Phase 04 - Sympathy for the Devil

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED - The Power to Protect

Note: With apologies to the Rolling Stones. Sorry, guys, I couldn稚 resist.

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Phase 04 - Sympathy for the Devil

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December 13th, CE 71 - PLANT Aprilius 1, Lagrange Point 5

There were many cemeteries dedicated to the fallen ZAFT soldiers of the Valentine War, but the cemetery on Aprilius 1 was the largest. The white tombstones stretched on seemingly forever, all of them little markers printed only with a name and dates of birth and death. Invariably, the lives ended in either CE 70 or CE 71. Every so often there was a family, or a girl, or a boy, or a knot of children, or an old man, or an old woman耀omeone was there, standing solemnly over a grave.

"You still trying to figure out why we池e here? Valentine asked.

Kira Yamato glanced at her in surprise. She was dressed in her best, a pristine red ZAFT uniform, as she held a trio of red roses evidently intended for three of the graves.

"I guess," Kira answered uneasily, looking around. Valentine smiled.

"Come with me," she said, turning and heading down a hill, into the lines of tombstones.

Kira felt himself run cold as he followed Valentine through the cemetery. He glanced over the tombstones and his blood ran colder. Every one of the names here could have been someone who came too close耀omeone he had killed, someone whose name was here because of him. He had tried to preserve the lives of the soldiers when Lacus gave him the Freedom...but that didn't wash clean the blood on his hands from when he piloted the Strike.

"There's so many graves here..." he murmured.

"Indeed there are," Valentine said. "And most of them are empty. Most of the soldiers who died in the war left no remains for the living to bury."

Kira glanced over the rows of stones. A girl was kneeling over a tombstone, sobbing quietly; not far away, an old couple stood silently over another stone, and not far from them stood a woman with a small boy and girl, all staring mournfully at the stone at their feet. They had all been brought here because someone had died耀omeone Kira might have killed. There was no denying the blood on his hands.

"Ah, here we are," Valentine said suddenly. 典he commander asked me to put some roses by these stones. Pay his respects and whatnot. She stopped in front of one grave and stooped to lay a rose atop the tombstone.

Kira read the name. His eyes widened in disbelief.

"N-Nicol Amarfi?!" he exclaimed. Valentine glanced at Kira, and then took a step back and saluted the tombstone.

"Nicol Amarfi," Valentine said, letting her hand fall. "Athrun told you who it was you killed, I take it."

"I...didn't...I didn't mean to..." Kira said helplessly, staring in shock at the white tombstone.

"Tell that to his parents," Valentine said. "Of course you 'didn't mean to.' But you did anyways. So your intention doesn稚 matter.

Kira stared wordlessly at the tombstone.

"Do you remember what we showed you when we first took you in?" Valentine asked. Kira looked back at her and nodded slowly. "Then you understand why we have to do this?"

"no," Kira said quietly, looking back at the tombstone. "I don't understand how it will help."

Valentine took a step forward, putting a gentle hand on Kira's shoulder and reclaiming his attention. "Think of it as pressing a reset button," she said. "The only way for people to understand what they're doing wrong is when it comes back and bites them." She headed down the rows of stones, two roses still in hand, and Kira followed. "Fllay Allster died because of a mistake, didn't she?"

"Yes," Kira agreed quietly.

"And what was that mistake?" Valentine asked.

Kira fell silent. Valentine continued on her own, leaving Kira behind. Kira looked at the stones; at the names that belonged to people he never knew but might have killed.

What was his mistake? Had it been trusting Athrun in the first place? Had it been going onto the battlefield at all? Had it been letting Fllay get away? Had it been not coming back to her aboard the Archangel in the Marshall Islands?

Kira shook his head. Those were all unfortunate circumstances, things that he couldn't have helped. He looked back at the stone.

"He died at Jachin Due," a voice said. Kira looked up in surprise, finding a dark-haired woman standing next to him, dressed in black, gazing down sadly at the tombstone. "My brother. He was a mobile suit pilot."

Kira looked back down at the tombstone. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "He shouldn't have died."

He paused and blinked in surprise. That was his mistake; listening to Lacus had been his mistake. She had tried to end the war without killing anymore people; she had tried to stop people from wanting to kill each other. And he had listened to her and followed her to the endand what good had come from that? The war was over, but it was not because of Lacus Clyne. In the end, people had still died needlessly to conclude the war. In the end, it had come to the same bloody, miserable end that any other war came to.

Kira balled his fists, as tears formed in his eyes. Fllay had died because Kira had believed Lacus when she told him that no one more would have to die.

He squeezed his eyes shut.

Neveragain

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Gilbert Dullindal cast a wary glance around the stage as he stepped up towards the podium. As he mounted the podium, he scanned the faces of his audience; nearly five thousand people, crammed into a university quad, looking to him with expectant faces. They were students, young and angry and feeling lost and adrift in the world. Most of them had just returned from the battlefield, where they had fought the Naturals that Canaver was telling them they now had to befriend and welcome with open arms. They were betrayed. They were the perfect people to support him in a campaign. They were the perfect servants.

As the noise died down, he steeled himself. He would give them what they wanted.

"Not long ago," Gilbert began perfunctorily, "this campus was empty." He gestured around himself, minding the gestures and making sure he did not look melodramatic. "Most of you were on the battlefield, fighting in the war, fighting to protect your homeland, your people, your families, fighting to make sure that the Earth Alliance never again repeated what it did to Junius 7 nearly two years ago." A pause. "Many of them did not come back," he added somberly. "Their sacrifices are the foundation on which this new world is being built, as it should. No soldier should have to die to return the world to the status quo." He paused. "But that was then, and this is now.

"Interim Chairwoman Canaver has proposed a number of measures to put our nation back on the path to glory and prosperity," he continued. "She intends to rebuild our nation, to bind our wounds and bury our dead, and with it our hatchet, and so focus our energies on the economy of this new world, so that we may empower ourselves that way. These are noble sentiments we must all put the war behind us, and swallow our sorrow and anger, and move forward into the future, to create a new world out of the ashes of the old. But," he glanced around the audience dramatically, "there is one thing Chairwoman Canaver wishes to do that we must not accept."

He paused; the audience was festering in hatred, knowing what he was about to say.

"The Chairwoman wishes to destroy our independence," Gilbert went on. "She calls for a treaty that will render us prostrate, a treaty that will tie the economy of our nation to the Earth, and make us serfs for the Naturals, all in the name of reconciliation. How can we allow this to happen? You, students of the country, the youth of our nation, the flesh and blood that will be our future, fought to maintain our independence, and many of you died for it. How can you allow Chairwoman Canaver to call for us to walk back in time? There is no 'back in time' for us. We shall always move forward."

There were scattered cheers and applause, but Gilbert continued. He had more to say; he could not be stopped now.

"Before the war, we served the Naturals." Gilbert held out his hands. "By our own hands, in our own homes, we built for them the luxurious lifestyles they abused down on the Earth, while we toiled thanklessly in space. Now we are a nation of our own, and yet the Chairwoman seeks to bring us back under the heel of the Naturals. How can we let this be?" He clenched his fists. "We are not meant to serve anyone but ourselves. We are a superior people. There is no denying it through the ingenuity of the human mind, we have become faster, stronger, healthier, a superior force. How else did we hold off the Earth Alliance for nearly two years of continuous war? We are not meant to serve the Naturals. We are not meant to mingle with the Naturals and be one of them. We remain in our PLANTs here in space, these homes we built with our own hands, for that reason. And we, the ones who have embraced this new age and this new technology and the power of the human mind, are the ones who will inherit the future. If the Naturals wish to join us, they may; but if they continue to make war against us, we shall defend ourselves with every ounce of strength we can muster.

"Chairwoman Canaver has called for us to bow before the Naturals. I say this is ludicrous. We must never again allow the Naturals to destroy a PLANT and kill so many of our people. We must never let the Bloody Valentine happen again."

A roar of approval rose up from the crowd. They began to chant Gilbert's name. Gilbert took a step back, knowing that saying anything more was futile, and knowing that he had done what he had set out to do.

As he returned to his seat, he could not help but smile.

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December 16th, CE 71 - Djibril Manor, Vermont, Atlantic Federation

"Djibril," the vexed face of Joseph Copland protested on Djibril's main screen, "you don't understand "

"Of course I understand, Mr. President," Lord Djibril interrupted airily.

He leaned back, taking a sip of wine. He rose to his full height and stared imposingly at Coplandbut Copland did not flinch.

"Djibril, we just fought a 21-month war with ZAFT," Copland said flatly. "We also had to deal with South America forcibly seceding. And we are exhausted from constant warfare around the globe to maintain the Earth Alliance, warfare that has now turned out to be for naught. What you ask is ridiculous. We lack the technology, the resources, and the energy to carry out such a scheme."

"It is not ridiculous," Djibril said with a scowl. "The PLANTs are weakened. The Coordinators are in chaos. They have no idea what to do some want to continue the war, some want to make permanent peace. Now is our chance to strike."

"The problems in the PLANTs are the same as the problems I face," Copland snapped. "This nation has just finished fighting a war in which our entire infrastructure was rendered powerless, we were helpless for over a year against ZAFT's mobile suits, and in the end, we still didn't win a decisive victory in space. We suffered heavy casualties and we need to retool our military to fight against ZAFT before we can go out and start another war with them. We're still trying to dig up their N-Jammers and we're still trying to install N-Jammer Cancellers, which you and your Blue Cosmos friends so generously withheld from us, to alleviate the energy crisis in our own nation, let alone the rest of the world. Think of that, Djibril, before you think of some lofty preemptive strike against the PLANTs."

Djibril purpled. "We still "

"We have nothing," Copland interrupted harshly. "I have studied the mistakes of my predecessors, Djibril, and I do not intend to make the same mistakes they made. We are exhausted and incapable of fighting a war, so I will not throw us back into one. That is common sense. Use it, Djibril."

Djibril scowled and looked away. "You are letting a golden opportunity slip away," he snapped.

"It's not as golden as you think," Copland shot back. The screen went dark, and Djibril hurled his wine glass to the floor.

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December 21st, CE 71 - PLANT Maius 5, Lagrange Point 5

They were seated in a dim, smoky bar deep in the industrial district of Maius 5, near the Maius Military Arsenal factories. There was a definite ZAFT presence every so often Kira saw the distinctive green of a ZAFT uniform, belonging to either an off-duty soldier who had ventured into the commercial district to impress girls or an on-duty soldier who was standing guard and looked like he sorely wished he could go join the soldiers who had gone off to pick up girls.

Kira shook his head. He had more important things to worry about. He glanced across his ill-lit booth Valentine was there, obscured by the shadows, watching the patrons carefully. They were here to meet someone Valentine hadn稚 told him who.

Kira looked back at Valentine. She was in the shadows, invisible, untouchable. It was a far cry from when he knew her best, alone together in each other痴 arms, where she was as kind and gentle as he could imagine. But she was focused on work now there was as much a time for business as there was for pleasure. That was her way, it seemed to hide her emotions until the time was right.

A man emerged through the patrons and came towards them; Valentine glanced wordlessly at him. Kira looked over the man in question was tall, muscular, and had a haunting scar over his nose. He looked otherwise inconspicuous, but the burning look in his eyes made it clear that he was a warrior, and a warrior with a purpose.

The man slid into the booth.

撤unctual as always, Sato, Valentine said amusedly. The man, Sato, glanced wordlessly at Kira.

溺y men are beginning to gather flare motors, he said, his voice low and dark. Kira blinked and looked over inquisitively at Valentine. 展e have collected nineteen flare motors so far. We need ninety-two more.

的t痴 a start, Valentine said with a shrug. 滴ave you upgraded your machines yet? Whenever you begin this operation, you will probably have to fight.

展e are modifying our mobile suits to the -1017M2 configuration, Sato answered. 展e intercepted a cargo ship carrying decommissioned GINNs and High Maneuver II parts. Once we collect all the flare motors we need, we will begin our operation.

Valentine smiled darkly. 添ou still have the punctuality and efficiency of a ZAFT soldier, Sato, she said with a chuckle. 徹nce a soldier, always a soldier.

展e will have our revenge one way or another, Miss Sunogachi, Sato said grimly. 展e will not allow anything to get in our way. This drop shall proceed as planned.

Valentine sat back. 的t will take Councilor Dullindal some more time to become Chairman, she said, 殿nd I知 sure it will take more time for you to acquire all the flare motors you need to move something so big. She glanced out into the bar for a moment. 鉄tay on the down-low. You will receive supplies when you need them be assured of that.

天ery well, Miss Sunogachi, Sato said gravely, standing up to leave. 展e shall continue our work and await word from you.

As Sato disappeared into the shadows, Kira looked over at Valentine urgently. 展hat were you

適ira, Valentine said, cutting him off sternly. 展e were discussing the spark that will ignite the embers of the last war. You should have known that.

Kira glanced in the direction Sato had gone. 的 don稚 know what you池e going to do, he said. Valentine sighed and leaned forward, taking his hand.

鉄ato and his men wish to drop the remains of Junius 7 on the Earth, she began, 殿nd have revenge for the Bloody Valentine.

Kira痴 eyes widened in disbelief. 典hey he began.

典hey are full of hatred, Valentine said, 殿nd you will find, Kira, that hate is just as blinding as love, and makes people do just as foolish things. We humans are the jesters of our emotions.

Kira looked away. 典hey池e going to drop a colony on the Earth, he said quietly. 鄭nd it値l start a war?

Valentine smiled. 添es, Kira, she said. 的t will start a war.

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December 26th, CE 71 - Lodonia Island, Ionian Sea, Mediterranean Sea

Joseph Copland was not coming around. Well, that was alright. It made no difference to Lord Djibril, standing in the shadows ominously, his face lit eerily by a soft green glow. It would all work itself out in due time after all, certain events had yet to take place, and once they did, Copland was certain to be more negotiable.

He brooded silently in the shadows. They were all fools, of course. Rau had pulled him into this evil triumvirate with Gilbert Dullindal, the Chairman hopeful in the PLANTs, three men who knew more about the world than anyone else. They knew things that no else did. But it mattered little what happened in the past it was the future that Djibril would have.

He still had to gain the confidence of Blue Cosmos痴 senior leading elite, but that would not be difficult. They had been yes-men for Murata Azrael if he could simply appear to be continuing down the path Azrael took, they would more than likely select him to be their leader, and then he could finally finish things once and for all. Rau and Gilbert had brought him in because they had assumed that, like them, he had wanted to kill everyone, to punish humanity for its sins. Djibril痴 part in this play was to take control of Blue Cosmos, and through Blue Cosmos, the Earth Alliance. From there he was supposed to help guide the world into an unending war with ZAFT, where both sides would finally destroy each other, and take the world with them.

It was ridiculous, but Coordinators had a way of assuming ridiculous things. Besides, it helped to be in the loop with his foes it made guessing at the PLANTs next move that much easier.

He thought ahead, to the fall of Junius 7. Sato and his men were having difficulty acquiring the necessary equipment to perform such a monumental task as moving what was left of Junius 7 and dropping it onto the Earth. And from his current position, he could not help them. But it had to be done; Junius 7 would be the spur that would compel the weary Earth to pick its sword up once again. The blue and clean world would have to take a blow in order to have the strength to finish off the PLANTs once and for all.

Djibril smiled darkly to himself. At long last, the Coordinators would meet their destiny. Where Azrael failed, Djibril would succeed. The world would be blue and clean, truly blue and clean, at last.

Djibril looked up towards the source of the ominous green light. It was a large tank, filled with an eerie green chemical bath, and a human figure was floating in it. It was covered in hideous, disfiguring scars, particularly on its face. It would need time before it became what Djibril wanted it to be. But that was alright. Everything needed time, and in time, it would grow into something enormous, something beautiful, something powerful.

Djibril smiled, turning and stepping into the darkness.

Your time will come soon, Neo Roanoke, he thought amusedly. Your time will come soon.

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December 29th, CE 71 - Copernicus, the Moon

Rau Le Creuset cut a striking figure in a black trench coat and dark gloves, replete with his distinctive mask he was a frightening sight to behold. At his side was Kira, dressed in similar dark colors, looking none too happy and at his side was the ever-seductive Valentine in her swaying red dress. The trio had a combined air of danger around them they had some dark purpose, although admittedly, Kira had little idea what their dark purpose was.

An inkling of their purpose, however, came as they descended down into the depths of Copernicus.

Kira looked around anxiously as he found himself in an unoccupied, shadowy warehouse. There was a gaunt, haunted-looking man with a soulless look in his eye waiting for them in the darkness.

迭amirez, Rau said with a wolfish smile. 添our hiding places grow more subterranean with every calling.

The man, Ramirez, looked around anxiously. 的 want to be done with this, he said in a nervous voice. He looked sharply at Kira.

泥on稚 worry about him, Rau said, before Ramirez could say anything. 滴e will be of no danger to you.

Kira glanced at Valentine, seeking an answer. She glanced back at him, unreadable.

泥o you understand what we have asked you to do? Rau asked, still smiling.

徹f course I do, Ramirez said, in a cold, tremulous voice. 添ou want me to kill Canaver.

Kira looked back at him sharply. Rau nodded.

滴ave you got it worked out? he asked. 展e want it done on February 14th, in the middle of her memorial service speech.

徹f course I have it worked out, Ramirez said, sounding somewhat offended. 的致e killed lots of people already, why should she be any different?

釘ecause when you kill her, you値l have the PLANTs baying for your blood, Rau said with a grin. Ramirez flinched. 哲ow now, my boy, not to worry. We値l ship you off to a nice comfy spot where scary ZAFT agents won稚 be waiting around the corner to cut your throat.

典he 14th, then, Ramirez muttered. 的 can do it. Just hold up your end of the deal.

展hat makes you think I wouldn稚? Rau asked amusedly. 典he date is growing close, Ramirez. We thank you for your assistance. Rau allowed himself a servile bow and turned back towards an unreadable Valentine and a nervous Kira.

展hat are you going to kill Canaver for? Kira asked quietly as they stepped into the shadows. 鉄he wants to stop all this pointless warring and suffering, just like us!

Rau sighed, stopping in front of the elevator, his back to Kira. 添ou seem to be making the same mistake Canaver is making, he said quietly. He turned around to face Kira, sending a chill down his spine. 添ou intend to stop war, but you are not doing anything about the reason why we fight wars. He sighed again. 典his war is necessary. We have already gone over that. This war is what will cleanse the world, purify it, purge its evil and restore it to the way it once was. When this war is over, there will be a world that will give meaning to Fllay Allster痴 death. Kira flinched at the mention of her name. 添es, you are starting a war, in which people will suffer and die. But that suffering and death will have meaning. It will lead to a world in which something has actually been changed and not just rearranged.

釘ut every war changes something! Kira protested.

展ars never change anything, Valentine said sternly, drawing his surprised attention. 鄭ll you get at the end of a war are redrawn maps, lots of dead people, and lots of destruction. All of the people who fought the war still hate each other. The only thing keeping them from fighting is that neither have the means to fight any longer one lost and can稚 continue fighting, the other won and is tired of fighting. But someday they値l be fighting again.

鏑acus Clyne assumed that she could take away the weapons of war and, with them, remove the hatred that makes people use them, Rau said. 鄭nd Canaver assumes that words and treaties can remove the hatred that makes people fight wars. He put his hands in the pockets of his coat. 典he fact stands that all three of you are underestimating just how powerful hatred is. Humans have been moved to do vast, enormous things by hatred. They wiped out entire races of people out of hatred. They invented terrible weapons out of hatred. They did their work because deep down, their hatred motivated them to do it. You are assuming that mere words and treaties, that running around and taking away the weapons, will remove that hatred.

Kira cast his eyes towards the floor, defeated. 套there has to be some way, he murmured.

鄭nd we have shown you that way, Valentine answered. 的t is up to you take it.

Kira looked back up at them both. He saw Rau, the dark, phantomlike figure, blending into the shadows, speaking calmly and patiently to him, explaining things to him. Lacus had been wrong, but he had a voice to counter her, a voice to prove her wrong, a voice to show him the way, a voice to offer him hope. And by his side was Valentine, the one he had to protect, the spirit of Fllay, the one who gave him hope, answers, strength, the will to fight and do what had to be done.

They both stared back at him carefully, both unreadable. Kira bowed his head in defeat.

的 know, he said.

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January 2nd, CE 72 - Nazca-class destroyer Pythagoras, near PLANT Armory 1, Lagrange Point 4

Rau痴 room aboard the Pythagoras was dark as he and Valentine stared out the window towards the imposing shape of Armory 1 in the distance.

的t is ironic, Rau said, 鍍hat as Canaver talks of peace, ZAFT finally finishes constructing this thing.

的t looks just like another PLANT from here, Valentine commented.

摘xcept that it痴 at L4 and all the other PLANTs are at L5, Rau pointed out. 鉄omething will seem amiss in a PLANT that has somehow gone astray and wandered off to the other side of the Moon.

Valentine heaved a sigh and looked away. 的s there some kind of opening ceremony for it? she asked. Rau shrugged.

典he same opening ceremony that any other newly-constructed PLANT gets, he said. 鉄ome politicians get up and talk about how much hard work went into it and how much hope they have for the future, and then they open the gates and a million future drug dealers and prostitutes stream in to build a façade of happiness and prosperity to hide the hideousness of their true selves.

添ou give Shakespeare a run for his money, Valentine snorted, casting a sarcastic glance at Rau.

釘esides, Rau added with a grin, 努hy would they announce the existence of Armory 1 to the world? As far as they hope the Naturals will be concerned, Armory 1 is just another PLANT. It痴 no military installation. They池e not going to build a new battleship here. They池e not going to build new prototype mobile suits here. It痴 just a PLANT.

鄭nother thing for Djibril to throw his nuclear warheads at, Valentine said airily. 展hat about this Sword I keep hearing about?

Rau flashed a feral grin and took a step to his right, towards a darkened screen. 鉄o glad you asked. He paused as he came up to his computer, searching for a file. 鼎ouncilor Dullindal has a plan for the world when we fight our little war, Rau said, still grinning. 天alentinedo you recall George Glenn and what he said Coordinators were for?

釘ridging the gap between humans and their next evolutionary stage, Valentine said cautiously. 展hy?

徹ur friend Dullindal has given that next evolutionary stage a name, Rau said. 哲ewtype.

哲ewtype? Valentine echoed incredulously. Them again?

滴e has a plan, as I said, Rau continued, turning around to face Valentine. 滴e is obsessed with these Newtypes. He wants to make a world of them. He wants to make us all into them. Sound familiar?

Valentine shook her head in disbelief. 典hat idiot, she grumbled. 泥id he forget what a Newtype actually is?

滴e forgets a lot of things, Rau said with a shrug. 擢or example, he frequently forgets that he is not God. But this plan of his is awfully interesting.

He touched a button on his computer; the screen behind him came to life with a massive set of blueprints. A massive construct in space, focused at an enormous sphere with a smaller sphere mounted behind it, tapering off into a column that mounted six large black claws. Stretching ahead of the main sphere were six long claws with two enormous rings mounted between them. At the center of the long claws was an enormous nozzle that could only be one thing. Valentine stared at them in disbelief.

典hat痴 Valentine murmured.

鉄olomon痴 Sword, Rau finished, still grinning. 典he ace up Dullindal痴 sleeve. He wants to destroy the population of the Earth, so that the Coordinators will no longer be threatened by some vengeful, envious army of Naturals, and they can all turn into happy omniscient little Newtypes and everyone will live happily ever after. And this, he gestured to the blueprints behind him, 妬s what he will do it with.

典hen what will we do? Valentine asked, looking back at Rau.

Rau smiled. 展e will do what we always do, he said. 展e will walk up behind him when he is not looking and stab him in the heart.

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February 2nd, CE 72 - Djibril Manor, Vermont, Atlantic Federation

Even though it was technically Bruno Azrael who was the father of the late Murata and traditionally would have been the obvious successor, the leader of the ruling elite of Blue Cosmos seemed to be the fairly corpulent, Santa Claus-looking Lucs Kohler. He was the man to whom Djibril directed his speech to in the parlor of his manor, that was the man that all eyes turned to for a decision, and that was the man who stood up when the elite of Blue Cosmos finally returned to Djibril with its decision.

添ou said that you have a plan for us, Djibril, Kohler said in his old, gravelly voice. 展e would like to hear what it is before we render our final decision.

Djibril stood up, towering over the mindless old men. 溺urata Azrael gave his life in pursuit of our ultimate goal, he said, his voice overpowering the men in the room. 的 have come before you to finish the job. He led us to the very doorstep of the PLANTs, and were it not for Lacus Clyne and her band of children, we would have destroyed the PLANTs once and for all. But I have a plan, a plan that they cannot interfere with, because this time Lacus and her cohorts will be unable to stop us.

展e did not come here for theatrics, Djibril, spoke up the testy voice of Duncan Luis Mockelberg. 敵et to the point.

Djibril bit down a snappish response. 溺y plan is to let the PLANTs make the first move, he said. 鏑ast time, we made our case for war based on tenuous evidence that did not completely convince the world before we attacked. This time, we will strike in response to a clear and present danger that the Coordinators will pose to us all, a danger that no one can deny. We cannot be too hasty we must wait for the nations of the world to regain their strength, replenish their numbers, retool their armies to fight in this modern age. We must wait for the Coordinators to do something so drastic, so significant, so damaging that no one will stand in our way when we rise up to fight. And we will not have too long to wait the Coordinators are having the same conversation in the PLANTs that we, gentlemen, are having today. They are preparing to strike. They wish to strike first, because we outnumber and outgun them, so as to weaken us before hostilities can begin in earnest. Let them strike first, I say; we shall strike back with strength a hundredfold! We will be prepared, gentlemen, and this time, we will not be stopped at the door of destiny.

The Blue Cosmos elite conferred among themselves for a moment, in a flurry of whispers and murmurs too low for Djibril to hear. At last, Kohler stood up again.

天ery well, Djibril, he said gravely. 展e have decided. From this day forward, you, Lord Djibril, shall be the leader of Blue Cosmos.

Djibril only smiled.

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To be continued