In hindsight Marcus reflected that if there was one thing he shouldn't have done it was to shout that he killed OZ's most popular MS Ace right in the middle of a packed OZ airstrip without explaining why he did it. However in that moment the young OZ officer didn't care about the potential danger that came with his declaration. Since escaping Antarctica the young man had been dying (possibly literally with the strain of piloting the Tallgeese) to tell someone, anyone of what he had done to the traitor named Zechs Merquise. It wasn't that Marcus was a glory hog and was hoping for a promotion or a title from Romefeller, rather he wanted desperately to rid the world of Zechs' image as a perfect soldier and show all of OZ just how despicable and outright insane he had become.
It was this urge that led Marcus to forget about the consequences of such an action, mainly having a dozen Leos come to alert and lock their dober guns on you, while being surrounded by waves of foot soldiers at the same time. The soldiers were not shy in letting their reactions to this outburst be known.
"You fucking bastard, you killed Zechs!"
"I knew there's no way Zechs would let someone take his mobile suit."
"For the Lightning Count!"
Henry Westfield was so shocked at the revelation that he had little time to comprehend that his men were about to obliterate White in front of him while he was processing the information. Fortunately for Marcus the Canadian Squadron Commander was able to respond and bring an end to the violence before a bloodbath occurred.
Westfield rushed to put his body in front of Marcus and waved his arms in an attempt to "STAND DOWN! I SAID STAND DOWN! I will not let blood spill on my airfield just because you people jumped to conclusions!" Corazon slightly winced when Westfield said "my airfield" when it was in actuality property of Argentina, but he said nothing for he knew what the Squadron Commander's intent was, though he knew that it was another subliminal showing of OZ's inherent superiority complex.
"Sir he killed a fellow officer of OZ, he killed Zechs Merquis for crying outloud. Justice must be served!" Shouted a South Asian infantry Sargent who kept his rifle on White, laser scope planting a dot on the Flight Lieutenant's forehead. The rest of the soldiers on the ground gave yells of agreement while similar shouts could be heard from the Leo troops on the comms.
Westfield started sweating through his officer's cap as he knew that he had to chose his next words carefully or else there would be a riot on his hands. 'God, what did I have to do to deserve this shit-fest? It was just supposed to be an easy assignment in this backwater region, and now I have to handle the biggest scandal of the second century.' Westfield thought. "I know you guys are all pissed at what the Flight Leiutenant is saying, however we must find out what exactly happened before blowing anyone's brains out. The Flight Leituenant here claims that Zechs betrayed the Order and allied himself with the Gundams."
"Bullshit! Zechs would never work with the Gundams! He shot down 01 twice, and there's especially no way he would do so after Lake Victoria." Shouted an African corporal, more rounds of agreement followed.
"Well it fucking happened, that's what I'll tell you! I saw it with my own damn eyes. Zechs never destroyed 01, he brought it to Barclay Klamb to rebuild it and give it back to 01's pilot, he even brought Unit 03 and its pilot and made me tend to it. I even have video footage right here." White said, holding a Kodak camcorder in his palm. "If you don't believe me or this than go to Antartica. You'll find your goddamn proof, Unit 01. Not destroyed at the bottom of Lake Victoria, but inside the base where I killed it with the Tallgeese."
Westfield and Corazon's eyes both widened at the accusations. Neither men in their wildest dreams could've ever imagined Zechs to pull off something so stupid and treasonous. 'Why the hell would Zechs be helping terrorists? He's never once acted against the Order or the Foundation. But what happened in Siberia...' Thought Westfield.
"Liar! Come on Squadcomm, let me shoot the son of a bitch. Zechs needs to be avenged!" Said the same Sargent from earlier.
'God these idiots are so brainwashed. How could I have not seen it til now, how Zechs had his pawns on everyone wearing the Speciali uniform? Maybe I could've convinced the others to join me.' Lamented Marcus.
The tense scene was interrupted by the sound of a gunshot, thankfully for Marcus it was not a rifle aiming at him, rather the round was aimed at the sky, originating from an Argentine officer's pistol being held by the Brigadier. "Callense Todos! You are men and women of Argentina's finest and the Order of Zodiac, not a bunch of crying children!" The Argentine soldiers shrunk back in fear while the OZ compliment grew weary, they had served under the Brigadier enough time to knew when he would demand obedience of his soldiers. Those who chose to go against him and encourage sedition would often go through harsh punishments that made them wish for the days of bootcamp.
"Brigadier, he...he killed Zechs!"
"And do we have proof of his actions beyond his word? Do we know of what truly happened in Antarctica when the Comisariat themselves sent their own men there this morning. Let us first determine his story and see what occurred, for all we know he is telling the complete and utter truth and you are waving your guns at someone who took down a treacherous dog.Madre de Dios, put those damn things away! The Flight Leiutenant is not armed, he's physically exhausted, and he willingly surrendered the Tallgeese to us. If he really wanted to go on a rampage he could've destroyed this entire base from the sky." The Brigadier's words managed to work as one by one the soldiers started to lower their rifles while the Leos chose to do the same with their Dober's and back off, though everyone on the ground sans the commanding officers still sent hateful glares towards Marcus.
"If this man truly did murder Merquise with no valid reason then he will be put into prison and sent on trial, and if found guilty I will stand on the firing squad against him, you men have my word. Until then let's think with our brains and not our triggers. We will begin an investigation immedeatley and will relay information as it comes. Dismissed!"
The Argentines did as asked of their Brigadier though the men of OZ remained. "You too men, that's an order. Except for you Bravo squad, you shall remain as White's escorts as he is placed into custody until further notice." Commanded Westfield. Begrudgingly the Mobile Suit troops did as they were told, leaving the LZ with just Corazon, Westfield, Bravo squad, the two medics on the scene, and the mechanic crew who began resuming their search of the Tallgeese.
Westfield walked up to Marcus who was still lying on the ground. "Son you better be right or else a court martial will be the least of your concerns. Zechs is held rather high our ranks, there are several Squadcomm's beside me who had they been in command would gladly step aside and let the fanatics shoot you."
Marcus smiled weakly, "All the more reason to get the truth out and destroy this decade-long lie. I'm not lying sir, everything's in here, from Zechs' lunacy to Noin and the rest following his lead." Marcus said, once more holding out the camcorder to Westfield, who grabbed it.
Westfield turned to the medics, "Get him to the infirmiry and treat any injuries he may have received from the Tallgeese. Bravo squad, secure him in an isolated wing and don't let anyone besides either the Brigadier or I see him. And if I get word that a single scratch came to the Flight Lieutenant then I'll have your asses shipped to Luxembourg, like the Brigadier said if he's guilty then he'll land in the courts. We are Knights of Romefeller, we enforce the law, not take it into our own hands." The Sargent leading Bravo squad grunted an acknowledgement and began to escort the medics inside the base.
Once most of the men were off the LZ Westfield let out a large sigh of relief. "God this shit is way above my damned paygrade." He turned to Corazon, "Thanks Brigadier for helping me out back there. I don't think I could handle all those lunatics on my own." Westfield said, holding out his hand in thanks which Corazon returned.
"Do not think anything of it Commander. It will be a sad day when we lose our discipline and go about acting like rabid dogs than men in uniform. That being said though I am disturbed at how...devoted your men were towards the Lightning Count."
Westfield grunted in response, "Yeah that's Zechs for you. If you think that's bad you should see how hard OZ has it for Treize. If it had been his excellency who White had shot then they wouldn't have hesitated and tore apart the man. Hell these people would start a civil war if anything happened to Khushrenanda. That's exactly why we need to keep this under wraps as long as possible until we keep a clear picture. Brigadier I'm going to need you to order a mandatory communications blackout for the next 24 hours, only keep open secure lines to Buenos Aires and Luxembourg along with our troops in the field. Nothing come in or out without your approval, especially any word of Zechs' fate. If handled badly Zechs' death could kill morale in the Earth sphere and spread anarchy throughout our ranks."
Corazon nodded in understanding. "I don't think it'll last for long but I shall do as you say. At the same time I'll be closing the gates, can't let some pilot take a drive to Buenos Aires and leak to La Nacion."
"When you're done with that please join me in my office so that we can watch the footage. Time to find out if our prodigal son aligned himself with those demons."
About an hour later the two men were in Westfield's office, having gone through most of the video and nearing the end, Zech's treachury plain for all to see.
"LONG LIVE OZ!" Those were the final words that Marcus White shouted before pulling the trigger and releasing the last round in his pistol, the bullet striking Zechs' head square on and ending the life of the Lighting Count.
"ZECHS!" A feminine shriek, who Westfield recognized to be Noin, cried out in agony seconds later as alarms went off and various yells of confusion and fear echoed around the base. The last seconds of footage were Marcus grabbing the camera in a hurry, the last shot being him running towards the Tallgeese before the video cut out. All that Marcus said was true with only footage of his claim of taking down Unit 01 being left out.
Corazon had never been as mad at someone in his life before as he had Zechs. During his long career in the Argentine Air Force, Corazon had come face to face with several scum who tarnished the uniform, each a disgrace to the proud institution that was the Argentine Air Force and the former Alliance. However all of those scoundrels paled in comparison to the madness of Zechs, how he had betrayed his comrades for such an archaic notion of chivalry that even the reactionary aristocrats of Romefeller would find it insane. 'All of this just so he could have some fucking joust with a goddamn terrorist. Púdrete en el infierno traidor.'Thought Corazon.
Whatever the Brigadier's feelings were, they paled in comparison to the absolute rage and betrayal felt by Westfield. While the man had never been fond of Zechs, deep inside a small part of him hoped that Marcus was lying in that he was insane. Westfield just couldn't believe that a man of OZ would stoop so low, that he would betray those lost to the Gundams and dare to help them in any manner or form. Yet here it was; Zechs, Noin, and countless others had just stood back and actively helped the Gundam pilots, now revealed as Heero Yuy and Trowa Barton. And out of the dozens who were present in Antarctica, only Marcus White dared to question this obvious treason.
Westfield had tears in his eyes, enraged and saddened at how so many men and women who had died by the hands of the Gundam had misplaced their faith in Zechs. Months ago Westfield had a dear friend, Flight Lieutenant Matthew Anderson. The two were Canadians who had met at Lake Victoria and had bonded to become the best of friends, brothers in all but blood. At the start of the year while Westfield had been assigned to Rio, Anderson was transferred to the Middle Eastern Air Army at Corsica, there he had died at the hands of Unit 03, the same Gundam who had been given asylum by Zechs.
"MOTHERFUCKER!" Westfield yelled, throwing an empty bottle at the wall which shattered into dozens of pieces. "GODDAMN YOU TO HELL ZECHS MERQUISE!" Westfield then smashed his fist upon the desk, bones and flesh strained against the hard oak wood. The force of the impact managed to create a small dent into the desk, at the same time cutting Westfield's hand with several splinters. The Squadron Commander now let go of any sort of image and broke down, pouring out his feelings of betrayal and hate. This went on for several minutes, Corazon watching silently in the background.
Eventually Westfield managed to compose himself, taking several deep breaths and wiping out the tears in his eyes, then proceeding to administer first aid to himself. "I'm...I'm sorry that you had to see that Brigadier."
The far older Argentine simply laid a hand on Westfield's shoulder, providing comfort as a father would to his son. "There is no need to apologize Commander. That scum Zechs Merquise has made himself the greatest traitor of After Colony, bringing great dishonor to the Order of Zodiac and nearly damning the lives of every man who fought and died for the cause since Daybreak. I am simply glad that Blanco brought that mad dog down when he did, who knows what kind of damage he might've inflicted on the rest of the Earth sphere."
Westfield simply nodded, both sat in silence for a minute before the Brigadier continued, "So now what do we do. I may not concern myself with Romefeller politics, but I know for a fact that this is going to have major repercussions moving forward."
"That's the greatest understatement I ever heard. I may be mostly apolitical as well but I've dealt with enough of OZ to know how this plays out. There's going to be a huge rift formed, if it hasn't already, between the Foundation and Treize. The board is going to want to know just why the hell Treize didn't see this coming, and why he chose to place someone who was so insane in such a high position of power." 'Not that Zechs is the only one, what with how damn two-faced Lady Une is.' Thought Westfield. "Treize is going to try and defend Zechs," Corazon raised an eye at the claim, "Yeah I know it sounds crazy but His Excellency actually believes in this chivalry crap so he might think that Zechs was taking the honorable route. OZ is going to get split down the middle with half thinking White was a hero while the other half think he's a damn murderer. Morale is going to hit the shit, everyone is going to mistrust their commanding officers, and some are going to probably resign. Septim and his cronies must be dancing in L1 right about now, we just handed them a huge victory right on a silver platter, might even be enough to secure Noventa's independence."
Westfield ran his good hand through his hair, trying to find a solution to the current mess. "Brigadier, I'm not trying to exaggerate when I say that what we do within the next few days might change the course of the war as we know it. If we fuck up, then OZ is going to crumble down, and the whole Earth sphere will be thrown into chaos." Corazon nodded along, while he had no special love for Treize or the rest of Romefeller, Las Patriotas and the rest of the Argentine government had thrown their towel with Romefeller, and if OZ went down then Argentina would be left to fend on their own.
"I think what we should do first is send a battalion of Aires to Antarctica. If that puta Noin and the Gundam pilots are smart enough, they'll try to secure Zechs' body and destroy the rest of the base in order to get rid of the evidence. Not to mention the fact that we need to make sure 01 is destroyed for good this time. Even if it is the Gundams can still reclaim it for scrape, they can use the Gundanium to make something new, something far more terrifying." Corazon said.
Westfield nodded in agreement, "That's a solid plan, I would suggest that 3/4ths of the battalion be made up of your boys while Aristotle squad fills in for OZ, those men are mostly made up of pilots in their twenties, all who joined OZ after Zechs and are lest likely to join in the hero worship. At the same time we'll need some paratroopers, just in case a few fanatics are at the base and want to take revenge for their glorious Zechs."
"What are you going to do?" Asked Corazon.
"I'll need to make a few calls in order to contain the flames before they spread, I'll also be handing the briefing of White in the meantime, this is an OZ internal matter, as the highest ranking officer on base it's my duty to see this to the end, even if my career is caught in the middle." Corazon looked upon Westfield with newfound respect at this declaration, while he never had any issues with the man before, he had regarded him with a small amount of stigma due to being an elite of OZ, seeing such fiery passion and dedication to duty reminded the Brigadier of himself when he was younger. 'If only you were born down south Commander.' Thought Corazon.
"I'll be sure to get to it. Good luck Commander." Said Corazon, holding out his hand, which Westfield returned.
"You to Brigadier, the Order of Zodiac will forever be in your debt once this affair is dealt with.."
"Reward me with a title and a shiny castle in Europe and we'll call it even." Joked Corazon, the man then left to give out the orders. Leaving Westfield to think about his next plan of action.
'I gotta contact Luxembourg, they need to know about this first before this starts to spread to the rest of the Earth and the colonies.' Before Westfield typed the in the frequency for Treize Khushrenada's office, he stopped himself with some hesitation. 'Will Treize do anything, will he even care?' Westfield himself even admitted less than a minute ago that Treize would most likely be the greatest supporter of Zechs, his friendship with the late count clouding his judgement. If the General was the first one to learn of Zech's betrayal, then he could instantly cover it up or try to spin it in Zechs' favor. 'I need to contact the Foundation first, Duke Dermail has to know.'
After making a copy of the video footage for proof, Westfield then shifted the codes to the Foundation's Headquarters in Brussels. He knew that the board had a conference in Bremen recently, though they should have been done with it days ago. Westfield waited several seconds until the face of a young man of Arab descent dressed in the attire of an OZ Flight Officer appeared on screen. "This is Flight Officer Abraham Tal, adjutant to Dermail Catalonia. To whom am I speaking?"
"Flight Officer this is Squadron Commander Henry Westfield of the 37th Air Battalion stationed at Buenos Aires. Is His Grace Dermail Catalonia available at the moment? I need to speak with him directly."
The Flight Officer seemed confused at the request. "Sir as I'm aware there is a regular procedure for officers of OZ to contact His Grace, if you would like to get in contact then please go through the Supreme Military council."
"Look I know what I'm doing is unorthodox, but this is a matter of the upmost importance that only His Grace can know, I can't risk anyone within the rest of OZ finding out before I contact His Grace."
Flight Officer Tal raised an eyebrow at Westfield's claim of upmost secrecy. "I'm sure that His Excellency could be trusted with whatever information you claim to have."
"Look, what I have involves Treize and who knows how many commanding officers within the Order. The Foundation has to be alerted right away before a potential coverup is declared. If His Grace isn't aware of what's going on then there's going to be catastrophic consequences. I'm talking about a scandal so widespread that the Mobile Suit Troops, Space Forces, Comisariat, everyone within OZ is going to either rejoice or rise up at what's happened. The Board needs to know so that they can minimize the damage."
On the other end of the line Tal's face scrunched up into disbelief. As Duke Dermail's personal aide he was aware of much within OZ that went high above his paygrade, so the claims of a scandal so shocking that it could rock the Earth sphere suprised him. Usually he would've hung up by now, but something about Westfield's conviction told him that what he was saying was the truth, and that if Tal didn't let him through then there would be hell to pay.
With a sigh Tal relented, "Alright, I'll patch you through. His Grace is in his office and is available at the moment, he won't be pleased though at being contacted like this."
"I assure you that this is well worth it Flight Officer." The screen then faded to black for several seconds before a new face came on. This was a highly chiseled and bearded face of an elderly Hispanic aristocrat, the man who was at the moment perhaps the most powerful individual in the Earth sphere, Dermail Catalonia, Grand Duke of Lichtenstein.
"Your Grace, this is Squadron Commander Henry Westfield reporting!" Westfield said with a sharp salute at the man who was essentially Treize Khushrenada's superior, judging by his agitation though Dermail was none too pleased at the impromptu call.
"Boy, I don't know who you think you are, but there are regulations and rules to be followed as an officer of OZ. I'm sure whatever you think is important is over-exaggerated, it would be best to contact Trieze directly and..."
"Zechs Merquise has betrayed OZ sir, he never destroyed Unit 01 and transported it to Antarctica in order to give it back to the Gundam pilot." Westfield interrupted. Whatever lecture Dermail Catalonia was about to continue was interrupted, with his face erupting into pure shock at the claim.
"What, what are you saying?" Asked Dermail.
"Your Grace I'm transmitting a video to you right now that gives explicit proof of the whole affair. I haven't been able to investigate everything that's happened so far, but what we do definitely confirm is that Zechs faked the destruction of 01 in Lake Victoria, moved it to Antarctica in order to have it repaired by Lucrezia Noin and several OZ engineers and freelancers, all for the purpose of delivering it to the pilot of unit 01, a boy named Heero Yuy sir." Dermail's face grew puzzled at the mention of the pilot whose name was the exact same as the martyred colonial pacifist that had died twenty years prior. "I know it sounds strange, though I believe that the pilot is most likely using the Yuy name as a codename rather than being of any actual relation to the Yuy Foundation. There was also a second Gundam pilot sir, Trowa Barton of Unit 03. It could also be a codename but something tells me that the pilot has a strong connection to the Barton Foundation, they're the only Colonials who have the resources to build five separate Gundams and launch them to perform a counter-insurgency on Earth."
Silence followed Westfield's explanation. It took Dermail a couple of minutes to try and digest the multiple revelations that were given to him by the OZ Squadron Commander. 'Damn you Treize, I knew you shouldn't have given Merquise so much free reign. We'll need to keep a tighter leash on OZ, this type of dissent cannot be allowed to continue.' Thought the Duke.
"What is the status of the Gundam pilots? And what of Zechs himself?"
"Within the video that I transmitted to you is footage of the Lightning Count being shot to death, his assassin is a Flight Lieutenant Marcus White, a non-assegnati stationed at Antarctica who felt that Zech's treason had to be stopped. Afterwords he managed to hijack the Tallgeese and escape to Argentina. From his word so far it seems like the Gundam pilots have escaped with Unit 03, possibly with Noin joining them. The facts are still messy as the Flight Lieutenant landed just over an hour ago with the Tallgeese, but I'll be sure to submit a full report by tomorrow at the latest. In regards to Inspector Acht and the 88th, I think it's safe to say at this point that they are most likely dead. This may sound defeatist sir, but if the Middle Eastern Air Army was able to fall so easily to 03 and 04, then I highly doubt a Commissariat officer and South Africa's finest will be able to take 03 down, even amid all the confusion." Dermail just nodded along, taking in the information for all its worth, trying to come up with a plan for the future.
"Thank you very much Squadron Commander for all of this information. You were very wise to contact the Foundation first, while my nephew is an excellent leader, his judgement in this matter would be most clouded by his friendship with the late Zechs. Continue to deal with the situation in Argentina as you see fit, the political fallout will be dealt with personally by the Supreme Military Council, we'll be sure to spend this towards OZ's way and make sure the guilty parties are held liable. I expect to see a full report in the next 24 hours. Romefeller owes you a great debt today Squadron Commander, continue to prove your loyalties and you shall have a bright future ahead of you."
"Sir!" Westfield saluted, the screen then cutting off. Once the monitor went black Westfield slouched in his seat, breathing a large sigh of relief. 'Well this shitshow is out of my hands for now. Time to tie up the loose ends.' Taking a few minutes to compose himself, Westfield left his office on course for the infirmary, briefly reminding himself of the need to clean the pile of glass on the floor when he returned.
When Westfield reached the infirmary he found his path blocked by an angry mob, their entrance being held back by Bravo squad, whose faces appeared torn on the whole situation. "JUSTICE FOR ZECHS! JUSTICE FOR ZECHS!" The mob cried out.
'Christ, why'd I have to be put in command of the crazies?' "What the hell is going on here?!" Westfield yelled out in his most authoritative officer tone. The mob turned at the new sound and then proceeded to rush towards the Canadian, circling him like a bunch of hungry sharks.
"What the hell is going on here?!" Demanded Westfield.
One of the pilots of Rojas Flight, a Jewish pilot named Jared Klein, stepped forward. "Sir, there you are. We demand that this Flight Lieutenant White be put under arrest immediate, he needs to stand trial."
Westfield formed a small smirk on his face, knowing the full irony of that statement. "Oh, and what crime is that?"
"He murdered Zechs Merquise, a Lieutenant Colonel of OZ! We all know it, the man admitted it to everyone and was damn proud of it. I don't know why your trying to protect him Squadcomm, he killed one of our own, he killed Zechs for no reason." Klein argued, others shouting in agreement. 'I wonder if they would be saying the same thing if it was some no-name officer, if I had commited the crime instead of the pompous blonde.'
"This may come as a shock to some of you, but I have been reviewing video evidence for the past hour and White was right. Zechs did in fact commit treason to OZ, he spent resources of the Order and recruited dozens into his campaign to rebuild 01, all in order to give it back to the pilot for an honorable duel. While it is currently up for debate on whether or not White will face charges, Zechs did in fact betray OZ, the Lightning Count is not the man you all thought he was."
A general feeling of shock came upon the faces of the OZ pilots, all of them disbelieving the words that their commanding officer had uttered. These feelings soon turned to anger and disgust, anger at the mere thought that their commanding officer would dare to make such accusations.
Klein himself decided to act rashly and pinned the Squadron Commander up against the wall, fists balling on the collar of Westfield's uniform, his face turning bright red. "BULLSHIT! Zechs may be many things but a traitor isn't one of them. He'd never work for the Gundams, NEVER!"
Westfield calmly stared down his subordinate, "Careful boy, you're acting very close to borderline subordination. Do you really think that I would lie, that I would make up some bullshit tale and side with an officer who I've known for barely less than an hour?"
In a miracle that probably saved Westfield's life and several court martials from taking place, the PA system came alive. "This is Brigadier Enrique Corazon speaking to all personnel on base, both OZ and Argentine. At 1346 today, the Tallgeese landed on the airfield with a certain Flight Lieutenant Marcus White. In the aftermath an order was issued for a communications blackout and all personnel were ordered to stay inside the base. Rumors have also spread that this Flight Lieutenant White has killed Zechs Merquise in cold blood. I am here to address those concerns. After going over video footage with Squadron Commander Westfield, along with footage and data from the Tallgeese, I can confirm that White has killed Zechs. However this was not done without good reason. For Zechs Merquise, the venerable Lightning Count, has committed treason against OZ. The man set up an elaborate plan where he faked the destruction of 01 and planned to have it moved to Antarctica so that he could duel the pilot of said Gundam. In the process he provided sanctuary for the pilots of 01 and 03, while also shooting down an South African Aires squadron that was sent to investigate the matter. Zechs Merquise is a traitor, there is no doubt about it. I would like to remind everyone that the situation is currently developing and we shall keep the base well informed of all new developments that occur. To those who looked up to the Lightning Count, I apologize for this monumental betrayal. Viva Argentina y Viva OZ! This has been Brigadier Corazon, signing off."
Westfield looked back towards Klein, who let go of his commanding officer and proceeded to fall on the floor. Many other men and women were also shellshocked at the words, a few let tears roll down their face and were actively sobbing. While Westfield couldn't help but be disappointed at how these officers of OZ were acting, he also pitied them and wished he could comfort them, something that he could not provide at this current time.
"I know that you all have strong feelings for Zechs. He was a friend, a comrade, one of the greatest pilots in our generation. Remember this though, OZ is not one man, it is not one pilot. We have faced difficult times before, and we shall move on. At 2100 I shall have a debriefing to explain in full the events that occurred today and what shall happen in the near future. Rest assured that Luxembourg has been contacted and is now dealing with the situation as we speak. For those of you who knew Zechs personally, I'm sorry."
Westfield slowly walked towards the door of the infirmary, each step hard to do while looking at the faces of the OZ personnel who were hurting at the loss of their hero.
"Zechs." Whispered one of the pilots, whom it was Westfield could not be sure.
Slowly the mob dispersed and Westfield was allowed entrance into the infirmary. Bravo squad while relieved, looked extremely depressed upon news of the Lightning Count's treachery. 'Poor bastards. If these are the reactions of my men I hate to think of those who worked with Zechs in East Africa.' Inside the infirmary it was very quite with the only other patient today being an Argentine infantrymen who appeared to have a broken nose, sleeping on a small cot off to the side. Westfield walked to the presence of a small squad of OZ infantry around a small cot with curtains enclosing it. Upon seeing their Squadron Commander the men stepped aside, themselves appearing to have the same faces of shock that the others wore outside. Westfield opened the curtain to find Marcus being attended to by the head physician on base, Doctor Carmen Sanchez.
Marcus gave a brisk salute to Westfield, "Sir, so you and the Brigadier finally saw the truth?" He asked, probably having heard the Brigadier's announcement over the bases' PA system.
Westfield gave a loud sigh, "Yeah, we know about Zechs and all the crap that he did. Judging by both the video and the Tallgeese's computer you should be cleared, though I wouldn't celebrate just yet." Marcus raised an eye at Westfield's claim. "White, personally what I think you did was right. That SOB betrayed OZ and gave the most dangerous weapon in the Earth sphere to a terrorist just so he could have a fucking joust with him. On paper you have every right to shoot him in order to protect OZ. However we do have rules and regulations dealing with traitors. And some of the more liberal members of Romefeller and the Supreme Military Council will want to arrest you for having killed Zechs and not brought him in for a trial." Marcus' face sneered at the thought of Zechs having to stand in court. It was an entirely pointless procedure for all the clear evidence that was there and such an affair would most likely have been dragged on for months or years in order to publicize it and make a spectacle over what should be an easy decision.
"Beyond the ethics that our beloved bureaucrats and self-righteous aristocrats like to espouse, there's also the manner that you went about solving the problem. Instead of chosing to take down the Gundam pilots, you chose to punish Zechs for his actions, something that many may see as a sign of a personal grudge over the success of the Lightning Count. I'm sure you had your reasons for chosing Zechs, but the Gundam pilots should have died first in order to end their campaign of terror. Not to mention lastly that for the rest of your days you'll be hounded by people both within and outside OZ who were part of Zechs' cult, no matter what they'll see you as a murderer for bringing down this madman, that mob outside was only a small example of what you'll face in the future."
"Squadron Commander, is this talk really necessary, you're going to raise the stress and blood pressure of the patient when the first thing he needs is rest. If he had piloted the Tallgeese for a few more hours then it's very likely he could have died." Complained Doctor Sanchez.
Westfield bowed in respect, "My apologies Doc, I'm just telling the Flight Lieutenant the consequences of his actions and what he'll have to face in the next couple of days. This scandal doesn't just end with the death of Merquise, it's going to have major ripples throughout the entire Earth sphere. We likely won't see this die down for years to come."
To Westfield's surprise, Marcus seemed to take the information all in stride, accepting everything with just a simple nod of the head, having fully come to terms with his actions just hours ago. "I know all that Squadcomm. I had a few days before all this, thinking about what and what not to do. I admit that I could've done things differently, but I don't regret a single thing I did. Zechs deserved to die and I'm glad I did it. I only want to tell my side of the story before things get out of control."
"That's exactly why I came here. If you don't mind I'd like for you to participate in some questioning surrounding your entire involvement during the...incident that took place today. While your video may have shown us bits and pieces of Zechs' treason, I'd like to hear a full explanation on what happened leading up to today and how Zechs managed to convince so many to join his side, in addition to your particular motivations for killing the Lightning Count."
"You want to interrogate my patient, just after he stepped out of that death machine?" Doctor Sanchez demanded.
Westfield raised his hands up in compliance, "Don't worry Doc, I'm not going to do anything lethal to the Flight Lieutenant here, technically he hasn't been charged with a crime yet so is to be treated with the respect of an OZ officer. This is all voluntary, it's just that I'll need definite proof for the White in order to build up a suitable case for him should he be charged with a court martial."
The doctor relented, "Fine, but I will need to be present in case Flight Lieutenant White suffers any further. From past records that I managed to pull out of the Tallgeese, pilots after flying it have suffered severe cases of anxiety and malfunction of the lungs, if White gets too much stress then he could suffer a heart attack."
On the cot Marcus let out a loud laugh, "God, that would just be sad. I survived a Gundam and yet I died from a heart attack at the age of 23. What a way to go." Marcus then turned to Westfield. "Squadcomm, I'll answer anything you ask me. Anything to clear Zechs of his hero worship is something I approve of."
"Alright then, Flight Lieutenant let's head on to the debriefing room, they have cameras set up on continuous recording so we'll have footage of everything that you'll say. Doc, if you could help me out." Westfield and Sanchez then moved to support Marcus' arms as he stood out of the cot, barely managing to avoid falling from the stress placed on his body by the Tallgeese. The two then escorted the Flight Lieutenant to the debriefing room down the hall, a fancy word to describe where the Argentine Air Force interrogated any prisoners or unruly servicemen.
Westfield led Marcus into the debriefing room, the space was empty save for a metal desk, two silver chairs, and a camera in a corner of the room. Doctor Sanchez opted to stay in room next door which was hidden by a one-way mirror where officers and the others could observe the proceedings without notice. Both OZ officers took their place, with Marcus gently easing himself into the chair due to still suffering the strain of the Tallgeese.
"Alright here's how this is going to work. I'm going to ask you a series of questions relating to your killing of Zechs, hijacking the Tallgeese, confronting the Gundam pilots, Noin, anything and everything related to the event. While you aren't under any sort of oath, it would be best to answer honestly in order to clear any guilt that OZ or the courts would try and put against you. Since you are not under arrest and this technically isn't an interrogation, feel free to take your time and answer in any manner that you see fit. Feel free to add anything that you think would be valuable to the case." Westfield said.
"The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Marcus asked sarcastically.
"Something along those lines."
Marcus' face then darkened as he struggled to recall the particular event that led him down to the path of killing Zechs, the horrible nightmare that started it all. "Listen, you guys probably have a really extensive bio of me in your files, so I don't really think we need to go over my whole life story. Pretty boring to be honest, even my career in OZ has never been exemplary up until this point, I'm just an MS engineer, nothing special. If you wanna go over why I killed Zechs, then we're going to have to go back a few months. To the day the Gundams took away my family. The attack on Lake Victoria."
A/N: So now we are done with the main drama at San Martin and we get into the meat of the story, finding out what made White's life hell and made him turn against Zechs, taking his life in Antartica. Next chapter will be a series of flashbacks from the Lake Victoria attack in episode 4, to right before Zechs and the Wing Gundam arrive. Really hope you guys like this chapter, it was fun to look into the cult of personality that Zechs developed within OZ and how that had an effect on the men. Do keep in mind though that while the POV characters may be biased against the protagonists of Wing, the ugly side of OZ and Romefeller will also be shown.
Once again I'd like to think Synthesis and his story "Walker's Account" for the inspiration of this. One of Synthesis' OC's, Abraham Tal, makes a minor character in his role the adjutant of Duke Dermail. A good of the worldbuilding, characters, and tech moving forward will be taken from Walker's Account, though I'll do my best to spin things in my own version and take the story into an entirely different direction. Thanks for reading and Long Live OZ!