Introduction to the Universal Century V Part 2
Char's Zaku II, Sortie!

U.C. 0079...
Glittering lights flickered in a distant band, each one a burst of hellfire emitted by the destruction of a space battleship or cruiser. With their engines pierced, bridges scorched, and main guns smashed, the ships twisted and exploded.
It seemed as if the clash between the Dozle and Tianem Fleets was proceeding to the overwhelming advantage of the Earth Federation Space Force. However, not a single soldier on the Federation side realized that the Zeon side had prepared a stratagem ahead of time.
Thousands, and then tens of thousands, of Principality soldiers laid down their lives and became sparks of light, believing in the future victory of their allies.

And then their stratagem that would lead to the decisive blow for Zeon victory was set in motion.

In an area far from Dozle's and Tianem's battlefield, Char Aznable swiftly performed the operations to start up his MS-06S, which was carried aboard a Papua-class supply ship of the Zeon forces.
After carrying out a strike on the colonies in the Loum area, successfully inducing the Revil Fleet to split off a portion of its strength to go to the rescue, the mobile suits under Char's command had withdrawn from the vicinity of Miranda. Now they were shifting to a new operation.
Another detached force, comprising one battalion of the Special Assault Regiment, was also rushing to the battlefield under the command of Lieutenant Junior Grade Gaia. Char and Gaia each commanded their own battalion, which would join forces at the site of the decisive battle.

The interior of the Papua's hangar was a flurry of activity, as the resupply of the mobile suits was completed and they prepared to relaunch. Launch deployment instructions flew from the senior officers to the deck crew.
From the bridge, all hands were ordered to level one battle stations, and orders were given to prepare for the opening of the airlocks. Throughout the ship, the air pressure was scrupulously rechecked.
Anticipating that there might be unforeseen emergency situations at the time of launch, temporary repair crews were placed at designated stations, along with spare parts.
"Carried weapons system check, all green."
"Thruster nozzles, vernier nozzles, operating well."
The subordinate MS-06 and MS-05 pilots were conducting their system checks smoothly.

Having finished the startup preparations for his own machine, Char caught sight of a figure in a normal suit crossing in front of it.
"Lieutenant! Lieutenant Char, good hunting!"
The monitor displayed a saluting member of the maintenance crew, whose message couldn't hide his personal admiration.
After distinguishing himself in the Battle of Mare Smythii, which was hidden from history, and performing magnificently in the attack on the lunar cities as the war of independence began, Char Aznable had already become a legendary mobile suit pilot in the less than one month since the outbreak of war.

Warning announcements sounded once more throughout the Papua. Airtight bulkheads were closed between sections.

The MS-06S had now been re-equipped with a Type A2 MS bazooka for anti-ship combat, and was awaiting its moment to sortie. The time had come.
"I'm launching. Open the hatch."
Responding to Char's voice, Dren urged him to hold on. "Wait until the captain gives the order." But Char's reply was blunt. "I'm the one in charge of the attack team, Ensign Dren."
"I'm going in ahead. Denim! Take command of the team and follow me. Can you do that?"
"Roger that, sir." Chief Petty Officer Denim's response was enthusiastic.
Just a few hours earlier, Denim had accompanied Char in an operation to seal the docking bays of Loum's capital banchi Miranda and other major colonies. Even with Minovsky particles dispersed at combat density, he had demonstrated the ability to follow along behind his commander's machine without losing sight of it.

Having confirmed via reports from various operators that the shipboard preparations were complete, Dren spoke loudly enough to be heard by both Char on the monitor and the captain behind him.
"Good grief... It's bad for the health to be teamed up with a winner of the Zeon Cross, eh, sir?"
Frowning sullenly, the captain responded in a workmanlike fashion. "Begin launch procedures," he instructed.
"Okay. Bosun, confirm that he has clearance! Begin launch procedures!"
Gazing in the direction of the ship's bow, Dren gave the order. In front of his eyes, the band of distant sparks was still glittering.

The hatches of the mobile suit hangars in the Papua's bow split vertically from the hull, and opened to port and starboard. The void of space spread out before the eyes of the normal suit-wearing bosun and deck crew, and the tiny quantity of gas molecules that remained inside the ship froze and dispersed.
"Launch course secure. All hands, maintain anti-air observation."
As additional instructions flew from the bridge, two arms attached to the deck pushed the MS-06S outside the ship.
Having verified that the red machine had emerged, the crew on the outside of the hull quickly moved to sheltered positions behind the ship's structures.
The red machine drifted with inertia, exposing its whole body to space, and used its verniers to perform attitude control and rotate itself counterclockwise. The crew withdrew so as not to get caught up in its motion and engine exhaust.
With random minute firings of the verniers all over its body, the red Zaku established sufficient distance from the Papua-class supply ship, and then performed a small firing to test the thrust of the main thrusters in its backpack.
Suddenly, it turned its nozzles to full throttle and burst forth.

Only a short time had passed since the Battle of Loum began.
Leaving a trail of light like a comet, Char's red Zaku II rushed through the heavens. Its target was the fleet commanded by Admiral Revil, the backbone of the Federation Space Force, which was racing toward the main battlefield from the outer edge of the Loum area.
The news that the Dozle Fleet had changed course, and that the Tianem Fleet had lost track of it, had yet to reach the Revil Fleet.

The thrust of the red Zaku, with its limiters disengaged, rose to its limit. Though he expected it, the force of its tremendous acceleration crushed Char's limbs and body against his seat.
The reactor warned of output overload, but nonetheless he built up the thrust to maximum combat speed.
On the front monitor inside the cockpit of the MS-06S was a cluster of lights indistinguishable from the light of the surrounding stars. At last, via analysis by its optical devices, these began to register as the silhouettes of the enemy fleet.

"This will change the course of history!"
Confident in his victory, Char chuckled at the Revil Fleet sailing forward with their guard down.
On this day, his legend would finally begin.