Big blades are rotating.
Is it a propeller?
No, the sound is different.
It's a fan.
Blades fastened to the ceiling are stirring the bad air in the room.
".... I am...."
Letting out this murmuring, Zechs reaches towards his head with his hands.
The mask he usually touches is not there.
That's right... he has passed the trial presented by Treize.
Recalling the violent battle, Zechs traces his memory. Many times, the recollection has holes, but the last thing he remembers is that he has crept towards land somewhere.
So, where is he now?
Zechs looks around the room.
It's a bleak room. In the narrow space with three meters on all sides at the most, there is the bed Zechs has slept in and a chest. The metal is bared on the walls as well as on the ceiling.
It's a cabin.
That's what Zechs thinks.
It's a room like he has seen many before.
As he wants to sit up, a light dizziness assaults him. He grabs his head and slowly rises.
At that moment, from the other side of the door, a muffled shout can be heard.
"Hey, old man! Howard!! Have a look at this!"
"Wait a moment!"
Answering the young voice, a hoarse voice, seemingly belonging to an old man, can be heard shouting just beyond the door.
Then, the door is pushed open.
Together with the blinding sunlight from outside, noises from the sea come flowing into the room. Also the smell of the sea is intense.
As the old man sees Zechs upright in bed, he raises his voice.
"The colour of your face seems to be good. Can you get up? Put on the clothes and come with me."
For Zechs, there's backlighting and he can't see clearly, but it's an old man wearing sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt. The man continues while pointing to the clothes lying on the chest with his finger.
"I am a humble salvage man called Howard. You were on board an interesting thing. I have picked you up together."
The old man introduces himself to Zechs who has gotten up from the bed. There is no way for Zechs to know this, but it's the old man from the salvage ship which Duo contacted as he descended to Earth.
What about Tallgeese?
That's what Zechs thinks as he puts on the deep red T-shirt and pair of trousers from the top of the chest.
"I didn't think that there were pilots besides those kids that could pilot Tallgeese."
Zechs tenses at Howard's words.
There shouldn't be anybody besides a few persons in OZ who know the name of Tallgeese. Besides, who are 'these kids' referring to? He doesn't need to ask.
Maybe the tension is transmitted, but Howard laughs a bit. Then he slides down the sunglasses, looks up at Zechs and says "I have participated in its design. It was quite a long time ago."
"You have designed Tallgeese?!"
Zechs raises a surprised voice. After telling him with his finger 'come here', Howard heads out first.
As Zechs passes through the door, he is enveloped by the sound of the waves. Even when looking around, he can see no trace of land. The salvage ship is floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
"Just as I was passing through this area of the sea, I could see a flashy battle. I got to watch it."
Howard explains this to Zechs while they are going past a residence space and cross a wide deck.
"It was a good feeling, like watching a battle of those kids."
Talking about the fight for Zechs' life as if it were a show, Howard steps into a huge elevator used for transporting mobile suits. Waiting for Zechs to catch up, he makes the elevator go down to the floors below.
With a jerk the elevator shakes and starts to slowly descend.
Zechs frowns at this shock. A sharp pain runs through the area around his ribs.
"Does the injury hurt?" asks Howard through his sunglasses.
Shaking his head slightly, Zechs asks Howard in return "Why did you save me?"
"You have become OZ's enemy. The hero named Zechs Merquise has abandoned OZ. There cannot be a disadvantage to treating you as important."
At Howards words, Zechs' eyes become distant for a moment and he whispers in a low voice "Zechs Merquise has died."
"So it seems."
Howard says this while casting a quick side glance at Zechs.
"The times are taking a new turn. I would like to see the new era while I'm still alive."
The elevator has continued descending during that time and soon, a white mobile suit becomes visible down below. It's Tallgeese. Have the repairs continued even as Zechs was unconscious? The suit, which should have been worn down, has become quite neat.
"It's a good suit after all. It has managed to become the prototype for the Gundams."
While looking up at Tallgeese, Howard says this as if he were bragging. The eyes behind the sunglasses are totally as if he were watching a child.
On the back of Tallgeese there's a huge Vernier engine in the form of a backpack. Behind it, not yet connected, is a device which looks like a small shuttle. It's huge, its height being twice that of the mobile suit and its volume seems to be about five times as much.
"Are these boosters used to escape the atmosphere?"
"In reality, the intention was to attach them to a Gundam when it would go back to space."
Howards nods at Zechs' question. He had probably prepared it for Duo. However, because OZ had blackmailed them with the colonies as a shield, he couldn't get in touch and it was left as it was.
Howard turns around towards Zechs and broaches a surprising subject.
"By the way, wouldn't you go to space for me?"
Zechs asks again by repeating the words like a parrot.
"Space will greatly change from now on. OZ as well as the colonies will probably change. Many people with excellent talent are required."
"Is it for war?"
At Zechs' question, Howards looks up to Zechs and answers "There is that too."
Then, he adds in a hard tone "So, what is needed the most are persons with a clear will. With only people who cannot ascertain the facts, the colonies will just go with the flow. As they are now."
"Are you telling me to become a leader?"
"I won't go that far. Because you probably have your reasons as well. However...."
With this, Howard cuts off his words.
"If space is left as it is, it will become a battlefield."
At Howard's words, Zechs narrows his eyes. He then looks up to the sky and to the space spreading out beyond that.
The moment he opens his eyes, a sharp pain runs through him, but his mind is luckily clear.
Duo notices that he is in a pitch-dark solitary cell, gropes around and finds a wall. Dragging his aching body across, he goes to the wall and leans his back against it.
His body hurts because he was beaten by the OZ soldiers during interrogation. Usually Duo's trained body could withstand this, but with the long drifting, his body's endurance has been reduced quite a lot.
"Damn it... they did it to their heart's content... what a mess...."
Getting a seemingly painful coughing fit, Duo lets his shoulders slump.
What should he do now....
On the inside, he lets out a sigh.
In that moment, he hears a small noise on the outside. The sound of something falling down.
As Duo sees the figure which opens the door and steps in, he raises an astonished voice.
"I'm surprised. Heero, you really come and go most unexpectedly."
Heero throws the OZ guard, whom he has knocked unconscious, to the floor easily and comes in. One couldn't possibly have thought that he could manage to sneak into the space fortress Barge, which could also be called the enemy headquarter's territory.
Then, just as he is, without saying anything, Heero points a pistol at Duo.
For a moment, Duo looks surprised, but it changes immediately to a look which says 'understood'. He stands up slowly, sliding his back along the wall for support.
"Just in time. As it is, they would have used me and my Gundam. If I have to be killed, it's more predestined to be done by you. Go ahead."
Remember when he first ran into Heero, Duo lets an ironic smile show.
Duo pulls his eyes fast closed and stands ready. But no matter how long he waits, he cannot hear the sound of the gunshot.
"Well, do you in earnest have the intention to shoot?"
Duo opens his eyes a bit and asks this as if to check.
"If you wish so in earnest."
Heero takes down the pistol which has been pointing at Duo's forehead.
"Can't you move your right hand?"
As soon as he has asked this, Heero throws his pistol at Duo and picks up the guard's machine gun for himself.
In surprise, Duo opens his eyes wide. He had thought that he would be killed for sure. With Heero additionally lending him his shoulder, he murmurs unconsciously "This has happened before. But at that time, the positions were reversed."
It was when they escaped from the Alliance hospital.
As Heero carefully checks towards left and right and steps into the aisle, Duo asks him "Where is your Gundam?"
"I left it on Earth. It would be too conspicuous in space. There was a good possibility that I would have been caught like you."
"Ah, I see.... So, how do you intend to escape from here?"
"To kill you was the number one objective. I haven't thought about escaping yet."
"And if we fail?"
"It's only a matter of silencing two mouths."
After answering curtly, Heero presses the button of a small controller he is holding.
Somewhere, the sound of a heavy explosion resounds with a bang. When it continues and vibrations come spreading out, the lights in their vicinity are switched over to the red emergency light.
"Why is it always the quiet guys who go for the big displays?"
Without caring about Duo's murmuring, Heero runs through the aisle while supporting Duo. His left arm, which was hurt when he self-destructed Wing, has healed and his body has completely returned to its former condition.
Ignoring the soldiers, who are confused and don't notice the prisoner escaping, Heero starts going back the way he came.
The colonies create pseudo gravity through centrifugal force by making the ring shaped living districts rotate. The more one heads towards the center, the less gravity becomes, and in the center itself there is zero gravity. In all the colonies the center has become the arrival and departure gate for shuttles and mobile suits. This is even the same with the Barge.
Slipping through under the eyes of the OZ soldiers, Heero and Duo head towards the center part through the residence area, which is structured in layers.
"So these new models are mobile dolls? No wonder the speed of their reactions was so fast."
While they are running, Duo murmurs this seemingly angry as Heero explains to him about the Taurus troop that had attacked him.
"Once the target has been fixed, there is no escaping."
"So, how will we escape?"
"I am not thinking about escaping."
Heero says this as if it were normal and Duo unconsciously lets out a protesting voice.
When they notice that the movements of the soldiers running through the aisles become rushed, that's when they have come the point where, if they go down two more layers, they have reached the arrival and departure gates. Already there is little gravity here, and they can move around by floating through space.
"The escape has been noticed."
Almost at the same time as Heero murmurs this, the soldiers let out shouts.
"There they are!"
Discovering the figure of a soldier in the direction they're heading, Heero pushes Duo a bit into the shadow of a set back door.
Immediately shots assault them.
Tossing the explosion button over, Heero leans out and squeezes the trigger of the machine gun. Immediately he hides again and evades the enemy's bullets.
"And how many of those have you installed?"
"I don't remember."
Flinging those words behind him, Heero exchanges the now empty magazin of the machine gun.
Just before attacking again, he gives Duo a signal. As soon as Duo has pressed the button, Heero attacks with the machine gun. At the same time, an explosion occurs very close to the enemy.
Screams erupt, and Heero kicks the wall behind him with a 'tok', flying off. He attacks the enemy fleeing towards him, and stops himself by putting his hand on the wall at the end. Looking around his surroundings, he tells Duo, who is following behind, that everything is safe and continues on ahead.
On the other side of the hatch at the end they find a mobile suit hangar. Looking around briefly, Heero discovers five Taurus being serviced and murmurs in a low voice "We could use these."
Then, he swiftly approaches a maintenance man from behind.
At the same time, in the Space Port No 1 of the Barge, there is a shuttle which is in the final stages of being prepared to leave. It's a special hull with an elegant form. One can easily imagine that it may be a high officer of OZ who enters this shuttle.
It's Lady Une's exclusive shuttle in which she heads to the meetings with the delegations from the colonies.
When the shout from the radar controller comes, it's at the same time that Lieutenant Nichols, who is entrusted with matters during Lady Une's absence, watches her shuttle taking off. At that time, he has not yet been informed of Duo's escape.
"Unidentified mobile suit on the radar!"
Seeing the figure which is appearing on the screen, Nichol raises his voice.
He immediately contacts the port control.
"What about Lady Une's shuttle?!"
"It has already left the port!"
"Damn it! Taurus troop, intercept him! Don't let the Gundam come close!"
At Nichol's order, five Taurus suits leave from the mobile suit hangar No 1.
However, due to the emergency take-off, there has been no time to input a target into the mobile doll system. That's why only manned suits are going out. Even with a Shenlong which has not been converted for use in space, he can put up some fight if there are only manned Taurus opponents.
At the stage where one suit is blown up, Nichol decides that, if he lets the fight take any longer than this, Lady Une's shuttle will be in danger.
"Fire the beam cannon!"
"But our suit are in the line of fire...."
"I don't care! Shoot before the major enters the line of fire!!" shouts Nichol.
In the next moment, a huge bundle of energy is released from the Barge's beam cannon.
Having noticed the charging of the beam cannon, Wufei has Shenlong exit the line of fire a moment earlier. He watches as three suits are engulfed by the energy and explode.
"So you're abandoning even your comrades. It's the first time that it's so clearly visible how dirty the enemy is. I can fight! When guys as dirty as you are strong, I can!"
As Wufei releases his roar, a messages comes rushing in.
"Please stop this futile battle. Let's greet the new age together."
"Who is this?!"
The shuttle which has taken off from the Barge flies behind Shenlong. The message has been sent from there.
"Let's throw away the thoughts to fight entirely in this age. They will not be neeeded in the future."
Lady Une's calm voice sounds as if it were enveloping the cockpit.
Wufei, with a stern look, displays the shuttle on the monitor and questions "What kind of person is that who talks such nonsense?"
"My name is Lady Une."
"What did you say?!"
Wufei doubts his own ears.
Does this mean this is the commander of the OZ space army?
"Have you thought of another dirty method?"
Just as Wufei tenses the hand which holds the contol lever, a reinforcement Taurus troop approaches.
"You must not fight uselessly. Please withdraw your weapons."
Lady Une's voice resounds again. Her voice is also delivered to Nichol in the command room.
"Major, the order to attack!"
Lady Une's answer to Nichol's voice contains even a smile.
"I can't do that. The war is over."
During that time, Shenlong has ignited the Vernier engines with full power and has escaped the space district.
"Major, which major should I follow?"
Looking after the Gundam as he disappears from the radar, a dumb struck Lieutenant Nichol stands motionless in the command room of the Barge.
At that time, the space port No 2 is thrown into utter chaos.
That's because five Taurus, which have come out of the hangar, are destroying the Leos in their vicinity while they are coming closer. It's of course Heero who has input the Leos as enemy suits into the mobile doll system.
Destroying the unmanned Leos with their beam cannons, the Taurus devastate the space port.
Covered by the confusion, Heero and Duo steal a small mobile suit transport ship and escape from the Barge, then they set the course for the L2 colony. Wufei escapes almost at the same time, and they're lucky that Lady Une forbids any attacks, but they don't know this.
"I had to leave my Deathscythe behind. I'll have to blow it up."
Sighing deeply, Duo sinks into the seat. Heero throws a glance at him for a moment, then answers in a cold voice "The Gundams have no value anymore already. They'll blow it up for us."
"What does that mean?"
"Starting with Doctor J, the five scientists have been captured by OZ. Before they can develop a new mobile suit, I will kill all five of them."
Duo stares at Heero's serious expression, which is hidden inside the helmet.
"I will get rid of the obstacles."
Looking straight ahead, Heero declares this clearly in a hard voice.
Three days after he has been rescued by Howard, Zechs settles into Tallgeese's cockpit.
"To bring one human to space, this is such an exaggeration."
Tallgeese is linked to boosters, which look like a huge ship and are used to escape from the atmosphere, in such way that they embrace him from behind. Inside the boosters, the greater part is taken up by a fuel tank. When the first stage is used up, it is detached on the way. Additionally, in order to gain the initial velocity, they are at present put on top of a shuttle for use inside the atmosphere.
"Space as well as humankind are in trouble. And Earth wants to drag us down, telling us that wanting to escape the atmosphere is a mistake."
After he has murmured this, Zechs receives Howard's message from the shuttle.
"The launch countdown has begun. Zechs... no, Milliardo, I leave space to you."
"I shall only do what I can with my own methods."
As the countdown is ticking away, Zechs holds the control lever firmly.
Together with the voice 'launch', the boosters spit out flames and detach themselves from the shuttle. They take off by themselves. They rise at a sharp angle and escape the atmosphere while carrying Tallgeese.
"Relena.... I leave Sanc Kingdom to you."
Milliardo Peacecraft murmurs this while looking at the blue Earth displayed on the monitor.