Phase 13 - The Extended

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY

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Phase 13 - The Extended

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October 30th, CE 73 - ZAFT battleship Minerva, near Lodonia Island, Ionian Sea

Lodonia Island, from the vantage point of the Minerva痴 central catapult as the ship steamed towards the island, was a desolate rock with a cluster of equally desolate buildings perched in the center. Already, far ahead in the distance, Shinn could see the enemy carrier coming around the island. Its deck was packed with mobile suits and fighters; however, it was the only ship present. The mobile suits and fighters began to take off; Shinn tightened his fists around the Core Splendor痴 controls.

典he ship will engage the enemy carrier, Talia痴 voice said authoritatively through Shinn痴 cockpit speakers. 溺obile suits, launch and attack the enemy forces!

In the Core Splendor壮 cockpit, Shinn narrowed his eyes at the enemy carrier. One ship, a squadron of Jet Dagger Ls, and a wing of Spearhead fighters葉his would be easier than infanticide.

鉄hinn Asuka, Core Splendor, going out!

The parts docked together to form the Force Impulse, as the Minerva痴 four other mobile suits launched out of the main catapults. Shinn stared ruefully at his enemies, as the Savior took the lead of the formation.

鄭ll mobile suits, Shiho ordered, 兎ngage the enemy at will, and cover the Minerva!

Shinn clenched his teeth. He saw Stella again; he remembered his promise to see her again after the war was over.

Then I値l end this war myself!

The Impulse took off with a roar.

The Daggers opened fire; Shinn dove beneath their blasts and shot one of them down with ease. He swung around, firing again and taking down another. A third attacked him with a bazooka, and a fourth with a missile volley; Shinn narrowed his eyes at them both, cutting the missiles down with a shower of CIWS fire. He dove through the smoke and fired his beam rifle again, shooting down the third Dagger.

The fourth was buffeted by a storm of beam bolts, and went down in flames towards the ocean. The GOUF Ignited swung down into the battle, cutting down another Dagger with its heat rod.

典his is child痴 play! Heine laughed.

Overhead, the Savior shot by in mobile armor mode, and shot down two more Daggers with its plasma cannons. Another trio of Daggers rose up after it, beam carbines blazing; the Savior transformed in midair and fired back from behind its shield, taking one of the Daggers down. Another beam blast slashed through the second Dagger; Lunamaria痴 red ZAKU Warrior swept by on a Guul and showered the third Dagger with missiles, knocking it out of the sky in flames.

Shinn ducked beneath another beam shot and blasted down the attacking Dagger葉his was child痴 play. He glanced towards the carrier; the fighters were beginning to move in. He snorted disgustedly; they would be dispatched easily. The fighters swept in, machineguns blazing; Shinn returned fire with his CIWS, and within moments, two of the fighters went staggering out of the sky, trailing smoke.

A blaze of missiles flashed by, taking down four more fighters; Rey痴 ZAKU Phantom rocketed through the air, shooting down another fighter with its beam rifle. Shinn dove beneath a missile barrage and shot down the attacking fighter; he turned and fired again, catching one of the remaining Daggers in the chest and destroying it.

Down below, the Minerva was closing in on the enemy carrier. A pair of Daggers swept in with a volley of missiles; the Savior dove into their path, shooting down their missiles with a CIWS burst and destroying both Daggers with a plasma cannon salvo. The Minerva opened fire with its Tristans; the blasts punched through the carrier痴 bow.

The fighters were dropping like rocks; Shinn backed away, dodging a missile barrage and shooting down yet another fighter. The Minerva痴 Isolde boomed; the shots slammed into the carrier痴 deck with a crash and a pall of smoke. A pair of fighters swept in towards the Minerva; Lunamaria shot one down with her beam cannon, and the Minerva痴 CIWS turrets shredded the other

The last three Daggers charged towards the Minerva; Shinn dove at them and shot one of them down with ease. The remaining two broke off and fired back; the GOUF痴 heat rod dragged one down, and Heine gleefully impaled it on his beam sword. The last Dagger began to pull back; Shinn screamed and charged at it. The Dagger fired; Shinn deflected its shots with his shield and fired back, taking it down in a blaze of fire.

The Minerva launched a storm of missiles into the air; a dozen fighters went shrieking out of the sky in flames. Rey shot down another fighter of his own with his beam rifle; Heine slashed one in half with his beam sword. The remaining few fighters tried to retreat; the Savior and the Impulse tore them apart with a blaze of CIWS fire.

Down below, the Minerva fired its Tristans and Isolde simultaneously at the enemy carrier; the shots pounded into it, and a moment later, a thunderous explosion tore the ship apart.

Shinn looked past the ship痴 desiccated remains, at the installation on Lodonia Island. There was a pressure coming off the island itself; something distinctly evil, penetrating him like a knife, digging into the back of his head.

He shook his head and turned the Impulse back towards the Minerva.

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Atlantic Federation battleship Girty Lue, Mediterranean Sea

The Girty Lue was abuzz with activity as the ship raced at full speed across the Mediterranean Sea, driving for Lodonia Island. On the bridge, the crew was desperately trying to keep the ship in top condition; the Minerva had been tracked heading for Lodonia, and everybody aboard the ship knew that there was an installation there that they could not let ZAFT find.

Neo sat in his usual seat; Lee sat to his left, watching Neo carefully. Somehow, Neo was smiling; Lee could not see what there was to smile at.

鼎olonel, one of the men reported, 努e致e lost contact with the James Madison. It appears they致e been濫

泥estroyed, Neo finished. He sat back, still smiling. 鏑ooks like ZAFT痴 going to find one of our evil secrets after all.

鼎an we push the engines any faster? Lee asked.

的mpossible, sir, the helmsman answered. 展e would risk damaging them if we tried to squeeze anymore output out of them.

泥on稚 bother, Neo put in. 展e値l just have to settle for destroying them before they can tell anyone about what they find.

Lee gripped the armrests of his chair uneasily. 展e致e fought the Minerva twice before, he said, 殿nd neither battle has yielded us positive results.

撤atience, Lee, Neo said. 典his time we have them cornered and on their own.

Lee glanced distastefully at Neo. He always seemed to be smiling.

典his time, Neo said, 登ur three little angels will have to perform better.

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Lodonia Island, Ionian Sea

展hat...what the hell is this place?!

Arthur Trine痴 voice echoed throughout the corridor. Arthur stood with Talia and the Minerva痴 mobile suit pilots, wielding flashlights inside the darkened building. Everywhere there was death, everywhere there was destruction, everywhere there was decay.

And everywhere, there were bodies.

Shinn Asuka stared in disbelief at the corpses littering the hallway. The corridor reeked of rotting flesh, so much that he held a hand over his nose and mouth, his eyes watering. The bodies were those of children; a few adults in white coats were scattered around as well, along with a handful of men in Earth Alliance uniforms, but the overwhelming and horrifying majority of the bodies were children. Some bore festering bullet wounds, while others were in the grotesque contortions of nerve gas poisoning.

典hose monsters! Heine shouted, pounding his fist against a wall. 滴ow dare they do this to children! What the hell are they?!

Talia cast her flashlight痴 beam across the hallway, holding a white handkerchief to her face to block out the hideous smell. At her side, Shiho stared in horror at it all; Lunamaria covered her face, her eyes shimmering with tears. And Rey remained impassive, staring emotionlessly at the bodies.

典here must致e been some kind of conflict, Talia said through her handkerchief. "A rebellionor something" She slowly approached a heavy steel door with a switch next to it. Heine pressed the switch; the door rumbled open, and they stepped into the revealed room.

Arthur collapsed to his knees, holding his hands over his mouth, his flashlight clattering to the ground. Lunamaria shrieked in terror; Shiho, Talia, Heine, and Shinn stared in disbelief...and Rey scowled, as though he壇 expected it.

The room was walled with tiny cabinets. In each cabinet was a human brain, with wires attached where the spinal cord normally would have been, floating in some kind of chemical bath. At one end of the room was a computer terminal, but all anyone could do was stare at the human brains lining the wall.

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS PLACE?! Arthur screamed.

Talia proceeded slowly towards the terminal; the rest continued to stare in horror at the room. Shinn wandered towards one of the corpses; he knelt down in front of it, staring at its hollow face. It was a little girl; she couldn稚 have been any older than Mayu.

Shinn stood up and backed away, tears stinging his eyes. There was death and decay everywhere; it was pressing him down, like a weight on his shoulders.

At the terminal, Talia gasped in shock; the others made their way towards her.

展hat is this place, Captain? Shiho asked quietly, staring at the screen.

湯CE 64, received sixteen new specimens,藻 she read slowly, staring disbelievingly at the screen. 湯CE 65, five specimens of Generation Nine deemed unsuitable for further testing and...liquidated.藻 She blinked in horror. 典his is...the specimen痴葉he children痴...弾ntry records, you could say.

Entry records?! Heine echoed. 典hose barbarians!

展-What are they doing to these children? Luna asked in horror, her eyes flicking around in disbelief.

Talia continued to read. 典he Earth Alliance痴 薦xtended,樗 she said softly. 典his is their lab...and...production facility. She paused as she read another line. 典he Earth Alliance and Blue Cosmos, who say that manipulating genes is against the laws of nature, are using drugs and indoctrination to create soldiers that can surpass Coordinators in battle...human beings meant only for fighting.

Bastards! Heine shouted, bringing his fist down onto the console.

Shinn stared in horror over Talia痴 shoulder at the screen, and the entries of the children the Earth Alliance had turned into weapons. A word caught his attention; his eyes widened in horror.

展ait! he exclaimed, grabbing Talia痴 hand before she could change the screen. She blinked in surprise as Shinn reloaded a set of records.

The words 鉄tella Loussier appeared on the screen. Shinn gasped in horror; there was Stella痴 face, staring blankly at him.

He backed away, coming up against the wall, staring in shock at the screen.

鉄tella! he exclaimed. 的t...it can稚 be! She can稚 be!

展ho...? Talia started, looking back at the screen.

的s this the girl you met yesterday? Shiho asked, coming forward and touching Shinn痴 arm, trying to get his attention.

鉄he can稚 be one of these, these... He trailed off as words failed him and horror filled him. It couldn稚 be possible; not Stella. She just wanted to be protected. She just wanted to be safe. She couldn稚 be one of these Earth Alliance super-soldiers. She couldn稚 be an Extended. She couldn稚

滴e met someone yesterday? Talia asked, glancing at Shiho.

滴e returned to the Minerva soaking wet and with those scars on his face, Shiho explained, 殿nd when I asked what happened, he explained that he had saved a drowning girl. She glanced at the screen. 的 guess this was who he saved.

Shinn was still staring at the screen.

的t can稚 be Stella, he murmured to himself. 的t can稚 be...it can稚 be...

鉄hinn濫 Luna started.

It痴 not possible! Shinn screamed.

Rey swept in to seize Shinn by the shoulders and push him out of the room wordlessly.

Inside the room, Talia glanced at Arthur. 展e池e heading back to the ship, she said grimly. 徹rder the search teams to gather as much information as they can. We鼠l send for a team of experts to survey the complex themselves.

添-Yes ma誕m, Arthur stammered with a quavering salute.

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Rey stood with Shinn outside the Lodonia complex; the area was already swarming with ZAFT soldiers from the Minerva, and they were already gathering information. Shinn sat on a large rock, his head in his hands, staring incredulously at the ground.

鉄he just wanted to be safe, Shinn murmured. 鉄he...she couldn稚 be one of these...

典his is why we are fighting for Gil痴 new world, Rey said, kneeling in front of Shinn and speaking to him sternly and sincerely. 典his is why you must suffer now; so that you and children like Stella can have a world where none of you don稚 have to.

Shinn looked up desolately at Rey.

鉄he...she just wanted to be safe... Shinn said chokingly, almost as if Rey wasn稚 there. 鉄he just...she just...

Rey took Shinn by the shoulders, catching his attention.

鉄hinn, he said. 添ou are different. You have a power ordinary humans, Natural or Coordinator, could never have. You have a gift of power. You must use it. He glanced meaningfully at the Lodonia complex. 的n here, they have made children suffer in pursuit of a perfect human weapon. Out here, they make you suffer in pursuit of destruction of the PLANTs. Gil痴 new world will erase this all. Gil痴 new world will give you a home, where you no longer have to fight. Gil痴 new world will ensure that people will never again do what was done in this lab. Gil痴 new world will take away your suffering. But you have to be strong. The world has never changed without suffering; you will have to suffer now and continue fighting, but when the fighting ends, you will have a world where you no longer have to suffer.

迭-Rey, Shinn said chokingly.

添ou are sad because someone as gentle and kind as Stella has turned out to be a tool of the Alliance, Rey continued. 典ake your sorrow and transform it into will, into power, into strength; you have to be strong, to create a world where you and Stella don稚 have to suffer.

Shinn stared disconsolately at Rey; he let go of Shinn and stood back up.

的 will remain by your side, Rey said. 添ou will never have to fight alone.

Shinn looked up at Rey; he stared back.

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October 31st, CE 73 - Atlantic Federation battleship Girty Lue, near Lodonia Island

The Chaos Gundam stood in the port catapult; inside, Sting Oakley was tense and nervous. He glanced at his screen; Auel looked angry, but that was most likely a front for his own feelings.

的 don稚 want to be back here, Auel said shortly. 的 don稚 want to come back.

展e池e not going back inside, Sting reminded him. 展e池e just fighting to get rid of that ZAFT ship.

的 don稚 care, Auel said. 典his is the place where... He trailed off painfully.

泥amned Neo, Sting growled. 泥ragging us back here again. He paused and keyed up a line to the Gaia. 鉄tella, he began.

Stella was staring at Lodonia.

鏑odonia...lab... she murmured.

展ill you be alright, Stella? Sting asked. Stella blinked and looked at him.

鉄tella...doesn稚 wanna go back, she said softly.

典hat makes two of us, Auel grunted.

展hy do we have to go back? she asked, looking earnestly at Sting.

哲eo told us to take out that ZAFT ship, he explained. Stella blinked, obviously not understanding.

...but...Neo didn稚 protect...

Sting shrugged. 徹rders are orders, he said. 展e have to follow them, or else.

擢ucking Neo, Auel snarled.

The hangar operator appeared on Sting痴 screen. 迭GX-01 Chaos is clear for launch.

Sting closed the visor of his helmet. 鉄ting Oakley, Chaos, launching!

The Chaos launched with a blast of exhaust; its Phase Shift activated with a flash, and the mobile suit took off with a roar.

Sting glanced over his shoulder; the Abyss skimmed over the water, the Gaia and Windam flew after him, and the Girty Lue痴 six Dark Dagger Ls came up behind Neo's Windam. The Windam took the lead in the formation, and Neo痴 masked face appeared on Sting痴 screen.

鄭ll units, listen up, he said, with a strange smile on his face. 鼎urrently the ZAFT battleship Minerva is on Lodonia Island, playing with something they really shouldn稚 be playing with. We are going to go take it away. Understood?

添es sir! the Dagger pilots answered. Sting scowled, strangling his protests in his throat, and nodded wordlessly.

敵ood, Neo said. 典oday we sink the Minerva, once and for all!

The mobile suits roared off into the sky.

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The Force Impulse formed in midair as the Minerva痴 mobile suits launched; up ahead, Shinn could barely see the shapes of Bogey 1痴 mobile suits charging at them.

典hey might be trying to destroy the facility, Shiho warned as the Savior rose into the air. 的f they are, they might be carrying special weapons.

典hen we値l take them all down! Heine snarled. 典hose barbarians won稚 survive today!

The sky was dark with clouds; it was already pouring rain. A bolt of lightning lit up the sky; Shinn narrowed his eyes at the oncoming enemies.

For Stella痴 sake, he thought, I値l end this damned war and build a new world!

The mobile suits approached; he felt the pressure from the Gaia once again.

It痴 the same...the same as Stella...

The Gaia opened fire with its beam rifle; Shinn deflected its shot with his shield and fired back. The Gaia switched to its beam saber and charged, slamming its saber down against Shinn痴 shield. He drew his own saber and swung back; the Gaia darted away, firing its beam cannons. Shinn dove over the shots, and the Gaia and Impulse met with a shower of sparks.

添ou can稚 be Stella! Shinn shouted at the Gaia. 添ou池e not Stella!

The Gaia surged forward; Shinn grunted under the pressure and swung back with his saber. The Gaia deflected its saber stroke and retaliated with its own; Shinn batted it aside, and the mobile suits burst apart with a blaze of exhaust. The Gaia showered Shinn with beam shots and CIWS fire; Shinn rocketed through the sky, taking cover behind his shield. He charged forward again, saber drawn back for another blow, but once again the Gaia blocked his swing, and the two mobile suits pushed and strained against each other in midair.

Shinn clenched his teeth as the Gaia struggled against him.

You won稚 get in my way!

The Impulse surged, throwing the Gaia back. It rocketed up into the air; Shinn followed with a scream.

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Shiho grunted as the Chaos痴 beam shots slammed against the Savior痴 shield, forcing it back. She fired back with her plasma cannons, but the Chaos jetted to the side. An instant later, she found herself staring the Chaos in the face as it rammed her with its shield. The Savior tumbled towards the ocean; the Chaos lined up for a finishing shot, but the GOUF Ignited痴 heat rod curled around its beam rifle. Heine yanked the rifle out of the Chaos痴 hand with his left-hand heat rod and slashed it in half with his beam sword. As Shiho struggled to recollect her wits, the Chaos drew its beam saber and charged at the GOUF, and the two mobile suits met with a crash.

哲o you don稚, Natural bastard! Heine shouted; the GOUF heaved forward, pushing the Chaos away, and attacked with upraised beam sword. The Chaos and the GOUF slammed together, swords crossed.

Shiho glanced over her shoulder at the Minerva and Bogey 1. The Minerva opened fire with a storm of missiles; Bogey 1 cut them all down with a CIWS burst and fired back with its beam cannons, and the Minerva quickly banked to port and barely dodged the blasts. Shiho took off towards Bogey 1, reverting the Savior to its mobile armor mode, but a blaze of beam fire rose to meet her, and down below, she saw the Abyss darting along the water, its shoulder shells open.

典hey池e always in our way, Shiho growled, transforming the Savior again and opening fire with her beam rifle. The Abyss darted away from her shots, but Lunamaria痴 ZAKU came diving in on its Guul with its beam cannon, and the Abyss was forced to leap into the air and dodge her blast.

鄭lways harassing us! Shiho shouted, wheeling around towards Bogey 1. Its CIWS turrets blazed, filling the sky will bullets; Shiho cursed as two black Daggers swept in with bazookas, opening fire. She scowled, drawing back behind her shield and drawing a beam saber. 典oday you池e going down!

One of the Daggers drew a beam saber and swept in; Shiho deflected its swing, forcing its arm upward, and slashed off its left arm with a lightning-quick slash. The Dagger pulled back, firing its bazooka at her and knocking her backward.

A beam blast tore by as Shiho regained her balance; the beam shot drilled through the Dagger, destroying it, and Rey痴 ZAKU Phantom rocketed by overhead on its Guul, with the purple Alliance mobile suit on its tail.

There was a thundering explosion; Shiho looked sharply over at the Minerva, and found it spewing smoke as a thick beam blast blew off its portside Tristan. It fired back with its remaining Tristan; a moment later, the blast destroyed two of Bogey 1痴 beam cannons, and both ships reeled from each other痴 blows.

泥ammit, Shiho grunted, turning towards Bogey 1 again. The ship opened fire with its CIWS emplacements; Shiho dove through their fire and charged.

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DIE you motherfucker! Auel screamed; the Abyss streaked along the water and unleashed a flurry of beam shots on the trailing red ZAKU Warrior. It deflected two of the beams with its shield and dodged the rest; Auel snarled a curse and fired his chest cannon at the ZAKU痴 Guul. The ZAKU rocketed up into the air, dodging the shot; Auel fired the booster, leaping up after the ZAKU and raising his beam lance. 敵o to hell! He brought the lance down on the ZAKU, igniting the beam blade.

The ZAKU took the brunt of the Abyss痴 blow to its shield, and forced the lance to the side, swinging its arm out to knock the Abyss痴 lance wide. Auel snarled again as the ZAKU raised its beam cannon and fired; he responded by firing his chest cannon again, and the two blasts smashed into each other with a forceful explosion that threw both mobile suits back. Auel glided over the water, firing the boosters again to dart over the water痴 surface and fire at the ZAKU.

A storm of missiles from the Guul smashed down into the water around the Abyss; Auel burst through the smoke with a scream, firing his weapons wildly. Up above, the ZAKU banked out of the way of an errant beam shot and fired its beam cannon again, but missed as Auel darted out of harm痴 way.

擢ucking bastard! Auel screamed. The ZAKU fired its beam cannon a second time; Auel cancelled it out with a chest cannon shot and dove over the explosion, twirling his lance over his head. DIE ALREADY!

The Abyss slammed its lance down onto the ZAKU痴 shield, and kicked the ZAKU in the chest before it could force his lance aside. The ZAKU drew a beam tomahawk from its shield with its left hand and hurled it at him, and he barely deflected it with his shoulder shell.

展hat the hell is your problem?! Auel shouted as he returned to skimming along the water. 笛ust die like you池e supposed to! He opened fire with another blaze of beam fire, this time putting a shot through the ZAKU痴 beam cannon; it abandoned the cannon in midair, using it as a shield to block Auel痴 follow-up chest cannon attack. As the cannon exploded, the ZAKU dove up above the blast and returned fire with its beam rifle.

Auel blocked the shots with his shoulder shield, but blinked in surprise as the world seemed to shake for a moment. He glanced up at the Girty Lue; it had lost two of its six Gottfrieds and taken several punishing hits to its hull. It fired back with its upper starboard Gottfried, shooting down a storm of missiles with its CIWS in the process. Auel followed the Girty Lue痴 shot and watched it slam into the Minerva痴 hull just above the starboard wing. A forceful explosion tore up the Minerva痴 side. The Minerva fired back with its triple cannon, though, and the Girty Lue lost another Gottfried.

擢ucking ZAFT bastards! Auel shouted. 笛ust die already!

The ZAKU fired at him with its beam rifle; Auel screamed and fired back.

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The Impulse rumbled as the Gaia brought its beam saber down; Shinn clenched his teeth, his entire body jolted with a current of pressure from the pilot. He felt Stella痴 distorted presence again; he saw her again, soaking wet in the shallows near Port Said, staring at him with wide, frightened eyes.

YOU CAN探 BE STELLA! he shrieked, surging forward. The Gaia raised its shield; Shinn slammed it backward with a punishing kick, and the Gaia staggered away, firing its CIWS. Shinn grunted as the bullets rattled against the Impulse痴 Phase Shift armor. He screamed as the Gaia took off, diving backward through the sky, firing its beam cannons. Shinn deflected its shots with his shield, charging after the retreating Gaia.

I鱈L KILL YOU! Shinn screamed. I鱈L KILL ALL OF YOU BEFORE YOU CAN EVER HURT STELLA!

The Gaia lunged forward; Shinn ducked beneath its beam saber swipe and charged up behind it.

The Gaia ducked desperately underneath Shinn痴 finishing saber stab and rocketed backward, over the island. Shinn gave chase with a scream, beam saber pulled back, deflecting the Gaia痴 beam cannon blasts with his shield.

STOP RUNNING! Shinn shouted; the Impulse roared after the Gaia. The Gaia swung around for another attack; Shinn saw the seed explode in his mind痴 eye

The Gaia痴 saber slammed down against Shinn痴; the Impulse kicked the Gaia痴 arm skyward, and with a primal scream, Shinn slashed open the Gaia痴 cockpit and kicked it in the chest. The stricken Gaia slammed into the ground, skidding to a smoking halt amidst a copse of trees. Shinn landed in the trench the Gaia had torn into the ground and charged, beam saber raised for the kill

Something caught his eye; he stopped, staring at the Gaia痴 torn armor. He magnified the image; his dull, feral eyes went wide in horror.

There was a pilot in a black flight suit with pink markings; the helmet in its entirety had been shattered and lay around the Gaia痴 broken cockpit. Underneath, framed by blood-matted blonde hair, was a face Shinn knew all too well.

典hat痴...

He magnified the image again; he saw her face; his entire body went numb with disbelief.

...Stella!

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Across the battlefield, inside the Chaos, Sting glanced at the island. He saw the Impulse Gundam, standing victoriously over the fallen Gaia. His eyes widened in shock.

鉄tella! he shouted. The Savior rocketed into his face; Sting let out a feral growl and kicked the Savior in the face. He immediately went rocketing towards the island.

Down below, a pilot in a red ZAFT flight suit was pulling Stella out of the Gaia痴 cockpit. Sting charged, screaming, and opened fire with his CIWS

The white ZAKU Phantom darted into his line of fire, deflecting his shots with its shield and ramming into him head-on.

鉄ting! Neo痴 voice shouted; above the Windam came darting in with a beam rifle blast. 展hat the hell are you doing?!

鉄tella痴 being captured! Sting shouted back.

哲ot if I can help it! Auel cried; the Abyss darted over the water towards the island, but a beam shot stopped it and the red ZAKU flashed in over its head, ramming it aside.

Sting dove towards the island, dodging the ZAKUs beam shots, but it was already too late; the ZAFT pilot returned to the Impulse痴 cockpit, with Stella in his arms.

迭etrieve the Gaia! Neo shouted. 展e won稚 be able to get Stella back now!

WHAT?! Sting shouted; his eyes flashed and he looked up in rage at Neo痴 purple Windam. Up above, the orange GOUF Ignited sliced a Dark Dagger in half, ducking underneath the explosion.

典he ship痴 been damaged too badly! Neo yelled back. 展e池e retreating!

釘ut Stella濫 Auel began.

DO IT! Neo roared.

The Chaos and the Abyss hesitated, and then swept in to seize the fallen Gaia and pull it up into the air.

Neo showered the ZAFT mobile suits with a storm of missiles; he could already see the Minerva, staggering out of the air and spewing clouds of smoke and fire. They had at least done some damage to the ship, but at the cost of Stella and every one of his Dark Daggers.

He scowled and glanced back at the Chaos and Abyss as they hauled the Gaia into the ailing Girty Lue痴 hangar. This was a complication he had not foreseen.

The Windam took off as the Girty Lue escaped.

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ZAFT battleship Minerva, Lodonia Island, Ionian Sea

Shinn started running as soon as his feet touched the ground. He plowed through Yolant and Vino before the latter could speak, storming towards the infirmary. Stella was unconscious in his arms; Shinn痴 eyes were still dull and feral, now as he concentrated solely on getting Stella to the infirmary. Nobody would stop him; he壇 go through Chairman Dullindal if he had to.

The ship shook as the mobile suits returned; Shinn smashed like a raging bull through the corridors and their crowded crews as they tried to repair the Minerva痴 vast damage. He rammed the infirmary door switch with his shoulder; it slid open and Shinn burst into the room like a tornado.

展hat the濫 the head doctor began.

滴elp her! Shinn shouted. He thrust Stella into his arms. 添ou have to help her!

釘ut謡hat謡ho is she? the doctor exclaimed. Shinn laid Stella out on an operating table.

敵oddammit, HELP HER! Shinn roared, grabbing the doctor by the collar and screaming in his face. The cowed doctor shakily assented and backed away towards Stella as the nurses converged on her and set to work pulling her out of her shredded flight suit.

Shiho was the next to burst into the infirmary, followed closely by the other pilots.

鉄hinn! Shiho shouted, advancing towards him like a freight train. 添ou left the battlefield without orders! What the hell were you thinking?! She raised her hand to slap him

Shinn swiveled around, catching her blow and shoving her back. The pilots fell silent, staring uneasily at his wild, lightless eyes.

的知 not going to abandon her to die! he shouted.

Lunamaria blinked in surprise, noticing tears at the edges of Shinn痴 eyes.

展hat you did was against ZAFT military law! Heine yelled back, putting himself in front of Shiho and pointing vindictively at Shinn. 添ou have no right to take enemy prisoners aboard of your own free will!

Shinn痴 eyes flashed. 典his is Stella!

The room fell silent, save for the sounds of the medical crew working on Stella.

鉄he痴 one of those...? Luna trailed off, looking at the bloodied girl on the operating table. 典his is who you met the other day...?

的 promised her I would protect her! Shinn snarled. 的 promised her I wouldn稚 let her die! And here I am, protecting her and not letting her die! I won稚 let any of you get in my way! I鼠l protect her with my life if I have to!

鉄hinn! Shiho snapped. 鼎alm down! You can稚 expect us to let you off just because you have an emotional attachment to this Earth Alliance science project! What you did was criminal濫

SHUT UP! Shinn screamed, with enough force to strangle the rest of Shiho痴 words in her throat. Shinn straightened up, looking like a cornered animal, ready to spring, balling his fists and casting over the rest of the Minerva痴 pilots a chilling glare. 的f you want to hurt her, you値l have to go through me! I値l kill all of you if I have to! Luna gasped in disbelief, her eyes going wide; Rey blinked in surprise. I WILL PROTECT STELLA!

展hat the hell is with your hang-up on her? Heine shouted back, unfazed by Shinn痴 anger. He approached slowly, glowering back at Shinn.

鉄he wants to be safe! Shinn snapped back. 鉄he relied on me to be safe! She trusted me! SHE CARED ABOUT ME!

Rey stepped in front of Heine, stopping him.

鉄hinn is already angry, he said calmly. 泥on稚 make him angrier, or you will be spending a great deal more time in this room.

Heine snarled furiously at Shinn and Rey, and stalked out of the room, sputtering curses.

的 won稚 forget this, Shinn! Shiho snapped, pointing vehemently at him. 笛ust because you池e a war hero in the PLANTs and you captured a live Extended doesn稚 mean you値l walk off from this! You're still subject to the law! She stormed out of the infirmary, shoving Luna aside angrily.

Rey turned to face Shinn. 鉄hinn, he began.

Shinn turned his blazing eyes on Rey next. 泥on稚 start with another speech about the Chairman, Rey! he growled. 添ou told me to fight for the sake of a new world for Stella, and I did, and now look where she is! His face twisted into a hideous scowl. 摘ver since the Chairman brought all this Newtype shit into my life, all I致e done is suffer, and all you宋e done is keep shoving it down my throat! Well look where it痴 gotten me now! Tell the Chairman to go to hell! Tell Kira Yamato to go to hell! And you can go to hell too! I知 not going to be the world痴 goddamn punching bag!

Rey痴 eyes went wide as Shinn spoke. He opened his mouth, but for once, no sound could come out; he had nothing to say.

...scary... a weak voice murmured. Shinn痴 eyes went wide; he spun around and shoved the nurses apart, leaning over Stella. He took her hand gently, his eyes brimming with tears.

鉄tella... he murmured. 的...I知 sorry...

...it's...scary... she murmured. She blinked and looked around slowly. Her eyes began to widen; for a moment, they flashed, and then Shinn was thrown backward as Stella leapt up, screaming and thrashing. The nurses and doctors ducked as she launched herself off the operating table and straight at the head doctor.

Shinn seized her by the shoulders in midair and pulled her close.

鉄tella! he shouted. 鼎alm down, Stella!

鉄cary! she shrieked. 鉄tella wants to go back to Neo! It's scary!

鼎alm down! Shinn shouted back. 哲obody will hurt you!

STELLA DOESN探 WANNA DIE! Stella screamed. She struggled and thrashed against Shinn痴 grip; Shinn wheeled her around to look into her terrified face.

鉄tella! he shouted. 的値l protect you!

Stella blinked, seeing Shinn痴 face, the three scars she had left there. Her body relaxed as she stared at Shinn.

的値l protect you, Shinn panted. 迭emember? Do you remember me? Shinn?

鉄hinn... she murmured. Her bandages had fallen off in the struggle; she was bleeding again. Her eyelids drooped; Shinn glanced at the medical crew as they stared in fright at Stella.

笛ust stay calm, Shinn said soothingly. 典he people here will take care of you. They値l help you get better. None of them will hurt you. I値l make sure of it.

鉄hinn...will...protect... she whispered. She went limp; Shinn stared expectantly at the head doctor, and the medical crew hesitantly put her back on the operating table and went back to work on her.

Rey glanced furtively at Luna, and they both left; Shinn remained, watching, with tears in his eyes.

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November 1st, CE 73 - ZAFT battleship Minerva, Mediterranean Sea, en route to Egypt

Talia rubbed her aching temple in frustration, sitting in the Captain's chair on the bridge. Shiho and Heine stood off to the side, both looking outraged.

徹ur first priority is to get back to Port Said, Talia said, straightening up and looking authoritatively at Shiho and Heine. 典he ship is heavily damaged, and we barely managed to get it back in flying condition last night. We are going back to Port Said; after that we will deal with disciplinary measures.

滴e痴 violent! Heine protested, clenching his fists in rage. 滴e threatened to kill us!

的 told you, we値l deal with this later! Talia snapped, rising and staring furiously at him. Heine blinked in surprise, taking an involuntary step back. 添es, he threatened to kill you and he represents a threat. But he also brought us a live Extended, and took the Gaia out of commission for the time being. It痴 of no consequence right now. None of it will matter if we don稚 get back to Port Said for repairs. She scowled at Heine. 添ou are both dismissed.

Her glare said everything; Heine stormed off the bridge without bothering to salute. Shiho saluted duly, looking defeated, and slowly followed Heine.

釘ut why would Shinn do something like this? Arthur asked quietly, glancing at Talia. She slumped into her seat, muttering in frustration.

的 don稚 know, she said, 澱ut this is a matter I don稚 need right now. She glanced up at Arthur. 展e値l be at Port Said soon. Inform them that we require emergency assistance.

Arthur saluted promptly. 添es ma誕m.

Talia stared forward, out the bridge windows.

Shinn...what grave are you digging for us now?

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To be continued...