Phase 36 - Blood in the Water

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY

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Phase 36 - Blood in the Water

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December 26th, CE 73 - ZAFT battleship Minerva, near Onogoro Island, United Emirates of Orb

鄭ttention all units, the booming voice of the ZAFT commander roared out, as ZAFT痴 fleet of Vosgulov submarines and land battleships crawled forward, guns aimed steadily at Onogoro Island. 徹peration Fury will now commence. All units are to proceed towards your assigned targets and attack at will. Commence bombardment!

A swarm of missiles lifted off from the ships, as the land battleships opened fire with their guns. On the Minerva, Talia sat back as the bridge locked itself into its lowered position.

鄭ll mobile suits, prepare to take off, she called out. 鄭rthur, aim the Tristans and Isolde at our first target.

添es ma誕m! Arthur answered. 典arget is now the Onogoro port痴 fuel stores.

Talia looked up ahead at Onogoro Island痴 naval yards, teeming with mobile suits and surrounded by warships. The missiles were coming down on Onogoro now the Orb guns opened fire, but could hardly expect to stop them all in time.

鄭ll mobile suits, Talia said, 鍍ake off!

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Athrun grunted as the Justice Gundam shook. He glanced angrily at the BABI sweeping in behind him, firing its machineguns with a growl, Athrun somersaulted forward, firing his beam rifle and taking the BABI down in a single blast. He turned back towards the Akatsuki as it streaked down towards the Orb National Defense Headquarters.

展e致e probably going to have to fight our way through, Athrun warned. 展e池e still enemies to the Seirans.

典hey can稚 be stupid enough to fire on the enemy of their enemy, Cagalli snorted.

A beam rifle shot speared an incoming DINN from above, blowing it apart, and the Aegis Gundam dropped in with another rifle shot to ward off an approaching BABI.

泥on稚 count on that, Andy said as the Aegis leveled off next to the Akatsuki. 滴uman stupidity is a powerful force.

Another wave of beam fire cut down another squad of ZAFT mobile suits, and the Strike, Duel, and Buster dropped in from above, forming up around the Akatsuki.

的t痴 going to take all six of us to get in there, Mwu added grimly, deflecting an errant beam shot with his shield. 摘specially considering the last time you tried to get in there.

笛ona is probably on the Takemikazuchi, Cagalli growled.

展e can deal with him later, Andy said quickly. 撤rotecting Orb is more important than finding Jona.

展hat about Shinn and Stella? Athrun asked, glancing anxiously at the Aegis. 展here are they?

鼎aptain Ramius asked them to go play with the Minerva, Andy answered, smirking. 典hey値l be making their own fun.

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鉄hinn Asuka, Rey Za Burrel growled, as his Guul-equipped Blaze ZAKU Phantom streaked up towards the Impulse Gundam, 鍍oday you shall finally die!

Shinn growled angrily at the familiar pressure from Rey and glanced at the Gaia Gundam. 鉄tella, you take the left. I値l hit them from the right.

填nderstood, Stella answered, her voice mechanically calm. The Impulse and Gaia rocketed apart, opening fire with their beam rifles simultaneously Rey slammed on his brakes, jetting backwards and letting the shots streak past.

展e値l go after the Gaia first! Shiho痴 voice shouted. The Savior rocketed overhead, transforming into mobile suit mode and showering the Impulse with beam fire. 擢orm up for the Spearhead maneuver!

Inside the Impulse, Shinn blinked in surprise as he felt a familiar sensation of danger prick his senses. He saw the two ZAKUs, the two Impulses, and the Savior line up to attack the Gaia he felt his pulse quicken as he moved to open fire.

鉄tella! he screamed.

Stella narrowed her eyes as the mobile suits approached. A seed burst in her mind she rocketed upwards to avoid their first volley, firing back with her beam rifle as they wheeled around for another pass. They lined up again in a straight line, overlapping just far enough to allow them all equal firepower as they swung around to attack again.

The Impulse flashed back into the fight, Shinn screaming, and rammed Rey痴 ZAKU with its shield. Rey growled as the formation broke off.

哲o more of these stupid plans! Ruumari shouted. 的値l finish him off here! The Blast Impulse lined up for a killing shot to the Impulse痴 back with its beam rifle. He blinked and glanced to his left, just in time for the Gaia to shoulder it aside, sending its shot sailing wide of its target. With a finishing kick to the side, the Gaia sent the Blast Impulse reeling towards the ocean, and then jetted backwards to avoid a rifle shot from the Sword Impulse.

Inside the Force Impulse, Shinn screamed as he kicked Rey痴 ZAKU in the stomach, forcing back. Rey snarled furiously, unleashing a storm of missiles from the Guul and his Blaze Wizard Shinn grunted in surprise, slamming on the brakes, jetting backwards, and firing a defensive salvo of CIWS fire to wipe out the missiles before they could impact. Rey burst through the smoke, wielding a beam tomahawk, and brought it down with a crash on the Impulse痴 shield.

鉄hinn! Rey shouted.

Shinn痴 eyes flashed. He surged forward, knocking Rey痴 ZAKU back, and fired a shot through its Guul, wiping the subflight system out with a thunderous blast. And with a final roar of engines, he lunged back up into the ZAKU痴 face and sent it spiraling back towards the ground with a devastating kick.

Before he could pursue, his senses flared to life again the Impulse leapt back, just in time to dodge a volley of plasma cannon shots, and the Savior shot past in mobile armor mode. It transformed in midair, rocketing up over Shinn痴 beam rifle blasts, and came back down with a second volley that Shinn barely avoided. He backed away as the Savior leveled its rifle off at the Impulse.

展e致e been following you and fighting you for too long, Shinn, Shiho said dourly. 的t痴 time to end this.

The Savior switched to its beam saber and charged.

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Orb Navy supercarrier Takemikazuchi, Onogoro Island

The Takemikazuchi shook as another missile slammed into its flight deck. Jona growled angrily as the ship痴 anti-aircraft guns finally blazed to life to take down the next volley of missiles.

展hat the hell is going on with the first line? he demanded. 典hey should not be able to attack us this early!

纏AFT痴 amphibious units are tearing us apart, sir! one of the bridge crew answered. 典heir forces are too overwhelming!

泥ammit, Jona growled. 展e will not allow ZAFT to beat us! Fight to the last man if you have to, but throw those bastards out of our waters!

鄭dmiral, Todaka spoke up warily, as the Takemikazuchi shook again. 展e need to rethink our strategy. We cannot win this battle by numbers alone.

A storm of missiles smashed into a Kuraokami-class cruiser near the Takemikazuchi, splintering the beleaguered ship under a chain of explosions and pounding it under the ocean痴 surface. Jona scowled.

溺obile suits approaching! one of the bridge crew cried. Up ahead, a wing of ZAFT BABIs came streaking down towards the Takemikazuchi.

典he Murasames! Jona shouted.

的t痴 too late! Todaka cut him off.

A wave of beam fire ripped through the ZAFT ranks, tearing the BABIs apart. Jona watched in disbelief as a squadron of Windams shrieked by overhead. He glanced over the island, eyes wide, and found himself staring at the vanguard of an Earth Alliance fleet.

鄭dmiral Seiran, a deep, gravelly voice began. Jona looked back at the screen, stunned, to find a stout old man in an Earth Alliance uniform, his face almost obscured by a bushy gray beard, standing before him on the main screen. 敵rand Admiral James MacIntyre. We are here to help you beat ZAFT back. He paused. 鄭nd, something on his end made a terrifying crashing sound, 努e have brought a gift.

鏑ook at that thing! one of the Takemikazuchi痴 bridge crew shouted. Jona looked back at the Alliance fleet, and his eyes widened in disbelief as the Destroy Gundam rose out of the depths of a massive battleship.

纏AFT will make no further progress here, MacIntyre intoned. 鄭ll units, open fire!

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典he Alliance is here? Cagalli exclaimed in disbelief. She glanced over her shoulder sure enough, an array of Windams and Dagger Ls were streaming onto the battlefield, and the Alliance痴 warships were slicing into the side of the unsuspecting ZAFT fleet. And with a thunderous crash, the Destroy Gundam set down on a small unmarked island, flashed its eyes ominously, and unleashed a beam cannon barrage that sent an entire squadron of ZAFT BABIs and DINNs spiraling into the water in flames.

鄭ll the more reason to get this over with quickly! Andy shouted. 釘efore they start edging into power here too!

The main entrance to the National Defense Headquarters was blocked by a burnt-out M1 Astray, slumped against the smashed front of the building and staring up lifelessly into the sky, impaled on a CGUE壮 sword. The Gundams circled around to the back of the building and set down towards the rear, at the base of a short cliff that had been blasted apart, revealing the Defense Headquarters complicated underground warren of access tunnels.

展e can get in through here! Mwu exclaimed. 鄭ndy, get some Murasames over here to guard our machines!

Inside the Justice, Athrun pulled his handgun out of the survival case, checked the magazine, and opened the hatch, lowering himself to the ground. Cagalli was already halfway towards the exposed tunnel. Athrun took a deep breath and headed after her.

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Kira glanced at his cockpit displays as the message came in.

徹ur troops have entered the enemy痴 headquarters, Rau said, 殿nd we have confirmed the death of Orb痴 Chief Representative. However, our forces are pulling back in order to deal with the Alliance fleet.

典hen what is my special mission? Kira asked, pausing to fire a full burst to wipe out a squadron of Murasames.

鼎agalli Yula Athha is making her way into the headquarters, Rau said. Kira flinched at the sound of her name. 鉄he will more than likely cause us trouble. Find her and stop her.

添es sir, Kira said quietly.

迭emember what they did to you, Kira, Rau reminded him. 鼎agalli is just as guilty as Athrun and Lacus. Remember that.

The line went out. Kira looked up ahead, at the smoldering form of the Orb National Defense Headquarters. He saw a glint of gold near the back of the building the Akatsuki.

滴enderson team, Alvarez team, come with me! Kira shouted, taking off towards the Defense Headquarters. Two squadrons of BABIs swept in behind him. Kira narrowed his eyes at the building they would be in there.

A wing of Murasames came streaking towards him, beam cannons blazing. The BABIs took evasive action Kira scowled and rocketed up into their ranks. With a scream, he unleashed a full weapons burst, sending half the squadron plummeting into the ocean. The rest of the squadron backed away Kira cut them down with another full burst. He turned and glanced down at the building below.

敵uard my machine until I return, he ordered. The Freedom dropped down to the ground, smashing open a wall with its shield. Kira opened the hatch, seized his pistol, and rushed out.

They were in there. And they would pay.

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The Savior circled around the Impulse with a beam cannon blast Shinn ducked underneath it and returned fire with his beam rifle. He grunted in disgust the Impulse was at a disadvantage in firepower. He had to get in close.

展as Stella that important to you?! Shiho demanded, as the Savior unleashed another volley. Shinn dodged it easily and rocketed over the Savior痴 head, showering it with beam rifle fire. 泥idn稚 you even feel remorse?!

的 haven稚 killed you yet! Shinn shouted back. 泥on稚 make me regret it! He switched to his beam saber, bringing it down with a crash on the Savior痴 shield. Shiho drew her own saber and swung back Shinn deflected her blow with his own shield, leaving the two mobile suits locked in midair.

展ould you kill your comrades in cold blood, Shinn?! Shiho yelled. The Savior surged forward, sending the Impulse reeling back. 展ould you kill us to protect her?! You said you would! Would you do it?!

Shinn scowled up at her. 添ou池e not one to be asking me that! he snapped. 的 killed Heine, didn稚 I?!

展ould you kill me?! Shiho shot back. The Savior came back down on the Impulse with a crash, sabers slamming together. 展ould you kill Luna?! Would you kill Rey?! Would you kill Captain Gladys?! How many people will have to die to keep Stella safe?!

添ou can always just leave me alone! Shinn growled. The Impulse jetted back to avoid another saber swing from the Savior. 的 won稚 have to fight any of you that way!

The Savior charged. I can奏 do that! Shiho screamed. The Savior and Impulse slammed together again. 添ou betrayed us! I can稚 let you walk away! One way or another I will bring you to justice!

Shinn ground his teeth as the Savior flung him backwards, towards the ocean痴 surface. He fired the booster, skimming along the water and dodging a beam cannon volley from the Savior. Shiho took off after him, brandishing her saber.

添ou致e caused us too much suffering! You致e led us around the entire Earth Sphere on a wild goose chase! This ends now!

The Savior raised its saber for a killing blow Shinn screamed and rocketed forward, kicking the Savior in the face before it could strike. Shiho blinked in disbelief a moment later, Shinn delivered a punishing kick to the Savior痴 stomach, sending it plunging into the ocean.

Shinn glanced over his shoulder as the feeling of danger returned, and scowled at the approaching Sword Impulse and Blast Impulse.

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Orb Navy supercarrier Takemikazuchi, Onogoro Island

鼎lose the compartments! Damage control, get moving! Todaka shouted, struggling to be heard over the blaring alarms.

的t痴 no use, sir! one of the deckhands cried. 典he controls aren稚 responding!

鼎aptain, fires have broken out all over the ship and the water level on the port side is rising! another officer exclaimed. 展e池e going to capsize at this rate!

Sitting in his chair amidst the shouting and blaring alarms and intermittent red lights, Jona glowered hatefully at the ZAFT Lesseps-class land battleship looming in front of them. 鄭bandon ship, he said quietly.

Todaka nodded gravely. 的t can稚 be helped, he said. 敵ive the order to abandon ship! He turned wearily to face Jona. 鄭dmiral, he said, 堵et to the lifeboats.

Jona arched an eyebrow at him. 添ou池e not coming? he asked.

Todaka straightened up, looking Jona square in the eye. 的 have lived under your rule for two years, he said, 殿nd watched you turn Orb from a paradise into a hell. I will be glad to die now, rather than watch you burn our country down again.

Jona purpled in rage. 滴ow dare you

An explosion behind the bridge tower cut Jona off. Todaka nodded to a pair of deckhands, who quickly seized Jona by the arms and pulled him off the bridge before he could say anything more. As the bridge emptied, Todaka stepped up towards the helm.

典he engines are still operational, he said quietly. He looked up at the Lesseps in front of him. 的 suppose I can go down fighting.

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The Takemikazuchi lurched forward in his lifeboat, Jona stared back in disgust as the ship began to move, crawling towards the Lesseps in front of it. Todaka was going to go down with the ship well, that was fine, that bastard could feel free to die now.

An ASH landed on the Takemikazuchi痴 deck and smashed out its bridge, but it was too late the Takemikazuchi plowed into the Lesseps, and a thunderous explosion tore both ships apart.

The crew, in their scattered lifeboats, stood up and saluted. Jona scowled. That bastard had gotten what he deserved.

He turned at the sound of a mobile suit engine, and found a purple Windam descending towards his lifeboat.

鄭dmiral Seiran, a voice said. Jona blinked, realizing that the voice was that of Colonel Neo Roanoke. The Windam stretched out its hand. 轍uickly now, Admiral, we don稚 have much time.

Jona glanced back at the columns of smoke towering over his country. He stepped onto the Windam痴 hand, steadying himself against its palm as its fingers closed around him to hold in in place. Inside the cockpit, Neo smirked, pulling away from the beleaguered lifeboats.

的知 the Phantom Pain, he said. The crosshairs for the Windam痴 CIWS guns passed over the lifeboats. 的 don稚 leave witnesses.

Neo grinned and opened fire.

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Ruumari screamed; the Blast Impulse fired its beam rifle up at the Force Impulse; Shinn scowled and dodged the shots, twisting down towards the water and firing back.

添ou again, Shinn growled.

的値l tear you apart, traitor! Ruumari screamed. On one of the islands, Aoma turned at the sound of Ruumari痴 voice.

迭uumari! Don稚! she shouted, turning to take off.

The Blast Impulse fired again, but Shinn dodged and shot Ruumari痴 beam rifle out of his hand. Snarling, Ruumari fired the Blast Impulse痴 weapons in a full burst, sending a tower of water flashing up into the air.

The Sword Impulse dropped in, swords upraised; Shinn jetted out of the way and kicked Aoma aside. The Blast Impulse attacked again, and Shinn twisted out of the way of Ruumari痴 shots with practiced ease.

添ou keep coming after me, Shinn grunted, 澱ut you never learn!

The Blast Impulse痴 engines flared to life as it skimmed over the water. The Sword Impulse attacked again; Shinn kicked behind himself, knocking the Sword Impulse back again, and charged back towards the Blast Impulse.

典he one in the Sword knows what he痴 doing, Shinn said to himself, 都o I値l take care of you first!

The Blast Impulse jetted away and fired another full burst. 添ou monster! Ruumari shrieked. 添ou betrayed us! Come and face justice!

The Blast Impulse unleashed a storm of missiles; Shinn cut through them with a CIWS burst and fired his beam rifle, blowing off the Blast Impulse痴 left beam cannon. Ruumari grunted as the Blast Impulse quaked, and fired the remaining guns back at the Force Impulse. Shinn dodged easily once again and turned towards the Sword Impulse.

迭uumari! Pull back! Aoma screamed; the Sword Impulse hurled both its beam boomerangs, but Shinn dove over them easily and charged, drawing his beam saber.

展hen will you guys give up?! Shinn yelled.

The Sword Impulse痴 anti-ship swords clashed against the Force Impulse痴 saber; Shinn let out a scream, and the Force Impulse thrust its saber skyward, forcing the Sword Impulse痴 arms up into the air. The Force Impulse took off over the Sword Impulse痴 head; Aoma痴 eyes widened in disbelief

An instant later, the beam boomerangs sawed through the Sword Impulse痴 right arm and right leg.

The Force Impulse fired a beam rifle shot from the air; Ruumari watched in shock as the Sword Impulse plummeted towards the sea, heedless of the incoming blast; a moment later, the Blast Silhouette exploded, throwing Ruumari痴 Impulse forwards.

迭uumari! Aoma shouted. 鼎atch! She hurled her remaining anti-ship sword at the Blast Impulse, as the Sword Impulse crashed into the water.

Above the Sword Impulse, the Force Impulse caught the Sword Impulse痴 severed arm, seizing the second anti-ship sword and igniting the blade.

添ou traitor! Ruumari screamed, as the Blast Impulse fired its thrusters and took off towards the Force Impulse. 的 won奏 let you touch Aoma!

Shinn saw the Blast Impulse charge; the seed burst in his mind, and he saw the Blast Impulse raise its sword above its head. With lightning speed, Shinn severed the Blast Impulse痴 sword arm at the elbow and kicked it in the face. Ruumari screamed as the Blast Impulse fell; Shinn snarled in rage and charged; a shriek of splintering metal tore through the air

Shinn clenched his teeth as the Force Impulse痴 anti-ship sword went plunging into the Blast Impulse痴 cockpit.

He let go of the sword; the impaled Blast Impulse collapsed towards the water and exploded.

迭UUMARI! Aoma screamed.

Shinn winced at the familiar feeling of a life vanishing. He turned and took off back into the battle.

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Orb National Defense Headquarters, Onogoro Island

典he ZAFT troops must be pulling back, Andy observed, as he raced with Cagalli through a dark, damp tunnel lined with exposed pipes and superstructure. 典hey weren稚 expecting the Alliance to show up.

典hat痴 no excuse not to hurry! Cagalli exclaimed. 展e have to get in control of the situation here before they do! They rounded a corner they all came to a halt in disbelief, staring at the figure before them.

Kira Yamato scowled back at them, gun drawn.

Kira? Athrun exclaimed in disbelief. 展hat what are you doing here?

Kira cast a hateful glare at Athrun and pointed his gun at Cagalli.

展hat the hell is this? Mwu shouted. 適ira, what do you think you池e doing?

敵et out of our way, Kira! Cagalli said, taking a threatening step forward. Athrun grabbed her by the shoulder, but she shook him off. 敵et a hold of yourself! We池e not your enemies! Why are you fighting us?!

Kira痴 face twisted in rage, his eyes darkening, tears forming at the edges.

展e池e trying to turn Orb back into a haven! Cagalli went on, glaring at Kira. 展ho put these ideas in your head that Athrun killed Fllay, or that we betrayed you? We aren稚 your enemies! Stop

添ou betrayed me, Kira snarled.

And he pulled the trigger.

For a moment, the only thing anyone could hear was the gunshot echoing among the pipes. Cagalli stared forward with hollow eyes, blood gushing from the hole over her heart. She pitched backwards lifelessly.

Athrun痴 eyes widened in horror.

CAGALLI!

Yzak was the first to draw his pistol, as Athrun caught Cagalli壮 body. 添ou bastard! he screamed, lining up for a shot at Kira痴 head. Kira ducked before Yzak could fire, escaping into the shadows as Yzak fired rounds after him.

添zak! Dearka said, quickly pulling him down as Kira returned fire. Andy and Mwu spread out to either side, opening fire with their own weapons, and Kira slipped off into the shadows again.

All eyes turned to Athrun as he knelt on the floor, holding Cagalli痴 bleeding corpse, his head bowed. He didn稚 make a sound.

鄭thrun, Dearka began quietly. He stopped short, noticing that Athrun痴 shoulders were trembling, his arms wrapped tightly around Cagalli痴 corpse.

鼎ommander Bartfeldt, Commander La Fllaga, he said quietly, his voice trembling as badly as his shoulders. 撤lease take Cagalli back to the ship. He paused. 添zak, Dearka, come with me.

擢or what? Yzak asked, trying to sound subdued.

Athrun looked up, his eyes afire through his tears, dulled and lightless with fury.

展e池e going to find Kira.

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Luna screamed as her ZAKU went spiraling out of control. Behind her were three Murasames, one of which was painted bright gold, with regal-looking lion symbols on their left shoulder armor. They circled above her like hawks as she struggled to regain control of her Guul.

展ho are these guys?! she exclaimed, finally leveling off and activating her long range cannon. 典hey池e not normal soldiers!

The Murasames came circling down for another pass, opening fire with their beam cannons. Luna darted backward, firing her own cannon to ward them off. They pulled back from the shimmering red beam, but came wheeling around to attack again.

的知 not going down that easily! Luna shouted. 添ou can稚

The sound of a beam shot cut her off a moment later, she looked down in horror at the green beam shaft piercing her Guul. It exploded, and as the ZAKU went pitching up into the air, she caught a glimpse down below of a white machine with its own rifle extended.

Her eyes widened in disbelief. Rey?!

Down below, Rey scowled at the falling red ZAKU. 添ou know too much, Lunamaria, he said. 添our usefulness to the Chairman has expired.

He fired again, blowing off the Gunner Wizard and sending the ZAKU lurching forward. Luna stared in disbelief as Rey痴 ZAKU as it turned and stomped away. She turned her eyes towards the rapidly approaching ocean and desperately fired the ZAKU痴 thrusters, trying to glide over the ocean痴 surface. She glanced up ahead

With a shriek of disbelief, she landed painfully on an island, grinding to a halt in the dirt. The Murasames came down around her, and Luna opened her eyes to find herself staring down the golden Murasame.

She ground her teeth. Rey had betrayed her. Rey had tried to kill her. Rey would try to kill her again if she returned, somehow, from this.

Perhaps it was better to just disappear.

I知 sorry, Meyrin, she thought, squeezing the tears out of her eyes.

With that, she popped the hatch open and stepped out, holding up her hands.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Onogoro Island

It was the middle of battle, but as the Aegis and Strike Gundams brought back Cagalli痴 silent Akatsuki, nobody could find the voice to speak.

典his is Strike, Mwu痴 voice said softly. 鼎agalli is dead.

Sitting in the chair above Murrue痴, Lacus made no attempt to hide the tears in her eyes. She bowed her head. She had felt it she had felt the fiery, untamed presence of Cagalli vanish. And for an instant, she had felt Kira cold, ruthless, angry. But she could not bring herself to believe it. Kirahe couldn稚could he?

的 know it sounds heartless of me to say, Mwu went on, 澱ut once we dock, I知 taking the Akatsuki. Athrun went after Kira. We値l have to bring him back before he gets himself killed.

泥iddid Kira do this? Murrue asked, staring in shock as the Akatsuki was pulled into the hangar.

滴e痴 not Kira anymore, Andy put in, as the Aegis set down the Akatsuki in its usual berth. He glanced down at Cagalli壮 body, her eyes closed, her face still looking surprised nonetheless. 鼎aptain, what should we do about the body?

展e値l give her a burial at sea before we leave Orb痴 waters, Lacus spoke up through her tears, drawing everyone痴 attention. 鼎agalli must be left at Orb. She can surround and protect her country forever that way.

的知 going to bring Athrun back, Mwu said, undoing his restraints. 哲o more of us will die today, I swear.

As Mwu痴 line cut out, Lacus stared down at the ocean, feeling numb. Kira had done it he had killed Cagalli. He had destroyed his own sister.

She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to hold back the tears.

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Onogoro Island

KIIIIIRAAAA!

The Justice Gundam came down with a crash onto the Freedom Gundam, sabers clashed. Athrun screamed, his dull eyes flashing, as he surged forward, putting all the strength the Justice痴 subflight lifter could muster behind his charge.

WHY?! Athrun shrieked. YOU MONSTER! ANSWER ME!

添ou池e the one who killed Fllay! Kira screamed back, swinging his saber back at the Justice. The two mobile suits grappled again, before jetting apart and circling each other. 哲ow you understand the pain you put me through!

SHE WAS YOUR SISTER! Athrun roared, firing his beam cannons as he charged back into the Freedom痴 face. SHE WANTED TO SAVE YOU!

的 don稚 need saving! Kira snapped. The Freedom boosted away from the Justice, firing a full burst after it. Athrun skirted it and charged again, attacking with a dramatic downward hack that Kira caught horizontally.

YOU BASTARD! Athrun shouted. The Justice heaved forward again, pushing the Freedom down towards the water.

鉄he was standing in our way! Kira shot back. 鉄he was going to make us all keep fighting and dying! His eyes flashed as he saw the seed. She betrayed me! You betrayed me! I鱈L NEVER FORGIVE YOU!

The two Gundams tore apart from each other, circling each other again, before Athrun lunged in for another saber stab. The Freedom deflected it and bashed the Justice in the face with its shield, sweeping in for the kill. Athrun let out a wordless yell and swung his saber down to block the Freedom痴 horizontal swipe at the Justice痴 waist.

II Athrun murmured, glowering into the eyes of the Freedom Gundam, into the eyes of Kira Yamato. I LOVED HER!

The Justice surged again, shoving the Freedom down towards the water, and Athrun roared forward, saber raised.

KIRA!

The Freedom charged back up towards the Justice, its own saber drawn back for a killing blow.

ATHRUN!

There was a crash the two mobile suits met in a shower of sparks, slammed against each other, struggling to overpower each other.

I値l track you down, Athrun snarled. I値l find you! I値l kill you! I鱈L NEVER FORGIVE YOU!

添ou have no right to say that to ME! Kira shrieked. The Freedom kicked the Justice in the chin, sending it staggering back, and swept in to attack again. Athrun looked up, too late, as the Freedom痴 saber was already coming down

and landed against another beam saber. Athrun and Kira looked up furiously, finding the Duel Gundam there, beam saber drawn and blocking the Freedom痴 killing swing at the Justice痴 torso.

Athrun grunted as the Justice Gundam rocked, the Buster Gundam dropping in to seize it by the arms, and a moment later, Dearka took off. Kira turned his furious eyes on the Duel Yzak backed away with a burst of exhaust, unloading his missile launcher into the Freedom. As Kira backed away with a CIWS burst, the Duel took off after the Buster.

LET ME GO! Athrun shrieked. I鱈L KILL HIM!

哲ot while getting yourself killed too! Dearka shouted back. 鼎ontrol yourself, Athrun!

滴e値l kill you while you池e like this! Yzak added, pausing to shoot down a BABI as it swept in behind them. 敵et a hold of yourself!

HE KILLED CAGALLI! Athrun screamed.

鄭nd he値l kill you too if you don稚 calm down! Dearka snapped. 鼎alm down! You値l have time to fight him later, but you aren稚 going to die here too, not if we can help it!

Athrun fell silent for a moment, his fists clenched tight around the Justice痴 controls, his arms trembling.

I値lI鱈L KILL YOU, KIRA!

Dearka and Yzak exchanged a dour glance and boosted back towards the Megami.

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Aoma found herself on the barren shore of a tiny island, the maimed remains of her Sword Impulse Gundam lying on the side, washed up on the surface by the explosive destruction of a Vosgulov nearby. She dropped her helmet in the sand, staring at the plume of smoke rising from the spot where Ruumari had died.

滴ehe痴 gone she whispered. 套he

Something washed up at her feet in the surf. She looked down hollowly at it Ruumari痴 helmet sat at her feet, blackened and bloodstained. She picked it up slowly, staring at the broken, bloody glass, the red-stained, empty inside, the cracks and burns and spots of blood.

At last she collapsed to her knees and cried.

展hy couldn稚 you just listen?! she sobbed. 展hy did you have to die?! She looked up at the column of smoke. WHAT DID YOU PROVE NOW?! She turned away angrily, squeezing her eyes shut, her tears falling onto the blackened surface of his helmet. 展hat am I going to dowhat am I going to tell your parents?! She looked up again. 的 told them I壇 look after you! I told them we壇 both come back! Why did you have to get yourself killed?! She pounded the surf with her trembling fist. DAMN YOU! COME BACK!

There was a crash behind her she turned around, finding Rey痴 Blaze ZAKU Phantom towering over her. It knelt down next to her, putting one arm around the maimed Sword Impulse and hoisting it up.

展e are retreating, Rey痴 voice said over the ZAKU痴 loudspeaker. 典his attack has been a disaster. The Minerva is pulling out, and other units are likely to do the same. Come on.

Aoma looked around desolately, picking herself up and clutching Ruumari痴 empty helmet. 展hat about Luna? she asked. 展here痴 Luna?

Rey was silent for but a moment. 鏑unamaria was killed, he said.

Aoma痴 bloodshot eyes widened in horror. Killed?! she echoed. 鉄he was

展e are out of time, Rey cut her off brusquely. 敵et on. We池e going.

Aoma made her way haltingly into the Sword Impulse痴 cockpit and shut the hatch, enveloping her in darkness. She looked down at the dark shape of Ruumari痴 helmet and cried.

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ZAFT battleship Minerva, Onogoro Island

Meyrin was sobbing uncontrollably. It was not military protocol to leave a hysterical crewmember in his or her post, but Talia could care less. Two of her pilots had died, along with the countless other ZAFT soldiers. Up above, the hulking form of the Destroy Gundam wiped out another Petrie-class battleship with its huge back-mounted quadruple cannons, sending dozens more ZAFT soldiers to their graves.

滴ave welost? Arthur asked quietly.

The Savior Gundam cruised into the hangar. Up above was a tower of smoke, and nearby, an island where Rey痴 ZAKU Phantom was supporting a dismembered Sword Impulse. Talia knew the day would come where Ruumari would finally go too far, but that did not make it any less shocking when the blow was finally struck. And to think that Lunamaria had died as well

Talia glanced at Meyrin, still sobbing hysterically. She cast a dour glance at Burt; he nodded in response and stood to gingerly take Meyrin by the shoulders.

LUNA! Meyrin shrieked, leaping out of her chair and rushing up to the screen. COME BACK!

溺eyrin Arthur began, rising from his seat.

典ake her back to her room, and send for someone to fill her post in the meantime, Talia cut in. Arthur looked at her in surprise. 典hat痴 an order.

添-Yes ma誕m, Arthur answered nervously, turning to take Meyrin by the shoulders and guide her off the bridge.

Talia watched numbly as Rey痴 ZAKU took off and landed on the Minerva痴 starboard mobile suit deck, stomping down into the hangar. She glanced at the battlefield the ZAFT units were no longer bothering to retreat in an orderly fashion, but were simply fleeing in terror in the face of the unstoppable Destroy and the unexpected firepower of the Alliance fleet.

展e致e received a priority message from the fleet commander, Burt reported. Talia glanced grimly at him. 展e are to retreat to Antarctica.

鄭s I thought, she said. 溺alik, set course for Antarctica. Engines to maximum.

添es ma誕m, Malik answered quietly, setting to work at the helm.

Talia sat back, staring at the plume of smoke that had once been Ruumari.

Everything, it seemed, was going to hell.

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To be continued