Phase 35 - Gamma Glipheptin

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TWILIGHT

Phase 35 - Gamma Glipheptin

March 19th, CE 77 - Battleship Minerva, Persian Gulf

The night sky was filled with stars, but by now Emily von Oldendorf knew better than to trust that each of those points of light was really a ball of flaming gas millions of light-years away. After all, some of them were getting closer.

The Twilight Gundam lurched out of the Minerva's hangar and into the cold night air, falling into formation next to the rest of the Minerva's squadron of Gundams. A force of mobile suits were on the horizon, approaching under the cover of darkness although the night sky had not hidden them from the Minerva's watchful eye. Roxy had counted twenty-four mobile suits total, but Shinn did not seem convinced and that was what made Emily the most nervous.

Evidently, Meyrin agreed. "Auel, take the Abyss underwater," she ordered, her voice crackling through the radio. "If there's an underwater force, engage it; if not, set up for an ambush."

"If you say so," Auel said, and the Abyss abruptly transformed and dropped into the water.

Emily scanned the skies ahead of her six teams of four Jet Windams each, all seeming to wait for the Gundams to make the first move. The Infinite Justice edged ahead of her.

"They aren't breaking formation yet," Athrun observed, "so we'll fire the first shot. Stella!"

The Gaia swung its rifle up into position and opened fire, spearing a shot across the sky and forcing the Windams to break ranks.

Emily cracked her knuckles time for work.

The Windams returned fire in spades, and the Gundams broke off their own formation, spreading out. Emily glanced up at the Destiny and followed as it lunged up into the air, showering the Windam formation with more beam fire. Shinn's face appeared on the side monitor.

"We're splitting now," he said. "Come with me."

The Destiny and Twilight rocketed forward, and the Destiny's wings of light came to life with a flash, the Gundam drawing its Arondight sword and charging.

"Break the center of the formation," Shinn instructed, "and wheel around to hit them from behind!"

Emily pursed her lips. He made it look easy.

The Twilight leveled off its beam rifle and opened fire, pulling back as two squads of Windams broke off to attack the two Gundams with the wings of light. Shinn was upon them instantly, forcing them apart with a devastating sword blow, and one squad of the Windams turned their attention to him but the remaining four kept coming towards the Twilight.

"You should have just run," whispered Emily, pulling back to draw her left-hand beam boomerang, "because I won't show any mercy!"

Athrun Zala could feel his enemy's desperation as the backpedaling Windam abandoned its ruined beam rifle and hurled a Stiletto penetrator into the Infinite Justice's face. He grunted as the weapon exploded and sent his Gundam jolting back only for the Savior to lunge through the smoke an instant later and put its saber through the Windam's cockpit, wiping it out.

"You always need my help, Zala-boy," cackled Viveka, even as the Savior leapt backward and deflected a return volley with its shield.

The Windams broke ranks again, this time to avoid a torrent of beam fire from the Legend Gundam, which stormed into the fray to drive the attackers back.

"Radar confirms an enemy mothership just over the horizon," intoned Rau. "I volunteer myself to destroy it."

"Really now," grunted Athrun, forming up beside the two Gundams and waiting for the Windams to expose themselves and attack again. "4000 out?"

"4000 out," Rau confirmed, with a Cheshire grin. "Don't you trust me?"

"Not in the slightest," snapped Athrun. "Get going. Viveka, cover him."

The Legend burst forward, deflecting blasts with its beam shields and spiraling over the Windams' heads. As two of them turned to open fire, the Savior gunned them down with an effortless plasma cannon blast, and the two remaining Gundams rocketed apart to avoid the return fire.

"Someday you're gonna have to tell me what's got your panties in such a wad over that guy," Viveka said, as the two Gundams formed up for another attack.

Athrun ground his teeth. "Attack Pattern Nu! We'll cut through the center!"

The two Gundams jetted apart, and the Savior lined up with its plasma cannons deployed.

"You'd better be careful," Viveka warned. "I'd hate to mess up that pretty face of yours."

Athrun grunted as the Infinite Justice slid into position. "That wouldn't be the worst thing to happen to my face. Go!"

A shimmering beam blast lanced across the ocean surface and pounded its way through a Windam's cockpit, blowing it out of the sky. The seven remaining Windams tightened up their formation, settling as close as possible to the phalanx formation that afforded them increased defense through overlapping shields only for the Chaos Gundam's gunbarrels to drive them apart again. In the Chaos, charging forward with the Gaia to the rear, Sting smirked at his scattering enemies and pulled his gunbarrels back.

"Stella " he started, and an instant later another blast came streaking through the air to punch a second Windam out of the sky. Sting glanced over his shoulder the Gaia was set up far enough away to blow enemies out of the sky with its beam rifle, sniper scope extended. And that left Sting free...

The Chaos roared forward, breaking the Windam formation apart. One of the six remaining Windams braved the Chaos' gunbarrels, beam saber drawn only to break in two when Sting planted one of his beam cockpits in the center of the Windam's chest. And before it could explode, he swung the Chaos' leg to the right, hurling the broken Windam at one of its compatriots. The five survivors broke ranks, pulling back and pummeling the Chaos' shield with beam fire

And an instant later, a blue streak came bursting out of the water, and with a flash, the Abyss Gundam tore two of the Windams from the sky with a ruthless volley of beam blasts. The three survivors fled upwards, only for one of them to be picked off by Stella's unflinching rifle.

Sting sneered over at the Abyss as it fell into formation next to the Chaos. "Took you long enough."

"Fuck you, you ever hear of water resistance?" Auel shot back. "Let's do this shit!"

Diving through the air by the momentum of its imposing anti-ship sword, the Destiny whirled through the sky to chop in two another unfortunate Windam. Even as its bisected remains erupted in fire, the Destiny lunged from the smoke to squeeze off a shot from its long range cannon, forcing the rest of the Windams on the defensive.

This was why Emily always felt nervous fighting near Shinn. It was hard not to feel self-conscious about her own combat skills.

The Twilight charged, slapping aside a volley of beam rifle shots and drawing a saber, bursting into close quarters and bringing the blade down on the first Windam's shields. The other four Windams pulled back only for one of them to be cut down by the Destiny's Arondight. The Windam in front of the Twilight tried to pull back, but Emily seized her chance to stab it through the cockpit and kick its broken body towards the sea.

"Only three left," she murmured, yanking back on the controls as the surviving Windams opened fire.

"If they think they can stop us with just this, they'll have to do better!" Shinn snarled. The Destiny plunged forward again, sweeping its sword through the Windams' ranks and forcing them back again. The Windams pulled back, tightening their formation again only for the Twilight to pummel them with beam fire.

In the Twilight's cockpit, Emily merely sat back while Shinn savaged the remaining Windams with the Destiny's sword. The worst part of it, she supposed, was the nagging feeling that this was not enough.

"So there you are," chuckled Rau, as the Legend Gundam sailed from the sky and swept down upon the lone carrier in the dark seas. Only a quartet of Windams remained to stop him, rocketing towards him with beam rifles blazing. "And yet I certainly can't believe that this is the extent of your plan, Sister Markav!"

The Legend lunged down towards the ocean and opened fire from below on the Windam team, pounding their shields with beam fire and driving them back. As the Alliance mobile suits floundered, the Legend shot across the ocean's surface and whirled around to open fire on the carrier. The ship lurched as a cloud of missiles lanced off its deck, angling towards the Legend.

"Merely against these things..."

Rau darted back into the air, cutting down the missiles with a burst of CIWS fire, and whirled around to draw a beam javelin and tear back towards the Windams. The quartet split their formation again, flanking the Legend and leveling their rifles

Instead, the Legend's DRAGOONs opened fire, pounding the Windams again and tearing one apart in a blast of fire. The Legend whirled around again, leveling off its rifle to mow down a second Windam with a shot through the cockpit.

"All too easy," he laughed, lunging aside again as the carrier's CIWS emplacements roared to life and filled the sky with bullets. The Windams arched around their carrier's wild shots and charged, opening fire themselves. The Legend took cover behind its beam shield, backing away as the Windams closed in and with a flash, the Legend activated its javelin and vaulted towards the Windams with a downward hack. The two Windams jetted to the side, letting the Legend pass between them only for the Legend to whip around and shoot down the Windam on its right.

The last Windam abandoned its rifle and charged with beam saber held high. Rau smirked as he turned his eyes towards it.

"Brave, perhaps," chuckled the masked man, "but that won't avenge them!"

The Legend wheeled around and blocked the Windam's saber with its beam shield and with a hard shove, it knocked the Windam's saber arm aside and plunged its javelin through the attacker's cockpit.

Even as the Windam exploded, Rau turned his attention towards the carrier and plunged through its desperate CIWS fire.

"As for you," he went on, leveling off his rifle and angling his DRAGOONs, "far be it from me to assist my enemies," the carrier intensified its fire, only for its bullets to bounce harmlessly off the Legend's Phase Shift armor, "but you must be destroyed!"

The Legend opened fire, sending a gale of beam shots ripping into the carrier's deck and tower, slicing through its armor. Arms of fire tore the ship open as Rau's attacks found their marks in ammunition and fuel banks, and with a final thunderous blast, the carrier snapped in two and vanished beneath the waves.

Rau glanced up meaningfully at the horizon.

"Send us more, Sister Markav," he said, a feral grin on his lips, "so that I might turn our little Angel of Death into a goddess."

The Legend turned and took off.

Phantom Island, Strait of Hormuz, Indian Ocean

Captain Fujikawa was a nice old man hardly suited to the bloodthirsty subordinates with whom he had been entrusted. Four soldiers, all drugged up on the Earth Alliance's trusty addictive stimulant Gamma Glipheptin, were being prepared in the ready room already. For this, the good captain had been outfitted with one of the Phantom Pain's limited production Calamity Gundam units and a trio of Slaughter Daggers.

But if Captain Fujikawa was too nice an old man for the impending slaughter, he was also too nice an old man to turn loose rabid dogs primed on a highly addictive stimulant on his unsuspecting foes.

Captain Fujikawa, incidentally, was busy getting his orders from General O'Brien in the Phantom Island control room. This left Crayt free to stand in the hangar gantry, watching below at the black and red Calamity Gundam and trio of Slaughter Windams being prepared for battle. Their pilots were surrounded by black-uniformed soldiers of the Phantom Pain, restrained by more soldiers, while steely officers measured out vials of Gamma Glipheptin.

"I know what that stuff is!" the woman at the center, an ensign in the regular Navy, screamed as she thrashed against her two Phantom Pain captors. "Don't !"

"Hold her still," the officer in charge remarked, eyeing his vial of the stimulant. The two soldiers yanked back on the ensign's arms, while a third moved toward to pry her mouth open. She let out a gargled scream as the officer emptied the vial down her throat, and the soldiers released her to fall to her knees, hacking and coughing.

"Did she get it?" the third soldier asked. The officer nodded, turning to fill the vial again.

"Now for the rest," he said.

Crayt smiled up on the gantry. This was a new formulation, one that would take effect in a few hours, increasing the time the user could operate at heightened alertness and coordination. The old Gamma Glipheptin formula was too fast-acting and wore off too quickly.

The downside, of course, was that after the drug wore off, the pilot would probably die. But that was no matter. God demanded sacrifice.

At the thought of sacrifice, she turned her thoughts to the plan. The Manhattan had been summarily wiped out by the Minerva not long ago, but its role was filled, and the delay was all the time Crayt had needed to assemble the final vestiges of her plan. Now the Strait of Hormuz sported Havilland's fleet, Phantom Island, and these soon-to-be-feral dogs of war.

Down below, the fourth pilot fell to his knees, the Gamma Glipheptin already churning in him. The Phantom Pain soldiers dragged the pilots up to their feet and pulled them away.

"Worry not," she whispered with a grin. "You sacrifice today, but in return, you shall touch the face of God."

The final checks had gone splendidly, and now all that was left to do was wait. And that was what Monique du Prey did, sitting back in the Morrigan's cockpit with her helmet thrown off and collar undone. Operation Judgment called for Havilland's fleet to move in first and pummel the Minerva, only to make way for Phantom Island and the Morrigan.

She pulled out the dossier on this machine's original pilot and leafed through it in boredom. Emily von Oldendorf, daughter of a minor bureaucrat with ambitions for far more; secret Newtype subject of Project Evolution, and now steadily awakening to her past training and power. But that power came at a price, and if it was not happening already, soon the growing sensitivity and bizarre memories would stretch the limits of her sanity.

And human sanity, Monique had found, was awfully fragile.

Monique gazed around the Morrigan's cockpit. Certainly this was the finest machine the Eurasian Federation had ever produced, before the Alliance's member nations synchronized their military development programs and began sharing technology. It could match the dreaded Freedom, in the hands of the right pilot.

And Monique had made her name as the Transylvania Viper, the evil witch that descended from the sky on the wings of a black and red Windam to visit a terrible slaughter on the under equipped and undisciplined Resistance fighters of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Indeed, when she had compared mobile suit combat to sex for that awkward young mechanic, she had not been kidding. The anticipation was already almost too much to bear.

Monique du Prey clapped the dossier shut and grinned.

March 20th, CE 77 - Earth Alliance battleship Charlemagne, Persian Gulf

"The Manhattan's signal went out at 2317," reported Vera from the XO's station. "An infrared scan at maximum resolution showed no survivors."

In the captain's chair, Danilov glowered in what he thought was the direction of Phantom Island. It was a twisted religion that so cheerfully sacrificed human lives to the gluttonous beast of war.

"Havilland's fleet and Phantom Island report that they are in position," Vera went on. "Ninety seconds to operation start."

Danilov sat back and pushed the thoughts from his mind. This was a battle; this would require all his skills as a commander, both to take down the Minerva and to not get shot down by his own side. This was what he had signed up for, this simple, clear, decisive battle against so formidable a foe, where only the perfect performances of his troops and his own skill and speed as a commander would carry the day against a commander who clearly had the same advantages.

The sun was rising. Marshal Markav had chosen the early morning hours for her deathblow, where she guessed the Minerva's pilots would be at their lowest ebb, after the delaying action of the Manhattan.

The clock ticked down to zero, and Danilov stood up.

Here we come, Minerva.

"Charlemagne, maximum combat speed! All weapons free, all mobile suit teams prepare for launch!"

His eyes flashed, and if only for a moment, he imagined he could see the Minerva on the horizon before him.

"Commence operation!"

Phantom Island, Strait of Hormuz, Indian Ocean

"Operation Judgment, commence!"

The ocean roared as Havilland's fleet ground forward, and the sky lit up as mobile suits rocketed into the air. Columns of water rose after them as a battalion of Deep Forbiddens and Forbidden Vortexes plunged into the ocean, and the world rumbled as Phantom Island began to move.

"The Charlemagne is moving into position," O'Brien reported in the control room, "and Captain Fujikawa has deployed the Gamma Glipheptin team."

Crayt grinned, and in her mind, her senses turned over the contours of the pulsing mass of life before her. At its center were four wild, flickering flames distorted by the Alliance's stimulant.

"Minerva is launching mobile suits," O'Brien went on. "It looks like they're catching on."

"Let them," cackled Crayt, sitting back and draping a leg over the other. "Armageddon has begun. They cannot stop it now."

"There's so fucking many!" Auel's voice screamed, ringing through the Twilight's cockpit and into Emily's brain as the Gundams soared into battle. She risked a glance over the radar and felt the familiar dread creep back up her throat.

"Oh no," she whispered. "Look at them all..."

"It's a fleet formation," growled Athrun, as the Infinite Justice took the lead of the Gundams' formation. "Sting, Auel, you two will stay back and defend the Minerva. The rest of us, break into teams and set up further ahead. We'll storm the fleet's formation and attempt a breakthrough at the first weak point we can make."

"We can't handle a whole fucking fleet by ourselves!" Auel cried.

"Shit, guys, would you hurry it up? Sonar has a battalion of mobile suits underwater too!" Roxy cut in.

Athrun's eyes flashed, frustrated. "Auel, take them on; Sting, protect the Minerva. We'll move forward and engage as many of those units as we can "

"Picking up another group of enemies behind us!" Burt's voice interrupted. "It's the Charlemagne!"

Emily felt herself go cold they were trapped by overwhelming forces. How could they survive? Where could they go?

"I'll deal with them," Shinn snarled, and the Destiny backflipped over the other Gundams and took off towards the Minerva.

"Here they come," Athrun started. "Engage!"

A wave of beam fire broke across the sky, and all hell broke loose.

The Twilight charged forward, beam rifle blazing and slipping into a crack in the enemy's beam barrage. A squadron of Jet Windams came streaking in, rifles alight; Emily darted above their fire and returned it in spades with her own rifle and long-range cannon. The Windam formation broke, two of their number going down in flames but another squadron immediately rose into the sky to pick up the slack.

The Twilight took off again, firing back from behind its beam shield and picking off another Windam. The remaining five swept in, missiles screaming around the black Gundam's armor, forcing it back behind a hail of explosions.

"There's just too many," Emily groaned; the Twilight lunged up over the smoke and picked off another Windam with its rifle. The remaining four banked to the side, taking cover behind their shields and opening fire again

And a moment later, a hurricane of beam blasts punched them out of the sky. Emily's eyes went wide as a twisted, distorted pressure a horrifying feeling of fear ripped its way through her brain and down her spine. She turned her eyes to the side

A black and red Calamity Gundam and three Slaughter Windams came charging towards her, opening fire. Emily's eyes flashed as four words tore across her consciousness.

"Kill...or be...killed...?"

The Calamity's eyes flashed.

The Destiny Gundam spiraled elegantly into the battle, dodging a volley of beams from the Charlemagne's Windam complement and activating its beam wings with a flash. Shinn narrowed his eyes as his Gundam drew its massive anti-ship sword.

"Just because you have us trapped here," he growled, "don't think you'll have it easy!"

The Destiny charged, diving through a wave of beam fire as the Windams charged. He chopped down one, then whirled around to take out another and jetted back to dodge another beam volley. The Destiny rattled, Shinn looked up, and he found his blade crossed with those of the Strike Noir.

Inside the black Gundam, Sven's eyes flashed. "Shams, Mudie, engage!"

The Blu Duel swept in from behind, beam saber drawn, while the Strike Noir thrust the Destiny back. Shinn backflipped over the Blu Duel's beam saber stab and brought his sword down over it, only for Mudie to duck aside and fire back with a beam gun shot from her left hand. The blast tore through only an afterimage, as Shinn skirted around the two Gundams, sword upraised only for his blow to be stopped by the Noir's beam swords. Another set of shots came barreling from the sky, slamming against the Destiny's beam shield and driving it back, and from afar, the Verde Buster opened fire again with its beam rifles.

The Noir charged up straight through the Verde Buster's fire, pounding the Destiny's Arondight with sword strokes of its own, one after another. After the sixth stroke, the Noir backflipped into the air and the Blu Duel charged in to pummel the Destiny with another six blows from both beam sabers. When the Blu Duel skirted aside, Shinn charged forward with a scream, taking a punishing swipe at the Noir with his sword only for the Verde Buster to force the two machines apart again with another beam volley.

"Work your way behind him and use the penetrators," Sven instructed, as the Noir closed in to slam its blades against the Destiny's sword. "Knock him around in there and we'll get him while he's distracted!"

The Blu Duel somersaulted over the Destiny's head. Shinn ground his teeth, surging forward to shove the Noir back and then whirling around to slam his sword against the Blu Duel's sabers. The Noir lunged up, curling its anchors around the Destiny's arms and yanking them wide, exposing the Gundam's chest.

"Now!" roared Sven

The Blu Duel and Verde Buster leveled off their beam guns and fired.

The guns of Havilland's fleet boomed and filled the sky with shells, and as a cloud of smoke spread out through the air, Athrun cursed as the Infinite Justice and Savior dropped to the sea.

"They're not coming after us, they're just firing from the fleet," Viveka grunted, as the Savior halted its descent just above the water. "Are they baiting us?"

Athrun let out an even breath and eyed his spread of enemies carefully. "Viveka," he said, "I've dealt with situations like this before, but I'm going to need you to lay down cover fire and stay back."

"Stay back?!" Viveka echoed. The conversation paused as the two Gundams darted apart, dodging another torrent of beams. "I can handle it !"

"And that's not what I'm questioning," Athrun answered. "But if what I'm about to do is going to work, I can't be worrying about where you are in relation to me."

Viveka narrowed an eye at the Infinite Justice. "Are you saying you don't trust me?"

"I'm saying I don't want to hurt you."

She turned her eye back towards the fleet. "What are you going to do anyways?"

"Storm the fleet myself and attack the ships directly."

"Oh, fuck that," Viveka shot back. "Are you nuts? I'm not letting you "

The two Gundams jetted apart again. "We don't have time for this, Viveka," he shot back. "I need you to stay back here and provide cover. Do you trust me or not?"

The Savior rocked as a shell landed hard against its shield, and Viveka squinted through the smoke at the Justice.

At last, she gave an airy sigh. "Do what you want."

Athrun narrowed his eyes at the fleet. "Then I won't hold back."

The Windams opened fire again and in a flash, the Infinite Justice ignited its beam blade and charged. The Savior opened fire, scattering the Windam formation, but the Justice charged straight through and lunged down towards the fleet at the water's surface.

"Oh my God, you're kidding," Viveka groaned.

The fleet opened fire, its rounds converging on the Justice as it stormed forward. The ships threw a screen of missiles into the sky the Justice cut down into the water, skimming along the surface and below the fleet's desperate shots and stowing its beam rifle. The Justice jerked to the right, whirling past a storm of firepower and with a crash, it embedded its anchor deep into the side of one of the fleet's smaller frigates.

Engines screaming, the Justice illuminated the sky with a blast of exhaust, and charged lengthwise over the fleets, dragging the stricken warship sideways through the water with both arms. It plowed through a destroyer, bowling it over and capsizing it, and sparks flew as the ship's hull ripped its way over its fallen comrade. Athrun darted back towards the sea, dragging the frigate through another ship, and ducked as the Windams above him finally opened fire. The Justice lanced up into the air, and with a yell from its pilot, lifted the frigate into the sky and swung it into the Windams' incredulous ranks.

In the Savior, Viveka watched in disbelief as Athrun crushed a squad of Windams to death with a warship. It smashed down below into a third destroyer, snapping in two at last and carrying both ships beneath the waves.

"Are you out of your fucking mind?!" she cried.

The Justice retracted its anchor with a crash and glared menacingly at the rest of the enemies. "It's arguable if I ever had one," came Athrun's answer. He turned towards the rest of the fleet. "Fire again there's more left!"

"Well played, Sister Markav," cackled Rau Le Creuset as his Legend Gundam spiraled through the air with a squadron of Windams on its tail, "but it will take more than this to kill me!"

The Legend slammed on the brakes and crashed itself into the Windams, opening fire with its DRAGOONs to wipe out four in one blow. The remaining eight Windams broke off, opening fire again only for the Legend to dart aside, seizing one of the Windams by the ankle. Rau turned with a grin and slammed his captive into one of its compatriots, knocking it from the sky. A white bolt slashed the air Rau whirled around and threw his captive Windam into the path of a volley of beam blasts from the remaining six, and then fired back through their dying comrade to shoot down a third Windam. The last five spread out again, only to be pounded by a wave of beam fire from the Legend.

Rau grinned. "Stella, now!"

Lancing across the sky, a beam went shooting through one Windam's cockpit, blowing it apart and with a crash, the Gaia Gundam lunged into the fray. The four surviving Windams rocketed apart, backing away behind their shields as another force of Windams came up behind them.

The Legend hefted its beam rifle, falling back behind its beam shield as the Windams opened fire. "They certainly came in force," he chuckled, glancing over at the Gaia. "Don't you agree, Stella?"

Stella's face was the picture of courage. "Stella's not scared of them," she answered.

Rau flashed a grin. "And neither am I."

The Windams opened fire again, and the Gundams boosted apart and charged.

Auel Neider hated fighting underwater. And naturally, it was his machine, the Abyss Gundam, that was the only Gundam in the Minerva's roster capable of fighting underwater. As usual, the universe conspired against him.

A squad of Deep Forbiddens, a Forbidden Vortex at their head, came streaking towards the Abyss. Auel glanced over his shoulder the Minerva was hovering over the water's surface, so clearly they wanted to surface below the ship and hit the ventral side.

"Of course," he chuckled, "you fuckers will have to go through me first."

The Abyss transformed with a flash, and Auel threw the switch to cut power to the beam weapons and reroute it to the joints, allowing for faster movements. The Abyss rocketed forward, bringing its lance to bear as the Forbidden Vortex did the same, and the two mobile suits crashed together.

"Fuck do I hate doing this," he sighed, and fired the Abyss's thrusters. The Forbidden Vortex staggered back, and the Deep Forbiddens moved in to cover it while it regained its balance but too late, as Auel activated a pair of phonon maser cannons on the Abyss's torso.

And instead, the Forbidden Vortex's backpack slid down over its head, and the Geschmeidig Panzer armor sent his shots arcing over the Vortex's head and lancing back down towards the Abyss. Auel boosted back, letting the shots sear by, and a moment later one of the Deep Forbiddens charged towards him with its trident.

"Well that was stupid!" snapped Auel, slamming the trident aside with his lance and surging forward. The Deep Forbidden floundered, its comrades rushing in but Auel forced them back with a crash from his lance, and slammed the solid blade through his foe's waist, snapping the enemy machine in two.

The Forbidden Vortex tore through the wreckage, stabbing forward with its trident. The Abyss smacked the blade aside, but an instant later, the Vortex's two shoulder claws clamped down on the Abyss's shoulder shells, yanking them back. The Vortex raised its trident

"I don't think so!" Auel shot back, and with a crash, he fired his phonon masers point-blank into the Vortex's Geschmeidig Panzer armor. The armor did its job, deflecting the blasts and sending them plowing through the cockpits of two of the remaining three Deep Forbiddens.

Auel smirked as the Abyss kicked the enemy in the torso, driving it back and freeing his shoulder shells.

"I imagine that thing's a real pain in the ass if you use it like that," he laughed. The Abyss twirled its lance over its head and pointed it vindictively at the remaining enemies. "Come on, you cocksuckers! Let's dance!"

Phantom Island

"Charlemagne ETA is nine minutes," one of the deckhands reported, as the Phantom Island control room buzzed with activity. "Havilland's fleet has sustained nineteen percent losses."

Crayt Markav sat back in the commander's chair, smiling. "As expected. Order Havilland to press forward as far as he can."

Another officer blanched. "Ma'am, he reports that his ships are under attack by two Gundams "

"Irrelevant. Push him forward as far as he can go." Crayt glanced up at the tactical display, where Havilland's fleet was spread out in a lazy and slowly thinning crescent in front of Phantom Island, with the Minerva far ahead of it and the Charlemagne fast approaching.

"Marshal," O'Brien started nervously, "Havilland's fleet will not last long. Shall we begin?"

"Their Gundams are suitably occupied now," Crayt said. "Give the order."

O'Brien saluted sharply and turned towards the rest of the control room. "Phantom Island mobile suit force, sortie! Zamzazar units Cancer 1 and Cancer 2, deploy; Gelzuge unit, deploy; all weapons free!"

Phantom Island's main hatch ponderously yawned open, and as two Zamzazar mobile armors rose from the gaping maw, Crayt grinned.

Seven Windams shot down in one go, Sting mused, was actually pretty good but it was hard to feel like it was much of an accomplishment when there were dozens more where they came from.

The Chaos lurched as missiles went off around it, and another squad of Jet Windams came streaking in with blazing beam rifles. Sting narrowed his eyes and lunged aside, letting their beams pass by harmlessly and with a crash, he swung forward and sawed one Windam in two with the Chaos's beam claws. The three survivors whirled around, forcing the Chaos back on the defensive and as the smoke cleared, another formation of Windams opened fire as well.

"They should be charged by now," Sting grunted, risking a glance at the battery gauge for his weapon pods. "Perfect. Gunbarrels, go!"

The Chaos darted skywards, its gunbarrels lifting off with a roar and showering the battlefield with missiles. As the Windams backed away, covering themselves with a hurricane of CIWS bullets, the Chaos rocketed into their formation to slam its claws through two Windams, then shoot down a third. The Alliance mobile suits scattered, beam rifles blazing, only for the gunbarrels to lance off after the wings of their formation and drive them apart. And as the right-hand formation struggled to put itself back together, the Chaos swept into their ranks, shooting down two more of their number.

The Windams scattered again, but this time a blazing wave of beams from above covered their withdrawal. Sting looked up towards the sky, and felt his heart sink.

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me..."

The sky lit up from the flashing eyes of a charging Zamzazar.

The beams closed in, the seed burst, and with a scream, Shinn Asuka threw the throttle open.

The Destiny Gundam rocketed skyward, the Strike Noir's anchors still wrapped tightly around its arms, letting the Blu Duel's beam shots pass by harmlessly. With a crash, Shinn charged forward, whirled around, and slammed his captor into the Blu Duel's face. As the Noir's anchors disengaged, the Destiny darted forward, brandishing its sword and swiping furiously at the Verde Buster.

"Minerva, Abes, put the second Arondight in the catapult and fire it to me!" he roared, bringing his sword down with a crash on the Verde Buster's bayonets. The Destiny surged forward, throwing its foe back, and Shinn leveled off his long-range cannon

An instant later, the Noir was there to chop the cannon in two. Shinn cursed, bringing his sword around towards the Noir, only to be punched aside by a railgun shell from the Verde Buster. And a moment later, the Blu Duel was there, slamming a trio of anti-armor penetrators into the Destiny's face and throwing it back.

The Noir swept down, swords raised high, and only a timely counter-swing from the Destiny stopped the blow. The Blu Duel skirted around again, beam saber held wide Shinn rocketed backward, whirling around to smash his sword into the Blu Duel's shield and send it staggering aside. More beams from the Verde Buster forced him back again, and only his Newtype senses saved him when he whirled around to block the Noir's sword swipes.

"Dammit..." Shinn grunted. "The sword !"

The Blu Duel opened fire, showering the Destiny with beam bolts and searing its armor; a moment later, the Noir surged its engines again, throwing the Destiny back. The Blu Duel came charging in, beam saber held forward for a killing stab

"I don't think so!" Shinn roared.

The Destiny swung its sword to the side, knocking the Blu Duel's saber wide, and then lunged up skyward to dodge a volley of railgun shells from the Verde Buster and Noir. Shinn threw out the Destiny's left hand with a scream, and the Minerva's spare Arondight unit came crashing into his hand. He whirled around to dodge another beam salvo from the Blu Duel, and with a flash, snapped open the second Arondight and activated the blade.

Shinn clenched his fists around the Destiny's controls, the Destiny floating before its enemies, two anti-ship swords in its hands. "I've had enough of you three," he snarled. The Destiny swung its swords out, pointing the tips at the three enemies before it. "Come and get me!"

Another Windam went down in flames, and the Gaia and Legend Gundams backed away as the surviving Windam formation opened fire again. Inside the Gaia, Stella glowered at her foes, dodging their shots and firing back. The Windams were pulling back

The Gaia shot forward, switching to its beam saber and slamming it through a Windam's cockpit. As its comrades leveled off their rifles to open fire, Stella lunged forward with a scream, reverting the Gaia to quadruped mode and slashing another Windam in half. As the Gaia fell, she transformed again and took off, firing back with her beam rifle. The Windams turned to follow, only to be broken apart and lose two of their number to a punishing beam barrage from the Legend.

The Windams pulled back again, but this time a wall of beam fire and missiles accompanied them. Stella grunted as her mobile suit was rocked by missiles, and the Legend dropped in front of her to deflect the blows with its beam shield.

"Rau..." she started, put off by the grim look on his face.

"The Phantom Pain came prepared," he answered. "Look up ahead."

Stella glanced over the Legend's shoulder, and saw the sky light up with a beam volley from a Gelzuge mobile armor, brandishing a pair of beam rifles behind its glittering positron reflector.

The Gaia drifted up next to the Legend, eyes flashing.

"Stella's not scared," she answered, and charged with a flash.

In the Infinite Justice's cockpit, Athrun narrowed his eyes and charged forward, twin beam saber alight. A team of Windams came charging towards him, but he easily ducked around their beam blasts, whirling in to saw the first one in two at the waist, then slice the next in two, and cut down the third. The fourth ducked to the side before Athrun could reach it, only to be blown away by a beam rifle blast and the Savior dropped in next to the Justice, plasma cannons active.

"Has anyone ever told you that you're a fucking lunatic?" asked Viveka.

"All the time," Athrun answered. "Cover me!"

The Justice pitched down towards the fleet, while the Savior backed up to open fire on the Windam formation before it could come back together. Athrun went barreling down towards the water, pulling up to tear across its surface. A squad of Windams came charging at him, but he blasted straight through their ranks, clamping his anchor onto the ankle of one of his foes and dragging it after him. And with a scream, he slammed the Windam through the bridge tower of the first warship he came to, then pounded a beam cannon blast through the broken mobile suit to wipe it out in a thundering explosion.

A wave of plasma cannon blasts lanced out of the sky to stop the rest of the defenders as Athrun charged, twirling his twin beam saber and swinging it down to cleave through the hull of another warship, flooding it with seawater. As it began to list and sink, he kicked out its bridge tower and charged, towards the carrier at the heart of the fleet.

"That looks like the flagship," Viveka said. Athrun eyed it carefully for a moment surely it couldn't be this easy.

The Justice banked down, beam saber alight, and fired its anchor into the carrier's prow. It rocked as missiles and CIWS came to life, but the Savior was there to cut them down and open fire, driving back the desperate Windam defenders. The Justice somersaulted onto the carrier's deck, whirled around, activated its boomerang blade, and sliced in two a Windam that came charging from the ship's hangar. Athrun hacked through the smoke, eyes flashing, and glared up at the bridge tower, where he could almost see the crew staring in horror.

And at that, he pointed his rifle down and fired into the ship's missile launchers.

The Justice vaulted off the ship's deck as it exploded and snapped in two like a twig, but an instant later, the familiar white bolt cut the air and the two Gundams lunged apart as a torrent of beam fire sliced the sky. Athrun clenched his teeth in frustration.

"The hell was that?!" Viveka started.

A dark shape blotted out the sun, and another volley of beams came streaming down. Athrun scowled as the two Gundams dodged.

"So it wasn't going to be that easy," he growled.

The Zamzazar descended from the sky and spread its claws.

"What are these things?!" Emily wailed, as three Slaughter Daggers and a Calamity Gundam pounded her beam shields with firepower. "'Kill or be killed...?!'"

One of the Slaughter Windams swept in, abandoning its beam rifle and drawing a beam saber. An instant later, it was blown out of the sky as the Calamity opened fire again, slamming the Twilight with solid shells and knocking it back behind a veil of smoke. Another Slaughter Windam came charging in, beam saber upraised only to be shot down by more beam blasts from the Calamity.

"He's shooting down all his allies!" Emily cried, the Twilight rocking as more blasts pummeled its beam shield. "Why?! What is with this guy ?!"

The third Slaughter Windam charged, but at the Calamity instead of the Twilight. The huge gun-toting Gundam vaulted off of its sub-wing unit, letting the Windam pass by beneath it with a fruitless beam saber swipe. The Calamity turned its ram cannons on the hapless ally, blowing it out of the sky and landing back on the sub-wing with a crash.

The Calamity burst through the smoke, stowing its bazooka on its rear skirt armor, and plowed through Emily's beam rifle fire behind its shield. The Twilight jolted as the Calamity rammed it and slammed down its hand onto the Twilight's shoulder and Emily's eyes went wide as a message came through.

The pilot was a woman in a standard Alliance flight suit, her helmet missing, hair unkempt, eyes bloodshot, skin slowly blackening around her eyes and gleaming with a sheen of sweat. Between her haggard breaths, Emily could hear words.

"Kill...kill me!"

Emily gasped. "Kill you?! What ?!"

"You're the Angel of Death, aren't you?!" the dying pilot demanded. "So KILL ME! Before it "

She fell silent, her eyes squeezing shut, and she let out a bloodcurdling scream. The Calamity shoved the Twilight back and fired off a blast from its Scylla cannon; the Twilight skirted aside and took off, the Calamity reclaiming its bazooka and giving chase, pouring firepower after the Twilight.

"Kill or be killed!" the Calamity's pilot shrieked. "KILL OR BE KILLED!"

"What's wrong with her?!" Emily exclaimed, diving around the Calamity's torrent of firepower.

Another voice cut in, and a second woman's sardonic laughter filled the Twilight's cockpit, even as the Calamity continued its onslaught.

"You want to know what's wrong with her?" the second woman's voice cackled. A second screen popped up, showing the face of a dark-haired woman in a Phantom Pain flight suit, her blue eyes glittering with delight. "Pay close attention, little girl, because that is you!"

The sky split in two, and from the sun charged the Morrigan Gundam.

To be continued...