Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam SEED or any of its characters.
It is not my desire to irritate anyone with my stories. So, if the concept of Kira and Fllay together nauseates you, simply click on the "Back" button now. Still here? Okay. This first chapter is mostly just my way of introducing Rau as the villain and getting in a bit of the conflict between the Dominion and the Archangel. It also allows me to get some MxM content in there, as I love that couple too.
Part 1: The Burning Stars
Mu La Flaga brought the Strike's shield up, blocking the particle beam. Raising his own beam rifle, he put a shot through the cockpit of the attacking GuAIZ; the sleek machine hung in space for a moment before exploding. He was about to turn back and check on the Astray team when an all-too-familiar sensation filled his mind.
"Mu!" The voice on the com system sounded pleased. "I'm glad you could make it. You've played such a part in this drama; I'd hate for you to miss the final act." Mu brought the Strike about just as a beam shot streaked toward him. Blocking it with his shield, he traced the shot back to a dark grey suit hanging in the vacuum several hundred meters away.
While the immense machine was obviously a G-weapon, it was unlike anything Mu had seen before. The machine wielded a massive beam rifle in its right hand, and a cannon-equipped shield was fixed to its left hand. But the thing that drew an observer's gaze was the large, star-shaped object on the mobile suit's back. It seemed the masked commander had gotten himself a new toy.
It won't make a difference; he's not getting away this time.
"It ends here," Mu said, his voice taut with grim determination. He locked onto the new G-weapon and released a blast from his beam rifle.
Inside the cockpit of the dark suit, Rau Le Creuset grinned broadly. The Hawk had no idea how right he was. When the Strike opened fire, Rau simply raised his shield and blocked the shot. Shifting his focus momentarily, the masked pilot flipped a few toggles on the control panel.
The ZGMF-X13A Providence was equipped with an MA-MV05A composite armed shield system, with two electron cannons and a beam saber built into the shield itself, the standard CIWS and, of course, the MA-M221 Judicium beam rifle, but its deadliest weapon by far was the DRAGOON system mounted on its back. As Rau keyed in the appropriate command, the eleven funnel-shaped pods launched from the array on his mobile suit's back and swarmed the Strike. Connected wirelessly to the Providence's central computer, each self-propelled drone possessed the same electron cannons mounted in the shield and rifle, as well as a scattershot function. Moving as one, they surrounded the woefully outmatched Strike and opened fire.
The star-shaped device on the G-weapon's back seemed to break apart; something like a dozen funnel-shaped objects shot off into space and moved toward the Strike. Mu was tempted to simply ignore them and focus on the mobile suit, but as he locked onto it with his beam rifle, he noticed the funnels orienting themselves around his own machine, and remembered his Zero's wired gunbarrels.
Mu pulled the Strike into a defensive position a split-second before he was fired on from all directions, electron beams tearing the vacuum all around him. A lesser pilot would have been killed instantly, but Mu wasn't known as the Hawk of Endymion for nothing, and the Strike managed to weave back and forth, avoiding the fire from the pods and blocking a shot from Rau's beam rifle with its shield. The drones retreated for a moment, and the two mobile suits faced each other. On his left, Mu saw an M1 Astray and a GuAIZ run each other through and explode. A Nelson-class battleship blew apart behind Rau's G-weapon, the mobile suit a demonic silhouette against the flames.
"Is this what you want?" Mu demanded, indicating the carnage all around them.
"Oh, it's not what I want!" The voice coming from the com-link sounded amused. On his CIS, Mu noticed the drones closing in again. "This is humanity's wish, humanity's dream, humanity's sin!" At that moment, the pods sprayed the Strike with beam fire again. Dodging as well as he could, Mu couldn't completely avoid damage. One of the shots caught the Strike's beam rifle, blasting the weapon into dust. "Being stronger than others, having the advantage over others, being above others!"
"Stop this madness!" Mu shouted, drawing the Strike's beam saber and attacking. The dark suit raised its shield arm, extending a massive beam saber of its own, and the two machines crossed blades.
"Competition, envy, hate! Cursing each other's existence! That is mankind in its purest form!" The Strike lashed out with its saber, and the Providence easily deflected the blow. As the ZAFT suit swung its own saber, the Strike swerved to the left, sidestepping the attack.
"Is that insane characterization all you have to say? It will never come true!" The mobile suits broke apart for a moment. Mu was so fixated on Rau that he failed to notice the DRAGOON pods surrounding the Strike again. When Rau spoke next, it was with an emotion one could almost describe as pride.
"It's too late, Mu. I am the result; the end product of mankind's insanity. That's why I know." The masked man's voice suddenly turned icy. "Humans will be swallowed by the embodiment of their own darkness." At that moment, the drones activated their scattershot function, engulfing the Strike in a web of crisscrossing emerald beams. Mu raised his shield, but it was an exercise in futility. One of the beams tore away the Strike's right arm, and another shot blew the left leg off at the knee. Something exploded inside the cockpit, and a piece of shrapnel stabbed Mu in the gut. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he took advantage of a momentary break in the attack to retreat, vowing that he would see Rau Le Creuset dead.
The ship rocked as a blast from its enemy's Gottfried cannons caused one of the Archangel's own beam cannons to explode. Captain Murrue Ramius held onto the armrests of her command chair until the shaking subsided.
"Damage report!" she yelled out.
"Starboard Gottfried and portside Valiant have both been disabled," the response came up from the CIC. Murrue thought quickly, running through the weapons they still had available.
"Prepare a missile barrage; target the remaining Gottfried—"
"The Strike is returning to the ship," Miriallia Haw reported, looking up from her screen. "It looks badly damaged!" Murrue's breath caught for a moment, before she managed to calm herself.
He's okay, she reminded herself. He promised he'd come back safe. True enough, Mu's face, partially hidden behind his flight helmet, appeared on the main viewscreen.
"Damn Le Creuset's new suit…" Murrue saw him cough and wince slightly. She wanted to run down to the hangar herself, to be sure that he was alright, but she knew that she needed to remain here, for the sake of the crew and the ship.
Besides, such an action would be a rather melodramatic display of affection. Given Mu's sense of humor, Murrue would never live it down.
"Report in and continue," she said in a level tone of voice. "Maintenance division, prepare emergency landing net; medical team, stand by."
"I'm sorry," Mu said on screen, as though disgusted with himself. Murrue shook her head slightly, letting him know he had done nothing wrong.
Amidst all the confusion, the bridge crew of the Archangel had completely forgotten about their enemy, the dark ship waiting several kilometers away.
Unaware of the drama playing itself out on the other side of the battle, communications officer Fllay Allster was watching her very own nightmare tableau unfold around her. A little more than half an hour ago, ZAFT had pointed some sort of massive, dish-shaped array at the Earth Alliance fleet, and all the ships in its path had simply exploded, followed by the Ptolemaeus lunar base. They had no idea when the weapon would fire again; they wouldn't even know if it fired until something burst into flame.
"Commander" Muruta Azrael had pushed the Dominion to ignore the ZAFT device and attack the Archangel, and the sister ships had been hammering each other with various weapons for the past few minutes. The last thing Fllay wanted was for the Archangel to be destroyed. There were people on that ship that she desperately wanted to see again: Sai, Miriallia and Captain Ramius.
And somewhere out in that hellscape of burning ships and gunfire was Kira. Her Kira. He was the one she needed to see more than anything in the world right now.
Azrael's voice pulled Fllay from her thoughts. The Archangel had stopped firing for a moment, and the lull in activity had not gone unnoticed by the man in blue.
"Now, fire!" Azrael shouted at Captain Natarle Badgiruel. The latter's face expressed deep conflict: the divide between her loyalty to her friends on the other ship, and her loyalty to the chain of command. For a long moment, Fllay held her breath as Natarle and Azrael stared at each other. Then the captain turned towards fire control, and Fllay felt cold horror wash over her as the crew prepared to fire the remaining Lohengrin cannon. She had seen the Dominion use its positron cannons on a ZAFT ship earlier in the battle, and she knew that no vessel could stand up to a direct hit.
"No! Stop it!" she cried out, provoking curious looks from the bridge crew, a sympathetic glance from Natarle and a grimace of irritation from Azrael. While the outburst had some effect, it hadn't stopped anyone, and Fllay could hear a low hum reverberate through the hull as the antimatter cannon slid out of the Dominion's right "leg" and began charging. Past fear now, Fllay grabbed her headset and scanned rapidly through radio frequencies, trying to reach the Lohengrin's intended target.
"Archangel, take evasive action! I repeat, take evasive—" Fllay was cut off as Commander Azrael grabbed her by the collar of her uniform and hauled her bodily out of the chair. His sapphire eyes burned with untold rage.
"You insubordinate bitch!" he shouted, and Fllay's vision blurred with pain as the butt of Azrael's pistol smashed into her cheekbone. The impact sent her flying across the bridge in the zero-G environment, slamming into a bulkhead and rebounding off. As Fllay's eyes refocused, she saw the commander pointing the gun at her head. The redhead knew a moment of panic as she stared down the barrel of the gun, and then Natarle grabbed Azrael by the wrist, pushing the weapon up toward the ceiling. Azrael's shot went wild, ricocheting off the walls and floor and causing the bridge crew to duck and seek cover.
"What are you doing?" Natarle shouted as she and Azrael wrestled over the gun. Somehow, the commander managed to free a hand and grab Natarle by the throat.
"What do you think I'm doing?" he shouted back. The crew rose from their hiding places, ready to help their captain, but she shook her head.
"All crew abandon ship!"
"Badgiruel!" Azrael shouted incredulously. He glanced around the bridge, and saw the crew members heading for the exit from the room. Fllay couldn't help but smile slightly. The look of shock and indignation on that slimebucket's face was priceless.
"You bastards!" the blue-clad sociopath shouted. Natarle pushed him back for a moment and made eye contact with Fllay.
"Get to the Archangel." Fllay was momentarily speechless. She had spoken to Natarle before the battle, expressing her wish to apologize to Kira and the others, but she still hadn't expected this. She opened her mouth to try to say something to Natarle, but the older woman simply nodded quickly. Fllay gave a slight nod in return, and then launched herself through the door, following several other crewmembers down the grey-paneled hallway.
The journey to the emergency escape shuttle was a blur to Fllay. She ran through clouds of acrid smoke, passed scorched bodies floating in the halls, and was nearly killed once when something exploded in front of her. Finally, she found herself in a miniature hangar, moving towards a grey, rectangular vehicle perhaps fifty feet in length. Fins on the back of the shuttle were already moving slightly; the engines already rumbling to life as she passed through the hatch and strapped herself into a seat.
Surrounded by strangers in a place she didn't know, Fllay Allster felt tears begin to form at the corners of her eyes.
"Don't play with me," Azrael hissed at Captain Badgiruel. "Open the door!" Despite the fact that he had shot her in the lower abdomen, the infuriating woman had still managed to seal off the bridge, trapping him in here. And in spite of the firearm pointed at her right now, she still managed to shrug off his authority. Her only response to Azrael's demand was to laugh.
I'll teach you to mock me, the leader of Blue Cosmos thought. He lowered his aim and shot Natarle in the left shin, the bullet punching through flesh and bone and eliciting a very satisfactory cry of pain. Turning away from the injured woman, Azrael looked through the bridge's windows, glaring out at the Archangel. He knew it was only a matter of time before the cursed ship opened fire and killed him.
"Not here; not now," he muttered to himself as he pushed off the floor and floated over to Fire Control. To his elated surprise, Azrael found that most of his work had already been done for him. The Lohengrin was still extended and fully charged. All he had to do was lock on and fire. "I can still win this," he said, a strange-sounding giggle escaping him. "I always win." Seeing what he was doing, Natarle began hauling herself up into a sitting position, but it was too late to stop him.
"You bastard!" she yelled, but Azrael paid her no heed. With one final key command, he sent a lethal stream of antimatter tearing through space, heading for the Archangel.
Mu was making his approach for docking when he saw the Dominion release a shot from its remaining Lohengrin. The beam of swirling red-white fire, surrounded by crackling bolts of electricity, was heading directly for the Archangel's bridge. The positron blast crossed thousands of meters in a fraction of a second; there was no time to evade it.
And Murrue's on the bridge.
Mu La Flaga never questioned his next action. Not once did he think of his own safety as he throttled forward and hurled the Strike into the path of the attack, raising the beam shield and applying forward thrust to counter the inertia of the antimatter stream.
The anti-beam coating on the shield held an electromagnetic charge, projecting the magnetic field that scattered particle beams and made the shield work. The field had never been used to defend against positrons before, but there really wasn't another option at this point. The Strike was jolted violently as the attack hit the shield, but the field did its job, scattering the lethal particles in all directions. Several wisps of positrons struck the Archangel, vaporizing the laminated armor on contact but leaving the vital systems intact. Another diverted puff of antimatter hit the Strike in the face, blowing the G-weapon's head apart.
Still, slowly but surely the kinetic energy of the beam began to win out, and the positrons edged closer and closer to the shield itself. As more stray clumps of antimatter hit the Strike, the cockpit began to overheat. As display panels exploded and metal began to glow, Mu looked back toward the ship.
"Didn't I tell you I could make the impossible possible?" he said, chuckling slightly in spite of the situation. Mu wouldn't see Le Creuset dead, but he had done something far more important.
He had protected the woman he loved.
Azrael watched as the antimatter beam tapered off, and whatever had been blocking it exploded, spraying flame and shrapnel out into space. He grinned slightly.
But when the blast cleared, the Archangel was still there. The terrorist leader's shock was only made worse by the laughter that erupted behind him.
"You lose, Azrael," Natarle said simply.
"Will you SHUT UP!?" He drew his pistol and shot her again, this time in the shoulder. Looking back toward the other ship, Azrael smoldered as he realized that he didn't know how to bring any of the Dominion's other weapons online. "Damn it!" he screamed, throwing his pistol across the room.
Murrue stared out through the main windows, looking at the empty space where the Strike had been just moments ago.
No, she thought. That didn't just happen. The normally brave captain found herself shaking her head in denial, tears flowing freely.
"You said you would return," she choked out. But the empty space out the window told a different story. Mu wasn't coming back. Murrue bent over for a moment, hugging herself as she processed the awful reality. But the more she thought about it, the more her sorrow was replaced with something else: something dangerous. When she looked up, Murrue's eyes were filled with tears, but her voice held white-hot rage. She didn't even look at Fire Control as she gave the next order. "Bring the portside Lohengrin online and FIRE!"
There was no mobile suit to save the Dominion, and when the Archangel unleashed its own positron beam, the antimatter blast struck the dark ship's bridge head on. Muruta Azrael's madness ended as the Dominion's bridge vanished in a blinding white fireball. The radiation flash from the blast vaporized the laminated armor and hull of the Earth Alliance vessel. Anything flammable ignited instantly, and as the ship's superstructure vaporized, its own stores of antimatter were released from their containers, contacting the remaining metal and setting off multi-kiloton secondary detonations.
The Dominion didn't explode; it became an explosion. In the space of a second, the entire battleship dissolved into a massive, roiling cloud of flame.
Author's Note: When I mentioned the GENESIS beam, I described it as invisible. Since all of a laser's light waves are moving in the same direction and none of them reach your eye, you won't see a laser beam unless it's actually pointed at you when it fires. Also, gamma rays are higher frequency radiation than visible light, and are thus undetectable by the naked eye.
The beams that the beam rifles and Gottfrieds fire have been described as lasers in some fics, but since the beams move at sub-light velocity, I figured they're probably particle weapons. I did a bit of research on theoretical partical weapons, and I found that electrons (among other particles) could be employed as the weaponized particle.
I had the anti-beam coating on the beam shield be magnetic, because otherwise Mu's sacrifice would have been in vain, as the positron blast would have hit the shield, causing a rather spectacular fireball while sacrificing only a small amount of antimatter. The rest of the beam would pass through the explosion, strike the Archangel, and we'd be short one Gundam, one legged ship and several main characters. Magnetic fields are used to control antimatter in real life, so I figured that was how the shield worked. A magnetic field would also be useful for scattering other charged particles, like (possibly) electrons.
As always, reviews are welcome.