The Gundam Beauty Pageant|
by Charon the Sabercat
And this is the last one for this one! Wait... that didn't sound right... uh.. brotherly love?
Chapter 23 - Chapter 24 - Chapter 25
The Gundam Beauty Pageant|
24. Gundiver's Gauntlet
Charon gladly waved the Gundams into the viewing room for the final time. "Come on, everybody, just this one last time, and then we're done with it. Come on, squeeze in, squeeze in, great job in the last round Madnug. Hurry up, just this once, come on everybody, don't push- Don't Push-" (Zero "accidentally" shoved Bakunetsumaru- woops, not Bakunetsumaru. Aneko turned around and growled at him.) "Ha ha! Anyway, everybody, I'm sorry, come on, bunch up. Find someone you like and get cozy-" (Talgeese snuggled up suspiciously to Deathscythe, who smacked him away with his scythe.) "Uh, not that cozy. Come on, guys, hunker down. Thank you, hot dogs are free today."
Britainmaru sat next to Gunpanzer, Koko faithfully trailing the former ruler. "I say, my good friend, how have you been?"
"Well, Ah've been doin' better than a mosquiter in a swamp!" Gunpanzer said with a smile, clapping his tiny friend on the back. "How 'bout you, Britty?"
"Well..." The little Gundam hopped onto Gunpanzer's shoulder. "I've got a proposition for you, Gunpanzer."
"I've heard tell-tale howls outside my windows since the cat made the trees." Britainmaru lowered his voice. "Unnatural howls..."
"I can't hear you, what'd you say?"
Britainmaru raised his voice a little higher. "Something unnatural has moved into the compound."
Gunpanzer gasped. "No!"
"Yes..." Britain twiddled his fingers. "Either 'in' or 'near' the compound, I surmise. I propose we investigate these mysterious occurances whenever we get the chance to go outside."
Of course, Gunpanzer knew it was probably nothing more than a stray dog, or at most, a coyote. However, he couldn't resist the chance to hang out with his new best friend. "It's a deal."
"Shake on it!" Britainmaru stuck out his hand. Gunpanzer grabbed Britty in both hands and shook him like a margarita mixer.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we now go live to field correspondent, Kelly Pa- I mean, Melady. Sorry, too much 'Ripley's Believe It or Not'..."
Melady stood outside the building next to a large pool, jacket discarded on a pool chair (she wore a black t-shirt underneath) and microphone in hand. "Hi there, and welcome to the final test! I'm outside, where Gundiver is about to start his challenge. Now, his gauntlet will take him through water-filled tunnels under the pool right here-" (She waved to the pool.) "And, then.... um..." She touched a hand to her ear. "Charon, then what'll he do?"
She waited for a second. "Oh, right! He'll swim through tunnels, solve puzzles, transform, and all sorts of stuff." She turned around to see Gundiver walking to the pool, being followed by Juli. "Oo, look, there he is! I'm gonna go talk to him real quick. HEY, GUNDIVER!"
Mel suddenly stopped, holding her microphoned ear. Gundiver waved at her quickly before laying eyes on the pool.
"Wait, wait... aw, man. We're not allowed to interview him yet. Man! Oh well." Melady looked around for something to do, but shrugged. "Whatever. I'm gonna find my swimsuit." She picked up her jacket and left.
"Now, Gundiver, you know to be careful in there, right?" Juli checked Gundiver's helmet for any leaks or holes that could have slowed him down. Gundiver blushed, but complied.
"If you get stuck, call for help."
"There's no shame in giving up if it's absolutely necessary."
"Oh, I almost forgot." Juli pulled a cell phone out of her pocket. "There's a call for you."
"Really?" Gundiver, a bit surprised, took the phone. "Who on Neotopia would call me... Hello?"
A familiar voice rang from the other end. "Hey, One!"
Gundiver gasped, tears immediately appearing in his eyes. "F-Five? Why are you calling?"
"What, you think we're just gonna let our brother go into a challenge without wishing him good luck?"
"Hey, I wanna say hello to One!"
"Wait your turn, Three!"
Gundiver One giggled, covering his mouth with his hand. Were they all on the phone?
"Just tell One I said hi!"
"You tell him yourself, Seven!"
"I would, if you'd ever get off the phone!"
"Guys, guys, calm down."
"Oh, be quiet, Four."
Gundiver One swallowed a mouthful of tears and breathed, "H-hey, guys? I-I've gotta start soon. Thanks for calling."
"Are you crying, One?"
"Oh well. We love you, One."
Gundiver One wiped a tear from his eye. "I love you, too."
And the two siblings ended on a laugh; it was their favorite joke amongst all the brothers.
"Okay, Gundiver, just jump in. You start once you're completely submerged."
"Got it." Gundiver flapped his water wings (it's what they are!) twice, then jumped. "DIVE!"
He hit the water like a torpedo and slipped into a small hole in the bottom of the pool that closed behind him.
"And Gundiver has entered the tunnel system! He has to get to the end of the tunnel without touching the sides! Hey, wait, didn't I play this game?"
"Yeah, it's called 'Operation'."
"I thought so!"
Gundiver didn't care. He was home. The well-lit tunnels were a light, Florida ocean blue. The water rushed over his eyes and around his legs. He drank some while he swam and felt the cool liquid slide down his throat. He hadn't been in the water since the Neotopia invasion. It felt good to be back...
Oh, turn. He stuck out his foot and gracefully swung into the turn, tucking in his wings and missing the sides entirely. Another turn after that, the same story. This was easy... he didn't even really have to concentrate.
"Wow... Gundiver is really... swimming! Then again, I suppose he was designed for this sorta stuff."
The tunnels continued with their soft curves, up, down, left, and right. After a while, the tunnels started getting a little thinner, but all Guneagle had to do was stick his limbs in and swim.
"Wow... this is a little too easy for him. Let's see how he handles the next set!"
Gundiver felt the water pushing him sideways. He began to roll onto his side as the tunnel became more rectangular. But then, he also started to fell his wings getting closer to the walls...
"Oh man..." He didn't want to... but he put all his propellers in reverse and pushed himself away.
"What the crap?!"
"He's going backwards!"
Gundiver shifted his weight to where he was right-side up again and switched into submarine mode. He had to strain his motor to get all of his momentum back. Just like he had planned, however, he fit perfectly into the squared-off tunnel and was able to continue.
"Oh, I get it now!"
"I thought he'd catch onto it before he got that far in, but I guess it takes a while sometimes."
He had lost his regular eyesight in submarine mode. He had to rely on his sonar now. The small telescope on his neck relayed the messages back to him, and although he didn't enjoy it as much, he made it through the tunnels without a scratch.
The tunnel finally opened, and Gundiver switched back into Gundam mode and stretched carelessly, rolling his shoulders.
"Now, it's the final test of Gundiver's talents. Let's see if he'll figure it out on his own."
He opened his eyes again. The wall in front of him had six buttons, each as big as him, arranged in a large circle. Easy; he had to press each of the six buttons, then something would happen. He rammed his body into one button, then shot backwards and full force into another. The third button, however, he didn't hit right-
With a muffled Clunk! his neck hit the third button, and his body froze. He hovered in the water for a second or two... then slowly began to drift to the bottom.
"Um... what just happened?"
"I... I don't know."
A worried muffle came through the concrete. Gundiver flipped over as he fell, his eyes dark... or maybe that was a shadow... hopefully...
Gundiver landed on his back on the bottom of the room, his eyes on the "closed" screen. Shaking his head, he pushed himself up with his arms.
The buttons had come unpressed. His eyes widened in realization; he had to press them all at once!
Despite the applause coming from the audience, a cold fear gripped his processor. What was he going to do? How was he going to press them all at once? He didn't have a wide-range attack he could use. He was too shaken to try pressing them with his body. They only thing that could do it was his brothers...
He felt an eddy of water whip past his earpiece. He turned around.
(Could you see this coming from a mile away?)
Gundiver Two waved at him, the other brothers forming a V pattern behind Two.
One bounded up, Two catching him in his arms and pulling him up to eye level with the rest of them. Before One could say anything, though, Two pointed to his neck and made a back-and-forth swishing motion with his palm down: he couldn't talk. With a single finger pointing upward, Gundiver Three let One know that it was Charon who told them not to.
One nodded understandingly. He jerked his head towards the buttons, pointing all of his fingers at the brothers. He gave what looked like a signal, then punched his fist into an open palm. The brothers nodded in agreement and swam into position, One placing himself in the middle of their circle.
"Did what I think just happened just happen?"
"I think we're seeing twin talk, Mel."
"You mean septuplet sign language."
With a wave of his arm, One sent the Gundivers plunged towards the buttons. They slammed into them each at full speed, hitting each one into the wall simultaneously. The wall opened up inside of the circle, leading to another water-filled room. One swam on through, his six brothers waving him goodbye.
"And Gundiver has almost made it all the way through! All he has to do is press the red button and he'll be done!"
Red button? Gundiver didn't see a red button. All he saw was bare walls, a bare floor, and no ceiling- but above that ceiling, just barely visible through the water, was a red speck.
That must've been it. Straightening himself like a torpedo, he turned off his restraints and let loose, shooting straight up through the water.
With a crash, he broke the surface, still soaring through the air. The red button came closer, he was only a few feet away-
He somersaulted in the air twice and hit the button with his toe, allowing him to swan-dive back into the waiting pool of water. He skimmed the surface and popped back up at the side, where Charon and Mel (both in swimsuits) had their hands out to greet him. They each gave him their non-microphone-holding hands and pulled him out of the water.
"Tubular!" Charon surfer-boyed.
"Radical!" Mel valley-girled.
The three shared a glance. "DUDE!" And then they laughed.