Phase 37 - The Four Horsemen

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY

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Phase 37 - The Four Horsemen

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December 27th, CE 73 - Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Pacific Ocean

The casket splashed down into the water, the bouquet of white lilies laid on its top scattering over the surface of the water.

展e will not forget what you fought for, Murrue said authoritatively, standing before the gathered crew on the deck of the Megami. 鄭ll hands, salute!

Cagalli痴 casket sank under the waves as the Megami痴 crew stood at attention. On the deck, dutifully saluting with the rest of the crew, Lacus glanced over at Athrun. His eyes were red, his face pale and haggard. He had changed. And somehow, someway, she sensed anger from him.

There was silence as the Megami continued on and the crew slowly returned to its work. Lacus stayed on the deck, staring at Orb as it vanished into the distance. There was still a steady cloud of smoke looming over it. And somehow she could sense death from it.

She wondered if she was a Newtype, to be able to sense these feelings.

At that, she cast a glance over at the Kasselheim, and felt the familiar presence of Shinn Asuka.

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Office of the PLANT Supreme Chairman, PLANT Aprilius 1, Lagrange Point 5

It was most discouraging.

The casualty reports were just beginning to come in of the debacle of yesterday痴 Operation Fury. But Gilbert brushed them off, knowing that they were likely grossly inaccurate the surviving ZAFT forces were all trying desperately to get to Antarctica, with the Alliance痴 fleet and the unstoppable Destroy Gundam driving at their heels, and were more concerned with getting themselves to Antarctica in one piece than figuring out who wasn稚 coming with them.

On the other hand, as Gilbert called up the next file, there was a glimmer of good news. The Vosgulov-class submarine Saint Helens had broken out of Carpentaria and through the Alliance blockade, escaping out to see before the Alliance痴 own attack submarines could give chase. Of course, it had immediately set course for Antarctica, so the Alliance seemed to be figuring that they could just destroy it there. The DOM Troopers sent to break open the Alliance lines had performed well if the reports were to be believed, six DOM Troopers had destroyed eight warships and almost fifty mobile suits before the Windams brought them down.

The important thing, however, was that the Destiny Mobile Weapon Project痴 Gundams were safely on their way to Carpentaria. Soon they would be at the PLANTs, safely held on Messiah, away from danger.

Gilbert cast a wary glance at Horatio Vandemant, standing at attention off to the side, hands dutifully behind his back.

滴ow did the Earth Alliance turn us back at Orb so easily? he asked. Horatio paused a moment, searching for words.

典he Alliance had secretly assembled a fleet at Yokosuka and moved it to Orb at top speed during the night, he said. 展e had assumed that if they were going to send forces to Orb, they would come from either the Carpentaria siege or the former Oceania Union.

Gilbert looked back at the screen of his computer terminal, as it displayed the tactical situation that the Antarctica base and what was left of the Fourth Combined Assault Force faced.

展e have resigned ourselves to losing Carpentaria, Horatio continued, 殿nd are gathering forces at Antarctica, where we expect an Alliance assault within the next few days. Alliance fleets have been confirmed launching from Madagascar, Singapore, and Montevideo. They all seem to be linking up with the Alliance fleet that attacked us at Orb, forming one large fleet group to come crashing down on Antarctica on the heels of the Fourth Assault Force.

典hey had an ulterior motive in protecting Orb after all, Gilbert mused. 迭ecall our space forces to the PLANTs and prepare to mobilize the Gondwana and Messiah. We will be needing them soon. Horatio blinked in surprise. 典his war is coming to its end. The victor will be crowned in space, Gilbert scowled, 殿s he always is.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Pacific Ocean

They had at least allowed her some clothes, and nobody had thus far tried to take advantage of her, so for that Lunamaria was grateful. Nonetheless, she was still handcuffed with two assault rifle-toting guards on either side, led down the halls of the intimidating Megami towards the brig.

Everywhere, there were ubiquitous Orb uniforms, even though the interior of the ship reminded her of a ZAFT design. She recalled little about the Orb Raiders, other than that they were led by the late Uzumi Nala Athha痴 daughter Cagalli, and were dedicated to bringing own the Seiran government in Orb. But if that was the case, why would they bother taking her prisoner? Would she be a hostage to them, for bartering with ZAFT?

A loud crash snapped Luna out of her grim reverie, and a door in front of her opened. Her guards took a cautious step back, pulling her with them, as a man with dark skin and blond hair staggered out of the door, staring angrily whoever was in it.

鼎alm down! he shouted. 添ou have to think rationally! You池e no good to anyone if you keep freaking out like this!

The man yelped in surprise and ducked as a coffee mug went sailing into the wall behind him and shattered. 的値l kill him myself if I have to! a voice, vaguely familiar, screamed back from inside. 的値l take him down next time! No matter what!

鄭thrun! the blond man shouted.

Luna痴 eyes widened in disbelief. Athrun? she echoed.

The blond man glanced at her and ducked under another flying coffee mug, shutting the door. 展ho is she? he asked one of the guards.

纏AFT pilot we took prisoner yesterday, the guard answered. 典hat red ZAKU in the hangar is hers. We池e taking her in for questioning.

轍uestioning? the blond man repeated. 展hat, ZAFT knows something we want to know?

展ell, she surrendered to us, the other guard put in awkwardly. The blond man sighed.

摘h, whatever the blond man began.

The door opened again; another uniformed man stormed out, and Luna found herself face to face with Athrun Zala.

展ho痴 this? he asked brusquely, glancing at the blond man.

鉄he痴 a ZAFT pilot they took prisoner the blond man began.

添ou池e Athrun Zala! Luna exclaimed. Athrun glanced back at her.

展hat are you doing with her? he asked the guards.

典aking her to the captain for questioning, one of them answered.

As they spoke, Luna stared in disbelief at Athrun. He was there, right in front of her; Athrun Zala, the hero of the PLANTs, the man who destroyed the -X105 Strikeand yet his eyes were bloodshot and cold, his face pale and lined, his entire demeanor burning with anger. He glanced at the blond man and grabbed him by the arm.

鼎ome on, he said, 努e致e still got simulator work to do.

What? the blond man cried. 鄭thrun, we致e been in that damn thing all day!

鄭nd we値l keep doing it until we池e all perfect! Athrun snapped. 添ou remember when Kira killed Nicol?

添eah, well, I知 older and smarter than that now! the blond man protested. 的知 not going to go running into my death just because Kira killed Cagalli!

Luna blinked in disbelief. Cagalli had been killed? The leader of the Orb Raiders?

Athrun dragged the blond man back into the room they had come out of, and the door slammed shut behind them.

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ZAFT Eternal-class cruiser Deliverance, Southern Ocean

鼎aptain Meredith, Rau said with a condescending smile, sitting back in his office chair, 的 see you managed to escape from Carpentaria.

典he six DOMs they sent with me weren稚 so lucky, the thin, aging man answered in a creaky voice. 溺y ship痴 engines are damaged and we cannot submerge. What is the nature of this message, commander?

Rau smiled back. 展e were following an Earth Alliance unit that used Mirage Colloid to elude us, he said. 典hey are heading in your direction. I suggest you take a detour to the south and round your course out to evade them. We池e sending you the coordinates now.

Captain Meredith paused, reading a screen on his end. 典his course will add another day to our travel time, he protested.

展ould you rather spend an extra day going to Antarctica, or die? Rau asked. 添our cargo, after all, is quite valuable.

Meredith sighed. 天ery well, commander, he acquiesced. 展ill any friendly units be nearby to provide escort?

展ell, Rau answered, sitting back, 鍍here痴 the Minerva.

Meredith blinked in surprise. 典he Minerva?

迭endezvous with the Minerva and transfer your cargo, Rau instructed. 的t is too important to leave on your ship, if your ship is too damaged to submerge and run at full power.

The line went out, and Rau sat back, chuckling. Across the room, Valentine stared suspiciously at him.

泥are I ask why you did that? she asked dubiously. 典hat course will put them right into contact with the Megami and the Kasselheim in the middle of the transfer operation.

摘xactly, Rau chuckled. 鉄hinn doesn稚 fit well into our plans as he is now. He needs a new toy to play with.

添ou池e going to let him steal the Destiny Mobile Weapons?! Valentine exclaimed, standing upright. 展hat the hell is wrong with you? We need those!

ZAFT needs those, Rau corrected. 釘ut no, I知 not going to let them steal those Gundams. At least, not now. The Saint Helens is carrying twelve GOUF Igniteds along with those four Gundams. They won稚 be so easy to take down, even for our vaunted little Newtype Shinn. And that壮 assuming they even launch an attack I僧 sure the Orb Raiders are still reeling from the loss of their princess.

典hen what are you pulling this little venture for? Valentine snapped.

添ou値l see soon enough, Rau said with a smile. 滴ave the Strike Freedom transferred to the Deliverance as soon as the Minerva reaches Antarctica. Kira痴 sword is getting rusty. It痴 time he got a new one.

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Battlecruiser Kasselheim, Pacific Ocean

It was getting colder. Shinn wrapped his long blue coat even tighter around himself as he wandered out onto the deck of the Kasselheim. It was cold as hell out here, but it was still calming, and even so, as he stepped onto the deck, he noted that Stella didn稚 seem to mind. The ocean was always the ocean, he guessed, regardless of how cold it was getting.

Stella glanced over at him and smiled as he came up next to her.

的t痴 getting cold out here, Shinn warned. 泥on稚 stay out here too long or you値l get sick.

Stella nodded happily and returned to staring at the sea. Shinn looked over at the Megami hatred and anger were radiating out from some point inside, some point that had to be Athrun Zala. Shinn had heard that Cagalli had been killed during the battle at Onogoro, but the hatred that was coming from Athrun痴 presence made it all too clear who had done it.

鄭re we going to go back to space, Shinn? Stella asked suddenly, looking over at him. Shinn shrugged, looking out into the distance. He wasn稚 quite sure where the Kasselheim was going, nor was he sure where the Megami was going. The Orb Raiders had just lost their leader chances were good they were floundering in a daze as someone was forced to step up and take command through their grief.

Of course, ZAFT wasn稚 going to last much longer on Earth, and an Earth controlled effectively by the Atlantic Federation wasn奏 one that looked enticing.

典here痴 no sea in space, Stella murmured. 鉄tella doesn稚 like it.

Shinn smiled. There were a lot of reasons why Stella didn稚 like space. The PLANTs were up there, and she was afraid of them.

He glanced back at the Megami. Athrun was in there, burning with hatred for Kira Yamato. Shinn wondered if he should be sad that Cagalli had died he couldn稚 find it in himself to mourn her death. She had been a fool and gone rushing out onto the battlefield it had only been a matter of time before that foolhardiness caught up with her. But that didn稚 change the pain he felt from Athrun. Whether Cagalli had been a fool or not, she had meant a lot to Athrun, and now his rage was spilling over into Shinn痴 senses.

He cast his gaze over the ship, reaching out and feeling the presences of everyone aboard it. He felt an odd tinge of pressure at one point underneath it was the familiar soothing aura of Lacus Clyne. He wondered if she was a Newtype too. He scanned the presences emanating from the Megami, but recognized no others

except for one.

Shinn blinked in surprise, as, for a fleeting moment, his mind touched something familiar. He realized with a gasp of disbelief that Lunamaria was somewhere on the Megami.

The feeling was gone an instant later, but Shinn stared wide-eyed at the Megami. He had felt Luna痴 presence on that ship. She was there.

鉄hinn? Stella asked softly. 展hat痴 wrong?

哲othing, Shinn answered quickly. He looked back at the Megami.

Lunawhat are you doing here?

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ZAFT battleship Minerva, Southern Ocean

Shiho had an idea of what she was walking into when she opened the door to Aoma痴 room. She had been left alone in her room on Talia痴 orders, to, as Talia had put it, 田ry until there痴 nothing left. But as Shiho stepped gingerly into the darkened room, she had to admit that Aoma had taken those orders awfully seriously.

It immediately occurred to Shiho that she could not call this shrunken, trembling girl sitting on her bed a woman. She was too vulnerable and broken Ruumari痴 death had snapped something in her, and finally all her suffering at his expense was coming out. But she wasn稚 crying Shiho found that odd. Perhaps she had already cried until there was nothing left.

She looked up at last, and Shiho drew back in surprise at the burning hatred in her red eyes. She remembered where she had seen it before, and it sent a chill down her spine.

鄭oma, Shiho said quietly, kneeling next to her and putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. 鄭re you alright?

Aoma nodded wordlessly. She blinked away a ring of tears at the edges of her eyes. 鄭re we going to attack the pirates again? she asked, her voice calm.

哲ot that I know of, Shiho answered. 典he last thing I heard is that we池e going to meet up with a Vosgulov to receive some important cargo to take to Antarctica.

Aoma paused a moment. 展hen will we attack them again? she asked again.

的 don稚 know, Shiho admitted.

Aoma痴 eyes narrowed. 典he next time we fight, she said, the tremble in her voice vanishing, 的値l find the traitor and destroy him.

Shiho blinked in surprise. 泥on稚 make the same mistake he made, she put in quickly. 笛ust because Shinn destroyed Ruumari doesn稚 mean you should go rushing headlong into disaster to avenge him.

Aoma paused again. She looked slowly at Shiho. 典hen, she said, 田an I have all the data we have on Shinn and his Impulse unit?

Shiho frowned. 展hat for?

典o find a weakness, Aoma answered.

Shiho paused, studying Aoma carefully. She stared back, her eyes wide and angry, her face pale and drawn. There was no stopping her anyway it was best to at least supervise her.

的値l see what I can pull together, she said.

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ZAFT Eternal-class cruiser Deliverance, Southern Ocean

They were covered in blood. He could see it now his hands were covered in blood. Cagalli痴 blood. He had killed her.

Kira sat up in his bed, staring with wide eyes at the wall before him, covered in icy sweat. He had shot her, right through the heart, right in front of Athrun. He could still Athrun痴 screams, ringing in his ears, as the Justice Gundam stormed towards him, looking for blood.

Valentine sat up next to him, arching an eyebrow at him as he stared down at his hands.

展hat痴 wrong? she asked. Kira tried to clench his fists, trembling.

的I killed her, he murmured. 的I killed Cagalli

展hy is it bothering you? Valentine asked. 添ou had to do it.

Kira looked slowly at her, eyes wide and trembling.

鉄he was trying to rebuild Orb, Valentine went on, 鉄he was going to make the same mistakes in this war that she made in the last one. And she was trying to pull you pack into that mess, and make you suffer the same things you suffered then. She put her arms around him, pulling him close. 添ou致e moved beyond that, Kira. You have a higher purpose now. We致e shown you the true path to a peaceful world.

的 know, Kira stammered. 釘ut He looked back down at his hands.

笛ust fight for a little while longer, Valentine whispered. 鄭nd then you値l never have to fight again.

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December 28th, CE 73 - Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Southern Ocean

Far ahead, magnified on the monitor, were two ships ZAFT痴 famous Minerva, and a battered-looking Vosgulov submarine. They were in the middle of some kind of operation on the deck, Murrue could count four gray, elaborate-looking mobile suits, but the magnification was not high enough to make out any details. They looked vaguely like Gundams, and there were ZAFT mobile suits standing guard all over both ships. There was one that looked like the Justice, one resembling the Freedom, a Gundam similar to the Providence, and one that Murrue couldn稚 identify at all.

鏑ooks like ZAFT痴 got a few new models, Andy commented, from his haunt next to Sai痴 seat. 展hat should we do?

徹ur machines are getting way too old these days, Mwu put in, standing next to Murrue痴 chair and crossing his arms. 展e could stand for an upgrade.

釘ut we壇 have to take those things intact, Murrue replied, peering at them again. 的知 not even sure what they池e for.

展e値l take them, a voice said, low and furious. All eyes reluctantly turned to Athrun Zala as he stepped onto the bridge. 展e値l take them and find Kira.

鄭thrun, that痴 Murrue began.

展e have to, Athrun said. 適ira killed Cagalli. I知 not going to stop until I致e made him pay.

滴old on a minute, Athrun, Mwu interjected, 途ight now we池e trying to figure out what痴 going on with Orb, and we池e in need of supplies

適ira is dangerous, a second voice added.

Lacus Clyne stepped onto the bridge, silencing everyone with the calm, firm tone in her voice.

鏑acus, Andy began, 努e don稚 even know what he痴 up to.

展hich is why we need to find out, she said. 適ira has changed, and is now willing to kill even his sister in pursuit of some goal. He still has power and he still wants to use it, but if he is willing to fight us and kill us, then we need to know more about what he痴 trying to do. And as Commander La Fllaga said, we need to capture supplies and new machinery to replace our aging weapons. Dullindal has an agenda of his own with this war, as do the forces pulling the strings of the Earth Alliance. We need to find out what that agenda is, and stop it, before this war spirals out of control.

鏑acus Murrue murmured, staring at her in disbelief. The sorrow and regret were gone, replaced by firmness of purpose. Lacus had made up her mind there was no doubt who the leader was now. 展e will follow the Minerva and attempt to capture those Gundams, Murrue said, turning around to face the screen again. 哲eumann, wait for the Minerva and the Vosgulov to get going. We値l follow at a cautious distance. Inform the Kasselheim.

Lacus turned and left as quickly as she had entered.

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Atlantic Federation flagship Chrysalis, Southern Ocean

The Chrysalis was the flagship of the Earth Alliance痴 fleet. It was over 350 meters long, sporting two enhanced positron cannons as its main weapons and a wealth of beam cannons and CIWS turrets for defense. And if the twenty gleaming Windams in the ship痴 considerable mobile suit bay were any indication, it was hardly an anachronistic throwback to the days where gigantic battleships had actual military worth. The Chrysalis had been designed for the modern age.

Which meant it made sense for a man like Grand Admiral James MacIntyre, commander of the surface fleets of the Atlantic Federation and by extension, the Earth Alliance and foremost naval advisor to President Copland, to be standing on its bridge. He had not reached this lofty position by ignoring the winds of change instead of sticking to his aircraft carriers and destroyers, he advocated an immediate embracing of the Alliance痴 new mobile suit technology, ensuring that within two years, the Atlantic Federation痴 entire fleet of Spengler-class aircraft carriers had been outfitted to carry mobile suits, and the rest of the Navy had been properly equipped to deal with enemy mobile suits.

Of course, as Ian Lee noted, this impressive résumé had taken its toll on the Grand Admiral. He was a stout, muscular man with a drawn, bronzed face half-obscured by a bushy gray beard. He met Lee痴 gaze with piercing onyx eyes, and granted him a curt nod Lee, remembering where he was, replied with a sharp salute.

鄭dmiral, Neo said, saluting himself. 典o what do we owe your message to meet you here?

的 was told to relay orders to you in person, MacIntyre answered in a gravelly, agitated voice. 的 suppose this has something to do with the Phantom Pain. Your orders are to protect the William McKinley at Antarctica. They will be combat-testing the new GAT-X machines High Command wants your unit there to make sure that they have a mothership to come back to.

的 understand, sir, Neo said. 的s our battle plan completed yet?

MacIntyre gestured to the massive screen behind him. 典here are fleets launching from Montevideo, Singapore, and Madagascar. We値l rendezvous just north of Berkner Island, where the ZAFT base is located. From there we値l trap them between the ice shelves and our fleet. They won稚 have anywhere to go but across the ice shelf and into the Antarctic wasteland, which is suicide. They have nowhere to run it痴 the perfect place to launch an attack. He paused. 徹f course, they値l be fully aware of this and will fight us tooth and nail, so don稚 expect an easy battle. We池e going to have to pay our pound of flesh for every inch we take. He paused again, glancing at the screen. 徹ur intelligence suggests that if they fall here, they池e prepared to move operations to the Falkland Islands, but we are confident that we can destroy most of their forces here and pick off the rest before they can return to space.

典his war is coming to an end, Neo said, with a hint of a smile. 鉄oon we値l be able to bring all our space forces down onto the PLANTs and finish the Valentine War.

的t痴 not over yet, MacIntyre said, turning away. 典he difficult part is just beginning.

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Battlecruiser Kasselheim, Southern Ocean

Mev sat back in his office, reading the slip of paper again. The Megami was going to try and steal ZAFT痴 new machines from the Minerva, and had asked the Kasselheim to come along and play backup. The crew didn稚 appear to mind a job was a job, after all, and they appeared to have resigned themselves to having been sucked into the war anyway but Mev wondered what the Orb Raiders were trying to do now. Orb had been all but destroyed. Cagalli was dead. What was left?

鼎aptain, Viima began, from her seat across Mev痴 desk, 的致e been meaning to ask this for a while. Mev arched an eyebrow at her. 展hy are you helping the Orb Raiders?

Mev returned his gaze to the slip of paper. 展hat do you mean? he asked.

添ou were a bodyguard to Uzumi Nala Athha, Viima said, 殿nd you left Orb because you were disgusted with his arrogant policies. Isn稚 that so?

的t is, Mev said. 展hat is your point?

溺y point is that we have been helping the very group whose leader was advocating a return to those same policies that drove you away, Viima continued. 展hy?

Mev looked back at the paper and crumpled it in his hand. 溺y story is far more complicated than that, he said. 的t stretches back farther than Uzumi Nala Athha. I was embroiled in this play back in days of the Mendel colony.

典he Mendel colony? Viima echoed. 添ou

展orked there, Mev finished. 鉄ecurity. However, I was involved in deep internal security, so I was in frequent contact with the researchers and their cloning and artificial womb projects. He paused, tossing the crumpled paper on his desk. 泥r Hibiki was a researcher involved in the artificial womb project, which was supposed to eliminate the mother痴 womb as a variable towards a Coordinator痴 genetics. With his wife, he conceived two children from this project. The first was a boy whose fetus was used to create the perfect Coordinator that Hibiki had been trying to create; the second was a girl who was born as a Natural. However, Hibiki痴 wife could not stand by and let her husband continue this project, as it was leading to the deaths of countless fetuses, and spirited the children away after their births, and put the two children under the protection of separate foster parents. The boy came to be known as Kira Yamato, and the girl as Cagalli Yula Athha.

Viima痴 eyes widened in disbelief. 添ou mean she was a foster child?

的 left Mendel shortly before Cagalli was put in Uzumi痴 protection, Mev continued. 填zumi hired me as a bodyguard and a connection to what was going on in Mendel. And you know the rest. He paused for a moment. 的 knew Cagalli. I knew she was the same fool as her father. But those under her command were not, and it is in them that I have faith. They would have corrected Cagalli and given her the guidance she needed to keep Orb from getting burned down again, if she had managed to take the country. Now it is not Cagalli, but those who stood behind her, who are asking for our help. Cagalli was a fool who wanted to continue her father痴 arrogant policies. Her followers are fools all the same, but they are war-weary and are smart enough to keep whatever paradise they construct from being destroyed. It is them I am helping. Because we are all trying to create a haven of our own in some way we have this ship. They have asked us and paid us to help them create a haven of their own. Now Cagalli can no longer interfere. I see no reason why not to continue helping them.

釘ut what does stealing ZAFT mobile suits have to do with that? Viima asked.

典hey have bigger plans than that, Mev answered. 典hey want to stop this war. And I think that is in everyone痴 best interest. If nobody stands between ZAFT and the Earth Alliance, they will destroy each other in their hatred, and take the world with them. And then, he cast a glance and a strange smirk at Viima, 努hat will we have to steal?

Viima nodded slowly. 鼎aptain, she said. 的 never pictured you as someone to fight for ideals.

展ar does strange things to those involved in it, Mev said with a shrug, 努hether they wanted to be involved or not.

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ZAFT battleship Minerva, Southern Ocean

The crew lounge was unusually silent. The transfer operation was complete and the Minerva was speeding to the Antarctic base, with four new mobile suits slumbering in the hangar. Now there was nothing to distract anyone.

Meyrin sat on an empty couch, staring down at her feet, tears still at the edges of her eyes. Her sister was gone. She still couldn稚 wrap her mind around it. She could still remember Lunamaria waking up on the morning of the battle, rubbing sleep from her eyes and stumbling into her uniform, heading off to do battle and protect the ship, to protect her. She had always been there. She had always been the strong one, making the decisions, speaking for them both, protecting her. But now she was dead.

She looked up at the sound of footsteps, and found Vino looking down solemnly at her, a soda in hand.

填m, he began awkwardly, 土ou alright?

Meyrin nodded slowly, wiping the tears from her eyes. Vino slowly handed her the soda, watching her carefully.

的値l be okay, she added quietly. Vino smiled at her.

笛ust take it easy for a couple of days, he said. 展e know how you池e feeling. If you need to talk

的知 fine, she said, a hint of a blush on her cheeks. 的 justneed a little more time.

Vino paused, crestfallen. 徹kay, he said, smiling back at her anyway. 的値l see you later, then.

He made his way around the couch and disappeared out the door. Meyrin looked down at the soda can in her hands. She wondered what Luna would think of her now sitting here, moping, still crying two days later.

Luna had been the strong one, but now Luna was gone.

She looked up again, and caught a glimpse of Rey as he passed by. He slowly glanced at her, sending a chill down her spine with his cold eyes. She blinked in surprise Rey! He had threatened her, and he had threatened Luna. And it had been him who had reported her in as dead. Had he could he have really shot Luna down during the battle?

Meyrin watched Rey disappear behind a corner. The thought turned itself over in her head, and with a hint of a scowl, she crushed the soda can in her hand.

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Djibril Manor, Vermont, Atlantic Federation

The delighted cackle of Lord Djibril filled the air in his screening room as he watched the footage of the Battle of Onogoro on the array of monitors before him. On an adjacent monitor, Joseph Copland watched in a mix of disgust and unease.

纏AFT could not bring down even one Destroy! Djibril laughed. 典hey will be crushed when we unleash five of them from Daedalus! He clenched his fists dramatically. 展e have only to crush them at Antarctica, and our Earth will be blue and clean once again! He turned to face Copland. 溺r. President! You and I will have to travel to Daedalus soon! We have an army to lead to victory!

哲o, Djibril, Copland said flatly. 展e will not pursue a war in space.

Djibril was silent for a moment. 展e what? he asked.

展e have nothing to gain by pushing ZAFT up against the wall, Copland continued, leveling a glare at Djibril. 的 will not grind my country into dust fighting ZAFT on their home turf, when we would gain nothing from their destruction. This war has gone on long enough. I will not force anyone to make anymore unnecessary sacrifices. This war ends once we have pushed ZAFT off the Earth.

A wicked smile spread over Djibril痴 face. Copland paused in surprise.

溺r. President, Djibril chuckled, 土ou assume that you are in control here. I could destroy you in an instant. He snapped his fingers. 泥o not make the mistake, Mr. President, of assuming that you are indispensable. I do not need you I keep you where you are because you are yet useful. But you are not so useful that no one else can fill your function. Do not forget that you can be destroyed, and if you get in my way, you will be. He made a grand, sweeping gesture. 展e shall march to the doorstep of the PLANTs, and this time, we will not stop until they are destroyed!

He swung around, ignoring Copland痴 disbelieving stare, and looking back up at the Destroy Gundam.

展ith this, he cackled, 努e will finally have a blue and clean world!

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To be continued