Chapter 1:

The 117th Cadet Core

An Ode To Fallen Nemo


Sabban Vint, a young man in his early 20's well built with crew cut auburn hair, shuffled around in his seat expectantly as he stared out the portholed windows of a small AEUG launch. Out of said window he observed the passage of a large warship's bow, that ship was to be his new home for the foreseeable future, with it's two massive runway structures protruding outwards from it's stocky whitewashed body, it's rear engines combining with the runways to give it almost the appearance of four great limbs, non other then the unofficial fleet flagship - The Argama. The launch, a form of space bus one migth say, was currently filled with just 7 people, those being the two pilots to the fore of the craft and his 4 comrades in arms. As he continued to stare out, he watched as they closed in on the massive hanger-bay doors of the Argama, space now replaced with the tall metallic walls of the ship's main interior Deck. Coming to a halt the launch set itself down gently a little inside that doorway, which in turn now closed sealing the room and making air breathable once more.

The small spacecraft's doorway to the front opened automatically and a small set of steps expanded out from there. One by one the 5 young men and women each exited down these steps, a couple of them offering thanks to the pilots as they passed, whom in turn offered seemingly apathetic nods to the youths. Now standing out in the cavernous room, the group of rookies began glancing around each other, the room was quickly filling with people, who returned now that it was safe once more not to be wearing their standard issue space suits, more commonly referred to as 'normal suits'. Following there example Sabban unclipped his own helmet to get a better look at his surroundings, "That's the Zeta Gundam ain't it?" he exclaimed pointing over towards the large imposing figure of a blue and white mobile suit to one corner of the hanger. Beside him the tallest of their group, a muscle bound young women by the name of Mili Sanju spoke up "and that over there's the Hyaku Shiki right?" she opted indicting to a gleaming golden mobile suit with the kanji for those very words imbedded lavishly on its shoulders. Mili's strong frame was no coincidence, indeed back on the moon she'd been known as a bit of a 'gym freak' giving any one of the male students a run for their money in terms of fitness.

"..That one to the back is the Methuss.. it's an experimental transformable suit.." said a quiet voice to the left side of Sabban. The voice rather fittingly belonged to Zori Hogei, the shortest of the group, with shoulder length black hair, she had made up for what she lacked in stature by consistently scoring the highest on every test back at the academy. "Wait really? I thought it was some sorta' captured suit, dont'cha think it looks like a giant beetle?" insisted the jovial voice of Ennya Zwan, by far the youngest of the group, the scruffy young man had got into the pilot course via the fast track scheme at the tender age of just 17, a few months later here he was still acting the class clown. Sabban couldn't help but grin remembering how shocked Ennya had been to get the news they would be heading for the Argama. Well, in truth they'd all been pretty surprised, just barely out of the training they'd expected nothing more then to be put on regimental guard duty for the AEUG's base's in Von Brown City or sent to be test pilots for Anaheim Electrical, one of the organizations biggest financial sponsors but instead the order had come through for the five of them to head to this very ship to be it's newest squadron of pilots.

Speaking of their fifth member, standing a little ahead of the rest of the group, Miss. Shasha Niju decided it was her time to cut in, "Alright you lot, that's enough chatter, we're not here as cadets on field trip remember" she said, sternly giving Ennya and Sabban a glare in particular. For her part Shasha had been the class leader back in training, she placed second in most technical and practical tests making her the most well rounded pilot of the group. Her abilities along with Sabban's own during mock battles had garnered them both the immediate rank of petty officer upon graduation, with the rest of their cohort at the base level of 'Crewmen'. Shasha had continued to fulfil her role as group leader even after they'd departed for their new assignments. Second tallest of the group she stood at an impressive 6 foot ( just below Mili's 6,2), her blond hair tied neatly in a ponytail, she had impressive posture and a befitting general air of a young officer about her.

"That's great and all, oh my 'capitain' but I don't see much of a welcoming party" Sabban said mockingly. Shasha's face grew characteristically indignant as she glanced around the hanger. The place had now fully filled with pilots, engineers and mechanics all going about repairs and inspections of the different mecha and weapons that surrounded them. A little ways in front of them they spotted a man float down in the minimal gravity from the cockpit of the ever gleaming Hyaku Shiki, he stopped at the base of it and turned to stare up at it, seemingly to make sure he'd fully completed his inspection of the impressive golden machine. The man had somewhat long blond hair, a conspicuous pair of sunglasses lay atop his visage and a bright red jacket over his shoulders. "Hey that's not-" Ennya started but before he could finished Shasha marched forwards hailing towards the man in red. The others quickly followed, wanton not to get left behind. "Lieutenant Quattro Sir! General Purpose Mobile Suit Squadron 117 reporting for duty Sir!" Shasha borderline bellowed, while clapping her boots together and performing the sharpest of salutes.

'Quattro' for his part glanced over at the sudden intrusion and raised an eyebrow as thought trying to remember if he should know the group of young people saluting him. "Oh! The new Nemo pilots" he exclaimed clasping his hands together triumphantly, "sorry to disappoint but you've got the wrong deck, your looking for the second floor. If you report in there you should find someone with your instructions" he said while gesturing a hand in the direction of the far side of the hanger. He grinned kindly and in a joking tone of voice continued "It's like the great Red Comet - Char Aznable once said 'these aren't the mechs your looking for Amuro'" with this comment delivered he laughed allowed a little before realising no one else had understood the joke and coughing into his hand politely. "Ahem, well you'd best get going then" he finished turning his attentions back to his machine.


The group of pilots saluted and started to make their way across the room towards the elevator 'Quattro' had pointed to. Once they were out of earshot they couldn't help but discuss the great AEUG ace's strange use of reference to the Zeon hero of the 'One Year War' but before long their attentions drew distracted as they closed in on the elevator. It was to the rear of the large room, at the walls either side of it stood six mobile suit holding units, 3 filled with the bulky red and black Rick Dais's of the Argama and the other three presumably belonging to the machines they'd passed on the way in. At the end of this path stood a massive mobile suit elevator used to transport mechs between the upper and lower hangers while additionally next to that was a much smaller service lift for the use of personnel. As they walked along Mili put on a visibly quizzical face - "Hey Zori aren't Rick Dias's meant to be grey or black? Why're all these one's red?". Ennya was quick with an un-asked for reply "Probably makes 'em faster right Zoe?". Walking a little in front, Sabban caught sight of Shasha sighing at the rest of the group's overt eagerness. Zori for her part was the usual one whom had questions of this nature thrown at her, her academic prowess always proceeding her. "..I don't think the colour red would make them go faster though.." she half mumbled quietly in response to Ennya's joke.

Finally reaching the elevator, Shasha urged them all to quiet down like some sort of school supply teacher migth of and before Zori had the chance to properly explain the reasoning behind the strange change in the bulky Rick Dias's colour scheme, they instead ushered themselves into the small elevator. The lift began slowly lowering, being frontless (with just a small handrailing to prevent one from tumbling accidentally forwards) the squad soon caught sight of their destination. In front of them sprawled out a much smaller hanger bay with a similar layout of 6 mech holding areas but without any additional space for catapults such as the upper deck pertained. More pressingly, held in each one of the six chambers was a tall, gaunt blue and green mobile suit. The slew of machines we're all humanoid in nature, standing at an impressive height of 19.5 metres, the head alone a metre tall and with a battle skirt-esk armour, wide berthed legs and an expressionless eyeless face. Bookmark here

What stood before them was non other then the AUEG mass production general purpose mobile suit extraordinaire, 'The Nemo'. From the back right hand corner of the room stood one that had clearly been used frequently, with plenty of scorch marks and even bits of armour seemingly welded on across varies vital parts of the suit, as well as two highly prominent extra pieces of kilt armour stapled to the machines waist. Furthermore as Sabban looked down at the machine he could of sworn the leg thrusters we're those of a far stronger suit, like the Rick Dias's they'd just pasted, rather then those of it's sister designs. As for said design the other five mobile suits all glistened brightly, the green paint looked fresh and it seemed apparent to the rookie pilots that they stood in the presence of five brand new machines.Bookmark here


With the elevator settled they trooped off and began to once more take in their surroundings, the room was far more dimly lit then the upper deck had been, meanwhile where the main hanger had been teaming with workers, Sabban could only see two engineers in their distinctly blue attire, working on the battered suit at the back of the room. Next to them was a third man wearing what often passed as the uniform of the AUEG pilots when out of their Normal Suits, a plain brown pair of overalls. One of the engineers nudged the pilot who in turn looked over to see the new visitors. While most of the others where busy ogling the mobile suits around them, Sabban could of sworn he saw the pilot mutter the words '-5th group eh-' under his breath, though at his distance it was hard to lip read the words.

With a polite cough from Shasha informing the others to stop messing and fall in line she once more stepped forward, saluted smartly and proclaimed that they were reporting for duty as instructed. The pilot she had called out to had by now sauntered his way across to them, his posture was lax, his medium length greying hair wavy and poorly tended to, with him now standing closer it was clear to see his overalls too were poorly kept, covered in oil stains and the like. He scratched absentmindedly at one ear and the back of his sparse hair, as Shasha gave introductions to each member of the team and their respective ranking, when she finished the man waved a hand loosely in the air as something of a half hearted salute before looking closely at each recruit "That'll be enough of the 'Sir!' spiel, you said your a petty officer ya? Well so am I so no need for all da' formality. Oh- and welcome to Hell kids", he'd finished his almost slurred and ominously clichéd sentence with an unenthusiastic yawn.

"..Umm excuse me si- I mean petty officer.. if your not in charge then who is?.." Zori asked while standing reservedly in Mili's tall shadow. The aged man stared across at Zori with something akin to, but not quite, contemp. In fact now that Sabban's focus was squarely on the older 'gentleman' he started to question just what age he actually was, his appearance from afar had made him look like someone in their late 50s or even early 60s but up close he wasn't so sure. "Listen up little miss, all of you for that matter, 'cause I'll only say it once ya hear? This here ship is the Argama and on it there's three types of pilots, you got the lads at the top, the supposed 'New-Types' like that Kamille boy, their led mostly by 'Lieutenant Quattro', then there's Apolly's bunch in the Rick Dias's. Apolly's sound enough but he has his hands full just trying to keep his own lads alive so don't expect much in the way of 'orders' from the supposed leader of 'The-Rick-Dias-Team'" he paused his ramblings for a moment at this stage and begin shuffling around in his overall pockets. "Then there's us alright? We're the grunts, the expendables, pawns, whatever way you 'wanna slice it ya hear? Our orders, if you can call 'em that, will come from the bridge or Quatro or even Kamille if he's got some busy work needs 'doin. Heck alot of my orders come from that Sheen women and she isn't even assigned to this ship. Point I'm trying to get at is no cares about us 'k? Keep 'yere head down and your machine maintained during the quiet moments. When in battle stick together, always hold your shield far enough away from you so that when it explodes - and thrust me it will explode - at-least it doesn't damage your camera's and never - ever - try to be a hero, we aren't payed enough for that sort of crap".

With these final words of his tirade conveyed, the old pilot had started sorting out a pile of trinkets he'd recovered from the pocket he'd earlier been searching. The pile consisted of a large number of keys, sub divided in-to groups of two on a small binding ring. One key was a slim rectangular block object, with a USB-esk end and a number ranging from '26' up to '30' on it, the second key was an exceedingly old fashioned looking foe-brass locker key. Of that pile he first untangled the odd-set-out, consisted of a near identical locker key as well as three of the USB types, one with the number '3' on it in smudged lettering, the other two had a faded Federation logo embossed on them with a white background, rather then the light green of the rest and with no other visible markings. Along-side these were a number of miscellaneous other keys. He put this particular set back into his pocket before gradually tossing the other 5 identical loops out one at a time to those before him. "Those'll get you into the lockers in the changing room for 'yere normal suits, same key will also match a valuables locker in ya digs, got it? The others all correspond to these here mobile suits. The 'MSA - 003' better know as the 'Nemo' or better yet the 'Dead pilot walking'...you can sort who gets which one by yourselves, there all pretty much the exact same" with those final disconcerting words and the keys effectively handed out, the grizzled pilot turned to walk away.

"Err Mr you didn't tell us your name... or what we're meant to be doing right now - Sir?" Sabban would normally of thought it amusing to hear Shasha ask this question in such an unconfident manner but he had to admit it was the same thought that had ran through his own mind. The pilot stopped in his tracks and sighed laboriously, turning back around on the spot he stared Shasha straight in the eyes as he responded to her questions "I told ya it's not my damn job to boss y'all around, the names Petty Officer Kolme Nilas and you can think again if you 'recon I'm gonna concierge you to your room or take you on a pleasant guided tour around the ship as if this were the Ritz back on Granada ya hear? Pilots sleep in room 2B, I'm sure a fine body of men like yourselves can at-least find your way there by yourself without getting too lost".


The Quintet somewhat dejectedly made their way back along the under hanger towards the lift. A heavy silence had replaced their early enthusiasm, "Not really what I expected from our new boss" Ennya sighed, "Relax, he's probably just hazing us, like the good old days back at camp" Sabban said patting his younger friend heartily on the back. "..are we really just p-pawns.." Zori muttered darkly to herself as Sabban continued to assault Ennya's back. "Heck no, after all everyone knows the Nemo's a... a- a? a state of the line suit!" Mili affirmed in an attempt to raise her friends spirits. "Mili's right Zori, Hizacks can't even use multiple beam weapons at the same time right?" Sabban added, as he did Mili shot him a thankful smile, Zori had a bad habit of getting easily stressed but changing the topic to the technical details of one machine or another was the sure way to snap her out of it. As hoped her face brightened as she proceeded to explain the specific details of how Sabban was quite correct in his assertion about the Nemo's superior capabilities. Mili smiled contently at seeing her friend's worries alleviated, making it clear that such worries hadn't even crossed her own mind. For as long as he'd known them, Mili and Zori had been something of a cliched partnership of best friends, in spite of the obvious room for 'the brains and the brawn' jokes, it would take a brave individual to try and mock Zori stature at the risk of Mili's wrath.

"That's nice and all but we're not gonna be much of a team with a leader like that old Scottish fart" Ennya uttered breaking back into the conversation. They had reached the foot of the elevator at this stage and stood around it simply chatting "Scottish? I was thinking he sounded more Irish then that" Sabban interjected, trying to lighten the mood again. Shasha who'd seemed lost in thought till now, was the one to break this small talk, "No matter about him, if he won't lead us then I will!" she proclaimed boldly "First order of business is getting rid of these bags before we take a proper look at our new posts, he said the room code was 2B correct? Well we can most certainly show him by finding it and with-out asking directions at that!". With her decree made on behalf of the whole squad, they collectively re-boarded the lift and set off in search of their new accommodation.

****

A few days later Sabban found himself blinking rapidly as he took in the situation. Around him laser fire jettisoned itself loses in all directions against a backdrop of seemingly innocuously twinkling stars. For all his harsh words Kolme had been right about the pace of battles when you launched from the Argama. Himself (In Nemo 27) and Ennya (Nemo 29) had been ordered by the bridge to simply 'defend' the ship's aft frontage, while Zori (N28) and Mili (N30) did much the same at the opposite end of the vessel. As for Kolme (3) and Shasha(26), they'd been picked seemingly at random by Kamille and 'Quattro' to help intercept an incoming enemy mobile suit team. Bookmark here

The battle had begun only a few minutes ago when the helmsmen of the Argama had spotted a Titan (The extremist faction of the Federation that which the AEUG had pledged to stand against) ship called the 'Alexandrea' which apparently the crew where all well acquainted with from previous sorties. It had launched its mobile suits in response to the Argama firing off the first volley of it's main canons. The Alexandrea's opening gambit had consisted of 4 Hambarbi type suits, which one migth describe as a blue suit with a rigid wing-like structure, a triangular head section and claws for hands. Alongside these was a whole boat load of the Titan's own general use mobile suit, the 'Hizack', a green machine that looked conspicuously like the rather famous Zaku Mk2 of the One Year War and apparently housed both Federation and former Zeon technologies from that war. There was apparently such a great number of these Hizacks that the bridge crew had claimed they couldn't pick a precise figure. With these dire odds in play the 'Zeta Gundam' and 'Hyaku Shiki' had gone with the two members of the Nemo team to intercept the enemy's lead suit, apparently commanded by a fierce-some pilot named "Yazan Gable" and accompanied by one other Hambarbi and a number of the lesser suits. The rest of the force had split in-to three other groups, two consisting of a single Hambarbi and 2 Hizacks and a third group of just a duo of Hizacks which currently appeared to be bottling it's way straight for Sabban and Ennya's current position.

The Methuss along with the Rick Dias Team had followed after one of those other Hambarbi Mech teams so it was clear to Sabban that failure could mean the sinking of their home with no reinforcements likely. He took a deep breath while studying his equipment, just like in the simulations he watched as the distance between him and the enemy suits gradually decreased, gaining ever closer to effective firing range. He flicked open the communication switches to talk to the bridge "Two units at 11 o clock, will move to intercept, requesting AA batteries assist", "Roger Nemo 27, Anti-Air will help at next available opportunity" came the vaguely static reply from the bridge officer 'Torrez'. Muting his mike, Sabban wondered to himself what else could the Anti-Air guns actually be doing other then firing off in seemingly random directions but quickly shock his head and turned his focus back to the job at hand, "Ennya let them shoot first then return fire, I'll go for the one in back, you take the other one". "Roger" Ennya replied quaintly, his usually tone of voice far more mellow in the face of their first real taste of battle. Sabban carefully moved the control stick for the Nemo's right arm, positioning the shield carefully in front of himself, making sure to cover his suit's torso. With the other stick he carefully raised his beam rifle, a long grey weapon capable of firing powerful superheated rounds of fire, as all the while the number on the distance calculator grew even smaller.


'0'. The flurry of fire soared forth from the Hizack weapons as they barred their way ever forward towards the ship, as planned Sabban's shield took the brunt of the volley and raising his weapon he pulled the control trigger. Somewhat disappointingly he watched as his first two strikes missed, however with a little correction his third fourth and fifth hit home. Of those the first two bounced off the Hizack's own defences, then while it raised up it's reloaded weapon to fire once more, the fifth shot hit, a plum of colourful smoke burst out and the marks it had readied, fired harmlessly off course. "Gotcha!" Sabban exclaimed and as if on que a further volley set past him as the Argama's AA battery kicked to life and slammed into the damaged floundering Hizack, finishing it off in a brilliant explosion of fire. Sabban quickly regained his composure glancing over to the other Hizack, unlike his it was still careering forward with renewed vigour. It had forgone shooting at the Nemo's and instead begun blasted straight at the ship. Glancing over to Ennya's Nemo, Sabban was relieved to see the thing still in one piece. "What happened Ennya?", "Sorry Sab' their opening attack took out my cameras" Ennya replied despondently. Indeed it was clear that Ennya's shield had been blown to shreds and the front of his suit had become blackened, obscuring his view. Bookmark here

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Just as the old man predicted would happen...'Sabban pondered to himself. "You better get back to the ship then, don't worry about this I'll cover you" with the informal order given to his temporarily set back friend, Sabban pressed down hard on the control pedals of his Nemo and began altering the vernier's in order to project himself towards the next enemy, he could now feel a sense of adrenaline flowing through him as he closed the distance between him and his new foe.Bookmark here


Now in position directly in the path of the Hizack, Sabban finished changing out his own rifle's energy pack and passed it over to his right arm, the one with the mounted shield. In his left he picked up his beam saber from it's resting place and activated the mighty weapon. A faint hissed accompanied it's activation as the thin beam of light and condensed energy surged from the short hilt of the weapon. The Hizack rose it's weapon to shoot, still not showing any signs of slowing, before realising it's energy was all wasted. In an effort to correct this scuppered situation it tossed aside the rifle and instead projected a beam saber of it's own. A mere matter of moments passed before finally the two machines clashed. Sabban felt his whole body shudder as the tremendous force of the fast moving mech collided blade first with his own. Their two sabers meeting violently, the Hizack's momentum now lost, boosted backwards breaking the clash of their weapons, while firing it's two helmet mounted Vulcan cannons. Sabban was quick to react, he surged forward with his own boosters, effectively ducking under the line of machine gun fire and slashed upwards once more with his weapon.

The Hizack blocked again, now it's turn on the defensive it swung back it's off hand then surged forward with some light assistance from its own verniers. Sabban rose his shields, the two mobile suits still locking blades as the Hizack's other fist smashed into the Nemo's shield with the grace of a prized boxer, sending fragments of debris from it, which floated about harmlessly in the vacuum of space. The two mechs held still, stuck in this stalemate for a few moments before Sabban took his chance. The Nemo's shield was attached to the arm, leaving the hand free to hold a rifle, furthermore it possessed the power to both keep up it's beam saber ignited and fire it's weapons, these facts in mind Sabban had carefully positioned his riffle so that when the Hizack had collided with his shield it had left the mech's cockpit wide open. Hesitating for only a passing moment, Sabban pulled the trigger. A colourful beam of light emerged from his weapon and then again out the back of the hapless enemy Hizack. The machines beam saber now deactivated, the hilt floating away helplessly alongside the rest of the suit. 

Sabban backed off knowing what would come next 'That was so easy...so easy to kill a man...' he thought grimly to himself. Being a solider he'd known this was coming but the though still invaded his mind and as he watched the defeated Hizack float gradually further away, it's torso sparking dramatically until the whole thing exploded emphatically in an awesome burst of light, Sabban also couldn't help but think another thought to himself 'Was that guy another grunt, a grunt just like me?'

Before he could lament this worrying thought any further he was rudely awoken by the Nemo's buzzing comms system, "Sabban, buddy can you hear me? It's Ennya, look behind you quick, I think the other's are in trouble!"
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