Phase 47 - A Time for Peace

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TWILIGHT

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Phase 47 - A Time for Peace

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April 3rd, CE 77 - Battleship Minerva, Pacific Ocean

"I certainly hope you've got a better handle on your troops this time, commandant," Meyrin Hawke said with no effort to disguise the venom in her voice. The Minerva cruised back to Carpentaria with the ruins of Argus's armada behind it, and Wellington, his nervous face on the auxiliary screen, was trying and, in Meyrin's opinion, failing to account for Argus's little stunt. "I'm of a mind not to return to Carpentaria at all."

"I understand, Captain Hawke," Wellington said, "and I completely sympathize. It's absolutely unacceptable what Commander Argus did. It won't happen again."

Standing by the captain's chair, Abbey made even less effort to hide her disgust. "It had better not."

"Commander Holt will have your men under triple guard," explained Wellington, shifting nervously in his chair. "Security will be even tighter here than when you were last here. We will tolerate no further such incidents. But, captain..." He hesitated, and Meyrin felt her level of annoyance tick slightly higher. "You must understand the position I'm in, and I'm going to need your cooperation. And, well, Argus did take a large fraction of our combat force with him "

"He tried to destroy my ship, commandant," Meyrin shot back. The words rang in her ears and she almost stopped in surprise, but quashed the feeling as quickly as it emerged. She could deal with that later. "He tried to kill us. Exactly what the hell am I supposed to do about people who are supposed to be on my side trying to kill me?"

Roxy snickered at the comm console and disregarded Abbey's glare as Wellington faltered. "I understand, and I apologize for suggesting otherwise, but you did just destroy a major ZAFT task force. There are going to be hard feelings, and there's nothing I can do about that."

Meyrin fixed the commandant with a cold glare. So what if he was taller than she was? "Are you saying you can't control your own troops?"

"No, captain, I'm saying that it would be best if your personnel exercise caution while on the base."

Meyrin closed her eyes for a moment. "We'll discuss this more when we get back to Carpentaria, commandant. Minerva out."

The line obligingly went dark, just in time for Abbey to start hurling epithets at the screen, and Meyrin sat back with a sigh.

My ship?

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The external observation deck's airlock swung open with a hiss, and Viveka stepped out into the cool air of dusk. Immediately she found Emily at the far end, brooding at the railing and staring into the Minerva's wake.

"So," she said loudly, marching up next to her sister and clapping her natural hand down on Emily's shoulder, "wanna tell me what the hell happened out there?"

Emily glanced up at her sister, and Viveka immediately regretted asking. "Isaac was killed."

Viveka pulled Emily closer and hugged her. "Oh, Em, I'm sorry. I know you kinda liked him." She paused awkwardly, noting Emily's silence. "Err, platonically, of course "

"He was trying to protect me," Emily went on, "and his commander shot him down." She looked up towards the horizon, beyond which the remains of Argus's troops were rotting and rusting beneath the waves. "I tortured him to death and went berserk on the rest of his troops."

At that, Viveka felt her blood freeze. "You what?"

"I ripped them apart. I purposefully altered my fighting style to be as brutal as possible. You saw the Twilight when I brought it back. It was covered in blood. Blood, Viveka, blood in a mobile suit battle. Isn't that crazy?"

"I...I thought you had gone crazy," Viveka stammered. "Em, why did you "

"I know it was wrong. I know there was no reason to be so cruel. But I did it anyway." She shook her head. "And the strangest thing is that I don't know why I went from anger to cruelty. It's not like I haven't done that before. I killed Kyali's commander that way."

Viveka hugged her sister closer. "It's okay, Em, really. He deserved it. They deserved it."

Emily closed her eyes. "You remember what I was saying? About fearing the angel of death?" She clenched her fists around the railing. "That's what's bugging me. Because I don't want to be the 'angel of death,' and I think I'm starting to accept it anyway. And that means I'd have to be what Father wanted me to be. And..."

"I know, I know. But Em, you're not what he wanted. He wanted you to be his little pawn. You're your own person."

Silence washed over them both as Emily turned the words over in her mind. If she took her father's name for her and made it her own, what did that mean she had to become? If she wasn't going to be her father's killing machine, what would she be on her own?

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The first thing the mechanics had done once the Twilight docked was wash the blood and viscera off its hands. That had been a grisly job that had cost several mechanics the contents of their stomachs especially after finding still-recognizable human remains in the joints of the fingers once the hands were disassembled to more thoroughly clean them. Standing on the gantry as the mechanics reassembled the mobile suit's right hand, Shinn was rather glad he hadn't been around to witness that.

However, standing with Athrun in front of the Twilight, he had to wonder who really had the better job here. The mechanics just had to fix the Gundam. Shinn and Athrun had to figure out what the hell Emily did with it.

"Copland told us that this might happen," Athrun said, eyes fixed on the Twilight's glowering face. "That with the way she's been trained and the way her mind has been altered, she would be unstable."

"Great," sighed Shinn. "Just what we need. Another crazy Newtype."

"She was angry at Karelia, she was berserk at Volgograd, she was focused at Novorossiysk, and she was sadistic today. Totally unstable. It fits."

Shinn said nothing, staring up at the Twilight's dark eyes.

"I hope you're not blaming yourself for this," Athrun went on, fixing Shinn with a serious look. "You of all people should know that this is better than what the Alliance had in store for her."

"It's not like it's that much better."

Athrun glanced to the side, towards the ship's stern where they both could feel Emily's flickering presence. "Is it? She's with people who care about her well-being. People who give her something to fight for. People who treat her like a person. She's even with her sister. That's better than what the Alliance would have given her, by far."

"And what about the future? What if this gets worse?"

"What about the future?" Athrun turned back towards Shinn again. "Nobody said this is going to be easy. None of us even know what she is, let alone what's lurking in her mind that hasn't been brought out. She's an amazing pilot. She's got experience now. So she's prone to emotional instability; big deal, so are we. Don't forget what you did to the Freedom at Antarctica."

Shinn's blood boiled for a moment at the mention of his nemesis. "I didn't have unknown memories forcing their way back into my consciousness." He heaved a sigh. "I know if I'd left her there in Reykjavik, she'd have something terrible ahead of her. It's just..." He shook his head. "At this rate I don't think I want to see what she can really do."

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Stella blinked in surprise as the crew lounge door hissed open and a cavalcade of curses blasted out. At the eye of the storm sat Sting and Auel, a Battleship set between them. They usually got like this over their games, Stella remembered. She had no idea why; how come they couldn't just be friends?

Auel flung a handful of tiny plastic ships into Sting's face, and Stella decided that now was the time to get the soda she came for and make her escape.

Strolling back to the ship with carbonated goodness in hand, she couldn't help but wonder why everyone was never happy around here. Athrun always seemed sad, and only a couple days ago had he started to be a little less sad. And with Athrun, a little less sad was still pretty sad. Abes had explained to her one day that all his friends were gone. But that made no sense, because all his friends were still here, on the Minerva. Maybe Athrun had more friends somewhere else? Who knew? Maybe he didn't, and that was why he was so sad. Having no friends was no fun.

Not everyone on the ship was sad. Viveka seemed to be okay, and Stella didn't really know her yet, but she never seemed to be sad and for that, Stella was happy. And Rau always seemed to be happy, or at least okay. Stella wasn't worried about him.

Emily was sort of happy and sad. That made no sense at all to Stella.

Of course, Shinn was always somewhere between sad or mad. She had an idea as to why; she knew that they used to have friends, but those friends had been killed which must have been what happened to Athrun's friends and Shinn was still sad about that. She understood, really. She was still a little sad about it herself.

But what was the point of being sad forever? Life was no fun when you were constantly sad, and there were all sorts of amazing things to see. Sad people never saw how beautiful the sea was. Even when she was sad, Stella knew that if she could look out at the sea and remember how beautiful it was, she couldn't stay sad forever. Bad things happened but there were still good things to see.

Stella wondered if Shinn knew that. Maybe if he looked at the sea more often, she'd be happier too.

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"I understand that you knew one of the pilots who died in that battle," Rau's voice said, snapping Emily out of her reverie on the external observation deck. Night had fallen by now, and only now did she realize how tired she was and how badly she wanted to sleep and she had been so lost in her own thoughts that she had never noticed Rau's arrival. "My condolences."

Emily turned back towards the horizon, dim and dark in the night. "Thanks."

Rau was silent a moment. "Do you remember what I said yesterday, about there being something wrong with the world?"

"...yes."

"Do you understand now?" He paused, waiting for her reaction. "This is a twisted and distorted world. It creates people to satisfy its own selfish desires. It destroys them on cruel and foolish whims."

"That's what I did," Emily interrupted, head in her hands.

"So I saw," Rau said, "but you shouldn't feel bad about that. It's power, after all."

"I never wanted this."

"Of course not. But you have it," he grinned, "and you want to use it. To make it your own. And you want this world to change, don't you?"

Emily glanced back up at him. "I guess."

Rau put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "If you want the world to change, you have to take that power and make it your own. Impose your own will on it. Once you have that control, you can turn your power upon the world and impose your will on that, just as you mastered yourself." He looked down at her. "Can you do that?"

"I guess."

Rau grinned. "We'll see."

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April 4th, CE 77 - Yokosuka Naval Station, Japan, Republic of East Asia

Lord Djibril stared out the window of his spacious office at Yokosuka, gazing down at the humming port below him. The fleet would be leaving soon, where they would sweep down upon the pathetic little lambs in Carpentaria and tear them to bits. Everything was falling into place, and as long as the soldiers didn't screw this up, the Resistance would be swept away and Djibril could turn his armies towards their more pressing foe.

He looked up at the sky. Yes, ZAFT was on the move. In a matter of days they would be back in the Earth Sphere. If this battle at Carpentaria went as planned, the Alliance could erase the Resistance on Earth, and its space fleet was insignificant compared to the power of the Earth Alliance Space Force. They would be ants beneath the feet of dueling titans. But ZAFT was entirely different. He cursed his luck that the Battle of Solomon's Sword had not exterminated more of those pests, and that his almighty Requiem had by some cruel fortune failed to destroy a handful of the PLANTs. It was enough from which to rebuild an army and they had done even more than that, if Vargas's messages were to be believed.

He glanced over his shoulder as he heard the intercom buzz. "Sir, Field Marshal Markav has arrived, as requested."

"Send her in."

Djibril turned back towards the window, glowering up at the sky. To have such a formidable foe escape its deathblow at Solomon's Sword was bad enough. To have such foolish minions was even worse. If ZAFT's return was not imminent he would have replaced Markav already, but such a move would have resulted in too much confusion and too many problems on the eve of a major war. Another stroke of bad luck.

"The three Destroy units have been arrived and readied," Markav reported with a salute that Djibril disdainfully returned. "As per your request, they have been serviced and loaded in the utmost secrecy. The Resistance does not appear to know about them. They will be a complete surprise."

At that, Djibril smiled. At least this battle was shaping up to be the stuff of legend. They would remember it for all time, a devastating blast from the heavens themselves, followed up by three invincible gods of war. So what if the Minerva and its vaunted Gundams saw frequent success against the Destroys? They would be powerless either way, and Djibril would relish it.

"The ZAFT fleet is days away from the Earth Sphere by now," he said. "I don't know what they're planning, and our intelligence is unusually sparse concerning their forces and intentions. We will let them make the first move. I trust the Phantom Pain has made all the necessary arrangements?"

"Of course, sir," answered Markav, "but much of our strength is still tied up in Typhoon."

"All the more reason to get this over with," Djibril replied. "Before they get here too."

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The entire Yokosuka installation rattled, and on the bridge of the Charlemagne Danilov glanced towards one of the naval base's massive covered dry-docks. He knew what was going on inside, behind the heavy steel doors and concrete walls. They were loading a Destroy Gundam onto one of the ships. Iota 1, Omicron 1, and Upsilon 1 had the bloody task of exploiting the holes that the Requiem would surely make in the enemy line and making some holes of their own. That, after all, was what they did best.

The Charlemagne would get no support during this battle. That was fine; it would be a brutal struggle either way. Field Marshal Markav would probably leave early on to go attend to whatever it was she wanted personally; that was just as well, because the last thing Danilov needed was a superior ordering him to commit war crimes.

He imagined the Minerva, pitted against him with only the sky between them, the Minerva's speed and durability up against the Charlemagne's raw firepower. But this time there was a tantalizing possibility beyond the winged battleship. Djibril had made fairly plain his intention to replace Markav as the Phantom Pain's commander to replace her with Danilov, even. What if he destroyed the Minerva this time around? He would undoubtedly cement his name as a superb officer, and do what Markav herself had not done. He would replace her. He would assume control of the Phantom Pain and then he could correct it.

Unbidden, the memory of Sven Cal Bayan returned. Danilov quashed that thought before it could grow. Even if he were in charge of the Phantom Pain, he could not change it. It was as cruel and ruthless as it was by design. Lord Djibril needed an army of brutal soldiers who would do whatever evil deeds he asked of them. His purposes were dark enough to require soldiers with darkness and evil to match, and if Danilov were their commanding officer, he would have to join them in the depths of darkness himself.

But the Minerva was still there. His swift and skillful foe still needed to be taught a lesson, and, as he pushed the thoughts of field marshals and politics and genocide from his mind, at least he could look forward to that.

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"Your instructions are clear," said Sven Cal Bayan, standing in the Charlemagne's briefing room with Grey and Merau before him, ramrod straight. "You are to distract and occupy the Twilight for as long as possible, until greater force can be applied to destroy it. If Lieutenant du Prey or I or a member of my team arrives in the battle, you will follow their instructions; otherwise, your objective remains the Twilight. Damage or destroy it if you can. Is that understood?"

"Yes sir!" they chorused.

Sven dismissed them with a salute and watched them go. He hated to rely on pilots who, instead of skill, seemed to have an obscene degree of luck instead. Luck was unquantifiable and uncontrollable; it was militarily useless, and yet for the Charlemagne's thinning herd of mobile suit pilots, it was their greatest asset. Maybe that would help them take down the Twilight; if not, maybe it would at least let them tie the damn thing up long enough for something else to take it down. If Irene was right, the pilot was increasingly mentally unstable. Maybe that would provide Ensign Saiba and Ensign Seraux with the luck they needed.

Sending more children to their deaths? that annoying child's voice piped up. With not a hint of shame or remorse? You have fallen far.

It is necessary, Sven shot back, entirely too annoyed to be dealing with this damned thing again. The Alliance's training had been thorough, but it had not been thorough enough if this little bastard was still traipsing around his subconscious.

Everything is necessary with you. Mass murder is necessary. Torture is necessary. Deceit and treachery are necessary. What was all the point of all this, again? Y'know, one of these days they're going to send you to space and tell you to blow up the stars or something. You wanna do that? 'cuz you know I'm still here.

Sven scowled. If this little bastard was his conscience, it sure had no shame in pushing his buttons.

I have left that life behind. I will follow my orders and do my job, or I will die. I will do whatever I must to survive.

Yeah, right, laughed the child. If you really wanted to do that, you would've gotten rid of me years ago.

Sven said nothing. He hated it when that little bastard was right.

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"Isn't it wonderful?" cackled Monique du Prey as she eagerly led Shams and Mudie down the gantry towards her slumbering Morrigan Gundam. "It's the finest mobile suit design ever produced by the Eurasian Federation and it's all mine!"

"Great," Shams deadpanned, "now can we go?"

"It's fine-tuned to every specification of our mutual friend Unit Zero-One," Monique continued, "and what's more, it's got current advancements like beam shields! Don't you just love it? Don't you wish you had one?"

Mudie shot her a glare. "What do you want with us anyway?"

Monique whipped around with a wild-eyed grin. "Partly, I just want to gloat over you guys with the old Actaeon units," she said with a shrug, "but mostly it's because I have a request." Her grin disappeared and she put a finger to Shams' lips before he could protest. "I need you guys to leave the Twilight to me. Sound good?"

Shams narrowed his eyes. "We'll do whatever our mission requires," he shot back. "Whether or not "

"Oh, come on, don't get all hard-ass on me here," Monique interrupted. "I have a specific plan to bring down our little Angel of Death, and although you're both a couple of really nice people I'd really hate for you two to accidentally screw something up, know what I'm saying?" She paused, a feral grin flashing over her lips. "Besides, I have unfinished business with her from Hormuz."

Risking a glance at a thoroughly annoyed Mudie, Shams heaved a sigh. "Do whatever. I don't care."

"Oh, don't look so put out!" cackled Monique, clapping a hand down on Shams' shoulder. "I promise, it will be one hell of a show."

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ZAFT Carpentaria base, Australia

Shinn Asuka watched from the Minerva's internal observation deck as the winged warship slid into the dock at Carpentaria. Technically this place was supposed to be home, but all the guards everywhere and the atmosphere of tension and anger assaulting his Newtype senses put the lie to that sentiment almost as soon as the gates clanged shut.

He would not disembark. He was already hated here anyway; why tempt fate? He glanced up as the door slid open and Emily stepped onto the deck.

"There you are," she said with a start. "I was going to get off. Do you wanna come with me?"

Shinn cracked a smirk. "That probably wouldn't be wise. I got jumped right off the boat last time. You should probably stay here too."

Emily glanced around the deck, and Shinn's smirk faded as he picked up a feeling of tight anxiety from his fellow pilot. "If I stay here any longer I'll go crazy," she said. "I'll be okay. Nobody recognizes me by sight and I can just pass myself off as a random soldier or something."

"If you say so," answered Shinn with an eyebrow raised skeptically. "Be careful."

He watched her leave, pondering what could have prompted that feeling. He knew she had been ruthless in battle with Argus's troops, and Viveka had told him that Emily was struggling to figure out why she had so sadistically destroyed Argus's men. The Twilight Gundam itself certainly bore the marks of that bloodbath; Abes had been stunned that the Twilight's arms had stood up to the force of repeatedly plunging in and out of other mobile suits' chests. And Athrun had been right to point out that, for as vicious as she had seemed, it was hardly unexpected. Her training from the Alliance had destabilized her mind, and every time it returned to her she acted a different sort of crazy.

Shinn thought back to what she had said as the Minerva had left Fortress Akre. She had said that she wanted to take her father's name for her and make it her own. But according to Viveka, that was the problem. Maybe there was some other piece of the puzzle of Emily's past that Shinn did not yet know.

Of course, Athrun was also right that there was no way he could have possibly known about any of this when he encountered her in Reykjavik. And the Alliance would surely have treated her the way it had treated Stella as a pawn, a tool, a component to be discarded when its utility ran out. That would not happen on the Minerva. This ship was crewed by people who had, at one point or another, been treated as mere pieces of larger machines and had rebelled against the clockmakers that controlled them. But none of that stopped the gnawing guilt that this was still Shinn's fault.

And, as he glanced over towards Carpentaria and the hatred seething there, he had created enough problems already.

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"I am glad to see that you were unscathed by Commander Argus's attack," Chiao Xu said with a gracious smile, standing on the gantry that stretched out from Carpentaria's dock to the Minerva's personnel boarding hatch. Meyrin shook his offered hand and forced a smile of her own.

"Commandant Wellington has assured me that it won't happen again."

"I should hope so," scoffed Chiao Xu. "The ZAFT remnant contains some of our most professional and skilled soldiers. We can't afford to lose them to self-serving crusades against allies." He waved a hand out the bridge windows. "I'm afraid we don't have much time for repairs, though. The operation's timetable has been pushed up. We're leaving in two days."

Meyrin blinked in surprise. "Wha why the change?"

At Chiao Xu's side, Joseph Copland's expression darkened. "We've got actionable intelligence that the bulk of the Alliance's fleet at Heaven's Base has departed. We don't know what they're doing, but the opportunity is too good to pass up. We have to attack."

"We also want to mount this attack before these internal divisions do anymore damage to our forces," Chiao Xu added. "The longer this war goes on, the more time there is for our entire coalition to collapse."

"And," Copland finished, "quite frankly, we're already on the brink."

Meyrin blanched at the thought. "Is it really that bad here?"

Although Copland's crestfallen expression indicated that it was, Chiao Xu tapped his cane on the deck with finality. "We will not have to worry about that because in two days our fleet is setting out," he said, "and right now everyone is too busy with the final preparations to do anything rash."

"Captain Hawke," Copland interrupted, shooting a look at Chiao Xu, "I'll be honest. Destroying Argus's task force has whipped up a frenzy here. Most of the ZAFT remnant troops are furious with you, and that's leaving out the ones that already hated you and your crew."

"But that's not going to matter in two days' time," Chiao Xu put in, answering Copland's look with one of his own.

"Chiao Xu, we have to be realistic "

"I apologize," Meyrin interrupted, forcefully enough to silence the leader of the Resistance and the former President of the Atlantic Federation, "for the damage that our actions have caused. But I'm not going to apologize for defending ourselves against what we thought was an ally."

Copland promptly changed the subject, and as Meyrin listened with half an ear, she quietly regarded Chiao Xu. They called him the Seer, but anymore, that just seemed ironic.

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A sigh curling from his lips, Athrun Zala slumped down into a chair in the Minerva's crew lounge and stared down ruefully at his cup of lousy instant coffee. He could cook, but he had never inherited Andy's masterful touch and giant brewing apparatus. Instead, fate had replaced the Desert Tiger's ingenious concoctions with mere Folgers crystals, and Athrun could most certainly tell the difference.

"Goddammit," Viveka's voice groaned over his shoulder, and he shot a surprised look up at her as she stared back down at him, hands on her hips. "I go looking for someone who isn't all mopey today and I find you staring angrily at your coffee."

"Sorry." He swirled the contents of the Styrofoam cup for a moment. "On the Megami there was a guy who was pretty much a god at coffee brewing and I'm sort of wishing I had inherited his skills right now."

Viveka turned up her nose. "Well, okay, good point," she said, "but seriously, between Shinn and my sister this place is starting to drown in angst. Knock it off, would ya?"

"Right, right," Athrun said and gulped down his coffee with resignation. "How is Emily doing anyway?"

"Mopey. She took off into the base a little while ago."

Athrun looked up sharply. "She what ? Viveka, that's insane! She has no idea "

"Well, Shinn seems to think she'll be okay."

At that, Athrun sat back down with a sigh. "I guess," he agreed, "as long as she has the good sense to keep a low profile."

Viveka rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. "I don't understand what's gotten into her. It's like she's a different person now."

Athrun closed his eyes, reaching out and finding Emily's flickering pressure somewhere among the multitudes of Carpentaria.

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"That's right," cooed Roxy with a wolfish grin, "nice little sips."

Across the table in the Minerva's crew lounge, Auel was nervously and slowly draining a paper cup partly filled with what he had called "Roxy's evil Russian fire water." At his side, Sting smirked as the blue-haired Extended coughed a bit, but to his credit Auel finished the glass and plunked it back onto the table.

"There," he snapped. "Pay up."

"Not so fast," scoffed Roxy. "That's a freaking paper bathroom cup. You aren't getting out of this that easy." She plucked the cup from his hand and filled it up again. "I believe our wager was a fifth of vodka, and you haven't even had, like, a tenth of it."

"Fucking hell, I've already had three of those!"

"Yeah, five more to go. Or I could always give them to Stella." Roxy glanced down the table. "Interested?"

At the end of the table, Stella regarded the offered cup with a look of mild fear. "Stella doesn't like that stuff."

"Roxy, come on, you remember the last time you did that, don't you?" Sting groaned.

"I know, it was hilarious! Remember the look on Shinn's face?"

Stella glanced nervously between Roxy and Sting. "It made Stella sick," she protested.

"Yeah, you might have found it funny," added Sting, "but guess who cleaned it up?"

"Well," Roxy said with a melodramatic sigh, "since Auel here is too much of a pussy to finish it "

"Give me that," Auel snapped, seized the cup from her hands, and gulped down the contents only to cough and sputter as the alcohol burned all the way down. Roxy cackled with delight.

"Didn't you learn?" she giggled. "Nice and slow."

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Earth Alliance battleship Charlemagne, Yokosuka Naval Station, Japan, Republic of East Asia

In spite of himself, Ivan Danilov felt a twinge of pride as he stood on the bridge of the Charlemagne and watched the scene before him. The great 6th Combined Surface Fleet was edging out of port. The time had come.

To the ship's starboard, the mighty Chrysalis took the lead, and Grand Admiral MacIntyre's lined face appeared on the auxiliary monitor. "All ships accounted for and in formation," he said, and his gravelly voice set Danilov's blood on edge. He cast a glance down at the large rectangular device strapped to the Charlemagne's hull. It was the finishing touch on this massive assemblage of manpower and firepower, one of the hundreds of Mirage Colloid emitters that would hide the fleet as it traveled south, giving the Alliance one more advantage in the coming battle. Surely the Resistance's spies had seen ships coming and going from Yokosuka with unusually increased frequency; but, with the bulk of the fleet hidden over the horizon and the waters tightly patrolled, there was simply no way they could know.

"Our destination is Carpentaria," MacIntyre said, and Danilov could see that even the old admiral's blood was stirred up by the thought of the impending battle. "The Resistance has fought this war on our doorsteps for three years. It's time we bring it to theirs." Determination flashed across his face. "All ships, activate Mirage Colloid units!"

The emitters sprang to life, and as the curtain of particles fell, Danilov smiled. It was time for war.

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To be continued...