Phase 05 - A Different Way

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED - The Power to Protect

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Phase 05 - A Different Way

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February 3rd, CE 72 - Earth Alliance base on the edge of the Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert, Africa

Kira Yamato took a deep breath, struggling to calm himself. He was here again, inside the Freedom Gundam, standing tall on the deck of a Lesseps-class land battleship as ZAFT went charging forward under a dark, clouded sky. His army, spread out behind him, was once again driving towards the Earth Alliance base and its steadfast defenders.

This time, however, it would be different.

Somewhere in there, Kira remembered, were three Strike Gundams, all designed to complement each other痴 fighting strengths and cover each other痴 weaknesses. They had defeated him last time. They would not do so again.

The Alliance fired their volley of ranging shots again the army charged ahead anyways. The Alliance fired its second salvo once again a handful of mobile suits went down in flames. The Freedom stepped forward and activated its wings with a flash.

鄭ll troops, Kira called out, CHARGE!

The Freedom took off with a flash.

The ZAFT army charged behind him, but Kira ignored them. He didn稚 need them he could destroy this base all by himself, and that he would. He armed the beam rifle and charged towards the lines of Strike Daggers.

The memories came flashing back, of the Daggers that continued to fight, even after Kira had disabled them. He narrowed his eyes. They would continue to fight no matter what Kira did. He had to destroy them.

The Freedom landed with a crash. The Daggers raised their rifles to open fire Kira preempted them with a devastating full burst that smashed through the entire squad and wiped it out in a blaze. Kira watched the explosion painfully it had to be done, he told himself. He looked up ahead, at the second line of Daggers, and lunged into the air over their heads, showering them with beam shots and blasting them apart one by one.

A BuCUE came charging over a burnt-out Dagger, firing its railguns wildly. A Strike Dagger across from the first line of anti-tank trenches lined up for a finishing shot; the Freedom rocketed into the Dagger痴 line of fire and shot it down with a rifle shot before it could fire. Kira grunted as the Freedom vaulted into the air, roaring up over a beam rifle volley. He glanced over his shoulder; the land battleships were opening fire, tearing apart the Alliance defenses at the front. He looked back down at the Daggers the fight was progressing as smoothly this time as it had last time. But this time it had to be different. Kira steeled himself and took off, roaring down into the Daggers ranks. They turned their rifles on him in surprise; Kira narrowed his eyes, as the seed burst before him, and swept down towards the hapless Daggers, firing a full burst to wipe out five Daggers before they ever knew what hit them. The Daggers backed away; Kira roared over their heads, firing into their backs, and drew a beam saber to attack the second line of mobile suits.

The BuCUEs tore their way through the hole in the Alliance ranks, firing a volley of railgun shells into the third line before the Daggers could react. Kira swept down into their confused ranks, firing a full burst that took down another seven Daggers. He took off again before they could return their firepower to him, and the invading ZAFT units promptly cut them apart while they were distracted.

Kira looked up ahead, towards a particular mobile suit hangar. They had been there the last time. He charged, cutting down the two Strike Daggers feebly guarding it, and landed with a crash. The red beam came at him again he skirted aside, letting it tear past

With a crash, the Aile Strike, Sword Strike, and Launcher Strike landed before him.

Kira clenched his fists around the Freedom痴 controls. This timethis time I won稚 let them beat me!

The Launcher Strike opened fire again Kira dodged again, cutting down a pair of incoming missiles as he did. Immediately, the Sword Strike came sweeping in behind him he backflipped over its head, kicking it in the back as he did and sending it staggering forward. Landing with a crash, he raised his beam rifle to pick it off quickly only to have the Aile Strike try to try to slash his rifle in two with its beam saber. Kira darted backward, switching to his beam saber, as the Aile Strike followed up with another swing Kira deployed his plasma cannons and railguns, but was forced to dodge again as the Launcher Strike fired another shot from its hyper impulse cannon.

哲ot again Kira growled. He lined up for a full burst, but the Sword Strike came barreling in, forcing the Freedom back with a winnowing overhead sword slash. It fired its rocket anchor up at the Freedom Kira smacked it aside with his shield and took aim at the Sword Strike, but beam rifle fire from the Aile Strike forced him back again. He ducked underneath another shot fro the Launcher Strike, but immediately the Aile Strike came back down with its saber. Kira drew his beam saber, deflecting the Aile Strike痴 saber with his own, but the Aile Strike held him locked in midair. The Launcher Strike leapt up behind the Freedom, leveling off its cannon to finish the fight Kira痴 eyes narrowed as he saw his chance the seed burst

Pushing off the Aile Strike痴 shield with the Freedom痴 legs, Kira spiraled through the air with a scream, and slammed his saber into the Launcher Strike痴 cockpit. The Launcher Strike exploded Kira slammed back down onto the ground, sinking to one knee and ducking a beam rifle shot from the Aile Strike. The Sword Strike hurled its beam boomerang at him Kira screamed as he charged forward, slashing the boomerang in half. As it exploded in midair, Kira charged the Sword Strike came streaking towards him, swinging its sword horizontally. Kira ducked under the swing and slashed the Sword Strike in two at the waist, grimacing as it exploded behind him.

The Aile Strike landed with a crash behind the Freedom, firing its rifle Kira whirled around, deflecting the shot with his shield and firing back with his plasma cannons and railguns. The Aile Strike jetted aside, but a railgun shell clipped its rifle, sending it spiraling out of the Aile Strike痴 hand. The Aile Strike drew its saber, charging towards the Freedom Kira narrowed his eyes. The two Gundams met with a crash the Aile Strike痴 saber came down onto the Freedom痴 shield, the Freedom痴 saber onto the Aile Strike痴 shield. Kira scowled, seizing his chance, and deployed the plasma cannons

With a thunderous explosion, the deed was done.

The Freedom straightened up. Kira cast a wary glance at the ZAFT lines as they poured over the base. He turned towards the rest of the Alliance lines as they pulled back, fighting the ZAFT mobile suits at close range, and took off. The mission wasn稚 complete yet the Alliance base had to be completely taken.

A Buster Dagger tried to shoot him down from below Kira picked it off with his beam rifle. He came down at another hangar, shooting down another pair of Strike Daggers, and an instant later, there was a crash a hangar door across an airfield opened ponderously

The Justice Gundam loomed above him, eyes flashing.

Kira痴 eyes widened in disbelief. Athrun!

The Justice leveled off its rifle and fired the Freedom lunged to the side, taking cover behind its shield as the Justice poured firepower after it. The subflight lifter snapped up into position the Justice took off after the fleeing Freedom.

添ou Kira growled, whirling around and charging again, squeezing off a shot at the Justice痴 exposed torso. The Justice slapped the shot aside with its shield, roaring up over the Freedom痴 head and pouring firepower back down on Kira. 添ou池e here again!

The Freedom drew a beam saber and charged.

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ZAFT Nazca-class destroyer Pythagoras, Lagrange Point 5

Rau smiled, crossing his arms, and watching with ruthless amusement as Valentine deftly maneuvered her simulator avatar of the Justice Gundam, doing battle with the Freedom. It was, of course, a simulator, and anyone with any sort of presence of mind would realize that. But what presence of mind did Kira have? He saw the Justice and like a trained dog, Rau mused, he attacked.

Love could move people to do amazing thingsbut so could hate.

徹f course, Rau said, looking over Valentine痴 shoulder at the screen the Freedom fired a full burst, the Justice artfully dodged, 的 suspect you値l let him win.

Valentine snorted amusedly. 溺aybe, she shot back. 的f I take enough pity on him.

Rau chuckled to himself and said no more, watching the battle.

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February 3rd, CE 72 - Earth Alliance base on the edge of the Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert, Africa

The two Gundams shook as they crashed together, beam sabers blazing. Kira screamed as he surged forward, the Freedom痴 wings flashing to life the Justice backed away, slamming the ends of its two beam sabers together and charging with a dual saber. It brought the top blade down with a crash onto Kira痴 saber Kira scowled as it swung the bottom blade towards him and stopped it with his shield.

添ou he snarled.

He saw Fllay痴 shuttle again, drifting off the battlefield he saw the Justice raise its rifle again and shoot it down he saw the flames again, he saw the Justice again, he surged with anger

I WON探 FORGIVE YOU!

The Freedom charged, slamming into the Justice with its shoulder and throwing his foe back. Kira lined up for a full burst the Justice skirted aside, circling around him with a blazing beam cannon salvo. Kira somersaulted over the shots, returning fire with his railguns the shells pounded the Justice痴 armor, forcing it backward, and Kira lunged up through the smoke to slam his saber back down onto the Justice痴 shield.

The Justice threw Kira back, putting its force behind its shield, and charged again, twirling its dual-bladed beam saber. The Freedom somersaulted over its head, swinging around to stab into its exposed back the Justice whirled around to stop Kira痴 blow with the bottom blade of its saber.

YOU WON探 BEAT ME AGAIN! Kira screamed.

His eyes flashed images swirled around him; of the Strike and Aegis fighting desperately in space; of the Aegis crushing the Skygrasper痴 cockpit and snuffing out Tolle痴 life; of the Justice blocking the Raider痴 finishing beam cannon blastand everything returned to that debris field in space, near Jachin Due, as the Justice stormed into his battle with the Providence.

WHY DID YOU BETRAY ME?! Kira shrieked, bringing his saber down again, and following up with a punishing kick to the Justice痴 face. He stormed down after his reeling foe. I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND!

The Justice charged back towards the Freedom with a crash and a shower of sparks, their sabers slammed together. The Justice threw the Freedom back, raging up after the winged machine, beam cannons blazing. Kira deflected them with his shield, pounding his saber back into the Justice痴 shield.

YOU FOUGHT BY MY SIDE! Kira screamed, eyes flashing vindictively. WHY DID IT HAVE TO TURN OUT THIS WAY!? The Freedom forced the Justice back. WHY DO WE HAVE TO FIGHT EACH OTHER AGAIN?! The Freedom charged down towards the Justice as it righted itself. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE MY ENEMY AGAIN!?

The Justice looked up Kira screamed the Freedom drove its saber into the Justice痴 cockpit.

With a thunderous explosion, the Justice was gone Kira went reeling back, still wielding his saber, and fired the Freedom痴 engines to stop himself. He looked up furiously at the fireball, and tried not to cry.

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ZAFT Nazca-class destroyer Pythagoras, Lagrange Point 5

的mpressive indeed, Rau chuckled, as Valentine pulled herself out of the simulator. 徹f course, the real thing will be far differentbut nonetheless, I do believe we have made excellent progress.

鄭nd yet I知 the one who gets my ass kicked, Valentine grumbled, running a hand through her hair in irritation. 的 still think it would have been better if I had beaten him.

的t doesn稚 really matter, Rau answered with a shrug. 滴e still hasn稚 defeated Athrun Zala. He paused, and chuckled again. 鄭nd nobody has to know that you were so easily trounced by a crying little boy.

鉄hut up.

迭eally, were you going easy on him?

Shut up.

Rau chuckled one last time, turning towards the door. 摘ither way, he said, 堵o make sure to be somewhere where he値l find you soon. We wouldn稚 want him getting suspicious.

Valentine rolled her eyes, buttoning up her collar. 添ou壇 think he壇 realize that it was a simulator match.

Rau grinned. 添ou壇 think he壇 realize Athrun really didn稚 shoot down that shuttle, either, he said. 哲ow get going. I know you won稚 turn down a chance to play with his brain again.

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February 4th, CE 72 - PLANT Aprilius 1, Lagrange Point 1

敵il, the boy said quietly, standing halfway in the shadows. 展hen will it happen?

Gilbert Dullindal, sitting back in an overstuffed chair with a thick newspaper open before him, glanced up at the boy. 鄭ny day now, Rey, he said. 鄭nd after that, you understand your role?

的 am already doing well in my classes, sir, he said, straightening up. 釘ut there is one boy

Gilbert arched an eyebrow. 徹h?

添ou told me that if I was in the presence of another Newtype, I would feel pressure coming from him, Rey went on. 鄭nd there is one boy from whom I feel such pressure.

Gilbert turned towards Rey, intrigued. 敵o on.

滴e is an immigrant from Orb, Rey continued, 殿nd I am unsure of his background, but he is moody and antisocial. He seems angry and despairing. He is already excelling in his classes and training, but he has had many incidents with other trainees and instructors.

Gilbert nodded in interest. 鄭nd he is a Newtype?

的 do not think he has realized or used any of those powers, Rey added. 釘ut I feel strong pressure from him. And I feel that with training and your tutelage, he could become a powerful Newtype.

Gilbert nodded again. 鄭nd what is this boy痴 name?

鉄hinn Asuka.

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February 5th, CE 72 - ZAFT Nazca-class destroyer Pythagoras, Lagrange Point 5

鄭nother probe, sir! one of the deckhands reported. 典wo o団lock, distance 400!

鼎IWS emplacements, lock on and fire at will, Cummings ordered.

Standing on the bridge of the Pythagoras, Rau smirked, arms crossed, watching the CIWS bullets lance out and strike another satellite, blowing it apart.

的t is rather insulting that the Alliance has tried to deploy all these probes within our airspace, and thought that we really would not notice them, he said. 鉄o it is only fitting that we destroy them.

徹f course, sir, Cummings answered. 釘ut deploying intelligence satellites within a sovereign nation痴 territory is a very warlike move.

Rau shrugged back. 典he Earth Alliance has some very warlike people within it, he said. 鄭s do we. Councilor Wilson on the National Defense Council already submitted another plan for us to attack the Moon. We have our fair share of war hawks as well.

撤robe at eleven o団lock, distance 250! one of the deckhands cried.

鼎IWS, fire!

The CIWS shredded the next satellite. Cummings shook his head.

的t is strange that not even six months have passed since the end of the war, and already we池e crawling towards another, he sighed.

的t痴 inevitable, Rau replied. 鄭s long as the leaders of both sides do not truly seek peace, what can peace be but temporary? He turned. 的 doubt the Alliance will be so foolhardy as to post defenses for their probes. They were hoping we wouldn稚 notice them in the first place. I値l leave the bridge to you.

填nderstood.

Rau turned and drifted out the bridge door, smirking. It certainly hadn稚 taken them long to get back into the habit of war.

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Kira crawled out of the Freedom痴 cockpit with a sigh, mopping sweat from his brow, and glanced down at the cockpit痴 main display. Maintaining this thing had never been easy, but now he was helping the Pythagoras痴 engineers upgrade the avionics, and that was even harder.

展orking hard, I see, Valentine痴 voice chuckled. Kira turned around in surprise, finding her perched on the Freedom痴 head, smiling. 泥id they give you increased work ethic too?

Kira blinked, confused. 的知 just doing my job, he said, looking down at the engineers as they poked and prodded the dismantled Freedom. 典hey池e upgrading the avionics. I have to upgrade the OS to match.

徹f course, Valentine agreed, 澱ut after that, we have something else to do. She extended her hand towards him. 鼎ome up here, you can take a break.

Kira reluctantly sat down next to her on the Freedom痴 head, looking down awkwardly at the mechanics below, as they started cursing at each other.

釘esides, Valentine added, smirking, 土ou won稚 get anything done if they池e acting like that.

Kira nodded, resting his chin tiredly on his hand and leaning on his knee. Valentine glanced at him.

展hy so depressed? she asked, inching closer, smiling. 添ou need something done about it?

Kira blinked in surprise, reddening, as he looked over at her, sputtering for an answer. She shook her head and laughed.

添ou are hopeless, she giggled. Kira looked back down at the hangar floor uncomfortably.

He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. 展hy are you here? he asked.

Valentine looked back at him, eyebrow quirked. 展hat do you mean?

的 mean, here, with ZAFT, he added.

Sitting back, Valentine looked up at the GuAIZ standing across the hangar, as the mechanics over there slowly put it back together. 溺y parents were killed in by Blue Cosmos when I was four, she said. 的知 a first generation Coordinator, so my parents were Naturals. She closed her eyes and shrugged, a thin smile still on her lips. 鄭nd what痴 a four-year-old little girl to do but run to the first pair of arms that open for her? She opened her eyes again. 典he Coordinators never really did that, so I wandered around in the shadows of the PLANTs, until eventually the Commander found me and pulled me off the streets. I grew up under the auspices of ZAFT, and joined the military when I was old enough. She looked over at Kira, smiling. 鄭nd here I am.

Kira stared at her, aghast. 添-You池e a war orphan?

鉄ort of, Valentine answered. 泥epends on what you consider as war. She sighed. 典he Naturals killed my parents, but it痴 hard to have much liking for the Coordinators when they ignored me too.

的-I知 sorry, Kira started uneasily. Valentine waved him off.

的 don稚 need any sympathy, she added. 典he past is the past. The Commander took care of me until I could take care of myself, and I致e come out alright for it. She glanced over at Kira. 泥on稚 you think so?

Kira blushed again. 添eah

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February 7th, CE 72 - Djibril Manor, Vermont, Atlantic Federation

The newscasts showed a city in flames and given that that city was Jerusalem, Djibril noted, the world should already be seething with craven religious warfare.

He watched with detachment as Jerusalem burned and half the world writhed with furious riots and street fighting. But it wasn稚 as bad as Djibril had expected a century ago, the world would have destroyed itself in rage as one of its holiest cities burned away. But not now oh, there was plenty of fury, but nobody had yet done anything coming close to making good on their threats of holy war. That, Djibril mused, was rather odd was religion that weak in this new Cosmic Era?

He watched as the brown-uniformed soldiers of the Muslim League swallowed their fury to try and keep the peace. The leaders of the Israeli Separatists were spouting just as much incendiary rhetoric, but it seemed no moves had been made.

Djibril wondered if Rau had had a hand in this. He doubted it Rau preferred to exploit much more fundamental human weaknesses than religious zealotry. Atheism, after all, was the order of the day in the PLANTs, and it was remarkably hard to get an atheist riled up over an offense to God.

Besides, Djibril reminded himself, he had much bigger things planned.

Djibril stood, changing the screen to show a real-time feed of the remains of Junius 7. Rau already had maneuvered a gang of Zala extremists into acquiring flare motors to move the wreckage and drop it on the Earth. That was fine with Djibril dropping a big nasty thing on the Earth always had enormous shock value, and nothing of the like had happened in the Cosmic Era, so it was bursting with political potential.

The apocalyptic similarities were rather amusing, really. Once again, the armies of good and evil would clash.

Djibril smiled. Good would, of course, be victorious.

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February 11th, CE 72 - PLANT Aprilius 1, Lagrange Point 5

典he Chairwoman is giving a speech on the 14th to mark the second anniversary of the Bloody Valentine incident, Valentine explained, a map spread out before her on Rau痴 coffee table, with Kira sitting dutifully next to her. She pointed to the audience hall in which Canaver was going to give her speech. 徹ur friend Ramirez will be on one of these balconies. He値l shoot her, and that will be our signal to join the ZAFT soldiers inevitably sent to find the shooter. We値l look as surprised as they値l be.

Kira nodded reluctantly. 鄭ndthen what? he asked.

Valentine sat back, arms crossed. 典he PLANT Supreme Council will take a vote on a new interim Chairman, until the PLANT-wide elections on April 1st, she said. 鄭nd Councilor Dullindal is confident that he will be elected.

鄭ndthe Destiny Plan will bring us all peace and stop the cycle, Kira finished haltingly. Valentine nodded dourly.

鄭nd you値l finally get your chance to fight Athrun, she added, smiling darkly at Kira.

Kira痴 eyes flashed. 迭ight, he agreed.

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February 13th, CE 72 - PLANT Aprilius 1, Lagrange Point 5

The click of metal on metal reverberated through the hotel room. Rau looked up at the ghostly-looking shell of a man, his dark clothes sticking out painfully against the sterile white hotel décor.

迭amirez, he chuckled, his black trench coat rustling as he crossed one leg over the other. 添ou池e not taking any chances, are you?

Ramirez steadily screwed the sniper rifle痴 silencer on. 鏑ook man, he said, 土ou offered me this job and I gotta take it. His hands shook as he loaded the cartridge with a handful of two-inch-long metal bullets. 典his ain稚 no 遡ill the cheating husband job, no way, I知 killing a fucking head of state.

摘ven so, Rau said, looking on guardedly, 鍍he speech isn稚 until tomorrow. You池e getting on with all this a little early.

Ramirez snapped the cartridge into place and picked up the scope. 展ell, look, I don稚 wanna take any chances, he said. 的f I fuck this up, they値l kill me. I知 a fucking Natural.

添our faith in my ability to whisk you off somewhere where ZAFT can稚 bother you is awfully low, Rau remarked. 的 paid you not to worry about escaping, but to kill Chairwoman Canaver.

展ell, how am I gonna even get in a position to kill her during the speech? Ramirez complained, as he attached the scope. 的t痴 a fucking Junius 7 memorial. She痴 gonna have security coming out the ass.

的値l worry about that, Rau said dismissively.

的f you can get past all the security, why don稚 you kill her? Ramirez shot back. Rau chuckled.

徹h, it would be awfully convenient that way, wouldn稚 it? he agreed. 釘ut, you see, this is part of a much larger plan, and it would be rather compromised if I were the one to pull the trigger, satisfying as it may be. He grinned. 的知 sure you understand.

哲ot really, Ramirez grunted.

展ell, you don稚 need to, Rau countered. 鄭ll you need to do is pull the trigger.

徹kay, okay, just pull the trigger, Ramirez sighed. 添ou want me to do anything special? Shoot her after she says something in particular, something like that?

Rau paused, putting a hand to his chin in thought. 鉄ee if you can hit her if she makes an open-armed gesture, like she痴 embracing someone. He smiled. 添ou see, I do love irony. And to die while dropping her guard to embrace the worldI think you understand that much.

Ramirez looked back down at his rifle. 添ou池e sick, man.

Rau grinned back. 鉄ome people call it genius.

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To be continued