Phase 06 - To Change the World

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED - The Power to Protect

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Phase 06 - To Change the World

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February 14th, CE 72 - PLANT Aprilius 1, Lagrange Point 5

The dull roar of the crowd filled the audience hall of Aprilius 1痴 largest university as the audience slowly trickled in. Flak-jacketed ZAFT guards toting assault rifles were standing at all corners of the hall, watching the audience carefully. An array of Councilors and ZAFT officers were already on the stage, seated behind the podium in a lazy semicircle.

Among the politicians, Gilbert Dullindal sat back and smiled. It was almost time.

He glanced down at his PDA, looking over his itinerary. He would of course have to show up for an emergency council vote, the vote that he was certain would put him in power. But after that was all done, and he had solidified his position as first the interim Chairman and then the Chairman in earnest he had one more thing to attend to.

He smiled down at the grim young face of Shinn Asuka. The boy痴 red eyes glared back at him through glossy locks of black hair. Gilbert could see suffering in the shimmering crimson eyes in that simple ID photo, taken at his enrollment into the ZAFT Academy. He looked over the boy痴 grades in regards to pure training and performance, he was unstoppable and impeccable. However, the instructors had tempered his statistical impressiveness with less than glowing comments about his personality he was 殿ntisocial and moody; he was 登verly hotheaded and gets into fights with classmates often; he was 砥ndisciplined and disinclined to follow orders.

In short, Gilbert thought, he was an asshole.

Well, that was all right. Gilbert could think of other great figures of the past who had been assholes.

He pocketed his PDA with a smile.

I am looking forward to meeting you, Shinn Asuka.

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Kira crossed his arms and immediately cringed as he felt the handgun concealed in his uniform. He glanced over the ZAFT soldiers, armed to the teeth, staring dourly at the audience as they slowly filtered into the audience hall. They were all going to witness something horrible, yet they seemed completely oblivious.

Valentine came up next to him, glancing at him meaningfully. He nodded; they both turned and slipped into the shadows together.

迭amirez is moving into position, Valentine whispered. 的 have no idea when he値l fire, but knowing the Commander, it値l probably be at some really dramatic point.

泥oes this have to be so theatric? Kira asked. 的 mean He trailed off and shook his head.

Valentine watched him carefully. 泥on稚 falter now, she said sternly. 展e池e too far along, and Canaver will do whatever she can to stop us unless we remove her.

Kira looked down at the floor and said nothing more.

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Djibril Manor, Vermont, Atlantic Federation

Scratching his black cat痴 chin as it sat purring in his lap, Lord Djibril ignored the blathering newscaster as he watched the live footage of Chairwoman Canaver痴 speech. The stage was still devoid of the star herself, instead filled with councilors and ZAFT officers. There were guards all over the place Djibril wondered how any assassination could possibly take place with so much security.

He shrugged. Rau would figure that out.

The anchor said something about this being an important time for the Coordinators. Djibril swallowed the feeling of distaste he would have to put up with the obnoxious sentimentality of a mob of wailing Coordinators if he was ever going to see the assassination itself.

There was some motion at the back of the stage, and a roar of applause rose from the crowd as the Chairwoman stepped out.

Djibril smiled and settled into his chair.

的t痴 showtime.

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Chairwoman Eileen Canaver made her way from the back of a red-curtained stage to the podium at its front, emblazoned with the bold logo of ZAFT. She stepped up to the bushel of microphones before her, as the applause filled the hall, drowning out everything, and raised her hands for calm slowly, the applause died down, and she smiled at her audience kindly.

She paused, looking around at the faces. They were young and hopeful.

典wo years ago, she began, 渡obody looked so happy. She put her hands on the sides of the podium. 典wo years ago, we mourned the loss of thousands of our own, in one terrible act of destruction. I remember those days, when I was a young junior Councilor in a frenzied government preparing for war. The Supreme Council sent an enormous bouquet of flowers to the site of the tragedy a flower for every person whose life was lost there. She paused. 的 personally oversaw the shipment of it to Junius 7. And I saw before me exactly 243,721 flowers. And, looking at all those rows and rows of flowers, it was then that I truly realized just how many people had lost their livesand just how terrible a tragedy it was.

展e all know what happened after that, she went on. 典he Bloody Valentine galvanized us, and we invaded the Earth. The Earth fought back, until six months ago, when we finally put our weapons down, before we could destroy each other in our rage. And now we have had six months to heal from the scars of the Bloody Valentine and the war. We have still more healing before us. But we have made progress.

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Ramirez痴 heart pounded as he slipped through the shadows, clutching his sniper rifle in a death grip, praying it would make no noise. He darted up a staircase, past a guard distractedly watching the speech on a television monitor overhead. He slipped through a door, gently closing it behind him and silently hoping that no one had seen him.

He scanned the balcony it was perfectly recessed in the shadows, as the lights were dimmed for the Chairwoman痴 speech. He looked across to the other side there was a dark staircase that appeared unguarded, and led to a door that, he recalled from the map, could lead him out to an alley that would wind its way away from the audience hall, and eventually take him to freedom. Rau would meet him somewhere in that alley, and hide him, and protect him.

He shook his head. This was the perfect place for a sniper to hide. He checked his sniper rifle one last time, making sure the silencer and flash suppressor were tightly fastened where they were supposed to be. He checked the cartridge again, looking over the six barb-like bullets inside. He checked the scope one last time perfectly colored and tinted to reduce the glare from reflected light anywhere else.

And with that, he crept over to the guardrail and took up his position.

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The curtains behind her slid apart, displaying a panorama of the wreckage of Junius 7.

典his was our symbol of war, Canaver continued. 展e told ourselves not to forget Junius 7, not to forget the Bloody Valentine, and we found the strength to fight. But with that strength came anger, and with that anger came yet more tragedy. We inflicted on the Naturals the same suffering that they inflicted on us. We forgot the preciousness of human life we became the monster we sought to destroy.

釘ut we fought on anyway, she went on. 鄭nd we were driven back, inch by inch, to the border of our territory. And at the end of the war, at the height of our anger, the Alliance used nuclear weapons on us again. But this time, we went too far, and answered their nuclear weapons with one of our own. And it took the actions of outsiders to stop us from doing something we would all regret.

哲ow we have made peace, but the process of building this peace is painful. But it is worth the struggle.

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It was almost providential, Rau mused, that the audience hall was set up this way. He stood on one balcony, arms crossed, watching the speech from the darkness. He glanced across the hall, at the opposite balcony he saw the dim shape of Ramirez, taking aim with his sniper rifle.

Rau gazed from Ramirez痴 position to Canaver痴 podium it was a perfect shot.

He reached into his uniform, smiling as he felt the hard metal of a handgun tucked into his shirt. He had promised Ramirez that he would send him somewhere where ZAFT could never find him.

He slipped a fresh clip into the pistol, chuckling as he heard it click into place. He would hate to go back on his word.

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溺any of you here were on the front lines of that war, Canaver said. 鄭nd many more of you watched loved ones go off to far-flung battlefields around the world to fight and die. We all suffered, sacrificing our families and friends, but we thought that sacrifice was worth it, until the very end of the war, when finally, someone was there to remind us that it wasn稚. She gestured to the drifting, haunting wreckage behind her. 典he people here died because of a terrible, needless war. It is our task, as the survivors, to ensure that others shall not have to make that sacrifice again.

哲o one is denying that we have a hard road ahead of us. The scars the Naturals left on us, and the scars we left on the Naturals, are deep indeed. But we cannot let that stand between us and the prospect of final, permanent peaceor else it will not be long before we are leaving more and more scars on each other.

徹n this day two years ago, many people came to hate the Naturals. And many still do. But I urge us all, everyone, to swallow your anger and join is in creating a lasting peace for this world. The people who died here died to show us the price of such a war. We must not impose that price on anyone, ever again.

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In the crowd, arms crossed and one leg draped over the other, Valentine snorted in annoyance.

鄭 politician taking an opportunity to stump for her policy, she grumbled.

釘ut she痴 talking about peace, Kira murmured. 的sn稚 that a universal message?

Valentine glanced at him oddly. 的f she really wasn稚 trying to push her peace plan, she wouldn稚 have 爽rged us to swallow our anger or whatever. She looked back at the speaking Chairwoman. 鉄he痴 a politician. They喪e all the same.

釘ut she wants peace, Kira protested. 鄭nd so do weisn稚 that the point of remembering Junius 7?

Valentine smirked. 典hat痴 one way of looking at it.

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擢or six months, we have been involved in difficult negotiations with the nations of the Earth Alliance. But it is to be expected that these negotiations are difficult. We have many grievances with the Alliance, and the Alliance has many grievances with us. But already we have made important progress towards a lasting treaty between the Coordinators and the Naturals, a treaty that will become a testament to the will between us for an end to conflict.

典his goes beyond politics and debate, she continued. 典he struggle to create a peaceful world is the objective of all people, regardless of their method, and now that we have that objective in reach, I urge us all to put aside our differences and embrace the Naturals, as we embraced each other during the war. There is no reason for us not to. The Naturals sacrificed their families and friends to this war just as we did. They felt the same anguish at those losses, just as we did. And they too call for peace, just as we do.

徹ur people are different in many ways, she went on, 澱ut we are all still people. We have made great strides in medical and space life technology for what purpose did we build them, if not to share them with others and better their lives? The Naturals have minds as brilliant as ours, untouched by genetic modification why should we ignore their genius simply because their lives began in a womb, not a test tube? The Naturals are greatly important, and it would be to our great shame to disregard them.

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Gilbert Dullindal smiled as he saw the dim form of Rau痴 assassin take aim from a darkened balcony high overhead. It was almost time.

He glanced back over at the Chairwoman, as she thundered out praises for the Naturals. It made no difference to him, of course Newtypes had power far beyond a Natural or Coordinator.

Or, he mused, scanning the audience and picking out a certain boy in a red uniform, the Ultimate Coordinator.

Closing his eyes, he sat back and waited.

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典oday is a day of remembrance, Canaver said, 殿s well it should be. Many lives were lost on this day. But it would be a disservice to all those who died if we were to simply mourn, and do nothing to build a world where their sacrifice will never have to be made again. Today should be a day of progress, and celebration of our newfound peace, as much as it should be a day of mourning. In just six months since the end of the war, we have come far.

溺y call for national unity today is not a partisan maneuver, she continued. 的f we are to have progress, no matter what the politics of that progress are, we must make peace with the Naturals. We must not be menaced we must embrace them, join them, and together we can move forward. Who among us would want otherwise?

In the shadows, Rau smiled.

典here is nothing to justify further war! Canaver cried. She extended her arms. 展e must reconcile, and together we can walk forward towards a new future!

Canaver fell silent the audience, and the politicians and officers behind her, stared at her quizzically as she was motionless. Finally, she pitched backward, collapsing onto the stage as the audience gasped and the officers rushed around her, blood pouring from a bullet hole in her heart.

As the calm turned to chaos, Gilbert masked his smile and rushed in towards the Chairwoman.

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Djibril Manor, Vermont, Atlantic Federation

Djibril grinned as the dead Chairwoman collapsed onto the stage in a pool of blood. The officers and politicians rushed in around her, trying to save her, but everyone could see that it was too late. The Earth Sphere had just watched Chairwoman Canaver, herald of peace for Coordinator and Natural alike, get gunned down. There was no way to undo the damage now.

But, he mused as he stood, his cat leaping off his lap in annoyance, there was still a lot of fanning these flames needed.

He rang up a number, and a lined face appeared on his screen.

溺r. Vermilyea, he began with a sinister smile. On the other end, Adam Vermilyea turned from his screen, emblazoned with the image of chaos around the Chairwoman痴 corpse, towards Djibril. 的 see you just saw our wonderful opportunity.

泥id you order this? Vermilyea asked, gesturing at the screen.

的 didn稚 order it, Djibril answered, 澱ut I knew about it.

滴ow? Vermilyea pressed on pointedly. Djibril grinned.

添ou値l know soon enough, he said airily. 哲o, I didn稚 order this, but I have every intention of taking advantage of it. He sat back down in his chair. 的 recall you saying you had connections to a Blue Cosmos cell near the PLANTs?

鉄omething like that, Vermilyea answered, arching an eyebrow at Djibril. 展hy?

Djibril痴 grin flashed feral. 溺ake those connections sing, he said. 滴ave them get a video up to the PLANTs, telling them that Blue Cosmos is responsible for this.

釘ut we池e not, Vermilyea protested.

鉄o what? Djibril shot back. 展e値l present the PLANTs with an image of our organization resurgent, and test the mettle of the PLANTs next leader.

Vermilyea paused for a moment, and then smiled. 的値l make a few calls, he said.

Djibril smiled back. 添ou do that.

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PLANT Aprilius 1, Lagrange Point 5

的 saw a flash up there! one of the soldiers cried, pointing off towards one of the balconies.

釘ut it hit her from the other side! Move! another shot back.

The crowd was in a panic, scrambling for the exits, as the soldiers rushed around, struggling to find the assassin and maintain order. In the depths of the chaos, Kira drew his gun and leapt over a row of empty seats, onto the stage. It was time to play his part.

鼎ouncilors! he shouted, brandishing his gun and looking around, as if still seeking the assassin. 的t痴 still dangerous here! Please evacuate!

A team of ZAFT soldiers shouldered their way through the crowds, bearing a stretcher, as a handful of officers and desperate Councilors struggled to revive the Chairwoman.

的s the assassin still there?! one of the Councilors shouted.

展here is he?! Have you found him yet?!

Kira wrenched himself from their grip. 展e haven稚 found the killer yet! Kira shouted back. 填ntil we do, it痴 still dangerous to be in the open like this! Please evacuate, there are soldiers standing by to take you to safety!

From the crowd rose Gilbert Dullindal. 展e should do as he says, he exclaimed. 典his assassin killed the person most crucial to the peace process. We should evacuate before he can kill anymore.

Another swarm of ZAFT soldiers swept in to seize the politicians and officers and pull them away from the corpse, as the first team loaded the dead Chairwoman onto the stretcher.

Kira glanced over his shoulder and took off backstage, leaping down a staircase and heading towards an open door, manned by a squad of riot gear-equipped guards herding the panicking crowds by. Valentine was nearby, brandishing her gun and shouting orders at the fleeing civilians.

典he troops are pulling the other Councilors off the stage, Kira said quickly. 鄭ny luck out here?

展e値l never find the killer here, Valentine answered. 滴e could be anywhere in this crowd.

Kira glanced back as the ZAFT soldiers rushed past, the Chairwoman on their stretcher, towards a waiting ambulance. A horrible feeling of guilt and sickness welled up inside him.

He squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head, and turned to rush back towards the stage.

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Ramirez stumbled blindly through the alleys, the shouts of ZAFT troops and panicking civilians ringing in his ears. He glanced in terror over his shoulder, finding no one there he rounded a corner, staggering through a grimy puddle and crashing up against a wall.

典hey池e gonna find me he breathed, climbing back to his feet and shouldering his rifle again. 迭au! Where are you?!

Footsteps sounded from the shadows Ramirez whirled around, training his rifle on the darkness.

的s that you?! he demanded.

The figure emerged, chuckling.

添es, Rau answered, arms crossed, 妬t痴 me.

Ramirez lowered his rifle with a sigh of relief. 典hank God, man, he sighed. 哲ow get me outta here. They池e gonna tear me apart if they find me. You promised, man.

的ndeed I did, Rau said. 泥id anyone follow you?

Ramirez looked around worriedly. 湯course not, he said, 渡ow come on, quit screwing around, we gotta go!

Rau raised a gun in his right hand. Ramirez stared in disbelief at the weapon, trained on his chest.

展hat the you said you壇 send me somewhere where they wouldn稚 find me! he cried, backing up against a wall.

Rau smiled. 的 did, he agreed. 鄭nd trust me, they will never, ever find you.

The gunshot rang out through the alley.

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Kira went barreling through the alleys, a squad of armed ZAFT soldiers right behind him, guns drawn. There had been a gunshot somewhere in the alleys behind the audience hall, but nobody had reported in about it. And so Kira and the men behind him went racing through the labyrinthine back paths, when Kira already had an inkling of what they would come upon when they got there.

They rounded a corner and came to a halt as they came upon a corpse, dressed in ragged brown and gray clothes, stained with blood, a silenced sniper rifle slung over his shoulder.

展hat the hell is this?! one of the troops exclaimed. 滴e痴 already dead?! Who killed him?!

敵et a medical team out here, Kira said, pocketing his gun, glancing back at the soldiers, as one of them went for his radio. 鉄omeone get the rifle, too. This must be the guy.

As more soldiers poured into the alley, swarming over the corpse, Kira watched stoically.

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典his is the part where I can稚 kill anyone to make it better, Rau warned Gilbert, standing in the shadows outside the Supreme Council building. 添ou壇 better make this work. We can only kill so many Interim Chairmen.

的 understand, Gilbert said. He glanced over his shoulder. 敵et going. We池e going to take the vote soon.

Rau disappeared into the shadows, and Gilbert emerged to be instantly mobbed by a throng of reporters, desperate to know what had happened. A squad of soldiers rushed in to shove them back, as Gilbert made his way towards the Council building.

All that influence, he thought, would have to come to a head today.

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Valentine looked up at the screen above her and smiled as a scowling man in a camouflage jacket replaced the familiar face of the PLANT anchor. The soldiers and the panicking civilians stopped, looking up in surprise.

摘arlier today, Interim Supreme Chairwoman Eileen Canaver of the PLANTs was assassinated during a speech, the man declared, his voice booming over the heads of the citizens. 鄭nd the trigger was pulled by us of Blue Cosmos!

Angry shouts rose up from the crowd, as the Blue Cosmos guerilla grinned wickedly.

鼎anaver had tried to build a false peace where we Naturals would be subjugated by the unnatural order of the Coordinators! he shouted. 展e will not stand for such barefaced oppression and treachery! See our power, Coordinators! You thought we had died with the end of the war, but we have returned, and this time we will fight with strength a hundredfold! You will tremble, and your hourglasses will shatter, before the might of our blue and clean world!

The screens went dark the shouts grew angrier and Valentine slipped into the shadows to laugh.

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The Supreme Council chamber was quiet as the members of the Supreme Council took their places. Gilbert sat down at his own space, watching the grim faces of the still-shocked Councilors as they filed in. There was no one to rival him in political influence and goodwill, but that did not make his election a sure bet. But there was nothing he could do now.

典his has been an eventful and tragic day, one of the Councilors began, as the doors slid shut. 哲ot a year has passed since the end of the war, and already blood is being spilled again.

的t was Blue Cosmos, another Councilor spat. 的 knew we couldn稚 make peace without them doing something, but to think they壇 go this far

摘nough, the first Councilor said. 展e have not come here to commiserate; we have come here to select a new leader, to take us out of these dark times. Cast your votes as to who among us you believe is best suited to lead us in this new age.

There was silence. Gilbert steeled himself and cast his own vote, for an ill-known Councilor he doubted anyone else would vote for.

The first Councilor watched his screen carefully. At last, he looked up meaningfully at Gilbert.

The dark-haired Councilor stood.

鼎ouncilor Dullindal, the first Councilor said, 鍍he votes are in and you are the man we have selected. Do you accept the Chairmanship?

Gilbert smiled.

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The PLANTs were still rocked by confusion and fury when Kira found himself back in his dark hotel room, staring at his television set. It showed no news reports, speeches, or investigations, but instead a single tape.

Kira watched lifelessly as he watched the grainy, broken video of hundreds of men, hunkered down in a huge earthen trench, huddling together as explosions showered them with loose dirt. Gas masks hung around their necks, and they looked as though they had not eaten in days. They stared with haunting emptiness at the camera, as rats scurried by them. He watched an army of men, phantom-like figures steeped with weapons and wearing intimidating metal helmets, snapped open a fence and streamed into an open field, with planes droning overhead and tanks mercilessly crushing whatever was in front of them; all under the steely watch and the stiff, outstretched arm of a man in a brown uniform with a red armband. He saw a terrifying, towering cloud billow up over a city and the city disappearing beneath it. He saw soldiers wandering through the empty, dusty courtyard of a camp, surrounded by rotting bodies strewn all over. He saw men moving mechanically through a jungle, their eyes empty and their faces blank, loosely holding rifles as they tramped on like toy soldiers. He saw skyscrapers falling; he saw soldiers in the desert, in dusty, impoverished cities; he saw clouds of gas looming over cities; he saw soldiers gunning down the unarmed, the sick, the elderly, those who needed protecting.

Finally, the image settled on the specter of a dead soldier, killed on a battlefield somewhere, his sacrifice consigned to the dusty depths of history. He stared with a gaping mouth and blank eyes, as the breeze blew through his hair and over his unfeeling face.

And, closing his eyes, Kira saw Fllay die again.

A hand touched his shoulder gently Kira looked up in surprise, finding Valentine sitting next to him, looking at him inquisitively.

添ou池e looking at it again? she asked. Kira nodded solemnly and looked back at the screen.

典his is why we did it, he said, 途ight? He pointed at the screen, at the slain soldier's soulless face. 鉄o these kind of things don稚 happen again?

滴uman history is doomed to repeat itself, and all the suffering and carnage it wrought on itself, without ever learning to stop, Valentine said, putting her arms around Kira. 展e池e going to stop that pain.

Kira looked back at the screen.

The empty eyes of the dead soldier stared back.

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End