Phase 22 - The Face of the Enemy

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TWILIGHT

Phase 22 - The Face of the Enemy

March 9th, CE 77 - Volgograd, Volgograd Oblast, Russia

The city of Volgograd burned as the mobile suits and the guns of the Phantom Pain tore it down, throwing it into the sky as towering columns of flame and thick clouds of smoke. Inside the Twilight Gundam, Emily stared in disbelief at the cruelty of the Phantom Pain, laid bare before her and heard the ruthless voice of Harris Meyers in her mind again.
"What kind of people would do this...?" she murmured.

Across the street, Shinn's eyes flashed in fury as the seed fell before him. "This is the way our enemy fights!" he snapped. The Destiny charged, drawing its Arondight with a flash. "So come on, you bastards, and fight a real battle!"

Emily turned her eyes towards her foes, as two squads of Windams rounded a corner before her. The Twilight stormed forward, opening fire with its beam rifle the Windams scattered, but the two Windams in the lead stood their ground. The Slaughter Windam and IWSP Windam fired back with their beam rifles Emily plowed through the blasts with her beam shield and fired back, forcing the Windams on the defensive.

"Shit!" Grey exclaimed, drawing back with a beam rifle barrage. "That must be the Twilight...!"

"It's that kid!" Merau snapped, sweeping in around the Twilight with a Gatling burst. The Twilight whipped around, delivering a punishing kick to the Windam's head and sending it staggering backward. "Dammit!"

"No you don't!" Grey screamed, leveling off his rifle

"I see you too!" Emily cried the Twilight whirled around, kicking the rifle from the Slaughter Windam's hand, and stashed its own rifle to switch to a beam saber. "There'll be less damage this way...and I can beat you like this!"

"My rifle!" shouted Grey, throwing the Windam back to dodge the Twilight's furious saber swipe. "You bitch !"

"You're mine!" Merau cried, charging in from behind with both swords drawn. Emily narrowed her eyes at the oncoming foe, and with a crash, slammed the Twilight's left elbow into the Windam's stomach, jarring its cockpit and throwing the machine back.

"How can you fight for such evil people...?!" Emily breathed, whirling around to block the Slaughter Windam's beam saber blow. "How can you kill people like this!?"

The Destiny Gundam somersaulted over the furious beam barrage of the Verde Buster, spiraling elegantly through the air and bringing its sword down onto the Blu Duel's shield. The Blu Duel rattled, backing away an instant later, the Strike Noir brought its own swords to bear, slamming them against the Destiny's blade. The Verde Buster lined up for a killing shot the Destiny backflipped off the Noir, dodging the blasts again.

"Shit, they weren't able to fly on their own before!" Shinn growled, squeezing off a long-cannon shot to keep the Verde Buster off guard, and swinging back at the Blu Duel as it came charging towards him, beam saber in hand. "They must be modified!"

The Strike Noir pounded its sword down against the Destiny. "Keep attacking!" Sven snapped. "Keep him off balance!"

The Blu Duel swept in from behind, beam saber held high Shinn kicked backwards, striking the Blu Duel in the face and knocking it aside, before ducking down towards the ground as the Verde Buster fired again. The Blu Duel charged, balance regained, slamming its saber onto the Destiny's shield. The Strike Noir came shrieking down, swords raised Shinn kicked off the Blu Duel with a crash, diving aside as the Noir brought its swords down through empty air.

"You aren't that powerful!" Mudie cried, as the Verde Buster showered the Destiny with beam shots. As the Destiny whirled around to fire back, she lunged up towards the legendary Gundam, saber pulled back, and slammed it against the Destiny's sword. Shinn surged forward, throwing the Blu Duel back

A moment later, the Destiny lurched, as the Strike Noir hooked its anchors around the Destiny's arms, pulling them out to the sides and leaving the Destiny wide open.

"Now!" Sven roared. The Blu Duel leveled off its right-hand beam gun

"You think I'll let you?!"

The Destiny came to life, its beam wings activating with a flash, slicing the Noir's anchor cables apart and with a roar of engines, the Destiny streaked forward, ramming into the Blu Duel and throwing it out of the sky.

"Dammit!" Shams shouted, as he pummeled the Destiny with railgun shells. "What does it take to put this guy down!?"

"Marshal, your launch vector is clear!" the hangar operator said. "But the visibility "

"Nothing can be hidden from the eye of God," Crayt interrupted, cracking her knuckles as she settled into the cockpit of her Euclid mobile armor. "Crayt Markav, Euclid, taking off!"

The Euclid lifted off with a roar, blazing into the battle with a trail of exhaust. Crayt scanned the battlefield the Resistance's desperate collection of mobile suits and armored vehicles and attack helicopters were trying in vain to hold off the Phantom Pain. But the army of God would not be denied.

A familiar presence pricked her consciousness, as the Euclid swept in low over burning buildings. She narrowed her eyes.

"Rau Le Creuset," she murmured. "Your existence is an affront to God!"

The Infinite Justice Gundam landed with a crash in front of a green and beige Dagger L, deflecting a volley of beam rifle shots with its beam shield and firing back. The Windams down the street scattered behind their shields, as Athrun checked the condition of the missile pods attached the subflight unit's wings.

"Shit," he growled, "they're forcing us to fight in the city!" He looked over his shoulder. "Chekhov!"

The green Dagger L squeezed off a shot down the street, forcing the Windams back behind cover as they crept out of hiding. "We can't keep fighting like this, Commander Zala, or all of Volgograd will be destroyed!"

Athrun looked grimly back down the street, firing again with his rifle at the Windams. "Your troops are in no shape to fight like this!" he said. "Pull them out before they're slaughtered!"

The Windams opened fire, forcing the Justice and the Dagger back and sending them both diving out of the street.

"My men will not die with their backs to their enemies!" Chekhov shot back, pausing to fire again at the advancing Windams. "Your concern is appreciated, Commander Zala, but if we must die today, then defending Volgograd would be a fine way to go!"

A wave of beam blasts from above tore the street apart, and the Windams dove for cover as the ground shook and the Savior Gundam landed with a crash.

"Goddammit, I can't use any of the new weapons here!" Viveka snarled, firing at the Windams with her rifle as they took cover behind their shields. "Chekhov! We've got to get this battle out of the city!"

"I have Vasily in the northern section of the city," Chekhov answered, pausing as a Windam slammed a missile into his shield, forcing his Dagger to stagger back. Athrun answered with a beam rifle barrage that drove the Phantom Pain machine back behind its own shield. "He's telling me that every time his men try to bait the Phantoms out of the city limits, they stay put. They must be purposefully keeping the battle here to worsen the damage!"

"Damn them!" Athrun hissed, pausing to shoot down another barrage of missiles with his CIWS. "All this pointless killing...!"

"Stella!" shouted Sting, as the missiles came pouring down around the three Gundams, huddled behind a rapidly-shrinking office building. "Can you get back and snipe them!?"

The Gaia Gundam hefted its rifle as it leapt out from behind cover, opening fire at the Windams down the street. The Abyss followed, letting loose a punishing barrage of beams that sent several of the enemy Windams sprawling.

"Stella, get back and find a place to snipe from!" Auel shouted.

"If they keep going like this, they'll destroy the whole city!" Sting growled, as the Chaos lunged out of hiding and squeezed off a beam rifle shot that pounded into a Windam's shield down the street. "And we're limited in our weapons, too!"

"Then I'll tear these sons of bitches apart myself!" Auel screamed, leveling off the shoulder cannons and pummeling the Windams with a hail of shells.

The Chaos deflected a return volley with its shield. "We can't be too reckless or we'll wind up causing even more damage to the city..." Sting growled. "They've really screwed us over!"

The Abyss ignited the beam tip of its lance. "Then let's close in and fight at melee range!" Auel snapped. "Stella will just have to be careful!"

Drawing a beam saber, the Chaos joined the Abyss in a furious charge.

"How can you kill people like this?!" Emily screamed, sending the Slaughter Windam reeling with a punishing kick to the chest. Even as she landed, she whirled around at the familiar feeling of danger, cutting a scything beam boomerang out of the sky with her beam saber, and charging towards the IWSP Windam behind her as it leveled off its Gatling shield. "How can you be so cruel!?"

The IWSP Windam drew its beam rifle, but the mobile suit shuddered as the Twilight tore it in two with a saber strike, and slammed the blade down onto the Windam's shield, knocking it back, and sending it sprawling with a devastating left hook across the face.

The Slaughter Windam came charging in from behind, beam saber held high, but Emily deflected its blow with her saber. She narrowed her eyes at the Windam as it struggled to press her saber down the pilot was suffering too, with feelings of disbelief and horror and regret.

"You...!" she started the Twilight surged forward, throwing the Slaughter Windam aside and sending it crashing to the ground. Emily came down on it with a scream, wrapping the Twilight's left hand around the Windam's neck and pointing her beam saber at its cockpit, as she keyed on the communication channel.

Emily blinked in disbelief as she came face to face with a boy who could not have been much older than herself, in a black Phantom Pain flight suit, staring in disbelief with wide blue eyes through wispy locks of brown hair. This was the Phantom Pain pilot ?

"What you're the Twilight's pilot!" the boy cried. "Emily !"

"Why are you doing this?!" Emily snapped, fury flashing through her bones as she clenched her fists around the Twilight's controls. "Why are you killing people like this?!"

Grey's eyes flashed as he stared into the eyes of his enemy. "Don't talk that way to me, Resistance scum!" he shot back. "If you hadn't come to Volgograd this would have never happened!"

"Grey!" a voice shouted the Twilight lurched as a salvo of shells slammed into it, knocking it aside and freeing Grey's Windam. He leapt to his feet, finding Merau's IWSP Windam standing tall with smoke curling from its cannons, and watched it hurl one of its anti-ship swords at the reeling Twilight

A beam rifle blast came out of nowhere, piercing the sword from above and shattering it. Another volley of beam blasts rained down on the two Windams, forcing them back behind their shields, and the ground quaked as the Legend Gundam landed with a crash. Merau raised her remaining sword, but the Legend sent her Windam staggering back with a kick to the face.

"Emily!" Rau barked, his smile gone from his masked face. "Stop looking at the face of your enemy!"

"Why?!" Emily cried, as the Twilight got back to its feet, reigniting its beam saber and deflecting another blow from the Slaughter Windam.

"Can you look into that soldier's eyes and shoot him!?" Rau asked back.

Two more pulsing beam shots came down from the heavens, slamming into Rau's beam shield, and the Legend took off pursued by a hulking white Euclid mobile armor.

"I'm not going to let some little girl with a Gundam beat me!" Grey cried, surging forward with the thrust from the Aile Striker. "Go down!"

"They're even using artillery," grunted Canard Pars, as the Dreadnought H took a volley of shells from a squad of Doppelhorn Dark Windams to its Armure Lumiere shield. "Do you weaklings think you can beat me!?" The Dreadnought H responded with a withering barrage from its Zastava Stigmate submachinegun. "Lowe, now!"

The sky shook as the Gundam Astray Red Frame leapt with the grace of a tiger through the air, its Gerbera Straight flashing, and Lowe victoriously beheaded the leading Windam, slicing its Doppelhorn Striker in two. "Ha!" Lowe shouted triumphantly. "Slicing and dicing since '71!" Canard grinned as he riddled the Windam with a burst of Stigmate fire, blowing it apart.

"It appears that the Minerva was their target after all," Gai intoned, as the Blue Frame sprayed the Windams with fire from the Tactical Arms' Gatling gun. Elijah's ZAKU Warrior stood nearby, beam rifle in hand, taking cover behind its shield as the Windams battered it with beam rifle fire. "We may have to ask the Minerva to pull some of its mobile suits back to reinforce us."

One of the Windams charged at Lowe with a beam saber, swiping furiously at the Red Frame. Lowe ducked below the swing and jammed his sword up into the Windam's chest, before swinging back to send the wounded mobile suit staggering aside where it was easy prey for Canard's Stigmate. Lowe backpedaled and jumped over the withering return fire of the rest of the Windams.

"Dammit, they're getting cranky!" Lowe grunted. "Hey, Mr. Mercenary, got any bright ideas here?"

He paused and ducked behind Canard's lightwave shield as the Windams pummeled the shield with artillery fire. One of the Windams leapt forward, beam rifle raised high, taking aim at the ReHOME's bridge

With a crash, the Windam broke in two at the waist and exploded, and the ground shuddered as another mobile suit landed in the fray.

"What the hell is the Civilian Astray doing out here?!" Canard barked, glaring over at the yellow Civilian Astray as it stood with both beam sabers in hand, daring the Windams to come closer.

"Professor, did anyone take the Civvie Astray?!" Lowe exclaimed.

"Don't worry, Lowe!" an all too familiar voice exclaimed. "I'm here to help!"

Lowe blinked in disbelief. "George?! You can control that thing?"

The Red Frame's screen was immediately filled by the beaming face of George Glenn. "Of course I can! Kisato installed a receptor in the Civilian Astray's cockpit, so I can control it from remote!" The Civilian Astray made an elaborate cross with its sabers, flashing its eyes imposingly. "Now let's show these guys what the First Coordinator can do!"

The Astray charged towards the disbelieving Windams, sabers in hand. Lowe shook his head, hefting the Gerbera Straight.

"If you say so. Canard, cover us!"

The Dreadnought H opened up with a withering beam cannon barrage, supplementing the attack with its Stigmate, as the Red Frame and Astray sprinted forward. Lowe charged with a scream, bringing the Straight to bear on a stunned Windam as it turned its rifle on the Red Frame, cleaving the Windam's right arm off and leaving it to be torn to pieces by the Dreadnought H's Stigmate.

The Civilian Astray somersaulted over the shots of two Doppelhorn Windams, landing between them with a crash and planting its sabers through both of their cockpits. Even as they exploded, the Astray stormed forward, stabbing through the smoke to take down a third Windam.

"Don't forget I was an ace pilot in the Reconstruction War!" George laughed, even as he backpedaled and used the Astray's sabers to bat aside beam blasts. "There's nothing I can't do!"

Near the ReHOME, inside his ZAKU, Elijah blinked in disbelief as the Civilian Astray and Red Frame battled their way through the Windams.

"Uh, Gai, is this what you meant by reinforcements?" he asked uneasily, as his ZAKU gestured towards the two sword-wielding Astrays.

"No," Gai answered, pausing to blow away another Windam's Doppelhorn Striker, "but it will do. Cover me!"

The Blue Frame converted its Tactical Arms to sword mode and charged.

With afterimages flashing across the battlefield, the Destiny Gundam spiraled gracefully through the air, bringing its sword crashing down onto the Strike Noir's crossed blades. The Blu Duel came roaring up from behind, saber pulled back Shinn whipped around to smack the Blu Duel aside with the blunt end of the Arondight, and then rocketed into the sky to dodge the Verde Buster's beam cannon blast.

"You guys don't give up, do you?!" Shinn snapped, leveling off his long cannon to fire back at the Verde Buster, and batting the Strike Noir aside with his sword as it came charging in.

"How can he fight his way out of all of our traps?!" Sven snarled as he fought to maintain the Noir's balance. "Switch to beam guns and we'll fight him at mid-range!"

The Verde Buster showered the Destiny with railgun shells and beam cannon blasts as the Noir and Blu Duel drew their beam guns and opened fire. Shinn scowled and effortlessly ducked below their shots, deactivating his sword and switching back to his beam rifle.

"Is that how you wanna fight now?!" he snapped. "Dammit, there's more risk to the city this way..." He leveled off his rifle at the Verde Buster and opened fire, even as he ducked around the Noir and Blu Duel's shots. "And they all have twice as many guns as I do!"

The Blu Duel poured beam blasts after the Destiny, following up with a railgun shell. "These Wings of Light just won't go down!" Mudie snapped.

The Noir charged, beam pistols blazing, and somersaulted over the Destiny's return fire. "He can't hit us with that sword like this," Sven said. "Intensify fire!"

Shinn cursed as the three Alliance machines poured fire after him, and focused on dodging their attacks. "Abes," he said, "do we have another rifle for the Destiny left?!"

The grim face of Matt Abes appeared on one of the auxiliary screens, even as Shinn danced through his enemies' attacks. "We have one, but you'd have to come back here to "

"Put it in the Impulse catapult and launch it!" Shinn cut him off, pausing to deflect the Noir's blasts with his beam shield.

"Even for you, that's a crazy stunt," Abes warned. "If you don't catch it, we'll have wasted a rifle."

"Well, it's a crazy stunt I've pulled off before!" Shinn said. "Do it!"

"Roger," Abes answered. The screen went dark, and Shinn glared back up at the Noir as it came shrieking in with a beam pistol barrage.

"Do we have this guy on the ropes yet?!" Shams snapped, as he pummeled the Destiny with a railgun shell. "He's gotta go down sometime!"

The Destiny backpedaled behind its beam shield, as the three Alliance machines battered it with beam fire. "He'll have to fall at some point," Sven snarled. "Keep attacking!" The Noir charged, leveling off its beam pistols

Shinn narrowed his eyes at the charging Noir. "I don't think so!"

The Destiny's spare rifle went shooting into the fray, and Shinn extended the Destiny's left hand to catch it, spiraling around and snapping both rifles up to open fire on the Alliance mobile suits. Sven and Mudie blinked in disbelief, jetting apart to dodge the shots as Shinn trained his rifles on both of them, pouring fire after the two Gundams as they were forced on the defensive.

"Where did that rifle come from!?" Mudie exclaimed.

"They must have launched it from the ship," Sven growled, trying to fire back and finding no opening. "Shams !"

"I can't get a lock!" Shams exclaimed. "Goddamn this guy!"

The Windam shuddered as Auel slammed the bladed end of his lance through its torso, knocking the entire mobile suit aside with a crash and deflecting a beam blast from one of its comrades with his left-hand shoulder shell. He charged towards the second Windam, slamming his lance's beam tip against the Windam's shield and sending it stumbling back. An instant later, a shimmering beam blast came streaking out of nowhere to blow the Windam apart.

"Stella's getting good at this," Sting commented from nearby, even as he ducked under a Windam's beam saber swipe and planted his own saber into the Windam's cockpit.

"Yeah, well, I still think buying her that sniper video game was a dumb idea," Auel shot back; the Abyss surged forward, pounding another pair of Windams with artillery fire.

The Chaos plunged through the smoke, tearing one of the Windams in two with its saber. As the other Windams turned their guns on the green Gundam, Auel leveled off his beam cannons, blowing two more Windams away and a second shot from the faraway Gaia lanced across the battlefield to take out the fourth Windam.

"We're making progress!" Sting exclaimed. "Jeez, I thought these guys were the Phantom Pain's best!"

With a crash, the Infinite Justice deflected a Windam's saber strike with its beam shield. Athrun leapt into the air, sawing the Windam's arm off with a beam blade-assisted kick, and ducked aside just in time for Chekhov's Dagger L to blow the Windam apart with a beam shot through the cockpit.

"They're gonna regret this battle when we're done here!" Chekhov roared. "Minerva, this is Chekhov! Can you launch to support us?!"

Abbey's static-broken face appeared on the monitor. "Negative," she answered. "We're under attack as it is and we'd just wind up doing more damage to the city."

In the middle of the street, the Savior Gundam let loose with a punishing beam cannon volley that sent the enemy Windams diving for cover. "Well, they'll have to give up sometime or we'll tear their whole mobile suit force apart!" Viveka cried. The Savior lunged forward, drawing a beam saber to saw through another charging Windam's waist. "These sons of bitches have no souls!"

"Chekhov, we can handle these guys," Athrun said, pausing to shower the Windams with beam rifle fire. "Are you sure you don't want to pull back?"

Chekhov only smirked. "My homeland is under attack, Commander Zala, and I am going to defend it." He ducked aside from a Windam's rifle shot and fired back. "I'm sure you understand such a sentiment!"

Athrun smiled bitterly. "Perfectly."

"At last we meet on the battlefield, Rau Le Creuset!" Crayt Markav cried as her Euclid plunged into battle, showering the Legend Gundam with beam shots. "And now I will finally have a chance to purge the world of your sinful influence!"

Rau flashed a feral grin as the Legend went spiraling away, ducking amidst the buildings and around the Euclid's furious blasts. "Such ambitious goals for the self-proclaimed soldier of God!" he cackled. "But what could you be doing here? I am fascinated to see that your God condones mass murder!"

"I'll rid the world of those who stand by to hide sinners from the eye of God!" Crayt snarled. "Starting with you...and that little girl, Emily!"

Rau frowned, even as he sent the Legend ducking around the Euclid's furious blasts. Emily...?

"Whether you know anything important about her or not is irrelevant! I'll send you to hell before you can do anything about it!" The Euclid came down with a crash, plowing bodily through a skyscraper and pummeling the Legend beam shields with cannon fire.

Emily... Rau thought, as the pieces began to come together. So there is more to her than meets the eye after all! Her ability to learn and adapt and grow...yes, as I thought, it's not innate!

The Legend whirled around, pounding the Euclid's positron reflector with a wave of beam cannon blasts. "There are so many secrets in this world that not even I can keep track of them all," he laughed, "but I thank you, Sister Markav, for enlightening me as to this one!" He plunged after the Euclid, drawing a beam javelin and stabbing forward with it furiously. "I will certainly enjoy puzzling out the details of this little gem you've turned over to me!"

"Damn you!" Crayt hissed, showering the Legend with missiles. Rau cackled hysterically as he tore them from the sky with a CIWS burst.

"Yes, damn me all you want! As though I fear the judgment of a false prophet!" he laughed, answering her fire with a beam rifle burst. "So tell me, was she trained as well? Is she an Extended? What else do you have to share about little Miss Oldendorf?!"

"Hell will swallow you whole!" screamed Crayt, as the Euclid fired back with a withering beam cannon barrage. Rau spiraled through the shots and pummeled the Euclid with a punishing beam volley of his own.

"It tried that once before," Rau chuckled, "and found me unpalatable! So here I am to walk amongst you once more! Is there anything else you'd like to elucidate for me, or are we done here?!"

The Euclid charged, ramming its way through another building and pounding a volley of beams after the Legend. "You have power that is not rightfully yours!" Crayt snapped, plowing through the Legend's beam shots and shrugging them off with her positron reflector. "They forged that child from pure evil, and I will destroy it here!"

Rau grinned. "I'd like to see you try, soldier of God!"

The Slaughter Windam drove its beam saber down against the Twilight's blade, forcing both Gundams to glower at each other over the shimmering columns of energy, eyes flashing.

"Dammit," Grey snarled, "it's just a kid! How can she fight like this?!"

The Windam surged forward, pushing the Twilight back and raising its saber high for a killing blow. The Twilight balled its fist, smashing it into the Windam's face and sending it reeling back. It crashed down through a building and Emily's eyes widened in horror.

"No!" she cried, reaching forward

The building came down on the other side of the street with a crash and a plume of dust, right on top of a crowd of fleeing civilians, and Emily felt the world spin as a hundred lives vanished in the dust.

Emily clamped her hands over her mouth as her world came crashing to a halt, her eyes narrowing to pinpoints, as that horrible feeling of death washed over her. If she had not struck that Windam

It was sweeping over the battlefield; death, hatred, fear, evil, chaos, all of it, everywhere, crushing her, pressing down on her like a terrible weight on her shoulders. She squeezed her eyes shut as the voices assailed the walls of her mind, screaming in agony, for pain; in anguish, for loss; in anger, for combat.

"Stop it..." she started; the world swam around her as people died and their lives disappeared. "Stop it..."

The Twilight rattled as the IWSP Windam rammed into it with its shield, throwing the black Gundam back. Emily looked up, fear clouding the fringes of her vision, as she saw the Windam raise its sword triumphantly

The seed burst and this time, there were wings.

The Twilight surged forward with a furious scream from its pilot, ripping through the IWSP Windam's arm with a palm cannon blow and sending the Windam reeling with a shattering kick to the chest. The Slaughter Windam leapt to its feet, charging with saber drawn.

"Get the hell away from her!" Grey screamed

Emily turned her lightless eyes on the Windam.

The Twilight whirled around, bringing its saber down through the Windam's arm and with a crash, Emily sent Grey's Windam reeling with a powerful backhand.

She looked up in the sky mobile suits, enemies, fighting everywhere.

With a roar, the Twilight Gundam lunged into the sky, beam wings flashing to life, aiming straight at the Destiny's three Phantom Pain foes. Inside the Strike Noir, Sven turned in surprise towards the charging Gundam just in time for the Noir to be slammed aside, the Twilight ramming it bodily and throwing it back. Emily brought her saber down with a scream, her eyes flashing, and Sven barely blocked it with his sword. He stabbed back with the second sword Emily tore it from his grasp and hurled it away, before curling her fist to rattle the Noir with a devastating left hook that sent it spiraling towards the ground.

"What the hell !?" Shams shouted, leveling off his rifles. A moment later, the Verde Buster shook as the Twilight tore its rifles in two with a vicious beam saber swipe. "Who the hell is this?!"

The Verde Buster pulled back, pummeling the Twilight with railgun rounds only to see the Twilight storm through the smoke and send the Verde Buster staggering out of the sky with a ferocious kick.

"STOP IT!" Emily shrieked, even as the Twilight whirled around towards the Blu Duel.

"This is that little girl!?" Mudie exclaimed, as she desperately showered the Twilight with beam gun fire. The charging black Gundam effortlessly plowed through her fire with its beam shield, an army of afterimages swelling around it, and severed the Blu Duel's arms with a shrieking saber swipe. "What the ?!"


With a final shuddering kick, the Blu Duel went careening towards the ground, and the Twilight turned its blazing eyes on the port.

Left behind in the Destiny Gundam, Shinn Asuka watched in disbelief.

A final beam shot from the Gaia came pulsing out from across the city, drilling through the final Windam's cockpit and wiping it out. Inside the Abyss Gundam, Auel looked grimly down the street, as it winded through the city and ultimately towards the port where the Charlemagne was waiting.

"Come on, Sting, get your ass in gear!" he said.

"Wait," Sting said, "look !"

The sky cracked in two as a pair of Windams exploded in midair, and with a roar of engines, the Twilight Gundam emerged from the smoke with shimmering wings of light.

"What the is that Emily?" Auel started. "What the hell is she doing?!"

"Shinn says she's going apeshit," Sting said grimly. "So come on! Before she gets herself killed!"

"Why is the going nuts like this...?" Auel grunted as the two Gundams took off to pursue the Twilight. "Is this another Newtype thing?"
"These moves..." Sting murmured. "She's more efficient...more aggressive...she's never been like this before, except..." He shook his head. "Except when she was fighting that Aegis unit in Karelia."

"Then what is this?" Auel asked.

"I don't know," Sting answered. "All I know is that we need to keep her from getting shot down. So let's move!"

"The Twilight is doing what?!" exclaimed Elijah, pausing only to deflect an errant Windam's missile with his ZAKU's shield and fire back with his beam rifle. The Blue Frame lunged into the air and slammed its Tactical Arms sword through the Windam's cockpit. "Gai, the Twilight is making an attack run on the Charlemagne!"

"The Twilight? Alone?" Gai echoed, as he deflected a beam blast with the Tactical Arms and slashed the offending Windam's rifle in two. "Is she seriously...?"

"Are any of us going to go help her?" Canard asked, as the Dreadnought H replaced a clip in its Zastava Stigmate. Nearby, the Red Frame expertly parried a Windam's beam saber blow and brought the Gerbera Straight down diagonally through it, slicing it in two.

"Someone's gonna have to..." Lowe started. "Gai, do you think you can handle these guys on your own ?!"

"Don't bother," Gai cut him off. All eyes turned towards the Blue Frame in disbelief.

"She'll get torn apart against the Charlemagne!" Canard protested. "Gai "

"That girl," Gai said, narrowing his eyes up at the Twilight, in the sky far ahead, "is no ordinary pilot." He glanced back at his comrades. "So let her fight."

Nearby, the Civilian Astray landed with a crash, beam sabers held high triumphantly. "Gai gets it!" George Glenn laughed victoriously. "She's living up to her potential!"

Gai turned his eyes back towards the Twilight. There is far more than that...

"One of our own is attacking the Charlemagne!" Chekhov roared victoriously, as the Infinite Justice finished off the last Windam in the squad down the street. "Vasily, which unit is it?"

"It's not one of ours, sir!" Vasily answered. He paused as something on his end exploded. "It's that girl with the Gundam!"

"What, her?" Chekhov exclaimed. The Savior looked over at Chekhov's Dagger L sharply.

"Emily?!" Viveka cried. "What the hell is she doing, attacking that ship by herself!?" She looked over at the Justice. "Athrun "

She fell silent as she found Athrun with his eyes clamped shut, holding a hand to his temple, clearly in pain. "This...this pressure..."

"Commander Zala! What is it?" Chekhov exclaimed, his Dagger jogging towards the Justice.

Athrun cracked an eye open, staring painfully into the sky, where the Twilight Gundam was battling through the Charlemagne's remaining Windams. "This pressure," he growled, "is coming from Emily..."

"What do you mean from Emily? What's she doing?" Viveka asked, her eye flashing with urgency. Athrun groaned as the pain spiked.

"I don't know," he growled, pausing to glance back at Chekhov's Dagger L. "But...Colonel, we have them distracted. This is as good a time as any for you to pull back."

"But the battle is not yet won!" Chekhov protested.

"We'll handle that," Viveka interrupted. "You need to get your troops out of here so we can get them to Carpentaria."

"Contact the Professor," Athrun said, pausing to wince, "but there's no sense wasting your lives here when you'll be needed in battle at Heaven's Base."

Chekhov regarded Athrun for a moment, before closing his eyes with a sigh. "Very well, commander," he said. "It's been an honor to fight by your side."

Athrun glanced back up at the Twilight. "The honor's been all mine, colonel. Now hurry."

Rau cackled in delight as the feeling shot up his spine pain, anger, fury, and that undeniable touch of something rising to the surface, unveiling itself at long last. Yes, this was how Emily could survive against ace pilots; this was what he had felt when she was fighting the Aegis in Karelia; this was the power that Crayt had spoken of; and this was what lay at his fingertips.

"Do you feel it, Sister Markav?!" Rau cried, pausing only to deliver a punishing beam cannon volley to the Euclid's positron reflector. "The hatred, the anger, the energy that your foolhardy attack has unleashed!? I find it ironic that you could lecture me about this power and yet be so ignorant of it yourself!"

"She's even attacking the Charlemagne..." Crayt murmured, shrugging off the Legend's beam blasts with her positron reflector. "Damn you, knew not what you were tampering with!"

The Euclid broke off from its attack run on the Legend, ducking down into the city and streaking through the buildings. Rau watched it go, grinning wildly.

"It makes perfect sense to me now," he laughed, "and I have only you to thank for it, Sister Markav!" He sat back. "But let's see how well you fare against her...!"

Another Windam went down in flames as the Twilight ripped it in half with its beam saber, before plunging through the smoke and charging towards the remaining Phantom Pain machines. Emily screamed as she brought her saber down onto the next Windam's desperately-raised shield only to kick the shield aside and plant her saber through the Windam's torso. And even as that machine exploded, she plowed into the third Windam and rammed her saber through its cockpit, heedless of the feeling of death rising like steam around her.

A salvo of beam blasts ripped across the battlefield Emily threw the Twilight back to avoid them, turning her feral eyes on the source, as a white Euclid mobile armor shot by.

"You tapped that power once before," snarled Crayt Markav as she wheeled the Euclid around for another pass, "when you killed Harris Meyers..." The Euclid opened fire, forcing the Twilight back behind its beam shield. "And now perhaps you'll understand just what a sin you are!"

Emily fixed her eyes on the charging mobile armor as it stormed forward, beam cannons blazing the source of the evil, the source of the hatred and fear and suffering, all of it emanating from that machine

"You!" she screamed, charging forward and drawing her saber back. "It's your fault!"

The Euclid dove down towards the ground, ducking the Twilight's furious saber stab. Emily whirled around, leveling off her long-range cannon and pummeling the Euclid with a pulsing beam blast. The mobile armor wheeled around again, opening up with a withering beam barrage.

"To have your kind of power is a sin," Crayt snarled, as the Euclid closed in. "So I will cleanse the world of your kind, Zero-One!"

Emily's eyes flashed in fury.


Crayt's eyes went wide in disbelief as the Twilight plowed through her shots with its beam shield and tore a smoldering gash along the Euclid's armor, tearing its left-hand cannon up and blowing its right-hand cannon out with a palm cannon blow. With a crashing kick to the cockpit, the Twilight sent the Euclid staggering towards the ground, throwing Crayt back in her cockpit seat.

"This child...!" Crayt gasped. "Could she have defeated me...?!"

The Euclid turned back towards the Charlemagne, as Crayt desperately dropped her payload of combat flares into the pursuing Twilight's face. Emily screamed in rage, clamping her eyes shut as the world went white around her. Crayt glanced back at the hulking battleship in the dock.

"Danilov, pull your mobile suits back to the ship!" she barked. "We are retreating!"

She did not bother to acknowledge Danilov's response, glaring over her shoulder at the Twilight Gundam.

To be continued...