"Once upon a time, there was a young man named Sunny who wanted to become the most powerful person in the world because then he can make sure everyone is living peacefully. So, he went to a hut where a witch lived and asked for her help."
"The witch agreed to make him powerful, but one condition. Sunny must guard her most important treasure while she went out to do some errands. He agreed and the witch went away. Sunny thought the job would be easy but then a giant ogre came. Sunny fought the ogre and defeated it but the powerful ogre smashed the treasure before he ran away."
"When the witch came back, she was very angry and wanted to cook Sunny inside a big black pot and then eat him for dinner. But Sunny begged her not to eat him and she agreed, on one condition. Sunny must seek out a black dragon and kill it. If he succeeded, not only the witch would not eat him but also he would become the most powerful person in the world."
"So the poor Sunny set on his journey to search for the black dragoon. After walking for quite some time, he became thirsty. Fortunately, he came to a river. There, he found a donkey and woodpecker fighting against each other."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Shinn asked incredulously. "You're the one who chose the bridal gown, not me!"
"But I was busy at that time and told you to get the best one. When I said the best one, I didn't mean the mini skirt!" Cagalli said while crossing her arms.
"You're the one who pointed!"
"I was busy at that time and you're the one who I asked to choose. Fat help there!"
"I'm not the one suggesting wearing the maroon suit to the wedding!" Shinn sniffed.
Kisaka sighed while trying to tune out the argument between the would-be husband and wife. The two really love each other to the death but sometimes he couldn't help but wonder whether they were trying to drive each other to early graves as well. He had predicted that their arguments would become lesser and lesser as they progressed in their relationship but alas that was not meant to be. In fact, they were becoming louder and louder. That trail of thought led to another one and Kisaka winced as he recalled hearing an 'argument' between the two of them in the office a month earlier. The sounds they made left to imagination the place where they did it; maybe they 'argued' all over the place: the desk, the sofa and even the carpet.
He was beginning to feel his age.
"What do you say, Kisaka?" Cagalli asked, breaking him out of his reverie. "Shinn's at fault here, right?"
"No. You tell her that it's her fault," Shinn interjected.
He took a deep breath. "Why don't we settle it the way adults do? I can lock you inside this room and only return after you make up and perhaps make out as well."
That instantly got the two to shut up.
"Sunny offered them some treats and they stopped fighting. After eating the treats, they decided to follow him. They walked for days and days until they found a green parrot and its family. The bird told the group that the dragon lived across the sea and after discussing with its family, decided to follow him to show them the way."
Athrun smiled apologetically at the shopkeeper as he brought out the wallet to pay for the broken vase while Lunamaria was off at the corner, telling their daughter the danger of running around inside the shop. He was happy being with his family at that time and it was worth it but it did seem easier commanding a battle cruiser into a battle rather than telling his hyperactive daughter not to fiddle with anything. "How much?" he asked the middle-aged woman.
"It is an antique vase."
"Rather expensive and rare vase."
The ship was certainly easier even if it is outnumbered and outgunned.
He was fortunate that it was mandatory for businesses to take insurance coverage against such items and he was fortunate that the shop owner was honest enough to tell him about that little fact. However, he had to hear a severe reprimand from her for letting his daughter running around the shop unattended; it was his mistake for not paying attention to her. He apologized again and again.
After the family went out of the shop, his beloved wife turned toward him and said softly so that their daughter would not hear her, "Why don't we get a cone of ice cream each? Irene promised to behave."
Athrun gave her a look that told her that he disagreed with the suggestion. He had read some books on child psychology that mentioned the importance of parents not bribing their children in order to get them to behave because it would teach them wrong values.
Lunamaria nodded in understand. He had reminded her about that fact on occasions when she wanted to treat their daughter to ice cream. Truthfully, she didn't see the harm in indulging their daughter but since Athrun said so then it would be best to just follow it. After all, one of the so many reasons why she married Athrun was because he always knew what to do. "Okay, so anything you want to get?"
"Well, I did say that we need to get some groceries and you volunteered to watch Irene since you don't want to go inside the departmental store."
Slowly, the man turned toward his daughter whose eyes was transfixed at a place. "Daddy, why don't we go to that shop?" Irene asked while pointing to it.
The shop look very enticing; the beautifully fragile glass figurines on the display window as well as their numerous counterparts in the store were just waiting for a five-year old girl to come along and break them…
"I have a better idea," Athrun said. "Why don't you and I go to the ice cream shop and we can eat some sundae while waiting for your mum to buy some groceries."
"Really? Can I eat some waffle as well?" Irene asked excitedly. "With syrup and chocolate ice cream?"
"YAY!" the girl chirped.
"Really Freudian of you, Dear," Lunamaria commented as Athrun was being pulled toward his place of salvation from children's mischief and unguided curiosity.
Athrun suspected that the psychologists didn't have any child, that was why they could simply give advices without really knowing whether the advices were useful or not. He would like to see them handle Irene and if they survive, perhaps then he would listen to them.
"Sunny, the donkey, the woodpecker and the parrot walked toward the shore, where they found a boat and a cheetah as its boatman. The cheetah offered to bring them across sea alive if they let it eat one of them. Sunny told it that it cannot eat him because of he was the one who wanted to go across the ocean. The donkey, being a jackass, offered itself but Sunny whispered to the cheetah that since the donkey is hardheaded, its meat must be hard as well. Then, the cheetah thought about eating the woodpecker but Sunny pointed out that it was too small that its bone or beak might got stuck in the cheetah's throat. As for the parrot, the cheetah didn't want to eat the bird because it always preferred to enjoy its meal in silence"
"In the end, Sunny gave the cheetah a sausage he was carrying and the animal happily agreed to take the group across the sea. To help pass the time and to detract the woodpecker from feeling seasick, the cheetah told the group the story about its cousins the fox, the weasel and the wolf."
Dearka's eyebrows furrowed. "Let me get this straight. I'm supposed to fly below the radar, drop the five of you undetected and then picked you an hour later?"
Heine pulled the slide of his gun and then released it, smirking at the crunchy click caused by the mechanism snapping back into its original position. "Hopefully without us being found? We're not carrying enough ammo to storm the base."
"Are you nuts? We're going into a military installation, ZAFT no less, to plant a virus that will wipe out the whole data and that's all you have to say?"
Heine put a finger under his chin and considered the other blonde's words. He then shrugged and then turned toward the person next to him. "He got me there. How about you, Meyrin? Got anything to add?"
"Don't fly too low or too fast. We want to minimize our presence," Meyrin said as she checked the computer she would be carrying. She then turned toward the other two men. "I want to go silent so bring enough tranquilizers."
"Yes ma'am!" one of them answered.
"What the fuck?!" Dearka uttered. When he was recruited for to join UNITY's clandestine intelligence agency, he didn't really expect to be carrying such dangerous and risky jobs. Heck, he didn't expect to see Heine and Meyrin to be involved as well. Didn't they have a sandwich joint or two somewhere?
"You were chosen because you were former ZAFT soldiers," a man said as he walked toward them. "So, in the most unlikely chance that you're caught, we can always say that you're part of pro-Gilbert supporters."
"You're better off as Neo, Fllaga," Dearka retorted. "Your 'commercial' smile is giving me the creeps."
"What can I say? I'm a successful author, a good husband to my wife and a proud father to two boys. I have all the reasons to smile." Then Fllaga turned serious. "As for this mission, if we managed to pull this off, we'll be able to slow down ZAFT's research on new weapon technologies, just like what we did to the Confederation."
Dearka still couldn't believe the audacity of their mission. Then again, since it was planned by Fllaga, it was to be expected. "So, where is the scout that would show us the way to through the canyon?"
"On the way."
"How come I don't see him around? I've been in this outfit for a month already."
"Oh, she's a part timer."
"Part timer? She?"
The door opened and a said person entered. Dearka's eyes widened in surprise.
"Sunny, his group and the cheetah boatmen sailed and sailed. They even met a big octopus along the way that told them that the dragon lived on an island where no man dared to go. It also pointed the way with its many tentacles."
"Erectile Dysfunction?" Sammy asked with an annoyed look on her face. "You have the problem?"
"Ejection Dysfunction. I'm referring to the ejection seat problem that we have to solve," Terrence answered, giving a thumbs up. "You personally know I don't have the problem in 'that' area."
The woman rolled her eyes. Even though she liked the man, sometimes she had to wonder whether she had bumped her head against something hard, very hard, to have fallen for the crazy man beside her. Sure, he was handsome and rich, and quite decent in the bed but his quirkiness bordered on weird.
There was a clunk and the sound of body hitting the ground.
"Stupid generator!" Terrence shouted. "You dare stand in my way, huh?" The generator was kicked few times. "Ouch! Damn you're hard. Oh, you're mocking me with your silence eh?" There were few gunshots. "Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Take that you stupid bastard! You're weren't that tough after all, eh?"
Yes, he was Terrence Shauzer, the genius that basically rewrote the mobile suit development rules that constrict their usefulness. He was also the man proposed for the use of technologically inferior but mature electric propulsion combat mobile suits when at that time other designers were content to use novel but rather impractical solar sail propulsion and its derivatives. He is the man that UNITY entrusted to come up with newer and newer mobile suits that will safeguard Earthsphere's future.
"What are you looking at, you dumb console? You want to receive the same fate, eh?"
Sammy sighed. She really must have bumped her head for her to be with him.
"They also met pirates who were so silly that that the pirates didn't know that they were supposed to take the Sunny and his group's money instead of giving them some food."
"They're not biting, are they, Comrade Robinson?" a slightly older Barzhakov who was lying on a chair asked the man next to him.
"Guess not," the former Confederation commander replied as he took a sip of lemonade. "But I saw you brought along some steak just in case, so I'm not really worried."
They were on a small boat in the middle of the vast Atlantic Ocean, watching a flock of bird flew by in their migratory pattern.
"Typical of Barzhakov to be optimistically pessimistic," Jacques heavily accented words caused the former Cherubim captain's face to go sour.
"You forgot that I once kicked you off your own ship; it wouldn't be hard to kick you off mine."
"Ah, always seek to remind me of the good old time. Feeling old, aren't we?"
"Damn," Barzhakov cursed. "He no longer reacts to that provocation."
"When you become a politician, Barzhakov, you learn to handle provocations worse than that, though you would be afflicted with blood pressure problems," Mark remarked. "Talking about pressure, Jacques, how about the one the government is facing?"
"The terrorists are becoming more and more brazen," the man said while taking a place behind Barzhakov.
"Hopefully the problems they are causing are enough to drive you to an early grave," Barzhakov said.
Jacques kicked the man's chair few times to annoy him. "I survived you. Besides it's not really my problem now. You forgot that I've retired."
"After days and days travelling, the group arrived at a big island where the black dragon lives. At the shore, there were two beautiful sirens singing a very sad song. The song is about a chivalrous white dragon that had been defeated by the black dragon and then imprisoned in the darkest region in the darkest cave."
As the crowd in front the two singers broke into thunderous applause, Meer wiped off the tears from her eyes. "That was beautiful, Lacus," she said to the person next to her as they walked off the stage for a short respite.
"Thanks," the pink princess said amidst the drowning din as the guest boy band went up to perform.
"But, I sense that there's something nor right."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, it's off."
"Oh, you're saying that the song doesn't fit in with the lyric."
"No no no. The song and the lyric are perfect. It's just that your new song, 'The soul of love'… even though seems upbeat… I sense that there's a hidden sadness behind it."
Lacus gave a small smile. "As expected from my friend and rival. Actually wrote the song few years ago, when I lost to her," she explained.
"Lost to her?"
She nodded. "You see. I thought love in an ideal manner, you know, the most powerful and selfless feeling in the world that would gives me the strength to go on."
"That is just part of it. She showed me that love is a contradiction of oneself. Even though it is the most selfless emotion in the world, it is also the most selfish thing you can ever have. When you fall in love, even when you received the world, you have to give up the world as well. You become so strong but at the same time you become so pitiful weak. As she said, to love is to be in eternal madness. The only way to not be caught up in the insanity is to not surrender your soul. However, to not surrender the soul means that you're not fully in love."
"I've never thought love in that way."
"Neither did I. I thought that love would give me the world but she… she was willing to give up everything… everything including the love that she was seeking just for him… and eventually he, her."
The said person smiled again, "I was so depressed when I lost him and even now, there's a twinge in my heart," she said as she put hand on her breast. "But you know what?"
"Now I'm not afraid to love… to give it all."
"Sunny and his group went to the cave where they saw the white dragon being held by big chains so that it could not escape. The white dragon told Sunny and his group that if they free it, it would join them to fight the black dragon. However, in order to free it, they must seek out the key to the locks holding the chains. So Sunny and his group went to find the evil wizard who held the key. They soon found a fairy fighting against the evil wizard. Sunny and his group helped the fairy and together they defeat the evil wizard."
The bridge finally stopped moving. "Nemain had completed its reconfiguration into assault mode," Vino announced from his console. "Pizzabox and his squad have engaged the enemy forces."
"Good," Enishi said from his seat. "Malik, prepare the docking sequence."
"Aye, Captain," Malik said from his driver's seat.
When the shadow war concluded with UNITY's defeating The Destineds and finally earned the trust of Earthsphere, Enishi had thought that peace had been achieved. However that was an illusion to the rest of the world. Battles after battles had to be fought to in order to ensure that the illusion of peace could be maintained. Perhaps what Kira had mentioned to him about humanity's progress being built upon sacrifices and deaths was true after all.
Even at that time, they still had to fight with the remnants of The Destineds that were trying to launch a nuclear attack on San Paolo from space. If they were not stopped, it would cause massive deaths as well as destabilize Earthspere.
"Docking with Guardian has been completed," Malik announced. "Transferring maneuvering control to Guardian."
"The fairy then joined their group. With the key they got, they freed the white dragon which carried them toward the black dragon's place. There, they fight the black dragon. The parrot and the woodpecker would attack the dragon's eyes so that it could not see. The mule would hew haw loudly and the blinded black dragon would chase after it, only to be tackled by the white dragon. The fairy casted a powerful spell on Sunny's sword and Sunny used it to defeat and slay the black dragon."
"Sunny thought that he had become the most powerful person in the world but he found out that the witch had lied to him. He then returned to his home with his friends."
"Sunny killed the witch?" a small girl who was on her bed asked the female who sat next to her.
"No, he didn't, munchikin," a masculine voice interrupted before the storyteller could continue.
"Daddy!" the girl squealed. "You know what happened next, right?"
"Of course. On the way home, Sunny thought and thought about what the witch had said. He realized that just as the witch had promised, he had become the most powerful man in the world as he had managed to kill the black dragon that even the witch couldn't defeat. However he realized he was powerful because he was helped by his friends, the jacka… the donkey, the woodpecker, the parrot, the fairy and the white dragon. The cheetah boatman, the octopus, the pirates and the sirens also helped him as well."
"Then what happened?" the girl asked.
"Sunny realized that the witch wanted to teach him that the only way to become powerful is by being together with friends and family. So he returned home and married the witch. They had a beautiful daughter," the man pinched the girl's cheek playfully, "just like you and they lived happily ever after."
"What a weird story," the girl said, "but I like it."
"Good. And now it's time for you to sleep,"
"Good night daddy, goodnight mummy."
The storyteller kissed the girl's forehead. "Good night, sweetie," she said as she tucked the girl.
The man and the female left the room.
"How long have you been there?" the female asked.
"From the very beginning. You were so absorbed in telling her the story that you didn't sense me standing outside. Since the story was so interesting, I decided to keep quiet and listen until she asked about what happened next."
"Sunny wasn't supposed to marry the witch, you know."
The man hugged her from the back and nuzzled her neck, eliciting a moan from her. "You didn't know the reason Sunny wanted to become strong in the first place was because he had a crush on the witch and was captivated by her flaming red hair and grey eyes. So by becoming strong, he could be by her side and protect her."
She put a hand on his arms fondly. "Kira…"
"Well, Fllay you're my witch and I wouldn't want it any other way."
Fllay blushed. "Have you had dinner?"
"Yeah. Since it was already late and I already asked the two of you to have dinner, I grabbed a ready-to-eat from a convenience store." He then blew her ear softly and relished at her shivering in his arms. "But now Sunny wants to eat his beatiful witch for supper," he whispered huskily.
Kira had to hold Fllay as her legs nearly gave way.
Before he could get further, a telephone melody killed the mood.
"So, how are you enjoying your 'afterlife', Kira?" Shinn asked as the two of them sat at the porch, each holding a mug of steaming coffee. "I reckoned you're burning in hell somewhere."
"I was certainly incensed when you called at that time."
"Hmm?" Shinn looked inside to see Cagalli was busy spoiling her niece while chatting with Fllay. "Well, your 'older sister' getting annoyed that her dead brother probably wouldn't come to her wedding in a month's time."
"I kept track of her from time to time."
"Yeah, from the news. Heck, she knows that you're staying at the colony, teaching biophysics as 'Shawn Allsters'. She even knows that 'Shawn' came from 'shine' which translates into 'Kira' in Japanese. Anything about you, from your family life up to the part where you were pulled from the frontline and being put on reserve, she knew."
Shinn shrugged. "Well, someone really owed her a favor and she cashed on that to find about your whereabouts. Once we found you, well… Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that knowing that you're alive and meeting you face-to-face are two different things. I think even though I managed to prevent her from wiping the floor with your body, you still owe her an apology."
"Athrun would be happy to find out that you're still alive. It's a bit irritating, you know, when he comes to ORB, he would always visit your grave and offer some prayers with me standing beside him knowing very well that you're actually alive."
"It's not that I don't want to tell, but you know how it is."
"Yeah, but you still owe it to him. Since the ceremony would be held privately, your family can be there with all of us."
"Cagalli really thought about this, doesn't she?"
"That's why I wouldn't let you sit this one out." The younger man took a sip from his coffee before continuing. "So why enter reserve? I expected that you'll in the active service for a few years more."
"I found out that I'm a selfish man after all," Kira replied. "I don't want to risk my daughter growing up alone if something happens to me."
"How about Fllay?"
"One of us will not survive the other for long."
"Yeah, heard about that. The 'M' something. Lacus told us about it. That's also why Cagalli want to see all of you, you know, so that her niece would know her. How about the diagnosis?"
"Oh, they're stable." In truth, Kira couldn't be sure how long the MOIRAE implants inside both his and Fllay's brains would remain stable. Terrence had mentioned that the modules had linked with their respective neo-cortex as well as the limbic system so removing them were simply out of question. Who knows, perhaps one of the modules would stop working maybe a decade, a year or even a day later and when it happened both he and Fllay would die. It was his turn to gaze inside. Fllay and Cagalli was playing with his daughter.
Fllay once had pleaded with him to remove his own chip before the process became irreversible but he refused because that would cause him to lose her, something he couldn't accept. He had never regretted having the implant and would never regret it as long as he would be with her. Yes, he was worried for their daughter in case something happened but being a normal human, one could only do so far against the tide of fate.
That said, as long as he was alive, he would do everything he could to protect his loved ones.
"You really love them," Shinn commented as he observed the soft look on the other man's face.
Kira could only smile. "Yeah."
Life would go on and he would live it to the fullest with his family. The tale of Sunny's was just beginning after all