Title: Invoke

Rating: K+

Category: Action/AU

Sub-category: Angst

Warning: Spoilers for GSD Phase 42, implied Yzak x Cag, implied Athrun x Meyrin, implied Lunamari x Shinn, some OOC, character death, un-betaed

Feedback: Constructive criticism welcomed

Summary: The final battle on ORB and the final outcome. AU. One shot. Revised

Disclaimer: Kidou Senshi Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny are copyright to Hajime Yate, Yoshiyuki Tomino, Sotso Agency and Sunrise. I don't own them.

AN: An AU version of my own interpretation of the battle taking place at ORB and the final outcome of it. Explanations and notes are at the end of the story. Did some revisions for some scenes but otherwise most are the same.

The feeling like an explosive anger that had started in his chest was raising rapidly and Yzak Jule wanted nothing more than to land his fist on someone's jaw soon enough as he stormed down the passageway towards the direction of the mecha hangar. He had already hurriedly changed into his spacesuit, a white ZAFT colour that indicated his higher rank, helmet clutched under his arm as he marched grimly forward. He should have known, should have seen the signs there but he had been blinded to it. Just like the first time he had been blinded to it, he thought bitterly. The tactics used were different but the intention had been the same.

"It's about time you got here," drawled the familiar voice.

Dearka Elsman was leaning against the wall by the door, dressed to go in his dark green spacesuit, helmet by his feet as his arms were crossed on his chest. There was a cocky smirk on the face as he lifted his head to greet his best friend, eyes glinting with a hint of faint amusement.

"You're not going," Yzak growled, stepping around him, punching at the keypad so hard it might break. The door slide open, revealing the hangar and he strode in.

"Of course I'm going." Dearka had picked up his helmet, was now swinging it in his hand as he followed, the smirk still firmly plastered on his face. "Why shouldn't I be going?"

"Because that bastard could very well terminate what's left of your career and life," snapped Yzak, ignoring the technicians, the mechanics and a few other lower ranked pilots scattered around their mobile suits. He glanced around, then lowered his voice. "When I was given my own squadron to command, I thought I could make a difference. No more wars like the last one. Dullindal –– he seemed genuine enough..." At this, Yzak gave a helpless shrug of his shoulders. "But I guess I thought wrong."

"We thought wrong," Dearka corrected, the smirk gone to be replaced by a grim expression, his brown eyes glinted with a hardness that would have even the bravest soldier turn cold. "He's up to something. Maybe like what Patrick Zala did."

"Except Patrick Zala didn't weasel his way up like he did." Yzak''s voice was still lowered but it was filled with loathing. "No, he does things quietly, setting up his pawns in place and then he makes his moves. The Clyne Faction is already on the move. I'm not going to sit back and watch this time." He shook his head in disgust. "I won't sit by."

"Which is why you will need me to watch your back." At this, Dearka grinned widely. "Like old times again, eh?"

Yzak snorted but the corners of his mouth had turned up into a smile. "It's not going to be an easy ride. We may have a few mobiles suits right on our tail once they find out."

"The more fight, the better." Dearka clapped a hand on his shoulder, face serious. "She'll be all right. Athrun and Kira are there."

"And I don't intend to let them have all the fun." Yzak's smile turned feral, eyes hardened to frost. "Prepare to launch before Duillindal figures it out."

"Ryokai, Commander!" Dearka snapped a salute, a cheeky grin then turned to the direction of his gundam.

The drop went without a hitch or problem. Either Dullindal hadn't figured it out yet or he merely thought they weren't worth the time to deal with. Yzak's hands tightened on the controls of his Slash ZAKU Phantom. He missed piloting his Duel gundam but it couldn't be helped. While the Slash ZAKU Phantom had none of the firepower as his old gundam, the wicked beam axe and double Hydra Gatling beam cannons were enough to inflict grievous damage at the hands of a novice pilot.

Already, the battle was going on in full scale when they arrived. The Archangel was launching one attack after another at the mobile units that were firing at her, all the while fending off attacks from the Minerva. There were explosions every few minutes and sounds of gunfire as titans clashed against one another, intent on taking the other down. He could see the blue-and-white gundam that was similar to Freedom clashing against Destiny. Infinite Justice –– Athrun always seemed to pilot red gundams –– was dodging fire from Legend. Duillindal's pawns in his game. Another gundam burst into the scene: Force Impulse. Yzak had seen the blueprints for this model a year ago but had never thought that Duillindal would actually build it.

A beep on his screen signaled an incoming transmission. He acknowledged.

The face of the girl that had been in his mind ever since. She looked fierce, golden brows drew together, lips thinned, almost angry but the ferocious look in her brown eyes died down a little when she saw that it was him; her face softened. Pink stained her cheeks.

"Yzak," she said.

"I'm sure we have much to talk about," he told her in a neutral tone.

"Yes, we do," she answered softly. "Be careful."

"Aren't I always." He couldn't help the cocky tone that came into his voice. She laughed, though it was strained.

"Just don't die on me," she told him, eyes bright with an emotion he couldn't name. He grunted a reply to her, cutting off communication.

Calling up the rage that had fuelled him earlier, he charged headlong into the fray, his beam axe swinging in an arc that instantly cut down the nearest Windams. Dearka was already gleefully engaged in firing away with his beam rifle, taking down enemy mobile suits one by one.

Mirialla Haww sat up straighter in her seat when she noticed the two ZAKUs that had burst into the scene, cutting and firing away at enemy units. Even Captain Ramius had sat up, paying intent attention on the screen, eyes narrowed.

The beep signaled an incoming transmission from one of the ZAKUs. Mirialla quickly opened the communication line only to have her heart leapt into her throat at the sight of the young man on the screen before her, wearing that familiar smirk on the handsome face.

"Hey, babe!" he greeted jovially, as if they were engaging in an everyday conversation and not in the middle of a war and in front of the other crew who were listening and watching.

"Dearka!" she exclaimed, feeling as if she had just run a thousand miles with the rapidly beating heart of hers. He still looked the same, the tiny crinkles at the corner of his eyes when he smiled. "You're here."

"Elsman!" Captain Murrue Ramius barked, not hiding her astonishment at seeing the boy once more. Even when he had been their prisoner before, there was this charisma about him that made hating him difficult.

"Yo, Captain!" he called, lifting a hand, wriggling his fingers at her. Murrue frowned but didn't stop the smile crossing her face; he was truly insufferable. "Provide a little backup, will you? Don't leave us doing all the dirty work. Use those cannons to good use."

"Elsman, you're insufferable," Murrue growled at him. "Did you think I sit in here on my ass all day?"

"Eh, looks like it." His eyes went to the left side of him and his grin grew wider. "And it looks like the Ojisan in his Sky Grasper is joining in the fun. Later, Captain Babe!" He gave her a half-salute that was almost insolent and a cheeky grin. The screen blanked.

Murrue shook her head at the boy's antics. "Do what you have to do, Elsman."

"Dearka." Mirialla gripped the armrests of her chair tighter, face drawn into a grim expression then a smile broke free. "Idiot. Don't die out there."

Captain Talia Gladys had noticed the two ZAFT ZAKUs entering the fight but their sudden appearance like the earlier drop DOM Troopers had been a surprise. Her eyes narrowed to dark slits as her lips thinned and she stared at the visual she was getting of the battle. This was not good. Either Dullindal had planned this beforehand without letting her know or some of the ZAFT military had defected from Gilbert Dullindal and ZAFT altogether. She counted on the latter.

"Patch me through to one of them," she barked to one of the communications officer. The girl hastily began to connect a transmission call to one of the ZAKUs. A few seconds later, the call was connected and the screen showed a visual of a young man with platinum hair and steely blue eyes. Talia bit back an exclamation at the figure. Anyone worth their salt would instantly recognize the face.

"Commander Jule," she murmured, ignoring the ripples of whispers around her at the sight.

"Captain Talia Gladys," he acknowledged.

"Dullindal –– he doesn't know of your defection, does he?" Talia watched with an unamused expression.

"You're being used in Dullindal's schemes, Captain," he said instead, stressing on the word captain in a mocking tone. "All of you are pawns in his little game. I'd advise you to cease and desist but you and I know it won't happen."

"You're a traitor to ZAFT and Dullindal," Talia snapped. "Anyone who fights on their side is the enemy, no matter who they are."

"Then, there's no point in talking to you." With that, Yzak Jule had cut off their communication, leaving Talia clenching her fists and seething with resentment and rage.

"Captain?" Arthur Trine questioned.

"Bring the Archangel down!" Talia commanded, voice composed, despite the roiling emotions in her. "I don't care if it comes down in one piece or pieces. Shoot it down."

"Yes, Captain!"

Talia bit her lower lip so hard she was sure it would bleed as the Minerva prepared to launch fire. The tiny voice that had been persistently nagging at her was pushed aside and deep into the recess of her mind. Her loyalty was to Dullindal only.

"Yzak! And Dearka?" Athrun Zala dodged the javelin beam by Legend with a grace that was hard pressed to find when you are piloting something as huge and bulky and heavy as a gundam. Whatever questions he wanted to demand from his two comrades and their reasons for joining in the fray was lost on him as he concentrate on not trying to be shot down by Legend's DRAGOON units and aggressive attacks.

Out of the two, Shinn and Rey, Athrun discovered that Rey Za Burrel was the more dangerous. His quiet, unassuming manner was just a facade to cover up the much darker intention in the boy; Shinn had been easier to sway to the truth. Rey was loyal to Dullindal, through and through. Whatever Dullindal had done to earn such tenacious loyalty from someone like him was something Athrun did not want to know. Legend was relentless in the attacks, firing its beam rifle and DRAGOON units, not giving him so much of a breather to go on the offensive. He was being forcefully pushed into the defensive by the boy, forcing to dodge out of each attack.

While Dearka and Yzak were laying waste to the Windams, GOUFs and DINNs which was a huge help in a way that he won't have to keep looking over his back in case of an attack by either gundam. He still had to contend with Legend and the possibility of Force Impulse.

"You're fighting for the wrong reasons!" he shouted through the comm-link at Rey. "This isn't the way!"

"You don't know what you speak of, Zala," Rey replied coldly and calmly. "You betrayed us, betrayed Dullindal and ZAFT. What makes you think you're the one who's in the right in this fight?"

"You know I'm right!" Athrun evaded the DRAGOON's blast coming at him, spinning out of the way, firing back at Legend. "Dullindal has done nothing but lying to you all this while. He's not going to make the world a more peaceful place, and you know it! Listen to me!"

"The time to listen to you is over, Athrun Zala." Legend released its DRAGOON units, firing several energy blasts at Infinite Justice.

"It doesn't have to end this way!" Athrun shouted, bringing up and activating his carry beam shield, deflecting the blasts.

"Yes, it does!" Rey roared, firing off his beam machine gun. Infinite Justice spun out of the way but one of the blasts from the DRAGOON units caught the mobile suit on the shoulder, rocking it.

Gritting his teeth, Athrun righted the gundam, powered up his thrusters, releasing the subflight lifter as a distraction for the DRAGOON units. He then fired his high energy beam rifle at Legend.

"Rey, you have to stop this now!" he bellowed.

But Legend didn't stop. The beam javelin was heading towards him.

Strike Freedom was on equal par with Destiny, both titans of the skies clashing with violent sparks. Neither one was giving in and neither one gaining any upper hand in the situation as well. The two of them might as well be the only gundams around at the moment, so intense was their fight, they hardly noticed the other battles around them. Kira Yamato was soft-hearted, hardly ever suited for war or a fight like this but when the need to protect those he care and love rose up, he took to the challenge with the tenacity of a pit bull.

"Why are you still fighting?"

Destiny's pilot, Shinn Asuka, had asked that question earlier. He sounded disgusted, bewildered and angry. Kira didn't know much about the other pilot''s past but understood that it must have been something that made him the way he is now. Something unpleasant or something tragic perhaps.The pilot fought with a hint of mania. Kira had seen first hand how dirty the other pilot could fight before.

"You should ask yourself that," Kira replied calmly, deflecting a blast with his beam shield.

"I know what I fight for!" shouted the other pilot. He sounded enraged at being taken lightly. Activating his beam palm attack, he attempted to fire at Strike Freedom only to have the other mobile suit dance out of the way.

"Do you? What are you fighting for, then? Why are you fighting?" Kira demanded, activating his beam shield, deflecting the next attack. "Is this the peace that you're fighting for? A better world like what they told you?"

"You don't know anything!" Shinn howled, rage clear in his tone. "You don't know anything at all!"

"I do know that you're believing in a lie! This isn't what it's supposed to be!" Kira countered. The angrier the other pilot was, the more erratic his attack became. Kira dodged, spun and flew from each attack but not before dealing a few blasts himself. "Look around you! People are dying because of the war. They could be friends, brothers, sisters, husbands or loved ones. They're dying for a meaningless war all because of one man's greed for power. Is it worth it?"

"Shut up! You don't know what you're saying! Dullindal promised he will bring peace!" Within the desperate rage, Kira had heard it. A hint of doubt in the tone. As if the other pilot was losing his grasp on his beliefs one by one but still trying to hold on to them, clawing, scrabbling desperately, valiantly clinging to the last bit rope.

And Kira Yamato was going to be the one who will cut that rope away.

Strike Freedom and Destiny met again in a clash of fiery explosion.

Lunamaria Hawke launched with the intent to help her teammates bring down Strike Freedom and Infinite Justice but the sudden second unexpected drop from ZAFT had her paused, changed direction and headed towards the direction of the new ZAKUs. A blue custom Slash ZAKU Phantom that was cutting down the GOUFs and DINNs like scythe cutting wheat and a Gunner ZAKU Warrior with its Orthros long-ranged beam cannon that was picking off the rest like picking peas.

She pressed down on the pedal, thrusters in power, propelling Force Impulse towards them, determined to stop them. Beam rifle at hand, she fired. The first shot was not enough to destroy the ZAKU Warrior but enough to probably jar its pilot in the cockpit. The ZAKU Warrior lazily turned to face her, Orthros aimed and the gathering of energy at the muzzle was the warning she needed to get out of the range of the attack. She veered sharply to her left as the blast missed her by a few inches only.

She swore, bringing her rifle up and firing off several shots. At the same time, she called for a change to Sword Impulse for close combat with the ZAKU. Minerva intercepted her message, reporting that they are sending out the needed pieces. Sudden sadness filled her as she remembered how it used to be Meyrin who accepted the command and send back a prompt respond. Meyrin... She gripped her controls tightly, pushing thoughts of her sister to the back of her mind as she turned her attention back to the battle.

Force Impulse made the quick change to Sword Impulse. Armed with the twin beam swords, Lunamaria charged at the Blaze ZAKU Warrior, swinging her swords in a wide arc to cut it apart. Only to have the swords sparked and sizzled at the friction as they met with the beam axe of the custom Slash ZAKU Phantom. Lunamaria's eyes widened in disbelief then narrowed with anger. She was not going to lose to an inferior mass produced gundam like this one. Not when she was piloting the Impulse.

She shoved the ZAKU back, then attempted to slash at it but it moved backwards to avoid the swords.

The bleep told her that the other pilot was attempting to contact her. She wanted to cut the transmission off to spite him –– he was the enemy -- but instead, she accepted the comm. The face that stared back at hers was one she had seen before. How could she not, being a student at the Academy, training to be one of the future pilots few years ago.

"You!" she gasped.

"Desist attack at once," he barked at her, ignoring her stupefaction at seeing their very own fighting against them. It shouldn''t have even surprise her anymore; Meyrin and Athrun had both defected to Archangel.

"But you're ZAFT!" she cried out. "Commander of the Jule Squadron! You're willing to throw that away to join them!"

"I'm not throwing away anything, Hawke," he snapped. "You're the one who's throwing away everything by fighting in this war!"

"Regardless of my respect for you, Sir," she said, seething. "I will not give up this fight."

"Do you even know what you're fighting for anymore?" he retorted, bringing his beam axe around to counter attack her swords. "Wake up and realize what you're doing before it's too late."

"I'm fighting for a new world order!" Lunamaria snarled, eyes narrowing. "I'm fighting because I have to!"

For a moment, something akin to regret flashed across his face then the impassive mask came back once more, and the blue eyes turned as cold as winter's first frost. She inwardly shuddered at the icy depths.

"You're fighting on lies and deceit," he told her quietly. " I won't be easy on you, Hawke. I'll take you down."

Lunamaria let out a scream of rage that had been pent up inside her since the day her sister ran off. Powering up Sword Impulse, she charged at the ZAKU, swords joined to form a single double edged sword. The Excalibur.

Excalibur slashed downward.

Cagalli Yula Athla had never been afraid before. Not even when ORB had been attacked by Earth Alliance during the first war. Not even when she had to flee from ORB to space. Her heart had been hammering back then but she had not even felt the hint of fear; she had been too distressed at the situation and the sudden lost of her father.

Her heart was hammering now in her chest, as if it was trying to claw its way out. The three DOM Troopers that Lacus had brought along had helped demolished half of the Windams, DINNs and GOUFs at the base, leaving a few stragglers to be picked up by the Astray Shrikes and Murasames. The base was safe, for now. But she couldn't help wonder if history was about to repeat itself in this instance. Would someone she know and care about die in this fight?

Kira's blue-and-white Strike Freedom was holding his own against Destiny. Destiny's attacks seemed more and more erratic and reckless, as if the pilot was no longer thinking clearly but was driven by rage instead. Kira was taunting the other pilot or he was wearing the other pilot down by his talks. Athrun, however, seemed to be having some trouble going on the offensive with Legend's aggressive attack. The other gundam was attacking with the tenacity of a pit bull.

The forest-green Gunner ZAKU Warrior –– Dearka, she'd been informed by a half-relieved, half-worried Mirialla moments before –– had teamed up with the Sky Grasper and Gaia and both were putting work to disabling the Windams, GOUFs, and DINNs. As if desperate at the sudden turn of the fight, the ZAFT fleet at the ocean sent out some more GINNs and GOUFs. More people to their death, she thought grimly. Fighting a losing war where no one wins.

Cagalli's fists tightened. Yzak...

Yzak was faring well against Sword Impulse, despite the close combat. He had fired a few rounds from the Gatling cannons but those were easily avoided by Impulse. They both seemed to dance across the skies or playing a game of tag, except this version of tag could very well cost you your life. Around them were explosions from the destroyed mobile suits. It was like watching fireworks only without the breathtaking beauty that seemed to come along with it. It left a sour taste in Cagalli's mouth and made her heart ache for the lives that lost every moment in the battle. Friends that she knew who piloted and fought for ORB's safety, nameless and faceless enemies who probably had families to mourn them.

She wanted to be out there, piloting a gundam, anyone would do. The feeling of helplessness of just sitting here, not doing anything but trying to stabilize the fight that was still going on at ORB.

Akatsuki was down for the count and while repairs were made as quickly as possible, it will be a while before she can take off in it once more. Her eyes flickered to one of the screens showing the outside of the hangar where she docked Akatsuki to see the officers leading Yuuna Seylan away. He was no better than Jibril. Every one of the officers was trying to search for Jibril who had seemed to vanished from sight.

A movement on the screen caught her attention. It was Yuuna Seylan, and he was foolishly running, escaping from his guards. Cagalli watched impassively, her eyes darkening as the man attempted to escape. A loud roaring sound was could be heard overhead and a shadow fell on Seylan. The man stood frozen, eyes widened in shock as he stared in morbid fascination at the mobile suit that was coming down at him. Cagalli could hear the guards shouting at Seylan to move out of the way but Seylan remained there.

A GOUF crashed on the site, throwing up debris and cloud of dirt that obscured the visual for a few minutes before the dust settle down, showing the downed mobile suit. The light flickered for a beat then faded away. Cagalli turned away from the screen. She felt no remorse or pity.

They still have Jibril to find.

And she hoped that his death would be ten times more painful than Yuuna Seylan's.

Dearka easily cut down the Windams and GOUFs around him using his tomahawk, disabling them. Let them swim to shore, he thought spitefully. He made sure not to cut the suits in half to cause an explosion and made sure that the pilots were able to pop the emergency hatch open to safety once they drop in the sea below. He had no time to feel sorry for the poor sods who were frantically swimming in their heavy spacesuits towards the shore. He was going to sink the ships.

He evaded an attack by a GOUF, turning and firing back before cutting it down with his tomahawk. A sudden explosion behind him was enough to rock his Gunner ZAKU Warrior, almost jarring him from his seat, if it weren't for the thick straps that belted him down. He saw from his visual the Sky Grasper had just laid waste to a DINN that had been trying a sneak attack on him.

"Thanks, Ojisan," he drawled to the pilot.

The pilot's face glowered back at him as the guy barked back, "I am not Ojisan! Quit calling me that!"

"Oh. I could have sworn you were one." Dearka flashed a lazy smirk at him, annoying him further. He did look similar to the former co-captain of the Archangel except the hair had gotten longer and there was a scar across his nose. What is it with scars, anyway? he wondered absently, firing his Orthros cannon at the ZAFT fleet in the ocean below.

A crimson and gold gundam joined in the battle, firing rapid shots with its beam rifle, taking down several of the mobile units around it.

"Yo!" It was Andrew Waltfield, grinning at him from the screen. "I was feeling left out from the fun."

"You call this fun?" Dearka snorted, sinking another ZAFT fleet. He left the Sky Grasper and Andrew to their devices of the mobile suits; he was taking care of the Earth Alliance and ZAFT fleet in the ocean, preventing them from launching anymore mobile suits. He trusted the Sky Grasper and Andrew to watch his back just like he was watching Yzak's back. Though, it seemed that Yzak didn't need watching.

The Slash ZAKU Phantom and Sword Impulse clashed weapons before breaking apart and hurtled towards each other once more, both on equal par with each other, it seemed. Neither was giving way or gaining upper hand. Dearka could tell both were getting frustrated by the lack of progress and sooner or later, either one will break.

A blast from a beam cannon from the direction of an Earth Alliance fleet nearly took the Gunner ZAKU Warrior's head off in his lack of attention. He grunted, grasping the controls and veered to one side wildly, biting out a curse at his carelessness.

"Kid, keep your eyes on the fight," Andrew carolled out, as if Dearka had just been narrowly missed by a car instead of a beam cannon.

Dearka rolled his eyes, firing off his beam cannon at the battleship, duly sinking it. He watched the crew scrambled around on the deck like ants before hopping overboard into the sea, swimming frantically towards shore.

"Show off," he muttered. "Hey, Ojisan, provide a little better backup, will you?"

"Stop calling me Ojisan!" came the snappy reply but the Sky Grasper moved in to cover him, launching a few of its missiles at the battleships below.

"Sure, Ojisan!" he said cheerfully, moving to sink a few more ships. He ignored the indignant squawks coming through his comm.

Supreme Chairman Gilbert Dullindal swivelled around on his chair as the double doors to his office banged open violently, emitting the Supreme PLANT council. All of them had looks of displeasure on their faces. One of them, Councilman Yuri Amarfi, stepped forward, expression set in a grim line as he stared down at Dullindal.

"The Council has decided that you are to step down, Chairman Dullindal," said the man.

"On what accounts should I step down, Councilman?" Dullindal eyed him with steely dark eyes.

"For treason against PLANT, misusage of ZAFT military equipment, abuse of power, starting an all-out war against ORB and Earth, corruption charges. The list goes on but I am sure you know what the rest are." Amarfi''s pale blue eyes narrowed. "You are to step down, Gilbert from your post as Supreme Chairman."

"And who will take over my seat if I should step down." Dullindal gave a lazy smile like a cat that had caught its canary.

The people parted, revealing a woman who stepped up until she was standing side by side with Amarfi. Her blue eyes hardened to steely-blue as she stared at him. There was a frigid air around her, making her seem much more formidable than before.

"Councilwoman Jule," he said mildly.

"We have voted and decided on Councilwoman Jule to take over as the new Supreme Chairman of ZAFT," Amarfi said.

"Step down, Gilbert," Ezaria Jule said, voice like steel and ice-cold. "I am giving you a chance to step down quietly from office without the public watching."

"So I should be grateful to you for that bit of charity, is it?" Dullindal said, voice like honey poured on broken glass. "I don't see any proof you have against me, Councilwoman Jule and I do not intend to step down anytime soon. I am doing ZAFT and PLANT a world of good by getting rid of them."

"You are ordering their murders!" cried someone from the group.

"You should have been arrested for treason a long time ago!" a voice shouted.

Ezaria held up a hand to silence the council. "We have been waiting for the right time to come forward and strike, Gilbert. You are not the only one who can plan well. Two can play the game." She made a gesture.

The council parted once more, this time a girl coming forward. Long dark hair pinned back by the vaguely familiar golden star barrette he had seen before. When the girl raised her head, blue eyes boring into his, he felt like someone had poured a bucket of cold water over him. His breath literally came out in a huge whoosh. The hair had been washed free of the rose-pink tint, now in its true ebony-black colour. The eyes were still blue like hers, though and could have been hers except Lacus Clyne had never looked at him in such a way. With pure loathing, hate, resentment and disgust. It told him that this wasn't Lacus Clyne before him but as before, the uncanniness still struck unease in him; he had made her to look like a twin of the real person.

"You," he managed to gurgle out in disbelief. "I made you! I created you to be the perfect Lacus Clyne! And you've turned against me?"

Mia Campbell's eyes glinted with an emotion that Dullindal was sure Lacus Clyne would never have in those eyes. Too alike, his mind screamed. Too much alike.

"You were always too kind to me, Dullindal-sama," she said blandly.

At that, Dullindal's eyes darted from Ezaria's impassive face to Amarfi's grim one to Lacus –– no, Mia Campbell's half-triumphant expression. The girl –– he remembered what a coincidence it had been that day to discover the talent that had been her. She sounded like Lacus Clyne and sang as well as the real person. All she needed was some touch up on her hair and eyes, making her look like the real person. She had been groomed to perfection.

But perfection always has cracks in it. Perfection was never really perfect. And he had missed the cracks.

He stood up abruptly, tipping the chair back with a crash, eyes hard, trembling with a feeling he couldn't quite describe. Rage, cold fear, betrayal, a feeling like he was sinking or drowning and without any lifeline out there for him to hold on to. His plans were crumbling before his very eyes and no amount of scrabbling could get them back. These people... and her. They were against him. Conspiring against him since the day he took seat as Supreme Chairman. He would not give in to their whims and demands so easily. His hands fumbled for the drawer, yanking it open and drawing out the gleaming weapon.

"You have not taken me down yet," he snarled at them, pointing the gun at them.

Ezaria Jule barely even flinch, still meeting his wild-eyed look coolly. The others took a step back, though but remained rooted to their spot, unmoving. Amarfi tensed, face blanched but remained standing beside her, despite the overwhelming urge to actually duck down in case Dullindal fire.

Mia Campbell remained still as statue, her Lacus-blue eyes flickered from the shaking gun pointed at them to Dullilndal himself. That expression on her face... It was as if she was looking at a mere insect and dismissing it without a second glance. Like he was nothing.

Dullindal felt like a cornered animal, trapped by them. His hands were shaking so badly, the gun rattled in his grip. The gun wavered from Ezaria Jule to Yuri Amarfi to Mia Campbell, as if he couldn't quite decide who he wanted to shoot at first.

Loud, pounding footsteps signalled the arrival of the guards and the council moved aside to allow them entrance into the room.

"Arrest them!" Dullindal finally shouted, voice shrill and high-pitched, so unlike his calm, impassive tone. "Arrest them for treason!"

Shinn Asuka was hanging on. Just barely.

While Destiny and Strike Freedom clashed, he was slowly losing his last threads of conviction he had. Kira Yamato was not only cutting him down with his gundam but with his words as well. The older boy's words rang in his mind, rewinding themselves and replaying over like a broken record. His wall was being battered away, slowly but surely. All the doubts that had been at the back of his mind resurfaced, unwilling to be pushed down in the deepest recess of his mind once more.

Athrun Zala's words coming back to haunt him during the intense chase several weeks ago when he and Rey had been sent to hunt him down with Meyrin. When Dullindal had given the order to shoot and kill them. When the niggling voice told him that it was wrong. Athrun and Meyrin were friends, not enemies. He shouldn't even have to kill them.

And now Kira Yamato was giving him an emotional and mental beating down with the same words as Athrun's. It was a jumble of confusion inside his head. He wanted revenge on Kira for the death of his family, he wanted to destroy ORB for that day. He wanted... he wanted... He didn't know what he wanted anymore.

What are you fighting for? Why are you fighting?

"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" he shouted, bringing his sword around, attempting to cut Strike Freedom's arm away from its body.

Why are you fighting? Is it worth it?

"Shut up!" he bellowed to the unseen voice that continued to whisper at him, taunting him, refusing to stop its whisper.

Oniichan... Oniichan... It wasn't a nameless voice anymore. It was Mayu's voice calling to him. His eyes darted wildly from one side to another, wondering if he was going to going crazy in the middle of the battle. He wouldn't blame himself if he did lose his mind. Dullindal's words, Athrun's words, Kira's words all vying for their places in his mind, demanding he listen to them. Insisting he listened to either one of them.

"Why do they fight, Oniichan?" Mayu looked up at him with large, brown eyes. There was no fear in them as he lead her through the woods, pounding after his parents.

"Because people are selfish and corrupted. They want power so they fight," he had answered.

"But why should they fight?" she had insisted, trying to keep up with his longer and faster strides. "They're only hurting themselves and other people will get hurt. Why can't we all get along? We are the same, aren't we?"

"Not everyone thinks that way, Mayu-chan. Now, come. Stop talking and start running or we'll miss the shuttle."

"I don't want you to fight, Oniichan. It hurts you here." And she lifted up her hand that had been holding the pink cell phone, pointing to her chest. "I don't want to see anyone die."

What are you fighting for? Is it worth it? Why are you fighting? The words repeated themselves in his mind until they become a huge jumble of mishmash words that he could barely make them out.

"I don't know what I'm fighting for," he whispered, blocking the blast from Strike Freedom with his shield. "I don't know what I'm fighting for!" he said, voice raised loud enough that Kira Yamato could hear him. "But I won't stop fighting! I have to keep fighting!"

"You have a choice, Shinn!" Kira's voice came back, loud and clear, filled with conviction. "You can choose to stop this fight or go on until one of us lose." Then, Kira's voice hardened and his eyes turned to a dark violet. "But I won't give up this fight. If I lose, I will lost all that is precious to me. My friends who are giving their all to try and end this. I will not lose this fight!"

"Neither will I." Shinn''s eyes blanked into the dull auburn colour, activating the Wings of Light. He was going into SEED mode.

Destiny charged towards Strike Freedom, its Palma Fiocina palm beam cannon activated to fire.

Rey Za Burrel's face showed no emotion on it at all. He was as impassive as he always had been. Inside however, the seething anger was bubbling, close to the surface. He had went on the aggressive attack on Athrun Zala, refusing to even allow any opening at all for the other to launch a counterattack. Legend was doing equal to Infinite Justice, perhaps even better. No, he thought fiercely. I am doing better. His DRAGOON units were keeping Athrun Zala on his toes, forcing the other gundam to be on the defensive only.

He remembered Dullindal's words when the man had taken him under his wing, grooming him to become one of the best pilots out there. Dullindal had let him in the plan, to obliterateEarth Allianceand ORB. Once both were destroyed, Dullindal will step up, extend his power over the two and Rey had been promised a seat as part of the Supreme Council. The drop of Junius Seven had been part of the plan, the one that had moved all the events into motion. The final trump card will be used against Earth Alliance and ORB. The firing of Requiem.

He remembered feeling that luck had been on their side when Athrun Zala had been coaxed to return to ZAFT by his old comrades, Commander Yzak Jule and Dearka Elsman. Of course, Jule and Elsman hadn't known of the plan that time; they thought that Dullindal will stop the impending war and by asking Athrun to join, they can help to prevent another war from happening.

Everything had worked out so well until Athrun Zala suddenly defected and the order to shoot him down was issued by Dullindal. And now, he suddenly found out that the other boy was alive after all and now fighting against him.

He refused to listen to Athrun's words, allowing them flow over him like water. Dullindal had said that Athrun Zala was going to try and convince him that Dullindal was the bad person in the picture. Athrun Zala was a traitor. He had defected from ZAFT, stolen a ZAFT mobile unit and Meyrin had willingly followed him, despite knowing the penalty for the outright betrayal.

No, he was the right one in this fight. Athrun Zala was on the wrong side, the enemy side. And Rey Za Burrel was going to eliminate the other boy once and for all.

He activated his DRAGOON units once more, determined to bring the other boy down. One way or another. He will not fail Dullindal.

Rey hurtled towards the other gundam, his Defiant Kai beam javelin thrust forward.

Mirialla Haww barely noticed that Lacus Clyne had seated next to her at the communications console. Her fingers were flying over the keyboard as she intercepted messages, relaying them and sending them on behalf of Captain Ramius. She could hear everyone's voices buzzing around her as they worked with precision on the bridge.

She kept on eye out on a certain mobile suit, though, listening closely to the messages passed along and her eyes flickered to the large screen once in a while to catch the fight. A sudden jarring nearly knocked her off her seat as Archangel was struck by a missile fired by one of the ZAFT fleet below them. She heard Ramius cursing and barking an order to the weapons officers to fire a round of missiles at the fleet.

Another explosion caught the Archangel, hard enough to rock it and there was the metallic groan which stilled her heart for a minute before her fingers continued their fast typing. She can't let things like that distract her, even though at the back of her mind, she was worried and a little panicked. Instead, she kept her composure calm and collected. She noticed that Lacus's face was impassive, betraying no emotion whatsoever. Whether the other girl was afraid or worried, she didn't know but then, this was Lacus Clyne who had a hand in stopping the first war and who captained the Eternal herself.

"Minerva is preparing to fire the Tanhauser cannon!" someone below exclaimed. "Cannon is aimed at Archangel. Impact in twenty seconds!"

Mirialla's heart nearly stopped but her fingers were still tapping away rapidly. Beside her, Lacus had slipped on the headset and was helping her with the messages, relaying, rerouting and responding. She flashed the girl a grateful smile at the help. Lacus smiled back.

"Prepare for Archangel to submerge!" Ramius commanded.

"Archangel ready to submerge, Captain!"

"Commencing countdown until submerge! Twenty seconds!"

Mirialla quickly belted herself down as the lights dimmed and everyone at the bridge seemed to be holding their breath. It would have been funny, as if they were the ones who were going to dive underwater and not the battleship itself. Lacus seemed to share the thought as well but the girl's face was now drawn with worry. Not at the incoming beam attack from the Minerva.

Once underwater, their gundam units and allies won't be able to dock if they were damaged. Kira and the others are on their own in this.

"Ten seconds!"

With a shudder that rocked everyone in their seats, the Archangel dived into the waters.

The guards made no move. They just stood in the room, as if waiting for an order. Despite the order Dullindal had given them, they didn't seem to take notice or they were blatantly dismissing his order.

"Arrest them! What are you waiting for?" he demanded, waving his gun at Ezaria.

"I'm afraid they are here for your arrest, Gilbert," said Amarfi coolly.

Gilbert Dullindal now knew what it felt like when one was drowning. No matter how hard you flounder or struggle, you are never going to rise up to the surface and take that breath of air you so needed. You were just going to sink deeper and deeper until you drown.

"Step down, Gilbert," Ezaria commanded. "It's over."

"No. You think it's over." He shook his head, in an almost desperate manner, as if he couldn't believe that he was losing.

"Step down, Dullindal," the councilwoman repeated, voice hard as steel.

"No... I won't. I won't!" It was almost pathetic and pitiful to see the once proud and strong man like him turning into a desperate wreck he is now. This was no longer the man who commanded the military with ease months ago. This was a man who had seen all his hopes and plans crumbling down to nothing before his eyes and knew that he had nothing left.

"I will not be taken in!" Dullindal raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

Slash ZAKU Phantom's tomahawks managed to only grazed Sword Impulse's chest as the gundam propelled backwards to evade. Yzak gritted his teeth, blowing strands of damp hair out of his eyes as he breathed heavily. They were at a stalemate with each other. While Lunamaria Hawke was a mediocre pilot at best, she was using Sword Impulse to its full potential, utilizing its weapons to an extent that even Yzak was impressed. She was fighting to win.

So was he.

He fired the Hydra Gatling beam cannons, at the same time in a sleight of hand, prepare the high explosive grenades when the gundam come in for close combat. Sword Impulse did not disappoint. Lunamaria evaded the hail of beam fire at her, charging at him, Excalibur activated in her hands, prepared to strike.

Excalibur thrust forward, beam sizzling with enough searing heat to cut through any armour of a mobile suit. ZAKU Phantom brought its shield up to defend.

A loud explosion sounded from the impact, causing several of the nearby mobile suits to halt in mid-battle. When the smoke cleared, both the Slash ZAKU Phantom and Sword Impulse seemed to be frozen in their fight, as if someone had taken the remote and pushed on the Pause button to freeze them.

Sparks flew, and that seemed to move the two mobile suits into action. Sword Impulse ripped Excalibur out of the ZAKU Phantom sideways, slicing it apart.

"You lost," Lunamaria said, almost triumphantly.

Yzak's smile was grim. "No one wins either."

With that, the hand grenades that had been slapped on Sword Impulse went off in a thunderous boom and sending a shockwave that was enough to shake the nearby mobile suits off course.

And the Slash ZAKU Phantom pitched forward into the blue ocean below.

"Yzak! Kuso!" Dearka gunned down the Windam that was in his way, propelling the Gunner ZAKU Warrior towards the direction. He was swearing expletively at his best friend's recklessness. He hadn't seen the fight, too busy being occupied by the mobile suits that were trying to shoot him down. He had heard the explosion. Felt it when his ZAKU shuddered violently from the shockwave. It was loud enough to make him think that the Archangel or the Minerva had fired off one of their massive beam cannons.

Instead, he was greeted with the sight of the Excalibur stabbed all the way through the ZAKU Phantom before Sword Impulse pulled back, yanking the sword out by ripping it through the ZAKU. A minute later, Sword Impulse went up in an explosion of its own and the ZAKU Phantom fell towards the ocean. Sword Impulse followed a beat later.

Stupid, suicidal, reckless, kamikaze––! Dearka cursed. More GOUFs came into his path, preventing him from getting there. He fired up the Orthros, putting a hole through one of the GOUFs, then slashed away with his tomahawk.

"Out of the way!" he bellowed, feeling his chest constricted, breaths coming out in pants.

A DINN exploded before him. He looked to see Andrew had taken the mobile suit out. Reminding himself to thank the man later, he powered up the thrusters, heading towards the direction. He won't be able to catch the ZAKU Phantom but he was sure as hell wasn't going to let Yzak drown in it. Dearka halted his ZAKU Warrior at the site, hovering over the waters, anxiety, worry and fear eating away inside of him. He could see the pieces of the wreck floating on the surface. Most were Sword Impulse's but some were the ZAKU Phantom's.

A gundam flew towards him. He half-raised his long-ranged beam cannon to fire when the gundam dived into the ocean, sending up sprays of water and sea foam, leaving him gaping in disbelief. Was that Destiny?

He swallowed the bitter taste that rose in his mouth, gripping the controls tightly. The Gunner ZAKU was useless in water. He'd have to wait for help.

"Don't you dare die on me, Yzak," he whispered.

"Archangel is going underwater, Captain!"

"Ten seconds to Tanhauser fires!"

"Enemy ZAKU Phantom is down!"

"Sword Impulse is down! Lunamaria Hawke is down, Captain! We've lost visual and contact with her!" came from Arthur Trine, voice filled with concern.

Talia's knuckles turned white from her grip as she siphoned through the voices around her, picking out ones that were more important.

"Try and connect to Sword Impulse!" she ordered. "Is the Tanhauser ready to fire yet?"

The weapons officer swivelled around in his chair to face his screen. "Tanhauser ready to fire in one second. Tanhauser ready! Awaiting command, Captain."

"Fire!" she barked.

"Tanhauser fired at command," sang the officer. "Impact at eight hundred metres... seven hundred-fifty metres... four hundred metres..."

"Captain, we can't get contact with Sword Impulse! There's no signal at all from the gundam. Should we send out a rescue squad?"

"... one hundred metres... ninety-five metres... fifty-two metres..."

"Destiny Gundam has dived into the waters!"

"Patch me through to Destiny!" Talia snapped. His battle should be with Strike Freedom, not diving into the ocean and playing hero.

"... impact at fifteen metres... ten... six... four... two... Damn!" The sudden swearing from the weapons officer brought Talia's attention around to him and he turned beet red. "Uh, Archangel has submerged and Tanhauser missed, Captain," he stuttered.

"No respond from Destiny Gundam, Captain," the communications officer reported. "Shall I try again?"

Gilbert, what would you have me do in this situation? Talia asked silently as she tried to get order around the bridge. The miss of taking down the Archangel left a bittersweet feeling in her. The part of her that she had shut down when she took over as captain and served Dullindal was relieved. The other part seethed with barely concealed anger.

"We won't be getting the Archangel anytime soon as long as she remains underwater," Talia told her crew. "Forget about Destiny and Shinn. Shoot down the rest of the gundams." She ignored the look Arthur gave her.

"Yes, Captain!"

Athrun ached all over, in a dull throbbing kind of way which was natural since he was hardly fully recovered from his injuries only few days ago. The pills he swallowed before launching were wearing off, and he could feel the wetness soaking through his bandages as well as trickling down the side of his face. Still, he had to continue to fight.

The most troublesome part of Legend at the moment was its DRAGOONs. An almost exact replica of Le Creust's Providence's DRAGOONs. Trust Dullindal to incorporate something like that for his own uses. The man was recreating the first war all over again. Athrun swore that if he ever meet Dullindal face to face again, he won't hesitate to inflict pain on the man.

Right now, he had to evade the DRAGOON units's attacks as well as Legend's consistent beam machine gun attacks. The impact of the combined blasts on his beam shield caused him to go off discourse. Legend took advantage, hurtling towards him with the beam javelin, prepared to thrust it through the gundam.

His subflight lifter detached from the back of Infinite Justice, flying around before the gundam, providing cover as Athrun righted Infinite Justice, flying out of the way of the javelin. The DRAGOONs followed his move, attacking with their beams. Frustrated and fed up with them, Athrun began his game of tag around the DRAGOONs, picking them off with his beam rifle just as his subflight lifter reattached itself.

"Rey, you need to stop this!" he called out to the other boy. It was futile to try and talk sense into him, seeing as Rey refused to listen at all but he had to try. He didn't want to have to kill the other boy, not if he can help it. "This is meaningless!"

"Why don't you stop talking?" the boy snarled, unleashing a hail of shots at him.

As if there was an air trampoline under his feet, Athrun yanked at the controls and Infinite Justice jumped up, out of the way of the shots and came at Legend with its Griffon knee beam activated, kicking upwards. The beam sliced right through the rifle, causing it to explode in Legend's hand as Athrun raised his own beam rifle and fired point blank.

The ocean was a really beautiful blue colour, was Lunamaria's thoughts when her eyes opened and she found herself strapped down to the seat in a half-flooded cockpit. The lights had dimmed to the emergency red, saving power and alerting her to her current precarious situation. She had lost visual of the outside world and could barely pick out the voices from the static in the comm.

Emergency hatch! The thought came to her at once. She bit back a scream as pain flared down her left side. Her ribs groaned protestingly at her movements and her leg was practically useless at the moment. She doubt she could swim with one arm and leg. She had no idea whether her gundam was sinking or floating at the moment, unable to see anything at all. The wetness on her forehead told her it wasn't seawater at all, due to its stickiness. A concussion then, she decided absently.

Come on, Lunmaria-girl, she told herself. Unstrap yourself, get up and open the hatch. Or do you want to sit in here and drown and let the fishes eat you.

The pain wasn't that much worse than before and it took her two tries before she managed to pop the harness. Getting up was altogether another story.

Get up, Lunamaria, she said sternly. Get up or you'll rot in this godforsaken cockpit for the next hundred years!

She would have laughed at the mental image of her skeleton sitting in the cockpit, covered with green algae, seaweed and fishes swimming around her. She would have laughed but her lungs burned with fire and she coughed.

What a way to die. Thoughts of ever seeing Meyrin and Shinn again, or even Rey flashed through her mind, regret coming in waves for all the things she had said and done. She didn't want to die here. She wanted to see her sister again, to tell her it's all right. She wanted to see Shinn, to have his arms around her, telling her fiercely that he will protect her. There were so many things she wanted right now that it was just absurd.

Unless Minerva launched a rescue crew to get her –– she highly doubt it –– or some miracle happened, she was definitely going to rot in here. Or have fishes eat her. Whichever way. Just as her thoughts were going to run away from her, the cockpit shuddered violently then rocked. It was the feeling you get when you''re in a small boat and the waves are pounding on the boat. That was the feeling she was getting now.

There was a loud roaring in her ear and she wanted to clap her hands to her ears to drown out the sound but she felt too lethargic to move, much less lift her arms. A dull metallic groaning sound was heard then sunlight filtered in, before nearly blinding her with the brightness. She blinked, eyes coming to focus on the sight above her.

Her heart leapt, ached in that painful way that made her chest hurt and it wasn't because of her ribs. Tears filled her eyes as a slow smile crossed her face.


"The Slash ZAKU Phantom is down!"

Her head snapped up so fast she thought she might break her neck as her eyes grew wide at the visual on the screen. The ZAKU crashing into the waters, followed not a heartbeat later by the Sword Impulse. Cagalli's mouth went dry, as her face went white and the scream that had worked its way up her throat died there. Her heart began to pound, beating a rapid madrhythm. Mentally, she was screaming Yzak's name, scrambling around, trying to remember what she wanted to do but she remained frozen, eyes stuck to the screen, at the sight.

"A shuttle is launching! It's the Seylans's private shuttle!"

That brought her out of her stupor. She was torn between running to the hangar to pilot one of the Murasame to attempt a rescue and to go after Jibril. She still stood rooted to the screen.


Don't you dare die on me! she ordered Yzak fiercely in her mind as she quickly snapped to leadership mode. The catching of Jibril came first.

On the screen, she could see the shuttle speeding along the track. In a few seconds, it would launch and be off into space. She pointed to the screen, her face having went from white to barely disguised fury as her eyes turned dark like stormy waters.

"Take it down!" she ordered coldly. "Do whatever necessary to take that shuttle down."

"Hai, Cagalli-sama!" At once, orders were given to three units of Murasames to go after the Seylans's shuttle and shoot it down.

Cagalli never liked violence. It never solved anything but sometimes, you need it in life. Right now was the time to put aside her pacifist side and turn to the more brutal, violent side of during her Desert Dawn days. Her eyes remained on the screen, watching as the shuttle launched just as the three Murasames in flight mode speed towards it.

Jibril will learn not to toy with ORB or Cagalli Yula Athla.

Unaware by Cagalli, the Archangel had already moved towards the direction of the wreck in the deep waters.

Strike Freedom had been about to deal a blow on Destiny with its beam saber when Destiny suddenly spun out of the way and took off to another direction. Surprised, Kira sat there for a moment before coming to his senses and trailed after the gundam. Destiny was fast approaching the Gunner ZAKU Warrior, the mobile suit hastily raising its long-ranged beam cannon at the incoming gundam only to have the gundam dived into the waters. Kira was quite sure that Dearka's expression mirrored his own at the moment; goggle-eyed and gaping like a fish at the sudden turn of event.

"What the--!" Dearka's voice came, disbelief colouring his tone. Kira knew he felt the exact same way.

"Take the shuttle down!" he heard in his comm. It was Cagalli's voice. He almost shuddered; he had never heard such a coldness in his sister's voice before and the reason for it became quite clear.

A shuttle had launched and behind its tail were three Murasame in flight mode, trying valiantly to catch up and shoot it down. Kira took off without a word, powering Strike Freedom's thrusters to the fullest. He activated his high energy beam rifle, using the target lock system but the shuttle was already moving too fast for the system to properly lock on it due to the high speed and the atmosphere. He cursed loudly but kept the speed, trailing it.

If Jibril escaped to space, they will have a much harder time trying to find him. The Gunner ZAKU Warrior had positioned its long-ranged beam cannon, targeting system probably trying to lock on the shuttle as well. Dearka must have heard Cagalli's order as well. A high energy beam fired from the cannon, streaking across the sky, managing to graze the shuttle only. Dearka fired another off round.

The second shot clipped the shuttle, sending it off course, smoke streaming from it. Kira saw the chance, having caught up with the shuttle.

Strike Freedom's Xiphias 3 rail cannons locked on the shuttle and fired.

An explosion erupted in the sky in an orange ball of fire. Debris rained down onto the waters.

Kira's eyes returned to the bright violet hue and a grim, satisfied smile crossed his face.

Blood splattered the wall, flecks dotting Mia Campbell's face. She barely flinch.

Dullindal stared down at himself, blood pooling onto the carpet, staining it a deep blackish red colour. It was going to cost, he thought vaguely, as if his mind was now far away. He raised his head –– why was it so heavy?-- to see the twin icy blue eyes at him, faces blank. No pity or even anger on them. He felt numb and cold, as if he had taken a dip in the frigid waters far too long but his mind couldn't quite comprehend the hole in his chest or the smoking gun that was in the guard's hand next to Mia Campbell.

His last thoughts were that of Lacus Clyne had never looked so cold before.

"He was going to shoot you, Councilwoman Jule," the guard that had opened fire stuttered, staring down at the body. His hands were shaking, clearly he was distressed at the thought of killing a Supreme Chairman, even though the Supreme Chairman had been more than willing to kill anyone of them in the room.

Ezaria Jule stared for a beat at Dullindal before giving a shake of her head. Something akin to pity came to her face. "He was given a chance to step down," she said quietly. "You are not to blame. He would have killed one of us." Her face turned hard and her eyes were cold as chips of ice as she turned to the council behind her.

"I have an announcement to make," she said.

Mia Campbell finally moved, reaching one delicate hand up to wipe the blood off her face, smearing it across her cheek. It gave her an almost malevolent look, something that was not quite suited on such a face. Her eyes were still hard as flints and without a word, she nodded to Ezaria before following her out of the room.

Talia had the submarine fleet frantically insisting on a retreat, saying that they were losing the battle. She had refused to let them, instead ordering them to sink the Archangel that was already submerged.

A report came that the submarine fleet had been destroyed by Archangel's missiles. Talia's face remained blank. The lives of the men lost gnawed at her from the inside. Not for the first time, the tiny voice surfaced, began to shout at her.

Is it really worth it? Losing the lives of your crew? It persisted, whittling away at her last resolve, trying to get her to see. The small part that of her offered no resistant as it crumbled under the battering. You knew lives will be lost when you work under him. He doesn't care whether you all die out here. You're all just pawns in his game.

"Captain! Incoming message from PLANT! From the Supreme Chairman!"

From PLANT? Gilbert? Talia nodded for the line to open, leaning forward.

It wasn't Gilbert Dullindal. Far from it.

The person behind the camera wore an expression that could have been made of steel, eyes as cold as ice chips. Even through the screen, Talia could feel the power radiate from her. She easily saw the mother and son resemblance and saw where Jule got his steely composure from.

"I am Supreme Chairman Ezaria Jule of the Supreme Council of PLANT. The former Supreme Chairman Gilbert Dullindal is dead. Captain Talia Gladys of the Minerva, by the order of the Supreme Council of PLANT and your new Supreme Chairman, cease and desist attack at once. Refusal to do so will result in harsh penalties."

Talia felt as if someone had shaken her world upside down, like she was inside a snow globe and someone had shaken it with her inside. Gilbert... he was dead? She stared blankly at the screen, oblivious to the raising voices on the bridge as the crew all came to a halt, unsure whether to obey the direct order of the new Supreme Chairman or their captain's order. There was a tension in the air, an uneasiness among the crew. While the Supreme Chairman did not mention what will happen should they refuse surrender, they all had no qualms about what will be done if they refused and fight back.

They all turned to their captain, eyes anxious, filled with worry and fear, awaiting her orders.

Gilbert Dullindal was dead. The thought echoed and replayed in Talia's head in a loop. Gilbert was dead... dead... he was dead.

Captain Talia Gladys finally raised her head, looking at the face of Supreme Chairman Ezaria Jule. Her own dark eyes stung and the dryness in her mouth refused to go away. The tiny voice had died down, ceased its battering at her; it now murmured softly to her. She knew what she had to do.

"The Minerva and its crew... surrender."

The Archangel rose up to the surface, water flowing down its gleaming hull as it lifted into the sky. Sunlight glinted off its weapons.

Captain Murrue Ramius nearly slumped in her seat, relief evident in her body as her entire crew from the bridge to the mess hall to the hangar all cheered; loud voices whooping and laughs could be heard, relief, giddiness and sheer joy in their faces and voices.

Mirialla exhaled loudly, letting a shaky grin cross her face as she quickly relay messages to the gundams, intercepting incoming messages from PLANT and ORB. Everyone was rejoicing.

Lacus came back into the bridge, an almost secretive smile on her face as she slide into the seat, putting on the headset, patching a call to ORB headquarters. Cagalli's face stared back, looking weary, a little grim and anxious.


"He's all right, Cagalli," Lacus said, smiling as the other girl nearly collapsed with relief. "He's in the infirmary."

"Thank you." Cagalli's eyes were bright and the smile she gave was wobbly at best.

"Neo Lorrnoke, Sky Grasper, requesting permission to land," said Neo as he came into view on screen. The smile on his face wavered between annoyance and relief, and Murrue had a feeling he was being heckled by Elsman. Sure enough, Dearka Elsman's face appeared side by side Neo's.

"Captain Babe! Permission to dock Gunner ZAKU Warrior, Ma'am!" He gave her the half-salute once more.

"Permission granted to Sky Grasper and Gunner ZAKU Warrior," she said, unable to keep the amusement out of her tone. "Although, I'd rather you dock somewhere else, Elsman. You're a hazard."

"You just love me, admit it." Dearka grinned at her. "Heard you picked up my buddy. Thanks." He blanked out.

"We have much to talk about," Neo said, voice serious and quiet. She couldn't quite decipher the expression on his face and her heart thudded heavily.

"Yeah, we do."

"I'll see you later." With that, Neo blanked out.

Murrue stared at the blank screen for a while longer before her eyes softened. "Mwu."

Dullindal was dead? He was dead.

Rey's mind couldn't grasp the concept of the man dead. He wasn't even supposed to die. He was supposed to be alive. It wasn't supposed to be over, it wasn't, it wasn't, IT WASN'T! Victory shouldn't have come so easily! It was wrong, it should be wrong. Dullindal wasn't supposed to have died.

The Requiem which had been Dullindal's trump card for the final destruction in his plans was never going to see the light. The plan had failed. Fallen, crumbled down to pieces. He refused to believe the plan had failed. All that he had worked so hard for had come apart before him. Even if Dullindal was dead, it wasn't over. It isn't over. There was still the Requiem…… He quickly patched a message to the satellite colony, giving instructions on what to do now that Minerva had surrender and Dullindal was dead.

For a moment, the officer who answered dared to question the command until Rey told him that it was Dullindal's last command –– which in part was true. Requiem was the last resort. The officer finally agreed to commence the firing of Requiem, though his voice wavered when he spoke. Rey cut off the transmission, not caring if the man was wetting his pants by him as long as he get to see Dullindal's plan come forth.

Requiem will fire, he vowed. Earth Alliance and ORB will meet their fate.

"It's not over!" he roared, the DRAGOONs firing at Infinite Justice. Red filled his vision as white-hot rage bubbled up to the surface, finally exploding as he screamed out his fury.

He would not accept the defeat! He will destroy Athrun Zala, even if it takes himself to do it. Defiant Kai was activated and hurtled towards the gundam. Rey was close to anticipating the destruction of the cursed gundam.

Only the beam javelin didn't pierce through Infinite Justice.

It was cut apart by Strike Freedom.

"You!" he cried out, outrage evident in his voice.

Destiny had rescued the damaged chest part of Sword Impulse, tearing off the hatch to reveal a very much alive but injured Lunamaria Hawke staring up at it.

"Shinn." She had said. One word and he knew that she was going to be okay.

He had flown back to the Minerva, docking the gundam and calling for medical aid for her as he carried her down to the floor. There was blood on her temple but she was still smiling at him, in a way that made his heart ache. He brushed his thumb across her cheek.

"You'll be okay," he assured her. All thoughts of fight with Strike Freedom was gone from his mind. She was more important now.

Then came the shocking news of Dullindal's death. He had been in the infirmary when he heard it. The announcement from the new Supreme Chairman was broadcast not just on the ship but on PLANT and Earth as well; everyone everywhere was watching and listening.

Minerva had surrendered, by the order of the new Supreme Chairman and the Supreme Council of PLANT. There was no rejoicing on board, only a sense of anxiety at what was going to happen to them now. Would they be arrested for being involved in the war, for being traitors? Or would they be given a chance? There was uncertainty among the crew.

Shinn opened his fist, staring at his hand, face falling into a thoughtful frown. How many had he killed by his hands? His shoulders sagged and he blinked back the sudden moisture in his eyes.

I don't want to see anyone die either, Mayu-chan.

This war is meaningless. You're right, Kira Yamato. It isn't worth it.

He didn't want to fight anymore.

"Kira!" Athrun exclaimed.

"Stop the fight!" Kira's voice came through, loud and clear, filled an unearthly calm. "It's over, Rey! Dullindal is dead and the Minerva has surrendered! ZAFT arepulling their forcesback.Stop the fight now!"

"No!" came the enraged scream. "You only think it's over! Did you really think that this is the only plan Dullindal has?"

The words chilled Athrun to the bone. Realization struck. Even when Patrick Zala had been losing, he had been so sure of one thing. A single weapon but powerful enough to eliminate the Earth. Those who don't follow shouldn't even be allowed to live at all. No, Dullindal wouldn't just allow it. If the Minerva should fail and Earth Alliance and ORB forces were not crushed under his fist, the man will have a backup plan just in case.

Fire the Genesis... Athrun's eyes grew wide.

No wonder the man had been so smug that time. So confident and sure that he would win.

Mirialla's face appeared before him, looking slightly surprised. "Athrun!"

"Patch me through to Ramius!" he told her urgently.

Captain Ramius''s face appeared. "Zala, what is it?"

"Dullindal –– he has a backup plan! If the Minerva lost or something happens, he has to have a backup plan. He plans to destroy Earth, much the same way Patrick Zala tried to destroyed Earth," he told her, tone urgent and agitated. They were here on Earth and having the Archangel to launch to space to disable what high powered canon like the Genesis will take time which they don't have at all. He cursed.

Murrue blanched, his words sinking in. "What are you saying, Zala? That Dullindal has something like the Genesis hidden away?"

"Dullindal isn't the kind of man to leave things like that! He might have forseen this and planned it right down to the last detail," Athrun said. "My father –– Patrick Zala's last resort had been the Genesis. Think! Dullindal will have to follow what he did right down to the last word."

The captain recovered quickly, eyes narrowing to slits. "All right. We''ll handle it from here, Zala. Join Kira in stopping Legend."

Athrun nodded, swallowed hard, feeling as if dust had settled in his mouth. His brows drew together and lips thinned. He couldn't do anything about it at the moment and he trust that Ramius will see to it. For now, he had to help Kira stop Rey's rampage.

He steered Inifnite Justice back into the only fight left.

Shiho Hanesfus marched down the mecha hangar, dressed in her spacesuit, helmet under her arm. Her face held a somber expression, lips drawn in a thin line and eyes darkened to the colour of storm clouds. She had just been given a direct order from the new Supreme Chairman. Command of the Jule Squadron had fallen onto her in the absence of her Commander and Second-in-Command.

"Commander Hanesfus!" The dozen or more pilots saluted her, standing to attention immediately. Like her, they were all dressed in the standard ZAFT spacesuit except theirs were red, indicating they were a rank above the ordinary pilots in the military. Shiho nodded, in a gesture to ask them to be at ease.

"Our objective is to disable the Requiem, if possible," Shiho started. "But if not, then we are to destroy it at all cost. Prepare the launch!"

"Ryoukai!" The group dispersed, jogging to their respective GOUFs and ZAKUs.

Shiho cast one last look at the hangar and jogged to her own gundam, preparing to launch.

"Supreme Chairman Jule, the Jule Squad has launched," announced Councilman Amarfi. "It was a good thing Athrun Zala managed to figure it out."

"Good or lucky?" Ezaria Jule murmured. She had been expecting something like that to happen. What were the odds of history repeating itself? A solid 10 to 1, she thought dryly. Once the message had arrived from Archangel captain, Murrue Ramius, Ezaria had swiftly moved to action.

The Jule Squadron –– without her son and Dearka Elsman –– had been assembled for the emergency, lead by novice pilot Shiho Hanesfus. Command of the squad had fallen to her in the absence of Yzak. The girl had been efficient and professional, snapping a sharp salute to her before heading out to launch with the vow to destroy the weapon at all cost, should the failure to disable it arises.

Former Supreme Chairman Gilbert Dullindal's body had been removed and the office shut off from view. Once taking over as the new Supreme Chairman of PLANT, Ezaria had issued the order for the remaining ZAFT military units to cease the fighting on Earth. She had issued the same ultimatum to the Earth Alliance forces as well, starting with the startling news of Jibril's death, then coldly challenging the remaining forces to dare to challenge her order. Without Jibril to lead them, none of them rise up and their remaining forces were pulled back from the site.

Mia Campbell was seated in front of her; her face had been wiped clean of the blood. The girl had came to them several months back, after discovering Dullindal's true intentions. It had been a huge risk and gamble for her to come to them; there was the danger of being discovered. Thankfully, Dullindal was more lenient on her and allow her much more freedom. It wasn't until Athrun Zala had defected and escaped with Meyrin Hawke that Mia had made the decision.

"Do you regret it?" she asked the girl.

Mia looked up, eyes and face carefully blank. She looked very much like Siegel's girl, even with the ebony-black hair. Only Siegel's girl never looked like that. Not with such a blank look.

"No." Mia shook her head, fingers fiddling with the cuffs of her gloves. She had changed out of her outfit; it had been stained with blood. This outfit was less Lacus Clyne, more like her. It was blue and white, almost similar to one of Lacus's casual outfits.

"He had always been kind to me, giving me things that I have never thought I would own. He created me. Made me into who I am," she continued. "Perhaps what I feel is not regret at all. Maybe I feel sorry for him but I'm not sure I have the right to feel that for him."

"You have every right to feel anyway for him," Ezaria said. "What will you do now?"

"Return to my former life before this." She spread her hands around the office. "Before I was Lacus Clyne. I was Mia Campbell." She finally allow a wry smile on her face; she looked much more like Siegel's girl with the smile. "I'm not sure how much of my old life has left before this."

"I'm sure you''ll be able to find the way," said Ezaria firmly.

"Thank you, Supreme Chariman Jule," she said quietly.

They sat in together in silence.

Kira activated his rail cannons, firing at Legend only to have the gundam danced out of the way. He was then forced to pull back when the DRAGOON unit detached from Legend's back and much like the Providence's, they fired simultaneously at him at all angles.

Strike Freedom dodged and danced around each beam attack. Kira gritted his teeth. No amount of reasoning with the pilot was going to work. The only way to knock some sense into his head was by brute force or… Kira shook his head, refusing to even think about it. Le Creust had been different. Even though Rey Za Burrel piloted a gundam similar to Providence, it didn't mean that he was the same as Le Creust.

The bleep on his screen showed the Athrun was coming to join the fight. A moment later, Athrun released his Grapple Stinger from his shield at Legend, forcing the other gundam to back away before the grapple could strike it.

The DRAGOONs retaliate fire at both of them, forcing them to split up. Kira fired several shots from his beam rifle at the troublesome DRAGOONs while Athrun charged forward to strike at Legend itself, his beam saber activated, slashing downward. Legend brought up its beam shield, deflecting the blow at the same time brought up its beam rifle around.

Only to have Infinite Justice's Griffon leg beam blade coming right at it, forcing Rey to pull back quickly before his arm was sliced off. He settled for firing shots from the distance at the mobile suit instead as he came around for another attack.

Kira brought up his beam rifles, firing at the DRAGOON units, at the same time, activating Strike Freedom's own DRAGOON wings, detaching them and launching them for attack on Legend's.

Rey bit back a cry of shock at the sight. Strike Freedom had DRAGOON units as well! He quickly pushed that to the back of his mind, more determined than ever to bring the gundam and its pilot down.

"Having those won't mean that you'll win!" he snarled.

"No but the need to protect those I care for will ensure that I will win this fight," Kira responded. "I won't lose, not when I have to fight for what's right and for those I care about." He launched his DRAGOON wings at Legend's DRAGOONs. Kira's DRAGOON wings did their job of taking down Legend's.

Without the DRAGOONs at his back, Kira hurtled towards Legend, beam saber activated, swinging in an arc. At the same time, Athrun joined in the attack, his own beam saber slashing downwards.

An explosion could be seen and heard from miles around when the beam sabers met with Legend. For a moment, nothing could be seen but the billowing smoke. Soon, the smoke cleared and everyone could see the outcome of the fight.

Strike Freedom had slashed off Legend's head and arm while Infinite Justice had cut off the legs. They remained suspended in the air for a moment, frozen in time before Legend began to fall, smoking and sparking.

And it was both Kira and Athrun who caught the damaged gundam.

It was over.

"Commander Shiho Hanesfus of the Jule Squad. Reporting from the Requiem Satellite Colony!" The girl looked tired and beaten up but there was a gleam in her eyes that told Ezaria she had done her job. "Requiem has been destroyed as ordered. We have arrested the forces at the base and are holding them until further command."

Ezaria Jule allowed the smile of relief to come to her face. Across her, Mia Campbell had clasped her hands to her chest, the first genuine smile on her face. In this light, Ezaria was reminded of Lacus Clyne. The girl looked positively relieved.

"Well done, Shiho. We will send out a unit to pick them up. Remain at the base until the unit arrived then return with them."

"Ryoukai!" Shiho saluted then cut off communication.

It was finally over.

Ezaria can now finally look forward to a much better and promising future. One in which she will have a hand in it.

Yzak Jule hurt all over and it wasn't even those good kind of hurt either.

His right arm had been set in a cast and would remain in the soft cast for at least six weeks or so. He had cracked two of his ribs, scored a gash along his left leg from the hip down to the knee, a sprained ankle and bruises which he was sure would look lovely in the next few days to come. All courtesy of the almost suicidal move he made during his fight with Sword Impulse.

Right now, he was sitting propped up by fluffed up pillows on his bed, arm in a sling and trying to use his left hand to eat. It was, aptly enough, spaghetti day on the blasted ship. He had been informed by the doctor that he was well enough to eat and had been promptly handed a tray with spaghetti, some salad which looked rather wilted –– in his critical eye –– and a glass of milk. He eyed the milk in distaste. He wasn't two years old but the doctor had cheerfully said the calcium build strong bones, clapping him on the back at that. If Yzak wasn't half-crippled at the moment, he would have used the fork to stab the man. Two years hadn't dampen his temper, merely subdued it.

He not only had to contend with his slippery spaghetti but Dearka's rants as the blonde paced back and forth at the foot of his bed in the room. Mirialla Haww was seated on the empty bed next to his, ducking down to avoid the wildly waving appendage that was Dearka's arm or he'd bean her on the head. Mirialla gave him a helpless look which he just gave a shake of his head.

"He's lost it," she mouthed to him. He smothered the snicker that was coming, disguising it as a cough when Dearka turned around.

His second in command looked at him for a moment, opened his mouth –– for another rant –– when the door banged open and someone entered. Dearka raised an eyebrow at the sight then smirked. Mirialla hid her grin behind her hand. Yzak merely stared blandly.

Cagalli Yula Athla looked like she had run a marathon around the world instead of the length of the ship to get here. Her appearance was askew; hair looked as if she had run her hand through it one too many times. There was a something smudged on her jacket but she didn't seem to notice. Her eyes scanned the room before landing on him and she walked towards him.

"Hey," she greeted, as composedly as she could, worrying at the cuff of her jacket.

"I told you I won't die out there," he said, mouth turning up into a smile at her outraged expression at that remark. She spluttered before leaning forward, arms circling him gently, face buried in the crook of his neck. He knew he smelled of antiseptic and medication. She smelled of the ocean, smoke and something flowery as he inhaled in her scent, his free arm coming up and rubbed her back.

"You are unbelievably crazy or lucky," she told him when she pulled away, settling herself on his bed. He moved his legs so she can sit. She held onto his hand.

"Both, I think," he said, giving her fingers a squeeze. He barely noticed when Dearka and Mirialla left the room. Instead, he leaned forward, despite the aching, protesting ribs, mouth meeting hers in a kiss.

"You shouldn't have gone out and fight," Meyrin Hawke was saying, fussing over him like a mother hen, smoothing his blanket and trying to fix it. "You were injured and –– and you could have been hurt or worse." She plumped up his pillows, tucking him in more snugly before turning her attention to the tray.

Athrun was aptly amused by her ministrations. It made her looked cute and it warmed his heart to see her like that. Her red hair had been pulled back into a ponytail and the borrowed jacket of Mirialla's was unzipped, flapping about her as she continued to fuss. She had lost her cap somewhere along the way.

"Meyrin," he said.

"Is it too cold? I should have asked if you wanted porridge instead of thinking you might want it," she was saying. "Or maybe you'd prefer spaghetti? It's spaghetti day today..."

"Meyrin," he repeated, louder. It got her attention. She turned to him, eyes wide, the worry lines evident on her face, clearly thinking he was going to tell her she had fluffed up the pillows too much or she had tucked him in too snugly. She wringed her hands.

"Come sit," he told her, patting the side of the bed. He shifted aside to allow room for her.

"But..." she trailed off, eyeing the spot then her eyes flickered to him. "You're hurt... and..."

He smiled at her, continued to pat the spot. "Put the tray down. I'll eat later. Just- just come sit here, all right?"

She looked hesitant for a moment before nodding, setting the tray back down on the table, coming to sit by him, fingers playing a game of their own, showing her slight apprehension. She would make a good mother someday, he suddenly thought and wondered where on earth had that came from.

Looking at her –– such a striking contrast from Cagalli –– he realized that it was true. She was kind, caring and had a much more demure nature than the girls he knew. She wasn't as gentle and sweet as Lacus or headstrong as Cagalli but no one can be like those two and it was ridiculous to compare her to anyone.

He surprised her with a kiss on the cheek, saw her cheeks reddened to the same shade as her hair as her hand went up to the spot where he had kissed it. Her eyes were round with wonder and astonishment then a shy smile crossed her face and she ducked her head. He smiled at her, taking her hand in his.

It was enough for him.

Dearka and Mirialla were taking a stroll on the deck of Archangel as the ship floated on the calm waters.

Just several hours ago, this place had literally been teeming with mobile suits, all fighting for their sides. A war had been going on and now, it was peaceful, quiet. The sunset cast ochre, crimson and lavender hues across the darkening skies; a warm breeze ruffling their hair. Some pieces of wreckage leftover from the battle floated on the calm surface.

"I can't believe it's over," she said, leaning on the railing and looking up. Her face had a relaxed expression on it. "Do you think that it'll last?"

He shrugged. "Who knows? But it's Yzak's mother, so most probably."

Mirialla reached up, tucking a wayward lock of hair behind her ear, staring across the calm sea. "I missed you," she said unexpectedly.

He turned, gave her a sort of smug grin. "I was counting on you saying that," he told her.

She gave him a mock-glare, smacking him on the arm. "Jerk."


Her breath caught in her throat at that, a soft smile gracing her face. "Flatterer."

"Only if it's you I'm flattering." He draped an arm across her shoulders, drawing her nearer to him, and she laid her head on his shoulder. "I missed you, too."

They fell into a comfortable silent, watching the sun set.

Lacus walked down the length of the hangar, passing by mechanics and technicians who smiled at her and she returned their smiles with a nod. Her rose-pink hair had been pulled up into a ponytail, tied with red ribbons. She was immaculate as usual, despite the terrible fight several hours ago.

She found Kira standing before the docked Strike Freedom. The gundam had been dealt with severe blows during the fight and was not without its own share of damage. Not far lay the wreckage of Yzak's ZAKU, a testament to the bitter fight earlier.

"Hey," she said softly, coming to stand beside him, looking up at the gundam. "Are you all right?"

"Aa." He finally turned away from the gundam to look at her, a small smile on his face. She noticed he had a bruise on his cheek; it was going to turn a lovely shade of purple tomorrow. "It's finally over."

She looked up at Strike Freedom, remembering when he had designed the blueprint for the gundam two years ago. He had abandoned it halfway but she had continued the job for him. She was glad that she did. It was against her ideal but sometimes, you need to fight to attain what you wanted.

"Do you think...?" she trailed off, looking back at him.

"It's hard to say," he answered, seeming to know what she had been about to ask. "War is a terrible thing. The peace attained can be fragile unless someone makes a stand for it."

"You mean someone like you?" she teased, lightly.

Kira raised an eyebrow at her. "Someone like you, like Cagalli, like everyone here. We fight for what we believe is right and for a better world to live in. Sometimes, I did wonder if I'm doing the right thing."

"Do you?" she asked.

He faced her fully, taking her hands in his, leaning down and kissing her lightly. She smiled up at him when they parted. "As long as you're here by my side, then I know I'm doing the right thing."

Lunamaria opened her eyes blearily. It felt like someone had thrown a handful of sand into them. The first thing she saw was white and more white. The smell of antiseptic made her nose itched and she ached all over. Lifting her arm proved to be a task when she discovered it was in a cast. She let out a breath slowly, turning her head only to meet with an unruly, shaggy mop of dark hair in her face. It tickled her face with the nearness.

"Shinn," she murmured.

The shaggy mop moved before it revealed is owner under it, blinking bleary, confused eyes at her. She wanted to laugh. He looked rather... cute was the word to describe him. It took him a few minutes before his eyes widened and he realized she was awake.

"Lunamaria!" he nearly bellowed, grasping her free hand in his, eyes going bright. "You- you're all right! Are you all right? Do you need to see the doctor?"

"Nothing a good couple of weeks won't heal," she jested to him.

To her surprise, his face crumpled and he broke down, clutching at her hand like it was his last lifeline. His shoulders shook with the silent sobs. Despite the ache in her chest and arm, she managed to lean over, tugging him close to her, resting her chin on his hair, murmuring to him soothingly. She managed to make out his apologies amidst the tears.

"It's all right. Daijoubu." Lunamaria managed a smile at him as he pulled away, slightly embarrassed. "I'm here, aren't I? You kept your promise. I didn't die."

"I saw you fall," he murmured. "I was so afraid."

"You saved me," she said, the smile growing wider, filled with the old Lunamaria mischief that he knew so well from their Academy days. "Does that make you my hero now?"

He stared at her for a moment as if she had grown two heads then he managed to dredge up a resemblance of smile at her. "Suki desu," he told her.

She grinned at him. There was no need for her to answer. He already knew.

Rey Za Burrel looked up from his cell to see someone standing before him.

"What do you want?" he snapped. He had been so stunned at his defeat by those two that he had barely protested or struggled when he had been lead by the guards to where he was to stay until a decision was made.

The guy wore the uniform of the Archangel officer.

"Here to gloat over your victory?" Rey continued. "I don't need to listen to you. You've won so why I should have you rub it in my face?"

"I''m not here to rub it in your face," said the man.

"Then what are you here for?" he demanded. "Come here to stare?"

"Did you think it was worth it?" the man said. "The war, the fights. The lives that were lost. Did you even remember what you were fighting for?"

Rey stared, resentment rising up at the man who dared to lecture him. His eyes narrowed. "I fought for the good of ZAFT! For Dullindal!"

"Dullindal is dead. What will you do now? Continue to fight? And if your comrades refused to join you, will you go alone? What will it prove?"

"I..." Rey hesitated, then fell silent. Belated realization dawned on him. They had lost. To who, he didn't even know. Dullindal was dead. The man was not coming back. He was now taken as a prisoner against his will on board the enemy ship. Instead of allowing him to die out there, Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala had saved him, brought him back to the Archangel. They had saved him.

He vaguely wondered if Lunamaria was alive from the explosion. If Shinn had saved her just in time. She was good for him, a much better friend than he will ever be. He ran a hand through his hair.

There was a click and Rey looked up to see the door had swung open. He stared in surprised disbelief. "Wha- what are you doing?"

"I know you won't do anything crazy," the man, a smile on the scarred face. "I trust you."

Rey looked from the man to the wide open door, debating whether to trust the man. He slowly got up and shuffled to the door, looking at it a long moment before he stepped out of the cell. The man's smile grew.

Much of ORB's military base lay in waste, debris, wreckages from downed mobile suits littered the area with the few craters created by the explosions. A crew had been sent out to the sea to see if there are any survivors from the destroyed shuttle. They had came back with the report that there were no survivors. Jibril was truly dead.

The crew from Archangel and Minerva mingled with the military base's crew as they all wandered around the partially destroyed base, shifting through the remains and trying to recover from the aftermath. Some of them mingled among each other but most stick to their own factions, eyeing the other warily. The pilots of both factions though, have no qualms on mingling together.

Yzak hobbled about with Cagalli's help and Dearka's, though he glowered at his friend when the blonde made the suggestion he used a wheelchair; he brought his fist down on Dearka's head. Mirialla snickered that Dearka should be glad it hadn't been the crutch. Cagalli giggled as Yzak glared and Dearka smirked.

Athrun was content to sit on a piece of defunct DINN's wing with Meyrin playing the role of the mother hen at him while Lunamaria hovered over them, fussing over Meyrin and him. Shinn sat next to them, watching them with a bemused expression, though there was a almost wistful look in the eyes. Kira kept giving Athrun knowing looks, nodding his head towards Meyrin which Athrun returned with a scowl. Lacus, seated beside Kira, smiled as Yzak, Cagalli, Dearka and Miri joined them.

Andrew was conversing with the three DOM Troopers' pilots, and from the loud laugh, they were probably remembering something funny.

Murrue was walking with Talia, Arthur and Neo, seemingly engaged in a deep conversation. At least the three were, while Arthur was ogling shamelessly at Murrue's chest. Talia scowled, hitting him on the head. Rey stood to one side, eyes closed, leaning on a fallen Astray's head, seemingly asleep until Lunamaria threw a piece of pebble at him, beaning him on the head. His eyes opened and he gave them all a glare, sniffed in mock-disdain at them and return to his meditation.

When several military vehicles pulled up and high ranking ZAFT officers as well as PLANT council stepped out, everyone halted in what they were doing, turning to look. The new Supreme Chairman Ezaria Jule stepped out from behind the group, her face impassive until she spotted Yzak and a warm smile crossed her face. Yzak, for his part, kept his composure, nodding to his mother.

Talia, Murrue, Arthur and Neo headed over to Ezaria, probably to hold an impromptu discussion on what was going to happen now. While the others were curious as to what they were discussing, none of them made any move to go over to listen. They will know sooner or later.

Above them, Tori flew overhead with his mechanical chirps of "Toriii!" as he circled around over them and landed on Kira's head.

It was a beautiful day.


EN: Gah! Finally, it's over! This is the most difficult GSD story ever to write for me. I'm not terribly good at writing fight scenes, let alone mecha fight scenes like those in the GSD series. Information on the mobile suits and their weapons are gleaned from the Mecha Anime HQ and The Gundam Encyclopedia on Nicol's father's name. Good sites. I printed out everything on the mobile units to learn the mechanics while writing this, so during lunch I was babbling to my boyfriend about the long-ranged cannons of the Gunner ZAKU and Legend's DRAGOONs.

I apologize if I did get anything wrong in the story.

Yzak and Dearka are piloting the ZAKUs from the "Break The World" episode because I haven't got to the part where they had new mobile suits yet. The firing of the Tanhauser and the submerging of the Archangel are snitched from old seaQuest episodes, so my technical terms may not be correct. Sorry.

History tend to repeat itself, so it's natural Athrun might figure out that Dullindal is on the same path as his late father.

I wrote the fight scenes as best as I could and without making anyone feel far more superior or inferior. I believe that in the hands of a capable and novice pilot, the fights are more on par and nearly equal. I did made Lunamaria Hawke a bit better than her character from the series. She's soldier, for crying out loud! She does have to have some fight in her.

Cagalli's reaction on Yuuna's death and on the order to shoot down Jibril might seem un-Cagalli and cold but it's how I feel she might act in a situation like this. Everyone has that darker, colder side of themselves and Cagalli is no exception. Jibril deserves to die.

The scene of Jibril's shuttle being shot down was far-fetched, I know. I didn't want him to escape to space. There's the chance that Dearka's long-ranged beam cannon might hit it or it might not. But I remember a scene when Kira used Launcher Strike's long-ranged cannon to stop the beams from the enemy ship that were aimed at Archangel, and I based on that.

Dearka calling Neo that was a scene from GS when he called Mwu La Flaga "Ojisan" and Mwu just went --# at him. LOL

Originally, Rey and Dullindal were supposed to die but with the way the story itself flowed, I ditched Rey's death and kept Dullindal's. The man deserved to die. I had thought of Mia shooting him but that was a bit too much, so went with the unnamed guard shooting him.

I like Mia Campbell. She was the final chess piece to bring Dullindal down. She's a good little spy here and she finally saw through Dullindal.

Dullindal's death might be anti-climax here, seeing as he didn't even get to pilot his mobile suit to fight. I didn't write that in because then the battle would have taken place in space, and everyone was already on earth. This was written before I even watched Phase 42. It's based on ideas I had and some spoilers I've read which I decided to incorporate in.