Disclaimer: Dr. Elizabeth Sanford, as well as Commander Alexander Stanton and his team are my creations. I don't own Gundam SEED or any of its characters

This fic follows the story "Second Chance." You may feel free to read that if you wish, but even if you don't this shouldn't be too confusing...hopefully.

Gundam SEED Evolution

Chapter 1: Shattered Peace

September 10, CE 72

Flay could tell that she was making Kira nervous. They had just left Asira Memorial Hospital and were heading across the parking lot toward his car, and he kept looking at her as they walked.

The day itself was quite pleasant. It was just past noon and the sun was beating down, but the hospital was fairly near to the coast of Orb's central island, and there was enough of a sea breeze to keep them cool. Flay knew it wasn't the conditions that were bothering Kira; it was the way she winced slightly whenever she had to place weight on her right leg.

"I'm okay," she said, reaching out and giving her boyfriend's hand a gentle squeeze. "Really, I am." Flay had spent the last three days in the hospital undergoing treatment to reverse the damage to her nervous system. It was just one more in a series of trips she and Kira had been making for a little under a year now, but he still tended to hover over her when they left, as though he expected something to go wrong. This time was no different. Her broken bones had healed, her scars and burns had been removed, and after this treatment, she was able to walk again, but Kira was still stressing over her.

"Does it hurt?" he asked.

"No," she said quickly.

"No secrets, Flay." She couldn't remember which of them had started using the phrase, but Flay didn't find it silly anymore. The beginning of her relationship with Kira had been so marred by her own deceit and hidden agendas that it had very nearly cost them everything. Kira didn't hold her past actions against her, and Flay was more grateful for that than he could know. Nevertheless, they had come to a sort of quiet agreement after the war. Never again would they keep anything from each other, no matter how small it might seem.

"It hurts a little," she said with an apologetic smile. "It feels kind of like pins and needles, and it gets a little too intense when I take a step with this foot." The doctors had explained that the sensation was a side effect of the treatment: her newly regenerated nerves were firing as they came online, or something like that; the prickling feeling was supposed to die down after an hour or so.

"Come here," Kira said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her in close. Understanding what he wanted her to do, Flay wrapped an arm around Kira's waist and leaned against him, taking some of the weight off of her complaining leg. She lifted her head and kissed his cheek.

"What was that for?" Kira asked. Flay smiled.

"For being here," she replied.

"Oh, it-it's nothing," Kira said quickly, blushing.

Flay loved that she could still make him blush.

They were almost at the end of the parking lot now, and as they reached Kira's car, he looked at her again.

"So, this was your last procedure," he said. "What do you want to do to celebrate? We could go out to dinner, or see a movie…" Flay gave Kira a sly smile, and leaned in until her lips were almost touching his ear.

"I can think of something we haven't done in a long time," she whispered, causing Kira to pull back quickly.

"Well, but, I mean…you're still in some pain and I…well I just," he stammered in response.

"Well, I guess you'll just have to be gentle with me," Flay cooed, and then giggled when Kira's face turned as red as her hair. He flinched abruptly, and Flay backed away from him just a bit. "Relax," she said, gesturing at the ten or so other people in the parking lot. "They're not listening, so you shouldn't be embarrassed…" Flay trailed off as she suddenly felt Kira lean his full weight against her, and saw the confused, frightened look on his face.

"Flay?" He slumped to his knees, and she saw that there was something on his right shoulder: an inch-long, cigar-shaped metal thing with fins. Flay looked back toward the hospital; she'd have to run back, get someone and—

A car halfway across the lot exploded, the fireball tossing the vehicle nearly fifteen feet into the air. The blast was followed by an eruption of automatic fire, and a young couple about twenty feet from Flay was cut down, their bodies riddled with bullets in a fraction of a second. Tearing her gaze away from the gruesome sight, Flay caught sight of the attackers.

The main road ran in front of the hospital, with several large palm trees planted in the median to lend a more natural feel to the glass and concrete environment. On the right side of the building, another street separated the parking lot from a skyscraper of some sort. On the left, however, the hospital and the adjacent building were divided by a line of planted trees, oak or something similar. A group of six people had emerged from the tree-line, clad in long, dark grey coats.

Four of them, men in their early twenties, held assault rifles, and were busy spraying bullets into the parking lot. One of the others, a woman about the same age, had short, dark blue hair that flopped over on one side and nearly covered her right eye. She wasn't shooting anything at the moment, but she held some sort of modified pistol. The last member of the group was a man in his early thirties with black hair and ice-blue eyes. He shouted something to the four with the machine guns and hefted some sort of rocket launcher over his shoulder, firing it at a car over a hundred feet away. The projectile struck the car and ignited another vicious explosion, hurling the car away and showering the area with twisted metal and glass fragments.

Moving on her hands and knees, Flay scrambled back towards Kira, her heart beating so hard she thought it would burst from her chest. Kira lay flat on the ground now, unmoving. His eyes were shut, and when she lifted his head to try to wake him, Flay discovered to her horror that his brunette hair was sticky with blood.

He must have hit his head when he fell. She looked around, her eyes watering from the smoke and fumes from the burning cars, and saw the blue-haired girl coming toward them. Flay didn't know how to fight, and she knew that while help must be on its way, it wouldn't arrive in time. Trembling with fear, she still managed to turn around and put herself between Kira and the stranger. The blue-haired woman laughed, a sound of surprise and genuine amusement, her golden eyes shining in the sunlight.

"That's really cute," she said, reaching out and grabbing Flay's shoulder. "Now come on, Red, get out of my way." Shoving the frightened teenager away, she grabbed Kira by an arm and hefted him over her shoulder, turning and heading back toward her comrades.

"No, you leave him alone!" Flay ran up behind the blue-haired woman and pounded a balled up fist against the kidnapper's back, trying to do something, anything, to keep her from taking Kira. The assailant whirled on Flay, eyes flashing. She pointed the specialized handgun at the redhead and fired.

Instead of a muzzle flare and a bang, there was only a popping sound and a puff of compressed air. The weapon discharged another of the inch-long darts that had been used on Kira, striking Flay just above the collarbone. The sharp sting and the fact that she wasn't dead stunned her for a moment, and the kidnapper took the opportunity to kick Flay in the chest, knocking her flat on her back.

She could see the older woman and her companions taking Kira away, and Flay tried to get up; tried to get back to the hospital for help, but she suddenly found that she couldn't. It was as though all of her blood was quickly turning to lead, making every part of her heavier by the second. Flay couldn't stand, and a second later she couldn't even move. She could only watch the assailants retreat back the way they had come, and then she lost consciousness.

When she woke, Flay was in a hospital bed once again, and for one blissful moment she thought the whole attack had been a nightmare, that she had just finished with her therapy and that Kira would be arriving to pick her up soon.

When Flay looked around, however, she saw that she wasn't alone. There was a young man, maybe five or six years older than she was, lying in the bed next to her. A respirator was helping him breathe, and bandages, stained with the blood they had absorbed, covered most of the man's exposed chest. Flay was confused for a moment, until she remembered the man as the boyfriend, or maybe husband, in the couple she had seen gunned down in the parking lot. Her view of the young man was momentarily blocked as a nurse, a stout woman in her late thirties, came in between him and Flay. When the redhead sat up, the nurse must have heard the sheets rustling, because she turned and gave Flay a concerned look.

"Are you hurt?" she asked quickly. Flay shook her head, and the nurse turned away almost instantly; apparently, a sort of triage was in effect, and the uninjured were obviously a low priority. When she saw that Flay was getting out of the bed, however, the older woman sighed and moved to stop her. "Stay put. I'm sure the police are going to want to talk to you."

For a long moment, Flay seriously considered it. After all, when she was on the Archangel, she had always been happy to let someone more capable take over. Flay had very little confidence in herself, and she didn't want any part of combat, so she would retreat to her quarters, where she would hide until Kira had slain all the enemies. She could always depend on someone else to protect her.

But Flay had also made a promise back then, even if it was meant only as a way to make Kira fight harder at the time. The police would conduct their job well, but they had a lot of other things to do, and that knowledge made Flay nervous.

Her decision made, Flay rolled out of bed and started walking. As she got up, something metallic dropped to the floor, and Flay recognized it as the dart she had been hit with. The thing must have fallen off her when she was being carried in. She picked the projectile up and held onto it as she walked away. The nurse shot her a look, but she apparently had far more serious cases to worry about, and let her go. Her room was on the first floor, and Flay didn't have to walk long before she reached the lobby. Luckily, she had changed out of her hospital gown when Kira and she had left earlier, and was still wearing her pink blouse and white skirt; she didn't look like someone leaving before she was supposed to, and no one stopped her on her way out.

Flay traveled a little way down the street, walking quickly, until she came to an auto-taxi station. As soon as one of the empty, computer-controlled automobiles pulled up, she got in and opened up a list of possible destinations on the touch-screen that sat where a steering wheel would be in a normal car. Kira had brought his parents to visit Flay while she was in the hospital months ago, so she did know them, but Flay also knew that the only Yamato family member who could really help her wasn't at Kira's home.

From her possible destinations, Flay selected the Orb Parliament House.

Commander Alex Stanton kept a sharp eye out while he drove. Thus far, no law enforcement vehicles had appeared, indicating that his team had done their job well. Still, they couldn't afford to relax until they were safely in space. The van they were using was relatively nondescript, but if there was one thing Alex had learned in all his years of military service, it was never to underestimate your opponent.

"Cooper," Alex called out without taking his eyes off the road. "How are we doing on ammunition?" In the back of the vehicle, a young man with magenta hair was looking through the magazines for the strike team's weapons, and he frowned slightly as he answered.

"We've got four more clips for the automatics, as well as two more HE rounds for the RPG and six more tranquilizer darts. We're not out of tricks, but I'd prefer not to get into a spat with the local law, much less the military, under these conditions." Alex nodded quickly.

"They don't seem to be following," he said, grinning slightly. "I think we have the Three Amigos to thank for that." That comment prompted some laughter from the soldiers in question. Allen Rodriguez, Virgil Hawke and Joseph Masterson, better known as the Three Amigos, were notorious for their enthusiasm for missions and their almost homicidal desire to kill the enemy. It had, in fact, crossed Alex's mind that they were probably mentally unstable, but they were effective enough for him to keep them on his team in spite of that. Back at the hospital, they and Cooper had made sure that there were enough collateral casualties to make the operation resemble a Blue Cosmos attack. Shouting that crap about a pure, blue world had helped as well. Finally, there was the matter of their captive.

"How's our boy, Lia?" At his question, the sapphire-haired girl looked back briefly to where a young male brunette, their objective, lay on the floor of the vehicle, bound at both the hands and feet.

"Sleeping like a baby," she said quickly. Alex knew that Lia Cromwell could be trusted to administer another tranquilizer should the captive wake up. After all, Sanford would have Alex's head if her precious specimen were to be damaged any further on route.

They were drawing near to the coast now, traveling down a narrow back road, the vegetation of the inland areas having given way to lava rock eroded by millennia of abuse from the pounding surf. Alex pulled the van to a stop and took out a small computer. Plugging the cord from a miniature satellite dish into the mechanism, he placed the dish on the roof of the van and turned on the computer. He quickly tapped a few keys, and a small icon appeared on the screen, telling him to wait while the connection was being made. After a few seconds, a face appeared where the icon had been. There was some static thanks to the N-jammers, but the image and audio would be clear enough.

"Dr. Sanford," Alex stated in a carefully measured tone. "This is Commander Stanton, reporting in." These conversations always made him uncomfortable.

Dr. Elizabeth Sanford was not a member of the military, but she had a commanding aura that would make any officer jealous. Her pale, almost white skin and long black hair seemed only to highlight her striking crimson eyes, and Alex had always believed her intimidating presence had something to do with the way she looked at you; it was almost as though she could physically hurt you with her gaze, should she choose to do so. Dr. Sanford also had a quality to her that Commander Stanton found hard to define; it was almost as though those unnerving scarlet eyes could see through you, as though they could see all of your desires, secrets and flaws. Alex tried to keep his discomfort out of his voice, as he knew how important the scientist was to what he and his comrades hoped to accomplish.

"We've successfully captured our target and are nearing the departure point." On the screen, Dr. Sanford nodded.

"Very good," she said. "I take it you managed to conceal your true objective from the public." It was Stanton's turn to nod.

"We made sure there were several Coordinators among the dead, as well as using the signature phrase of those Blue Cosmos bastards at a volume guaranteed to be audible to someone in the vicinity."

"Did anyone see you take the boy?" Alex shook his head.

"Negative," he said, but Lia shifted in her seat, obviously uncomfortable, and it caught Dr. Sanford's eye. The crimson gaze shifted to the girl.

"Did anyone see you take the boy, Miss Cromwell?" Lia hesitated before speaking.

"There was a girl," she said. On the screen, Sanford cocked an eyebrow. "She tried to stop me from acquiring the target."

"And how did you resolve this issue?" the scientist inquired. Lia grimaced.

"I tranquilized her." The woman on the video screen sighed, but her eyes stabbed at Lia, and the soldier shrank back somewhat. She returned her focus to Alex.

"Commander Stanton," she said in controlled, icy tone. "Do Blue Cosmos members take Coordinators as captives?"

"No, Ma'am," he said, realizing that their cover was dangerously close to being compromised.

"Need I remind you how important Kira Yamato is to what we are trying to do?" She asked. Alex shook his head.

"I understand the situation, Dr. Sanford."

"I should certainly hope so," she said. Alex turned around, looking toward the back of the van.

"Cooper, I want you and Lia to take the VTOL and find this girl. By midnight, she doesn't exist. Is that understood?" Both soldiers nodded. "I'll have another shuttle sent for you." He turned back to the video screen. "The rest of us will bring the captive to you." Dr. Sanford nodded.

"How long should that take?" Alex looked at his watch.

"ETA is approximately forty-eight hours."

Author's Note: Dr. Sanford's last name is the name of the town in Hot Fuzz, one of my favorite movies.

I hope I didn't make Flay seem too courageous or tough. Flay is not a combat-capable character like Cagalli, but I wanted to show that her fear of physical combat is somewhat mitigated by her desire to help Kira. Despite how spoiled she is when we first meet her at Heliopolis, Flay has an inner strength that is shown a few times during the series, but only becomes truly visible near the end. She is willing to risk her own safety for those she cares about, like when she risks Azrael's wrath to try to warn the Archangel in Phase-49. Unfortunately, Fukuda decided to kill Flay, and her character development was cut short. I plan to have her mature a little more during this story, based on what I think could have been done with her character if she hadn't died. Here's to hoping I don't mess it up.