I don't own anything except Kevin Walker, his clones, Max, and Meryl Steiglitz

The war was over. They had won.

Or ended it, more precisely; neither the Earth Alliance Forces nor the Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty had really come off very well in the end. In this war, there was no true victor, except perhaps the Four Ships Alliance, which had brought about the conflict's resolution.

Now it was time to return to Earth at last. While the Eternal remained in space (the vessel being incapable of atmospheric reentry), the Orb Izumo-class Kusanagi and the pair of former Earth Alliance Mobile Assault Ships made their way down to Earth, where the majority of them had been born.

Kusanagi took a few moments to disconnect from its fore and aft sections, which always remained in orbit; meanwhile, the Archangel made her way onward, accompanied by her sister ship, Dominion.

On Dominion's Bridge was perhaps the most bizarre collection of misfits ever gathered aboard one warship. Uniforms from every conceivable faction were represented, and the place was crowded.

To the aft were a pair of visitors from the Eternal, who were riding down with the ship for the celebration... and just possibly because the PLANTs wouldn't be a healthy place to be for awhile. The taller man was brown-haired, with a scar over his missing left eye, and an empty left sleeve. He wore a brown trench coat over a ZAFT uniform, and his name was Andrew "Desert Tiger" Waltfeld; he was also the mentor of the Dominion's Captain.

To his right stood a slightly shorter man, with flaming red hair and a green ZAFT uniform. He was Martin DaCosta, Waltfeld's protégé.

At the communications station, facing to port, sat a sixteen-year-old girl, with red hair and sky blue eyes; at 162 centimeters tall, she equaled the height of another member of the Bridge crew. Her name was Flay Allster, and though she had worn a couple of other uniforms during the long months of war, she was now in a standard Earth Forces uniform.

At her back, facing starboard, was the fire-control officer. His features closely resembled the Captain's, and he wore battle armor, adjusted to look like a ZAFT top gun uniform. Usually known as John Tyler, he was once called Invictus; Rau Le Creuset's private assassin. He was also the Captain's clone.

Standing near Flay's station was an eighteen-year-old pilot in ZAFT red; at 175 cm tall, the white-haired, ice-blue-eyed Yzak Joule was one of the tallest people in the room. His presence was quite ironic, given that he had spent much of the war shooting at his current Captain, but no one really cared anymore.

Manning the helm was a brown-haired, gray-eyed young woman in Earth Forces white. Meryl Steiglitz stood out from the rest in that she wore a rapier at her side; she was the Captain's former fencing rival.

In CIC, a twenty-five-year-old Lieutenant Commander with black hair and amethyst eyes kept watch over all. Natarle Badgiruel wore Earth Forces white, and she had been Dominion's captain until a brilliant takeover which she now wholeheartedly approved of. She was a centimeter shorter than Yzak, but her attitude more than made up for any size deficiency.

To the right of the command chair stood a seventeen-year-old in Earth Forces volunteer blue, with brown hair and amethyst eyes; he was eleven centimeters shorter than the Captain, but that mean nothing. Kira Yamato, though his DNA was far different, might as well have been the Captain's brother. They'd known each other for ten years, and such distinctions meant nothing to them.

To his right stood his girlfriend, a pink-haired sixteen-year-old with blue eyes, wearing a peculiar dress; at 158 cm, she was a full eighteen centimeters shorter than the Captain, but there was nonetheless a close resemblance between the two. For good reason: though neither had known until recently, Lacus Clyne was the Captain's sister.

And to her right was her ex-fiancé, a blue-haired, emerald-eyed pilot of the same age, who wore ZAFT red. Athrun Zala, six centimeters shorter than the Captain, didn't look much like him; but, like Kira, he was, in every way that mattered, the Captain's brother.

To the left of the command chair, in the seat once occupied by one Director Muruta Azrael (who now existed only as free-floating hydrogen), sat a blond-haired, golden-eyed girl in the orange-and-white of Morgenroete, Inc. Her birthday and blood type were the same as Kira's; only three centimeters separated them in height, and their features were remarkably similar. For good reason: they were twins, though they, too, had only discovered the connection recently.

More importantly, Cagalli Yula Athha was, in addition to being Dominion's wing commander, the Captain's girlfriend. They'd grown up together, and what had once been friendship had finally, inevitably, become something far more.

And in that command chair sat the Captain himself, a 176 cm-tall seventeen-year-old in black, with Earth Forces Captain's insignia on the collar of his unzipped black leather jacket. He had ragged sandy hair -cut using his favored Bowie knife- and glowing jade-green eyes.

His right hand could be seen quite clearly, un-gloved as it was, and it showed just how much the youthful Captain had seen in his short life. It was a bare metal prosthesis, the legacy of an antitank bullet that had practically ripped his arm off; the synthetic flesh had been irradiated off during the destruction of the ZAFT superweapon GENESIS.

His name was Kevin Walker. Not the name he had been born with, but that name was, itself, little more than an alias. So Kevin Walker it was, except to Waltfeld, who still called him Racher, the Revenger, and the handful who called him Snake.

His story was one of the most tragic of the entire Cosmic Era, but when the war drew him in, his luck, unlike that of many, many others, had at last changed for the better. His memory, once wiped by the madman neo-Nazi Oracle, had returned completely, he had reunited with Athrun Zala, and he had, at last, gotten together with the girl he loved.

They were a diverse group, certainly. A motley one, some might say. But those aboard the Dominion, and the Archangel, Eternal, and Kusanagi, had become something more than a collection of soldiers with the same cause. More than friends, they were family. Those who had fought together for so long, and those who had fallen along the way, they were all the same. Family. They were brothers in arms, and now they had done the impossible; and having done so, they were heading home. Or what was already home for some of them, and would soon be home for others.

"I can't believe we made it this far..." Kevin whispered, almost awed.

"I know," Cagalli agreed quietly. "We made it through a lot of crazy things, didn't we? There were times I was sure we were going to die."

"And times when some of us did," Kira put in wryly. "Don't do it again, okay? That really hurt, you know."

Snake chuckled; Kira had told him of the psychic shock which had literally knocked him unconscious at the moment of the super-soldier's death. Invictus hadn't been much better off. "I wouldn't have done it if there'd been any other choice. Sometimes, though, you gotta sacrifice everything to save everything else."

"As some of us did," John intoned solemnly. He'd lost good people when GENESIS blew the stuffing out of the ship's starboard weapons. "For some, there can be no homecoming."

"But for others, there is," Lacus said. She looked at Kira. "Let us never forget those who lost their lives in this war; yet let us also rejoice that so many of us have survived."

"Coming up on atmospheric reentry, Captain," Steiglitz called. "Orders?"

"Begin descent, Meryl." Kevin grinned suddenly. "Oh, and you're out of uniform, by the way."

She glanced at her uniform, confused. "Excuse me, Cap'n?"

The grin widened. "On my own authority," he began, "being the senior officer on this bucket of bolts, I hereby promote you, Lieutenant Commander Steiglitz."

Steiglitz looked around, and shifted her gaze to CIC. "Can he do that, Commander Badgiruel?" she demanded, wondering if it was some kind of bizarre joke.

"Seeing as there's no one to tell him he can't," Natarle said dryly, "I guess so. Congratulations, Commander."

"Ah, yes, that reminds me," Kevin mused, looking down into CIC himself. "Natarle, you are from this moment a full commander."

Natarle rolled her eyes. I should have known; well, it's better than when we hated each other's guts.

Cagalli rotated her chair to face the aft stations. Well, why not? "Kevin, while you're promoting people..."

"Ah, of course." He swiveled his own chair. "Flay, you are henceforth Lieutenant Allster."

This went on a few minutes more, while the ship began its descent and activated her ablative gel dischargers, until it got to Yzak. "Wait a minute, Captain Walker," he said, holding up his hands. "Thanks for the thought, but I'm afraid I won't be staying with your crazy bunch. After the celebration's over, I'm going back to the PLANTs; Ms. Canaver has promised amnesty for the ZAFT soldiers who joined the Four Ships Alliance."

"As you will, Yzak," Kevin acknowledged. "Good luck."

Athrun shook his head, regretful. "I won't be taking her up on her offer, myself. It's... not very healthy to be a Zala, at the moment." He paused, remembering with a certain pain the sight of his father, blasted to ashes by a vengeful Kevin. He didn't blame his friend, though; he knew now of the nightmares that had plagued the youth for so long, which had vanished now. "What about you, Lacus?" he asked, changing the subject.

Lacus smiled, shook her head, and tucked her arm through Kira's. "I won't be going back, either. Fame no longer interests me; I want to just live quietly now, with those closest to me."

"Me, too," Kira agreed, smiling. He was happier now than he'd been in a very long time. "I've had my fill of war; it's time to just go someplace and rest."

"I know the feeling," Kevin said fervently. "After the party, I'm going to take my first vacation in three years; I think it's time for a break."

"I'm going, too," Cagalli said, standing and moving over to stand by his chair. On the main screen, the sky was rapidly changing from black to red, and now from red to blue as the ship plunged into the Earth's atmosphere. "But where should we go?"

He smiled, touching her hand. "I seem to remember a nice, deserted island in the Indian Ocean. Nothing there but sand, trees, caves, and a few pieces of Skygrasper."

Athrun snorted. He knew quite well the island his friend was talking about. Yeah, where we nearly killed each. Again. Or rather, where Kevin nearly killed me That was before Athrun had any idea of what Project ABADDON was, and his ignorance had very nearly cost him his life. Only Cagalli's intervention saved me.

"We've completed atmospheric reentry, Captain," Meryl reported. "Right on target."

"Good." Kevin stood and walked over to stand between the helm consoles, Cagalli at his side. He just stood there for several moments, gazing out the viewports; they'd arrived over the Pacific Ocean, in a region neither side currently claimed.

What is more constant than the sea? he wondered. Rough though it may at times be, the sea is always there, ever-changing but ever-present. People live and die, governments, even civilizations rise and fall, but the ocean is always there, immortal.

It's a miracle that we made it this far. Many lives were lost along the way; I took more than my fair share myself. Yet life goes on. The Destroyers were obliterated, my father and mother killed before I even knew I was their son, and many fellow soldiers felled in this great conflict. But we remain, and though we mourn, life goes on.

"Captain?" Meryl called, interrupting his reverie. "Where to?"

"Set a course for Orb," Kevin ordered. "We're going home."

Two days later, Dominion and Archangel had reached Orb (Kusanagi, because of her design, had landed there straight off, at her own landing facility).

The various crews, including that of the Eternal (who had been spread across the three ships), gathered at the Onishi Mansion, whose enormous "library" could easily accommodate them all. Dusty, long-unused, it had been cleaned up on Ledonir Kisaka's order while the other two ships were en route. Now, it was perhaps the liveliest it had ever been.

Classical music played, some danced in the center of the room (the generation that had built the mansion had wanted it prepared for every possibility, though Kevin somehow doubted they'd anticipated a celebration following one of the most brutal battles in the history of mankind), and others simply gathered in pairs or small groups at the periphery of the huge chamber, talking quietly.

It was the first chance they'd had to truly relax in many months; for some, nearly two full years. In Kevin's case, it was the first time in three-and-a-half years; even during his time on Heliopolis, there'd been a subsurface tension. Now he felt nothing but relief.

Ordinarily, he hated parties, and even now he simply stood to one side with Cagalli, watching as others mingled. But this one he truly enjoyed, because every single person in the room was either a friend or a comrade; every single one of them had earned his respect, and many of them his friendship.

Sipping a drink (he was technically underage, perhaps, but that was by Natural standards; and besides, his liver didn't work like that of normal humans), Kevin gazed out across the room, one arm around Cagalli. He could see Miriallia Haw, Tolle Koenig, and Dearka Elsman -the three had, strangely, become close friends in the past months- standing near a wall speaker, chatting together with a disembodied voice. The voice belonged to the battle computer known as Max; originally created to ride herd on Tolle while flying his Wraith, she had downloaded herself into the Mansion's computers, now that the battles were over. She was the only computer in the world with an income, a tax return, and a vote. She had also been heard once to declare she intended to take up sheep-herding after the war; knowing Max as he did, Kevin was unsure if she was joking. He thought so... but he wasn't sure.

He somehow wasn't surprised to see Flay and Yzak talking quietly in a corner; few things had gone on aboard the Dominion without his knowledge, after all. He didn't know how serious it was, but he did know they'd become friends; it was probably one of the reasons Yzak no longer seemed so contemptuous of Naturals.

Murrue and Mu were on the dance floor, and Kevin smiled to himself. Like I didn't see that coming from practically the moment he joined the crew. It pleased him to see the two together; though he'd always had the oddest feeling that if he hadn't taken over Dominion, something bad would have happened to Mu. Forget it, Kevin, he told himself. Whatever it was didn't happen, and that's all that matters, isn't it?

Kira and Lacus were also dancing; Kevin wasn't sure if he was surprised or not that Kira knew how. He did, of course, as did Cagalli, but they'd both been reared as aristocrats. Now, however, was not the time to ask; Kevin instead discretely stayed away from their link, keeping it effectively closed. Something I should probably teach Kira how to do sometime, he thought idly. If he's gonna have to live with it, he should at least understand it a little better.

Meryl Steiglitz was off in a corner, rapier in hand as she practiced the old moves. The blade had once belonged to the "Fencing Prince"; he'd given it to her when she professed her intention to practice until she could at least fight her old rival to a stalemate. She just might do it, too. I'm rusty... and I'm not even sure that she's a Natural. I'll have to ask her, sometime.

Kojiro Murdoch, his mechanics, and the Archangel's Bridge crew were having a spirited game of cards with Martin DaCosta, observed by Andrew Waltfeld. Andy seemed off in his own thoughts, though; he was remembering another who should have there, but wasn't.

Athrun was chatting with Asagi Caldwell, Juri Wu Nien, and Mayura Labatt. Now that the fighting was over, he was comparing notes with them about the Baron; he talking about what Kevin was like at Copernicus, and the test pilots telling the old tales about the Baron's Orb life.

Sai Argyle had now wandered over to Yzak and Flay. Things were still a little awkward between them, and Kevin suspected they could never go back to the way they'd been before, but they were at least speaking to each other again.

It was about then that Kevin noticed the absence of a certain individual. He could feel his presence, but he couldn't pick him out of the crowd. "Say, where's John?" he asked quietly of Cagalli.

She glanced around, and focused on the dance floor. "There he is," she said, nodding at John Tyler's location; she could hardly believe her eyes, though.

It was all Kevin could do not to goggle at his clone when he realized who the assassin was dancing with. "I... don't... believe it..." he whispered, dumbfounded. He hadn't been that flabbergasted in a very, very long time. "John Tyler, assassin... and Natarle Badgiruel?"

Cagalli couldn't help but laugh at his poleaxed expression. "Weird, isn't it? But I had heard rumors... they were from Murdoch's people, though, so I didn't really put much stock in them..."

Kevin shook his head, utterly bemused, when the man once called Invictus spared a moment's attention from his dance partner to stick his tongue out at his "brother". "Has the world turned upside-down? Or inside-out? I mean, even going by John's biological, instead of chronological, age, she's a good eight years his senior... and... and..."

She shrugged. "Well, he is made from your genes, right? I mean, enhanced even beyond Coordinators, and Coordinators mature faster than Naturals as it is. And his personality is pretty different from yours, by now. Stranger things have happened."

"Yeah... I guess so..."

At the moment John looked at Kevin, Natarle shot him a glance, as well; and she was struck by the contrast between the two. It's... weird, she thought. They're polar opposites, yet each looks like what the other is. John's a feared assassin, with a reputation for quiet assassinations, yet inside he's more of a philosopher; and the Captain... Kevin's an aristocratic fencer, but his past is bloodier than John's... and he'd do it again, in a heartbeat. The thought would have been chilling, except Natarle knew them both well by now. He'd never kill without reason... I think... and they both fiercely protect those they love.

John noticed her slightly distracted air and raised an eyebrow. "Thinking deep thoughts, mate?"

Natarle shook herself. "No, not really. It's just... a lot of things have changed, since the Archangel left Heliopolis. Everything, really."

He smiled. "Tell me about it. Back then, I was Rau Le Creuset's private assassin, Kevin was the vengeful... uh... guy with a lot of names... Cagalli thought he was dead and was about half-dead herself from grief, and you..."

She smiled back, ruefully. "I, as our esteemed Captain likes to put it, was 'Ensign Spit and Polish'. But since the two you took over Dominion, you've both been a bad influence."

"Well, that describes us pretty well," he said cheerfully. "I remember, Lord Uzumi -rest his soul- always thought Kevin was a 'bad influence' on Cagalli; guess he was right, come to think of it." He paused; though his feet never missed a step. "Any idea what the Bossman wants to do with Dominion? Be a shame to turn her into razor blades, even if the repairs would cost a fortune. I'd hate to see her scrapped, after all we've been through aboard her."

"I know." Natarle frowned. "I don't think he intends to scrap her," she said, almost inaudibly; she suspected this was something Kevin wouldn't want overhead by the wrong people. "I know he's told Cagalli that he intends to, but I don't believe it. He's got plans for Dominion, John, and I think I know why."

"He doesn't believe in world peace," John said softly. "Can't say I blame him." He looked at her, speculative. "Do you believe in world peace, Natarle?"

"No," she admitted. "Not really. Not after everything I've seen; not after meeting people like Muruta Azrael." She shuddered. "One of the most pleasant experiences in recent memory, I think, was watching Caligula go down. Azrael was one slimy bastard."

As the evening wore on, Kevin and Cagalli slowly moved about the room, eventually ending up on an upper tier of the library, gazing out a window onto the moonlit sea (the mansion being near the ocean, overlooking a long beach that was also part of the Onishi estate).

Ah, it feels good to be home, Kevin thought, content. No matter how much I may have hated politics and the way it consumed my parents, I'll admit I never had any problem with this part of the lifestyle. There are few things more underappreciated than a nice, comfy bed and a place to relax.

He was an expert on the subject, what with his wilderness years. Prior to joining Kira on Heliopolis, the only time he had someplace comfortable to sleep was his two weeks with Andrew Waltfeld. Other than that, he slept where and when he could, and it left him with a much greater appreciation for certain luxuries.

"Quite the place you got here, kid," Mu commented, coming up behind the younger man with Murrue on his arm. "I thought the armory was impressive, but I have to say this puts even that to shame."

"Yeah, I guess so." Kevin glanced around, seeing the various people spread across the huge room. "Truth be told, though, I didn't spend much time in here; even when I was here at home, instead of up at Copernicus, I spent most of my time avoiding my parents. That entailed spending my time mostly in my study, where my parents couldn't bother me." Although the Baron and his wife had turned out not to be his biological parents, the new Baron still referred to them as such, out of habit.

Murrue, who knew very well by now Kevin's displeasure toward John Tyler Onishi's memory, changed the subject. "Speaking of the armory, did you manage to get it cleaned up? Mu told me a lot of things got shot up."

"They certainly did," Cagalli answered for him. "And it'll take months to get the blood out of the carpet. And a small fortune."

"Small?" Mu snickered. "And just what is 'small' to one of the richest men in the world? Or should I even ask? I remember, you said..."

"That if you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it," Kevin said, nodding. "Yeah, I remember. And let's just say that Cagalli is being generous regarding the price; the good Baron -and his forebears- had a taste for the finer things in life. That carpet is worth more than my old barber."

Murrue smiled at the somewhat strange analogy. "You know, Brother, I don't believe I've ever seen a picture of you from when you were still 'Lord Onishi'; Mu tells me you used to look rather different, but I've never seen it for myself."

He looked pained, but Cagalli smirked, reached into a pocket, and pulled out an old photo. "Take a look; I've been carrying that around for years."

Murrue took it, and examined it carefully. The young man in the picture couldn't have been older than thirteen or fourteen, and while the face was still recognizable, there were definite differences. For one thing, while his clothing was, as ever, black, it looked more like the outfit Kira had mentioned him wearing during the meeting with Andy Waltfeld in Banadiya. He was also lacking the trademark facial scar, and his hair...

Mu snorted a laugh. "Oh, yeah, I remember that. The look fits you, Kevin, but I gotta say it makes you look like a certain madman of our acquaintance. You sure my father wasn't one of your cousins-however-many-times-removed?"

Kevin looked even more pained. "Mu, I had that hairstyle long before I ever even heard of Rau Le Creuset, okay? And if you make that comparison again, I'll-"

"You'll break me in half, right?" The Hawk laughed again. "How many times have you made that threat, now? And always when I said something about a certain young lady standing very nearby, as I recall. I'd say I told you so, but... you'd probably threaten to break me in half."

"Maybe... and maybe not." Kevin flexed his hands, noting how different they felt now; at least, his natural hand. For the first time in a very long while (in fact, for the first time since he was shot in Orb; even on Heliopolis his EM field had remained up) his augmentation was completely deactivated. It felt... strange, like he'd been handicapped somehow. No longer did he feel the silent whisper of electromagnetic fields, no longer did he feel the strength and stamina that had made him so much more dangerous than anyone else... no more were his normal senses boosted to such high intensities that he could practically hear the grass grow. Now he felt almost maimed.

Now Kevin Walker was just a man. One still stronger than others, by virtue of his artificial limb and the genetic engineering that had produced him, but just a man nonetheless. He could no longer tear battle tanks apart with his bare hands, nor leap five meters straight up (though he could still vault from one skyscraper rooftop to another if he so chose).

It was strange, yet it was also something Kevin felt he needed to do. The cybernetic augmentation was one of the last legacies of Project ABADDON, which had, in the end, cost him more than almost anything else: his memory, his mind, his innocence, his first love, and, in the end, his life. The machines were fused to his atomic structure, so they could not be removed, but by turning them off Kevin could at least put them out of his mind, and return to the peaceful life he once knew... even if he believed the peace would not last.

"If it helps any," Murrue said softly, breaking into his thoughts, "I think you made the right decision. More than anything else, Kevin, right now you need to rest. You've fought more battles in three and a half years than most people fight in a lifetime. If anyone deserves peace, it's you, Brother."

"Thanks, Murrue," Kevin said, throat tightening. Nine months ago, Kira, Tolle, and Mir were the only people I could really call friends; even Athrun was out of reach, and Cagalli beyond my recollection. Now... I have a crew, and friends like Murrue Ramius and Mu La Flaga. What more can a weary soldier ask for?

Cagalli nudged him then. "Kevin, I think there's something you need to say."

He nodded. "Yes, of course." Kevin turned to face the room at large, and tapped his glass. "If I may have your attention, please?" he called. "There is something that needs to be said tonight," he began when all eyes turned to him. "Something which should not be said outside the walls of this mansion." His gaze swept over the room, jade eyes serious. "It pains me to say this, but I must ask you all to use my true name, from here on. The official record states that Kevin Walker died in the destruction of GENESIS, and virtually all of the people who know the truth -that Kevin Walker and Kevin Onishi are one and the same- are in this room. I would ask all of you maintain this facade in public, for I do not believe now is the time for Kevin Walker's true identity to be known; especially given certain actions he took during, and before, the war. Ms. Eileen Canaver has agreed to handle the PLANT side of things, so, if you all agree, the world will know only that Kevin Walker, Captain of the Dominion, fought and died in the Second Battle of Jachin Due; as far as Kevin Onishi is concerned, he will merely have reappeared after being thought dead, with his absence explained away as merely a foible of an aristocrat. No one will know that Kevin Walker still lives. He will sleep... until the time he is needed once again."

Cagalli's muttered "Which had better be never," was lost in the murmuring on the main floor.

Then Meryl Steiglitz looked up, and raised her rapier in salute. "Whatever you say, My Lord Baron. And if anyone dissents, I shall personally slay them in honorable battle."

There was another murmur, this one of agreement; unnoticed, Kevin smiled to himself. "I do believe our honorable helmswoman has had her consciousness slightly altered," he whispered to Cagalli. "By a fine whiskey, if I'm not greatly mistaken."

She smothered a laugh.

"So, then, My Lord Baron," a cultured voice called. "Do you have any plans for your newly-revivified self?"

The Baron looked sharply at the card table, where a previously unnoticed black-haired man in a tuxedo had now gotten to his feet. "Cousin Frank; I wondered where you were. Should have known you would have found the nearest card game. So, is there a point to that question, or are you just trying to irritate me?"

"Oh, not at all, Cousin," Frank Castile said with a smile. "No, there is a point to all this. You see, with the untimely -but certainly worthy- death of Lord Uzumi Nara Athha, Orb is facing a slight quandary. With no Chief Representative-"

That was as far as he got before Kevin's eyes froze and his glass shattered in his bionic hand. "Stop what you're thinking, 'cause I don't want that job!"

Frank winced, not particularly surprised by the answer, but very grateful that his cousin had chosen a rapier over a gun for this party. Otherwise I'd be dead about now.

"Well," he said hastily, "I suppose you're not quite the one for that post, anyway; Miss Cagalli is the proper heir, after all. But there is that matter of requiring a new Director of Central Intelligence..."

"I don't think so," Kevin said coolly, but his eyes had unfrozen. "Far, far too political a post, and you know how much I hate politics. As for Chief Representative, Frank, I have another very good reason for turning down the offer: I would probably end up splattering the first person who disagreed with me all over the walls, and I don't think that particular method of problem-solving is very well-regarded in most diplomatic circles." He tucked an arm around Cagalli. "No, I think I'll settle for being the Chief Representative's bodyguard, thank you."

She shot a look at him. "I haven't even said I'll take the job, either!"

"I don't know if there's any other obvious candidate, though," Castile pointed out. "With your father gone, and most of his Cabinet with him, the matter devolves upon the remaining members of the Five Noble Families of Orb. Of those, I think only two are acceptable." He glanced at Kevin. "Unless you'd rather a fellow such as, say... Yuuna Roma to take charge?"

The shards of glass crumbled even further in his hand, and he looked -and felt- murderous. "I'd sooner blast myself to atoms again!" Kevin snarled through gritted teeth.

The various people in the room, with the exception of Frank and Cagalli, cast confused glances at each other; and even they winced. "Well, then," Castile went on after a moment, "since I don't think John Tyler would be acceptable either -even if he weren't a notorious assassin, his resemblance to you would be a little hard to explain- that pretty much leaves us with just one candidate, does it not?"

Kevin looked over at his girlfriend, concerned; she looked down at the floor. "Let me think about it, okay?" she said finally. "I'll get back to you when Kevin and I get back from the Indian Ocean."

"Fair enough," Frank said. He added kindly, "I hate to put you in this position, my dear, believe me. If I thought I had any choice in the matter, I wouldn't. But, in any case, this is a celebration. Put it out of your mind for now; Orb's interim government has enough problems to keep it busy right now anyway."

He turned back to his card game, and Kevin quietly cursed at the floor; prompting Murrue to raise an eyebrow. "So who's Yuuna Roma, anyway, and why does he make you so angry?"

The Baron did not respond; leaving Cagalli to do so. "Yuuna Roma is the heir of the Seiran family," she said quietly. "That particular family has been feuding with the Onishi family for decades, though I don't really know why; and Kevin has a... history... with Yuuna Roma."

Mu narrowed his eyes, speculating. A "history", in reference to Kevin Walker -or Onishi- usually meant a certain degree of antipathy on both sides. "So... what happened the last time they met?"

This time, it was Kevin who replied, though it took several moments. "...Broke his jaw," he said at last, with a trace of a grin.

It was only a trace, however. Though even he did not know the full story behind his family's feud with Yuuna Roma's, there was nothing so mysterious about their personal animosity. It was, however, something he had no intention of ever discussing with anyone, Cagalli in particular.

After all, she was the one they'd been fighting over.

Cagalli, having no trace of Kevin's empathic abilities, didn't notice the shift in his emotions. John and Kira, however -one a zoanthrope and the other mentally linked with the young noble- both glanced curiously up, but thought better of saying anything.

"Well," Murrue said into the silence, "I think we'll just leave the two of you alone now. Right, Mu?"

Mu, still amused by the thought of Kevin, even before his troubles began, breaking the jaw of someone who irritated him, nodded amicably and ambled off with his erstwhile Captain.

Kevin turned back to the window, brushed the remaining fragments of glass off his gloves, and forced himself to relax. Come on, now, Kevin me boy. Yuuna can't exactly do much to harm you now, now can he?

"So..." Cagalli said softly, some minutes later. "There's something I've been meaning to ask you, Kevin."

He turned, eyebrow raised. "What's that?"

She took a deep breath. "Tell me about Rachel Carver."

Kevin blinked, and felt a twinge of an old, familiar pain. For several moments, he did not answer. Rachel... Someone whose loss I regret very deeply... someone I betrayed long ago... someone I have tried to forget. But perhaps... perhaps it is time to tell that story.

"Rachel Carver," he began. "Her codename was Medusa; she was my second in command in the Destroyers. And we were very close..."

Three months later...
"So, how long do you estimate the major repairs will take, Erica?" Baron Kevin Onishi asked.

Morgenroete engineer Erica Simmons shrugged. "At least six months, My Lord. Artemis took a pretty major beating when you were here ten months ago; there's a lot of debris to clear out, and it's a big asteroid. Fortunately, as you can most compartments still retain atmospheric integrity."

He nodded. "I see."

They stood in one of the auxiliary control centers in the former Eurasian military satellite, Artemis; the base at which the Archangel had arrived earlier in the year, and had one of her early confrontations with the Le Creuset team. Now the base filled with debris from many, many wrecked ships and mobile armors, destroyed by the Duel, Buster, and Blitz; and while most of the personnel areas were still airtight, the main control room had been shattered by a crashing Moebius during the attack. Hence their presence in the secondary facility.

The remains of Artemis were at Lagrange point 3, where Heliopolis had once orbited. Now there was virtually nothing left at L3, nothing to attract attention... which was precisely what had drawn the attention of the Baron and his people.

Now the rogue Archangel-class Mobile Assault Ship Dominion resided within the base's cavernous harbor, and work crews from Morgenroete swarmed over the ship and the base. It was to be the headquarters of the Baron's small, private military, and the hiding place of the Dominion while work was underway to repair the massive damage inflicted by the superweapon GENESIS.

It was also soon to be home to a genetic research/engineering facility. Before coming to Artemis, Dominion had made a stopover at the Mendel colony, where Kevin had ordered everything of value removed from the Genetic Advanced Reproductive Medical Research and Development facility -the place where he, Kira, and Rau Le Creuset had been born- and taken aboard the ship. His sociopathic clone, Jack Carter, clearly had some kind of genetics lab himself, and Kevin wanted to be able to counter anything he might do... among other things.

"You're sure about all this, Baron?" Erica asked. "It's gonna make a big hole in your pocket, especially if you insist on leaving company funds out of it."

"I can afford it," he replied, shrugging it off; he'd come in his noble persona, much as he hated it, and wore a formal black outfit much like the one he'd worn at Andrew Waltfeld's headquarters, in Banadiya. It was topped off with an expensive black trench coat, under which was concealed a rapier. In keeping with the effort to bury his wartime identity, he'd allowed his hair to grow out again, though it would be some time yet before it returned to its former length. "Unlike many of my peers, I see money for what it is: a tool, nothing more. Besides, if I involved Morgenroete funds as well as Morgenroete personnel and resources, it would mean involving other members of the Board of Directors. Doing so would very likely result in the exposure of this operation, and I cannot afford that. This is all far too important."

"Okay, then. By the way, what is the official disposition of the ship, and for that matter the mobile suits?"

"Officially," Kevin said slyly, "the ship was scrapped last month, and the mobile suits with it; Buster and Justice, for example, were scheduled for destruction before I... acquired them."

Dominion's mobile suit complement, while now lacking its mass-produced forces -all of which had been lost at the Second Battle of Jachin Due- had been swelled by a few clandestine acquisitions. Strike Rouge had been taken away by Murrue and the Archangel, for purposes unknown (though Kevin had his suspicions), but the heavily damaged X09A Justice and X103 Buster had been rescued from the scrap yard and taken aboard the ship, along with Tolle Koenig's Wraith, Mu La Flaga's Strike (Murrue was one of the few outsiders briefed on the operation, and knew the Baron's resources would be far better at repairing the machine), and Kevin's own nearly-obliterated M1000 Sturm Falke.

Even as they spoke, the five machines were being placed in tanks of liquid nitrogen, where they would be slowly repaired by nanotechnology; nanotechnology reverse-engineered by one Erica Simmons, from the remains of Kevin's original right arm. Eventually, they would be combat-ready once again, though it was suspected the nanites would cause some kind of change in at least the Stormhawk, given the unique technologies used in its construction. For now, though, the mobile suits would sleep, and renew themselves.

"I'm guessing the Chief Representative doesn't know about this?" Erica questioned.

"No," Kevin said quietly. "She does not. I love her dearly, and I trust her with more than my life, but she, like Kira and my sister Lacus, believes this war to be over. I do not share their optimism, and I want to be prepared when this cold war gets hot again; and Jack Carter is still out there somewhere. He'll be back, and I'll be waiting." He paused, thinking of the clone. "Those ZAFT fools," he muttered. "They should have known cloning me would bring about nothing but misfortune." He shook himself, and went on. "But if Cagalli knew what I was up to, she'd shut it down in a heartbeat, and I can't have that." He gazed through the viewport into the harbor at Dominion. "When repairs are complete, I want Dominion sealed completely, Erica. Fill her with a nitrogen atmosphere and seal all hatches; let her sleep until she is needed again."

"Got it, Boss."

Behind them, the hatch opened, to admit Commander Natarle Badgiruel. Unlike her Captain, she was in uniform; but no longer did she wear the uniform of the Earth Alliance Forces. Instead, she wore a uniform cut in the same style as the ZAFT commander outfits, except all in black. On the left shoulder was a simple patch, showing the Dominion against the black of space, with the vessel's name written beneath. On the right was a patch the paid homage to the ship's commanding officer: the Grim Reaper, scythe raised, with the legend "Live and Let Die" beneath; the words seemed to have been adopted as a motto by the crew.

She saluted. "Everything's squared away in the base's crew quarters, Captain. All personal belongings have been moved from Dominion to base quarters, so repairs can now commence."

Kevin nodded, pleased. "Good, Natarle, thank you." He stroked his chin. "By the way, since you're here, it's probably a good time to hash out the interim operational details."

Natarle raised an eyebrow and folded her arms. "What do you have in mind, Baron?"

He paused, organizing his thoughts. "First of all, none of this applies until repairs are complete; until that point, Erica is effectively in charge of scheduling and the like. Once this operation gets up and running, however, I'll want a skeleton crew up here at all times. It'll be a rotating assignment, of course, with no one spending too much time up here in a single stretch. Frankly, I'd rather not have to keep anyone up here at all, but all this will be useless -and vulnerable- without someone here at all times. I'll leave rotation schedules to you."

She nodded. "Makes sense. Anything else?"

Kevin ran a hand through his sandy hair. "Yes. If this base ever receives a Code Himmelkrieg message, that will be their cue to begin reactivating Dominion and issue a recall order to the crew, wherever they may be."

"Heaven's war," Lieutenant Commander John Tyler translated, walking in. "Seems appropriate, somehow. Who's to have recall authority?"

"The three of us and Commander Steiglitz," Kevin answered. "And that should cover things, for now." He glanced sidelong at his clone. "I assume you had a specific reason for dropping by, John?"

The former assassin nodded, and he held up a magazine, a trace of amusement evident on his face. "Yeah, Boss. Latest postwar headline."

Kevin took the magazine, glanced at the lead article's title, and groaned. "Ugh! Not another one!"

Natarle was curious. "What this time, Captain?"

He tore the offending magazine in half. "'War hero irradiates himself in bid to destroy superweapon; speculation of the mysterious, dashing Captain Kevin Walker's origins inside'. Ugh! And I thought Murrue's eulogy was bad."

Kevin had been waging a private little war with the newspapers and magazines ever since the end of the war, but it had done little good; and the headlines speaking of "the mysterious, dashing Kevin Walker" were making him increasingly disgusted.

He himself -as Baron Onishi- had little trouble with newsies. After returning from the Indian Ocean with Cagalli, he'd briefly had problems with paparazzi; this ended when Kevin bodily pitched one off a bridge after a near collision with a paparazzi car. Since the crazed photographers had themselves been violating several of Orb's traffic and privacy laws, they'd known better than to press charges. Nonetheless, word had gotten around, and the media left the Baron alone.

"So," Erica said, changing the subject before anything else got damaged, "do you really think Dominion will ever be launched again, Baron? I hear the peace negotiations are going well."

"Yes, they are, Erica. That's what worries me." Kevin began pacing; or trying to, given the lack of gravity. "A truly proper peace process is one that takes years for the diplomats to even begin to hash out. In the meantime, if the two sides are truly ready for peace, they just get on with business. If you rush things, though, you just end up with another Versailles." He stopped, and looked the engineer in the eye. "Yes, Erica, Dominion will sail again. And when she does, I'll be with her. Bet on it."

Meanwhile, in one of the "abandoned" space colonies at L4, Jack Carter sat in his office, plotting. Like Kevin Onishi, he believed the war to be far from over, and wanted to be ready for its resumption... but for a far different reason.

In the confusion of wartime, I'll have a better chance of taking him out, the clone thought. Once he's out of the way, along with his compadre Invictus, I'll be the only one of us around.

Outside his office, in the facility his organization had taken over and remodeled, preparations were underway. Their single Nazca-class destroyer, the D'Artangan (Kevin Onishi, being a rapier-man himself, would have appreciated the name) was being repaired -they'd had a nasty encounter with Gai Murakumo not long before- while Carter's geneticists were hard at work in the cloning chamber.

He'd been bluffing when he told the Baron there were a dozen clones nearing maturity; as a matter of fact, the cloning process had not even begun when they had their run-in at Mendel. But now the two hundred were doing well, with a projected deployment date of late C.E. 73.

The only reason Onishi had bought the bluff, of course, was the fact that he never bluffed, and so wouldn't expect a clone of his to do so, either.


Carter looked up from his planning as his second in command stepped in. "Ah, Jonathan," he greeted pleasantly. "You have the latest reports?"

"Yes, sir," Jonathan Sarnac acknowledged. "So far, everything is on schedule. The clones are developing well-"

"The genetic timing sequence was successfully inserted?" Carter broke in.

"Yes sir. As required, the clones will cease to function one year from the date of awakening." Sarnac's boss, after all, did not want even more of him running around for very long; he merely wanted a temporary diversion, something to keep the original busy. These short-lived clones would work nicely. "Also," Sarnac went on, "repairs to the D'Artangan are on schedule. She'll be ready to launch again within a month."

Carter nodded. "Good. That bloody mercenary was better than I'd counted on." He chuckled. "Certainly smarter than those ZAFT idiots. I still can't believe I managed to fool them for so long into thinking I was loyal to them; they should have known that any copy of Kevin Walker, defective or not, with the original's memories or not, could never be truly loyal to them."

"Gave you time to build up your contacts and acquire the ship, sir," Sarnac pointed out.

"True." The clone frowned suddenly in concern. "Jonathan, you've been a little preoccupied ever since the reports of Jachin came out. Is there something wrong?" He could be as cold as the Racher, but in the final analysis Carter was kind to his people; else even he couldn't have gotten them to follow him.

Sarnac swallowed, managing to look sad and angry at the same time. "I learned about then that my sister Karen was with the Dominion's Strike Dagger unit, Commander," he said, with difficulty. "She was killed during the battle, by a GuAIZ unit."

"Oh, yes, of course," Carter murmured. "I'm sorry, Jonathan; though I hear the good 'Baron' avenged her death within moments."

"Yes, sir, I heard that too. One of the few good things that man has ever done." Sarnac clenched his fists. "But she wouldn't have been in that situation were it not for Onishi, which is one reason I'm perfectly willing to help you kill him, Commander. And ZAFT."

"Yes, I see..." Carter nodded to himself. "Well," he went on brusquely, "what's the status on our little... project? Is he responding to the treatment?"

His subordinate consulted the files he was carrying. "Yes, sir. The experimental technique seems to be repairing his body at an adequate rate." He set the appropriate folder on his commander's desk.

The clone perused it. "Ah, very good... Once he's something more than merely a pseudo-living corpse, we'll be able to proceed to Phase 2, the gene therapy." He looked up. "Any more word on Baron Onishi's activities?"

Sarnac shook his head. "No, sir. Not since Dominion raided the GARM facility; all we know is that he's planning something ambitious, and that he's operating from some kind of secret base."

"Stunning revelations," Carter said dryly; his XO took no offense, knowing it wasn't directed at him. "Anyone who knows anything about that man could deduce that; especially after Mendel."

The sudden appearance of the Dominion at the nearby Mendel colony had come as a surprise to even Carter; he was not, however, overly concerned by the raid of genetic-engineering equipment. His own people had already gotten sufficient data to build what they needed onsite.

"Well," Carter said again. "I believe that's everything, Jonathan. I suggest you get back to work; the sooner our preparations are complete, the sooner our mission is a success."

"Yes, sir." Sarnac saluted and left, while his boss returned to his plotting.

Had anyone taken a close look at the file on Carter's desk, particularly someone who had been at Archangel's first battle with Andrew Waltfeld, they would have been interested to see the name "Evan Bitter" next to the picture of a badly-maimed yet breathing body...

One week later.
In Orb's capital, in the dead of night, a petty crook -or previously petty; now he'd done something far worse- stopped in a dark alley to count the cash from his latest robbery. Not bad. Sure, I had to grease a couple people, but hey-

The murderous robber never thought anything else again, as the slender blade cleaved through his neck, sending his head bouncing down the alley.

Conventional wisdom says you cannot behead a man with a rapier. The slender blade simply isn't built for it. But that assumes a blade of average sharpness, and a man of average strength. The particular weapon was very sharp.

And Baron Kevin Onishi was very strong.

Sighing, he wiped the blade on the corpse's clothing and sheathed it. That's two this week; least this guy never even saw me. The last time, the criminal hadn't actually killed anyone; he'd simply made the mistake of attempting to fight back when Kevin began to subdue him. A quick thrust to the heart had ended the attempt, and saved Orb's taxpayers the cost of a trial.

It wasn't that he was a vigilante, Kevin mused, getting a handhold on a nearby wall and swarming up the side of the building. It was simply that he slept an average of four hours a night, and needed something to occupy his time. By day, he could be found either in meetings of the Morgenroete Board of Directors, or more often standing unobtrusively behind Cagalli at her work, acting as a bodyguard along with Athrun Zala (who had taken the job shortly after arriving in Orb). At night, however, most people were asleep, so he needed a different sort of stimulus.

This was provided by prowling the rooftops of the skyscrapers in Orb's capital city, using his pure, unaugmented muscle power to leap from one rooftop to the next. And sometimes, he noticed crimes in progress or criminals in the midst of escaping, and decided to do something about it. So far, he'd only had to kill three people, but it had left the criminal underworld -and the police, though they generally looked the other way when the scum of the Earth croaked- stumped. Whoever the interloper was, he used a sword; not a very common weapon in this day and age.

Kevin really couldn't care less.

Cagalli, he knew, was well aware of his late-night wanderings; more than once, he'd turned up at the Athha residence, apparently to watch over the place. She wasn't precisely sure why he did it -though she thought it might have something to do with Jack Carter and the other clones she knew were out there somewhere- but she did know he was quite serious about it. Kevin never lingered, during those nights, and never came inside.

He devoutly hoped Cagalli did not know of his occasional run-ins with lowlifes. She had gotten him to retire from combat, and expected him to stay retired. And he tried, certainly. After all, it ain't my fault these dummies run across me, now is it?

Reaching the roof, Kevin moved swiftly and silently to the edge, from where he gazed down upon the darkened city. In the distance, with the aid of his bionic eye, he could see a certain elegant mansion, as dark as the rest of Orb. Sleep well, love, he thought fondly. Mayhap one day I'll sleep as easily as you; until then, I shall guard you even in the darkest hour of the night... even if you are not aware of it, and even though you would skin me alive if you were.

Kevin Onishi gathered his legs and sprang for the next rooftop. Sleep well, indeed... for this war has only just begun.


Zero System:

An as-yet-not-understood operating system used by the MBF-M1000 Sturm Falke. Created by the brilliant -and mentally unstable- Baron John Tyler Onishi, the system predicted the next few moments of a battle with uncanny -though not, as Kevin Walker learned to his cost, unerring- accuracy.

The system has the potential to be a double-edged sword, however: during studies undertaken by Project Prometheus Unchained, it is determined the system could potentially, if the user is in a foul enough mood, show him the path to utter defeat, instead of victory. As of the Second Battle of Jachin Due, however, Kevin Walker has yet to encounter this problem.

Battle Armor:

A suit of featureless armor worn by the assassin Invictus. While working for ZAFT Commander Rau Le Creuset, the armor's outer, chameleon-like surface is adjusted to a simple matte black; after joining the crew of the Dominion, it is changed to look like a ZAFT tog gun uniform.

The armor is also equipped with an optical camouflage system, using light-bending techniques to render the wearer invisible. Invictus uses this function to great effect when PLANT Justice Ministry operatives attempt to assassinate Lacus Clyne in the Junius Five colony; later, the armor's spare optic camouflage unit is entrusted to Baron Kevin Onishi.

However, the armor's primary purpose, besides concealing Invictus' less-than-unique features, was originally to block the "psychic resonance" effect which allows a clone to sense the original, and vis-versa, in order to prevent Kevin Walker from becoming aware of the assassin's existence. Using an alloy produced in zero-gravity from an unusual collection of metals, the armor itself functions as a kind of "psychic insulation", until the time Invictus deems it appropriate to reveal himself at last.

Author's note: And so comes the end of the beginning, the completion of Kevin Walker's first saga. But it is only the beginning...

Now that we've come at last to the end of this long journey -or at least to a stopover- perhaps it is time to delve into the genesis of Kevin Walker as a character; you might find this interesting.

When I first conceived this tale, ten months ago, I had no real grandiose designs. As a matter of fact, it came into being because I was searching for an appropriate universe in which to drop a zoanthrope; yet in the final analysis, the zoanthrope connection was almost buried beneath everything else, serving largely as part of the basis for Kevin Walker's extraordinary abilities. Only once in the entire saga does he fully transform... but, of course, there was a time before Heliopolis when he did so. But I digress.

In the beginning, Kevin Walker was nothing but a zoanthrope Coordinator who'd had a few nasty run-ins with Blue Cosmos during trips to Earth, and had taught himself guerrilla warfare techniques to counter them. He was a native of Heliopolis, whose only historical connection to the rest of the SEED universe was his friendship with Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala.

Needless to say, all of this began to change early on.

First came the references to his memory-wipe, which began to establish his prior acquaintance with Cagalli Yula Athha; an acquaintance only, originally. Then came his scars, which were a leftover from an early concept I had for a SEED story (a Gundam SEED/Wing Commander crossover that didn't pan out), and that, eventually, led to the creation of Project ABADDON, as a way of explaining away those scars (his bionic eye entered the equation at about the same time).

Kevin's cybernetic augmentation was born in the original Chapter 4, around the events in the Debris Belt. At the time, I hadn't even decided just who had done it to him; that came later (and the augmentation had not yet reached the final version, which appeared in the chapters actually posted).

The wicked facial scar emerged during his conversation with Admiral Halberton, in the Archangel's hanger. In both versions of that scene, Halberton deduced Kevin's identity; but in the original, Kevin stayed with the ship, instead of coming to their rescue mid-battle.

Finally, in the first version of Kevin's reunion with Cagalli (in that version, they met again after Waltfeld's first attack; by that time, Kevin's identity as an Orb nobleman and childhood friend of Cagalli had been decided), Project ABADDON was revealed; yet even then the events had not been finalized. Originally, it was a rogue project, not sanctioned by ZAFT higher-ups. How times change, eh?

By the time of Chapter 16, Kevin's past and abilities had been fully established. Almost, that is. I imagine some of you have noticed the numerous modifications to Kevin's origins throughout the story, as new details came to light? I confess that a good part of the reason for that is that I was writing this while the series was still being shown, so I had to change things as new revelations occurred in the anime. Hence the multiple versions of Kevin's birth, until the final one was revealed at Mendel (interestingly, I had the idea of an "Ultimate Coordinator" project long before I learned Kira was part of one; I was quite surprised when I realized I'd come up with something on my own that was so similar to something in the anime, and it resulted in one of the biggest changes to Kevin's genesis).

Now you can probably tell why the first eleven chapters were so extensively rewritten before they were ever posted: the character of Kevin Walker had been altered so much that the original versions were no longer applicable. So, though I regretted it later, it was a good thing I wrote so much of the story before ever posting it, because the original draft wasn't very good. It means a lot of work came to little, but in the end, the story was the better for it (but I have no intention of doing such a thing again; I've had to modify the final versions of chapters so many times based on feedback that it isn't even funny).

Brothers in Arms was created in September, 2004 (on almost the same day as the Second Battle of Jachin Due, by interesting coincidence), and now, after ten months of work, it is finally complete. Quite a ride, and one which I naively thought was over back in May, but one that has, at last, come to an end.

Until, of course, Brothers in Arms: A Call to Arms begins. Since I hear Destiny is coming to the States late this year, you can expect the story late this year, or possibly in early January. I'd love to start it sooner, but I'll need to have seen a few episodes before I can begin. Fortunately, I know enough about it to make long-range plans already, but I need detailed information in order to actually begin.

In the meantime, I'll be posting a series of one-shots, covering various scenes within -and before- Brothers in Arms in a more in-depth fashion. These won't be in any particular order, but rather will be posted as I think of them. The first should be up within a couple of days.

And now, on to the review responses.

RVD, I'm not sure what gave you the idea Kevin was going to be killed off; I've stated repeatedly he'll be in the sequel. Or were you thinking he'd die here, then turn up two years later? That was a possibility I considered, but eventually rejected.

ForeverZero, I'm pleased you liked the battle at GENESIS. I paid very careful attention to that battle, since I wanted a spectacular finish; in the end, it took me about a week to write it, and then spent the next couple of months revising it. I'm very glad to see that I succeeded in my efforts.

Arekuruu-inabikari-no-She, from what I've heard of it, I don't like the fellow either. My apologies, by the way, if I misspelled his name; I've come across a couple of different spellings, and I'm not sure which is correct. If I got it wrong, let me know and I'll fix it immediately.

As for the Wing Gundam, if you were looking on Mecha Anime HQ I think you were looking at the Early Version; for some reason, in the basic Wing Gundam entry, it lists it under a different name. For more images, look under Hajime Kotaki (or Katoki; I don't remember the exact spelling) Variations.

Now that you mention it, I guess having people call Kevin "Boss" does sound like a Metal Gear reference. I actually simply because it sounded like an interesting, if minor, plot element.

NukeDawg, it sounds like you may have been under the impression Chapter 35 was the end of the story. As you can see, however, this is the proper end. I wanted to wrap it up properly, especially since the anime didn't.

I hope I cleared things up with that review, by the way; and I'll be interested to see what you mean by my story "connecting" with yours. Anyway, thanks for reviewing.

Ominae, you may be interested to know that there will be rather more Kevin/Murrue interaction in the sequel. Perhaps not exactly what you were looking for, but at least along the lines of the scene in Chapter 33, which, as I recall, you liked.

ZZGUNDAM, I can't say exactly how I'll be writing Shinn until I've seen how he is in the anime. I can say, however, that I try to keep characters in character.

Red Eyed Divine Dragoon77415, as mentioned above, look for the Wing Gundam Early Version under Hajime Katoki -Kotaki, whichever- Variations. You'll find it there.

White Shadow, I know the feeling. And yes, Brothers in Arms: A Call to Arms will be a Destiny AU. Originally, I had other plans, but after hearing more about the series, I find myself looking forward to seeing how Kevin Walker will interact with -and change- its events.

Katana, if I do go with the Wing Gundam Early Version (which is a very distinct possibility) I will very likely use several of your suggestions. I also have a few ideas of my own, which I'm keeping close to my chest. In any case, Stormhawk will return better than ever, under a new name.

Centurious, as you can see it wasn't quite the end; but I'm glad you liked the battle anyway. I am looking forward to seeing how you use Kevin Walker and his clones, by the way.

Shinji Ikari… in your first paragraph your words are one-tenth correct and nine tenths nonsense. True, Kira does not kill Le Creuset in the series. However, he was clearly intending to; you do not stick a beam saber into someone's cockpit when you are trying to miss! And his cry of "Die!" is by no means out of character. If you pay closer attention, you'll notice he shouts that during his battle with the Providence, when he blasts one of the DRAGOON emitters.

And finally: Kira never kills a mobile suit pilot? Excuse me, but that's ridiculous, and you should know it's ridiculous. Let me refresh your memory. Phase 3: Miguel Aiman's GINN loses a leg to the Strike's Midas Messer beam boomerang, then gets sliced in half by Kira's Schwerht Gewerh anti-ship sword; Miguel dies in the subsequent explosion. Phase 7: a reconnaissance GINN is blasted to bits by Kira's beam rifle, killing both occupants. Phase 16: Kira knocks one BuCUE to the ground, plants his foot on it, and fires a hyper-impulse cannon shot into its cockpit, killing the pilot instantly. Then, he tosses another BuCUE into the path of a missile. Scratch another pilot. Phase 18: Kira shoots a BuCUE right through the gut, causing it to detonate; scratch another pilot. Phase 21: Kira jumps onto a BuCUE and shoots it, killing the pilot; he slices another BuCUE in half, thoroughly killing the pilot; he throws his beam saber into a BuCUE's head and shoots it, killing the pilot; he knocks the head off the final BuCUE and shoots it, killing the pilot. And finally, Aisha dies when Kira destroys Waltfeld's LaGOWE. Phase 22: Kira stabs an Armor Schneider into a GOOhN, destroying it and its pilot, and promptly shoots another GOOhN with a shotgun, destroying and its pilot. Phase 23: Kira shoves an Armor Schneider into the ZnO, killing Marco Morassim. And finally, Phase 29: Kira cuts into the Blitz with his anti-ship sword, killing Nicol Amalfi (and, of course, there's Phase 49, when he cuts an entire Agamemnon-class in half). So don't try to tell me Kira never kills any mobile suit pilots. That's utter nonsense. So no, I am not going to edit Rau Le Creuset's death.

I'd add a glossary entry for Chapter 33, but after the epilogue here, there really wasn't anything else. (As for energy fields… check back when I get the sequel going. By then I should have thought of something.)

As for the vengeance thing, I see no reason to alter it. Le Creuset didn't give Oracle the idea; he just gave him the opportunity to experiment on a grander scale. I think it worked well as is.

Tolle… yes, it's possible I'll add "snippets" later on; we'll see. As for Carpentaria, no, I don't think that's what was meant by ZAFT forces being in the line of fire. For one thing, though I may be remembering wrong, I think that was spoken of just before the shot that took out Ptolemaeus.

When it comes to Flay, I'll make the decision about whether or not to use reader feedback, and that's all I have to say.

But that leads me into another rant: I wish people would stop saying Xenogears and Xenosaga are connected. They are not. Xenogears was Squaresoft, whereas Xenosaga is published by Namco. It's developed by members of the Xenogears team, but copyrights alone mean the two games cannot be connected. They share certain elements, like the Zohars, but they are not part of the same universe.

Okay, ranting over.

As for the reconstructed Stormhawk, like I said earlier in the notes, I will be making my own modifications to the design.

You'll notice, if you read Chapter 30, that the reason for the nuclear bomb in Stormhawk was already explained, and Kevin's comrades would presumably know of it.

With regard to the final face-off between Dominion and Caligula: what you say about warnings systems and such makes sense. On the other hand, look at what happens a couple of times on Dominion: when Azrael panics, everything stops, even when there's a competent officer in charge. When he's aboard a ship, he seems to drain all trace of initiative from the crew. Therefore, I see nothing wrong with how it's written.

And as for having all remaining weapons locked on, I should first of all point out that antibeam depth charges aren't weapons. They're a purely defensive measure. Second, Archangel-class vessels don't have defensive missiles; the Helldarts can be used for that purpose, but they too are primarily offensive. If you don't believe me, check the official website's entry for the class.

No, I don't think Kira went Berserker prior to Flay's death in the anime; and Kevin's impending sacrifice would certainly be enough of an impetuous for him to do so in my version.

Possibly you have a point about the Jachin self-destruct; I may have to add something in there to indicate a deadman function of some kind, perhaps set to activate if someone tampered with it, or if Zala's biological functions ceased.

When it comes to the brief altercation he has with Kevin, you're forgetting one thing: the human factor. Knowing intellectually what to do when faced with a Destroyer is one thing; having one rip his way through a heavy, locked door to get specifically at you is something else. That can really mess with one's thinking.

Perhaps it is a little too convenient for Kevin's EM field to work just then; but sometimes, you have to sacrifice realism for storytelling (though since you're certain to contradict me rather forcefully, I suppose I'll consider -consider- altering it). As for Kevin not disarming him, he probably wouldn't see the need. Even without the EM field and his nanites, he's bloody hard to kill with a single shot. The likelihood of a rear-echelon type like Zala killing him so easily is very low. Besides, with his long-awaited vengeance so close at hand, he might not necessarily think of it. It's established that he isn't infallible, after all.

Thanks for pointing out that continuity error, by the way; you'll see that I already fixed it.

Flay and Tolle… I added them to the list when GENESIS explodes, but if you think there should be more -which I would assume not, since you didn't mention Murrue, for example, needing more of a reaction- let me know.

As for Kira not brimming with tears, let me tell you something: it's entirely possible to be too exhausted to grieve, and if anyone has a right to be tired about then -anyone who isn't dead, anyway- it's Kira.

Glad you liked the Providence/Freedom battle; that was another one that was a little tricky. Fortunately, the sheer length of it meant I couldn't be too close to canon; I literally couldn't remember it all.

I had the Dominion hit by GENESIS in part because it's very important for some of my farther-reaching plans that it be in need of extensive repairs.

All three Astray test pilots are alive, as you will have noticed by now; that's also part of my "grand design". You'll see what I mean when the time comes.

With regard to Stormhawk versus Providence… sure, the Zero System might normally have helped. But it's not infallible, and having those DRAGOON emitters zooming around would probably give even it problems.

As you can see, you weren't quite correct about Artemis. It struck me, around the time I came up with the events of Chapter 33, that it would make a perfect base for Kevin's later operations (at the time, I had no idea about Astray, and even now couldn't care less; my idea was too good to pass up, and Kevin had already killed Garcia, anyway). Kevin's work there will later prove to be quite extensive.

Now, Oracle's part in Kevin Walker's tale is essentially done. He may appear in the odd dream sequence in the future, but with the deaths of Patrick Zala, Rau Le Creuset, and Muruta Azrael, the ABADDON chapter of Kevin's life has finally been closed.

My apologies, by the way, for any spoilers you may have seen in this final update. However, if you don't know much about Destiny you may not even realize they are spoilers, and I shan't point them out.

Finally, I say this: Shinji Ikari, you have driven me up the wall more than once in the course of your reviews, but you have been very helpful (and fortunately, I enjoy a good debate). I hope you'll review my future entries into Gundam SEED fan fiction, and in particular hope to see you for A Call to Arms… I think.

To all readers: within a few days, Brothers in Arms: Moments and Memories will be posted. This will be a collection of one-shots related to Brothers in Arms, specifically relating to Kevin Walker; either expanding upon scenes within it, or events before it, such as Kevin's first meeting with Andrew Waltfeld. These won't be in chronological order, but rather in the order I write them, which will be in whatever order I think them up. So there will be something involving Kevin before the sequel arrives; stay tuned.

Now that the time has come to close this chapter in Kevin Walker's saga, I would like to thank all those who took the time to review it. When I first posted it, I never expected to get very many reviews; after all, this is the first time I've posted in this section. I certainly never imagined I'd get this kind of response. Thank you all, and keep an eye out, because Kevin Walker's tale isn't over yet… -Solid Shark