For some odd reason, I've always enjoyed the idea of Lacus as a Gundam pilot. I know she could be considered too gentle for that, but somehow, the idea of her in the cockpit of a mobile suit is simply one hundred percent awesomeness. Anyways, that's the idea behind this fic: a retelling of SEED with a key change: Kira and Lacus have been friends for as long as Kira and Athrun... and Lacus continued to visit him following his departure to Heliopolis.

Acting on earlier advise by Akatsuki Leader13, who has been an immense help with this fic, I went back and revised this chapter, adding in the scenes leading up to them finding the Murakumo. The real scenes are only the ones featuring Lacus as a new insert. She doesn't do too terribly much in most, and is mostly just important to the first scene. Still, I thought it would be a good idea to add. The Athrun POV scene, as well as the scene where Yzak and the others leave with the Gundams (unchanged from the anime) are only used as placeholders, really, to help move things along. I hope everyone likes the additions to this chapter.

Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam SEED... but I do own the Murakumo Gundam. Please read and review, in the full knowledge that I, sadly, did not devise the SEED universe (if I had, the only clip episode would've been the first one with Rau, cause that also reflected greatly on the Cosmic Era setting. Also, the ending wouldn't have been so abrupt, and we would've seen a lot more Kira x Lacus in the series).

"Kira!" came a soft call. Kira Yamato spun around to see Lacus Clyne, his best friend's fiancée, running towards him. She launched herself at him, and he caught her, wrapping her in a hug. "I missed you."

"You act like its been years, not weeks," joked Kira somewhat weakly as Athrun walked up to them with his mom, smiling. Athrun had frequently commented that Kira should've been Lacus's fiancée, rather than Athrun.

"With how things are right now, every week feels like a year," said Lacus with a slight frown. Kira sighed and nodded in agreement.

Year 70 of the Cosmic Era. Tensions were mounting between Earth and the ZAFT organization. Due to the Bloody Valentine tragedy, these tensions suddenly escalated into a full-scale war. It seemed a foregone conclusion that the Earth Forces, with its superior numbers, would be victorious. But these initial assessments proved to be false. Almost eleven months have passed since the conflict began… with no end in sight.

January 25th, Heliopolis, Lagrange Point 3 colony of the neutral nation of Orb

Heliopolis. An aging, island three-type colony, constructed by the neutral Orb Union at Lagrange Point 3, directly opposite the orbit of Luna, the Earth's moon. Construction of the colony began in Cosmic Era 30, and was completed a few years later. Although it couldn't reproduce the sort of lush natural environments that the newer PLANT colonies of L5 could, it still possessed a beautiful environment.

And it was perhaps the most peaceful location in all of space.

The PLANTs of L5 were the homeland of the ZAFT organization, which was born for the purpose of establishing independence for the PLANTs from their sponsor nations. The colonies of L1, L2, and L4 had all belonged to various Earth nations involved in the conflict, and had almost all collapsed during the eleven months of conflict. A few were still intact, but abandoned, and the neutral lunar city of Copernicus was too close to the Earth Alliance Force's Ptolomaeus lunar base to be able to truly relax, as the people of Heliopolis could. Despite the presence of the nearby Eurasian military satellite Artemis, the base held no strategic significance—even civilians knew that—and had been entirely ignored by ZAFT up to this point.

The present conflict was beyond the scope of the previous World Wars, involving not only almost all of Earth, but space as well. This made neutral nations, especially the small but surprisingly powerful Orb Union, a virtual paradise.

The Orb Union was also well known for their acceptance of Naturals and Coordinators alike, a fact which drew the Yamatos, with their first generation Coordinator son Kira, to the Heliopolis colony from Copernicus city.

And it was for the purpose of visiting Kira that Lacus Clyne, daughter of the chairman of the PLANT Supreme Council, was now at Heliopolis.

"Couldn't you have asked the professor to take some time off?" asked Lacus, pouting slightly as Kira typed away on his laptop. "I visit as often as I can, but it isn't easy getting here, and I don't have long."

"I know," said Kira, smiling apologetically. "And I did ask him, but he wouldn't budge. Said this stuff was top priority." Lacus sighed. "And no, he won't let you help, either, even though you're just as good at this stuff as I am."

"I'm not as good as you are," objected Lacus. "Besides, a lot of this is programming, which I'm not all that familiar with." Suddenly, Lacus perked up. "But perhaps I should study it so that I can help you and cut down on the workload in the future!"

"N-no, that isn't necessary," said Kira, blushing slightly as Lacus grabbed his arm.

"No, it isn't, it's voluntary," said Lacus, letting go of his arm. "Now get back to work so that we can actually spend some of our time together relaxing!"

"Okay, okay," said Kira, getting back to work.

"Haro! Haro!" screamed the ball-shaped pink robot, Haro, built for Lacus by her fiancée, Athrun Zala (who also happened to be Kira's best friend). "Lacus! Run!"

Kira groaned. Haro only did that when…

"Kira!" came the voice of Tolle Koenig, one of Kira's friends from the Heliopolis technical college. Kira looked up and smiled slightly, but internally, he was weeping, for this was almost a certain sign that Professor Kato had more work to dump on Kira. Still, he would hope for the best…

"So, this is where you've been hanging out with your girlfriend," said Tolle. Kira and Lacus both blushed slightly, but Tolle just barreled on. "Professor Kato's been trying to get a hold of you."

"What, again?" moaned Kira.

"He asked us to bring you to him right away," said Miriallia Haw, Tolle's girlfriend. "Well, are you assisting him on something else?"

"Too much!" complained Kira. "I still haven't even finished going through the stuff he dumped on me yesterday." Kira slouched back, sighing.

"That's pretty rude of you, doing all this work when Lacus is visiting," said Mir.

"I asked for a break, but the professor refused," retorted Kira.

"Well, you are the best student at the college," said Tolle, smiling slightly. "Well, in any case, let's get going."

"You come along too, Lacus," said Mir, grabbing the pink-haired girl's hand.

From nearby, Kira's parents, Caridad and Haruma Yamato, watched everything that was going on. They didn't like to think that they were spying on Kira, but…

"You still haven't answered me," said Haruma. "Do you think its fate?"

Caridad was quiet. She generally was. Kira was her child in every way that mattered, no matter the difference in his birth from her own birth as a Natural. She thought over everything about Kira, and especially his relationship with Lacus. Finally, she sighed.

"They're both bearers of the SEED," said Caridad softly. "Maybe it is. Ulen most definitely confirmed the existence of the SEED before Blue Cosmos attacked. In fact, that was precisely why they attacked, you know that. If only we could've gotten that research safely out of Mendel, maybe this war wouldn't be happening."

"But it is happening," said Haruma. "Don't blame yourself. You know what your sister wanted."

Caridad was quiet after that, a single thought running through her mind, one that had repeated itself many times over the last sixteen years.

Via… did you survive as well?

The door of Professor Kato's lab opened, admitting Kira and his friends.

"Ah, Kira, you finally made it," said Sai Argyle, looking around his computer. Kira sighed, but then glanced over to his left, seeing a slim boy wearing a brown jacket and hat.

"Who's that?" Tolle quietly asked Kuzzey Buskirk, another of their friends.

"Oh, a guest of the professor's who was apparently told to wait here," said Kuzzey.

"Really…" muttered Tolle.

"So, where's the professor?" asked Kira, wanting to get this over with. Lacus had a day, maybe two, before she had to return to the PLANTs in preparation for the Bloody Valentine Memorial Ceremony.

"He handed me this," said Sai, holding up a disk. "It's extra stuff."

"Great…" murmured Kira, taking the disk from Sai and looking at it.

"So what's on it?" asked Sai. "I'm assuming it's somehow connected to the work for Morgenroete."

"Not exactly," said Kira. "It's to improve the frame setup module. It's actually just a program analysis."

As Kira sat down to go to work and everyone gathered around him, no one noticed the boy walk over to a door and try to open it.

Athrun Zala stood with the other troops from the Vesalius, waiting for the commander to initiate the attack. After the attack began, the explosives he and his comrades had planted around the new warship would detonate.

All of which would lure the Earth Forces into exposing their five new prototype mobile suits, providing the ZAFT soldiers the chance to steal the weapons away from them.

Suddenly, tremors rocked the entire colony.

Mir trembled in fear as tremors continued to rock the colony and the lights began to fail.

"W-what's going on?" asked Mir fearfully. Sai walked over to the door to the staircase and opened it, seeing people walking up the stairs, though it was obvious that they were scared as well.

"What's this all about?" asked Sai.

"I don't know!" said one of the men as he continued up the stairs, but another paused.

"We're under attack by ZAFT," he said as the students gasped in shock. "Some of their mobile suits have entered the colony!"

The blonde, slim boy gasped slightly and suddenly ran off.

"Hey you!" called Kira, running off after him.

"Kira!" called Lacus.

"I'll be right back!" shouted Kira, even as Lacus took off after him. After running along the corridor for a minute or two, Kira finally caught to the boy and grabbed his arm.

"What are you doing?" asked Kira. "It's a dead-end there." Lacus caught up to the two.

"Stop tailing me!" was the response, but the voice had Kira blinking. "Better get out of here and hook back up with the others."

At that instant, another explosion occurred, as the corridor behind the three collapsed, sending a blast of air their way and knocking the hat off the boy to reveal shoulder-length blonde hair and a distinctly feminine face.

"You're a… a girl?" asked Kira. She turned suddenly angry.

"Yeah, what'd you think I was?" she demanded hotly. "Let's hear it!"

"I, uh, just thought…" started Kira, but another collapse drew his attention.

"Go back now," said the blonde. "I have to check up on something on my own."

"Easy for you to say," said Kira. "How will we retrace our steps?" The blonde glared at him.

"Let's see…" muttered Kira. He grabbed the blonde's hand, knowing it would be the only way to get to follow, and started running. "Here, this way."

"Let go of me you jerk!" said the blonde.

"Jerk?" muttered Kira questioningly.

"I just never thought we'd get… involved," she said, looking away. Lacus looked at her sadly as the three ran down the corridor.

"Don't worry, we'll be okay," said Kira. "There are still shelters left in the factory district."

After another minute of running, the three emerged onto an upper walkway, and saw something that made them all stop.

Two mobile suits, of a design like none they'd ever seen or heard of before, lay on the ground in trailers, waiting to be moved. A gunfight between what seemed to be factory workers defending the trailers and attacking ZAFT soldiers was raging around the two machines.

"What… hey those are…?" murmured Kira. The blonde suddenly dropped to her knees, shaking her heads and gripping the rail.

"I knew it," she said. "The Earth Forces prototype mobile weapons." Tears formed in her eyes. "Father, I knew you betrayed us all!" she cried, drawing the attention of one of the soldiers. Kira saw it and grabbed the blonde, dragging her away as Lacus followed.

"Crying won't help you!" said Kira. "Come on now, run!"

"Very impressive," muttered Yzak Joule as he got the first prototype to stand up. "Dearka, how about yours?"

"Great," said Dearka Elsman from the cockpit of the second machine. "Update activated. Nerve links reconstructed. Calibrations set. It'll move." As he said that, he moved it into a standing position as well.

"And Nicol?" asked Yzak.

"Not yet," said Nicol Amalfi as he typed away, adjusting the OS settings on the third. "Almost there." No sooner had he said that then he finished and his machine stood as well.

"Where are Athrun and Rusty?" asked Dearka. "Taking their time…"

"Heh, I don't think they'll have any trouble," said Yzak, smiling. "Let's stick with the plan. We'll leave with this three. Let's get them to Commander Le Creuset before they get damaged." With that said, the three machines activated their thrusters and booster engines and lifted off, heading for the harbor exit.

Meanwhile, Kira had finally led the two girls to a shelter. He activated the intercom.

"See, some people have evacuated here," said Kira as a response came to the signal sent.

"Is there still someone out there?" asked someone inside the shelter.

"Yes, my friends and I need to get inside," said Kira. "Please, open the door."

"Three of you?!" said the voice.

"That's right," said Kira. The voice was silent for a minute. Then…

"We're filled to capacity already," the guy said. "There's shelter thirty-seven in the left block, can you make it there?"

Kira stood straight, looking over at the damage.

"Please, take my friend at least," said Kira. "She's just a girl."

There was a moment of silence, during which Lacus turned her gaze on Kira.

"Yeah, okay," came the voice. "Sorry." The door opened and Kira looked at the blonde.

"Get in," he said. She looked at him, confused. Not having the time to waste, he grabbed the blonde, throwing her into the shelter elevator.

"What are you… I can't…" she said.

"Get in, will you?" said Kira, securing her inside. "We'll go to the other side. Don't worry, okay? Hurry!" With that, he shoved her fully inside.

"Wait, don't do it!" said the blonde, but it was too late as the elevator carried her away.

With the blonde gone, Lacus turned her gaze on Kira.

"I hope you're not implying that girls need to be coddled, much as we may love it," she said. Kira glanced at her and smiled.

"Not at all, but it got her in there," he said. "Now come on, let's get going." With that, Kira grabbed her hand and the two ran off, searching another shelter to escape on.

As they ran along the catwalks of a factory, though, they spotted something that gave them pause.

"Another mobile suit…" Kira whispered. Suddenly, they heard an explosion both in front of and behind them.

"Kira…" whispered Lacus, gripping his shirt. Kira looked back at the standing, gray mobile suit.

"We have no choice," he said. "Come on Lacus… we'll need to get out of here on that machine."

The two ran along the catwalk until they reached the open hatch of the machine. Clambering in, Kira took the pilot's seat, while Lacus climbed behind it. Kira closed the hatch, booting of the CPU on the mobile suit.

"What's that?" asked Lacus. Kira looked at the screen in front of him to see some sort of OS display.



Neuro – Link




G.U.N.D.A.M. Synthesis System

"Gun… dam?" whispered Kira. He shook his head and began looking over the OS, eyes widening.

"Wha…? They want to fly this thing with an OS like this?!" he cried. He shook his head, made some minor modifications, and then grabbed the controls. "Hang tight Lacus," he said. "I'm getting us out of this place before it blows. I'll need to recalibrate the OS afterwards."

"Okay Kira," said Lacus, trusting him with every fiber of her being.

"Rusty failed," said Athrun over the radio. "The last machine has been boarded by an Earth Forces officer."

"What?" whispered Miguel Aiman, the infamous 'Magic Bullet of Dusk'. He looked at the stumbling gray machine; the one Rusty would've captured, and fired a few rounds at it, watching it stumble. Then, he put his rifle away and pulled out his GINN's sword, glancing at Athrun. "Okay, I'll capture this machine. You go ahead and make sure you get yours out of here." With that, he charged the machine, easily evading the bullets spouted from its CIWS guns, and swung the saber. The machine brought its arms up to block, and suddenly shifted color, turning a brilliant white, blue, and red. "What in the world?" asked Miguel.

"They're all equipped with a system known as Phase Shift armor," said Athrun. "Once activated, it renders the GINNs sword useless." Athrun activated his own Phase Shift, turning the Aegis a brilliant red. He then used the CIWS guns to destroy a few incoming missiles, as well as an artillery truck.

"You've gotta get out of here now," said Miguel. "You can't stick around this place forever." Athrun nodded, and was just about to leave when there was another explosion from elsewhere in the factory district… and another mobile suit emerged, this one with wings on its back.

"Huh? Another one?" asked Miguel. "Damnit… Athrun, see if you can subdue that one real quick."

"Kira!" exclaimed Lacus.

"Yeah, I see it," said Kira. There were the two mobile suits he and Lacus had seen with that girl. One of them seemed to be stumbling about, fighting the GINN, while the other was watching calmly, though it was now turned to face Kira. Then, it charged at him. Kira ran on his instincts, and sent his stolen machine into the air, quickly recalibrating the OS as he did so. It didn't take long before Kira was finished, his evasion obviously annoying the pilot of the red machine.

"Let's see… weapons…" whispered Kira as he brought up the equipment listing. He saw the Phase Shift armor listing, and pressed the button, activating it.

"What in the world?" whispered Athrun, amazed by this new unit's evasive abilities. Then, the machine activated its PS armor, and Athrun watched as the wings turned blue and white, the limbs turned white, and the torso turned black. Then, it brought one hand forward, pointing a fist at the Aegis… and suddenly, flames sprouted from the wrist.

Kira hadn't really wanted to use his machine's flamethrowers, but they got the job done. He finished his examination of the weapons, and realized that most of them weren't presently equipped. The machine—Murakumo—was missing its rifle, swords, and shield, leaving it with just the CIWS guns, flamethrowers, rocket anchors, and…

"Hang tight," said Kira to Lacus as he reached up and grasped one of the Tsukuyomi boomerangs on the Murakumo's shoulder. Of course, these weren't ordinary beam boomerangs either: as he pulled the Tsukuyomi free, he set it to activate in its alternate mode: a beam saber.

Moving swiftly, Kira thrust the saber at the head of the mobile suit, and the pilot stumbled back—apparently, he hadn't gotten the OS properly calibrated as quickly as Kira had.

And that meant he didn't stand a chance.

A brief tussle was all it took for the Murakumo to drive the Aegis into retreat. Not knowing who the pilot was, but worried when he deactivated the Tsukuyomi, Murrue Ramius internally cringed. The Murakumo didn't have much in terms of fallback weaponry—the rocket anchors and flamethrowers didn't consume battery power the way the beam weapons did, but they weren't that powerful. Keying the radio, she sent a signal from the Strike to the Murakumo.

"I don't know who you are," she said. "But catch!" She grabbed the Strike's assault knives and tossed them too the Murakumo as best she could, relieved when she saw the pilot deftly snatch them out of midair, and then charge at the GINN with speeds that only that machine could manage.

In an instant, the GINN had been disabled, as the Murakumo jabbed both knives into the ZAFT mobile suit's neck. Then, as the cockpit opened, the Murakumo jumped back, and the enemy machine exploded.

Sighing in relief, Murrue moved the Strike—rather clumsily—over to a nearby park, kneeling down and deactivating the machine. The Murakumo came over as well, much more gracefully, and also knelt down, deactivating as it did so.

The people that emerged from it, though, caused Murrue to blink in surprise.

They were two of the teenagers she'd spotted earlier while defending the Strike: a brown-haired boy and a pink-haired girl, both about sixteen years old, by Murrue's estimate. Those two had been flying the Murakumo? But that meant…

Murrue was somewhat uncertain. Her first instinct was to grab her gun and detain the two, but the ZAFT had already captured four of the X numbers anyway, and the Murakumo was intended to be an Orb mobile suit anyway. Sighing, Murrue waved them over to her.

"You two!" she called. "Thanks for your assistance." The boy nodded while the girl gave a slight smile, before frowning as she looked over the damage.

"Kira!" came a boy's voice suddenly. The three spun around and saw a group of teenagers running over to them frantically. The lead one, a boy with brown hair, panted slightly.

"What… what's going on? What were you doing in that mobile suit anyway?" he asked. Before the boy—Kira, apparently—could answer, Murrue spoke up.

"ZAFT is attacking, obviously," she said. "I don't know how, but they apparently gathered intel on these mobile suits. We were getting desperate, and someone within Orb and Morgenroete decided to help us." She nodded at the Murakumo. "That unit was intended as our thanks to Orb for their assistance." She sighed. "But Heliopolis was never supposed to get involved beyond a hiding place… what a disaster."

Everyone else sighed as well. Murrue looked them all over. "Listen, you should all get to the shelters quickly, so…"

"We haven't been able too," said the brown-haired girl. "Everyone we've managed to reach so far has been full…"

"Alright then…" said Murrue. "Well… I guess we'll just have to stick together until we can find a shelter for you." She glanced between the two gray mobile suits. "We can't recharge the Murakumo… we'll need to try and retrieve the Striker packs from Morgenroete, so that we can power the Strike and call for assistance." The teens nodded.

"Got it," said Kira, but then his eyes went to the Strike. "But from what I've seen of the Murakumo's OS, will the Strike even be operable?" Murrue blinked.

"Well, no, we weren't able to complete the OS," she said. "But if the Murakumo's OS was really in the same condition as the Strike's, how did you…?"

"Kira rewrote the OS as soon as we escaped the factory," said the pink-haired girl again. "But… what's your name?"

"Murrue Ramius, a lieutenant in the Earth Forces," said Murrue. "And what about you?"

"I'm Kuzzey Buskirk," said the blue-haired teen.

"Sai Argyle," said the one with orange glasses.

"Tolle Koenig," said the brown-haired boy who'd reached them first.

"Mirriallia Haw," supplied the girl. Murrue's eyes went to the two that had emerged from the Murakumo.

"Kira Yamato," said Kira, supplying his last name to Murrue.

"Lacus Hirano," said the pink-haired girl. Murrue nodded slightly, and then set them to work.

"Sir, Rusty failed," came Athrun's voice over the radio. Nicol, Dearka, and Yzak, all on the bridge at the time, clenched their fists. "An Earth Force's officer boarded the last prototype. Miguel was attempting to capture it when a sixth machine appeared."

"A sixth machine, you say?" questioned Rau Le Creuset. They hadn't heard of this.

"Yes sir," said Athrun. "Miguel ordered me to deal with it, but it seems to have a completed OS. I wasn't able to catch it, and had to retreat before the battle drained my machine of power."

"Understood," said Le Creuset. "We just got a message from Miguel. This new machine managed to defeat him as well. I'll head out myself, to deal with the last mobile armor, and to deal with those last two machines. We especially can't neglect this sixth unit, if it was strong enough to deal with both you and Miguel."

Kira had attempted—and failed—to contact any Earth Forces still remaining, but with the low power in both the Strike and Murakumo, he couldn't cut through the interference. So, instead, while Sai and the others went to retrieve the trailers holding what Murrue called 'Striker packs', which apparently contained extra equipment for the Strike. More importantly, though, they contained additional batteries.

Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for the Murakumo, so Kira had busied himself with recalibrating the Strike's OS. He didn't care that he would be the only one who could operate it—it's not like the original OS would've worked at all anyways. If they were attacked before they could find additional Earth Forces soldiers, or get the civilians to a shelter, they'd need to be able to fight, and the Murakumo no longer had the power to do so.

"Kira?" came a soft voice. Kira looked up to see Lacus sitting outside the cockpit. "Do you think we'll be attacked again?" Kira sighed and nodded.

"That red machine got away," he said. "And the pilot of the GINN left his machine before it self-destructed. After all the trouble they've gone through… well, do you honestly expect them to just leave these last two machines alone?" Lacus frowned, but nodded as well.

"It's the Le Creuset Team," she said quietly, so no one but Kira could hear her. "He's the only one who would've done something like this. My father wouldn't have allowed this level of attack to befall a neutral colony." Kira sighed.

"Yeah…" he said. "Not sure if we can say the same for Athrun's father, though. Mrs. Zala did die at Junius Seven." Kira's hands clenched slightly on the controls of the Strike. "Damn this… I hate war." Lacus smiled slightly.

"That's because you are you," she said. "And don't you ever forget it." Kira smiled back in response. Sai and the others pulled up in the trailers, Sai parking his next to the Strike. The students set to work attaching the Striker pack to the docking hardpoint on the Gundam's back.

"This would be faster on the Archangel," commented Murrue as they were finishing attaching the Striker pack.

"Archangel?" asked Lacus.

"A warship designed to support the X numbers," said Murrue.

Just then, a hole was blown out of the central shaft of the colony, drawing everyone's eyes up in shock as a silver-gray mobile suit flew out, pursued by a red mobile armor. The two tussled briefly, until the mobile suit severed the armor's gun. It then shot down towards the Gundams.

Lacus! thought Kira. He couldn't allow any harm to come to her. Activating the PS armor as the Striker pack locked fully into place, Kira stood the Strike up, locking a glare on the mobile suit as he did a quick weapon's check.

The entire colony shook suddenly, as it did when the attack began, and Kira looked up as a section near the harbor blew out… and from the smoke, a massive, white warship flew into the colony.

I hope you liked that! Okay, so Kira will be piloting the Murakumo, and Lacus will become the Strike pilot. They also each get to pilot the Zero a few times, but I only show Kira doing that. I would've introduced a few extra OCs, but the later chapters are set up as the introductions, and I didn't want to go through the trouble of revising those as well.

Specs for the Murakumo will be listed in the next chapter, since it really didn't see any action in this one.