Cagalli sighed deeply, once again she found herself sitting next to the hospital bed of they mysterious boy they had found. This time she had the knowledge that he was White Knight that had fought the aliens in space and also just hours ago. This time he hadn't been injured however he had yet to fully recover from his previous injuries despite his rapid healing rate. She slowly reached over and gripped his smaller hand in hers and held it tightly.
Outside the room Mina, Lacus, Kira and Athrun stood watching the blonde leader of ORB. Kira and the girls where curious as to her actions while Athrun had a grim and distant look on his face as if not entirely in the moment. The violet eyed Coordinator looked over at his best friend and asked, "Athrun… what with the long face? It's not like to be so out of it."
Athrun glanced over at Kira and sighed heavily as he leant his head against the wall before looking over at Cagalli through the small window in the door, "It's about Cagalli… I think I know why she's acting so maternal towards that boy." He closed his eyes and sighed again.
The other three blinked and Lacus asked softly, "And why would that be Athrun?" She gave him a reassuring smile as she continued to hold Kira's hand.
"It's because… promise you won't tell her I let you know ok?" Athrun gave them a pointed glance that told them he wouldn't say anything if they refused.
Mina nodded along with the other two and replied, "Alright Athrun, we won't say anything to her." Athrun smiled and nodded in thanks.
"It was about a month ago we found out, she was expecting… Cagalli was so delighted at the thought she was practically bouncing around the room and making plans. She was going to wait until her belly became noticeable to tell everyone…" Athrun explained with a pained tone in his voice, "Then about three days before the aliens first appeared she miscarried… She was a mess. She wouldn't eat or talk to anyone and was constantly in tears. As soon as she heard about the aliens she went into 'leader mode' and started acting like nothing was wrong. She wanted that child so badly…" Athrun took a deep breath as a tear ran down his cheek, "I guess looking out for that kid is filling the hole our child left in her heart…"
The other three Coordinators stood in a stunned silence at the news they had just received. Lacus took a step forward and wrapped her arms around Athrun as he began to let his tears flow out. At that moment Yzak and the other pilots rounded the corner looking for them and saw Athrun crying.
Yzak gave a blink and an awkward, "Um… bad time?" before Kira ran up and began to drag them away from the scene, explaining the situation along the way. Lacus lead Athrun along with them as Mina gave one last glance through the door and followed the others away.
Back inside the private room Zack's eyes began to open slowly as fuzzy visions of the ceiling came into view. He took a breath and heard it hitting an oxygen mask, his mind informing him that meant he was in a hospital of some sort. He felt a soft hand holding his and he slowly glanced across with his green eyes and saw a beautiful blonde haired woman with brown eyes looking at him in concern. He managed a weak, "Hey…"
Cagalli's eyes widened as he spoke but more at his eyes, they where a vibrant glowing green that was definitely not entirely human. She stared at him for a moment before replying, "Hi… I'm Cagalli. May I ask your name…?"
Zack stared into her eyes and felt warmth flowing from them as well as her hand that squeezed his in a reassuring manner. He smiled softly and replied, "Yes… My name… my Human name is Zack Shrike." He smiled at Cagalli before continuing, "My other name… is Volt Renegade." His eyes slowly closed and he slipped back out of consciousness.
In the main mechanical bay Yzak and Dearka stood next to Shiho and Miriallia respectively as their trashed mobile suits where dragged into the bay. The girls wince at the state of the two machines and the engineers immediately announce they are just going to strip the usable parts and dispose of the rest. Yzak crushed the can he was holding while Dearka just groans and hung his head in disbelief.
The darker skinned male grumbled, "One sortie and we're already out of the war." Deakra's comment prompted Yzak to slam his can onto the ground in frustration as he cursed. Shiho hadn't sortied because her custom Zaku Warrior was still being tuned up inside the Minerva. She sighed and looked at Miriallia and the two simply shrugged and muttered about boys and their fragile pride.
Yzak stomped on the can in frustration and growled, "Dammit! Seems like everything is piling up all at once, first Cagalli miscarries, then aliens invade, some freaky kid shows up and makes us all look bad, and now our Mobile Suits are reduced to scrap!" He turns to the other three and continues, "What next? More creepy kids that turn into aliens?" He spun around and kicked what was left of the can and it flew through the air, rebounding off a wall and into a nearby dust bin. This random event caused Yzak to quiet down in surprise.
Shinn and Luna where leaning against some railings of the base that remained standing from the earlier battle while watching the sun set, the moment was ruined only by the endless sound of work crews trying to repair the damage and increase the bases defences. Rey stood a short distance away with a far off look in his eyes, his mind however remained very much focused on the present, though he was trying not to eavesdrop on the two lovers. Shinn sighed and grumbled, "Man… we where so useless out there. So many casualties all because we weren't strong enough to stop a horde of bugs."
Luna sighed and snuggled closer to Shinn, who had his arms around her, before replying, "You can't complain, you hardly took part in the melee on the ground. Trust me, that was pretty brutal. Those tentacles of theirs eat through armour like no ones business! The Impulse only got out ok because of it's phase shift armour, but a few more hits and I'd have even lost that advantage." She sighed and looked down at the piles of wrecked mobile suits and alien corpses sadly. Very few pilots had gotten out ok; it was only the special simulations the Londo Bell pilots where getting that allowed even so few to survive.
Rey looked over at the two and commented, "Don't you find it strange?"
The other two looked over at their friend and leader before Shinn asked, "What do you mean Rey?"
The cloned man looked over at his friends and replied meaningfully, "The Archangel, Minerva and Mythril are undamaged. Yet the base has been hit hard, almost like they where more interested in something inside the base then the forces outside the base." He explained, he watched as the other two looked at each other, the ships and then back to him as it dawned on them.
"You don't mean?" Luna asked testily.
Rey nodded solemnly, "As soon as the kid turned into the Knight and started fighting the aliens seemed to pay more attention to where he was and even eased up on the base despite it being about to crumble under their attack. If they had ignored him they could have broken through but instead they went after him."
Shinn growled, "So… that kids the reason those aliens are here? We have to get rid of him before another attack comes after him!"
Luna forced her way out of Shinn's arms and rounded on him, slapping him and shouting, "Are you even hearing yourself? You'd abandon that poor kid; leave him all alone when he's in such a bad condition? That kid's entire family was wiped out by those things! If we won't help him he'll be all alone in the world with nowhere to turn!" She looked at her boyfriend with a disgusted look on her face as he stared at her stunned, "That boy fought to protect us. He risked making his injuries even worse for our sakes! Don't you at least think we owe him enough to try and help him somehow?" She gave a curt huff and stormed off back into the base.
Rey watched her leave and walked over to the other male pilot, "Shinn?"
"Damn… You both have a good point. Alright I'll help you keep a close watch on the kid but we'll take no action unless it looks like he is the enemy ok?" Shinn replied as he mentally berated himself for jumping to conclusions so easily, just like he used to do during the last war.
Rey nodded and turned away before walking away towards the entrance walkway. As the blonde clone walked he grinned evilly as his face was covered by shadows.
Mina sighed as she glanced over at the man you had commandeered her chair and was currently resting his boots on her desk. Her eyebrow twitched as the scar faced man swatted the brown haired woman who was his wife on the rear end and made a cheeky comment, "Can we please pay attention to the matter at hand, Captain La Flaga?"
Mu grinned sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head and replied, "Uh… yeah I guess so?" Murrue just groaned and rubbed her face in her hand at her husband's antics. Kira and Athrun just smiled at him, some things would never change.
Mina growled and stated, "We're done with this base, whatever we can carry we're transferring to the three ships and we are setting sail as soon as it's done. We have reason to believe the aliens have no interest in the PLANTS and will begin an earnest attack on Earth very soon." She turned to a large map and pointed to the nearby country Oceania Union, "We have received reports of the aliens scouting multiple regions across the globe, however there seems to be a large amount of alien activity near the Oceania Region; more exactly near the landmark the locals call Ularu, most of us know it as Ayres Rock though. We have no idea why but that may just be their next target." Mina explained.
Mu, Murrue, Kira and Athrun looked at the map while deep in thought before Mu muttered, "If only we knew why they wanted to get that rock…"
"It's because they fear the O-Part underneath it." Came a voice from the door. The five leaders in the room spun around in surprise to see the boy standing at the threshold of the door holding pole on wheels from which hung a water drip attached to his arm, the other was around Cagalli who was holding him up.
"Excuse me? What exactly is an O-Part?" Murrue asked a little meekly, though she brightened a bit when the other's nod their heads also wanting to know.
"Quite frankly, I'm not totally sure, though they are objects that shouldn't possibly exist in this world or in the time they appeared." Zack explained weakly, he looked at them with his glowing green irises and pulled out his crystal, "In a sense this is an O-Part, it's my Mark Six Binder. Without it I'm useless, however if I invoke it's energy I can transform my body into Volt Renegade, who you call the White Knight, and fight the Bitonians, the aliens." He took a pause to catch his breath, "O-Parts have been found before… The Mayan Crystal Skull and the Burmese Golden Rock are two examples of other O-Parts."
Kira blinked and asked, "So what's so important about the O-Parts under Ayres Rock?"
Zack gave him a weak smile and explained, "Because it can give us the power fight back effectively. If we have enough forces we should also head to the Chinese Shiyuuzuka region and observe the Bitonian movements there. There is another O-Part there, if the Bitonians get interested so should we." He entered the room and took a seat and leant his head against pole he had dragged around, breathing hard as he tried to rest from his injuries.
Cagalli placed a hand on his and smiled at him in a gentle manner. Zack looked into her eyes and returned the smile before falling off the chair unconscious again. Kira and Athrun moved in and picked the boy up gently. Mu sighed and rubbed the back of his head, "The kid must be exhausted. The fight, his injuries and walking here to tell us all that… by now he must be running on nothing but sheer will power."
Murrue watched as Kira and Athrun left to carry the boy back to the infirmary with a worried Cagalli right there next to them before turning to her husband and Mina and asking, "So what do you think we should do? We already know he's telling the truth… he proved it by explaining how he changed, vaguely, but still… he went out on a limb to help us and risked his life for us…"
Mina nodded and replied, looking at Mu, "Alright we'll split into two groups. Mu, I want you to take with the Akatsuki and join the Mythril. I will also be joining you with the Gold Frame; we're going to the Shiyuuzuka region." She then turned to Murrue and explained, "Murrue, you, Cagalli and Lacus will lead the Archangel and Minerva and all their pilots to Ayres Rock to retrieve the O-Parts there, I want the boy transferred to the Archangel as soon as possible." The two Naturals nodded in agreement, they hated the thought of being separated however desperate times called for desperate measures…
Luna watched Kira and Athrun walk out of Zack's hospital room and head towards Mina's command room before walking towards the doorway herself. She looked inside and saw Cagalli's head nodding up and down as she dozed while watching over his unconscious body. Luna smiled and walked inside placing a hand on the blonde Natural's shoulder. Cagalli looked up and the red haired Coordinator in surprise and Luna simply said, "Go and get some sleep, I'll look after him for a while."
Cagalli smiled and nodded, "Thank you, Luna." She slowly stood up and stumbled out the door. She placed her hand on the doorway and looked over her shoulder and smiled, Luna would take good care of Zack, she could feel it.