The sun is still high and it's shortly after noon when the major, wearing his silver mask, is brought into the communication room of the OZ assault craft, which is sailing on the Pacific Ocean from the Philippines to the Hawaiian island group.
"Captain, we have brought Major Zechs here."
"Thank you for your trouble."
The captain, who has been waiting for him in the communication room alone, responds to his subordinate's voice and prompts Zechs to enter the room.
"I am sorry for the narrow space. Please take this seat."
After the captain has stood up and has led Zechs near the radio in the room, he notices that his subordinates are pointing their pistols at Zechs.
"Something like this is not necessary for Major Zechs. Do step back."
The captain waves his hand and makes his subordinates step back. Then he leaves the room himself and shuts the door.
"I apologize for making you feel ill at ease, Zechs."
It's Treize addressing Zechs, who has been left alone, from the monitor.
"Please don't worry about it, Your Excellency. I am prepared for court-martial."
As if evading Treize, Zechs answers without looking directly into his eyes.
After fighting with the pursuing OZ troops at the South Pole, Zechs had surrendered at an opportune time. He had gained time for the two Gundams, his younger sister Relena and Noin to escape safely. Up to his capitulation, he had destroyed close to forty Aries. It was roughly more then one third of them.
Afterwards he was imprisoned and yesterday, court martial opened. There were eight crimes, including violation of the order to destroy the Gundams and hiding of the Gundams.
However, this was where the problem arose. Zechs was highly valued in OZ and in the case of a punishment, there was the concern that there may be a great impact on the soldiers. That's why the punishment has been left to the hands of the OZ leader Treize Khushrenada.
"But if you are a strong force for the Romefeller foundation also in the future, the court martial will not become so difficult."
"A strong force?"
"The pending problem for the parent organization of OZ, the Romefeller Foundation, are the Gundams, the presently strongest mobile suits on Earth. Let me ask you again. Would you fight also from now on as a knight to defeat the Gundams?"
Faced with Treize's question, Zechs shakes his silver mask.
"Your Excellency, unfortunately it seems that I can no longer follow the ideas of the Romefeller Foundation."
Treize's voice does not sound discouraged. Is it because he has heard the expected answer?
"During the war with the Gundams I fought with personal feelings which were not necessary. My fight with the Gundams is over."
"I see. In this case, please die for OZ. If you are found guilty in court, it will be a minus point for OZ. With an honourable death in battle, many OZ soldiers will mourn for you, and the fighting spirit will probably burn even more. If we do it like this, the upper classes of the Romefeller Foundation will agree as well. The Lightning Count will become a hero of legends. That is the only meaning of your death. If you die, you will be free. Farewell, Zechs Merquise."
Treize does not dare to call him Milliardo. Then, after saying only this, he cuts the connection totally as if a business communication is finished.
Zechs also gets up from his seat without taking any further notice of the darkened screen. Pushing open the door of the communication room, he goes outside. Together with a sea breeze, the captain approaches him.
"The repairs of Tallgeese are progressing smoothly. In four hours.... until the sun goes down, everything will be finished."
The captain announces this to Zechs.
"I see. I leave it to you."
"In six hours, everybody will be evacuated from this ship. Then forty Aries and twenty Cancer will attack. The opponents are survivors of the Alliance, who want to try and win the Foundation's favour. I heard that this is a mission to free Major Zechs from the eyes of the upper classes, but with the way the opponent serving as enemy was chosen, and their number, I think this is impossible."
Zechs does not answer to the captain's words. But inside, he nods slightly.
That's how it is. It's a test whether I survive as Treize's friend. Whatever I want to do, it seems I cannot escape the reach of Treize's intentions.
Smiling with a hint of self-scorn, Zechs looks at the deep blue sky and the sea.
Far away from this sea, on the other side of Earth, in the OZ headquarters which are in Luxembourg, in the center of the continent of Europe....
There's a test place for the manufactured mobile suits, a vast ground where in the corners the mountains have been leveled. Four Leos are standing in a space where five stadiums easily fit, and bring their rifles into position towards a target which has been set up in the distance. It's the familiar main war force of OZ. One thing is different, namely that from a panel in the back many thick cables are creeping out and disappearing in the building to the rear.
In the command room for the test, which is atop the building, the representative of the Romefeller Foundation, Marquis Dermail, is visiting to inspect the state of the test.
"So this is the mobile doll system..." murmurs Dermail while looking down at the Leos.
"Because we have used the outdated Leos for the development, the input has to be done from the outside, but there are no problems with the mobile doll system for the use in space. So, please watch the combat simulation."
A white haired man with a hook nose, who seems to be an engineer, addresses Dermail and gives out instructions.
The Leos, which have only been standing still so far, suddenly start moving and begin their attack towards the target. All of them shoot their bullets into the center, then their movements stop again.
This time, four tanks come charging from the side, with the high-pitched noise of the caterpillars.
With a swift movement, the Leos change the direction of their rifles and make the tank troop their target. They're faster than the tanks which turn around their gun turrets and aim at the Leos. In just a few seconds the tank troop has its turrets destroyed, the caterpillars cut off and the fighting ability taken away from them.
"The mobile dolls with their great capacity will become ample reinforcements for our military strength, Chief Engineer Tsubarov."
Dermail looks from the Leos, which have stopped moving, to the thin, eagle nosed engineer.
"No, the day should be close when they become the main war potential instead of the soldiers."
Even while the engineer called Tsubarov pays for the time being his respect to Dermail's assessment, he frowns a bit as if his pride has been hurt.
"This mobile doll system will not ease off in its attack until the assigned target has been completely destroyed. Additionally, it does not lose sight of its target and we are proud of the mobility especially in space, which surpasses any existing mobile suits...."
Tsubarov, who is proudly declaring his, is interrupted by the sudden sound of a gun being fired.
"What... what is this?"
"Somebody is attacking the mobile dolls! There is no answer!!" reports the OZ officer who is regulating the mobile dolls.
Looking over to the test site, Tsubarov confirms that a normal type Leo is attacking the mobile dolls with a rifle.
"Fine, it's a good target for the mobile dolls. Let them attack!"
The OZ officer changes the assigned target and sets the system into motion. Immediately, the four mobile dolls shoot at the same time at the Leo, whose true colours are unknown. Immediately, the Leo stops moving.
"This is foolish. It may be an enemy spy...."
Tsubarov spits this out as if he were triumphing.
"A message is coming in. It's from the enemy Leo. Maj... Major Treize!"
At seeing the figure displayed on the monitor, the communication officer raises a shocked voice.
"Stop the attack!"
Chaos ensues in the command room. Hurriedly, one of the officers stretches his hand out towards the console and cuts off the system as if slapping it.
"As a representative of the living and breathing soldiers, I thought I'd challenge the mobile dolls to a fight."
Through the monitor, Treize calmly addresses Tsubarov. Facing him, Tsubarov answers while smiling "Do you want to die, Major Treize? Unlike humans, mobile dolls do not show mercy."
In this voice, the arrogance of a person who is determined to win resounds.
"If the mobile dolls are so superior, then there is no need for me in this world. I think I want to vie with them here for superiority. See you!"
The communication from Treize is cut off and the Leo starts attacking the mobile dolls again.
"Have you gone mad? I don't care, shoot the major! Kill him!!" shouts Tsubarov.
"That's an order. That guy intends to kill us. I don't care, do it!"
"No, I can't."
"Out of the way, I'll do it!"
Tsubarov shoves the officer aside and wants to press the switches on the console himself.
As the officer wants to stop Tsubarov, a shuffle results. In that moment, a communication from Treize comes in.
"This is Treize Khushrenada. Kill Tsubarov."
The five OZ officer who have remained in the command room draw their pistols and point them at Tsubarov.
"What?! You bastards! St.. stop it!"
Tsubarov has become pale and moves backwards.
"As per to Major Treize's order, we will shoot you here and now."
On the test site, Treize cuts down the five mobile dolls with the beam saber.
"We have won. I cancel the order."
After Treize has announced his order towards the microphone, he continues with his words.
"Chief Engineer Tsubarov, and also Marquis Dermail. War is not only fighting with mobile suits. It's the humans who manage the mobile dolls as well as the soldiers. I would like you to honour the humans a bit more, to love them more."
In the serene tone of Treize, there is also compassion. He exits the narrow Leo cockpit and puts his feet on the hatch. After turning off the radio, he murmurs "War is not something to make with toys like these. It does seem that people like engineers cannot understand something like an elegant war."
Catching the wind, the cloak flutters. He shakes his head as if he's remembering something.
"No, if it's the engineers who constructed Tallgeese and the Gundams, they might understand."
Then he turns his eyes towards the command room. Noticing that Tsubarov is gazing at him, he looks up to the sky.
"Zechs, do come back quickly. When you are not here, OZ allows the actions of insignificant people."
Treize murmurs the name of his friend, who must be in the middle of the battle by now.
Zechs and the captain are standing on the bow deck of the assault craft, which is located in the Pacific Ocean. A gentle wind causes the golden hair, which comes out from under Zechs' mask, to flutter.
The sun has already set and the stars start to twinkle in the dark blue sky.
If he'd look down, there would be the white hull of Tallgeese lying in the dock.
In that moment, the roar of engines can be heard from the distance.
"Helicopters for pick-up?"
Zechs mumurs this while he directs his glance towards the direction the sound is coming from.
After the captain nods apologetically, he points to Tallgeese.
"How is the repair of Tallgeese going?"
"Thanks to your subordinates we could manage it well. I am grateful."
Zechs says this from the bottom of his heart.
In fact, with the fight at the South Pole, damage has been found in various parts of Tallgeese. For one, the right arm, which has been using the beam saber, had a burnt joint part and was on the verge of becoming totally useless. Since this was repaired in just one day, one can talk about a miracle.
"Captain! There's something on the radar from 0430 behind us" shouts an officer from behind.
"So they've come. Right on time."
Verifying with his wrist watch, the captain looks up towards the sky. Nothing is visible yet in the darkened sky.
"This ship will be sunk. I'm sorry" says Zechs to the captain.
"Please do as you like. It's a complex feeling, but Major, please do win" states the captain towards Zechs and shows, true to his words, a slight smile.
"You have helped me very much."
Saluting in a military way, the captain runs towards the heliport at the stern.
Left behind, Zechs descends into the dock, opens the chest hatch of Tallgeese and jumps into the cockpit.
"Let's do this sortie, Tallgeese!"
After closing the hatch, Zechs grabs the control lever firmly.
The sign to start the battle are four torpedos.
The torpedos, which are fired from a Cancer, a mobile suit designed for use in the water, attack the assault craft. At the same time as they hit the bottom of the ship, they open a huge hole.
And heading towards the ship, which has begun to sink while bending and breaking around its middle, more torpedos race through the sea, just barely at the surface.
It's in this instance that Zechs makes Tallgeese take off.
Disappearing into the flames of the exploding ship's hull, he ignites the Vernier engines on the back with full power and rises up. Additionally, with the huge beam rifle and the dobergun he fires three shots towards the Aries troops which have deployed in the vicinity.
"Fifty Aries, twenty Cancer and five carrier submarines. It seems there are a bit less than there were with the pursuing troops which I fought at the South Pole. But I'll have to prove you that you have underestimated the value of my life."
After verifying the number of enemies from his cockpit, he flies into the Aries.
With the dobergun, he aims and hits one after the other.
The key is how many suits he can shoot down before they come too close.
The dobergun, running out of bullets, jumps up from the shoulder.
In that moment, two Aries come grabbing Tallgeese from the front and from behind. It's the tactics to prepare for self-destruction.
Pushing the throttle lever up to the limit, Zechs forcibly shakes off the Aries.
The violent acceleration batters his whole body.
Suppressing a pain-filled groan, Zechs draws the control lever towards himself.
Changing directions in the air, Tallgeese draws the beam saber from behind the shield on the left shoulder.
"Treize, don't follow me like this! I may want to fulfill your excessive expectations!!"
While uttering a battle cry, he cuts down the attacking Aries.
"How many suits left!?"
Being hit from behind by concentrated gunfire from the chain guns, the backpack of Tallgeese suffers damage and the suit loses speed, dropping into the ocean.
Through the shock, the mask hits the seat and Zechs loses consciousness for a moment.
In that moment, the Cancers attack.
After emitting one groan, Zechs shakes off the light daze in his head, handles the control lever and returns fire.
He cuts down the torpedoes heading his way with the beam saber and additionally also cuts the Cancers in two.
Everybody is an enemy. For Zechs, the only way to stay alive is to cut down everybody.
"Treize, I cannot be your friend anymore!"
After emitting this roar, Zechs throws away his mask.
Long blond hair falls into the cockpit and blood runs down from the forehead.
Zechs squeezes his voice past the edge of lips which taste of blood.
Zechs does not know how long it takes until all the responses on the radar have disappeared. When he comes to himself, no moving object is displayed except for himself.
"The propulsion power of the Vernier engines is at 24 %. I can't fly with this...."
Zechs realizes that he can only walk through the water to a close-by land area and pushes the throttle lever away. Without feeling the usual strong vibration, a weak sound of the engine makes his seat tremble.
With a head that starts to become befuddled, he watches the radar and sets the course.
When Tallgeese strands on land with a shock, it may be one hour later. Or it may be five minutes later. He doesn't even know where he is. The energy to verify on the map has already disappeared.
Tallgeese is lying on its stomach on a beach.
After Zechs has moved his arms and lifted his upper body, he opens the hatch and drops down onto the sandy beach. Then, wanting to leave the shoreline behind, he moves his hands two and three times, crawling.
There he collapses, as if running out of strength.
The light of the moon illuminates the deserted beach with a white light, so soft as if it were quietly enveloping it.