Athrun dodged another slash from the ZAKU Warrior's beam tomahawk, bringing his beam katana up to meet it. The battle had gone longer than he thought it would, even in a warzone like this. Whomever the pilot was, he was almost on the level of a Coordinator. He was almost impressed but, nevertheless, was unwilling to lose.
'Who is this guy?' Athrun thought to himself, the brilliant clash of the two beam weapons casting a pinkish glow between them. 'Whomever he is, he's obviously on a Coordinator's level. This isn't good.'
'This isn't good.' Akito thought to himself, the power between the two beam wepons building upon itself. 'This pilot's about as good as I am. He must be a Coordinator too. But why would...' Suddenly, the two combatants were thrown apart as their weapons overloaded.
"Listen, whomever you are." Athrun spoke over the COM, hoping that the pilot of the ZAKU Warrior would listen to reason. "If you're a Coordinator, then there's no reason for us to continue to fight like this."
"I have to, but you wouldn't understand that." Akito retorted, throwing the Aegis Mk. II back with the beam tomahawk. "I know all about you, Athrun Zala. You betrayed ZAFT just to save your friend."
Athrun grit his teeth as he dodged another slash, angry that he had gotten so complacent. This pilot obviously did his homework. That wasn't going to stop him from defeating this new mobile suit, or keeping his promise to Lacus not to leave her alone. Acting quickly, he shifted into mobile fighter jet mode and shot past the ZAKU Warrior.
"So what if I did?" Athrun shouted over the COM. "At least I had the strength of my convictions instead of dogma to follow."
"How do you know I don't?" Akito responded, firing his beam machine gun at the Aegis Mk. II, clipping one of it's wings and forcing Athrun to transform. "Do you think I wanted to be a part of what Murdock is planning? I'm only doing this to save the woman I love."
"What?" The Aegis Mk. II and ZAKU Warrior stood deadlocked, their weapons trained at each other's cockpits. Athrun stood frozen as Akito continued over the COM.
"My friend, Yurina Mizrahi, was a GINN test pilot during the last war. I should know, since I helped to train her as a pilot myself. After the attack on JOSH-A, the Earth Alliance headquarters, I was due to meet with her and the rest of our squadron in space. We were suppposed to back up Commander Le Cruset's forces at Yacin-Due but... but I found out later that most of them, including Yurina, were MIA after Orb was destroyed. She's a POW, still out there somewhere, and I'm going to find her or avenge her." Akito was near tears as he pointed his beam machine gun at Athrun's cockpit. "You won't stand in my way, Athrun Zala. I don't care who the hell you are. When this is all over, I'm heading to Earth to find Yurina and the rest of my squadron."
'He sounds almost like Kira and I did back then.' Athrun thougt to himself. 'I guess I was kidding myself by thinking we were alone in our battles.' He sighed to himself, hoping he didn't regret this decision later, and lowered his beam rifle.
"Listen to me." Athrun said calmly. "Believe it or not, I do understand. When I was fighting for ZAFT, I lost several friends also. I saw them killed right in front of me. But I learned that there's nothing worse than revenge in the face of war. You have to make that judgement also if you and your friends are going to survive this." He extended his GUNDAM's hand, something he wouldn't have been able to do before. "If we work together, we can help you find what your looking for."
'Just who is this guy anyway?' Akito thought suspiciously, unable to decide whether or not to trust him. 'What he's saying... it sounds like he knows what he's taking about. Maybe trusting him... wouldn't be so bad.' He glanced over to a picture of an attractive girl with a gentle smile and pale-blue hair in long pigtails, her light brown eyes staring kindly back to him. 'Yurina... is this the right thing to do?' He sighed, extending his ZAKU's hand and taking the GUNDAM's in friendship.
"Akito." he stated over the Aegis Mk. II's COM system. "My name's Akito Yahagi." Before Athrun could reply, a massive wave of light began spreading out from the distance. He didn't have to look to know what it was. If Kira was right, then Angel Halo was starting up.
"Dammit!" Athrun cursed as he shifted to mobile fighter jet mode. "We're too late!"
> > > >
Lacus's head shot up from where she was sitting on her porch, a deep feeling of horror growing within her as she looked up into the "sky" of the PLANT. She clutched her head in pain, fighting the overwhelming sense of dread that loomed over her like a spectre. There was a light, not a warm light, but one that symbolized nothing but darkness and terror, that seemed to overshadow the PLANT's entire horizon. As it began to spread, the pink-haired songstress could do nothing but scream in pain as she knelt to the ground.
'People are changing. They're becoming more like us...'
"I... can see... time... itself..." Lacus muttered softly, nearly echoing the unfamiliar voice as she passed out onto the ground, oblivious to the mysterious figure that was approaching her. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a cellular phone, a grim look on his face.
"This is Precursor 1. The target has been secured."
> > > >
Cagalli could only watch in muted silence as Kira moved away from her, the beam wings of the Reverse Strike GUNDAM carrying him closer and closer to Angel Halo. She balled her fists in anger and fear, unable to bring to words how much turmoil her heart was in at the moment. She could finally face the feelings within her soul, begging for release towards the only boy able to invoke them fully from her. Her golden eyes closed as she fought the tears welling in them. Now wasn't the time to cry over something like that. But she couldn't... she WOULDN'T deny them anymore.
She loved him.
She loved Kira.
'You'd better get back here, Kira,' Cagalli thought to herself silently as she brought the Strike Rouge's systems back online, 'because if you don't, I can't really face how I feel about you.' The emergecy sensors blared loudly as she saw in horror what was happening. Two of the ten rings on Angel Halo had already lined up, casting an almost ominous glow of white light.
> > > >
Ssigh and Miriallia sat in silence in the confines of the escape pod, unable to believe that Murrue had been so determined to stop GHOST's armada by herself. The Archangel, their home of the last two years and past week, had been obliterated in it's worst battle ever. The fact that Murrue was more than resolved to go down with her ship, a practice that had stopped centuries before, made both of them even more solemn.
Ssigh stopped checking the course corrections to glace at Miriallia, who had been quiet the entire time they had been in the escape shuttle. He genuinely felt sorry for her, both of them having gone through hell in the last few years. She lost Tolle, one of the few guys she loved, and now she had seen the ship they called home destroyed with their captain's last orders. He had lost Flay also, both by being dumped and her death in an enemy crossfire. In an ironic way, they had been there for each other at the worst possible moments. Now they were here together again. Fate definitely had a thing for situations like this.
Miriallia noticed Ssigh staring at her, a contemplating look on his face. SHe almost blushed from embarassment, wondering why he was looking at her in the first place.
"What's wrong, Ssigh?"
"Nothing." Ssigh returned his attention to the console in front of him, a faint blush appearing across his face. "I was just thinking, that's all." He returned his attention to the now growing debris field ahead. "Miri, I'm sorry..."
"For what? You didn't do anything, Ssigh."
"For not being strong enough, like Kira, or for at least trying to protect you all like Tolle or Lieutenant La Flagga had... Maybe... maybe that's why I lost Flay, because I wasn't good enough for her..."
"Ssigh, don't say that. All of us tried to do our best during the war and so did you. You didn't have to be a pilot as long as you made a difference in your own way. I felt the same way for a while, that maybe I could've done more. But it doesn't do any good feeling sorry for yourself." She touched his shoulder gently, a smile gracing her face. "Besides, if Flay couldn't understand how much you really cared about her, then maybe she didn't deserve you anyway."
"...maybe." Before Ssigh could comment further, all of the sensors flared on in the cramped cockpit. The two teenagers looked on as a wave of light began to erupt in front of them...
> > > >
Shinn Asuka looked into the sky suddenly, a horrible feeling of dread overtaking his senses. Earlier, he had been embarrased by his friend Yolan after stopping an attractive but strange blond woman from falling onto the ground.
'Grabbing a person's breasts by accident doesn't make me a pervert.' Shinn thought to himself. 'Still, she was pretty, whomever she was.' He remembered her friends, the two guys she was with, calling her Stellar. He wondered if they would meet again. The thought was interrupted as the feeling of dread grew even stronger, flashing through his senses. Shinn dropped to the ground, clutching his head in pain.
> > > >
Correct Century 2345
> > > >
Loran Cehack gently tucked Dianna in, stroking her soft blond hair as he did so. The horrible ordeal of the Dark History, the mysterious White Doll called "Turn-A-Gundam" and it's archetype "Turn-X", were finally put behind them. For a while, at least, he and his friends could rest and continue living their lives. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain in his head, making look out of the bedroom window. At first, he thought it was just the snow reflecting the moon's light but dismissed it. It was definitely light from somewhere above.
"What is..." Loran muttered to himself, a distant feeling of familiarity making him glance upward to the sky. A pinpoint of light, beginning to glow brighter than the rest of the stars, made him grasp his head in pain as he knelt to the ground.
> > > >
Future Century 60
> > > >
"Are you all right, Domon?" Rain Mikamura asked her partner. "You've been just standing there for the last half hour and I need to do systems checks on God Gundam."
"I'm fine." Domon Kasshu, fighter for Neo Japan and pilot of God Gundam, replied to his partner and now girlfriend. "I just needed to think, that's all." Since the end of the 13th Gundam Fight and the defeat of the Devil Gundam, the other members of the Shuffle Alliance had gone their separate ways for the moments, promising to keep in touch and meet again in time for the next tournament. Yet Domon had done nothing but stare in silence at the night sky from the top of his God Gundam.
Suddenly Rain gasped as she fell to the ground, clasping her head in pain. Domon caught her before she hit the ground, a look of fierce concern written under his features. He then noticed that his King of Hearts crest began to glow brightly, a sharp pain burning in his hands.
'What is this feeling?' Domon thought as he glanced upward once more, seeing that one of the stars began to glow much brighter than before. 'Could this have to do with the Devil Gundam... or something worse?' He didn't want to think about that just yet. Right now, Rain needed his attention.
> > > >
After Colony 197
> > > >
"..." Heero Yuy, the former pilot of Wing Gundam Zero Custom, caught himself glancing upward to the night sky. It was almost as if he felt something calling to him, a sense of familiarity he hadn't felt since the end of the Marineia incident several weeks earlier. SInce then, he had faded into the background with the rest of the former Gundam pilots, having put such weapons of war out of the public's memory. Relena Peacecraft's dreams were finally being fulfilled. Peace was returning to Earth. So what place did a 'perfect soldier' hold in the brave new world?
The blond-haired ruler of the Earth Sphere continued to remain in his mind, making him somewhat detached from the forced reality he had been satisfied with. He had "disarmed" himself from her life, fading from everyone's scope like the former weapons of war called "mobile suits". After all, a world such as this no longer heald a place for him anymore.
Relena wasn't afraid to die for her beliefs, for the strength of her own convictions to end OZ's dictatorship of the Earth Sphere. That alone had impressed Heero, feeling an attachment to her that would have compromised his mission. He had to leave her behind, another detachment from a past that no longer had a meaning... or did it?
He suddenly doubled over, clutching his head in pain as he gripped a brick wall for support. He wasn't supposed to feel pain. That much Dr. J had "instilled" within him. For Heero to be in this much torment was... next to impossible. He glanced upward at the sky once more as he saw one of the stars growing brighter. He could only utter one statement then:
> > > >
Kira had to fight to remain conscious as he guided the Reverse Strike GUNDAM closer and closer to Angel Halo, the psychic waves pounding inside his skull harder and harder. He could barely see against the awesome light but seven of the ten rings had begun to align themselves.
'It's a race against the clock, now.' Kira thought to himself, trying to keep his battered mobile suit on course. The GUNDAM-type mecha, even in it's WING mode, was still not giving enough to overcome Angel Halo's power. Parts of it's Phase Shift armor had begun to come off in several places, as if it was dying in this one final heroic act. There was no time for second chances.
Kira struggled to draw his beam rifle, aiming a a vunerable spot at the core of the massive satellite that would cause an implosion. Suddenly, the world around him exploded in light, making him black out against the controls as he was swept into a wave of vertigo...
> > > > > > > >
Where... where am I?
'You are within the boundary, beyond the world you exist in.'
Who are you?
'I am the you reflected within yourself.'
'It is true that you are Kira Yamato, but I am the Kira Yamato within you. There are other Kira Yamatos as well. The Kira Yamato within Athrun Zala, the Kira Yamato within Lacus Clyne, the Kira Yamato within Cagalli Yula Attha, and so forth. Each person you've encountered sees a different Kira Yamato, yet each is the same person.'
I don't have time for this! Angel Halo is going to go off any second! I have to stop it!
What do you mean why?
'Why do you fight? For yourself?'
I fight to protect my friends.
'They fight to protect you.'
It's not the same thing.
'As I said, the Kira Yamato that is within each person you've encountered is different yet the same. Because of that, they choose to protect you based on how they see you.'
But what makes me so special? People have died because they met me! Tolle was killed trying to help me, Mwu was killed taking over the Strike from me, and Flay was... Flay was killed because I had loved her once...
'They all understood the risks of warfare.'
That doesn't make it right! No one else has to die because of me!
'Through the different eras of human history, anyone who had piloted a GUNDAM has made a sacrifice of some sort. Amuro Ray lost his life, Shiro Armada lost his limbs, Kou Uraki lost his career, Camille Bidan literally lost his mind, Seabook Arno lost his father, and so forth. It is part of being a pilot that they can accept these sacrifices. Why should yours be any different?'
It... it just is...
'When George Glenn allowed Coordinators to be created after him, his purpose was for them to be a beacon of hope in a hopeless world, a guide towards humanity's brighter tommorrow. Yet the conflict existing between Naturals and Coordinators is no different than the one between Newtypes and normal humans. Humanity had always been prejudiced against something that they saw was a threat when it wasn't.'
You're saying that just because I'm a Coordinator, I'm supposed to be this "guide" to a brighter tommorrow. But look at the devestation that had been caused!
'It has to be you, Kira Yamato. You are the only one that can fulfill George Glenn's wish for humankind.'
But why me? Out of everyone else... why did it have to be me?
'...Because it could be no one else...'
> > > > > > > >
Cagalli stood in muted silence with the other mobile suit pilots and survivors of the Archangel, watching as Angel Halo's final rings began to align themselves. There was no escape for any of them this time. Suddenly, the massive satellite began to darken, as if it was collapsing in upon itself. The superweapon grew darker and darker until it suddenly exploded, shockwaves of light thrown in every possible direction.
'Kira...' the blond-haired ruler of Orb thought to herself, feelings of dread washing over her as she watched the death throes of Angel Halo. She noticed that the Aegis Mk. II had arrived close to her, transforming into mobile suit mode before stopping.
"Cagalli?" Athrun's voice spoke over the COM channel. "...Where's Kira?" The continued explosions of light answered for her as the massive satellite finally began to cease, space around them returning to normal. She gripped the controls as hot tears began to silently slide down her face, a solemn testament to a promise that couldn't be kept.
"He was... Kira's still..." Cagalli got out before pangs of grief began to tug at her, nearly forcing her to abandon her tough facade and sob inside of her mobile suit. Suddenly, the half-working sensors began picking up a large object heading in their direction. Her heart almost stopped when she noticed the I.D. code of the signal.
"It's... it's impossible!" Yzak's voice spoke over the COM of the Duel GUNDAM. "He must be immortal or something!"
"He's... he's alive!" Athrun added, equally surprised but obviously relieved. "Kira's alive!"
Drifting towards the group of survivors on emergency thrusters was the ruined form of the Reverse Strike GUNDAM, it's WING mode offline so the damage was obvious. More than half of it's Phase Shift armor was destroyed, a large gash ripped into the cockpit area. It's right leg and part of it's left was missing as well, the main cameras on it's head crushed. The beam cannons and half of it's backpack were missing along with it's shield. It had seen the face of death and barely came back.
But it had returned, bringing it's pilot with it.
> > > >
Kira forced open his cockpit hatch, relieved to survive that ordeal and keep his promise to his friends. His entire body ached from the physical and psychological stress, a form of punishment he never knew he could tolerate unless he was a Coordinator. He smiled to himself as he lifted himself out, seeing the forms and mobile suits of his friends and allies welcoming him back.
"Well guys, it looks like I'm starting to understand what you meant before." He looked at the forms of Athrun and Cagalli, both of them smiling with relief as they noticed him coming. Kira felt, for the first time in many years, that he could finally lay the ghosts of both his pasts and other pasts to rest in peace. He glanced back into the ruined cockpit, seeing a half-burned picture of his friends and comrades when they were briefly on Earth two years earlier.
"Tolle, Mwu, I'll never forget you. Flay... I guess this is my goodbye."
> > > > > > > >
The year remains Cosmic Era 73. After this conflict, the cease-fire between the Earth Alliance forces and ZAFT begins to falter, neither side fully trusting the other after this incident. It would be three months later that a new conflict would force a role-reversal between the two factions... but that is another story.