die. No, I can’t die. The girl didn’t give up as she moved her limbs and tried to get close to the artificial sun’s passageway. She was already prepared to die, but she wouldn’t allow herself to die like this. For the sake of the warriors who fought to protect her, her parents who died early, and she wouldn’t forgive herself if she were to die in such an ugly manner.
This thought was more frightening than death itself. However, the artificial sun that seemed to mock the struggling girl got louder and louder, and the laminating installation started to brighten.
 Part 9
Luckily, there was a mini mobile suit parked at the carpark beside the cafeteria. It was the latest model from the Toruro company, Type-800, commonly known as the <<Torohachi>>. There wasn’t anyone on the machine, which, to Banagher, was a pleasant surprise.
Perhaps the operator went to the toilet as the key was still in the machine. Banagher sat inside the cockpit of the <<Torohachi>> to check whether it still had power. While the worker shouted: “HEY, YOU…!”, Banagher shouted back: “Danger!” as he undid the feet clamp on the floor. As he ignored the middle-aged worker “WHO ARE YOU! DON’T MOVE!” and let the <<Torohachi>> move forward, a green ball-shaped object slammed into the helmet of the worker and jumped into the cockpit. “Haro…!?” Banagher couldn’t help but exclaim before tucking Haro between his thighs before covering the hemisphere windshield visor.
Once Banagher did the basic minimum safety checks, he undid the magnetic locks on the legs. The short legs of the <<Torohachi>> kicked the ground and floated up. Banagher stepped on the gas, and the thruster at the back lit up. The <<Torohachi>> headed off towards the cargo exit of the space colony and accelerated.
At the front end of the space colony, the sudden slope of the zero gravity industrial area under the wall was called the ‘mountain’. Like its name implied, it was a bare layer of rock and trees and plants covered the mortar-type airtight wall. If one looked up from the inside, what would be seen would be like a famous 3,000m high mountain—Mount Fuji. The mountaintop that was hidden amongst the clouds had many cable cars stations and the exits for cargo ships as they move through the zero gravity belt. The <<Torohachi>> went through one entrance and moved towards the artificial sun. The artificial upflow that struck caused the machine to shake, but Banagher continued to look around for the figure floating in the darkness.
Without relying on night vision goggles, Banagher found the floating figure. He didn’t spend the effort to feel how strange it was. Banagher again activated the thruster boost of the <<Torohachi>>. This was different from driving in vacuum as the machine was heavy. The air that filled the entire space colony formed a wall, and the shaking of the machine was felt through the control rod. For a moment, he felt that he was really reckless, but this rash of sanity immediately disappeared.
The artificial sun started to glow, and there wasn’t much time left before it was completely activated and burns the surrounding air. Banagher activated the motion sensor and let the relative distance between his machine and the target and the speeds show on the control screen. Though it was the same as collecting space junk, the target this time was a living human. If his methods were too rough, the person may be killed.
The distance from the figure got closer and closer, and he could already see the cape-like jacket fluttering from behind the windshield and the long and narrow limbs of a person. It was a girl—as his instincts told her this, a large amount of shaking happened to the machine, and Banagher hurriedly adjusted the power of the thruster boost. Haro floated up because of the impact as its eyes flashed, calling: “Do your best, do your best!”
The <<Torohachi>> again shot out the thrusters and closed in on the target. It seemed that the target seemed to notice the machine’s sound and light as the figure that was floating in the vacuum turned to look at the machine. The jade green eyes had light in them even in the midst of the darkness as they looked like polished gems.
At that moment, the existence of a living being went through Banagher’s body, and he immediately opened the windshield. This wasn’t out of thought, but that his instincts were telling him that this body in front of him was too fragile to be held by the hard mechanical hand of the mini mobile suit.
The wind that struck hard covered his eyes and mouth. The windshield that was opened let in lots of wind, causing the body of the <<Torohachi>> to silt a lot. He used a hand to grab the controls to barely maintain the state of the machine, and used the other hand to reach for the girl. The girl that was floating with the winds widened her eyes and reached over here too. Once their eyes met, the <<Torohachi>> and the human figure grazed past each other for a moment, and Banagher held that person’s hand and pulled her into the cockpit.
After that, the artificial sun glowed, bathing the body of the <<Torohachi>> in white light. Banagher continued to hold onto the human’s slender and thin body as he closed the windshield visor and stepped on the gas. He didn’t see the horrifying image of the air heating up and immediately expanding and twisting over. An explosive-like light suppressed them and sent the <<Torohachi>> descending to the inner wall.
The wind blew in through the windshield visor that wasn’t completely closed, causing the purple jacket to be draped on Banagher. Banagher lost his bearings and stepped too hard onto the gas pedal. Even though he immediately pulled the jacket away and maintained eye contact, the large pillar supporting the artificial sun inside the wall was already right in front of him. The metal pillar came crashing over at the rotation speed of the space colony—about the same as a passenger jet, and grazed past the <<Torohachi>>'s frame.
The impact rang through the cockpit, and the numbness in Banagher’s brain caused him to lose consciousness for a while. The streets that were flowing below the feet were spinning wildly and fast approaching. The figure on the knees shouted: “We’ll fall…!” Feeling her breasts crushing his shoulders, Banagher finally managed to get himself out of confusion and responded: “I’ll think of something.” before looking at the current state of the inner wall after the high speed rotation. The <<Torohachi>> didn’t have the inertia to go back up again, and its strength wasn’t going to match the relative speed of the inner wall—having made such a conclusion within a second, Banagher again grabbed the control stick.
He used the maximum amount of thrust to make the <<Torohachi>> move forward, trying his best to control the machine at a constant height while it descended. It moved onto the road that was located between the light industrial area and the residential area. Even though the speed was estimated to be more than 200km per hour, and that it would continue to accelerate with the wind flow, but there was a difference of 400km per hour in terms of relative speed. Once he checked to see that there were no vehicles or humans, Banagher muttered deep inside his heart “I can do this.” and deliberately lowered the height of the <<Torohachi>> and flew into a group of buildings.
The <<Torohachi>> looked like it was trying its best to keep its thruster boost working as it continued to move towards the road with the space colony still rotating. It descended till 5m tall, went through the crane while under the high speeds of the wind, and struck from behind by the air. The height continued to descend. On seeing the rear view mirror, Banagher evaded the street lights and the electronic cars that were moving, and just when the height meter was about to reach zero, he shouted: “Brace for impact!”
The feet of the <<Torohachi>> hit the road, and suddenly, the machine that was gripped by the centrifuge force was tilted backwards like it was knocked away, causing an impact where one could imagine bones scattered all over the place. The impact and echoes rang in the brain, and the safety gasbags shot out from the control panel. While feeling intense pain from the safety belt and the tense shoulders and the touch as he held that slender waist with his palms, Banagher’s consciousness was lost in the turmoil. The loud sounds that surrounded him and the jerks on the machine that was lying face up on the road were gradually moving further away, and the fragments of the asphalt road that was smashed covered his darkened vision. Then, his vision seemed to have what looked like cables used for a cable car, and finally, a large impact struck, and he was then surrounded in darkness.
The dirt that was raised up by the windshield fell through the cracks and landed on face. *Kinkyuu*, *Kinkyuu*, Haro continued to make noises and caused Banagher to wake up. He felt the pain on his neck and shoulders, frowned and looked up at the sky through the thoroughly broken windshield. The bright and familiar sky was right in front of him. The streets on the inner wall at the respective positions were also basked in light such that it’s hard to even tell that it was an artificial sun giving off light. This was a sealed off space colony’s vague sky.
On his chest, there was a face that was unconscious as it was lit by the light—Banagher wasn’t completely awake as he saw the stranger’s face as she was lying on his chest. What couldn’t be called a figure but a real human was a girl of about the same age as she was. The hair that was blown wildly had a beautiful beige color to it, and the delicate skin that was thoroughly white had some red in it. The eyes he saw at that moment—the bright jade-colored eyes that had such a deep impression on him were hidden under the long eyebrows.
There was a soft human smell and the smell of perfume coming out from her hair, floating into Banagher’s nose that was used to gasoline. His heartbeat started to accelerate at this moment. Banagher gently put the girl’s body away from him, checked that she was still breathing, and left her on the seat before climbing out of the cockpit.
It seemed that the <<Torohachi>> seemed to have broken through the railing of the green park, dug some lawn and crashed into the hill. The short body was half buried in dirt. Even though it couldn’t be seen from here, the surface of the track should be rather defaced like the devastation caused by a landing of a meteor.
There wasn’t anyone around, and the morning brought some light amounts of mist in the park. It was so quiet that only the voices of sparrows could be heard. If it was on a bright day where many people were walking around…thinking about this, Banagher finally realized that he was in big trouble as his knees started to tremble. The police and the fire department would be here immediately, creating lots of commotion in this entire space colony, and he may be arrested. He wanted to save someone, but he drove a mini mobile suit around recklessly and destroyed the streets. Things weren’t going to be dealt with so easily, and he may even be expelled—
Suddenly, his ankle was grabbed and tugged at hard. Banagher, who was standing on the <<Torohachi>>, unexpectedly lost his footing, and fell before he could even shout out.
His face and stomach hit the bare ground, and the pain could be felt through his nostrils. He couldn’t breathe for a moment, but Banagher still used both hands to try and get up. However, someone pressed down on him, and Banagher’s face was buried in dirt again.
“How are you!?”
Banagher was held down on the floor by the person who let out this voice, had his head pressed down on the floor and his arms twisted behind his back. Unable to move, Banagher tried to turn around to see who was the one speaking, and shown in one corner of his eyes was those pair of jade-colored eyes.
The refined jade-colored eyes were giving off a cold stare as they looked down at him. Banagher moved his sandy mouth that was filled with dirt and murmured: “And you even ask how I am…”
“I saw you floating near the sun, so I…”
Banagher still couldn’t understand why this slender looking girl was using a hard militaristic tone to talk and hold him down. The girl still did not let her guard down. At this moment, Haro didn’t seem to understand what was going on as it spoke “Banagher, Banagher, are you alright?” and went about the head. The girl seemed to turn her head around, see the Haro that was bouncing around inside the <<Torohachi>>, and slightly removed the grip of her right hand on Banagher. “You’re a citizen of this colony?” Once Banagher nodded his head, she finally released Banagher on the neck before getting up.
Before Banagher could even regain his freedom and stand up, the girl had climbed into the <<Torohachi>>'s cockpit, seemingly checking the control panel to see whether it was still powered. The girl didn’t apologize nor thank him as she merely said ‘this can still move’, causing Banagher to blink in a bewildered manner.
“I’m in a rush here. Can you send me to the entrance of the colony builder?”
The girl poked her upper body from the control panel and said that nonchalantly. “Space builder…you mean the <<Snail>>?” Banagher asked back, and the girl confirmed this with her determined expression.
“No way. That’s not allowed. And you have to get to the hospital first.”
“You caught me well, so I wasn’t hurt. Please, it’s urgent.”
“I told you I can’t! I’m already going to get punished for operating this. I may even get my license revoked!”
While Banagher tried to explain himself, the girl listened as she gave a doubting ‘Why must you resist me’ look, and it seemed that both of them lost it and in another world altogether. However, the girl still remained calm. She jumped off the cockpit and muttered: “There’s no time.” with her words obviously sounding a little anxious.
“I have to find someone and talk to him. The situation can’t be saved if we don’t go faster.”
“What? Is something going to happen?”
“A war. There’ll be a large-scale war again. We can still stop it if we move now.”
Banagher’s heart pounded as he looked at the girl’s eyes. The deep jade-colored eyes didn’t look like they lost their sanity, and neither did they look like they were hoping for any agreement. It’s just a strong will that showed that she had to do it. Banagher felt attracted to that strength of hers. He would have nodded his head immediately if not for the sirens of the patrol cars.
The sirens of the patrol cars weren’t coming from one direction, but from many. The girl turned around to look back before looking straight at Banagher in the eyes for him to quickly decide. He held back the throbbing in his heart and looked away from the girl, saying: “Sorry, I can’t do this.” The girl lowered her jaw and looked grim immediately, using this chance to give Banagher a cold stare.
She muttered and ran off without looking back. That voice stabbed deep inside Banagher’s heart, and a pain that was even sharper and pronounced than his own injuries permeated throughout his entire body as he watched the girl go.
“What’s with her…”
As he casually left these words, Banagher remembered that he didn’t have time to ask for her name. As the girl’s profile vanished in the morning fog, what replaced them was the large number of patrol cars giving off blurry red lights through the fog as they entered Banagher’s eyes.
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