Chapter 6: Enter Lancelot, A Meeting Between Hanna and Xavier
"Z-01 Lancelot now activated," a voice said over an intercom. "Lancelot activated. Releasing hatch. Z-01 Lancelot, please stand by for activation. Power extension initiated." The voice belonged to Iris. She now spoke to Zoé. "Did you read the manual?"
Zoé was getting back into her Alemanian military uniform, despite still being bandaged. "Pretty much."
"Well done," said Iris. "You scored top of the class with the simulator."
Zoé sighed. "Look, about what you told me earlier—"
"Told you?" said Iris. "It could be, but the possibility is nearly zero."
Zoé stepped out of the vehicle she was in before. "But that means that there's still a chance, right?"
"Yes, I'm afraid that's true," said Iris. "But you're not to do anything reckless out there, alright? The new mechanism's still not perfected yet."
"I understand, Iris," Zoé replied. She stared in amazement as her new Lancelot was unveiled for her to see. "That's it?"
"Yes. Developed by us in the Special Weapons Engineering Corps," Iris explained. "Lancelot: The world's first seventh-generation Knightmare Frame."
"If you're ready, Zoé, shall we proceed with the initial startup?" Elias asked.
"Initial startup starting at Phase Twenty," said Iris. "Inserting power filler."
"Power filler inserted. Power at maximum capacity, reaching critical," said another voice.
"Initiating deviser setup," said Iris.
Zoé climbed into her Lancelot as Iris and the other engineers continued the startup phase.
"Rejection response: Weak," Iris said.
"So far, it's going per the data," said Elias.
"Secondary confirmation given," a male voice confirmed as Zoé punched in some numbers on a keyboard.
Finally, the startup phase for the Lancelot was complete.
"Lancelot, activate ME boost," Zoé said with authority.
"Lancelot, launch!" Iris commanded. Zoé started the Knightmare and took off for battle, while Elias laughed with glee that his newest mecha worked.
"Running full throttle right out of the gate!" a proud Elias said with a grin.
"Wow, this is cooler than the manual!" Zoé observed as she rushed towards the battlefield. "With this, I—ugh!" Zoé grabbed at her right side, which was still injured.
"What's that?" one of the rebels wondered out loud. He had seen Zoé's Lancelot, heading right towards him! "Doesn't look like a Sutherland." Zoé charged at the Glasgow pilot and disabled the mecha.
Hanna was sitting back in her own Glasgow, watching the stats of what was happening. She chuckled. "Another push and the checkpoint will fall."
"This is B Group, reporting enemy presence!" someone said in an urgent manner.
"Reinforcements?" Hanna asked herself. "Real battle is different, huh?" She picked her phone up. "Status."
"Everyone ejected, but they took out four units, and knocked them flat!" the person reporting exclaimed.
"Enemy numbers?" Hanna asked.
"Just one," said the man. "But it must be a new model or something, because I've never seen anything like—GAAHHHH!" Static was heard as the information was cut off.
"What's happening out there?" asked Hanna.
Zoé and the French rebels were fighting; Zoé had knocked a couple of the fighters back.
"Bastard!" one of the remaining two rebels yelled. He fired at the Lancelot. Zoé put up her shield, which deflected the bullets.
"What? It deflects bullets?" Hanna asked in surprise.
"Yeah! What do we do? AAAHHH!" one of the rebels screamed as he was attacked by Zoé.
Hanna put her phone down and thought about what to do. 'Useless so-called "terrorists". With all their resources, they're getting beaten by one single unit.'
Two rebels were trying to fend off Zoé's attacks, but it was no use; one of them got his head beaten in.
"Yes, I can do this!" Zoé said to herself. "With Lancelot, I can stop all this at once!"
Two more rebels came up to the one who got defeated by Lancelot.
"N4, N5, hold there," Hanna instructed. "When the two rear units arrive, surround that thing."
"Got it," said one of the rebels. Both of them fired at Zoé, who just kept on deflecting their bullets.
Zoé rammed through the bullets and very easily took down the other two rebels in her way.
"I can't stop it!" one rebel yelled. He got crushed by Lancelot.
Static was the only thing Hanna heard over her communicator. "N units, what's happening? What is it?" She was horrified when she didn't hear any response. "What's going on? What is this thing? Something I didn't forsee?"
"Great," said Xavier. "Now I'm probably going to owe my older brother a debt I really don't need to incur. It's for the best, though." He turned and walked out.
Rebels were still getting attacked by Lancelot. They were powerless to stop their new enemy. Travere screamed as he was hit by Lancelot.
"E1, can you read me?" Hanna asked. "What is this new enemy? Can it really only be one unit?"
Iris and Elias were monitoring Zoé's stats.
"Its readings are even higher than predicted," Iris said in astonishment.
"That's because our pilot is taking her job very seriously," Elias commented.
Zoé kept on plowing through the rebels' defenses. One thing was on her mind, though: 'Once I take out all these rebels, this war will be over. I don't care what it takes! I have to stop this, then save Hanna and that boy!' She detected Hanna's Glasgow in one of the wrecked buildings and went after her, not knowing that her best friend was in that mecha.
Hanna was shocked when she saw that Lancelot had found her hiding place. "This thing's what's ruining my plan?" She tried holding back Lancelot, but it was no use.
"Are you the one who's been giving these terrible orders?" Zoé demanded.
"Nothing more than a pilot?" Hanna said. "How dare she?" Hanna and Zoé's mechas crashed through the broken floor. Hanna saw that she was out of options now. "No choice; I've gotta get outta here!" As if on cue, Hanna saw Zoé coming at her head on.
Zoé clashed with Hanna, then was about to attack her again, when Jean showed up, seemingly out of the blue, and stopped her blows. Hanna looked on with surprise at Jean.
Jean looked at Hanna. "Hey, I'm returning the favor!" Then he gasped in astonishment as Zoé was about to crush him, then had no choice but to eject out of his Glasgow.
'I must remember that…the most vital element in battle is the human one,' Hanna thought. Then she heard Zoé and her Lancelot coming up behind her, then turned and started firing at the new mecha. Zoé kept on deflecting Hanna's ammo.
"That goddamn monster's unstoppable!" Hanna exclaimed as Zoé kept coming after her, plowing through every obstacle in her way.
"Bastard! He's tearing up everything for no reason!" Zoé said to herself, not knowing at all that her enemy was, in fact, a girl, not a guy. Then she heard someone screaming.
Zoé took her eyes off Hanna and looked towards the sound of the screams. The person screaming was a woman falling out of a very tall building; she was also holding a baby tight in her arms. Zoé rushed after the screaming mother and caught her before she could hit the pavement.
Hanna saw what Zoé did. 'In the midst of battle, she rescues someone? Hmph. I'll concede you the victory here. Nevertheless…' Hanna ejected herself from her Glasgow and escaped.
Iris and another guy who worked with her and Elias were watching Zoé's actions on the monitor.
"Huh?" Elias asked. "She saved someone?"
"Seems that way," the other guy replied.
"Hm…That girl's very strange," Elias commented.
The young mother held her baby protectively while looking at Zoé's Lancelot with terror. She then screamed and ran away, thinking that Zoé would kill her and her child. Zoé looked surprised.
"Zoé?" Iris asked. "Are you tired? We can stop for today."
"No, I'm fine," Zoé said. "Let me keep going."
"Be careful with her operational time," said Elias.
"Yes, sir," said Iris.
"That girl's an excellent piece of equipment," Elias observed.
A guard saw Hanna coming up to him and drew his gun. "Stop right there! Show me your ID. This is Prince Xavier's personal transport."
"At last, the checkpoint," Hanna said as she removed her helmet. "And unguarded, just as planned."
"Your plan?" the guard asked.
"That's right," Hanna said mockingly. "Now, I'd like you to let me pass."
"Yes, ma'am," the guard said when Hanna used her power on him. "Understood."
Jean was running through the wreckage of Saclay.
Travere saw Jean and called out to him. "Jean!"
"It's your fault!" someone shouted. "This is what happens when you oppose the Alemanians!"
"What?" someone else shouted back. "You gutless coward!"
A woman broke down, unable to hold it in any longer. "How many people were killed because of this?" She cried some more as the rebel who had questioned Hanna at first got mad and pointed his gun.
"Shut up!" the rebel said. "Do you know how many of us were killed or captured? Do ya? Hey, quit that crying, right now!"
"Travere," Jean said. "Who was that voice we heard?"
"Hell if I know," Travere replied. "She doesn't answer when I call, so maybe she bailed out—"
Jean gasped as the door to the resistance hideout was blown open. Everyone panicked and tried to hide.
"There, you see?" the shouting rebel said to Travere. "Instead of following the orders of somebody we don't even know, we should've used the poison gas!"
"But she—" Travere said in disbelief.
"Damn Alain to hell!" the rebel yelled.
A bunch of soldiers came out and surrounded the terrified French rebels.
"So, this is where you Fourteen vermin scurried off to," one of the soldiers said. "Okay, men, prepare to fire."
The other soldiers cocked their guns, ready to fire at a moment's notice.
Jean got really scared; he didn't want to die, not like this! "Emile!"
"Okay, fi—" the leader said, until he heard prince Xavier's voice.
"Attention all forces! Cease fire at once!" said Xavier.
"Cease fire?" Zoé said to herself.
"I, Xavier, Third Prince of Alemania and Royal Viceroy of Area Fourteen, command you: All forces are ordered to cease fire at once! You will also cease any destruction of any buildings or property. All casualties, whether Alemanian or Fourteen, shall be treated without prejudice! In the name of Xavier sie Alemania, you are hereby ordered to cease fire at once! I shall allow no further fighting!"
In the palace, the lights turned off, signaling the end of Xavier's broadcast. The Prince was sitting in his throne.
"Are you satisfied?" Xavier asked.
"Very," said Hanna. "Well done."
"Then what shall we do now?" asked Xavier. "Sing a few lively ballads? Or, perhaps, a nice game of Poker, or Gin?"
"That has a familiar ring," Hanna said. Xavier got confused, so Hanna removed her helmet and threw it aside. "Don't you remember? The two of us used to play Poker and Gin together as kids. Of course, I would always win."
"What?" asked Xavier.
"Remember, at the Aries Villa?" asked Hanna. She took out a gun and pointed it at Xavier.
"You," Xavier said apprehensively. "Who are you?"
"It's been a long time, Big Brother," said Hanna. She came into the light so Xavier could get a better look. Xavier immediately recognized Hanna upon seeing her more clearly. "The eldest child and only daughter of the late consort Anneliese, and eighty-seventh in line for the Imperial Throne. Hanna von Alemania, at your service." She kneeled in front of Xavier.
"H-Hanna?" Xavier asked. He was shaking. "But I thought you were—"
"Dead?" Hanna finished for her big brother. "You were wrong."
Xavier just stood, stunned, looking at his sister.
"I have returned, Your Highness," Hanna said. "And I've come back to change everything."