Marlowe followed the other pilots into the hangar, as they traded barbs and quips with one another. Even though no one spoke of it, he could feel the tension in the air. It was like being outside before a heavy storm, as the winds began to pick up and the sky began turning dark. Calm, but the lurking knowledge that something
When they arrived at the hangar, the engineers were already scrambling. Some of the suits were still in the hangar after the retrieval job; that included Marlowe’s scrap heap of a mobile suit. It was being ignored as they loaded other suits into the hangar. The gravity had been turned off, and both Cathartes and engineers from the rescue ships were loading ammunition, outfitting suits and generally scrambling for combat. This was the first time Marlowe had ever seen everyone moving so quickly, laser focused on the task at hand. His fellow pilots, those who’d spent time in combat, would recognize it of course.
Cornell Voltus was standing around, already wearing his normal suit and barking orders at others. When he saw the group making their way into the hangar, the old man beamed with a toothy grin.“Excellent, I don’t have to call you all down here.”
He motioned to the mobile suits on standby. “I’m pretty sure you’re all aware that we’ll most likely be receiving some visitors promptly. So I was hoping we could prepare a welcoming party for them, before they destroy our ship and our money.”
He motioned to the man next to him, the Geara Doga pilot they’d run into during the rescue. “Mr. Behrbeck has already dealt with our guests, and we’ve looked at information from the black boxes retrieved from both ships. They’re piloting very fast mobile suits and they are equipped with anti-ship weaponry. Of course, that was all very apparent from the mess we ran into. Instead of waiting in the open for them to come in and tear the ship apart, I have Mr. Arks taking us deeper into the asteroid field. It will eliminate their speed advantage in an open area, but it also limits our maneuverability as well. I’m depending on everyone here to eliminate this enemy force, and to give us a chance to break into Mars Space. Once we dock with the colony orbiting the planet, we can unload our salvage, our passengers and make our way out of this region.”
The federation captain, Spare Infield was next to speak up. ”We’re also deploying our remaining mobile suits to assist you with this operation.”
Their suits were nothing special. Two Nemos and a GM III. To anyone who knew about the Federation’s history with mobile suits, they would realize that this was nothing to be excited about. These suits were most likely just old suits fielded for convoy duty. The Nemo especially had a poor track record in the Gryps conflict, and while the GM III was on paper a solid machine, it had been being replaced for the past few years. The soldiers were either rookies or old soldiers past their prime. But at least more allies meant more support. ”I can take my mobile suit out to-”
Marlowe interrupted before nearly being backhanded by the old man. ”You’ll stay in the hangar and support the engineering team. The only thing you’ll be out there is in the way,”
he said, his tone sharp and curt. He turned to the other pilots. “Go ahead and suit up and prepare for launch. Miss Xerda, Miss Eibril, Mr. Behrbeck and Mr. Disker, your suits are all prepared. The others will be launched afterwards. I’ll be on the bridge with Captain Infield. Just be prepared for anything out there.”
The old man floated off with the Captain, and Marlowe stood there, his fist clenched. ”If you can’t pull the trigger, you can’t be a pilot.
Pilots have to kill. There is no mercy in a mobile suit.
Your convictions mean nothing if you’re dead.
The thoughts ran through his head. He knew that they came from a place of care, or worry, or honesty. But all throughout his life, he’d seen people constantly at war with each other, constantly killing each other, and what had ultimately been the end result? Countless innocent lives, caught in the crossfire. Entire ecosystems destroyed. Entire cities worth of orphaned children, all left alone and forgotten. Like him.
Marlowe looked at his Mobile suit in the hangar. It was still geared up for cargo retrieval. He then turned to the others, as they all got prepared to launch. They were all leaving him behind.