Phase 12 - The God of Death

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TWILIGHT

Phase 12 - The God of Death

March 3rd, CE 77 - Poljarny Inlet Naval Installation, Russia

The titanic Destroy Gundam loomed above Poljarny in mobile armor mode, spewing firepower into the base and blowing away the Resistance forces. The survivors fired back desperately, but the multicolor wall of energy of a positron reflector deflected their shots harmlessly.

"That's a Destroy?!" Emily wailed helplessly. "It's huge!"

The Sword Strike charged, sword upraised Emily threw the Twilight back to avoid its sword stroke, racing back on the defensive.

Across the battlefield, Athrun Zala froze in disbelief at the specter of the Destroy. Yzak Jule's last words rang in his ears, the gut-wrenching feeling of Mwu La Fllaga vanishing in a puff of fire returned, that terrible day in CE 74 played itself out again in his mind

"Athrun!" Viveka's voice cut in. "What the hell are you doing?!"

"Shit, there's an Extended in there!" Shinn growled. The Destiny roared in along the ground, brandishing its anti-ship sword. "Get in close and take this thing down!"

"But there's an Extended in it!" Auel's voice protested from somewhere in the base. "You guys can't "

"There's no reasoning with an Extended in a Destroy," Sting's voice shot back. "The Destroy has an IV into the pilot that keeps them on a constant feed of psychoactive drugs. You pilot that thing, you'll go insane!"
"How many more of these damn things does the Alliance have!?" Shinn roared. "Stella, Athrun, anyone who's free, that thing's going for the city! Come on!"

Emily clenched her fists around the Twilight's controls as the Sword Strike brought its Schwert Gewehr down onto her beam shield with a crash. The Twilight went spiraling out of control towards the ground and, Emily noted with a sickening feeling, the city of Murmansk. A battle like this would demolish that city, and kill countless people didn't anyone care about that?

Inside the Strike, Kyali grinned as her enemy struggled to regain control. "Too late! You're mine!"

"I have to deal with this one first," Emily murmured, as the Strike Gundam charged. "Come on, Twilight!"

The Strike sent its Panzer Eisen rocket anchor streaking forward Emily blinked in surprise as the instinct rose through her, and with a flash, she brought her beam saber down through the anchor, ripping it in two.

"What the ?!" Kyali cried. "Damn you, that was a lucky shot!"

The Strike ejected its useless anchor and charged, brandishing its sword. Emily thrust her shield forward, tensing for the blow as the Strike brought its sword down and rattled the Twilight. She yanked the controls back to dodge the Strike's next punishing sword blow, sending the Twilight spiraling down towards Murmansk.

"We can't fight like this in the city!" Emily wailed. She whirled around, activating her long-range cannon and opening fire, but the Strike expertly dodged her shots. "Why are you making me fight here?!" She threw the Twilight back again to dodge another sword stroke. "You'll kill so many people...! Why are you fighting like this?!"

Kyali scowled down at her fleeing opponent. "And this guy is supposed to be a Gundam," she growled. "What kind of Gundam runs away!?"

"These Destroys...!" Athrun snarled, as the Infinite Justice darted across the sky, the Savior Gundam on its heels, towards the towering Destroy as it approached Murmansk. "These things should not exist!"

The Destroy leveled off its massive Aufprall Dreizhen cannons and opened fire, sending a wave of shimmering red beam blasts pounding across the battlefield. They smashed into Murmansk, and a cluster of buildings and dozens of lives vanished in a pillar of smoke.

"Dammit! They're attacking the city!" Shinn growled. "That Phantom Pain...they'll wipe out all of Murmansk if that thing goes any further!"

"What was Sting talking about with the drugs and all?" Viveka asked, as the Savior fell into formation next to the Justice, glancing over at the Destiny.

The Legend fell into formation on the Justice's other side. "The Destroy units are universally piloted by Extended," Rau explained, even now still wearing that tiny, amused smile. "They keep the pilots on a perpetual feed of psychoactive drugs to induce an artificial state of panic, impelling the pilot to shoot at anything and everything." He smiled eerily. "Which is why they call this unit the Destroy."

"If past experience is any indication, this thing will have units guarding its flanks," Shinn added, with no shortage of bitter glaring at Rau. "But where "

Another wave of red beams sliced out of the heavens, and the Minerva's Gundams broke formation to evade. Athrun looked up angrily towards the sky, where he found the flashing eyes of two Zamzazar mobile armors streaking into battle, beam cannons deployed.

"A Zamzazar team!" Shinn snapped. "Where were they hiding?!"

"Only machines protected by a positron reflector can survive guarding the Destroy's flanks," Rau chuckled. "Allow me to eliminate one of those units." The Legend took off towards one of the Zamzazars.

Athrun glanced over at Viveka. "Then we'll get the other one," he said. "Shinn, Stella, the Destroy is all yours."

"Roger," Shinn answered, as the Destiny and Gaia raced off after the gargantuan Destroy.

"So," Viveka said, as the Savior and Justice arced up towards the remaining Zamzazar unit, "this is the first time I've tangoed with one of these, uh, whatever Shinn called it. How do you beat one of these things?"

"By proving your earlier boasts true," Athrun answered. "Cover me!"

The Infinite Justice took off with a flash, igniting its beam boomerang blade. The Zamzazar lined up for another energy cannon blast the Justice somersaulted over the blasts, bring its beam blade to bear

Athrun cursed as the Zamzazar deployed its crusher claws, flashing to life with a cherry-red glow and stopping his beam blade cold.

"Viveka! Fire!"

The Savior lunged up over the Justice's head, pouring plasma cannon fire into the Zamzazar. It backed away as the shots landed helplessly against the Zamzazar's positron reflector, spewing back return fire and forcing the Savior on the defensive.

"What?! I can't get through!" Viveka exclaimed, as an errant beam shot pounded against her shield.

"You can't punch through the reflector with those weapons!" Athrun answered, charging through the Zamzazar's fire and deflecting shots with his beam shield. "You have to use beam sabers!"

The Savior somersaulted over the Zamzazar's volley of energy cannon blasts, firing again and finding its shots spoiled by the positron reflector. "Then how am I supposed to cover you?!"

Athrun narrowed his eyes, stabbing forward with his blade, only to see the Zamzazar block the blow with one of its claws. "It's human nature to avoid attacks," he growled. "Keep shooting at the thing and distract it! The crew is only human!"

The Legend Gundam danced almost effortlessly through the Zamzazar's furious claw swipes. The Zamzazar brought its right claw down with a crash Rau ducked aside with a smile. The Zamzazar swiped horizontally with its left claw Rau gracefully backflipped over the claw and pummeled the Zamzazar with a beam cannon volley.

"The reflector is as effective as ever, I see," he chuckled, "but I would be remiss if I allowed you to cause any destruction!"

The Zamzazar responded with a full volley of energy cannon blasts, slamming them against the Legend's beam shield and throwing Rau back.

"Well played!" he cackled, as the Zamzazar followed up with a beam cannon barrage. "You may just yet provide some fun!"

The Legend somersaulted over the Zamzazar as it charged with a devastating twin claw swipe Rau poured another beam volley into the Zamzazar's rear, but the positron reflector stopped his shots cold.

Rau grinned as the Zamzazar edged away, towards the Destroy he fired another beam volley into the Zamzazar's path, and it went back on the defensive with a return barrage of its own.

"Far be it from me to work with my enemies," he laughed, "but I'm afraid I can't let you do that!"

"You remember how to fight a Destroy?" Shinn asked, as the Destiny and Gaia cruised between the low-lying buildings of Murmansk, towards the Destroy as it cut a swath of destruction across the city.

"It's not scary," Stella insisted. "Just a really big bad guy..."

Shinn smiled bitterly. "That's one way of looking at it. Be careful, Stella."

Stella smiled back, and even in the midst of battle, she found a way to look sweet. "Stella's not scared," she said, "because Shinn is here."

The Destiny and Gaia burst into the Destroy's view, and Shinn charged with a scream, the seed bursting before his eyes and the Destiny's beam wings flashing to life. The Destroy answered with a volley of missiles Shinn scowled as the familiar white bolt split the air. The Destiny waved its free left hand dramatically, and the missiles veered up and slammed instead into the Destroy.

"Stella, go!" Shinn shouted, as the Destroy attacked with a beam cannon volley. The Gaia slithered in between the shots, drawing a beam saber but an instant later, the Destroy angled its wealth of beam cannons down towards the Gaia, pounding into Stella's shield and forcing her back.

"Shinn!" Stella cried the Destiny charged with a scream, brandishing its anti-ship sword. Shinn's eyes widened he threw the Destiny into a nosedive as the Destroy turned its firepower back on him.

"This fire is more controlled," he grunted, pulling up and making a beeline towards the Destroy's exposed legs. It showered the Destiny with beam fire, and Shinn took off, clawing for distance and leaving behind a cloud of afterimages. "This isn't usual for a Destroy...!"

"It's better!" Stella exclaimed, as the Gaia landed in the street with a crunch, pummeled by beam blasts to its shield.

The Destroy leveled off its Aufprall Dreizhen cannons and fired again, wiping out another cluster of buildings. Shinn winced as the lives disappeared from his consciousness all these things could do was kill.

"I don't wanna do this," he growled, "but if you're not gonna leave me any choice..."

The Destiny took off again, slaloming through beam shots and brandishing its sword only to find the Destroy adjusting its fire to hold off both the Destiny and the Gaia.

"It's shooting at both of us!" Stella cried. "Shinn!"

"They must be training these pilots better," Shinn grunted. "But that doesn't mean they can win!" He glanced sharply over at Stella. "Stella, do you remember Attack Pattern Theta?!"

Stella nodded enthusiastically, even as the Gaia was thrown back by a beam cannon volley.

Shinn flashed a feral grin. "Then let's do it!"

Emily grimaced in pain as the Sword Strike Gundam smashed its Schwert Gewehr through a nearby skyscraper and snuffed out dozens of lives. It came charging towards her, sword upraised a moment later, Emily stabbed forward with her saber, stopping the Strike's finishing blow.

"Why do you have to kill people like this...?" she murmured, ducking as the Strike took another wild sword swipe that sawed another building in two. "What's the point of killing like this!?"

Inside the Strike, Kyali sneered at her foe as it stood before her, beam saber in hand, looking almost afraid. "You're the one with the wings of light!" she snapped. "You're supposed to be the scary one!" She raised her sword up for a deathblow. "What's so scary about you now?!"

"Stop!" Emily screamed the Strike brought its sword down, but the Twilight surged forward, kicking the Strike's sword arm aside and ramming into the Strike with its shoulder, sending the white Gundam staggering back. Kyali opened fire with the CIWS to throw the Twilight off

With a bone-jarring crash, the Twilight slashed its beam saber down through the Strike's Schwert Gewehr, just below the hilt. Kyali blinked in disbelief as the beam blade vanished, and the solid blade dropped uselessly to the ground.

"My sword!" she exclaimed, eyes flashing with a crash, the Strike reared back and punched the Twilight across the face with its free left hand. "You bastard!" The Strike drew back, abandoning the useless handle and switching back to the beam rifle as Kyali keyed in a transmission. "Bonaparte, this is Kyali! Send me the Launcher Striker!"

"I got the sword..." Emily breathed, taking cover behind her beam shield as the Strike showered her in beam rifle blasts. "But you'll still keep killing people like this!"

Her eyes widened again as that horrible, distorted feeling of pressure rose in her. There was nobody else it could be coming from this time it had to be coming from the Strike. The pilot distortion was it an Extended?

The sky shook as a Skygrasper rocketed overhead, ejecting the Strike's olive-green Launcher Striker pack. The Strike rose up into the air with a blast of exhaust, hurling its beam boomerang down towards the Twilight as it ejected the last Sword Striker parts. Emily ducked aside as the boomerang tore down into the ground, but was too late to stop the Strike up ahead, and with a flash, the Launcher Strike Gundam fired its Agni cannon down into the ground. Emily threw the Twilight back as a thunderous blast erupted from the point of impact.

"Now it's got a giant cannon...!" Emily exclaimed. "What can't you do?!"

The Launcher Strike charged, showering the Twilight with fire from its anti-ship Vulcan gun. "We'll see how good you are against the Agni!" Kyali snapped. "Now hold still and die!"

"Sergeant!" the voice echoed through the Sword Calamity's cockpit. "Stop worrying about those Gundams and get after the Minerva!"

Inside the Sword Calamity, Gregory Hayden clenched his fists around the mobile suit's controls. "Captain, they're blocking the way," he protested. Up ahead, the Abyss Gundam charged, lance drawn back. "I'll go through you both!"

The Abyss brought its lance to bear Hayden blocked it with his left-hand anti-ship sword and swung his right sword in a deathblow towards the Abyss's waist. It landed against the Abyss's shoulder shell with a jarring crash, leaving the two Gundams locked together. Hayden blinked in surprise as the Chaos slipped in behind him, beam saber raised

The Sword Calamity threw itself back and backflipped over the Chaos. The Abyss jumped up over the Chaos, pounding the Sword Calamity with solid shell fire Hayden fired both of his rocket anchors towards the Abyss, but the Chaos lunged up from the ground to cut the anchors' lines with his beam saber, and the Abyss smacked the disconnected anchors aside with its shoulder shells.

"Dammit!" Hayden growled. "I'm running out of weapons here!"

The Chaos charged towards him, saber raised Hayden brought his left-hand sword to bear, but with a jarring smash, the Chaos kicked the sword from his hand. It brought its saber down, and only the Sword Calamity's right-hand sword stopped the Chaos's saber.

"Who are these guys?!" Hayden exclaimed. The Chaos surged forward, throwing the Sword Calamity back Hayden fired the thrusters to regain the initiative, stabbing forward with his remaining sword. The Chaos somersaulted over his head, and Hayden's eyes went wide as he found himself in the Abyss's sights.

The Sword Calamity rattled as the Abyss stopped Hayden's charge cold with its lance, and Hayden desperately backflipped over the Chaos's head as it rushed in from behind, sweeping its saber towards the Sword Calamity's legs.

"They're double-teaming me," he growled. "Bastards, you're not gonna win like that!"

Battleship Minerva, Poljarny Inlet Naval Installation

"The Destroy unit is attacking Murmansk," Pegodin said grimly, as the Minerva quaked under the artillery barrage of the Alliance fleet. "My ships are putting up a decent showing against the Alliance fleet; my mobile suits and armor are holding off the enemy so far. But we cannot allow the Destroy to continue rampaging through Murmansk."

"They must be trying to punish Murmansk for harboring Resistance members," Abbey said grimly. "Those bastards in the Phantom Pain are known for doing this." She glanced over at the captain's chair. "Captain, what are we going to do?"

Meyrin reached back painfully into the blood-soaked library of memory. This was not the first time the Phantom Pain had attacked a city with a Destroy Gundam, with the intent to punish civilians for not fearing the iron fist of Lord Djibril. And this was not the first time the Minerva had been there to stop them. "Admiral," she said, "don't send any of your own troops. They'll just get slaughtered."

Pegodin was crestfallen. "Captain, something must be done " he started.

"Leave the Destroy to Shinn," Meyrin finished, silencing Pegodin in mid-speech. "You have your own problems to worry about, and Shinn is skilled enough to bring that thing down. You said yourself that some people here worship him like a god this is where he gives them reason to believe."

Pegodin eyed her carefully. "Understood," he said, and the screen went dark.

"There's got to be something more we can do," Abbey insisted. "The Alliance fleet is matching Pegodin's forces blow for blow, but nobody has the upper hand yet."

Meyrin peered across the base the Minerva had a perfect shot from its dry-dock out into the Alliance fleet, and that did not appear to have occurred to anyone.

"Chen," she said, glancing towards the weapons console, "are the weapons functional?"

Chen consulted his console for a moment. "The Tristans and Isolde, and most of the CIWS," he said. "The Tannhäuser is still out of commission."

"That's good enough," Meyrin said. "Target the Tristans and Isolde at the Alliance fleet, with as wide a spread as possible, and prepare to fire on my mark."

"We won't be able to dodge any return fire," Malik warned from the helm.

"Then charge up the weapons to maximum and keep them firing as rapidly as possible," Meyrin instructed. "They'll never see this coming."

Shinn glanced towards the buildings as the Destiny rocketed through the air, leaving behind only afterimages to catch the Destroy Gundam's fire. It was painful to see the Destroy wading through a city and smashing everything in its path, but this was the only environment in which Attack Pattern Theta could work. And until Stella was in position, the most Shinn could do was give the Destroy something to shoot at.

The Destroy fired off a barrage of missiles Shinn's eyes flashed furiously at the incoming ordnance. "You don't learn, do you?!" he snapped, as the Destiny's eyes lit up and the missiles went streaking around back into the Destroy's armor. A pall of smoke rose up around the Destroy.

"Shinn!" Stella's voice exclaimed Shinn grinned in anticipation.

An instant later, the smoke parted violently as the Gaia Gundam leapt in between the barrels of the Destroy's Aufprall Dreizhen cannons, beam saber drawn. It whirled elegantly around, sweeping the saber through both barrels and blasting the cannons apart. The Destroy shuddered under the blow just in time for Shinn to come charging in with a scream, driving his palm cannon into the Destroy's left-hand missile launcher. Stella lunged into the right-hand missile launcher, ripping it open with her beam saber, and a pair of thundering explosions rocked the Destroy as the two Gundams pulled back.

"It doesn't look like we got any of the circumferential cannons," Shinn grunted, "but at least it's a start."

The red eyes on the Destroy's surface flashed to life, and with a crash, the Destroy opened fire with its beam cannons, forcing the two smaller Gundams back on the defensive as the monstrous machine shifted to its towering mobile suit mode.

"Shinn! It changed...!" Stella exclaimed.

"Now it can use those beam sabers," Shinn grunted. "We're running out of time here!"

The Legend went spiraling effortlessly through the Zamzazar's furious barrage of beam blasts, ducking underneath a pair of energy cannon shots and returning fire with its beam rifle. The shots slammed helplessly against the Zamzazar's positron reflector inside the cockpit, Rau frowned as he took off to dodge the return fire. Perhaps the reflector could not be worn down by overwhelming application of firepower.

"Well, the Alliance continues to impress," he chuckled, lining up for one last beam cannon volley that pounded against the Zamzazar. It plowed through the Legend's beam fire, igniting both claws and swiping towards the Gundam with its left claw; Rau backflipped over it. The Zamzazar brought down its right claw; Rau skirted aside, smiling malevolently at his oversized foe. The Zamzazar thrust itself forward, both claws splayed; Rau somersaulted over the charging mobile armor and pummeled it with another volley of beam shots. "What I really need," he muttered, "is a distraction. But I suppose this will have to do!"

The Zamzazar opened fire with its rear energy cannons, forcing the Legend back on the defensive. The mobile armor whirled around again, claws open once more, and charged. Rau grinned the Legend's left leg sprung open, ejecting a beam javelin into the Legend's grip, and the gray Gundam ignited the blade with a flash.

"Melee range is not a good place for something like you!" Rau cackled. The Zamzazar brought its claw down Rau parried the blow with his saber, laughing even as the Legend rattled. "Destructive as you may be, I can be still more!"

"How the hell do you shoot this guy down?!" Viveka screamed, as the Savior Gundam in mobile armor mode spiraled through the Zamzazar's relentless beam cannon barrages. "It's not very fair if he can deflect every fucking weapon I have!"

As the Infinite Justice Gundam deflected a claw blow with its beam shield and went reeling backward, Athrun narrowed his eyes at the mobile armor. "Just keep it focused on you!" he shouted. "A reflector can't stand up to a beam saber!"

"Well it can stand up to everything else!" Viveka shot back. The Savior let loose a barrage of beam blasts of its own, but the Zamzazar shrugged them off behind the reflector and answered with another furious volley. "They're splitting their attention!"

"The Zamzazar has a crew of three," Athrun said, "so they must have two guys gunning at both of us!"

The Zamzazar charged towards the Justice, its right-hand claw raised high. Athrun threw the Justice back as the mobile armor brought its claw down, and fired back with a beam cannon volley that landed against the reflector. He roared back up towards the Zamzazar, beam blade ignited, and stabbed forward an instant later, the Zamzazar swung back with its right claw, knocking the Justice aside.

"Dammit!" Athrun grunted, scrambling to regain control. The Zamzazar looked above him, beam cannons leveled

"Not on my watch!"

The Savior slammed into the Zamzazar in mobile suit mode with its shield, throwing the massive mobile armor off and sending its finishing beam blasts sailing wide. Before Viveka could follow up the attack, the Zamzazar forced her back with another beam cannon shot.

Athrun shook his head, glancing up at the Savior. To think she had thrown her own life into the fire to protect him

"You have more mobility in mobile armor mode!" Athrun cried. "Switch modes and distract it so I can get in close!"

Another low-slung building vanished in a plume of fire as the Launcher Strike stood in the street, spewing missiles from the combo weapons pod on its right shoulder. Taking cover behind her beam shield, Emily wracked her brain for a plan she had seen Shinn use the Destiny to redirect missiles towards other targets, even the machines that had fired them. But could she do that?

Instead, she sent the Twilight lunging to the side as the Strike fired its Agni cannon. A flash of instinct pricked her consciousness, and as the Twilight landed on its shoulder, she fired the beam rifle up at the Strike's shoulder. The Strike shuddered as the remains of the weapons pod went clattering away.

"Damn you!" Kyali screamed, leveling off the Agni. "You think you can beat me?!"

The Twilight leapt into the air as the Agni fired, and Emily desperately scanned the skies for the sun only to find it obscured by the clouds. The Strike fired again Emily threw the Twilight back, and seized her chance, squeezing off a beam rifle shot as the Twilight tumbled back to Earth. The blast tore through the Strike's left elbow joint, ripping the Agni cannon free and sending both clattering to the ground.

"My arm!" Kyali cried, staring in disbelief as the molten stump of the Strike's left arm. "You bastard...!"

As the Twilight landed heavily on one knee, the Strike drew an Armor Schneider knife and charged, its pilot screaming. Emily blinked in surprise and raised her solid shield, as the Strike brought its knife down, embedding the blade into the Twilight's shield.

"Kyali!" Harris's voice shouted, filling the Strike's cockpit. "What are you doing?! Pull back!"

"I've still got the Armor Schneiders!" Kyali cried, struggling to free her knife. The Twilight surged forward, knocking the Strike back and leaving its knife jammed into the Twilight's shield.

"You can't damage the enemy with that! He has Phase Shift!"

"I can still fight!" Kyali screamed, drawing the second Armor Schneider. "I can still "

"You do that," Harris snarled, "and you'll disappear!"

The Strike's Armor Schneider fell from its hand with a crash, as Kyali's eyes went wide in horror. Inside the Twilight, Emily winced as the miserable flash of fear overtook her, and she watched in disbelief as the Strike whirled around and ran away.

"That fear..." she murmured. "The pilot?"

She glanced up above at the sound of an explosion, and yelped in surprise as something crashed down next to her. She peered at it for a moment a giant claw? Up above, she found the Legend Gundam floating triumphantly, beam javelin raised, above a Zamzazar mobile armor, with smoke pouring from the stump where its left-hand claw was once attached.

Instinct screamed inside her the Twilight activated its long-range cannon and fired, drilling a hole through the Zamzazar's wound and spearing it on a shimmering red beam blast. The broken mobile armor belched smoke and fire, collapsing towards the city and exploding in midair.

Rau's grinning, masked face appeared on the auxiliary screen. "Nicely done, Miss Oldendorf," he chuckled.

Emily glanced back at the fallen claw. "What was that thing?"

"An Alliance mobile armor," Rau answered. "Equipped with a positron reflector that can deflect almost anything." He glanced towards something in the Legend's cockpit. "The Justice and Savior are still fighting the other unit. Shall we go lend a hand?"

Emily looked back in the direction the Strike had gone as she pushed the Twilight into the air to follow the Legend.


"Sting, this guy is getting on my nerves!" Auel complained, as he brought down the Abyss's lance onto the Sword Calamity's remaining Schwert Gewehr. "When's he gonna get the message? Do we have to destroy the other sword too?"

"Once we do, he's pretty much screwed," Sting said. "Go!"

The Abyss kicked back from the Sword Calamity, sending it staggering away, and pummeled it with another shell volley. Hayden furiously hacked through the smoke, brandishing his sword and charging towards the Abyss.

"It'll take more than that!" Auel cackled.

The Abyss ducked down beneath the Sword Calamity's raging sword swipe, and with a screech of torn metal, sliced off the black mobile suit's arm at the elbow with the Abyss's beam lance. Hayden whirled around, desperately drawing an Armor Schneider an instant later, a beam rifle shot from the Chaos blew his left arm away.

"I can't believe this!" Hayden screamed. The Abyss whirled around for a finishing blow Hayden answered by firing a volley from his chest cannon into the ground, throwing up a cloud of dust. Before the two Gundams could react, he had turned and vanished into the smoke.

Sting and Auel glanced over at each other. "At least he's retreating," Sting said. "Let's go take care of that Destroy."

"Those Alliance bastards really played low this time," Auel snarled, as the two Gundams took off towards the city.

Battleship Minerva

Chen glanced up urgently at the captain's chair as the lights on his console flashed.

"Captain, the weapons are fully charged and ready to fire. We're ready to synchronize."

"Abbey, the firing solution," Meyrin said, glancing over at Abbey's station. The blonde-haired girl glanced over her console for a moment.

"We'll start with an Isolde volley on the Actium," she said, "and then our targets fan out from there with the Tristans and Isolde. The solution is locked in."

"I hope Pegodin gets the message," Meyrin murmured. She peered up ahead, on the magnified viewfinder the massive aircraft carrier Actium lay at the center of the fleet, while the Earth Alliance's smaller ships and mobile suits slugged it out with the Resistance's dwindling fleet of aging warships. They were putting up a surprisingly tenacious fight, considering their age, but the Alliance forces and that unstoppable Destroy were just too overwhelming.

Meyrin narrowed her eyes at the Actium. Well, she could do something about that.

"All weapons, fire!"

Earth Alliance aircraft carrier Actium

Admiral Stone watched with glee as up ahead, under fire from two Danilov-class destroyers, a decommissioned Royal Navy frigate still flying the Union Jack snapped in two like a twig and vanished in a tower of fire. The enemy was falling back in all sectors. So much history was going down in pieces to the bottom of the inlet, but if that was the price the Resistance would exact, it was a price he was willing to pay.

"The Destroy unit has reported some damage, and is proceeding in mobile suit mode through Murmansk," another officer added.

"It's keeping that infernal Destiny unit tied up," the Actium's captain noted. "Thank God for that, at least."

"Order all units to press forward," Stone ordered. "One last push and we'll "

He never finished the bridge of the Actium shook as a blinding wall of smoke flashed up in front of the windows. Stone growled as he was nearly thrown from his chair, and the Actium lurched back as though it had been struck by a fist.

"What the hell was that?!" the captain roared.

"Admiral, enemy fire coming from the Poljarny dock!" someone cried. " looks like the Minerva!"

"The Minerva!?" Stone roared. "I thought they weren't operational! How the hell did this happen?!"

"Minerva is training its weapons on our fleet's main cannons, sir!" an officer exclaimed. "Knoxville and Corregidor were hit in the magazines and are sinking! Johannesburg is dead in the water!"

"How can they fire this quickly...?" the captain murmured. "Actium, return fire! Arm the Gottfrieds!"

"Impossible, sir!" the weapons officer replied. "The Minerva's opening salvo disabled Gottfried One and Two!"

"Resistance units advancing in all sectors!" another officer added. "It's a counterattack, admiral!"

"That damn ship..." Stone snarled. "They can't even move and they can still get in my way!"

The auxiliary screen flashed to life, and Stone turned his furious eyes on Harris Meyers' grim visage.

"Admiral," the young colonel said, "all my deployed units have been damaged or destroyed. The Resistance has marshaled reinforcements. I am pulling out."

"Pulling out?!" Stone sputtered. "What but the Minerva "

"My men were unable to destroy it," Harris said. "And the Resistance has sent enough mobile suits to ensure that I cannot fight back." He saluted and the screen went dark.
Stone glared back at the port, where the Minerva was spewing firepower into the Alliance fleet. "That damned Minerva..."

Murmansk, Russia

"The Minerva is firing on the fleet?!" Viveka exclaimed, as the Savior lurched under a beam cannon barrage. "Are they crazy?!"

"They can't move! How will they avoid return fire?!" Athrun snapped, pausing only to allow the Infinite Justice to parry with its beam shield a claw swipe from the Zamzazar. "Viveka, we have to take this thing out and go protect the Minerva!"

"Well, I'm trying!" Viveka shot back.

A wave of beam cannon blasts slammed into the Zamzazar, and it lurched aside under the blow, casting its massive pink eyes towards its attackers.

"Do you require assistance, Athrun?"

The Legend Gundam, with the Twilight on its flank, came streaking into the battlefield, beam cannons deployed. Athrun scowled at the gray Gundam and turned his attention back towards the Zamzazar.

Inside the Twilight, Emily looked over the Zamzazar nervously a hulking machine whose claws could easily crush her own mobile suit, she guessed.

"Emily, switch to the beam saber," Rau advised. "That is the only weapon that can penetrate the reflector."

"If you can get close enough," grumbled Viveka. "This thing is a flying gun fetish!"

"No time for that, move!" Athrun roared.

The four Gundams darted apart as the Zamzazar opened fire with all four of its guns. The Savior and Legend returned fire with a punishing beam cannon volley that drove the Zamzazar back behind its reflector shield.

"Keep at it!" Viveka shouted. "It can't hold!"

The Legend and Savior fired again, cutting short the Zamzazar's return volley. The Twilight and Infinite Justice swept on side by side, beam blades ignited.

"I'll take out his claws," Athrun said, "you hit the main body!"

Emily nodded uneasily, steeling herself for the feeling of death. The two Gundams charged instinct jerked Emily's hands to the side, and the Twilight ducked aside as the Zamzazar fired again. Athrun plowed through the blasts with his beam shield, screaming

The Zamzazar shuddered as Athrun drove his beam blade through the mobile armor's entire left side, ripping both of its left-hand claws free. It staggered back, a cloud of smoke streaming from the ruined armor. Emily charged, seeing her chance

As the Zamzazar desperately raised its right-hand claw, Emily drove the Twilight's beam saber into the orange hatch on its front surface. She squeezed her eyes shut as the lives inside disappeared that was the way it had to be. The Twilight backed away as arms of fire tore the mobile armor apart.

"Well, that was thrilling," Viveka groused, watching the Zamzazar's wreckage collapse towards Murmansk.

"We're not done yet!" Athrun cut her off. "There's still that Destroy to take care of!"

"You just can't do anything without us, can you?" Sting Oakley's voice chuckled, as a wave of beam blasts streaked out of the heavens and smashed into the Destroy's positron shield. It answered the blasts with a furious beam cannon barrage of its own, and the Chaos and Abyss Gundams came roaring into battle, guns blazing.

"We scored a few hits," Shinn grunted, dancing through a hurricane of beams and firing back. "But we need more guns here to distract it!"

More shots lanced out of the sky, striking the Destroy from the side. It blindly sent a beam cannon volley skyward, but was only answered by another volley as the Infinite Justice, Savior, Legend, and Twilight stormed into the fray.

"I see Lord Djibril is still relying on these things," Rau cackled, pummeling the Destroy with a volley of beams. The Infinite Justice and Savior fired as well, pounding against the positron shield as it spewed beams back.

"Distract the thing so someone can close!" Shinn yelled. "Emily, stay back this thing isn't an ordinary foe!"

Emily frowned as she pulled back behind her beam shield, the Twilight's cockpit lurching. "I'm not gonna be useless," she protested.

The Gundams opened fire with a concerted volley, smashing against the positron shield and forcing the Destroy to step back and steady itself. It answered with a blazing volley from its chest cannons the Abyss Gundam somersaulted up and brought its lance down onto the Destroy's right-hand beam saber. The Destroy raised its left-hand for a killing volley, but an instant later, the Gaia stabbed through the arm just below the wrist with a beam saber, wiping it out in a blaze. The Destroy lurched as its left arm vanished in a plume of fire, and shot back with a Zorn cannon blast an instant later, the Destiny was there to deflect it with its beam shield and return fire with its long-range cannon, stopping cold the Destroy's next beam cannon salvo. It flung the Abyss away with its right arm and raised the cannons to fire again a whirling beam boomerang ripped the arm in two, and arced around back to the hands of the Infinite Justice.

"It's running out of weapons!" Viveka cried the Savior transformed in a flash to its mobile suit mode, drawing a beam saber and slashing the Destroy's chest cannons out, before taking off again. The Legend and Chaos opened fire from afar, showering the Destroy with beam shots and forcing it to scatter the return fire from all its beam cannons in a desperate attempt to hit anything.

On the street, standing before the towering, struggling Destroy, Emily looked up at the tiny cockpit hatch and saw the pulsing life within. It was pure fear, pure hate, nothing even human anymore. The words "kill or be killed" emblazoned themselves across her mind's eye.

The seed fell before her with a flash, the Twilight drew its anti-ship sword, beam wings blazing to life, and charged. The Destroy turned its beam cannons towards the attacker, but too late with a shriek of twisting metal, the Twilight rammed its anti-ship sword through the Destroy's armor, into its cockpit. Emily clenched her teeth as the life inside the Destroy went silent.

"Move, Emily!" Athrun's voice shouted. Emily yanked her sword out of the Destroy's abdomen, pulling back the Minerva's Gundams poured firepower into the wound, and without the positron reflector, the Destroy was helplessly torn apart by a blaze of beam blasts, before it finally fell to its knees and died a thunderous death in the center of a fireball.

Earth Alliance aircraft carrier Actium

"The Simon Bolivar is being evacuated!" the comm officer exclaimed, looking over with wide eyes at a furious Admiral Stone. "They report that the captain was killed and the XO is in command!"

"Rear Admiral Mannheim reports that all but his flagship has been sunk!" another officer cried. He paused in disbelief as he looked down at his console. "Admiral! We've lost contact with the Westphalia!"

The Actium's captain glanced over grimly at Stone. "Admiral," he began, "we should "

"Contact lost with Destroy unit Lambda One!" someone exclaimed. "Admiral, look!"

Stone turned his enraged eyes towards the city of Murmansk, where the sinister silhouette of the Destroy fell to its knees and vanished in a massive column of fire.

"Even the Destroy..." he snarled. "Can no one beat the Minerva!?" He furiously got to his feet. "All units, full retreat! Full retreat!"

"...and predictably, without their big scary superweapon, the enemy fleet turns tail and runs," Rau said sardonically as the Minerva's Gundams stood among the Destroy's smoldering wreckage. "What remains of the Alliance fleet is in full retreat."

The Destiny glanced over at the Twilight, where it stood before the desiccated Destroy's charred, silent head. Shinn studied Emily's face as he opened a line to the silent black Gundam.

"Emily," he said; she blinked in surprise, finally noticing him. "Not too many people can say they've taken down a Destroy unit. So congratulations."

Emily looked numbly down at the wreckage. "What kind of people would do this...?" she asked, looking up in disbelief at the swath of carnage the Destroy had carved through Murmansk before it had finally met its end.

The Infinite Justice slowly approached; Athrun grimly surveyed the ruins. "The kind of people who would do this," he said, "are the kind of people who will destroy the world."

Emily looked down at the Destroy's ruined head its empty eyes stared back.

To be continued...