Disclaimer: Regular disclaimer really

Disclaimer: Regular disclaimer really. I am only writing this piece of fan fiction to practise my writing skills and to raise the awareness of certain deeds that should never be repeated through another medium. I own none of the rights to anything mentioned in the story following this disclaimer save for my OCs and the mobile suit the Z1 Respite.

Warning! This piece of fan fiction is based upon the events of the Holocaust to raise awareness of the subject. This will be disturbing to read, it will include the description of some pretty awful things. Read at your own pace and please place a review telling me if you found this work to be for the better. Or, if you want, to flame me for showing this very graphic story arc on a website with no age limit. Your choice.

Set the stage… for the blackness

Tom Grayson stood on the edge of the Z1's outstretched arm, the mechanical fingers acting as his ledge as he stood there, his magnetised shoes and space suit keeping him from floating off, staring into the infinite blackness that was space, his home. He turned his head slightly and caught sight of the Earth, a green and blue gem that stood out from the blackness and the darkness, seemingly sparkling with its own glow. He knew that the glow was the sun's rays bouncing off the Earth and being reflected towards him but it didn't stop the sight being any less magical or moving.

Tom slowly sank to his knees and knelt on the finger of the huge war machine. He sniffed once, a disgusted sound, as he realized that he'd broken down with emotion for that smallest of instances. He looked up in his helmet and saw the telltale slither of liquid floating around inside the compact space of the helmet. He blinked twice. He'd even cried. That settled it, he was getting too soft. He shook his head before getting to his feet again. He turned slowly on the balls of his feet and stared at the unstoppable behemoth that was the Respite.

His mobile suit was at least a Gundam's head above any other suit in terms of height, not including the silver spikes that were its sensors. The entire body of the Respite was made of black metal that stayed black even when the phase shift armour was activated. A pair of silver wings came out from its back, thrusters on each of the four wings. It was a very basic looking machine, much like the Gundam 01 from the AC era but, of course, he knew nothing about the Gundam 01. But he did know about the AC era. Oh yes, he knew about that.

The AC era was the largest source of the Earth military. Before Blue Cosmos had taken over the governments of the galaxy's gem they had been witness to the appearance of a huge fleet of mobile suit carriers, coming out of some sort of special abnormality. The carriers had been full of huge, black, mobile suits. They were mobile dolls from the AC era it was discovered when scientists checked the ships. And from the ship's systems they learned. They learned how to operate the mobile dolls.

Tom shook his head at the memory of those first years as he began to walk back towards the Z1's cockpit. Not even co-ordinators were a match for mobile dolls. Hell these mobile suits even came with their own little floating laser shields, rendering blasters next to useless. Of course the colonies had fought back, never giving up. That was until the day that the Gundam Justice and its pilot, Athrun Zala, were defeated in battle. By Tom Grayson and the Z1 Respite. Athrun had fought well, never giving up even when it became apparent that Tom was a better pilot and that the Z1 outclassed even the Justice. Tom shook his head again as the memory of the brave soldier, the last hope for the colonies, wormed its way to centre view in his mind. The explosion had been huge, claiming more than an entire platoon of the mobile dolls with it. Before the explosion had even finished the Duel Gundam had attacked him. Unfortunately for the pilot of that suit, the Duel was pathetically easy. Tom had killed him without even using his blaster or beam sword, choosing instead to conserve energy and slash the suit apart with the Z1's knife.

Tom shuddered as he closed the cockpit door and eased himself into the familiar seat of his mobile suit, his child. He turned on all of the suit's systems and the monitors flared into life. He watched as one of the screens displayed the Arc Angel cruiser flying away from a battle that had cost the Earth military a carrier full of mobile dolls. He chuckled. The Arc Angel. The last of the Three Ship Alliance and the last vessel that co-ordinators could survive on. Tom shuddered again as he thought about the circumstances of the co-ordinators. He closed his eyes.

It was not his fault. He had done his duty, as a soldier. He'd accepted his orders and executed them without fault or complaint. He was a soldier. He did as he was ordered to do. It was not his fault.

Somehow this soothed the Earthian commander as he engaged his thrusters and flew off to his soldiers and his dolls.

Heero stepped into the Wing Zero and sat down in the cockpit with a disgruntled sigh. Duo, upon hearing the sigh, thought it as his duty to cheer his gloomy friend up. After all, it was kinda his fault they were stuck in this weird dimension. And in the middle of space with some random kid named Kira and his 'Gundam'. Although Duo doubted the Strike to was really much of a Gundam. He floated up top to the open cockpit of the Zero,

"How's it hanging in there buddy?" he asked his fellow pilot with a giant smile. Heero shook his head, his expression unreadable, and his eyes blank,

"We're stuck here Duo. We are in another universe or something along those lines and worst of all…" he looked away as he thought of the worst part for him personally. Duo picked up on it though,

"You're missing Reliena already?" he asked his friend. Heero let a dry chuckle escape him,

"She's pregnant with my child and we're suppost to be getting married Duo. I guess being in an alternate universe has really lost its charm for me." He shook his head, still registering no emotion or feeling, "We need to leave as soon as possible Duo."

Duo nodded his agreement,

"I'm with you buddy. This old transport ship should get us to the closest colony in a few hours if that kid's calculations are correct. And I don't know about you but I'm looking forward to a good meal. I haven't even seen food that wasn't super frozen in at least three weeks!" He moaned and laid back as he aimlessly floated around the Mobil suit hanger. Heero nodded,

"It'll be good to get our strength back up to normal. And to see some other people. I think that Kira kid is starting to go stir crazy. Understandable with only three people and a few droids on this huge ship." He looked across the hanger at the Strike. He mentally scoffed; it was basically a weaker version of the Gundam 01. With all of the drawbacks of Heero's old suit and then some. Duo followed his gaze with a smile,

"I know what you're thinking man. If that thing was the main defence of that 'Arc Angel' ship he was telling us about then I have to wonder how much of a threat this 'Zaft' really is." Duo chuckled a bit, "Unlike the Deathscythe and the Zero that mobile suit is a walking disaster. It only has that weird sword and some small arms weapons for god's sake! I know the kid told us it could be upgraded depending on the situation but still…"

Duo went suddenly silent and Heero could tell it was because Kira had just entered the hanger.

Kira floated lazily over to the Zero's cockpit and sat on the edge of it. He sighed deeply,

"You know that your voice echoes in this hanger don't you Duo?" he asked out of the blue as he took a drink from a water bottle. Duo flapped his arms wildly round in circles,

"You heard me bad mouthing your Gundam? Aww man…"

"I didn't but thanks for confirming my suspicion." He smiled as he watched Duo mentally slap himself. Heero didn't register the trivial exchange,

"What is the eta for this colony?" he asked as he tapped away idly on the Zero's laptop. Kira breathed out deeply,

"About an hour or so. The computer said it would stop outside the main gate and give us an alarm to tell us." He said with a small smile, obviously anxious to be getting back to familiar territory instead of the vast nothingness of open space with two guys who'd been strangers to him not long ago. Heero closed the laptop,

"We should get some rest then." He said simply and pulled a blanket from out behind the seat. He sat down in the seat again and wrapped the blanket around himself and drifted off to sleep almost immediately.

Kira shook his head in amazement,

"Is that guy for real? I swear he doesn't even need to sleep." He said, shaking his head slowly. Duo chuckled,

"Old Heero is definitely something alright. He's tougher than you co-ordinators I dare say." He smiled at Kira's raised eyebrow, "Would you survive if you stood in your cockpit while you self detonated and were flung to the rocky land bellow?"

"Well no… I'm still mortal." He said with a smile of his own. Duo frowned,

"Then Heero here isn't mortal. He lived through that experience. And many situations that were worse." Duo smiled, "but now we'd best get to bed. Let's question Heero's mortality another day."

Duo woke up, once again expecting the body heat of Hildy to be beside him and once again finding nothing but the cold empty space. He groaned. He needed to get back to her. He missed her. For god's sakes he loved her!

He got out of bed and made his way across the cold, metallic room. Into the metallic bathroom, a smaller metal box. Duo was really getting quite sick and tired of having every room he went into made of cast iron. Was it too much to get some plaster and some paint in here? He sighed as he brushed his teeth and washed his face.

He'd barely finished washing his face when a loud alarm sounded. It beeped only once but it had been loud enough to wake the dead.

No need for a siren then… He thought to himself with a chuckle. He walked back into the bedroom and pulled his space suit over her normal clothes. Time to get back to civilisation.

He walked down through the empty corridors, each shadow elongated and every tap of his toes seeming to echo all around his being. He shuddered before entering the hanger. He looked over at the Wing Zero and saw Heero already sitting on its exterior, his laptop on his lap as his fingers tapped away at speed. He smiled,

"Hey Heero! Sleep well?!" he called across to his friend before pushing off the walkway towards the Deathscythe Hell. He didn't hear Heero respond but heard the tapping of his fingers and their speed never let up. Obviously he was a bit too busy making the final adjustments to talk to his old buddy Duo.

Kira floated into the hanger, already suited up in his space suit, helmet already attached. He gave Duo a thumbs up sign and glided gracefully towards the Strike. He entered the smaller Gundam and closed the cockpit. As soon as the cockpit had closed he sighed and took off his helmet. He set it down on his knees and took out two photos. Both of girls who he had strong feelings for. Lacus and Cagali.

He had left them both at some point or another. He'd left Lacus by letting her go, letting her float into the arms of his friend, Athrun Zala. They'd gotten to know each other rather well and he'd found that she was the sort of person that he could fall for. But his feelings for Cagali were strong as well. He'd left her and the rest of the Arc Angel's when they'd made land in ORB. He'd broken it off with Flay and was considering telling Cagali about how he felt about her when he'd been told to check out a disturbance. He took the Strike and flew over to the area. Only to be engulfed in a white flash of light and to disappear from the face of the earth. Only to reappear thousands of miles away on a strange carrier ship with two other pilots and two other Gundams.

He sighed as he flicked the switches needed to engage the Strike. The screen lit up before his eyes and all his troubles seemed to melt away as their blue light bathed him from head to toe. His fingers flexed comfortably round the control sticks of the Strike. His breathing became slow and regular as he drew solace from the machine. He was close now. He'd see them both again. And he'd figure out how he felt about them. And then he'd help put an end to the war. He knew it. He'd help end the war and bring peace to the galaxy again.

Unknown to Kira, Duo or Heero, both galaxies had constructed their own peace during their absence. And they weren't the better of the two possible futures.

Tom sat down in the chair in the centre of the large bridge that operated as the central control centre for his ship, the Afterlife. He stared around the room at the dozens of earth crewmen that were stood at rigid attention all around the room. He'd totally forgotten that they were there as he had sat down in the chair of imposing black leather and silvery steel. He coughed,

"At ease men." The crewmen stood with their legs a little wider apart, their arms at their sides. Tom nodded, "Resume normal duties. Set the course for the colony GX77-TH67."

One of his officers coughed to get his attention as the other crewmen scrambled to complete the orders. He walked up to Tom's chair,

"Sir… is it wise to go to that colony? It is one of the…" he looked down at his feet in an unusual display of nervousness, "purged. Sir."

Tom let a small smile flicker into place,

"Officer Tradle… we have picked up a proximity warning from the colony. And as you and I both know, the colony has been purged. Which means that no ship should be anywhere near it." He looked at the older man, starting deeply into his eyes, "And we were ordered to investigate. And people on this ship always obey orders, do we not?"

Officer Tradle nodded abruptly, clearing all emotion from his face as he stood at attention again and saluted Tom,

"Aye Commander Grayson." He said simply. Tom nodded, satisfied, and stood up,

"First Officer Tradle. I leave the bridge to you." He said seriously before giving a disarming smile that made everyone on the bridge mirror the image, "Try not to crash into anything while I'm gone."

Officer Tradle had to try hard to restrain a burst of laughter when he saluted again,

"Are you never going to let that slide Commander?" he asked with a smile. Tom patted the older man on the shoulder,

"Not until I'm a grey haired old man. And only then cus you'll have departed before me old timer." They both smiled at the joke. Tradle was by no means an old man, barely into his thirties, but Tom was only nineteen. Tom nodded and left the bridge.

He sighed as he walked down the smooth corridors, taking for granted the artificial gravity that held him on the floor. He reflected briefly on his appointment to the position of commander. He'd had to earn it like everyone else of course, but he'd earned it with a only two actions. Both on the same day. The destruction of the Duel and Justice Gundams.

Tom shook his head to clear it of the memory of Athrun's voice over the communications array when he died. Shaking the scream clear from his mind he stood in front of a blank, metal door and knocked once. He waited for a short while before a voice came from within the room,

"You may enter." Came the female voice. Tom pushed the button and entered the room. It was clearly an apartment, made of a cluster of rooms. The entrance room doubled as the living and dining area while two doors led away from the comfortable room. One for the bedroom and one for the kitchen. The bathroom door was in the bedroom to save wall space for the living room's large collection of paintings, all of them of angels that had fallen from god's good graces.

Tom was staring at his favourite painting, one of an angel in a suit of armour being stabbed through the heart by a knight, when the bedroom door opened behind him. He turned on his heel to see Cagali Athha, dressed in a soft, pink linen blouse and a white skirt that floated around her knees and her bare legs. She had a towel in her hands and was drying her straw blonde hair with it. She stopped when she saw Tom looking at her and put her hands on her hips,

"What are you staring at Tom?" she asked indignantly. Tom smiled,

"I'm terribly sorry madam. I was under the impression this was Cagali Athha's room…" he began but was cut short when she threw the wet towel at him,

"GAH! I swear I'll throw a knife at you one of these days Tom Grayson!" she promised him, trying hard not to laugh. Tom smiled back at her as he threw the towel to the floor,

"It's just that this is the first time I've seen you wear pink…" they both blushed slightly and looked away from each other, "… it suits you."

Cagali chuckled a bit and looked around for something to throw at him,

"God… you idiot… you asked me to wear something pink!" she pointed out mildly. She turned to looked for something but when she turned back round Tom was standing close to her, his body almost touching her's but not quite. She felt a tingle go up her spine as his warm breath caressed her left cheek. She felt herself blush and brought her hands up between them to push him away but could find neither the strength nor the will to push him away. Tom smiled and gently moved his head forwards before giving her cheek a soft kiss,

"And it, like everything else you wear, makes you look beautiful." He whispered into her ear. She giggled slightly, despite her best efforts not to let the girly sound escape. She pressed her body against his,

"Why commander… I didn't know it was standard procedure to bring your pistol to a prisoner's room… much less hide it in your trousers…" she teased him and kissed his neck, "If you continue this way I may be forced to throw a knife at you to escape your advances…"

Tom chuckled. The knife throwing threat had been their earliest relationship. Tom as the commander of the ship she was being held on and her as the untrusting female prisoner. The relationship had taken a turn for the better though when Tom had had three crewmen court marshaled for trying to rape her one time. From then on the threat of the knife was still present but it gradually lost its meaning as she began to accept him as a friend and something more, despite his killing of Athrun.

It had taken almost half a year for her to trust him when she'd been brought on board. And he's known that she'd shoot daggers at him with her eyes for that and for everything that he'd been ordered to do during the last year they had been together. But she'd eventually come to love him as he had her. He smiled and took one of her hands in his own,

"Well them my little prisoner… may I escort you to your bedroom? Being away on recon in the Respite does put this commander under so much stress… perhaps a massage will help me relax?" he suggested and kissed her neck. She breathed out deeply and started to steer Tom over to the bedroom door,

"And this little prisoner does get so frustrated when the commander leaves her on her own to go on recon patrol." She breathed into his ear, her voice becoming heavy with need. Tom's own voice was tainted with the same emotion as he responded,

"Well them my little prisoner… why do we have to wait in agony to get to the bedroom? The sofa is just a good if not…" he didn't finish however as a suddenly dominant Cagali pushed him backwards, onto the sofa and sat on his stomach, keeping him pinned,

"Much better…"

3,605 words

For those of you who are interested, the really descriptive bits are yet to come. This part is just for explanation. To that end…

Duo and Heero were taken from the AC universe shortly after the end of the first war, at least eleven months before the Eternal Waltz War.

Kira was taken from the regular CE universe shortly after the Arc Angel reached ORB on earth. Before Kira learnt that Cagali was actually his twin sister.

Commander Tom Grayson is a totally original character who pilots a unique Gundam known as the Z1 Respite. He is the guardian and lover of Cagali Athha.