Phase 40 - Regeneration

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY

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Phase 40 - Regeneration

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January 2nd, CE 74 - ZAFT Eternal-class cruiser Deliverance, Southern Ocean

A hiss cut through the air, followed by the click of metal and the hum of machinery. Valentine stood expectantly behind a glass wall, arms crossed, watching impassively.

The maimed and bandaged Kira Yamato was in surgery. Bionic attachments covered blackened stumps that had once been flesh. Kira was motionless as the final attachment was made to the charred hole that had once been his shoulder. He had failed; this new body was the price he paid for that failure.

They were attaching Kira痴 mechanical left eye with Rau arrived.

的 see our weapon needs some repairs, he remarked amusedly.

To counteract the pain, the doctors had given Kira massive doses of tranquilizers, and Kira lay unconscious on the operating table, unable to feel metal attachments being drilled into his bone and his nerves being welded into bionic receptors; he twitched momentarily they screwed the final optical nerves into his new eye and eased it into the empty hole that had once held a living eye, but then settled back into his morbid slumber. The operating doctors and a number of elaborate thick straps held him down, lest he wake up and tear open the wounds that had required only stitches and bandages, and not mechanical replacements, to heal. Valentine watched emotionlessly as Kira was remade.

展ho did this? Rau asked. Valentine glanced at him.

鉄hinn, she answered. 滴e stole the Destiny from the Minerva.

Rau smiled. 泥idn稚 I tell you he壇 be formidable if he ever got a hold of it? He turned to leave. 的nform me when he痴 released.

Valentine remained behind, watching as the doctors attached Kira痴 new left leg, a skeletal metal limb that made for a stark contrast against his scarred and bandaged right leg. Shinn had been the one to do this indeed. But Shinn, powerful as he was, did not present the greatest threat to Kira. Shinn didn稚 know Kira. Shinn could not break her hold over him.

Shinn was not Kira痴 enemy.

One of the doctors at last came out, as the others inside began to pack up their tools, leaving Kira lying on the surgery table.

展e池e finished, the doctor said soberly. 鉄o far the operation appears to have been a success. We will wait twenty four hours to begin testing out the limbs and the range of motion. He should be able to resume his usual duties in a week or two.

泥oes he remember anything of the battle? Valentine inquired.

的 don稚 think so, the doctor said with a shrug, 澱ut we haven稚 conducted any psychological examinations.

Valentine nodded grimly and brushed past him, making her way into the surgery suite. Kira lay on the operating table, connected to a tangle of wires and IV tubes. His mechanical leg, arm, and eye were still. His breathing was haggard, raspy, and pained.

適ira, she said, her voice soft. Kira cracked open his remaining eye, dulled with pain and fatigue. 滴ow are you feeling, Kira?

Kira moaned quietly, sleep clinging to him like a fog. Valentine wiped away a stray tear the pain had brought forth.

的t痴 over now, Kira, she said soothingly. 哲ow you can rest.

Kira groaned again and raised his hand towards her, but paused at the sound of mechanical servos. He raised his right hand into view his remaining eye widened in fear. He slowly at up, staring at his hands and his new leg; he felt his face and looked up slowly, in horror, at a mirror across the room he saw himself covered in bandages and scars, with a red hexagonal sensor in the place of his left eye.

He looked in disbelief at Valentine.

展-why? he whispered chokingly.

Valentine took him by his still-flesh shoulder. 典he Freedom was destroyed, and you were wounded, she explained. 釘ut your lost body parts have been replaced.

Kira looked down at his mismatched hands.

展hodid thisto me?

Valentine looked into his remaining eye.

鄭thrun, she answered.

Kira was motionless.

鄭thrun he murmured.

添ou need to rest, Valentine said, soothingly and conclusively. Kira lowered his arms, staring blankly at the ceiling. Valentine departed with a kiss, and Kira was left alone with his pain.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Southern Ocean

It was damned cold on the bridge of this ship, Lunamaria decided. Granted, she was still standing in her ZAFT undershirt and a pair of blue jeans she壇 been given when she was first captured and it was decided that her flight suit was not exactly suitable attire. But she had to make her case otherwise it meant being cast adrift in a world controlled by the Earth Alliance, and that was obviously not an option.

溺iss Hawke, the captain, Murrue Ramius, said skeptically, draping one leg over the other and staring Luna down. 添ou told us yesterday that you wanted to join us. We喪e willing to entertain the notion, but there is one question we鼠l want an answer to first. She paused. 展hy do you want to join us?

Luna felt her heart sink. How could she explain her reasons here, when they hardly made sense even to her?

釘ecause she feels safe here, a voice spoke up.

Luna and Murrue looked in surprise up at Lacus Clyne as she took her seat above Murrue痴 captain痴 chair.

填m, yeah, Luna added, mentally smacking herself. 的 had someproblems with comrades in ZAFTif I went back now, he壇 try to kill me again, like he tried to at Onogoro.

Murrue blinked in surprise. 展hat? she asked. 鄭 comrade tried to kill you?

的壇 rather be here, Luna continued, 渡ow that I知 dead as far as ZAFT is concerned.

Murrue glanced at Lacus; she nodded and smiled at Luna, who stared back at her uncertainly.

鄭re you willing to fight against your former ZAFT comrades if need be? Murrue asked, glancing back at Luna. She nodded.

鉄he can be trusted, captain, Lacus put in. Murrue sighed.

鄭lright, she said, standing up and extending a hand towards Lunamaria. 展elcome aboard, Miss Hawke.

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Penguin Island, South Shetland Islands, Southern Ocean

It was cold, but Shinn Asuka didn稚 care. He couldn稚 feel anything anyway. The Destiny, kneeling with the Gaia on a bluff on a tiny island among an array of not quite as tiny islands called the South Shetlands, just north of South America, stood in a silent vigil over him. Shinn stared out south, towards Antarctica, towards the grave of the Mad Typhoon Gang.

Shinn dared not close his eyes he knew he would see the Freedom cutting down the Mad Typhoon mobile suits again, the Kasselheim exploding again. He felt empty, staring out at the empty horizon. He had destroyed the Freedom, he had destroyed Kira Yamatobut that didn稚 fill the void in his heart. It had all been taken from him again. He couldn稚 protect them. He had failed.

Stella sat down next to him with a bottle of water, watching him carefully. He looked slowly at her, remembering that she had gone with him. Her eyes were puffy and red she had been crying too. The Freedom had taken something from her too.

的知 sorry, Shinn whispered. Stella blinked in surprise at him. 的I couldn稚 protect them.

Stella said nothing, looking out at the sea. It was true, they both knew Shinn had promised, so many times, to protect them all.

鉄hinn is still sad, Stella observed quietly. Shinn nodded slowly, staring out sullenly at the horizon. 套Stella wants a home, she added.

Shinn said nothing, his eyes blank.

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ZAFT battleship Minerva, Southern Ocean

Repairs on the fly were harrowing and probably unwise, but Talia saw no other choice. ZAFT had no more terrestrial bases at which the Minerva could be repaired. The survivors from Antarctica, as well as some bedraggled troops from around the world who now looked more like refugees than soldiers, had come together at the Falkland Islands to set up a temporary staging area, where they could launch themselves to space and rejoin ZAFT for its final offensive there. But there was probably an Alliance fleet sweeping down on them right now, and Talia did not want to spend anymore time on a hostile Earth than she had to. The Minerva痴 space booster was already attached it was only a matter of repairing the damage and getting off the Earth.

She heaved a sigh, glancing to the starboard side. There was a Vosgulov-class submarine there, the Kyrgyzstan, waiting patiently as the Infinite Justice was guided out into the submarine痴 hangar. High Command was insisting on keeping the new models split up between ships, so they could be safely transported to space without fear of being stolen, like the Destiny.

Her thoughts returned to the battle from the previous day. Shinn had stolen the Destiny after all, making a dramatic show of breaking onto the Minerva and a just as dramatic show of breaking out. He had destroyed the Freedom Gundam, ZAFT痴 ace up the sleeve, with relative ease. And he had easily destroyed the Earth Alliance痴 hitherto unstoppable Destroy Gundam. Shinn, when armed with the Destiny, was truly unstoppable, even more so than a giant mobile suit with a bunch of beam cannons. The Alliance had as much to fear from the Destiny as ZAFT did.

She glanced out at the bow of the ship. The repair crews were making excellent progress they had replaced most of the destroyed missile launchers and CIWS turrets, and were working on replacing the Isolde and repairing the Minerva痴 devastated prow. The portside catapult was a bit uglier, but it too was being repaired, as well as the two Tristans. As it stood, the ship was hardly combat-worthy, but there were two requisitioned Kaskirov-class supply submarines floating to port to provide supplies and maintenance crews. Being in FAITH had its perks.

Talia cast a weary glance over her shoulder Arthur was still arguing over schedules with the captain of one of the Kaskirov subs. She sighed again she would probably have to straighten that out. But for now she was content to let Arthur handle things he was going to have to learn to do things without her holding his hand, anyway, and now was a relatively good time to start.

Returning her attention to the bridge windows and what lay beyond them, she scanned over the horizon. The Minerva was moving at sixty percent speed, enough for the Kaskirov subs to keep up. A number of other ships and submarines were filing past, heading for the Falkland Islands, where their crews and mobile suits could find passage off the conquered Earth. Granted, much of ZAFT痴 strength already lay in space and the forces from Earth that managed to return to the PLANTs would be of little consequence, but it was at best a psychological placebo they had failed on Earth, but they could have another chance in space. At least the war in space showed some promise ZAFT had a far more solid position and far stronger forces in space, while on Earth, it had claimed two bases and small, overstretched forces.

Of course, she thought, the Orb Raiders were still loose.

Her thoughts turned to the mysterious black dreadnaught, the Megami. By all reports, Cagalli Yula Athha had died at Onogoro, so now the Orb Raiders were probably being led by Lacus Clyne. And if the past was any indication, she would probably be working to play in this role a similar one as the role she had played in the Valentine War.

And that, she thought, is why you have the Destiny, Shinn. She glanced down grimly at the Infinite Justice as it descended into the Kyrgyzstan痴 hangar. Use your power and put an end to this war before it destroys us all.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Southern Ocean

展hat the hell is that? Yzak asked testily.

Yzak and Dearka were hunched over a terminal in the crew lounge, with Andy sitting comfortably in the chair and smirking at the screen. Emblazoned on it were images of the Earth Alliance痴 three new Gundams for now, Andy had settled on calling them Units 01 through 03, although they probably had more verbose names in reality.

哲ever go into a battle unprepared, Andy said with a chuckle. 鉄ai intercepted some Alliance communiqués about these things. They池e the Alliance痴 latest GAT-X machines, and they池e on a Spengler-class called the William McKinley. You might recall it as the flagship of the Atlantic Federation痴 contribution to the Eurasian forces during the Black Sea War.

鄭re we really going to steal them? Dearka asked, arching an eyebrow at Andy.

展here痴 your sense of adventure? Andy chuckled. 徹f course we are. It痴 better than stealing someone痴 Murasame and flying it around instead. We need all the pilots we can get in the field, and thus, we need all the machines we can get our hands on. He paused. 釘esides, it痴 not like it would be the first time you stole two something from the Earth Alliance.

Yzak glanced over at the crew lounge痴 other computer terminal. Athrun was there, glancing over an intercepted ZAFT message concerning another of their new units. Mwu and Lunamaria were at his side, listening intently as Athrun outlined a plan to them. He blinked in surprise, noticing Lunamaria in a white and blue Orb uniform.

展ell, Dearka said, 努e値l have to do it, but how will we get in? It壮 not like you can just waltz onto an Atlantic Federation aircraft carrier.

典he Earth Alliance is moving this carrier through the South Shetlands, Andy explained. 的t値l pass by King George Island tomorrow to lie in wait for a ZAFT submarine passing by Bridgeman Island. He gestured to the map as he spoke a tiny archipelago of islands resting just north of the Antarctic peninsula, with King George Island in the general center, and tiny Bridgeman Island floating between it and the farther-flung Elephant Island to the east. 典he Megami痴 doing a full burn to get there by tonight, Andy continued. 典omorrow we値l infiltrate the William McKinley while it makes anchor north of King George Island. He glanced over his shoulder. 溺eanwhile, our friend Athrun there will be waiting on Bridgeman Island with Mwu in the Akatsuki and Lunamaria in the Strike Rouge. The ZAFT submarine the McKinley was going to ambush is carrying one of ZAFT痴 new models Athrun is going to steal it while Mwu and Lunamaria provide cover.

Yzak and Dearka blinked, looking at each other and then Lunamaria.

展hen the hell did you find time to plan this all out? Dearka asked incredulously.

的知 a grown-up, Dearka, Andy shot back with a smirk. 的t痴 what I do.

Dearka rolled his eyes. 展ell then, dad, he answered, 塗ow exactly are we going to 訴nfiltrate this thing?

Andy sat back, still smirking. 展e値l leave that to our good friend Murdoch, he said. 滴e痴 got a new toy in the works. In the meantime, get your flight suits and some weapons, and then get some food and sleep. We池e moving out at 0400.

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PLANT airspace, Lagrange Point 5

As Gilbert痴 shuttle approached, he could not help but admire the great massive structure of Messiah, looming in the distance. It was an almost alien structure, massive and elegant a dark, gray asteroid with three towers at the top and a single long spire stretching down off the bottom. It was studded with artificial constructs, and surrounded by three massive rings that housed the mobile fortress痴 intricate beam shield system. But the main weapon, the construct that drew even Gilbert痴 attention, was the massive metallic dish built into the asteroid痴 surface the NEO-GENESIS system. The secret weapon that the Alliance would never see coming when they inevitably tried to land the deathblow.

He sat back, smiling in spite of himself. He had no real reason to be smiling, really. The Earth Alliance had destroyed ZAFT痴 last terrestrial stronghold, and the temporary staging area in the Falkland Islands would likely not survive the inevitable Alliance assault. The most valuable of the Destiny Mobile Weapon Gundams, the Destiny itself, had been stolen by the boy, the mere boy, for whom it been built. He had destroyed Rau痴 little pet and the Freedom Gundam he had wiped out the Alliance痴 Destroy Gundam. The Alliance was mustering fleets in space at its Daedalus Crater lunar base, for what could only be a final assault on the PLANT homeland. And there were other things going on there, things that ZAFT痴 intelligence network could not quite ascertain something was being built at Daedalus Crater, and there was a strange structure already built and hidden at the Daedalus Crater base. And then there was the Alliance痴 recent interest in a number of abandoned colony wrecks at Lagrange Point 2, and the secretive work they had been doing there that ZAFT still could not decipher. But now there were four segments of destroyed O誰eill-type colonies marshaled at L2.

Of course, that wasn稚 all of too much concernbecause it was now a matter of hours until Solomon痴 Sword was complete. It had yet to be truly tested, of course the initial internal tests indicated that it would be able to fire, but they wouldn稚 know for certain until they actually fired it. But that was out of the question. The Alliance could not yet have any inkling that ZAFT even had this weapon in its hands, much less any idea of how powerful it was.

Gilbert noted with interest as a Nazca-class loomed up ahead with the growing ZAFT fleet, equipped with the distinctive equipment of the Neutron Stampeder. He sat back, his smile fading.

Solomon痴 Sword was indeed powerful, as he had predictedbut it was not enough. He had to stem the tide of the Earth Alliance and weaken it if he destroyed the Earth now, the Alliance fleet in space would come crashing down with all the ferocity of a man with nothing to lose. He had to weaken them first, turn them on each otherand then strike at only the opportune moment.

He glanced at his laptop. An idea struck him, and with a smile, he picked it up, opened a word processor, and set to work.

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Atlantic Federation battleship Girty Lue, Earth orbit

Sting stared out the observation deck windows, down at the Earth below. So much had happened, so many people had died there. Stella was probably still down there. The Gaia had fled with that new unit that had come out of the Minerva the Alliance guessed that it had been stolen. But it had taken down the Destroy Gundam almost effortlessly.

He had a feeling that it was Shinn who was piloting that thing.

Sting looked out towards Antarctica. Lee had told him their purpose for leaving for space already they were going to rendezvous with an Alliance Marseille III-class transport carrying a new weapon. Once that new weapon was secured, the Girty Lue and a force of Windams being brought aboard the transport would join the Girty Lue痴 mobile suits and an Alliance patrol group in ambushing the Orb Raiders as they made their way to space. Neo had said that they were a dangerous unknown, and it was better to remove them before they caused any problems.

Of course, that was what Neo had said.
Sting glanced to the side at the sound of the door opening, and found Auel drifting through, looking annoyed. He made his way up to Sting, still looking unsure of his footing.

溺an, zero gravity sucks, he grumbled. 的 miss being able to, like, walk around. He rubbed his shoulder painfully. 鄭nd that hour of physical training every day really sucks.

的f we didn稚 do it, our muscles would atrophy, Sting explained.

典hat doesn稚 stop it from sucking ass, Auel shot back.

釘eing too weak to move when you池e on Earth or a colony would suck even more, Sting pointed out. Auel sighed in annoyance and steadied himself on the railing, glancing down at the Earth.

鉄o the war痴 gonna be over soon, huh? he asked, glancing at Sting. He nodded dourly.

典hat痴 what the captain said, he added. He looked at Auel. 展hy?

的 wanted to know what we were going to do, Auel said. 鄭fter the war

套they値l send us back to the lab, Sting finished. He glared down at the Earth. 釘ut we池e not going back.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, South Shetland Islands, Southern Ocean

Night was beginning to fall, but that was not stopping Athrun Zala as he worked on furiously on the battle plan. He had before him a massive schematic of a standard Vosgulov-class submarine, deck by deck, trying to figure out the best way to get in and get to the hangar, where the new model was being kept. He had to have that machine that machine meant power, power to do something in the world. He could not sit idly by and watch as the country Cagalli died for was destroyed anew by the two warring sides.

He didn稚 look up at the sound of the door to his room opening. Lunamaria stepped in quietly, looking over his shoulder at the screen uncomfortably for a moment.

展hat is it? Athrun asked, not turning to face her. Luna blinked in surprise.

的 waswondering if it痴 really okay for me to pilot the Strike Rouge, she said.

Athrun stiffened for a moment. 添our ZAKU can稚 fly, he said, 殿nd the Akatsuki alone cannot provide cover while I steal the new ZAFT model. We don奏 want to weaken the Murasame force protecting the Megami. The Strike Rouge is usable, so it壮 yours to pilot.

釘ut it was Cagalli痴, Luna added. 鄭re you sure you want me to pilot it?

Athrun was silent. Luna took a cautious step towards him, unsure of whether she had upset him.

鼎agalli, Athrun began slowly, his eyes closed, 努ould tell you to use it.

Luna blinked in surprise. At last, Athrun looked up at her.

鼎agalli would not want it to go to waste, he said, although Luna could easily see that he was trying to restrain himself. 鼎agalli wouldwant you to help us.

Luna looked down at him sadly as he turned back towards the blueprint of the Vosgulov.

的値l bring it back in one piece, she offered. 的 promise. Iknow it must be important.

的t痴 only a mobile suit, Athrun said neutrally. 的t doesn稚 mean anything compared to the pilot.

He gazed silently at the Vosgulov schematics. Luna watched him for a moment. She opened her mouth to speak, but could not think of anything meaningful to say, and so walked away sadly.

Athrun said nothing.

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ZAFT Eternal-class cruiser Deliverance, Southern Ocean

One hand was flesh, but the other was metal. As Kira痴 eyes, mismatched themselves, traveled up his new arm, he continually compared the right arm to the left. There were muscles and tendons on the left, but on the right, there was just a cold metal cylinder with a thick red cable running up from the wrist to the elbow joint. It was the same on the upper arm, running up to a curved piece of metal covering the shoulder joint.

He looked at his legs, similarly mismatched. He looked in the surgery suite痴 mirror again his face did not match. He stared back at his eyes, one a usual pool of violet, the other a red field with a single black line to serve as his pupil. He reluctantly closed his right eye, peering only through the artificial left eye, but found no difference. He looked over himself covered in scars, with a long, hideous one over his left eye, and a shorter, tighter scar on his right cheek. There were bandages and scars all over his remaining arm, his chest, his legs

Athrun had done this to him.

He clenched his metal fist, staring down at it. There was no feeling it was as if there was really no arm there. But he could still move it all the same. He wondered what piloting a mobile suit would be like. Athrun could not have robbed him of his power. He was going to use his strength to change the world and make it right, to make Fllay痴 death mean something. Athrun would not take that away from him.

Kira got to his feet unsteadily, struggling to stay balanced. He could not feel a left leg beneath him, but two legs supported him nonetheless. He struggled into his uniform, settling for draping his shirt over his shoulders, and stepped out determinedly and slowly forward. Walking could be done, he decided, but it would never feel natural again.

He made his way out of the infirmary, walking slowly and steadily towards the hangar. He had heard about a new model being kept on this ship he had to see it.

The crewmembers in the Deliverance痴 hallways parted, watching him in disbelief as he marched towards the hangar. He ignored them they didn稚 matter. He came to the hangar at last, stepping resolutely through the locker room, and into the mobile suit hangar itself.

Towering in the hangar brace once occupied by his old Freedom Gundam was a new machine. It looked similar to the Freedom, but it had a different set of wings on its back; it had two beam rifles instead of the Freedom痴 usual beam rifle and shield; it had some kind of beam cannon installed in its stomach.

展hat are you doing out here? a familiar voice asked. Kira turned slowly, finding Valentine walking towards him in surprise. 添ou池e supposed to be resting.

Kira looked up at the new machine. 的s thatmine?

Valentine followed his gaze up at the face of the new Gundam. 添es, she answered. 典he -X20A Strike Freedom. It痴 your new machine to replace the Freedom.

Kira痴 remaining eye darkened in rage as he remembered his defeat. 鄭thrun he murmured. 泥id Ikill him too?

展e found the Justice痴 wreckage, Valentine said carefully. 的t looks like he probably was killed, but that痴 no reason to assume.

Kira scowled. 的f he survived, he said quietly, 鍍henI will kill him.

Valentine smiled. 添es, she agreed, 土ou will.

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January 3rd, CE 74 - King George Island, South Shetland Islands, Southern Ocean

The Underwater Recon Sled, as Murdoch proudly called it, was little more than a six-meter modified torpedo with the ordnance removed. A large metal dome had been mounted on the tip, with a crude piloting station set into the hull. A number of handgrips surrounded the hull near the dome. It had taken probably about ten hours to build, and yet it was only going to ram its way into a weakly-armored hatch and allow its three occupants to pour into the opening before it could be closed.

As a handful of mechanics moved the thing out into the shallows, Andy, Yzak, and Dearka, dressed in their pilot suits and flak jackets, toting several firearms each, all covered in plastic wrapping to keep the water out, stood off to the side, waiting. The Megami had activated its Mirage Colloid and was lying in wait in case anything went wrong during the attack on the William McKinley. However, with a roar, the Akatsuki and the Aile Strike Rouge went streaking off out of the range of the Mirage Colloid, flashing into existence overhead and taking off for tiny Bridgeman Island several dozen kilometers to the east. Andy watched them go with a thin smile; they, on the other hand, were on their own.

添zak, Dearka, he said, turning to face them. 鏑et痴 go.

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To be continued