Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY - Red Planet
Phase 05 - Revolutionary
November 20th, CE 76 - Martian Liberation Army research station Ceti XIII
"Magnificent!" cackled Omega Suzuki as he alighted on the hangar gantry's railing. Bald and bespectacled Major Thomas of the Technical Division and Howard watched as Omega looked over the new mobile suit before him. The Astray Mars Jacket was still missing its heavy crimson outer armor, but on the other hand those two massive katanas on its back and its dramatic white and red finish made it look imposing all on its own.
"As you can see, the outer armor is not yet complete," Thomas began, "but we hope— "
"Can this machine fight the Strike Freedom as is?" interrupted Omega, a wild grin on his lips. Thomas blinked in surprise.
"Um, yes sir, but— "
"Colonel," Howard cut in, "that may not be wise— "
"I'll be fine," Omega went on with a dismissive wave of his hand, "but aren't you dying to see this thing in a live combat situation? See how well your work stacks up against the real thing?"
"Of course," Thomas answered, "but sir, the Mars Jacket isn't even complete yet."
"Let's just say I'm short on time," replied Omega, "and I'm not willing to miss an opportunity to take another shot at Kira Yamato. Understand?"
The look on Thomas plainly showed that he did not, but he nodded nonetheless. "We have orders from Generalissimo Vargas to move the Turn Delta to Deimos anyways. We can let you use the Mars Jacket during the operation."
Omega's grin widened. "Perfect."
Austral Colony, Charitum Montes, Mars
Agnes Brahe fixed the man before him with a steely look. Gard Dell Hokura was probably the most professional and fit of the five misfit soldiers that Djibril had sent to Mars, but that didn't mean Agnes had to like him. He was undoubtedly spying on the Martians for Djibril, and the thought that he was doing the bidding of Blue Cosmos's leader made Agnes' skin crawl either way. Blue Cosmos had no foothold at Mars— except for these damned pilots.
"The Daggers are perfectly suited to combat on the Martian surface, sir," Gard explained. "As far as we're concerned, it's little different from the lunar surface in the Earth Sphere."
Agnes studied Gard's impassive face for a moment. "There will be no room for mistakes, you know. We of the Austral Colony represent the finest military force the MLA has to offer. ZAFT will not hold back against us."
Holding back a sigh, Agnes turned towards the railing of the gantry overlooking the Austral Colony's dock, where the crimson Acidalium was undergoing much-needed repairs. So much was riding on his back alone, on the shoulders of his Delta Astray.
"If I may, sir," Gard went on, "I'd like to point out that my team is consistently able to fight the Fortuna's mobile suit complement, and match them blow for blow."
"Matching them blow for blow isn't good enough when our objective is to destroy them."
Speaking up for the first time since the conversation began, Nahe stepped out of the shadows and cleared his throat. "To be fair, Agnes, destroying them is just a consolation prize. Especially in this battle. Our real objective is to protect the Austral Colony."
Agnes narrowed his eyes. "No. We have to destroy them. I have to destroy them." He whirled around angrily on the two dark-skinned men. "I don't expect either of you to understand it. But I have to destroy Kira Yamato and his minions. Otherwise Mars will never have peace."
"Agnes," Nahe said with a laugh, "it doesn't come down to just one man."
Agnes turned again, glowering down at the Acidalium.
It does in this war.
"Man, this sucks," groaned Vanfeldt, feet propped up on a table as he watched with the rest of Gard's team as supplies were loaded into the Acidalium. What sucked was not the resupply work, but rather the tense atmosphere in the observation room among the other three pilots. Those bastards needed to lighten up.
"Quit your bitchin'," snapped Waid. "You don't even have to worry about what you're gonna fucking fly out there."
"Oh yeah?" Vanfeldt shot back with a grin. "What, you can't keep up with the Slaughter Dagger anymore?"
At Waid's side, Hoskin regarded the Acidalium's Dagger units coldly, visible in the ship's open hangar. "We were not sent with the best machines the Alliance had to offer. They could have equipped us with Windams."
"Don't you get it?" cackled Vanfeldt. "We're expendable!"
Across the room, Sars seemed to jump at the word, and Vanfeldt shot him a wolfish grin.
"Shut up, Vanfeldt," Hoskin interrupted, before either could speak. "You're scaring Sars."
"Oh, don't get so down on yourself," Waid chuckled, clapping a reassuring hand on Sars' shoulder and ignoring the way he jumped in surprise. "These guys may be all Coordinators, but they're the leftovers from Solomon's Sword. The rejects and shitbags who just got lucky. They can't beat us with that."
"If you say so," muttered Sars with a nervous glance.
ZAFT Minerva-class battleship Fortuna, orbit of Mars
The Impulse Gundam.
It was one of ZAFT's finest creations, and Kara Guinness, floating before her unit in the Fortuna's hangar, realized with a start just how proud— and how lucky— she was to pilot it. Granted, there were at least five other units beside her own in service with ZAFT, and there was a seventh unit unaccounted for in the Earth Sphere, but she was still part of a singular elite. It took skill and discipline to pilot a mobile suit with the unique feature of being able to disassemble and reassemble itself in midair.
Not only did it take skill and discipline, but to be one of this exclusive club of Impulse pilots, it took trust. Kara's blood boiled at the thought. She had still been in the Academy when the news came that the Impulse's first pilot, Shinn Asuka, had betrayed his country at Arzachel Crater. And the fiasco at Arzachel, topped off by Asuka's treachery, was the start of a long and sad decline that led the bedraggled soldiers of ZAFT to this spot, this miserable exile, on the unforgiving red planet.
Trust was what Shinn Asuka had broken, and trust is what ZAFT— what Marshal Yamato, even— had placed in her by giving her this remarkable machine. The Traitor Asuka, after all, had stained his Impulse unit's hands with the blood of far too many of his former comrades.
She glanced at the machine's left shoulder armor, where she found the stylized, swooping emblem of FAITH— another symbol of trust. The political system of the PLANTs was long gone and there was no Chairman to whom the elite soldiers of FAITH could answer, but there was Marshal Sunogachi and Vice Marshal Yamato, and they were swept up in the hopes and dreams of the Coordinators like no Chairman had ever been. She was a member of FAITH and a pilot of an Impulse Gundam unit— two gestures of supreme, humbling trust by the two commanders she knew would save their people from extinction.
But Marshal Yamato had for her a third such gesture, because she had the singular honor of flying into battle at the gleaming Strike Freedom's side. He— and all of ZAFT— trusted her to support him in combat. What greater honor and trust was there than that?
Only once she had understood that honor and trust did she realize how humbling it was to bear that weight on her shoulders. And she was only a pilot, not tasked with the burden of leadership. What did it mean to be Marshal Yamato, and bear the weight of a hero?
That, she supposed, was maybe why he always looked so sad.
Kira studied the display before him on the desk of his office carefully for a moment. The ZAFT fleet itself at Austral would be relatively small, and most of the fighting and dying would be done by the ZMA regulars. That was an unsettling thought, but this was war and war was full of those. The ZAFT troops to be dropped would likely benefit from the hundreds of human shields surrounding them during their descent, but the battle would inevitably become little more than a wide array of disconnected units battering at Austral's defenses and causing unquantifiable chaos.
And, of course, if things went poorly, there was always Thunderclap.
Kira glanced up at Kayla, standing dutifully in front of his desk. "When we attacked Event Horizon," he said, "what was Admiral Harkill's staff estimating the casualty count at Austral to be?"
Recalling facts and figures was one of Kayla's strong points, and Kira felt slightly guilty about using her as a walking database. "About a thousand ZMA soldiers," she answered, "and about a hundred ZAFT soldiers. He could not estimate enemy losses, but believes that they will be over five thousand."
That would be optimistic, Kira mused. Five thousand enemy deaths, perhaps. "What about civilians?"
Kayla shrugged. "His staff focused only on military casualties. I can ask him— "
"It's alright," Kira interrupted. "I'm just being sentimental again."
"There's nothing wrong with that, sir."
Of course there is, thought Kira. Being sentimental meant showing weakness, and this world of lies and hatred was too cruel to let him be weak. Not now, not yet. He had to be hard and cold, because the world was harder and colder— hard and cold enough to use the Thunderclap without a second thought.
"I think that's enough for today," Kira said with a sigh. "There's not a whole lot in the way of planning we can do for this anyway. It'll all be rushed. You're dismissed." He offered her a reassuring smile as he returned her salute.
Kira watched her leave with a heavy heart. No matter what he did at the Austral Colony, they would still consider him a hero.
November 21st, CE 76 - ZAFT mobile space fortress Messiah, orbit of Mars
There was no room for mistakes, reflected Raclyffe. Messiah's blueprints stared back at him from his computer terminal in his bunk. The amount of control his troops needed to exercise over this fortress was staggering. They would need to control the main control room, the secondary control points, the reactor section, the docking bays, and the airspace around the fortress itself. The Thales could take care of that final point, and he only hoped that two hundred infantry would be enough to control the rest and force Vice Marshal Yamato and Marshal Sunogachi into a position of negotiation.
He glanced over the rest of the fortress. It was the ultimate power in this patch of space, and it was only fitting, he supposed, that the home of ZAFT's exiled survivors be named for the great leader that would one day return and bring justice. Coordinators would rally around Messiah, and with ZAFT as its vanguard, it would deliver the suffering survivors in the Earth Sphere from Blue Cosmos.
But that would only happen if Marshal Sunogachi was removed. He glanced over the control points again. Two hundred infantrymen could control Messiah, he supposed, and a Nazca-class destroyer could keep its guns trained on the main control room as an additional threat against any ZAFT troops loyal to Sunogachi. With all that in place, all that remained was to negotiate for control of ZAFT with Vice Marshal Yamato.
Raclyffe paused to consider the great hero of ZAFT. He outwardly showed all the necessary hallmarks of loyalty to Sunogachi, but what was lurking behind those mismatched eyes? As the Vice Marshal he was surely privy to Sunogachi's plans, and if he was as great as the rank and file believed, surely he would recognize insanity for what it was.
Where did Kira Yamato's loyalties truly lie? Raclyffe sat back and pondered.
"Frankly, President Schroeder," Valentine said with a sardonic air and steepled fingers in Messiah's main control room, "I am out of patience for this war. It is not really the fight we came for, and every loss we incur is a setback towards our real goal. And you know as well as I do that the Alliance won't wait for us to come back to them forever."
On the main screen, Wilhelm Schroeder of the ZMA blanched at the thought of the Alliance suddenly finding reason to pay more attention to Mars. "Of course, Marshal, but I have to be honest. We do not have the resources to successfully end this war without ZAFT's help. We are armed with your army's surplus and our space fleet consists of old refitted freighters. The MLA is getting materiel from Lord Djibril. Alone, we are outclassed."
"Of course you are," Valentine answered, fixing him with a scathing look, "which is why it's your men who are going in first on the Austral operation and not mine. But your forces are not moving hard enough against Deimos, and I want to know why."
"Marshal, with respect, it's because we are under-equipped— "
"You are not," Valentine snapped, and Schroeder fell silent as the Marshal's face twisted in fury. "I don't know what's gotten into you, Schroeder, but I shall remind you that you are subordinate to ZAFT in all respects for the duration of our stay here. We are the power here. We are the power that made you, that gave you an army, that arms you and supports you and makes you a force in the Martian Sphere. No colony would respect you and no one would rally to your banner without us. And we do not need you, so if you renege on your part of our deal," her lips curled into a wicked grin, "well, I'm sure you understand."
Schroeder stared back with a look of disbelief. "Marshal, I know you're just using my men as meat shields— "
"Our men, actually," interrupted Valentine, her voice icy. "Don't act like the ZMA is yours, Schroeder. We gave it to you, and we can just as easily take it away from you." She shrugged. "If it's any consolation, we're only doing it this once. I'll have need for a flock of Naturals when we return to the Earth Sphere."
At that, Schroeder's pale face went even paler. "E-Excuse me?"
"You didn't think we were going to just up and leave, did you?" cackled Valentine. "Of course not. Why do you think we want to keep the factories and infrastructure intact? Mars will be our stronghold still, and if you want to hold on to what power and privilege you have right now, you'd best make sure that it stays that way." She grinned, and enjoyed the spectacle as Schroeder squirmed like a cornered animal. "Understand?"
Schroeder relented. "Of course."
Martian Liberation Army Izumo-class battleship Elysium, en route to Mars
His name was Sam Janelin, and this cocky, blue-haired young Coordinator was the test pilot that Major Thomas had personally selected for the mighty new Turn Delta. Regarding him on the Elysium's bridge, Omega Suzuki could not really disagree with that decision. "Shooting Star Janelin," as he was called, had been a reputable ace before being pulled off the front lines for testing in the Turn Delta. And what a machine it was— only an ace of Janelin's skill and reputation could effectively control the Voiture Lumiere.
"I want you to take everything that the mechanics told you about cautious testing, Lieutenant Janelin," Omega said, "and forget about it. I have a better idea for testing the Turn Delta."
Janelin arched an eyebrow, intrigued. "You do?"
Omega grinned. "We're taking on the Strike Freedom."
His grin widened as he noticed the smirk crossing over Janelin's lips. An ego to match his talents— perfect. "I don't suppose you'll be letting me play alone, will you?"
"Of course not. I'll be testing the Mars Jacket. But there is no better opponent to try out this weapon against than ZAFT's gleaming little hero, don't you agree?"
"I suppose," Janelin said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "But this seems rather, you know, random. We'd be ambushing them in the middle of nowhere and putting the freighter at risk."
Omega glanced out the bridge windows at the bright orange Marseille III-class freighter Nadia, cruising along closely beside the Elysium. "What is war without some risk?"
"But this is unnecessary risk."
Omega fixed Janelin with a silencing stare. "Lieutenant, are you really going to pass up a chance to fight Kira Yamato?" He held back a grin as Janelin paused to reconsider. "What would make a more impressive test for the Turn Delta, not to mention for you, than to fight against the very best pilot and mobile suit that ZAFT has to offer? Think of the possibilities. You could singlehandedly turn the tide of this war."
At that, Janelin's eyes lit up, and Omega knew he had struck gold. "Very well, then, colonel," the blue-haired ace said with a grin. "You're on."
"Perfect. We launch in three hours." Omega glanced over at Howard. "Captain, if you'd be so kind as to change our course," he grinned, "we have a date with Kira Yamato."
Austral Colony, Charitum Montes, Mars
"The Beelzebub Array will make all of these considerations moot," explained Emmanuel Vargas, his face lined with annoyance taking up the huge main screen of the Austral Colony's control room. Agnes Brahe crossed his arms and struggled not to look too spitefully at him. "We are low on resources and manpower. The ZMA's fleet is moving towards Deimos. The Beelzebub Array is our last viable option to win this war, and in order to complete it, we need to buy as much time as possible and preserve as many of our forces as possible to defend it."
Agnes felt his face twitch in anger. "Sir," he began, fighting to keep the venom out of his voice, "I understand Beelzebub's importance. But we are undermanned and isolated, and we cannot fend off a joint invasion by ZAFT and the ZMA on our own. We need reinforcements."
"I know. And I told you that we have none to spare."
Fury bubbled up through Agnes' veins. "We will be knocked out of the war, or worse."
Vargas fixed Agnes with a petrifying stare, and it was all Agnes could do to keep the fury off his face. "Lieutenant Brahe, until Beelzebub is complete, all operations not crucial to its completion are on hold. That includes the defense of Austral. I would like to commit forces to the colony's defense, but this is a war, lieutenant, and sacrifices must be made. We do not have the resources and men to support such an operation." He shrugged, and his indifference made Agnes' blood boil. "If it's any consolation, the enemy occupation will not be long. Once Beelzebub is complete, we will be able to force ZAFT to the table and make them agree to terms of our choosing, including evacuation of Austral Colony. But we cannot sacrifice the entire war for one colony." He fixed Agnes with a look that brooked no disagreement. "Understood?"
Agnes swallowed hard. "Understood."
"Good." Vargas offered a thin smile. "Best of luck in your battle with ZAFT. Deimos, out."
The screen went dark, and at the back of the room, Nahe Hershell braced himself. Here it comes...
The storm began with Agnes putting a dent into the console before him with his fist. "I cannot tolerate this!" He whirled around, eyes wide with rage. "We have fought loyally as Vargas's dogs for two years and now, in our moment of greatest need, he abandons us!"
"Agnes," Nahe began while keeping his distance, "he does have a point. The main MLA force doesn't have much to spare and the ZMA fleet— "
"He needs us, Nahe!" roared Agnes. "Without us he has nothing that can take on Yamato!"
Nahe shifted uncomfortably and glanced at one of the men at the side console. "Corporal, if you'd call up the footage from yesterday..."
The main screen flickered to life, and Agnes turned in horror as he saw a white and red mobile suit dart across the starry sky. White and red, with a huge yellow piece of machinery on its back— a piece of machinery that was sprouting the telltale pink beam wings of the Delta Astray.
"That's the Turn Delta," explained Nahe quietly. "The MLA's first in-house mobile suit to use the Voiture Lumiere system. It's not as efficient as ours, but it's more powerful and it's only a matter of time before they figure out how to mass-produce it. I wager that Vargas is buying time for that as much as he is for Beelzebub."
Agnes stared in disbelief at the Turn Delta, swooping by with beam wings glimmering against the stars. "He doesn't need us anymore." He turned back towards Nahe. "Then why is he stringing us along with these half-promises?"
"He's a politician," Nahe answered with a shrug. "Probably keeping his options open. Besides, he never did like us, and it's not as though the feeling was ever mutual. I don't know why you never saw this coming."
Agnes ran a hand ruefully through his hair. "So we're on our own. What do we have to fight the invasion with?"
"Ten thousand troops, about nine hundred mobile suits total. Our space fleet is down to ten Marseille III ships and another hundred and fifty mobile suits. And before you ask, we've got no idea what numbers ZAFT and the ZMA will throw at us."
Hopelessness, Agnes realized, was the feeling rising through his chest. Vargas had abandoned the Austral Colony. They did not have the forces to fend off the enemy. ZAFT smelled blood in the water and would not accept anything less than outright capitulation. Yes, this was it, there was simply no more hope.
No more hope, perhaps, but as Agnes looked back up at the glimmering Turn Delta, that did not mean he could not fight.
Kira Yamato, after all, would expect nothing less.
ZAFT Minerva-class battleship Fortuna, en route to Mars
Fifteen thousand civilian deaths. That was Admiral Harkill's estimate for the death toll at the Austral Colony. The conservative estimate. The not so conservative estimate ran from anywhere between thirty to one hundred thousand.
Kira quickly moved to put the number in perspective. Even the worst-case estimate was far less than one percent of the people killed by the Requiem cannon in CE 74. Surely that many people died on Earth in a single day of mundane things like traffic accidents and diseases and old age, to say nothing of the guerrilla war that Valentine's spies reported was raging across the Earth Sphere.
And either way, Kira knew that Admiral Harkill's worst-case scenario was not the real worst-case scenario. The population of the Austral Colony was just over one million, and not many of them would survive a nuclear blast, even in the rarified Martian atmosphere.
Kira glanced up at Kayla, who stood before his desk silently, waiting for him to speak. He immediately felt a little guilty, making her just stand there awkwardly while he brooded.
"Is there something wrong with Admiral Harkill's estimates?" she asked.
He shook his head, and regarded her for a moment. "Do you know about the Austral Colony's society?" Kayla blinked, and Kira took that as a no. "They genetically tailor every baby towards a certain class of tasks," he explained, "on the reasoning that the colony is cramped and far from assistance, so every person needs to have a vital function. Your vocation throughout your life at the colony is decided before you're born by genetic manipulation, and, at least within the Austral Colony, you're not permitted to change that job. If you were designed to be a menial worker but you want to be a teacher or a leader, too bad." He arched an eyebrow at her. "What do you think of that?"
"That's horrible, sir."
"I agree." Kira sat back thoughtfully. "Now, battles being what they are, there's a good chance that far more civilians will be killed there than Admiral Harkill estimates. The worst case scenario, we'll say, is that every single one of them die. What do you think of that?"
Kayla struggled for words for a moment. "Th-That would be horrible too."
At that, Kira smiled sadly. "Now, some people have left the Austral Colony. But because of their genetic predispositions and social conditioning, they've found that doing what they want to do rather than what they were made to do is almost impossible. A menial worker at the Austral Colony wasn't given the aptitude to do anything but menial work. So no matter what happens, anyone born at the Austral Colony will be subject to that genetic caste system." He fixed Kayla with a look, wondering what she was thinking. His nascent senses picked up anxiety and worry from her, but he could not be sure what she was worried about. "So," he continued, "which would be worse? To let them all live or to let them all die?"
For a moment, Kayla was thoughtfully silent, and Kira almost wondered if she had no answer before she spoke up. "I think it doesn't matter either way, sir," she said, "because there's nothing anyone can do to help them."
Kira felt that answer sting his heart. Yet he knew it had at least a little truth to it. If he used the Thunderclap and erased the Austral Colony from the face of Mars, he would destroy a million lives against their will; if he let them live, he would leave them in miserable bondage. Either way he was doing evil. Which was worse?
"If I may say so, sir," Kayla continued, to Kira's surprise, "I feel that you're worrying about this too much. We're at war, and the MLA is not nearly as evil an enemy as the Alliance will be. And," she faltered for a moment, and Kira felt the anxiety spike, "and we need you to be strong, sir. You are the hero of our people." She gestured outward, towards everything— the ship, Messiah, the fleet, everyone within them. "Without you and Marshal Sunogachi, we're a broken and angry band of survivors. Most of us would have committed suicide by now. We're in a hopeless, miserable exile, and every day we spend fighting the MLA is a day wasted, because we all know that the Alliance is still in the Earth Sphere and they're still getting stronger. And we, the last of the Coordinators, have to be ready for them." She looked pleadingly at the hero of ZAFT, and Kira felt more than ever the burden of the name. "We'll follow you no matter what you do and where you go. We know you won't lead us astray. But sir, please, you have to be strong. Not just for me, or for yourself, but for all of ZAFT. We can't do what we have to do if we see you falter, sir."
Kira felt the words gnaw at him. If only she knew just how much under which he was faltering, she might not be telling him to be strong. But she was right. ZAFT looked to him and to Valentine as fervently and desperately as they looked to the fleet's return to the Earth Sphere. It was hope. Kira Yamato bested his foes in combat, and Valentine crafted ingenious plans to restore the might of ZAFT's fighting forces. They believed in him. They followed him. They required him to lead him.
No matter what.
He closed his eyes and smiled. "I'm sorry, Kayla. You're right."
Juarez glanced ruefully between the simulator readout sheets and a skeptical Gary Talon, both of them floating in front of the Fortuna's simulator room. Gary was a great pilot, Juarez hated to admit— because if he did, that would just swell the bastard's ego to greater unknowable sizes, and the last thing Gary Talon needed was an increase in his ego.
"I don't understand why they won't turn over the Destiny Impulse units to us," Gary muttered. "It's not like we aren't qualified."
"Our units perform fine, Gary."
"And what if they don't?" Juarez glanced up in mounting irritation. "What if we need that extra performance, against the MLA or against the Alliance? What then, huh?"
"Gary, look, maybe our commanders have a better idea of what to do with new equipment than you do. This army isn't about giving you the nicest new toys."
Gary very nearly snarled. "If you want to win— "
"Oh, shut up," Juarez snapped, and finally tossed aside the papers and seized Gary by the collar. "I have just about fucking had it with your egotistical whining, so as the squad commander, I am going to say this once and if it doesn't take then I'll beat the shit out of you until it does." He scowled, and inwardly relished the look of surprise and mild fear that crossed Gary's features. "You may have been born here, but you're a Coordinator, and as long as you are a soldier of ZAFT, that comes first. You can't imagine what it is we went through in the Earth Sphere. You weren't a part of it, and that's not going to change. But you're a Coordinator, and you're one of us— you're not better than us." He tapped the well-polished FAITH badge on Gary's chest. "See that thing? Remember the ceremony and the importance attached to it? It means you're not a fucking Martian anymore, you're a soldier of ZAFT, you're a member of FAITH, and if you don't start acting like it there will be hell to pay like you can't even fathom." He pushed Gary's back against the wall. "Got it?"
Gary almost audibly gulped. "Got it."
"Good fucking answer." Juarez pushed him to the side. "Now get out of my sight."
As Gary slinked off in defeat, Juarez turned back towards the discarded papers, muttering curses to himself.
Damn you, Gary, I want out of here too. He glanced down the hallway. This isn't where our enemy is.
"It's too bad we're going to be in orbit for this battle," sighed Lyle, sitting back in the Fortuna's captain's chair. Carlos glanced down at him from his place next to the mobile suit deck console. "We'll miss all the action at Austral."
"There's still their space fleet, sir," Carlos pointed out.
"Yes, but they'll be far from our location," Lyle said, "so— "
A wail of alarms from the sensor console cut him off, and all eyes turned sharply towards it. The sensor officer bent down over the display for a moment.
"Captain, a heat signature from eleven o'clock. It looks like the Elysium."
Lyle snapped his eyes towards the bridge windows, where he could see the flickering light of the Elysium's exhaust— and two more dots of light moving out from it. "Inform the Marshal," he ordered. "Shield the bridge and go to Condition Red!"
Kira scanned the stars for a sign of his enemy as the Strike Freedom rocketed into space. His three FAITH wingmen were standing by to launch, but Kira had instructed them to stay put for the time being. "Tyler," he said, "how many mobile suits were on approach again?"
"Only two, sir," the sensor officer replied. "But their heat signatures don't match anything in the database. They might be totally new models."
Kira winced at the unmistakable pressure of Omega Suzuki. So he was here. But who was the other?
He zoomed in on the two approaching mobile suits. One was a red and white affair with two huge swords on its back, and that was the machine from which Omega's pressure emanated. But the other...
That one flashed its eyes, and Kira felt his blood run cold as the wings of light came to life upon its back.
To be continued...