Phase 45 - We Speak For the Dead

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TWILIGHT

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Phase 45 - We Speak For the Dead

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April 3rd, CE 77 - ZAFT Remnant Lesseps-class land battleship Monterrey, Pacific Ocean

Something about the sight of the Monterrey's pilots arrayed before him in their flight suits sent Argus's blood rushing through him with new vigor. They had hung up a ZAFT flag on the hangar wall behind him, all eyes turned up towards the White-Shirt commander on a hangar gantry. Yes, it was a good day to be a ZAFT officer and soon it would be even better.

"Soldiers of ZAFT!" he cried. "I know you have suffered these past three years, knowing that our comrades are in exile at Mars, knowing that the Alliance grows stronger by the day and our people suffer and die under their brutal hand, knowing that we are all that is left of the fighting spirit of the Coordinators in the Earth Sphere, knowing that we are ZAFT's last representatives on the Earth. And," his face contorted in hatred, "I know you have suffered, knowing that there are traitors in our midst!"

He swung out his arm furiously. "Yes, the 'Blessed Minerva' might be feted by the ignorant Naturals caught up in Blue Cosmos' oppression, but we know better! We know who they really are! We know just what price they paid for their blessing and that price was our blood!" He clenched his fist. "But through these three years, training and preparing for this day, you have never forgotten what those traitors and cowards have cost us. They turned against us in our most desperate hour and delivered us into the hands of the enemy. They cost us our homeland, our people, our dignity, our power. And for our brothers and sisters who died, on the battlefield and off, they cost them the voice of a people!"

The air went silent. "But," Argus continued, "we have not forgotten. We will not let them forget. They stole the lives of our people and our comrades through their treachery, and such a crime can only be repaid in blood." He clenched his fist before him. "So, soldiers of ZAFT, we have our task set before us! Our wait is over! Our suffering ends! Go, not as broken refugees and shell-shocked survivors, but as warriors! Go as soldiers of ZAFT! Go, and deliver our message!"

He thrust his fist skyward.

"We speak for the dead!"

Every man in the hangar pumped his fist towards the heavens. "For the dead! For the dead! For the dead!"

Argus grinned as the hangar rang with the words of men speaking once more as soldiers.

In the crowds of pilots, Isaac Kenner looked around nervously with his fist in the air, the hangar quaking with the roars of his comrades.

Emily...I've got to warn you!

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Orb Navy Takemikazuchi-class supercarrier Lapis Lazuli, Pacific Ocean

"Jona!"

At the blood-curdling sound of his name, Jona spared a pained glance over his shoulder on the Lapis Lazuli's bridge, just in time to see Mara hobble through the doorway on a pair of crutches. She was lucky to be alive, all things considered, and shouldn稚 have been complaining about the broken leg and all the bumps and bruises. She also wasn't supposed to be up and about like this, but if she really wanted to hurt herself, Jona wasn't about to stop her. Sometimes pain was the best teacher.

"Mara, I seem to recall the ship's doctor prescribing some bed rest," he said, and turned nonchalantly back towards the screens before him. "What is it?"

"You're just letting them get away?!" Mara screamed. "After what they did to me?!"

"Oh, you'll live," answered Jona with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Heck, I'll even get you a new mobile suit, 'cuz I'm just such a nice guy."

"They humiliated me!" she snarled.

"It happens," Jona said with a shrug. "The important thing here is that our objectives are achieved. Smacking Athrun Zala and the Minerva around was entirely optional, and although I'm as disappointed as you at the outcome of that battle, it doesn't affect anything in the long run. The Akatsuki can always be replaced, and more importantly, the Minerva is out of our hair either way now." He waved a hand towards the map in front of him. "Especially now."

Mara scowled down at the map, where the narrow outline of the Minerva was sailing straight towards the array of blips that represented those ZAFT ships hovering over the horizon. "Is he really going to destroy them?"

"Who cares? It'll be fun to watch either way," he said. "I have four EWAC Murasames on approach for a few flybys to show us all the fun." He tossed Mara a grin. "Who knows? You may yet get your vicarious vengeance."

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Earth Alliance battleship Charlemagne, Yokosuka Naval Station, Japan

The airlock door swung open and Merau stepped out onto the Charlemagne's external observation deck, where she found Grey slumped tiredly against the railing.

"Hey," she started as she stepped up next to him," are you okay?"

Grey turned his tired eyes towards his friend and shrugged. "I guess. I'm just...I dunno, I need a day off or something."

"You picked a bad time to burn out," Merau said with a smirk. "Is this because of Captain Bayan?"

"Oh no," Grey sighed dismissively, "I think I'm used to him. I just treat him like the drill sergeants at Volkov. No, I just, uh..." He shook his head again and closed his eyes. "Haven't got much sleep lately."

Merau studied his face for a moment. "Yeah, I can tell. Why?"

At that, Grey was silent, and when he opened his eyes they flashed with emotion with hatred, with fear, with disappointment, with anger. "Volgograd."

"I told you not to think about it "

"Not just the slaughter. No," he scowled, "her."

Merau blinked. "What her?" She smirked again. "Don't tell me you're getting a crush on your enemy, Grey."

His clenched fists and furious eyes erased the smirk from her lips. "Far from it. I want to know what kind of world we live in, Merau, where someone like her and someone like me should be on the battlefield together. Where someone like her is called the Angel of Death. Where someone like me actually is the angel of death, taking part in massacres and shit." He shook his head. "I'm sorry, but nobody said anything about this when we signed up."

"This is why I said not to think about it," Merau replied with a sympathetic look.

"But I am," answered Grey. "I am, and I can't stop it. How can I? I took part in a massacre, Merau, and I did while looking at the face of the enemy I swore to destroy. Am I supposed to forget?"

"That would be the idea, yes."

Grey glanced back at her. "Then I need you to do me a favor." He paused for a moment, and Merau wondered if he was seriously considering desertion or defection. "During the battle at Carpentaria, I want you to make sure I don't do anything stupid. Even if means killing me. You're the sensible one. You'll know if I'm fucking up."

"Grey "

"I'm serious, Merau. If I go up against that kid again, I honestly don't know what I'll do." He fixed her with a deathly serious look. "But I know you'll know."

Merau paused to collect herself. "Alright," she started, "but I'm telling you now you'd better not do anything stupid."

Grey merely smiled. "We'll see, won't we?"

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Earth Alliance flagship Chrysalis, Yokosuka Naval Station, Japan

"If all goes to plan," explained Admiral MacIntyre aboard the Chrysalis, gesturing to the bridge's expansive map console, "I expect us to be at Leonora and Bourke by the end of the month."

Danilov studied the map for a moment, evaluating the Alliance's plan to retake Australia. Assuming that all went as planned at Carpentaria, the Alliance's mighty 6th Combined Surface Fleet would disperse after Carpentaria's fall and clamp a crushing naval blockade around the entire Australian continent. Left with the choice of either running a blockade by the largest fleet in history or trying to survive in the unforgiving Australian outback, the Resistance survivors of Carpentaria would be easy pickings for the Alliance's ground forces, reinforced by strategic orbital drops. And if need be, the Requiem could always be recalibrated for another shot and perhaps a pillar of light reaching down from the heavens to erase the Alliance's enemies would have that crushing effect on morale that Lord Djibril expected.

Assuming all went as planned at Carpentaria, of course.

"Admiral, are we really expecting to have enough ships to enforce this blockade after the battle?" asked Danilov, glancing up at the aging admiral. "Even with the Minerva around?"

"It's a gamble," admitted MacIntyre, "but we can draw on other fleets if we need to." He looked back down at the map. "The Resistance's own fleet is massing there for a decisive battle. We'll give them that battle alright in their own harbor. All the better to end this war."

Impulsively, Danilov glanced out the bridge windows towards the sky. The battle might end this war, but there was another on its way.

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Battleship Minerva, Pacific Ocean

"We're coming up on Argus's armada now," reported Burt from the sensor console. "But, err, captain, they're in a strange formation..."

Sitting in the captain's chair, Meyrin studied the situation before her. Argus couldn't be so foolish as to attack the symbol of the Resistance; Wellington could not possibly allow it. "Roxy, contact the Monterrey."

"Uh, yeah, about that," Roxy spoke up with evident nervousness in her voice, "we're actually being jammed on all frequencies."

"What?!" Abbey cried. "Check them again; he can't be so stupid as to "

The bridge door hissed open and Rau Le Creuset burst through like a typhoon. "Dive the ship, now!"

"Dive ?" Meyrin started.

"Now!" Rau roared. "Before they fire!"

Meyrin hesitated a moment, saw the ZAFT ships' guns angle up, and then seized the intercom. "Malik, 200 meter dive, immediately!"

The Minerva lurched as it nosed down towards the ocean and Meyrin's eyes went wide as the three ZAFT land battleships and three Vosgulov submarines on the ocean's surface opened fire with a devastating barrage, slicing by over the Minerva's dorsal surface and glancing off its laminated armor. The ship shook, and Meyrin stared in disbelief as Argus's warships angled their guns for a second blow.

"They just shot at us!" cried Abbey. "What the hell they aren't serious!"

"They are," snarled Rau. "Captain, you would do well to remember in the future that everyone can be blinded by foolish hatred even Coordinators."

With that, he sprinted out the bridge door, and Meyrin looked back at the Monterrey.

I can't believe this... She seized the intercom again. "All hands, Condition Red! Stand by for anti-ship and anti-mobile suit combat! All mobile suit pilots, launch immediately!"

Meyrin slammed the intercom down and glowered at the warships before her.

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ZAFT Remnant Lesseps-class land battleship Monterrey

"They reacted faster than I expected," sneered Argus in the commander's chair aboard the Monterrey, watching the Minerva level off. "No matter." He glanced over at Maddock in the captain's chair. "Send out the order to launch our mobile suits. Split the ships up and tell the submarines to submerge. We'll fan out and catch them in the crossfire."

"Understood, sir," Maddock replied with a smirk. "I've waited a long time for this."

Argus turned his eyes back towards the Minerva with a grin. "So have I. Commence operation!"

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The Twilight Gundam thundered out of the Minerva's portside hangar, with Emily in the cockpit, eyes darting nervously around the battlefield. "I thought they were on our side "

A wave of beam fire cut her off, and she rocketed upwards in surprise only for a storm of green beam bolts to pummel her Gundam, scarring its armor before she could throw up her beam shield. An instant later, a green Slash ZAKU Warrior streaked in close atop a Guul unit, twirling a long double-edged beam axe and bringing it down with a crash. Emily ground her teeth as her Gundam plummeted backwards, only for the ZAKU to follow up with another punishing blow.

Emily clenched her fists around the Twilight's controls, pushing her Gundam higher. "There's only one of you " The Twilight rocked again, this time as a GuAIZ R on a Guul pounded her with a railgun salvo. "What ?!"

As she raised her rifle to deal with the GuAIZ, the instinct bolted up through her only for the Twilight to quake again, as the Slash ZAKU vaulted off its Guul, slammed the Twilight in the chest with a vicious kick, and then brought its axe down through the Gundam's rifle.

"My rifle !" Emily clenched her teeth and hurled the rifle's sparking remains at the ZAKU, only for another blast to hit her head-on as the ZAKU darted aside bringing her face to face with a bazooka-toting GINN on a Guul. "There's still only three of you!"

The Twilight blasted up over its enemies, drawing a beam saber, and the three mobile suits followed with a storm of firepower. Emily seized her chance, diving to the right as the GINN fired again and with a crash, she stormed forward and slashed the GINN's bazooka in two.

Undaunted, the GINN dropped its ruined bazooka and swatted the Twilight to the side with a heavy blow from its anti-armor sword. Emily whirled around, beam saber drawn back for a killing blow only to be knocked back under another railgun blast from the GuAIZ R. The ZAKU dropped down in front of her, beam rifle leveled off for a killing blow

...only for another beam to come screaming out of the heavens, blowing the ZAKU's rifle in two. The ZAKU turned its attention skyward just long enough for Emily to charge forward and put her saber through its cockpit. She whirled around, glancing up for her savior.

A lone BABI came down next to her, seizing her mobile suit's shoulder, and Emily forced back a smile as Isaac Kenner's face appeared on her auxiliary screen.

"Emily! You've got to get out of here!" he cried. "They're gonna kill you!"

Emily glanced up towards the GuAIZ and GINN, and then threw herself in front of the BABI to deflect the GuAIZ's rifle fire with her beam shield. "I can tell," she grunted. "What's going on, Isaac? I thought you guys were on our side!"

Isaac's face just about bled contrition. "Well, I am," he said, "but you remember what I said about bad blood?"

Emily stared at him in disbelief.

"Yeah," he said, "some of it's really bad."

The GINN and GuAIZ charged, the latter igniting a beam saber on its shield. Emily tensed as they came in close. "I'll handle this!"

The Twilight bolted forward, beam saber held aloft, and sawed effortlessly through the GINN as it brought down its sword. The GuAIZ whirled around the Twilight, raising its own saber only for the Twilight to lunge skyward and let the GINN's abandoned Guul smash head-on into the GuAIZ, blowing them both apart.

No sooner had she done that than another storm of beam bolts scorched her Gundam's armor, and as she took cover behind her beam shield, she looked up in surprise to find a GOUF Ignited streaking out of the sky, beam guns blazing.

"Kenner!" a man's voice roared. "What the hell are you doing?!"

The GOUF dropped down towards the BABI with a punishing sword slice, which the BABI barely dodged. The GOUF drew back its sword again.

"Commander Robinson!" Isaac cried. "This is insane! They're not our enemies!"

The GOUF burst forward, ramming the BABI with its left shoulder. "And you call yourself a ZAFT soldier!" The GOUF hurled its reeling foe backward and reared back for another sword blow. "Die like the rest of these traitors!"

"I don't think so!"

The Twilight sent a pulsing red beam blast flashing between the combatants. Emily ground her teeth and fixed the GOUF with a furious glare.

"If you want to kill him," she snarled, "you've got to deal with me first."

The GOUF backed away, twirling its sword on its fingertips aggressively. "So," Robinson snarled, eyes flicking between the Twilight and the BABI. "You must be that 'Angel of Death' everyone keeps talking about. How is it being the whore of traitors?"

"Commander, this is ridiculous!" Isaac cried. "We need them! We can't win this war without them!"

"Shut your mouth, boy!" Robinson shrieked. "What do you know about victory?! What do you know about war?! What do you know about them?!" He pointed his sword furiously at the BABI. "If you're really a Coordinator, if you really are one of us, then you'll shoot that little whore down!"

Isaac's eyes narrowed. "Not a chance!"

The GOUF's monoeye flashed bright pink. "Then I'll send you both to hell myself!"

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Plunging the Chaos into the water with the Gaia and Abyss not far behind, Sting Oakley snarled a curse as the surf swirled around his machine's cameras. "This is, what, the second time this year we've been shot at by our own side?"

"I've had it with these motherfuckers!" Auel screamed. "Let me at them! I'll fucking tear them apart!"

Sting glanced down at his map. "We've got to stay under the Minerva," he said. "Keep the submarines and amphibious MS from getting at its underside." He glanced over at the Gaia. "Stella, this is the first time you'll be fighting underwater. Are you ready?"

The response was a little gladdening. "Stella will destroy them all."

Up ahead, dark shapes began to materialize as ZAFT aquatic mobile suits in the murky depths, monoeyes flashing to life. Sting switched his rifle over to its phonon maser mode, eyeing them carefully; the mobile suits remained in formation, unleashing a barrage of supercavitating torpedoes. Auel rushed forward as fast as the sea would allow, opening fire with a barrage of phonon maser bolts.

Sting and Stella seized their opportunity, splitting up around the fire, and Sting leveled off his rifle to blow apart a mobile suit. The survivors broke apart, letting loose another salvo of torpedoes.

"Sting, we're not gonna get anywhere like this," Auel complained. "What if we attack their subs directly?"

"After we pare them down a bit here," answered Sting. "Incoming!"

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"I would have thought you'd have learned your lesson by now," laughed Rau Le Creuset as he spiraled the Legend Gundam through a torrent of firepower. "But I suppose, Captain Hawke, that you'll just have to learn the hard way!"

The Legend abruptly stopped short, whirling around to face the two BABIs and three DINNs pursuing it and with a sudden blast of firepower from the DRAGOONs, two of the DINNs went down in plumes of fire. The BABIs split apart, leaving the DINN to let loose a storm of missiles, pounding the Legend's armor and forcing the gray Gundam back.

The smoke parted, and a new foe came crashing through a GINN High Maneuver II on a Guul, with its anti-armor sword held aloft. Rau grinned as he caught the GINN's sword with his beam shield. The two BABIs dropped in on his flanks only for the Legend to effortlessly force them back with a beam barrage. The GINN struggled against his shield, and Rau seized his chance, gunning the engine and pounding it with a roundhouse kick to the stomach and knocking it off its Guul. The BABIs opened fire again, but too late, as Rau speared his reeling foe on a beam rifle shot through the cockpit.

The Legend went back on the defensive as the BABIs regrouped, and more mobile suits appeared on the radar. Rau merely laughed and grinned down at his foes, watching them rise around him.

"As for you, Argus," he chuckled, "I can't have you spoiling things for me yet."

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The sky crackled with beams as two Slash ZAKUs and a Blaze ZAKU struggled to shoot down the blinding Destiny Gundam. With a shriek of twisting metal, one of the Slash ZAKUs met its end on the blade of the Destiny's anti-ship sword, and Shinn whirled around to face the two survivors.

"I guess this is my fault too," he grunted, and rocketed upward to avoid the ZAKUs' return fire. "But like hell am I going to let you win!"

The Destiny danced effortlessly around the two ZAKUs' blasts, slamming its sword down onto the Blaze ZAKU and ripping both the mobile suit and its Guul unit in two. As the Blaze ZAKU exploded in a thundering fireball, Shinn charged through the flames and down towards the Slash ZAKU, and with a crash and a vanishing flame of life, he tore the last ZAKU in half.

Even as the ZAKU exploded, Shinn's senses screamed, and he whirled around with his beam shield active only for a salvo of beams and bazooka shells to slam into it and drive him back.

Behind the smoke, he tensed at the sight of three gray DOM Troopers coming to a stop before him in combat formation.

"So," snarled a man's voice, "you thought you could get away with what you did to us, Traitor Asuka."

"You've had quite a run of it," added another man.

"But don't think you can escape us now!" finished a woman's voice.

Shinn's eyes darted between the three DOMs. "Well well," he muttered, "the Razor Trinity. So you guys survived Solomon's Sword."

The woman with the eyepatch and red hair scowled back at him. "No thanks to you, you son of a bitch."

One of the men sniffed in contempt. "Hilda, I don't want to hear another word from this bastard."

The woman smirked. "Understood. Herbert, Mars, let's kill him!"

The three DOMs rocketed apart and opened fire.

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"Dammit," groaned Viveka as the Savior quaked under a vicious beam volley, "I don't get why killing us is more important to them than fighting the Alliance!"

Inside the Infinite Justice, slaloming through a wave of firepower from a team of ZAKUs and BABIs, Athrun ground his teeth. "I hate to kill them when we'll need them at Heaven's Base," he snarled, "but..." He seized his chance, firing the Grapple Stinger and embedding it in a BABI's waist, then pulling himself forward, whirling around, and sawing his prey in half and taking off again. "If you leave me no choice...!"

The Savior somersaulted over a charging ZAKU, leaping clear of its beam axe and whirling around with beam rifle leveled only for another ZAKU to blow the rifle clear from its hands. Viveka jetted backwards, firing back with her plasma cannons only for a wave of fire from a Gunner ZAKU to force her back even further.

"Dammit, I can't even get a shot in!" Viveka shouted. "Who are they?!"

The Justice rattled as a Slash ZAKU brought down its axe onto the Justice's beam shield. Athrun darted backwards as another two mobile suits opened fire from his flanks. "These guys must have been training," he grunted. "Damn you, training this whole time to kill your own allies?!"

Two of the ZAKUs reared back and hurled beam tomahawks towards him, forcing him to leap above them only for the Slash ZAKU to come down with another heavy axe blow. Athrun ground his teeth as the other two ZAKUs belted him with beam fire. "Ridiculous..."

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Battleship Minerva

"Vasquez is approaching, five o'clock!" Burt cried out.

Meyrin glowered at the screen. "Malik, hard to port!"

The Minerva lurched to the side, avoiding a beam cannon salvo from one of the two Petrie-class ships below only to blunder straight into the Monterrey's line of fire. Malik yanked hard on the controls and the Minerva swung around just as the Monterrey opened fire, and ponderously came around to face the two ships circling it like sharks in the water.

"Captain, Veracruz is coming alongside!" Abbey shouted.

"Portside Tristan, fire!" Meyrin shouted.

The Minerva's portside Tristan pounded a salvo down towards the Veracruz, the second Petrie-ship only for the trimaran vessel to pull hard to port, swinging directly into the Minerva's path.

Meyrin blanched in horror. "Malik, pull up!"

The Minerva groaned in protest as it pulled skyward, just as the Veracruz opened fire again and pelted the ship's underside with relentless machinegun fire. An instant later, the Vasquez and Monterrey opened fire, scoring glancing blows against the rising Minerva's wings.

"We need distance," Abbey growled, glowering down at the three ships as they circled around for another salvo. "But how "

"Chen," Meyrin interrupted, seething in the captain's chair as her warship wheeled around to resume the battle. "I'm leaving the fire control to you. Take whatever shots you get. Malik," her eyes flashed furiously, "take us down into their midst and get us to point blank range."

"What?!" Abbey screamed. "Captain, what "

"We're playing a little game of Chicken," Meyrin responded. "Brace for possible impacts; this will get ugly."

She fixed her eyes on the Monterrey down below.

And I'm going to make it uglier than you can imagine, Argus...

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Beams flying and with his mobile suit groaning in protest, Rau threw the Legend into a steep dive while two BABIs honed in on him from above, spewing beam rifle fire and shotgun bursts. With a smirk, he abruptly slammed on the brakes, letting the two mobile suits shoot by him on either side and then leveling off his DRAGOONs to pick one of them out of the sky. The other one arced up and fired a blast from its "Ardor" cannon, only for the Legend to effortlessly bat it away with its beam shield.

Rau glanced to the left, as reinforcements arrived in the form of a Slash ZAKU Phantom, a Gunner ZAKU Warrior, and two Blaze ZAKUs. "I'm impressed, Argus," he murmured, launching the Legend skyward to avoid a ferocious wall of firepower. "You're pulling out all the stops."

The BABI pummeled the Legend's gray armor with a missile salvo, and Rau grinned as he felt its furious pilot close in. With a shout, he leveled off his rifle and fired drilling through the BABI's cockpit and blowing it apart, and then darting out of the smoke as the ZAKUs opened fire.

"All that anger is marking you clearly," cackled Rau. "Don't think you can hide from me!"

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With a final scream, Auel burst forward and put the Abyss's lance directly through the chest of an unfortunate GOOhN, spearing it straight through the cockpit. As it sank towards the bottom and exploded, Auel turned his eyes towards the two dark shapes looming in the distance: two Vosgulov-submarines, presumably the motherships of these mobile suits.

"Sting, Stella," he said suddenly, "cover me! Let's play some turnabout!"

The Abyss abruptly transformed and darted forward, slicing through the water in its hydrodynamic mobile armor mode. A ZnO rose up in front of him, claws raised for a punishing blow only for the Abyss to suddenly transform back into mobile suit mode and swing its lance through the ZnO's waist, tearing it in two. Two more mobile suits appeared and opened fire with phonon maser cannons, only to be forced back by a barrage from Sting. And as one of the ASH units moved in for the kill with its claw, it lurched backward as the Gaia stormed forward, planting a combat knife in its cockpit and sending it sparking and smoking into the dark depths.

"Come on!" Sting exclaimed. "Take the fight to the submarines, and they'll have to pull back and defend them!"

Auel ground his teeth as the Abyss charged forward.

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Teeth rattling as his Gundam reeled, Athrun glowered up at the Slash ZAKU Phantom looming above him, its double-bladed beam axe pointed challengingly towards him. The Infinite Justice rocketed up over a storm of beam bolts and stashed its rifle, whirling back down into the fighter. The Slash ZAKU brought its axe down with a crash onto the Justice's beam shield, throwing it back again

"Gotcha!"

Athrun fired the Grapple Stinger forward, clamping it around the axe head and yanking hard, pulling the entire weapon out of the ZAKU's hands. It landed in the Justice's own hands with a crash, and Athrun charged forward, twirling it on his Gundam's fingertips. The ZAKU drew a tomahawk and swung forwards, arm raised for a killing blow

Athrun hurled the axe forward with a scream, letting it slice off the ZAKU's entire left arm and sever its left leg at the knee. The wounded mobile suit faltered and belched smoke just in time for the Justice to dart forward and rip it in two at the waist with a blinding beam saber strike.

The Justice rocketed up over the explosion and Athrun scanned the sky. Viveka was still battling a quartet of BABIs or, as the fiery explosion an instant later attested, three BABIs. He glanced over his shoulder at the ZAKU's flaming wreckage.

"Fools..."

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Bazooka shells pummeled the Destiny Gundam from all sides as the DOM Troopers flitted effortlessly over the ocean's surface. Shinn followed their movements with his Newtype senses rather than his eyes, even as they pounded his Gundam and blew off his solid shield.

At last, he saw his opening and lunged into the sky, leveling off his long-range cannon for a shot and blowing away the first DOM's bazooka. The other two let loose a beam salvo, and Shinn threw the Destiny back towards the water only for the first DOM to charge in close with a drawn beam saber and slam it down against the Destiny's blade.

"Traitor!" Hilda screamed. Shinn glowered at her, and the Destiny surged forward to throw its opponent back, just as Herbert and Mars opened fire again at the Destiny's flanks. He pounded Hilda's DOM with a hard knee to the chest, and then whirled around to dodge another beam volley, and back down again to dodge a second.

"Is this the best you three can do?!" he snapped. The three DOMs slid back into formation, Hilda's beam saber blazing in the surf. "I have to say, I'm not too impressed with the vaunted Trinity!"

"You cocky little shit!" Herbert snarled.

Mars merely grinned. "Oh, you have yet to see our pièce de résistance," he chuckled.

"That's right," added Hilda. "Herbert, Mars, form up!"

Herbert and Mars's DOMs lined up behind Hilda, who lowered her own machine into a crouch with its beam saber. Shinn tensed for their assault, watching them carefully.

"Jetstream Attack!"

The three DOMs blasted forward, and Shinn's eyes went wide in surprise. Hilda brought her saber down onto the Destiny's sword, slamming the Gundam backwards and then darting to the right; Herbert's DOM pummeled the Destiny with a bazooka shell to the face, and ducked to the left; the instinct screamed inside Shinn, and he threw up his beam shield just as Mars's DOM slammed a beam volley into it and ducked to the right. An instant later, Hilda's DOM was upon him from the side with a blazing saber, barely deflected by the Destiny's blade only for the Gundam to be thrown aside by a bazooka volley from Herbert and Mars. Shinn darted backwards with a powerful thruster burst as Hilda brought her saber down for the kill.

"Impressed yet?" cackled Herbert.

"I am," added Mars. "Not too many people can say they've survived the Jetstream Attack. Congratulations."

"But no one has survived the second!" Hilda barked. "Form up!"

Shinn scowled as the DOMs came at him again.

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The Twilight rattled as the GOUF brought its sword down hard onto Emily's beam saber, throwing her back with sheer force and charging after her. A sideways swipe sent her reeling further, and the GOUF raised its sword for a killing blow.

Instead, a volley of beam blasts tore between the GOUF and its prey, and Robinson's eyes shot up towards Isaac's BABI, dodging another blast from its beam rifle.

"You are a disgrace to all Coordinators, Kenner!" Robinson screamed, and sent his GOUF's left-hand heat rod whipping up to curl around the BABI's beam rifle and yank it from its hand. Isaac let out a cry of surprise and leveled off his shotgun only for the GOUF to close the distance between them and slash the gun in two. "Now I'll get rid of you myself !"

Instead, a long-range blast from the Twilight forced the two mobile suits apart, and Isaac took the opportunity to rocket upwards and out of the GOUF's range. Robinson turned his furious eyes towards the black Gundam.

"Isaac, I'll deal with him!" Emily shouted, watching as the GOUF charged and brought its sword down onto her saber again.

"I'm not leaving you alone here!" Isaac cried. "They're sending in reinforcements!"

Emily ground her teeth, glowering into the GOUF's blazing monoeye. "Then I'll deal with those too!" She surged forward, pushing the GOUF back, and lined up for a killing stab to the chest only for the GOUF to spoil her blow with a sword swipe and then a furious kick to the Twilight's face. "You...!"

"Don't think I'm going to give you a pass, you bitch!" Robinson screamed. "All of you traitors with the Minerva will die!"

The Twilight rattled as the GOUF sent it reeling with another hard blow. Emily shook her head and fixed her eyes on her charging opponent. So much hatred...it's messing with me...!

With a crash, the GOUF delivered a punishing roundhouse kick to the Twilight's face, and charged down with raised sword at the black Gundam's exposed back. An instant later, a red beam blast from the BABI's chest cannon stopped the GOUF short just long enough for the Twilight to charge back up and knock the GOUF back with a heavy saber blow to its shield.

"Kenner!" Robinson roared. "Quit interfering!"

"Isaac, I told you to let me handle this!" Emily shouted. "Get out of here! There's nothing you can do!"

The GOUF surged forward with pure engine power, hurling the Twilight back and sending it reeling with a hard downward sword hack. Emily blocked Robinson's second blow, only to go plummeting back with her entire world rattling as the GOUF slammed its knee hard into the Twilight's torso.

Robinson screamed in frustration as the BABI slammed itself into the fight, a beam saber drawn in its right hand. The GOUF furiously swatted the BABI aside and whirled around, sword upraised to go on the attack

Instead, Emily fired forward one of the Twilight's own heat rods, slamming the claws into the GOUF's shield. Robinson snapped his attention towards her just in time to see the Twilight yank itself towards him and send him reeling with a punishing kick to the side.

"Isaac, I'm serious!" Emily exclaimed. "This guy is too good! He'll kill you! Go to the Minerva or something, just get out of here!"

Isaac turned resolutely towards the recovering GOUF. "What kind of man would I be if I did that?"

"A living one! Now go!"

The GOUF charged forward. "Not if I say so!" Robinson screamed. Emily rocketed between him and the BABI, raising her saber to deflect his blow.

"Isaac! Go!"

The Twilight reeled under the GOUF's blow, and with a laugh, Robinson somersaulted over the stunned Gundam. Isaac raised his saber, but the GOUF swatted its arm wide with its shield

Emily's blood froze in her veins as she watched the GOUF drive its sword through the BABI's cockpit.

"ISAAC!"

Robinson yanked his sword from the skewered mobile suit and regarded the smeared blood on its surface with glee. "And now, Angel of Death, it's your turn!"

In the Twilight's cockpit, Emily stared in disbelief at the cloud of smoke and wreckage that had once been Isaac's BABI that had once been Isaac. Her eyes turned towards the GOUF's sword, dripping with blood with his blood. Her ears rang with Robinson's hysterical laughter

But with a flash, her eyes saw only the seed.

The GOUF roared forward, sword upraised for a finishing blow but an instant later, the Twilight closed the distance between them with blinding speed and ripped the GOUF's entire right arm out of its socket with its left hand. As the GOUF shuddered under the blow, the Twilight stashed its saber and tore off the left arm and then, with a crash, the Twilight seized the GOUF by the neck with its left hand and ripped off the GOUF's cockpit hatch with its right. Robinson stared in disbelief as his mobile suit's chest plate went sailing towards the sea and an instant later, the whole mobile suit shook as the Twilight slammed its right hand over the open cockpit, and Robinson found himself staring down the barrel of the Twilight's right-hand palm cannon.

"Tell me," Emily's voice snarled through the broken machine's cockpit, through Robinson's brain, as he found himself completely at his opponent's mercy. "Tell me what was so important that he had to die!"

Robinson scowled in rage to hide his fear. "D-Don't think you can threaten me, Natural scum!"

"Tell me why you killed him!" Emily snapped back.

The palm cannon's opening began to glow, and Robinson's rage vanished as he looked on in horror at the glowing light and the growing heat. "You wouldn't," he started. "I'm...I'm defeated! Mercy! Mercy!"

"Mercy?!" Emily screamed. "You want mercy?!" The light grew brighter, the heat greater. "I'll show you mercy! I'll show you the mercy you showed him!"

Robinson shrieked in pain as the heat ignited the fabric of his flight suit, and flames sprang up over his legs, racing up his body. Writhing in agony with flames swirling upon him, he barely managed to look up through burning eyes at the Twilight's blazing palm.

"I'll show you your brand of mercy!" Emily snarled. "I'll show all of you!"

"HELP ME!" Robinson screamed, as the flames consumed him.

Inside the Twilight, Emily watched in fury as the smoke poured out of the GOUF's cockpit. At last, she ramped the palm cannon's intensity back up to its normal level, burning away Robinson and punching through the mobile suit's torso; and at last, she hurled the sparking mobile suit downward to explode at the water's surface.

She looked up with furious, dull eyes; a whole squadron of mobile suits was approaching from the air. They looked to be ZAFT models; they were clearly the reinforcements.

"I'll show all of you," she growled, clenching her trembling fists around her Gundam's controls. "I'll show all of you just why they call me the Angel of Death!"

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To be continued...