Phase 44 - Rushing Towards Destiny

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY

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Phase 44 - Rushing Towards Destiny

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January 9th, CE 74 - ZAFT Eternal-class cruiser Deliverance, Earth orbit

的t is indeed ironic, Rau said with a chuckle, sitting back in his office aboard the Deliverance, 鍍hat the little soldier you cultivated from scratch should at last join the forces of the little girl that threatens us all.

Sitting in his chair in his own office on Messiah, Gilbert Dullindal scowled in annoyance.

展e must not take anymore chances, Gilbert said resolutely. 典he Orb Raiders must be destroyed.

徹f course they must, Rau replied, smiling knowingly. 釘ut why try to destroy them yourself? In good time, they will bring themselves to their own destruction. The end of the world is an unstoppable force, but the Orb Raiders are not an unmovable object.

展ell, we do not have the time to wait for that, Gilbert said dismissively. 的 am sending you, along with the Absolution, the Constantinople, and the Babylon to join the Minerva and destroy the Orb Raiders. Talia will be in charge.

Rau sat back, still smiling. 鉄o many FAITH units, he noted. 添ou certainly aren稚 taking chances.

泥estroy them at all costs, Gilbert said pointedly. 的 will not stand for Shinn Asuka running loose any longer.

The screen went dark, and Rau chuckled again.

的f you were trying to keep Shinn from becoming too powerful to control, he said, 妬t痴 a little too late now. He looked up. 的 look forward to meeting you again, Shinn Asuka.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Earth orbit

The pilots had gathered on the bridge, hanging near the back, watching with the bridge crew as the images scrolled by on the main screen.

Shinn Asuka looked around the bridge uneasily, noting the ubiquitous Orb uniforms. He looked down at himself, still clad in the black shirt and blue jeans that Kika had given him a lifetime ago. They were supposed to keep him from standing out, she had said. He looked around and shook his head, looking back up at the screen.

The Earth Alliance was marshaling its 3rd Combined Space Fleet, a gargantuan armada; nearly eight hundred ships were coming together at the Atlantic Federation痴 Daedalus Crater lunar base, forming a force that ZAFT, in its weakened and demoralized state, could not possibly resist.

The screen went dark, and all eyes turned to the stoic figure of Lacus Clyne, seated in her typical chair.

典he Alliance is controlled by Blue Cosmos, she said thoughtfully, 殿nd we already know what Blue Cosmos痴 goal is. It is clear that the Alliance intends to end the conflict between Naturals and Coordinators once and for all. She paused meaningfully. 釘ut we do not know ZAFT痴 intention. What Chairman Dullindal plans to do could make this a fight for survival or the brink of Armageddon.

鉄o we池e going to find out what Dullindal痴 up to, and if necessary, intervene in the conflict and try to keep everyone from destroying the world, Mwu said, crossing his arms. Lacus nodded grimly.

徹ur presence and intervention is once again necessary, she said.

Shinn scowled. 的 sure hope it goes better this time, he growled.

The bridge痴 attention shifted to him, but before anyone else could say anything, Lacus smiled disarmingly.

典his time, she said, 努e have learned from our mistakes and learned what it is we must do in this war. She sat back. 展e cannot change the way people feel about each other. Only they can change that. But as long as we have power, we can still use it, and it is our responsibility to use it to pull apart these two warring sides before they can destroy the world that both are fighting for.

Shinn shook his head again. Lacus looked down at Murrue.

展e need supplies before we can do anything, Murrue put in. 撤articularly if we池e going to be doing a lot more fighting.

的 will contact the Junk Guild, Lacus answered. 典hey have helped us before in the past. Once we have replenished our supplies, we can begin trying to uncover Chairman Dullindal痴 true intentions in this war.

Lacus cast a knowing glance at Shinn; he stared back somberly and then looked away.

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Atlantic Federation battleship Girty Lue, Daedalus Crater base, the Moon

The Girty Lue shuddered as it entered the dock, and Lee sat back tiredly as the docking tubes attached themselves to his ship. Neo was in his office Lee was grateful to be away from the Phantom Pain痴 ominous presence.

的nform the Colonel that we have docked, he said. As one of the crew scurried off to carry out his order, Lee looked around the battleship dock. By his count, there were a dozen of the Izumo-class battleships belonging to the Orb Space Fleet here. He wondered vaguely what they were doing here.

There was a deep rumbling, and one of the massive doors at the end of the dock ponderously ground its way open. A swarm of worker machines began hauling crates through the opened door Lee looked up past them and blinked in disbelief.

In a hangar across from the battleship dock, Lee could see the towering forms of five Destroy Gundams.

典here痴five Destroys? the helmsman murmured in disbelief.

Lee looked on solemnly at the five behemoths.

典his battle, he said quietly, 努ill be the final judgment.

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ZAFT battleship Minerva, Earth orbit

Shiho found Aoma in the observation deck, floating silently before the panorama of the stars, staring out into the depths of space.

迭uumari was with me, the last time I was here, she said quietly.

Shiho closed the door behind her. 典his is war, she began uneasily. 鄭nyone can die.

Aoma closed her eyes, drifting away and catching herself on the rail with her foot. 滴is parents must know by now, she went on, 鍍hat I couldn稚 protect him.

Shiho pulled Aoma down closer, glaring. 泥on稚 start talking like that. You did all that you could. Shinn simply outclassed you both.

滴e died on my sword! Aoma cried, whirling around, tears in her eyes. 的 tried to take down the Force Impulse, it cut off my machine痴 arm and took my sword, and it killed Ruumari with my own weapon! She looked angrily back at the stars. 典hat痴 why I want to destroy him! I have to destroy him! He She trailed off, squeezing her eyes shut. 滴etook my friend from me

典hat痴 what happens in war, Shiho said, taking Aoma by the shoulders. 典hat痴 why it痴 a terrible thing.

鄭m I supposed to just write it off, then?! Aoma protested, eyes flashing.

添ou池e supposed to learn from it, Shiho answered crossly. 迭uumari was going insane with his obsession. It was a release for him to die. If he壇 lived, he would have just been consumed with hatred, and either way you would have lost your friend.

Aoma wrenched herself out of Shiho痴 grip. 的 was going to save him! she cried. 的 was going to bring him back to his senses! I don稚 know how, but I was the only person he had to rely on! I would致e brought him back!

Shiho regarded the angry, broken girl for a moment. Her friend had been killed, taken away by a faceless specter that was her enemy

It sounded familiar.

滴is death was unfortunate, Shiho said carefully. 釘ut the ultimate way to honor his death is to survive this war. Aoma looked up at Shiho in surprise. 添ou carry your memories of him, memories of him long before either of you joined ZAFT or were assigned to this ship. You knew him, and you carry that with you. If you truly want to honor his death, survive, so that in some way, he can too.

鼎-Commander Aoma began.

Shiho looked out somberly at the stars. 典his war has killed so many people already, she said. 的t does not need to kill anymore.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Earth orbit

鉄hinn is mad again, Stella observed, floating near the window of the Megami痴 crew lounge. Shinn glanced across the room at her, looking up from a stack of papers from the Destiny Gundam.

鄭m I? he asked absently, looking away again.

鉄tella doesn稚 like it when Shinn is mad, Stella added quietly. 鉄hinn is scary when he痴 mad.

的 don稚 mean to be, he said quietly.

Stella glanced back at him for a moment. 典hey池e nice here, she said quietly. 典hey池e our friends. She paused. 鉄tella doesn稚 want Shinn痴 friends to get hurt.

Shinn looked up at her, blinking. 添ou were protecting Luna, he said.

鏑una is Shinn痴 friend, Stella replied. She paused again. 鉄tella likes Luna too

Shinn regarded Stella carefully for a moment. 的 don稚 like what they池e doing, he said at last. 典hey want to try to stop the war. But they tried to do it during the last war and they didn稚 do anything.

Stella slowly glanced over at him. 套but they want to stop the war, she said. 鄭nd wars are scarydoesn稚 Shinn want to stop the war?

Shinn looked out the window himself, staring ruefully at the stars. 的 want the war to end, he said, 澱ut I don稚 think one person can make it end.

Blankly, Stella gazed out at the stars herself, following Shinn痴 line of sight. 鉄tella wants the war to end, she murmured, 套so she doesn稚 have to go backto the lab

Shinn turned toward her sharply. 添ou値l never have to go back, he said resolutely; she turned her eyes towards him in surprise. 的 promise you. I値l make sure you never have to go back to that He paused, shaking his head. 典hat place.

Stella smiled and threw her arms around Shinn; he blinked in surprise, stumbling backward. 鉄tella doesn稚 wanna go back, she said. 鉄tella wants to stay with Shinn.

Smiling himself, Shinn hugged her back. 哲o matter what happens, he answered, 努e値l always have each other.

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ZAFT Eternal-class cruiser Deliverance, Earth orbit

Kira gazed out silently at the dark specter of space. Somewhere out there were the Orb Raiders. They were still alive. Lacus was still alive. They would have to be destroyed. They were going to get in the way of the final plan their eyes were blind; they would stumble forward and destroy everything again, as they always did, unless he stopped them.

He moved his arm forward to steady himself on the guardrail on the Deliverance痴 observation deck. He looked down at the skeletal metal hand jutting out from his ZAFT uniform; he narrowed his remaining eye at the sound of the servos underneath.

展e値l be attacking in a couple of days, he heard Valentine痴 voice say. He spun around in surprise, finding her drifting towards him from the door of the observation deck. 添ou値l get to fight them soon. And this time you値l finish them off.

Kira looked away at the stars, squeezing his eye shut in shame. 徹f course, he said quietly. He glanced back at her. 釘utwhat about Shinn?

Valentine arched an inquisitive eyebrow, coming to a rest against the railing next to him. 展hat about him? she asked.

展ill he be in our way too? he went on, looking back down at his mechanical hand.

滴e痴 joined the Orb Raiders, Valentine answered, dubiously looking out at space. 釘ut we値l worry about him. You have to fight the people from your past. It痴 the only way you値l ever be free.

的 know, Kira murmured, looking back at her. 鄭ndafter that, we値l use the Sword?

Valentine was silent a moment. 笛ust follow my instructions, she said at last. 的 still need youto protect me.

的 understand, said Kira, his eye turning back to the stars.

With a smile, Valentine put her arms around him. 的t will all be over soon, she said, 殿nd the world will finally be set right.

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January 10th, CE 74 - Atlantic Federation Daedalus Crater base, the Moon

Three columns of pilots marched by, in black and white Earth Alliance flight suits, their footsteps echoing sharply down the corridors. Sting and Auel blinked in surprise, skirting aside and dutifully saluting as a black-uniformed officer led the pilots down the hall, towards one of the base痴 countless mobile suit hangars.

展hat are they? Auel murmured, glancing at Sting.

Sting narrowed his eyes at them the young faces, the soulless eyes, the blank expressions, all of them marching in perfect sync behind a stoic, steely-eyed major. They rounded a corner, slowly filing past and out of sight.

典hey池e like us, Sting said, narrowing his eyes at them. 典hey池e Extended.

All of them? Auel repeated, eyes widening in disbelief. 釘ut I thought there were only a couple dozen of us!

典hey致e been busy, growled Sting. 鼎知on, let痴 go. He took off after the troop of Extended, glancing anxiously around the corner.

展hy would they want so many here? Auel asked.

Sting glanced at Auel over his shoulder and proceeded down the hallway, towards a set of double doors near the hallway痴 end. 添ou remember when we went back to Lodonia, and Stella got captured?

Auel痴 eyes darkened in anger. 添eah.

典hey moved all the operations at Lodonia up to Althea Crater, Sting went on. 鉄o I guess those guys are here for those five Destroys.

釘ut there were more than five of them, Auel countered. 展hat would they be doing with the others?

The doors slid open with a hiss, and Sting stepped into the hangar, narrowing his eyes in anger. Auel looked up, blinking in confusion.

典hat, Sting said flatly.

Towering above them along the side of the hangar were twelve Windams, all outfitted with the distinctive orange and white shape of a Gunbarrel Striker pack.

的 thought Extended couldn稚 use those, Auel protested.

的 guess they can now, Sting answered quietly, crossing his arms. 徹ur plan just got a little more complicated.

展hat? Says who?

Sting痴 eyes darkened, frustrated. 典hey probably have all these mobile armors and crap here to defend the Requiem, he said. 纏AFT痴 gonna attack. They池e gonna gun for the Requiem. And I would guess that these guys are there to protect it.

Auel scowled up at the Gunbarrel Windams. 典hen we値l have to go through them too, he growled.

鼎ome on, Sting said, glancing at Auel. 鏑et痴 get back to the ship. We have work to do.

Auel smirked and followed Sting out.

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Orb Raiders dreadnaught Megami, Earth orbit

The ReHOME hummed with activity, the salvaging arms ponderously transferring crates into the Megami痴 open hangar, as Murasames and a handful of worker pods and mobile suits scurried between the two docked warships. Inside the Destiny, Shinn sat back and sighed quietly, as his machine set down another stack of crates filled with missiles. It was better to be doing this, he told himself, than to be sitting around brooding. He turned around, making for the open catapult, to hop back out into space and head back to the ReHOME for another load. As he cleared the Megami痴 hull, he glanced to his right the Gundam Astray Red Frame glanced back at him, delivering two armfuls of weapons to the hangar.

鉄hinn! he heard an excited voice shout. A moment later, the Red Frame came back out the Megami痴 starboard catapult, rushing towards the Destiny and attaching a link wire to the Destiny痴 shoulder. The grinning face of Lowe Gear appeared on Shinn痴 monitor. 鉄hinn! Holy crap, you池e alive!

Shinn blinked in confusion. 鄭m I not supposed to be? he asked, arching an eyebrow.

的 heard you were involved in those two crazy battles on Earth, Lowe went on. 溺an, I知 surprised you made it out! He paused. 釘ut, wait, what about the Mad Typhoon Gang?

Shinn痴 eyes darkened, as he glanced away. Lowe blinked in disbelief.

What?! he exclaimed. 泥id they

鄭ll of them, Shinn said quietly.

Lowe stared at him for a moment, crestfallen. 展ow, he said at last, 的知 sorry, manI dunno what to say. Shinn shook his head. 展ellumwhat happened to the Impulse?

鉄hot down at Antarctica, Shinn answered, glancing back at Lowe.

鄭nd, uh, how壇 you get this thing? Lowe went on, the Red Frame pointing at the Destiny.

Shinn glanced down at the Destiny痴 controls. 的 stole it from the Minerva, he said with a shrug.

擢rom the Minerva?! Lowe exclaimed. 泥uring the battle?! Shinn nodded, still confused. 徹h my God, man, you are insane!

A widely grinning face popped up over Lowe痴 image; Shinn blinked again. 滴e痴 not insane, Lowe! the man said, pointing skyward melodramatically. 滴e痴 living up to his potential!

展hat the Shinn began. 展ho is this?

徹h, that痴 George, Lowe said with a shrug.

哲ot just George! the man interrupted. 的 am the one, the only, the first Coordinator, George Glenn! Fireworks went off in the background, his uniform coat fluttering dramatically in the wind.

Shinn blinked in disbelief. 添ou池e what?!

添eah, Lowe went on, scratching his head awkwardly. 摘h, it wouldn稚 hurt to tell ya, I guess. We致e got this thing called the GG unit

添ou talk of me as if I知 a mere machine, Lowe! Glenn protested. 的 thought we were friends!

展e are! Lowe grunted. 釘utwell, anyway, he痴 not the real George Glenn, he痴 just a hologram.

鄭 hologram of the real George Glenn, Glenn put in.

滴is brain痴 floating around in a jar inside the ReHOME, Lowe added. 鄭nyway, don稚 let him scare ya.

Shinn stared at them both blinkingly.

鄭nd, uh, what the hell痴 the point of having George Glenn痴 brain floating around your ship? he ventured. Lowe blinked in surprise, while Glenn swiftly adopted an offended air.

的 serve as this ship痴 captain, heart, soul, spirit, guide, and friend! George cried, offense vanishing in favor of a beaming grin.

鉄o you池e really George Glenn, Shinn said, arching a dubious eyebrow at the grinning first Coordinator.

摘ither that or he痴 a holographic goof-off, Lowe said, as the Red Frame shrugged its shoulders.

鉄top goofing around, Lowe! a tinny voice put in angrily. 展e have work to do!

徹h for Pete痴 sake, chill out, Eight, Lowe grumbled. He looked up at Shinn. 展ell, I have to work, so don稚 let George scare you too much.

的 am not scary! Glenn protested.

添ou are an apparition, Eight put in.

The Red Frame disconnected its wire and moved back towards the ReHOME; Shinn glanced at his screen, noting wryly that George Glenn was still grinning widely at him.

填m, if you really are George Glenn Shinn began.

am George Glenn, Glen insisted. 展hy doesn稚 anyone believe me?

套well, anyway, Shinn went on, deciding not to touch that comment, 土ou said the Coordinators were supposed to bridge the gap between normal humans and the people of the future?

的ndeed I did.

Shinn痴 visage darkened. 鉄ome people call those humans Newtypes, he added.

撤eople come up with lots of names for things, Glenn said with a shrug. 的 could've called them Oompa-Loompas if I really wanted to. But the Coordinators are supposed to help people bridge gaps in understanding. That is what I believe the people of the future will be able to do.

典hen they aren稚 some super-soldier who can change the world? Shinn asked.

哲ot one of them, no, Glenn answered. 鄭nyone can be a Coordinator, or a Newtype, or whatever you壇 like to call it. All you need is the will and the power to help people, to understand them. There痴 no need for some all-reaching philosophy or plan. He smiled helpfully. 鉄ince I was awoken, I致e met many people, both Coordinators and Naturals. But only a few of them have lived up to what Coordinators are supposed to be. Shinn Asuka, you are one of those people.

溺-Me? Shinn exclaimed, blinking again. 釘utbut I知 a soldier. I fight in wars just like everyone else. How am I helping anyone or understanding anyone?

展hat will have you tried to impose on anyone? Glenn countered, smiling broadly. 添ou have true powers of understanding; you have what people of the future will all have someday. Whether or not you choose to accept this power of understanding is another story, but nevertheless, you are the kind of person the Coordinators should have been.

的 still kill people, Shinn said. 的 still fight in this war. I may not be trying to change the world, but I知 still fighting in it. How am I any better than anyone else?

Glenn smiled again. 的知 glad you have so much power, Shinn, he said. 鉄omeday, people will understand your gifts. Until then, you must protect them from those who don稚. Would you allow everyone to be destroyed by this war?

徹f course not.

典hen don稚.
Shinn blinked at the simplicity of it. He looked away. 摘veryone痴 been telling me that if I keep fighting and suffering, someday it will all create some new world where I won稚 have to fight anymore. He looked back at Glenn bitterly. 鄭nd now you池e telling me that too.

哲o, Glenn said, shaking his head, 的知 telling you to be who you are. Don稚 lose your kind and loving heart. Don稚 let this war destroy it. Remain who you are, and protect what痴 important to you. Never lose your kindness and your power to understand, and someday, the world will understand too.

Shinn turned that over in his mind for a moment, and smiled. 的 can do that, he said at last.

Glenn smiled back. 摘verybody can.

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The tapping of keys came to a halt as Lunamaria gingerly entered the crew lounge, finding Athrun Zala at the terminal, schematics of the Infinite Justice arrayed before him.

典hey池e almost done with the supplies, Luna said quietly, slowly approaching Athrun. 展e池e going to leave soon.

展e池e going to the PLANTs, Athrun finished tonelessly. 的f you want to leave, that would be the best time to do it.

Luna frowned. 的知 not going to leave.

Athrun looked up at her, surprised. 展hy not?

鄭s far as ZAFT is concerned, I知 dead, Luna said. She looked up at the screen, staring almost resentfully at it. 溺eyrin and my family have probably already shed all their tears for it. How can I just pop back into their lives after all that pain?

的t would be better than not having you, Athrun said. Luna shrugged.

鄭s long as the war痴 on, I壇 probably get dragged back onto the battlefield anyway. She looked towards Athrun, smiling. 鄭nd I壇 rather be on the side where I can do something to make it all come to an end.

Athrun looked back at the screen. 典his time it痴 different, he said. 典hey ignored us last time and couldn稚 stop us from taking out their superweapons and stopping them before they could destroy everything. This time they値l be expecting us.

的t痴 better than doing nothing, Luna insisted.

Athrun brought up a different image on the screen; Luna blinked in surprise at what looked like the schematics of a new Striker pack.

典his is for you, Athrun said. 典he Junk Guild said that they値l look for one. It痴 the Integrated Weapons Striker Pack it combines all of the Strike痴 various Striker packs into one unit, and it has increased performance. It will help you on the battlefield.

的知 not that bad a pilot, Luna protested awkwardly.

Athrun narrowed his eyes. 的t doesn稚 matter how good you are, he said. 典he Strike Rouge is outdated. Your equipment needs to be upgraded, or else He trailed off, shaking his head. 添ou shouldn稚 have to die like Cagalli did.

鄭thrun

的 couldn稚 protect her, and I couldn稚 take down Kirabut I知 not useless yet. He went back to the Infinite Justice痴 schematics. He paused and looked back up at Luna. 笛ust promise me that you値l be careful.

Luna blinked in surprise. 的-I will, she said.

Athrun痴 eyes darkened, as he looked away. 的致e watched too many of my friends die already, he said.

Luna smiled back. 泥on稚 worry, she said. 的 won稚 die on you too.

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January 11th, CE 74 - ZAFT battleship Minerva, Earth orbit

展orking together again, I see, Rau Le Creuset痴 ever-amused voice chuckled through the speakers, as his smiling masked face stared down onto the Minerva痴 bridge from the screen. 鄭h, but this time we池e after bigger game.

展here are the other ships? Talia asked, narrowing her eyes at Rau. She glanced to the Minerva痴 starboard wing, where the aquamarine Absolution was lazily cruising next to the Minerva they were still two vessels short.

典he Constantinople and the Babylon will be arriving shortly, Rau said with a grin, sitting back in his chair on the Deliverance. 的n the meantime, captain, enlighten me on our plan of attack. The Orb Raiders are no pushovers, after all.

的 will lay that out when the other ships arrive, Talia said crossly. 擢or now, fall into formation on the Minerva痴 port wing.

Rau chuckled wordlessly as the screen went dark. Talia glared up ahead at the bone-white Deliverance as it ponderously swung around. She was going to have to attack Shinn again to follow him and try to destroy the power he had taken for himself, to end this war.

She sat back, staring ahead resolutely. Shinn would just have to be strong.

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Rey sat back inside the Legend Gundam, as the operating system loaded its recalibrated settings, the result of his hours of work. He closed his eyes, reaching out and feeling the familiar presence of Rau Le Creuset. Something cold and white, something that would be with him. He felt Valentine, her dark, electric presence punching through him.

And he felt Kira Yamato.

Rey opened his eyes, glowering in the direction of Kira痴 presence. He was here, that twisted amalgam of science and sin. There was his power as well, to be seen in this battle against the Orb Raiders.

Rey frowned, turning the feeling over in his mind. It was unmistakably Kira Yamatobut it was different. There was something dark at its core, twisted and hateful. Kira had been disastrously defeated at Antarctica; the Freedom had been destroyed, and Kira himself had required reconstructive surgery of the most literal fashion. But now there was something dark under the feeling, a black mass of decay eating him away.

And of course, there was pressure.

Rey narrowed his eyes. So he had their gift too but it was no matter. This pressure was nil compared to the true Newtype that Rey would have to destroy.

His thoughts turned to Shinn. The mighty Newtype but what did that matter? He had lost his place in the world.

And yet he had been the one to defeat Kira. He was the one who could destroy Kira. The world was near its end already there was nothing anyone could do to stop it now. But there would be people who would try and so Kira was still necessary, to protect Solomon痴 Sword, until the very end. And yet Shinn had been the one to defeat Kira.

Rey scowled, returning to work. He would do what he was told that was all he could do.

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ZAFT mobile space fortress Messiah, Lagrange Point 5

Standing before the main window of his cavernous office, Gilbert stared ruefully at the stars. Somewhere out there, he reminded himself, his flotilla of FAITH units was gathering, to strike down the Orb Raiders before they could get in his way.

Lacus Clyne was out there, and she had to be destroyed. She was too inquisitive, too manipulative, too powerful. She had the will to step in and manipulate political events, and the military power to resist the armies sent to crush her time and time again. He fully expected to hear news of some horrible lossbut all that really mattered was that Lacus be delayed, long enough for ZAFT to move into position. After that, she didn稚 matter. This time, ZAFT would not make the same mistakes.

鼎hairman, a voice began. Gilbert glanced at his office痴 main screen Horatio痴 face appeared, and he dutifully saluted. 典he fleet has been gathered, sir. Our reinforcement fleet has been marshaled at Armory 1. We are awaiting your orders.

Gilbert glanced back, at the sinister shape of Solomon痴 Sword. Small machines began to spread around it in a complex polyhedral configuration the Mirage Colloid generators spread around the massive weapon to keep it hidden until the time was right to reveal it.

鄭ctivate the Sword痴 Mirage Colloid, he ordered. 鄭s for the fleet, stand by for my orders. We値l let the Alliance make the first move.

添es sir, Horatio answered, the screen going dark.

Gilbert returned to his desk, staring down at the computer screen and the speech on it.

One final act of eloquence and diplomacy, he told himself, before the guns sound for the last time.

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To be continued