My Sweetest Heart for You Chapter 12 – Lurking Shadows

"As I stared into those eyes, lost… I saw naught but myself looking back at me."


Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from Gundam Seed/Gundam Seed Destiny. I am not compensated in any way for my work other than in the enjoyment that my readers enjoy.



Across an empty, barren field, amidst the light of daybreak, Kira and Athrun's fearsome bodies clashed against one another time and again. The sheer level of their speed sent the wind itself swirling about, fearsome punches and lightning-fast kicks being much too fast for any normal human to possibly hope to keep up with.

Yet, amidst the fierce fighting, one thing stayed ever true; the desire that shown so brilliantly within their eyes. Each sought to claim victory over the other, pouring not only their strengths, but their spirit into their fighting as well.

Athrun, though still holding back a significant amount of his skill, couldn't help but feel a sense of surprise at the level and intensity in which Kira came at him with. The precision of his technique and the heartfelt emotion in which he directed it at him had by far surpassed his expectations in the relatively short period of time since they began. It was amazing, to say the least. One could only begin to imagine how strong Kira would become in the following months and years…


Having found himself lost in the midst of his thoughts, Athrun found himself ill-prepared for Kira's next strike. With a cycle of air near circling about him, Kira's fist found itself careening straight into Athrun's cheek, sending him off of the ground and up into the air.

Surprised though he was at having been able to hit his friend, Kira soon found himself at a lack for any such confidence as Athrun thrust himself into a near full body spin, landing with the grace of a cat upon the solid earth below. The small hint of blood that smeared his beautiful face disappeared as Athrun's lightning-fast movement had him before Kira once more, his hand reaching forth to clasp a firm upon over his shirt's collar, thrusting him with a loud thud onto the ground.


Just as he was about to deliver a finishing blow, Athrun found himself dimly aware of the pained look upon Kira's face. The fierce precision of the moment that had all but consumed his consciousness began to dim… his fingertips loosening their grip upon Kira's shirt.

"…My apologies, Kira," Athrun near whispered, brushing his hands over his ruffled clothes, "I lost myself there for a moment."

"Ah… no, don't worry about it," Kira replied shakily, still trying to gain a hold over his battered senses.

"Will you be alright?"

Kira gave a brief nod of his head, drawing in a relaxing breath.

"You're really strong, Athrun," he said. "I couldn't even see it until it was all over."

Athrun chuckled, raising a hand to his friend's shoulder. "Thank you, but I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. You've come a long ways in just this short time, more then I had hoped."

Grinning somewhat embarrassingly, Kira gently nudged Athrun's hand away. "So, do you want to go again?"

Before Athrun could speak but a single word in reply; like judgment descended from heaven, a roaring explosion resounded throughout the air, cutting through the atmosphere in an instant. Innumerable cries of wildlife pierced through the Azure Forest, innumerable flocks of birds soaring throughout the air.

"What the…!?"

As both Kira and Athrun turned their heads to see what caused the explosion, naught but a look of horror awaited them as they came to see their beloved town smoldering ash and freshly sparked flame. Pillars of smoke rose from the now decimated homes below, having already begun to blot out the clear blue sky.

"What's going on!?" Kira exclaimed.

Surprised though he was as well at this incomprehensible turn of events, Athrun's razor-sharp gaze narrowed dangerously as he looked past the wall of smoke… to the massive form lurking in behind it. Its unmoving figure stood ominously overhead, its brightly lit green eyes shimmering vibrantly.

'…No doubt about it,' Athrun thought 'it's a mobile suit. But what in the world is it doing here?'

"Come on, Athrun!" Kira cried out, breaking him away from his thoughts. "We've got to get back there now!"

Gritting his teeth in both frustration and uncertainty, Athrun knew there was no choice but to go along with Kira for right now. Securing the lives of Azure's people; and most importantly… Lacus and Cagalli's lives, had to take priority above all else. And so he hurried alongside Kira, and together, they rushed down the winding descent of the hill as quickly as their legs could carry them.




'…Where are you?'

Amidst the spreading field of flames beneath him, Shinn Asuka's eyes wandered in a relentless fashion back and forth, making sure to catch even the slightest sign of life. He was here, of that he was absolutely sure… and he would not rest until he had dragged him out from whatever hole he was hiding in.

This was the day that he had been living for after all. All of his pain and suffering… the unbearable agony of having to go on in life knowing that all he had ever cared about was gone, would soon be over. Once he found 'Kira' and exacted his revenge against him, he would no longer have to look upon a world that had him within it.


The very thought of it roused something akin to happiness within Shinn's heart. He could feel the adrenaline beginning to flow through his body, making him stronger… his senses sharper and more refined.

"…Come on out," he whispered, his hands tightening their hold upon his Gundam's controls.

"…I'm right here waiting for you… so come on out."



"Lacus!" Cagalli cried out as she ran haphazardly through the house, "where are you!?"

It was hard to believe. Not a moment ago had she been casually walking about, the occasional thought of how Athrun and Kira's training was going being the most she had to worry about. Now, it were as if hell itself had been raised… the profound and terrifying cries of the people tearing through the house's walls with mind-numbing intensity.

As Cagalli near flung herself down the stairway, stumbling a bit from the sudden drop, her eyes immediately shot upwards once more. She just had to find Lacus and get her away before the whole house started burning down, never mind trying to make it out of Azure without her being seen.

'…Damn it,' Cagalli thought, gritting her teeth together, 'if anyone sees her now, then they'll probably…'

Shaking her head in order to rid herself of such horrible thoughts, Cagalli dashed through the hallway and made her way into the living room. There, she finally caught sight of Lacus… standing in a seemingly frozen manner as her eyes lay fixated on the scene outside.




With naught but the sounds of the chaos ensuing outside to pierce the wall of silence that now existed between them, Cagalli and Lacus stood at opposite emotional ends of an impossibly wide abyss. Surely, they knew, there were neither words that could be said nor comfort given to wipe away the immense sorrow that existed within Lacus' heart.

In spite of this, Cagalli knew, her eyes now brimming with an awakening conviction, she had to do something. They just didn't have the time to be standing around waiting for the house to fall down on their heads.

"…Lacus," Cagalli whispered, placing a hand on her shoulder, "we've got to get out of here."


"…Come on," she repeated, slightly tightening her hold on her friend's shoulder.



"…Why is this happening," Lacus whispered, her voice of such a low tone that one could barely make it out. Upon her saddened face, one could see the small crystalline glimmers of tears that had begun to break free.

"…I don't know," Cagalli replied sadly, her amber eyes lowering some. "But what I do know is that we're not going to find the answer just standing around."


"Come on, we've got to get out of here and try to meet up with Kira and Athrun."

Though still reeling from the pain that filled her heart and mind, Lacus knew that Cagalli was right. And so, with a fresh determination that filled her baby-blue eyes, she turned around and followed Cagalli's lead out the back of the house. In the perpendicular alleyway in which they emerged, they slowly made their way out and into one of the main streets. As they did so however, from not far off a looming figure turned its fearsome eyes onto the pair.


From within the cockpit of the Force Impulse, Shinn's heartless gaze turned towards the two young women… more specifically, towards Lacus.




'…That woman,' Shinn thought, the crystal clear memory of her during his fight with Kira reemerging within his mind.


Seeing fit not to waste a second more, Shinn turned his Gundam towards the duo and carefully, step by thundering step, made his way over to them. Resounding explosions and pillars of high-rising smoke ignited from behind him, casting a picturesque veil of hell about its overpowering body. Its fearsome green eyes burned brightly within the ensuing maelstrom, piercing through the blanket of fear and despair that hung in the air.

"Well… I see you're still alive, woman," Shinn's low-kept voice uttered.


Before he spoke a single word more, Shinn raised his large-scale beam rifle and pointed it directly at Lacus.

"Tell me," he continued, "where is 'Kira'?"

Lacus and Cagalli's eyes widened considerably at Shinn's words. For all of this destruction, for all of the pain and suffering that had inflicted upon their home, all he wanted was to find Kira?

Gritting her teeth in near overwhelming anger and frustration, Cagalli snapped a hand off to the side as if to try and exhibit her strong emotion. "That's why you're doing this!?"

"If you're going to try and pick a fight with somebody, then why don't you get out of that thing and do it like a man!"

Shifting his gaze in obvious irritation of Cagalli's bold claim, Shinn shifted the point of his rifle towards her smaller frame.

"Be silent, little girl. I have no business with you; so, unless you have a death wish, I suggest you shut up and be on your way."


Suddenly, much to Cagalli and even Shinn's surprise, Lacus stepped forward to take her place in front of Cagalli. Her bright blue eyes shone with a magnificent conviction and determination, reflective of her desire to protect her friend from any harm.

"Please, you must stop this," she spoke aloud, "there's no purpose in any of this. Won't you leave and allow us to live in peace here?"

"You've some nerve, woman," Shinn replied near immediately. "Without knowing the first thing about me, you think you have the right to tell me to do anything? Don't make me laugh!"

And so, with those few words, Shinn narrowly adjusted the trajectory of his rifle's targeting and fired off a warning shot. As the searing green light emitted from the weapon, it narrowly bypassed Lacus and Cagalli, though not before throwing the both of off to the side from the resounding explosion of energy. Their small bodies crashed against a nearby brick wall, immediately falling helplessly down to the ground.


Once more, Shinn pointed his Gundam's rifle towards the now fallen duo.

"I'm not going to ask you again, woman. You can either tell me where that bastard is hiding, or I can end your life here and now."


"…So?" he inquired once more. "Which will it be?"




'Damn,' Athrun thought as he raced, faster and faster still, along the path that would lead back to Azure. 'At this rate, we're not going to…'

With the wind near howling about him as he struggled to keep up his strenuous pace, Kira too had come to the grim realization that they were still at least ten minutes away from Azure. With the devastation having already reached the terrible level that it had, one could only begin imagine the horrors that would come in the following moments…

Gritting his teeth at the very thought of it, Kira redoubled his determination's 'fire' and sped up his pace even more.

"Kira, try and slow it down a bit," Athrun called out from behind him. "You're not going to be of any use to anyone if you wear yourself out before you even get there."

"But we've got to hurry!" Kira responded instinctively.

Narrowing his gaze in interpretative insight, Athrun sped up his pace some so that he was once again by Kira's side.

"I realize your frustration, but you must understand that we're going to need our strength for whatever awaits us. Lacus and Cagalli will need that strength…"


As much as it was to his dismay, Kira could not deny the wisdom in Athrun's words. Already he had begun to feel the weariness in his legs, as though they were beginning to wear like pieces of rubber. His mind was a jumble of uncertainty, fast-forwarding images of the chaos that he had seen from afar smiting any sense of logic and reason he had once held.

Certainly, what use would he be in Azure in such a pitiful condition? How did he expect to fend off the one who caused such destruction when he couldn't even control himself?

Sighing some to himself, Kira clasped a hand atop his forehead. "…Sorry, Athrun."

Grinning some at his friend's harsh take of his situation, Athrun raised a gentle hand upon his shoulder. "Hey, don't be too hard on yourself. Just try to calm down. First we need to assess what's going on and then we'll try to come up with a plan."

Kira, while still in the midst of amazement at Athrun's ability to maintain an objective insight about himself in such a situation, did his best to try and regain his composure as he continued running. From the looks of things, the numerous small fires that they had seen from the hill had grown tremendously… the individual pillars of smoke having clustered together into one that almost seemed to blot out the sky itself. Flocks of bird and other wildlife could be seen fleeing the immediate area about Azure, as if in fear of the ensuing chaos.

"No doubt about it…" Athrun near whispered, his voice still audible, "that's a Z.A.F.T.-class mobile suit. But I've never seen a design like that before… and that level of destructive power…"

"Z.A.F.T.-class… mobile suit?" Kira repeated, as if in complete obscurity of what it was that Athrun was talking about.

"Huh? Kira… are you saying you don't know what a mobile suit is?"


Sensing the truth behind his friend's confused posterior, Athrun sped up his pace some so that he was side-by-side with him once again.

"We don't have the time to go into a detailed discussion right now; regardless, what's important for you to know is that what we refer to as mobile suits are highly destructive mobile weapons employed by the leading nations of the world. And amongst the higher-class ones, it wouldn't be exaggerating to say that one alone could level an entire city to ashes."

Kira's eyes widened at this sudden on pouring of information, as if some part of him found it all too incredible to believe.

"…And what were you talking about when you said "Z.A.F.T...?"

For but a moment, at the mention of a word that held no real meaning to him, Kira could've sworn he saw a flash of anger pass by Athrun's face. …It was surprising, to say the very least. Never would he have expected something as simple as a word to shatter the calm and endearing demeanor to which he had grown so accustomed to. Regardless, in the face of the ensuing destruction, he decided not to pursue what caused the change.

"Z.A.F.T. is this world's leading nation in terms of technology and weapons' development," Athrun said very plainly. "Even in light of their smaller numbers by comparison to the other nations, they by far hold majority over the world's leading mobile suit development. 'Tis a reason why they hold such influence and why few have ever rise up against them."

"…Rise up against them?" Kira repeated. "You make it sound as though they're a tyrannical nation or something…"

"I wouldn't go so far as to say that…" Athrun continued, "but there have been rumors floating around for the past couple of years that they have been involved in… rather 'unscrupulous' behaviors."

"…What do you mean?"

Athrun's brilliant emerald gaze became near fixated on the path ahead of him… a welling of reserved emotions and feelings from deep within him beginning to build.

"Well… one such rumors is that Z.A.F.T. has become involved in the technology of genetic engineering; the artificial enhancement and development of human beings. Z.A.F.T. has admitted to such technology, though only so far as towards the use of medicinal advancement. They've completely denied using it for anything else."

"Then what reason is there to think otherwise…?"

"It's because no one has the kind of power to launch a formal investigation with some kind of proof to back it up. It's because of said influence that some worry as to whether or not Z.A.F.T. has the kind of discipline to keep itself in line in light of the truth that they could actually do it and no one would be the wiser… at least not until it's too late."

"So what does all of this have to do with that mobile suit?"

"Ah… right," Athrun continued, shaking his head ever so slightly as if to gather his thoughts together. "Judging by the make and the sheer power of the suit, it would seem to be of an extremely high-class. Z.A.F.T. is the only place I can think of that would have the technology to create such a suit."

"…It doesn't make sense though," Kira near whispered, "why would something like that attack Azure!?"

Athrun's gaze narrowed almost instantaneously upon hearing Kira's words. Apparently, he had not yet come to realize it…

It was the only explanation that made any sense, at least to him. If his logic was accurate, then it was highly likely that the pilot of the mobile suit was the young man named Shinn Asuka that Kira had fought with. If not him, then it was almost certainly an accomplice of his. But to think that he would actually resort to using something as drastic a mobile suit to go after a single individual… it was beyond comprehension.

…Certainly, Athrun thought, an ill feeling emerging within the pit of his stomach, there was something very strange going on here. Separately, none of it seemed to make any sense… but something from within Athrun told him that there was a common thread connecting them; a single truth that would make all of this make sense. As to what that was though, there simply wasn't enough information for him to draw any definitive conclusions yet.


…Strangely enough though, Athrun thought… his eyes cautiously turning sideways to catch a glimpse of Kira, he couldn't help the feeling that there was more to him then met the eye. So many mysterious things surrounded his newfound friend, and there was little doubt to the contrary that he was connected to them in some way. Still, until he retrieved his memory and rediscovered who he truly was…

Suddenly, a resounding explosion… as terrifying and loud as if it had been sent by the heavens themselves, blew throughout the area. The fearsome winds that blew amidst the aftermath sent the many trees of the forest rustling vibrantly.

"…What the?!" Athrun exclaimed, having been torn away from the world of his thoughts.

"Grr!" Kira gritted his teeth. "Let's go, Athrun!!"

Ceasing any further contemplation, Athrun gave a quick nod of his head and dashed along the remainder of the path with Kira. With a renewed vigor filling the whole of their beings, it would be but a few minutes more before they reached the outskirts of Azure… and into a battle the likes of which neither of them could imagine.




"…I see," Durandal whispered into his voice. "Is that so?"

"Yes, sir," the voice on the other side of the phone acknowledged. "Currently we don't have any reason to believe that it will present a serious problem; however, I do believe it in our best interests to initiate an immediate forced shutdown."

"Hmm… very well; please do as you see fit," Durandal replied, gently setting the phone down.

"…So," a mysterious voice from the other side of the room called out, "how is it going?"

Durandal smiled ever so faintly. "…It would seem that the O.S. has begun to show slight malfunctions. Though it would seem that even our finest engineers are beginning to grow frustrated at a lack for a explanation."

Chuckling some to himself, the figure leaned in a carefree position against a nearby wall, his hands coming up to fold over his chest. "I take it that the battle has begun then?"

"…So it would seem," Durandal replied, leaning his elbows upon his desk, his hands coming up to fold together underneath his chin. "Though I imagine it will be a while longer yet before anything decisive is to happen. I'm certain 'that' would've already occurred had it happened."

The figure nodded his head in mutual agreement. "…Yes, but I imagine it won't be much longer now."

"…Tell me," he near whispered, tilting his head to the side, "how will you explain 'that' to the public? I can't imagine them being very tolerant of you allowing it to even still be in existence. They might even come to question your position as Chairman once the truth comes to light…"

Durandal merely smiled in response, leaning himself back in his chair. "Their bloodlust lies with 'him'. It will be but a simple matter to assuage their anger were I to explain that its existence is merely a means to find 'him' and bring 'him' to justice…"

Chuckling ever so lightly at Durandal's quick response, the figure stepped out from the darkness and made his way over, seating himself comfortably within a chair. "I see that your talent for manipulating the public eye has not gone undiminished."

"What of you? Certainly you've given some thought as to what you're going to do now…"


"…Not going to tell me?"

Though residing in silence for a moment in light of Durandal's slightly intrusive question, the figure merely grinned and shook his head. "Well… let us just say that it will be a while yet before this one can take center stage."

"Hrm… is that so?

"Tell me" the figure inquired, "how do you plan on handling negotiations with the other nations? I imagine that the Atlantic Federation will be especially eager to take advantage of the situation. You haven't been much in their favor ever since you managed to grasp a hold of that recent cache of M.S. material."

While not having been disconcerted by his comrade's comment in the slight, Durandal merely leaned back in his chair… the narrow gaze of his enchanting purple eyes falling some.

"…Their over eagerness to get back at me for such a minor victory would only promote their lack of maturity in the eyes of the world. If that is their choice, then I certainly have no qualms about them making fools of themselves. Regardless, their presence is of little concern to me."

"Hrm… are you so confident that you'll not even give them a place in your mind?"

Keeping to his silence as he gave some thought to the question, Durandal raised himself up from his chair, folded his hands behind his back and made his way over to the already open balcony.

"Well… we'll just have to see whether their nature will get the better of them or whether or not they'll raise their 'wings' to the skies and become a threat. Though I would prefer it not come to that…"

Chuckling ever so lightly to himself at Durandal's comment, the figure clasped his hands together and braced them against his forehead.

"…Well… for now, let us just sit back and enjoy the show," he whispered, near to himself… the light reflecting off of his silver mask shielding the exuberant emotion hidden within his eyes.