Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: A Twisted Universe

Chapter 8: Anniversary

Written by Skywalker6119

Disclaimer: Gundam and all affiliated terms are owned by Bandai and not by me. If it was owned by me, it wouldn't be as successful as it is now.

We've finally returned to ZAFT's side of the story. Kira and Athrun's confrontation won't happen until at least the next chapter, so I guess they can have a nice fight to the death before getting all guilty and weepy with each other.


"So, Athrun, you doing alright?" Captain Nathaniel Mauro sat down on a chair next to Athrun's bed, two hot mugs of cocoa in his hands. He passed one to Athrun, who sipped it gratefully. It was the first thing he'd drunk in three days, ever since the rad medicine had kicked in and knocked him and all other survivors out.

"I'm fine, captain. How's my squad?" he asked.

"They're fine. You youngsters are really something. Even Coordinators are usually out for a week! Really, youth is always amazing." He shook his head. "An old Natural like me would've probably taken a month to get back on my feet." (1)

Captain Mauro's sub, the Volga Boatman, had been bringing in reinforcements from Carpentaria, and so had been outside of the blast radius when the Kaguya Mass Driver had exploded. This lucky stroke had ensured the survival of Athrun and a host of other survivors; a total of 76 ZAFT soldiers had been pulled from the waters of Aube, though nineteen hadn't survived treatment.

As Captain Mauro continued to brief Athrun on the situation, the latter's mind was drifting away. It's almost the Fourteenth. Mom's anniversary… I wonder what sort of memorial service is being planned. It's only been a year… Only three years since I saw Kira.

Flashback

"Athrun! Hey!" Kira was running up the hill, waving at his best friend's back. Athrun stopped at the hill's peak and turned back, a smile on his face. "Sorry about that, Kira," he said as Kira caught up to him. "You were taking so long, if I'd waited longer we'd have both been late."

"Sorry. I was up late finishing the Literature assignment. I don't know how you manage to write all those reports so easily. Half the time, I can barely understand what Shakespeare is writing." The two friends started down the path to the tram station, the throng of students in front of it visible from their high vantage point.

"What're you talking about? It should be easy for a Coordinator to read Shakespeare. And even easier to understand."

"I don't think so. And half the class agrees with me. The other half isn't all Coordinators either. I mean, look at Madey. He's a Natural, and he just speeds through Shakespeare. He's even faster than you." Kira sighed. "I guess art just doesn't like me. I'm better off sticking to science."

Athrun laughed. "That's true. You can't tell Monet from Van Gogh, but if someone would bring an Asimo to you, I bed you'd have it dancing a jig within a week." Kira laughed in return, and responded, "Yeah, and you would've changed the entire body shell to imitate Astro Boy. That's what you're good at Athrun, making technology more friendly and creative."

By then, the two had run down the hill and reached the station platform. On the tram a few minutes later, the two talked with other friends over homework and the debate on the PLANTS last night. Pretty much everyone was wondering whether the powers on Earth would give the Coordinators the control of the PLANTS or not.

As they got off the tram, with the spirited debate still spreading among the crowd, Athrun managed to get a moment with Kira. "Meet me after school at the park, 'kay?" Kira nodded, and the two went their separate ways.

---

"What'd you want to talk about?" The two best friends were walking down an empty boulevard, sakura trees blossoming around them. Genetic engineering was responsible for that, just like it was responsible for them. Birdy flew on ahead of them, present whenever the boys weren't in school.

Athrun simply kept walking along, gathering his thoughts. He glanced at his watch, and continued on. Kira followed. They continued walking, Kira following Athrun and Athrun following Birdy. Only when Birdy alighted onto a bench did the pair stop. By then, they'd reached another of the few high points in the city, a meteorite that had become a cliff when humanity had buried it in the soil of earth.

From here, they looked out over the city, which had still not spread over the crater. There were still areas of moon rock that had not been covered by the familiar brown and greens of humanity's cradle, but that was quickly being rectified. They sat there, blossoms fluttering around them, the city below them, the seemingly endless dome above them.

"Kira, I'm leaving Copernicus." Athrun refused to meet his friend's wide-eyed stare, and continued to take in his last view of the city he'd grown to love. "My parents want to join the other Coordinators in the PLANTS. They say that's where my future is, where the future of all Coordinators are. There, we can live peacefully, gracefully, and happily. That's what my father says." Unnoticed, tears started to leak from his eyes. "So, we'll be leaving in two hours. I probably won't be coming back. I might not see you again." Athrun sniffled, and wiped his eyes.

"Usually, I'm the one who's supposed to cry, Athrun," Kira said quietly. "Of course there's no way to change your dad's mind, so there's no point in asking about it. But," he stood up as he said this, his fists clenched, "I'm sure we'll meet again. Maybe I'll go to the PLANTS with you, maybe you can come back and visit me here. Somehow, someday, I'm sure we'll meet again, right?" Kira turned to Athrun, holding out his hand, a sad smile in his face and tears in his eyes.

Athrun wiped his face one last time, stood up, and grabbed Kira's hand. "I'm sure we will. Space is vast, but humans aren't spread out so far. I'll come back, Kira. I'll make sure to see you again." Letting go, he looked at his watch again. "There was a reason I wanted to see you up here, Kira. This is where we first met, after all. It's corny, but this is where I wanted to say goodbye too. Birdy," he called. Birdy flew over to him, landing on Athrun's shoulder. "Bring him back to me whenever he needs maintenance, okay, Kira?"

End of Flashback

The call of a crewman interrupted Athrun's thoughts. "Captain, Councilman Zala has established a communication link and wishes to speak to his son." Captain Mauro helped Athrun up, and the pair walked through the corridors of the ship. "You can use the computer in my quarters, Athrun. It'll be more private that way." Keying in his combination, the captain opened the door and Athrun stepped in. Walking over to the simple metal desk, he turned on the view screen set on the tabletop. The worried, aged face of his father greeted him.

"Hello father. It's been a long time since I've seen you."

"Are you okay, Athrun? Were you injured?"

"I'm fine. They injected me with radiation medication, and I'm fully recovered. I'm perfectly healthy."

"That's a relief to hear." He father smiled, but he soon put on his stern business face. "Now, Athrun, what do you know about what happened at Kaguya?"

"Sir. There was a nuclear explosion on Onogoro Island that destroyed the mass driver and irradiated the Aube archipelago. The Volga Boatman had been coming to resupply the Vesuvius base and rescued me and 75 other soldiers. That's all I've found out for now, sir."

Patrick nodded. "Congratulations on a job well done, Athrun. The toll was high, but the Kaguya mass driver will no longer be a problem. The prototype units are all in ZAFT hands, correct?"

"No sir. Captain Mauro did not mention this to me, so I assume he did not know. One prototype unit is still in the hands of the Alliance, along with the prototype carrier, the Archangel. I haven't heard of either being destroyed or recovered, sir, so I assume they must have escaped."

"What!? Athrun, what about the crew? Did non-crewmembers get on the ship at Morgenroete?"

"I don't know for sure, sir, but there were some unidentified troops at the battle; perhaps they were security forces or scientists." A puzzled look came on Athrun's face. "Why does it matter, sir?"

Patrick Zala scowled. "Athrun, this is classified information. You can reveal it to no one outside your team. The nuclear detonation at Aube was not one single, large explosion. The sensors recorded 61 near-simultaneous detonations. There were 60 nuclear warheads stored there, in addition to the old nuclear reactor. Furthermore, the N-Jammer hadn't stopped transmitting it's data. Athrun, the Natural's hadn't disabled the N-Jammer; they canceled out it's effects."

Athrun was stunned. If the Naturals had managed to develop such a weapon, the same tragedy that had taken away his mom would be repeated over a hundred times. "How is that possible?"

"We're not sure. They probably had the help of the Morgenroete staff. For now, we're calling the device the N-Abler. All indications are that it's too large for them to fit it onto anything smaller than a space station right now, so we're not worried about them using it against us for the time being. But it's only a matter of time."

"Athrun, this war has to end soon, before the Naturals can complete the N-Abler (2) or their mobile suit program. We'll be working hard on our end, but only you can ensure our safety. The only Alliance members to escape that place are on the Legged ship. I'm ordering you to pursue and destroy them. Is that understood?"

Athrun saluted. "Yes sir."

"Good. Oh, and Athrun, Lacus will be going to Junius Seven to conduct the memorial service in two days. It'll be on Channel 76. See you soon, son."

---

In his dark office, Patrick Zala turned off his computer screen and turned to face the figure standing in front of his desk. "Rau, what's the status of the research team?"

"They're making progress, Councilman Zala. They estimate six months before they have a prototype model, and nine before we can build one small enough to place aboard a battleship." Rau la Creuset smiled. "We should have a mobile suit equipped with one by the start of next year."

Patrick Zala sighed. "Good. And the progress of the Genesis team?"

"The principles are sound, and they've begun to design the cannon. The only problem is hiding such a large weapon from the Naturals. Stupid as they are, they will suspect something if we move something the size of Mendel colony and point it at the Earth. The team doesn't want to finalize their designs until this problem can be solved."

"Then we'll have to rely on more conventional weapons for now. One way or another, by the New Year, we must end this war. Our existence is at stake, Rau. People like you and me, Coordinators and clones, will never be able to live in peace if we don't free ourselves from the Earth. The Naturals will do anything to control or eliminate us. We must eliminate them if we are to be truly free. We cannot protect unless we fight, but if we don't need to fight, we will no longer need to protect. That will be victory."

---

Deep in the bowels of the JOSH-A complex, three men sat in a dark conference room, lit only by the computer screen that was the tabletop. Data from a hundred different satellites, spaceships, and planes lay scattered across the screen.

"So, it worked. Those…things were good for something at last." The figure at the head of the table shrugged.

"It's too bad about Kaguya, though. It was pretty useful. And the loss of all our Coordinators is a bit of a blow to R&D." Another figure, seated on the right side of the table, shook his head.

The figure on the left side scoffed. "We don't need them anymore. Azrael's already got others working on the project. Our contact within the PLANTS is all we need. Doesn't cost a penny, and we don't have to make anymore false promises."

"I just don't like having important projects stolen from under my nose and given away, especially to people who I don't know and don't trust. I also don't like it when other people force me to break my promises, Admiral Sutherland." Xin flicked a finger at the head of the table.

"Admiral Xin, you sound as if you considered Coordinators human."

"I…wouldn't go that far. But I generally reward people who help me, not blow them up. It sounds like one of Bogolyubsky's family stories of the USSR."

The man on the left laughed. "Yes, it does sound like a story I know. Several stories, actually. But you're too worked up, Xin. Coordinators, it doesn't matter how they die. They will soon enough."

"Xin, just put it behind you. It would've happened sooner or later. It just happened sooner. Getting back to the matters at hand, I'd like to know the progress of your R&D." Sutherland indicated to the collection of images scattered in front of Xin.

"It's going faster, now that we understand the principles of the OS. We should have a prototype mobile suit ready in a few months. If one of our Morgenroete models survived, we could probably have a suit done in two weeks."

"And the timetable for mass production?"

"About a year at the current rate, perhaps nine months if we can recover a G-unit."

"Excellent. I'm looking forward to having mobile suits in my arsenal. That should stick it to those arrogant bastards." Bogolyubsky rubbed his hands and smiled widely.

"As do I. How goes the installation of the Cyclops system, General?"

"It's nearly finished, Admiral Sutherland. Pretty much all that's left to do is reel the bastards in and blow them to bits!"

"Excellent. For the sake of our blue and pure world, we must taint our hands in red blood. May history look kindly on us."

"No one is ever going to hear that, you know. The minutes don't exist for historians to research. Hahaha!" The bearded general roared at his minor joke, though the other two didn't do anything but smile.


Happy two year anniversary, loyal readers! We now have a time setting for this story, which is currently on February 12, CE 71. Honestly, I didn't plan for this chapter to be about the Bloody Valentine Tragedy, but the anniversary crept up on me. It gave me a foundation to start writing this chapter, so I hoped you enjoyed it.

It's been a pretty prolific summer, hasn't it? A total of seven chapters written over eleven weeks. I'm back in school now, so my pace might slow a bit. Please be patient, there's a lot more to come.

The preliminary sketch of Terra Weid has been made and posted on Deviantart. It's only a side profile view, but I'll put up a full version soon. Other random things that I've drawn have also been put up, though none are really good, because they were all done in school, without proper tools or concern for quality. Check them out and tell me what you think.

(1)Captain Mauro is from the Oceania Union, one of the PLANTS' allies on Earth.

(2)Because N-Jammer Canceller is, was, and always will be, a mouthful.