Phase 06 - Vision of the Future

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY

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Phase 06 - Vision of the Future

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October 7th, CE 73 - United Emirates of Orb, territorial waters

"Captain! We're surrounded!"

Talia didn't need Arthur's panicking to let her know that the situation was grim; arrayed before the Minerva was a fleet of no less than twenty warships, all bristling with mobile suits and guns pointed straight at them. Bringing up the Minerva's rear was a no less friendly fleet of seven Orb ships, whose guns were there to ensure that the Minerva didn't try to go back into their waters.

"Orb sure screwed us over," she growled under her breath. She cast a disdainful glance at Gilbert, sitting in his usual chair, calm as ever. He even seemed to be smirking.

Talia failed to see how he could be smirking when he was faced with quite imminent death.

"Shield the bridge," she ordered. "Prepare for anti-mobile suit, anti-air, and anti-ship combat."

"What?!" Arthur cried in panic. "Captain, are we" He cut himself off when he remembered the Chairman was on the bridge as well.

"Do we have any other choice?!" she shot back. "We can't afford to fail. We have to fight our way through." She pressed a handful of buttons on her chair's armrest and spoke into the ship's intercom. "Attention all hands. Currently we have an Atlantic Federation fleet in front of us, and behind us, an Orb fleet is preventing us from reentering our territorial waters. We are surrounded and have no choice but to fight our way out."

She paused, looking at the Chairman. He didn't deserve this.

"For the sake of the Chairman, we will not fail," she went on, biting back a scowl. "We will fight as the proud crew of the Minerva."

She looked out at the enemy fleet again as she shut down the intercom, and narrowed her eyes. Once again she would have to protect the Chairman.

"Activate the Tristans and Isolde," she said, pushing away the sinking feeling in her stomach.

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"Shinn Asuka, Core Splendor, going out!"

The moment the Core Splendor cleared the Minerva's catapult, Shinn realized that they really were screwed over.

Three carriers were cruising at the lead of a dozen other ships. Scores of mobile suits filled the sky. Behind the Minerva, the Orb fleet was standing ready as well, and the decks of the Orb ships were packed with Orb mobile suits, all glowering at the Minerva and ensuring that no matter what happened in their battle with the Alliance fleet, they wouldn't be going back to Orb.

And, as he combined the Impulse's parts into the Force Impulse, he realized that it would just be him and Shiho against an entire fleet. He watched uneasily as Rey and Luna took off and landed on the deck, behind the Minerva's Tristans. The Minerva had originally been assigned to the Moon葉hey had never had a chance to pack any atmospheric equipment for the ZAKUs.

The Savior fell into formation behind him, and Shiho's grim face appeared on the screen.

"Shinn," she said, and Shinn frowned at the edge of hesitancy he could hear in her voice. "Lunamaria and Rey will only be able to shoot from the deck."

"I know," Shinn said tersely, hoping that was all she had to say.

"You go ahead and keep some of those Daggers away from the Minerva," Shiho continued, dashing Shinn's hopes. "I'll stay back here and mop up whatever you miss."

Shinn tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his gut that this was not a good idea. "Roger," he said through gritted teeth. The Impulse roared ahead before Shiho could say anything else.
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Atlantic Federation battleship Girty Lue, Yokosuka Naval Station, Japan, Republic of East Asia

If the military of Republic of East Asia had to have one redeeming quality about them, Ian Lee mused on the open-air deck of the Girty Lue, this had to be it. Yokosuka Naval Station was the finest military port Lee had ever seen, able to service multiple fleets at once. At the moment, the Girty Lue had berthed in the northern sector of the sprawling port, surrounded by gleaming Danilov-class destroyers. Lee痴 ship had come to port, its mission complete. It would be leaving later that day, of course, for a new mission but for now it was at rest, and the crew was doing its best to take advantage of this brief respite.

Lee looked down at the gangway. Down below, he could make out the figure of Neo Roanoke, saluting the figure of Lord Djibril.

Lee scowled. He hated Djibril. Djibril was the leader of Blue Cosmos溶ot that he wore a badge saying such, but it was plainly obvious預nd he made his living by inciting Naturals to war against Coordinators, which in turn incited Coordinators against Naturals and made Lee痴 job more dangerous than it needed to be, for himself and his men. Lee didn't hate the Coordinators as a people葉hey, through ZAFT, were his enemy, and he treated them and looked upon them as such, but he didn't necessarily want to wipe out the PLANTs. He looked upon them as he would anyone else, and since they were just as actively engaged in warfare as Naturals, clearly they weren稚 as different as they insisted. He simply wanted the Coordinators and Naturals to leave each other alone, so there would be no reason for either side to fight one another; until then, though, he would protect his homeland and his people, and nothing more. Soldiers like him had to do their jobs, but they didn稚 have to like them.

People like Djibril, however, refused to let the cycle of wars end. And Lee hated him for that.

The deck door opened, and Lee turned. He immediately felt a sinking feeling in his stomach as Stella Loussier wandered out in her usual dazed fashion. She made her way up against the rail and stared out at the ocean for a moment.

"The sea...!" she exclaimed at last, giggling and looking happily at the ocean. Lee arched an eyebrow at her. She was an idiot; and so Lee had a sudden and terrible feeling as to why Neo was keeping her around.

"You like the sea?" he asked, wondering why he was trying to make conversation with her. Normally he would press her to adhere to military protocol, but that was clearly a wasted effort. Neo had enough trouble making her adhere to the practice of wearing a flight suit when she went out to fight in space.

"Huh?" She looked over at Lee with wide, innocent, thoroughly confused eyes. "Oh..." She stared blankly at Lee, and he felt somehow disturbed by the soulless look in her eyes. "Stella likes the sea..."

Lee looked back out at the ocean for himself. He had to admit, it was calming, but he had also seen it when it was distinctly not calming. He figured that Stella would be terrified of the sea in a storm, but he could understand that葉he only things keeping him from fearing storm-tossed waters were his steeled nerves and military discipline.

"Why do you like the sea?" he asked, in spite of himself.

"Huh?" Stella was confused again.

"Why do you like the sea?" Lee repeated, looking back at her.

Stella thought a moment, staring, lost in thought. "...because...I like it..." she exclaimed after some thought. "And...it's not scary...like the lab..."

Images of Lodonia flickered back into Lee's memory. That lab had been the place where Sting, Stella, and Auel had been made into what they were now; it had been a place Lee hoped he would never have to return to. That place was evil.

Stella looked back out at the sea, giggling, leaning over the railing and smiling. Lee watched her uneasily. Lodonia had done this to her揺e saw how terrified she was when someone spoke her block word, and how vicious she could be in battle. But here she was just a little girl giggling and looking at the sea.

Lee looked down at Neo again, and struggled to keep his hatred in check.

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United Emirates of Orb, territorial waters

The Impulse quaked as Shinn deflected a pair of beam shots with his shield, and fired his rifle back at the Dagger Ls the shots had originated from. One of the Daggers dove out of the way, but the other wasn't so lucky. An instant later, though, Shinn was back on the run as two more Daggers rained missiles down on him.

"Shit," he grunted, "these guys are everywhere!"

Diving backwards again and cutting down a missile salvo with his CIWS, Shinn risked a glance back the Minerva. Luna's ZAKU fired its beam cannon into the air, wiping out a pair of incoming Daggers, but a missile slammed into her ZAKU's shield and nearly knocked her off the Minerva's deck.

More beam shots brought Shinn's attention back in front of him, and he raised his shield to deflect the shots and fire back. Yet another Dagger came streaking in, trying to flank him; Shinn knocked it aside with a kick to the side of the head and speared it on a beam rifle shot. He dove backwards, twisting around beam shots and shooting down two more Daggers as he moved.

"Shinn!" he heard Meyrin's voice shout. "The Minerva is going to pull back as far as we can without going back into Orb's waters! Pull back with us!"

Missiles buffeted Shinn grunted again as the Impulse put itself between the Minerva and another attacker. He shot down two more Daggers and dove backwards, looking past them at the enemy fleet.

"Holy shit!"

Rising up out of the lead carrier was an enormous green crab-looking mobile armor. Its two massive pink eyes flashed, and the mobile armor moved forward over the water, as the Daggers fell into formation around it.

"Minerva, what the hell is that thing?!" Shinn shouted, pulling back as the Daggers opened fire. Shiho dropped in beside him, firing the Savior's plasma cannons and wiping out three more Daggers.

"Forget what it is, just take it down!" she shouted.

On the bridge of the Minerva, Talia scowled.

"It's huge!" Arthur cried in disbelief. "Captain!"

"It would be the end if something like that latched onto us," Gilbert said dourly.

Talia looked down at Arthur. "Activate the Tannhäuser and target the enemy mobile armor!" The Tannhäuser swung out of its hatch, and began to charge.

Inside the cockpit of the Zamzazar, the blue-suited commander looked down at his two gunners.

"The Minerva has activated its positron cannon," one of the gunners reported.

"Deploy the reflector," the commander ordered. He smirked at the Minerva; those cocky ZAFT bastards wouldn't be able to punch through this.

The Tannhäuser locked onto the Zamzazar. "Fire!" ordered Talia; the Tannhäuser fired with a roar.

The Zamzazar spread its shield, the Tannhäuser's shot slammed against it; sparks flew in the Zamzazar痴 cockpit, a pall of smoke rose over the battlefield

And, an instant later, the Zamzazar floated before the fleet and its mobile suits, unscathed.

展hat the?! Arthur yelped.

的t deflected the Tannhäuser, Shinn murmured in disbelief.

鉄hinn! Talia shouted. 典ake that thing down! Distract it! Something!

The Impulse charged at the Zamzazar, and the Savior opened fire on the surrounding Daggers, pulling back as they charged. Shinn grunted as the Zamzazar痴 gun turrets opened fire, and he dodged past the shots, clenching his teeth. He fired at what looked like the cockpit hatch, but the positron reflector deflected his shot harmlessly. The Zamzazar痴 claws flashed red and the mobile armor swiped at him; Shinn dove towards the ocean, barely dodging the claws, and the Zamzazar followed.

鉄hit! Shinn shouted. 泥on稚 tell me I can稚 hit this thing! He fired at the Zamzazar痴 underside, but the positron reflector blocked his shot again, and the Zamzazar dropped down towards him, claws extended. Shinn gunned the booster, blasting out from under the Zamzazar before it could trap him, and the Zamzazar responded by retracting its front two claws and firing two large energy cannons at him.

Diving up into the air, Shinn glanced back at the Minerva. It had taken several direct hits from the Daggers, and despite the best efforts of the two ZAKUs, the Alliance mobile suits were just too many.

The Zamzazar charged at him again, and Shinn yelped in surprise, as the Impulse dove backwards, dodging another claw swipe. The Zamzazar commander snarled in frustration as the Impulse dodged a follow-up cannon barrage.

"That damned mobile suit," he growled. "Activate the Igelstellungs! We'll stun him and swat him out of the sky!"

A blaze of CIWS fire swarmed up at the Impulse, and Shinn grunted as the bullets slammed against the Impulse's armor, knocking the mobile suit back.

"Shinn!" Shiho screamed, as the Savior rocketed out of the sky, firing its plasma cannons at the Zamzazar. The shots bounced harmlessly off the positron reflector, and the Zamzazar fired back with its energy cannons. "Shinn, goddammit, wake up! We can't"

鄭ttention ZAFT ship Minerva, a voice bellowed out over the intercom, cutting Shiho off. 典his is the 7th Territorial Patrol Squadron of the Orb National Navy. You are approaching Orb痴 territorial waters. In the interest of preserving our sovereignty, we will open fire on you if you continue on your present course.

On the Minerva痴 bridge, Gilbert snorted in disgust. 展e can稚 do anything else, he grumbled. 鼎aptain, we can稚 escape, can we?

哲ot without fighting our way through someone, Talia answered. 摘ither way we would have to engage one of those fleets. Malik, maintain our present course.

"Those Orb bastards really are out to screw us over!" Shinn snarled, charging back at the Zamzazar and firing his beam rifle again. The shots went sailing wide as the positron reflector flashed to life again, and Shinn dove down towards the sea to dodge another claw swipe. The Zamzazar dropped after the Impulse, and Shinn spiraled back up into the sky, dodging more fire from the Zamzazar's turret cannons.

The Orb guns boomed, and towers of water rose up around the Minerva. Inside the Impulse, Shinn痴 eyes widened in shock.

的s Orb serious?!

The Impulse rattled, Shinn looked down, and he found the Zamzazar had clamped onto the Impulse痴 right leg. 鉄hit! The Zamzazar hurled him down towards the sea, the Impulse痴 leg snapped at the knee, and Shinn screamed.

鉄hinn! Meyrin shouted on the Minerva痴 bridge. Shiho cursed under her breath, and the Savior tried to move towards him, but the Daggers were there to stop it.

Shinn痴 eyes closed and the world became black.

Everything was peaceful again. He could see himself in Orb with his family, before the war, before the Impulse, before anything. He was happy.

鉄hinn! he heard Mayu痴 voice scream. He blinked.

溺ayu...?

展hat are you doing, Shinn?! Mayu shouted; she sounded annoyed.

溺ayu...that痴 Mayu痴 voice... Shinn murmured. 釘ut...where is she?

添ou値l die at this rate! she screamed. 展ake up! Are you just gonna let that thing beat you?!

Shinn stared forward for an instant. 溺ayu!

There was a seed, and an instant later, everything was clear. His eyes went dull; he activated the Impulse's booster and scowled up at the Zamzazar.

Inside the Zamzazar, the commander sneered at the Impulse as it righted itself. "You still won't die?!" he shouted. The Zamzazar angled its energy cannons and fired; Shinn saw the blasts coming and the air in front of him flashed with a white bolt of energy; the Impulse dove out of the way and skimmed along the water as the Zamzazar poured firepower into the water after it.

The Impulse burst up into the sky, firing two shots into the air to wipe out two Daggers. The remaining Daggers focused their firepower on him, and he dodged another three shots to shoot down another Dagger. The remaining Alliance mobile suits stormed towards him, breaking off to surround him, and they all opened fire solely on the Impulse. Shinn saw the blasts coming; time slowed, and the Impulse slithered out of a web of beam shots, shooting down four more Daggers as he zigzagged out of the way. The Zamzazar commander's eyes widened in disbelief as the Impulse spiraled back towards the Minerva, placing itself between the embattled ZAFT ship and the mobile armor.

"Commander!" Shinn shouted, as the Impulse swung back. "Cover me!"

Inside the Savior, Shiho blinked, still staring in disbelief as the Impulse moved blindingly fast.

"R-Roger!" she answered, charging in to swing in front of the Impulse, firing her weapons to hold off the attackers.

The Impulse spiraled up into the air; smoke still trailing from its damaged right leg. "Meyrin, prepare to launch the Sword Silhouette and Leg Flyer!" Shinn shouted, as he dodged more fire from the Zamzazar.

"Shinn..." Meyrin murmured in disbelief.

"Hurry!" Shinn added, as the Impulse ducked underneath an energy cannon salvo. "You can do it, right?!"

"Right!" she exclaimed stumblingly after a moment. She turned to look at Talia. "Captain..."

"Follow his instructions!" Talia ordered as the Minerva quaked.

"Roger!" Meyrin answered, turning back to her console.

In the sky, the Impulse ducked underneath one claw swing from the Zamzazar and hurtled over another. The Zamzazar commander scowled.

"He's fast!"

The Impulse darted away with blinding speed as the Zamzazar and a squadron of Daggers came in, weapons blazing. Shinn fired his beam rifle at the Zamzazar and scowled in irritation as the Zamzazar's positron reflector dissipated his shot. He twisted away from a missile salvo from the Daggers and fired back at them, taking down one of the attackers. The remaining Daggers charged; Shinn hurtled up into the air to shoot down two more and dodged another burst of beam shots. He fired one more shot at the Zamzazar, watched his shot bounce off, and sneered. He hurled his beam rifle at the Zamzazar's cockpit hatch, slamming into it and jarring the cockpit and its crew.

"Shoot him down!" the Zamzazar commander screamed as the gunners shook their heads, recollecting their wits.

The Impulse drew a beam saber and slashed through the Daggers one by one as they charged. The commander's eyes widened in disbelief. A Dagger toting a bazooka came charging at the Impulse; Shinn ducked under its shot and sliced it in half at the waist. Another Dagger opened fire, with two more lining up on either side of the Impulse; as the Daggers surrounded the Impulse and opened fire, Shinn dove through their shots effortlessly, twisting and turning around a net of beam rifle fire, and slashed another Dagger in two as it escaped the rifle blaze.

"FIRE!" the Zamzazar commander shrieked. The Zamzazar fired its forward energy cannons; the blasts slammed against the Impulse's shield; an instant later, the shield went spiraling away, but the Impulse was nowhere to be seen; the Zamzazar crew looked up in horror, and above them, the Impulse ignited its beam saber and dropped down upon them.

The Zamzazar crew screamed as Shinn drove his beam saber into the Zamzazar's cockpit.

The mobile armor threw smoke and sparks, and Shinn leapt up into the air. On the Minerva, even Gilbert stared in awed silence as the Zamzazar collapsed into the ocean and exploded.

"Launch the Silhouette!" Shinn's voice cried from Meyrin's console.

"R-Roger!" Meyrin answered.

The Sword Silhouette and the Leg Flyer took off with a flash, and Shinn discarded his damaged Leg Flyer for the new one, ejecting the Force Silhouette and replacing it with the Sword Silhouette in the process, sailing over the desperate shots of the Alliance forces down below. The Phase Shift flashed to life, and Shinn narrowed his eyes at the fleet below. A storm of missiles came streaking up towards him, but Shinn dove over them, drawing his anti-ship swords and spinning to slash apart two awestruck Daggers as he dove down towards one of the ships.

With a crash, Shinn plunged the combined sword into the bridge of a destroyer, and then swinging down to slice into the ship's missile launchers. As the destroyer was torn apart in an explosion, he took off again, hurling both beam boomerangs at another pair of Daggers as they tried to stop him. Landing again on a new ship, he smashed out the bridge and sliced off the bow, and as the ship began to sink, he took off again.

The boomerangs returned with a crash, and Shinn turned his eyes towards one of the carriers. As he fell, he hurled the boomerangs again at two other ships, and then smashed his sword into the carrier, slicing into its own missile stores, and ripping its bridge tower off. He took off again and sliced off the bridge tower of another destroyer. The headless destroyer listed into the second carrier and exploded, and the stricken carrier was knocked onto its side. Shinn dove through the air, slashing apart two more Daggers in midair, and came down onto one last destroyer. A CIWS turret aimed and opened fire on him; with a scream of rage, he slashed the ship's bridge tower out and leapt into the air.

On the Minerva, all eyes were glued to the Sword Impulse.

"The enemy fleetis retreating," Burt said quietly, staring in disbelief at the devastated Alliance fleet.

典his is incredible! Arthur exclaimed suddenly, his face lighting up in delight. 釘etter than Jachin Due! This is amazing, Shinn! You should get the Order of the Nebula for this! He looked up at Gilbert in his excitement. 迭ight, Chairman? Shinn will get the Order of the Nebula for this, right?

In his chair, Gilbert smiled.

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Atlantic Federation battleship Girty Lue, Pacific Ocean

Neo Roanoke stood on the walkway overlooking the Girty Lue's hangar, with Lee and a mechanic at his side, looking down at the mobile suit beneath them.

"Windam," Neo repeated slowly. "They gave me one to play with and see how I like it?"

"It's an, uh, 'experimental combat data collection deployment,'" the mechanic answered, stumbling over the long title. "Basically, you take it for a test drive and tell them what you think."

It wasn't a bad-looking suit, though as far as mobile suits went it looked somewhat anorexic. Neo's new Windam was purple and black, with dashes of green on the cockpit hatch, the shoulders, and the legs. The mechanics were currently attaching a Jet Striker pack to its back, and the missile pods intended for its wings were stacked to the side.

"Take it for a test drive," Neo repeated, staring at the Windam's glowering face. 鏑ee, what was the last known position of the Minerva?

滴eading west towards Carpentaria, as of half an hour ago, Lee answered. Neo looked back at the Windam with a smile.

鄭nd Hutchinson痴 fleet gave them a run for their money? he went on.

釘efore that combining machine destroyed the Zamzazar and hit the fleet itself, yes, Lee said, eyeing Neo suspiciously. 鄭re you taking the Windam on a test flight to attack the Minerva?

泥amn right I am, Neo said with a smirk. 滴ave the Windam ready to sortie as soon as possible.

The mechanic saluted and scurried off towards the ladder to the hangar floor, and Lee tossed a skeptical glance at Neo.

鄭re you taking any of them with you? he asked. Neo shook his head, still looking at the Windam.

展hat kind of experiment is it if you致e got a bunch of uncontrolled variables running around? Neo countered, smirking. 釘esides, the mechanics aren't done modifying the Gaia's engines. Now then, if you値l excuse me, those guys are probably totally screwing up the thruster outputs, so I知 going to go yell at them, 遡ay? Before Lee could protest, Neo was already making his way down to the hangar floor.

Lee sighed in frustration and headed back up towards the bridge.

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ZAFT battleship Minerva, Pacific Ocean, en route to Carpentaria

Shinn Asuka lowered himself to the Minerva's hangar floor to the cheers of the mechanics. He almost didn't hear them; he was still focused on that one moment, almost forgotten in the heat of battle, when everything had become clear. He had seen the enemy mobile armor fire its cannons, and time had actually slowed揺e could see the shots streaking towards him, and his mind and hands moved to send the Impulse skimming along the water out of harm's way. For an instant he had been aware of what the mobile armor was going to do before it did it; and then he had seen himself switch to the Sword Silhouette and destroy the Alliance fleet. And now he was here.

His thoughts were interrupted when Luna burst out of the crowd, Vino and Yolant hot on her heels, and grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him excitedly.

"Shinn!" she cried, grinning. "That was amazing! I've never seen someone fly that well!"

Shinn sputtered for a response, but a moment later Vino pounced on him, hugging him just as excitedly and laughing.

"That was like the Freedom at Jachin Due!" Vino exclaimed enthusiastically. "Shinn, that was incredible!"

"Yeah!" Yolant agreed. "I've never seen anything like that before! You'll get the Order of the Nebula for sure!"

Out of the corner of his eye, through the mechanics eagerly mobbing him, Shinn could see Rey with his helmet in hand, staring impassively. He paused, frowning, as Rey's face did not change.

"Alright, alright!" the head mechanic's voice boomed. Matt Abes barreled through the crowd. "Leave the guy alone! Back to work! We have a Leg Flyer to fix! Move it!"

As the crowd melted away and the mechanics returned to work, Shinn opened the collar of his flight suit and walked towards Rey, while Luna chattered excitedly at him.

Luna fell silent as Shinn came up to Rey. The two stared at each other for a moment.

"What happened?" Rey asked, regarding Shinn carefully.

"I don't know," Shinn answered uncomfortably. "I saw a seed and everything was clear. It was like I could see the future or something."

Shinn frowned in confusion as he noticed Rey stiffen at the words "see the future." He studied Shinn's face for another moment and nodded slowly.

"It was a natural reaction," he explained with a small smile. "You wanted to protect the ship and defeat that mobile armor." He put a reassuring hand on Shinn's shoulder. "You performed well today, Shinn."

Rey turned and headed off towards the lockers, and Shinn let out a sigh.

Off to the side, Shiho was regarding Shinn carefully, her helmet in the crook over her arm. She approached him cautiously, still studying him. At last she held out her hand, and Shinn blinked in surprise a moment before he shook it.

添ou did well today, Shiho said, sounding distinctly uncomfortable. 的 haven稚 seen piloting like that since Jachin Due.

Shinn blinked again. 填m, thanks, he sputtered.

Shiho turned to leave. 適eep fighting like that and this war will be over in no time, she said, more to herself than him, as she headed towards the locker.

鉄o, um, what did happen anyways? Luna asked uneasily. 的 mean, did you have some kinda epiphany or what?

的 don稚 know, Shinn said quietly, watching Shiho as she disappeared. 的 saw a seed burst...and...I heard my sister.

展hat? Luna asked, quirking an eyebrow.

鉄he asked me if I was just going to let that thing beat me, he murmured, forgetting about Lunamaria as he was lost in thought. That one moment, everything had become clear; but what did it mean?

Shinn sighed tiredly. 的知 going to go file my report and take a nap, he said wearily, walking towards the lockers himself.

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Atlantic Federation battleship Girty Lue, Pacific Ocean

Neo Roanoke expertly held his emotions in check; he knew Sting and Auel would think he was stupid to be going out on his own. But he hadn稚 counted on them following him down to the Windam痴 hatch just to keep laughing at him.

溺an, are you sure we can稚 come with you? Auel asked. 的t痴 not every day we get to see your complete and utter humiliation!

Ignoring Auel, Sting stepped in front. 鄭re you seriously sure you don稚 want us along? he asked soberly, while Auel continued to snicker helplessly.

典he Girty Lue will stay far enough way not to influence the battle directly, but close enough to launch mobile suits should the need arise, Neo explained. 典he closer the ship comes to the Minerva, the tougher a fight it will be and the less of a test it will be.

釘ut who will pick you up when you get shot down? Auel laughed. 鄭re you gonna swim back or what?

Neo glanced back at him. 溺y my, Auel, he shot back. 展hat are you now, my mother?

Auel痴 eyes flashed in horror as his face went pale, and he backed away, his eyes wide.

溺-mother... he murmured.

Sting glared at Neo. 典hat wasn稚濫

敵et him out of here, Neo said quickly, turning to climb into the Windam痴 cockpit. 添ou go get him calmed down.

溺y mother is dead! Auel screamed, clutching his face, staring in horror at Neo. 溺y mother...!

鉄hit, Sting growled, as the mechanics came running. 哲eo...

的 told you, Neo snapped. 敵et his ass out of here and back into the pod. Or I値l use your word on you too, Sting.

Sting glared at Neo for another moment before he grabbed Auel by the shoulders and started to pull him away.

Neo snorted in disgust and closed the Windam痴 hatch.

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ZAFT battleship Minerva, Pacific Ocean

Shinn Asuka emerged onto the deck of the Minerva with a sigh, relishing the cool evening breeze of the ocean. The sky was still dark and cloudy from the impacts of Junius 7, and would be for some time, but the breeze was still cool and refreshing, and Shinn appreciated it after a long day.

His thoughts turned towards the battle, and his moment of apparent precognition. The feeling chilled him to the bone, not least of all because he couldn't understand it.

Shinn blinked in surprise as he saw Gilbert Dullindal approach out of the corner of his eye. He jumped to attention again, but once again, Gilbert smiled disarmingly before Shinn could say anything.

"Well, Shinn," he said, "I didn't expect to find you out here." He leaned against the railing, looking out at the ocean again. "You certainly put on a show for us at Orb."

"Um, thank you, sir," Shinn stuttered. "I mean, I was just doing my job."

"But you did it exceptionally well," Gilbert said. "You will more than likely be awarded the Order of the Nebula. Your piloting in that battle was superb."

The Supreme Chairman of the PLANTs was throwing laurels at Shinn's feet; he didn't know what to say.

"Fighting like that is what will make the world," Gilbert went on. "There is no doubt that in this world, the power to fight and protect that which you care about is necessary. That is why we built the Impulse, and that is why we gave it to you."

Shinn looked out at the ocean sheepishly. He had been lucky in that regard.

"I'm sure you're wondering why," Gilbert said, trailing off and glancing at Shinn with a smile.

"...um, yes sir," Shinn answered at last. Gilbert's smile grew as he spoke again.

"Of course you are," he chuckled. "You were frequently at odds with your instructors and often involved in fights with your classmates. But I reviewed your transcript and reports, and realized that for all your butting heads with authority, you are a strong person with powerful convictions, and you will not let anyone but yourself decide your fate. You passionately protect that which is important to you, and your piloting skills are outstanding as well. The Impulse was always intended for someone who would not let his fate be decided for him; it was always meant for someone special."

"You're saying I'm special, sir?" Shinn asked carefully.

Gilbert smiled paternally. "Of course," he answered. "You singlehandedly took on the attackers at Armory 1, and followed them out and pursued them at your own discretion. You managed to save one of our ZAKUs in that debacle in the Debris Belt and protected the Minerva itself in the process. You helped defend the troops breaking up Junius 7 and helped ensure that the damage done to Earth would not be completely permanent. And just now in Orb, you demonstrated piloting skills clearly superior to any others; without a doubt, you are an extraordinary human being, Shinn."

Shinn looked back cautiously at Gilbert, unable to figure out just what the Chairman was saying. "Extraordinary human being?" he repeated. "Me?"

"Yes, you," Gilbert said, turning to face Shinn. "Or are you unacquainted with the concept of that extraordinary human being?"

Shinn shook his head, and Gilbert smiled.

"I thought as much," he said. "Education is less concerned with the fundamental principles and more with the numbers and facts and figures anyways." He took hold of the railing and looked out at the ocean. "Do you know of George Glenn?"

"Yes sir," Shinn responded.

"George Glenn released the information concerning his birth as he left for Jupiter," Gilbert explained, still with his casual smile. "He told the world that humanity was evolving, but in order to bridge the gap between the evolved human and the current one, he proposed that the genetic engineering that created him be applied to all humans, and he called those people Coordinators. But as we all know, things went wrong, the Coordinators were forced up into the PLANTs, and we have the situation we have now.

"However, in the uproar over Coordinators, people have forgotten what they were made for," Gilbert continued, looking over at Shinn. Shinn felt uncomfortable as he saw a strange gleam in the Chairman's eyes. "George Glenn spoke of a new kind of human evolving, a human who would be adapted to a life in space. What went unpublished were the details of his theory. He said these new evolved humans would have enhanced perception and mental powers to communicate in the voids of space, and suggested that such evolved people are already starting to come about. I find that entirely plausible...don't you?"

"I guess so," Shinn agreed hesitantly.

"George Glenn never came up with a name for this new evolution of mankind," Gilbert said, looking out at the ocean again. "I call them 'Newtypes.' People with advanced powers of perception...the ability to feel the emotions of others...and the power to see the future."

Shinn blinked in surprise. Newtypes could see the future? He couldn't mean...

"Shinn," Gilbert said, looking back at Shinn. "I told you I saw you as someone special."

"What are you saying, sir?" Shinn asked cautiously.

Gilbert smiled.

"Shinn," he said, "what I'm saying is that you are a Newtype."

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To be continued...