Chapter 1- Return to L1

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Several months into the Second Human/Colonist War, the three sides have come to a standstill. All but two Colonies remained under the Patrons control while Earth was firmly Beta Advents domain. The Universal Concord in particular was forced into a tough position. With the restart of the war they lacked a proper foothold on the Earth or the Colonies. Their old bases all being abandoned for one hidden within the Asteroid Belt. Housed on the dwarf planet Ceres, they established the command center of Sumara. Ceres itself possessed useful water ice that could be mined for survival and they were successful in creating several smaller bases on its surface. The larger asteroids were heavily relied upon to replace their lost frigates and GEAR Frame development potential. Were it not for the neutral Enki and Agni Colonies providing food and medical supplies they’d have collapsed in the first month. Ceres was far from an ideal command center and had other problems that plagued it. It lacked a magnetic field to protect against outside radiation. The gravity was 1/6th that of the moons and cases of eyesight loss, weight loss, and weakened immune systems was becoming commonplace. Even with artificial gravity and exercise regiments there was no way to fully avoid it.

For all the hardships they remained dedicated to their mission. The Universal Concord Support Unit, the Corvida Class Assault Carrier Hope was en route to Ukko Colony. Their mission; aid the fleet stationed outside of its atmosphere and liberate it from the Patrons. With a standing crew of roughly 108, the Hope was among the smaller crews available. They were meant to support the larger fleets rather than be on the front lines so a large crew was unnecessary. 4 Fighters and 10 GEAR Frames were carried on-board. Although they had two dozen combined Fighter & GEAR Frame pilots ready. Some served primarily as reserves while others could temporarily be transferred to the ships they were aiding.

Matthew Long, a 23 year old Rook in the Universal Concord, was one of their primary GEAR Frame pilots. While en route to their next destination, he and the other combat members were given time to rest and relax. He chose to rest in his room with several of his bunkmates. Very few rooms had actual gravity so the crew remained in their uniforms. Unlike standard military uniforms, these consisted of simple sweat suits with padding on the knees and elbows. Elastic bands in the arms and legs being used to help stave off the bone osteopenia that had plagued Ceres. The color changed based on their position. As a GEAR Frame pilot, he wore red. The room itself was very minimalist with six bunk beds, a closet, and retractable desk built into the wall.

“Rook Long, report immediately to the hanger bay for deployment. Rook Kach, on standby for launch. Repeat, Rook Long report immediately to the hanger bay for deployment. Rook Kach, on standby for launch.” a female voice says over the intercom.

“Aww man…and I was just getting relaxed too…” Matthew whines as he floats down from his bunk. His short black hair flowed in the zero gravity. But his most striking feature was his odd orange hued eyes. Even for a Colonist it was a rare trait. He floats over to his closet, puts on his white space suit, and grabs his helmet. The moment he exits his room he bumps into a short black haired man wearing a green-hued uniform. “Jin?” Jin Misato was Matthew’s childhood friend and a Queen for the Universal Concord. He worked as the strategist and second-in-command aboard the bridge.

“Figured you’d be too busy sleeping to get the message.”

“I don’t always oversleep.”

“Sleep after the operation.”

“Fine…” Matthew replies lowly as he follows Jin through the halls. “I thought we still had a while till we reached Ukko.”

“We do, but we’re entering the debris field from the last battle. We don’t think any enemies are there but it’s better safe than sorry.”

“No Elliot this time?”

“Right now the plan is to have you stand on the deck and keep us covered. If things get serious then he’ll be the first out.” Matthew was considered the best of the on-board GEAR Frame pilots and would often be first on the front lines. Having him in a GEAR Frame surveying the area would help cover anything the radar didn’t pick up. Elliot Kach, a fellow Rook, would often be by his side.

“Roger that.”

It took only two minutes to get from the barracks to the hanger in zero gravity. There were 10 giant mechs lined up; 5 on the left side of the hanger and 5 on the right. The mechs on the left side all had a medium build while 4 on the left were light models. The final that stood next to them was considerably more heavily armored. Two large fighter jets were suspended in the air above each side of the hanger. Their wingspan only affording space for 2 a side, totaling at 4 fighters. All were painted white with blue highlights. Jin lands on the upper deck and signals below to a woman wearing a brown hued variant of the uniform. Pawn Kauri Matsoukis was the head mechanic for the Hope and helped coordinate the crew before deployments.

“Queen, Rook.” she salutes as she floats up to Jin and Matthew. “We’re sending out the Vigor in the standard gear.”

“I’m on it.” Turning she shouts at the top of her lungs. “Code: Green!” Hearing her orders, the crew immediately prepares Matthews GEAR Frame.

The UC-0100 Vigor was the first successful GEAR Frame created by the Universal Concord. It had a simplistic medium build that could be easily mass produced. Evoking the image of a knight, it came with a Plasma Broadsword was kept attached to left side of the hips armor plating. The normally sharp edge of the blade having a beam lining that could be activated when needed. Similar Plasma Combat Knives were stored in the forearms as a last resort. For long range, it was commonly equipped with either an SMG or Assault Rifle. A pair of missile launchers could also be attached to the ankle armor if needed. For this mission, he was equipped with the Assault Rifle. Matthew enters the cockpit as the preparations are finished, puts on his helmet, and raises its visor. The monitors of the cockpit lighting up and lighting the darkness. His hands clutch the controls and test to make sure its arms are still functional and the main head camera is responding properly. All successful.

“CLEAR THE RUNWAY FOR LAUNCH! REPEAT, CLEAR THE RUNWAY FOR LAUNCH!” The automated warning sounds throughout the hanger bay. Without their spacesuits on, the hanger crew enters a side area to watch the launch.

Matthew takes a deep breath as the hanger bay open and the launch pad counts down. “Rook Matthew Long, I’m launching!” Pushing the controls forward his Vigor launches into space. Beyond the debris of destroyed GEAR Frames, fighters, and frigates lay Ukko Colony and the allied fleet. At Lagrange point 1, the spherical colony sat between the Earth and the Sun. It was a sizable distance from their command center but was an important colony to recover. “Everything looks clear.” Matthew says across his helmet embedded radio. His Vigor floats through space only using his back-mounted thrusters for occasional movement adjustments. With no clear threats, he lands on the deck of the Hope. “I was kind of hoping to see some action now that I’m out here. Looks like they were worried for nothing.” He closes his eyes briefly before noticing something on his monitor. “Think I found something.” Pressing off of the deck, he flies towards Ukko Colony.

“What is it Rook?” a woman asks. King Hina Rose was the first and only leader the Hope has ever had. Respected by all for her leadership, she always remained professional. So much so few know any personal details about her. As King of the Hope, her suit was black and highly decorated. Medals sat placed above her heart from her time as a Rook and her straight black hair extended past her lower back. The brim of her hat hung low and made it seem like she was permanently scowling.

“It’s a mostly intact Ganymede Class Transport.” he informs as he approaches the saucer-like vehicle. A normally high-speed transport, it was among the smaller transports available. Strictly being used to transport 15 units at a time and releasing them while moving like a Bomber would. It effectively created the term GF Runs. “No activity so far but I can’t tell if the escape pods have been used yet.”

“Use the debris field as cover and investigate. If it wasn’t abandoned take it out.”

“Yes king.” he grins menacingly. Compared to the rest of the crew, he took great joy in fighting the Patrons. Both because he was a Colonist hated because of their actions and as the grandchild of Garland Sorisen forced to live with his families crimes. With Assault Rifle at the ready, he closes in on the transport. “Still no activity.” Moving in closer he floats outside the bridge which lays abandoned. “This doesn’t feel right.” he thinks to himself. His Vigor wasn’t capable of performing a detailed scan so he’d have to get onboard and do things the old fashioned way. Flying to the underside of the transport he forces open one of the hanger bay doors. Inside sat 15 thin GEAR Frames with noticeable blade and winged protrusions from their bodies. The P-1a Senia and P-1b Senia II were the backbone of the Patrons military faction. They were Hybrid GEAR Frames that could transform between humanoid and Fighter Jet mode that became known as the Waverider mode. Normally gray, ace pilots have been known to color them uniquely.

“Fallback Rook.” King Hina orders across the radio. Her warning came too late as one of the Senia’s eyes glow green and aims its arm mounted gun at Matthews Vigor.

Instinctively, he turns and fires on it with his Assault Rifle. Several rounds piercing through its chest and destroy it with ease. The explosion forcing the Vigor into space. “I have enemy contact!” Matthew shouts into his radio. The urgency in his voice belying the excitement welling in his chest. One versus fifteen was hardly an ideal situation. But he didn’t care about the odds. He just cared about killing the enemy. Even so, he wasn’t suicidal.” he flies backward while firing round after round from his Assault Rifle. Luckily, the singular exit forced them to funnel out and let him get three more easy kills.

“Rook Kach, prepare-” King Hina begins only to be cut off.

“Enemy vessel approaching!” The dark skinned Bishop called out. Nabil Mehari was one of the crewmen responsible for keeping track of enemy movements. Bishops wore green hued uniforms and were exclusive to the bridge crew.

“What?!” she sits up from her seat as two Ganymede Class transports decloak, one on each side of the Hope. “All hands to battle station! Rooks and Knights prepare for immediate launch!” She shouts across the intercom.

“Yes King!” The bridge call out in unison.

“Rook Kach, launch immediately and assist Rook Long.” Jin orders.

“I’m on it Queen.” he answers from the cockpit of his UC-0014 Trooper. Compared to the Vigor, the Trooper had much thicker and more rounded armor. So much so it appeared to be more Eskimo than Knight. It had a single E-Pistol, a pistol that used energy rounds rather than conventional ones, stored inside its hip armor as well as 6 Plasma Grenades stored in its leg armor. Three were stored in each leg. But its primary weapon of choice was a single massive rocket launcher that came with 8 rounds. “Rook Elliot Kach, I’m heading out!” Launching into space, he avoids fire from the increasing number of enemy Senia and heads for Matthews location.

“Main cannons ready to fire King.” A female bishop with a short ponytail says. Valerie Nash was one-half of the Nash twins who both worked on the bridge. At peak distance, the Hopes side-mounted twin barrel cannons were strong enough to destroy a Cruiser in a single shot. They were meant to be used at the edge of battlefields like a sniper. But at close ranges, they’d only be able to wear down the armor.

“Open fire!” King Hina orders and with a single shot destroys the Ganymede to its left. Luckily for the Hope, the Ganymede had the bare minimum of defense against incoming fire. Unfortunately, they had already deployed all their GEAR Frames as planned. The Ganymede on its right just barely escapes destruction.

“Knight Jean Roman, ready to soar.” The blond haired blue eyed pilot says as his fighter takes off from the hanger alongside followed shortly by three more fighters. The UC-0023 Storm was the primary fighters used by the Universal Concord. Reverse engineered from destroyed Senia, the Storm was designed to only have the Waverider form. “Okay ladies, take out those Senia.”

While the Hope fights for survival, Matthew continues his retreat. There were still 9 Senia left between him and the Hope.

“You damn Patrons. Always using cheap tricks…I’ll kill every last one of you!” Drawing his Plasma Broadsword in his left hand he bisects one Senia and guns down another. “Not so good without your sneak attacks are you?!” He exclaims before going to attack another Senia only for it to get destroyed by a rocket first.

“Sorry, but we have things to do Matt. You can go all berserker another time.” Elliot says before destroying another Senia.

“And I was just having fun now too.” Reversing the grip on his Plasma Broadsword, he stabs it backwards into an approaching Senia and kicks it away before it explodes.

“Of course you were.” Elliot fires two more rockets with each hitting its mark. One of which causes the Senia to crash into another and destroy it. This leads the remaining Senia to shift to Waverider mode and fly towards the Hope. “Three of the Senia are heading for the Hope!”

“I’m on it.” A voice calls across the intercoms. Standing on the deck of the Hope was an almost skeletally thin GEAR Frame carrying a massive Sniper Rifle. Firing three shots, each of which destroys the Senia before they can get within range. Sasuke Chapman was the sharpshooter for the crew. “You guys owe me.”

“Right right.” Elliot replies before returning to the battlefield alongside Matthew.

“We’re never going to hear the end of this are we?”

With Matthew and Elliot back at the Hope, it didn’t take long to clean up the remaining hostiles.

“Status report.” King Hina sighs.

“All enemy units destroyed. Damage to the hull and main starboard cannon has been sustained. No casualties.” Charlotte Nash responds. The only visual difference from her twin being the color tie she used to hold her hair.

“Damn, and right before the operation. What about our GFs and Fighters?”

“All present and accounted for. But, the Vigor lost its Plasma Broadsword.”

“At least we didn’t lose the unit. Okay crew, prepare to meet with the allied fleet. All Rooks and Knights remain on standby for redeployment.”

Meanwhile onboard a Patron’s frigate. A man wearing a simplistic all silver uniform with the symbol of Alpha over his heart carrying a notebook under his right-hand walks down the corridor. His matching silver hair war parted to cover his right eerily glowing eyes. He entered a private office the overlooked the front deck. A man with short black hair wearing glasses sat with hands clasped while looking at a computer monitor.  The uniform he wore was in contrast consisting of a dark blue long coat with purple accents.

“Sir, we’ve lost three transports posted to guard the debris field around Ukko Colony.” his voice was low and calm.

“I see.” he replies flatly.

“They appear to have been taken out by a Universal Concord Corvida Class Assault Carrier from the Asteroid Belt.”

“How did it happen Alpha?” The man asks.

“Final transmissions say that the first wasn’t destroyed but all its units were destroyed in battle. The second was destroyed by the Corvida Classes main cannon and the third sustained too much damage after losing its GFs.”

“We’ll have to address this soon.”

“Yes Commander.”

“Before you’re dismissed Alpha, I have new orders for you.”

“Sir?”

“I want you to accompany Zapoa to Agni Colony. We’ve let them have free reign for too long.”

“Permission to speak.”

“You can always speak freely Alpha.”

“Wouldn’t it be wiser to defend Ukko Colony? Perhaps I should report there and you send Beta to Agni Colony.”

“Ukko Colony is a lost cause Alpha. We’ll gain more by losing it than by spending resources to keep it under our control.” The man responds. “I trust you’ll fulfill your obligation in capturing Agni Colony.”

“Yes, I won’t fail you Materaya.” With a bow, Alpha leaves Materaya. Despite his concern, he had the utmost faith in his plans. If anyone would be capable of leading the Colonists to victory it’d be him.

Next Issue

COMING SOON

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