Phase 25 - Novorossiysk

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TWILIGHT

Phase 25 - Novorossiysk

March 13th, CE 77 - Battleship Minerva, outside Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai, Russia

Standing tall on the bridge of the Minerva, all eyes expectantly turned towards him and all ears awaiting his opinion, Rau Le Creuset pushed aside the urge to smile. It was certainly ironic, and there were few things he loved more than irony, but it was time to work and just as certainly, the thrill of battle could not be ignored.

The Minerva had momentarily set down outside Novorossiysk to survey the situation, before plunging headlong into what appeared to most observers to be certain doom. The Alliance had fortified this city well. The distinct blue and white Windams of the Alliance Army held the southern and eastern portions of the city, including the all-important seaport that was Novorossiysk's prime reason of existence. But amid the towering mobile suits and the armored vehicles and the imposing sentinels of the Alliance Navy's flotilla in port, Rau could pick out one shape that spoke more. In what appeared to be an old abandoned rail yard, against the backdrop of a Siegfried-class carrier plane, he could spy a familiar insectoid hull.

"They have a Gelzuge mobile armor among their ranks," Rau observed. "The Alliance has modified their Gelzuges to serve as command and control units on the battlefield. I imagine that is the headquarters of this region's commander."

"Our intelligence bears that assessment out as well," Hasid agreed. "However, he also has fielded a number of Euclid mobile armors. He uses those to defend his most critical pieces of hardware and command infrastructure, so that our men are never able to score a decisive victory against his troops."

Meyrin stepped promptly into the role of the captain. "Mobile armor search and destroy is our specialty," she put in. "We'll take care of the mobile armors. You just keep your men worried about the conventional forces, and we should all be okay."

"Assuming all goes to plan," Abbey added.

"We'll leave the conventional combat to your men," Meyrin said to Hasid. "You just need to concentrate on holding them at their current lines. We'll handle those mobile armors and the Gelzuge, and once they're all done, we'll join you and mop up the remaining Alliance units." She glanced out over the city, her eyes falling on the Gelzuge. "Are you certain that the areas we'll likely be fighting in are abandoned?"

"As certain as we can manage," Hasid answered, "given our priority has been elsewhere. But we are confident that the presence of the Minerva will bring us victory."

Meyrin suppressed a sigh. "We will see." She took up the intercom, pressing down the doubt. "All pilots, this is Captain Hawke..."

Earth Alliance battleship Charlemagne, Krasnodar Krai, Russia

All things considered, Ivan Danilov could not see the man on the screen as one really suited to commanding a heavily reinforced Alliance brigade that was waging a high-profile campaign against the Resistance in Novorossiysk. Brigadier General Richard Yeager resembled a cookie-cutter politician far more than he did a soldier clearly he was there to put a good face on the occupation. Danilov then had to wonder who was actually in charge of this campaign, but it was protocol that he contact the man highest in the rank first.

"Captain Danilov," Yeager said in surprise as he turned in his command center, saluting the Phantom Pain officer. Danilov saluted back with his Phantom Pain authority, his rank had the authority of one rank higher than his own over regular forces, which technically made himself and Yeager equals...although Danilov was loathe to undercut a commander's authority simply because of technicalities. "I see you've brought quite the foe in ahead of you."

"We suspect that this was their target all along," Danilov answered. "The Minerva is likely to join the Resistance forces in this city, and I need not remind you that the addition of the Minerva makes any opponent a formidable one."

"I understand," Yeager answered, "but I believe everyone is underestimating the troops I have gathered here. We have rigged numerous city blocks with traps for both infantry and armor, including mobile suits, and with the addition of your forces, I believe we could move in behind them and split the enemy force in two."

"The Minerva is well aware that we are pursuing them," Danilov warned, "and I'm sure that they are preparing for such a contingency." He paused, wondering if it would be against protocol to inform Yeager of sensitive Phantom Pain orders, and then decided that protocol could go do something anatomically impossible to itself. "Additionally, I have orders from Marshal Markav herself to force the Minerva from the field in Novorossiysk. She has something special in mind."

Yeager stiffened in his chair at the mention of the Phantom Pain's chilling commander. "We will be successful here," he answered, "of that I am certain. Marshal Markav's plan will not need to come to pass."

Danilov turned that over in his mind for a moment. "Very well then, general," he answered at last. "My troops will attack from the rear as soon as we are in position."

Battleship Minerva, outside Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai, Russia

The ground trembled with the footsteps of dozens of mobile suits, moving into formation around the winged and battered hull of the venerable Minerva. Through the Twilight's eyes, Emily could see the motley army as it formed, filled as much by infantry, armored vehicles, and helicopters as by proper mobile suits. The halting knowledge of military tactics that survival had dictated she glean told her that these troops would be slaughtered in battle...and so she steeled herself for the terrible feeling.

"We're splitting you guys up into teams," Roxy explained through the Twilight's cockpit. Emily glanced over her Gundam's shoulder, finding the rest of the Minerva's knights coming alive. "Shinn, Stella, and Emily will head southeast and go for the southern flank of the port. Sting, Auel, and Rau will take the northern flank. Hasid's men will hit them in the center, and Athrun and Viveka get the ever-uplifting task of freeing the prisoners in an abandoned rail yard just west of the port." She glanced at Meyrin, who only nodded. "And the word is given. Let's have some fun, boys and girls!"

Shinn's grim face appeared on the monitor next. "Emily, they deployed a squadron of Euclid mobile armors," he explained. "Leave them to me, and don't provoke them. They only engage enemies that their commanders deem particularly dangerous."

"Well let's get dangerous!" added Auel with a grin. "Auel Neider, Abyss, going out!"

The Abyss took off with a roar, and Emily glanced out the open catapult. The sky was dark with thick gray clouds indeed, she could already see where the rain was beginning to fall. "I'll be okay," she said quietly. "But I hope the city is as abandoned as they say..."

"I guess we're going to find out," Shinn agreed, as the Destiny fell into place on the catapult. "Shinn Asuka, Destiny, launching!"

Novorossiysk, Russia

The command cabin of the Gelzuge mobile armor had been billed as having room for ten, plus a commander, turning the mobile armor into a well-protected command post. But clearly, the missing qualifier was "much" room, as Richard Yeager squeezed himself into the commander's seat and watched the hatch close. The cabin was bathed in eerie red light as the Gelzuge slowly came online, and the trio of display screens around Yeager's station flickered to life.

"Recon is reporting movement around the Minerva, general," someone reported.

"I see they're not wasting their time," Yeager chuckled, as the Gelzuge tramped forward, hefting its rifles. "Position of the Charlemagne?"

"It won't be in position for approximately thirty minutes," another soldier answered.

Yeager sat back, getting as comfortable as possible. "Order the forward to battalions to move in and launch a preemptive attack. We'll reinforce with the secondary units as needed."

"But sir, the Minerva is launching mobile suits," a voice answered. "The Destiny "

"Deploy the Euclid team in Myrmidon Formation," Yeager cut him off. "A Gundam is just a mobile suit with a fancy head!" He threw a switch on his chair's armrest, bringing up an image of a mustachioed man in an Earth Alliance Air Force uniform. "Captain Carter, get the Vienna airborne and attack the Minerva. We'll keep them off balance."

"Yes sir," the officer answered, before the screen went dark.

The cabin fell silent as the Gelzuge lumbered forward.


Emily felt fire race through her veins as the call went out, and the Destiny, Twilight, and Gaia broke formation to dodge a blaze of beam blasts, and from the sky a gray Euclid mobile armor came streaking into the battle. It released a horde of missiles, fanning out across the sky.

"Emily, get down into the street!" Shinn snapped, as the Destiny dove down into the forest of buildings, with the Gaia beside it. The Euclid wheeled around as Emily hit the pavement, and she dove aside as it came around for another pass. "I'll distract it! Emily, Stella, get in close and cut through the reflector!"

The Destiny took off with a flash, activating its beam wings and somersaulting over the Euclid's next shots. It arced after the Gundam, beam cannons blazing Emily steeled herself and took off next to the Gaia, drawing her beam saber.

"It's not scary!" Stella snapped, lunging up and bringing her own saber down with a scream. The Euclid jetted forward, barely avoiding her attack, and shoved the Gaia back with a burst of exhaust from its engines. Emily saw her chance, sending the Twilight streaking forward under the Euclid's hull and drawing back her saber

An instant later, the Euclid whirled around, ramming her with the side of its hull. The Twilight rattled as it went staggering out of the sky, and the mobile armor leveled off its beam cannons for a killing blow only to lurch to the side as an off-white blur ripped across its hull, tearing a long black gash along the surface.

"Emily, move it!" Shinn snapped, as he caught his boomerang on the rebound, charging with sword drawn. "You're gonna regret that!"

The Euclid jetted aside, ducking out of the way of Shinn's killing sword slash, but the Destiny took off before the Euclid could open fire and an instant later, the Gaia was upon it with beam saber raised high, swiping down and catching the Euclid's right side, putting another gash in the armor. The Destiny came back down with another sword stroke, lopping off one of the Euclid's fins, and taking off again before it could retaliate.

Instinct screamed as Emily plunged her Gundam forward, drawing back its saber and charging into the air, where the Euclid desperately turned its guns towards the charging Twilight. She ducked aside as it opened fire, diving into close quarters and tearing a smoking scar up the Euclid's nose, before taking off again

"Gotcha!" Shinn roared, coming down with a triumphant crash and skewering the Euclid on his anti-ship sword. The broken mobile armor belched fire, and Shinn yanked his sword free and took off as it collapsed towards the street and exploded.

The Destiny landed with a crash in the street, glancing over at the Twilight and Gaia as they came down as well. "They're gonna have to do better than that if they want to stop us!" He turned his attention down the street as a Windam team leapt out from the cover of skyscrapers, opening fire. The three Gundams took cover behind their shields, until Shinn charged, brandishing his sword with a scream and cleaving the leading Windam in two with a shriek. The Gaia leveled off its rifle, picking off a second Windam, while Shinn crushed the third with a lightning-fast palm cannon blow and Emily seized her chance to blow apart the fourth Windam as it backpedaled in the face of the unstoppable Destiny.

"Shinn!" Stella cried out, as the Gaia pointed into the air with its shield. "Look!"

The sky split in two as another Euclid descended from the heavens, beam cannons blazing. The Destiny somersaulted into the air.

"I'll take care of it! " Shinn answered. "You two go on without me!"

Emily plucked up her courage and followed Stella as she plunged down the street.

The bisected remains of a fallen Windam crashed into the street and exploded, and from the smoke emerged the Infinite Justice Gundam, beam blade alive and pointed at the remaining Windams. They opened fire, pounding shots against the Justice's beam shield but an instant later, a wave of beam shots from the heavens took down two of their numbers and sent the rest scurrying for safety, and from the sky the Savior Gundam landed with a rumble.

"They're pulling back," Athrun observed as the Justice moved forward, rifle in hand. He raised the Justice's left hand into the air, firing a flare up into the sky and bathing the city in blue light. "All units, advance!"

Two dozen mobile suits of all types emerged from hiding places around the street and charged forward, weapons in hand, with the Justice and Savior at the lead. A squad of Windams emerged up ahead to stop them a wave of beam shots and machinegun fire shredded them before they could attack. Athrun stormed forward, blade shining to life, and slammed it through the cockpit of another Windam as it leveled off its rifle, before ducking and spearing a second Windam through the chest with a beam rifle shot.

"Athrun, their defense is too dense here! We'll take all day to break through!" Viveka shouted, pausing only to return the fire of the remaining Windams.

"All units, spread out and advance in!" Athrun ordered. "We'll thin out their lines and create a weak point of our own!" The Justice charged forward, plowing through another salvo of beam shots and ramming down a third Windam

The familiar feeling of danger returned, and Athrun slammed on the brakes just as a pair of thundering explosions tore through the foundations of two buildings up ahead, and brought them down over the street with a bone-jarring crash. Athrun backed away behind his beam shield as the Savior came down behind him.

"Well," he grunted, "this is different."

"They don't have all these buildings booby-trapped, do they?" Viveka asked, scanning the street. A squad of Windams leapt up over the toppled buildings, beam rifles ready Athrun threw his beam shield up to deflect their shots, letting Viveka vault into the air and force the attackers back on the defensive with a volley of plasma cannon shots.

"We may have to go the long way around," Athrun said with a heavy sigh, as the Savior returned to earth with a crash. "All units, continue spreading the line of attack out! We're bound to break their defense somewhere!"

"Don't these fuckers think of overkill?!" snapped Auel Neider as his Abyss Gundam staggered back under a hail of debris as another building came tumbling down before him. "Goddammit! Phase Shift can't stand up to that much pressure!"

The Legend Gundam came down with a crash, toting a bazooka in one hand and its beam rifle in the other. "The Alliance is trying to force us into Novorossiysk's main thoroughfares, which are more open and provide us with less cover," Rau observed dourly, even as a line of Doppelhorn Windams down the street opened up with a withering barrage. "Unless we want to expose ourselves climbing over toppled buildings."

The Chaos Gundam lunged up to squeeze off a volley of beam shots at the enemies down the street, before plunging back behind the cover of the wrecked tower, shuddering as the Windams' shells rained down on their position. "Well, at least we would be making progress that way!" Sting shot back. "We're not getting anywhere like this!"

"They can't have rigged every building in the city," Auel added.

"On the contrary," Rau said, with a smile playing at his lips, "let's assume that every building is rigged."

The Legend vaulted into the air, firing a punishing beam cannon fusillade that plowed through the buildings on either side of the attacking Windam team. Both buildings erupted into two towering plumes of fire, bringing down a rain of concrete and steel that crushed the Windams before they could retreat.

"They are not the only ones who can use the environment against their enemies," Rau finished, as the Legend landed in the street. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends!"

Auel sneered as the Legend took off down the street. "I hate it when he shows off how smart he is."

Battleship Minerva

The main screen was alive with the daunting image of an Alliance Siegfried-class carrier plane rising into the air, guns ready, spoiling for a fight. Meyrin steeled herself in the captain's chair the inexorable dance between two dubiously-airworthy vessels trying to knock each other out of the sky was always the most stressful part of the captaincy.

"Enemy carrier plane's heat signatures are rising," Burt reported from the sensor station. "It looks like it's charging its beam cannons."

"Malik, I'll leave the evasive maneuvers to you," Meyrin said grimly as the Minerva swung into action. "Chen, you're going to have to make our shots count. There's no sense in causing more damage to the city than there already is."

"We won't have much room to maneuver unless we move the battle out to sea," Malik warned.

"Missiles, incoming!" Burt interrupted. Meyrin clenched her teeth no time to second-guess now.

"CIWS, intercept! Malik, combat speed; Chen, target the Tristans and fire on my mark!"

Earth Alliance battleship Charlemagne, Krasnodar Krai, Russia

"Yeager has stirred up one hell of a hornet's nest," grunted a well-irritated Danilov as he studied the tactical map. "No worthwhile commander would take on a force like this without at least a division's strength."

"He's managed to hold them back for two weeks," Vera offered, arms crossed as she stood by the captain's chair.

"And they've only taken half the city," Danilov answered. "And now they're up against the Minerva. General Yeager's hubris is going to get the best of him." He paused, putting a hand to his chin in thought. "However, that is no reason not to seize the opportunity before us. Helm, status report."

"ETA to staging position is approximately twelve minutes, sir," the helmsman answered. Danilov sat back, studying the specter of the city before him.

"Tell Captain Bayan to get his team moving," he said at last. "It's time for the Charlemagne to make its presence known."

The sky was alive with the blurry phantoms of the Destiny Gundam as it spiraled elegantly around the Euclid's furious beam fire. The hulking mobile armor corkscrewed down towards the legendary Gundam, relentlessly pounding its beam shields inside the Destiny, Shinn flashed a feral grin.

"You've certainly got guts!" he cried, brandishing his titanic anti-ship sword and charging. The Euclid tried to pull up an instant too late, as Shinn rammed his sword into the Euclid's right-hand beam cannon, ripping it clear off the Euclid's hull and sending the Euclid staggering back with smoke pouring from its wound. "But guts alone won't let you win!"

The Euclid whirled around, even as it threw sparks, and fired again the Destiny took off, letting its afterimages take the blow as the Destiny itself danced effortlessly around the shots, the momentum of its sword carrying it out of harm's way.

"You're afraid...!" Shinn snarled, even as he sent a beam boomerang slicing through the air to saw off one of the Euclid's fins. The battered mobile armor charged, its remaining beam cannon blazing furiously.

The Destiny lunged aside, catching its boomerang on the rebound, as the Euclid rocketed past and painfully wheeled around for another pass. Shinn charged back at it, sword in hand, and brought it down with a crash through the Euclid's remaining beam cannon, slashing the barrel in two and rendering the cannon worthless. The Euclid instead turned in a desperate attempt to ram the Destiny bodily.

"That won't work!" Shinn cried the Destiny somersaulted over the Euclid's smoldering prow, and with a scream, Shinn plunged his sword down into the Euclid's center.

Another death. Shinn frowned that was what had to be. He pulled his sword free from the ruined mobile armor and backed away, watching it explode.

Shinn glanced up at the rest of the battlefield, switching back to his beam rifle. Emily was still out there.

"They aren't taking any chances with us, are they?" Viveka sighed as she spotted a new Euclid unit sailing into battle over the demolished city.

Athrun narrowed his eyes at the target. "All units, leave the mobile armor to us," he said. "Continue advancing towards the compound." He glanced over at the Savior, as it reverted to mobile suit mode and hefted its beam rifle. "This shouldn't be as difficult as the Zamzazar was in Murmansk."

"You act like I haven't improved since then," Viveka shot back with a grin. "Let's go!"

The Infinite Justice and Savior rocketed forward, spiraling around the Euclid's opening salvo and firing back with their beam rifles. The hulking mobile armor slammed on its brakes, releasing a cloud of missiles that lanced through the sky towards the two Gundams. Athrun cut them from the sky with a CIWS burst, as the Savior ducked underneath the explosions and pummeled the Euclid's positron reflector with plasma cannon blasts.

"Viveka, Attack Pattern Tau! We'll cut him in two!" Athrun called, plunging through the smoke and firing back at the charging Euclid. The mobile armor kept going, firing back and slamming a salvo of its own against the Justice's beam shield. "That's not gonna stop me...!"

The Euclid kept charging forward, driving the Justice back with a beam cannon barrage. Athrun somersaulted over the blasts and backpedaled behind his shield, stashing his beam rifle in favor of a twin beam saber. The Euclid rushed forward, beam cannons blazing

"In position!" shouted Viveka. "Let's do it!"

Athrun clenched his teeth, charging forward and detaching the Fatum-01. The Euclid struggled to pull up, but too late as the Fatum's beam blades flashed to life, ripping the Euclid's left-hand cannon off its hull. A moment later, the stricken mobile armor shuddered again, as the Savior rocketed past, tearing free its right-hand cannon with a beam saber. And with a scream from its pilot, Athrun's Gundam roared up over the wounded mobile armor, bringing its saber down through the center of the smoking machine with a crash.

The Fatum returned with a crash, and the Justice leapt clear of the mobile armor as it finally exploded.

"Man, that move never gets old," Viveka chuckled.

Athrun glanced up ahead, where he could see the flat gray barracks of the prison camp and where he could see evil rising up like a cloud of steam. "All units, continue advance! We have prisoners to rescue!"

"It says much about you that you believe these units can stop the best pilots in the Earth Sphere, Lord Djibril!" Rau cackled as he traded fire with a massive Euclid unit, diving through the air to avoid its blasts. "Sting, Auel, Attack Pattern Zeta!"

"Ooh, I love that one!" Auel laughed, even as the Abyss deflected a beam cannon volley with its shoulder shells. "Sting! You'd better not fuck this one up!"

"Oh, blow me," Sting grunted, as the Chaos swung into position. "Let's see how you take this! Gunbarrels, go!"

The Chaos Gundam's gunbarrels lifted off with a flash, darting into battle and immediately pounding the Euclid with missiles. The staggering mobile armor sank down beneath the smoke, firing back, only to find nothing there and a moment later, the Legend and Abyss lined up on other side of the colossal machine to smash both sides of its reflector with a crushing barrage of beam fire. The Euclid rushed forward to escape the volley and with a crunch of torn metal, fell right into the Chaos's hands as it slammed its beam claws through the machine's beam cannons.

"Gotcha!" Sting roared, raising his saber triumphantly and bringing it down with a crash through the Euclid's cockpit. As the mobile armor began to die, the Chaos leapt off its butchered foe, its gunbarrels returning as the Gundam whirled around to watch its enemy's death throes.

"I see I taught Athrun well when it comes to mobile suit team strategy," Rau chuckled.

"Yeah, like it was all you," Auel sneered.

The Chaos glanced over its shoulder at an approaching squad of Jet Windams. "We have better things to worry about, guys. Let's go!"

Emily squeezed her eyes shut as the Twilight Gundam took cover behind a collapsed skyscraper, lights flashing and filling the cockpit. A line of Doppelhorn Windams, supported by less heavily-armed comrades down the street, was pummeling the Twilight and Gaia with a relentless artillery barrage. They would have to run out of ammo at some point, but that point did not appear to be rapidly approaching.

"We're never gonna get anywhere like this," Emily groaned, pausing as a wayward shell blew off a chunk of the fallen building she was taking cover behind. She glanced over at the Gaia as it hefted its beam rifle. "What should we do, Stella?"

"Stella will shoot them," the blonde Extended answered suddenly. "Will Emily be okay?"

Emily glanced anxiously back at the Windams, as they began to advance, beam rifles at the ready. "I guess..."

Stella smiled reassuringly, as the Gaia took off down the street, towards the charred stump of another building. Emily glanced back at the Windams, wondering how to attack them only to have her question answered as the Windams opened fire with their beam rifles, blasting apart the barricade.

"I hope all that training pays off!" Emily cried, lunging out of cover and squeezing off a handful of return shots. One of the Windams was struck in the cockpit, exploding with a blaze that knocked its comrades aside Emily seized her chance to roar up into the air, showering the Windams with beam fire. The Doppelhorn Windams leveled off their cannons, filling the sky with artillery shells and throwing the Twilight back with a cloud of smoke

An instant later, a pulsing green beam blast came streaking out of the sky, blowing one of the Doppelhorn Windams away. Emily shot a glance over her shoulder


Atop a ruined building down the street, the Gaia Gundam adjusted its aim, and Stella narrowed her eyes from behind the Gaia's sniper scope.

"Stella, sniping the targets," she answered. The Gaia fired again, even as the Doppelhorn Windams opened fire.

"Oh no you don't!" Emily screamed, plunging down with a volley of beam blasts that destroyed another Doppelhorn Windam. A second beam blast from the Gaia picked off another Windam, while Emily plowed into their ranks, blowing apart two more with another volley of beam rifle blasts.

One of the Windams whirled in around the Twilight, beam saber raised. Emily glanced sharply at it

"I see you too!" she cried, drawing a saber with her left hand and driving it through the Windam's cockpit. Adrenaline mixed with the familiar feeling of death as she wheeled around to face the rest of the Windams, even as another blast from the Gaia speared another Windam through the cockpit.

The last two Windams backpedaled away, Doppelhorn Strikers blazing. A fourth shot from the Gaia picked off one of them, while Emily charged at the last behind her beam shield, squinting through the smoke and fire

Instinct screamed within her, and she threw the Twilight to the ground to dodge a furious horizontal beam saber swipe...and with a crash, she lunged up and impaled the Windam on her own saber.

As the final opponent exploded, Emily glanced over at the Gaia as it landed with a crash.

"Is Emily okay...?" Stella asked.

The Twilight stashed its beam saber and turned down the street. "I'll be fine, Stella," Emily answered.

As a squadron of Jet Windams, armed to the teeth with missiles, came streaking towards him, Shinn Asuka was aware of a single emotion permeating the charging dozen of machines: fear. It was odd to feel so much fear from so many enemies charging towards a single target. Then again, Shinn had felt this for three years, and yet they still followed that suicidal order.

"If you guys are so afraid of me, then you shouldn't be fighting," he said, watching time slow as the Windams opened fire. "Because I'm not showing any mercy!'

The Destiny's beam wings blazed to life, and the mighty Gundam sent an army of afterimages flashing forward as it dodged the Windams' attacks. The squadron of attackers broke formation, moving out to flank the afterimage-spewing Gundam.

"That's not gonna work!" Shinn snapped, whipping his rifle up to cut down one of the Windams, and dodging the attacks of the rest. A second Windam moved in behind the Destiny Shinn whirled around to slice it in two with his beam wings, and then fired up above to drill another blast through a third Windam. The remaining machines backed away, opening fire with their missiles. Shinn backed away as the warheads came streaking in, throwing his solid shield out in front of him, and the sky lit up with explosions as the missiles smashed into the shield.

The Windams waited with baited breath as the smoke flashed up in front of them and an instant later, a barrage of beam blasts came tearing out of the cloud, wrenching three of the Windams out of the sky before the rest could take off and evade. The smoke parted to reveal the Destiny Gundam, beam rifle raised and missing its shield, but otherwise unharmed and waiting.

"Making me sacrifice my shield..." Shinn growled, as the Windams moved in to resume the attack. "On the other hand, now your ranks are thinner!"

The Windams opened fire again with a flurry of afterimages, the Destiny backflipped over the shots and charged, crushing a seventh Windam's cockpit with a palm cannon blast before it could react. Even as the Windam exploded, the Destiny whirled around amidst the smoke to spear an eighth Windam on another beam rifle shot, and took off as the Windams belatedly returned fire.

A desperate ninth Windam came charging in from behind, beam saber drawn for a killing stab. Shinn smirked as the familiar white bolt flashed before his eyes, and he whirled around to seize the Windam's arm, turning and using the Windam as a bludgeon against another saber-wielding Windam. As both mobile suits staggered, the Destiny effortlessly shot them both down with a single shot, and then ducked beneath another Windam's beam saber swipe, hurling a beam boomerang through its waist. The boomerang arced down towards the final Windam, but it managed to dodge the blade at the cost of its rifle, and went charging up towards the Destiny, saber in hand.

Shinn only watched as the boomerang came whirling around again and tore the Windam in two, and as his bisected foe exploded, caught the boomerang and returned it effortlessly to its rack.

"Really, this is getting tiring," he said with a sigh. The Destiny glanced back towards the battlefield and took off.

"Sting, Auel," Rau's voice came through the comm. "I'm breaking off. I am needed elsewhere."

"Where is 'elsewhere?'" Sting asked, grunting as a Windam's beam rifle shot landed against his shield. The Abyss landed in front of the Chaos to shower the enemies down the street with beam fire.

"Emily is going to be needing assistance shortly," Rau answered. "I trust the attack will be left in good hands." The line went out as the Legend peeled off.

"I hate it when he does that," Sting muttered, throwing the Chaos aside and squeezing off a beam shot that drilled through a Windam down the street. "Auel, it's just you and me! Let's try Attack Pattern Nu!"

"Oh yeah, the kamikaze one! I like that one!" Auel shouted, as the Abyss Gundam backflipped over a volley of beam shots and landed with a crash in the street. "In position! Let's kick some ass!"

The Abyss unleashed a storm of beam fire from its shoulder shells, pummeling the Windams down the street and forcing them back behind their shields. The Chaos took off, skimming along the street and under the Abyss's fire, plowing through the Windam formation and tearing two of them in half with its beam claws. Sting whipped around with his beam rifle ready, opening fire on the Windams as they tried to split their attention. The Abyss intensified its fire, and within moments, the Windam team was reduced to a smoldering field of wreckage.

"And you were always bitching about how Meyrin and Athrun kept coming up with attack patterns," Sting said with a smirk.

"Well, fuck you," Auel shot back. The two Gundams took off down the street.

Another Doppelhorn Windam fell in the street, gutted by the Gaia Gundam's beam saber. As it exploded, Stella turned and deflected another wave of beam shots with her shield just in time for the Twilight to level off its long-range cannon and blow away one of the charging Jet Windams. The other broke off, only to be speared by a blast from the Twilight's beam rifle.

Emily glanced nervously around the city as Stella searched for more targets. There was fear everywhere, but that was coming from the Alliance troops, helpless as they struggled to stop the unstoppable and battle the Gundams. And there was hatred...but that was coming from the Resistance soldiers.

"Is Emily alright?" Stella asked suddenly. Emily blinked in surprise, as the feelings swirled around her. She glanced down at her map, finding the Resistance units closing in but such hatred...

"I-I'll be fine," she started.

A squad of Jet Windams came streaking out of the heavens, beam rifles blazing. Emily swung up her beam shield to defend the two Gundams, as the Gaia fired back with its own rifle, picking one of the Windams out of the sky. Emily clenched her teeth as the Twilight took off, firing back with its own rifle and forcing the Windams on the defensive. One of the Windams swept in behind her, beam rifle raised Emily whirled around to face it

The world began to sway around her as the feeling of hatred washed over her again, chilling her bones and stopping her hand. The Windam was speared by another shot from the Gaia, and the Twilight went reeling from the blast, coming down with a crash.

"Emily! What's wrong?" Stella exclaimed, only to be stopped as the remaining two Windams came sweeping in with a beam volley. Stella lunged up into the air, sawing one of the Windams in two at the waist with her beam saber, but the other whirled around for a killing blow only for another beam to knock it out of the sky with a blast of fire.

The Legend Gundam landed with a crash next to the Twilight, turning towards it. Emily looked blearily up at it, barely registering the cold gray metal and piercing green eyes as the haze of emotion clouded her view.

"W-What's going on...?" she asked weakly, as the Legend pulled the Twilight to its feet. "This hatred..."

"Rau! What happened to Emily?" Stella cried.

"This feeling is too easy to recognize," Rau murmured. "There is hatred, but it is not directed at only the Alliance."

He paused and unleashed a barrage of beams down the street, forcing a charging Windam team to take cover and picking off two of their numbers. The Gaia backpedaled behind its shield, finishing off the other two.

"I-I don't understand this," Emily moaned, holding her head in her hands. "This feeling..."

Rau paused and glanced at his map, watching as the Infinite Justice and Savior approached the prison camp. The hatred was strong all over the city, but there it was strongest, and from the soldiers following Athrun and Viveka...

He glanced up towards the camp. I suppose this is where our little Newtype begins to shine...

"There it is!" Viveka shouted as the Savior soared overhead in mobile armor mode. "Athrun, I've got a visual of the camp!"

"Good! All units, double-time! Viveka, clear us a path!"

In the Savior, Viveka could not help but grin as the Savior swept down amid a flurry of antiaircraft fire. "Roger that! Savior, commencing bombardment!"

The Savior stormed into battle over the street, streaking past missiles and tracer rounds and slamming a teeming payload of explosives into the lines of Windams guarding the road up into the prison camp. As even the armored vehicles guarding the camp opened fire, she pulled up over the camp and transformed back to mobile suit mode, showering the mobile suits below with beam fire. An instant later, Athrun's Infinite Justice came crashing through the Windams' lines, tearing apart two of them with a concentrated beam volley, followed closely by a motley column of Resistance mobile suits.

"Secure the compound! Andrei, move your team in to start freeing the prisoners!" Athrun ordered, not pausing even as the Infinite Justice sawed a Windam in two with its beam boomerang.

He glanced to the side, watching as Alliance soldiers fled the battlefield on foot, and magnified the image. A handful of wounded men in bloody black uniforms were staggering past a huge earthen pit, filled with corpses.

Athrun narrowed his eyes, checking the impulse to open fire. To kill those injured men would be to act like a soldier of the Phantom Pain, and once he started acting like his foes, he would have forgotten what defeating his foes meant.

"Sergei and Katerina have the perimeter secure," Viveka put in, as the Savior landed next to the Justice. "You okay in there?"

Athrun gestured to the mass grave, and Viveka could only gasp. "I don't know whether to say we made it in time or not," he said, "but it looks like we'll have more work to do."

And, he thought bitterly as he turned towards the rest of the city, there was still that terrible feeling of hatred...

"Andrei," Athrun said suddenly, "I'm leaving you in command here. Get the prisoners safely out of the city by Red Route."

"Yes sir," answered the man on the other end. Athrun glanced over at Viveka.

"I have a feeling that Emily needs help," he said. "Let's go."

"My oh my, what a mess," sighed Shams Coza as the Verde Buster sailed into battle with the Strike Noir and Blu Duel. "We'll be lucky to just find the Minerva's units in this mess."

Sven narrowed his eyes at the grim tableau before him Resistance troops advancing north from all directions and on all fronts, and reports indicated that a crucial prison compound had already fallen. Yeager's men were clearly on the retreat.

"Ensign Saiba, Ensign Seraux," he said, glancing over at the Slaughter Windam and IWSP Windam on his flank. "I trust you have marked your target already?"

"We'll take on the Twilight, sir," answered Grey.

Sven returned his sights to the battlefield. "Very well. Commence operation!"

Battleship Minerva

Meyrin gripped the armrests of the captain's chair until her knuckles were white as the ship quaked under a barrage of missiles, barely stopped by the Minerva's CIWS emplacements. She looked up through the smoke, finding the Vienna triumphantly above her.

That won't stop us, she grunted mentally. "Isolde, target the Siegfried and fire!"

The Minerva's Isolde angled its barrels up and roared in response, and the Vienna dodged with only inches to spare. The Minerva plowed through the smoke

A towering skyscraper was directly in the ship's path. The crew yelped in surprise, just before Malik yanked the ship hard to starboard, pulling up just in time.

"Dammit, this environment is too difficult to fight in!" Abbey shouted. "We have to move the battle out to sea!"

"Enemy is firing!" Burt cried, as the Vienna opened fire with its Gottfrieds.

"Malik, evade!"

The Minerva tilted aside again, firing back with its Tristans, and Meyrin watched in disappointment as the Vienna again managed to dodge certain death.

"Captain, what about the Tannhäuser?" Chen asked.

"The radiation would ruin Novorossiysk," Meyrin answered, "and they're going to have enough problems once we're done here."

The auxiliary screen came to life, showing Hasid's grim bearded face. "Captain, we have a problem," he said.

"We have lots of problems," Meyrin grunted, as her ship rocked again. "What is it?"

"My men have taken the prison compound, and your two Gundams have left the area to assist comrades," Hasid said, "but since then, something terrible has happened...and my men..."

"What?" Meyrin asked, as that sinking feeling in her heart began to materialize.

"My men are killing each other, captain."

To be continued...