Phase 02 - Stained with Blood

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED - Pain

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Phase 02 - Stained with Blood

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February 12th, CE 72 - Atlantic Federation Agamemnon-class carrier John Adams, Earth orbit

Michael McCormick had never expected to hear the tinny sounds of a Wonderswan when he stepped into the infirmary, but sure enough, Clotho Buer was sitting up in his bed, hunched over the little plastic machine. He arched a dubious eyebrow, glancing at the nurse on duty she looked back at him in barely masked irritation, looking like she wanted to kill someone.

McCormick swept in and deftly shut off the sound on Clotho痴 game. He blinked in surprise and looked up.

的t痴 getting on everyone痴 nerves, McCormick explained. Clotho looked back down blinkingly at the game.

的知 practicing, he insisted. 鉄o I can fight better.

McCormick cast a sidelong glance at Clotho as he checked the vitals. 添ou won稚 be fighting for a while, Clotho, he said. 添ou池e not even fully healed.

的知 getting there, Clotho protested. 鄭nd when I知 done

鏑et痴 just worry about getting there first, McCormick interrupted, smiling thinly at Clotho. 徹ne step at a time.

Clotho looked back at his Wonderswan, frustrated. 展hat the I died! He stared angrily at the screen. 敵oddammit! I was fifteen kills away from breaking my high score!

McCormick smiled and tapped his clipboard. 釘etter luck next time, he chuckled. 笛ust make sure you keep the sound off. It痴 annoying other people.

Clotho sighed, but returned his attention to the game as McCormick headed back for the door.

泥octor, the nurse protested, 妬s it really a good idea for him to play that thing all the time? He needs to rest too.

McCormick shrugged. 滴e値l sleep when he will. Just leave him be. He looked back at the boy, hunched over the game and cursing under his breath at it. 摘veryone needs something to look forward to.

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It was late at night when Orga finally managed to put the magazine down and lay back to sleep. He stared at the wall, the words of the article still ringing through his mind. It had been a biography about a man called George Glenn, a man who the article treated as an extremely important figure. The article called him the 吐irst Coordinator.

Orga thought back to the Coordinators. They were supposed to be his enemy. He thought back to what Azrael and others had said about them.

He had asked Azrael once, but Azrael had just spat vulgar political invective at him and left it at that. From other descriptions, Orga had put together his own definition of a Coordinator, as a person whose body was changed to be better than other people.

It made sense, with a little thought, why the Naturals hated the Coordinators. They were better, and there was no way the Naturals could make themselves as good as the Coordinators. And they were against the laws of nature, or that痴 what Azrael said.

Orga wondered what the laws of nature were supposed to be. They had told him that it was 徒ill or be killed. If the Coordinators were fighting back and that made them evil, then that didn稚 make sense they would rather kill than be killed, and that was the law of nature, wasn稚 it?

He glanced back at the article, at the picture of George Glenn in a space suit, smiling and waving. He looked like a kind man, someone who couldn稚 possibly be evil. The article listed all his accomplishments. Orga wasn稚 quite sure what the importance of some of them was he vaguely remembered the Nobel Prize as something given to people who did good things but the article made him out to be a genius. He was good at everything. He was better than everyone. But then Azrael would have called him evil.

He blinked and looked up at the ceiling. The Coordinators were people whose bodies were changed to be better than other people.

He remembered Lodonia. He remembered the changes, the surgeries, the therapies, the agony of Gamma Glipheptin withdrawal. He remembered Azrael saying that with this, they would finally produce pilots superior to the Coordinators.

He was supposed to be better than other people.

He blinked.

Did that make him evil?

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The screens were still emblazoned with the images of cities across the Muslim League pulsing with riots. On the bridge of the John Adams, Captain Richards sat back and shook his head.

鄭ll this energy they池e spending on rioting, when they could spend it on rebuilding the city.

The helmsman looked up at the screen in surprise. 展hat happened, sir?

Richards crossed his arms. 鉄omeone burned Jerusalem to the ground a few days ago, he explained. 鄭nd now everything痴 going to hell in the Muslim League. The Eurasian Federation wants to move in and take over. To 喪estore peace.樗

哲othing fixes peace like war, I guess, the sensor officer sighed. He glanced at his instruments. 鉄ir, the Debris Belt is coming up on the starboard side.

徹ur patrol route this time takes us straight through the Belt, Richards said. 鉄ensors and helm are on high alert. There may be pirates or something of the like in the area, so have the weapons and pilots stand by.

Richards flipped the screen off, sighing again. He glanced up at the Debris Belt, reflecting grimly on the mass of wreckage there. Somewhere in there was the wreckage of Junius 7, the PLANT destroyed by the Alliance痴 nuclear weapons; somewhere in there was the wreckage of Yggdrasil, the space station that the world had built as a monument to their will to move into space, the space station that the world had destroyed in its quest to destroy itself.

He sat back and wondered how Clotho, Orga, and Shani were doing.

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Atlantic Federation Arzachel Crater Lunar Base, the Moon

The door opened with a hiss, and an Earth Alliance Lieutenant Commander stepped inside, standing to attention and saluting. At the other end of a spacious office, a man in the immaculate uniform of an Earth Alliance Vice Admiral rose from the chair behind his desk to salute back.

The Lieutenant Commander lowered his arm, his aquiline face stoic as he adjusted the pair of dark black sunglasses on his nose. The Admiral extended his hand to the Commander, his lined and narrow face studying the Commander痴.

鏑ieutenant Commander Nanto Fredrik, the Admiral said. 典hank you for stopping by personally.

徹f course, Admiral Stone, Fredrik answered. Stone took a step back. 添ou told me you had a specific assignment for me?

Stone痴 eyes narrowed. 的 do, he said. 泥uring the Valentine war, our forces deployed several chemically and surgically modified soldiers to surpass Coordinators in combat. Three of these soldiers, and three special units, were deployed on the Dominion, and managed to escape its destruction. They were picked up by a carrier, the John Adams, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Samuel Richards. We have reason to suspect that he is sheltering these soldiers for some reason.

的 understand, Fredrik said. 鄭nd what am I to do about this?

Stone smiled darkly. 鼎ommander Richards is a good officer, he said. 的t痴 a shame that it will have to come to this. Take the Wyoming and a unit to investigate the John Adams. If the soldiers are there, bring them back.

Fredrik saluted.

填nderstood, sir.

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Atlantic Federation Agamemnon-class carrier John Adams, Debris Belt

添ou know, Lily said with a sigh as she tiredly took Shani痴 temperature, 妬t wouldn稚 kill you to smile a little.

Shani glanced indifferently at her and stared longingly at his headphones, resting on the bed beside him. Lily glanced down at them.

展hat do you listen to anyway? she asked. Shani blinked at her. 添ou listen to those things all the time.

Shani stared at her for a moment. 鉄tuff, he answered. She shook her head in irritation and glanced at her clipboard.

添ou池e impossible, she sighed. Shani stared at her as she left, and looked back down at his headphones, slowly pulling them back over his ears.

He looked back at the door she had left through. She was nice to him she didn稚 tell the familiar mantra, 徒ill or be killed. She didn稚 give him the drugs, and then watch emotionlessly as he writhed in agony, for want of more. She helped him feel better she took away the pain.

Shani sat back and wondered if he should smile at her next time.

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徹h, come on! Clotho exclaimed. 鄭re you kidding me how many fucking missiles are there in this fucking level?!

Orga stared tiredly across the infirmary at Clotho as he raged at the handheld game. 鉄houting at it isn稚 gonna help, he grumbled.

徹h, shut up! Clotho snapped. 的 gotta stay in practice! You can just sit over there and mope!

的知 not moping! Orga shot back. 釘ut I知 getting sick of your bitching at that stupid game!

Shani stared indifferently at them both, his headphones safely over his ears, as they shouted and swore at each other.
笛ust stop bitching at it! Orga yelled. 添ou can still play it without bitching at it!

擢uck you! Clotho fired back, emphasizing his point with his middle finger. Orga purpled in rage, but all fell silent as the door opened and McCormick strode into the room.

He stared inquisitively at Clotho and Orga, fuming at each other, and then looked over at Shani, who stared back uninterestedly.

的知 going to go out on a limb, McCormick began, shaking his head, 殿nd guess that you finally crossed the line, Clotho.

滴e started it! Clotho yelled, pointing vindictively at Orga.

展ell you wouldn稚 stop bitching at the damn game! Orga snapped.

釘oth of you, stop, McCormick ordered sternly. 鼎lotho, you need to stop getting so worked up over the game. Orga, you need to stop picking fights. And both of you need more rest.

釘ut I知 not sleepy! Clotho protested.

McCormick glanced back at him. 的 could make you sleepy, he said.

Clotho thought about that for a moment and looked away petulantly.

展hy can稚 you two just get along? McCormick muttered, marking something on his clipboard. 添ou never have any problems with Shani.

展ell, look at him, Orga answered. McCormick glanced over at Shani, lost in his own world with his headphones, and shook his head.

的 hear you like to read, Orga, he said. 的f I got you more things to read, would that keep you and Clotho quiet?

Orga looked away in annoyance. 的 guess, he muttered.

McCormick smiled triumphantly. 典hen it痴 a deal, he said. 釘ut I expect to hear no more fighting from either of you.

徹kay, they grumbled together.

As he headed out the door, he chuckled and shook his head. 適ids.

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February 13th, CE 72 - Atlantic Federation Agamemnon-class carrier John Adams, Debris Belt

Richards scanned over the report dourly and looked up, as the John Adams inched out of the Debris Belt, gliding over the serene remains of an Alliance warship. He turned his head to follow it as it drifted by it was an old Nelson-class, twisted and charred, but there was no way of telling what battle it had fallen at.

的s that one of the 8th Fleet痴 ships? the sensor officer whispered over, to the weapons officer next to him. The weapons officer shrugged.

鄭 whole lot of ships from a whole lot of battles get pulled into the Debris Belt eventually, he answered. 的 suppose it痴 possible.

典he Debris Belt is the grave of many soldiers, Richards spoke up, 澱oth Alliance and ZAFT. He sat back. 的t痴 as much a grave as some of them will ever get.

鼎aptain, the helmsman said, 努e池e almost out of the Debris Belt.

Richards stood. 的値l leave the bridge to you, he told the helmsman. 的nform me if anything comes up.

添es sir.

Richards turned and headed off the bridge, returning to his office and ringing up Dr McCormick on his video phone. Before long, the doctor痴 wan face was on his screen.

泥octor, he greeted, returning McCormick痴 perfunctory salute. 的 want to speak with you in my office, if you致e got a moment.

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鄭m I evil?

The question caught Lily off guard, and she looked back down at Orga, blinking at him. He stared back at her with earnest blue eyes.

鄭re you evil? she echoed. 展hat gave you that idea?

Orga looked away. 的t痴 what Azrael said, he answered quietly. 滴e said that Coordinators are people who were changed to make them better than other peopleand they池e evil. He looked back up at Lily. 釘ut I was changed to be better than other people tooso does that make me evil too?

Lily studied him for a moment before shaking her head. 添ou池e not evil in the way Azrael was evil, she said. 添ou only did all that fighting and killing because he made you do it, right? Orga nodded slowly. 典hen how does that make you evil? You didn稚 choose to do it all yourself.

釘ut they made me better than other people, Orga protested. 泥oesn稚 that make me a Coordinator?

鼎oordinators were made to be better so that they could have better lives than we do, Lily said, scribbling something on her clipboard. 釘ut I don稚 think your life痴 been better than mine.

典hen what am I for? Orga asked.

Lily cast a sympathetic look towards Orga. 展hat do you mean?

展hat痴 my purpose here? Why am I here?

Lily shook her head and set her clipboard aside. 添ou池e here for the same reason everyone else in the world is here, she said. 釘ut I don稚 know what that reason is. So I guess you can make a reason for yourself.

Orga blinked at her. 展hy are you here? he went on. 展hy are you taking care of us?

展hat, why did I join the Alliance? Lily asked. Orga nodded again. 的 joined back during the beginning of the war. I wanted to do something to help people, regardless of politics, so that痴 why I joined the Medical Corps. Everyone else was off destroying life, so I thought maybe I should try to preserve it. She picked her clipboard back up. 鄭s for your second question, my orders are to take care of you.

Orga frowned. 典hey just told you to take care of us?

Lily smiled thinly. 泥epends on who you think 奏hey are.

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Sitting back in his chair, Richards took a long, stern look at McCormick.

泥o you think we can leave them somewhere? Richards asked. 滴igh Command has stopped asking about those threeso I知 not sure what痴 going on.

典hey need a few more days, McCormick answered. 典hey池e well enough to fight with each other, but I don稚 think they池e well enough to get dumped off on a colony and survive on their own.

Richards was silent a moment. 滴ave you dug up anything on their pasts?

典hey were convicts on death row, said McCormick. 鄭zrael Conglomerate bought them from the Marshall Colony and promised to annul their executions if they would become his biological CPUs. Those three prototypes down in the hangar are the machines made for them.

典hat explains the chief mechanic痴 complaints about those machines being too complex for his men to operate, Richards said thoughtfully. 摘ven if they write off the pilots, I知 sure they値l want the machines back.

鄭nd that means Alliance officers will be coming aboard, McCormick finished.

Richards nodded darkly. 的 guess sooner or later it would致e come to this.

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February 14th, CE 72 - Atlantic Federation Agamemnon-class carrier John Adams, en route to Lagrange Point 4

The screens were alive with the images of a city in chaos. The streets throbbed with riots, as soldiers in riot gear struggled to keep the crowds under control. The distinctive green uniform of ZAFT could be seen everywhere.

展hat the hell is that about? Clotho asked, looking up from his Wonderswan at the sound of shouting from the screen.

典he leader of the PLANTs got killed, Orga explained. Clotho blinked.

展hat壇 they do that for? he asked. Orga shrugged, and Clotho went back to his game. Orga kept his attention fixed on the screen.

The screen changed to show a tall man with long black hair, standing behind a podium emblazoned with the logo of ZAFT.

撤eople of the PLANTs, he began, the graphic below him showing his name as Gilbert Dullindal, 菟lease calm down and hear my words. I, Gilbert Dullindal, have been selected by the PLANT Supreme Council to fill the now vacant post formerly filled by Interim Chairwoman Eileen Canaver. And I come with more news that we have already found and killed the man suspected of carrying out this heinous assassination.

的 am well aware that I am taking the reigns of leadership at a most trying time. We have been politically divided over negotiations with the nations of the Earth Alliance, but with our leader struck down, I urge you to set those differences aside and come together, so that we may show the perpetrators of this terrible crime that even our leader may fall, but we will stay strong.

The man continued speaking, but Orga tuned him out, remembering Canaver. She had been negotiating for peaceand yet someone had killed her.

Orga wondered what kind of person would do that.

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It was night Shani stared down at his silent headphones. The battery had run out, so he would have to ask for a new one, but for now he would have to wait. The nurses on the night shift tended to leave them alone, to let them sleep it was only during the waking hours that Lily came by. He could ask her.

Instead, he sat and stared at his headphones, thinking. He wondered about his past all he could remember was the surgery, the therapy, the training, but all those memories brought him was pain. He remembered the war, but that was just an endless cycle of waiting and sedation, broken every so often by the rush of Gamma Glipheptin, and the agony of withdrawal. Was that all that his life had been? He didn稚 remember anything before it, but before the surgery and training, he presumed that he had been a normal person.

He gazed lifelessly towards the mirror on the opposite wall. He lifted his hair back, staring at his mismatched eyes. That had been the work of the surgery the chemicals they had pumped him full of had discolored his left eye. It hadn稚 done the same to Orga and Clotho.

Shani wondered why they had changed him. Azrael had said it was to beat the Coordinators. But Shani didn稚 care about the Coordinators, or about beating them, or anything. All he had known was pain was that all there was to his life?

He wondered what he had been like when he was a normal person.

He let his hair fall back over his face, and laid back down, staring at the ceiling.

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February 15th, CE 72 - Atlantic Federation Agamemnon-class carrier John Adams, en route to Lagrange Point 4

鉄ix months after the end of the war and we池e already fighting again, Richards sighed, looking up at the screens as they seethed with images of battle. The Muslim League痴 formidable Israeli Separatists were launching a full-scale war for independence, and they had the backing of the Eurasian Federation eager to cripple the Muslim League in revenge for its quick secession at the end of the war. Already, the conflict had killed eighty people, and it was barely a few hours old.

典here are Eurasian ships heading towards us, captain, the sensor officer reported. 的t looks like they池e going to take part in a drop operation.

鄭re they hailing us? Richards asked. The sensor officer glanced back at his console.

添es sir, he said, 鍍hey池e asking us to make a course adjustment so they can get through.

滴elm, take us up by four hundred meters, Richards ordered. The John Adams slowly tilted up, gliding over the Eurasian ships. Richards watched them go past, and returned the salute of one of the ships captains. 典hey池e already fighting a war again.

鉄hall we continue on our present course, captain? the helmsman asked. Richards looked back towards space and nodded grimly.

的t痴 their war, he said. 鉄o it値l be them to die.

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McCormick shook his head as he looked over the information.

典hey池e doing as well as can be expected, I suppose, he said, glancing up at the two nurses standing next to him outside the infirmary. 的 think we can start their exercises soon. We don稚 want their muscles to atrophy.

滴ow long will they stay here, Doctor? one of the nurses asked. McCormick tucked the clipboard under his arm and shrugged.

滴owever long it takes for us to get them back to the point where they can do things on their own, he said. 的t would be better if they were recovering under gravity, but we can稚 send them to Earth like this. He paused. 的値l inform the captain.

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Clotho stared disdainfully at the screen, as the news reports filed past of warfare in the Muslim League.

典hose assholes are always fighting wars, he said.

Nobody answered him Orga was absorbed in the broadcast, and Shani was absorbed in his music. Clotho stared down at his dormant Wonderswan, temporarily struck down by a dead battery. He looked back up at the screen.

He watched the image of a mother fleeing a burning building, with an infant in her arms. The terrifying silhouette of a mobile suit towered overhead. Kill or be killed, wasn稚 it?

There was another image, of a man hunched over something. The camera came closer, and one of the fleeing people tried to pull the man to his feet. The man angrily snapped away, clutching the bloody body of a boy.

Clotho felt his stomach churn. Was that what happened when he killed people? Was that what people would do if he were killed? He thought back to his battles, the dozens of skirmishes, real, simulated, and just imagined, where he had taken down dozens of foes one after another. Was that what he was really doing? Was 徒ill or be killed not the way it really worked?

The second man tried to reason with the first, but the first pointed angrily at the ominous shadow of a mobile suit down the street. There was an explosion, and the cameraman fled, pausing to turn back and take one look at the first man, still cradling the boy痴 broken body.

Clotho looked down at the Wonderswan. He remembered the way the game worked, shooting down enemies before they could reach him killing them before they killed him. Was that what he was doing in this game?

He hurled it across the room and squeezed his eyes shut.

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To be continued