I don't own anything except Kevin Walker, Invictus, and Meryl Steiglitz

Note: In case it isn't obvious, this takes place from Meryl Steiglitz's perspective
It's been a long night, and I'm not looking forward to going on duty. That's on my mind as I head for the Bridge, following the Mendel attack. After all, we "mere soldiers" all know who's really in command of the Dominion; and that really gets me steamed. After all, Muruta Azrael is the leader of Blue Cosmos.

If he knew who and I what I really am, he'd kill me for sure. He hates Coordinators, and I'm even worse than that. Of course, my parents taught me long ago never to breath a word of that to anyone.

But my thoughts are interrupted, as I hear the call to go to Battlestations. Well, at least it's a break in the routine, I think; then I realize we've got an intruder alert on our hands.

I duck back into my quarters, snatch my rapier -too bad the Fencing Prince isn't around anymore; I'd have loved one last chance to face off with him- and then race toward the Bridge. Whoever has boarded us, that will be their target.

I'm not surprised when I hear Azrael's shuttle, along with his three creepy pilots and their machines, have taken off. Good riddance, I think, and continue on my way, a cold smile on my face. Who knows, maybe whoever's trying to take over is an improvement; if it's the so-called Three Ships Alliance, it sure is.

Then, nearing the elevator to the Bridge, I feel a strange sensation; something I've felt on only a handful of occasions since my parents died. It's one of us, I can tell; not sure if it's a natural-born or man-made, but those of the Blood can sense each other, however they came to be of the Blood. But I have to wonder: what's one of them doing here? The Blood has thinned so much over the years, especially since the advent of Coordinators, that you hardly ever come across even a man-made, let alone a pureblood, and I can't even begin to calculate the odds against there being even one with the Three Ships Alliance.

Still, there's no doubt there is one of the Blood up there, which means I have to choose my next move very carefully. Those of the Blood have heightened senses, and some of them are very powerful in the extrasensory region; and you never make a hasty move against one, lest he pull a rabbit out of his hat... or a tiger, or a wolf, or an eagle...

But now I hear something else. The intercom is on, and I hear a voice that seems familiar...

"Attention, crew of the Mobile Assault Ship Dominion. This is Kevin Walker speaking. As of now, your ship is under the control of the Three Ships Alliance; I strongly urge that you do not resist. If you remain calm and cooperate with my people, you will not be harmed. In fact, those of you who wish to leave the ship will be permitted the use of unarmed shuttles, sufficient to take you to Earth Alliance territory."

I know that voice. But "Kevin Walker" isn't the name attached to it, in my head. Who...? Then the mystery is solved.

"However, I'd like you to hear me out first. Your superiors have been lying to you, and I think you should know the truth. I introduced myself as Kevin Walker. But some of you may know me by what passes for my real name. I was born Kevin Onishi, son of Baron John Tyler Onishi, of Orb. Now, you've been told by your superiors that Orb supported the PLANTs, and even aided them in the attacks on Alaska and Panama. Before I tell you the true story behind it, though, let me tell you why you should believe what I'm saying. See, there's a reason I disappeared over three years ago, after my parents were assassinated. I was kidnapped by ZAFT, tortured, and memory-wiped; then augmented into a super-soldier by a madman known as Oracle. That's right; I'm the guy they called Hydra, and even Cain. But I was brainwashed. I did not serve ZAFT willingly, though it took me six months to regain my senses. When I finally did, I destroyed the lab and everything in it, including my fellow Destroyers."

Kevin Onishi! No wonder the voice sounds familiar! My old fencing rival... and most assuredly one of the Blood, though his family line is not recorded in the annals of Bloodlines my parents passed down to me.

And now he's been altered by ZAFT... which explains why he's fighting for neither them nor the Earth Forces, and possibly why his presence seems so much stronger than others of the Blood.

"So maybe you'll believe me when I say that if Orb had been supporting the PLANTs, I would never have stayed behind to defend it. There is nothing in this world I hate more than ZAFT, and only one thing that I hate as much. So maybe you'll me when I tell you the true story of Alaska, and how Headquarters knew we were being sent to the slaughterhouse... and it was not ZAFT that nearly incinerated the Archangel and us with it. No, the reason all were lost at Alaska was because Headquarters had deployed a Cyclops system there. And unlike Endymion Crater, this was not a weapon of last resort. Indeed, intelligence was leaked to ZAFT in order to get them to attack... and when they were too far in to escape, Headquarters activated the Cyclops, destroying eighty percent of ZAFT's fighting strength and a goodly number of their own people. So tell me, soldiers. Would you truly wish to continue to serve people like that, who would sacrifice their own in such a cold-blooded manner, then blame it on a neutral nation as justification for going to war in order to seize their superior technology, and just as importantly, their mass driver? Do you want to serve those who fight Coordinators simply because of envy and bigotry? If that's your choice, then you're free to leave... but if you believe what I'm saying, I urge you to join us, to help us stop this war before it results in the destruction of both sides."

Oh, those bastards...! How could I have believed the rubbish Headquarters gave us? How could any of us? Those bastards actually used a Cyclops on their own people? How dare they?

Well, the good Baron's certainly found the right hook to use on us. I certainly believe him; even if I didn't remember his reputation for impeccable honesty, I'm willing to believe anything about Headquarters... as long as it's bad.

But now I have another dilemma: I know that at least the fire-control officer, combat commander, and first-shift helmsman are Coordinator-haters, which means they'll do their best to stop the takeover. From the sound of things, two of them are already dead, but the helmsman is still around, so I'd better go deal with him.

The elevator swiftly takes me to the Bridge, and I arrive just in time to slip unobserved to the bow of the Bridge, while Captain Badgiruel is speaking. "All right, Snake," she says, and with those words, Dominion is a rogue ship.

I notice most of my -surviving- shipmates are relieved, but my eyes are on the helmsman. Sure enough, he lunges from his seat, sidearm in hand, crying, "Traitor!" at the top of his lungs. So I make my move.

My blade comes from her sheath like she has a mind of her own, and for the first time she tastes human flesh and blood. Her razor-sharp tip enters through the loyalist's back, spearing through his heart and exiting through his breastbone.

"I won't allow it," I say quietly, and withdraw my blade from his back. I wipe her on his uniform, and slip her back into her scabbard. I feel no remorse; he, like Azrael, hated Coordinators, and he was about to shoot my Captain... and my friend. I could not allow it.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. That was well-timed." Captain Badgiruel nods to me in thanks, and turns to the Baron. "Snake, this is Lieutenant (Senior Grade)-"

"Meryl Steiglitz," he interrupts, clearly surprised. "Fancy meeting you here."

"Good to see you, too, Baron," I respond with a smile; I'm happy he remembers me. It's been around four years, and he's younger than me, but with Coordinators, what does seven or eight years really matter? I gotta admit, the black outfit and the scar he's sporting these days -wonder where he picked that up?- make him look even more mature, and more than a bit dashing. Makes me remember why I used to have a crush on the guy.

Maybe still do... not that I can think about that right now...

Meanwhile, the Captain's looking at us like we've both gone crazy. "Do you two know each other?" she asks suspiciously.

"You could say that," the Baron replied. "During her Academy days, the Lieutenant here was an Olympic-class fencer; and she was also my last opponent prior to my parents' assassination."

"Not as good as you, Baron," I say demurely. "As I recall, you took me out pretty fast." Something which really bothered me until I found out more about him; I was unused to losing, but then at the time I thought he was a Natural.

"That's because of certain genetic advantages," he tells me; as if I don't already know. "And don't call me Baron, okay? I'm Baron Onishi's legal heir, but quite frankly I'm not very fond of my uncle's memory these days."

That's news to me, at least part of it; but I always thought he looked a little uncomfortable as a nobleman. But what's this about his uncle?

Captain Badgiruel blinks. "Your uncle?"

Baron- uh, Snake looked thoroughly disgusted. "My biological parents were actually Siegel Clyne and his wife, Natarle; my uncle, it seems, was a believer in the teachings of Nietzsche. Apparently, using genetic samples obtained who-knows-how, he decided to create the Overman: me. It's a long story, but suffice it to say, I hope John Tyler Onishi rots for eternity."

Ouch. No wonder he hates the guy's guts.

Behind us, the Bridge elevator slides open again. "Say, Boss," a man in battle armor, with features strikingly similar to Snake's, says, floating out, "don't you think it's about time you called the Archangel and told them the mission was a success?"

The Captain and I look from one Kevin Walker to the other. "Uh... Are we missing something here?" I question, confused. Does he have a twin brother nobody got around to mentioning?

Kevin shrugs. "Oh, sorry. Natarle Badgiruel, Meryl Steiglitz, this is John Tyler, also known as Invictus. As you can tell from his remarkable good looks, he and I have a genetic connection; in point of fact, he's one of many clones ZAFT made of me. But unlike a certain fellow who's out to kill me, John's on our side."

"Uh... right..." Badgiruel shakes her head. "Anyway, he has a point; I'd appreciate it if you informed your comrades that they don't have to shoot at us anymore."

I share her sentiment; both of them, really. I don't want to be shot, either, and I'm just as puzzled by this "Invictus". I've heard of him, of course; but last I heard he was Rau Le Creuset's private assassin. Oh, well, I'm sure I'll hear the full story eventually.

"Right you are, Natarle." He moves over to the command chair and fiddles with the radio settings. "By the way, John, how many left the ship?"

"About a dozen," his clone informs him. "Not bad, considering; if I had to guess, they were mostly Azrael's people."

"Figures." Kevin pushes a final button. "Archangel, this is the Dominion, do you copy? This is Snake."

A face I presume to be Murrue Ramius' appears on the main screen. "I was beginning to worry, Snake. The ship is secure?"

"Affirmative. Three casualties, all of them Earth Forces; and Azrael and his people got away." He shrugs again. "But the ship is under our control. Natarle has agreed to join us, and so have most of her crew. Clean sweep, mon Capitan."

She nods. "And Flay? Is she all right?"

"Haven't had time to check," Kevin admits; no doubt they're talking about that girl Le Creuset sent over to us for some reason, with the data that bastard Azrael seemed so excited about.

"She's fine, Captain," the Captain says, stepping forward. "A little shaken up, but she's okay." She glances at Snake. "By the way, Snake, was that really Kira Yamato out there? I thought..."

"Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated," Captain Ramius says dryly. "The pilot who tried to kill him is with us these days, too; so is Dearka Elsman, the Buster's pilot. I'm sure you remember him."

"If only because Flay tried to assassinate him," Badgiruel agrees; I don't yet get the joke, but I suppose I will sometime. "I guess things have changed since we last met. So, is the Archangel going to rendezvous with us, or do we go to you?"

"You'd better come to us," Ramius says after a moment's reflection. "I'm sure there's nothing to worry about, but some of our people may not be so trusting."

"Understood," Kevin breaks in. "We're on our way; we'll discuss final arrangements once we rendezvous. Dominion, clear." He cuts the connection, and glances around the Bridge. "Speaking of rendezvous, we seem to have a small problem; the helmsman is a corpse."

"I'll handle it, sir," I say immediately. "I'm second-shift helmsman; I was just coming on duty when you launched your attack." And not looking forward to another shift under Azrael's eye, I don't add.

"Right." Snake looks briefly at the command chair, then shakes his head and settles into Azrael's former seat. "Okay, Lieutenant, let's get moving."

"With pleasure, Sir," I say, and settle into the helmsman's chair.

This is the best day I've had since the war started, I think, as I plot our course. I don't think I've ever been happier to see someone... and I know I've never been this happy on this ship.

It's obvious by now to everybody but the Baron himself that Dominion's in for a change in command; and it looks to me like even Captain -or I guess I should say Lieutenant Commander- Badgiruel approves. Of course, being old-family military, she probably thinks she doesn't deserve to be in command now, after having it taken away from her so easily. Nothing she could have done about it, of course, but humans are never the most logical of people.

For my part, I'm delighted at the prospect of having Kevin Onishi- er, Kevin Walker in command. He's a nice guy, he's a Coordinator... and he's even of the Blood.

Oh, yes, this is a fine day that's dawning.

Author's note: Okay, the first of the promised one-shots. These will, of course, include hints about the sequel to Brothers in Arms; it just wouldn't be me if there weren't a few cryptic references.

I don't know how many of my old reviewers will be reading this, but I'll respond to the final reviews for Brothers in Arms anyway.

Ominae, I'm not sure what to make of your review; did you perhaps make a mistake? Because I seem to remember you approving of the Kevin/Murrue scenes.

Deathzealot, I thought I remembered you from somewhere; I ended up going back through old reviews of the Second Story, and there you were. You may be interested to know that I am working on the next chapter of that (if only to get people off my back about it).

Arekuruu-inabikari-no-She, I am very glad to hear it. As for Artemis, though, I actually haven't read any of the manga, so I wouldn't know.

As it happens, I've already read information about Destiny on that site; and never fear, I already have some in-depth plans to make use of what I know.

Julius Faust, thanks for reviewing; though you apparently missed a set of author's notes earlier on. I appreciate the information about where to find Destiny episodes, but I personally prefer to wait until it reaches the States. Still, thanks anyway.

Shinji Ikari, you are simply not going to convince me that even the great Kira Yamato can stick a gigantic energy weapon in a cockpit and expect to miss the pilot; and if you'll notice, Le Creuset does not escape unscathed. If I'm not greatly mistaken, even if GENESIS hadn't blasted him to atoms the wound he received from Kira would have killed him. And you're certainly not going to convince me Kira was trying to leave that guy alive. He gives every indication of trying to kill him as dead as possible.

I'm afraid I still don't agree about the Xenogears/Xenosaga matter, but that's really irrelevant and would take me far too long to go into.

Yes, what I meant was that, if the pilot is in a bad mood, the Zero System would make such an assumption (or something like that, anyway). And by the way, you won't find any references to Project Prometheus Unchained in the earlier chapters. That's just me giving cryptic hints again. All will be explained at the appropriate time; possibly in one of the one-shots, if I happen to include anything post-series.

I do intend to use, at the very least, characters from the Astray manga in the sequel, even if I don't manage to read any of it. I've already gotten a good bit of information about it from MAHQ (which explains the Gai Murakumo reference, by the way; he, at least, will be probably be appearing in A Call to Arms, as well as Rondo Mina Sahaku, assuming she's still alive).

Don't worry about continuity errors in A Call to Arms; I think I've got that covered already, so the story will be posted on schedule.

Still thinking about what to do with the Kira/Flay talk. I'll have to find a place where it'll fit (and you're right, it wouldn't work as a one-shot; these are all intended to be events directly involving Kevin Walker or his actions).

The Natarle/Invictus theme will be more fully-developed in the sequel; and a couple of other characters, most notable Max and Meryl Steiglitz, will play far larger roles.

Actually, having seen some of G-Gundam, that was what inspired that particular repair method for the various machines; hence the expected modifications to the Stormhawk's design. And yes, Kevin's secret-keeping habits will cause some problems in A Call to Arms, as he himself expects… not that that would stop him, of course.

Flay… I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to handle that, though it's a fairly safe bet she wouldn't remain with the Dominion after the war. This will require much thought.

The scene with Carter stemmed from my desire not to write yet another cookie-cutter villain. Previous "rivals" I've written for my main characters have never been very well-developed, and I decided it was time to change that. (Food for thought, and a cryptic hint from me: how Kevin and Carter react if they found themselves under attack simultaneously by the same people?)

I can't properly answer your question about Sarnac yet. I'm still in the process of thinking up Carter's organization, and what there is so far is pretty amorphous. I'll have to get back to you on that.

Oh yes, Evan Bitter will be playing an… interesting role in A Call to Arms. And that, of course, is all I shall reveal about him.

As for Athrun becoming Cagalli's bodyguard still… well, that's largely because of continuity. Also, however, remember that even here they're good friends, and Athrun just doesn't seem the type to settle down at an orphanage like Kira, content to remain out of the action.

I guess that's about everything. One last thing, though: within a few days I'll be posting the first chapter of a new story. Another AU of Gundam SEED, this will have no connection to Brothers in Arms. I know a few of you are already waiting for it, so I just thought I'd mention it'll be up soon. -Solid Shark