The one respect in which the space fortress Barge is definitely different from the usual colony is that it can move through its own power. Even when talking about moving, there is no way it can fly with high speed like a shuttle. Altering the direction at the time when the line of fire of the beam cannon with its great capacity is changing, or moving over a distance of a few kilometers, that's where the limit is. Additionally, the energy necessary for this is huge, to ignite the rocket engines once, there is so much fuel needed that a shuttle could fly to Earth and back.
The Barge is located at the La Grange point behind the moon - L2.
At present, in the space district around the Barge the manoeuvres for the selection of the candidates to pilot the new model of mobile suit are held. From among the collected applications of the colonies' citizens, there are twenty men who had great success in the aptitude tests and the simulations.
The last test is for the mobile suit handling capability and fighting capability in space, with space mines launched from satellites as potential enemy.
"What a mess this is. They're amateurs after all...."
Lieutenant Nichol, who is supervising the tests, murmurs this as he monitors the Leos which get hit one after the other by the fake bullets launched from the mines and cannot move anymore.
Handling a mobile suit in space is in a sense more difficult than on Earth. In order to control the suit in a space without either gravity or air resistance, quite a lot of experience and an innate capability to grasp the concept of space is necessary. He cannot imagine that amateurs, who only handled the mobile suits in simulations, can pass this fake fight.
But Nichol raises a shocked voice as he learns that only one machine, that one person has evaded all the fake bullets and destroyed the targets.
"What was that?! Who is that guy!?"
"This is suit No 1. The exercise is completed."
A calm voice is heard from the communicator.
"Suit No 1 pilot, confirm your name!"
"Crew member Trowa Barton."
The calm voice, with little emotion in it, introduces itself.
"Major, Trowa Barton is unusual. No matter how many simulations he says he did, he should not be able to do such evasive actions in his first real fight."
Lady Une is watching the state of the fake fight in the command room. Beneath her, the message from Nichol comes in.
"What do you want to say?"
Lady Une, who senses a hidden meaning in Nichol's words, asks for details. When she is in the command room, she makes her usual cold impression.
"He is somebody who has been trained somewhere, and at a quite high level."
"I assume you have checked his background thoroughly?"
"Yes, there is no error there."
"Then he has a untold talent. A talent which had no occasion to be displayed so far."
"But what about the possibility that he is a member of a destructive action plan who has been infiltrating OZ!? He may be a Gundam pilot!!"
"In this case we will notice it very soon."
Stating this boldy, Lady Une takes the microphone.
"Trowa Barton, this is an additional exercise. Destroy the next target completely!"
Hearing this order in the cockpit, Trowa displays the indicated target on the main monitor.
A black mobile suit, quite heavily damaged, is visible. He recognizes it. This certainly must be the suit that guy - was his name Duo? - boarded.
For a few moments, Trowa stares at that mobile suit. Inside the helmet, no emotions at all are visible on his face.
I have heard talks about the guy being captured, but that the task to destroy his Gundam would fall to me.... Just let me think that it would be better if another person did it.
"What's the matter, Trowa Barton? Shoot the target!"
Lieutenant Nichol's impatient voice comes from the communicator to Trowa as he doesn't show any reaction.
Manipulating the control lever, Trowa makes the Leo let go of the rifle and opens calmly his mouth.
"Lend me that beam cannon."
"The Gundamium alloy is too hard for the rifle of a Leo."
After waiting for Lady Une's instructions and receiving the beam cannon given to him by Nichol, Trowa lets his Leo bring the cannon into position.
"Begin of the second exercise."
Trowa murmurs this totally calmly.
At that time, Duo walks through the bustling streets of the colony.
The colour of his face is not yet vivid. His body, which was totally exhausted after the long drifting, was additionally beaten up by the OZ soldiers. No matter how tough Duo is, there is no way he will be healthy again with about one day of rest.
However, Duo cannot lie still in bed. He wants to verify the state of the colony.
The liveliness can certainly be felt more in the colonies than at the time of the suppression through the Alliance. If there wasn't a soldier at the corner of the street with the gun in position, a mobile suit was towering overwhelmingly - both have gone. It seems the praises of peace are sung.
On the other hand, there is something which hasn't been there so far. OZ's letters and voice are flooding the city everywhere.
In the newspapers, in the television sets of the shop windows, on the posters of the pilots' recruitment, on the monitors used for advertisement... in all kind of places are the words saying 'OZ'.
Why are they all so easily deceived by OZ?
After pulling down his cap deep into the face and uniting it with the collar of the sweater he has flung on, Duo wants to run across the main street in order to hide.
At that moment, the voice of an announcer, coming from a huge monitor on the wall of a multistoried building, causes Duo's legs to stop.
"The Gundams, which have caused misunderstandings between the colonies and Earth and have created war, will now be destroyed by the hand of the citizens of the colonies, who desire peace. Everybody, please watch this!"
At the scene displayed there Duo is riveted to the spot. The ruined mobile suit which is floating in space is his own Deathscythe. Then, he recognizes the face which is introduced as the colony's citizen.
Wasn't the guy's name Trowa....
Biting his lips, Duo clenches his fists.
"Hey, Deathscythe, don't be finished off so easily by this guy. You'll be okay, right? You'll be okay, right?"
Duo's plea is in vain and with one shot of the beam cannon, which the Taurus has brought into position, he destroys Deathscythe by tearing off both arms and legs. The armour, which was already quite damaged, cannot endure the beam with its highest output.
After turning his back to the monitor, Duo lets out this shout.
In the middle of the monitor, the Gundam turns into scrap iron.
A Gundam with which he has fought together for the colonies has suffered the hate of the colonies' citizens and has fallen apart.
Before Trowa's eyes, for a moment, Heavyarms is added to the figure of Deathscythe.
While looking at this scene with a blank look, Trowa sends out a message.
As he says this with a composed voice and cuts the connection, he can see something glittering inside his visor.
"Hm? What's that?"
Catching the light from the instruments on the console, something small and bright floates before his eyes.
A murmur, seemingly unexpected, comes from Trowa's lips.
Thirty minutes later, Trowa has finished the exercise and returned to the Barge. Just as he wants to exit the mobile suit, an order is transmitted to him through the communicator.
"Trainee in suit No 1, Lady Une has called for you. Wait in Room 305 of Section B."
After answering, Trowa jumps out of the cockpit and heads towards the elevator.
"Major Lady Une."
Lieutenant Nichol stops Lady Une, who is heading towards the talk with Trowa. Lady Une turns around with her long, silken hair flowing down to her shoulders. He tells her as if he's imploring her "It's dangerous! There's still the possibility that this guy is a Gundam pilot!!"
Seeing Nichol's expression, Lady Une shows a friendly smile.
"It may be better if I meet him alone."
Nichol is taken by surprise and instinctively asks for confirmation.
"He has come to understand OZ. It would be impolite to not take him seriously. With two like-minded people, who love the same space, the talk should be lively."
Lady Une asks Nichol who said this with increasing vehemence "Lieutenant Nichol, why are you afraid?"
"Let's finally end this battle."
After smiling at Nichol, Lady Une turns her back on the motionless Nichol and walks off.
Left behind, Nichol can only shake his head as he wonders what he should do.
"Nice to meet you. My name is Lady Une."
Stepping before Trowa, who is waiting in the room, Lady Une smiles while she introduces herself with name.
This is Lady Une? Senior Major Lady Une, highest commander of the OZ space army?
Having seen Lady Une's figure for the first time, Trowa doubts his eyes.
I surely didn't even try to believe that such a mildly mannered woman would appear. Besides, this opponent has to be the person who killed the vice foreign ministor and directed the Taurus transport operation.
As if not knowing these kind of thought in Trowa, Lady Une has sat down on the sofa and is looking through the documents which record Trowa's career. Of course, these are forged data which Trowa has made up by using the usual disk.
"It looks like you did repair work on the outer wall of the colonies with work mobile suits. The result of the exercises has astonished active soldiers."
Lady Une calmly addresses Trowa who is opposite her.
She is not sitting like she's perching on the seat. She has sunken deep into the sofa. This is the way of sitting for a person who does not think that an enemy will come attacking.
I don't know what this woman is thinking, but is doesn't look like she's harbouring any hostility towards me.
Thinking this, Trowa decides to probe into the attitude of his opponent.
"I think I may have talent as a soldier. So, am I hired?"
"Let's bring peace to space together."
At Lady Une's words, Trowa shakes his head slightly and answers "I only wish to put my skills to good use by defeating the space army of the Alliance. I haven't thought that much about peace in space. That's why I thought I'd be the person for OZ."
Lady Une leans her head to one side and asks for confirmation.
"I like OZ, how it wants to rule space while assume an attitude of friendship. One may say it's a dirty trick, but it suits me."
"Rule? Dirty trick?"
Lady Une's eyes become sharp for a moment, then they return to their former condition. As this keeps repeating itself, her gaze starts to wander around the empty space without settling.
"A place where a cunning guy is acknowledged. That's OZ."
Trowa continues without noticing Lady Une's condition.
"That's not how it is... it's not!!"
Holding her head with both hands, Lady Une raises this shout in a crazy sounding tone. Trowa stares dumbfounded at Lady Une's unusal condition.
Suddenly, Nichol and two officers come running into the room. To be on the safe side, they probably monitored the situation from another room.
Running towards Lady Une, they support her from both sides and make her stand up. Holding ger like this, the two officers take Lady Une in a hurry from the room.
"May I ask what's going on?"
The muzzle of Nichol's gun is pointing at the forehead of Trowa, who has asked this.
"Even if you deceive the major, you cannot deceive me. Trowa Barton, in four hours you will come to the new mobile suit model's test, which is held at the moon base. This is Lady Une's order."
"But, the major is now...."
Cutting off Trowa's words, Lieutenant Nichol shows a cold smile.
"When she's wearing her uniform, Lady Une is strong. Maybe she won't let somebody as dubious as you live."
Four hours later, Trowa shares a regular freight connection with the others and visits in person the mobile suit factory in the moon base. There, Trowa is taken by surprise again by Lady Une's figure.
It's because she appears to be a totally different person than just before. Skillfully wearing an immaculate uniform, Lady Une has tied up her hair and is wearing frameless glasses. The cold, ice-like image does not appear to be the same person as the one who is preaching peace to the colonies.
Considering the strange condition a short while ago and the words of Nichol, there must be something.
That's what Trowa thinks, but without showing anything on the outside, he shifts his eyes from Lady Une to the five engineers who are standing in a line before his eyes.
"They were ready sooner than we thought."
The engineer wearing the black glasses - Doctor J - says this as if he were impressed.
Turning towards the engineers, Lady Une points at Trowa and the other four people.
"These five are the candidates to pilot the suits who have been chosen from among the citizens of the colonies. Then there's Trowa Barton. He's excellent. No matter which mobile suit there is, he can probably pilot it."
"These mobile suits cannot be used easily" says Doctor J and turns his glasses towards Trowa.
"It seems they are capable of more than the Gundams. I'm looking forward to it."
Trowa looks up to the two new models of mobile suits.
Pushing up the glasses with her index finger, Lady Une looks at the suits and then asks Doctor J "What's the situation with the suits?"
"Mercurius is at 80%, Vayeate at 50%."
"Why was it necessary to develop two different types?"
"These two suits were produced based on what might be if the two basic attitudes in combat - attack and defense - were perfected."
Taking over from Doctor J's words, Professor G continues.
"We gave Vayeate a beam cannon of such size that the mobility is just preserved, and we let Mercurius carry the protective shield to hold the energy beam in check."
"So, when these two suits fight, what will the outcome be?" asks Lady Une.
"Of course, the one with the excellent pilot on board will win."
At Doctor J's answer, Nichol raises his voice. But in contrast to this, Trowa says in an indifferent tone "Something like a performance competition between mobile suits is nonsense. You're saying that the its value is determined by the capabilities of the person handling the suit."
"Why, you're not only one of OZ's finest soldier, you're also sharp."
Doctor S raises an admiring voice. He nods towards Doctor J in such way that nobody sees it. It's Doctor S who has built Heavyarms and sent off Trowa.
"Soldier Trowa! Shut up!!"
Nichol reprimands Trowa. Nichol feels shocked at the fact that Lady Une hired the questionable Trowa just like this, and the hurry with which he wants to reveal the true face of Trowa somehow shows in his attitude.
However, Lady Une stops that with her hand.
"I don't mind. These are the machines he is going to board himself. I will allow his questions."
With a reluctant expression, Nichol withdraws.
"So, what system will you show us today?"
At Trowa's question, Doctor J points at the red mobile suit.
"The defense method of Mercurius. It's the newest system which can produce an electromagnetic field and render the enemy's beam ineffective."
Saying this, Doctor J starts explaining.
It seems that on the back, ten pieces of disks, called 'planet defensors', are installed. They can be made to fly individually and will form an energy field. For use in attack, it can be equipped with a beamgun and a weapon called 'crash shield' which unites in one weapon a shield and a beam saber.
Trowa points at the blue machines, which consists only of the upper body and has been drawn up by a crane.
The already completed upper body is mostly the same as the one from Mercurius. It's just about the antenna on the head which is different. The big beam cannon is connected to an energy charger which is carried on the back.
"Vayeate is not yet finished. The energy hasn't even been charged yet."
As Doctor J answers, Vayeate's arms suddenly start moving.
"What's that?! Vayeate is moving!"
The barrel of the beam cannon is lifted and pointed directly at the five engineers.
"Deploy Mercurius' shield!"
Reacting to Doctor J's call, Professor G flicks the switch which has been set up for the test.
Mercurius turns around and proceeds towards the space between Vayeate and the engineers. Together with a sound of movement which hurts the ears, the planet defensors are deployed and the ten discs form a protective wall.
It's Doctor J's shout.
In the next moment, a bundle of energy is shot from Vayeate's beam cannon and is swallowed by the protective field of Mercurius.
Close to the field, which is flooded with energy, a shockwave occurs and a thunder, similar to the sound of an explosion, shakes the factory. The air is full with smell of ion.
Both mobile suits use up their energy with one use. Mercurius lets his ten discs drop to the floor and Vayeate lowers both arms which are holding the beam cannon.
Among the twelve people who had thrown themselves to the floor, the one to get up first is Trowa. Catching the shadow which emerges from Vayeate's cockpit, Trowa sees through his identity in an instant.
Trowa's reaction is swift. There's the possibility that the others soldiers attack and injure him.
Heero lightly jumps to the floor from Vayeate, which is suspended by the crane. Before he can land, Trowa runs there. Simultaneously, he points his pistol at Heero.
For a moment there's a a look of suprise in Heero's eyes as they look up at Trowa.
"The analysis of the situation was wrong."
Trowa tells this to Heero without moving his lips.
Looking at Trowa with a stern expression, Heero throws the gun away which he had been holding in his hand and slowly stands up.
"Hey, take courage!"
Professor G wants to help Doctor J up, who is crouching on the floor. But Doctor J shakes his head, indicating it's nothing important, and shows a quick grin.
"How is it, isn't my weapon excellent?"
"Indeed. The guy who got employed by OZ is pretty good as well, but to come to go after our lives, this is the maximum."
Looking at Heero, who is walking towards them with Trowa pointing his pistol at him, Professor G answers this as if it were really interesting.