Phase 05 - A Place to Call Home

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED - Pain

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Phase 05 - A Place to Call Home

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February 23rd, CE 72 - Atlantic Federation Arzachel Crater lunar base, the Moon

Vice Admiral Bartholomew Stone was not a happy man when the reports came in. He stared disdainfully at the video of the wreckage field that had once been the Wyoming, and the ugly smear of blood that had probably once been Lieutenant Commander Nanto Fredrik. Another ship had moved in to take stock and clean up the John Adams was salvageable, but the Wyoming was gone. He cast a dark glance around the Arzachel Crater control room, where nobody could tell where those three biological CPUs had gone with their valuable prototypes.

One of the lower officers rushed up to Stone, brooding in his commander痴 seat. 鄭dmiral, the officer began, 努e have a lead. Stone glanced at the documents in the officer痴 hand. 典hree mobile suits matching the descriptions were seen on their way to Lagrange Point 5.

Stone痴 eyes widened in fury. 典he PLANTs?! he exclaimed. 展hat the hell are they going there for?!

典hey may be trying to turn the machines over to ZAFT, the officer said. 鄭nd since they池e Extended

Stone rose furiously from his seat. 典hey池e only children, he spat. 典he only thing they致e ever known is Azrael. They could never survive as fugitives. He glanced over sharply at the officer. 撤repare the Mephistopheles. I will go after them myself.

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徹h man, Clotho moaned, 努hat are we going to do?

The Raider drifted lifelessly through space, with the Calamity standing atop it. Nearby, the Forbidden followed, its scythe held loosely in its left hand.

的知 thinking, Orga snapped, rifling through files in the Calamity痴 computer. 溺aybe we could go to the PLANTs

釘ut those are what Azrael wanted to destroy, Clotho protested. 典hey were our enemiesthey壇 kill us.

展ell, the PLANTs are closest, Orga said. 鄭nd it痴 not like we致e got any other choice.

套would they let us? Shani asked quietly. Orga sighed and rubbed his temples irritably. 釘ecausewe池e their enemies

溺aybe they値l let us in, he said. 典hey値l probably want to take our machines, but that痴 okay, isn稚 it?

的 dunno, Clotho said. 展hat will we do if they chase us?

Orga sighed again, sitting back. 展e have to go somewhere, he said. 典hat痴 what Lily told us.

They all fell silent, seeing her again as she was cut down by a stray bullet. Shani closed his eyes.

鉄he told us to go to a place to call home, he said.

釘ut where痴 our home? Clotho asked.

Orga shook his head. 的 think, he began, 努e have to find it ourselves.

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They had decided to take turns sleeping, but they might as well have not bothered. Shani stayed wide awake, staring lifelessly into the darkness of space. There was nothing out there yet Lily had told them with her dying breath to go out there and find a home.

He wondered what it would be like to have a home. Stretching back as far as his memory would take him, the only thing he found was the same thing he always found that evil grin on the face of Azrael. And so it was this time as well Azrael was there again, watching from an enclosed balcony as they were operated on, as they were trained, as they were brainwashed, as they were remade. Their home had been a trio of bunk beds deep inside some Alliance base. The word 鏑odonia returned to mind, although Shani could not discern what it meant. He vaguely recalled that it was a base on an island somewhere, but all he remembered beyond that was pain.

He shook his head. He didn稚 need his memories to tell him about that.

He glanced around the Forbidden痴 cockpit, taking everything in. He recalled sitting in this same cockpit, holding these same controls, during the war. He had fought the enemies of the Alliance, the enemies of Azrael. He remembered the sting of defeat or, at least, the sting of failing to meet their objectives. And that had been just a precursor to the pain Azrael inflicted on them for their failure.

But now it was his. The Forbidden had once been Azrael痴 power, Azrael痴 shield, one of the three monsters that Azrael had sent out to do his bidding, piloted by soldiers who could not disobey even if every fiber of their beings told them to. But now that power was his. He glanced down at the scythe in the Forbidden痴 hand he could do something with this machine. He could change something with this machine.

But of course, he remembered, that wasn稚 what he wanted to do.

He sat back, wondering what it was he did want to do. He wanted to carry out Lily痴 dying wish, but what did that mean?

He glanced over at the Calamity and Raider, cruising into the abyss next to him. Maybe they would know.

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Clotho stared down at the Wonderswan in his hands. He wasn稚 sure how it had gotten here, but it didn稚 really matter. It seemed this thing would go with him wherever he went.

He wondered if there was any battery life left in it. But if there was, then of course that would mean he壇 want to play it again, and he wasn稚 sure if he could do that. He had seen real people die, people he cared about. He thought about that man on the television, holding the broken body of a boy, and realized that the way he felt now was probably the way that man felt as well. He realized that this was how he made people feel when he went out to fight and to kill.

The Wonderswan sat motionless in his hands. It was just a game, or that痴 what Orga had said. Orga read all those books, so he must have been smart. He wasn稚 actually killing people.

He hesitantly switched the game on. A light on the side flickered red the battery was too low to start the game.

He looked up, wondering what to do. He looked around the empty cockpit of the Raider Gundam. It was the game again, but this time it was real life, where real people could die and other real people could feel sadness and pain over it.

And yet, he remembered, he had done it again, destroying the Alliance ships, the ones who had killed Lily and McCormick and the captain. Did that make it alright? As long as they were bad, nobody would be sad to see them die?

Clotho shook his head, stashing the Wonderswan in the Raider痴 cockpit locker. Sooner or later, he told himself, he would have to put it away anyways. He couldn稚 play games forever.

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February 24th, CE 72 - Atlantic Federation Archangel-class battleship Mephistopheles, Arzachel Crater base, the Moon

The bridge buzzed with the sounds of a warship preparing to leave dock. In the captain痴 chair, Lieutenant Commander Ian Lee glanced over at his very important passenger. The most displeased figure of Vice Admiral Bartholomew Stone was settled into one of the side chairs, content to let Lee handle the actual commanding of the ship, but determined to personally oversee the mission. Lee sat back, looking at the rest of the crew. He was the one who had to carry the orders out, but Stone was the one who had to come up with them.

鼎aptain, Stone said, 努hen we find them, hold nothing back. They must be captured at all costs.

添es sir, Lee answered. He didn稚 care what 鍍hey were dangerous criminals, he presumed, who had gotten a hold of important Alliance technology and were going to do dangerous things with it. But the Mephistopheles was loaded with a complement of gleaming new 105 Daggers, all manned with veteran pilots, so surely these criminals couldn稚 last forever. Not on their own, alone in space.

展e池e ready to launch, sir, the helmsman reported. Lee glanced over at Stone; he nodded silently.

Mephistopheles, launch!

With a deafening roar, the ship began to move.

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Lagrange Point 5, PLANT airspace

典here痴 a ship coming! Clotho exclaimed, as the Raider pointed up ahead. Orga squinted through the light of the stars and the PLANTs, at the lime-green hull of what the Calamity痴 computer called a Laurasia-class frigate. A team of ZAFT mobile suits came forward, armed with rifles. Orga eyed them carefully, wondering if they would attack. They barred the way between the three Gundams and the ship, and the PLANTs drifting behind them.

The image of a young man in a green ZAFT uniform appeared on the Gundams screens. Orga blinked in surprise, staring down a face that couldn稚 have been any older than his own.

鄭ttention unidentified mobile suits, the soldier said. 添ou are entering PLANT airspace. State your name and purpose. If you attempt any hostilities, we will open fire.

Orga glanced at Shani and Clotho. 展e池elooking for a place to dock, he said. The soldier arched an eyebrow, glancing at something off the screen.

釘ut who are you? he asked. Another man appeared, older and dressed in a black ZAFT uniform.

展e池e just looking for a place to live, Orga added uneasily.

泥o you have the proper immigration paperwork, then? the officer asked. He glanced over their mobile suits. 添ou池e piloting Alliance mobile suit models. Why?

典hey池e ours, Orga said quickly. 釘ut

展e cannot let you in, the officer said shortly. 添ou do not appear to have any documentation about who you are, and you池e bringing Alliance equipment with you, which, for political reasons, we cannot accept. Turn back at once, or we will open fire.

The mobile suits raised their beam rifles threateningly.
釘ut we池e just looking for a home! Clotho protested.

典hen you won稚 find one here, the officer said. The screen went dark, leaving the three pilots staring desolately at a squadron of increasingly impatient ZAFT mobile suits.

展e don稚 want a fight, Orga said quietly. 鏑et痴 go, guys.

釘ut they won稚 let us in! Clotho cried. 展hy not?!

展ell, it痴 their place, Orga sighed. 鏑et痴 go, I don稚 wanna fight them.

The Calamity backed away, followed by the Forbidden. At last, with Clotho cursing all the way, the Raider took off after them.

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February 25th, CE 72 - Lagrange Point 2

There were many colonies drifting lazily around Lagrange Point 2, but only one had an enormous spaceship attached to it. And, according to the news reports, only one colony was accepting passengers for a one-way colonization trip to Jupiter痴 remote Literia colony.

So, Orga concluded, only one colony was fit to be their home.

的t値l take us all the way out to Jupiter, Orga explained to a skeptical Shani and a probably uncomprehending Clotho. 典hey can稚 possibly bother us all the way out there.

釘ut it値l take forever to get there! Clotho protested. 的t痴 so far away!

展ell, let痴 get going now! Orga said. 溺aybe they値l let us get on and go with them.

Clotho heaved a doubtful sigh as the three Gundams eased towards the silent colony with the enormous spaceship docked at its end. Worker pods and mobile suits scurried like bees around the massive hull, as an armada of motley ships floated around the colony itself.

展hat is this place? Clotho asked anxiously.

Orga consulted the Calamity痴 map. 湯Avalon,樗 he said. 的t says they池e neutral.

泥oes that mean they値l let us land? Clotho asked. Orga shrugged.

的 hope so.

The docking operator didn稚 appear to care much about them, admitting them because the only form of identification they could present was that of Atlantic Federation soldiers. The three mobile suits drifted hesitantly into a sprawling hangar, surrounded by a vast array of ships and machines of all shape and size. The Gundams set down next to a battered ZAFT shuttle, and Orga nervously opened the cockpit hatch to look around.

展hat do we do now? Clotho asked from the Raider痴 cockpit hatch. Shani regarded everything suspiciously from the Forbidden痴 hatch as Orga climbed out.

典he news guy said they weren稚 gonna leave for a couple more days, Orga said, glancing around. 的 guess we have to find somebody and ask. He pointed down at a door in the side of the hangar, on the floor. 鼎ome on.

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Atlantic Federation Archangel-class battleship Mephistopheles, en route to Avalon

鄭valon, Admiral Stone said dourly, staring in annoyance at the main screen. The three Gundams had without a doubt gone therebut that raised ugly political questions.

展e have a nonaggression treaty with them, don稚 we? Lee asked from the captain痴 seat. Stone nodded warily.

典hey will allow our ships to dock, so long as their crews do not disembark, Stone said. 鄭nd they are not supposed to shelter criminals of the Atlantic Federation. He sat back in his chair, crossing his arms, brooding. 釘ut now they池e harboring Atlantic Federation fugitives.

撤erhaps they don稚 know that those pilots are fugitives, Lee offered. Stone shook his head dismissively.

典hey are like the United Emirates of Orb under Uzumi Nara Athha, he added. 鄭 policy of total neutrality. I have no doubt that they allowed those pilots to dock. He narrowed his eyes venomously. 展hich, of course, is aiding and abetting criminals. And, of course, violates the treaty. He glanced at Lee. 溺ove in and we will broadcast a warning. Should they not heed it, we will attack.

Lee nodded.

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On one side of the desk, Orga Sabnak stood nervously, fists balled, standing in front of a dispassionate Shani and a confused Clotho. On the other side, a dark-haired woman adjusted the thin glasses on her nose and peered at a computer.

展here did you say you池e from again? she asked, glancing up at Orga.

鏑odonia, Orga said, his voice faltering. The woman regarded him carefully for a moment, and then looked back at her computer.

的 don稚 see it in the records, she said. The keys tapped under her fingers, and the computer hummed. 展ell, I don稚 see any criminal records, at least, so I suppose that鼠l have to do.

展hat do you mean? Orga asked guardedly. The woman looked up at him.

典he only people we aren稚 allowing on the ship are criminals, she explained. 展e don稚 want to stick a serial rapist on a ship with several thousand people for a few years. She stood up. 釘ut you three check out, so we値l let you board. She dug around in her desk for a moment and produced a paper card, that she pressed into Orga痴 hand. 溺y name痴 Amy. Call me if you have anymore questions or problems, and we値l work them out. The ship departs in two days.

Orga looked up at her, not sure what to think. 典h-thank you, he managed to sputter.

Amy returned to her desk. 典here痴 still some things work out before the ship leaves, she said. 哲otifying family and friends, luggage, that kind of thing, but

展e don稚 have any, Orga said. Amy blinked at him. 擢amily and friends.

添ou池e war orphans? she asked. Orga glanced at Shani and Clotho, and nodded grimly. Amy looked down somberly. 的 seewell, Literia will be a better place for you than the Earth Sphere.

展e want a home, Clotho said quietly.

Amy smiled at him. 典hat痴 what Literia is, she said. 鄭 home for people who have nothing left here.

Orga looked back at Shani and Clotho again they nodded back.

鏑ily would be happy, Shani said softly.

典hen in two days, Orga replied, 努e値l be free.

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Clotho returned to the hangar by himself, guided by a map so that he wouldn稚 get lost. Orga still wasn稚 sure what to do with their mobile suits they wouldn稚 need them at Literia to fight, but maybe they could be converted into worker machines. Clotho wouldn稚 mind that. He had spent so much of his life using the Raider to destroy things, but using the Raider to build things would be a nice change. And he had heard that at Literia, they sometimes held races between the machines surely nobody would be able to beat the Raider at that.

He stared up skeptically at the dark Gundam, his protector and steed for the war. It had been Azrael痴 weapon, the weapon Azrael had used to make him so powerful. But he had used it to destroy Azrael痴 people, the people who wanted to use him as a weapon again.

It was power that he wanted, but he didn稚 want to use it to destroy.

He glanced over at Shani as he drifted up towards the Forbidden.

滴ey, what are you doing? Clotho asked. Shani ducked into the cockpit and returned a minute later with the few contents of the Forbidden痴 cargo locker. He landed next to Clotho, arms full of CDs and his familiar headphones.

徹rga said to get your stuff, Shani mumbled. 展e池e gonna leave the machines here.

Clotho looked back up at the Raider, startled, but Shani headed off before Clotho could say anything. He stared into the dark eyes of the Raider, wondering if it was right to leave his power behind.

He climbed into the cockpit, pulling the cargo locker open. There was little inside the emergency supply kit took up most of the space, with his Wonderswan in the corner. He scooped it out and looked at the familiar old game, wondering if he should really take it with him.

Orga had said that it was just a game it wasn稚 real. And Clotho had fun playing it. He didn稚 have fun anywhere else in life.

He smiled at the game and took it with him as he crawled out of the Raider. When he got to Jupiter, he wouldn稚 have to kill anymore. And then the game would be just a game.

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People from all walks of life were going to Jupiter, it seemed, but they all wanted to be away from the war-torn Earth Sphere. They all wanted to be free. They all wanted a home.

Orga turned that thought over in his mind as he sat in a sprawling cafeteria, surrounded by people waiting for the ship to leave, to take them to Jupiter, away from the Earth Sphere. Nobody would bother them all the way out there. The trip would take seven years. Orga thought of what life would be like for him seven years from now. By the time the ship reached Literia, he would be a man.

He looked around, at the faces surrounding him desolate, broken, but not defeated. There was still hope in those eyes. The war had scarred them all so many of them were missing limbs or had mechanical replacements, Orga noted but it hadn稚 taken everything.

There were uniforms from all sides of the war here. He recognized the ZAFT uniforms from his training they went as high up in the ranks as a sad-looking old man in a black ZAFT uniform, looking down at a photograph. Right next to him, apparently unaware of his presence, sat an Earth Alliance officer who, somewhere in the war, had lost his left leg.

Orga sat back, thinking of Jupiter. Azrael痴 people would never find them there.

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February 26th, CE 72 - Atlantic Federation Archangel-class battleship Mephistopheles, Avalon

Lee stared inquisitively at the enormous structure attached to the spaceward end of the colony Avalon. It looked familiar, almost like George Glenn痴 ship.

鄭valon is sponsoring a trip to Jupiter, Stone filled in. 泥uring the war, a colony modified itself with a nuclear engine and took off to Jupiter to escape the war. Avalon is sponsoring a trip there to take more people.

鄭nd the pilots must be trying to get passage, then, Lee finished.

Stone picked up the intercom. 展e will stop them.

The Mephistopheles ground to a halt, its guns sliding out of their chambers and pointing straight at Avalon.

鄭ttention neutral colony of Avalon, he said, his voice booming over the bridge and into every ear on Avalon. 典his is Vice Admiral Stone of the Atlantic Federation Space Fleet.

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Avalon

Orga looked up in horror in the small hotel room as the rumbling voice reached his ears. Stone痴 eyes burned into him from the screen. Azrael痴 people were back.

典hey came for us! Clotho exclaimed, bursting into the room. 展hat are we gonna do?!

鄭s you know, Stone continued, 土our colony has signed a nonaggression treaty with our nation. One of the conditions of that treaty is that your colony not harbor any fugitives of the Atlantic Federation. I regret to inform you that that condition has been violated.

The colony rumbled ominously.

溺y men will begin searching for these fugitives, he added, 殿nd in order to avoid any unfortunate incidents, we ask that you stay in your homes and cooperate fully with us. Should you not comply, we are assuming that you are harboring fugitives willfully and deal with you accordingly.

典hey池e coming for us! Clotho cried. 展hat should we do?

鏑ily told us to live, Orga said. 鄭nd we don稚 wanna go back.

Shani emerged from another room, his visible eye burning furiously. Orga and Clotho glanced at him in surprise as he swept past them, towards the door.

展here are you going? Orga asked.

Shani glanced back at him.

典o fight.

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To be concluded