Hello, people. This is my first fic, so please be nice!! Word of caution.. some people may be a little OOC, since I haven't seen Destiny yet, so please, don't flame me for it. Constructive criticism is highly welcome. Thanks for checking this fic out!
Note: This will be an AC fic. I guarantee you that, wouldn't have it any other way.
Disclaimer: The author of this fic does not own gundam seed/destiny, or its characters, because if I claimed I did, would delete my story—wouldn't it?—and the copyright people will sue me. Any similarities from other fics are purely coincidental, and so are any allusions to real events, places and people.
Chapter 1: Day Becomes Night
"This land is beautiful for a reason: because we made it so. It was tilled by our farmers' callused hands, built upon by our workers' sweat and toil, developed into the city we see today. This great city was not built from forceless words spoken to the unlearned, but by the untiring work of our forefathers, the blood of our ancestry! This land, which would have been desolated if not for them, rightfully belongs to us, the heirs of the great men who built it.
Then there are those who refused to submit, those who relentlessly tried to destroy what our forefathers took so long to build. Jealousy? Anger? Vendetta? Who knows? All we are sure of is that lives were sacrificed.
But given that there were men, with the same supposed intellect they should have received from the Divine, these "barbaric imbeciles" must have been blinded by pointless ambition. So are forefathers took on a mission—to conquer. To take these hopeless men under their wing, and mold them into the men they are capable of being. Listen! This crusade was the very root of this great kingdom! From our forefathers' conquests, more land fell to good hands, their good arduous hands that founded the great walls you see today.
This is the heirloom passed on to us. It is now our duty to continue their resolve—to bring the wandering into the light. We shall launch a new crusade where all kingdoms of this good earth will unite under one banner, one ruler, one empire! In it, our race will rule, we will be remembered throughout history. As one people, we will be the foundation of a greatness that has not been and will never be matched. The greatness that will be the Zaft empire!"
The green blades of grass swayed softly with the gentle wind, the trickling sounds of a nearby stream assembling a sweet symphony of nature from afar. No trees blocked the view of the endless azure that met the wide grass plains at the horizon. It was an immaculate peace, a serenity that reflected the stark contrast of the city that stood just a few miles from it.
It's been a while since he last visited his mother's grave.
The marble tombstone stood on top of a hill, a breathtaking apparition of a pedestal to heaven. Fitting for the good-hearted woman, who was loved and revered by her family and her fellowmen.
He came on horseback. At the foot of the hill, the young man got off and decided to walk, allowing his horse to graze the fields. In his hand was a bouquet of white lilies.
Kneeling in front of the grave, the lad muttered a prayer. It was short, but in his dreams he hoped his mother was in a better place, far from war, far from deceit, far from his father's ambition.
"This place is perfect for you, mother," he thought out loud, knowing no one will hear. Not a subject, not a soldier, not his domineering father.
His words reverberated in the lad's ears. "The greatness that will be the Zaft empire!"
The young man hated war. He hated having to pick up his sword and kill fathers, brothers and sons. He hated orphaning mothers, sister, and daughters. Orphaned of a mother himself, he knew how it felt.
But he had to fight. More importantly, he had to win. Zaft was protected by the very wars it made. It had the most feared military prowess in existence.
All these Zaft had always been a conquering nation. Athrun Zala had no plans of breaking that tradition.
A sudden gust of winds shook Athrun from his thoughts. His father told him to return immediately; he had some important matters to discuss about the forthcoming crusade.
Their crusade. Of a father and a son. Of a king and his heir, the prince.
It was time to go.
Miles away, a small party of five stood on horseback in front of the grand city of Heliopolis.
The city was a stunning site. Its white walls towered over the party, but not high enough to hide its grandiose monuments and skygardens. Every building was a paragon of architecture skillfully constructed by talented craftsmen. A prism of green, blue, red, and gold gilded its highest towers. From the walls one can feel the bustle of city life—the boiling pot of various sciences and studies for which its people gave their lives to. The city, the bastion of educational excellence, showed in every way the artistic talent of its people.
The leader of the party was awe-stricken. She was used to all things regal but never has she seen a city so…
Two guards, dressed as colorful as their city, inquired the party of their purposes. Upon hearing the leader's name, they scrambled to the doors, hurrying to open them for their royal guests.
The rumors were definitely true: the city was surreal. Its high-rising obelisks were made of the finest marble, so were the statues made by the world's finest artists. Monuments of past kings littered the sidewalks gilded with ruby, and the light posts sparkled a brilliant shade of green.
"Emerald light posts," one of the party told their leader. "It's hard to believe how wealthy this city is. Emerald light posts, ruby-gilded sidewalks…"
"Diamond statues," she replied.
"I beg your pardon?"
At the very center of the city plaza stood the statue of a beautiful woman, her right hand reaching for the sky, while her left held a golden scroll. Completely made out of diamond, she stood on a solid gold pedestal, painting a breathtaking contrast of blue, white, gold, and brick red.
It is the statue of our patron goddess, Minerva," one of the accompanying guards explained. "Now please, honored guests, let us make haste. The king will be overjoyed to see her Highness."
Behind the stunning figure was a series of fountains--all of which were made of pale blue crystals—along the path the party traversed. Embedded on the fountain basins were sapphires.
They finally reached the palace doors. The structure was a dazzling array of various shades of almost every color. The sheer size of it was incredible. The rarest gems adorned almost every inch of the walls.
Stepping into the final door that led to the king's courtroom, the royal lady's thoughts reeled to a few days back.
"Your Highness, Cagalli Yula Attha, Princess of Orb, and daughter of Uzumi Nara Attha, King of Orb, has arrived."
"Father, I'm not a child anymore!"
" Cagalli, I will not allow you to leave without an escort."
"But I don't need one."
"Cagalli, please listen to father. It's for your own good."
"But I already know what's good for me and it does not involve a bodyguard following me around like a dog."
Her father and brother exchanged looks. How she got this vocally expressive, nobody knows.
"Cagalli, this is the longest time you will be leaving Orb. If something happens to you…"
"Father, I've been learning self-defense for quite a few years now. I think I've learned enough to protect myself from most attacks. Besides, the crime rates at Heliopolis are almost zero. Moreover, there hasn't been an attack in that city for years. The South is generally peaceful, not very different from Orb."
"You never know…"
"Kira! You're supposed to be with me on this one!"
"I know! But you can't help it if the both of us are worried."
"For you safety. Please, let us assign escorts for you. We… no, Orb itself will be devastated if something bad happened to you."
Her father's eyes locked into her own. He just had to give her that look, telling her hat she must submit.
"Alright Father, as you wish. Who will accompany me?"
Kira breathed out a sigh of relief. Thank goodness their father wasn't too busy today. He'd hate to argue with his sister, the younger, more persistent princess of Orb.
Cagalli's eyes lost the shimmer of hope they had a while ago. Finally she had the chance to explore the outside world. Not that she hated her country—she loved it dearly. However, her father's oveprotectiveness prevented her from pursuing the duties reserved only for her brother, Prince Kira Yamato Attha. Cagalli would have has no say in many things—in the military, for starters—if it weren't for her brother, who openly accepted suggestions from her.
Heliopolis was known for setting the standards of education. Weeks ago, the Heliopolis school of Arts and Politics had sent Cagalli an invitation for her to enter the institution. Many schools had invited the princess for an education, but this so far had been the best offer made to her.
Beauty, intelligence, and brawn all bundled up into one—for this she was renowned for. She was rarely able to visit neighboring countries—and if she was it was only for a few days and the prince would always be with her—but nobles from all sorts of places flocked to Orb for her hand in marriage, to all of whom she refused. It would be bad for Orb's reputation if her princess shoved steak knives through her suitors' throats.
The golden city was Cagalli's ticket to a little independence. She was going to learn the wisdom of the Heliopolis scholars, and that knowledge she will bring back to Orb. She was going to show that she was no longer the little princess everyone had to be worried of. Only the passion to learn awaited her there. Now here she was at the golden city, escorted by four of her father's most able men. So much for independence.
The king's welcoming speech was—dare she say it out loud—quite a bore. King Azrael was an eloquent speaker, but his words went around in circles. The hour-or-so speech was more of a tourist travelling guide than a royal address. When the king was finally done, he invited the princess to stay for the night. To this Cagalli had to refuse.
"Oh no, your Highness, I wish not to abuse you kindness by causing a stir with my presence. I have already arranged an inn where I will be staying tonight."
"An inn for someone royal as yourself?"
"But you Highness, I believe that the inns of Heliopolis offer the best services in the world. Miniature palaces in their own right, as you referred to the yourself."
"True. Such a shame, I wished you could meet with my son. He would be returning soon…"
Cagalli felt her body twitch. I thought so.
"But if it is your wish to stay outside the palace, please be informed that you are always welcome in our humble residence."
"Yes, your Highness. Now, if you would excuse me," she graciously ended. "I would like to attend to some personal affairs."
"Personal? I thought the princess knew no one in Heliopolis."
"Oh, by that I meant I would be arranging my residence for the next month. I really must be going now. It was a pleasure meeting with you King Azrael."
The party stepped out of the palace doors, gathering curious and admiring stares. News spreads out among the nobility.
"An inn, your Highness? But you haven't arranged for one," one of Cagalli's escorts asked her.
"An inn? I will not be staying at an inn, Sir Andrew," Cagalli answered.
"An excuse from staying at the palace?"
The princess gave a soft nod. Even with her hood on, flickers of her golden hair and the silhouette of her well-built figure caught the eyes of the nobility, particularly men.
"But princess? Where will you be staying?"
"At a friend's place."
"Yes, Lady Lacus Clyne."
Lacus's home was a small bungalow a polar opposite of most of the houses that stood on Heliopolis ground. Daughter of the late artist Siegel Clyne, Lacus was the prodigy of the Heliopolis conservatory of music. She was still a student, but the rumors of her heavenly voice have been circulating the imperial theatres for quite some time.
The door opened to reveal the songstress herself, dressed in a purple sundress, her pink hair tied neatly at the back of her head.
"Cagalli, it's been a while. How are yo…"
The princess cut her off with a warm hug.
"I missed you so much, Lacus! I've been well." She let go. "I'll be staying here for a month; you did receive the message, didn't you?"
As the two girls chatted, Sir Andrew couldn't help but smile. All her life, the princess had been forced to smile and act the part of the "perfect princess". He knew it made her feel fake, no better than a palace wallflower. And she hated it.
"She's even more beautiful when she is with Lady Lacus," he smiled as she looked at the two young women.
"Princess," Andrew called.
"We will be leaving now."
"What? But father said…"
"We have our orders. The king asked us to escort you to Heliopolis, leave you with Lady Lacus, and return to Orb."
The princess was speechless for a moment, as the party—now four—got back to their horses.
"Tell father I said thank you."
Sir Andrew nodded. As they rode to the golden sunset that invited the night, Lacus put a hand on her friend's shoulder. It was Cagalli's first time away for so long. She was finally getting a chance at a life of her own, even if it is just for a month.
The two girls entered the house as the once blue sky receded to the sun's orange fingers. Tonight, Cagalli knew her dreams were going to be sweet.
In her sleep, she mumbled, "Finally, freedom."
Lacus let out a smile. This will definitely be a meaningful month for her closest friend.
The same night sky blanketed Zaft, as Prince Athrun Zala stepped on the marble staircase of the royal palace where his father had waited impatiently. The meeting had started without him.
As he opened the door, his father, King Patrick Zala, eyed him cunningly.
"You're here. Have a seat, Commander."
Just as his back hit the red cushion, a subordinate handed Athrun a white sheet containing a list of supplies, strategies, to name a few.
"The content of what you see," the king gestured to the white sheets. "Are from the army's logistics and supply wing."
Wrong. They come from the people's taxes, Athrun thought.
"It shows that Zaft is finally ready to initiate itself in the offensive, and the defensive if necessary."
Wrong again. Zaft had always been ready for any attacks. Our defense is unbreakable.
The meeting went on to discuss how Zaft would go about conquering the countries the king chose to target. The prince had little part in deciding which kingdom should fall first, but Athrun listened intently. His part in all of this was simple.
"Commander," the king bellowed.
"Yes, your Highness."
"Prepare you men. Set out for the first annex to the Zaft Empire."
The flowers on Lenore Zala's grave were untouched since Athrun left them there. Not even the butterflies came. They were beautiful, but the hands that touched them last left on them the faint scent of blood, the blood of hundreds of men who died for Zaft, some of which were killed by Athrun's own hand.
This was not his first war. Destabilizers, terrorists, and enemy countries continuously pillaged the peace. He had been fighting since he was sixteen.
Lenore's son was now twenty-one. He was to lead another war, which, as his father claims, will end all wars.
Another gust of wind blew across the plains, blowing the bouquet away. The sky was pitch black when the petals fell across the stream.
"And the first kingdom to be attacked is?" Athrun asked.
The king spread out a map. In the west lie Zaft. Somewhere in the North, the kingdom of Logos with its capital, Copernicus. In the Far East, the kingdom of Orb.
Patrick Zala's finger pointed South.
That sums up my first chap. Don't sue me if there hasn't been any fluff yet… please be patient. Many thanks to Rosagiganteacouncil for helping me with this fic. You might want to check her profile out.
Read and review, pleaaaaaaasssssssseeeeeeeeeeeee………………. Thanks in advance