Phase 44 - Eyes Toward the Future

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED ETERNITY

Phase 44 - Eyes Toward the Future

July 2nd, CE 77 - Althea Crater lunar base, the Moon

She was out of the brig. At least there was that.

It was of little comfort to Emily von Oldendorf as she rode the admittedly nifty little moving floors around the Althea Crater base. The Resistance had quite eagerly set up shop here and turned it into a de facto staging area for what the rumors indicated was a final push to destroy Lord Djibril and the Phantom Pain fleet. Rumor had it that Djibril was hiding with his loyalists somewhere in the Debris Belt, perhaps near the often-overlooked colonies and shoal zones of Lagrange Point 1. Certainly it was a decent place to hide.

In the meantime, the Resistance had essentially claimed Althea Crater for its own, after eagerly looting everything of value from the base. But it wasn't all fun and games, because there were also the Extended labs that most of the fighters refused to even venture near. The ones who had gone down there had for the most come out shell-shocked not from the fighting, but from what they'd found.

That dark cloud of horror was sufficient to keep Emily confined to the base's upper levels, where loading bays, hangars, and assorted military infrastructure usually kept her attention nice and distracted from the evils down below.

And then there was Viveka. She leaned against the moving rail with a tired sigh.

"So those Extended are doing okay, I hear," she said quietly. " an extent. They're pretty fucked up."

Emily glanced out one of the windows to the left, and out over the surreal landscape of Earth's tireless satellite. "That's good."

"Yeah," she said. "But, well, they're all kids, and none of them have any parents, so..." She trailed off. "Lots of orphans, basically." Emily cringed at the distinct feeling of discomfort rising from her sister. ""

Emily frowned. "Are you mad at me for killing Father?"

"Oh no, he was an asshole. Good riddance. But, well, it got me thinking. We don't have our parents anymore. And there's a whole lot of kids here who are in the same boat..."

"You're not thinking of adopting one of these Extended or something, are you?"

Viveka blinked. "How the hell did you guess that?" She shook her head. "Well, uh, yes. Yes I am. You got a problem with that?"

"N-No, it's just..." Emily trailed off for a moment, searching for words. "I don't know. Wouldn't it be even worse than trying to raise a normal kid?"

"Probably. But someone will have to."

"And does Athrun know about this?"

Viveka shook her head. "I'll have to have a nice long talk with him about it, and I know how much he loves those. But it's just an idea I've been kicking around, for..." She waved her mechanical hand. "After the war, I guess. Looks like we're getting close to the end. So I guess it's time to start thinking about that sort of thing." She paused as they passed the makeshift graves outside of a handful of Resistance soldiers who had not been so lucky. "If...we survive."

Emily watched as the impromptu cross vanished into the distance. Her father was gone, her mother was gone, and the only tie she had left to the latter was locked inside an uncooperative human weapon.

After the war. She would have to get there first.

"You know," Meyrin said quietly, even though she, Athrun, and Shinn were safely inside the confines of the Minerva's captain's office, "I'm almost of a mind to let him get away with that one."

Athrun and Shinn glanced at each other. Killing Rondo Mina Sahaku probably was at least on the lower end of the list of evil things Rau Le Creuset had ever done.

"I still don't quite believe all this," Meyrin continued, "but between killing Mina and your testimony, I guess I don't have a choice. But if you're so concerned about what he's doing with Emily..."

"Not just her," Shinn spoke up. "But whatever else he might be up to. Whatever else in this war he might be influencing."

Meyrin looked questioningly at Athrun. "Probably not much," the blue-haired Coordinator said. "He's been here and we would've known long ago if he had been trying to influence world events or whatever from his bunk on the ship. But Rau is willing to be flexible, so..."

"So let me get this straight," Meyrin said. "He's the defective clone of a rich but unethical man who was seeking immortality. Since his body is deteriorating due to the cloning, he's angry at the world and wants to destroy it. He's manipulated both sides of the past three wars somehow in an effort to literally destroy the world." She turned towards Athrun, skepticism still clear in her eyes. "He handed the N-Jammer Canceller blueprints to Blue Cosmos so they could use nuclear weapons on the PLANTs. He engineered Gilbert Dullindal's rise to the Chairmanship and helped Lord Djibril take over Blue Cosmos. He helped set up the Junius 7 drop. And he quietly ran around the world setting up the pieces so everyone would slaughter each other at the end of the Junius War. Is that about it?"

Athrun shrugged. "Pretty much."

"Then what does this have to do with what Emily did?"

Shinn frowned. "She insisted she had to go face her father. She killed him. Rau provided her the information to get her here. And..." He trailed off, fearful of raising this possibility, but Athrun and Meyrin's inquisitive looks spurred him on. "I've got this theory. Whenever something really bad happens to her, like when her friend in the ZAFT remnant was killed during Argus's attack, she flips out and turns into a vicious force of nature. And now she's worrying about that clone of her mother, and they had a pretty good relationship, or at least she said they did. And I'm sure you've noticed that she hasn't really been herself ever since she got back from Mendel. So...I have this feeling that Rau sent her to go kill her father, so that he'd get her all stirred up, and from there he's setting her up for a fall with this clone. Because it's not going to work out. And when it fails, well..." He fell silent again. The thought spoke for itself.

Meyrin sat back. "Then, if he's so terrible and the consequences are so dire...what do we do?"

At that, Athrun leaned forward. "Well, whatever else, he'll need to be eliminated," he said. A bolt of determination flashed across his face. "All that we've said about him is true, but I've got something more personal to settle with him. "So leave him to me."

Roxy Bannon stood with crossed arms and mounting fury amid the debris of what had once been Althea Crater's commissary. Of course if the Phantom Pain didn't allow their troops to consume alcohol on the base, they weren't going to let them buy it there either. Sting and Auel had tried in vain to explain that, but Roxy had insisted that some officer somewhere had broken the rules. Whether or not that was true, however, was a moot point because now everything had been looted and the shelves were bare.

Roxy scowled. "Remind me to kick Emily's ass for making us go out and get her before I could raid the stores."

Sting and Auel both exchanged a look. "Did you really come here just to steal some booze?" Sting asked. "I mean, they still have lots of other crap left over."

"They're Phantom Pain officers, of course they're gonna have a sweet booze supply," Roxy said, and let out an airy sigh of defeat. "But of course. It's all gone by the time we get back."

"Well, it was probably all crap anyways," Auel said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Everyone knows Baileys is the best."

"You lightweight."

"Oh, shut up."

Sting cringed as another argument started up. After all this time Auel still couldn't really hold his liquor, and Roxy would never let him forget that fact.

He glanced around the debris as the Extended and the operator girl with the superhuman liver traded barbs. The Alliance had left this place in such a hurry, they hadn't even had time to kill off their Extended subjects, like they'd done at Lodonia. It was almost a shame, really, since for some of those kids death was probably the best thing that could have happened to him.

But he forced those thoughts out of his mind, because it wasn't right. This way, they had a chance and he would make sure they kept it.

He looked around again, imagining the labs far below. Horrible or not, at least now he knew his destiny and he knew Captain Lee would be proud.

It was all poor Lily Thevalley could do to keep up with the rapid movements as Stella Loussier cleaned the filter on her fish's aquarium with the speed and precision of a recruit at boot camp reassembling his rifle under the drill instructor's pitiless gaze. Nearby, Kazahana Aja was equally amazed as Stella snapped the filter back into place and stood back to watch it start back up. Inside, the fish stared quizzically at it for a moment, then stared at Stella for a moment, and then went back to...whatever it was fish did. Lily certainly had no idea.

"All done," Stella said, and dusted off her hands for effect.

"Wow," Kazahana said as she stared down at her watch. "Seventy-three point five seconds."

"Stella has to take care of him," she said quietly, and leaned down to peer at the rather satisfied-looking fish. "It's kind of a lot of work..."

"Yeah, but he's been around longer than most fish usually last," Kazahana offered, and peered inquisitively into the tank. "Especially since he's on a battleship and all."

The fish swam a few laps around the tank, seemingly content, and Stella set to work cleaning up the desk where her fish spent its days. Lily looked between her and Kazahana. The latter had offered her all kinds of information on how to get rid of her Extended implants and modifications, but she still had to decide whether or not to actually do that. Maybe she'd ask Emily. She'd probably know.

Kazahana seemed to know, anyways. Kazahana seemed to know everything, and yet her mother always seemed to hang around in the background with the other guys from Serpent Tail, watching her genius daughter with an amused look on her face.

Thinking about Kazahana's mother inevitably made Lily think about her own mother, or lack thereof. Maybe Emily would know what to do about that, too.

The guilt was starting to gnaw at Grey Saiba's heart as he once again looked out the window of his shared cell, across the hallway, where another handful of Phantom Pain captives sat waiting for their fate to happen to them. It was a horrible way to live, and Grey almost would have defected simply to avoid if he hadn't had other reasons.

Merau didn't appear to care either way, so there was that, but Erin was still a miserable wreck, and when she looked up at him again with tear-streaked eyes, he felt the guilt stab through his heart once more.

"Are you really going to defect?" she asked.

Grey shrugged. "It's better than rotting in here."

She stared blankly at the floor. "I guess."

"So...are you going to come with us?"

Erin blinked away her tears. "I...what about my father?"

"Y'know," Merau spoke up from her corner of the cell, "if we go over, they might offer us amnesty or whatever once they start war crime investigations."

Erin looked unconvinced, so Grey knelt down in front of her and put his hands on her shoulders. She looked up in surprise. "Neither of us are going to abandon you here," he said, "but if all we do is sit here, then who knows what will happen to us? At least if we go over, we'll be in control of our own destinies. And..." He shrugged. "I don't want to leave you alone in here."


"Of course not."

Erin looked back down at the floor in defeat. " say so."

"Being deployed so frequently, I was not privy to much gossip among the officers of the Phantom Pain," explained Ivan Danilov. He stood at the head of a small briefing room with a knot of Resistance leaders in the chairs before him, all of them looking on skeptically. Meyrin Hawke sat in the middle and felt decidedly out of place being briefed by an officer who still wore the black uniform of the Phantom Pain. "What I can say is that the Phantom Pain is probably going to remain loyal to Djibril to the end, with very few exceptions. We were up to our elbows in the worst of Djibril's schemes."

"So we'll be up against the whole of the Phantom Pain," said Aoma Vedlow, somewhere off to Meyrin's left, "as well as whoever else is loyal to Blue Cosmos's cause."

"Essentially," agreed Danilov.

Nobody seemed to find that a comforting thought, so Meyrin decided to speak up. "Without the support of a country, there's little he can do," she said, "so it's just a matter of finding him and finishing him off."

"Of course, the Atlantic Federation thoughtfully disabled the Requiem and destroyed its relay points," added a decidedly annoyed Meriol Pistis, "so we'll still have to do it the hard way."

Meyrin frowned. There was that and there was still ZAFT out there too. There was no doubt in her mind that they were planning something ghastly to take advantage of all this. The only question was what.

"In any event," Danilov said, "it is my recommendation that we find and destroy Djibril and his fleet as soon as possible, before it can gather anymore strength. Because there are things in the Phantom Pain that could make him very powerful," his face turned grim, "and it is best for the world that he not be allowed to use them."

Trojan Noiret blinked in mild disbelief. "Adoption?"

"Yeah," Emily said tiredly, "my sister wants to adopt one of those Extended." She shrugged. "I guess she's right. Someone will have to. It's just...weird, to think of how she might be as a mother."

Trojan leaned against the railing on the moving floor. "You think she'd be bad at it or something?"

"I dunno." She looked forlornly over her shoulder, out the windows, at the Moon's surface. "All I ever really knew about motherhood was what my mother did. And she couldn't really take care of us...y'know, feed us, play with us, make us do our homework. We had maids and nannies for that." She sighed. "Our mother was just...I dunno. Kind to us, I guess."

"Since your father wasn't."

"No." Her fists clenched around the rails as she thought back to those echoing words in the eerie halls of Mendel. "Not at all."

"Well," Trojan said, and Emily glanced over at him as she felt a ripple of nervousness swirl up from him, "since we're on this subject, what do you think is gonna happen to Lily?"

"To Lily?"

"Yeah. She's an Extended too, even if she's not as heavily-modified as she could've been."

Her stomach turned at the idea of what Lily might have been. And it all turned worse as she considered Trojan's point. She wasn't a whole lot older than Lily, but she certainly felt older and no matter how either of them felt, some bureaucracy somewhere would probably insist that Lily have a parent, or a guardian, or something.

But that was an even crazier idea. Emily was still acutely aware of the fact that she was still only sixteen years old. That was no age to go calling oneself a parent. Then again, it was no age to be a soldier, or to go killing her father, or anything else she'd been doing lately.

And yet it was still an unsettling thought, for entirely different reasons as well. Thinking of what Lily would need only brought her mind back to her own mother, and the seed of hope hiding somewhere in Unit Zero-Two.

"Well," she said quietly, "that's for after the war."

"Yeah," agreed Trojan, "but, well, might as well start thinking about it now."

ZAFT mobile space fortress Messiah, Lagrange Point 5

The lights came on with a crash and Unit Zero-Two, standing on an empty gantry in what had previously been a darkened mobile suit hangar, squinted at the sudden glare. As her eyes adjusted, she looked up and her jaw dropped in disbelief.

"A...Gundam?" she asked.

At her side, Vice Marshal Kira Yamato put his hands on the railing and nodded. "The ZGMF-X401VL Amaranth. Built on the frame of DSSD's Stargazer."

Zero-Two stared in disbelief at the white and silver mobile suit, with its beam wing emitters, the six DRAGOONs built into binders on its back, and that huge double-barreled beam rifle fashioned out of two "Barrus" particle cannons. And there was only one reason why they'd used the Stargazer as a base for this unit: locked up in those binders were the parts for the militarized Voiture Lumiere system. The power that made the Nightfall so formidable and made her enemy so difficult to beat, the power that had trashed the Providence ZAKU so effortlessly, would be hers to command.

Against her. Zero-Two cringed. All those tempting images of a life different from this one...but at the cost of leaving behind the comforting routine of automation and abandoning everything she was meant to be, to struggle against her own nature and try to bend the arc of her destiny somewhere else...

"You're going to be part of the Goliath's neural matrix," Kira explained. "The Goliath can't operate without two Newtypes whose brainpower it can draw on as needed. Marshal Sunogachi will be in the control room. You'll have to stand by, as the, ah, final line of defense for the Goliath, as it were." He paused. "And you'll have a special assignment during the battle."

"About the Nightfall?" she asked.

Kira nodded solemnly. "The Amaranth was designed particularly to take her down. It should be all you need."

Zero-Two looked back at the silver Gundam and crushed her doubts. Yes, all she needed was right here.

"That was supposed to go differently," grumbled Kara Guinness, arms crossed in the pilot's lounge overlooking the Fortuna's mobile suit hangar. Down below, the mechanics were putting the finishing touches on another round of repairs for the three VaROZ mobile suits. The damage to the machines had been light, but the damage to the egos of the pilots...well, that wasn't the mechanics' problem.

Gary Talon glanced at her in annoyance. "Are you still brooding about that?"

"Stop, both of you," Juarez said, before a fight could develop. "This isn't the time for that shit. We're going to be moving out in only a matter of days." They both looked inquisitively at him. "Orders from High Command. The fleet is marshaling around Messiah and the secret fleet is undergoing its testing. It's literally almost over."

Kara blanched. " mean the Goliath...?"

"Yes," Juarez said. He landed softly on the floor and stared down solemnly at his silent mobile suit. "Long story short, we are going to guard the ZAKU Goliath as it descends to Earth and protect its flanks as it starts destroying population centers and important infrastructure."

Silence drifted over the room like a cloud. "That'll kill a lot of people," Gary said quietly.

"Yes," Juarez replied. "That's the point."

Kara looked down at her own machine and tried to crush the knot in her stomach. But the thought of the Goliath plowing through cities and wiping out millions of people at once sent a shiver down her spine.

She tried to remind herself that it was necessary but these days, even that sounded hollow.

The door of his office aboard the Fortuna slid shut and Kira Yamato let out a heavy sigh. The final preparations for ZAFT's strike on the Earth, the vast sum of this war. A fleet had to be built, a second fleet had to be prepared, a superweapon had to be completed, and soldiers had to be prepared for the greatest battle the world had ever seen.

Operation Advent. That was what Valentine had decided to call this thing. The Advent, the second coming of a hero who would make the world right and just, who would burn away those who would do evil and deliver the chosen and righteous people from oblivion. And Kira knew all too well who Valentine had in mind to play the messianic role.

He shook his head. This burden was his to carry, and if he didn't...well, that wasn't worth thinking about.

Instead, he thought back to Fllay. Perhaps in a world of Newtypes, stretching the bounds of human minds and understanding, he could find some way to touch her presence again. He still recalled her at Jachin Due, the calming, comforting familiarity that had drawn him to least until Athrun had gotten in the way.

His blood boiled; he forced it back down. Better to leave that most guarded secret carefully stashed away, so that it could not be used against him.

But someday, he knew he would be with her again. Nobody truly understood the bizarre harmonics of Newtype communication. Perhaps someday he'd find her again. Valentine would understand that theirs was a different relationship. They were together here on Earth, but Fllay inhabited a deeper plane in his soul and he would find a way to go there once again.

The whole world would understand how to do that someday. And if it had to burn be it. He clenched his mismatched fists. He had made enough sacrifices. It was their turn now.

July 3rd, CE 77 - Althea Crater lunar base, the Moon

It was strange to finally see one of these mobile suits up close, without having to dodge shots and deal with the rattling and frenzy of battle. Emily leaned forward on the gantry to get a good look at the silent Regen Duel Gundam before her, as the mechanics looked over the complicated armor on its ankles.

At her side, Grey Saiba crossed his arms. "So you're letting us keep them?"

Emily shrugged. "Not my decision to make, but yeah, we are."


She glanced over at him. "Why not? You know these machines better than we do."

Grey looked back up at the Regen Duel's face. "This is the machine I used to help smash up the Twilight Gundam," he said. "I can do quite a bit of damage with it. So can Merau and Erin. You guys trust us enough to let us run around with that kind of power?"

An awkward silence descended over them both for a moment as Emily thought over her response. "If you were going to betray us," she said at last, "you would've done so already. And," she looked over at him again, "you wouldn't have flinched when I mentioned Volgograd."

Grey did just that as the memories threatened to resurface. "I don't have to be a bad person to go abusing your trust."

"I know. But you won't."

He blew out an annoyed breath through his nose. "I dunno how you can be so confident of that, but whatever."

Emily sighed. "It has its downsides."

Rau Le Creuset held back a grin as he felt Emily's presence drifting about the base. She had come back with all kinds of brooding ideas from that little confrontation with her father on Mendel, and that suited his purposes just fine. And she'd come back more determined than ever to rescue Unit Zero-Two. Even better.

Of course, it had come at the cost of the Mendel colony itself. Rau thought back bitterly to the six months he'd spent there after the Junius War, undergoing highly experimental and probably illegal chemical therapy under a less than ethical doctor's watchful eye to stave off the worst of his genetic deterioration. But sacrifices were necessary and at this point, he figured he'd wrung all the use he could from that little graveyard.

If he knew Valentine Sunogachi's crazed little mind, he knew she would not pass up the opportunity to launch the one decisive orgy of bloodletting her increasingly failing grasp on reality required as the Earth Alliance crumbled. And if the Goliath was a reality now, she would have concentrated incredible destructive power into a single massive mobile weapon. And on his side of the fence, he had a weapon of his own, with a mind that was likewise fading from the world. All she needed was enough despair to act on it.

In the meantime, his Newtype senses had not failed to pick up the odd note of coldness in his interactions with Captain Hawke. No doubt Shinn or Athrun had finally managed to convince her of the awful truths in his past. But it was too late now. Everyone was too late.

He smiled as he felt Emily's presence again. For so many years, he had waited to bring down justice on this miserable world, and now finally it was all coming to pass.


The word bounced around the walls of Athrun's bunk on the Minerva, and Viveka shifted awkwardly where she sat on his bed. "Yeah," she said, "it' idea I've been kicking around, ever since..." She trailed off and looked back at him.

Sitting at his desk, Athrun seemed entirely thunderstruck. "You...want to adopt an Extended...with me?"

Viveka glanced away nervously. "Well, uh, when you put it like that, maybe we're moving too fast...?"

Silence enveloped them both as Athrun sat back. "I guess now is the time to tell you," he said. "Copland has asked me to become Orb's new administrator after the war, pending a return to independence. He'd put me in charge of rebuilding Orb physically, economically, politically, everything."

" could basically shape the country any way you wanted?"

"That's why he chose me, I guess." He shrugged. "I'd be the most trustworthy to make sure Orb is something positive, or something."

Viveka stared down at the floor. "So...what does this mean...?"

"Well," he said, "it means I had a question for you but since you asked yours first..." He shook his head. "I have no idea how we could even raise an Extended. Raising a normal kid sounds like enough of a challenge, but...well, imagine raising Stella. That's pretty much what I'm thinking of."

"I know," Viveka answered. She trailed off with a frown, and then looked back up at Athrun and decided not to worry. "This is gonna sound crazy, but when Emily told me that she'd killed our father and I told her it didn't bother me, well, I kinda lied. I've been thinking about how we don't have our parents anymore, and how those kids...aren't really that different from my sister, when you think about it."

"So you want to give at least one of them the chance to have a better life," Athrun finished, and Viveka nodded. He sat back thoughtfully. "Well, then I guess it's time for my question. After the war, I'd have to move to Orb to be its administrator, and it would be a difficult and demanding job. And I probably can't do it alone. So "

"Yes, I'll go with you."

Athrun smiled. "Who needs Newtypes when I have you?"

With the sound of the hangar dulled by the Zulfiqar Gundam's armor, Shinn Asuka sat back in the cockpit and closed his eyes as the hatch shut and wrapped him in darkness. Technically, he was supposed to be working on adjustments to the OS, but that could wait.

Instead, he let his mind drift back to the Minerva's battle with the Fortuna. He felt these days as though he was no longer in control of his life, as though destiny was sweeping him to a final conclusion in some long, torturous story. And that feeling left him feeling nothing that his abortive rematch with Kira Yamato had ended so inconclusively. He knew they would meet again before this war was done, and when they did, Kira Yamato would not escape again.

He wrapped his mind around the embers of hatred still burning in his heart. Mayu would not have wanted him to be this way; perhaps if he had been the one to die on that mountainside and she'd survived, she might not have held it against the careless pilot up there who had thoughtlessly blown away a family. But he didn't have Mayu's forgiving nature.

Maybe Kika would have understood. Or maybe she wouldn't have. She hadn't understood when he'd gone headlong against the Freedom Gundam in the first place, but maybe he'd simply never explained it clearly enough. But whenever his thoughts turned back to his once and future foe, he began to miss her desperately and crave the feeling he had that she knew all the answers and she could guide his life back on track. Of course, she couldn't, but he no longer cared.

Thinking of Kika inevitably sent him back to the embers of hatred for the man who had killed her. And that was the point, because even those embers had started to fade as time went on and more pressing enemies than Kira Yamato had reared their ugly heads in his life. But Rey still put his trust in him, or whatever it was that was going on when he saw his old friend's apparition before his eyes, and he was an obvious menace to the world. He would need that hatred to drive him beyond his own limits.

He sighed and wondered if they would have understood. They probably wouldn't. They probably would have wanted him to worry more about what he would do after the war. But he couldn't do that not yet.

The Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Atlantic Federation

There were many things that spurred Admiral MacIntyre to keep on with his dangerous game and his onerous tasks, and one of them was sitting in front of him in his office. Seri Minamoto hardly looked like the precocious assassin that had paved in blood Robert Meyers' ascent to power. But there was a reason for that.

"As an Extended," MacIntyre said, "legally, you would probably be free from any liability for what you've done in his service."

Seri cast her eyes towards the floor. "Legally."

"And as for the rest, I can't help you with that."

"I know," she said, "but...he's going to make me keep doing this. And I'm tired of it. I can't take it anymore." She looked back up at him with those big blue eyes that made him think of poor Alison. "I...just want to stop."

MacIntyre sighed sadly. "If you want to stop, the only way is to do it again. There's no way to guarantee your safety otherwise."

"I know," she repeated, and hung her head. "One more time. I'll do it one more time. But anymore..."

The old man risked a smile. "I see he inspires no loyalty in you either."

Seri buried her face in the palms of her hands. "I just want to have a kind of normal life for once. I look around at the other senators' kids and their staff's kids and it makes me wonder why I can't be like that too."

"Well then," MacIntyre said, "if we're going to make that happen, you know what you need to do."

She sat back up and scrubbed the tears away. "I understand."

July 4th, CE 77 - Earth Alliance Girty Lue-class battleship Ahura Mazda, Debris Belt

Lord Djibril fought down the urge to smash his cane into something as he drifted down the corridors of the Ahura Mazda.

It was intolerable. Even before his fleet could set out, someone had caught wind of the feelers he'd dispatched to Rear Admiral Garcia over at Artemis and before he could do anything about it, the Eurasian Federation had swept in to arrest him. Djibril supposed it wasn't all that surprising; Eurasian High Command had always been looking for reasons to sack that sorry excuse for an officer, and if Djibril himself had ever made it to Artemis, he probably would have cut the useless bastard's throat and left it at that himself. But Garcia's fall meant Artemis would not be a safe haven for his loyalists, and that left them out in the Debris Belt prey to whatever passed through and found them.

And then there was ZAFT. Their fleet had returned to Lagrange Point 5. Meyers, the fool, wasn't doing anything to stop them. His troops had disabled the Requiem and destroyed the control points, and the Alliance's former space fleets were busy searching for him instead of worrying about ZAFT.

It was all the more intolerable as Djibril realized that he was watching the impending end of civilization and he was apparently the only one in the universe who realized it. Everything had led up to this day, when the Coordinators would show their true colors and try to bring the world crashing down. He had laid the pieces so carefully so that they would not survive it. And yet he was a fugitive and Valentine Sunogachi was about to bring Armageddon to Earth.

He clenched his fist around his cane. If the Earth Sphere cried out for a hero, he would be there to answer, whether or not they deserved it. A blue and clean world was far more important than the petty machinations of politics.

ZAFT mobile space fortress Messiah, Lagrange Point 5

"I'm glad you could attend our little ceremony," Valentine Sunogachi said with an expectant grin as Unit Zero-Two snapped a rigid salute to the Marshal of ZAFT. At her side, Kira shifted nervously. The three of them passed through a door onto a gantry in yet another darkened hangar, but this one, Zero-Two realized, was no ordinary mobile suit bay. This was a warship hangar. The lights came on with a crash and Zero-Two could not hide her shock at what she saw.

A huge mountain of red and gold armor stretched up before her, larger than a warship. Four enormous sets of beam shield equipment stretched off its broad shoulders. A massive cannon sat in its right hand. It dwarfed the army of black mobile suits assembled around it. Zero-Two backed against the rail and craned her head to see the top of this colossus.

"Behold," Valentine said with arms outstretched, "the ZAKU Goliath." She swept around, cape swirling around her. "It has dozens of beam cannons and missile launchers on its main body. It has a miniaturized version of the NEO-GENESIS system. It has a beam shield derived from the one on Messiah. It has DRAGOONs and an army of Newtype-controlled mobile suit defenders. In every sense of the word, it is unstoppable. And you," she extended a hand towards Zero-Two, "are part of its very soul."

"M-Me?" she started.

"I will rely on your help to control the Goliath in battle," she explained, "and I'll need you to protect it from that pesky Nightfall character." She turned back towards the Goliath with utter adoration in her eyes, and at her side, Kira squirmed. "And together we're going to bring justice to this world."

Zero-Two looked back up at the monster machine's faraway head, and a monoeye stared back down at her pitilessly.

Justice to this world, huh...?

To be continued...